Galatians Jewish New Testament and comments of David H. Stern
1. Then after fourteen years I again went up to Yerushalayim, this time with Bar-Nabba; and I took with me Titus.
Ваг-Nabba (Ac 4:36&N) took an early interest in Sha'ul (Ac 9:27, 11:25) and accompanied him on the first of his four journeys (Acts 13-15); see also 1С 9:6, Co 4:10&N.
2. I went up in obedience to a revelation, and I explained to them the Good News as I proclaim it among the Gentiles — but privately, to the acknowledged leaders. I did this out of concern that my current or previous work might have been in vain.
3. But they didn’t force my Gentile companion Titus to undergo b’rit-milah.
My Gentile companion Titus, literally, "Titus, the one with me, being a Greek." Mentioned eight times in 2 Corinthians and once in 2 Timothy, he was the recipient of the New Testament letter that bears his name (Ti 1:4). The false brothers (vv. 4-5) wanted him to undergo b'rit-milah, but the leaders of the Jerusalem Messianic community (vv. 6-10) didn't force him to do so. They believed, like Sha'ul, that it was unnecessary for Gentile followers of Yeshua to become Jews.
4. Indeed, the question came up only because some men who pretended to be brothers had been sneaked in — they came in surreptitiously to spy out the freedom we have in the Messiah Yeshua, so that they might enslave us.
5. Not even for a minute did we give in to them, so that the truth of the Good News might be preserved for you.
6. Moreover, those who were the acknowledged leaders — what they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by outward appearances — these leaders added nothing to me.
Exactly what they were makes no difference to me. Sha'ul is not demeaning the acknowledged leaders but calling attention to the fact that office, position, eminence, that is, outward appearances, do not matter. What does matter is the content and truth of the Gospel; and in this, these leaders, who Sha'ul knows were of great importance in the life of the Messianic Community, added nothing to him or to his message; on the contrary, they approved of him just as he was, placing upon him only the condition of v. 10.
7. On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the Good News for the Uncircumcised, just as Kefa had been for the Circumcised;
8. since the One working in Kefa to make him an emissary to the Circumcised had worked in me to make me an emissary to the Gentiles.
9. So, having perceived what grace had been given to me, Ya‘akov, Kefa and Yochanan, the acknowledged pillars of the community, extended to me and Bar-Nabba the right hand of fellowship; so that we might go to the Gentiles, and they to the Circumcised.
Ya'akov, see 1:19&N. Kefa, see 1:18&N. Yochanan is the son of Zavdai (Mt 4:21). one of the Twelve (Mt 10:2), one of Yeshua's three closest companions (Mt 17:1, Mk 14:33), trusted, along with Kefa, for special tasks by both Yeshua (Lk 22:8) and the early Messianic Community (Ac 3:1-4, 11; 4:13, 19; 8:14), and regarded since earliest times as the author of five New Testament books.
Sha'ul is at pains to show that although his distinctive form of the Good News has a different emphasis than the other emissaries' version, nevertheless, they accepted him. his work and his Gospel version with the right hand of fellowship. Those who insist on circumcision of Gentiles (vv. 3-5), therefore, do not have a better, purer, more Jewish Gospel at all, but a perversion of the Gospel (1:6-9) which denies its fruits to Gentiles and which is disapproved of by the very people to whose authority they appeal (v. 12, 5:11).
Just as Kefa had been for the Circumcised... the one working in Kefa to make him an emissary to the Circumcised... and they to the Circumcised. Contrary to the claim by some in today's non-Messianic Jewish community that Jews should not be approached with the Gospel, let alone singled out for special attention. Scripture teaches precisely the opposite. The leading emissaries, the acknowledged pillars of the community, were specifically commissioned by God ("the One working in Kefa") to evangelize Jews (for which the term "Circumcised" is used because of the context, vv. 3-5).
10. Their only request was that we should remember the poor — which very thing I have spared no pains to do.
See Ac 11:27-30,12:25,24:17; Ro 15:25-27:1С 16:1-4; and 2C 8:1-9:15 for evidence not merely that Sha'ui spared no pains to remember the poor of Jerusalem, but that he regarded it as only just, a matter of principle, for Gentiles to give material support to Jews (Ro 15:25-27&NN). Presumably this aid was to benefit both the Messianic and the non-Messianic Jewish poor; there is no reason to suppose otherwise.
Having made the point that the Good News as he proclaims it among the Gentiles (v. 2) is something he learned from God, not from any human being, and especially not from the other emissaries (1:10-24), Sha'ul nevertheless insists (vv. 7-9) that its essence is the same as that of the Good News which the other emissaries proclaim to the Jews, "namely, this: the Messiah died for our sins, in accordance with what the Tanakh says; and he was buried; and he was raised on the third day, in accordance with what the Tanakh says" (1С 15:3—4).
What does make Sha'ul's message distinctive is his insistence that Gentiles do not have to become Jews in order to believe in Jesus. (Today the shoe is on the other foot: Messianic Jews are having to insist that a Jew need not become a goy in order to put his trust in Yeshua, the Jewish Messiah.) This point, irrelevant for Jews and therefore not part of the Gospel as it was presented to them, is essential for Gentiles; because it removes a major barrier, namely, the requirement, in addition to trusting God and the Good News, that Gentiles should leave one culture and join another. Sha'ul saw not only that this was unnecessary, but that insistence on it was a grave danger to the truth of the Good News (v. 5). Circumcision (vv. 3-5) quickly became the token of the entire controversy, precisely because when a Gentile allows himself to be circumcised, he obligates himself to obey the entire Torah, both written and oral; that is, he obligates himself to join the Jewish people as a Jew, to become fully Jewish (5:2-4&N).
11. Furthermore, when Kefa came to Antioch, I opposed him publicly, because he was clearly in the wrong.
Sha'ul's confrontation with Kefa in Antioch (vv. 11-16, but see vv. 14b-21N) illustrates dramatically that Sha'ul ranked equally with the other emissaries, indeed with Kefa the leading emissary (a major purpose of the Book of Acts is to demonstrate the same thing). Hence the Greek word "de" at the beginning is rendered "Furthermore," not "but," as in most translations (see Ro 10:6-8&N for a discussion of "de"). "But" misses the point, for it implies that Sha'ul's primary concern is with Kefa, that Kefa was right in his earlier approval of Sha'ul's ministry (vv. 6-10) "but" (in contrast) was wrong in separating himself (v. 12). "Furthermore" makes the incident with Kefa the keystone in Sha'ul's defense of his own authority as an emissary, which has been the central issue since 1:10. He is saying here that his authority was so well-founded that he opposed publicly the leading emissary, Kefa. Sha'ul did so not in order to elevate himself, but because Kefa, a role model, was clearly in the wrong and the Galatians needed to be warned (see v. 14a&N).
