Galatians 3:19-25

Purpose of the Law
19Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.

20 Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.

21 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.

22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.

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

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

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

Some thoughts before we begin this study:

  • The Law was in force during the time of Moses to Jesus. The Law was abrogated (its time had ended) on the cross.
  • Salvation must depend on faith alone (promise) or Law (works) the two are not compatible so they cannot coexist
  • The Judaizers were attempting to add The Law back on the Saved Jews and impose it upon the Gentile believers who it was never given

The previous study proved that salvation has always been by faith — by promise — the unchanging promise Go gave to Abraham. The Law that was given centuries after the promise added nothing to the promise; nor could it take the promise away.

Now Paul answers the question, “What is the purpose of the Law?” Why was there a need for the Law? If it wasn’t a supplement to the promise is it opposed to the promise?

The Law served a two-fold purpose. First, to create a lineage from Abraham to bring the promised Seed through. Christ. Once Jesus Christ was born (incarnated), lived, ministered, died, and raised from the dead this function of The Law was complete.

Secondly, verse 19 states that the law was added because of transgression. The sin that man commits had to be shown in its true light. Sin is defined as missing the mark. This does not carry the weight it should in man’s heart and mind. Sin had to be shown as the direct violation of God’s commandments. A transgression is defined as stepping beyond a limit. The Law was brought in by God as Romans 7:13 states, “that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.” To show sinners their need of grace.

  • Sin hamartia to miss a mark (unintentional wrongdoing)
  • Transgression parabasis to step beyond (intentional wrong)

The Law should cause man to long for the promised Savior; reveal to all are incapable of meeting the standard God requires. Hopeless to become holy; it should make all look to whom the promise was made — Jesus.

Paul reminded the Galatians that the Law was given to Moses who delivered it to the people of Israel. Read Exodus 20:18-19. The people were afraid, so they asked Moses to speak with God and them. Moses was their mediator.

A mediator acts as a party between two or more groups. There is no need for a mediator when only one person or party is involved. Remember only God walked the path between the sacrificed animals when He confirmed the covenant with Abraham. God Himself made the promise and He requires no mediator.

Moses was the most revered prophet to the Jews. As their “deliverer” he was seen as a “type or foreshadow” of Christ. God used him to lead the nation of Israel out of bondage in Egypt. Moses was also a representative of the Law. He “gave” it to the nation and as a “type” of the Law notice his role:

  • Led Israel through trials
  • He judged between them in their disputes
  • Mediated between Israel and God
  • He brought them to the very edge of the Promised Land

Moses was not allowed to bring Israel INTO the Promised Land. The task of leading Israel into the Promised Land was given to Joshua. In this role Joshua is a type/foreshadow of Christ.

Since the Law cannot give righteousness, what purpose does it have? Verses 22-25 provide the answer. Scripture, not law, has concluded all under sin, so the promise by faith in Jesus might be given to them that believe. The Bible states that all ways except the way of faith in Jesus Christ have been shut up, closed off, as a means of justification. Before faith came, literally before “The” faith came, who is Jesus, the Law was a schoolmaster to bring man to the place of putting his faith in Christ for justification.

Psalm 143:2 – And enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.

Deuteronomy 27:26 – Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen.

  • Conclude sunkleio to shut up, to confine

Before faith came, literally before “The” faith came, who is Jesus, The Law was a schoolmaster to bring man to the place of putting his faith in Christ for justification. A schoolmaster at this time was a slave in charge boy child from about age 12 until he became a mature adult. The slave was the guardian over the child accompanying him everywhere, disciplining him, and ensuring compliance with the father’s will. The father of the child made the decision when the boy had matured into adulthood.

The Law — rather than a means to earn justification — or a way to keep a justified status — was instead sent by God to show the impossible task of earning favor with God. With all ways to God except the the Promised Savior shut up. The Law would lead man to search for the Savior and when He was revealed the Law would lead to Him.

  • Kept phroureo to keep under lock and key
    The Law kept all avenues to salvation shut except faith in the coming sacrifice ­— the atonement of Jesus Christ. When faith in a historic Christ came the Law was done away with.

During Jesus’ life and ministry there was a small core of devout Jews who were seeking, and they found the Promised Seed. The faith. Salvation. Sadly, most of Israel in His time were worshipping the Law — worshipping the system — changing it to a list of ordinances, adding to it the traditions that were developed all in a vain attempt to curry favor with God.

The vast majority of folks that passed by Jesus as He travelled never understood who He was and the love and grace and hope and life He carried.

Since Christ has come there is no need for the Law for the Christian, however:

  • The Law is still needed to point the lost to Jesus, to convict of sin, and show the need for the Savior
  • The Law is still active in the life of the unsaved sinner
  • The Holy Spirit has been given inside the believer to convict of sin and wrong, and disobedience to God and His will for his life