30/08/20 – Galatians 3:23-29


Galatians 3:23But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.


cameerchomai (to come; come from one place to another, both arriving and returning; be established; to follow one) Not to be confused with heko (to have come or arrived; to be present, not absent)


were keptphroureo (to guard; protect by military guard; to keep watch guarding to preserve one for the attainment of something)


shut upsygkleio (to shut up together with; to enclose [as a shoal of fishes in a net]; shut up on all sides) A word emphasising many parts acting as one, a synthesis. Thus “shut up together with all the others” as per Galatians 3:22aBut the scripture hath concluded (sygkleio ) all under sin.

sygkleio is only used 4 times in the NT (Galatians 3:22 & 23; Romans 11:32; and Luke 5:6)

Luke 5:6And when they had this done, they inclosed (sygkleio) a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake.


which should afterwardsmello (to be about; to be on the point of doing or suffering something; to intend; have in mind) Thus it has the idea of something that was intended to happen by God’s will.


be revealedapokalypto (to uncover; lay open what has been covered up; disclose; make known or disclose what before was unknown) And that which is revealed is therefore the apokalypsis (= “revelation” in Galatians 1:12).


faith” is in Jesus Christ given to them that believe – see Galatians 3:22)

But before faith (in Christ) came (was established), we were kept guarded (watched over) by the law (which concluded us all to be sinners collectively – “shut up” together). Effectively we were all imprisoned by the law, all enclosed together with each other until such time as that faith in Jesus Christ (intended and planned by God) would be revealed.


Galatians 3:22-25 would have to be mainly applicable to the Jews who were brought up with the law (see Galatians 4:1-3) but Galatians 3:26-29 clearly makes it also applicable to the Gentiles, even though they were not brought up with the law as the Jews had been. The Gentiles were brought up ignorant of the law, yet the law would still condemn their sin through the preaching of the gospel which provided the promise also to those who were without the law.

Romans 2:14-1514For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: 15Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and [their] thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)


The law prescribed rituals and ordinances “which if a man do, he shall live in them” (Leviticus 18:5). These included the sacrifices.

The law however, could not take away even one single sin; thus it was impotent. The law was unable to save; it was merely a shadow, a type of the real Saviour to come.

Hebrews 10:1-41For the law having a shadow of good things to come, [and] not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. 2For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. 3But in those [sacrifices there is] a remembrance again [made] of sins every year. 4For [it is] not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.


Jesus abolished the law of ordinances in order to establish the new covenant.

Ephesians 2:15Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, [even] the law of commandments [contained] in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, [so] making peace;


So the purpose of the OT law was not to save but to keep them serving God with sacrifices and ordinances as a type of what was yet to come (and receive imputed righteousness accordingly) until that day when the once-for-all genuine sacrifice was made, establishing the new covenant by revelation (apokalypsis) of Jesus Christ (see Romans 16:25).

Hebrews 10:9-129Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. 10By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once [for all]. 11And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;


Galatians 3:24Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster [to bring us] unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.


schoolmasterpaidagogos (a tutor; instructor; among the Greeks and the Romans the name was applied to trustworthy slaves who were charged with the duty of supervising the life and morals of boys belonging to the better class. The boys were not allowed so much as to step out of the house without them before arriving at the age of manhood) From pais (child; boy; girl) and ago (to lead; take with one; lead by laying hold of; guide; direct)

We get “pedagogy” (the profession of teaching, training or instruction) from this word.

A pedagogue is a schoolteacher, an educator, or one who instructs dogmatically.

The law instructed us (dogmatically) in the requirements of holy God in order that it might bring us to Christ. The law causes us to seek Christ as Saviour in order to be justified by faith (as was Abraham).


Note the words of the publican (tax collector) in the following:

Luke 18:9-149And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men [are], extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as [his] eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14I tell you, this man went down to his house justified [rather] than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. where “be merciful” is hilaskomai (to appease; be propitious; be merciful; make propitiation for; propitiate) which is the verb form of hilasmos (translated as “propitiation” in 1 John 2:2).


The purpose of the law was not to save but to declare a person so sinful that he would plead with God for mercy as did the publican here. The law was to demonstrate the impossibility of the law to save anyone by concluding all under sin (Galatians 3:22) in order to turn their attention to faith in Christ as the only real option available.


Galatians 3:25But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.


But once faith has come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster; that is, the schoolmaster has no more need to bring us to faith in Christ because we now have that faith. Effectively we have now graduated and no longer require the tuition.


