“But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor” (Galatians 3:23-25).
In writing the word “tutor,” Paul here, is using a figure of speech. The Law reveals to people their true condition before God and leads them to the Master (Christ) for cleansing and forgiveness and then the believer becomes “justified by faith” (Romans 3:28). It is not the function of a “schoolmaster” to condemn, but to guard and to protect (v. 24).
The Lord through Moses gave civil laws, temple ceremonial laws (sacrifices and ordinances), and God’s Moral Law of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20). When Christ came, the temple ceremonial laws ceased because Christ’s sacrifice took the place of animal sacrifices (Ephesians 2:15). In regards to the civil laws, they lost their significance when Israel was overcome by the Romans in 70 AD and spiritual Israel or the Christian Church took its place.
As for the moral law, or the Ten Commandments, it stands for ever. Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished” (Matthew 5:17,18).
But the Ten Commandments no longer stand out on two tables of stone apart from man. Instead, God wrote the Ten Commandments in the hearts and minds of His children by faith “I will put My laws into their minds, and I will write them on their hearts’ (Hebrews 8:10). In Christ the believers become new creatures through obedience to God’s Moral Law by His divine power (Hebrews 4:16).
Some claim that this verse teaches that God’s moral law is abolished. It is difficult to understand how anyone can conclude that Paul is here announcing the abolition of the Ten Commandments. This divine Moral Law will continue engraved in the living hearts of God’s children as long as they live. Paul said, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law” (Romans 3:31). But the Ten Commandments law should not be a means of attaining righteousness (vs. 1–3) rather only to bring the sinner to Christ for cleansing.
Check out our Bible Answers page for more information on a variety of topics.
In His service,