The Paidagogos


The Paidagogos

September 16th, 1956 @ 7:30 PM

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

Galatians 3:23-29

9-16-56    7:30 p.m.


Now, if you have got your Bible, turn to the third chapter of Galatians, the third chapter of Galatians.  Now we are going to read together from the nineteenth to the end of the chapter.  In the first part of that I was able to preach this morning, and we quit this morning at the twenty-second verse.  And tonight we are going to start the twenty-third verse and preach to the end of the chapter.  All right now, together let us read the scriptural text, the third chapter of Galatians beginning at the nineteenth verse to the end of the chapter.  All right, together:

Wherefore 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.

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

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.

But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.  But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.

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

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

For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

[Galatians 3:19-29]

So, our text tonight, beginning at the twenty-third verse; “before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed” [Galatians 3:19-29].  When we were children, being taught and disciplined, the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.  But after we got there, after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster [Galatians 3:24-25].  It has done its task, it has terminated its ministry, it has performed its final office.  It is of no use anymore.

Now, my sermon tonight is the word that is translated “schoolmaster.”  There is no thought of schoolmaster in the original word, paidagōgos.  The word, paidagōgos, is built like this: the Greek word for child is pais – p-a-i-s.  And the genitive of it is paidos.  The Greek word for “lead” is agō, and the Greek word for “leader” is agōgos.  And you put the word for pais, paidos, for “child,” with the word for “lead,” and that’s the Greek word paidagōgos: “one who leads a child.”

Now, the Greeks made a distinction, a very careful distinction between a ho didaskalos, a “teacher,” and a paidagōgos, a “tutor.”  But a tutor, I’ll tell you what it means.  A paidagōgos was the slave in the household of the Greek and Roman noble families.  And they gave into the charge of that slave the discipline and the training, the guardianship and the care of the child.  The child could not step out of the house without that paidagōgos with him.  The child could do nothing without that paidagōgos, and the word connotates someone who is very stern and very severe.

For example, the fourth chapter of 1 Corinthians in the fifteenth verse, Paul uses—and that’s the only place I could find the word used anywhere besides here—Paul uses the word paidagōgos there.  And when he uses it there, he makes a distinction between the paidagōgoi, the plural, the paidagōgos, and the father.  As though the father were full of sympathy and understanding and love but the paidagōgos was stern and unmoved [1 Corinthians 4:15].

Now, the character of those Greek and Roman people, the leaders, the character of those men was very stoical.  They taught their sons to be unflinching before battle.  In suffering, they were taught—those boys were, those children were—that to cry or to be afraid, or to quail, or to be apologetic was unbecoming the character and nobility of a Greek or a Roman.

Now, in order to get that boy to be disciplined for life, to be strong and unflinching and unafraid as he met all of the vicissitudes of life, in order to teach the boy to be that way, he’d put him under the guardianship of this stern paidagōgos, and the paidagōgos reared the child.  The father would see how the boy might be doing.  He might pat the boy on the head once in a while, but the entire training of that boy was under the direction of the stern, severe, disciplined paidagōgos.

Now Paul took that word, and he’s answering this question of, “Wherefore the law?” [Galatians 3:19].  And I mentioned two of his answers this morning.  It was added to point out our transgressions [Galatians 3:19].  Then, it does not contradict the promises, for the promises are built upon the assumption that there is great need and lack and want in our life, and the promises point to Jesus.  Then he comes with this stern answer, “Therefore, the law, the law was a schoolmaster,” you have it translated, “it was a paidagōgos to bring us to Jesus [Galatians 3:24].  Now he mentions the office, one of the offices of the paidagōgos, to take the child and to bring him to the schoolteacher.  That schoolmaster there, be teaching the boy Greek and Latin and all of the cultural sciences that were known in those days, so the paidagōgos, that stern slave in the household of the nobleman, would take the child and through the streets of the city and to the schoolmaster’s house, and there he would leave the boy to be taught his lessons.

