Wednesday, 6 April 2016
Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. Galatians 3:24
Paul now gives us another explicit purpose for the law; it “was our tutor to bring us to Christ.” The word translated as “tutor” is paidagógos, a word meaning a “pedagogue.” In the New Testament, it is only used in 1 Corinthians 4:15 and then again here and in the next verse. Some older translations use the word “schoolmaster.” This is incorrect. The word was originally used when speaking of a slave that had been placed in charge of a child.
It was his responsibility take the child to school. He was responsible for the care and moral discipline of the child, not as one who provides the intellectual discipline which school provides. Albert Barnes notes that, “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.”
For this reason, the word “tutor” is preferable simply because of its etymology. It comes from the word tueri, which means “to look upon, to guard.” Some translations use the word “guardian,” and Young’s ingeniously translates this as “child conductor.” This “child conductor” then is used metaphorically for the law which was given to lead us to Christ.
The moral upbringing of the law showed that no one is justified by the law. Its demands were too heavy, and it led to bondage, not to freedom. The giving of the law was intended to show this. Abraham was justified by faith, but man is inwardly inclined to want to “do” something in order to be pleasing to God. And so the law was given to show what man must “do” in order to be found perfect in His sight. Only in perfectly fulfilling every precept of the law could one be considered fully pleasing to Him in regards to “doing.”
In the giving of the law, and its high expectations, the history of the Jews showed a continuous failure to meet the law’s demands. We were being given our moral instruction by our pedagogue. When enough time under the law had been spent to show how utterly impossible it was for fallen man to meet its demands, Christ came. He was able to fulfill its demands, and He did fulfill them – on our behalf. Now by faith in His work, we are “justified by faith.” The law had met its purpose; it had led us to understand that it is not by our works, but by the work of the Lord, that we can be saved.
Life application: We can only have it one way. Either we will work our way to heaven by deeds of the law – an impossible mountain to climb; or we will trust in Christ to reconcile us to God through His finished work – a difficult path because it is contrary to our nature to set self aside and trust in another’s “doing” for us. In the end, we must come to the end of ourselves and simply trust Christ alone for our salvation.
Heavenly Father, were I to work my way back to You through deeds of the law, it would be an infinitely high hill to climb. The record of Israel shows that no person was able to meet its demands, and so in the fullness of time, Christ came and fulfilled them for me. Now, You ask us to set aside our futile attempts at meriting Your favor and to simply trust that what You have done through Him is sufficient. Me… I’m all in for faith in Christ! He did the work; I receive Your favor. It is the sweetest deal of all. Hallelujah to Christ my Lord. Amen.