8. Could you explain the importance of viewing Galatians 3.10-14 through the lens of salvation history especially vv.12ff?
Galatians 3:10-14 relates to both salvation history and anthropology. One of the big problems is when scholars choose one or the other. It has become so common to split apart salvation history and anthropology. In any case, part of what Paul says here relates to salvation history. One reason works of law don’t justify is now righteousness is in Jesus Christ. What the law mandated was part of the former dispensation, the old covenant. Believers are not under that covenant any more, and hence it cannot be required for salvation. So, when Paul reads Lev. 18:5 we must recognize that he reads it with that salvation historical paradigm in mind. The curse that came from the Mosaic law has been removed by Jesus Christ (3:13), and now believers are in the new age of the Spirit (3:14). Leviticus 18:5 in its OT context represents a humble response of obedience to God’s gracious work in redeeming his people from Egypt, and the life in view is life in the land. Paul reads the verse typologically. The life in Gal. 3:12 is eternal life. And since the sacrifices of the law covenant are no longer in force (now that Christ has come), one must keep the law perfectly to find forgiveness. One cannot live under both covenants. One finds salvation either in Christ and his sacrifice or in the law and animal sacrifices.
9. Continuing with Galatians 3, namely 3.19, what should be made of the phrase regarding the law “having been ordained through angels by the hands of a mediator” (διαταγεὶς δι᾽ ἀγγέλων ἐν χειρὶ μεσίτου)?
That is a very difficult phrase, but it was a common Jewish tradition that the law was mediated through angels (Acts 7:53; Heb. 2:2). There is a hint of such an idea perhaps in Deut. 33:2. Paul inserts this idea here to teach that the law is inferior to the covenant with Abraham.
10. Galatians 3.28 stands at the heart of the egalitarian v. complementarian debates. Should this be the case or is this a misreading of this passage?
Galatians 3:28 is an important passage in the debate. It teaches that there is equal access to salvation for both men and women in Christ. There are not two ways of salvation, one for men and one for women. But the text must be read in context. If the passage is saying that maleness and femaleness are irrelevant categories, the text would justify homosexuality, which is plainly contrary to Paul’s teaching elsewhere (Rom. 1:26-27). Paul is not denying differences between men and women or Jews and Gentiles or even slave or free. In context, he is saying that Jews have no advantage over Greeks when it comes to salvation. Gentiles don’t have to be circumcised to be saved. So too, women have equal access to salvation as well. The text should not be read to say that there are no role differences between men and women. There are social implications in the text, but we need to read all of Paul to discover what those implications are. And Paul himself believed there are different roles in marriage (Eph. 5:22-33) and in terms of church leadership (1 Tim. 2:9-15). Incidentally, this is quite different from what Paul says about slavery. Marriage was instituted at creation and is a good gift of God, and Paul argues from the created order when giving instructions about men and women. Paul never endorses slavery per se, and slavery is not rooted in the created order. Paul regulates an existing evil institution in his comments on slavery.
11. How are we to understand Paul’s scathing rebuke of his opponents in 5.12?
We have to remember that Paul is writing the Galatians, not the opponents! He is speaking hyperbolically to shock the Galatians, so that they don’t fall prey to a false gospel. We should not read this to say that Paul hated the opponents. He was worried about the Galatians going to hell, and he wanted them to see that they were falling prey to a false gospel, and he says in the strongest possible terms. To do that is to destroy yourself. The opponents might as well cut off their sex organs, for they are heading for destruction. Paul is saying to those whom he loves, “Don’t go that way!”
12. What are some of the ways Galatians 6.6-10 informs our understanding in the church of a giving disposition to which we should all aspire?
Paul argues that giving is a great blessing. It is in response to what God has done for us in Christ. We don’t give because we have to, but we give because God has poured his grace out on us. If someone doesn’t give, if someone is fundamentally selfish, it calls into question, whether they are believers at all.
13. Now that your commentary has been released and is being read and interacted with, what is your hope as to the impact it will make, both in the academy and more importantly, in the pastorate?
I hope it helps pastors and teachers and laypersons understand and live out the gospel. When we understand the good news of the free grace in Christ, our whole lives change. We don’t live under the burden of guilt. We don’t obey out of guilt. We obey out of grace. Our obedience always flows from trusting the great truth that God is for us because of what he has done for us in Christ. Luther said somewhere that if he knew God wasn’t angry with him that he would stand upside down for joy. Well, we know that God isn’t angry with us. He loves us, and when this seeps into our lives (and we never outgrow or master this lesson), then our lives are filled with the joy of living in God’s gracious presence.
14. Finally, can you share with us some of your current and future writing/research projects?
Currently, I am working on 3 different things.
1) I am writing a biblical theology of the whole Bible. Crazy I know. My title is: You Will See the King in His Beauty: A Canonical Biblical Theology. Baker Academic has agreed to publish it.
2) I am participating in a 4 Views on Paul book with Doug Campbell, Mark Nanos, and Scott Hahn, with Michal Bird as the editor.
3) I am also working on a book on church government that I am co-editing with Ben Merkle of Southeastern Seminary.
Thanks Tom for your time.