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No.79. (37) GALATIANS.
The Large Letter (6: 11).
pp. 169 - 173
The closing section of this epistle opens with the words: "Ye see how large a letter I
have written unto you with mine own hand" (Gal. 6: 11); the R.V. translates this: "See
with how large letters I have written unto you (margin `or write') with mine own hand."
It is remarkable what differences of opinion have been expressed by commentators
concerning the meaning of these words, but they may be summarized under the following
That Paul wrote the whole epistle to the Galatians with his own hand, and calls this
epistle "a large letter".
That the words "how large a letter" refer to the length of the epistle, being equivalent to
"how long an epistle".
That Paul wrote the whole epistle to the Galatians with his own hand, and calls the
attention of the Galatians to "the large letters" he used, referring to the size of the
characters and not to the length of the epistle.
That Paul dictated, as was his custom, the bulk of the epistle, but at verse 11 he took
the pen from the hand of the amanuensis and wrote the postscript himself.
That the postscript alone was written "with large letters".
That the large letters were a sign of the Apostle's earnestness, the largeness of the letter
used being equivalent to the use of CAPITALS or Italics on the printed page.
That the large letters were not adopted by the Apostle for the sake of emphasis, but that
owing to his defective eye-sight (already alluded to arouse the latent affection of
the Galatians) he could not write otherwise than with "large letters".
Finally, Deissmann's opinion that to soften the angry tone of the epistle, Paul
concluded with a little joke, so that `his dear silly children' should understand that
with the "large letters" "the seriousness of the punishing schoolmaster had
vanished from his features" (Bibelstudein p.263).
We need spend no time on Deissmann's fancy, but we must give attention to the
alternatives set out under the first seven headings. This we will do, not by taking them
seriatum, but by keeping them in mind while examining the actual wording of the
First, the structure of the sentence and the words used.
Idete pelikois humin grammasin egrapsa te eme cheiri.
Idete. "Ye see." The word is emphatic, and not to be translated `ye see' but rather
`look ye', drawing attention to a feature of unusual interest. In Gal. 5: 2 the Apostle
uses ide `behold', as though he said `mark well'.
Pelikois. Ellicott says that the word strictly denotes geometrical magnitude `how
large', in contradistinction to arithmetical magnitude expressed by posos `how many'.