It has been said by some that the law causes us to sin more, that telling someone not to do something will only make them do it more. If you don’t want someone to fish in a particular waterhole, then don’t put up a “No Fishing” sign. And the following passage is often quoted in support of such beliefs.

Romans 7:7-97What shall we say then? [Is] the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. 8But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin [was] dead. 9For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.


But this passage (Romans 7:7-9) does not teach that at all. It merely teaches that the law is what defines sin for us. The law does not cause sin. It doesn’t make us sin. It merely makes us aware of what it is in our lives. In Romans 7:7, Paul says that we only know that lust is sin because the law says it is. God asks us to be holy as He is holy (Leviticus 11:44; 1 Peter 1:16) and the law defined the level of holiness required (perfection – a level impossible for us to achieve on our own).


If we drive along the road and exceed the speed limit, how do we know it’s wrong unless we know the law that states this to be so. As the saying goes, “Ignorance is bliss!” But, as another saying goes, “Ignorance is no excuse!” While we are unaware of the law, we are enjoying ourselves. As Paul says in Romans 7:9, “I was alive without the law once.” Until I get pulled over and fined for exceeding the speed limit, something which causes me to abruptly reassess my enjoyment of the speeding. As Paul also says, “When the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” When I finally was made aware of the law that I had disobeyed, thus causing me to suffer the penalty, then my wrong-doing was exposed, and my enjoyment died (it was no more)!


However, even without any knowledge of the law, I was still breaking it. I just didn’t know that I was breaking it, yet ignorance is no excuse. I got caught and it was only then that I saw the requirement of the law. It was the law that came along and spoiled my day! “sin revived and I died


Thus, while I am ignorant of God’s law, then I can sin without realising that I am sinning. I can enjoy life without a guilty conscience. But once the law comes, my guilty conscience kicks in. I can no longer fully enjoy anything that is against that law because there is that penalty prescribed by the law that hangs over me, condemning me with every act against the law. And because the penalty prescribed by the law is death, then every time I now sin I’m looking over my shoulder to see if I got caught. I’m always waiting for my penalty to catch up with me one day. I can never really enjoy my sin any longer because I know that if I am caught I can never pay the penalty. Before the law came I was free from guilt, and therefore it is the law that has taken my life from me by convicting me of sin with the death penalty hanging over me.


And because God knows all things, including that I have sinned against Him according to His law, then I now know that I can never escape the condemnation of my sin.


So what can I do about it now I know that I am condemned to death by what I now know to be sin? I could try to ignore it and pretend that it isn’t there, that God isn’t real, that the law doesn’t exist, or that it doesn’t apply to me, and so on. If I try hard enough I might convince myself that there’s nothing really wrong with what I do and maybe I can regain some of my enjoyment of what the law now declares to be sin. But if I cannot ignore the fact that God exists and that He knows all things and is sovereign over my life, and that there will be a judgment one day, then I am going to have to accept it. That means an acceptance of my death penalty.


But God also has promised that if I believe by faith in the gift of eternal life offered by Christ and accept the free pardon offered to me, then I can be saved, forgiven of my sin because He has atoned for all sin already on the cross. All that I need is to be able to have faith in the character of God who promises all this. It is faith in the character of the one who promises that will cause me to have faith in Christ by those promises. And thus, instead of having to pay up more than I could ever afford or be able to pay, I can now plead guilty and receive a pardon for my sins. I had no hope of paying by works but by faith I received the gift and am then set free. (See Romans 4:4-5)


The penalty of the law now no longer applies; I cannot be charged with that offence again because I have been freely pardoned for my sin. I did break the law but cannot be condemned by that same law.


If I am booked for speeding and cannot pay the fine, I would lose some freedoms, probably my licence also. But if someone else pays my penalty, and offers me a free pardon, I can drive again (hopefully not speeding this time) without fear of being caught and punished for that crime. The law’s penalty cannot be applied to me for that offence because it has already been paid in full (even if I couldn’t pay it myself).


And the penalty of the law of God cannot be applied to my sin again, for once I have received a free pardon for all sin, the law no longer can condemn me for any sin. Of course, the law still exists, for Jesus came to fulfill the law, not to destroy it.

Matthew 5:17Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

The law was fulfilled in Christ. We cannot reject the law now as out of date, but no longer can it condemn us for our sin (Romans 8:1-2)

The schoolmaster has brought me to Christ and therefore has achieved its purpose.

I am now, along with Abraham, accounted justified by my faith in God.


