We continue our discussion of the relationship of the old Israel and the new Israel. And in making the obvious comparisons, Paul changes the figure slightly.
A billionaire in a high chair has a good deal of money, but has no real access to it. And a nanny whose net worth is a good deal less than his may be completely in charge of him. But this condition is temporary. The nanny and the schoolteacher and the tutor are all helping him to grow to maturity. Now what the Judaizers wanted, to continue with the illustration, was for a billionaire’s nanny of twenty years before marching into his corporate board room and insisting that he take a nap right now. But he has grown up now, and does not have to do these things. A servant who thought she had this kind of authority (because she had something like it once) is utterly confused about the nature of maturity and time.
But remember also that the billionaire, while he does not have to take his nap, does have to remember that 2 plus 2 equals 4, just like his childhood teacher taught him, and that a good night’s rest is important. The law does not go away, but the nanny forms of it do go away.
What is assumed in the illustration? This illustration of Paul’s does much the same thing that his illustration of the olive tree in Romans 11 does—it demonstrates the essential continuity of the Old Testament people of God and the New Testament people of God. The old Israel has become the new Israel. At the same time, the word new here refers to much more than a little touch-up paint. The new is the new of resurrection. The continuity is that the body that is raised is the body that was killed. Some of the continuity folks want to preserve continuity by denying death. Some of the discontinuity folks want to achieve newness through the fiat creation of a new entity, ex nihilo.
The apostle says here that the Jews were under bondage to the stoichea, the basic principles of the old world, the world that came to an end in Christ. The Gentiles were the servants in this old world. But when just the right time in world history came, God sent His Son into the world in order to accomplish the crucifixion and resurrection of that entire order. He did this in order to make all things new; He did this to redeem us from the curse of the law. He has included the Gentiles with His Spirit, and this means that we, together with the Jews, can cry out, “Abba.”
And notice Paul’s shift of pronouns here. Through the first part of this, he speaks of we, referring to we Jews. Up through v. 5, Paul is talking about the Jews, who were the under-age billionaire. The Gentiles were the servants. But now the sons have entered their majority (receiving the adoption as sons), and the servants have also been adopted as sons. And both kinds of sons have all grown up.
This was the situation when the conflict in Galatia erupted. Some of the billionaire Jews had now come to Galatia and were telling the newly-adopted billionaire Gentiles that they had an advantage as Jews. “Because we grew up in this house, we took naps every afternoon. If you really want to be a billionaire, you should start taking naps too.”