THEOLOGY T H E C O R A M D E O J O U R N A L O F T H E O LO GY
EXODUS & GALATIANS A Life of Theology: The Coram Deo Journal of Theology is a collection of articles, essays, reviews, and reflections on the presence of God in all areas of life. In this issue, Coram Deo faculty discuss the books of Exodus and Galatians. For questions about the Journal or for more information on how to submit an article, email Mr. Jon Jordan: firstname.lastname@example.org Coram Deo Academy educates youth in a historic Christian worldview through a vigorous classical curriculum. The goal of CDA is to train ethical servant leaders and wise thinkers who will shape culture for the glory of God. For more information about Coram Deo Academy, visit: http://coramdeoacademy.org
EDITOR κατὰ τὰς γραφὰς
“For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-5) A 21st century reading of the word “scripture” in the Christian New Testament often brings to mind images of a complete 66 book, two-testament English text that is readily available to most readers. This concept, both of a complete collection of texts and their ready availability in the people’s language, would be considered a novelty for much of Christian history. At the time of the writing of the New Testament, and in the earliest centuries of the Church, scripture was predominantly used simply to refer to the collection of books we call the Old Testament. One of the core Christian doctrines in need of defending during those crucial first centuries of the faith was the belief that the God of the Old Testament is the same as the God of the New Testament. In Luke 24, the risen Jesus shows two of his disciples the ways in which the Old Testament pointed to His death and resurrection. Paul, when passing along the gospel tradition that he received during his own training at Antioch, makes the claim that the crucifixion and resurrection were κατὰ τὰς γραφὰς (in accordance with the scriptures), which is to say that they are in accordance with the Old Testament. The Christian is to encounter God in the Scriptures of both the Old and the New Testaments. It is with this conviction in mind that we have traditionally assigned family summer reading that includes selections from both the Old and New Testaments. The following articles are in some way reflections upon the two books that were assigned this past summer: Exodus and Galatians. It is our hope that the reflections offered here contribute towards our common understanding of the many ways in which the authors of the New Testament engage the story of the people of God in the Old Testament. Jon Jordan, Dean of Students Ordinary Time, 2013
THREE THINGS: GALATIANS A few things to keep in mind as you read Paul’s letter to the Galatians.
1. GA L AT I A N S I S A N E P I S T L E . I cannot stress this enough, and will therefore state it bluntly: it is lazy and irresponsible to ignore genre when reading any piece of literature, especially literature that is labeled Scripture. To read a parable as historical narrative or poetry as scientific explanation is doing a disservice to Scripture, your own heart and mind, and anyone you happen to influence. Now do not be too afraid—though a little bit of intimidation is appropriate when approaching a sacred text—you do not need to understand the deep intricacies of Ancient Near Eastern literary genre to learn from our Scriptures. But a basic understanding of the prominent genres of the New Testament and the specific text you are reading will, I think, prove quite valuable as you seek to encounter God in the Scriptures. The book of Galatians is an epistle—a letter sent to a person or group of people—written by Paul to various churches in the region of Galatia (modern-day Turkey). Of the 27 books of the New Testament, 21 are epistles. The book of Revelation, one of the 6 non-epistle books of the New Testament, actually contains 7 mini-epistles in its first three chapters. Understanding the genre of epistle is clearly important for understanding the New Testament. Of all there is to know and study about the New Testament epistles, a few key points are important to keep in mind. Like in any modern letter, knowing the author and audience is crucial to understanding. If I find a letter in the hallway after a passing period and assume it is written to me, I am most likely going to come to some absurd interpretive conclusions. (What do you mean Johnny doesn’t like my new haircut? I’ve had this same style for three years now? Guess I better shave my head.) In addition to understanding the author and audience, it is also crucial to know something
