8 Lesson Eight: Galatians 3:19-29

Instructions: Translate the Greek text with help from the reader notes. Complete the MYON (Make Your Own Note) and Discussion Question if you desire.

19 Τί οὖν ὁ νόμος; τῶν παραβάσεων χάριν προσετέθη, ἄχρις ⸀οὗ ἔλθῃ τὸ σπέρμα ᾧ ἐπήγγελται, διαταγεὶς δι’ ἀγγέλων ἐν χειρὶ μεσίτου· 20 ὁ δὲ μεσίτης ἑνὸς οὐκ ἔστιν, ὁ δὲ θεὸς εἷς ἐστιν.

21 Ὁ οὖν νόμος κατὰ τῶν ἐπαγγελιῶν τοῦ θεοῦ; μὴ γένοιτο· εἰ γὰρ ἐδόθη νόμος ὁ δυνάμενος ζῳοποιῆσαι, ὄντως ⸂ἐκ νόμου ἂν⸃ ἦν ἡ δικαιοσύνη. 22 ἀλλὰ συνέκλεισεν ἡ γραφὴ τὰ πάντα ὑπὸ ἁμαρτίαν ἵνα ἡ ἐπαγγελία ἐκ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ δοθῇ τοῖς πιστεύουσιν.

23 Πρὸ τοῦ δὲ ἐλθεῖν τὴν πίστιν ὑπὸ νόμον ἐφρουρούμεθα ⸀συγκλειόμενοι εἰς τὴν μέλλουσαν πίστιν ἀποκαλυφθῆναι. 24 ὥστε ὁ νόμος παιδαγωγὸς ἡμῶν γέγονεν εἰς Χριστόν, ἵνα ἐκ πίστεως δικαιωθῶμεν· 25 ἐλθούσης δὲ τῆς πίστεως οὐκέτι ὑπὸ παιδαγωγόν ἐσμεν. 26 πάντες γὰρ υἱοὶ θεοῦ ἐστε διὰ τῆς πίστεως ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ. 27 ὅσοι γὰρ εἰς Χριστὸν ἐβαπτίσθητε, Χριστὸν ἐνεδύσασθε· 28 οὐκ ἔνι Ἰουδαῖος οὐδὲ Ἕλλην, οὐκ ἔνι δοῦλος οὐδὲ ἐλεύθερος, οὐκ ἔνι ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ· ⸀πάντες γὰρ ὑμεῖς εἷς ἐστε ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ. 29 εἰ δὲ ὑμεῖς Χριστοῦ, ἄρα τοῦ Ἀβραὰμ σπέρμα ἐστέ, ⸀κατ’ ἐπαγγελίαν κληρονόμοι. SBLGNT

3:19

[SN] Τί οὖν: Paul uses Τί adverbially as “why” often (cf. Gal 5:11). In conjunction with οὖν, Paul provides a logical link between 3:18 and his question: “Why, then, the Law?”

[LN, SN] Τῶν παραβάσεων χάριν προσετέθη: This prepositional use of χάριν with the genitive case (usually translated “for the sake of”) expresses #cause or #goal/#purpose; it can be understood here as being either cognitive (to bring knowledge/awareness of transgression) or causative (to cause/increase/multiply transgression). The prepositional object παραβάσεων (FPG LF: παράβασις), “transgression,” occurs seven times in the NT, including five times in Paul (see also Rom 2:23; 4:15; 5:14; 1 Tim 2:14). It refers to a deviation from, or violation of, a standard/norm/law. The verb προσετέθη (API3S LF: προστίθημι) appears only here in Paul but occurs eighteen times total in the NT.

[GMN] Ἔλθῃ is AAS3S (LF: ἔρχομαι).

[LN] Ἐπήγγελται (RPI3S LF: ἐπαγγέλλομαι) is the verbal form of ἐπαγγελία, or “promise.” This verb occurs fifteen times in the NT, including five times in Paul (see also Rom 4:21; 1 Tim 2:10; 6:21; Tit 1:2).

