Galatians 3:23
But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.
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(23) Before faith came.—Before faith awoke into exercise, began to exist, or the preaching of Christ as its object.

We were kept.—Better, we were kept in ward, so as to bring out more clearly the force of the metaphor which runs through the verse. The Law was a kind of prison-house, in which we were kept shut up. It was a custody from which we were not permitted to escape—a stern guardian that we were made to obey.

Unto the faith . . .—With a view to the dispensation of faith which was in store for us. The object of this state of guardianship was to fit us for the dispensation of faith looming in the future.

Galatians 3:23. But before faith — That is, the gospel dispensation, came, we — The nation of the Jews; were kept under the law — Under that dispensation, as condemned malefactors are guarded in close custody; shut up — As prisoners under sentence; unto the faith which should afterward be revealed — Reserved and prepared for the gospel. Observe here, reader, 1st, “The gospel is called faith, (Galatians 3:2; Galatians 3:23; Galatians 3:25,) and the law of faith, (Romans 3:27,) because it requires faith, instead of perfect obedience, as the means of men’s justification. This law of faith, or method of justification, came at the fall: it was then established; and till it came, Adam was kept in ward without hope, under the law he had broken. In like manner the Gentiles, under the law of nature, and the Jews, under the law of Moses, were kept in ward, as criminals, and had no hope of pardon, but what the law of faith gave them, as made known obscurely in the first promise, (Genesis 3:15,) and afterward in the covenant with Abraham. 2d, The law of Moses, instead of being contrary to the promises of God, or covenant with Abraham, effectually co-operates therewith. By the perfection and spirituality of its moral precepts, it makes us sensible of our inability to obey it perfectly; and by its curse, denounced against every one who does not obey perfectly, it makes us flee, trembling and affrighted, to the method of salvation revealed to us in the covenant with Abraham, and published to all mankind in the gospel.” — Macknight.

3:23-25 The law did not teach a living, saving knowledge; but, by its rites and ceremonies, especially by its sacrifices, it pointed to Christ, that they might be justified by faith. And thus it was, as the word properly signifies, a servant, to lead to Christ, as children are led to school by servants who have the care of them, that they might be more fully taught by Him the true way of justification and salvation, which is only by faith in Christ. And the vastly greater advantage of the gospel state is shown, under which we enjoy a clearer discovery of Divine grace and mercy than the Jews of old. Most men continue shut up as in a dark dungeon, in love with their sins, being blinded and lulled asleep by Satan, through wordly pleasures, interests, and pursuits. But the awakened sinner discovers his dreadful condition. Then he feels that the mercy and grace of God form his only hope. And the terrors of the law are often used by the convincing Spirit, to show the sinner his need of Christ, to bring him to rely on his sufferings and merits, that he may be justified by faith. Then the law, by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, becomes his loved rule of duty, and his standard for daily self-examination. In this use of it he learns to depend more simply on the Saviour.But before faith came - That is, the system of salvation by faith in the Lord Jesus. Faith here denotes the Christian religion, because faith is its distinguishing characteristic.

We were kept under the law - We, who were sinners; we, who have violated the Law. It is a general truth, that before the gospel was introduced, people were under the condemning sentence of the Law.

Shut up unto the faith - Enclosed by the Law with reference to the full and glorious revelation of a system of salvation by faith. The design and tendency of the Law was to shut us up to that as the only method of salvation. All other means failed. The Law condemned every other mode, and the Law condemned all who attempted to be justified in any other way. Man, therefore, was shut up to that as his last hope; and could look only to that for any possible prospect of salvation. The word which in this verse is rendered "were kept" ἐφρουρούμεθα ephrouroumetha, usually means to guard or watch, as in a castle, or as prisoners are guarded; and though the word should not be pressed too far in the interpretation, yet it implies that there wasa rigid scrutiny observed; that the Law guarded them; that there was no way of escape; and that they were shut up. as prisoners under sentence of death, to the only hope, which was that of pardons.

Unto the faith ... - That was the only hope. The Law condemned them, and offered no hope of escape. Their only hope was in that system which was to be revealed through the Messiah, the system which extended forgiveness on the ground of faith in his atoning blood.

23. faith—namely, that just mentioned (Ga 3:22), of which Christ is the object.

kept—Greek, "kept in ward": the effect of the "shutting up" (Ga 3:22; Ga 4:2; Ro 7:6).

unto—"with a view to the faith," &c. We were, in a manner, morally forced to it, so that there remained to us no refuge but faith. Compare the phrase, Ps 78:50, Margin; Ps 31:8.

which should afterwards, &c.—"which was afterwards to be revealed."

