What does Galatians 3:24-25 mean that we are no longer under a schoolmaster (guardian, paidagogos)?
This article has been reproduced and adapted from the paperback edition of J.K. McKeeâ€™s book The New Testament Validates Torah.
Question: How can you say that the Law of Moses is still to be followed by Christians today, when it is quite clear that we are no longer under a tutor?
â€œTherefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Messiah, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.â€ (Galatians 3:24-25)
This question is correct when it asserts, “The Law is our tutor to lead us to Christ,” citing Galatians 3:24-25 as evidence. The challenge with this assertion is not in our need for the Torahâ€™s instructionâ€”and our widespread human inability to keep itâ€”to reveal our sin and point us to the Messiah and the eternal redemption He provides (i.e., Romans 10:4, Grk.). The problem is that (1) when the good news is declared in much of Christianity today, people are only told about the love of God but are often never told about the judgment that is pronounced upon them as sinners, precisely because they are condemned as Torah-breakers (cf. Isaiah 24:5-6). And, (2) it has become far more commonplace in examination of Galatians to read Galatians 3:22-25 from the perspective of it not speaking of individuals on the road to salvation, but instead of it speaking historically of the Jewish people keeping the Torah prior to the arrival of the Messiahâ€”with the Torah only in temporary effect to be obeyed until His arrival. Scot McKnight summarizes the two interpretive options for Galatians 3:24:
â€œThe first takes it in an educative function: â€˜the law was our pedagogue to lead us to Christ.â€™ This view is a common, traditional view, which sees the law as pointing out our sins so we will cry out for Godâ€™s grace in Christ. But besides the fact that Paul is not talking here about â€˜individual experienceâ€™ but rather about â€˜salvation history,â€™ he does not teach in Galatians that this is the purpose of the lawâ€¦The second view is therefore to be preferred: â€˜the law was our pedagogue until Christ.â€™ This view is not only the majority view today but is also contextually more compatible.â€
McKnight is correct when he informs us that the majority view held among Galatians commentators is that Galatians 3:24 is to be read from the temporal perspective of the Torah being valid â€œuntil Christ cameâ€ (RSV/NRSV/ESV). Only by reviewing Galatians 3:22-25 in total can we really evaluate whether an individualâ€™s common experience in coming to faith in Yeshua or the condition of the Jewish people prior to the arrival of Yeshua is most textually compatible.
The Problem of Sin and the Promise of Faith in Galatians 3:22-23
This section of Paulâ€™s letter to the Galatians begins with him informing his audience,
â€œBut the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Yeshua the Messiah [or, the faithfulness of Yeshua the Messiah] might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealedâ€ (Galatians 3:22-23).
The negative problem that sin has caused has affected â€œall menâ€ (NASB) or â€œthe whole worldâ€ (NIV), ta panta (Ï„á½° Ï€Î¬Î½Ï„Î±). People committing sin, and rejecting the Creator God and His ways, is by no means an exclusive First Century Jewish problem; it is a universal problem to all humanity (Romans 3:23). Bruce is correct to conclude, â€œAs Gentiles and Jews are â€˜confined under sinâ€™ in v. 22, so Gentiles and Jews alike are â€˜confined under lawâ€™ [in v. 23].â€ All people are to be regarded as being â€œunder sinâ€ (hupo hamartian, á½‘Ï€á½¸ á¼Î¼Î±ÏÏ„Î¯Î±Î½) and â€œunder lawâ€ (hupo nomon, á½‘Ï€á½¸ Î½ÏŒÎ¼Î¿Î½). The verb to describe this condition is sugkleiÅ (ÏƒÏ…Î³ÎºÎ»ÎµÎ¯Ï‰), â€œto confine to specific limits, confine, imprisonâ€ (BDAG), regarding how â€œwe were confined under the lawâ€ (RSV) or â€œimprisoned and guarded under the lawâ€ (NRSV). All that Scripture (the Torah and the Prophets) can do for people is lay out Godâ€™s standard of holiness, righteousness, and proper conductâ€”yet because of the common mortal proclivity to disobey Himâ€”the most that Scripture can really do is lock us up as prisoners.