about the occasion of the epistle. Why was the letter written? What circumstances led to this particular author addressing this particular audience? Let’s take a quick look at the author, audience, and occasion for the book of Galatians. Author Paul was an adult convert to Christianity from Pharisaic Judaism. If you are not familiar with his conversion, it would be very helpful to read the three accounts in the book of Acts (9, 22, 26) before reading Galatians. For his epistle to the Galatians, it is significant to note that prior to his conversion, Paul was as devoted to Judaism as anyone else in his day. Audience There is actually quite some disagreement about the specific audience of this epistle. Galatia was a Roman province spanning approximately modern-day Turkey. When Paul wrote this epistle, “Galatia” likely referred to the entire region, though by the end of the third century, only the northern region was referred to as Galatia. We are not entirely sure to which specific region of the Galatian province Paul was writing. (If you are curious, I tend to accept the southern Galatia hypothesis, which would link the epistle to the Galatians with Paul’s missionary journey of Acts 13-14.) Regardless, the Galatian Christians were an ethnically and spiritually diverse people that had little inherent knowledge of Judaism or the Old Testament. Occasion After Paul and Barnabas planted churches throughout Galatia (see Acts 13-14), a majority of the Christians in the region were Gentiles. Some time after leaving Galatia, Paul learns that a group of Jewish Christians had entered Galatia and began teaching that full Christian salvation must include observance of the Torah (the Jewish Law, Pentateuch), including circumcision, feasts, and the observance of Sabbath. In some of his most forceful language found in the New Testament, Paul pens Galatians as an argument against these teachers. All of the writings in our New Testament that are believed to have been written by St. Paul are epistles. When comparing them to each other and to other known religious and non-religious epistles of his day, a quite interesting pattern arrises. Paul seems to be following a relatively standard pattern in his greetings at the beginning 26
and end of each of his epistles. When this pattern changes, as we see in the opening verses of Galatians, something important is probably happening. Paul introduces himself as an Apostle—which is very common in his epistles—and then spends much of the first chapter defending his Apostleship—which he does not do elsewhere. His apostleship was not given to him by a human and was not made possible by a human. Instead, he was made an Apostle through a direct revelation and appointment by Jesus himself (Gal 1:1). In addition to defending the authenticity of his authority as an apostle, Paul also notes that the epistle is from him and all the brothers who are with him. These two unique parts of his greeting—a defense of his apostolic authority and the joint-authorship of the epistle—set the stage for the forceful correction the epistle gives to the Jewish Christian teachers throughout Galatia.
2 . GA L AT I A N S I S A N E A R LY E P I S T L E Remember the Southern or Northern Galatia debate? The question of audience, in the case of Paul’s letter to the Galatians, influences more than just your interpretation of who the author intended to read the letter. Your answer to the question of audience influences your decision about what date to assign to Galatians. In keeping with the hypothesis that Paul’s audience was found in the Southern region of Galatia that he visited with Barnabas in Acts 13-14, Galatians is Paul’s earliest letter with a date some time in or around the early AD 50s (with a possibility of even dipping into the late 40s). This is incredibly early in terms of New Testament texts. The letter to the Galatians likely represents the earliest complete New Testament text (though the Gospel of Mark is a close contender as well). The Gospel of John, for example, wasn’t written until roughly 40 years later. But why does it matter that Galatians was written so early? How does that influence the way we read and understand the text? A few answers to these questions are posed below. Established Tradition By the middle of the first century AD, there is enough of an established gospel tradition already in place that Paul feels the freedom to reference it. In 2:8-9 he warns against the Galatians accepting a different gospel— one that is different than the one 27
