Difficult Bible Words that Teach Something Important: Paidagōgos, Guide
How do we translate that word used in Galatians 3:24-25? In the Greek and Roman world, the paidagōgos was a
slave employed to guide a child in their school years. "Guide", "guardian," "child-conductor," and "tutor to lead"
are renderings. Moffatt paraphrased as "held us wards in discipline." William Barclay explained it as: "the servant
who brought us to the door of the school of Christ." The Law's purpose was to bring the fledgling Israel to Jesus
Christ, who would teach them how to be saved by believing in Him. To be saved from sins, the world needs Jesus Christ to first learn from and then believe in. "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." Romans 10:17. See John 6:45 and Matthew 28:18-20.
The idea in paidagōgos is that, since children are immature, vulnerable, naïve and foolish, they need someone to guide them. This was the role of the guardian with the child, and thus the Law with Israel. The Law brought the knowledge of sin, Romans 3:20, and disciplined Israel to live right until Jesus came.
But the problem with the Law was its inability to atone for the sins it highlighted. What do you do when sins are committed? The Law tells us what is sinful - what to avoid - but it can't forgive the breaking of law. (The policeman uses the law of speeding to issue tickets; it's not his role to forgive speeding drivers.) Hence the need for Christ. Now that Christ has come, Israel and the world can believe in Him and have their sins forgiven. Romans 3:21-26. The Law of Moses has served its purpose guiding Israel's childhood. As John said: "The Law was given through Moses. Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." John 1:17. The law, because it highlighted sin, cried out for a Saviour, and within its pages were predictions of that coming Saviour. It was a guide leading sinners to Christ.
The paidagōgos would take the child to school, drop him off, and return after school to take the child home. As William Barclay paraphrased it in his version of the New Testament, "the law is the servant who brought us to the door of the school of Christ." "The law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian." Galatians 3:24-25
Christ is now our law-giver, our teacher, our advocate, our intercessor, our grace and sacrifice for forgiveness. While the law had sacrifices that resulted in God forgiving sin (see Leviticus 4; 16; 17:11; Psalm 32), such forgiveness was based on the fact that a servant would arise to be the ultimate, once-for-all sacrifice for sin, fulfilling all those Old Testament laws. Isaiah 53; Matthew 5:17-20; Romans 3:25; 8:1-3; Galatians 3; 1 Timothy 1:8-17; Hebrews 7-10. Keeping the 10 Commandments is a noble ideal, but it won't save you. Trusting in Jesus as Lord will save you. Such is the message of Galatians, from where paidagōgos comes; it is also the message Jesus tried to get Jews in His day to understand. "The just will live by faith in Jesus Christ." But as Romans 10:16 quotes, "Who has believed our report?" Romans 9-11 details how "all Israel are not all the physical descendants of Abraham, but all Israel are those who shall be saved through faith." Belief in Jesus brings justification by faith.
So all who put their faith in Christ share the same blessing Abraham received because of his faith … Through Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing he promised to Abraham, so that we who are believers might receive the promised Holy Spirit through faith … Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith. 25 And now that the way of faith has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian.
26 For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. 28 There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God's promise to Abraham belongs to you. Galatians 3:9,14,24-29, NLT
Our elders, preachers and teachers in our churches continue to teach us so that we can all learn more about how to mature to be like Christ:
Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God's people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God's Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won't be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. 15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. 16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. Ephesians 4:11-16
Can we now see why Jesus said in essence "bring me a child and I will show you that unless you are converted and become as children, you will not inherit the kingdom of God?"
· The humility of a child. The faith of a child. Jesus is the guide to everyone who has the heart of a child.
· "The law is the servant who brought us to the door of the school of Christ." (William Barclay)
· Christ is God's servant who will take us children to the door of heaven, provided our hand is in His hand.
· Put your hand in the hand of the man from Galilee.
Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God's way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead! I don't mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly
prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Philippians 3:8-14