In Galatians 1:16 does Paul mean “in” (i.e. “to reveal His Son in [ἐν] me”)?
Translations differ over how to translate “ἐν” in Gal 1:16; some use “IN” while others us “TO”:
- Galatians 1:15-16 — “God… pleased to reveal His Son IN/TO [ἐν] me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles…”
Did Paul intended for the verse to be read as “in me”?
Paul typically means “to me”
In both Paul’s letters and in how Acts represents Paul, the relationship between Paul and Jesus’s appearance is one of Jesus’ appearing “to” Paul.
- 1 Cor 9:1.
- 1 Cor 15:8.
- Acts (9:1-19; 22:3-16; 26:9-18).
This is relevant because it fits well with the context, wherein we understand Paul as saying that through him the Gospel's power is made manifest.
But so what?
Linguistically, “en emoi” can only be “in me”
Just look at the Greek, the phrase ἐν ἐμοί can only be legitimately translates “in me” (or else, it is by far favored on the basis of the Greek alone). This is relevant because we do not wanting to be violating the rules of Greek.
- Several translations do use “to.” 1
- Translators say it can just as naturally mean “to me,” without strain. 2
- Examples abound where it means “to.”3
- E.g. NLT, ESV, ISV etc. do translate 1:16 as “pleased to reveal His Son TO [ἐν] me.”
- E.g. the NET Bible opts to translate it as “in me,” but they neverthless add:
• NET Bible Translator notes: “Or ‘to me’; the Greek preposition ἐν (en) can mean either, depending on the context.”
- E.g. in Paul’s letters.
- • 1 Cor 14:11 — “…and the one who speaks will be a barbarian TO [ἐν] me”
Paul says “revealed to” when he wants
Paul was not shy about saying “to” when that was his meaning.
- He uses it without hesitation in 1 Cor. 2:10; 14.30; Eph 3:5; Phil 3:15.1
This is relevant because...
- James Dunn: “The ἐν ἐμοί could stand simply for the dative- ‘to me’ - and it is frequently taken in this way. But when Paul wants to use a dative with [apokaluptein] he does so; ... Presumably then the ἐν ἐμοί is chosen deliberately; and the obvious reason is to heighten the subjectivity of the revelation in the moment of encounter and in its impact on his inner life.” [Jesus and the Spirit (Eerdmans, 1975), 105.]