12. For prior to the arrival of certain people from [the community headed by] Ya‘akov, he had been eating with the Gentile believers; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, because he was afraid of the faction who favored circumcising Gentile believers.
From the community headed by Ya'akov, literally, "from Ya'akov." Bui what does that mean? One possibility is that these certain people were sent by Ya'akov, head of the Messianic Community in Jerusalem (see 1:19N). Yet clearly Ya'akov did not send them, because their insistence on observance of Jewish custom to the point of Jews' and Gentiles' not eating together contradicts Ya'akov's offering Sha'ul "the right hand of fellowship" (v. 9). It also contradicts what Ya'akov said at the Jerusalem Conference (Ac 15:4-29; compare also Ac21:18ff.).
Another possibility is that they falsely represented themselves as having been sent by Ya'akov and as speaking on his behalf. It seems quite likely that indeed they did precisely that — otherwise Sha'ul would not have taken such pains in vv. 2-10 to show that the Jerusalem leaders approved his version of the Gospel, not theirs.
However, I have chosen not to push all of that into the translation, but only to say that certain people were from the community headed by Ya'akov. They came, but they were neither sent by him nor authorized to speak or act on his behalf.
They were probably the same, or from the same group, as the men who "came down from Judea to Antioch and began teaching the brothers, 'You can't be saved unless you get circumcised in the manner prescribed by Moshe,'" a doctrine which "brought them into no small amount of discord and dispute with Sha'ul and Ваг-Nabba" (Ac 15:1-2) and which, at the Jerusalem Conference, resulted in a decision against them and in favor of Sha'ul and Bar-Nabba (Ac 15:20). Before these people came, Kefa had been eating with the Gentile believers, literally, "with the Gentiles"; but the context of public confrontation implies that all (or nearly all) of those present were believers; for it is unlikely that Sha'ul would "air dirty laundry" before unbelievers.
This is important, for it is not to be thought that Kefa had abandoned Jewish tradition and now ignored keeping kosher, so that he ate with any and all Gentiles whenever he felt like it. His loyalty to kashrut had been such that nothing treif had ever touched his lips prior to his seeing Cornelius; for this we have his word, spoken while he was seeing a vision (Ac 10:12-15) and reported afterwards by him to other believers (Ac 11:5-10). There the meaning of Kefa's vision was not that the laws of kashrut had been abrogated, but that a new circumstance, the inclusion of Gentiles in the Messianic Community, was to have an impact on Torah (see Ac IO:17-19&N, 10:28&N), so that keeping kosher became a less important ntitzvah than preserving fellowship between Jewish and Gentile believers. Accordingly, the laws of kashrut remain; the Messianic Community has not ignored them (see Ac 21:20-21 &NN) but rather has determined that Jewish-Gentile fellowship takes precedence over kashrut — just as circumcision of a boy on the eighth day takes precedence over not working on Shabbat (Yn 7:22-23&N).
I have heard the theory put forward by some Messianic Jews that Kefa and the other Jewish believers who ate with the Gentile believers ate kosher food with them — that either the Gentiles agreed to eat only kosher food, or special food was served to the Jewish believers. According to this theory, Kefa's fear of the Circumcision faction was only of their seeing him eating with Gentiles and supposing he was eating treif when he wasn't. (Eating with Gentiles was itself against custom, even if the food was kosher, but it did not violate halakhah; see Ac 10:28&N.) All this seems extremely unlikely to me. I understand the motivation for coming up with such a theory, namely, to show that the early Jewish believers did not stop being Jews; and one way of demonstrating this would be to show that they continued to observe the Torah in exactly the same way as before coming to faith. The flaw is in assuming that the Torah as set forth by non-Messianic Judaism is the standard by which to judge a Jew's Jewishness. If one realizes that it was the legalizers who had a distorted view of Torah, while the Jewish believers observed "the Torah's true meaning, which the Messiah upholds" (6:2), then the motivation evaporates for developing a theory so contrary to any natural understanding of what Sha'ul reports was going on in Antioch.
The Messianic Jew Daniel Klutstein has offered an alternative understanding: the problem may not have been whether fellowship between Jewish and Gentile believers is more compelling than kashrut but whether it is more compelling than ritual purity. Today it is hard to appreciate how important purity was in first-century Jewish life, although the fact that one-sixth of the Talmud is devoted to this subject ought to give an indication. True, Orthodox Jews go to the mikveh on various occasions. But in the first century, homes of observant Jews frequently had a mikveh built in: to be able to maintain ritual purity at all times it was considered normal to have a private mikveh. Hundreds of them can be seen today at archeological sites in Yerushalayim, Tzippori and throughout Israel. Consider that Kefa went frequently to the Temple; he would not have been able to enter in a ritually impure state, but eating with Gentiles and being in their homes could render him impure and thus subject to criticism by the picky. A major point of Acts 10-11 is that Gentile believers in Yeshua were purified by God, so that Kefa learned to regard himself as ritually pure when eating with them. But before the overly critical Jews "from Ya'akov" he backed off and became a hypocrite or at least was intimidated into not being true to what he believed.
: The faction that favored circumcision of Gentile believers, literally, "the Circumcision"; but this cannot here mean simply "the Jews," as it does in vv. 7-9; for all the principals — Sha'ul, Kefa, Bar-Nabba and the other Jewish believers — were Jews too. Rather, this is the group who insisted that Gentiles must become Jews before they can believe in Jesus, the group referred to in my translation at three other places as "the Circumcision faction" (see Ac 10:45&N, 11:2; Ti 1:10).
Kefa withdrew and separated himself out of fear of them. Why? What did the leading emissary have to be afraid of? Apparently, even though his explanation of Cornelius' conversion satisfied those of the Circumcision faction who heard him several years earlier (Ac 11:18), the issue had not died down but had grown more troublesome (vv. 3-4; Ac 15:1-2,5; 21:20). Shall we look to Kefa's sanguine personality as an explanation, his desire to be a hail-fellow-well-met, accepted by everyone? Hardly, if his behavior in Acts 2-5 means anything at all. I think it was just a lapse, a moment of weakness — of which there are other examples in Kefa's life (Mt 26:75, Yn 21:7), as well as in Sha'ul's (Ac 23:2-5&N).
13. And the other Jewish believers became hypocrites along with him, so that even Bar-Nabba was led astray by their hypocrisy.
Jewish believers, Greek loudaioi, which is usually to be rendered "Jews" or "Judeans" (see Yn 1:19&N). But here "Judeans" is irrelevant, and the context makes it impossible that these loudaioi were non-Messianic Jews. Accordingly, we have here incontrovertible scriptural evidence that Jewish believers in Yeshua the Messiah are Jews, not ex-Jews as some claim.
Even Bar-Nabba, with Sha'ul an emissary specifically sent to the Gentiles (v. 9), who therefore, more than the others, should have known better.
14. But when I saw that they were not walking a straight path, keeping in line with the truth of the Good News, I said to Kefa, right in front of everyone, “If you, who are a Jew, live like a Goy and not like a Jew, why are you forcing the Goyim to live like Jews?
