Text: Galatians 3:23–29
Theme: Free from the guardian
Other Lessons: Numbers 6:22–27; Psalm 8; Luke 2:21
A. In the Name of the Father…Amen.
B. The Epistle lesson serves as our sermon text for this morning.
C. Grace, mercy, and peace be your from God our heavenly Father through our
Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
D. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray:
LSB 898:5 The Ancient Law Departs
All praise, eternal Son,
For Thy redeeming love
With Father, Spirit, ever one
In glorious might above.
Text: Public domain
A. It is the end of a year and the beginning of a new one.
1. Our thoughts may be on the past year and its joys, sorrows,
accomplishments, and sins, or on the year ahead and our hopes for it.
2. It doesn’t matter that this date is somewhat arbitrary for reckoning a
new year, or that calendars have changed in human history.
3. At least this day reminds us of the passing of time.
4. Those who are not Christian come to this day, and sometimes they lament
and curse the year past for their unhappiness, and they hope to be happy in
the year to come.
5. They lament over the fact of all the celebrities who have died, that war
is still rampant, that change is not happening like what they want it to,
6. Christians, however, should use this day to remember that their days and
years are in God’s hands,
A. to give thanks for his blessings in the past year,
B. to repent of their past sins,
C. and to pray for God’s future blessing.
D. It is a good night and a good day for us Christians.
B. The Judaizers, no better than that of the pagans, had backed Paul in a
1. He had just finished proving from the Old Testament in Galatians 1-2
that God’s plan of salvation left no room for the works of the law.
2. But the fact that Paul quoted six times from the Old Testament raised a
A. If salvation does not involve the law, then why was the law given in the
B. Paul quoted from the law to prove the insignificance of the law.
C. If the law is now set aside, then his very arguments are worthless
because they are taken from the law.
1. Are Christians obligated to obey the entire Law of Moses?
A. The Epistle for today has nothing to do with the New Year.
1. It does, however, say something about today’s festival, the Circumcision
and Name of Our Lord.
2. On the eighth day after his birth, our Lord was given the name Jesus and
was circumcised, in order to fulfill the Law of Moses.
3. Now here in Galatians 3, St. Paul is writing against the false apostles,
those who were teaching that in order to be saved, you have to keep the Law
of Moses, particularly the ceremony of circumcision.
4. Is circumcision still an obligation for Christians?
5. If so, are Christians obligated to obey the Law of Moses in all its
A. the Ten Commandments,
B. dietary laws,
D. and the like?
2. The false apostles’ argument makes salvation dependent on human efforts.
A. Those false apostles had a pretty strong argument.
1. Jesus was circumcised, after all.
2. And God commanded circumcision to Abraham and had it written down by
3. Circumcision was the sacramental sign of God’s people.
4. So if the non-Jewish people, the Gentiles, want to be saved, they would
have to join God’s people, and that would mean they have to become Jewish
and be circumcised.
5. They would have to keep the Law of Moses.
6. That’s how their argument ran.
7. It’s a rather attractive argument, and even in our day, some Christians
think the same thing.
8. But it’s completely wrong.
9. It makes salvation dependent on our performance of the Law of Moses, and
takes away salvation as God’s free gift.
10. So Paul argues against the false apostles, and Galatians is Paul’s
masterpiece, in which he demotes the Law of Moses and proves that salvation
is through faith in Jesus Christ, not through the works of the Law.
B. When we Lutherans say “Law,” that usually means the eternal will of God
for our behavior:
1. which functions as:
A. a curb,
B. a mirror,
C. and a rule,
D. and which is written in the hearts of mankind.
2. That is, we usually mean the moral law of God, which is also the natural
A. But in the Bible, “Law” often means the Law of Moses in the broad
sense—the first five books of the Old Testament.
B. “Law” in the broad sense is how the false apostles at Galatia were using
the word “Law”: everything that God spoke to Moses, that’s the Law.
C. It includes:
1. the eternal, moral law,
2. the ceremonies of the tabernacle,
3. and the civil ordinances of ancient Israel.
4. And that brings us to Paul’s main point.
3. The Law of Moses is not the way of salvation. Instead points to the way
A. Paul’s main point is what we hear in Galatians 2:15–16:
1. “We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know
that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in
Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be
justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works
of the law no one will be justified.”
B. In chapter 3, then, he proves what he said, both from Scripture and from
the experience of the Galatians.
