Thursday: The Disciplinarian

(Gal. 3:19-24)

In harmony with the book of Romans, Paul is careful to stipulate in Galatians that the purpose of the law is to define sin and not to make people righteous (Gal. 3:19, Gal. 3:21).

Image © Frank Gampel from

Image © Frank Gampel from

Read Galatians 3:23-24. What images does Paul use to describe the purpose of the law? What do you think the images mean?

Depending on the translation, the law is identified in Gal 3:24 as a schoolmaster, taskmaster, tutor, and custodian, among other designations. The Greek term refers to a slave employed by a wealthy individual to be a disciplinarian for his son. It was the tutor’s responsibility to ensure that the son learned self-discipline. Although a slave, the tutor was given the authority to do that which was necessary to keep the son in line, even if it meant physical punishment. When the son reached adulthood, the tutor no longer had authority over him.

In light of the explanation of the role of the tutor, what do you think is the purpose of the law for someone who has received salvation in Christ?

Although the tutor no longer had authority over the adult son, it was expected that the lessons that the son had learned would enable him to make mature decisions. Similarly, while the Christian is not under the condemning power of the law, as a person who has attained maturity, he or she is expected to govern his or her actions in accordance with the principles of the law.

In addition to its role as tutor, the law also operated as a caretaker that protected the believer until the faith came (Gal. 3:23). Here again we see that Christ is the end, the goal, of the law. Paul makes that point explicitly when he says that the law brought us to Christ, so that we might be justified by faith (Gal. 3:24).

Read carefully Galatians 3:21. What does it say that should forever end any idea that we can be saved by obedience to the law? Why is this such good news? Bring your answer to class on Sabbath.



Thursday: The Disciplinarian — 4 Comments

  1. Now that we have been educated by the teacher ( the law ) we are no longer ignorant, needless to say that we are accountable to do what we have been taught. Hence, we are encouraged to let our light shine so that others may see Christ in us and come to know him by our example.

  2. To me I would say that the Law is like a looking glass that I can look in and see, where I may have fallen short. It points me to where I have fallen short, then points me in the right direction.

  3. in all that we do, we should cease to think of the law as an hindrance but rather a guardrail that makes us feel secure........ Here in Jamaica there is a renounded bridge known as flat bridge. This bridge makes many ppl scared, separate and apart from the fact that the bridge is narrow it has no rail. It having no rail makes persons insecure as the likeliness of going over is greater.......... the law is like a rail tht keeps us on the straight and narrow path. As much as it is narrow we feel secure because the likeliness of us going over is nt as great as it would have been if there was no law

    • what a lovely comment. I was told the path to heaven is so narrow and strait it can only hold "Jesus and me", no one else on that narrow road with us. He gave us the law which served as a school master. In elementary school, one of my old school master whipped(1-2 lashes)to our legs certain times of the school year. It was not because he did not love us but because it was time to do our test and we should be in class at a certain time. Only those who were late for class got whipped. He did whatever he could to make us succeed in class. So is the law, to some the law builds them, to others the law breaks them. To some it is a guardrail, to others a mirror, a schoolmaster, a curse or a joy. The question is: what is the law to us?


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