Scripture, to be sure, is not the problem; sin without a definite solution is the problem. The only thing to be experienced in a condition where one is â€œunder sinâ€ and â€œunder lawâ€ is to be jailed, as it were, in condemnation and guilt. Thankfully, Yeshua the Messiah has come on the scene, and via His sacrifice offers everyone freedom from this! But, Yeshuaâ€™s work is for â€œthose who believeâ€; if one does not recognize Him as Lord and Savior, then the redemption He provides is ineffectual and such people remain â€œunder sinâ€ and â€œunder law.â€
At this point, though, many interpretersâ€”in spite of how â€œthe scripture has all men â€˜imprisonedâ€™ under the power of sinâ€ (Galatians 3:22, Phillips New Testament)â€”opt for the continuing â€œweâ€ statement made by Paul to regard only his fellow Jews, and not to all of his audience. So, when Paul says â€œbefore faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealedâ€ (Galatians 3:23), such confinement was considered only a Jewish issue. The clause eis tÄ“n mellousan pistin apokalupthÄ“nai (Îµá¼°Ï‚ Ï„á½´Î½ Î¼ÎÎ»Î»Î¿Ï…ÏƒÎ±Î½ Ï€Î¯ÏƒÏ„Î¹Î½ á¼€Ï€Î¿ÎºÎ±Î»Ï…Ï†Î¸á¿†Î½Î±Î¹), â€œto the faith about to be revealedâ€ (YLT), is thought to be taken with a temporal force, with the proposition eis (Îµá¼°Ï‚) to be viewed â€œto denote a certain point or limit of timeâ€ (LS), hence the common rendering â€œuntil faith should be revealedâ€ (RSV). The faith in view is undoubtedly the belief or trust to be placed in Yeshua and His redemptive work; being â€œconfined under the lawâ€ (RSV), though, is thought to only be a Jewish issue, with the Messiahâ€™s arrival now abolishing Mosesâ€™ Teaching.
In order to draw the conclusion that the preposition eis means â€œuntil,â€ a reader has to separate out â€œunder sinâ€ and â€œunder lawâ€ as being two different ideas: â€œunder sinâ€ would mean the negative consequences of sin, but â€œunder lawâ€ would mean Jews having to be Torah obedient (at least at one prior point in history). However, the symbiotic relationship that being â€œunder sinâ€ and â€œunder lawâ€ have togetherâ€”as being â€œunder sinâ€ results in being â€œunder lawâ€ and subjected to the Torahâ€™s penaltiesâ€”is one which is constant and cannot be so easily separated as some interpreters think. Paul expresses in Romans 6:14-15, to a largely non-Jewish audience in Rome, â€œFor sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!â€ Not only is the antithesis of being â€œunder graceâ€ being â€œunder law,â€ but the â€œweâ€ referred to would be all born again Believers who have recognized the Messiah Yeshua. All people are to be redeemed from being â€œunder law.â€
Alternatively, if Galatians 3:23 is approached from an individualistic perspective, the statement â€œbefore faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed,â€ regards the status of all people who were once condemned by Godâ€™s Torah as sinners, locked up in some kind of condemnation state before salvation. We should agree with Hegg, who says â€œit seems most natural to understand the phrase â€˜before the faith cameâ€™ to mean â€˜before personal faith comes to those God saves.â€™â€ Only when people are able to recognize the significance of Yeshuaâ€™s faithfulness to die as a permanent sacrifice for human sin, this reality of faith having arrived to them, can they then be shown the great revelation of how faith in the Savior is to significantly transform them and allow them to enter into the Fatherâ€™s destiny for their lives. This is something that the Apostle Paul did not want his Galatian audience to forget: what it took to get them to truly arrive at the significant faith in the Lord that they possess.
