The other day at our church gathering, two friends and I talked about Galatians. They shared some thoughts about new perspectives on Paul, which are about a more Hebrew and contextual way of reading Paul than what has been typically done in Christianity. They asked us to try and understand Judaism on it’s own terms, rather than through the lenses we’ve been given by tradition. Namely, our Protestant lens has been filtered mostly through Luther’s understanding of Judaism. For example, they said that Judaism views itself as a faith of grace. This comes as a surprise to most Christians who are taught to view Judaism as a law-based faith, juxtaposed against a grace-based Christianity.
- But they were on to something. They said that the law in Judaism wasn’t what one did to get favor with God, but it was like a badge that one wore as a sign marking them as the people of God.
- Under the Old Covenant, the badge that the Jews wore was the law. And under the New Covenant, the badge that we wear is LOVE, since, to fulfill the “law of Christ” is to “bear one another’s burdens” (Gal 6:1). As Paul says, the thing that really matters now is “faith working itself out in love” and so do good to everyone “without growing weary” (Gal 6:9). But the Galations seem to be having a hard time understanding what it means to be free. Or what it means to be the people of God now. So he gives them a little lesson from redemption history to help them understand where they are in the grand scheme of things.
For it is written, Abraham had TWO SONS, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. These things are symbolic: for these are the TWO COVENANTS; One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar… she corresponds to the PRESENT JERUSALEM, for she is in slavery with her children. But the JERUSALEM ABOVE is free, and she is our mother. (Gal 4:22-26)
So then, the law was our guardian (or tutor or schoolmaster in KJV) until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian…(Gal 3:24-25)
Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, SO ALSO IT IS NOW. But what does the Scripture say? “CAST OUT the slave woman and her SON…