What does Galatians 3:24 mean?
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.
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.
Galatians 3:23–29 summarizes the idea that God never intended the law to be the final solution for the problem of sin. Instead, it was meant to ''guard'' mankind, until the arrival of Christ. This freedom from the captivity of the law also transcends all other barriers: race, gender, wealth, health, and culture are all irrelevant to our relationship with the Savior. Anyone who belongs to Christ, by faith, is promised to be an heir.
Paul indicates the Galatian Christians are foolish for believing they need to follow the law of Moses to be right with God. He offers three specific arguments to support this. First, they received God's Spirit in a powerful way after believing in Jesus, but before doing any works of the law. Second, Scripture itself shows God's blessing coming by faith, and His curse coming by the law. Christ paid the price of that curse on the cross. Third, God's covenant with Abraham is like a legal document, and it cannot be revoked.
In Galatians chapter 2, Paul declared that we can only be justified—''made right with God''—by faith in Christ and not by following the law of Moses. In chapter 3, Paul offers three arguments for why that is true. He argues from the Galatians own experience, from the Scriptures themselves, and from the legal standpoint of a covenant contract. Finally, Paul answers what the law is for if it cannot save us from our sin. In part, it reveals our sinfulness and convinces us of our need to be saved by faith in Christ. The following chapter will expand on what it means to be an ''heir,'' spiritually.
Galatians is sometimes called “a short Romans” for its similar themes of justification and sanctification through faith. A group of Christians known as “Judaizers” were preaching a gospel of legalism, rather than grace. Paul’s main purpose in writing the letter to the Galatians was to reiterate the true nature of the gospel: we are justified (made righteous) and sanctified (made more Christlike) through our faith in Jesus Christ alone. This letter was probably written shortly before the church elders in Jerusalem issued their official refutation of the Judaizers, commonly called the Jerusalem Council.
Accessed 2/25/2024 10:16:04 AM
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