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The DEEP

Adult Responsibility

The guardian retired.

Galatians 3:21–25

Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 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.

The key to unpacking this passage is exegeting the Greek in, “But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

The Greek word translated as “confined” (συνέκλεισεν, soon-ek-lei-sen) means enclosed, imprisoned, closed up together. The first half of the sentence is saying that Scripture has bundled everything under sin.

The second half of the sentence is a purpose construction in Greek. It literally reads, “[for the purpose] that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.” That’s why Scripture bundled everything under sin.

So, bundling everything into one big sin package means that Christ taking our sin for us completely delivers righteousness and keeps the promise. So, with that clarified, we can now treat the whole passage.

Is the law then against the promises of God? Obviously not, as no law could have given life and righteousness. Instead, everything is bundled under sin so that Christ can take it all in one gulp.

Before, the law kept everything for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor [the Greek word (παιδαγωγόν, pai-da-go-gon) means tutor, guardian, custodian, guide] to bring us to Christ.

In other words, the law kept the bundle intact, ready for Christ. The last half of that sentence is another purpose construction in the Greek—[for the purpose] that we might be justified by faith.

And, of course, after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor/guardian/custodian/guide.

The law gets a gold watch and is dispatched into retirement.


Of course, this retirement refers to the ceremonial law, not the moral law. Right is still right, and wrong is still wrong. It’s just that keeping kosher has lost its crown.

The gist of the passage is graduation. We’re no longer under the tutelage of a guardian. Faith in Christ makes us functionally adults.

Adults are more useful to God, but with adulthood comes responsibility. We now function as ambassadors. This highlights how important the moral law still is.

Under the law, our salvation was the issue. Now it’s God’s glory, which is much more important.


These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

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The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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