Before faith came; before the covenant of grace, or the doctrine of the gospel, or Christ himself, was revealed.

We were kept under the law; the apostle either speaks of all mankind, of whom it is true, that until God’s revelation of the covenant of grace, they had no other way of salvation made known to them than by the law of works; or else of the Jews, to whom, though before Christ there was a revelation of the gospel, yet it was more dark and imperfect, so as they

were kept under the law, but few apprehending any other way of justification than by the works of the law.

Shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed; but the apostle saith they were but shut up under it; God never intended it as that by the observance of which they should be saved; but as even then, to those whom he intended to save, he made a more secret revelation of his gospel, so he had now more fully and plainly revealed the way of salvatiou which he had from eternity established.

But before faith came,.... This is to be understood, not of the grace of faith, which was under the former dispensation, as now; the Old Testament saints had the same Spirit of faith, and the same grace of faith, as for its nature, object, and use, as New Testament saints have; Adam, Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, &c. believed in Christ, and were justified by faith in his righteousness, as we are. It is much better to understand it of the doctrine of faith, which though preached to Adam, and by Noah, and to Abraham, and by Isaiah, and others, yet not so clearly, largely, and fully, as by Jesus Christ and his apostles; so that the times of the Gospel may be called the times of faith, in comparison of the times of the law, and which some think is here meant; but it is best to interpret it of Christ, the object of faith, who was to come, and is come in the flesh, to fulfil the law; and, by so doing, has put an end to it; and to redeem his people from under it, and to save them with an everlasting salvation; for before this his coming in the flesh, the people of the Jews, of whom the apostle was one, were under the law:

we were kept under the law; as persons in a garrison, as the word signifies; they were kept distinct and separate from the rest of the nations of the world, and had neither civil nor religious conversation with them; and so were preserved in some measure both from their impieties and idolatries, which otherwise they were naturally prone to; and as a distinct people, unto the coming of the Messiah, who was to arise from among them; so that their being kept under the law in this sense, was both for their honour and their safety: though the meaning may also be, that they were kept under it as persons under a military guard, as the word likewise imports; and signifies, that the law kept a strict guard and a watchful eye over them, as the Roman soldier had over Paul, that kept him, and held fast the chain in his hand, with which he was bound, that he might not get loose and escape from him; see Acts 28:16 to which the apostle seems here to allude; the law kept them close to the discharge of their duty, and held them fast as prisoners; and which is more fully expressed in the next clause,

shut up. The Syriac version reads this in connection with the former, thus, "the law kept us shut up", as in a prison; and the same way reads the Arabic version; which shows the state and condition the Jews were in under the law, and how they were treated by it; not as good and righteous persons, but as persons in debt, as criminals and malefactors; a prison is made, and so the law, for such sort of persons; the law considered and used them as sinners, as criminals convicted and condemned; it did itself accuse, convict, and pronounce them guilty, and condemned them to punishment; and detained them as prisoners in its dark dungeon, where they had little light and comfort; and were as in a pit, wherein is no water; though they lay here as prisoners of hope, in expectation of the Messiah's coming; who was to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound, and to say to the prisoners, Come forth, and to them that sit in darkness, Show yourselves. Also the allusion may be to the custom of the eastern nations, in the usage of their slaves and captives; who in the daytime used to grind at a mill in a prison house, and in the night time were put down into a pit and shut up, and a mill stone put to the mouth of the pit (p); and so describes the state of bondage and slavery the Jews were in under the law, who differed nothing from servants, to whom the saints under the Gospel dispensation are opposed, Galatians 3:26 as being the children of God by faith in Christ. And in this uncomfortable condition they continued,

unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed; that is, until Christ the object of faith came, who was to be revealed, or made manifest in the flesh; who, before his incarnation, not only lay in the bosom of the Father, but was in a great measure hid under the types and prophecies of the Old Testament; which though they gave some hints of him, yet but obscure ones, in comparison of the revelation made of him by his appearance in human nature; by the testimonies of his Father by a voice from heaven of angels, of John the Baptist, and others; and by his own doctrines and miracles, and by the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him.

(p) Schindler Lex. Pentaglott. in voce col. 1712.

{26} But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto {x} the faith which should afterwards be revealed.

