By Garrick Augustus; November 8, 2011
In the book of Galatians we find Paul teaching the believers, in an effort to lead them back to Christ, in which he used various analogies and cultural words, if possible to get them thinking again on the right track to salvation. The Galatians, you see, were fast falling away from Christ and were turning to “another gospel,” indeed; they were to the point of loosing their salvation in Christ by turning to the “weak and beggarly things” of the earth, even to “no gods” worship. Paul, after berating the brethren for non orthodox teachings which were pulling away the Christians from Christ, then came to the climax of his sermon (letter), and spoke singularly to the Law in Chapter three. The purpose of this essay, therefore, is to analyze the allegory of the law as our schoolmaster, and see the intrinsic meaning of this word to the Galatian believers then, and by extension, its meaning to us today.
To begin, we must define terms very carefully, and realize that we ought not to use Catholic definition of words in our quest for truth. So, when I say “law” I am speaking of the Torah, and not the so-called “ceremonial law” which is a Catholic term, which to the Christian world means the statutes and judgments, excluding the Ten Commandments. Also, I will not dissect the Torah into “moral” and “ceremonial law” because the Bible does not teach this view. What the Bible teaches is that there are three branches of the law: Statutes, Judgments and Commandments, thus the Law is triune as its Giver.
Realizing that Paul was a teacher of righteousness, and above all a Jew of Jews, we need to step back and ask the question, was Paul in Galatians, or anywhere in the Scriptures, teaching that the law is abrogated? If the answer is no, as in truth it is, then the apparently contradictory passages must be taken with a closer look, given a more patient survey, and thus the purpose of this essay.
The Schoolmaster/ Educator
The cardinal truth of the “schoolmaster” in Paul’s analogy might well be catalogued among the Apostle’s most misunderstood theological subjects, yet it teems for with the vital truths of salvation.
Gal 3: 24-25 “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” The word “schoolmaster” is better understood by its similes which includes: educator, instructor, guide, and teacher, to mention a few. It is the most central word in Greek thought, and in the human experience, because it embraces all the learnings of life, be they theological, scientific, social, moral, or otherwise. The Greek word for schoolmaster is paidagogos, the English pedagogues, which literally means a “child teacher.” In its native context the word is defined as, “a tutor i.e. a guardian and guide of boys. 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.” The New Testament Greek Lexicon. On Strong’s Greek # 3807
From the Lexicon, we realize that this pedagogue overshadows the child in an effort to ensure that the Master’s will in the child’s life is carried out. While the pedagogue was given such authority, he was not at liberty to abuse the child, for the child is the Master’s, and the slave will always be a slave, no matter how compassionate, or trustworthy. The relationship of Masters and their slaves (servants) in Paul’s days, clearly indicate that masters have not infrequently mistreated their servants (Eph. 6: 5), and thus would not sit for a slave to vengefully mistreat his heir to the family’s wealth. To suggest then that the pedagogue had plenipotentiary sway over the son’s discipline is to go beyond the illustration of the Apostle. We must agree though, that in dealing with human growth and development, sometimes a guide will out of frustration, over reach his bounds of authority, much like in our modern days, teachers and guardians have overreached their authority in handing down punishment on a child. However good the teacher’s intention in seeking to extend corporal punishment for the good of the child, it is not socially acceptable now, and neither was it socially acceptable then. So when reading the “schoolmaster.” we must not belabor the point of the brutality, or punitive side of this office, but the educating side thereof, which is the aspect from which the Apostle speaks.
For most individuals the Lexicon’s rendition settles the matter, but truth must be understood “line upon line” and “precept upon precept,” and to this end, we must examine the rest of Scripture to see this word’s fuller meanings and obtain a clearer presentation of the matter. The word paidagōgos (G3708), and its derivatives are used multiple times throughout the bible, and I shall cite a few of its applications below.
“I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. For though ye have ten thousand instructors3807 in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.” 1 Cor. 4: 14-16. Here Paul taught the Corinthian believers that while they’ve had many instructors (paidagōgos)–schoolmasters, leading them deeper into the knowledge of Christ (these are other disciples, the lay evangelists, deacons, etc), yet he was the one who first witnessed to them and thus became their spiritual Father, hence he commissioned them to follow his pedagogy—his teaching, instructing, or leadership. Because a father is also a teacher, he is, by definition a pedagogue—a schoolmaster.
Now the word paidagōgos is derived from paideia, Strong’s Greek #3809, and means “1) the whole training and education of children (which relates to the cultivation of mind and morals, and employs for this purpose now commands and admonitions, now reproof and punishment). It also includes the training and care of the body; 2) whatever in adults also cultivates the soul, esp. by correcting mistakes and curbing passions.; a) instruction which aims at increasing virtue; b) chastisement, chastening, (of the evils with which God visits men for their amendment)” Strong’s Greek Dictionary.
