Re: Galatians 5:17

From: Carlton Winbery (
Date: Thu Jun 10 1999 - 13:51:13 EDT

Eric Weiss wrote;
>Galatians 5:17: "... hINA MH hA EAN QELHTE TAUTA POIHTE."
>Per Richard Young's intermediate grammar, hINA often denotes "purpose" -
>"result" is not common (pp. 186-187), though Brooks-Winbery lists it as an
>example of "result" (p. 121), and Wallace also cites it as "result" (p.
>473). The RSV and NRSV seem to translate it as purpose: "for these are
>opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would."

There is a note somewhere in Brooks-Winbery concerning of distinguishing
purpose and result. It is very difficult, not only in Greek, but in
English. Some would take the infinitive in the RSV translation to be
result. Such a distinction depends on the attitude of the writer/speaker
and that's hard to get at in some cases, even being affected by one's

>My question/thought is: What would the "purpose" [i.e., God's purpose] be
>in having the flesh prevent you from doing the good that you desire to do?
>- which is how I naturally read it, a la Romans 7, and how those who
>translate it as "result" apparently read it. In other words, why would God
>"purposefully" have your flesh oppose your desire to follow the Spirit?
>So I ask: Is it possible - IF hINA here is "purpose" - that it is not the
>flesh that is purposefully opposed to the Spirit and acting to prevent
>"you" from doing the "good" that "you wish to do" - but that it is the
>Spirit which is purposefully [by God] set in opposition to the flesh and
>acting to prevent "you" from doing the "bad/flesh-inspired activity" that
>"you wish to do"?
This might be a possible interpretation but it seems better to me to
understand the hINA clause as "with the result that the things that you do
are not the things which you wish to do." If this were on C-P list, I would
say that part of Paul's frustration here and in Rom. 7 is that he cannot
fulfill the righteous demand of God by human will; it takes a certain faith
relationship as well. But that should be said on the other list.

Dr. Carlton L. Winbery
Foggleman Professor of Religion
Louisiana College
Ph. 1 318 448 6103 hm
Ph. 1 318 487 7241 off

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