Wednesday: The Law as Our Schoolmaster
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In Galatians 3:23, Paul describes the law as a guarding and protecting force. To what does he liken it in verse 24, and what does that mean?

The word translated “schoolmaster” (KJV) comes from the Greek word paidagogos. Some versions translate it as “disciplinarian” (NRSV), “tutor” (NKJV), or even “guardian” (ESV), but no single word fully can encompass its meaning.

Law as Schoolmaster

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The paidagogos was a slave in Roman society who was placed in a position of authority over his master’s sons from the time they turned six or seven until they reached maturity. In addition to providing for his charges’ physical needs, such as drawing their bath, providing them with food and clothes, and protecting them from any danger, the paidagogos also was responsible for making sure the master’s sons went to school and did their homework. In addition, he was expected not only to teach and practice moral virtues but also to ensure that the boys learned and practiced the virtues themselves.

Though some pedagogues must certainly have been kind as well as loved by their wards, the dominant description of them in ancient literature is as strict disciplinarians. They ensured obedience not only through harsh threats and rebukes but also by whipping and caning.

Paul’s description of the law as a pedagogue further clarifies his understanding of the role of the law. The law was added to point out sin and provide instruction. The very nature of this task means that the law also has a negative aspect, and that’s because it rebukes and condemns us as sinners. Yet, even this “negative” aspect God uses for our benefit, because the condemnation that the law brings is what drives us to Christ. Thus, the law and the gospel are not contradictory. God designed them to work together for our salvation.

“In this Scripture [Gal. 3:24], the Holy Spirit through the apostle is speaking especially of the moral law. The law reveals sin to us, and causes us to feel our need of Christ and to flee unto Him for pardon and peace by exercising repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” — Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, book 1, p. 234.

When was the last time you compared your actions and words and thoughts to the law? Do it now, comparing them not just to the letter of the law but to the spirit, as well (Matt. 5:28Rom. 7:6). How well do you fare? What does your answer tell you about Paul’s point in this epistle?

Amen!(38)

Comments

Wednesday: The Law as Our Schoolmaster — 15 Comments

  1. Even though our actions may all seem right, there is not a chance that we may get right with God just by comparing ourselves with His Law! Because of that, God sent us His Son, thus we could definitely get right with Him and with ourselves as well! His love for us is the only chance we have to restore our nature to perfect standards!

    Amen!(8)
    • I love verse 25 of Galatians chapter 3, "But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster." therefore, because of faith-----Jesus, his Holy Spirit, and God the Father himself, become our guides for living holy lives via the promises in his word the Bible.

      Amen!(1)
  2. I think, the identification of God`s holy law with the paidagogos of classic Greek literature since the 5th century B.C. (Herodot, Plato, Plutarch, Diogenes, Lysias or even Philo) is creating some problems:

    (1) The holy law of God is a teaching-instrument. In its literary structure it is interwoven with special instructions. (Exodus 19:4-6) The ten commandments are prefaced with introducing God als redeemer and redemption already completed, followed by what God is expecting of his redeemed people, connected with further explanations to some of the commandments (Exodus 20:1-17), which is very intensive teaching. In his very last sermon Moses even is stating directly that God has commanded him to teach God`s people statutes and laws (Deuteronomy 4:5.14)--- all of which is contradicting the qualifications of a classic Greek paidagogos who was not supposed to teach at all, as there was to be a difference between the paidagogos as such and the didascalos, a teacher.(Walter Bauer, Wörterbuch zum Neuen Testament, Berlin 1963, pages 1195-6, see also the explanation of the lesson)

    (2) The Greek paidagogos in most cases is a slave. This also seems to contradict any comparison with God as the ruler of the world, the creator and redeemer, the holy one of Israel, whose law is as holy as He himself is holy. (Isaiah 6:1-3; Habakkuk 2:20)

    (3) Many commentators point to the limited action of that paidagogos claiming the abolishing of the law with the arrival of Christ. (Galatians 3:25) Looking at the issue of the Galatian churches where Paul is combating the usage of the law as an instrument of salvation in arriving at God`s righteousness by works of the law (Galatians 5:4), it may suffice to say that the law as an instrument of salvation has ceased at the point of justification by faith. The abolishing of the law would be tantamount to abolishing God`s holiness and even God himself. (Romans 7:12; Matthew 5:17-18) Whereas we are justified and sinners at the same time and not sinless, the action of the paidagogos after being justified by grace has to be looked at again.

    As to the meaning of the term paidagogos, there has to be, I think, another look at Paul as to what he had in mind using that term, apart from usages in classical Greek literature, so there would be a choice to be made matching with the above qualifications of the law.

    Winfried Stolpmann

    Amen!(4)
  3. Hopefully we accept the law as being
    a gardian and schoolmaster through the Holy Spirit. I do. If we surrender to the instruction by following the laws and precepts we are taking on Christ rightdousness, remembering we can't do this without the miricle the Holy Spirit preforms in us, where the thoughts and desires are brought into obedience to the will of Christ. The heart, the mind, are created anew in the image of Him who works in us to subdue all things to Himself. How well do I fair? I am was as filthy rags until the above took place and I stood before Christ and He put a pure white robe on me and a white turban on my head and we stood before the Father. Christ said John has been washed by My blood. I believe it.

