Galatians 3:24
Why the law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(24) The law was our schoolmaster.—Not quite a satisfactory translation; yet it is difficult to suggest a better. The Greek word is that from which is derived the English “pedagogue.” Originally it meant the slave who was placed in charge of a child, and whose duty it was to conduct it to school. The idea is that of moral rather than of intellectual discipline. The care of the “pedagogue” ceased where that of the school-master began, but it was he who had more especially to form the character of the child. Horace notes as a peculiar advantage of his own that his father himself had taken the place of pedagogue to him (Sat. i. 6, 81, 82).

To bring us unto Christ.—The words “to bring us,” it will be seen, are supplied. They may be retained, provided that the metaphor is not pressed to the extent of supposing that Christ represents the schoolmaster proper to whom the child is led by the pedagogue slave. The work of Christ as a Teacher is not what the Apostle has in mind. It is rather a higher kind of guardianship, which is to succeed that of the Law, and to which the Law hands over its pupil. Once brought within the guardianship of Christ, and so made a member of the Messianic kingdom, the Christian is justified by faith, he receives an amnesty for his past sins, and is accounted righteous before God. (See Epistle to the Romans, Excursus E: On the Doctrine of Justification by Faith and Imputed Righteousness.)

Galatians 3:24-26. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster — That is, the instructer of the childhood of us Jews, or of the church of God, in its state of minority; see on Galatians 4:3; to bring us unto Christ — To train us up for him. And this it did, both by its precepts, which showed us the need we had of his atonement, and by its sacrifices, oblations, purifications, and other ceremonies, which all pointed us to him; that we might be justified by faith — In him, and so might obtain the benefit of the promise. But after that faith is come — The gospel dispensation being fully revealed, and the law of faith promulgated; we are no longer under that schoolmaster

The Mosaic law, but pass over into a more liberal and happy state. For ye — Who have believed on Christ, with a faith working by love; are all — Not merely the subjects and servants of God, your Lord and Master, but his children, by faith in Christ Jesus — The sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty; yea, his heirs, and joint heirs with his beloved Son: and to you his commandments are not grievous.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.Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster - The word rendered schoolmaster (παιδαγωγὸς paidagōgos, whence the word "pedagogue"), referred originally to a slave or freedman, to whose care boys were committed, and who accompanied them to the public schools. The idea here is not that of instructor, but there is reference to the office and duty of the "paedagogus" among the ancients. The office was usually intrusted to slaves or freedmen. It is true, that when the "paedagogus" was properly qualified, he assisted the children committed to his care in preparing their lessons. But still his main duty was not instruction, but it was to watch over the boys; to restrain them from evil and temptation; and to conduct them to the schools, where they might receive instruction. See, for illustrations of this, Wetstein, Bloomfield, etc. In the passage before us, the proper notion of pedagogue is retained. In our sense of the word schoolmaster, Christ is the schoolmaster, and not the Law. The Law performs the office of the ancient pedagogue, to lead us to the teacher or the instructor. That teacher or instructor is Christ. The ways in which the Law does this may be the following:

(1) It restrains us and rebukes us, and keeps us as the ancient pedagogue did his boys.

(2) the whole law was designed to be introductory to Christ. The sacrifices and offerings were designed to shadow forth the Messiah, and to introduce him to the world.

(3) the moral law - the Law of God - shows people their sin and danger, and thus leads them to the Saviour. It condemns them, and thus prepares them to welcome the offer of pardon through a Redeemer.

(4) it still does this. The whole economy of the Jews was designed to do this and under the preaching of the gospel it is still done. People see that they are condemned; they are convinced by the Law that they cannot save themselves, and thus they are led to the Redeemer. The effect of the preached gospel is to show people their sins, and thus to be preparatory to the embracing of the offer of pardon. Hence, the importance of preaching the Law still; and hence, it is needful that people should be made to feel that they are sinners, in order that they may be prepared to embrace the offers of mercy; compare the note at Romans 10:4.

