by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 5 Study # 1 May 20, 2012 Dayton, Texas
25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
29 And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
1901 ASV Translation:
25 But now that faith is come, we are no longer under a tutor.
26 For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus.
27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ.
28 There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither bond nor free, there can be no male and female; for ye all are one man in Christ Jesus.
29 And if ye are Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, heirs according to promise.
I. The Issue of Being Free of the "Schoolmaster"/"Tutor".
A. Begins with the "coming" of "the faith".
1. One of the issues involved in Paul's argument is "historical" in reference to the history of the world and the factual development of the coming of Christ and "the faith".
a. In addition to the "coming of the faith", in its focus upon Christ as the Redeemer, there is the historical dissolution of the nation of Israel so that "the Law" was no longer able to be practiced in much of its details. The destruction of the temple stopped all legitimate animal sacrifice; the destruction of the political aspects of the nation stopped all of the "legal" application of the "laws" contained in "the Law"; and the eventual dispersion of the Jews from the land stopped all of the aspects of the "Law" that had to do with how the land was to be handled and what it was to produce.
b. Historically, after "the faith had come", the world reverted to its pre-Babel status wherein no "nation of God" existed in the family of nations.
2. Another issue, a bit more problematical, is the "individual history" of each person who comes to "faith". How does "history" affect individuals who are made aware of it? Do individuals have to go through their own version of "legal history" before they can "believe"? Does the preaching of "law" have a place in the preaching of the Gospel in the days after the coming of "the faith"? The Galatians never had a serious exposure to "The Law"; they only had exposure to "the law written on their hearts". But, Jesus taught that one of the tasks assigned to the Holy Spirit after His advent into the world as the alternative "Comforter" was "to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment" (John 16:8). The strong implication of this teaching is that "The Law" had almost as little impact as "the law" when it came to getting men into a mindset that would make them open to the message of the Gospel. In other words, it takes the Spirit of God to create the impact in the heart/mind of a man that the words of divine revelation ought to create.
3. Paul's solution is to argue that "world history" is a record of God actually doing what has to be done for the Gospel to be true and that "individual history" is a continuing record of that divine activity on another level. God worked in history to do what had to be done and now does in an individual's history to bring him/her into alignment with what was done in the world by Him.
B. Has much to do with being "sons" of God.
1. This is an interesting choice of words because Paul, in other places, seems to make a distinction between "children" and "sons" that does not seem to be in place in this text.
a. That distinction is that "sons" mimic their fathers, but children not so much.
b. If Paul had said "ye are all children", his meaning would be clear: the Galatian "problem" is one of immaturity. But he did not say that.
2. The most likely reason for Paul's use of "sons" in this text is that it follows on the heels of his proclamation in 3:7 (they which are of faith are the sons of Abraham) where the issue is very much "like father, like sons" (Abraham "believed" and his "sons", therefore, must be "believers"). Also, the issue of "sonship" has the following development: "adoption as sons" (4:5) as a pre-condition to two realities; the sending forth of the Spirit of Jesus (4:6) and the consequent identity as "heirs" of God (4:7). All of this is predicated upon freedom from Law and participation in "faith" in Christ Jesus.
a. That they are "sons" because of "the faith which is in Christ Jesus" and because that "faith" has resulted in the "putting on" of Christ by baptism into Christ, means that Paul's focus is upon the "Christ-likeness" of the Galatians, even though their present behavior is far from "Christian". This focus has one "point of contact": "faith". One is a "son" in at least one area even if that "sonship" does not create any similarities between Father and son in any other areas.
b. There is, however, a sense in Paul's theology of every Christian's "Christ-likeness" because of the fact that those who are created in Christ cannot sin. Sin only erupts from the bodies of "Christians" because they yet retain a corrupted "spirit, heart, mind" complex that will not go away until the redemption of the body. Paul's double claim in Romans 7 that his "sin" is not "his", but the outcome of "sin in my body" (7:17 and 20) is evidence of how he views the glorious work of recreation by God (2 Corinthians 5:17). The Christian's "life" in this world is a matter of learning how to permit the Spirit of God to produce the Life of Christ through a fallen body that is yet to be redeemed (Galatians 2:20).
3. The question is of just what "the faith in Christ Jesus" accomplishes.
a. Clearly, when viewed as a point in time event, it does not erase doctrinal confusion and fleshly irresponsibility.
b. But, just as clearly, it does create "sons of God".
1) Because Paul makes "sonship" a precondition to the reception of the Spirit (Galatians 4:6), the issue cannot be tied to being "spiritual" (i.e., "led by the Spirit").
2) Because Paul makes "sonship" the issue of being an heir (Galatians 3:29; 4:7), that issue cannot be tied to any form of Christian maturity issues. The promises were made to Abraham and Christ (no others) so that the only way one can be an "heir according to the promise" is by being immersed into Christ so that the unity in that immersion creates a sharing of the impact of the promise. This is not "maturity"; it is "identity".
C. Has everything to do with being placed into a unity with Christ that is such that neither have a separate identity afterwards.
1. Paul indicates that there is such a thing as "baptism into Christ". That this is not "baptism into water" is obvious by the words. Whether water baptism and baptism into Christ are simultaneous events is not a question that is answered by this text, but it should be obvious that "faith" eliminates any form of "law" that demands water baptism before baptism into Christ. The Jews had eliminated the distinction between circumcision of the heart and that of the foreskin, but that elimination was "legally" driven, not "reality" driven. God not only views things from the inside out, beginning with the heart, He is the One Who circumcises the heart so that physical circumcision is made, by His action, a "reflection" of what He does. It is altogether a result of hubris that men turn their actions of physical circumcision into the basis for and means of His actions of spiritual circumcision. As long as men insist that what they do is the foundation of God's action, the blinders still exist upon their eyes. God's promise to Abraham and to Christ preclude any, and every, human action. He is the One Who made, and keeps, the promise(s) by His own activity.
2. Paul argues that such a "baptism" is the foundation for "putting on Christ". This term, used in the New Testament for putting garments upon one's body, is a term that has to do with "putting something on that actually internally alters the wearer" (1 Corinthians 15:53-54). It is impossible to "put on the breastplate of faith" (1 Thessalonians 5:8) without actually "believing", a factor that actuallyalters the individual who has "put" the thing "on". In other words, clothes make the man.