(26) Now there follows another handling of the second part of this epistle, the state of which was this: although the Law (that is, the whole government of God's house according to the Law) does not justify, is it therefore to be abolished, seeing that Abraham himself was circumcised, and his posterity held still the use of Moses' Law? Paul affirms that it ought to be abolished, because it was instituted for that end and purpose, that is should be as it were a schoolmaster, and keeper to the people of God, until the promise indeed appeared, that is to say, Christ, and the Gospel manifestly published with great efficacy by the Spirit.

(x) The reason why we were kept under the Law, is set down here.

Galatians 3:23. Δέ] no longer connected with ἀλλά (Hofmann), but leading over to a new portion of the statement (the counterpart to which is to follow in Galatians 3:25),—namely, to the position which the law held under the circumstances expressed in Galatians 3:25. Before the introduction of faith, it was to guard and maintain those who belonged to it in this relation of bondage, so that they should not get rid of it and become free,—a liberation which was reserved for the faith which was to come.

πρὸ τοῦ δὲ ἐλθεῖν] δέ in the third place with the prepositional phrase. See Ellendt, Lex. Soph. I. p. 397; Klotz, ad Devar. II. p. 378 f.

Here also πίστις is neither doctrina fidem postulans, the gospel, as most ancient expositors and Schott think, nor the dispensation of faith (Buhl, comp. Rückert), but subjective faith, which is treated objectively. Comp. on Galatians 1:23, Galatians 3:2. As long as there was not yet any belief in Christ, faith was not yet present; but when on the preaching of the gospel men believed in Christ, the faith, which was previously wanting, had come, that is, had now set in, had presented itself,—namely, in the hearts of those who had become believers. On ἐλθεῖν as applied to mental things and states, which set in, comp. Pind. Nem. i. 48 (hopes); Plat. Pol. iii. p. 402 A (understanding); Soph. O. R. 681 (δόκησις). Comp. also Romans 7:9.

ὑπὸ νόμον ἐφρουρούμεθα συγκλειόμενοι] (see the critical notes): under the law we were held in custody, so that we were placed in ward with a view to the faith about to be revealed. The. subject is: we Jewish Christians (Galatians 3:25); the emphasis is on ὑπὸ νόμον, and afterwards on πίστιν. The law is represented as a ruler, under whose dominion (ὑπὸ νόμον) those who belonged to it were held in moral captivity, as in a prison; so that they, as persons shut up in the φρουρά under lock and key, were placed beyond the possibility of liberation—which was only to ensue by means of the faith that was to be revealed in the future.[166] The words and the context do not yield more than this: the paedagogic efficacy of the law is not inferred till Galatians 3:24, and is not to be anticipated here. This view is opposed to that of many expositors (Chrysostom, Theophylact, Oecumenius, Erasmus, Grotius, Estius, Winer, Rückert, Schott, Ewald, and others), who find already expressed here that paedagogic function, which, however, is understood in the sense of the “usus politicus” of the law (but see on Galatians 3:24): “in severam legis disciplinam, quae ne in omnem libidinem effunderemur cavit, traditi,” Winer. But the whole explanation of the law guarding from sin (to which also Wieseler refers ἐφρουρ.) is opposed to the correct interpretation of ΤῶΝ ΠΑΡΑΒΆΣΕΩΝ ΧΆΡΙΝ (Galatians 3:19), and also to Galatians 3:22. The captivity so forcibly described by Paul is just the sinful bondage under the law, Romans 7:1; 1 Corinthians 15:56. Observe, moreover, in order to a just understanding of the passage, that ὑπὸ νόμον, according to the very position of the words, cannot without proceeding arbitrarily be connected with ΣΥΓΚΛ. (so de Wette, Wieseler, and many others, also my own former interpretation),—a connection which is not warranted by the other thought, Galatians 3:22,—but must be joined to ἘΦΡΟΥΡ. (Augustine and many others, also Hofmann, Reithmayr, Buhl); and further, that the present participle ΣΥΓΚΛΕΙΌΜΕΝΟΙ (with the ΕἸς ΤῊΝ ΜΈΛΛ. Κ.Τ.Λ. belonging to it) forms the modal definition of ἐφρουρούμεθα, representing the continued operation of the latter, which, constantly appearing in fresh acts, renders liberation impossible. Hofmann (comp. his Schriftbew. II. 2, p. 59) understands συγκλείειν εἰς in the sense of constraining to something; it expresses in his view the constraining power, with which subjection to the law served to keep the people directed towards the faith which was to be revealed in the future.[167] Such an use of the phrase is indubitably found among later Greek authors, and is especially frequent in Polybius (see Raphel, and Schweighäuser, Lex. Polyb. p. 571 f.); but how improbable, and in fact incredible it is, that Paul should have here used this word in a different sense from that in which he used it immediately before in Galatians 3:22, and in the kindred passage, Romans 11:32 (he has it not elsewhere)! This sense could not have occurred to any reader. Besides, the idea of constraint against one’s will, which must be conveyed in συγκλειόμ. εἰς (see Fritzsche, ad Rom. II. p. 545), and which Hofmann obliterates (“the law conferred on the people its distinctive position, and its abiding in this distinctive position was at the same time an abiding directed towards the faith that was to come”), would neither agree with the text (Galatians 3:22; Galatians 3:24) nor harmonize with history (Romans 11; Acts 28:25 ff.).

