Paul writes, “When we were children we were slaves to the elemental spirits (stoichea) of the universe: (Galatians 4:3). O’Donovan comments, “These elemental spirits are actually identified with the law given by the hand of angels on Mt. Sinai, and yet at the same time they are the beings which by nature are not gods, to which even the formerly Gentile pagans were in bondage (4:8-9)! How can Paul so daringly associate the revealed morality of the Old Testament faith with the superstitious idolatry of paganism? Because the order of creation, whether in a pure or impure form, can encounter us only as a threat” (22).
This raises another question which O’Donovan handles skillfully: we cannot separate creation ethics (e.g., natural law) from kingdom ethics (revealed, theonomy, anabaptist). A kingdom-ethic which Jesus brings is a reaffirmation of God’s good, created order (and thus some natural law ethics find a legitimacy).
O’Donovan, Oliver. Resurrection and Moral Order. Eerdmans: Grand Rapids, MI.