Thursday, November 25, 2004
Commemoration of Katherine of Alexandria, Martyr, 4th century
“The Law,” he says, “was our ‘pedagogue’, until Christ should come.” Those words have been interpreted as though they described the Law as a preparatory education, continued at a higher stage by Christ. That, however, is not quite what Paul meant. The “pedagogue” in Greek society was not a schoolmaster, he did not give lessons... He was a slave who accompanied a boy to school, and both waited upon him and exercised a supervision which interfered with the boy’s freedom of action. He is, in fact, a figure in the little allegory which Paul gives us to illustrate the position of the People of God before Christ came. There was a boy left heir to a great estate. He was a minor, and so must have guardians and trustees. He was as helpless in their hands as if he had been a slave. He must live on the allowance they gave him, and follow their wishes from day to day. They gave him a “pedagogue” to keep him out of mischief. He could not please himself, or realize his own purposes and ambitions. Yet all the time he was the heir; the estate was his, and no one else’s. Just so the People of God, the Divine Commonwealth, was cramped and fettered by ignorance and evil times. It remained in uneasy expectation of one day coming into active existence. At last the heir came of age: guardians and trustees abdicated their powers, and the grown man possessed in full realization all that was his. So now the fettered life of the Divine Commonwealth bursts its bonds and comes into active existence... The intervention of law was not a reversal of God’s original and eternal purpose of pure love and grace towards men, it only subserved that purpose, while it seemed to contradict it, just as the presence of the “pedagogus” might seem to the high-spirited young heir quite contrary to the rights secured to him by his father’s will.
... C. Harold Dodd (1884-1973), The Meaning of Paul for Today, London: Swarthmore, 1920, reprint, Fount Paperbacks, 1978, p. 79-80
(see the book; see also Lev. 25:42; Matt. 5:17-18; John 8:32-35; Rom. 3:20-22; 7:7-9; Gal. 3:21-24; more at Christ, Education, Grace, Helplessness, Law, Love, Slave)
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