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την σαρκα εσταυρωσαν [TR - Galatians 5:24]

And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. [KJV 1769]

Bagster's Analytical Lexicon tells me that εσταυρωσαν is 3rd person, plural, aorist 1, indicative active.

Young's Literal, interestingly, has :

the flesh did crucify

The Englishman's Greek New Testament interlinear and also Green's Literal has :

the flesh crucified

The KJV seems to be following Tyndale and J N Darby also has the same :

have crucified the flesh

The Latin Vulgate leads both The Wycliffe and Douay-Rheims to specify what the Greek does not, adding the personal pronoun :

have crucified their flesh

What is the correct translation ? Is Robert Young justified in saying 'did' crucify when translating the first aorist indicative ? Or is the agreement between Tyndale, KJV and JND to be followed ?

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You can also add the Concordant Literal Version, which says,

...crucify the flesh...

When I approach a verb like this, in aorist, I remind myself that Greek is more concerned with the action than the timing. We don't really have an English equivalent, except maybe saying something like "you are loved". To say that, it is an action that is unbound, unrestricted, and also somewhat encapsulated, and may be even "classic" in a sense. It does not try to be past tense, but it is based on having seen the action before, and yet it does not mean the action ended. People generally think of it as a "snapshot action". Perhaps someone took a picture of grandma giving you hug and there you are...grandma loves me and grandma loved me, and I am loved by grandma.

Now on to what Paul is saying here. I think we need to keep Gal 2:20-3:5 in mind when answering this, and of course also the context. I'm sure you know the drill. In Gal 2:20, Paul declares that he is crucified with Christ, no longer I, but Christ is his life and God aorist-gives and aorist-loves. And since we are speaking of aorist, if God is doing the aorist action, then I give it serious weight to being a classic action that is always valid.

Then moving into chapter 3, Paul chides the Galatians for not seeing the patterns he has been portraying to them before their eyes. An example of the patterns would be OT stories such has those referenced by Jesus in John 3:14 and Matthew 12 and even how Jesus saw Himself as the temple in John 2:19-21. There are pictures of the crucified life reality in the OT Bible stories, and this is what I think Paul had been explaining to them, much like Jesus did in Luke 24 showing how all of it declared Him.

So Paul goes on in Gal 3 by asking how they can try harder in the flesh, when in reality everything is by the Spirit. Now this idea takes to Gal 5 where this dichotomy gets picked up again in 5:16 with the flesh warring against the Spirit and not gratifying the desires of the flesh. If, as Paul said in Gal 2:20, we are identified fully in our co-death with Christ (2Co 5:14), then how do dead men still have active flesh like zombies? If our heart is focused on the eternal reality of Col 3:1, and we are dead in Col 3:3, and Christ is our life in Col 3:4, then naturally we mortify and let that flesh be dead in time to match the reality in eternity Col 3:5.

So Paul continues in Gal 5:18-23 to explain what led by the Spirit looks like and what still being led by your flesh looks like. and then our present verse, so if you are actually "no longer I" in the Gal 2:20 sense, then you have put away that fleshly tug - not by more fleshly effort - but by identification in the Finished Work, by abiding in the True Vine, which is the same as seeing Jesus as your life in this mortal body.

You see, if Jesus was able to suppress the wayward nature of sin in His own body and simultaneously forgive and love others, then if He dwells in our heart richly, then that should mean something as Paul says in Gal 4:6 of this Son's Spirit crying out "Abba, Father" from in us.

Of course, anyone can let this slip and fall back into old patterns - good or bad ones since both are of the that wrong tree. However, when we fully focus on Christ as in Heb 12, then we are not focusing on ourselves, which seems to be that flesh quagmire as long as we live on earth. God treats us as sons, because the Son's Spirit is in us. Or as Paul says it in 2Co 4:6-7, Jesus is the Treasure in these clay jars. It is not of us - not of our clay construction in any sense. We have always been designed to contain His Image and Likeness (Gen 1:26). We were never meant to contain our own at the displacement of His.In fact, we only know who we are when we are fully identified in in His death, burial and resurrection at the loss of our soul-life/psyche/ego. We cannot even be a disciple unless that is the reality (Mat 10:37-3, 16:24-26...).

So here is my crack at translating Gal 5:24 - But the people whose source originates from the Anointed-Ruler-Who-governs-by-the-Spirit’s-lamp-oil, Jesus, have crucified (daily carry their cross) the flesh-nature together-with those strong feelings and cravings that heat up within.

Perhaps you can see how I prefer to translate Christ as an office relating to oil, which we would do well to think of more like sap in a vine. Christ is the Anointed One Who is "oily", which sounds odd in English, but in the ancient context olive oil lit the world up at night and made your hard skin soft and so on. Psalm 133 is very insightful here as to the picture of anointing the head of the high priest , which also anoints the body. Jesus is the Head of the church, His body.

As to my take on "crucified", you see that I associate it with the daily carrying of my cross. Remember a cross does not negotiate. A cross kills flesh (period!). You don't wear it, it wears you. The flesh ceases breathing.

As I identify in Christ's reality, seating far above, then the Head gives supply to His body. This is all by faith, which I like to often describe as being congruent in your heart (where all those evil desires of the flesh want to spring up anyway.) it is less doing and just being like Mary at the feet of Jesus in Luke 10:40-42 as opposed to Martha supposing she is getting lots of work done for Christ.

I hope all this helps.

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  • Welcome to BHSX. Thanks for this extended answer. Please remember to take the tour (below). Very good answer too.
    – user25930
    Feb 6 '19 at 22:07
  • @Cam F...Very good explanation except for the translation philosophy. The Concordant Literal Version happens to be ok on this verse ("crucify"), but boy it looks highly suspicious just by quickly reading Genesis 1 and John 1. But, anyhow, very good explanation in terms of hermeneutics.
    – XegesIs
    Feb 21 '19 at 18:13
  • I appreciate your significant effort but I would always require an authenticated authority with regard to things like the Greek aorist. It is never sufficient for me to say what I personally think about such matters. One always has to quote an accepted, peer-reviewed authority (such as Mounce or Wallace).
    – Nigel J
    Jul 9 '19 at 11:44
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@Nigel J....----If you go to biblegateway.com, you can look for Galatians 5.24 in all English translations. You will see that the majority translate "crucified." Young's is from 1898 and whatever his decisions to have translated "did crucify", it does not impede that within the context in which it occurs, it comes back to meaning that it was crucified. Do not let this stall your exegesis. We exegete from contexts, not just from isolated grammar and syntax. I do not recommend that you pay much attention to Tyndale, KJV and JND. Not only are they based on other manuscript families but they are based on an older English, and this will produce more misunderstanding. Instead, focus on Greek-interlinears with the help of commentaries, the NET Bible notes (if it applies--in this case it does NOT apply) and contextual matters. As Lexicographer Geoffrey Williams says:

Words do not have meanings, meanings have words.

From meaning to words and back: Corpus linguistics and specialised lexicography https://journals.openedition.org/asp/1320

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