Hammer Strikes Anvil Moment: Gal. 4.4

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman (Gal. 4.4a)

Here, Paul sets forth in a logical sense what needed to happen for the redemption of humanity. I stress this logical connection since no verbal connection exists explicitly. No argument is presented that would point to any nascent Gnosticism among the recipients as to why “born of a woman” is used if in fact Paul was combating the idea that Jesus was an unimbodied spirit. Paul’s appeal to the Galatian Christians uses theological reasoning to show the dire consequences of leaving Christ to return to human efforts such as the Jewish O.T. observances formulated in syncretism with the faith of Christ.

Exploring the clause contextually shows that The Law’s regulations functioned to enslave (v.3). Yet this Law Christ fulfilled in our stead: “born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. (vss.4b-5). So we are enslaved sinners by nature and freely adopted by grace.

Thus, no explicit reason seems to exist for the clause “born of a woman” but several implicit ideas are present to suggest a connection. Previously, Paul spoke of the “Seed of Abraham” being Christ and those who belong to Christ as the resultant “seed of Abraham” (see ch. 3), this is the significant ‘one and the many’ examples of the use of “seed” in scripture. Paul clearly says “seed” is singular and the reference is Christ, then further in ch. 3 he says the resultant believers in Christ constitute also “the seed of Abraham.” This is exactly what the sentence imposed in Gen. 3. 15 does with this word “seed”: it uses it collectively and in a singular fashion at the same time. It will not do to just translate the word “offspring” and be done with it. This was the practice of some in the past which clouded the issue. The best resource to fully explain the ‘one and the many’ usages of “seed” is John Sailhamer’s Meaning of the Pentateuch.

So I have already given it away what I believe the implicit use is for the clause “born of a woman.” Since Paul has already mentioned “the Seed of Abraham” a few lines back “born of a woman” refers to the “seed of the woman.” When God called Abram, it was in light of the previously imposed sentence on the serpent, namely, the Seed of the woman would crush the head of the serpent as the final judgment. That this Seed would have its heel pierced by the snake speaks of the priestly office in dying and conquering death for the collective “seed” (humanity).

So God’s call to Abram with the promise that “in your Seed all the nations would be blessed” (Gal.3.16-modern translators have obscured the citation to “seed” in many places but in 3.16 it would be nonsensical to render it “offspring” as it defeats Paul’s usage), has as its antecedent the Gen. 3.15 passage of the “seed of the woman.” Therefore, in a compositional and logical sense, the clause “born of a woman” connects with the previous “Seed of Abraham” since that clause itself has its foundation in the promise of redemption in Gen.3.15 of that “Seed of the woman” who would vicariously die instead of us. So it is a hammer-anvil moment where a definitive moment occurs: God sent His Son, born of a woman to fulfill the crucial requirement of being the Last Adam. Hence, because of the virgin birth, Christ has no connection with Adam’s failure and becomes the Savior of the world.

 

Author: Alex the Less

My education: BA (Bible), M.Div, BBA (HRM). Also, I have been a professional carpenter for about 25 years. Now retired, I have more time to study the bible and write about it.

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