Some thoughts about Huioi being translated as Sons in Gal 3:26

I am reading through the book of Galatians and have been really soaking in the doctrine of grace. This verse is one among many that I am really taking note of.

Gal 3:26  for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.

Some translate sons as descendants and others as children. I believe that in this case Paul’s use of Huioi is intended to be read as Sons. But it’s not meant to be taken literally that he is only talking to men.

He is talking to the church at Galatia. They are inundated and intimidated by Jewish converts or nationals who are trying to bring the church under bondage of law. There is also a strong sense that those who are vying for circumcision to come back into the church have a strong male sense of superiority over against women and slaves.

Sure God made male and female. Slaves were chosen to be castrated…not circumcised. But its the males whom God chose to be circumcised. While we may grimace, N. T Wright makes the point that its actually a source of pride.

We sometimes think of circumcision as a painful obstacle for converts, as indeed in some ways it was; but of course for those who embraced it it was a matter of pride and privilege. It not only marked out Jews from Gentiles; it marked them out in a way which automatically privileged males

In verse 28 he says Gal 3:28  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. This is an amazing statement. It’s even more amazing when taken into consideration that a common prayer of thanksgiving offered by Jewish men that went like this. “God, I thank you that I am neither a Gentile, Slave or a Woman”

Paul continues to verse 29 telling the church that they are heirs of the promise given to Abraham. He is talking to the church. Males, females, young and old, slaves and free, without distinguishing between nationality.

The reason I believe Paul’s use of Huioi in this instance is intended to be translated as “sons” is because in the ancient world it was only sons who were entitled to their parents inheritance. Normally it would be given to the oldest, though it was often split in various ways between their sons….as for the girls they missed out.

I believe then that by recognising that Paul is labeling the whole of the church in Galatia as Sons, is a in your face statement to those who are trying to bring a hierarchical and legal tensions into the Gospel. In effect by using the term “Sons” Paul is saying, there are no Jews or Gentiles. There are no slaves or free. There is no male or female….All of you are sons and as sons are heirs together (equally) of the promise of God.

About Craig Benno

I'm an average aussie guy who has lived perhaps a not so average life.
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5 Responses to Some thoughts about Huioi being translated as Sons in Gal 3:26

  1. T.C. R says:

    Craig,

    This is quite good. I’ve argued something similar before. I’m with you about what Paul is doing here. And that is why I argued recently to keep “sons” as well. We don’t need to frustrate Paul’s point by trying to be gender inclusive here.

  2. Craig Benno says:

    Thanks T.C.
    There is a real struggle in translating the Scriptures to be gender inclusive and losing the intention of what Scripture is saying. In this case its an fully inclusive statement in which the in your face intentional thrust is lost if a gender inclusive term is used.

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