εἰς τὴν μέλλουσαν πίστιν ἀποκαλυφθῆναι] As εἰς in Galatians 3:24 is evidently to be understood as telic, and as the temporal interpretation usque ad (Erasmus, Grotius, Michaelis, Koppe, Morus, Rosenmüller, Rückert, Usteri, and others) after πρὸ τοῦ ἐλθεῖν τὴν πίστιν, which includes in itself the terminus ad quem, would be very unmeaning, εἰς is to be explained: towards the faith, that is, with the design, that we should pass over into the state of faith. Luther (1519) aptly remarks: “in hoc, ut fide futura liberaremur.” In accordance with the view of Oecumenius, Theophylact, Augustine, Calovius, Raphel, Bengel, Hofmann, εἰς κ.τ.λ. is to be connected with συγκλειόμενοι, because the latter, without this annexation of the telic statement εἰς κ.τ.λ., would not form a characteristic modal definition of ἐφρουρ. This εἰς κ.τ.λ. is, in the history of salvation, the divine aim of that σύγκλεισις, which was to cease on its attainment; Christ is the end of the law. Comp. Galatians 3:22, where ἵνα κ.τ.λ. corresponds with the εἰς κ.τ.λ. here.

μέλλουσαν] is placed first (Paul did not write, εἰς τ. πίστ. τ. μέλλ. ἀποκ.), because with that earlier situation is contrasted the subsequent future state of things which was throughout the object of its aim. Comp. on Romans 8:18. Similarly in 1 Peter 5:1, 2Ma 8:11.

ἀποκαλυφθῆναι] for so long as there was not yet belief in Christ, faith had not yet made its appearance: it was still a (in the counsel of God) hidden element of life, which became revealed as a historical phenomenon, when Christ had come and the gospel—the preaching of faith (Galatians 3:2; Galatians 3:5)—was made known. Ἀποκαλ. cannot be understood as the infinitive of design and, according to the reading συγκεκλεισμένοι, as belonging to the latter word (Matthias: “in order to become manifest, as those who were under the ban with a view to the future faith”), because in the religious-historical connection of the text it must signify the final appearance of the blessing of salvation, which hitherto as a μυστήριον had been unknown (Romans 16:25). Besides, Paul would thus have written very far from clearly; he must at least have placed the infinitive before συγκεκλεισ.

[166] If, with Winer, Usteri, and Schott, ἐφρουρ. is explained merely as asservabamur (1 Peter 1:5),—comp. Hofmann, “we were held in keeping,”—it yields, according to the connection with συγκεκλεισμένοι, and with the inference thereupon of the paedagogic function of the law, too weak a thought. Comp. Wis 17:16. Luther, Calvin, and many others, including Rückert and de Wette, have rightly found in ἐφρουρ. and συγκεκλ. the figurative idea of a prison (φρούριον, Plat. Ax. p. 365 E; φρουρά, Plat. Phaed. p. 62 ff.). The prison, however, is not the law itself; but the latter is the ruler, under whose power the captives are in prison,—because, namely, under the law, as the δύναμις τῆς ἁμαρτίας (1 Corinthians 15:56), they are not in a position to attain to the freedom of moral life.

[167] Raphel, Polyb. p. 518, has understood συγκλείειν εἰς in a similar way to Hofmann, and finely paraphrased it: “eo necessitatis quem adigere, ut ad fidem tanquam sacram ancoram confugere cogatur.” Comp. Bengel.