Right in front of everyone. Since Kefa's public behavior was leading other believers astray, even the leaders, it was essenlial for Sha'ul to correct him publicly; see 1 Ti 5:20. The confrontation was a drama in which the central character was neither Kefa nor Sha'ul but the truth of the Good News.
If you, A Jew, live like a Goy and not like a Jew, why are you forcing the Goyim to live like Jews? Kefa was a simple fisherman, a guter Yid (Yiddish: "a good Jew," with the sense, "a straightforward, honest man") whose loyalty to Jewish distinctives — to kashrut, for example (Ac 10:14) — was not the product of intellectual consideration or extended Torah study (Ac 4:14). but the naive expression of who he was. On the other hand, Sha'ul, the scholar and thinker who could talk circles around Kefa on any subject of Torah, and who used to be far more/rum than Kefa ever dreamed of being (1:14&N). is "pulling intellectual rank" in the service of the Gospel: '"Kefa, you observed kashrut without any exceptions most of your life. But you concluded, correctly, that with Goyim who are believers or are interested in the faith you should eat treif like a Goy if your insisting on kosher food would impede the communication of the Gospel. Now, with these impostors scrutinizing you, you go through the charade of always eating kosher and only with Jews. Why? From some holy motive? No, only to impress the people from Ya'akov's community who think the Torah as interpreted by the non-Messianic Jews is normative for Gentile believers. But I say that Torah so interpreted is normative for no one — not for Gentile believers, and not for Jewish believers either! And your past behavior and experience prove that you agree with me. Stop this charade! Stop this hypocrisy! Stop making the Goyim live like non-Messianic Jews — they don't have to! You know it, they are to know it, and the people from Ya'akov need to know it too."
Why are you forcing the Goyim, the Gentile believers here in Antioch, to live like Jews? This is an implied kal v'chomer argument (see Mt 6:30N): "Kefa, you used to be proud that you had never let a mouthful of irei/food cross your lips (Ac 10:14). But you don"t live according to the rules of non-Messianic Judaism any more. If you don't live by those rules, if you yourself live not like a Jew, how much more should you not force Gentiles to live by those rules!" The implication is that not only had Kefa hypocritically altered his own eating habits to conform with the wishes of the Judaizers, but he was now himself proselytizing on their behalf!
The terms used in this verse emphasize the strangeness of Kefa's behavior as much as its wrongness. For there are three Greek words which appear only here in the whole New Testament:
First, the phrase, "like a goy" translates the Greek word "ethnikos," which Sha'ul apparently invented for the occasion from ethnos, "pagan, heathen; Gentile, Non-Jew; nation; people, ethnic group"; a one-word translation of "ethnikos'" would be "Goyishly." I use the term "Goy" and its derivatives in my translation only to refer to Gentiles and only when one Jew is speaking to another. In modern Jewish English, "Goy" may have either a neutral or a pejorative overtone. Even though the expression, "Goyishe sinner," is pejorative in v. 15 (see note there), in this verse the word "goy" is used neutrally. See Mt 5:47N, 10:5N, 24:7N.
Second, the phrase, "like a Jew," "Jewishly," is Greek "loudaikos," parallel to "ethnikos" and formed from the word "loudaiox" (here "Jew" and not "Judean"; see Yo I:19N). Although "loudaioi" must mean "Jewish believers" in the previous verse (v. 13&N), and in this verse Kefa is called "Ioudaios" ("a Jew") without any reference to the nature of his faith, "loudaikos" here can only mean "non-Messianic-Jewishly" — but it can't be translated that way in the text without losing the force of Sha'ul's rhetoric. See 1:13N on "non-Messianic Judaism." To live Messianic-Jewishly means sometimes to "live Goyishly" from the viewpoint of a non-Messianic Jew! Why? Because of the way in which the Torah has been modified under the New Covenant to take into account the inclusion of Gentiles in God's people. Thus the Torah-true Messianic Jew may break the laws of kashrut for the sake of preserving Jewish-Gentile fellowship in the Body of the Messiah (and the Torah-tnie Messianic Gentile may sometimes choose to eat kosher for the same reason). What about the Torah-tme non-Messianic Jew? According to Sha'ul and Messianic Judaism, there can be no such thing; for to deny that Yeshua is the Messiah is to deny the New Covenant, which "has been made Torah" (MJ 8:6b&N).
Third, the phrase, "to live like Jews" is Greek Ioudaizein, which gives us the English word "Judaize." Some Gentile Christians say that Messianic Jews are "Judaizers." Since non-Messianic Jews rarely use this word, it has for them a neutral or slightly positive overtone. But because the "villains" of the book of Galatians are commonly termed Judaizers, this word has a strongly negative valence in Christian circles; and for this reason it is necessary to defend Messianic Jews against the charge of being Judaizers.
In order to do so, the term must be defined; and it may quickly be determined that the word "Judaizer" is ambiguous, because it is applied indiscriminately to three distinct kinds of "villains" who are often confounded with each other; 1 call them (1) the Circumcision faction, (2) the assimilationists, and (3) the legalizers. Secondly, Messianic Jews are none of these; on the contrary, as history developed, it was the Church which produced analogues to each of them in its dealings with the Jews!
(1) Circumcision faction. The burden of the Circumcision faction was to insist that Gentiles cannot be saved by their inward faith in Yeshua the Messiah unless they undergo the outward procedure of converting to Judaism, symbolized for men by getting circumcised. As Sha'ul makes eloquently clear at 6:12-13, the Circumcision faction did not really care whether the Gentile proselytes then went on to fulfill their obligation (5:3) to observe the Torah as understood in non-Messianic Judaism, let alone whether their faith was genuine. In fact, Sha'ul did not consider members of the Circumcision faction to be believers at all (1:6-9).
The Church produced its own "circumcision faction," as it were. In the Middle Ages and on into modern times, some who called themselves Christians forced Jews to be baptized on pain of death (many Jews chose the latter; see Ac 7:59-60N), without the least interest in whether these Jews had inward faith.
(2) Assimilationists. The goal of the assimilationists was to get Gentile believers to follow certain Jewish customs, to assimilate into the Jewish community, to become culturally Jewish in greater or lesser degree. For them there was no such thing as "transcultural Judaism" (see 1:17N). In the present verse Sha'ul does not accuse Kefa of joining the Circumcision faction but of being an assimilationist, forcing Gentiles to observe kashrut.
