This meaning becomes even clearer in light of another term used in these verses, the term schoolmaster. The word means “child-leader” and signifies one who supervised the child, being responsible for his moral and physical wellbeing. In the Roman world of Paul’s day, this position was prevalent, with fathers employing men to act in this role toward the sons in the family. His task was not that of teacher but of disciplinarian, with the discipline sometimes being very severe but all the while preparing the child to come of age and take his place as a son in the family.
In the passage before us today, Paul uses these thoughts to illustrate his marvellous teaching on the role of the law in the justification of the sinner. He likens the law to this schoolmaster who disciplines the child in the family until he comes of age. His point is crystal clear. After the work of the law has been wrought in the heart, the sinner is brought to Christ and is justified through His merit and righteousness alone and is no longer under the schoolmaster of the law.
The schoolmaster’s work is done, and Christ has been found. The sinner has come of age and, gratefully, takes his place in the family of God.
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