Galatians 3:23-24. THE POSITION OF THE TRUE CHILDREN OF GOD BEFORE THE COMING OF CHRIST IS ILLUSTRATED BY THE CONTROL EXERCISED OVER CHILDREN IN THEIR FATHER’S HOUSE BY MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD. These verses explain the position of the faithful under the Law. They are here associated with Christians by the use of the first person plural; for they too were in their generation believers in God, they belonged to the same blessed family and inherited the original promise. Yet since all Israel from the time of Moses to the Advent were subjected to the control of the Law, they too were subject to bondage. But this was really due to the watchful love of their Heavenly Father, who thus provided needful shelter and guidance, just as an earthly father places his young children during years of weakness and inexperience under the charge of household servants.—τὴν πίστιν. The article, though ignored in our versions, is essential to the sense. By the coming of the faith is meant the historic fact of the Christian religion, the spread of the Gospel on earth. The term has the same objective sense as in Galatians 1:23, Galatians 3:25, Acts 6:7, and Romans 3:30, where also a clear distinction is drawn between πίστεως, faith in the abstract, and τῆς πίστεως, the faith of Christ. Obviously faith did not come with Christ, it was the most conspicuous virtue of the Jewish Church, and Abraham was but the first of many splendid examples of it.—συγκλειόμενοι. MS. authority is strongly in favour of the present participle, which is also more appropriate than the perfect συγκεκλεισμένοι for describing the continuous process of legal condemnation which prevailed from generation to generation.—παιδαγωγὸς. No English equivalent for this term can convey its real force, for it has no exact counterpart in an English home. The position of a nurse towards young children approaches more nearly than that of schoolmaster or tutor to the office of the παιδαγωγός, for he was a confidential dependent, usually a slave, neither qualified to instruct, nor invested with authority to control his young master, but appointed to attend on him, to safeguard him, and to report to his father any disorderly or immoral habits on which it might be necessary for the father to place a check. The Law in like manner regulated outward habits, enforced order and decency, and maintained a certain standard of morality among Israelites until in due time they became ripe for spiritual freedom. It was not the function of the Law to address itself directly to the conscience like the Prophets, or to claim spiritual authority over the whole man, but to impose a check on the open tyranny of evil, to enforce on the community a higher standard of morals, and so to foster indirectly the growth of spiritual life.

23. But before faith came] Better, ‘before this faith’, i.e. in Jesus Christ, ‘came’; and so nearly = before Christ came.

we were kept] kept in ward. The same word occurs 1 Peter 1:5.

shut up] The passive of the same verb which is rendered ‘hath concluded’ in Galatians 3:22.

the faith which should afterwards be revealed] Here the word faith seems to pass from the subjective to the objective sense. It means the full Gospel revelation of salvation by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Galatians 3:23. Τὴν πίστιν, the faith of Jesus Christ) So the following verses.—ἐφρουρούμεθα συγκεκλεισμένοι, we were kept shut up) These two words elegantly disjoin the law and faith. The being ‘kept’ in custody is the consequence of the shutting up. Wis 17:16 : ἐφρουρεῖτο εἰς τὴν ἀσίδηρον εἱρκτὴν κατακλεισθείς, he was kept shut up in a prison without iron bars.—συγκεκλεισμένοι εἰς) So the LXX., συγκλείειν εἰς θάνατον, Psalm 78:50, Psalm 31:9; Amos 1:6; Amos 1:9. But it is an abbreviated phrase: shut up, and therefore reserved and forced to the faith, etc. [so that there remained to us no refuge but faith.—V. g.] Polybius says, εἰς αὐτὰς συνεκλείσθη τὰς ἐν ἰδίοις οἰκέταις καὶ φίλοις ἐλπίδας, “he was shut up to those very hopes which were among [which depended on] his own domestics and friends;” and so it often occurs in the same writer.—See Raphelius. Irenaeus has, the sons of God are shut up to the belief of His coming: l. iii. c. 25.