he and his co-authors had already proclaimed. There is no New Testament to reference; there are no Gospel accounts to read. That does not prevent Paul from referencing a standard of teaching from which the Galatians must not depart. This tradition that predates the writing of the New Testament will later be called a variety of things, including the Apostolic Teaching and the Rule of Faith. It would also later serve as the basis for the Nicene Creed. To be a Christian, Paul urges the Galatians, is to trust the one true gospel message brought to them by the Apostles as opposed to any other gospel brought by anybody else. This does not mean that there was complete unity in the early Church. Sometimes we mistakingly think of the Great Schism of AD1054 or the Protestant Reformation as the only major disagreements throughout Church history. You only have to keep reading Galatians to discover that even among the Apostles there was severe disagreement on some fairly significant issues (see 2:11-14). But what Paul and those with him could agree on is this: within Christianity, there can be no such thing as turning to a different gospel. The gospel Paul received is the gospel he passed on; this is our only option as Christians. Brevity Throughout Galatians, Paul says some pretty significant things without elaborating much. Either an elaboration would have distracted his audience from his main point, or he had not yet seen a need to elaborate on a given topic based on his ministry up to that point. Or both. The point is thatâ€”in keeping with the genre of an epistleâ€”Paul did not set out to write a detailed systematic theology covering a wide spectrum of doctrines, but rather a letter. Paul is not opposed to writing clear, organized theology: his later letters show this to be true. But in Galatians, an early letter, there is little room for elaboration on major themes. So keep this in mind as you read. When reading what Paul says early in his ministry about the Law (Galatians), it is important to also hear what he has to say about the Law later in his ministry (Romans). Both letters are Paul, and both letters are Scripture. At the end of the day, we need to allow them each to speak to their own context, while also hearing both of them properly in order to more fully understand and know God. For a specific example of this, take some time to read Paul on the Spirit in Galatians 4:4-6 and then in Romans 8.
Scripture This is a short, but significant point to keep in mind as you read. When Paul uses the word scripture in Galatians he is referring to what we call the Old Testament. At the writing of the letter, there simply was no such thing as a “New” Testament for Paul to call Scripture. Keeping this in mind is crucial to understanding how the Old Testament was fulfilled in the life of Jesus the Messiah.
3 . GA L AT I A N S C O N TA I N S O N E S U S TA I N E D A R G U M E N T Throughout his letter, Paul is making one sustained argument. And that argument could be boiled down to this: Paul is urging the Galatian Christians to reject the teaching of those who have come among them insisting that maintaining Jewish practices in addition to the Gospel is necessary for salvation. In remembering this third point, you cannot forget that Galatians itself is an epistle. In keeping with the ancient practice of writing letters, Paul has a direct audience and a specific reason to write. You also cannot forget that Galatians is an early epistle. In it Paul is dealing with concerns he had early in his career. These three points—that Galatians is an early epistle containing one sustained argument—should impact our interpretation in many ways. I want to highlight one here. Before you read part of Galatians and draw a conclusion about its meaning today, you must make sure that the conclusion you are drawing fits with the original purpose of the letter. For example, when you read that “there is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female” in 3:28, make sure that the full weight of the original argument is felt before you apply the verse to any ethnic, class, or gender disputes today. This cannot be merely taken as a single-verse sweeping maxim about equality. Instead, if we are to be faithful to the text, this verse must be heard as part of Paul’s overall argument. Jon Jordan, Faculty Mr. Jordan is a teacher and Dean of Students at the Flower Mound campus. For more of his academic work in the New Testament and Early Christianity, visit his academia.edu page.