The Church produced its own assimilationists as soon as Gentile believers began to exceed Jewish believers in number and power. As early as the middle of the second century, the Gentile-dominated Church was celebrating the Lord's resurrection not in accordance with the Jewish calendar on the third day of Pesach, but always on a Sunday — this is how Easter became separated from Passover, and an important purpose of the practice was to distance Christianity from Judaism. By the fourth century, Jews who became believers were required to agree to lengthy statements promising that they would give up all Jewish practices and associations. The fact that Messianic Judaism, indeed any distinctively Jewish form of Christianity, virtually disappeared from the scene of history between the fifth and eighteenth centuries is evidence of assimilationism in the Church. Even today, the vast majority of Gentile Christians expect Jewish believers to assimilate to Gentile Christianity and either oppose or are indifferent to the development of a distinctive Messianic Judaism.
What motivated Kefa to press for assimilation? Fear, according to vv. 1 l-14a, fear of those whom the Gentiles perceived as more spiritual, more in touch with the right way to serve God. Sha'ul deals with this fear by providing Kefa and the Antioch Gentiles with fuller knowledge, so that those "from Ya'akov" will no longer be perceived as more spiritual and Kefa will no longer fear them. In the same way, it is my hope that the Jewish New Testament and this commentary will provide knowledge enabling similarly fearful Gentile Christians and Jewish believers to stop fearing persons hostile toward Messianic Judaism and thus stop making Messianic Jews assimilate to Gentile culture.
(3) Legalizers. I apply the term "legalizers" to those who
(a) perverted the Torah into a legalistic system unrelated to trusting God (see v. 16bN), and
(b) insisted that unless Gentiles obeyed this legalistic perversion of the Torah, they could not be saved. Legalizers would have taken Sha'ul's meaning at 5:3 below to be that Gentiles who get ritually circumcised must obey the whole Torah as it is expounded in non-Messianic Judaism. Further, since the Torah so understood is not merely an ethical and ceremonial code but a total embodiment of Jewish culture, the legalizers would have favored both goals of the other two groups, circumcision of Gentiles and their full cultural assimilation into the Jewish community.
The Church has produced its own legalizers, perverting God's gracious gift of salvation into their own set of rules and requiring everyone else to follow them on pain of exclusion. Such Christian legalizers, pestering Jewish and Gentile believers alike, are always a threat to the Gospel.
These three forms of "Judaizing" are not mutually exclusive. The same person can insist on all of them — outward signs, cultural assimilation, and legalistic obedience to a set of rules. A "Judaizer" could insist that Gentile believers in Yeshua get circumcised, adapt to Jewish culture and obey Jewish rules regardless of whether they have faith for doing so. A "Gentilizer" could insist that Jews get baptized whether they believe in Yeshua or not, adapt to Gentile church life and worship styles, and obey Gentile-Christian-determined rules of life whether they believe in them or not. Requiring any of these for salvation is a heresy, but they are three different heresies. However, in vv. 15-16 Sha'ul assumes that assimilationism normally leads to legalism, that it is but a short step from compelling Gentiles to follow Jewish customs (assimilationism) to teaching that their doing so will earn them favor with God (legalism).
The Greek word "loudaizein" can be rendered, "to Judaize, to Judaize oneself, to become a Jew, to convert to Judaism, to live like a Jew, to live as a Jew"; there is enough variety here to cover all three of these heresies. But all meanings of "loudaizein" assume that those who get "Judaized" are Gentiles, never Jews. In spite of this fact, one of the most tenacious and pernicious phenomena in Christendom is the application of the term "Judaizers" to Messianic Jews attempting to establish for Jewish believers a Jewish way of following the Jewish Messiah.
Messianic Jews, with very rare exceptions, are guilty of none of these heresies. They do not press Gentile Christians to get circumcised or convert to Judaism but usually discourage it on the basis of 1С 7:18 (however see my notes there and at 5:2-4 below). They do not force Gentile Christians to adopt Jewish practices, although Gentiles who voluntarily choose to are welcomed, provided their motives are sound, because they are "free in Christ" to make that choice. Finally, Messianic Jews do not claim that observance of customs developed in non-Messianic Judaism is either necessary for salvation or a sign of greater spirituality. Instead, Messianic Jews try to develop a Messianic mode of celebrating the Jewish festivals, a Messianic form of Jewish worship, and a Messianic Jewish lifestyle wherein Jewish believers can express both their Jewishness and their Messianic faith.
Yet for obeying the Great Commission (Mt 28:18-20), so often neglected by the Church in relation to the Jewish people, Messianic Jews are stigmatized among Gentile Christians as "Judaizers." Yet how can a Jew, who is already Jewish, be "Judaized"? This is a contradiction in terms, an absurdity. Nowhere in the New Testament are Jewish believers criticized for living like the Jews they are. On the contrary, when Sha'ul was accused of teaching Jews not to observe circumcision and the Mosaic Law, he demonstrated that the accusation was false (Ac 2l:20-27&NN). Was Sha'ul therefore a "Judaizer" for encouraging Jewish believers to continue circumcising their children and observing the Torah?
Instead of calling Messianic Jews "Judaizers," Christians should root out all efforts to "Gentilize" Jewish believers. Why do some in the third world oppose Christian missions as "tools of Western imperialism"? Because missionaries sometimes fail to distinguish the transcultural Good News (see 1:17&N) from their own Western cultural baggage. When third-world Christians realize that they need not act like Americans or Europeans in order to be saved, they reject the imposed foreign patterns vigorously and establish vibrant national churches within their own cultural framework. It amazes me that many Gentile Christians who wisely oppose Westernizing the Gospel when presenting it to the non-Western world cannot see that the same principle compels them to refrain from Gentilizing the Gospel when presenting it to Jews; they seem to forget that the Gospel is "for the Jew especially" (Ro 1:16&N). Instead, they accuse those who present the Gospel in a Jewish way of "rebuilding the middle wall of partition" between Jewish and Gentile believers (Ep 2:14&N); they take the remark, "There is neither Jew nor Greek" (below, 3:28&N), to mean that in the Messianic Community there must be only Greeks and no Jews! One goal of the Jewish New Testament and this commentary is to bring into disrepute both the Gentilizing of Jewish believers and the labeling of Messianic Jews as Judaizers.
v. 1:13-2:14 Sha'ul here provides evidence for what he has asserted in vv. 10-12. He certainly did not learn his Gospel in non-Messianic Judaism (vv. 13-14). Rather, it was God's sovereign action to pick him, call him, reveal his Son directly and make him an emissary to the Gentiles (vv. 15-16). Even then, he did not go and study with those who were emissaries before him in order to prepare himself for his God-given task, but went off to Arabia for as long as three years (vv. 17-18) and began putting together his revolutionary version of the Gospel — revolutionary in that for the first time a Scriptural and theological basis was given for presenting the Gospel to Gentiles without their having to become Jews first (see v. I7N). From 1:18 through 2:14 Sha'ul further explains how his ministry developed independently of the leading Jewish believers, yet correctly and with their approval, so that under pressure from legalizers (2:3-5) and even from the foremost emissary, Kefa (2:11-14), he did not alter his version of the Gospel or add to the practices it requires. The ideas in this note are unpacked below in the notes to the separate verses.
