PROLAMBANW in Gal. 6:1
For some time I have been wondering why the PRO- prefix in PROLAMBANW in
Gal. 6:1 should not be understood as temporal in force. Comments on my
thoughts will be appreciated.
In both its other appearances in the NT PROLAMBANW has a temporal meaning
(cf. Mk. 14:8 and 1Cor. 11:21) situating the action of the verb as previous
to other things referred to in the context. A temporal meaning for
PROLAMBANW is common in the papyri outside the NT as well. Moulton and
Milligan (s.v.) quote a number of instances from the 4th and 3rd century B.C.
to as late as the 2nd century A.D. in which the PRO- of PROLAMBANW has
temporal meaning. The definitions they give, however--to receive a
prepayment, to hold preconceived ideas--don't exactly fit the context in Gal.
Liddell and Scott, however, do provide a meaning that could fit the context
here. They cite several instances of the meaning "take _or_ seize
beforehand" (s.v., I:2). Their sources are Aeschines (iv B.C.) 3:142;
Apollonius Dyscolus Grammaticus (ii A.D.) _de_Syntaxi_, 40:24; Demosthenes
(384-322 B.C.) 18:26; and a reference that includes a *passive* participle
which speaks of a body already taken by sickness. The latter is from the
Corpus Hermeticum [Oxford, 1924]. Since I don't have access to the this
work, I would appreciate any information on the larger context from which the
phrase comes, its aproximate date and what sort of document it is--whether
literary-classical or Koine.
If we can accept this meaning in Galatians 6:1, then PROLHMFQH would have
the meaning "already caught" in the sense of being caught up in, or ivolved
in some fault or wrongdoing. With PROLAMBANW so translated, the meaning of
this somewhat difficult passage becomes clearer and harmonizes with the
overall context of the epistle. The fault or wrongdoing that Paul has in
mind is that of trying to justify oneself by the Law. PROLHMFQH...EN TINI
PARAPTWMATI would refer to one's having previously accepted circumcision or
other works righteousness as a justifying principle. This would explain why
Paul calls the restoring brethren O(I PNEUMATIKOI They are called spiritual
in contrast to the ones they are to restore who have fallen into carnality by
persuing a righteousness based on works.
"Watching out for yourself that you be not tempted as well" ill fits other
interpretations of PROLAMBANW. Why should there be a special danger of
temptation in restoring a sinful brother? The Christian is always
proclaiming the Gospel to sinners. If, however, the reference is to brethren
who have already accepted the false teachings of the judaizers, Paul's
warning is well given since the arguments of their appeal were aparently
specifically aimed at believers. He suggests a humble spirit in dealing with
the fallen not only out of consideration for them, but also as a protection
for those who are trying to restore them, that they not fall into boasting in
combating the others' boasting.