17What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise.
18For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise.
19Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made.
20Now a mediator is not for one party only; whereas God is only one.
21Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law.
22But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
23But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed.
24Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.
25But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
26For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
27For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
29And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.
I highly respect this passage today, because it lays out the purpose of it all. The Promise, The Law, The Redemption of Christ. Let’s break it down, shall we?
THE PROMISE: I thought for the longest time that Christ’s sacrifice negated the law, however within the past year or so I have learned that He fulfilled the law, setting the standard of righteousness by works. God’s promise was based on faith, before and after the Law was written. (that is, the ten commandments and the “rules” that followed). Is the law contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! God does not contradict the Law, nor does the Law contradict God. Rather, it proves the iniquity of man.
THE LAW: if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law. You see, the purpose of the Law was to prove to man that we cannot live up to God’s standard. It is also explained in other parts of the bible that it was created to reveal the sins of man. In other words, it shows that we cannot comprehensively “do good enough” to earn our righteousness in God’s eyes. the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin. I mentioned in Romans that it almost seems like God set us up to fail. Rather, he showed us how we were failing. We always have, since original sin. However, we were blind to it. Naturally, we struggle for control and power so as humans, we attempted to fulfill the Law to prove ourselves worthy and powerful (reference the pharisees). This is where I remember people asking me “how can a loving God condemn people like this?” I hear ya. He didn’t condemn us, He saved us.
THE REDEMPTION OF CHRIST: the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. It’s come full circle. God’s promise to Abraham, before the Law, before the nation of Israel, was fulfilled through Christ. He promised spiritual descendants, a family of believers based on a faith similar to Abraham, that would be united and saved, claiming God’s Kingdom as their home. The Law was the motivator for us to realize that we cannot create our own righteousness, therefore we must look to Christ who fulfilled it in our stead, so we may be washed clean of our iniquities and seen as pure in the eyes of God. This is what Paul means by therefore the Law has become our tutor. It’s funny how it works, actually. We cannot fulfill the Law, so we look to Christ. The Spirit fills us and we then instinctively celebrate and worship by carrying out the things set forth in the Law without even thinking of it! The Fruit of the Spirit.
I love the ending of the passage. It unites us Believers as one nation, under God. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. It’s yet again another charge reminding us that we are family, one that will never be broken. There is no worldly classification that should create a divide between the Brethren in Christ. Race, sex, wealth, nor doctrine is powerful enough to create a divide between God’s people.
I used to say that the Marine Corps was the biggest fraternity in the world. All it takes is 2 people to let each other know they were in the Corps and they instantly got along on a level most others don’t understand. I say that to tell you that Christians are the members of the biggest family in the world, how often do we instantly relate and treat each other accordingly?