15. We are Jews by birth, not so-called ‘Goyishe sinners’;
"Goyishe sinners," literally, "sinners from Gentiles." I have added the words, "so-called," along with quotation marks, in order to show that Sha'ul was not employing this demeaning term himself but using the terminology of his opposition, the Circumcision faction (see vv. 11-12&NN). According to them Gentiles were by definition sinners, since they did not have the Torah. This equating of Goyim and sinners can be found in the Apocrypha (1 Maccabees 1:34, Tobit 13:6) and in the Gospels themselves (compare Lk 18:31-33 with Lk 24:7); while at Mt 9:10,11:19; Lk 7:34, 37; 15:1-2 the P 'rushim apply the word "sinners" in a similar way, but to a class of Jews rather than Gentiles. Fonnerly Kefa himself had held a low view of Gentiles, but his vision in Yafo changed his attitude (Ac 10:1-11:19). We don't have evidence for how Sha'ul thought about Gentiles before he came to faith, but it is clear from the whole book of Romans that as a Messianic Jew he went out of his way to emphasize the equality of Jews and Gentiles before God. See also vv. 17-18N.
16. even so, we have come to realize that a person is not declared righteous by God on the ground of his legalistic observance of Torah commands, but through the Messiah Yeshua’s trusting faithfulness. Therefore, we too have put our trust in Messiah Yeshua and become faithful to him, in order that we might be declared righteous on the ground of the Messiah’s trusting faithfulness and not on the ground of our legalistic observance of Torah commands. For on the ground of legalistic observance of Torah commands, no one will be declared righteous" (Psalm 143:2).
Declared righteous by God, Greek dikaiod, "make righteous, justify." In order for a person to have fellowship with God, he must be righteous; because God is righteous, holy, without sin, and cannot tolerate sin in his presence. Theology distinguishes two kinds of righteousness:
(1) behavioral righteousness, actually doing what is right, and
(2) "forensic righteousness," being regarded as righteous in the senses
(a) that God has cleared him of guilt for past sins, and
(b) that God has given him a new human nature inclined to obey God rather than rebel against him as before.
Yeshua the Messiah has made forensic righteousness available to everyone by paying on everyone's behalf the penalty for sins which God's justice demands, death (see Ro 5:12-21&N). Forensic righteousness is appropriated by an individual for himself the moment he unreservedly puts his trust in God, which at this point in history entails also trusting in Yeshua the Messiah upon learning of him and understanding what he has done (1 Yn 2:23). The task of becoming behaviorally righteous begins with appropriating forensic righteousness by trusting in Yeshua; and it occupies the rest of a believer's life, being completed only at his own death, when he goes to be with Yeshua (Pp1:23).
Libraries of books have been written on the subject of righteousness, both Jewish ethical treatises and volumes of Christian theology, since the question of how righteousness is attained sparked the entire Protestant Reformation. What is important to keep in mind here is the difference between these two kinds of righteousness. Each time the Greek word "dikaiod" or a cognate is encountered, it must be decided which of these two meanings of the word is meant. In the present verse and the next, all four instances of "dikaiod" refer to forensic righteousness. But in v. 21, the related word "dikaiosune" refers to behavioral righteousness (see note there).
Legalistic observance of Torah commands. The Greek word "nomos" usually means "law"; it is also the normal New Testament word for Hebrew Torah, which can usually be translated by the phrase, "Law of Moses," or simply, "Law." Most Christians therefore suppose that "erga nomou," literally, "works of law," a term which appears three times in v. 16, must mean, "actions done in obedience to the Torah.'' But this is wrong. One of the best-kept secrets about the New Testament is that when Sha'ul writes "nomos" he frequently does not mean "law" but "legalism."
So that my defense of this interpretation will not appear to be special pleading, I make my case by quoting from two distinguished Gentile Christian scholars without any Messianic Jewish axe to grind. С. Е. B. Cranfield, in his commentary on the book of Romans, writes:
"...it will be well to bear in mind the fact (which, so far as we know, had not received attention before it was noted in [Cranfield's article in) the Scottish Journal of Theology, Volume 17,1964, p. 55) that the Greek language of Paul' s day possessed no word-group corresponding to our 'legalism,' 'legalist' and 'legalistic." This means that he lacked a convenient terminology for expressing a vital distinction, and so was surely seriously hampered in the work of clarifying the Christian position with regard to the law. In view of this, we should always, we think, be ready to reckon with the possibility that Pauline statements which at first sight seem to disparage the law, were really directed not against the law itself but against that misunderstanding and misuse of it for which we now have a convenient terminology. In this very difficult terrain Paul was pioneering. If we make due allowance for these circumstances, we shall not be so easily baffled or misled by a certain impreciseness of statement which we shall sometimes encounter." (C.E.B. Cranfield, The International Critical Commentary, Romans, 1979, p. 853)
Cranfield is right — except for his speculation that he was the first. Forty-three years earlier Ernest De Witt Burton, in his classic commentary on Galatians, also made clear that in the present verse "nomos" means "legalism" and not God's Torah:
"Nomou is here evidently used... in its legalistic sense, denoting divine law viewed as a purely legalistic system made up of statutes, on the basis of obedience or disobedience to which men are approved or condemned as a matter of debt without grace. This is divine law as the legalist defined it. In the apostle's thought it stands for a reality only in that it constitutes a single element of the divine law detached from all other elements and aspects of divine revelation; by such detachment it misrepresents the will of God and his real attitude towards men. By erga nomou Paul means deeds of obedience to formal statutes done in the legalistic spirit, with the expectation of thereby meriting and securing divine approval and award, such obedience, in other words, as the legalists rendered to the law of the Old Testament as expanded and interpreted by them. Though nomos in this sense had no existence as representing the basis of justification in the divine government, yet erga nomou had a very real existence in the thought and practice of men who conceived of the divine law after this fashion.... The translation of this phrase here and constantly... by 'the works of the law'... is a serious defect of [ version s that have it]." (E. Burton, The International Critical Commentary, Galatians, 1921, p. 120)
The phrase, "erga nomou," found only in Sha'ul's writings, is used eight times, always in technical discussion of the Torah — here three times; 3:2, 5, 10; and Ro 3:20, 28. Two other uses of "erga" ("works") are closely associated with the word "nomos" ("law") — Ro 3:27,9:32. Even when he uses erga by itself, the implied meaning is frequently "legalistic works" (5:19; Ro 4:2,6; 9:11; 11:6; Ep 2:9; 2 Ti 1:9; Ti 3:5), although he uses it 17 times in a neutral way (Ro 2:6; 13:3,12; 2C 11:15; Ep2:10,5:11; Co 1:21; 1 Ti 2:10; 5:10, 25; 2 Ti 3:17,4:14; Ti 1:16; 2:7, 14; 3:8, 14).