[LN, SN] Διαταγεὶς (APPMSN LF: διατάσσω) means “to arrange/assign/instruct.” It is an adverbial #participle of means and modifies προσετέθη.

[SN] Δι᾽ ἀγγέλων (MPG) expresses #agency.

[SN] Ἐν χειρὶ (FSD LF: χείρ) expresses #means.

[LN] Μεσίτου (MSG LF: μεσίτης), “mediator/intermediary,” occurs six times in the NT, including three times in Paul (see 3:20; 1 Tim 2:5).

3:20

[SN] The numeral ἑνὸς (MSG LF: εἷς) is a #genitive of association.

[TN] It is possible that ὁ . . . θεὸς εἷς ἐστιν is meant to echo the opening of the Shema (i.e., LXX Deut 6:4, κύριος ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν κύριος εἷς ἐστιν). Paul’s point here may be to contrast the modes by which the Law and the promise were given: the latter came directly from God, while the former was mediated δι᾽ ἀγγέλων ἐν χειρὶ μεσίτου (v. 19).

3:21

[SN] Ὀ οὖν νόμος . . . τοῦ θεοῦ is a verbless clause with an implied ἐστιν.

[SN] Κατὰ followed by the genitive (τῶν ἐπαγγελιῶν) expresses opposition.

[LN] Μὴ γένοιτο (AMO3S LF: γίνομαι) is a construction used for emphatic negations: “May it never be!” (see LN on 2:17).

[SN] Εἰ with the aorist ἐδόθη (API3S LF: δίδωμι) introduces the #protasis of a #second-class conditional statement, with ἂν indicating the #apodosis. In a second class condition, an untrue notion is assumed for the sake of an argument. In other words, the #apodosis presents what would be true (righteousness ἐκ νόμου) if the #protasis (a known untruth) were correct. Rhetorically, it amounts to a clever denial that righteousness could possibly come by Law.

[SN] Ὁ δυνάμενος (PDPMSN LF: δύναμαι) is an adjectival participle modifying the noun νόμος.

[SN] Ζῳοποιῆσαι (AAN LF: ζῳοποιέω) is a #complementary infinitive that explains the content of δυνάμενος (“able to make alive”).

[SN] The prepositional phrase ἐκ νόμου expresses #means.

3:22

[LN, TN] Συνέκλεισεν (AAI3S LF: συγκλείω) means “to confine,” but there is considerable debate as to whether this confinement is positive (e.g., guarding), negative (e.g., imprisoning), or something more neutral in meaning. The interpretation of this verb plays a large part in how one views Paul’s portrayal of the Law in Galatians (e.g., as a negative force meant to imprison, or as a positive measure meant to protect for a time).

[SN] The preposition ὑπὸ indicates location when paired with an accusative object (ἁμαρτίαν). It is important not to confuse this for an expression of #agency (“by”), which is communicated by ὑπό with the genitive.

[SN] Here ἵνα introduces a #purpose clause.

[SN] Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ could be either #objective or #subjective genitive.

[SN] Δοθῇ is APS3S (LF: δίδωμι).

[SN] Τοῖς πιστεύουσιν (PAPMPD LF: πιστεύω) is a #substantival participle, functioning as the indirect object of the verb δοθῇ.

3:23

[SN] Πρὸ τοῦ . . . ἐλθεῖν (AAN LF: ἔρχομαι): The preposition πρὸ with articular infinitive (τοῦ . . . ἐλθεῖν) is an #infinitive of time modifying the controlling verb ἐφρουρούμεθα (lit. “before the coming . . . we were guarded”).

[SN] Τὴν πίστιν is the #accusative subject of the infinitive ἐλθεῖν.

[LN, TN] Ἐφρουρούμεθα (IPI1P LF: φρουρέω) means “to guard.” Like συγκλείω, it can communicate a more negative sense of imprisonment or a more positive sense of protection. How one interprets this verb also comes to bear on one’s reading of Paul’s presentation of the Law.

