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Galatians 3:24

ESV So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.
NIV So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith.
NASB Therefore the Law has become our guardian to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.
CSB The law, then, was our guardian until Christ, so that we could be justified by faith.
NLT Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith.
KJV Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

What does Galatians 3:24 mean?

Paul is describing the purpose of the law in the history of Israel until Christ came. He has been clear that the law of Moses cannot bring life. It cannot save people from their sin (Galatians 3:11). It did, however, play a vital purpose for Israel from the time of Moses until the time of Christ.

Paul uses an illustration to describe that purpose. He compares the law to a paidagōgos, or a "pedagogue." In Greek families, a pedagogue was a slave entrusted with protecting and caring for the children from the age of 6 until late adolescence. The pedagogue was not exactly the same as a "teacher," but he did discipline the children. He taught them morals and corrected them when they misbehaved. When the kids got old enough, though, they left the pedagogue behind. This word is translated into English here as "guardian," or "tutor."

Paul's comparison suggests that God's law provided protection and discipline for Israel until the time was right for Christ to come. The law was not the teacher, and it could not save Israel. It provided direction and discipline until all people could be justified ("made right with God") through faith in Christ.
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