Re: this week's exegesis passage

From: Robert J. Fuller, Jr. (
Date: Wed Feb 17 1999 - 15:14:15 EST wrote:

> giving me a headache. I know it would help to diagram the blasted thing, but I have no clue
> how to start... so here's my flaming tyro question of the week.
> The verse is Gal 3:16b. I have the 'a' part of the verse [TW DE ABRAAM ERREQHSAN AI EPAGGELIAI
> KAI TW SPERMATI AUTOU] just fine. The rest is very very confusing to me. It starts OU LEGEI [I
> am not saying? not saying what? no object, transitive verb?]; then a confusing mosh of clauses
> KAI TOIS SPERMASIN [and to the (plural) seed]
> WS EPI POLLWN [when upon/by/over many]
> ALL' WS EF' ENOS [but when upon/by/over one]
> KAI TW SPERMATI SOU [but to his (singular) seed]
> OS ESTIN XRISTOS [which is Christ].
> I guess what's really making me nuts is I can't figure out what the POLLWN and ENOS are referring
> to, or which translation of EPI to use. I'm stubbornly refusing to look at the English --
> probably a mistake, but I want to try to make sense of this myself first.


This has been a stumper for generations.

First, LEGEI is not "I say" but "he or it says", therefore probably referring to the passage Paul is
referencing. In other words, Paul notes that when these words were penned, there was a point to be
made with the singular form.

KAI TOIS SPERMASIN would then be seen as an alternative reading that is not used. One that would
indicate plurality. You could put it in quotes.

WS should probably be translated "as" or "as though" and EPI "referring to" or signifying". I know
that the idea of signifying may seem to be stretching, but I believe that that is the final idea of
the construction. "As referring to many".

Then, the next phrase beginning with ALL' deals with Paul's understanding of the original import of
the passage. Rather than referring to many seeds, he understood it to refer to one seed, or some
unified idea of seed.

OS ESTIN XRISTOS could then mean Christ personally, which is probably the primary idea. It could
also refer to the "spiritual" seed of Christ, all believers. Then, the idea might be that the seed of
Abraham is not going several directions, all of which are legitimate, but in only one direction,

Some thoughts that might help.

Bob Fuller
First Baptist Church, new Ulm, MN.

==> Always Forward, Philippians 3:14

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