Galatians – 8
“The Spirit consistently puts earthly Succession to death, dividing families, communities and entire countries, as we see today. To claim otherwise is to work against the Spirit in the world. My heredity, my household, my culture, is the target of my ministry, not its source.”
It’s time to get back into Galatians. To recap, the epistle follows the Covenant structure, but gives the central point, the Ethics, its own Covenant structure. If this thesis is correct, what we should expect in the next “cycle” (Gal. 3:26-4:7) is a discussion of Covenant Succession. Lo and behold, this is exactly what we find.
(The headings for the sections we have already covered are links to the relevant blog posts.)
Because few, if any, commentators are aware of the allusory structure here, they miss the Covenantal nature of Paul’s point, which is that if the Jew-Gentile Church was the true heir of the Abrahamic promises, then Israel-according-to-the-flesh cannot be. The entire social circumcision was circumcised, leaving only an ethical circumcision, that of the heart. Ironically, the idea that God still has a “carnal” plan for “carnal” Israel is debunked by the Hebraic heartbeat of the apostolic writings. We just need to tune in with our Bible Matrix stethoscope.
CYCLE IN SUMMARY:
We move “fractally” from the structure of the epistle to the structure of this cycle.
Christ is the new beginning. In baptism, light shines upon the deep.
In Christ, all physical, social and ethical distinctions are washed away.
The time of Isaac, the firstborn, is over.
The sacrificial bondage of Israel is over.
The time of Christ, the true Isaac, is here.
The fatherhood of God is revealed.
You might notice that the removal of circumcision in step 2 mirrors the revelation of the fatherhood of God in step 6. Abraham, father of many nations, was only an earthly signpost to the heavenly Father.
[WARNING: Pauls' words in the following section are highly offensive to Jews and paedobaptists.]
CYCLE IN DETAIL:
We move “fractally” from the structure of this cycle to the structure of each of its stanzas.
As usual, the process moves from heaven to earth, and is a process of legal qualification. Here, sons of Adam are identified with the final “nearbringing” and themselves become living sacrifices. And once again, the position of baptism in the stanza makes paedobaptism a ridiculous proposal. Baptism is a commission to speak for God as a human angel. See below.
The second line of the first stanza is expanded upon in this second stanza. It explain the meaning of “sons of God” as redefined under the New Covenant. The regenerate claim God as their heavenly father, which renders all earthly distinctions, carnal circumcisions (sacred and secular) meaningless. Of course, they were not entirely removed, but they became targets for ministry rather than sources of ministry. A Jew would minister to Jews, a Greek to Greeks, a slave to slaves, a man to men, a woman to women, etc. What is crucial here is what is missing: children. This entire cycle is about leaving childhood behind. Paedobaptism can only ever serve to resurrect the very sort of carnal distinction that the New Covenant rendered obsolete. It is an insult to the death of Christ. But there is even more to come.
As James Jordan observes, the word “sacrifice” means “near-bringing.” It is an offering that allows us to draw near to God. God does not need anything. What is needed is the satisfaction of the death sentence so that we may approach. Ascension lifts up the firstfruits, puts the firstborn, upon the Altar.
This Ascension stanza alludes to the Old Covenant Law, the stoicheia, which served as “trainer wheels” for the representative (priestly) nation. (Just like the sacrificial animals, those in Israel who approached God had to be blameless, without spot, etc. See Leviticus 13).
Paul’s point is that even the heirs begin under Law, but only the heirs become ministers of that Law, that is, rulers. This takes us from “Day 3″ to the governing lights of Day 4, the holy fire of Pentecost.
This half stanza is a brilliant literary device. The central “Ethics” cycle is itself cut off under the Law of Moses. It is Israel according to the flesh, as Isaac, on the altar awaiting the fire from heaven. Issac, as the future of all Israel, would be ceremonially cut off, that there might be many more sons. He himself became the circumcision. Abraham’s earthly genealogy was temporarily “supernatural” according to the flesh, to prefiture a heavenly genealogy according to the Spirit. Although the first does prefigure the second, they cannot be conflated without disfiguring the Gospel, which is what paedobaptism does.
The word “fullness” often appears at step 5, because the entire process is a forming and filling, following the pattern of Genesis 1. Fullness is about the Covenant body, a resurrection body, the multiplication of the righteousness (or sin) of the Covenant head. This cycle highlights the architecture and feast of the Law of Moses, and demonstrates that they were fulfilled in the firstfruits Church, bringing an end to the history of Israel, which it subtly recapitulates. You might also notice that the “Land and womb” promises of Abraham, which were a removal of the curses upon Adam and Eve in Genesis 3, are fulfilled before a move to the Ethical “blessing” upon all nations. The New Covenant is inherently Ethical. It gets to the cause of the problem. It is not concerned foremost with the social and physical effects.
This simple stanza is a beauty. The Covenant Sanctions are the pronouncement of blessings and cursings, in reply to which Israel responds with the “oath.” (In the Revelation, the phrase “with a loud voice” occurs at this point in the applicable stanzas.) Once again, the phrase “God sent forth” appears at Ascension. It is the throne of the ascended one, sending blessings from heaven. At Maturity, God sent forth new flesh. At Conquest, God sent forth new Spirit. So even though the entire cycle is a forming and filling, both head and body contain their own forming and filling. Because of the flesh of Christ in heaven, the Spirit can be sent to earth.
The complete process is forming (priestly), filling (kingly) and future (prophetic). The future in this stanza is the Succession of the true sons. Our identification of the literary structure reveals why Paul gives two names to the Father in the Glorification line: “Abba!” is the cry of a child for his earthly father, Ab-raham. “Pater” is the cry of the ethically mature for his heavenly father. The Bible never speaks of a universal fatherhood of God toward men. He is only the Father of the regenerate, expressed in baptism.
In these two cries, the intended “image of God” is complete in both flesh and Spirit, blood and water, Land and Sea, Jew and Gentile, priests and kings, circumcision and baptism. These are the words which God intended to be upon the lips of Adam, boldly approaching the throne after crushing the serpent to present Eve as a chaste virgin, after which the heavenly Father would make Adam an earthly father, an Ab-raham, opening the Land and the womb to him without the threat of barrenness. It is also likely that Adam would have received a new name, as Abraham did.
This Succession cycles ends with a Succession stanza. It makes the individual believer, not the Jew, or the baptized infant, an heir to the entire history of God’s people in the Old Testament. Our sonship is not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. We inherit all the blessings afforded to Abraham, but not through an earthly Succession as many claim. The Spirit consistently puts earthly Succession to death, dividing families, communities and entire countries, as we see today. To claim otherwise is to work against the Spirit in the world. My heredity, my household, my culture, is the target of my ministry, not its source.