Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
Our Epistle reading for the Circumcision and Naming of Christ is from Galatians 3:23-29. Here we read of the work of the Law as compared to the work of the Gospel. Paul viewed the Law as that which would guard us and guide us until Christ. Sometimes the word used of the Law is mistranslated, as it was in the King James version, as a “schoolmaster,” or, as in the New King James, as a “tutor.” In current English both words give the idea of the Law as an educator which will make our understanding complete. Yet the term Paul uses never refers to the educator. It refers to someone who acts as a guardian, at least in some instances. For instance, this would be the person who made sure students arrived at school. It would be the person who delivered people for their obligations. It might be the person who forced children to do their homework. It was not the teacher, but the guide and enforcer.
How is the Law functioning? It points us to our need for Christ. It drives us to his grace. It shows us our need for a savior. Then, at the right time, Jesus comes and we are justified by grace.
Is this a theoretical concept only? Not at all. Paul goes on to say that “we” were justified. He speaks of putting on Christ as clothing through baptism. He speaks of the result of that baptism being a standing as one in Christ. The boundaries of Jew and Greek, slave and free, have been taken away.
Why did I skip the “male and female” thing? Here’s why. In the Greek text there’s a “neither” between the first two pairs. Between “male” and “female” there is the connective that means “and” or “even.” The emphasis that Paul has is not that there is no distinction between male and female. It is that for both male and female the distinctions of ethnicity and social class have broken down. He is not saying that men and women have the same roles in Christ. He is saying that they are alike able to stand before Christ, clothed in Christ’s righteousness.
God’s Law is great. It is necessary. It brings us to Jesus so we can find grace to stand.
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