Paul the Apostle, His Life Letters and Thought– Part Thirty Two


The main argument runs from Gal. 2.14-3.29.

p. 502—The main issue is who is in the in group and who is not. The question about 2.14-21 is where does Paul stop quoting his rebuke of Peter. He quotes Lightfoot to the effect that we can’t really distinguish text and commentary here very well. But Sanders thinks it is sequential and thinks the quote should stop after vs. 14.

p. 503— In any case Paul is saying what he deeply believes in 2.15-21. This is one of the places where English translation can make Paul’s argument invisible and the problem recurs at 3.6-9. Two problems— how to translate the Greek verb dikaioo and how to translate the verb pisteuo.

p. 504—Sanders reintroduces two old English verbs— to faith and to righteous. The third problem is how to translate pistis Christou.

p. 505—Sometimes Paul uses a passive verb ‘to be righteoused’ but we don’t have such a verb in English now so it has been rendered to be justified. Justified is not a very good synonym for righteoused. One reason justify is not adequate is that it often means today ‘offer an adequate excuse or reason’. An excuse is a long way from Paul’s meaning. ‘being righteoused in Christ’ does something to the person, rather than simply providing him with an excuse for bad behavior.

p. 506- This provides a bolster for Lutheran dogma of simul justus et peccator but it means nothing actually happens to the sinner, rather he is simply declared innocent, not guilty even though he continues to performs deeds that make one guilty. BUT Paul thought Christians were actually changed as 2 Cor. 3-4 showed. It would be closer to Paul’s meaning to translate ‘faith in Christ makes a person righteous’. But Sanders thinks that ‘to make righteous’ is still missing the meaning somewhat, since Paul does not have moral rectitude in mind. As Gal. 3 will show ‘to be righteoused by faith’ is a transfer term meaning that by faith in Christ one enters the in group, the body of Christ.

p. 507— We have the same problem with the word ‘believe’ as a translation of pisteuo. It’s a weak word that means hold an opinion about something which one is not positive about. Also the noun faith is much stronger than the noun belief. Paul’s faith in Christ means trusting him entirely, putting your destiny in his hands living as if Christ was in you as in fact he is. Faith in Christ implies for Paul a change for the believer, not just agreeing to hold some opinion.

What Paul actually wrote was ‘through faith in Christ Jesus… we have faithed in Christ Jesus’.

‘faith in Christ phrase may be translated faith of Christ, that is Jesus’ own faith or fidelity.

p.508—discussion of pistis Christou— is it objective or subjective genitive. He says Gal. 1.12 is a clear case of objective genitive— he received a revelation about Jesus Christ. [I see no reason why one could not interpret that to mean a revelation which came from (and also was about) Jesus Christ] as the Damascus Road experience suggests].

p. 509— He finally mentions Richard Hay’s important work. “I think there are some passages where ‘Christ’s fidelity’ is the better understanding. In the crucial arguments about circumcision in Galatians, however, I am whole-heartedly in favor of the meaning ‘people should put their faith in Christ’.

His reasons for this conclusion in Gal. 2: 1) in Gal. 2.16a Paul says that a person is righeoused on the basis of faith in/of Christ with no preposition; 2) in the next clause in 2.16b he has ‘we have faithed into Christ with the strong preposition Eis meaning into, unto, in 3) in 2.16c he writes so that we are righteoused on the basis of the faith in/of Christ again using the ambiguous genitive, and 4) in 2.20 he speaks of faith in the Son of God using the dative case. See 3.26 with the preposition ‘in’.

p. 510—so Sanders argues Paul could not be toggling back and forth between our faith in Christ and Christ’s faithfulness. [This argument completely ignores that in this same context Paul speaks of Christ giving himself for us in vss. 20-21, explained quite clearly in vs. 21 by the word ‘died’. It is perfectly believable that Paul would want to talk about both the objective and subjective means of our salvation. The objective means is Christ’s death on the cross, his faithfulness even unto death. The subjective means is our faith in his faithfulness and in him personally]

p. 511— He further argues that Christ’s fidelity did not transfer someone into the people of God, faith in him did, and the issue here is entrance— how does one get into the people of God, by faith plus circumcision or just by faith. It is faith in Christ that provides union with Christ. Sanders says the meaning of the ambiguous phrase is faith in Christ throughout Galatians and toggling back and forth is too subtle here.

p. 512—Sanders translates as follows ‘yet we know that a person is not righteous by works of law, but rather through faith in Christ Jesus, and we have come to faith in Christ Jesus so that we will be righteoused by faith in Christ and not by works of the Law, because ‘by works of Law no flesh is righteoused.’

p. 513– The last bit is a quote from Ps. 143.2 slightly different from the LXX to which Paul adds the phrase ‘by works of the Law’. The point is, Paul by quoting is suggesting this is not merely Paul’s opinion.

p. 514– Paul holds the standard view that to invalidate one Law is to call the whole Law into question. Notice then the phrase works pl. of the Law at the end of this first bit of argument.

p. 515— Here in Gal. 2.17-21 Sanders follows Martyn’s suggestion that we have an argument back and forth between Paul and his opponents. He cites their view in order to refute it. So, the opponents charge that the desire to be righteoused by faith in Christ alone, without keeping the Law turns one into a sinner and thus they are equivalent to Gentile sinners. For the Judaizers if Gentiles did not get circumcised and keep the Law they are still sinners, not completely saved. Paul replies that if it is true what they charge then Christ is a servant of sin, but since this cannot be true, the whole argument of the opponents must be false. For me genoito he says we need a strong translation like ‘not by a damned sight’!! He turns their argument on its head by saying if I returned to obeying the Law then I would indeed be a sinner, for I died to the law through the law. The compelling conclusion is— ‘if righteousness indeed comes through keeping the Law, then Christ died for nothing’.

p. 516 n. 8— Sanders points out that the hina plus subjunctive has led to misleading translations of the phrase ‘in order that I might live to God’ in the sense that it suggests uncertainty whether he will or not due to the subjunctive. Sanders says we should not inflict Greek grammar on our English. Paul did not think that if one had faith in Christ then it was possible or conceivable or even probably he would be justified. No, it was a certainty in Paul’s view. Hence Sanders translates ‘through the Law I died to the Law, so that I will live to God’

p. 517— Paul does not denounce the Galatians, they have been misled by sorcerers or magicians. Paul thinks that having the death of Christ placarded before them and understanding the meaning of his death should have been enough to convince them they don’t need circumcision. Also, by putting their faith in the message of Paul they had received the Spirit, not by doing works of the Law and in their case receiving the Spirit was accompanied by miracles.

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