[SN, TN] Συγκλειόμενοι (PPPMPN LF: συγκλείω) is probably an adverbial #participle of manner, as it seems merely to add extra color to the main verb ἐφρουρούμεθα. Given the dependent link between the participle and the main verb here, the importance of rightly interpreting συγκλείω/φρουρέω in this section is further underscored. See note on v. 22 for the role of συγκλείω in interpretation.

[SN, LN] Μέλλουσαν (PAPFSA LF: μέλλω) is an #attributive participle modifying τὴν . . . πίστιν and has the connotation of impending action.

[GMN] Ἀποκαλυφθῆναι (APN LF: ἀποκαλύπτω): The -πτ ending of the stem combines with the θ of the APN ending (-θῆναι), producing the #voiceless aspirate φ.

3:24

[SN] The conjunction ὥστε introduces a #result clause.

[LN, TN] The #predicate nominative παιδαγωγὸς (MSN) is a rare word in the NT, used only three times, all by Paul (see also 3:25; 1 Cor 4:15). The word refers to a slave who variously served as caretaker, guide, disciplinarian, and (sometimes) tutor of a child of the household. Part of the difficulty in translating and interpreting this word in Galatians stems from competing accounts we receive of such “slave-tutors” in Greek literature. The παιδαγωγός is sometimes spoken of quite fondly, while elsewhere he is characterized as harsh and even abusive.

[GMN] Γέγονεν is RAI3S (LF: γίνομαι).

[SN] Εἰς Χριστόν is a prepositional phrase denoting #goal (“toward Christ”).

[SN] Here ἵνα . . . δικαιωθῶμεν (APS1P LF: δικαιόω) expresses #purpose.

[SN] Ἐκ πίστεως is a prepositional phrase denoting #means.

3:25

[GMN] Ἐλθούσης is AAPFSG (LF: ἔρχομαι).

MYON [SN] Identify the function of the participle ἐλθούσης. How is it related to the main verb ἐσμεν?

3:26

[SN] Πάντες (MPN) is an adjective that qualifies the second plural subject of the verb ἐστε (“you all”).

[SN] Υἱοὶ is the #predicate nominative to the verb ἐστε.

[SN] In the phrase διὰ τῆς πίστεως ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, some read the second prepositional phrase as modifying the first (“through faith in Jesus Christ”). However, it is possible that the two prepositional phrases are meant to be read in parallel with both modifying υἱοὶ θεοῦ. The reading would then be, “For you are all sons of God through faith/faithfulness, [sons of God] in Christ Jesus.”

3:27

[LN] The pronoun ὅσοι (MPN) is #comparative meaning “as many as.”

[SN] The prepositional phrase εἰς Χριστὸν expresses a type of #spatial nuance: Paul is referring to those baptized “into Christ.”

[GMN] Ἐβαπτίσθητε (API2P LF: βαπτίζω): The #dental stop is replaced by σ when the aorist passive formative is added.

[GMN] Ἐνεδύσασθε (AMI2P LF: ἐνδύω): Note that the ε augment follows prepositional prefix ἐν.

3:28

[GMN] Note that ἔνι (PAI3S LF: ἔνειμι) is the abbreviated form of ἔνεστι.

[SN] The terms Ἰουδαῖος (“Jew”), Ἕλλην (“Greek”), δοῦλος (“slave”), ἐλεύθερος (“free person”), ἄρσεν (“male”), and θῆλυ (“female”) are all #predicate nominatives.

[SN] The prepositional phrase ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ probably expresses #sphere (see previous note on εἰς Χριστὸν, v. 27).

[TN] Paul’s οὐκ ἔνι series follows the “neither . . . nor” (οὐκ . . . οὐδὲ) pattern until the final entry in the series, οὐκ ἔνι ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ (“there is not male and female”). This is because Paul is quoting from Gen 1:27 LXX (ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ ἐποίησεν αὐτούς).

