5 Lesson Five: Galatians 2:11-21

Instructions: Translate the Greek text with help from the reader notes. Complete the MYON (Make Your Own Note) and Discussion Question if you desire.

11 Ὅτε δὲ ἦλθεν ⸀Κηφᾶς εἰς Ἀντιόχειαν, κατὰ πρόσωπον αὐτῷ ἀντέστην, ὅτι κατεγνωσμένος ἦν· 12 πρὸ τοῦ γὰρ ἐλθεῖν τινας ἀπὸ Ἰακώβου μετὰ τῶν ἐθνῶν συνήσθιεν· ὅτε δὲ ⸀ἦλθον, ὑπέστελλεν καὶ ἀφώριζεν ἑαυτόν, φοβούμενος τοὺς ἐκ περιτομῆς. 13 καὶ συνυπεκρίθησαν αὐτῷ ⸀καὶ οἱ λοιποὶ Ἰουδαῖοι, ὥστε καὶ Βαρναβᾶς συναπήχθη αὐτῶν τῇ ὑποκρίσει. 14ἀλλ’ ὅτε εἶδον ὅτι οὐκ ὀρθοποδοῦσιν πρὸς τὴν ἀλήθειαν τοῦ εὐαγγελίου, εἶπον τῷ ⸀Κηφᾷ ἔμπροσθεν πάντων· Εἰ σὺ Ἰουδαῖος ὑπάρχων ἐθνικῶς ⸂καὶ ⸀οὐκ Ἰουδαϊκῶς ζῇς⸃, ⸀πῶς τὰ ἔθνη ἀναγκάζεις Ἰουδαΐζειν;

15 Ἡμεῖς φύσει Ἰουδαῖοι καὶ οὐκ ἐξ ἐθνῶν ἁμαρτωλοί,16 εἰδότες ⸀δὲ ὅτι οὐ δικαιοῦται ἄνθρωπος ἐξ ἔργων νόμου ἐὰν μὴ διὰ πίστεως ⸂Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ⸃, καὶ ἡμεῖς εἰς Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν ἐπιστεύσαμεν, ἵνα δικαιωθῶμεν ἐκ πίστεως Χριστοῦ καὶ οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων νόμου, ⸂ὅτι ἐξ ἔργων νόμου οὐ δικαιωθήσεται⸃ πᾶσα σάρξ. 17 εἰ δὲ ζητοῦντες δικαιωθῆναι ἐν Χριστῷ εὑρέθημεν καὶ αὐτοὶ ἁμαρτωλοί, ἆρα Χριστὸς ἁμαρτίας διάκονος; μὴ γένοιτο· 18 εἰ γὰρ ἃ κατέλυσα ταῦτα πάλιν οἰκοδομῶ, παραβάτην ἐμαυτὸν ⸀συνιστάνω. 19 ἐγὼ γὰρ διὰ νόμου νόμῳ ἀπέθανον ἵνα θεῷ ζήσω· Χριστῷ συνεσταύρωμαι· 20 ζῶ δὲ οὐκέτι ἐγώ, ζῇ δὲ ἐν ἐμοὶ Χριστός· ὃ δὲ νῦν ζῶ ἐν σαρκί, ἐν πίστει ζῶ τῇ τοῦ ⸂υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ⸃ τοῦ ἀγαπήσαντός με καὶ παραδόντος ἑαυτὸν ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ. 21 οὐκ ἀθετῶ τὴν χάριν τοῦ θεοῦ· εἰ γὰρ διὰ νόμου δικαιοσύνη, ἄρα Χριστὸς δωρεὰν ἀπέθανεν. SBLGNT

2:11

[LN] The noun Ἀντιόχειαν refers to the city of Antioch (LF: Ἀντιόχεια).

[LN] The construction κατὰ πρόσωπον αὐτῷ is idiomatic (“to his face”).

[GMN] Ἀντέστην is AAI1S (LF: ἀνθίστημι).

[GMN] Κατεγνωσμένος (RPPMSN LF: καταγινώσκω) is a compound constructed from κατά and γινώσκω, which has undergone a stem change (γινωσκ → γνωσ).

