Recently, a reader of this blog asked me to explain Paul’s statement in Galatians 3:24.
Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
Here is my promised explanation.
Galatians 3:24, Schoolmaster. The church’s concept and understanding of the schoolmaster is incorrect. Consider what David Stern has to say about it:
Stern in his Complete Jewish Bible translates schoolmaster as custodian. He explains why in his JNT Commentary (p. 553). The word translated as schoolmaster in the KJV and other English Bibles is the Greek word paidagogos which literally means boy-leader. In ancient Greece a paidagogos was a slave who conducted a boy to and from school and was not actually the school teacher. You can verify this definition in Webster’s dictionary. As languages evolve words change in meanings. Therefore, a secondary modern meaning of pedagogue is a teacher or schoolmaster and pedagogy is the science of teaching. Stern explains that the ancient Greek paidagogos had no teaching function and although the Torah had as one of its goals the leading of Jewish people to the Messiah, as Paul explicitly states at Romans 10:4, that is not the import of the present verse. The paidagogos actually would have been a harsh disciplinarian for the Jewish people, providing some protection but generally making the Jewish person aware of many transgressions so that Jews might turn from legalistic rule-following and be declared righteous legally on the basis of faith and being faithful to Yeshua, whose trusting faithfulness to God the Father purchased our salvation.”
Just because the Torah-pedagogue brought us to the Messiah, doesn’t mean we don’t need it anymore. This is a presumptuous and false understanding of Paul in Galatians 3:24 in its broader context.
One purpose of the Torah was to identify our sin (1 John 3:4) and hence our need for the Messiah who forgives that sin. This is what Paul is saying in Gal 3:24.
However, according to the Bible, that isn’t the only purpose of the Torah. It also shows how to walk in righteousness once Messiah has forgiven us of our sins. It also shows us how to love Elohim with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and our neighbor as ourself, as Yeshua declared in Mark 12:28–31. Love is also the fulfilling of the law, as Paul states in Romans 13:8–10. It also shows us how to know Elohim intimately (1 John 2:3) and how to have the love of Elohim in us (1 John 2:5) and how to walk as Yeshua walked (1 John 2:6).It also shows us how to love the Messiah (John 14:15). It also shows us how to be blessed physically in this lifetime (Deut 28), and will determine our level of spiritual rewards in the world to come (Matt 5:19). Sadly, the mainstream church doesn’t teach these biblical truths.
To say that we don’t need the Torah any longer is tantamount to saying that it’s now all right to worship idols, take Elohim’s name in vain, dishonor our parents, steal, murder, commit adultery, lie, covet, have sex with animals, etc. This is, of course, absurd. But this, in reality, is what those who say the law was done away with are saying.
Thank you for fulfilling your promise to give an explanation of Galatians 3:24.
As a new reader of your blog I truly enjoy your expositions and scholarship. I too share your passion for the Word of God and agree with you in part.
While I appreciate Stern’s definition and evolution of the term schoolmaster and your excellent summary of the purpose/validity of the Torah’s role in identifying sin and the Messiah you go on to say that:
– “Just because the Torah-pedagogue brought us to the Messiah, doesn’t mean we don’t need it anymore.” And
– “To say that we don’t need the Torah any longer is tantamount to saying that it’s now alright to worship idols, take Elohim’s name in vain, dishonor our parents, steal, murder, commit adultery, lie, etc…”.
I totally understand this is your platform, however, I was very disappointed by the later statement and thought it unnecessary and equally presumptuous for someone of your learning/experience, and more of defending a position relating to the Torah than an EXPLANATION of the text.
To say that we don’t need the Torah any longer IS NOT tantamount to saying that IT’S NOW ALRIGHT to worship idols, take Elohim’s name in vain, dishonor our parents, steal, murder, commit adultery, lie, etc…at least in my understanding.
As to the former, I understand that Galatians 3:24 doesn’t mean/say we don’t need a Torah-pedagogue anymore, but then how do reconcile any other position with Galatians 3:25? Which as far as I can conclude in context seems to suggest such IS NOT a NECESSITY.
I am also very curious on how you resolve the Holy Spirit’s role in this context. Christ said the Holy Spirit would be our guide (teacher, comforter, etc..), which are we to adhere to?
Not sure what your main point is. You like or don’t like what I teach??
Torah stands or falls together. This is simple theological mathematical logic. The Christian church picks and chooses what it wants to follow out of the Torah and disregards the rest. Not a biblical approach. This is secular humanism. This is following the lie of the serpent at the tree of knowledge in doubting the total veracity and applicability of YHVH’s Word en toto. So yes, for the church to say that the law was done away with is to deny, among other things, that sin is the violation of the law (1 John 3:4). The Torah law is the definition of sin. To say that the violation of some laws is sin, while the violations of others is no longer sin is illogical and evil. So my statement that if the law is done away with is logically tantamount to accepting murder and homosexuality and idolatry is a logical statement. This is taking an argument to its logical conclusion and is a accepted mode of rhetoric and logic to show the fallacy of an argument. Sorry if you don’t like that, but that’s where the pick and choose theology of churchianity leads.
As to an explanation of Gal 3:25, I explain that in my video teaching on the meaning of “under the law.” Paul’s statement here in no way invalidates Torah in the believer’s life.
Yeshua said that the Holy Spirit would lead his disciples into all truth. How does the Bible define truth? You must first understand this. Truth is truth and the HS won’t lead us into any areas that disagree with the truth of the Bible. If one is led to believe and teach something that’s contrary to biblical truth, then that’s not the HS but but an unholy, evil, false spirit that is leading them.
Well said sir…can you provide a link to your video “under the law.”? Thanks in advance for any help.