This blog continues my notes on translating Galatians.
First of all a belated addition to my notes on 1:15 where Paul speaks of God marking him out “from my mother’s womb.” I should have realised that this phrase in this context is based on Jeremiah 1:5 “before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.” The verbal similarity is slight, but in the context of God’s call to Jeremiah and to Paul, I think we can detect Paul’s identification with Jeremiah who was appointed as a “prophet to the nations” (Hebrew goyim = gentiles). For Paul, his faith in Jesus as Messiah includes the conviction that His life and death and resurrection is the sign of the “new age” in which the gentiles will be drawn to Israel’s God, as predicted in the Bible.
Galatians 2: 6
As for those who were reputed to be something – what they were counts for nothing with me (God is not impressed by human reputation) – those of repute added nothing to my message, but rather, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the joyful news to the Fore-skinned just as Peter had been to the Snipped, (for the One who worked through Peter in the mission to the Snipped, worked through me to the Gentiles) and acknowledged the favour given to me, Jacob and Kephas and Ioannes, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to myself and Barnabas their right hands as a sign of shared endeavour: we towards the Gentiles and they towards the Snipped; only we should remember to help the poor, the very thing that I was keen to do.
Paul’s words tumble out on top of each other as he dictates them to his scribe, but we can see clearly some of his main concerns,
1. Prestige, even prestige amongst believers, is of no concern to him. This can come over as arrogance – he’s only concerned with God’s approval not that of mere humans! He knows that in religion knowledge is power, but in the faith of Jesus, weakness is more useful.
2. The blunt language of my translation is accurate and makes clear Paul’s view that a small operation on the male penis is trivial in comparison with the joyful news of Jesus.
3. The proposed division of labour is within a “shared endeavour” Greek, koinonia, which can mean shared life, shared enterprise. It comes from the commercial and communal life of Greek society, and becomes a key word of the Jesus movement. Paul writes of the koinonia, the shared life, of the Holy Spirit.
4. The poor here are probably the Judean poor, whom Paul remembers in his “collection” amongst his Gentile assemblies.