[SN] Κατεγνωσμένος ἦν is a pluperfect #periphrastic construction, formed by a perfect participle and an imperfect form of εἰμί.

2:12

[SN] Πρὸ τοῦ . . . ἐλθεῖν (AAN LF: ἔρχομαι) is an #infinitive of time. The infinitive τοῦ . . . ἐλθεῖν serves as the object of the preposition πρὸ in order to convey that the main verb, συνήσθιεν, is temporally antecedent to the action of the infinitive.

[LN, GMN] Συνήσθιεν (IAI3S LF: συνεσθίω), “to eat with,” is a compound of the preposition σύν and the verb ἐσθίω. Notice how the augment for the imperfect tense has been inserted between the prepositional prefix and the verb root, resulting in η.

[LN] Ὑπέστελλεν (IAI3S LF: ὑποστέλλω) means “to withdraw” or “shrink back.” It occurs four times in the NT, all in the context of “shrinking back” from something that has positive value (cf. Acts 20:20, 27; Heb 10:38).

[GMS, LN] The verb φώριζεν (IAI3S LF: ἀφορίζω) is a #compound verb meaning “to exclude” or “to separate.”

[GMS] Φοβούμενος (PDPMSN LF: φοβέομαι): Notice the contraction that has occurred with the addition of the connecting vowel to the stem (φοβε + ο + μενος → φοβούμενος).

[GMN, LN] The construction τοὺς ἐκ περιτομῆς describes a group of people who represent the support of Gentile circumcision. The article τοὺς (MPA) serves to nominalize the prepositional phrase ἐκ περιτομῆς (FSG LF: περιτομή), making the whole phrase substantival. It is often translated as “those who promoted circumcision,” “those from the circumcision (party),” or “those of the circumcision.”

2:13

[LN, GMN] Συνυπεκρἰθησαν (API3P LF: συνυποκρίνομαι) is a compound verb formed by combining the preposition σύν with the compound verb ὑποκρίνομαι, and means something like “to go along with hypocrisy/pretense.” The LF is deponent, making this a passive deponent. It is a NT #hapax legomenon.

[SN] The final use of καἰ in this verse is adverbial and is best translated as “even.”

[GMN] Συναπἠχθη (API3S LF: συναπάγω) is a compound verb formed by combining the prepositions σύν and ἀπό with the verb ἅγω (lit. “to lead off with”). As with most aorist forms of verbs beginning with α, the vowel is lengthened to η. Combining with the -θη formative of the passive voice, the γ of the original stem becomes χ.

[SN] Αὐτῶν (MPG) functions here as a #subjective genitive in relation to τῇ ὑποκρίσει.

[LN, SN] The third-declension noun τῇ ὑποκρίσει (FSD LF: ὑπόκρισις) refers to a “charade” or “pretense/hypocrisy.” It functions either as a #dative of association or #means.

2:14

MYON [SN] Identify the use of ὅτι in this verse.

[LN, SN] The verb όρθοποδοῦσιν (PAI3P LF: ὀρθοποδέω) is a #hapax legomenon that means “to walk upright,” here with moral/ethical connotations. Its 3P subject refers back to οἱ λοιποὶ Ἰουδαῖοι (v. 13).

[LN] The adverbs ἐθνικῶς and Ἰουδαϊκῶς are both NT #hapax legomena. Respectively, they are related to the nouns ἔθνος and Ἰουδαῖος and mean “like/in the manner of a Gentile” and “like/in the manner of a Jew.”

[LN] Ἰουδαΐζειν (PAN LF: ἰουδαΐζω) is a NT #hapax legomenon meaning “to live like a Jew.”

[SN] Τὴν ἀλήθειαν τοῦ εὐαγγελίου could be functioning as a #subjective genitive (“the truth which the gospel communicates”) or a #genitive of apposition (“the truth, which is the gospel”).

2:15

[SN, TN] Ἡμεῖς is the nominative subject of a verbless clause. Alternatively, if the [δὲ] in 2:16 is not original to the text, the inclusion of Ἡμεῖς here would serve to alert hearers to the subject, which is far removed from the main verb ἐπιστεύσαμεν (v. 16).

