Vol.XIX No.XI Pg.7
January 1983

?You Know What?

Robert F. Turner

From Oklahoma, an argument on Gal. 6:10 (author unrevealed); and I am asked to examine and reply in P. T.


The author says "let us do good" is "hortatory subjunctive;" and "according to the laws of Greek grammar, a hortatory subjunctive is always in the first person plural, and is an exhortation or command which includes the speaker and the person or persons ...addressed. In this case the letter is addressed to 'the churches of Galatia' and therefore the command is given to the churches of Galatia." By that he means, a church is commanded to support general benevolence from its treasury — as a collective work.

The basic fallacy here is assumption that a letter addressed to a church cannot contain exhortations for individual members of that church. Context of the particular exhortation, NOT the address at beginning of letter, determines application of that particular admonition. The church consists of individual saints, who have both individual and collective obligations. A letter addressed to a local group could, and usually does include exhortations of both kinds.

The "hortatory subjunctive" part is just a snow job. "Hortatory" means giving or characterized by exhortation. This is not a grammatical form; nor does it make the address at the beginning of a letter apply with exclusiveness. "Subjunctive" is a Greek mood. "In the first person plural it has also the suggestive force which is usually classed as an imperative." So what's new? Nothing but the effort to give someone the impression that "the Greek" of Gal. 6:10 gives churches the authority to form and support church-hood institutions for the furtherance of the social gospel.

"Neither let us commit fornication" (1 Cor. 10:8) is first person, plural, present subjunctive. The letter is "addressed to the church" so, by the "laws of Greek grammar" (fallaciously offered) the church can act in such an immoral way, and had to have this "hortatory subjunctive" admonition. Another "hortatory subjunctive" is found in 1 Cor. 10:9 ("neither let us make trial of the Lord"). It is also first person, plural, present, subjunctive; but is an admonition to individual saints who form the church, even as it uses the example of individual sinners who were part of the "congregation" in the wilderness.

Paul addressed "all the saints that are in Christ Jesus that are at Philippi." But in 4:15 he called them a "church" and followed "church" with a singular verb. Somehow we must be made to realize that "church" collects people — saints — and it may be used collectively OR DISTRIBUTIVELY. The address at the beginning of the letter cannot be used to categorize the contents of the letter as having either collective or distributive application. The immediate context must determine that.

I'm surprised our "hortatory subjunctive" addict did not argue that a single church is not being considered for general benevolent work, since Galatians is addressed to "churches." Did Paul advocate diocesan work???