Now Paul uses that figure, and he says that the law was that paidagōgos to bring us to Jesus [Galatians 3:24].  And when the paidagōgos has brought the boy to the schoolmaster, the teacher, then the paidagōgos stands aside, his office is filled, he doesn’t have any control over the boy when the boy is in the hands of his teacher, of his schoolmaster.  And that’s the figure that he uses about the law with us.  The law was our paidagōgos to bring us to Jesus [Galatians 3:24].  And when we are brought to Christ, after that faith has come, we are no longer under a paidagōgos [Galatians 3:25].

Now, to apply that figure to us and to the law as we read it here in the Book: the law was a paidagōgos to bring us to the Lord Jesus [Galatians 3:24].  But after we are brought to the Lord Jesus, there is no need any longer for the paidagōgos—don’t need that law anymore [Galatians 3:25].  When you get to heaven, you’ll not be under law; there is no mention of the Ten Commandments in heaven.  You don’t have any law in heaven.  There are no thieves there; “Thou shalt not steal” [Exodus 20:15].  There are no murderers there; “Thou shalt not kill” [Exodus 20:13].  All of us, when we get to heaven, are in the image of Christ.  We are like Jesus; 1 John 3:2 says, “For we shall see Him as He is.  We shall be like Him.”  And perfect love has no law.  “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” [Matthew 22:39] then you are not going to kill him, and you are not going to destroy him, and you’re not going to steal from him.   When you love him as yourself, then there’s no further law.  So with God’s people in heaven, you don’t have any law in heaven, for we’re all like Christ [1 John 3:2].  We all love God, and we’re all servants and fellow brethren and sisters there in the Lord Jesus.

The law is a temporary thing, and the purpose of it was to bring us to the Savior [Galatians 3:24].  Now, that’s true with the ceremonial law.  The purpose of the ceremonial law was a paidagōgos to take us to Jesus.  All of the rites and the rituals and the ceremonies of the Old Testament legislation had just one purpose, and that was to point to the Lord Jesus, to take us to the Lord Jesus [Galatians 3:24].  Those ceremonials—oh, there are pages and pages of them—and at these 8:15 services in days past, I’ve spoken much about them.  All of those great passages, all of them had the one purpose: to bring us to the Lord Jesus.

For, you see, the ceremonial is a map, but it’s not the country itself.  It’s a model of a road, but it is not the road itself.  In the Republic Bank building, I passed through the lobby one day, and I saw there a great big long model of the toll road from Dallas to Fort Worth, but the model in the Republic Bank building was not the toll road, it just was a picture of it, not the thing itself.  So all of the ceremonials back here, they were pictures, but they were not the thing itself.  The blood of goats and of bulls and the ashes of an heifer could never wash away our sins [Hebrews 10:4].  The portrait of a king is not the king himself.  A picture of a feast is not the banquet itself.  The shadow of things to come [is] not the substance itself.

All of the old Jewish ceremonial was not to wash away actual sins, but it was a picture of the great sacrifice that was to come, and it was a paidagōgos to bring us to the Lord Jesus [Galatians 3:24].  Even the Passover was that.  When the Lord God said, “Death shall visit this land, and if any man gets underneath the blood, I will spare his life, My angel will pass over” [Exodus 12:7, 13, 23].  The question was not “What did that man think about that?  What does this man think about that blood?”  The question was, “If you will get in that house, underneath that blood, God will pass over you, that terrible angel of death.”  That’s the way it is, pointing toward Christ; it was a picture of the sacrifice of Christ for us [Exodus 12:7, 13, 23].

If God saved us according to what we thought about the blood of Christ, I don’t know whether many of us would be saved or not.  But it’s not a question of what you think about it.  It’s a question of are you under it, have you been saved, have you trusted it, have you given your life to it?”  Then God says, “I count that blood of Christ so precious, that if a man is underneath it, if he is trusting in it, if he got in, I will save him”  says the Lord God.  And that thing back there was a type; it was a picture of the great sacrifice that was to come [Matthew 27:32-50].

