Paul’s Vice List In Galatians 5:19-21 -- By: René A. López

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 169:673 (Jan 2012)
Article: Paul’s Vice List In Galatians 5:19-21
Author: René A. López

Paul’s Vice List In Galatians 5:19-21*

René A. López

* This is the fifth article in a six-part series, “The Pauline Vice Lists and Inheriting the Kingdom.”

René A. López is Adjunct Professor of Greek and New Testament and Spanish Biblical Studies, Criswell College, Dallas, Texas., and Pastor, Iglesia Biblica Nuestra Fe, Dallas, Texas.

This article investigates four interpretive questions regarding Paul’s vice list and the words “inherit the kingdom of God” in Galatians 5:19-21. (1) Did Paul address Christians in this passage? (2) What is the significance of the contrasts between “the works of the flesh” and “the fruit of the Spirit” in verses 19-23? (3) What do the contrasting elements indicate? (4) In verses 19-21 did Paul warn or exhort?

Did Paul Address Christians In Galatians 5:19-21?

Nine times in Galatians Paul addressed the recipients of this epistle as ἀδελφοί (“brothers”; 1:11; 3:15; 4:12, 28, 31; 5:11, 13; 6:1, 18).1 He also called them “children of the promise . . . not children of the bondwoman but of the free woman” (4:28, 31),2 and in 3:14, 17-19, 22, and 4:23 the “children of the promise” are believers.

In Galatians Paul sought to correct the false teaching (which he called “another gospel,” 1:6) of the Judaizers, who taught that obedience to the Mosaic law was necessary to achieve both final justification (2:16-20; 3:6-18, 21-22, 24, 26-29; 4:22-31; 5:4) and present sanctification (2:20-3:5, 19-21, 23, 25-26; 4:21; 5:1-12).

Thus identifying Paul’s Judaizing opponents is important in order to determine the identity of those who practiced the vices listed in 5:19-21 and would not inherit the kingdom. The traditional view maintains that “Judaizers” were pressuring Gentiles to live as if they were Jews. A second position is the “two-opponents view,” which says that some of the apostle’s opponents were Judaizers and others were antinomian Gentiles. A third view is the “Jewish-Christian view,” the view that there was one group of opponents that had both Judaistic and libertinistic traits.3

The traditional view holds that zealous Jewish believers from Jerusalem insisted that believing Gentiles become part of ethnic Israel by keeping the Mosaic law.You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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