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23 Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. 24Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. 25But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, 26for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. 27As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. 29And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.

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23. faith—namely, that just mentioned (Ga 3:22), of which Christ is the object.

keptGreek, "kept in ward": the effect of the "shutting up" (Ga 3:22; Ga 4:2; Ro 7:6).

unto—"with a view to the faith," &c. We were, in a manner, morally forced to it, so that there remained to us no refuge but faith. Compare the phrase, Ps 78:50, Margin; Ps 31:8.

which should afterwards, &c.—"which was afterwards to be revealed."

24. "So that the law hath been (that is, hath turned out to be) our schoolmaster (or "tutor," literally, "pedagogue": this term, among the Greeks, meant a faithful servant entrusted with the care of the boy from childhood to puberty, to keep him from evil, physical and moral, and accompany him to his amusements and studies) to guide us unto Christ," with whom we are no longer "shut up" in bondage, but are freemen. "Children" (literally, infants) need such tutoring (Ga 4:3).

might be—rather, "that we may be justified by faith"; which we could not be till Christ, the object of faith, had come. Meanwhile the law, by outwardly checking the sinful propensity which was constantly giving fresh proof of its refractoriness—as thus the consciousness of the power of the sinful principle became more vivid, and hence the sense of need both of forgiveness of sin and freedom from its bondage was awakened—the law became a "schoolmaster to guide us unto Christ" [Neander]. The moral law shows us what we ought to do, and so we learn our inability to do it. In the ceremonial law we seek, by animal sacrifices, to answer for our not having done it, but find dead victims no satisfaction for the sins of living men, and that outward purifying will not cleanse the soul; and that therefore we need an infinitely better Sacrifice, the antitype of all the legal sacrifices. Thus delivered up to the judicial law, we see how awful is the doom we deserve: thus the law at last leads us to Christ, with whom we find righteousness and peace. "Sin, sin! is the word heard again and again in the Old Testament. Had it not there for centuries rung in the ear, and fastened on the conscience, the joyful sound, "grace for grace," would not have been the watchword of the New Testament. This was the end of the whole system of sacrifices" [Tholuck].

25. "But now that faith is come," &c. Moses the lawgiver cannot bring us into the heavenly Canaan though he can bring us to the border of it. At that point he is superseded by Joshua, the type of Jesus, who leads the true Israel into their inheritance. The law leads us to Christ, and there its office ceases.

26. childrenGreek, "sons."

byGreek, "through faith." "Ye all" (Jews and Gentiles alike) are no longer "children" requiring a tutor, but SONS emancipated and walking at liberty.

27. baptized into Christ—(Ro 6:3).

have put on Christ—Ye did, in that very act of being baptized into Christ, put on, or clothe yourselves with, Christ: so the Greek expresses. Christ is to you the toga virilis (the Roman garment of the full-grown man, assumed when ceasing to be a child) [Bengel]. Gataker defines a Christian, "One who has put on Christ." The argument is, By baptism ye have put on Christ; and therefore, He being the Son of God, ye become sons by adoption, by virtue of His Sonship by generation. This proves that baptism, where it answers to its ideal, is not a mere empty sign, but a means of spiritual transference from the state of legal condemnation to that of living union with Christ, and of sonship through Him in relation to God (Ro 13:14). Christ alone can, by baptizing with His Spirit, make the inward grace correspond to the outward sign. But as He promises the blessing in the faithful use of the means, the Church has rightly presumed, in charity, that such is the case, nothing appearing to the contrary.

28. There is in this sonship by faith in Christ, no class privileged above another, as the Jews under the law had been above the Gentiles (Ro 10:12; 1Co 12:13; Col 3:11).

bond nor free—Christ alike belongs to both by faith; whence he puts "bond" before "free." Compare Note, see on 1Co 7:21, 22; Eph 6:8.

neither male nor female—rather, as Greek, "there is not male and female." There is no distinction into male and female. Difference of sex makes no difference in Christian privileges. But under the law the male sex had great privileges. Males alone had in their body circumcision, the sign of the covenant (contrast baptism applied to male and female alike); they alone were capable of being kings and priests, whereas all of either sex are now "kings and priests unto God" (Re 1:6); they had prior right to inheritances. In the resurrection the relation of the sexes shall cease (Lu 20:35).

oneGreek, "one man"; masculine, not neuter, namely "one new man" in Christ (Eph 2:15).

29. and heirs—The oldest manuscripts omit "and." Christ is "Abraham's seed" (Ga 3:16): ye are "one in Christ" (Ga 3:28), and one with Christ, as having "put on Christ" (Ga 3:27); therefore YE are "Abraham's seed," which is tantamount to saying (whence the "and" is omitted), ye are "heirs according to the promise" (not "by the law," Ga 3:18); for it was to Abraham's seed that the inheritance was promised (Ga 3:16). Thus he arrives at the same truth which he set out with (Ga 3:7). But one new "seed" of a righteous succession could be found. One single faultless grain of human nature was found by God Himself, the source of a new and imperishable seed: "the seed" (Ps 22:30) who receive from Him a new nature and name (Ge 3:15; Isa 53:10, 11; Joh 12:24). In Him the lineal descent from David becomes extinct. He died without posterity. But He lives and shall reign on David's throne. No one has a legal claim to sit upon it but Himself, He being the only living direct representative (Eze 21:27). His spiritual seed derive their birth from the travail of His soul, being born again of His word, which is the incorruptible seed (Joh 1:12; Ro 9:8; 1Pe 1:23).