[SN] Φύσει (FSD LF: φύσις) is a #dative of reference (“by/with reference to nature”).

[SN] Because the clause implies an equative verb (ἐσμεν), Ἰουδαῖοι and ἁμαρτωλοί are #predicate nominatives.

[SN] The prepositional phrase ἐξ ἐθνῶν defines #source or origin.

2:16

[SN] Εἰδότες (RAPMPN LF: οἶδα) is an adverbial participle in a #causal relationship to the verb ἐπιστεύσαμεν. The perfect tense highlights the present state of knowledge while locating its acquisition in the past.

[LN] Δικαιοῦται (PPI3S LF: δικαιόω) dominates this section, with three occurrences in this verse and an additional occurrence in 2:17 (see also Gal 3:8, 11, 24; 5:4 for a total of eight times in Galatians). It means “to justify,” “to declare righteous,” or “to vindicate.” It has thirty-nine occurrences in the NT, twenty-seven of which are in the Pauline corpus.

[SN] The prepositional phrase ξ ἔργων νόμου modifies the verb δικαιοῦται by clarifying the #means of justification.

[SN] Πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ may be either an #objective genitive (faith in Christ) or #subjective genitive (faith of Christ). The debate over the subjective or objective genitive is ongoing and has significant consequences for interpreting justification in Paul. Scholars who argue for an objective genitive tend to read πίστις Χριστοῦ as contrasted with ἔργα νόμου vis-á-vis human agency (not works of Law, but faith in Christ). Scholars arguing for a subjective genitive, on the other hand, view πίστις Χριστοῦ in covenantal terms, i.e., it is Christ’s faithfulness to uphold God’s covenant promises that justifies believers.

[SN, TN] Ἐὰν μὴ is commonly translated here in an adversative sense (“but” or “but rather”). However, the construction εἰ/ἐὰν μὴ does not point to contrast, but rather to exception (“except/unless”). An adversative translation is often used to maintain a sharp distinction between ἔργα νόμου/πίστις Χριστοῦ, but it is possible here that Paul is first establishing common ground with his rival teachers before increasing the intensity of his polemic (cf. 2:16 δικαιωθῶμεν ἐκ πίστεως Χριστοῦ καὶ οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων νόμου).

[SN] Καὶ is #ascensive and should be translated as “even.”

[SN] Εἰς Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν ἐπιστεύσαμεν: πιστεύω takes a dative object, but here the object is indicated by the prepositional phrase and adds force to the verbal idea. This combination of πιστεύω and εἰς is very common in the Gospel of John (thirty-five occurrences).

[SN] The conjunction ἵνα begins a #purpose clause.

2:17

[SN, LN] Ζητοῦντες (PAPMPN LF: ζητέω) is a #temporal participle (modifying εὑρέθημεν) and carries the connotation of seeking/pursuing.

[LN] Εὑρέθημεν (API1P LF: εὑρίσκω) is frequent in the NT with 176 occurrences, 137 of which are in the Gospels and Acts. In the active form it means something along the lines of “to find/discover/meet,” but in the passive it means “to be found.”

[LN] The particle ἆρα is interrogative meaning “then/therefore,” and anticipates a negative response suggesting impatience as well as perplexity/bewilderment.

[LN, TN] Μὴ γένοιτο (AMO3S LF: γίνομαι) is an idiom meaning something along the lines of “certainly not,” “may it never be,” “it cannot happen,” or “no way!” Paul often uses μὴ γένοιτο in response to rhetorical questions like the one at hand (cf. 3:21; for a different usage, see 6:14). The optative is rare in the NT with only sixty-eight uses. By the first century it had been largely absorbed into the subjunctive.

2:18

[SN] Εἰ introduces the protasis of a #first-class conditional statement.

[SN] Γὰρ introduces the rationale for Paul’s previous point, i.e., that Christ is not a ἁμαρτίας διάκονος even if εὑρέθημεν . . . ἁμαρτωλοί.

[GMN, LN] Οἰκοδομῶ (PAI1S LF: οἰκοδομέω) is a #contract verb. The circumflex signals that a contraction has occurred. It is best translated here as “I build.”