1. But the false apostles had what seemed to be a strong argument:
A. “The Law of Moses was given by God; therefore you have to do it.”
2. Yes, says St. Paul, God gave it, and it is holy and good, but only if
you use it the right way.
A. The Law of Moses was never meant to be a way of salvation.
3. Instead, it points you to the way of salvation.
A. It does this in two ways:
1. First, the Law of Moses has prophecies and types of Christ and of our
salvation through faith in him—his life, death, and resurrection.
2. Second, the Law of Moses has the moral law, such as the Ten
Commandments, which reveals our sin, and curses and damns all sinners.
3. It shows us our need for Christ the Savior.
4. So indeed the Law points to Christ, both by prophesying and by damning.
4. Since Christ has come to you, you are now free from the guardian.
A. This is shown by the example of a “guardian,” or disciplinarian.
1. In our Epistle, Paul gives this example of the right use of the Law.
A. “Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned
until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian
until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now
that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian” (verses 23–25).
2. The Law of Moses was our guardian, or daisciplinarian.
A. The Greek word is paidagogos, which is where we get the word
B. It doesn’t mean a teacher of children, though.
C. A pedagogue was a slave in charge of disciplining the sons.
D. He would lead them to school and make sure they behaved, and if they
didn’t, he would punish them.
E. A pedagogue, a guardian, a disciplinarian—that’s what the Law was.
F. It’s good, it’s given by God, but it was never meant to be a way of
salvation for sinners.
G. God set forth the Law through Moses to do the opposite:
1. not to save,
2. but to discipline,
3. to reveal sins,
4. to rebuke,
5. to curse,
6. and to damn.
H. By doing so, all our excuses are removed, and all we can do is confess
ourselves guilty before the holy God and pray for forgiveness.
I. The guardian points to the way of salvation.
1. We cannot be saved by obeying the Law of Moses, because we cannot obey
the Law of Moses perfectly.
B. Thanks be to God, you are now free from the guardian.
1. Faith has come, that is,
A. “the word of faith that we proclaim” (Romans 10:8).
B. This proclamation has gone out into all the world.
C. The message of Christ’s person and saving work has come to you, and
through it, the Holy Spirit has created faith in your heart.
D. So you are now free from the guardian.
E. You’re not a little kid anymore; you have grown up in Christ.
F. You are no longer under a guardian.
5. So rather than being under the Law (that is, coerced and condemned),
Christians walk in the Law (that is, freely loving what God commands, freed
A. What does all of this mean?
1. Two things:
A. First, the ceremonial and civil laws of Israel are not applicable to
1. They have served their purpose and are no longer in effect, now that
faith has come.
B. Second, even though the moral law, such as the Ten Commandments, is
still God’s will for our behavior, as it always has been (forever and
ever), its curse has been removed through Christ.
A. obeyed the Law perfectly,
B. loved God perfectly,
C. and shed his blood as an innocent sacrifice—the first blood of which was
D. Yes, with Jesus’ circumcision, we see a prefiguring of his blood being
poured out on the cross.
2. So you are no longer under the Law, under its curse.
A. Instead, with the Holy Spirit within you:
B. you now walk in the Law of the Lord (1 Corinthians 9:21),
C. and in his Law, we are drawn and called to meditate day and night (Psalm
B. Through Christ:
1. We Are Free of the Ceremonies,
2. Civil Ordinances,
3. and Condemnation of the Law of Moses,
4. but We as Christians Do Not Set Aside God’s Commands but Walk in the Law
of the Lord.
C. Not under the Law,
1. but in it,
2. because you are in Christ,
3. were baptized into Christ,
4. and have put on Christ.
5. You are free from the guardian, for faith has come.
A. Dearly beloved, in this new year of the Lord, be comforted
1. by the kindness of him
2. and give thanks to him, who became your Brother in the womb of the
Virgin Mary and fulfilled the Law for you, including circumcision, in order
to establish your salvation securely.
3. To him be glory forever. Amen.
B. Let us pray:
LSB 382:1 We Praise You, Jesus, at Your Birth
We praise You, Jesus, at Your birth
Clothed in flesh You came to earth.
The virgin bears a sinless boy
And all the angels sing for joy.
Text: © 2006 Concordia Publishing House. Used by permission: LSB Hymn
License no. 110000247
C. The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard your hearts
and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
D. In the Name of the Father…Amen.