MOSES & SPIRITUAL INTERPRETATION In the fourth chapter of the Letter to the Galatians, the Apostle Paul does something that might strike our modern ears as a bit strange. He takes Sarah and Hagar, historic women from the Book of Genesis and says that they allegorically represent “two covenants” (Gal 4:24). Hagar representing the Old Covenant and the “Jerusalem that is now.” While Sarah represents “the Jerusalem that is above and free” and that is “our mother”, speaking of the Church. The Apostle has taken Sarah and Hagar and revealed a deeper meaning in addition to the historical and plain sense of the text of Genesis. Ancient Christian interpreters often engaged in this deeper reading of the texts of the Old Testament; reading the text in an allegorical or spiritual sense in order to hear the “Secret and hidden wisdom of God” (I Corinthians 2:6-7). This method of reading was concerned with revealing some aspect of the life of the Church or the spiritual lives of believers. In the fourth century, following in the interpretive footsteps of the Apostle Paul, Gregory of Nyssa, penned one of the classic works of spiritual interpretation, The Life of Moses. Gregory was born around 335AD to an aristocratic and pious Christian family. He was educated at home by his mother and older sister in the Scriptures and theol30
ogy and later he studied classical literature and philosophy. He is still known as one of the most important theologians of the fourth century. Gregory wrote his Life of Moses to a friend in order to encourage him to live a mature and virtuous life in Christ. It was to become an enduring text on Christian spirituality, the life of the Christian soul being revealed in the life of the prophet Moses. Gregory’s work is divided into two sections; first a brief chronological narrative of the life of Moses, followed by a longer meditation on the spiritual and allegorical interpretation of the text. He explains how Moses’s earthly life reveals the way we as Christians can make progress in the attainment of virtue and Christlikeness. One example of such an allegorical reading is the plundering of the Egyptians in Exodus chapter 12. As the Hebrews took silver and gold from the Egyptians, so Christians are called to “equip themselves with the wealth of pagan learning…to receive such things as moral and natural philosophy, geometry, astronomy, dialectic, and whatever else is sought outside the Church, since these things will be useful when in time the divine sanctuary of mystery must be beautified with the riches of reason.” Not only does the book give us an example of spiritual interpretation, but it also contains much meat for the soul and I commend it to you for further study. In closing, I’ll offer the words of Gregory himself, “Since the goal of the virtuous way of life was the very thing we have been seeking, and this goal has been found in what we have said, it is time for you, noble friend, to look to [the life of Moses] and, by transferring to your own life what is contemplated through spiritual interpretation of the things spoken literally, to be known to God and to become his friend. This is true perfection.”
Robert Terry, Director of Finance Mr. Terry is the Director of Finance for the district and has formerly taught several of our courses at the High School level, including Senior Apologetics.
IRENAEUS ON GALATIANS 4:1-7 Ancient formation, New generation.
Introduction Most students of Irenaeus detect his reverence for the letters of Paul, usually citing the former’s dependence on Romans 5 for his doctrine of recapitulation. Richard Norris provides, I think, a more helpful assessment of the scene in his 1990 essay “Irenaeus’ Use of Paul in His Polemic Against the Gnostics.” As the title of his essay implies, Norris positions Irenaeus’ reading of Romans 5 with its Adam/Christ typology in the context of his larger intention of demonstrating and refuting the heretics’ misreading of Paul. This is in keeping with the recent trend within Irenaean scholarship to look behind Irenaeus’ all important doctrine of recapitulation to find an even more basic starting point for the polemicist (Holsinger-Friesen 2009, 2-3.) Given this wider perspective, Norris claims it is Galatians 4:4-7 and not Romans 5 that provides Irenaeus with “a central and thematic” picture (Norris 1990, 89-90.). “Recapitulation” occurs at the “fullness of time” through the “adoption of sons.” The present article will defend Norris’ thesis by highlighting the polemical context of Irenaeus’ doctrine of recapitulation, but we will also develop his thesis by demonstrating the centrality, for Irenaeus, of the Virgin Birth as the key to both continuity and discontinuity. In the Virgin Birth Christ partakes of the “ancient formation” (vetus plasmatio) of humanity, but inaugurates a “new generation” (novus generatio). Having made this critical distinction, we hope to lend Norris’ argument even greater weight.
