The Root, the Crown, and the Trunk

Paul has a profound insight into this universalistic purport of patriarchal religion. His main contention with the Judaizers was that they insisted upon interpreting the patriarchal period on the basis of the Mosaic period. The reasoning (Gal 3:15ff) is in the substance as follows: through the diatheke with Abraham the relation between God and Israel was put on a foundation of promise and grace; this could not be subsequently changed, because the older arrangement remains regulative for later institutions (vs 15), and the law was by no less than 430 years later than the Abrahamic berth. The revealed religion of the OT in this respect resembles a tree whose root system and whose crown spread out widely, while the trunk of the tree confines the sap for a certain distance within a narrow channel. The patriarchal period corresponds to the root growth; the freely expanding crown to the revelation of the New Testament; and the relatively constricted from of the trunk to the period from Moses to Christ.”

–Geerhardus Vos, Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments, 92–93

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