PMW 2022-090 by Thomas R. Schreiner
As I am researching the Two-Age structure of redemptive history in the New Testament, I am finding a lot of helpful insights in various technical commentaries. A key passage in the Two-Age model is Galatians 1:4, which states regarding Christ:
“He gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age [hopos exeletai hemas ek tou aionos tou enestotos ponerou], according to the will of our God and Father,”
I will be dealing much with this passage in the book I am currently researching: Olivet and the Two Ages. In my research I have found quite helpful Thomas R. Schreiner’s commentary on Galatians in the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (pp. 77–78). On Galatians 1:4 Schreiner well captures the significance of the passage and Paul’s instruction. There Schreiner comments:
“The eschatological character of Galatians emerges here [at Gal. 1:4b], for Jesus came to rescue believers ‘from the present evil age.’ Jewish thought distinguished between ‘the age’ and ‘the coming age.’ We find such a distinction in Jesus’ teaching as well (Matt 12:32; 13:39, 40, 49; 24:3; 28:20; Mark 10:30; Luke 18:30; 20:35). Paul also uses the language of this age and the age to come (Eph 1:21). This age is also designated as ‘the present world [age]’ (to nun aioni, 1 Tim 6:17), and believers are not to be conformed to this age (Rom 12:2) as Demas was (2 Tim 4:10), for the world dominates the lives of unbelievers (Eph 2:2). Believers have been granted grace to live the life of the age to come in the present age (to nun aioni, Tit. 2:12). The rulers of this age crucified Jesus Christ because they were unaware that he was the glorious Lord (1 Cor 2:6, 8).
“The intellectual worldview that controls the mindset of unbelievers is limited to this age (1 Cor 1:20; 3:18), and Satan rules as the god of this age (2 Cor. 4:4). The present evil age is not the only reality, for the ‘fulfillment [ends] of the ages (ta tele ton aionon) has not dawned in Jesus Christ (1 Cor 10:11). The cross of Christ represents the intrusion of the new age, or as Paul says in Gal 6:14–15, the new creation. Indeed, the reference to the new creation at the close of the letter functions as an inclusio with the text here, so that at the beginning and end of the letter the arrival of the last days in Christ is featured. The world in its present form is passing away (1 Cor 7:31). Jesus reigns in the present evil age, and his rule will reach its climax in the age to come (Eph 1:21; cf. 1 Cor 15:24–28), so that in the coming ages all will marvel over the grace of God displayed in Jesus Christ….
We see as well here the eschatological tension of Paul’s thought, for even though the new age has come in Jesus Christ, the old age has not vanished entirely. Believers live in the interval between the already and not yet. God’s promises are already realized in Christ, but ‘the present evil age’ still exists, so that believers must remain vigilant and keep putting their trust in the cross of Christ.”
On p. 80 he summarizes the Already/Not Yet tension in Gal 1:4:
“The new age has dawned in Christ but it is not yet consummated. As Christians we live between the times. We are rescued from the present evil age through Christ’s death (1:4) and yet we must be warned not to revert back to the old era. We are delivered from sin but are not sinless. We are perfect in Christ but not yet perfected. Hence, we must remain vigilant so that we do not become captive to a false gospel that actually panders to our selfishness and pride, even after we have become Christians.”
I highly recommend Schreiner’s commentary as one that recognizes the influence of the Two-Age model on Galatians.
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