Angels and the Law
There is a teaching in the Scriptures that the Law was orderly arranged by angels. I do not know why this teaching is being kept from the people of God. Perhaps it is simply due to ignorance.
The word key used in Galatians 3:19 is diatasso which means to designate or arrange in an order or according to a pattern. This is reflected in Paul's use of the term stoicheia which he uses at verse 4:9. This word implies a set order or arrangement or pattern. This is where the word "stoic" in Stoic philosophy comes from. It is also a wonder to me that translators have opted to use the term "Scripture" to translate the word graphe in verse 22 and mislead readers. The word is used here to obviously refer to the writing of the Law, not to the Holy Bible Scriptures in general.
Why then the Law? It was added because of transgressions until the seed should come to whom the promise had been made and it was orderly arranged by angels in the hand of a mediator. Now a mediator is not one but God is one. Is the law then against the promises of God? Let it not be! For if a law had been given which could give life then righteousness would indeed be by the Law. But that writing (graphe) locked up all under sin, that what was promised out of faith of Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before that faith came, we were guarded under the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So that the law was our tutor until Christ came, that we might be justified out of faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For your are all sons of God through the faith in Christ Jesus. For those of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are of Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, heirs according to promise. Now I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no better than a slave, though he is the Lord of all the estate. He is under guardians and trustees until the time set by the father. So also when we were children, we were slaves to the stoicheion of the cosmos. But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the Law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive sonship. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then an heir of God through Christ. Formerly, when you did not know God, you were in bondage to those who are not naturally gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to those weak and beggarly stoicheion, whose slaves you want to be once more? You observe days, and months, and seasons, and years!"
In his letter to the Galatians, Paul is exhorting the Galatian church not to return to Judaism through the rite of circumcision and conformity to the Law. He states the Law was orderly arranged through angels, that is, the order of the Law was based on an angelic order. He then goes on to refer to these angels as "gods." As elsewhere in Scripture, angels are seen as the heavenly host just as the sun, moon, stars are seen as heavenly host. God created the lights in the heavens to serve as signs for times and seasons. The Law was orderly arranged by times and seasons.
Stephen on trial before the Sanhedrin makes a statement almost identical to Paul's statement in Galatians. The key word here is diatagas, a cognate of the word Paul used at Galatians 3:19.
You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did not your fathers persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as orderly arranged by angels and did not keep it."
Here Paul is referring to the angelic order as the rulers (arche), authorities (exousia), thrones, (thronos), and lordships (kyriostes). The terms here intended to parallel the terms he uses in Ephesians, sister letter to the Colossians.
Notice how the Law here is called the "handwriting" similar to how Paul called the Law "the writing" in the Galatians passage we just examined. The Greek word used at Colossians 2:17 is not the Greek word for "worship" which is either proskyneo or latreuo. The word translated "religion" here is the word threskia and is a cognate of the word used at James 1:26, threskos, where it is commonly translated as "religion." The Law was the religion of angels, a ministry of death and darkness (see 2 Cor 3:1-18). Here Paul says the Law was a shadow of the things to come. The Hebrews writer also comments how the Law was a shadow of things to come.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of darkness, against the spiritual powers of wickedness in the heavenlies. (Ephesians 6:12).
May you be empowered with all power, according to his the might of his glory, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the authority (exousia) of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or lordships or rulers or authorities, all things were created through him and for him.... take heed that no one preys upon you through philiophy and vain deceit according to the tradition of men, according to the stoichea of the cosmos, and not according to Christ.... and you being dead in your offenses and in the uncircumision of your flesh he made you alive together with him having forgiven all your sins having blotted out the handwriting cheirographon that was against us, he took it out of our midst nailing it to the cross stripping the rulers and authorities making a spectacle of them, triumping over them in it. Therefore don't let anyone judge you in what you eat or drink or with respect to a full moon of sabbaths which are but a shadow of things to come but the body is Christ. Therefore let no one disqualify you desiring in peity and the religion of angels things which he has not seen wading into things to vainly puffed up his fleshly mind.... If you have died with Christ to the stoicheion of the cosmos, why, as if you were living in the cosmos, do you submit yourself to regulations? (Colossians 1:11-2:20)
[They serve as] a representation and shadow of the heavenly sanctuary for when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, "See that you make everything according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain." But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry which is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. (Heb 8:5-6).
If you look at what the Hebrews writer is saying here, he is taking about the orderly arrangement of the Temple and the Temple ordinances, just as Paul was discussing the orderly arrangement of angelic rule over the Law. Now ask yourself what the Book of Hebrews is about. It is about admonishing the Hebrew people not to return to the old ways of the Law but to perservere in their victory in Christ because the ministry of Christ is more excellent than the Law. This is why the Hebrews writer opens with a discussion about how Christ is greater than the angels having obtained a name much more excellent than they. Those Jews knew that the Law was about angelic rule and the Hebrews writer is demonstrating that the angels are subordinate to Christ and as such those in Christ are not under the Law but over it in him.
In many places and various ways of old God spoke to our fathers in the prophets; in these last days he has spoken to us in a son through whom he set heir of all things through whom also he made the ages who being the radiance of the glory and character of his substance bearing all things by the word of his power he having made cleansing for our sins sat down on the right hand of the majesty in high having become so much better as much as he has inherited more excellent name than them.
Interesting isn't it? Or did you miss it? Well there is more. Note how the Hebrews writer goes on and on in the first couple of chapters in Hebrews about how Jesus is so much better than the angels. Having once been under the angels he has "passed through the heavens" (4:14) and entered into the heavenly sanctuary of God (9:24; cf. 3:1-6). Just like Paul, in Colossians and Galatians, the Hebrews writer is exhorting them not to return to the Law and the religion of angels because it is quite a folly to do such a thing when you are free in Christ who has angels subjected to him. Notice how he ties this talk about angels in with a discussion of Moses at Hebrews 3:1-6. Now notice carefully what it also says in Hebrews 2:1-3.
Therefore we must pay the closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For if the word spoken by angels was confirmed and every transgression and disobedient act received a just recompense, how shall we ourselves escape if we have neglected such a great salvation having first been spoken by the Lord and confirmed through his having heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders, and by manifold powers, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to his own will. (Heb 2:1-5).
We see here he is saying that we better be careful because if the message Law was important how much more the message of Christ! Now this is very similar to what Christ says to the Jews in John 10 as we are about to see. Now the Hebrews writer says something similar to close off the letter as he has just said above.
For ye are not come to that which might be touched, a blazing fire, blackness, doom, and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; and a voice which they that heard entreated that no word more should be spoken unto them; for they could not endure that which was ordered. If even a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned and so fearful was the appearance, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and temble. But you have come unto mount Zion, and u the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better better than Abel. (Hebrews 12:18-24; see Acts 7:30-33).
That would be the giving of the Law on Mount Zion which is but a shadow of the heavenly Jerusalem where we not only come to Jesus but the angels as well. The giving of the Law on Sinai was "the word spoken by angels" the writer talks about at Hebrews 2:2. The entire Book of Hebrews is centered around the fact that since Christ is more excellent than the angels the ministry of Christ is more excellent than the Law and so to return to the Law is utter foolishness. Like Paul, he is saying that "faith has come" and they are "sons of God" having had the Spirit of Christ poured into their hearts and therefore they are no longer under the guardianship of angelic rules and tutorship of the Law. As he says at the end of Galatians, "if you are led by the Spirit you are no longer under the Law."