Thursday, September 10, 2009

Galatians Journal: Chapter 3, verse 24

Galatians 3:24 So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.

“the law was put in charge” The Greek word translated as “put in charge” is PAIDAGOGOS. This is the same root from which the word “pedagogy” (the study of teaching) is derived. It is also translated in other versions of the Bible as “tutor” or “guardian.” The Pharisees of New Testament times sometimes described Moses as Israel’s “guardian” until the nation “grew up” or matured in the faith. Greek philosophers of the same era viewed “wisdom” and the concept of a moral code as a “teacher,” sometimes personifying wisdom as a guiding goddess. But Paul is using the term in its literal sense, in a way the people of Galatia and the Greco-Roman world would have understood, just like they understood the context of his use of “covenant” in Chapter 3: 15-18.

The tutor or teacher he is referencing was a personal slave/attendant assigned to watch over the master’s male child, to accompany the boy wherever he went, and exercised a certain amount of authority and discipline over him. He would watch over and protect the boy on the way to school, help him with his homework, and train the child in matters of manners and etiquette. BUT – the slave attendant, or “pedagogue,” was not the teacher himself. His role was secondary – to help guide the child into a better relationship with the instructor or the child’s parents. Indeed, a better comparison would be that of a baby-sitter rather than a teacher.

The children of Greek society who had such slave-guardians sometimes resented them, but more often they grew fond of them, and would set them free upon the child reaching adulthood. Such guardians were highly educated – this was not a demeaning position for a slave. Indeed, it was a great honor, and such slaves would have been viewed with respect and deference by the general public.

“to lead us to Christ” This metaphor really helps to put the concept of the purpose of the lSinai Covenant into perspective. The pedagogue/tutor analogy would have been readily understood and common to the average Galatian as much as the last will/covenant metaphor of Galatians 3:15-18. In effect, the pedagogue represents the law, which was meant to be a “baby-sitter,” to help protect and teach God’s people until they came to a saving relationship with Jesus. It is designed to assist us where we are immature (see the next verse as well, verse 25). The Jews were probably insulted by this analogy – they viewed the law personified as a great rabbi, or the teacher himself, on par with a college professor, not as a baby sitter. Yet, they were also waiting for the coming of the Messiah – they knew there was more to come. The purpose of the law was to “baby sit” mankind until Christ came to fulfill all that God had promised – to Abraham, before the law ever came. Even in our lives today, the law, the moral principles we need to walk in Holiness (Paul describes these issues later in more detail starting in Galatians 5:16) are designed to serve as fences and boundaries to protect us so that we are directed toward a living relationship with Jesus. Again, its all about RELATIONSHIP!

“that we might be justified by faith” This is the fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham discussed earlier in Chapter 3 – it all leads back to Jesus! (and faith in Him!)

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