Friday, August 28, 2009

The Law & the Spirit

In Graeco-Roman society, a pedagogue oversaw the up-bringing of a child. Included in the pedagogue’s charge were the supervision, care, guidance, protection, instruction, and discipline of the child. This metaphor of the pedagogue is suggestive of a broader familiar relationship, since a pedagogue was employed by a father who wanted his child to be nurtured in accordance with paternal expectations and hopes. The metaphor of the law as a pedagogue is well suited to Paul’s temporal argument; just as a pedagogue is relieved of duty once the child comes of age, so the law’s function as an overseer of God’s people comes to an end with the coming of Christ. It is with the benefit of Christian hindsight that the experience of being under a pedagogue (the law) can be seen as a form of confinement (3:23), since with the coming of Christ a form of guidance is available that sets people free for service: that is, the guidance of the Spirit. If is the Spirit, rather than the pedagogue, that is to form the character of God’s people come of age. The pedagogical role of the law has given way to the guidance of the Spirit. So Paul writes: ‘If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law… If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit’ (5:18, 25). The Spirit, who as we have seen produces the fruit of Christ-likeness in Christians, has been sent into the hearts of Christians reproducing in them Jesus’ own intimate cry to God: ‘ABBA, Father’ (4:6). Israel’s relationship to God had been a mediated one by means of the law acting as a pedagogue; by contrast, the Christian’s relationship to God is one of intimacy as the Christian enters into the boundaries of Jesus’ own cherished and distinctive sonship. While the people of Israel enjoyed a special relationship with God prior to Christ (signalled by the giving of the law), that relationship was of a different order altogether to the kind of unprecedented intimacy that comes in the wake of Christian union with Christ.
Bruce Longenecker, “Galatians,” in The Cambridge Companion to Paul, pg. 69-70

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