Now, the tabernacle was identically the same thing.  The way was barred to God, it was shut off.  There was a great veil in between, and the only entrance into the Holy of Holies, into the presence of God Himself, was by blood [Hebrews 9:7].  No one came into the presence of God save by blood.   That was a picture, it was a type, that no man shall ever see God’s face except through the atoning sacrifice and the saving grace of the Son of God [John 14:6].  All of those ceremonials had just one great purpose and that was to lead us to the Lord Jesus; a paidagōgos to bring us to Christ [Galatians 3:24].

Now that is true about the moral law, the Ten Commandments [Exodus 20:1-17].  It was never the purpose of the Ten Commandments to save us.  The purpose of the Ten Commandments was a paidagōgos to bring us to Christ, to take us to Jesus [Galatians 3:24].  The Ten Commandments is the greatest piece of moral legislation in the world.  There is nothing like it in the history of mankind.  It is holiness personified.  It is holiness mapped out.  It is all of the essence of fine judgment and statutes.  It is everything in the heart and in the life by which a man might walk in rectitude in the earth.  No man could add anything to it.  No man could take away from it.  It is perfect and complete in itself.  But, it was not designed to save us.  “This do, and thou shalt live” [Deuteronomy 4:1; Luke 10:28].  But it leads to despair, for who keeps it?   Who has been perfect in all of his ways?  A perfect law and a perfect commandment, “do it and thou shalt live.”  But who does it?

And when you break the least of those sub-commandments and statutes and judgments, much less the great moral code of the Ten Words itself; “It shall come to pass that when these commandments and statutes that I command thee this day, if thou doest not observe them, all the curses shall come upon thee! [Deuteronomy 28:15]  Cursed shalt thou be in the city,” in Dallas.  “Cursed shalt thou be in the field”; you can’t run out of Dallas and away from the curse of God, for the curse is out there in the field.  “Cursed shall be thy basket and thy store.  Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land, and the increase of thy kind, and the flocks of thy sheep.  Cursed shall thou be when thou comest in and cursed shall thou be when thou goest out” [Deuteronomy 28:16-19].  And Moses summed it up in a quotation quoted by Paul in Galatians, “Cursed is the man that continueth not in all things written in the law to do them” [Deuteronomy 27:26; Galatians 3:10].  

If the Ten Commandments [Exodus 20:1-17], the moral code of God, was made to save us, then we’re all damned, we’re all cursed.  For the great moral code of God leads to nothing but to despair, but the purpose of it was not to lead us to despair, but the purpose of it was to lead us to a despair of ourselves and a paidagōgos to lead us to the Lord Jesus Christ [Galatians 3:24].  For when a man comes to the place where he sees, “There’s no goodness in me.  There’s no righteousness in my life.  They are as filthy rags in the sight of God [Isaiah 64:6].  What shall I do, and what must I do to be saved?”

The most effective beginning of any book I’ve ever read is Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.  The scene: his dream opens, and before him is a man dressed in tatters with a great, heavy burden on his back, and he is reading a book and as he reads the book, he cries with a great and lamentable cry, saying, “What shall I do?”  And Evangelist finds him, and he looks at him, and the man looks this way, and he looks that way as if he would flee, but he knew not where to flee, so Evangelist said, “Why standest thou still?”  And the man replies, “Because I do not know where to flee.”

“Why do you cry?”  And the man replies, “For it says in this Book, ‘The soul that sins shall die [Ezekiel 18:4], and the wrath of God is upon disobedience and iniquity, and I live in the city of wrath, and my house is one of judgment and damnation.  What shall I do?”  That’s the purpose of the law: to bring us to that place where we cry, “O God,” with a burden on my back and dressed in tatters and rags, and living in a house of judgment and among people of iniquity, “O God!    What shall I do, and how can I be saved?”  The purpose of the law is to lead us to Jesus; a paidagōgos to bring us to Christ [Galatians 3:24].

Now, what about that way?  The way of the world is “do, and be saved.”  That’s the world’s principle everywhere.  To be saved by self-merit.  Oh, what men do!  Over in India they will lie on the boards with spikes.  Over there in China, I have seen them until it seemed to me they had grown to the floor, I have seen them before those statues of Buddha and their prayer wheels as they pray and supplicate before that idol.  I have seen them as they toll those bells waking up their gods.  I have seen them in old Mexico, start down there, miles and miles and miles and on their knees all the way up to the shrine of the Guadalupe Virgin.

