Galatians 4:1-11, pt.1

On Tuesday, we will be reading through Galatians 4:1-11.  One of the more interesting lines in this passage, which gives us a great insight into Paul’s worldview, is vv. 3 and 9 when Paul speaks about the “elemental spirits” to which humanity is enslaved. The Greek word is stoicheia which Paul also uses in Colossians 2:8, 20 and which also appears in 2 Peter 3:10, 12.  The exact meaning of the word is uncertain, but most scholars believe it means the basic spirits of the world or angelic-like beings of the spiritual realm. 

For Paul, the cosmos has been enslaved to death, both by our sin and by the malign governance of these angelic or demonic spiritual beings who reign over the earth from the heavens. The surrounding pagan world worshiped these powers and beings, particularly in their worship of natural forces and use of astrology. Therefore, the Gospel isn’t so much that the work of Jesus forgives our sins, but that Jesus, through his death and resurrection, conquers and overcomes these spiritual forces giving us “deliverance from this present evil age” Gal. 1:3.  As Paul writes in Ephesians 6:12 our battle is not against flesh and blood (human beings) but against principalities, powers, rulers of the present darkness, and the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. What is fascinating about this passage in Galatians is that Paul includes the angels of God who gave the Law (Gal 3:19) as belonging to these enslaving elemental spirits who have been conquered by Jesus.  Two brief discussions of this issue are by Dr. Taylor Marshall and the Rev. Dr. Peter Leithart. A much longer discussion exploring Galatians 4:9 and how these stoicheia relate to the Law by Dr. Robert Ewusie Moses is Here.

Dinner is at 6.  The menu is Cuban. Discussion about 6:45. Hope to see you here.

For all men who were ignorant of God were foolish by nature;
   and they were unable from the good things that are seen to know him who exists,
   nor did they recognize the craftsman while paying heed to his works;
but they supposed that either fire or wind or swift air,
   or the circle of the stars, or turbulent water,
   or the luminaries of heaven were the gods that rule the world.
If through delight in the beauty of these things they assumed them to be gods,
   let them know how much better than these is their Lord,
   for the author of beauty created them.
And if they were amazed at their power and working,
   let them perceive from them
   how much more powerful is he who formed them.

Wisdom 13:1-4

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