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"Forced by Moses to Jesus"
Galatians 3:23-29

Wednesday Evening Home Bible Study
January 25, 2006

Talk-show host Laura Schlessinger recently talked to a caller who was engaging in openly sinful behavior, yet claimed to be a Christian. Dr. Laura (herself a Jew) told the caller that before they came to Jesus, they should have spent some time getting to know Moses. How true!! The purpose of the law is to convict us of sin so that we will be condemned as sinners. Only then will we appreciate the need for a Savior.

In this passage, Paul shows us that the law was not intended to save us (see footnote at the end of this page). Rather, it was meant to bring us to faith in the Savior. In it, we see . . . .

A. We were kept under custody (v. 23).
1. The time spoken of was "before faith came". In verses 7-8, we're told of God's promise of blessing to the Gentiles through Abraham; and in verses 15-22, that promise was explained in terms of its relation to the law. That promise through faith was not realized in experience until Christ.

2. Until that time we were "kept" (phroureõ) by the law as if under a prison guard; and we were "confined" (sugkleiõ) by it in the sense of being shut up and hemmed through the bonds of its rules and regulations. But this was only temporary. It was meant to be our situation until such a time as faith would be "revealed" (apokaluptõ).

B. We were kept under tutelage (v. 24).

1. The word used here (paidagõgos) referred to a household servant who was charged with the responsibility of being a "child-tender" or a "baby-sitter". It would be his task to watch the children of the house - making sure that they obeyed, escorting them to and from school, and disciplining them when needed. They often used a cane or stick in order to keep the children in line.

2. But again, this was a temporary role. The role of the law was not that of making those under it "righteous". It could not. It was only for the purpose of bringing those under the law to Christ "that we might be justified by faith".


A. We are now "sons" in terms of our rights (v. 25-26). Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the harsh discipline of the law as our "tutor". Tutors were only needed for the time that the children were "children". When they came of age, they were awarded the rights of full "sonship". We are not sons in and of ourselves, but only in relation to Christ (John 1:11-12).

B. We are now "clothed" in Christ in terms of righteousness (v. 27). To be "baptized" into Christ, in this case, is not talking about the ordinance performed in a church. It's talking about the spiritual reality of being radically identified with Jesus in His death, burial, and resurrection in such a way that we are clothed with His righteousness (Romans 6:3; Colossians 3:10).

C. We are now all "equal" in terms of God's promise (vv. 28-29).

1. The distinctions of race (only two in Scripture - Jew and everyone else), rank (slave or freeman), or gender (not the regular words for "man" or "woman"; here they are "male" [arsãn] and "female" [thãlus]; thus not referring to the distinctions of roles between husbands and wives, but simply referring to gender) are all removed in Christ. We are now all one in Him.

2. And because we are one together as belonging equally to Christ, we are also equally Abraham's "seed" (v. 16), and thus heirs to the promise God made to Him.

There are six important principles to keep in mind regarding God's law:

1. The law was never given to make us righteous through our obedience to it; but rather to condemn us as helpless sinners because of our violation of it (1 Timothy 1:8-11; Romans 3:20).

2. The law's condemnation forces us to trust in the sacrifice of Christ on the cross and be declared righteous by God's grace through faith alone (Galatians 3:22-24; Romans 3:21-26).

3. For those who have received God's mercy through faith in the cross, and who are now in Christ, there is no longer any condemnation from the law (Romans 8:1-4; 2 Corinthians 5:21).

4. We who have been declared righteous by grace are to live a life consistent with our condition; viewing the law as a picture of the life that pleases God (Titus 2:11-14; John 15:10, 14; 1 John 5:2-3).

5. The principle by which we are now to live a life that is consistent with the requirements of the law is that of actively serving one another in love (Galatians 5:13-14; John 13:34-35).

6. Our ability to fulfill the law through love is only by the indwelling Holy Spirit; who Himself lives the life that pleases God in and through us (Galatians 5:16-25; 2:20; Romans 8:5-17).

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