[GMN] Ἐμαυτὸν (MSA) is a first-person reflexive pronoun and the direct object of συνιστάνω (“I demonstrate myself”).

[LN] Συνιστάνω (PAI1S LF: συνίστημι) here means “I prove” or “I demonstrate.”

2:19

[SN] Διὰ νόμου expresses #means (“by [means of] Law”).

[SN] Νόμῳ and θεῷ (both MSD) are both #dative of sphere or #reference.

[GMN] Ἀπέθανον (AAI1S LF: ἀποθνῄσκω) is a second aorist form (notice stem change).

[SN] The #purpose clause ἵνα . . . ζήσω (AAS1S LF: ζάω) explains the intended consequence of Paul’s death.

[GMN, SN] Συνεσταύρωμαι (RPI1S LF: συσταυρόω): Notice the addition of ν to accommodate the ε for the perfect tense.

2:20

[GMN] Ζῶ (PAI1S LF: ζάω): This form occurs three times in this verse.

[TN] Notice how the triple repetition of the conjunction δὲ builds upon Paul’s statement in this verse.

[GMN] ζῇ is PAI3S (LF: ζάω).

[SN] Ἐν πίστει communicates either #means or #cause.

[LN] The phrase τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ (MSG), which refers to Jesus, is converted into an adjectival phrase by the article τῇ (FSD), whose antecedent is πίστει. Given references to Jesus’ activity (τοῦ ἀγαπήσαντός με καὶ παραδόντος ἑαυτὸν), it is likely that τοῦ υἱοῦ is an #objective genitive in relation to πίστει (however, a #subjective genitive is also possible). The other noun, τοῦ θεοῦ, is a #genitive of relationship.

[SN] Τοῦ ἀγαπήσαντός (AAPMSG LF: ἀγαπάω) and παραδόντος (AAPMSG LF: παραδίδωμι) are both adjectival participles that modify τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ.

2:21

[LN, GMN] Ἀθετῶ (PAI1S LF: ἀθετέω) is a #contract verb meaning “to reject” or “to nullify.” It is formed by the negative prefix α- with τίθημι.

[SN] Τὴν χάριν (FSA LF: χάρις) is the direct object of ἀθετῶ.

[SN] Τοῦ θεοῦ (MSG) modifies τὴν χάριν as a #genitive of source or perhaps a #subjective genitive (“the grace that God bestows”).

[SN] Εἰ introduces the protasis of a #first-class conditional statement.

[SN] Διὰ νόμου is a #genitive of means (cf. 2:19).

[SN] Δικαιοσύνη (FSN) is the subject of a verbless clause.

[SN, GMN] Δωρεὰν is an #adverbial accusative. It is the FSA form of δωρεά, which means “gift.” As an accusative functioning adverbially, it modifies the verb ἀπέθανεν and has a range of meaning from “gratuitously” to “without cause” or “for nothing.”

Discussion Question (2:11–21)

[2:12] Paul explains that Peter’s withdrawal from shared meals with Gentiles was due to φοβούμενος τοὺς ἐκ περιτομῆς. Considering that the verb φοβέομαι can denote either fear or deep respect/reverence, is Paul accusing Peter of cowardice or people-pleasing?

Word Study: Eργα Νόμου (“works of the Law”)

Introduction

At the most basic level, ἔργa νόμου translates as “works of the Law,” or perhaps more contextually appropriately, “Torah-works.”[1] In Galatians, it is held in tension with πίστις Χριστοῦ (“faith in Christ/the faithfulness of Christ”) with regard to how one is made righteous (δικαιόω).

