GAL. iii. 24.
“Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster, to bring us unto
Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”
THIS verse is part of Paul’s answer to the question: “Is
the law then against the promises of God?” He at once
replies: “God forbid: for if there had been a law given
which could have given life, verily righteousness should
have been by the law.” This giving of life was just what
the Mosaic law could not do, it wrought death instead,
it “locked all up under sin,” as the 22nd and 23rd verses
The idea in the text is that of a child held “in ward”
during his minority, and undergoing a preparatory training
and discipline to fit him for manhood. Schoolmaster does
not fairly represent the Greek word used by Paul. The
word is paidagogos, who was a superior servant with the
special business of overlooking the moral training and dis-
cipline of the child under his charge. And this was the
special function of the law, “our paidagogos to bring us
We may ask, In what way did the law accomplish its
end of training and leading men to Christ that they “might
be justified by faith”?
I. The symbolical ritual of the law was part of its moral
discipline “unto Christ.”
It was a Divine picture-book, daily exhibited to the
people of Israel, by which God was teaching them great
spiritual truths. And just as a Jew grew out of a spiritual
childhood, he would discover that these material symbols,
though worthless in themselves, pointed forward to some
greater revelation of God yet to come.
Thus the “law would be his paidagogos to bring him to
Those who in the present day seek to introduce the
ritual of Judaism into the Church are going back to the
picture-books of childhood, and thereby confessing them-
selves not “men in Christ, but Christian babies still.”
II. The moral effects of the law were a great part of its
preparation for Christ. It revealed sin. The two words
on its lips, “Thou shalt,” or, “Thou shalt not,” made the
conscience realize its sin.
The law revealing and intensifying sin was powerless to
show any way of escape, and led the sinner to long for
a coming Deliverer. To preach the law is often a real
preaching of Christ.
III. The spiritual insufficiency of the law was its final
preparation of the soul for Christ.
Whilst it condemned the conscience, it starved the heart.
It gave him a rule to obey, but no Father to love, and so,
by revealing to man his deepest need, which it could not
satisfy, it became his “paidagogos to bring him to Christ.”
Modern unbelief would fain rob us of this adoption of
the sinner into the heart of the Fatherhood of God through
Jesus Christ, and under the name of science attempts to
satisfy the human heart and conscience with law itself
without a God and Father behind all.
The fatal alliance of superstition and unbelief is at last
again complete, an alliance whose end is to erase from the
tablets of the human soul the imperishable words, “Even
so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the
elements of the world; but when the fulness of the time
was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman,
made under the law, to redeem them that were under the
law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”
G. S. Barrett, B.A.