Verse 23. - The feature which distinguishes this new paragraph (vers. 23, 24) from the preceding (vers. 21, 22) is the more distinct statement of the paedagogic function of the Law as preparatory to that economy of grace which was the ulterior purpose of the Lawgiver. In the meanwhile (the apostle here says) we were committed to the custody of the Law. But before faith came (πρὸ τοῦ δὲ ἐλθεῖν τὴν πίστιν). The "but" is an-tithetic to the closing clause of ver. 22, from which is taken up afresh the notion of faith, there spoken of as of old destined to become at the proper time the qualifier for the receiving of the promise. "Faith" denotes, not objectively, "the faith," that is, the gospel, as Galatians 1:23, a sense in which it is seldom used, and which is repelled here by the whole context; but subjectively, the principle of belief in One who gives of mere grace. This, by a bold and surely jubilant figure of speech, is personified as "coming" for men's deliverance, while the "Law" is also personified as the stern custodian under whose charge till then men were detained. Compare the frequent references in the Psalms to "light," "truth," "righteousness," "word," etc., being" sent," "commanded," by the Lord, as in angels, despatched for the help of his saints (Psalm 43:3; Psalm 40:11; Psalm 57:3; Psalm 107:20, etc.). We were kept under the Law, shut up (ὑπὸ νόμον ἐφρουρούμεθα συγκεκλεισμένοι [συγκλειόμενοι, Revised Text; so, according to Scrivener, L. T. Tr.]); we were kept in ward under the Law. shut up. The "we" recites, not exactly Jewish Christians or Jews, except per accidens, but God's people. The verb φρουρεῖν, keep carefully guarded, is used with a prominent notion of protection in Philippians 4:7; 1 Peter 1:5; whilst in 2 Corinthians 11:32, as here, the more prominent idea is that of preventing egress. Comp. Romans 7:6, "The Law wherein we were holden (κατειχόμεθα)." So Wisd. 17:16, of Egyptians, in the plague of miraculous darkness, as it were imprisoned, unable to move, Ἐφρουρεῖτο εἰς τὴν ἀσίδηρον εἱρκτὴν κατακλεισθείς, "Was kept ill ward, having been shut up into the prison which had no iron bars." The reading συγκλειόμενοι or συνκλειόμενοι, although highly witnessed to by uncial manuscripts, appears to be accounted for by the reading in B, συγκλεισμένοι (very probably a clerical blunder for συγκεκλεισμένοι), which may have given it vogue. The perfect participle seems alone suitable to the passage, q.d. shut up for good and all. The present participle would require to be understood of the repression of a constantly repeated endeavour to escape (or, what?). As the verb συνέκλεισεν occurs in the preceding verse, συγκεκλεισμένοι takes the shade of meaning, "shut up as I said." Unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed (εἰς τὴν μέλλουσαν πίστιν ἀποκαλυφθῆναι). "Unto;" with reference to, with an eye to, the coming economy of free grace, to which they were then to be transferred. The same preposition (εἰς) is used in the same manner in the next verse," unto Christ." In the words, τὴν μέλλουσαν πίστιν ἀποκαλυφθῆναι, we have the same form of sentence as in Romans 8:18, Πρὸς τὴν μέλλουσαν δόξαν ἀποκαλυφθῆναι, "For the glory which shall hereafter be revealed." In both cases, the emphatic position of μέλλουσαν appears to indicate, not merely that the manifestation was future, but that the future would be sure to bring it; the predetermining purpose of God made it certain. "Revealed:" the principle of faith as accepting a gift bestowed of free grace, though not unknown to the pious of former ages (Romans 3:21) - for how in any age could one con-scions of sin look for any gift at the hands of the Almighty except thus? - was destined, under the "gospel of the grace of God," to come forth into conspicuous prominence as the one supremely commanding element of religious sentiment. Galatians 3:23But the office of the law as a jailer was designed to be only temporary, until the time when faith should come. It was to hold in custody those who were subjected to sin, so that they should not escape the consciousness of their sins and of their liability to punishment.

Faith (τὴν πίστιν)

The subjective faith in Christ which appropriates the promise. See on Galatians 1:23.

We were kept (ἐφρουρούμεθα)

Better, kept in ward, continuing the figure in shut up, Galatians 3:22. The imperfect tense indicates the continued activity of the law as a warder.

Under the law (ὑπὸ νόμον)

Const. with were kept in ward, not with shut up. We were shut up with the law as a warder, not for protection, but to guard against escape. Comp. Wisd. 17:15. The figure of the law as pedagogue (Galatians 3:24) is not anticipated. The law is conceived, not as the prison, but as the warder, the Lord or despot, the power of sin (see 1 Corinthians 15:56; Romans 7), by whom those who belong to sin are kept under lock and key - under moral captivity, without possibility of liberation except through faith.

Shut up unto the faith (συνκλειόμενοι εἰς τὴν πίστιν)

Εἰς unto or for expresses the object of keeping in ward. It is not temporal, until, which is a rare usage in N.T., but with a view to our passing into the state of faith.

Which should afterwards be revealed (μέλλουσαν - ἀποκαλυφθῆναι)

The position of μέλλουσαν emphasizes the future state of things to which the earlier conditions pointed. The faith was first revealed at the coming of Christ and the gospel.

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