All over Dallas, there are men who will say “I’ll take my chances when the great judgment day comes.  I’ll stand before God, and I’ll tell Him I’m as good as any other man.  I’ve paid my debts, and I have lived a respectable life as a citizen in Dallas.  And when the time comes, I’ll walk in with my head up because I have merited my salvation, I have won it.”  What about that world’s way to be saved?  This is what Paul says about it.  “If there had been a law which a man could keep, which could give life, verily salvation should have been by the law” [Galatians 3:21].

If a man can be saved by lying on a board full of short nails, or by holding up his hands to heaven and clenching his fists until the fingernails grow out the back of his hands, or if they can be saved by endless genuflection and prayer before a god made out of gold, or if they can be saved by paying debt and live the respectable life, if there is a law given that a man can keep whereby he can be saved, then the greatest tragedy and farce I know in this world is the sacrifice of the Son of God for our sins! [1 John 2:2].  All of the tears and blood and suffering!  Figured, pre-figured, typified in the slaying of the lamb through the years and the blood of the ceremonial, and the whole vast unfolding of the plan of God; if there’s a law given that a man can keep it and be saved, then all of that, all of that is sheer waste, and farce, and cheap burlesque, and comedy.

It’s because there’s no law given that a man can keep whereby he can save himself, it’s because there is no such possibility as a man by self-merit achieving salvation, that God sent His Son into the world a sacrifice for our sins.  The law, the commandment, was in nowise given us in order that we might be saved, but it was a paidagōgos to bring us to Christ that we might be justified by faith in Him [Galatians 3:24].

Now may I make two or three observations about it?  What does God’s way of salvation do for us?  There are several things.  I’m going to name about three.  First: God’s way of salvation makes sin exceeding sinful [Romans 7:13].  When a man thinks he can save himself by his own goodness or merit, this is his attitude about sin, “Well now, I may have done wrong, I may have sinned, but oh, you know, God will overlook that.  He is merciful and just and kind, and after all, it wasn’t bad.  And I’ve done so much more good in my life.  The good in my life outweighs the bad in my life, and it wasn’t so very bad.”  And that’s his attitude toward sin.  He minimizes it in his life.

But in God’s way of salvation, sin becomes exceeding sinful.  However a man is good and however he might be righteous in his life, if a man is in the sight of God and in the presence of God, he becomes deeply conscious of his unworthiness, “Lord, Lord, all of the righteousnesses of my life are of nothing compared to the holiness and the purity of God.”  And in God’s plan of salvation, a man’s sins become exceedingly dark and exceedingly black.  Even the purest of the girls among us, and even the finest of the boys in our midst, and even the holiest of the saints who live among us, when they come before God and look at God’s way of salvation, their sins are black and fallen short of the great holy commandment of God [Romans 3:23].  That’s one thing it does; sin becomes exceeding sinful in God’s plan of salvation [Romans 7:13].

All right, the second thing that happens is this: when a man accepts God’s plan of salvation, then the holy character of God becomes up and up and up and exalted high and holy [Isaiah 57:15].  He is not a man anymore just comparing us with one another, but God is great and high and removed.  That’s the reason I have never been able quite to share in these modern honky-tonk songs where people get so familiar with God.  “Oh, buddy buddy,” you know, “Oh, buddy buddy.  Oh, sidekick over there, oh pal,” you know, “Oh, oh pal, God.”  I don’t see that.  I think that’s of the flesh.  I think that’s of the world.  I think the more a man approaches God, really God, I think the more he’ll be like Simon Peter, “O Lord, depart from me   I am a sinful man!” [Luke 5:8]  I think he’ll be like Isaiah, “Oh, mine eyes have seen the Lord of hosts!  And I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell among a people of unclean lips” [Isaiah 6:5].  I don’t think that God’s way leads us to that “Oh, pal, Oh buddy buddy!”  But I think it leads us to that holy awe, “O God!  Great Sovereign and Judge of life, have mercy upon me!  And through the wounds and blood of Jesus, make a way, Lord, for me!” [Luke 18:13].  I think God’s way of salvation does that to us.