Irenaeus’ Polemical Context No author writes in a vacuum, and Irenaeus is no exception. While there are some who would exaggerate his opponents’ influence on his thought, one cannot—un32
less he overlooked the title of his greatest work (On the Exposure and Refutation of Knowledge Falsely So Called, or its shorter form, Against Heresies)—deny that the vast majority of Irenaeus’ writing is occasional. We have in Irenaeus a systematic thinker articulating his system in response to a pastoral concern. (We should not understand “system” in a scholastic, or a modern way, nor should we assume that there was no coherent, logical organization of ideas in the minds of the ancients. For an excellent introduction to the ways in which early Christians thought see (Wilken 2003).) This concern, “like the Lernaean hydra, a many-headed beast” took many forms, but had a common body in the “school of Valentinus.” (Against Heresies 1.30.15 Hereafter “AH.”) Valentinus was a teacher in Rome in the middle of the 2nd Century, having moved there from Alexandria.(Rudolph 1983, 317-18) His teaching, though bearing the name “Christian,” was a marked departure from the faith of the church represented by men like Irenaeus. By way of synecdoche, Valentinus becomes for Irenaeus a representative of all of the sects of 2nd Century often labeled “gnostic.” Though the moniker may justly be disputed, there are obvious commonalities among many of them.(For an argument against the use of the term see (Williams 1996), for lists of the common features see (Markschies 2003) and (Rudolph 1983).) Most significantly for our purposes, these sects posited an invisible, unknown “Father” who was distinguished from the Framer or Creator of the material world.(Markschies 2003, 15-16.) The Framer or “Demiurge” is ignorant of anything higher than himself, and hence the OT claims of monotheism. The demiurge is ignorant at best—evil at worst. Whether a dualistic cosmology gives birth to a dualistic theology or vise versa we can’t tell, but both are present in most “gnostic” systems. Given this dualistic theological presupposition, the heretics’ understanding of Scripture is necessarily dualistic. Usually the unknown Father is identified as the Father of Jesus Christ, and the demiurge as the God of the Old Testament. Though he doesn’t fit a gnostic mold (if such a mold be granted) Marcion of Synope confesses a similar theological and therefore Biblical dualism. Irenaeus is primarily concern with 33
Valentinianism and the systems which share the most in common with it, but to the degree that other systems can be refuted by similar arguments, he includes them in his refutation. If, for the gnostic, theology and cosmology are mutually informative, for Irenaeus it is the Biblical narrative and theology that inform one another. Therefore he cannot admit of any distinction whatsoever between the God of the OT and the God of the NT. (Irenaeus is the first to use the term “New Testament” to refer to the apostolic writings.) “God, therefore, is one and the same,(unus et idem) who rolls up the heaven as a book, and renews the face of the earth; who made the things of time for man, so that coming to maturity in them, he may produce the fruit of immortality; and who, through His kindness, also bestows [upon him] eternal things, ‘that in the ages to come He may show the exceeding riches of His grace;’ who was announced by the law and the prophets, whom Christ confessed as His Father.”(AH 4.5.1) Irenaeus’ polemical task is to demonstrate that the Christian God is one (unus) , not two (contra Marcion), or 30 (contra Valentinus), and that the God who spoke to Moses is the same (idem) God whom we Christians worship.
