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Pastor’s Fellowship November 2017                           

SUBJECT: Gospel preaching consistent with Article 25 of the First London Confession considered with the common view of Galatians 3:24 and with the view of the Galatians 3:24 ESV


In 1644 seven Baptist congregations in London published a confession  “for the vindication of the truth and information of the ignorant; likewise for the taking off those aspersions which are frequently, both in pulpit and print, unjustly cast upon them. “  

Article 25 of original confession of 1644 and the “corrected and enlarged” confession of 1646 reads as follows:

That the tenders of the Gospel to the conversion of sinners,(1) is absolutely free, no way requiring, as absolutely necessary, any qualifications, preparations, terrors of the Law, or preceding ministry of the Law, but only and alone the naked soul, as a(2) sinner and ungodly to receive Christ, as Christ, as crucified, dead, and buried, and risen again, being made(3) a Prince and a Savior for such sinners.

1)     John 3:14, 15; 1:12; Isa. 55:1; John 7:37   2) 1 Tim. 1:15; Rom. 4:5; 5:8     3) Acts 5:30-31; 2:36; 1 Cor. 1:22-24

The preaching of the gospel to the conversion of sinners, is absolutely free; of the law, but only and alone the naked soul, a sinner and ungodly, to receive Christ crucified, dead and buried, and risen again; who is made a prince and a Savior for such sinners as through the gospel shall be brought to believe on Him.

In searching for why the wording appears as it does, in this confession regarding the law, it appears there was considerable debate in the 17th century on the issue of what, if any, preparations of the soul were requisite for the right reception of the good news of the gospel.

There were some hyper Calvinists who insisted that the gospel could only be preached to "sensible sinners". Others believed in "preparationism"[1]. Still others believed that no biblical or spiritual knowledge whatever was needed. One could just toss out the proposition "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved." It was an era of sorting and sifting with Calvinists, Arminians, Antinomianians, Neonomians[2], and hyper Calvinists all trying to lobby for their particular views.

The question that begs answer, in light of the theological wrangling that was evident, is what are these brethren declaring. 

I do not think these brethren are negating the idea of the value of the law as a tool in gospel preaching but rather they were refuting the notion of ‘terrors of the law,’ that is, physical or mental manifestations of contrition or remorse not commanded by scripture, in order for a sinner to be found truly penitent.   Their concern seems more clearly directed at the idea of preparationalism rather than a rejection of any use of the law in evanglesim.   To support my conclusion I enlist the insights from others.


Pastor James M. Renihan writes:  “ William Kiffin, the man whose name heads the list of those who published the 1644 Confession, wrote in his 1642 book entitled Certain Observations upon Hosea the Second the 7. & 8. Verses, "in Scripture men are said to forsake God when they forsake the Law of God, the Commandments of God, or the worship of God . . ." (page 4), "to keep close to God is to keep close to the Law of God, the Commandments of God . . . it is best both with persons & churches, when they do so" (Page 16). Hanserd Knollys, a man who signed the second edition of the Confession in 1646 wrote in his 1646 book Christ Exalted : A Lost Sinner sought and saved by Christ, "The difference betweene these two schholmasters, the Law and Christ, is this, Moses in the Law commands his Disciples to do this, and forbeare that, but gives no power, nor communicates no skill to performe anything: Christ commands his Disciples to do the same moral duties, and to forbeare the same evils, and with his command he gives power, and wisedome, For he works in us both to will and to do according to his good pleasure" (page 24), and again a little later in the same book, when commenting on the sins of those he calls carnal professors "They are so far departed from the Faith, which they sometime professed, and seemed to have, 1 Tim. 4.1. that they question whether the Scriptures of truth be the Word of God? Whether Christ be the Son of God? Whether the first day of the Week be the Sabbath of God?" (page 34). He places doubt with regard to the validity of the 1st day Sabbath alongside of doubts about the inspiration of Scripture and the deity of Christ! It would not be difficult to multiply the evidence. When one considers the theological writings of the men who subscribed the 1644/46 London Confession, one finds that they believed the same things articulated more clearly in the 1689 London Confession. The difference is not one of belief, simply of expression.