With this working knowledge, we can look at the function of this word in the life and manners of Christians everywhere as enunciated by the Apostle. “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture3809 and admonition of the Lord.” Eph. 6:4. This word “nurture” is the same root word for schoolmaster, it means to tenderly lead by instruction and example, with correction as necessary to reinforce learning.
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction3809in righteousness.” 2 Tim 3:16. Here again, Paul used the root word for schoolmaster, in illustrating the functional qualities of “all Scripture.” Now let’s broaden this discussion, in parallel with that of Gal. 3:24. We see then, that when Paul was writing his letters the “all” that he and his associates know of the Scriptures, are the proverbial Old Testament writings—the Law and the Prophets, and these were their “instructors” or schoolmasters, leading them to faith in Christ. We would never suggest that after having come to Christ, they should abandon the Scriptures—torah (law and the prophets), rather, they need them more, because they, revealing Christ, now made sin appear exceedingly sinful, and righteousness, all the more beautiful. In like manner with us today, with the Bible in our reach (both Old and New Testaments), we do not abandon them simply because we have found a new life in Christ, we need them more, we study them more, we read them more to see more clearly his perfect will for our lives.
The Apostle still makes himself plainer when he said, “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening3809 of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him” Heb. 12:5. The context here illustrates that the “chastening” is part of our instruction in Christ, and represents Him here as the Christian’s paidagōgos. Thus in our formative years of coming to know Him, we are treated as little children being nurtured by their parents. We do not abandon the teachings of godly parents after we are grown, no, we exalt them! From proverbs we are told to “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Pr 22:6. We do not despise the training of godly parents after we are grown, no, we celebrate them. We do not abandon the teachings of the Bible after we have found Christ, no we exalt them. Men do not burn the bridges which have crossed them over life’s chasms, and troubled seas, no they enshrine them. In like manner, therefore, with the law, we do not abandon it after having been led to Christ, rather “we exalt” it!
“Now no chastening3809 for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” Heb. 12:11. Here we see that the training of earthly children is likened to training children for the Kingdom of Heaven, and carries the overtone of “correction,” which is an undesirable reality of instruction. For during the formation (learning) process the correction is grievous to us personally, but as we mature, and our former challenges (rocks of offense) now become our stepping stones unto a victorious life in Christ, we glory in the corrections (tribulations) knowing what they have proffered to our character development. We are complete in Christ only after we have learnt how to allow him to live out his perfect life in our sinful flesh, and this perfect life is one of obedience to the whole torah—the entire Bible.
An additional derivative word from paidagōgos, is paideutēs, Strong’s G3810 – which means “1) an instructor, preceptor, teacher; 2) a chastiser.” Says the Apostle, “And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, An instructorG3810 of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law. Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?” Rom. 2:19-21
The truth now comes full-circle, that the instructor (schoolmaster) is the teacher of righteousness which does not lead us into disobedience, but unto a life of obedience. Hence, we ought not, as Christians, after having been tutored by the schoolmaster—the Bible, return to the beggarly elements of the world, by teaching one thing while we live another, that is hypocrisy! And this concept the Apostle labored to show the Roman Christians that while they teach the law they must correspondingly live it. “Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?” The law has brought us to Christ, but when we come to Christ, we do not then abandon the law and return to breaking it with impunity. As long as we live in obedience to its righteous precepts, we do not fall under its condemnation, we do not depend on the external written law to bring condemnation, because it is now written on our hearts, and the voice of the Holy Spirit reads it in our consciences, and brings conviction when we stray there from.
Coming back to the believers in Galatia, we can summarize that the law, being our schoolmaster leading us to Messiah, is in no wise suggesting that we should abandon the law now that we know Christ, or are known of him, but that we ought the more to depend on Him to live out the law in us. Hence, when the tutor has instructed us in the way of righteousness, we see sin in its exceeding sinfulness, and come to Christ and ask him to live out his perfect life of obedience to the law—torah—the entire Bible, in our very own sinful flesh. And believe me friends, He will.
Today, we have the whole bible (Old and New Testaments) which acts as our schoolmaster leading us to Christ; do we abandon its teachings once we have discovered a new life in the Saviour, or do we more earnestly seek his will through that Word? Clearly, the latter is the case. Similarly, it was the divine purpose of our Redeemer that the Hebrews, with their knowledge of Torah, that they would be lead to the One who can and has lived out the principles of the Torah perfectly, for a whole life time in human flesh. Indeed, this was the desire of the “rich young ruler.” He was being obedient to Torah in his own strength and felt within his conscience s great “lack,” and so his striving after righteousness lead him (paidagōgos) to Christ. Thus the law was his paidagōgos (tutor), leading him to Christ. Let’s revisit his experience for the purpose of this study:
Matt. 19: 16 ¶ “And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
Matt. 19: 17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
Matt. 19: 18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,
Matt. 19: 19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Matt. 19: 20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?”