3:29

[SN] The particle εἰ introduces the #protasis of a #first-class conditional statement (ὑμεῖς Χριστοῦ, which is assumed to be true), and ἄρα introduces the #apodosis (τοῦ Ἀβραὰμ σπέρμα ἐστέ).

[SN] Χριστοῦ (MSG) is a #possessive genitive.

[SN] Τοῦ Ἀβραὰμ (MSG) is likely a #genitive of relationship.

[GMN] Κληρονόμοι (MPN LF: κληρονόμος): This is the first of three appearances of κληρονόμος in Galatians (see also 4:1, 7). It is translated as “heirs.”

Discussion Question (3:19–29)

[3:19] The participle διαταγεὶς (LF: διατάσσω) can have a range of meanings from “instructed” or “arranged” to “directed” or “commanded.” Surveying various other NT uses of the verb (e.g., Matt 11:1; Lk 17:9–10; Acts 7:44; 1 Cor 11:34; Tit 1:5), which meaning seems to be intended here? How does this affect how we understand Paul’s portrayal of the giving of the Law?

Word Study: Παιδαγωγός (“slave tutor”)

Introduction

Παιδαγωγός appears only three times in the New Testament. The earliest use of παιδαγωγός in extant Greek literature is by Herodotus, although the role of the pedagogue (slave tutor) dates to the archaic period.[1] In Paul’s day, the custom of retaining a pedagogue was commonly practiced in Greek and Roman households and likely in wealthy Jewish homes as well, given its use as a loanword in Jewish texts.[2]

Meaning of Παιδαγωγός

The primary function of a παιδαγωγός was as a tutor and guardian. In antiquity, a pedagogue was usually a male slave appointed by the master (father) to attend to his child’s moral instruction and to supervise his education and conduct.[3] Visual representations such as terracotta figures and vase paintings commonly depict the pedagogue’s appearance as decrepit and grumpy.[4] Their rough and aged characterizations gave pedagogues the undesirable stereotype of being curmudgeons.[5] The pedagogues was often considered the most worthless person in a household.[6] This is not to say that pedagogues did not serve a necessary and respected function in rearing children. On the contrary, Stobaeus noted that fathers offered the most valuable task of guiding their sons to the least expensive member of the household.[7] In Laws, Plato wrote, “Just as no sheep or other witless creature ought to exist without a herdsman, so children cannot live without παιδαγωγῶν, nor slaves without masters.”[8] The pedagogue held a significant position in the household.

From birth until the age of seven a child passed from mother, to wet nurse, to nanny, receiving the most rudimentary education along the way.[9] Once the child reached the age of seven, he stayed under the custodial care of a pedagogue until late adolescence.[10] The pedagogue accompanied his charge to school, waited at the school until the child’s dismissal, and then took his charge home where he tested him on the day’s lessons.[11] Although the pedagogue tutored his charge, classic literature clearly distinguished a παιδαγωγός from a διδάσκαλος (teacher). In Lysis, Plato narrates a conversation between the boys Lysis and Socrates in which Socrates exclaims, “[A] free man controlled by a slave! But how does this παιδαγωγός exert his control over you?” To which Lysis replies, “By taking me to the διδάσκαλοv.”[12] The pedagogue was an instructor, custodian, and disciplinarian, but not an educator.

The pedagogue escorted his charge not only to school, but also everywhere else outside the home.[13] He attended to his charge around the clock.[14] The pedagogue’s continuous surveillance was thought to prevent his charge from acting wrongly. Philo, for example, quipped that “when the παιδαγωγός is present, his charge will not go astray.”[15] The pedagogue restricted his charge’s freedom until the child reached maturation and could wield his freedom rightly and responsibly.[16] Xenophon noted that when the child was no longer a boy and had been released from his pedagogue, then he could go his own way.[17] The pedagogue’s moral instruction was intended to set a child on a virtuous path, so children were expected to obey the pedagogue’s moral guidance.[18] The pedagogue’s omnipresence also provided protection. A surviving fragment credited to Epictetus reveals that a pedagogue was retained to prevent any harm from coming to the child.[19] Libanius even compared a pedagogue’s guardianship to a fortified wall.[20] Appian recounts a harrowing tale of a boy and his pedagogue who were attacked while walking to school.[21] The pedagogue held his charge in his arms and refused to release the child to the marauders; despite his heroism, both were slain.[22] Though an extreme case, a pedagogue was expected to remain with his charge, even in the face of death.[23]

