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Galatians 5:1-12

Context
Freedom of the Believer

5:1 For freedom 1  Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not be subject again to the yoke 2  of slavery. 5:2 Listen! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you at all! 5:3 And I testify again to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey 3  the whole law. 5:4 You who are trying to be declared righteous 4  by the law have been alienated 5  from Christ; you have fallen away from grace! 5:5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we wait expectantly for the hope of righteousness. 5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision carries any weight – the only thing that matters is faith working through love. 6 

5:7 You were running well; who prevented you from obeying 7  the truth? 5:8 This persuasion 8  does not come from the one who calls you! 5:9 A little yeast makes the whole batch of dough rise! 9  5:10 I am confident 10  in the Lord that you will accept no other view. 11  But the one who is confusing 12  you will pay the penalty, 13  whoever he may be. 5:11 Now, brothers and sisters, 14  if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? 15  In that case the offense of the cross 16  has been removed. 17  5:12 I wish those agitators 18  would go so far as to 19  castrate themselves! 20 

1 tn Translating the dative as “For freedom” shows the purpose for Christ setting us free; however, it is also possible to take the phrase in the sense of means or instrument (“with [or by] freedom”), referring to the freedom mentioned in 4:31 and implied throughout the letter.

2 sn Here the yoke figuratively represents the burdensome nature of slavery.

3 tn Or “keep”; or “carry out”; Grk “do.”

4 tn Or “trying to be justified.” The verb δικαιοῦσθε (dikaiousqe) has been translated as a conative present (see ExSyn 534).

5 tn Or “estranged”; BDAG 526 s.v. καταργέω 4 states, “Of those who aspire to righteousness through the law κ. ἀπὸ Χριστοῦ be estranged from Christ Gal 5:4.”

6 tn Grk “but faith working through love.”

7 tn Or “following.” BDAG 792 s.v. πείθω 3.b states, “obey, follow w. dat. of the pers. or thing…Gal 3:1 v.l.; 5:7.”

8 tn Grk “The persuasion,” referring to their being led away from the truth (v. 7). There is a play on words here that is not easily reproducible in the English translation: The words translated “obey” (πείθεσθαι, peiqesqai) in v. 7 and “persuasion” (πεισμονή, peismonh) in v. 8 come from the same root in Greek.

9 tn Grk “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.”

10 tn The verb translated “I am confident” (πέποιθα, pepoiqa) comes from the same root in Greek as the words translated “obey” (πείθεσθαι, peiqesqai) in v. 7 and “persuasion” (πεισμονή, peismonh) in v. 8.

11 tn Grk “that you will think nothing otherwise.”

12 tn Or “is stirring you up”; Grk “is troubling you.” In context Paul is referring to the confusion and turmoil caused by those who insist that Gentile converts to Christianity must observe the Mosaic law.

13 tn Or “will suffer condemnation” (L&N 90.80); Grk “will bear his judgment.” The translation “must pay the penalty” is given as an explanatory gloss on the phrase by BDAG 171 s.v. βαστάζω 2.b.β.

14 tn Grk “brothers.” See note on the phrase “brothers and sisters” in 1:11.

15 sn That is, if Paul still teaches observance of the Mosaic law (preaches circumcision), why is he still being persecuted by his opponents, who insist that Gentile converts to Christianity must observe the Mosaic law?

16 sn The offense of the cross refers to the offense to Jews caused by preaching Christ crucified.

17 tn Or “nullified.”

18 tn Grk “the ones who are upsetting you.” The same verb is used in Acts 21:38 to refer to a person who incited a revolt. Paul could be alluding indirectly to the fact that his opponents are inciting the Galatians to rebel against his teaching with regard to circumcision and the law.

19 tn Grk “would even.”

20 tn Or “make eunuchs of themselves”; Grk “cut themselves off.” This statement is rhetorical hyperbole on Paul’s part. It does strongly suggest, however, that Paul’s adversaries in this case (“those agitators”) were men. Some interpreters (notably Erasmus and the Reformers) have attempted to soften the meaning to a figurative “separate themselves” (meaning the opponents would withdraw from fellowship) but such an understanding dramatically weakens the rhetorical force of Paul’s argument. Although it has been argued that such an act of emasculation would be unthinkable for Paul, it must be noted that Paul’s statement is one of biting sarcasm, obviously not meant to be taken literally. See further G. Stählin, TDNT 3:853-55.



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