Kept in Custody
Gal 3:23-25 But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. (24) Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. (25) But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
I was actually studying Deuteronomy Chapter 30, verses 15-18 when I cross referenced to the above verses in Paul's letter to the Galatians. The apostle Paul originally planted Christ's church in Galatia in the region of Asia Minor. It was not long before these planted churches became apostate.
Gal 1:6 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel;
False teachers had made their way into the churches in Galatia and began to alter the truth of the Gospel of Christ. Paul returned to Galatia to prove that justification is by faith alone and not the deeds of the law.
Let's go back for a moment and look at the verses I started with in the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy:
Deu 30:15-18 "See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; (16) in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the LORD your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it. (17) "But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, (18) I declare to you today that you shall surely perish. You will not prolong your days in the land where you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess it.
I especially like verse 17 and the first sentence of verse 18:
- "But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, (18) I declare to you today that you shall surely perish.
Let's return to Galatians 3:23:
Gal 3:23 But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed.
What is meant by "custody under the law"? Let's look up the Greek:
From a compound of G4253 and G3708; to be a watcher in advance, that is, to mount guard as a sentinel (post spies at gates); figuratively to hem in, protect: - keep (with a garrison). Compare G5083.
From a primary word νέμω nemō (to parcel out, especially food or grazing to animals); law (through the idea of prescriptive usage), generally (regulation), specifically (of Moses [including the volume]; also of the Gospel), or figuratively (a principle): - law.
So we can see that prior to being justified by faith (when Christ came as the sacrifice for our sins) man was kept in custody-or protection under the law of Moses. The ancient Israelites were “shut up”. In modern English the term “shut up” has a negative conotation in telling someone to be quiet in a rather nasty sort of way. We have all had the need to instruct our children not to use this term “shut up” But what does this term really mean in the Greek?
From G4862 and G2808; to shut together, that is, include or (figuratively) embrace in a common subjection to: - conclude, inclose, shut up.
In verse 23 (being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed.) it is telling us that they embraced and were in common subjection to the Old Testament law as revealed by Moses up until the time in which Christ was revealed as our Savior and the ultimate sacrifice for our sin.
Matthew Henry states that “The law did not teach a living, saving knowledge; but, by its rites and ceremonies, especially by its sacrifices, it pointed to Christ, that they might be justified by faith."
Gal 3:24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.
The law became our tutor. What exactly do we mean by that?
From G3816 and a reduplication form of G71; a boy leader, that is, a servant whose office it was to take the children to school; (by implication [figuratively] a tutor [“paedagogue”]): - instructor, schoolmaster.
The law became our servant whose office it was to take us to school, to lead and instruct us. Christ was to become the sacrificial lamb for our sins.
Gal 2:16 nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.
Act 13:39 and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.
Rom 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
I am not sure who stated this but I like it and will include this without giving proper credit:
God does not reward me for good efforts, or even good performance. God blesses me because He loves me. And He loves for me to just trust in Him. And He loves it when I seek to please Him. But even that is not the basis for what God gives to me. The basis is God's love and grace for me. He bestows upon me His blessings, His love, as I simply believe in Him to do it and trust Him to do it.
The following quote is from the late Chuck Smith, founder of Calvary Chapel:
You see, God does not reward us for our works, for our efforts, for our goodness. Whatever God gives to me, He gives to me on the basis of my believing in His grace. And these men have learned to believe in the grace of God. Not really looking at their own selves, weaknesses, failures or whatever, and they have learned how to inspire people to look to God through faith. And God honors the faith of the people who have come to receive from God.
Our last Galatians Chap 3 verse for the day:
Gal 3:25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
In our day we no longer have need of a παιδαγωγός (pahee-dag-o-gos') tutor. Faith has come and we receive freely the gift of eternal salvation by the completed work of our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 7:14 kind of gives a summary of this transition from the sacrifice under Mosaic law to the New Covenant:
Rom 7:4 Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.
We are no longer under the law, but under the covenant of grace.
Rom 6:14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
As we conclude today let's look at this final excerpt from Chuck Smith:
So I stand in the grace of God. I walk in the grace of God. Now, does that mean then that I can just go out, and you know, live any kind of an old lascivious life? No, no, no, no, no. The love of Christ constrains me to walk a life that is pleasing, and when I use that as the criteria for my activities, I find that I live a more strict life than when I try and use right and wrong as the basis for my particular activity. Is this right to do? Is this wrong to do? I so often hear that question. That should not be the consideration. The consideration should always be, "Is this pleasing to God if I do it?"
We are getting off subject a bit at this point, but this is such an important point that I would be remiss if I did not bring it up. We will cover so called "backsliding" extensively at another time. But let's not take grace for granted and as license to sin.
If I indeed believe, my belief will be demonstrated by my actions.