< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: Galatians 3:23-29

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Galatians 3:23-29

Galatians 3:23-29 “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 put in charge of us until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law. So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

Held in custody under the law”. In the Greek world there was a household servant. He was usually an old and trusted slave who had long been in the family and whose character was high. His sole job was to lead the child of the house to school and back home. To keep him from temptation and harm until he grew up. He didn’t teach him in school, he just got him there and set a good moral example while doing it.

This, Paul says, is the function of the law. It would lead a man to Christ. It would give him a good, moral example to follow until Christ came.

Paul goes on to say, “As many of you who have been baptized into Christ – have put on Christ.” Baptism was a Jewish rite. If a man wished to accept the Jewish faith he had to do three things. He had to be circumcised, he had to offer a sacrifice and he had to be baptized.

Ceremonial washing was very important in the Jewish faith to cleanse a person from defilement. The book of Leviticus tells us that a man who was about to be baptized cut his hair and nails and took a baptismal bath. Every part of his body had to be touched with water. He confessed his faith before 3 men who were called the fathers of baptism.

While still in the water, parts of the law were read to him, words of encouragement were addressed to him and benedictions were pronounced upon him. When he got out of the water he was a member of the Jewish faith.

By Christian baptism, Paul says: a man enters into Christ not Christianity. The early Christians looked at Baptism as something that really and truly produced a real union with Christ. Back then most baptisms were for adults. The church was brand new and spreading. Once a person was baptized and “put on Christ” Paul says there is no longer any distinction between people. No Jew, no gentile, no slave, no free, no male or female.

A Jewish male used to pray every morning a thanksgiving to God that God hadn’t made him gentile or slave or woman! Paul probably prayed that every day his entire life, until he met Christ. But, he learned that there is no room for prejudice in a Christian’s heart. We are all sons of God and one in Jesus Christ.

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