Ἔργα Νόμου Outside of the Pauline Corpus

Scholars debate the meaning of ἔργa νόμου in Paul. The matter is complicated by the fact that, while there are related constructions in the LXX and Patristic writings, it is difficult to find a precedent for the use of this exact Pauline phrase. However, there is a similar construction (in Hebrew) found in the epilogue of the Dead Sea Scrolls document 4QMMT.[2] 4QMMT was written sometime in the period between the first century BCE and the first century CE.[3] The Hebrew construction, miqsat ma’ase ha-torah, can be translated as “some of the precepts of the Torah.”[4]

In the context of 4QMMT, miqsat ma’ase ha-torah refers to all that is prescribed by the “book of Moses and the books of the Prophets and (the writings of) David.”[5]Furthermore, the author(s) of 4QMMT understood that the observance of these prescriptions would bring about God’s blessings, or conversely, failure to observe the prescriptions of the text would bring about a curse.[6] Τhis interpretation was the defining mark of the community, and they believed it ensured that they would receive divine blessings. This is evident in the statements “We have separated ourselves from the multitude of the people” and “We have sent you some of the precepts of the Torah according to our decision [so that] . . . at the end of time, you may rejoice in finding that some of our words are true. And it shall be reckoned to you for righteousness in doing what is upright and good before him.”[7] The author(s) of 4QMMT sent these interpretations and teachings of Scripture to their addressee(s) to ensure the recipients’ welfare, which was predicated upon these specific interpretations of, and this adherence to, Scripture.

The relationship between Galatians and 4QMMT is a matter of some debate among scholars.[8] The parallel uses between ἔργα νόμου and miqsat ma’ase ha-torah, as well as their relationship with divine blessing, suggests that there was (at the very least) vocabulary present at the time that linked forms of Torah observance with that which made one righteous.[9]

Ἔργα Νόμου in the New Testament

Within the New Testament, the phrase ἔργa νόμου occurs only eight times, all within Romans and Galatians (Rom 3:20, 28; Gal 2:15 [3x]; 3:2, 5, 10). However, there are instances where either ἔργον or νόμος is used independently but essentially acts as shorthand for the phrase ἔργα νόμου. In Rom 4:2, Paul states that if Abraham was justified by works (ἐξ ἔργων ἐδικαιώθη), he could boast in righteousness because of his own deeds. Then in 4:14, Paul refers to οἱ ἐκ νόμου, who try to become heirs. In this case, “their faith is nullified and the promise made void” (κεκένωται ἡ πίστις καὶ κατήργηται ἡ ἐπαγγελία). In Rom 10:5, Paul pushes his conclusion that if there were a “righteousness that is from the Law” (τὴν δικαιοσύνην τὴν ἐκ τοῦ νόμου), then Moses’ words must be taken seriously, namely that the person who keeps the precepts written in the Law will live by them.

Taken with Rom 3:20, which alludes to LXX Ps 142:2, Paul uses the phrase οὐ δικαιωθήσεται πᾶσα σὰρξ ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ (“all flesh will not be justified before him”) and adds to it ἐξ ἔργων νόμου, probably inserting his own insight that no one will be justified by works of the Law specifically. This demonstrates that for Paul, ἔργα νόμου fail to produce righteousness. Paul looks to Abraham for the promise of blessings, not Moses (cf. Rom 4:2; 10:5). Paul utilizes Abraham because it is possible to understand how Abraham is justified (δικαιοῦται) by grace rather than by some type of work done himself (e.g., circumcision). Furthermore, Paul drives this point home in Rom 11:6 where he argues that “if it is by grace, it is no longer by works” (εἰ δὲ χάριτι, οὐκέτι ἐξ ἔργων).

These passages in Romans point to an understanding that places ἔργa νόμου at the center of the question of justification. For Paul, ἔργa νόμου certainly refers to something either akin to, or synonymous with, Torah observance. This could involve observing all the precepts of Torah, it could be a legalistic understanding that prioritized aspects of Torah observance, or it could simply be understanding oneself to be part of a group that is identified with Torah observance.

It is also worthwhile to consider how Paul uses the preposition ἐκ in conjunction with ἔργa νόμου. In all of the instances previously mentioned, Paul attaches ἐκ to ἔργα νόμου. The few instances not mentioned that use ἐν, ὑπὸ, or χωρὶς are all “partisan” usages, which create a sense of source and belonging.[10]

Paul’s Use of Ἔργα Νόμου in Galatians

The debate over Paul’s use of ἔργα νόμου tends to focus on Galatians, where Paul engages in discussion over how one is justified: not by ἔργα νόμου but through πίστις (Ἰησοῦ) Χριστοῦ. These two concepts are held together most clearly in Galatians 2:16, where ἔργα νόμου is found three times in relation to justification. Again, in recent history, Paul’s phrase ἔργa νόμου has been understood to refer to some sort of identification marker, or a term referring to the boundaries of a group, while others argue that it implies strict adherence to all of the commandments of Torah.

