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Galatians 3:24  (King James Version)
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<< Galatians 3:23   Galatians 3:25 >>


Galatians 3:23-24

Tutor literally means "child-leader" and would be better translated "guardian" or "custodian." It was God's purpose to protect Israel from the sinful, pagan cultures of the world until Christ came. He found no other way to guard them except to put a hedge around them (compare Isaiah 5:5; Matthew 21:33) and make them a separate, distinct nation from all others in the world. He intended that the sacrifices keep them constantly aware of their need for a Savior.

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
What Was the Law 'Added Because of Transgressions'?



Galatians 3:24

All of God's law is a teaching vehicle. The Hebrew word most frequently translated as "law" is torah, but torah more closely translates into the broader meaning of "instruction." Instruction spans a wide spectrum of information and methods of increasing understanding, including law but also principles, symbols, and examples from people's lives. For example, the way Jesus kept the Sabbath should be understood as torah by those determined to follow in His steps. The goal of this broad teaching approach is to reveal God and His plan to us as clearly as possible.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Wavesheaf Offering



Galatians 3:24

The Old Covenant - the agreement between God and ancient Israel - was a "guardian" or "custodian" for the children of Israel. It provided a means by which the Israelites could have health and wealth and many of the good things this life has to offer - if they would have followed the laws contained within that covenant. For example, the law of the Sabbath has tremendous physical benefits, for man, animals, and even the land. The law of tithing teaches good financial handling, and when it is done in faith it ensures financial stability. The laws which were a part of the covenant agreement would have kept Israel heading in the right direction, and would have helped prepare a people who should have recognized and accepted their rightful Ruler when He was born a man - except their hearts were not changed. God wants a change of action that proceeds from a change of heart - not a change of action just for the sake of the action.

The Old Covenant was a legitimate system, ordained by God, with fantastic physical benefits - if Israel had obeyed. That contractual agreement was meant to be a means to an end, and not the end in itself. It was meant to teach the people and hedge them in, to prepare them for the next stage of their existence - just like a guardian teaches and prepares a child to take over a business or inherit an estate. The covenant - not God's holy, spiritual law - was a step in the process, but that agreement became obsolete when the Master arrived and began His instruction. However, many of the laws contained within that covenant pre-dated the agreement with Israel, and thus are just as relevant today as they were for Israel.

Even though God's law is eternal and thus still required to be kept, justification has always been by faith. Abraham was justified by faith, even though God says he also "obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws." (Genesis 26:5) His obedience to God's law did not justify him, for his obedience was not perfect. Justification has always been on the basis of faith, because the instant a man sins - as all men have (Romans 3:23) - it becomes impossible to come before God on the basis of sinless perfection. Faith in the Savior is thus required for justification, and the law then lights the path the repentant and justified sinner must walk in order to keep from sinning further.

The Old Covenant was a system ordained by God to include His "royal law" (James 2:8) for the purpose of teaching Israel how to live. Even though the Old Covenant is obsolete, that same royal law is at the core of the New Covenant (Hebrews 8:7-13) because it teaches us how to live. But since we have transgressed that law, faith in the Savior is required for our sins to be forgiven and for us to be justified before God.

David C. Grabbe



Galatians 3:17-25

Galatians 3:17 confirms that, when Paul was talking about the law, he was also talking about the entire Old Covenant. He uses "law" synonymously with "covenant."

The translators have difficulty deciding whether the "covenant" refers to the Mosaic covenant or the one made with Abraham. Most modern translations connect "covenant" to the one God made with Abraham. However, the more literal translations such as the King James version and Young's Literal Translation put the word "covenant" in the sentence so it refers to the Mosaic covenant. The Emphatic Diaglott translates it as, "Now this I affirm, that a covenant-engagement previously ratified by God, the Law, issued four hundred thirty years afterwards does not annul, so as to invalidate the promise." Thus, Paul viewed the law as the symbol and embodiment of the Old Covenant and used the terms "law" and covenant" synonymously.

This agrees with the way the covenant was sometimes referred to in the Old Testament. In II Chronicles 6:11, Solomon says, "And there I have put the ark, in which is the covenant of the LORD which He made with the children of Israel." Only the two tables of stone upon which were written the Ten Commandments were in the ark (II Chronicles 5:10).

Moses writes, "So He declared to you His covenant which He commanded you to perform, that is, the Ten Commandments; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone" (Deuteronomy 4:13; see Exodus 34:28). Even without this evidence, it is very clear that Paul refers to the two covenants, not just to what we would consider the law itself.

Further, notice how Paul uses the term "law" in Galatians 4:21-23. The births of Ishmael and Isaac are recorded in Genesis 16 and 21. Though this happened long before the Ten Commandments and the other laws were given through Moses, Paul refers to this portion of Scripture as the law! Obviously, Paul uses "law" to mean the entire Pentateuch or Torah (the first five books of the Bible), not just the Commandments. In Galatians 4:24, he specifically mentions the Old and New Covenants.

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
What Was the Law 'Added Because of Transgressions'?




Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Galatians 3:24:

Genesis 12:1-3
Deuteronomy 4:5-10
Galatians :
Galatians :
Galatians 4:1-3
Galatians 4:1-3
Colossians :
Hebrews 10:1-4

 

<< Galatians 3:23   Galatians 3:25 >>
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