Then there’s another thing that I think God’s way of salvation does for us, and that is this: it promotes in life a tremendous committal and holiness and trust and love for God.  It is the exact opposite of what you would think.  You are listening, listen real good, for the heart of the gospel is this: when a man seeks to save himself by his self-merit and by his self-righteousness, you would think, “Oh, how that must promote holy living and holy dying!  Well, this man’s going to be saved by being good.  He’s going to save himself.  It’s going to be his merit and his obedience and his worth that takes him to heaven.  What a wonderful incentive that is for righteousness and for the keeping of the commandments of God!”  That’s what you think, but that’s not so, and could I illustrate it from an incident in the life of our Lord Jesus?

There came into the house of Simon the Pharisee, where the Lord Jesus was reclining at the table and eating dinner, there came to Him a woman from the streets, a sinful woman.  And she came up to Him—and you remember the story, I spoke of it last Sunday night—she washed His feet with the tears of her eyes, and she dried His feet with the long flowing hair of her head, and she anointed His feet with a vial of precious oil she had brought for the Savior [Luke 7:36-38].  Now, Simon the Pharisee who was keeping all of these laws, he was saving himself by being righteous, Simon the Pharisee looked at that thing that was taking place in his house, and he said in his heart, “This man is no prophet.  If He were a prophet, He would know that that woman was a harlot, and He would not let her fouled, defiled flesh touch Him” [Luke 7:39].  And Jesus knew what he was thinking in his heart, and He said, “Simon, Simon, I have somewhat to say to thee” [Luke 7:40].  And Simon said, “Speak on Lord, what would You like to say to me?” [Luke 7:40].  And Jesus said—now you listen to Him, “Simon, seeth this woman here?”  down there on her knees with tears, with that precious vial of ointment in her hand, perfume, there she was.  He said:

See that woman?  I entered into thine house, thou gavest Me no water for My feet: but she hath washed My feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.

Thou gavest Me no kiss: but this woman, since the time I came in, hath not ceased to kiss My feet.

My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed My feet with ointment.

Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.  Much forgiven, loving much.

And He said unto her, Thy sins be forgiven thee . . . Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.

[Luke 7:44-50]

Who, under God, is moved by the Holy Spirit of Jesus the more?  The Pharisee, saving himself by his self-righteous obedience to the law, or the woman in sin, kneeling at His feet with her tears bathing His feet and her vial of oil anointing His feet, and looking up in hope to the blessed Savior our Lord?  Who would love Him most and best?  What promotes godliness and committal?

Is it a man’s self-righteous obedience to the law, or is it faith in the love and mercy of Christ?  God says we are sanctified, we are justified, we are accepted, not because of any obedience whereby we walk according to the law or the commandment, but we are saved, we are justified, we are accepted because we have opened our hearts to the grace and love and atoning mercy of Jesus Christ [Ephesians 2:8].  That’s God’s way into heaven.  That’s God’s way to be saved.  That’s God’s way to be justified.  That’s God’s way to glory.

While we sing this song of appeal, while we make this song our heart’s appeal, all of us here, while we, in prayer and intercession, make this appeal, would you open your heart to it tonight?  “I will accept the grace and love and mercy of the Lord Jesus.  I’ll give Him my heart, and I’ll trust Him as my Savior.  And here I am, and here I come.”  Would you so?  Would you so?

Is there a family of you to put your life in the church?  Would you come?  Is there one somebody you who tonight would choose Jesus and not yourself?  Would you choose Him and be done with all thought that “I can save myself, I’m as good as anybody else.”  Would you be done with thoughts of self-merit and self-righteousness?  Would you open your heart to Jesus, to love the Lord Jesus?  Would you?

As the people shalt sing and pray and as you open your heart to God, into the aisle and down here to the front, would you come?  “Preacher, I’ve already done that.  I’ve already been saved, but I want to put my life with you and these blessed, blessed fellow Christians in the circumference and fellowship and communion of the church.”  Would you come?  By baptism or letter or however God would open the door and lead the way, would you come, and make it now?  While we stand and while we sing.