A Brief Study on the Law & Promise – Part one


A Brief Study on the Law & Promise
Robert Jimenez
Scriptures quoted are from the ESV bible, unless otherwise noted

Key words in this study are:

  • Purpose
  • Faith
  • Redemption (redeem)
  • Guardian
  • Promise

First off there is one message, one Gospel, and one way to redemption:
Galatians 6:6-9
6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

Only faith in Christ can Justify us, and no one will be justified by the works of the law.
Galatians 2:15-16
15We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

If justification is possible through the Law, then Christ died for no purpose.

Galatians 2:21
21 I do not nullify (or set aside) the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

Abraham precedes the Law. Clearly even Abraham was justified by faith (he believed), before the Law ever came into existences. Now we begin to see that the Law, and Promise have a different purpose.

Galatians 3:6
Just as Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness.. HCSB

7 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify[c] the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

The Law is incapable to justify or declare us righteous. The righteous will live by faith. Faith means: trust, to trust in God, to hang yourself on the promises, the Law refers to books of Moses beginning with Exodus through Deut. Also, it can have it’s meaning in the Covenant sense, God came into agreement with Moses.

God’s ultimate purpose is that we would receive the promise through faith. What is the promise? That Christ would come and redeem us.

Galatians 3:10-14 HCSB
10 For all who [rely on] the works of the law are under a curse, because it is written: Cursed is everyone who does not continue doing everything written in the book of the law. 11 Now it is clear that no one is justified before God by the law, because the righteous will live by faith. 12 But the law is not based on faith; instead, the one who does these things will live by them. 13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, because it is written: Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree. 14 The purpose was that the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, so that we could receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

The next verses in Galatians goes into detail regarding the Law and Promise.

Galatians 3:15-18 HCSB
15 Brothers, I’m using a human illustration. No one sets aside even a human covenant that has been ratified (or established), or makes additions to it. 16 Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say “and to seeds,” as though referring to many, but and to your seed, referring to one, who is Christ. 17 And I say this: the law, which came 430 years later, does not revoke a covenant that was previously ratified (or established) by God, so as to cancel the promise. 18 For if the inheritance is from the law, it is no longer from the promise; but God granted it to Abraham through the promise.

This promise was given 430 years before the Law, and Paul argues that you do not nullify, or set aside a promise or covenant (that is what God did when he made the promise, He entered into a covenant with Abraham, before he made a covenant with Moses) just because you create a law for a different purpose. The purpose of the Promise was to declare us justified through faith in Christ, and the purpose of the Law was to declare us dead, sinful, incapable to live or be redeemed by it.

We know from verse 7, that we are Sons of Abraham, and we are the ones that will inherit the promise through faith in Christ.

So Paul says that just because the Law came into affect it does not revoke the Promise made to Abraham.

So why even give the Law (I already hinted at that)? What is the purpose of the Law?
Galatians 3:19a TNIV
What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come.

So is the Law opposed to the Promise? This question arises out of confusion in what the purpose of the Promise is for, and what the purpose of the Law is for. Paul addresses it as he realized that those of the Circumcision Party did not fully comprehend the Promise made to Abraham, and thought that the Law nullified all other agreements. They were confused, as are most people today in regards to the Law and Promise. They fail to recognize that each was given to serve a different purpose. I am getting ahead of myself, but the Law was meant to lead us to Christ, and the Promise was meant to redeem us.

Galatians 3:19b (the next section is taken out of the HCSB)
It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise was made would come.
So… (Galatians 3:21)
21 Is the law therefore contrary to God’s promises?

Absolutely not!

They cannot be in opposition to each other because they serve a different purpose. Once you understand this, then you realize that there is no conflict or opposition between the two. Understanding this is very crucial, otherwise you will continue to find conflict because you think they are intended for the same purpose.

Here is where Paul once again defines the purpose of the Law:

For if a law had been given that was able to give life, then righteousness would certainly be by the law.

The Law was NOT given so that it can give life. What then was the purpose of the Law?

22 But the Scripture (or the Law) has imprisoned everything under sin’s power, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 Before this faith came, we were confined under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith was revealed.

We were imprisoned under sin’s power, and confined under the law, until the Promise was fulfilled.

The next verses 24-25 are not translated correctly in the KJV. It incorrectly translates the Greek word paidagogos as schoolmaster” and the ESV and TNIV translate it as “put in charge of us“, and the HCSB translates it “garudian

Galatians 3:24-26 – HCSB
24 The law, then, was our guardian until Christ, so that we could be justified by faith. 25 But since that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

According to the Expositor’s Bible Commentary:

Paidagogos means “a child-custodian” or “child- attendant.” The pedagogue was a slave employed by wealthy Greeks or Romans to have responsibility for one of the children of the family. He had charge of the child from about the years six to sixteen and was responsible for watching over his behavior wherever he went and for conducting him to and from school. The pedagogue did not teach. Therefore the translation “schoolmaster” is wrong; if Paul had meant this, he would have used didaskalos (which means teacher) rather than paidagogos. Paul’s point is that this responsibility ceased when the child entered into the fullness of his position as a son, becoming an acknowledged adult by the formal rite of adoption by his father.

John MacArthur Jr says this:

The role of the paidagōgos was never permanent, and it was a great day of deliverance when a boy finally gained freedom from his paidagōgos. His purpose was to take care of the child only until he grew into adulthood. At that time the relationship was changed. Though the two of them might remain close and friendly, the paidagōgos, having completed his assignment, had no more authority or control over the child, now a young man, and the young man had no more responsibility to be directly under the paidagōgos.

The sole purpose of
the Law, God’s divinely appointed paidagōgos, was to lead men to Christ, that they might be justified. After a person comes to Him, there is no longer need for the external ceremonies and rituals to act as guides and disciplinarians, because the new inner principles operate through the indwelling Christ, in whom is “hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3). The law in the ceremonial sense is done away with, though in the moral sense it remains always an intimate friend that one seeks to love and favor. Before Christ came, the law of external ritual and ceremony, especially the sacrificial system, pictured the once-for-all, perfect, and effective sacrifice of Christ for the sins of the world. When the perfect Christ comes into the believer’s heart, those imperfect pictures of Him have no more purpose or significance.

Now that we are grown up and Sons of Christ, we no longer have a need for a guardian. Since we are Sons, we are heirs to the promise. That is the exact point that Paul is making by the careful choice of the word Paidagogos. The analogy is that the Law was our custodian/guardian until we were full adults. Once we were full adults (i.e. grown up sons in Christ, through faith according to the promise), we no longer have a need for a guardian (Law).

Galatians 3:29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.


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