Sunday, March 02, 2008

Galatians 5:22

Concerning Galatians 5:22 and ἀγάπη:

(1) The postpositive δὲ likely functions as a "switch-reference" or transitional device in this verse; notice the presence of the article ὁ which when accompanying δὲ in such contexts normally signals transition. Therefore, the NWT (1984 and 2013) renders the passage: "On the other hand . . ."

"The Spirit, on the other hand, brings a harvest of love, joy, peace; patience towards others, kindness, benevolence" (Weymouth NT)

(2) ὁ καρπὸς is nominative singular masculine. Ergo, strictly speaking, Paul is not listing the "fruits" of the spirit, but the "fruit" or fruitage of God's spirit of holiness. Commentators (including Martin Luther) have pointed out that all other eight "fruit of the spirit" are simply manifestations of the first fruit mentioned, that is, ἀγάπη. This point seems to be borne out when one compares Galatians 5:22-23 with 1 Corinthians 13:1-8.

(3) The fruit or fruitage listed in Galatians 5:22-23, in contrast to τὰ ἔργα of 5:19-21 can only be produced via the activity of God's holy spirit. But Jehovah God works in his people so that we may both will and act (Philippians 2:13).

(4) God is ἀγάπη with respect to His essence; He is love (1 John 4:8). Some theologians have thus called ἀγάπη, God's "primal ethical attribute" (I. Dorner). That is, some who study God's essence/nature perceive the need to distinguish between God's "ethical" and His "ontological" attributes. While God cannot not love, there is a sense in which He shows divine love freely (Hosea 14). YHWH does not merely love on "automatic pilot" as it were. The Bible and the pre-Nicenes affirm God's free will, not just the freedom of humans, which includes the divine ability to love because Jehovah God voluntarily demonstrates affection for His creatures.

(5) Love is the hallmark of true Christianity (John 13:34-35). No one has greater love than that someone should lay down his or her life for friends (especially other worshipers of God). See John 15:13; 1 John 3:16-18.

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