I submit that in every instance "erga nomou" means not deeds done in virtue of following the Torah in the way God intended, but deeds done in consequence of perverting the Torah into a set of rules which, it is presumed, can be obeyed mechanically, automatically, legalistically, without having faith, without having trust in God, without having love for God or man, and without being empowered by the Holy Spirit.
"Erga nomou,'" therefore, is a technical term coined by Sha'ul to meet precisely the need Cranfield has written about; it speaks of legalism, not Law. But because Sha'ul's subject is misunderstanding and perverting Torah into something it was never meant to be, erga nomou are, specifically, in context, "works of legaJism in relation to the Torah" exactly as Burton explained. Hence my rendering, legalistic observance of Torah commands.
Likewise, the term "upo потоп" ("under law"), which appears five times in this letter, never means simply "under the Torah," in the sense of "subject to its provisions," "living within its framework." Rather, with one easily explainable variation, it is Sha'ul's shorthand for "living under the oppression caused by being enslaved to the social system or the mindset that results when the Torah is perverted into legalism" (but more on "upo потоп" in 3:23bN and 4:4-5N).
Christian scholars have discoursed at length about Sha'ul's supposedly ambivalent view of the Torah. Their burden has been to show that somehow he could abrogate the Torah and still respect it. Non-Messianic Jewish scholars, building on the supposedly reliable conclusion, gratuitously supplied by their Christian colleagues, that Sha'ul did in fact abrogate the Torah, have made it their burden to show that the logical implication of Sha'ul's abrogating the Torah is that he did not respect it either and thereby removed himself and all future Jewish believers in Yeshua from the camp of Judaism (the so-called "parting of the ways"). In this fashion liberally oriented non-Messianic Jews in the modern era have been able to have their cake and eat it too, to claim Jesus for themselves as a wonderful Jewish teacher while making Paul the villain of the piece.
But Sha'ul had no such ambivalence. For him the Torah of Moshe was unequivocally "holy" and its commands "holy, just and good" (Ro 7:12). And so were works done in true obedience to the Torah. But in order to be regarded by God as good, works done in obedience to the Torah had to be grounded in trust, never in legalism (see Ro 9:30-10:10&NN). If one keeps in mind that Sha'ul had nothing but bad to say for the sin of perverting the Torah into legalism, and nothing but good to say for the Torah itself, then the supposed contradictions in his view of the Torah vanish. Instead of being the villain who destroyed the backbone of Judaism and led Jews astray, he is the most authentic expositor of Torah that the Jewish people have ever had, apart from the Messiah Yeshua himself.
But through the Messiah Yeshua's trusting faithfulness, literally, as given above in vv. 15-16N, "except through trust of Messiah Yeshua." There are three issues here:
(1) What is meant by "trust"?
(2) What does the "of mean in the phrase "of Messiah Yeshua"? That is, whose trust is Sha'ul speaking about, the Messiah's or ours?
(3) Does the conjunction "but" at the beginning introduce a contrast or a limitation?
(1) Trust. The Greek word "pistis" is usually translated "faith" or "belief," but these English words can signify adherence to a creed, mere mental assent, whereas the biblical meaning, both in the New Testament and in the Tanakh (where the Hebrew word is "emunah"), is either
(a) trust, reliance on someone or something, or
(b) faithfulness, trustworthiness. A moment's thought shows that these two are really the same — if one has genuine and unreserved trust, reliance, faith, belief in someone, then one will be faithful to him and trustworthy in carrying out his commands — that is to say, faith implies faithfulness, trust implies obedience. Eugene Nida, developer of the "dynamic equivalence" approach to Bible translation, notes a tribe of Mexican Indians that has only one concept and one word in its language for these two ideas, and he comments that perhaps they are wiser than we. For more on pistis and emunah see Ac 3:16N.
It is so important for understanding the book of Galatians to be constantly reminded of both aspects of the word "pistis" that I have encumbered the style of the Jewish New Testament with the awkward phrase, "trusting faithfulness" (or some equally clumsy equivalent), every time "pistis" or a correlate appears in this letter.
(2) Of Messiah Yeshua. Romans 3:22N, which discusses the same issue and explains the grammatical concepts of subjective and objective genitive, is an essential introduction to what follows.
The major modern English versions take "dia pisteos lesou Christou" ("through trust of Yeshua Messiah") and "ekpisteos Christou" ("from faith of Messiah") both to be speaking of our trust in Yeshua the Messiah. This nearly always produces the translations, "through faith in Jesus Christ" and "by faith in Christ."
I feel a bit intimidated in taking on nearly all modern authorities and insisting that this understanding is wrong and that instead Sha'ul is writing about the trusting faithfulness to God and to God's promises which Yeshua the Messiah himself displayed in his own life. As before with "works of law" (v. 16b), 1 will let Gentile scholars make my case for rendering "dia pisteos lesou Christou" as "the Messiah Yeshua's trusting faithfulness."
Arndt and Gingrich's A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, p. 668 (bottom), notes, "The pistis Christou in Paul is taken as a subjective genitive by..." and gives three scholarly references in German, although the authors of the lexicon themselves think otherwise. ("Subjective genitive" means that the faith/faithfulness is Yeshua's own faith in and faithfulness to God his Father, not our faith in Yeshua; see Ro 3:22N.)
More recently, George Howard, in his article, "Romans 3:21-31 and the Inclusion of the Gentiles" (Harvard Theological Review 63 (1970), pp. 223-233), writes,
"It is best to regard the genitive as a subjective genitive, meaning the 'faith of Jesus,' for the following reasons.
(1) In passages that are clear when Paul uses pistis followed by a genitive noun of person he always implies the subjective genitive, never the objective (for example ten pistin tou theou [('God's faithfulness')] in Romans 3:3; pisteos tou patros imSn Ahraam [('the trust which Avraham avinu had')] in Romans 4:12).
(2) Galatians 2:16 shows that for Paul there is a difference between the ideas of faith in Christ and faith of Christ and that he is able to make himself clear by his use of grammar.
(3) The Peshitta Syriac [version, 3rd century] always translates the phrase pistis christou lesou with the meaning of 'the faith of the Messiah' (especially is this clear in its rendition of Galatians 2:16 and Ephesians 3:12), showing how the ancient Syrian Church understood the construction. Some scholars do believe that pistis christou lesou is a subjective genitive, but by and large the phrase remains obscure." (p. 229)
In writing about Sha'ul's making "himself clear by his use of grammar," Howard is referring to the phrase in the middle of v. 16, "we too have put our trust in Messiah Yeshua and become faithful to him," literally, "we unto Messiah Yeshua trusted." Here "unto," doubly translated in the JNT as "in" and "to," is the Greek word "eis" ("in, to, into, unto, toward"). The word is different, the grammar is different, and for this reason, says Howard, the sense is therefore different. Our trusting in Yeshua and being faithful to him means that we rely on him unreservedly, even to the point of being in "union with" him (v. 17), with the result that we too can now exercise the same trusting faithfulness as his. And what trusting faithfulness was that? The trusting faithfulness o/Yeshua was the trust in God and the faithfulness to him which the Messiah exercised when he relied on God's promises to the extent of being willing to die for our sake, "a righteous person on behalf of unrighteous people" (1 Ke 3:18; compare Ro 5:6-8).
