From: David L. Moore (
Date: Fri Oct 04 1996 - 15:56:59 EDT

Carl W. Conrad wrote:

> >Galatians 4:15 is confusing me. I don't understand what MAKARISMOS means
> >in this
> >context: POU OUN hO MAKARISMOS hUMWN; Without a real lexicon, I'm trying out
> >terms like "blessedness", "happiness", "good fortune", etc., and not coming up
> >with anything that makes sense.
> I have the sense that Paul is using language in almost colloquial senses in
> this passage wherein he is addressing the Galatian Christians so
> intimately. Here I think the sense of hO MAKARISMOS hUMWN is "your
> self-congratulation"--i.e., their warm acknowledgement of how well-off they
> were when originally converted by Paul. Remember that MAKARISMOS is a
> verbal noun derivative from MAKARIZW, "congratulate."

        Worth noting, is the NRSV's taking MAKARISMOS hUMWN as referring to the
Galatians' goodwill toward Paul. This might be worth pursuing, it fits better
with the use of OUN which usually refers back to something said previously. The
GAR of v. 15b also ties 15a to what immediately follows in Paul's remembering
their willing hearts toward him. The problem is that this meaning is uncommon -
if there are any instances of it. Liddell & Scott note a couple of instances of
MAKARISMOS in the sense of "giving praise or thanks," one of them from the
writings of Philodemus (i BC). This meaning might be a possiblity in this
passage if we take hUMWN as a subjective genitive.
> >I'm also having problems understanding what ZHLOW and EKKLEISAI mean in the
> >context of Galatians 4:17: ZHLOUSIN hUMAS OU KALWS, ALLA EKKLEISAI hUMAS
> Here again, I think the language tends toward colloquialism, which often
> requires one to read between the lines. ZHLOW, if I understand it rightly,
> here means "treat enthusiastically," "go to great lengths to win somebody's
> affection;" and in this context I think that EKKLEISAI means "exclude from
> intimate relationship with Paul." Clearly the opponents of whom Paul writes
> (and one has the impression that he's not absolutely clear about who they
> are or precisely what they are teaching--he is so indignant in this letter
> that he avails himself of pretty extreme language--like wishing the
> "circumcisers" would castrate themselves!) are, so Paul thinks, endeavoring
> to woo the Galatian Christians away from commitment to Paul's gospel in
> order to gain the same sort of commitment to their own, and Paul implies
> that they are doing so for the sake of their prestige rather than for the
> sake of the gospel.
> So I'd say that we have to see the language of this section is much less
> formal stylistically than the argumentative and parenetic sections--and it
> does seem characteristic of Paul to shift the level of discourse from the
> formal and rhetorical to the colloquial and intimate and back again. But
> colloquial diction is always harder to understand, precisely because it
> depends upon the parties in conversation sharing experiences and viewpoints
> that they feel no need to make explicit in what they say to each other. All
> of which means that the reading I've suggested can only be tentative and
> based upon surmises about what lies between the lines of what's openly
> stated.

        If we take into account Paul's abrupt style characteristic of the
Galatian letter, it may be that we have a new pericope beginning with v. 17 (so
Willams, Beck, NIV, NEB). Although it may not be a majority position, some
commentators take the "shut you out" phrase as in reference, not to Paul himself,
but to the sense of salvation or relation to the people of God (so Burton, Cole,
Betz, Stott, all _ad loc._). This agrees well with the theme of Galatians which
was written to counter those that were saying, "Unless you are circumcised
according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved." The tactic the false
teachers was to shut them out of the people of God so that they would have to
seek them, the Judaizers, for circumcision and then for teaching in all the Law.

        Verse 18 shows clearly that Paul is not objecting to their having other
teachers. But if they do, it should be EN KALWi - with good intentions - and, if
we would understand Paul's figure of speech here, in sound doctrine and without
ulterior motives.

David L. Moore                             Director
Miami, Florida, USA                        Department of Education                     Southeastern Spanish District            of the Assemblies of God

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