Vetus Plasmatio, Novus Generatio Irenaeus and Paul have the same delicate task of showing that there is something decidedly new about Christian worship, all the while confessing that it is “one and the same” Lord of the one Scripture that is being worshipped. Paul feels pressure from his Jewish opponents that suspect he is jettisoning the OT by positioning “faith in Jesus Christ” over and above “the works of the law” as means of justification.(Gal. 2:16) Irenaeus seeks to hold the two testaments together in opposition to the heretics, who divide them either canonically (per Marcion) or thematically (per Valentinus et.al.). Against the cosmological dualism of the gnostics, Irenaeus argues that the humanity that was “molded”(plasmatus) in the garden, was “recapitulated” in the person of Jesus Christ. Commenting on Galatians 4:4, Irenaeus reasons, “For indeed the enemy would not have been fairly vanquished, unless it had been a man [born] of a
woman who conquered him. For it was by means of a woman that he got the advantage over man at first, setting himself up as man’s opponent. And therefore does the Lord profess Himself to be the Son of man, comprising in Himself that original man out of whom the woman was fashioned (ex quo ea quæ secundum mulierem est plasmatio facta est), in order that, as our species went down to death through a vanquished man, so we may ascend to life again through a victorious one.”(AH 5.21.1) The birth of a woman insures that the humanity of Jesus Christ is “of the same substance” as the humanity of Adam. The “molding”(plasmatio) of Adam is transmitted through birth, so that the Virgin could be said to “fashioned”(plasmatio) out of Adam. Elsewhere Irenaeus explains the need for this identity of substance: “But if the Lord became incarnate for any other order of things, and took flesh of any other substance, He has not then summed up (recapitulatus) human nature in His own person, nor in that case can He be termed flesh. For flesh has been truly made [to consist in] a transmission of that thing molded originally from the dust.”(AH 5.14.2) The Virgin Birth, because it is birth, transmits the original formation of Adam to Christ, so that Jesus Christ is human in the exact same way that all other descendants of Adam are human. This identity of nature makes it possible for Christ, in his human nature to right all of the wrongs of sinful humanity. “But now, by means of communion with Himself, the Lord has reconciled man to God the Father, in reconciling us to Himself by the body of His own flesh, and redeeming us by His own blood.”(AH 5.14.3, for a full explanation of Irenaeus’ doctrine of recapitulation see (Wingren 1959) and (Steenberg 2009).) What, then, is new about the incarnation? The thought crossed Irenaeus’ mind as a possible response to his refutation of Marcion, “But if a thought of this kind should then suggest itself to you, to say, What then did the Lord bring to us by His advent?—know ye that He brought all [possible] novelty, by bringing Himself who had been announced.”(AH 4.34.1) Irenaeus takes great care to affirm that even the “novelty” itself had been announced “beforehand.” For Irenaeus anything novus, must at the same time be vetus/antiquus, if it is to be considered legitimate. The Virgin Birth, as birth, guarantees identity with the “ancient formation,” but as being of a virgin, it 35
constitutes a “new generation.” Irenaeus explains, “the Holy Ghost came upon Mary, and the power of the Most High did overshadow her: wherefore also what was generated is a holy thing, and the Son of the Most High God the Father of all, who effected the incarnation of this being, and showed forth a new [kind of] generation (novam generationem); that as by the former generation (priorem generationem) we inherited death, so by this new generation we might inherit life.”(AH 5.1.3) Reconciliation to the Father is not automatic because while it is the original formation of Adam that is summed up in Christ, many who participate in that formation do so by way of the prior generatio. This prior generatio is what all humans naturally possess. Jesus’ generation, on the other hand, was not merely natural (secundum hominem), but wonderful and unexpected (mire et inopinate). “How can they be saved unless it was God who wrought out their salvation upon earth? Or how shall man pass into God, unless God has [first] passed into man? And how shall he (man) escape from the generation subject to death, if not by means of a new generation, given in a wonderful and unexpected manner (but as a sign of salvation) by God—[I mean] that regeneration which flows from the virgin through faith? Or how shall they receive adoption from God if they remain in this [kind of] generation, which is naturally possessed by man (secundum hominem) in this world?”(AH 4.33.4)
Conclusion What we have said has only served to strengthen Norris’ thesis that Galatians 4:4-7 is a central passage for his understanding of Paul. We have simply shed greater light on the precise logic and language Irenaeus employs in his understanding of adoption. Norris notes in his article that “the adoption of sons” is for Irenaeus the “second central theme for [Galatians 4:4-7].”(Norris 1990, 94.) He bases this adoption on participation (koinonia) with the Son of God, and demonstrates the necessity of identity of nature: “For [Irenaeus], the ‘putting on’ of immortality and incorruption defines the filiorum adoptio, but it comes about because in Christ ‘that which was corruptible is swallowed up (absorberetur) by incorruption’ (AH 3.19.1) and because humani36
ty—which for him of course means "flesh," the plasmatio of God—is ‘swallowed up . . . in the victory and the patience . . . and the resurrection" of the Son of God.”(Norris 1990, 94.) By way of summary he suggests that for Irenaeus the aim or purpose of the incarnation is “not only the conquest of Satan…but also the re-formation of the human race (AH 4.24.1) or the ‘adoption of sons.’(AH 3.16.3)” (Norris 1990, 98.) Norris’ solid argument could be strengthened by recognizing that the “re-formation” (reformasse) of which our adoption consists is not a new molding (novus plasmatio), but a participation of the vetus plasmatio in the novus generatio of the Son of God from the Virgin (ex Virgine) and by faith (per fidem).
