Note: Though this Sunday’s Epistle reading is Gal 3:26-29, this post begins as 3:23. My notes (if any) will be in red.
23. For before the faith came, we were kept guarded under the law, locked up for the faith which was to be revealed.
We Jews were kept as it were locked up in safe custody under the law, waiting for the revelation of the faith. Another service which the law rendered to faith. The law kept us faithful to the true worship of God, and at least in a partial, though not complete obedience to his commands, in expectation of something better that was to come. The law held them enclosed by its terrors, as by a wall, says St. Chrysostom, and reserved them for the age of faith, by the very necessity of existence.
24. Therefore the law was our guide (παιδαγωγός = Paidagogus) in Christ: that we may be justified by the faith.
The paidagogus was the person entrusted with the duty of conducting children to school, and keeping them out of mischief till they were safe under charge of the teacher. He was not the teacher, but only a guide to the teacher. Christ is the teacher, or rather faith in Christ; the law the guide to Christ. There is no opposition or antagonism between the teacher and the guide, for both have the same object in view, neither is there any antagonism between the law and faith, one being the provision made for the safety of the pupil until the other was ready. When the preceptor comes, the guide departs, as when the sun is risen the lights are extinguished. Faith being
come, we no longer need the guide.
25. But when the faith was come, we are no longer under a guide.
26. For you are all sons of God through the faith which is in Christ Jesus.
You are now all sons, and grown-up sons, of God. As Ambrose says, you have attained your majority. How wonderfully the power of faith, St. Chrysostom says, is exhibited and developed in the progress of the Apostle’s argument. He has just told us (verse 7) that faith makes us sons of Abraham. Now he says, you arc all the sons of God through the faith that is in Christ Jesus.
27. For you, whoever are baptized in Christ, have put on Christ.
28. There is not Jew, nor Greek ; there is not slave, nor free: there is not male, nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
You have put on Christ. An explanation of the statement in the last verse. You are by baptism incorporated into Christ, and in a certain sense transformed into him, and as he is the Son of God, you therefore also are sons of God. Differences of race, of conditions of life, of sex, are all absorbed, and become of infinitesimal consequence and importance, in comparison with this immense and transcendent dignity. You are all one in Christ. The Greek has there is not among you, or in you, Jew nor Greek, &c. Even types of individual disposition and character are changed, so far as is possible, in Christian people into one and the same type, which is the disposition and character of Christ. What can be more astonishing, what can demand greater awe and reverence, says St. Chrysostom, than this assertion of the Apostle, that he who once was Pagan or Jew, bond or free, now bears the likeness, not of Angel or Archangel, but of the Lord of all things, and is in himself a living representation of Christ ?
29. And if you are of Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to promise.
Christ was the seed of Abraham promised from ancient days. You are one with Christ. Therefore you are the seed of Abraham, and the heirs of the Promise. And this is the thesis which this Epistle was written to establish.
COROLLARY OF PIETY
Consider and realize, O brother Christian, the exalted dignity which has been conferred upon you. You have put on Christ, the Son of God, in Baptism. You are become one with Jesus Christ. Christ has been, so to say, multiplied and reproduced in you. You are transformed into Christ, as St. Chrysostom puts it, by receiving his likeness and resemblance. You are become what he IS. He is God’s Son by nature; you are God’s son by race. Man is made Christian, says St. Augustine, by the very same grace by which Christ was made man. We have put on Christ, says another ancient writer, that is, we are brought into the same relation in which he stands to God, we are the idea of which he is the ideal, and are become by grace what he is by his divine and original nature. We have taken Christ, as wood takes fire, says St. Thomas. What follows from this ? Evidently that you live always in memory of so great a privilege, live as a son of God must live, live as Christ lives. What pleases Him, I always do. My food is to do my Father’s will. Christ’s rule of live is also yours. Thy will be done, in heaven and earth. Exteriorly, live like Christ, whom you have taken and put on. Let him be the vesture with which you are clothed. Let Christ alone be seen upon you, as the vesture only is seen of one who is clothed. Let his humility, modesty, gentleness, patience, be apparent in all you do or say. Compared with this splendid distinction, earthly honors and distinctions fade into absolute insignificance. Noble or humble, slave or free, all Christian men alike are one with Christ, who sits
enthroned in glory at the right hand of God in heaven. You are seated there with Him, and are continually in God’s immediate presence. God does not look for lord or slave in you, but sees in you the person of his Son, looks in you for the likeness of his Son. Our study, our endeavour, and our prayer should to carry Christ within, exhibit him without. Jesus, likeness of the Father, splendor of his glory, express image of his substance and person, imprint thyself upon my heart by grace, that I may bear thy image, and thy Father’s likeness, and thus may he see himself and thee reflected in me, and for thy likeness’ sake, have compassion on me for eternity.