The Way

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St. Paul says that the Law in the Old Testament was like a custodial guide (pedagogue), someone who sets boundaries around us to ensure that we live in peace with one another. However, in Christ, St. Paul argues that we no longer need this custodial guide. So, how do we over come our violent tendencies? How do we live in peace with our enemies? And, why would St. Paul claim that this breaks down divisions between people?

Bottom Line: Because the gospel has revealed our tendency towards violence and the true intent of the Law (to love our neighbor, which ensures peace within the community), we no longer need the Law as a custodial guide (pedagogue) looking after us.

Show Notes


1 - In Galatians 3, Paul understands the Law to be a sort of custodial guide (in Greek, pedagogue). In the ancient world, this was a slave who played the role of the parent. They were responsible for the education of a child: teaching them to read and write, and taking them to school. They were often strict and formed a life-long relationship with the children they raised. 

2 - All societies and cultures are founded upon violence. And, within our societies, violence is perpetrated by conflict between people. Like a teacher on the playground, the Law sets boundaries to eliminate the violence. And, sometimes, the teacher has to put a “curse” on you by putting you in timeout. 

3 - But, Jesus reveals the true intent of the Law: to promote harmonious relationships within a community. We call this the gospel: loving God and neighbor. If everyone were to live by this intent, there wouldn’t be a need for boundaries. There’d be no need for a teacher on the playground because everyone would be looking out for everyone else. This is why Paul says we’re no longer under a custodial guide and why boundaries are no longer necessary (Judean/Greek, slave/free, male/female). 

4 - Walking The Way of the gospel is hard. We continue to purposely set up boundaries precisely so we can incite conflict and violence. We do it in politics (my party is always right while the other party is dooming our country) and we do it in religion. For example, Orthodox Christians have set up a boundary between “us” and the Turks precisely so that we can denounce Turkey using Hagia Sophia as a mosque again. However, the gospel of love asks that we love our neighbor, turn the other cheek, and walk the extra mile because God causes the sun to shine on everyone. So, how should the Orthodox respond in light of the gospel?

Photo: Relief found in Neumagen near Trier, a teacher with students (photograph by Shakko, distributed under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license).

What is The Way?

Fr. Dustin Lyon explores scripture to rediscover Christianity so that we can walk in the Way of the Lord.