The Law Tutors Us

Pull out your Bible, my friends.  Today we are digging into Galatians 3.  What a chapter! Please read it, then return here to follow along with our study.  (I’ve given you a link to parallels in the English Standard Version and the New American Version.  The two versions will help us better understand this passage.)

The chapter begins with the apostle Paul talking very directly to his audience: “What’s the matter with you!  You weren’t saved by following the law, so what makes you think you can live life, now that you’re saved, by following the law!?!”  (Hmmm…should we attempt to answer that ourselves!)

Let’s pick it up in verse 8, as we relate it to our study from yesterday.  Recall that God gave the Mosaic Covenant to Moses because the world doesn’t recognize its need for redemption.  Thus, the law was given to show us our shortcoming and to be a tutor that leads us to Christ.

Gentiles get called into the picture in Galatians 3:8.  We are justified by faith through God’s preaching of the Gospel to Abraham.  (Notice that Paul is laying a foundation given in the Abrahamic Covenant.)

Verse 11 confirms that it is by faith, not by the law, that we are justified.  The law will not save us!  (Paul is now bringing in the instructional element of the Mosaic Covenant.)  After explaining further and giving examples in verses 12-18, Paul tells us specifically in verse 19 why the law was given.  We needed a tutor!  The Abrahamic Covenant isn’t enough because our sin stands in the way.  Our need is revealed through our transgression.

Verse 21 tells us that the law is not contrary to the promises of God (given in the Abrahamic Covenant and elsewhere), but I want you to focus on verses 22-24.  The Scripture (referring to the law) “imprisoned” everything under sin.  It trapped us.  It made us hopeless.  UNTIL “the promise by faith in Jesus Christ.” In other words, until we understand that salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone, we will be trapped by our sin!

Therefore, verse 24 gives us hope!  It tells us that the law became, not only our tutor (NASB) to lead us to Christ, but our guardian (ESV) until Christ came!  Living by the law was all there was prior to the salvation brought by Jesus Christ…which came via the vehicle of world redemption!  (To be clear: we look “back” in faith to the cross of Jesus. In the Old Testament, they performed “the law,” such as sacrifices, by faith, looking “forward” to a redemption of which was not totally revealed to them at the time.)

Verse 25 tells us that Christ has come, eliminating the need for our guardian, the law.  We are now free to live in grace!  We are now not only Abraham’s offspring, but children of God with no distinction between us and anyone else who is in Christ Jesus!  Wow!

So, there you have it.  A connection between the Abrahamic Covenant and the Mosaic Covenant.  However, there is a portion of that passage that points us to a third great covenant, which is next on our agenda!  Stay tuned!

Shalom, friends!

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