Scholars such as Garlington believe that attention to the preposition ἐκ illuminates how Paul uses ἔργα νόμου in Galatians. When ἔργα νόμου is paired with ἐκ, it may be appropriate to understand the complete phrase as referring to belonging to a certain realm/sphere or remaining within the boundaries defined by Torah-works. We see this in 2:16 in the clauses οὐ δικαιοῦται ἄνθρωπος ἐξ ἔργων νόμου, ἵνα δικαιωθῶμεν ἐκ πίστεως Χριστοῦ καὶ οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων νόμου, and ἐξ ἔργων νόμου οὐ δικαιωθήσεται. Here Paul rejects the idea that a person is justified by God by “belonging to the arena of Torah-works”; rather, one is justified “within the realm of Christic faith . . .because no person will be justified by remaining within the sphere of Torah-works.” [11]

It is also important to look at Galatians 2:12, where we learn that Peter cut himself off from the Gentile Galatians during meals due to fear of τοὺς ἐκ περιτομῆς. Again, we see how ἐκ is used to identify the individuals within a specific group or ideological framework. Furthermore, in 3:2, 5, Paul asks the Galatians how they received the Spirit. Was it ἐξ ἔργων νόμου or ἐξ ἀκοῆς πίστεως? Paul here draws a connection between justification and the reception and experience of the Spirit. By addressing the Galatians directly, Paul challenges them to decide which group they belong to, the group that is identified with “works of the Law” or the one that is identified with “faith” and received the Spirit on that basis.

In Galatians 3:10, Paul again uses the phrase ἐξ ἔργων νόμου to identify those who are under a curse. They are under a curse for the simple reason that they rely on Torah-works. For Jews and many Jewish Christians, identification with Torah-works would have meant being identified as those who have received the blessings of God. Paul inverts this so that being identified with Torah-works actually leads to the opposite.

Based upon this reading of Galatians, ἔργa νόμου most certainly implies works of Torah. When paired with prepositions that can be used in a partisan manner, it describes a group that is defined by Torah observance. The matter of exactly what Paul means by “works of the Law” is hotly debated, but at the very least it included circumcision and table practices (cf. Gal 2:11−16). In Galatians, relying on ἔργa νόμου also entailed exclusion from righteousness and the Spirit, and it included being under the curse. Truly to be put right before God, Paul teaches, one must live by faith and be crucified with Christ, and true life is found when one is located “in Christ” (Gal 2:19−20). (Charles E.R. Jesch)


  1. W. F. Arndt, F. Gingrich, F. W. Danker, and W. Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 2nd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979), 390−391, 677−678 (hereafter BDAG).
  2. See Elisha Qimron and John Strugnell, eds., Discoveries in the Judaean Desert, vol. 10.5, Miqsat Ma’ase Ha-Torah, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994), 61–63.
  3. Qimron and Strugnell, Miqsat Ma’ase Ha-Torah, 21, 29.
  4. Qimron and Strugnell, Miqsat Ma’ase Ha-Torah,  62−63.
  5. Qimron and Strugnell, Miqsat Ma’ase Ha-Torah, 58−59.
  6. Hanne von Weissenberg, 4QMMT: Reevaluating the Text, the Function and the Meaning of the Epilogue (Boston: Brill, 2009), 183–84.
  7. Qimron and Strugnell, Miqsat Ma’ase Ha-Torah, 58−59, 62−63.
  8. James D. G. Dunn, "4QMMT and Galatians," New Testament Studies 43, no. 1 (1997): 147–53.
  9. Dunn, "4QMMT and Galatians," 153.
  10. By “partisan,” Don Garlington refers to a particular locative understanding of belonging. See Garlington, “Paul’s ‘Partisan Ἐk’ and the Question of Justification in Galatians,” Journal of Biblical Literature 127, no. 3 (2008): 587.
  11. Garlington, “Paul’s ‘Partisan Ἐk,’” 570, italics original.

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