24. "So that the law hath been (that is, hath turned out to be) our schoolmaster (or "tutor," literally, "pedagogue": this term, among the Greeks, meant a faithful servant entrusted with the care of the boy from childhood to puberty, to keep him from evil, physical and moral, and accompany him to his amusements and studies) to guide us unto Christ," with whom we are no longer "shut up" in bondage, but are freemen. "Children" (literally, infants) need such tutoring (Ga 4:3).

might be—rather, "that we may be justified by faith"; which we could not be till Christ, the object of faith, had come. Meanwhile the law, by outwardly checking the sinful propensity which was constantly giving fresh proof of its refractoriness—as thus the consciousness of the power of the sinful principle became more vivid, and hence the sense of need both of forgiveness of sin and freedom from its bondage was awakened—the law became a "schoolmaster to guide us unto Christ" [Neander]. The moral law shows us what we ought to do, and so we learn our inability to do it. In the ceremonial law we seek, by animal sacrifices, to answer for our not having done it, but find dead victims no satisfaction for the sins of living men, and that outward purifying will not cleanse the soul; and that therefore we need an infinitely better Sacrifice, the antitype of all the legal sacrifices. Thus delivered up to the judicial law, we see how awful is the doom we deserve: thus the law at last leads us to Christ, with whom we find righteousness and peace. "Sin, sin! is the word heard again and again in the Old Testament. Had it not there for centuries rung in the ear, and fastened on the conscience, the joyful sound, "grace for grace," would not have been the watchword of the New Testament. This was the end of the whole system of sacrifices" [Tholuck].

The law, both the law contained in ordinances and the moral law,

was our schoolmaster; serving us in the same stead that a schoolmaster in a school doth, who only fitteth children for higher degrees of learning at universities.

To bring us unto Christ: the ceremonial law showed us Christ in all his types and sacrifices; the moral law showed us the absolute need of a Mediator, as it showed us sin, accused and condemned us for it; and it showed us no help either for the guilt of sin contracted, or against the power of it.

That we might be justified by faith; so that God’s end in giving us the law was, that we might be fitted for Christ, and obtain justification by believing in him. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster unto Christ,.... So the words should be read, as they are by the Syriac and Ethiopic versions; for the words "to bring us" are a supplement of our translators, and have nothing to answer to them in the original; and the sense of the passage is, that the law performed this office of a schoolmaster until the coming of Christ; which shows that till that time the church was in its minority, that the Jews were but children in knowledge and understanding, and therefore stood in need, and were under the care of a schoolmaster, the law, by which the whole Mosaic administration is designed. They were taught by the moral law, the letter, the writing on the two tables, with other statutes and judgments, their duty to God and men, what is to be done and to be avoided, what is righteousness and what is not, the nature of sin, its demerit and consequences; but these gave them no instructions about a Saviour, and life and righteousness by him. The ceremonial law gave them some hints of the Gospel scheme, and the way of salvation by Christ, but in a manner suited to their estate of childhood; by sights and shows, by types and figures, by rites and ceremonies, by shadows and sacrifices; it taught them by divers washings the pollution of their nature, their need of the blood of Christ to cleanse from all sin; by circumcision, the necessity of regeneration, and the internal circumcision of the heart; by the passover, the daily sacrifice and other offerings, the doctrines of redemption, satisfaction, and atonement; and by the brazen serpent, the necessity of looking to Christ for life and salvation, and by various other things in that branch of the legal economy: but besides the instruction the law gave, it made use of discipline as a schoolmaster does; it kept a strict eye and hand over them, and them close to the performance of their duty; and restrained them from many things their inclinations led them to, threatening them with death in case of disobedience, and inflicting its penalties on delinquents; hence they that were under its discipline, were through fear of death it threatened them with, all their time subject to bondage: even the ceremonial law had something awful and tremendous in it; every beast that was slain in sacrifice was not only an instruction to them that they deserved to die as that creature did; but carried in it a tacit acknowledgment and confession of their own guilt; and the whole was an handwriting of ordinances against them. Moreover, the law being called a schoolmaster, shows that the use of it was but temporary, and its duration but for a time; children are not always to be under, nor designed to be always under a schoolmaster, no longer than till they are come to a proper age for greater business and higher exercises of life; so the law was to continue, and did continue, to be of this use and service to the Jewish church during its minority, until Christ came, the substance of all it taught and directed to: both the Jerusalem Targum and that of Jonathan ben Uzziel, on Numbers 11:12 use the very Greek word the apostle does here, concerning Moses, rendering the words, as a "pedagogue" or "schoolmaster" bears a sucking child into the land, &c.

