Paul and Self-Control?

In a piece by Matthew Boulton in The Journal for Preachers, Boulton argues that the translation “self-control” requires a new orientation in Paul’s fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). He notes that egkrateia is poorly translated “self-control.” The idea of self-control entails ” a mode of ongoing human achievement.” Rather, the word is formed from two Greek words: eg which is “in” or “in the realm of” and kratos which is, “strength or dominion.”

Boulton notes that something like “inner strength” or “inner dominion” fits better with Paul’s list. Further, it also serves as a culminating point in Paul’s list of virtues. He argues that the idea is that Christians are called to be “in the realm of strength dominion.” Such gifts can only come from a pneumatological anthropology and thus, concludes rightly Paul’s list. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness only make sense when they are expressed in the realm of the Spirit’s strength.

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