While many would prefer to take the verb apokaluptÅ (á¼€Ï€Î¿ÎºÎ±Î»Ï…Ï€Ï„Ï‰) in Galatians 3:23 as regarding Godâ€™s plan in Yeshua â€œto be revealedâ€ within salvation history, earlier in his letter Paul himself uses it to describe how â€œGod, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal [apokaluptÅ] His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentilesâ€¦â€ (Galatians 1:15-16a). To have the importance of faith actually revealed to a newly saved person, who has just been freed from the guilt incurred by sin and Torah-breaking, is entirely consistent with how Paul himself was redeemed. The initial salvation experience of faith in Yeshua is to be followed with a person being shown even more how significant the Messiahâ€™s work is. It is more appropriate to render the clause eis tÄ“n mellousan pistin apokalupthÄ“nai as something like: â€œto the faith intending to be revealedâ€ (my translation), that which is destined to manifest itself in the redeemed. Paul acknowledges the initial entry of Messiah faith in someoneâ€™s life, leading to a greater revelation of what faith in Him and who He is encompasses. The preposition eis (eivj) can notably also mean â€œto express relation, to or towardsâ€ (LS). Paul later specifies how the power of the good news is to lead one from faith to faith, meaning that the significant revelation of faith in Yeshua naturally gets deeper after one has been forgiven of sin and grows in Him:
â€œFor I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation [to salvation, YLT; eis sÅtÄ“rian, eivj swthri,an] to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith [apokaluptetai ek pisteÅs eis pistin, á¼€Ï€Î¿ÎºÎ±Î»ÏÏ€Ï„ÎµÏ„Î±Î¹ á¼Îº Ï€Î¯ÏƒÏ„ÎµÏ‰Ï‚ Îµá¼°Ï‚ Ï€Î¯ÏƒÏ„Î¹Î½]â€¦â€ (Romans 1:16-17a).
A proper view of Galatians 3:23 recognizes that: (1) saving faith is to manifest itself in the life of a Believer, (2) because of such faith one is freed from the imprisoning condemnation of sin and being â€œunder law,â€ and (3) this results in being revealed a greater significance of faith as growth in Messiah begins.
Having stated how those who are â€œunder law,â€ locked up as condemned sinners, must have faith in Yeshua come into their livesâ€”and consequently with the redeemed being shown the magnificent importance of such faith in Yeshuaâ€”Paul follows this by explaining a pre-Messiah function of the Torah:
â€œTherefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Messiah, so that we may be justified by faithâ€ (Galatians 3:24, NASU).
A majority of todayâ€™s interpreters take Galatians 3:24 as being a temporal function for Paulâ€™s own Jewish people. From this perspective â€œourâ€ means â€œJewish,â€ and â€œthe law was our custodian until Christ cameâ€ (RSV) or â€œthe law was our disciplinarian until Christ cameâ€ (NRSV). The Torah was the Jewish â€œimprisoner,â€ so to speak, eis Christon (Îµá¼°Ï‚ Î§ÏÎ¹ÏƒÏ„ÏŒÎ½). Highly reflective of this view, and one who definitely believes that the Torah is not to be followed in the post-resurrection era, is Witherington, who concludes that â€œthe Law as the pedagogue of Godâ€™s people lasted only until Christ came. HereÂ Îµá¼°Ï‚ Î§ÏÎ¹ÏƒÏ„ÏŒÎ½ is surely to be taken in a temporal and not a telic sense.â€ Such an interpretation of Galatians 3:24 could lead one to conclude that Paul is a turncoat Jew, and he is saying that with the arrival of the Messiah that his own people do not have to observe the burden of having to keep any of the Law of Moses; it was, after all, only â€œuntil Christ.â€
What was a â€œpaidagogosâ€ (Grk. Ï€Î±Î¹Î´Î±Î³Ï‰Î³ÏŒÏ‚; schoolmaster, guardian, tutor) in the ancient world?