Tyson Guthrie, Faculty Mr. Guthrie teaches History, Latin, and our new Faith and Film elective. To see more of his academic work in the area of Patristic Theology, visit his academia.edu page.
LIFE LESSONS FROM GALATIA Sitting in the back of that small car, fly-
to the pressure of a new group of people
ing through the boulevard in the Spanish
who have increased the "commitment
city, I suddenly had the acute realization
level" of the faith. This group, known as
that driver was not exactly thrilled that
Judaizers, had difficulty with a gospel
we were his passengers. My wife and I,
message that would allow non-Jews to be
missionaries in the city of Seville, were
accepted into the family of faith apart
ministering to a "grupo de jovenes"
from the rite of circumcision and the
(youth group, but with a much different
strict adherence to Jewish ceremonial
feel) of young people from the ages of 12
to 30. In addition to being present in
Early on in his letter, after challeng-
meetings, we would spend time with
ing the new converts to hold fast to the
them afterwards. In this case, one of the
original gospel message preached to
older members of the group was driving
them, he hits on a theme that resonates
us and evidently pretty angry. My inclina-
throughout the rest of the letter: "For
tion was to try to make things right, to try
am I now seeking the approval of man, or
to figure out why he was so angry at us
of God? Or am I trying to please man? If
and change his opinion of us. But some-
I were still trying to please man, I would
thing stopped me. I believe it was, in
not be a servant of Christ" (Gal 1:10,
part, some of the truths that I had
ESV). He provides example after exam-
learned about the Lord from places such
ple of times that he did not bend to pres-
as Paul's letter to the Galatians.
sure to be a man pleaser (or in other
Galatians is one of those letters that
words, someone controlled by the ap-
is deeply profound, but the context that
proval or opinions of others): whether it
is seemingly so far removed at times we
was with the apostolic band (1:17; 2:6),
might struggle to find its relevance. Ar-
with the Judaizers (2:4-5), or the Apostle
guably one of Paul's earliest letters, this
Peter himself (2:11-14). His point is this:
epistle is addressed to his converts who
the gospel, the good news they received
had apparently discovered the gospel of
from faith in Christ (3:1-3) is not some-
grace through Paul, but are now caving in
thing that can be added unto by following 38
the preferences of people who want to
their concerns or disagreements, I can
add a requirement here or there to try to
find myself, like those Judaizers of old,
make Christianity more robust or
attempting to impose my will on others.
rigorous. The way of faith is the way of
There have been many, many oppor-
freedom, and the call of the believer is to
tunities since that car ride in Spain for
recognize that those who would be overly
me to recognize a simple truth in Gala-
zealous in imposing their wills through
tians about the importance of being a
manipulation or obligation are not to be
"bondservant" of Christ and not people.
empowered (5:1). In fact, it is the way of
Although this is a lesson that I continu-
faith, in dependence on the Spirit of God,
ally have to learn and re-learn, there is
lived out among the community of believ-
something refreshing when, by God's
ers, where real freedom is found and exer-
grace, I make the correct decision to be
cised in voluntary service for
more preoccupied with His estimation
than that of other people. I discover that,
When I first read Galatians several
at those times there is nothing more free-
years ago, I felt like a CDA 5th grader sit-
ing in my service, life and leadership
ting in a 10th grade Latin class: I knew
than the Apostle's words long ago: " I
something important was being taught,
have been crucified with Christ. It is no
but I had no idea what. After the years of
longer I who live, but Christ who lives in
studying and soaking in the truths of this
me. And the life I now live in the flesh I
precious epistle and the truths of the let-
live by faith in the Son of God, who loved
ter, however, I began to find (and am still
me and gave himself for me" (2:20).