… it should also be remembered that it was the same churches, and several of the same men, who issued both of the Confessions. Seven London congregations published the 1644/46 Confession. By 1689, representatives of 4 of these churches also publicly signed the 1689 Confession. What happened to the other 3? They either ceased to exist, or had merged into the remaining churches. In addition, several key men signed both Confessions: William Kiffin, Hanserd Knollys, and Henry Forty, as well as the father-son duo of Benjamin and Nehemiah Coxe. If the theology of the two Confessions is different, one would have to demonstrate that these churches and these men went through a process of theological change. But no evidence for such exists.[3]

So does the Second London Baptist Confession give clarification to what these Baptist believed in regard to the law?

“The confession itself represents the most significant advance in the articulation of Baptist beliefs regarding the doctrine of the Moral Law of God to date. An entire article is given specifically devoted to explanation, defense, and application of the Law. The usual references to required obedience to Christ’s commands are found (Articles 13, 14, and 16).

The most significant advances, however, are found in Article 19 entitled, “Of the Law of God.” The article begins with a reference to the “Law of universal obedience” that was written on Adam’s heart (Article 19.1). This “same Law that was first written in the heart of man, continued to be a perfect rule of Righteousness after the fall; & was delivered by God upon Mount Sinai, in Ten Commandments and written in two Tablets” (19.2). These moral commandments are not limited to the Old Covenant; rather, “The moral law doth for ever bind all…Neither doth Christ in the Gospel any way dissolved, but much strengthen this obligation” (19.5).

The confession makes clear that believers are not “under the Law, as a Covenant of Works, to be thereby Justified or condemned.” Believers are not bound to keep the law as a means of justification, but are called to follow the Moral Law as the path of sanctification: “it [the Moral Law] directs and binds them, to walk accordingly discovering also the sinfull [sic] pollutions of their Natures, Hearts and Lives… [that] they may come to further Conviction of, Humiliation for, and Hatred against Sin… together with a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ and the perfection of his Obedience.” The Moral Law is not only used to expose sin and point to Christ. In the regenerate, the Law is also used, “to restrain their Corruptions” by forbidding sin and by the “Threatenings” made. Conversely, the promises made in it, “shew them [believers] Gods approbation of Obedience, and what blessings they may expect upon their performance thereof.” This is no prosperity gospel message, however, for the writers make clear that these blessings are “not due to them by the Law as a Covenant of Works” (19.6).

Finally, in order to refute those who may be tempted to call this theology of Moral Law ‘legalism,’ the writers of the Second London Confession added two statements which both conclude this article and summarize it nicely: (1) “man’s doing Good and refraining from Evil, because the Law incourageth to the one and deterreth from the other, is no Evidence of his boing under the Law and not under Grace” (19.6); and, “Neither are the forementioned uses of the Law contrary to the Grace of the Gospel; but do sweetly comply with it.” And to be sure, the drafters of this confession explained that this was no mere fleshly activity: “the Spirit of Christ subduing and inabling the Will of man to that freely and cheerfully, which the will of God revealed in the Law, requireth to be done.”

Clearly this confession significantly improves the clarity of articulation of Particular Baptists regarding the doctrine of the Moral Law of God. This standard would be used in countless churches and associations worldwide, either verbatim or with slight modifications, for centuries to come.[4]

I believe I am on solid footing when I state that the Particular Baptist of London would gladly declare that in the declaration of the gospel““… we know that the law [is] good, if a man use it lawfully;” (1Timothy 1:8)

I now move to the second part of my assignment- namely a consideration of Galatians 3:24 in regard to the proper view of the law and faith.

