Skip to comments.Why St. Paul Called Some Disciples Stupid
Posted on 10/11/2018 7:38:41 AM PDT by Salvation
The first reading for Thursdays Mass (27th week of the year) contains St. Pauls provocative assessment that some of us are stupid.
The Greek word used is ἀνόητος (anóētos), which comes from a (without) + noiéō, (to think). Therefore, this refers to not thinking, not reasoning through a matter, being unmindful, or acting in a mindless, dense way. This is rendered in English as stupid.
There are three reasons that he calls some people stupid:
1. They have looked away from the Cross. The text says,
O stupid Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? (Gal 3:1)
Paul engages in a kind of wordplay here. The Greek word translated here as bewitched is βασκαίνω (baskaino), which more literally means to give an evil eye to someone. Hence, they have permitted someone to give them an evil eye even though Christ had been portrayed to their eyes as crucified.
For us, the danger is that we look away from the Cross of Jesus and think that there is some other way we can be saved. Some evil eye looks at us or winks at us to draw our attention away from Christ. The cross is an absurdity to the world, but to us who are being saved it is the power and wisdom of God. Yet, we are too easily convinced to look away to passing pleasures or sinful sights. We adopt the bewitched notion that these can give us the happiness we seek.
St. Paul calls this stupid, and deep down we know that this is so. No limited thing can fill the God-sized hole in our heart. Only through the Cross of Christ can we attain to that place where true joys are found. Only the Cross can purify us and get us to Heaven, where God and God alone can show us joys unspeakable and glories untold.
An eye that looks anywhere else is the evil eye of a stupid person.
2. They think they can save themselves. The text says,
I want to learn only this from you: did you receive the Spirit from works of the law, or from faith in what you heard? Are you so stupid? (Gal 3:2-3)
Thinking we can save ourselves is a stupid though. I can barely perform minor surgery on myself, let alone save myself. Do you have a ladder tall enough to reach Heaven? Do you have a rocket ship powerful enough to soar to Heaven? And even if you did, how would you know the coordinates of Heaven so that you could soar there? Stupid, stupid, stupid!
No, the only way we can get to Heaven is to listen to God by faith and follow Him in the grace of that faith working through love (see Gal 5:6). We often think that we will be well through science, medicine, therapy, wealth, popularity, and so forth. This is stupid. Individually and collectively we have attained to all these things and yet I would argue that we are more miserable than ever. We have never been healthier and yet we have never worried more about our health. We have never been more well fed and yet we have never worried more about what we eat. Despite this, we easily think these sorts of things will fill the bill. St. Paul simply calls this stupid.
3. They focus on the flesh not the spirit. The text says,
Are you so stupid? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh? (Gal 3:3)
We are too easily preoccupied with our bodies and with things related to the flesh and the material world. Thats pretty stupid, really. Such things are dying, rusting, and decaying. In contrast, the things of the Spirit will last forever. A bowl of porridge is just a meal, but the Word of the Lord endures forever; it can be a saving word for us and the joy of our soul even now. We must care for the body, but our obsession with looking good and our pathological fear of the bodily effects of aging manifest a stupid and foolish preoccupation. The soul should be our priority, for our good treatment of it will have eternal effects. Instead, we focus on what passes and ignore what is eternal. Paul has a word for this: stupid.
They think they can save themselves.
They focus on the flesh not the spirit.
Monsignor Pope Ping!
All or nearly all Protestant Bibles written in English render it as “foolish”: ESV, KJV, NASV, NIV, RSV, etc. I prefer that translation to “stupid.”
The false teachers that came out to the Gentile converts distracted them with the promise that, contrary to Paul's and Barnabas's gospel of salvation by faith alone in the crucified Christ alone, they needed to earn their way to heaven by adopting the Jewish religious practices administered under the old system of priests mediating between the "lay" people and God, offering meritorious deeds or doing penitence for sins as the currency of gaining favor with God.
So what is Pope saying? That kind of religious system is stupid and should be abandoned?
Compare the Greek in Titus 3:3 versus 3:9. Two different words, both translated "foolish," but with a little different nuance to each. I 'm with you, as were the KJV translators (see also Luke 24:25, Rom. 1:4 (unwise), 1 Tim. 6:9).
Correcting the personal tagline. I don’t know how “ueences” got in there.
You mean like the belief among Roman Catholicism that wearing a scapular and trusting in the false promise by a false apparition it will keep you out of the hell-fire???? That kind of stupid?
Translators have the difficult task of rendering the text faithfully. When the target language has nuances not in the original, choices are required. Here, “stupid” has been so overused pejoratively that its inclusion would carry connotations not intended by Paul—whereas “foolish” does not.
Why do you suppose God instituted such a system in the first place, if he was so violently opposed to it? Was he just setting a bad example?
There's two distinct messages in Galatians, which tend to be conflated:
You guys consistently conflate "what must I do to be saved?" with "now that I'm saved, how shall I act?". Nobody who is unjustified can hope to receive any merit by "offering meritorious deeds or doing penitence for sins". Once someone is justified and enters the kingdom, those things are simply part of how citizens of the kingdom are expected to behave.
I guess you must be a bit confused. The God instituted the first of several covenants to deal with sin. The various pre-Christian Covenants (Adamic, Noachic, Abramic, Mosaic, Davidic) were all instituted unilaterally by the Godhead Jehovah as progressively more detailed prerequisite conditions which sinning mankind must satisfy and overcome to communicate with Him. How could you possibly think that He was violently opposed to His Own Covenants?
You've missed the whole thing. The letter was written about the true gospel explaining it to people who had heard it previously, refused it, and accepted a false one in its stead.
You guys . . .
Pardon me? What "guys" are you talking about?
Nobody who is unjustified can hope to receive any merit by "offering meritorious deeds or doing penitence for sins".
Is that you?
Once someone is justified and enters the kingdom, those things are simply part of how citizens of the kingdom are expected to behave.
So, when was it that you experienced the free irreversible gift of salvation/justification? Which kingdom are you a citizen of, the Kingdom of The Son? or only the kingdom of heaven?
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