Paul’s Argument of Maturity

25 Jan
from Google Images

from Google Images

In Galatians 3:25-29 Paul argues that, as the mature sons of God, we are no longer under our childhood guardian or schoolmaster. After faith has come—that is, after our salvation appears or after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection (the object of our faith)—after this appears, we are no longer under the custodian, which Paul explains is the Law (Galatians 3:25). Rather we are under Jesus in whom we trust.

During the first century, once the son or daughter was no longer under the custodian, this didn’t mean the discipline learned as a youth and the teachings of the custodian were forgotten. The law is valuable in that it has taught us what sin is, so we can identify right from wrong. Because we are able to see that we are sinners, we understand we are guilty and in need of repentance. Moreover, the law has shown us that our sin nature is so evil that we are unable by ourselves to stop sinning—we need a Savior. In its place the Law is extremely valuable, but we simply are unable to attain maturity in life by living under a guardian. If, therefore, we are no longer required to live under the authority of the guardian, it means that God trusts us to act as a mature person.

The coming of faith (Galatians 3:26) marks our coming of age. Through faith in the saving power of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, we become the children of God. Faith has changed our position before God, in that we are no longer treated as servants but as sons. Heretofore, the Jewish thought was that one entered a close relationship with God through obedience—the more obedient we were the closer we came to God, until we were recognized as God’s son. According to our experience of faith, however, the reality was we became God’s children through grace not effort. Maturity and a close relationship with God came through our faith in Jesus as Savior. This was a Jewish epiphany in the Gospel.

Therefore, our faith in Christ has accomplished for us what we could not do by ourselves, and this is true for both Jews and gentiles. Together, we are the sons of God. Together, we are baptized into Christ (Galatians 3:27). In other words, we are so immersed in the life of Christ that this is what others see—Christ’s life lived out in us. “I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me…” (Galatians 2:20). We aren’t associated with Christ; we are **in** him. Because he is righteous, so are we. Because Christ has free access to God’s throne, so do we. Because Christ is God’s Son, so are we God’s children. Because Christ has victory over the world and the powers of darkness, so do we. We find our identity before God in Christ. We have put on Christ, like one would put on new clothes. Christ is what others see in us. Moreover, our relationship with God has changed in that from now on he treats us as his adult children rather than children under the discipline of custodians.

Therefore, there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free—all are united or on the same level in Christ (Galatians 3:28). Paul doesn’t mean to say the differences between these three groups don’t exist. The differences are obvious. God is not destroying national boundaries, neither is he destroying sexual difference, nor is he saying there is no place for authority in society. Rather, all human distinctions are done away in Christ. We are all equal in terms of receiving eternal life and receiving the blessings of God. No favoritism of any kind is shown by God to anyone as far as one’s ethnic origin, one’s authority in society or one’s sex is concerned.

Is the Law, therefore, able to make us equal ethnically, sexually or socially before God? No! On the contrary, the Law made distinctions concerning ethnic origin, one’s authority and according to sex. For example, no gentile, slave or woman could ever be a priest under the Law. Certain duties in the Temple were given to Jewish males only. It was for this reason that a rabbinic prayer was repeated daily thanking God that one was not a gentile, a slave or a woman, because being such kept that one from serving God in the Temple. This sort of distinction was done away in Christ; all are equal before God.

The single requirement of being an heir to the promises made to Abraham is that we are Christ’s (Galatians 3:29)! The idea that a believing gentile could **become** a child of Abraham through circumcision or obedience to the Law was an oxymoron. A gentile believer was **already** a son of Abraham and an heir to the promises through faith in Christ.

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Posted by on January 25, 2016 in Galatians


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