All of us, I think, understand the thrust of this letter written to a group of church in Galatia in response to a report that these churches were being infected by the false teaching of certain Judaizers who professed faith in Jesus but taught that Gentile converts must submit to the requirements of the Mosaic law.   “This epistle shows that the believer is no longer under the law but is saved by faith alone.  It has been said that Judaism was the cradle of Christianity but also it was very nearly its well.    God raised up Paul as the Moses of the Christian church to deliver them from this bondage.  Galatians is the Christians Declaration of Independence.”[5]. 

But the gospel as rightly proclaimed by Paul was: For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.” (Ga 5:6 NKJV)   Galatians has been called the Magna Carta of Christian liberty for in it Paul unflinchingly defends justification by faith alone and the liberty that ensues.

Verses 1-5 Paul most potently argues this very point when challenging the Galatians to see how unthinking they are to believe that having been saved and indwelt by the Spirit by faith that now they must now by some fleshly activity be brought to completeness in Christ

Verses 6-9 He calls them to a consideration of the fact that Abraham was justified by faith not by works of the law.  And even declaring the gospel of grace to Abraham declaring “In you all the nations shall be blessed “ v 8  

Verse 10-14 Paul shows that in fact the law rather than commending us to God condemns us before God.  The law is a curse not a cure. 

Verses 15-18 The promised blessing to the nations was through Christ alone and so Paul writes  “And this I say, [that] the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect.” (Gal 3:17 NKJV)   

Which brings us to the section in which we find our textual consideration. (3:19-4:7)   

If the law was never given as a means whereby a sinner might be saved, why was it given, and for what purpose  It was added because of transgressions.  V19= While several suggestions have been given to define what Paul means by this statement. Two stand forth in my mind  1.  The law revealed the true character of sin.  Sin is a transgression of God’s moral standards.   John MacArthur “Why did God give the law Here's the reason: To develop a great expectation and necessity for the Redeemer.  To develop a great expectation and necessity for the Redeemer by revealing human sinfulness to the degree that it would create the desperation in men that drives them to the Savior.”   2. To restrain sin.  Laws carry penalties for disobedience and thereby serves to restrain the heart prone toward the disobedience.  It is worthy of note that the law had a commencement and conclusion given to it.  It was added till the Seed should come. 

Then Paul poses the question, “Is there a conflict, then between God’s law and God’s promises.”[6]   To which he answers. “ Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law.” V21 NKJV   Rather than conflicting with the promise of grace in Christ the law cooperates with the promise fulfilling the purposes of God.  Law and grace are not contrary to one another but complimentary.  But I digress.  Paul says rather than life the law, as reveled in Scripture, makes all men prisoners of sin. This is so in order that the promise of life and freedom that comes out of faith in Jesus Christ “might be given to those who believe” v22   To that end the law serves as the prison guard keeping us shut up until the way of faith in Christ was revealed.   There would be no other means of escape.  . Men were shut up in confinement until the good news  of deliverance from the confines of the law was heralded in the gospel.  

So it is in this context that we come to verse 24.  In the KJV we read: Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster [to bring us] unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” (Ga 3:24 AV)

In the ESV we read “So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.” (Ga 3:24 ESV)

Let start and work our way through the text.

·         All the major Translations of which I am aware commence with a reference phrase.  KJV Wherefore  ESV So then   NKJV NASB therefore    NIV So   CSB  The Law then.   The reference is back to what Paul has just said about the purpose of the law vv19-20   and the function of the law  21-23


·         We now come to a Greek word paidagogos  variously translated in the KJV schoolmaster   ESV guardian  NKJV /NASB tutor    CSB /NIV  guardian.  

The word designated a slave employed in Greek and Roman families who had general charge over a boy in the years from about 6–16. He watched over his outward behavior, and took charge over him whenever he went from home, as for instance, to school.    This slave was entrusted with the moral supervision of the child.  This position was a temporary and not very prestigious, position. These slaves were strict disciplinarians causing those under their care to yearn for the day when they would be free from their tutor’s custody. The pedagogue watched they young boy's behavior at home and attended him when he went away from home to school. When the son entered on all the privileges of adult sonship, the schoolmaster's responsibilities were fulfilled. 