Thus Sha'ul in this verse dissects saving faith into its two component parts:
(1) the trust in and faithfulness toward God which the Messiah had (mentioned twice), and
(2) the trust in and faithfulness toward Yeshua — and, by implication, toward God the Father too (1 Yn 2:23) — which we have (mentioned once). Neither alone would suffice for someone to be declared righteous by God. In this way Sha'ul handles the paradox of free will, mentioned often in this commentary, that, as Rabbi Akiva put it in the Mishna (Avot 3:15), "All is foreseen" (hence the need for the Messiah's faithfulness, God having known and foreseen that we would all be faithless sinners), "and free will is given" (hence the need for us to put our trust in the Messiah by our own free choice).
Why must Sha'ul make the Messiah's objective act of faithfulness to God central? That is, why cannot Sha'ul be referring all three times to our faith in the Messiah? Because then Sha'ul would be asserting that God's declaring us righteous depends on nothing but our subjective choice of abstract "faith" over "works of law," without any explanation of why the former is preferred over the latter. The reason that "faith" (by which is meant not just any faith but faith specifically in the person and work of the Messiah Yeshua) is the only path to righteousness, and that "works of law" (that is, works of legalistic obedience to Torah commands) are not a path to righteousness, is that God objectively (that is, because he is holy and just) required someone to be faithful to him before he could declare him righteous. In a world where all have gone astray (see v. 16dN; compare Isaiah 53:6, Ro 3:10-18), Yeshua was that "someone." Yeshua's own trusting faithfulness to the promise which God gave Avraham (Genesis 12:1-3), Yeshua's faithfulness even unto death (Ro 3:24-26, 5:8; Pp 2:5-11), became the objective ground enabling God to make righteousness available to other human beings, provided only that they trust in and are faithful to Yeshua (or, equivalently, that they trust in and are faithful to God — according to Yn 14:6 and 1 Yn 2:23 the one necessarily implies the other). Yeshua's faithfulness, which we appropriate and become increasingly able to exercise when we come into union with him (v. 17) through our trust in him and faithfulness towards him, gives God objective ground for at once declaring us righteous foren-sically and in increments making us righteous behaviorally (v. 16aN) with Yeshua's own righteousness.
(3) "But": contrast or limitation? A person is not justified by works of law but through the Messiah's faithfulness. The Greek phrase translated "but" is "ean mi." The other 51 times it appears in the New Testament, scholars agree that it introduces a limitation, so that it is properly translated "unless" or "except." Only here is it supposed to introduce a contrast, so that its meaning is "but rather." Clearly this singularity requires an explanation. And here is the significance of rendering "ean me" by "but": if it is rendered "unless," then a reader who disagrees with the points previously made in the comments on this verse — who thinks that "erga nomou" refers to Torah observance, not legalism, and that "pistis Christou" refers to our trust in Yeshua, not to Yeshua's trust in God — must still consider the possibility that "ean me" means "unless," and that therefore Sha'ul is saying, "A person is not justified by works of law [Torah observance] unless [he does those works of law] through [his own] trust in the Messiah Yeshua." This is still a far more "pro-Law" statement than the verse is usually understood to be making.
Why do I not translate "ean mi" here as "unless"? Because in the Septuagint, "ean me" is used several times to translate the Hebrew phrase "ki-im" which generally means "but rather." Thus there is evidence outside the New Testament that when Jews wrote Greek, "ean me" could mean "but rather." If I am right that "erga nomou" refers to legalism, then "ean mi" here must mean "but rather" and not "unless." Why? Because Sha'ul in this letter is out to show that legalism and faith are incompatible: works of legalism by definition cannot be be done through trust. But if I am wrong about "erga nomou," if "works of law" really signify works of Torah observance, then I cannot allow that "ean mi" here means "but rather"; it must mean "unless." Why? Because Sha'ul neither believes nor says that Torah and faith are incompatible; therefore the normal New Testament meaning of "ean mi" "unless," which does not require any special explanation, is the one to expect.
No one will be declared forensically righteous (see v. 16aN). In quoting a few words from Psalm 143:2, Sha'ul, following normal rabbinic practice, intends the reader to call to mind the context. Here the relevant context is the following portion of Psalm 143, which makes exactly the same point as Sha'ul does in the present verse:
"Hear my prayer, Adonai, give ear to my supplications! Answer me with your faithfulness, with your righteousness; And do not enter into judgment with your servant, For in your sight, no one living will be declared righteous." (Psalm 143:1-2)
The same phrase is cited, for the same reason, at Ro 3:20&N, where Sha'ul is dealing with the same issue. Romans 3:19-26 can be read as an expansion of Ga 2:15-16.
These two verses are the key to how Sha'ul regarded the Law of Moses; thus they are the key to the book of Galatians and to the book of Romans. He who seizes their true meaning can help repair the grave damage done to the unity of Jews and Gentiles in the Body of the Messiah by those who have misunderstood Sha'ul's view of Torah.
In these verses Sha'ul pivots from defending the authority behind his version of the Gospel (which he began in the very first verse of the letter and has made his central topic since 1:10) to explaining why under the New Covenant it is wrong to Judaize Gentile believers. From here to the end of the book of Galatians he will be attacking the Judaizers (see v. 14bN) and defending the true Gospel, according to which Gentiles need not become Jews in order to follow Yeshua the Messiah.
For comparative purposes, here is a literal translation of vv. 15-16:
We, by nature Jews and not sinners from Gentiles, but knowing that a person is not justified from works of law but through trust of Messiah Yeshua, even we unto Messiah Yeshua trusted, in order that we might be justified from trust of Messiah and not from works of law, because from works of law not will be justified all flesh.
17. But if, in seeking to be declared righteous by God through our union with the Messiah, we ourselves are indeed found to be sinners, then is the Messiah an aider and abettor of sin? Heaven forbid!
18. Indeed, if I build up again the legalistic bondage which I destroyed, I really do make myself a transgressor.
Through our union with the Messiah, Greek en Christo. The usual, literal translation, "in Christ," is not useful for the modern reader, for whom the idea of being "in" somebody has no meaning in the present context. The Greek preposition "en" can mean "in connection with," "in the sphere of," "in union with"; all of which convey the sense better. Our trust in the Messiah and faithfulness to him (see v. 16bN) unites us with him; according to Ro 6:1-8:13, we are united with his death, his resurrection and his life.