Much of how we look at Galatians 3:24 is influenced by how we look at the role of the paidagÅgos (Ï€Î±Î¹Î´Î±Î³Ï‰Î³ÏŒÏ‚), which is invariably translated as â€œtutorâ€ (NASU), â€œcustodianâ€ (RSV/CJB), â€œchild-conductorâ€ (YLT), â€œguardianâ€ (HCSB), or â€œschoolmasterâ€ (KJV), comparable to our English word â€œpedagogue.â€ Many examiners are in rightful agreement that â€œtutorâ€ is not the best rendering for paidagÅgos, as there is something specific to be understood from this term in antiquity. In Galatians 3:24, we actually see Paul using a classical Greek term to express a Jewish concept. The paidagÅgos was â€œOrig. â€˜boy-leaderâ€™, the man, usu.[ally] a slaveâ€¦whose duty it was to conduct a boy or youthâ€¦to and from school and to superintend his conduct gener.; he was not a â€˜teacherâ€™â€¦When the young man became of age, theÂ Ï€[Î±Î¹Î´Î±Î³Ï‰Î³ÏŒÏ‚] was no longer neededâ€ (BDAG). In a classical sense, the paidagÅgos was a protector who was to guard young boys on their way to school until they reached a certain age. This â€œdisciplinarianâ€ (NRSV) or â€œguardianâ€ (ESV) would try to instill within them a basic sense of who a responsible citizen was, until they arrived at a point when they were old enough to take care of themselves.
Within much of the ancient period, the paidagÅgos had a widescale reputation for strictness. Betz indicates, â€œThe figure of the pedagogue is looked upon as a hard but necessary instrument in bringing a person to achieve and realize virtue.â€ So here, the Torah is not that much more than a merciless taskmaster that has to beat proper behavior into someone. Witherington is more tempered, remarking that this point of view â€œis much too one-sided. There were both bad and good pedagogues and the latter were not rarer exceptions to a rule.â€ Paul is certainly not expecting his Galatian audience to apply all of the possible negative traits of a classical paidagÅgos into his usage in Galatians 3:24.
While strict in terms of discipline, and while various interpreters would oppose this conclusion, the paidagÅgos did have an important educational function. As Plato would describe it, â€œOur sharp-eyed and efficient supervisor of the education of the young must redirect their natural development along the right lines, by always setting them on the paths of goodness as embodied in the legal codeâ€ (Laws 7.809). Dunn argues in favor of the paidagÅgos, again while being strict, having a â€œresponsibility to instruct in good manners, and to discipline and correct the youth when necessary.â€ TDNT further remarks that the Torah â€œis a paedagÅgÃ³s while we are minors. During our minority we are under it and virtually in the position of slaves. With faith, however, we achieve adult sonship and a new immediacy to the Father which is far better than dependence on even the best â€˜pedagogue.â€™â€¦It is a taskmaster with an educational role.â€
The related verb to paidagÅgos is paideuÅ (Ï€Î±Î¹Î´ÎµÏÏ‰), which can mean both â€œto provide instruction for informed and responsible living, educateâ€ and â€œto assist in the development of a personâ€™s ability to make appropriate choices, practice disciplineâ€ (BDAG). PaideuÅ is often employed in the Septuagint to render the Hebrew yasar (×™Ö¸×¡Ö·×¨), meaning, â€œchastise, discipline, rebuke,â€ and â€œteach, trainâ€ (CHALOT). It appears in Proverbs 29:19: â€œA slave will not be instructed [yasar] by words alone; for though he understands, there will be no response,â€ or â€œA stubborn servant will not be reproved [paideuÅ] by words: for even if he understands, still he will not obeyâ€ (LXE). Yet, even while the verb paideuÅ can relate to negative discipline or chastisement, it is used in the Apocrypha to represent the education of someone in the Tanach Scriptures:
- â€œTherefore set your desire on my words; long for them, and you will be instructed [paideuÅ]…Therefore be instructed [paideuÅ] by my words, and you will profitâ€ (Wisdom 6:11, 25).
- â€œIf you are willing, my son, you will be taught [paideuÅ], and if you apply yourself you will become cleverâ€ (Sirach 6:32).
Another related term to paidagÅgos is paideia (Ï€Î±Î¹Î´ÎµÎ¯Î±), regarding â€œthe state of being brought up properly, trainingâ€ (BDAG). This notably appears in 2 Timothy 3:16, where Paul says â€œAll Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training [paideia] in righteousness.â€ Also to be considered could be 4 Maccabees 1:17: â€œ[There] is education [paideia] in the law, by which we learn divine matters reverently and human affairs to our advantage.â€
The Law has become our tutor â€œto lead us to Christâ€ or â€œuntil Christ Cameâ€?
