Paul the Apostle, His Life Letters and Thought– Part Thirty Five


p. 530—Sanders takes Gal. 3.19 to mean that the Law was given to create transgression, based on what Paul says in Rom. 4.15; 5.13; 5.20. [But the verse could mean that the Law was given on account of sin (to contain it). The Romans passages suggest that the Law turns sin into transgression, and especially in Rom. 5 Paul makes clear that Paul means that the effect of the Law on sinners is not the same as the purpose of the good Law. The effect was condemnation turning sin into transgression. 3.22 does say that the Scripture has imprisoned all things under sins power. cf. Rom. 11.32— God has imprisoned all people in disobedience so that he might have mercy on all.] Paul is not saying God wanted people to sin, he is saying the Law has the effecting of confining fallen people, imprisoning them in their disobedience.

p. 531— Sanders says The Law preceded Christ by making everyone sinners, and thereby making necessary the coming of Christ. [But it wasn’t the Law that made people sinners, it was Adam as Rom. 5 says. The Law just made things worse for sinners]. Cf. the various hina or purpose clauses which reveal God’s purpose cf. 1.16; 2.16; 2.19; 3.13-14; 3.22; 3.24; 4.5.

p. 532— “Here Paul is being a theologian, not a debater. The law is an important part of God’s plan, and if it condemns, that is also part of the plan. The condemnation is intended to lead up to Christians receiving sonship in Christ.” What about all those from Adam to Christ— can they be saved? Paul doesn’t answer here. Sanders argues that 1 Pet. 3.18-20 Mt. 27.52-53 suggest answers, with the former text being understood to mean Christ going to the lost in hell and preaching to them. [But that is not the meaning of 1 Pet. 3.18-20 which has to do with bad angels in Tartarus].

p. 533— Sanders thinks Paul says the law is given to keep people in bondage until Christ came. [I would say it was intended to keep people in line, to confine them and limit their actions.]

Sanders takes the remark about the law being ordained through angels to be negative remark about the Law simply given in the heat of the moment. [But this is an unnecessary conclusion . Paul is not denigrating the Law here. Angels were thought in Judaism to give the oral Torah which was seen as good and from God].

p. 534– Sanders takes the paidagogos reference to be to the slave child-minder that keeps junior in line and walks him back and forth to school until he comes of age. This is correct. The translation teacher would be wrong, though the paidagogos could help with homework recitation. The point is to keep junior in line and on task until they could be righteoused by faith. [Again this is not a negative comment on the Law, just showing its limited purpose. It could not give life, but it could tell you what to do and not do].

p. 535— Faith leads not just to being righteoused, but to a higher category, being in union with the Son of God. Since Christ is the heir or seed of Abraham, those who are in Christ are inheritors of the promises to Abraham. The passages between 3.6-22 are arguments in favor of viewing faith in Christ as the sole condition for inclusion in the in group. He thinks Paul needs to belittle the Law in light of his opposition’s use of it [but this is not clear].

p. 536— Gal. 3.6-29 is according to Sanders a wonderful argument, his favorite in the whole world. The effect of the argument is that the Law has a negative function in the divine economy [not negative, limited, like the role of the paidagogos], and in any case cannot provide salvation like Christ can (which is the truth).

He thinks the answer to why Paul opposes the Law here [which he doesn’t do, he limits its function] is that in Paul’s view God intended to save people a different way— faith in Christ. The law can’t do this so it should not be imposed on Gentiles.

p. 537—Paul’s arguments are one thing, his reason is another— all along God intended to save people by Christ, and therefore the Law must have had another function (reasoning backwards from solution to plight as Sanders once argued). “His conclusion [God intended the law negatively to lead to righteousness by faith] expresses his conviction, his reason for opposing circumcision of his converts[i.e. it doesn’t save or help], but his arguments are simply tactics to persuade his readers to his conclusion.”

p. 538— Probably Paul took the same view as the opponents were now taking when he persecuted Christians.