Yesterday I had one of those accidents of discovery that makes life so much fun. I was researching opinions on Ephesians 2, preparing for some Bible studies our congregation will have around the campfire this Sukkot. I was reading my favorite Ephesians commentary by Markus Barth (in the Anchor Bible series), when he made some remarks about Galatians 3. It’s a commentary on Ephesians, so this was not something I expected.
On page 292, Barth refers to to Galatians 3:24 and the custodian or pedagogue metaphor Paul uses there to describe the Torah. Something Barth said opened my eyes to a dimension I had completely missed before. My thoughts are not complete and it may be this will come out jumbled and incoherent. It may be there will be holes large enough for study Bibles to fit through in this exposition (but you will be sure and let me know, I presume).
What is Paul’s point about the Torah being a custodian or pedagogue? Before I get into the exposition, I should make sure all readers know that in the Greco-Roman world affluent families often had a custodian in charge of the education of the boys. The custodian was not the teacher so much as a supervisor of their education. He made sure the boys got to school and did their work. I have read that he was also responsible for teaching them manners.
The Common View
The view I have heard commonly expressed is that this custodian metaphor of Paul