Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Galatians 3:23 - 3:29

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Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Galatians 3:23 - 3:29


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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

The Law's pedagogical task has now been completed:

v. 23. But before faith came, we were kept under the Law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.

v. 24. Wherefore the Law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

v. 25. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

v. 26. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

v. 27. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

v. 28. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

v. 29. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise.

The apostle here completes his discussion as to the purpose of the Law by holding before the Galatians an example with which they were familiar: But before faith came, we were in custody under the Law, shut up unto the faith which was to be revealed in the future. Before the era of the Gospel, before the preaching of faith in the redemption of Christ in the proper sense of the term had begun, the Jews were under restraint, confined, kept in custody under the Law. The believers of the Old Testament were under the guardianship of the Law, which regulated their lives even to the last detail. It was a galling bondage which was thus exercised, depriving them of all liberty and choice of action. But God's purpose in imposing this temporary restraint was kind and merciful, for it was to serve in the interests of the future time of the New Testament, when Christ would come to deliver them from the bondage of the Law.

This relationship and aim the apostle illustrates: So that the Law has been our pedagogue unto Christ, that by faith we might be justified. Among the Greeks the pedagogue was a faithful slave entrusted with the care of the boy from his infancy to the time of his beginning manhood, whose specific duties consisted in keeping the boy under his charge from physical and moral evils and in accompanying him to school and to places of amusement. The pedagogue thus had the right, to a certain extent, to issue commands and prohibitions, to threaten punishment, and to limit the boy's freedom, but always to the end that the pupil might be trained for mature age and for the assuming of the higher duties which devolved upon him as a citizen of the state. The believers of the Old Testament, according to this comparison, were spiritually not yet of age; God had given them the Law with all its demands and injunctions as a pedagogue, its purpose being to lead them to salvation in Christ, with whom the era of the Law would come to an end. Not as though the Law was able to make the believing Israelites better morally and thus render them worthy of Christ's love. Its aim was simply to make the people conscious of their inability to fulfill the Law, and thus to make them eager for the free mercy which was revealed in Christ. in this manner the eager desire of the Old Testament believers was kept awake: I have waited for Thy salvation, O Lord! Gen_49:18. Note: The fact that the Law is a pedagogue holds true even now, inasmuch as it works knowledge of sin in the heart of man, showing him his utter insufficiency and inability even with his best efforts. For when so much has been achieved in the heart of man by the preaching of the Law, then the gracious Gospel brings faith in the righteousness of Jesus Christ and assures the believer of his salvation.

But the work of the Law is only preparatory: But now that faith has come, we are no longer under the pedagogue. For you all are children of God through faith in Christ Jesus; for as many of you as are baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Now that the Gospel-era is upon us, now that the time of the New Testament is come, now that faith in Jesus Christ is being proclaimed, we are no longer under the jurisdiction of any pedagogue. We are now spiritually of age, we have grown to manhood, we are adult children of God; the services of a special overseer are no longer required. By faith in Christ Jesus, which was kindled in us by the preaching of the Gospel, we have entered into that wonderful relationship to God the Father. The apostle here expands the thought to include the Gentile Christians as well: You all are children of God by faith in Jesus, not by any work of the Law. And with this thought he connects another, namely, that we have become children of God by faith, through the Sacrament of Baptism. Our baptism was done in Christ, unto Christ; we have thereby entered into the most intimate relation to Christ, we have put on Christ with His garment of perfect righteousness. In and with Christ we are clothed with His innocence, righteousness, wisdom, power, salvation, spirit, and life. "It is a spiritual putting on... and is done in this way, that the soul accepts Christ and all His righteousness as its own possession, is defiant, relying upon it as if done and earned by itself... Such accepting is a spiritual putting on: that is the manner and nature of faith."

In this respect, moreover, all believers are alike before God: Not is there Jew or Greek, not is there slave or freeman, not is there male or female; for you all are one in Christ Jesus. Because in Baptism the believers have put on Christ, have been clothed with the garment of his righteousness, therefore all distinctions of nationality are abrogated. It makes no difference to the Lord whether a person was originally a Jew, and burdened with the yoke of the Law, or a Greek, a Gentile living in the license of heathenism: by putting on Christ in Baptism they all become His dear children. All distinctions of rank and social position, too, are done away with, just as all differences of sex. In the Christian Church a man does not hold a higher rank because he is a freeman, or a lower rank because he is a slave; nor does one stand higher, if a man, and lower, if a woman. All are in the same way children of God through Christ. Social distinctions are indeed not abrogated in the world, just as all the other differences will continue to exist, 1Co_7:17-22. But within the Church, before God, we are all alike, poor sinners in need of salvation, children of God by faith in Christ Jesus, and therefore all one in Him. Christ the Head, and all believers the body; in Him is power and life, from Him all His members derive life and strength.

And so the apostle concludes: But if you are Christ's, then you are the seed of Abraham, heirs according to the promise. By faith the believers are one with Christ, one in Christ. And since Christ is the true Seed of Abraham, therefore the believers, having put on Christ, having entered into the most intimate fellowship with His person, become related to Abraham as Christ is related to the patriarch by the promise of God: they are Abraham's true seed, his spiritual descendants. And here also there is no difference between Israel according to the flesh and according to the spirit: in fact, whether Jews or Gentiles, the true children of Abraham are those that have accepted the promise of God given to him by faith. And so they are also heirs, not by nature, not by merit, but according to the promise. The believers receive the inheritance, righteousness before God, life, and salvation by reason of the Gospel message proclaimed to Abraham and are children and heirs of the promise. Not by the works of the Law, but by faith these wonderful gifts become theirs. Thus Paul has refuted the errors of the Judaizing teachers of all times with powerful and irrefutable arguments.

Summary

Paul shows that salvation is not of works, but by faith, from the experience of the Galatians, from the example of Abraham, and from the nature of the Law; he shows that the purpose of the Law is subordinate as serving in the capacity of a pedagogue unto Christ, in order that the liberty of the believers as children of God may finally be realized.