    Amen!(9)
  4. As to the translation of paidagogos, this term is found in the New Testament only in three passages. In Galatians 3:24-25 it occurs two times, in 1 Corinthians 4:15 in the plural form one time. Paul is heavily criticized by his opponents (1 Corinthians 4:3). Although he wishes that ten thousand paidagogous in Christ would carry out suitable admonishing and instruction, he himself as the father of the church is carrying out this task. Adding the qualifying word "in Christ" to "paidagogous" the term offers a positive qualification of "paidoagogos".

    The related word to "paidagogos" is "paideia". The latter word occurs in 2 Timothy 3:16 saying that all scripture is inspired by God and profitable for ....("paideia") instruction (education) unto righteousness.
    Hence, "paidagogos" can be translated as "instructor","educator" or "teacher". This would be in line with the qualifications of the law of God as an instructing, educating or teaching instrument, documented by the previous post.

    It may be noted that Paul mentions the holy scriptures in totality as a vehicle of justification by faith, not just the law in isolation. (2 Timothy 3:15) In this connection it should not be overlooked that Paul, in the passage of Galatians 3:22-25 is not just speaking of the law as an isolated vehicle of justification by faith. He also uses the term "grafae" (scripture) in verse 22. Accordingly, in Romans 3:9-18 Paul is quoting from the Psalms and the Prophets in order to convince all mankind of sin, ending the list with the words: "For we know whatever the law says, it says to those unter the law..." Then Paul goes on to mention the law and the prophets convincing of sin and leading sinners to the righteousness of God offered by grace and received by faith. (Romans 3:21-24)

    The term paidagogos (instructor, educator, teacher) is not limiting itself to the law given at Sinai, as a vehicle carrying sinners to justification by faith. In later times, side by side, the psalms, the prophets and other writings were added acting as vehicle leading sinners to Christ to be justified by faith. Having arrived at that point, the law, together with the whole scripture are still offering guidance and direction, admonition and consolation in order for justified sinners not to get astray. (Hebrews 3:12) The preliminary limitation of the paidagogos, including the whole scripture, occurs at the point of justification by faith without limiting its further action as the guiding instance, inasmuch as the activity of the law and the prophets in leading sinners unto justification by faith is a timeless principle being limited only at the end of probation. (Revelation 22:11)

    Winfried Stolpmann

    Amen!(7)
  5. In Christ are we under grace or under law.
    There is a tug of war between these groups of people.
    We forget that I am the problem.
    I am the one who needs to be nailed to the cross.
    I am the one who needs to die.
    What is my responsibility? Total surrender.
    Abide, Abide, Abide in Christ.
    Work to enter into His rest.
    Paradoxical statement why do I need to work to enter into His Rest? Because it is contrary to who I am.
    Have you entered into that rest?

    Amen!(5)
  6. During my final years at primary school I suffered an unforgettable and seemingly unbearable caning from the school mistress, for failing to comply with a religious ritual that contravened my own religious beliefs as a child of ten years old. I had already taken my vows and been baptized by immersion then, into the strong lifelong faith of my family, awaiting the Lord's imminent return. To say the least, I was livid and swore in my heart that one day I would let her have it. I could not understand why that woman should beat me so mercilessly, for holding to the tenets of my Christian faith which did not include attending masses and memorizing all that?? You know all that it entailed.

    It seemed to the school mistress that she had the right to enforce the rule. All students MUST go to masses, NO excuses or exceptions! So I received the WAGES of SIN by refusing to go to the masses, which was a thorough whipping with a doubled cane.

    The saddest part was that I had no one to complain to. You see, my class teacher, who usually allowed me to remain in the classroom while the others went to the ritualistic mass, was absent that day. I did no anticipate the wrath of the school mistress.

    I thank my God through Jesus my Savior who has given me the grace to forgive after many years of vexation of spirit. I have been the recipient of His sacrificial substitution so that I do not have to suffer the just wages of sin, DEATH.

    Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
    grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt,
    yonder on Calvary's mount out-poured,
    there where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.

    Refrain:
    Grace, grace, God's grace,
    grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
    grace, grace, God's grace,
    grace that is greater than all our sin.

