The Role of the Law as Schoolmaster

“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” (Galatians 3:21).

The law does not oppose the promises of God because a man could never attain to righteousness by his own efforts (Romans 3:23; Isaiah 64:6). Therefore, he could not stand justified before God in his attempts at keeping the Law of Moses.

“But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe” (Galatians 3:22).

This is the role and purpose of the law. This is how it is eternally utilized in the lives of men. It provides the standard of righteousness fulfilled in Jesus Christ alone, and that apart from faith in Jesus Christ, all men are condemned by the law as sinners.

“But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed” (Galatians 3:23).

Faith, as we saw in Romans 4, was exemplified and typified in Abraham all the way back in Genesis 15; however, what Paul speaks of here is the fulfillment of that faith in Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:22) in the “fulness of time” (Galatians 4:4); because he states very clearly, “that should afterwards be revealed.”

“Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:24).

Preaching-Christ-CrucifiedHow was the law a schoolmaster? The “schoolmaster” is sometimes supposed, and even proposed to be a teacher, but that’s not what the Greek word paidagogos (παιδαγωγος) means. In Paul’s day, for both the Greek and Roman cultures, the pedagogue was a child or young man who led smaller children [to school]. This schoolmaster didn’t teach, wasn’t in charge of learning, or have oversight of education, as we think of tutors, teachers, principals, head masters or schoolmasters today. The schoolmaster of Paul’s day was merely someone who took the children by the hand and led them to school. Similarly, the law is like that. It doesn’t teach the sinner anything. It merely exposes sin and the utter sinfulness of man. The law was our schoolmaster (past tense). The law led us to Christ because of our inability to keep the law because the law is God’s righteous standard fulfilled only by Jesus Christ, the righteous Son. Through the law, we could not, of ourselves or by ourselves, be justified before God.

“But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster” (Galatians 3:25).

We do not need a schoolmaster to lead us to Christ when once we are in Christ by God’s grace through saving faith. Sin is exposed by the brightness of Christ’s presence for the entire law has been fulfilled by Him and is fulfilled in Him. It is as Paul said in Romans 6:14, “for ye are not under law, but under grace.”

It may be prudent to note that as the law was not our teacher then, before we were saved, it is still not our teacher now. Our teacher is a Person, the Holy Spirit. He uses the law to reveal to us types, shadows, and examples fulfilled in the law by Christ, and in that perfection of the law by Christ, restores and refreshes the soul saved by grace (Psalm 19:7).

Additionally prudent to add is the reminder that the law has not been abolished, put away, or done away with because it “is holy …and just, and good” (Romans 7:12), for the law and all its commandments come from God.

LEAVE YOUR COMMENT. Let us know your thoughts.

Listen to the sermon preached on this text, Romans 7:1-12,Freed from the Bondage of the Law,” on November 29, 2009 at Sovereign Grace Baptist Church.

Read the previous article in this series,The Role of the Law” (Romans 7:7).

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About Jon J. Cardwell

"The Spirited Speaker" - Pastor of Sovereign Grace Baptist Church in Anniston, Alabama. Nationally recognized speaker and publisher. Author of several books, including the bestseller, Christ and Him Crucified.

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