That we might be justified by faith; by Christ the object of faith, by his righteousness, which faith looks unto and receives, and not by the law and the works of it; the people of the Jews were in such a state under the law, and the law of that use unto them before the coming of Christ, as above represented, that it might be made manifest, be a clear point, and out of all dispute, that there is no such thing as justification by the law; for how could ever such a blessing be expected from it, when men were kept under it as under a military guard; when they were shut up in it as in a prison, and were treated by it as malefactors, convicted and condemned; and when they were under the discipline of it, as a rigid and severe schoolmaster? this being their case till Christ came, when it ceased to be all this to them, he being the end of it for righteousness, it became a thing self-evident, that justification is only by him and his righteousness, and so the end here mentioned was answered.

Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Galatians 3:24. Accordingly the law has become our paedagogue unto Christ. As a paedagogue (see on 1 Corinthians 4:15) has his wards in guidance and training for the aim of their future majority, so the law has taken us into a guidance and training, of which Christ was the aim, that is, of which the aim was that we in due time should no longer be under the law, but should belong to Christ. This munus paedagogicum, however, resulting from Galatians 3:23, did not consist in the restriction of sin,[168] or in the circumstance that the law “ab inhonestis minarum asperitate deterreret” (Winer, and most expositors, including de Wette, Baur, Hofmann, Reithmayr, but not Usteri, Hilgenfeld, Wieseler),—views decidedly inconsistent with the aim expressed in Galatians 3:19, and with the tenor of Galatians 3:23, which by no means expresses the idea of preparatory improvement; but it consisted in this, that the law prepared those belonging to it for the future reception of Christian salvation (justification by faith) in such a manner that, by virtue of the principle of sin which it excited, it continually brought about and promoted transgressions (Galatians 3:19; Romans 7:5 ff.), thereby held the people in moral bondage (in the φρουρά, Galatians 3:23), and by producing at the same time the acknowledgment of sin (Romans 3:20) powerfully brought home to the heart (Romans 7:24) the sense of guilt and of the need of redemption from the divine wrath (Romans 4:15),—a redemption which, with our natural moral impotence, was not possible by means of the law itself (Romans 3:19 f., Romans 8:3). Luther appropriately remarks: “Lex enim ad gratiam praeparat, dum peccatum revelat et auget, humilians superbos ad auxilium Christi desiderandum.” See also Weiss, bibl. Theol. p. 287 f.; Holsten, z. Evang. d. Paul. u. Petr. p. 315 f. Under this paedagogal discipline man finally cries out: ταλαίπωρος ἐγώ, Romans 7:24.

ΕἸς ΧΡΙΣΤΌΝ] not usque ad Christum (Castalio, J. Cappellus, Morus, Rosenmüller, Rückert, Matthias), but designating the end aimed at, as is shown by ἵνα ἐκ π. δικ.; comp. Galatians 3:23. Chrysostom and his successors (see Suicer, Thes. II. pp. 421, 544), Erasmus, Zeger, Elsner, and others, refer εἰς to the idea that the law ΠΡῸς ΤῸΝ ΧΡΙΣΤΌΝ, Ὅς ἘΣΤΙΝ Ὁ ΔΙΔΆΣΚΑΛΟς, ἈΠΉΓΕ, just as the paedagogi had to conduct the boys to the schools and gymnasia (Plat. Lys. p. 208 C; Dem. 313. 12; Ael V. H. iii. 21). But this introduces the idea of Christ as a teacher, which is foreign to the passage; He is conceived of as reconciler (ἵνα ἐκ πίστ. δικ.).

