The Tutor: Galatians 3:23-26
“23) But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. 24) Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. 25) But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. 26) For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” Galatians‬ ‭3:23-26‬
The concept of a tutor was common within the Jewish community. Many families hired a tutor to complete the education of their children. This process prepared them for adulthood. Middle class and poorer families would often opt for an apprenticeship program or even indentured servanthood. Paul says the Old Testament was a tutor for Israel.
The word picture Paul used here for the Old Testament is profound. It is full of types, prophecies, examples and illustration that point to Jesus Christ and the gospel. The purpose of the Law is to pave the way for the Messiah and salvation through faith. When a person becomes a Christian and the veil is removed, the Holy Spirit begins to illuminate and reveal Jesus Christ throughout the whole Old Testament. (See 2 Corinthians 3:12-18)
When viewed in this manner, the Old Testament is neither obsolete nor irrelevant. It was the primary text of study for the early believers. It is quoted extensively in the New Testament. I believe it is impossible to be a knowledgeable and mature Christian without a growing foundation in the Old Testament.
But keep in mind, the primary role of the Old Testament is not to be an end in itself, it is to prepare people for faith in Jesus Christ. It was intended to point them to salvation.
That is exactly what Paul said the instruction in the sacred writings did for Timothy. The instruction he received from his mother and grandmother prepared him for salvation. It gave him the wisdom that leads to faith in Christ Jesus. (See 2 Timothy 3:14-15)
As I look back at my own life story, the seeds to the gospel were planted in me as a young child being forced to go to Sunday School and vacation Bible School. I wasn’t very cooperative or consistent, but those early Bible stories became my hearts tutor. They eventually pointed me to faith in Christ.
Never minimize the importance of the Old Testament. As Paul said to Timothy; “16) All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17) so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy‬ ‭3:16-17‬)
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global