Google+ Followers

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Law and Grace # 27

Objections, Questions and Problems (continued)

8. Doesn't 1 Corinthians 9:20-21 say that Christians are under the law? Those who are legalistically inclined have leaned heavily upon this passage for support. It reads as follows in the King James Version: "And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law."

This is the only text in the King James Version that seems to say that Christians are "under the law." Although the Greek is confessedly difficult, I feel that the translators could have at least indicated to the English reader that the Greek expression translated "under the law to Christ" is totally different from the ordinary formula. "Under the law" in verse 21 represents but one Greek word, "ennomos," whereas the ordinary formula is "uponomos." See verse 20, where it occurs three times and is properly rendered each time "under the law."

What did Paul mean when he wrote "being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ" in verse 21? It is a matter of interest here that not only "under the law" but also "without law" represents only one Greek word - "under the law" is "ennomos," while "without law" is "anomas."

It is also generally agreed among the editors of the Greek text that the words "God" and "Christ" here are in the genitive rather than the dative case. Thus the passage might be literally translated, "Not being an outlaw of God, but an in-law of Christ." It is not where we are, but what we are in relation to Christ. 

Whatever the passage means, it cannot mean that Paul was asserting that he was "upo nomas" - "under the law." For, as I have pointed out above, not only does Paul NOT say this in the original, but in verse 20 he declares that he himself is "not ... under the law"! See the verse in the American Standard Version. Although the clause does not appear in the King James Version, all the Greek editors agree that the manuscript evidence is overwhelming in its support. Therefore the revisers included it without any indication whatever that there was any question.

Why was the clause omitted from some manuscripts? The omission points rather strongly to a tampering with the text on the part of some legalistically inclined copyist. But the Word of God is living and cannot be bound. It arises to confound all those who would suppress or destroy it.

~Alva J. McClain~

(the end)

No comments:

Post a Comment