Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith.
Thoughts for Today:In Roman or Greek households, the word PAIDAGOGOS (translated as "guardian" in verse 24), refers to a slave whose job it was to supervise a child’s life and morals until maturity. According to Vine's Expository Dictionary: "The idea is that of training and discipline, not of impartation of knowledge. The PAIDAGOGOS was not the instructor of the child; he exercised a general supervision over him and was responsible for his moral and physical well-being." The Law was working in the same way -- its job was to make us behave until the coming of Christ.
One of the great purposes of the Law was to convict Israel of sin and make it conscious of its need for salvation. Instead, it used the Law as a source of great national pride. Israel took the Law's holy commandments and expanded some parts, contradicted others, and generally perverted it in numerous ways. Jesus said in Mark 7:13: "Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that." If Israel had properly responded to the Law, they would have realized and confessed their inability to keep it -- and as a result, they would have been fully prepared, welcomed and embraced the coming of Jesus.
Questions to Ponder:Many Christians use rules to regulate their behavior. However, the problem arises when we place our faith in the rules rather than in the One who is faithful. Where have you placed your faith and trust -- in His righteousness or your own?