Galatians 3:26For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.


ye” here is clearly referring to the members of the churches of Galatia (Galatians 1:2) to whom he says “3Grace [be] to you and peace from God the Father, and [from] our Lord Jesus Christ, 4Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:” (Galatians 1:3-4). Note “our” is used 3 times. Paul is accepting them as being with him in “our”.


They also have been saved by grace according to the biblical gospel. “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: (Galatians 1:6) Paul has accused them of removing themselves (falling away from the gospel; transferring their allegiance) to another gospel. He is not declaring them lost or unsaved as a result of their falling away. Here he acknowledges that they are indeed “all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.


Of course, no doubt there could have been some who were merely adherents, or even false teachers, but Paul is not talking to them here. He is therefore talking to the true church, the body of Christ. He is clearly not giving this message to those who are not of the true church!


In this passage today, Paul assures those to whom he is writing that they are all children of God by faith in Christ Jesus (and therefore should put any condemnation of the law to one side once they have been saved by faith in Christ). The law can no longer condemn them if they are in Christ Jesus. (This is leading up to the absence of any condemnation if they should not be circumcised; the law can no longer condemn!)

Romans 8:1-21[There is] therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.


Galatians 3:27For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.


have put onenduo (to sink into [clothing]; put on; clothe one’s self) We have therefore put on Christ as we would a garment. We are hid with Christ:

Colossians 3:3-43For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4When Christ, [who is] our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

It is translated “puton” in Romans 13:14But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to [fulfil] the lusts [thereof]. and Romans 13:12blet us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.


That is, if you have been baptised into Christ …..

1 Corinthians 12:12-1312For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also [is] Christ. 13For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether [we be] Jews or Gentiles, whether [we be] bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

….. then you have put on Christ. That is, you have taken on His life and righteousness. You are not your own but you have been bought with a price. You no longer have sovereignty over yourself.

1 Corinthians 6:19-2019What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost [which is] in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

You are now subject to the law of Christ.

Galatians 2:19For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.


Galatians 3:28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.


It matters not if you are born to the law (a Jew) or born ignorant of the law (a Gentile). It matters not whether you are a slave or a free man. It doesn’t matter whether or not you are man or woman. The only thing that matters is that you are all one in Christ Jesus, all with equal status, with “like precious faith”.

2 Peter 1:1Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:


God is God of both Jew and Gentile, whether or not you are circumcised. But the law demanded circumcision. Yet God justifies by faith both those circumcised and those uncircumcised, because once faith has come we are no longer under the law (Galatians 3:25).


So does faith therefore overrule the law? No, in fact, faith establishes the law.

Romans 3:29-3129[Is he] the God of the Jews only? [is he] not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: 30Seeing [it is] one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. 31Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.


All mankind everywhere may be saved by faith, no matter what their background. But the law still defines the sin that had to be paid for regardless of whether you knew about it or not. Not knowing the law couldn’t excuse you from the penalty. It was the knowledge of the law that brought you to salvation, thus escaping the penalty.

Romans 2:12-1412For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; 13(For not the hearers of the law [are] just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. 14For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:


It is the gospel that saves, not the law. And the gospel applies to all, both Jew and Gentile, for the just shall live by faith, not by the works of the law.

Romans 1:16-1716For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.


Galatians 3:29And if ye [be] Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.


If you are in Christ, then you are a descendant of Abraham, and the promise was not by the law but through the righteousness of faith.

Romans 4:11-1311And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which [he had yet] being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: 12And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which [he had] being [yet] uncircumcised. 13For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, [was] not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.


The law’s purpose is to define sin, not to provide a way out of the penalty. It’s the law that causes people to recognise sin. And it’s the law that judges and punishes people for sin. However, the law is the tutor to bring people to Christ, the incentive for us to come to Christ for mercy. Therefore, in a way, the law is an important part of the gospel. If I never find out that I am breaking the law, then why would I ask for forgiveness for something I never knew I was guilty of? If the “law” brings me to Christ, then logically “no law” works the other way; not knowing the law would prevent me from coming to Christ. Gentiles were judged without the law and that means that being without the law was no excuse for their sin. Not knowing the law could not prevent you from being condemned to death.


This raises one final point. If the law is our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, then how does this equate with the calvinist unconditional election where they may be brought to Christ merely by God having chosen them according to the pleasures of his good will? Or by the giving of eternal life to them before they even know Christ?

Instead, like the tax collector (Luke 18), we must respond to the condemnation of the law (our schoolmaster) by seeking God’s mercy by our own free wills, and being saved through the faith we have in the God who promises salvation in Christ Jesus.


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