Exegesis Of Galatians 3:16 -- By: William G. Ballantine

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 042:167 (Jul 1885)
Article: Exegesis Of Galatians 3:16
Author: William G. Ballantine

Exegesis Of Galatians 3:16

Wm. G. Ballantine

Οὐ λέγει Καὶ τοῖς σπέρμασιν ὡς ἐπὶ πολλῶν, ἀλλ᾿ ὡς ἐφ᾿ ἑνὸς Καὶ τῷ σπέρμτί σου, ὅς ἐστι Χριστός.

This passage at first glance appears a transparent fallacy, and even upon closer inspection and prolonged consideration many confess themselves unable to reach a more favorable verdict. Meyer, the weightiest single authority in New Testament exegesis, says: “That this inference is purely rabbinical and without objective force as proff is evident from the fact that in the original text זֶרַע is written, and this in every passage in the Old Testament where it expresses the idea of progenies is singular whether the posterity consists of many or of one. Moreover, the original sense of these promises, and also of the τῷ σπέρμτι of the LXX, undoubtedly applies to the posterity of Abraham generally; hence it is only in so far as Christ is the theocratic culmination, the goal and crown of this series of descendants, that the promises were spoken to him; but to discover this reference in the singular καὶ τῷ σπέρματι was a mere feat of rabbinical subtlety, which was still retained by the apostle from his youthful culture as a characteristic element of his national training without detriment to the Holy Spirit which he had, and to the revelation which had been vouchsafed to him. Every attempt to show that Paul has not here allowed himself any rabbinical interpretation of this sort is incompatible with the language itself and conflicts with the express ὄς ἐστι Χριστός, which clearly shows that we are not to understand σπερμάτων with ἐπὶ πολλῶν, nor σπέρματος with ἐφ᾿ ἑνός, but that the contrast between many persons and one person is the point expressed.’ Many other writers agree substantially with Meyer; among the most recent, Professor Toy in his Quotations in the New testament (1884) and Canon Farrar in The Messages of the Books (1885).

Professor Toy says (p. 105): “This argument is not sustained by the Hebrew linguistic usage or by the connection in Genesis. The Hebrew word in question is always used in the Old Testament in the singular when it means posterity and cannot in itself point to an individual person; nor, as we may infer from the constant Old Testament usage, would it occur to an anci...

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