Bill Mounce

For an Informed Love of God

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Monday, November 7

Are There Two Different Gospels? (Gal 2:7)

The KJV gives us an unfortunate translation of the genitive in Galatians 2:7, which can be easily misunderstood as teaching that there are two different gospels. One gospel is for the Gentiles, while the second gospel is for the Jews. Speaking of the leaders of the Jerusalem Church, he says, “They saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision (τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς ἀκροβυστίας) was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision (τῆς περιτομῆς) was unto Peter.” (τὸ εὐαγγέλιον is assumed from the previous phrase.)

The KJV translators used the generic word “of” to translate the genitive construction. The problem, as you can see, is that it suggests there are two different gospels, something that Paul elsewhere condemns as heretical (Gal 1:6–9).

When Greek teachers initially teach you to use the keyword “of” as a translation of the genitive, that is just a way to get you started. The genitive case is highly flexible — Wallace lists 33 different kinds of genitives — and part of going deeper into Greek is to get away from the simplification of first-year teaching.

The primary indication that the simple translation “of” does not apply in a specific context is that it doesn’t make any sense. So why did Paul use the genitive case here?

This is actually a very rare use of the genitive. Wallace calls it the “Genitive of Destination or Purpose,” and defines it as indicating “where the head noun is going (or the direction it is ‘moving’ in) or the purpose of its existence” (page 100). Another example he gives is Romans 8:36. “We were regarded as sheep destined for slaughter (πρόβατα σφαγῆς).” “As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter” (KJV).

So, there are two lessons to be learned here. One, make sure your translation doesn’t woodenly follow first-year Greek guidelines. Make sure it actually makes sense. Second, you should always have a copy of Wallace at hand to figure out your options when a simple translation does not make sense. In this case, I just looked up Galatians 2:7 in the verse index and found his discussion.

Aren’t you glad there is only one gospel, one clear and unique explanation of the mind of God and how we are to relate to him? How confusing it would be if there were more than one gospel.

Comments

I have a high school diploma and no college. One day I decided, maybe I should learn some Greek. I bought your book and my pastor gave me the CD's. I spent about year trying to figure it out but unfortunately life side tracked me and I gave it up, but it wasn't all in vain. I had memorized, according to the lessons, about 72% of the words. I even learned a little grammar and I still know the song for the alphabet. I love the KJV, but I mostly use the ESV and NASB. I never had problem with the verse in question in the King James because what comes after and the greater context of Scripture. Thank you, Mr. Mounce, for your books and lessons. Maybe I'll get back into it one day.

Hello Dr. Mounce, what is the 'Wallace' document you are referring to in the Two Gospels blog?

I think he is referring to Wallace's Greek Grammar book - https://www.amazon.com/Greek-Grammar-Beyond-Basics-Exegetical/dp/0310218950

Thank you

Do you think the Gospel of the Kingdom is the same as the Gospel of Christ? Matthew 4:17 states, "From that time Jesus began to preach and say, ‘Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Accordingly, Matthew 3:2 indicates that this is the same message preached by John the Baptist. Matthew 4:23 declares, "Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom...(similarly Matthew 9:35)." However, Matthew 16:21 indicates a change in message for Jesus. Matthew writes, "From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day." This clearly marks a new message for Jesus. It is the heart of the gospel of Christ; i.e., the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus for the sin. That this is a new message that Jesus had not preached before is confirmed by Peter’s response. Notice, "Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You." This can hardly be the response of a man having heard this message repeatedly.

I disagree that there were ever two gospels but Jesus said exactly what was appropriate at the time. The gospel has always been to turn from your rebellion and to follow the true God. All the prophets shared that same message. However, when Jesus died on the cross and rose again, he always was and became the Way to God. The message was clarified to include the how, including the filling of the Holy Spirit and the purpose for baptism. Matthew 16:22 was referenced out of context. Jesus rebuked Satan who had used Peter to speak those words. Satan was tempting Jesus not to go through with the crucifixion and attempting to create division among the followers. It had nothing to do with a new gospel. Peter's desire was for Jesus to not suffer and die because it defied all Peter's limited earthly knowledge. Why would the Savior for the Jews and all of humanity suffer the worst defeat to the enemy, the oppressors, the pagans and self-righteous rabbinical dictators when He was the only hope to save them from those enemies?