But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
Galatians 3:22-25 (KJV)
In the scripture above Paul gives a summary of humanity’s predicament and God’s solution. Humanity is imprisoned under sin and God’s solution is for us to inherit the promise of salvation and freedom from sin through faith in, and of Jesus Christ. In outlining this solution Paul recognises a need to explain the role of the Mosaic law in God’s plan of salvation.
Israel was ‘kept’ (this word could equally be translated guarded, hemmed in, protected) and ‘shut up’ for safe keeping under the Mosaic law until the coming of Jesus.
Paul refers to the Mosaic law as a ‘schoolmaster’. The Greek word he uses is ‘paidagogos’. There is no word in English that conveys the nuances implied in the original Greek. A literal translation of the word ‘paidagogos’ can be ‘child-leader’. The ‘paidagogos’ was usually an educated slave whose responsibility was to generally supervise boys from childhood to their coming of age. His role was to keep the boys under strict supervision and from moral and physical harm. He went with them everywhere including escorting them both to and from school; but he was not the children’s main teacher. There was no set age when a boy was considered to reach manhood, it occurred at a time appointed by the father. On the day of maturity, the youth was given the white Toga Virilis (toga of manhood); it represented adult male citizenship and its attendant rights, freedoms, and responsibilities. The mature individual was now no longer under the ‘paidagogos’.
The Mosaic law was given to bring us to Jesus. As the Son of God, Jesus was far more than a teacher. He came at the time appointed by the Father to redeem all of humanity – and because faith has come we are no longer under a schoolmaster (v. 25). The Gospel message announces that the time has now come to put on Christ (v. 27) and embrace the freedoms and responsibilities that entails. Our standing before God is no longer measured by obedience to the Mosaic law but, as the opening scripture states, we are justified (made right with God) through faith in and of Jesus Christ.
Father we thank you for the incomparable riches of your grace that through Jesus Christ we are justified, and salvation is made available to the whole of humanity. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Study by Eddie Marsh
About the writer:
Eddie Marsh attends the Sheffield congregation
of Grace Communion International.
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