Thursday, June 17, 2010

Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead!

Our Scriptures this week are 1 Kings 19:1-15, Luke 8:26-39, and Galatians 3:23-29.

Out of all the readings, I was most struck by the images of the "disciplinarian" in the Galatians passage. You might ask, "What disciplinarian? I don't see that in my text." Let me start out by saying that, in general, differences in translations and the meaning of individual Greek words typically don't interest me that much in Bible study. But in this case, I think it makes a big difference. I usually read from a Harper Collins Study Bible which is NRSV. In the NRSV, Gal. 3:24-26 reads "Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith." The NIV has verse 24 as "So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ." But according to the nice commentary on Bible Gateway ( the NRSV is the literal translation.

Going a step further into looking at the Greek, the word translated into English as disciplinarian comes from a Greek word for a slave who supervises, controls, and guarded the children. In Paul's day, this person (a paidagogos) kept the kids in line, making sure they didn't get into trouble. But this was different from the role of a teacher (that's a different word in Greek) and certainly different from a parent. Bible Gateway (in the link above) has some good examples story about the job of a paidagogos.

So here we have an image of a disciplinarian contrasted with a loving Jesus leading us to God the Father. That contrast in itself is interesting to me. Under the old system, Paul is saying, we (or the Jews specifically) needed something to keep us in line, something to rein us in, tell us what we can and can't do. But now that Jesus has come, the law isn't needed any more. We don't need a disciplinarian watching our every move. It's like now that we have come into our own, God trusts that we can be his faithful children because of the change brought about by Jesus and the spreading of the gospel. For me, this say volumes about God and the type of relationship we can have with Him. The relationship is not one of control or supervision, but something very different. A relationship based on trust and understanding.

With love and hope,

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