Whether Galatians 3:24 should be understood in the context of the clause eis Christon meaning â€œto lead us to Christâ€ (NIV) or â€œuntil Christ cameâ€ (TNIV) is determined by the value judgment of a reader concluding whether or not the figure of the paidagÅgos or pedagogue had any kind of educational role. No one can deny that the paidagÅgos was a strict disciplinarian. While Witherington argues that â€œit was not unusual for the pedagogue to chide or even beat a child on occasion to achieve the desired form of behavior,â€ even he has to recognize â€œThe pedgagogue did have a limited educational roleâ€¦â€ All are agreed that the Torah function as a pedagogue regards the issuance of condemnation to Torah-breakers, but does this condemnation stir up within condemned persons the need for them to cry out to the Messiahâ€”or did the Torah only have a limited function in protecting the Jewish people until the Messiahâ€™s arrival? The combined disciplinarian-educator can actually be seen when we compare Galatians 3:24 to 2 Timothy 3:14-16:
|PAUL TO THE GALATIANS||PAUL TO TIMOTHY|
|Therefore the Law has become our tutor…to Messiah, so that we may be justified by faith (Galatians 3:24).||You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Messiah Yeshua. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:14-16).|
The Apostle Paul lauded Timothy for how he was raised by his mother and grandmother (2 Timothy 1:5) in the Tanach Scriptures, which are Holy Texts to be employed for paideian tÄ“n en dikaiosunÄ“ (Ï€Î±Î¹Î´ÎµÎ¯Î±Î½ Ï„á½´Î½ á¼Î½ Î´Î¹ÎºÎ±Î¹Î¿ÏƒÏÎ½á¿ƒ), â€œtraining in righteousnessâ€ (2 Timothy 3:16). The Torah and Tanach are going to train people in ways of righteousness, whether they are redeemed or unredeemed, and for the latter such training will undeniably involve chastisement. The Torah, Prophets, and Writings are going to always reveal a personâ€™s innate need for a Divine Redeemerâ€”One whom the Father has provided in His Son Yeshua (Jesus). Paul quite keenly says of the Tanach Scriptures, that they are â€œable to make you wise to salvation through belief in Messiah Yeshuaâ€ (my translation), eis sÅtÄ“rian dia pisteÅs tÄ“s en ChristÅ IÄ“sou (Îµá¼°Ï‚ ÏƒÏ‰Ï„Î·ÏÎ¯Î±Î½ Î´Î¹á½° Ï€Î¯ÏƒÏ„ÎµÏ‰Ï‚ Ï„á¿†Ï‚ á¼Î½ Î§ÏÎ¹ÏƒÏ„á¿· á¼¸Î·ÏƒÎ¿á¿¦). In 2 Timothy 3:15, the preposition eis involves Timothyâ€™s training in the Tanach leading to his salvation.
There is no reason at all why the clause eis Christon (Îµá¼°Ï‚ Î§ÏÎ¹ÏƒÏ„ÏŒÎ½) cannot be viewed as â€œto Christ.â€ It is true that a version like the NASU has added some words in italics with â€œthe Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christâ€ and the NKJV has the similar â€œthe law was our tutor to bring us to Christ.â€ These words are justifiably added to recognize the appropriate preparatory role of the pedagogue: eis Christon, â€œto Christâ€â€”which is comparable to eis sÅtÄ“rian, â€œto salvation.â€ In Galatians 3:24 the perfect verb gegonen (Î³ÎÎ³Î¿Î½ÎµÎ½) is used, indicating that the role of the Torah as pedagogue, while something done in the past, still has an ongoing effect for born again Believers. The Torah having once served a pedagogue for the redeemedâ€”a strict disciplinarian for those who have now arrived at faith in Yeshuaâ€”does not allow for people to dispense with its instructions. When Matthew 1:21 informs Bible readers, â€œNow all this took place to fulfill [gegonen] what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet,â€ are we expected to throw away and ignore the Messianic prophecies now that they have been fulfilled via the Incarnation of Yeshua? Or are we to understand them in a new light?
