Once in Custody, Now in Christ An Exposition of Galatians 3:23–29 -- By: S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.

Journal: Emmaus Journal
Volume: EMJ 13:2 (Winter 2004)
Article: Once in Custody, Now in Christ An Exposition of Galatians 3:23–29
Author: S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.

Once in Custody, Now in Christ
An Exposition of Galatians 3:23–291

S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.a


Warren Wiersbe, former pastor of the Moody Church in Chicago, has written, “In the Old Testament, we have preparation for Christ; in the Gospels, the presentation of Christ, and in the Acts through Revelation, the appropriation of Christ.”2 He is right. The Old Testament is a preparation for Christ, with its prophecies, ceremonies, and institutions that point forward to him.

There may be a further way in which the Old Testament is preparation for Christ, and the apostle Paul may have that in mind in the section of Galatians we are studying together. He has just indicated that God gave Abraham a promise, or promises, in an unconditional manner. They included such blessings as a righteous standing before him and the possession of the Holy Spirit (cf. 3:1–14). Furthermore, when Moses came upon the scene and was given the Law, that Law did not nullify the promises of God. In fact, the Law could not give anything to anyone, other than a sense of sin and transgression, for it was not given for life or righteousness (cf. 2:21; 3:21). Therefore, if a man was to be justified before God, he could not be justified by the Law. Only through the Abrahamic promises could life be found, and those promises had now found their culmination in the coming of Abraham’s true Seed, Jesus Christ. Thus, there is a progression from the promises to Abraham through the Law to the fulfillment

of the promises in Christ. In a sense then, the preparation of the Old Testament for Christ becomes the biography of every man, that is, of every Christian man. He usually comes to Christ through the experience of conviction of sin brought about by the truth found in the Law of Moses.3

Stott writes, “God’s purpose for our spiritual pilgrimage is that we should pass through the law into an experience of the promise. The tragedy is that so many people separate them by wanting one without the other. Some try to go to Jesus without first meeting Moses. They want to skip the Old Testament, to inherit the promise of justification in Christ without the prior pain of condemnation by the law. Others go to Moses and the law to be condemned, but they stay in this unhappy bondage. They are still living in the Old Testament. Thei...

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