How beautiful to know that we are not left to fight the battles of life on our own, in order to attain unto the righteousness of Christ! The rich ruler was frustrated with his efforts, because after having kept “all” the commandments from his “youth up,” he sensed within himself a wide chasm between his present life and the super-abundant sanctified life of having the assurance of “eternal life”—the assurance of being saved in YHWH. The revelations of his “lack” after having “kept” the law lead him fast to the feet of Messiah—the only one who can live out the law perfectly through human flesh. This was Paul’s experience when he triumphantly exclaimed: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Gal. 2: 20.
My personal witnessing experience is worthy of sharing at this time: Several years ago, while I lived in California, I met a young man on the job, Robert, who, after talking with me confided that “before I leave this job, I will make a Satan worshipper out of you. “ I retorted, my purpose on this job is to make a Christian out of you. I did manage to pray with Robert that same day, and offered him a pocket New Testament I carried with me. I instructed him, Robert, do please take this book and read it. Tonight, I invite you to read the book of John, and you don’t even need to pray, just read it and consider the meaning of the words to you. I saw him the next day and he assured me that although he did not get to read the book last night, he has it right here, and placed his hand on his left breast pocket. Over time he came to my office at lunch and just wanted to talk about the wonderful words of Jesus he was reading in this book of John. After leaving the job, about eight months passed, and I received a phone call at work. The caller asked, “Brother Augustus, do you remember me?” I stumbled and could not pick up the voice. He then relented and said “This is Robert S_____, I just want to let you know how thankful I am for you to have given me that bible and taken me to church. Today I am the youth leader of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas. When I go to church in the mornings, I don’t leave until Sabbath has ended. I love the Lord and I love the Church.”
What was it that led Robert to Christ? It was the Bible, the Christian’s Torah. The Bible led him to Christ, and he continued to abide in Christ by reading the Word and going to the Saviour for the ability to live out that word in his sinful flesh. In this sense then, the Bible became his paidagōgos, leading him to Christ. Once we have come to the foot of Calvary and seen the bleeding lamb, it is not the condemnation of the law which now smites us, but the conviction of the Holy Spirit which unveils our own sinfulness that hammered the nails those noble hands and feet, and jabbed the spear in our precious Saviour’s side.
The Law Was “Added”
Gal. 3: 19 ¶ “Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.”
“In the fifth chapter of Deuteronomy Moses rehearses to the children of Israel the circumstances of the giving of the law. Verses 5-21 contain the substance of the Ten Commandments, and of these Moses says in the twenty-second verse: “These words the Lord spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice; and He ADDED no more.”
The term “added,” in this verse, is in the Septuagint exactly the same as that rendered “added” in Galatians 3:19. The Hebrew word is the same that is rendered “add” in Genesis 30:24. That it has unmistakable reference in Deuteronomy 5:22 to the moral law, and to that alone, no one can deny. I care not whether you render it “added,” “spoken,” or “promulgated’‘—it makes no difference.
In Hebrews 12:18, 19 we have unmistakable reference to the voice of God speaking the law from Sinai, and the request of the people that God should not speak to them any more (Exodus 20:18, 19), in the words, “which voice they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more.” Here the word rendered “spoken” is the same as that rendered “added” in Galatians 3:19 and Deuteronomy 5:22.
If we chose we might render it, “they entreated that the word should not be added to them any more,” and then we would have a uniform rendering. Or we might render it uniformly “spoken,” and then we would read in Deuteronomy that the Lord spoke all those words in the mount, out of the midst of the fire, etc., with a great voice, “and He spoke no more;” and this would be the exact truth and a good rendering. And likewise for uniformity we might justly render Galatians 5:19, “it was spoken because of transgressions.”
Or we might take the word in Deuteronomy 5:22 in the same sense in which it is used in Genesis 30:24, and the same idea would appear. When Rachel said, “God shall add to me another son,” it was the same as though she had said, “God will give me another son.” So the meaning in Deuteronomy 5:22 is that after the Lord had given them the commandments recorded in the preceding verses, He gave them no more. It seems to me very reasonable to apply the term “added” to the moral law; and whether it is reasonable or not I have certainly quoted two texts besides Galatians 3:19 which apply it so.” The Gospel in Galatians, E.J. Waggoner, (1886), http://dedication.www3.50megs.com/1888/waggonerbutler_twolaws3.html
Gal. 3: 20-21. “Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one. Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.”
The “mediator” here is not Moses, as is taught by some, but instead is Christ, the Messiah. Hence “there is one God, and onemediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” 1 Tim. 2:5.
Gal. 3: 22-23 “But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.”
In another expansion to this essay I will deal with the other verses in Galatians 3, as well as those in chapter four.
May Christ teach you how to live his law by allowing him to work within us to will and to do of his good pleasure is my prayer.