There is every reason to recognize the validity of the Torah serving as the pedagogue leading individuals in need of salvation to the Messiah. Yet, even if we were to view Galatians 3:24 from the perspective of the Torah serving as a strict disciplinarian â€œuntil Christ,â€ meaning â€œuntil Christ came into our lives,â€ this should not automatically mean that Godâ€™s Law gets cast aside as unimportant. The function of the Torah as a pedagogue is over for those who recognize the Messiah, whether you render the clause eis Christon as â€œuntil Christâ€ or â€œto Christ.â€ Stottâ€™s observations are well taken:
â€œ[T]he oppressive work of the law was temporary, [but]â€¦it was ultimately intended not to hurt but to bless. Its purpose was to shut us up in prison until Christ should set us free, or to put us under tutors until Christ should make us sonsâ€¦.Only Christ can deliver us from the prison to which the curse of the law has brought us, because He was made a curse for us. Only Christ can deliver us from the lawâ€™s harsh discipline, because He makes us sons who obey from love for their Father and are no longer naughty children needing tutors to punish them.â€
While some might want to argue against the view that the Torah is to serve as an individualâ€™s pedagogueâ€”concluding that the â€œweâ€ Paul is speaking of in Galatians 3:24 is just â€œwe Jewsâ€â€”the Torah did indeed play a role in the non-Jewish Galatiansâ€™ own salvation experience. Paulâ€™s visit to Southern Galatia in Acts chs. 13-14 reveals that he certainly taught about Yeshua from the Torah and Prophets to more than just Jews, observing that He provided a forgiveness from sins and freedom that the Torah could not provide (Acts 13:38-39, 43).
In various sectors of todayâ€™s Messianic movement, Galatians 3:24 has been viewed from the perspective of a young man or young woman being prepared for bar/bat mitzvah. In Judaism, boys and girls are taught the commandments of the Torah from their infancy. The commandments are rigorously instilled in them so that by the time they reach puberty, usually by the age of 12 or 13, one who goes through his bar/bat mitzvah recognizes that he is accountable for being a member of the Jewish community. While it is now traditional to hold festivities and parties for bar/bat mitzvah, the First Century historian Josephus recorded, â€œwhen I was a child, and about fourteen years of age, I was commended by all for the love I had to learning; on which account the high priests and principal men of the city came then frequently to me together, in order to know my opinion about the accurate understanding of points of the lawâ€ (Life 1.9). A major role in a bar/bat mitzvah ceremony (or even in a Protestant Christian denomination confirming a youth as a church member) is so that young people arrive at the point of being aware of their responsibilities before God, and that they have an understanding of the Scriptures.
The practice of preparing a youth for bar/bat mitzvah is to instill in the boy or girl the understanding that he or she is accountable for living up to the Torahâ€™s standards. The Torah up to this point serves as the personâ€™s tutor or schoolmaster, and hopefully when the youth gets up to the bema to read from the Torah scroll, he or she has an understanding that this is very serious in the eyes of the God of Israel. In a Messianic context, we surely hope that a young person undergoing bar/bat mitzvah has truly come to that moment where he or she realizes that the Torah is not enough, and that it is the Lord Yeshua to which its instructions inevitably point.
In the view of Galatians 3:24, Godâ€™s Law as pedagogue is to rigorously instill within us a sense of His holiness and righteousness, but our innate inability to ultimately keep its commandments perfectly should lead us to faith in the Messiah. When salvation from our sin comes, the key principles of Godâ€™s Torah are to certainly remain instilled with us. As we then grow and mature in such salvation, with the New Covenant promise of the Torah being supernaturally transcribed on our hearts now in play (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:25-27), we can fufill the Torah in emulation of Messiah Yeshua (Matthew 5:17-19), surely demonstrating it in action via good works of mercy and kindness toward others.
