January 27, 2021

The Council

Proclaiming the truth to the world.

I was in a conversation regarding whether my interpretation of Gal. 3:19-25 is a good interpretation or not. Here are the contents of that conversation:

http://spirited-tech.com/Council/index.php/2020/12/10/why-then-the-law/

19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. 20 Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.

21 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 

BigBear:

“In one sense the law itself… remains holy, righteous, and good as a divinely sanctioned mandate, has become one of these evil powers insofar as it serves as an instrument of condemnation, judgment, and death.”

If I’m understanding your view correctly, do you mean to say that the OT law does not condemn us before God? If so, then what does? By what standard are we condemned…?

Perhaps a line by line interpretation would help, if you hold to that “the law” means the entire OT law, then how would you interpret these verses? Wouldn’t they suggest that the law ended?

(The previous three verses speak of the Law as coming after the original Abrahamic covenant. Considering the following I would think it would therefore be set for a specific time of authority) 3:9
9 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary.

3:19
Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.

TheSire:

[Perhaps a line by line interpretation would help, if you hold to that “the law” means the entire OT law, then how would you interpret these verses? Wouldn’t they suggest that the law ended?

(The previous three verses speak of the Law as coming after the original Abrahamic covenant. Considering the following I would think it would therefore be set for a specific time of authority) 3:9
9 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary.

3:19
Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.]

The law isn’t in conflict with the promises to Abraham because the Law was never meant to give life. This is hard to respond to on a phone and I’m illiterate. So, endure. The Laws function of condemning us under its curse is over(given we have Christ or faith) and separating Israel from gentiles. These are no longer the functions of the Law. It still remains the moral standard but we’re freed from its curse.

Similar to Romans 7 depending on your interpretation.

I think 19 is an explanation for why he gave the Law and why it isn’t contradictory to the promises that were given to Abraham. He uses the angels or rendered intermediaries as a point about God unilaterally giving the promise and thus it’s irrevocable ( given the assurance that God is one (The Shema). It was added because transgressions are tough because it could mean to provoke in order to point to Christ but others think it was to condemn sin and keep Israel’s ethnic purity. I’ll go with the latter.

Faith was operative in the OT so it isn’t completely chronological but it reflects with the incoming revelation of the son poured out on his followers. So, without Christ, we are under the teacher of under the law but Christ redeemed us from that.

BigBear:

“function of condemning us under its curse”, could you elaborate on what this curse and condemnation mean? It sounds like a rather abstract concept.

It seems to me that you make a distinction between the Law as prescription, and the law functioning as a “curse”. I don’t see that in the text, the text speaks of “the law” being added until “the offspring” (Christ should come) and making us “Imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed”. “The Law” seems quite clearly to me to be whole and undivided in its nature.

Likewise, it says “The law” is a “guardian”, not the aspect of it that condemns, or is a curse (notwithstanding the lack of such a distinction).

TheSire:

The “under” language starts earlier in the chapter and I think we see this idea in Romans also, just to appeal to the larger Pauline corpus. We see this aspect of the Law earlier in Galatians 3:

10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

The idea here seems to be that the Law condemns people because they violate God’s commands but is completely unable to grant life. Leaving us in our sins with no hope. But Christ comes and becomes Cursed for us. Thus this has ended.

Furthermore, it is hard to understand all the pro-law statements in the NT. I’ve argued that plenty of texts teach the ongoing authority of the Law.

http://spirited-tech.com/Council/index.php/2018/07/18/the-law-and-the-new-testament/

Basically, the only problem is if this is stating that prescribing the Law as something to live by then every non-progressive, or dispensationalist, or non-New covenant theology are the only non-Judaizers. Anyone that holds to covenant theology is guilty of putting people under bondage.

It also seems that you may be making Paul’s point too chronological in verse 25. I take Dr. Keener to be correct:

In God’s purpose, this particular role of the law ended for God’s children when a more adequate means of fulfilling the promise arrived—namely, when this way of faith came (3:23, 25), when Christ came (3:24).719 Faith was already part of God’s plan before the law (3:6), but now that the promise is fulfilled in Christ, faith has been revealed (3:23). Paul’s term for revealed (ἀποκαλύπτω, apokaluptō) is the same term he used for God’s Son being revealed in him in 1:16, as the revelation of Jesus Christ in 1:12. Paul speaks here not of individuals’ experience but rather of the course of salvation history.720 Faith refers to trusting God for salvation, rather than referring to “the faith” as a title for the Christian message or beliefs per se.721 Again, this experience is not novel in salvation history (3:6), but its total sufficiency, because of the completed revelation of its object, Jesus Christ and his salvific work, has supplanted any interim arrangements.

Keener, Craig S.. Galatians (p. 289). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

If the Law as prescription was always in conflict with the promise, then it seems that the Law and the promise would have been inconsistent with one another at the same time. That seems to contradict Paul’s claim that they ever were in conflict in 19-21.

It seems rather it was the Law as a means to acquire life was what conflict with the promise and it only could bring death.

Jimmy Stephens:

One of the biggest problems that needs to be resolved if you want to reject some sort of covenantalist approach is the use of the law in the prophets. The prophets act as prosecutors against Israel for their “marital” unfaithfulness, their covenant infidelity. Israel broke the law.

However, there is no clean clear distinction between their infidelity in terms of OT law and infidelity in terms of universal moral condemnability. Often the prophets call out the nation of Israel in terms of her heart problem.

How can an abrogatable law condemn sin qua sin? If it can be abrogated, it can at best condemn manifestations of sin, not sin itself. But if it can touch moral universals, then it itself has at least some universal element.

In general, I’ve never understood how in the world non-covenantalists make sense of meta-ethics. If the law reveals God’s character and God’s character is unchanging: let me summarize how easily you’ll see where this goes.

-takes a breath-

Duh

Now if the law in its entirety can be dropped, then that’s just to say it never communicated anything about God at all.