The relationship between pedagogue and pupil was complex. This was due primarily to the confounding social inversion inherent in a slave having the authority to discipline a free child.[24] Typically, a pedagogue remained with his charge for a minimum of eleven to twelve years.[25] The pedagogue was devoted to his charge: Libanius describes the pedagogue as caring for his sick charge more lovingly than a mother and mourning the loss of his charge more than the parents.[26] Undoubtedly, some charges disliked the imposition of having a pedagogue. Julian, for instance, accused his pedagogue of loving to wrangle him,[27] even blaming his pedagogue for his own miserable disposition.[28] Other charges grew fond of their pedagogues and considered them friends. Plutarch portrays Alexander has having risked his own life to care for his aged pedagogue.[29] Former charges frequently showed their gratitude by setting up memorials for pedagogues upon their demise.[30] It was also common for charges to emancipate their former pedagogues.[31] Ultimately, the time between a pedagogue and his charge was temporary, but the pedagogue’s influence upon a child shaped him as an adult.

Paul and Παιδαγωγός

Paul uses the noun παιδαγωγός in 1 Cor 4:15 to contrast his own pastoral fathership with the presence of many guardians. Typically, Greek households retained one pedagogue per home, although Roman households occasionally retained more.[32] However, since the dominant custom was to appoint a single pedagogue per home, Paul employs the term hyperbolically to emphasize his paternity and authority.

Even if a child had many pedagogues, a child only had one father. Although the father and the pedagogue were both credited as having influenced a child’s training,[33] children shared a different relationship with their pedagogue than with their father. A child’s relationship with his father was deeper, even if sometimes only biologically.[34] Paul plays upon this distinction to illustrate the uniqueness of his relationship with the Corinthians through the gospel of Christ. Paul’s bond with the Corinthians is as their progenitor: he has begotten them in the gospel of Christ.[35] Paul founded the church in Corinth: his evangelism is the source of the Corinthian community.[36]

Paul’s hyperbole also asserts his authority and bolsters his claim to the Corinthians’ loyalty.[37] Paul’s paternity offers him distinct influence in his dealings with the Corinthians. Pedagogues served at the father’s behest and implemented the father’s morals. The pedagogue Charidemus, for example, goaded his charge using the phrase, “Never did your father do that.”[38] A pedagogue could not replace the moral authority and model of the father because the father was often the source of the pedagogue’s guidance. Paul’s use of παιδαγωγός reminds the Corinthians of their unique bond with Paul and calls them to return to the gospel that Paul is preaching.

Galatians and παιδαγωγός

Paul’s employment of παιδαγωγός in Gal 3:24−25 is more complicated than his use in 1 Cor. Paul compares the Law to the figure of the pedagogue, but how far does Paul intend to push this metaphor? The sociocultural customs paired with Paul’s syntax suggest two primary understandings. First, the pedagogue’s role is a temporary one. When children came of age, they outgrew the need to reside under the authority of their pedagogue. Paul communicates to the Galatians that the Law has a similar temporal reality.  The prepositional phrase εἰς Χριστόν also reinforces a finite understanding of the Law’s guardianship.[39] With the coming of faith, Christians no longer need the pedagogue’s oversight.

