The Berean Expositor
Volume 40 - Page 123 of 254
Index | Zoom
The argument surely is rather:
"You indeed expect to attain unto righteousness by the works of law, we on the other
hand expect righteousness only in the sphere of spirit and by faith."
Any exposition that diverts attention for a moment from the point at issue namely
"How is righteousness attained?" must be wrong. Moreover, justification is a present
`standing'.  The genitive `hope of righteousness' is not necessarily the genitive of
possession, it is not necessary to translate the phrase either "The hope whose object is
righteousness" or "The hope which the righteous entertain". There is another use of the
Genitive which conforms to all the requirement of the context, the genitive of apposition.
"Sometimes the genitive is put by way of apposition, in which case some such words
as these have to be supplied; `that is to say' `which is', etc."
(Figures of Speech, Dr. E. W. Bullinger).
So when we read "The temple of His body" we understand it to mean "The temple,
that is to say, His body" (John 2: 21).
"The sign of circumcision" was circumcision itself (Rom. 4: 11).
"The earnest of the Spirit" means the earnest, which is the Spirit (II Cor. 5: 5).
So Gal. 5: 5 can be translated "The hope which is righteousness" or as we should say
in modern speech "We hope to be justified in the sphere of spirit through faith".
Following this personal summary of the position of the believer in Christ whose hope
is not the flesh, law or works, but in spirit, grace and faith, Paul gives the following
"For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything nor uncircumcision; but
faith which worketh by love" (Gal. 5: 6).
A logical writer like the Apostle would never introduce these words with `for' unless
some logical connection were intended; an inspired writer as he was, must have a perfect
reason for this sequel. Yet at first sight the connection is not obvious. Had he said, "For
in Jesus Christ, circumcision avails nothing, faith only is of any avail" it would seem to
round off his argument.
He has, however, most disconcertingly introduced
`uncircumcision' alongside `circumcision', and has added `work' and `love' to faith,
thereby, on the surface, robbing his previous argument of the idea of `faith only'.
There is, therefore, something hidden in this new presentation that challenges our
interest and will yield precious truth if investigated in prayerful dependence upon the
First, we observe that this passage is one of three where something similar is found:
"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a
new creature" (Gal. 6: 15).