In typically rabbinic teaching fashion (see Ro 10:14-I5&N), Sha'ul anticipates an objection the Judaizers might make. The objection is two-pronged. First, and easily disposed of: Is the Messiah an aider and abetter of sin (literally, "a minister of sin," "one who is in the service of sin")? The answer is Greek's most forceful negation, "Me genoito!" literally, "May it not be!" but translated "Heaven forbid!" to convey its intensity (on this phrase see Ro 3:4N). For the idea of a Messiah who promotes or serves sin is Jewishly unthinkable, a contradiction in terms. Even if all who claim to trust in the Messiah were worse sinners than everyone else, it would be their own fault, not the Messiah's (compare Ro 3:3-4).
The second part of the objection might be stated by the Judaizers thusly: "You have been seeking to be righteous before God by uniting yourself with Yeshua; but instead of attaining righteousness, your condition is that of sinners (just like the Goyim, whom we call 'Goyishe sinners' (v. 15&N)), because you don't observe the Torah." But Sha'ul answers by asserting that what the Judaizers regard as sin is not sin at all, not really transgression of the Torah. For the Judaizers apply the label, "sinner," not to those who disobey what is truly the Torah, but to those who do not submit to the system which results from perverting the Torah into legalism. That system, says Sha'ul, is not what the Torah really is. What is truly the Torah requires not legalism but trusting faithfulness. "The moment I realized that," says Sha'ul in v. 19, "I understood the Torah properly; and in that moment I destroyed for myself the bondage of legalism." Therefore, If I build up again the humanly-created legalistic set of rules whose power over me I destroyed when I realized that the Torah requires just one basic thing, trusting faithfulness, then 1 really do make myself a transgressor, a real transgressor of the true Torah, a real sinner, not merely someone whom Judaizers falsely call a sinner.
But from another point of view, what I destroyed was not only a legalistic system bul also a form of idolatry, namely, ethnolatry, in which I took pride in being Jewish and insisted that keeping Jewish distinctives is essential to being part of God's people, even for Gentiles. Now, if I build up again that "ethnolatry," I make myself a transgressor of the true Torah, which says that because God is One (Deuteronomy 6:4), he is God of both Jews and Gentiles (Ro 3:27-31) and therefore accepts the trusting faithfulness of Gentiles without requiring them to become Jews (a point on which Sha'ul expands in Romans 4).
19. For it was through letting the Torah speak for itself that I died to its traditional legalistic misinterpretation, so that I might live in direct relationship with God.
Рог it was through letting the Torah speak for itself that I died to its traditional legalistic misinterpretation. The Greek is: Ego gardia nomou nomo apethanon, literally, "For I through nomos to nomos died." A good general rule of interpretation is that if a word appears more than once in a passage, its meaning stays the same throughout the passage. Here we have an exception; the phrase means, "For I through Torah to legalism died." I know that because Sha'ul avoids the natural Greek word order in order to place two forms of the word "nomos" side by side. This signals the reader that something unusual is going on, specifically, that the sense of the first "nomos" differs from that of the second. My expanded translation brings out that the first "nomos" is the true Torah, the Torah understood properly as requiring trusting faithfulness; while the second is the perversion of the Torah into a legalistic system (see v. 16bN, vv. 17-18N).
So that I might live in a direct relationship with God, instead of being shut off from God by legalistic misinterpretation of the Torah. Literally, "so that to God I might live." There is a Torah to be observed (see 6:2 below), but it isn't the legalistic system made of it by much of the non-Messianic Jewish world.
20. When the Messiah was executed on the stake as a criminal, I was too; so that my proud ego no longer lives. But the Messiah lives in me, and the life I now live in my body I live by the same trusting faithfulness that the Son of God had, who loved me and gave himself up for me.
When the Messiah was executed on the stake as a criminal, so was 1 executed on the stake as a criminal. Literally, "With Messiah 1 have been co-crucified" (see Mt 10:38N). The Messiah was not a sinner, let alone a criminal, but he was executed like one, the "stake" or "cross" being the electric chair of its day. "On the other hand," says Sha'ul, "I am a sinner, therefore in God's sight a criminal. By uniting myself with the Messiah through putting my trust in him, I share in his death (Ro 6:2); thus the penalty for my sin is paid, and 1 am dead."
My proud ego no longer lives, literally, "I no longer live"; that is, my old nature, with its evil desires, no longer controls me. One can regard all of Ro 6:1-8:13 as a midrash on this verse.
Because the Messiah lives in me, I am able to live by the same trusting faithfulness that the Son of God had (see v. 16cN), which enabled him to love me and give himself up for me. My entire life must be imbued by this spirit; anything else, anything less falls short of faith in and faithfulness to Yeshua the Messiah.
21. I do not reject God’s gracious gift; for if the way in which one attains righteousness is through legalism, then the Messiah’s death was pointless.
v. 14b—21 How much of this passage summarizes what Sha'ul said publicly to Kefa before the entire Messianic community of Antioch, and how much is Sha'ul's explanation to the Galatians, composed by him later for this letter? Three answers are given:
(1) Only to the end of v. 14 was said to Kefa, on the ground thai only this much is truly confrontational in character, so that v. 15 onward is expository.
(2) The speech to Kefa extends through v. 16, on the ground that courtesy requires vv. 15-16 to explain Sha'ul's "outburst" in v. 14; but w. 17-21 are commentary expressing Sha'ul's later reflections on the incident.
(3) Everything through v. 21 was said to Kefa, on two grounds. First, there is no reason why Sha'ul would not have wanted the Messianic community of Antioch to understand the issue as much as he now wants the Galatians to understand it. so that he would have made the incident with Kefa the occasion for a sermon. Second, his directly addressing the Galatians in 3:1 signals the transition from his remarks at Antioch.
The first seems least likely, because it is unthinkable that Sha'ul, the master at culturally adapting the Gospel, would use the language of v. 15 in speaking directly to Gentiles (see v. 15N). The second seems most likely because up through v. 16 the language is rhetorical, suited to public confrontation, while from v. 17 on the tone is calm, teacherly, suited to instructing the Galatians. Therefore I place the close-quote mark at the end of v. 16.
I do not reject God's gracious gift, literally, "God's grace," his chesed (Hebrew for "loving-kindness"). What is that gift? First, the death of the Messiah Yeshua on my behalf, which gives me forensic righteousness; and second, his life, which is making me actually righteous in my behavior (on the two kinds of righteousness see above, v. 16aN).
If the way in which one attains righteousness is through legalism, through any form of self-generated effort, and specifically, through legalistic following of Torah commands, then the Messiah's death was pointless, and so is his ongoing resurrected life. It is clear from the context two verses later (3:2-3) that the word "righteousness" (Greek dikaiosune) here refers not only to being declared innocent but to becoming holy (the other three times in Galatians that Sha'ul uses "dikaiosune'' — 3:6, 21; 5:5 — he also means behavioral and not merely forensic righteousness). Such progress toward holiness does not result from an instant of trust followed by a lifetime of legalism, but from trusting faithfulness that endures until death.
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- chapter 3
- chapter 4
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