"But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:23-26)While the promise was made to Abraham, it would be two thousand years before faith would appear allowing us to believe in the promise. For two thousand years the promise would have to wait for those worthy to receive it; those who's walk was by "by faith, not by sight." (2 Corinthians 5:7) How would mankind survive and not kill each other while waiting for the promise to be realized? How could God guarantee that after two thousand years there would be a people prepared and desirous of the promise? The answer was the Law.
The Greek word rendered here for "kept in custody" means to "protect by guarding." It comes from two Greek words that literally means to "stare ahead" as a guard on a tower would watch the horizon for any trouble that he might keep the city safe. The law kept us for the time that faith would appear. The law did not keep us from faith, but kept us safe until faith should come. The law taught us how to live, how to relate to others, how to form civil societies, and to understand the basic character and nature of God so that, when faith came, we would be ready for it. Even today, the law of our parents keep us for manhood and womanhood. It teaches us how to live rightly, obey the rules, and it keeps us safe till we reach maturity. What good is the message of salvation if one has no means to keep them safe until they can understand it and receive it for themselves? This is the role of the law; to guard, teach, and protect us until we can grow to maturity and receive faith.
The Greek word for "tutor" is a beautiful word that is transliterated as "pedalogue" and means more than a tutor. Strong defines the word as "boy-leader." In those days, especially among the well-to-do of the Greeks, there was usually a servant whose job it was to escort the children to school; to ensure that they made it there and made it there safely. The pedagogue not only showed the children the way but protected and defended them from any harm along the way. The closest thing we have to day are crossing guards and these are not quite the same. The Law was our pedalogue. It not only showed us the way to Jesus but it also kept us safe along the way.
One of the things the law teaches us is our need for Jesus. Through the law we find that we are unable to keep the commandments of the law and we realize that, if we are to be righteous, we need a savior. Then the law takes us on a journey to find that savior; one who has kept the law without blemish yet who has also died in our place that His righteousness might be credited to us as well. The law is often a necessary step leading us to salvation.
However, now having made it to school, having been entrusted to the schoolmaster, we no longer need our pedalogue. Faith has come and the promise has been granted. There is no need for what had previously intervened and mediated between us and God. The fullness of the promise has come. Let us therefore no longer seek to go back to the law but journey forward with Christ as we learn from His who is our new Schoolmaster.