Secondly, the pedagogue’s supervision imposed necessary restrictions on his charge, which Paul’s metaphor declares are now lifted. Because faith has come, such confinement is no longer required:[40] the Law has served God’s intended purpose.[41] Many interpreters, dating as early as Clement of Alexandria, believe that in equating the Law with a pedagogue, Paul intends to credit the pedagogue’s training as having prepared us for Christ.[42] This understanding glorifies the pedagogue (i.e., the Law) as a necessary, albeit temporary, measure. Such a positive attribution finds a home in rabbinic literature: for example, the Midrashim depict Moses as Israel’s pedagogue.[43] Other scholars, such as H. D. Betz, suggest that Paul uses παιδαγωγός negatively and aims to equate the Law with enslavement.[44] Certainly the role of the pedagogue occasioned both grim caricatures and grateful praise, but the text does not explicitly indicate Paul’s affections toward the Law itself. Because the pedagogue’s role was impermanent, society looked harshly on the pedagogue when he failed to relinquish control of his charge.[45] The Law, like the pedagogue whose charge had come of age, must abdicate its position.

The Law restricted the social life of a Jew, making associations with Gentiles difficult.[46] Paul’s allusion to the pedagogue announces the removal of the Law’s restrictions. This freedom moves the Galatians toward a more inclusive community of Christians who are no longer confined by the Law’s boundaries, but united through the coming of faith in Christ. (Jenny E. Siefken)


  1.       Norman Young, "Paidagogos: The Social Setting of a Pauline Metaphor," Novum Testamentum 29, Fasc. 2 (1987): 150.
  2.       Young, "Paidagogos," 150.
  3.       Johannes P. Louw and Eugene A. Nida, eds., Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains,  2nd ed. (New York: United Bible Societies, 1988), 1:466.
  4.       Young, “Paidagogos,” 152.
  5.      Young, “Paidagogos,” 152.
  6.      Young, “Paidagogos,” 152.
  7.      Young, “Paidagogos,” 152.
  8.       Richard N. Longenecker, Galatians, Word Biblical Commentary  41 (Dallas, TX: Word Books, 1990), 146.
  9.       Young, “Paidagogos,” 156.
  10.      Young, “Paidagogos,” 156.
  11.       F. F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Galatians: A Commentary of the Greek Text, The New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982), 182.
  12.       Longenecker, Galatians, 146.
  13.       Young, “Paidagogos,” 164.
  14.      Young, “Paidagogos,” 165.
  15.       Bruce, The Epistle to the Galatians, 182.
  16.      Bruce, The Epistle to the Galatians, 182.
  17.       Longenecker, Galatians, 147.
  18.       Young, “Paidagogos,” 159.
  19.      Young, “Paidagogos,” 158.
  20.      Young, “Paidagogos,” 159.
  21.      Young, “Paidagogos,” 166.
  22.      Young, “Paidagogos,” 166.
  23.      Young, “Paidagogos,” 166.
  24.      Young, “Paidagogos,” 163.
  25.      Young, “Paidagogos,” 157.
  26.      Young, “Paidagogos,” 167–68.
  27.      Young, “Paidagogos,” 153.
  28.      Young, “Paidagogos,” 161.
  29.      Young, “Paidagogos,” 166.
  30.      Young, “Paidagogos,” 167.
  31.      Young, “Paidagogos,” 167.
  32.      Young, “Paidagogos,” 170.
  33.      Young, “Paidagogos,” 170.
  34.      Young, “Paidagogos,” 170.
  35.      Young, “Paidagogos,” 170.
  36.       Richard B. Hays, First Corinthians, Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching (Louisville, KY:Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), 73.
  37.       Gordon D. Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, rev. ed., The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987), 202.
  38.       Young, “Paidagogos,” 161.
  39.       Bruce, Epistle to the Galatians, 183.
  40.      Bruce, Epistle to the Galatians, 183.
  41.       J. Louis Martyn, Galatians: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, Anchor Bible (New York: Doubleday, 1997), 363.
  42.       Martyn, Galatians, 363.
  43.       Longenecker, Galatians, 147.
  44.       Hans Dieter Betz, Galatians: A Commentary of Paul’s Letter to the Churches in Galatia, Hermeneia (Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press, 1979), 178.
  45.       Young, “Paidagogos,” 168.
  46.      Young, “Paidagogos,” 173.

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