Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 2 Study # 3
Thesis: Because it is the character of "settled decisions" that they will alter both the character of the person who makes them and the future of that person, it is imperative that "settled decisions" be legitimate.
Introduction: In our study last time we focused upon Paul's declaration that the permission of a small dose of error will eventually ruin a person's entire outlook. This is no small thing. "Making a final decision" is both an extreme danger and an open door to extraordinary glory -- depending upon the foundations of that decision. For this reason, in this next verse in our study we find Paul beginning the conclusion of his argument for this particular paragraph. His beginning consists of pointing out the contrast between what he has done and what is in store for his opponents. Therefore, we shall consider what he says with some care.
March 24, 2013
- I. There Is A Problem.
- A. The translations almost universally give the impression that Paul is telling the Galatians that he is confident of their actual relationship with God.
- 1. I have accepted this translation for many years.
- 2. I no longer accept it.
- B. Obviously, "universal" translations have linguistic feasibility.
- C. However, "universal" translations are often rooted in a bandwagon reality where the translators' minds are prejudiced toward a given translation simply because they are aware of how others have rendered the text before them.
- II. The Facts.
- A. The translation, "I have confidence", indicates a prior "persuasion" that has led to this confidence.
- 1. In the past I have adopted a "dynamic" view of Paul's writing that included the idea that the Spirit was at work in Paul's mind as he was writing so that his understanding was being guided as he was writing.
- a. The reason for this view was rooted in the fact that, up to this point, Paul was ambivalent about the legitimacy of the Galatians' claim to faith.
- b. But the "I am confident" statement erases this ambivalence; thus, a "dynamic" view.
- 2. The translation, "I have confidence", is within the parameters of the basic verbal idea that is pervasive in this paragraph (verse 7, verse 8, and verse 10 all use some variation of the verb "peitho" and the entire paragraph is all about the conflict between competing concepts).
- 3. There is an especially simple way for Paul to use this verb and communicate clearly that he was the object of divine "persuasion": the passive voice. "I have confidence" would be a legitimate translation of "I have been persuaded".
- B. The verb is in the active voice and in the perfect tense.
- 1. The perfect tense means something has happened in the past with present implications.
- 2. The active voice means that Paul was the one who did that past thing.
- 3. The normal translation would be: "I have persuaded (with lingering implications)...".
- a. But there is a problem with the idea that Paul thinks he has persuaded them: how does he know they are convinced?
- 1) Since he cannot know that apart from divine revelation and that cannot have been given because the writing is expressing something at the time of the writing and the receiving of the writing has not yet happened.
- 2) Thus, we are left with an impossibility of his "confidence" overruling his ambivalence.
- 3) Therefore, we conclude that his "I have persuaded" means "I have laid out my arguments".
- b. So the norm is altered from "I have persuaded" to "I have attempted to persuade".
- C. There is an emphatic "I" before the verb.
- 1. In the paragraph, there are two opponents: Paul and the false brethren.
- 2. The emphatic "I" emphasizes the issue of Paul being opposed.
- 3. Paul has written about two "persuasions" (a leaven-doctrine that opposes grace and his own doctrine of grace).
- 4. Paul's emphatic "I" means that the Galatians have to decide whom they believe.
- a. They have his arguments of persuasion toward "no other mindset" in respect to their relationship to "the Lord".
- b. They have the opponents' arguments of persuasion that he says will absolutely land them in hot water (they shall bear their judgment, no matter who they are [angels from heaven, or men claiming to follow James]).
- III. Paul's Point.
- A. Since a little leaven will eventually be pervasive, decisions are not small things.
- B. Since the outcomes of the decision before them are absolute opposites, this decision is of paramount importance (there is glory from grace and judgment from law).
- C. Bottom line: who are you going to believe, and why?