What does Paul mean in Galatians 3:25 when he says â€œwe are no longer under a tutor (paidagÅgos)â€?
Much of how we approach the meaning of hupo paidagÅgon (á½‘Ï€á½¸ Ï€Î±Î¹Î´Î±Î³Ï‰Î³ÏŒÎ½) or â€œunder a tutorâ€ is determined by what we conclude a paidagÅgos actually is. The thought of many is that this means no longer being â€œunder the supervision of the lawâ€ (NIV), and that Godâ€™s people should not be concerned about keeping Godâ€™s Law. Is this a valid approach to Galatians 3:25?
In the previous remarks on Galatians 3:24, we have described how the ancient classical figure of the paidagÅgos is like a strict disciplinarian. While having an educational role for those on the road to saving faith, the paidagÅgos is still going to condemn a person more often than not. Paulâ€™s words â€œBut now that faith has come, we are no longer under a pedagogueâ€ (Galatians 3:25, my translation), should be understood from the perspective that after a person has arrived at salvation in the Messiah Yeshua, the Torahâ€™s function as a paidagÅgos is over. Bruce ably comments, â€œwith the coming of faith believers have come of age and no longer require to be under the control of a slave-attendant:Â á½‘Ï€á½¸ Ï€Î±Î¹Î´Î±Î³Ï‰Î³ÏŒÎ½ has the same sense as á½‘Ï€á½¸Â Î½ÏŒÎ¼Î¿Î½ in v. 23.â€ A fulfillment of the Torah in acts of love, focused around the fruit of the Spirit, is clearly to begin (Galatians 5:14-6:2). For the redeemed, the function of Godâ€™s Torah only condemning people with guilt because of their disobedience has ended.
In what context are born again Believers no longer â€œunder a tutorâ€? If we are in the faith and have reached a point of spiritual maturity where we know what the Torah tells us is right and wrong, and we have repented of our sins and been spiritually regenerated, we have no need for the Torah to serve as a paidagÅgos. We have no need for this kind of rigorous training, because if we have experienced the new birth we naturally want to obey our Heavenly Father through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will convict us and remind us as we study the Scriptures, as we pray, and as we sincerely seek the Lord about what we should and should not be doing. For those truly saved and earnestly seeking the Lord, the Torah no longer serves as a schoolmaster, because we should be naturally following Godâ€™s commandments as an outward part of our walk of faith.
The Jewish philosopher Philo also expressed how â€œthere is an undying law set up and established in the nature of the universe…that instruction is a salutary and saving thing, but that ignorance is the cause of disease and destructionâ€ (On Drunkenness 141). The goal of any kind of instruction given by God is to be salvation, especially as human beings understand their limitations in light of His eternal holiness and perfection. And while it is most imperative for our mortal inability to fully obey the Lord to drive us to the cross of Yeshua in confession and repentance, instruction in sanctification is to truly follow being saved as the Holy Spirit takes up residence within us and transforms us to be more like Him. Some of this involves further discipline (1 Corinthians 11:32; Hebrews 12:6; cf. Proverbs 3:12) when we err, but it also involves opportunities for Godâ€™s people to simply demonstrate His good character to others (1 Thessalonians 2:10).
In order for the Law to have actually once functioned as an individualâ€™s tutor or pedagogue: people have to know it. Where in mainstream Christianity today are the commandments of the Torah really taught to even lead people to faith? Are Godâ€™s commandments being taught in Sunday school so that the youth can know that they are sinners and that they need a Redeemer? Surely if they were in greater numbers than they currently are, some of the moral dilemmas that the contemporary Church faces would not be present. Unfortunately, the â€œsalvation historyâ€ reading of Galatians 3:22-25 has done much of the current generation a serious disservice: Christian people are really not being instructed in the Law of Moses. The role that the Torah plays, or has played, in seeing Yeshua arrive onto the scene of history and into the lives of the redeemedâ€”is not that appreciated. Hegg offers us some key observations:
â€œ[I]n the metaphor Paul uses, when one has arrived at the teacher, one does not therefore despise the pedagogue who lead him there! If anything, one is more appreciative of the custodian because he has performed his duties faithfully. In the same way, when a sinner comes to realize that he is unable to remedy himself of his guilt, and when the Torah leads the sinner to Yeshua, the only remedy for sin, he is forever grateful for the role of the Torah in leading to Yeshua. Far from considering the Torah to have been worthless, he recognizes the strategic role it has played.â€
Indeed, as redeemed Believers are no longer â€œunder a tutor,â€ we should nonetheless be most grateful that the Torah-function as pedagogue has led us to the Divine Savior, Yeshua the Messiah. Following our salvation, we should demonstrate the appropriate respect, honor, and obedience that is due Mosesâ€™ Teaching.
Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard, Updated Edition (NASU),Â Â©1995, published by The Lockman Foundation.
 Scot McKnight, NIV Application Commentary: Galatians (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995), 183.
 Including, but not limited to: Bruce, Galatians, 183; Richard N. Longenecker, Word Biblical Commentary: Galatians, Vol. 41 (Nashville: Nelson Reference & Electronic, 1990), pp 148-149; Hansen, pp 107-109; Witherington, Galatians, pp 268-269; Hays, in NIB, 11:269-270.
 Grk. ek pisteÅs IÄ“sou Christou (á¼Îº Ï€Î¯ÏƒÏ„ÎµÏ‰Ï‚ á¼¸Î·ÏƒÎ¿á¿¦ Î§ÏÎ¹ÏƒÏ„Î¿á¿¦).
 Bruce, Galatians, 182.
 BDAG, 952.
 LS, 231.
 Grk. Pro tou de elthein tÄ“n pistin (); â€œbefore the coming of the faithâ€ (YLT), something akin to the â€œarrivalâ€ of Messiah faith in someoneâ€™s life.
 Hegg, Galatians, 128.
 Grk. mellousan (me,llousan).
I have chosen to render the verb mellÅ (me,llw) here along the lines of â€œto be inevitable, be destined, inevitable,â€ which for Galatians 3:23 is specifically noted for â€œw. aor. inf. avpokalufqh/nai that is destined (acc. to Godâ€™s will) to be revealedâ€ (BDAG, 628).
 LS, 231.
 New English Bible (Oxford and Cambridge: Oxford and Cambridge University Presses, 1970), NT p 241 has â€œthe law was a kind of tutor in charge of us until Christ should come,â€ but notes the alternate rendering â€œOr a kind of tutor to conduct us to Christ.â€
 Witherington, Galatians, 269.
 Longenecker, Galatians, 149 does notably speak against this, claiming that â€œOne may, of course, as a Jew continue to live a Jewish nomistic lifestyle for cultural, national, or pragmatic reasons. To be a Jewish believer in Jesus did not mean turning oneâ€™s back on oneâ€™s own culture or nation,â€ although he unfortunately further argues that things like circumcision or the dietary laws have nothing to do with â€œthe life of faith.â€
 The term â€œpedagogueâ€ does appear as a borrowed term in some Jewish literature (Ibid., pp 146-148).
 BDAG, 748.
 Betz, 177.
 Witherington, Galatians, 263.
 Plato: The Laws, trans. Trevor J. Saunders (London: Penguin Books, 1970), 253.
 Dunn, Galatians, pp 198-199.
 G. Bertram, â€œeducation, instruction,â€ in TDNT, 757.
 BDAG, 749.
 CHALOT, 137.
 BDAG, 749.
 Grk. estin hÄ“ tou nomou paideia (evsti.n h` tou/ no,mou paidei,a).
 Witherington, Galatians, 265.
 John R.W. Stott, The Message of Galatians (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1986), 98.
 Cf. Ariel and Dâ€™vorah Berkowitz, Torah Rediscovered (Lakewood, CO: First Fruits of Zion, 1996), pp 23-24.
 The Works of Josephus: Complete and Unabridged, 1.
 Bruce, Galatians, 183.
 The Works of Philo: Complete and Unabridged, 219; cf. Noahâ€™s Work As a Planter 144.
 Hegg, Galatians, 130.