discovering) a simple freedom that helps me in how I lead and serve others: giving people the grace to disagree. I realize for me that if I get too bent out of shape about the disapproval of someone else, I am basically giving someone other than the Lord control of my life--in some cases
Toby Oaks, Faculty
it is actually what I perceive someone Mr. Oaks is the Upper School director for the Collin County campus. He graduated from Dallas Seminary with a Master of Theology degree.
else might be thinking. On the other side, when I do not give people the freedom to disagree or at the very least voice 39
THE EXODUS & THE SPIRIT In some ways, the ancient or modern Christian is not mistaken to read the letter to the Galatians and come away comforted. Indeed Paul has much comfort to bring those (especially Gentiles) that have stood next to the Law and have been found lacking. In keeping with his primary argument—that believers in Galatia are not to return to the Law now that it has been fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus the Messiah—Paul presents the Spirit’s work as playing the vital role of pointing to that which has already been accomplished. In this section we will highlight various passages in Galatians in which Paul emphasizes the Spirit’s role in spotlighting eschatological realization. In a drastic manner that is mostly lost on those of us who observe Judaism as outsiders, Paul the former Pharisee makes a shocking claim: the Spirit is greater than the Law. As a Pharisee in the Second Temple period, Paul’s hope had been placed in bringing about God’s restoration by observing the Law, often to the point of publicly policing those who didn’t. The Exodus, that pivotal event that preceded the giving of the law, is fresh in Paul’s mind as he presents the role of the Spirit throughout Galatians. After his conversion, Paul appears to insist that the Law was merely a temporary measure (3.19,23-24) that could never actually give life (3.21). The Law that was given to identify and restrain transgressions was only given until the coming of the Messiah. What is more, the Law was in need of a helper—the guiding of Israel by cloud and fire—during the period immediately following the Exodus. The Law was given to Israel after a deliverance from the bondage of slavery in Egypt (3.17), but now Paul seems to be equating the Law itself to an “Egypt-like bondage” (3.23), one which he insists the Christian is no longer under. The Spirit, in contrast, appears to be superior in several of the areas where Paul insists the Law is lacking. Not only does the Spirit serve to 40
identify and restrain transgression (5.16-18), but the Spirit also serves the people of God as “cloud-like guidance”, brings about real fruit (5.22-23) and even enables restoration within the community of faith (6.1-2). The indwelling of the Spirit, it would appear, is being presented as better than the giving of the Law. Is, then, the Spirit simply an upgraded Law? Are the Galatians to avoid a return to the Law simply because they have a better option in the Spirit? Paul does not present the Spirit as merely a new version of the Law. Instead, for Paul, a universe-shattering change had taken place in the advent, life, death and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah. The giving of the Spirit serves as a constant reminder of that change. For Paul, comfort—here specifically from the agitation of the missionaries—was to be found in the Spirit’s ongoing (3.2-3) witness (4.6) to that which had been accomplished by the sending of the Son (4.5). Paul has argued events of Christ’s advent and death have altered the world in such a way that makes it inconceivable to return to the former ways of doing things. The Spirit is a witness to the Christian that this is indeed the case. Pointing towards that which has already been accomplished is a major role of the Spirit in the life of the believer. Gal 3:23-29 Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.
Jon Jordan, Faculty This is an excerpt from a paper delivered at the 2012 University of St. Andrews conference on Galatians & Christian Theology. The rest of the paper can be read in its entirety here.
In this issue of A Life of Theology, our faculty discuss themes found in our assigned summer reading books of Exodus and Galatians.