    Amen!(11)
  7. If the Law is a tutor to Christ, are we seeking to discover the lessons concerning and insights into the coming administration. God was gracious enough to give us these pictures of His coming eternal government.
    This week’s study is aptly titled “From works to Faith”. This is vividly presented in Ex 16 when God introduced the Sabbath to Israel. For 6 days they were to go out and gather bread from heaven. For 5 days they must not leave any bread overnight for it bred worms and became foul, overnight! Ex 16:20. On the Sabbath there must be no going out to gather bread. How or what will they eat? On the 6th day God performed a miracle v22,23. They gathered twice as much. Same miracle performed in the 6th year, the year before the Sabbatic 7th yr.(Lev 25:20,21). Now the word is that they must leave the remainder over to the Sabbath, the very thing they are forbidden to do for 5 consecutive days. God has established that man lives not by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from Him Dt 8:3. It means that only those who believe the word will eat. It means that the leftover food was different from the earlier leftovers of the 5 days. It is that which is to be eaten in the Sabbath in which man must cease his work.
    What took me so long to write Christ explained in a few words in one event, the feeding of the more than 5000 in John 6. Jesus fed them regular bread and He ordered the LEFTOVERS be gathered up, 12 baskets full here and 7 large baskets of the more than 4000. To some people who were fixed on the sign seeking to be fed more regular bread He said, “Labor not for the bread that perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His Seal.” Jn 6:27 He continues, “For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and GIVES LIFE to the world. I AM the bread of Life… Jn 6:33,35. The leftover bread is Christ. When the disciples misunderstood Jesus’ reference to leaven, thinking that they were out of bread, Christ affirmed that they had 19 baskets full of bread that they didn’t know about Matt 16:6-11.
    So Christ showed up in the fullness of time on the 6th day and 6th year of God’s calendar, the preparation day-year before God’s sabbatic day-year.
    How about God raising up a prophet like Moses Dt 18:15. Moses redeemed the “children” of God, Abraham’s “seed” from Egyptian slavery according to a covenant in Gen 15. “Know for certain that your seed will be STRANGERS in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed 400 years. But I will also JUDGE THE NATION whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions… Gen 15:13-15. Israel was redeemed and was given the Sabbath as a memorial of the deliverance from slavery Dt 5:15; 15:12-15; 16:12, 1-21.
    Jesus says “… Now JUDGMENT is upon THIS WORLD; now the RULER of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw ALL - no all *men* - to Myself. Christ attacks the world’s problem at its root, not with earthly weapons of war like the nations, including Israel sweeping the 7 nations out of Canaan. Interestingly, He declared His people to be “not of this world”, Jn 15:18,19; 17:14-16; 8:23; “strangers, aliens” 1 Pt 1:1,17; 2:11; Heb 11:9,13; Ps 39:12; Eph 2:19. They are heirs of the heavenly land, citizens of heaven Phil 3:20. They are in a strange land. They are the seed of Abraham Heb 2:16,17. Which seed? The seed of promise, the children of promise, the children of God. Gal 3:29; Heb 2:12,13; Rom 9:6-9. The natural seed was delivered from Egyptian slavery, the spiritual is delivered from world slavery, sin. Gal 4:28,29. They are delivered from sin slavery filled with faith, hope, and ❤️. God boasts “Lift up your eyes on high and see who has created these, the one who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; because of the greatness of His might and the strength of his power, *not one of them is missing*. Isa 40:26 About His people: “I will raise up shepherds over them and they will tend them; and they will not be afraid any longer, nor be terrified, *nor will any be missing* declares the Lord. Days are coming when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch… He will be called “The Lord our Righteousness.” Jer 23:4-6 - affirmed in Jn 6:37-40.

    Amen!(6)
  8. If the law is a tutor and this law is the ten commandment moral law, and it's purpose is to identify sin, are there sins other than the 10 commandment law that are as sinful and as deadly? Matthew 22: 37-40 has to be the first answer to my question. I am thinking about the multitude of situations that we encounter every day. Applications are sometimes troubling.

    Amen!(4)
    • Paul I think both not only the Moral law.
      Why? The moral law is an expression of His Will.
      The Ceremonial law is an expression of His love.

      The law that reveals sin to us is the Moral law. It is an expression of God's Will and prepares us for His Kingdom and causes us to feel our need of Christ[Ceremonial Law] who is the only one who can cloth us with His garments of purity that makes us perfect fit for the Kingdom of God. It is an expression of God's Love. They both work in perfect harmony. Both laws point us to Christ.

      Amen!(3)
      • Anele

        There is no where in Scripture where there is a stated division creating the Moral Law and the Ceremonial Law. If there was, Christ or the apostles would have told us about it.

        Everything God pronounced shows both His will and His love. It is incorrect to suggest that anything God did or said only contains one or the other.

        Amen!(1)
  9. I do not get the part where it says a slave was the teacher of his master's son. This slave could also whip the child. How could a slave be afforded such privileges ?

    Amen!(2)
  10. Amen and hallelujah! Anele many thanks for the beautiful and succinct way you explained the 'distinction' between the moral and ceremonial law.

    Amen!(2)
  11. I very much enjoyed reading all the comments on the meaning of the word "schoolmaster" ("educator"). It helped me to come to the Christ-centered conclusion and confession that Christ, the leading shepherd, has also guided me in my sinful state to Himself, bearing my sin, giving His spotless garb of righteousness to me who has not deserved that treatment, connecting me with Himself und with his fold, the turningpoint of my life. Since He is my good shepherd, He still leads me on, not to get astray from Him and His flock. This has been very encouraging to me, which I take over to the lesson this week dealing with the bondage under and the redemption from the elements of the world. (Galatians 3:3)

    Winfried Stolpmann

    Amen!(1)

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