ἽΝΑ ἘΚ ΠΊΣΤΕΩς ΔΙΚΑΙΩΘ.] is the divine destination, which the paedagogic function of the law was to fulfil in those who were subject to it. The emphatic ἐκ πίστεως (by faith, not by the law) shows how erroneously the paedagogic efficacy of the law is referred to the restriction of sin.

[168] Comp. Liban. D. xxv. p. 576 C: πρῶτον μὲν νομῷ παιδαγωγήσομεν αὐτῶν τὴν προαίρεσιν, ὡς ἂν τὴν ἀπὸ τοῦ νόμου ζημίαν ἀναδυόμεναι σωφρονεῖν ἀναγκάζωνται. Comp. also Simplic. Epict. 10, p. 116, ed. Schweigh.; and see Grotius on our passage.24. Translate, so that the law has proved to us a tutor unto Christ.

our schoolmaster] The Greek word, ‘paidagogos’ (from which Engl. pedagogue) does not mean a teacher, but a confidential slave, who had the general charge of boys, watching over their conduct and exercising discipline—sometimes, though not always, attending them to school. The sense is, that the legal dispensation, with its requirements and restrictions, was a preparation for the liberty of the Gospel. But while rejecting the narrow interpretation which would limit the office of the law to the functions of a schoolmaster or teacher, we must not (with some commentators) regard Christ as the Schoolmaster to Whose school the law conducted us. The contrast is not between the ‘tutor’ and the teacher, but between the state of tutelage and that of freedom see Galatians 3:25.Galatians 3:24. Παιδαγωγὸς, a schoolmaster) who has kept us under discipline, lest we should slip from his hands.—νήπιοι, infants [‘children’], need such discipline, Galatians 4:3. There is again a personification of the law.Verse 24. - Wherefore the Law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ (ὥστε ὁ νόμος παιδαγωγὸς ἡμῶν γέγονεν εἰς Ξριστόν) wherefore the Law hath been the keeper of our childhood to keep us unto Christ. With St. Paul, ὥστε, so that, frequently is used to introduce a sentence which is not dependent in construction on the preceding words, but is one which makes a fresh departure as if with the adverbial conjunction "wherefore," or "so then." Thus ver. 9; Galatians 4:7; 2 Corinthians 4:12; 2 Corinthians 5:16; 1 Thessalonians 4:18, in which last passage it is even followed by an imperative, Γέγονεν differs from η΅ν or ἐγένετο by describing, past action as ending in a result which still continues. The verb γίγνεσθαι frequently denotes "prove one's self, ... act as" (comp. 1 Thessalonians 2:7; Acts 1:16; Acts 7:52). The Law hath done with us (says the apostle) the work of a child's caretaker (paedagogus), with an eye to Christ, to whom we have now been banded over. (For the use of εἰς, see note on ver. 23.) Paedagogus has no equivalent in the English language; "pedagogue," "schoolmaster," "tutor," "guardian," are all inadequate, covering each one an area of thought more or less quite different. "Tutor," as the masculine of "governess," comes perhaps nearest; but a tutor to a gentleman's children is generally an educated man, and often of like rank in life with those he is with; whereas a paedagogus was usually a slave - an element of thought probably very near to the apostle's consciousness in his present use of the term. In illustration of this and other points bearing upon this subject, the reader will be interested by a passage cited by Bishop Lightfoot out of Plato's 'Lysis' (p. 208, C). Socrates is questioning a young friend. "' They let you have your own ruling of yourself: or do they not trust you with this, either?' 'Trust me with it, indeed!' he said. 'But as to this, who has the ruling of you?' 'This man here,' he said, 'a tutor. 'Being a slave, eh?' 'But what of that?' said he; 'yes; only, a slave of our own.' 'An awfully strange thing this,' I said, 'that you, freeman that you are, should be under the ruling of a slave. But further, what does this tutor of yours, as your ruler, do with you?' 'He takes me,' said he, 'to a teacher's house, of course.' 'Do they rule you too, the teachers?' ' Certainly, of course.' 'A mighty number it seems of masters and rulers does your father think proper to set over you.'" Teaching, except possibly of the very first rudiments, was not the padagogus's business, but only the general care and superintendence of his charge - taking him to and back from his teachers' houses or the schools of physical training, looking after him in his play hours, and the like. In applying to the Law the figure of a paedagogus, the features which the apostle had in view were probably these: the childhood or non-age of those under its tutelage; their withdrawal from free parental intercourse; their degraded condition probably as being under servile management; the exercise over dram of unsympathizing hardness (comp. 1 Corinthians 4:15, "Though ye have ten thousand tutors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers"); coercive discipline; the rudimentary character of their instruction (this particular, however, is likewise of questionable application); the temporary and purely provisional nature of the condition under which they were placed; its termination in the full enjoyment of freedom and of participation in their father's inheritance. The clause, "unto Christ," can hardly mean "to bring us to Christ," tempting as this interpretation may seem, in view of the verbal constituent (ἄγω)" bring" in παιδαγωγός, and of the fact that it was one part of the duty of the child's keeper to take him to his school. For there are the following objections to taking it so:

(1) The child-keeper's relation to his charge did not end with his taking him to school, but continued on throughout his non-age;

(2) the function of Christ is not viewed here as instruction;

(3) if this construction had been in the apostle's view, he would have written πρὸς Ξριστὸν or εἰς Ξριστοῦ, as in the εἰς διδασκάλου ("to the teacher's house") of the passage above cited from Plato. We must, therefore, understand the preposition as in the preceding verse, "with a view to." The next clause is the explanation. That we might be justified by faith (ἵνα ἐκ πίστρεως δικαιωθῶμεν); in order that by faith we might get justified. This clause is the most important part of the sentence. Not from the Law was to come righteousness; the Law was no more than introductory or preparatory; righteousness (once more the apostle reminds the Galatians) was to come to us as a free gift through Christ, upon simply our faith, the Law having now nothing to do with us. Hence the emphatic position of the words ἐκ πίστεως. The apostle does not, in the present connection, make it his business to explain in what way the Law was preparatory, which he does in Romans 7; his purpose at present is to insist upon its purely provisional character. What we have here is a description of the relation of the Law to God's people viewed collectively; but we can hardly fail to be reminded, that this experience of the collective people of God very commonly finds its counterpart in respect to the ethical bearing of the Law in the experience of each individual believer. Only, we have still to bear in mind that the apostle is thinking of the Law just now more in its ceremonial aspect than its ethical. Wherefore (ὥστε)

Better, so that. Theological consequence of the previous statements.

Our schoolmaster (παιδαγωγὸς ἡμῶν)

Our. Paul speaks as a Jew of Jews especially. Schoolmaster (παιδαγωγὸς P) is an error. The word means an overseer or guardian. See on 1 Corinthians 4:15. Tutor (Rev.) is defensible on the ground of etymology, tueri to look upon, thence to guard. In civil law a tutor is a person legally appointed for the care of the person and property of a minor. So Bacon (Adv. of Learning, ii.:19): "the first six kings being in truth as tutors of the state of Rome in the infance thereof." The later use of the word, however, in the sense of instructor, has so completely supplanted the earlier, that the propriety of the Revisers' rendering is questionable. The law is here represented, not as one who conducts to the school of Christ; for Christ is not represented here as a teacher, but as an atoner; but rather as an overseer or guardian, to keep watch of those committed to its care, to accompany them with its commands and prohibitions, and to keep them in a condition of dependence and restraint, thus continually bringing home to them the consciousness of being shut up in sins, and revealing sin as positive transgression.

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