Phillip Ryken - In wealthy Greek families, children were individually raised by pedagogues. From age six until late adolescence, the child was under constant care and supervision. The pedagogue was part babysitter and part chaperone. Since he was in charge of discipline, the pedagogue was also part probation officer. Ancient drawings usually depict him holding a rod or a cane to administer corporal punishment. The pedagogue was not primarily a teacher, although sometimes he helped a child review his lessons. … The pedagogue did have to make sure that his pupil made it to and from school. He helped to feed and dress the child, and also to carry the child's educational tools (tablet and stylus, book or scroll, musical instrument). Once at school, there was a special room where pedagogues waited for their young students until their lessons were finished. But the pedagogue was not the educator; he was the disciplinarian. A pedagogue served the best interests of the child in many ways, and a close bond of affection often developed. Discipline was not necessarily severe, and the pedagogue provided protection as well as punishment. He also served as a moral tutor, shaping the child's ethics. In the plan of salvation, the law is the pedagogue that raised the Jews from childhood through adolescence. It was not a schoolmaster to teach them how to get better and better until God finally accepted them. On the contrary, the law was for discipline. It told God's people what to do, and then it punished them for failing to do it. There were times when the Jews chafed under this discipline (chaperones never have been very popular!). But all the while, the law was preparing God's children to enter their majority. Like any pedagogue, the law eventually worked its way out of a job. When a child comes of age, it no longer needs constant supervision. The ancient Greek writer Xenophon (c. 428-c. 354 B.C.) explained, "When a boy ceases to be a child, and begins to be a lad, others release him from his 'pedagogue' and from his teacher; he is then no longer under them, but is allowed to go his own way." In much the same way, the law was needed only until the coming of Christ. This is what Paul means when he speaks of the coming of faith. In one sense, faith had already come, since God had always told his people to trust him. But what they trusted in was the Savior to come. The true object of their faith was Jesus Christ, and when he came on the scene, the time for the law was over and the era of faith had begun. (Galatians - Reformed Expository Commentary)

So someone will  say obviously the translation in the KJV is wrong.  I would note three things.  

1.     The word schoolmaster does not simply carry the idea of teacher.  The Merriam Webster Dictionary gives as the second meaning to the word schoolmaster- one that disciplines or directs.   It could well be that this was the since in which the translators were using the word.

2.     This translation was that of Tyndale and was carried over in the Great, Geneva and Bishops’ Bibles.

3.     The idea of a tutor truly is not divorced, as Ryken alludes to, from the word as some would insist. Jerome Carcopino in his informative book Daily Life in Ancient Rome (Yale University Press, 1940, p. 104)  defines  the paidagogos as "a slave who served as tutor, guardian, and servant of the child put in his care," and who taught him the "alphabet and simple reading,"

To Moses himself also was the injunction given, 'Look that thou make them after the form and pattern which were showed thee on the mount.' From which it appears to me, that as on this earth the law was a sort of schoolmaster to those who by it were to be conducted to Christ, in order that, being instructed and trained by it, they might more easily, after the training of the law, receive the more perfect principles of Christ . . . ." (--Origen, De Principiis, Book 3, ch. 6.)

"The unrighteous man therefore lawfully uses the law, that he may become righteous; but when he has become so, he must no longer use it as a chariot, for he has arrived at his journey's end,-or rather (that I may employ the apostle's own simile, which has been already mentioned) as a schoolmaster, seeing that he is now fully learned." (--Augustine, Treatise on the Spirit and Letter, ch. 16.)

"Perchance, too, philosophy was given to the Greeks directly and primarily, till the Lord should call the Greeks. For this was a schoolmaster to bring 'the Hellenic mind,' as the law, the Hebrews, 'to Christ.' Philosophy, therefore, was a preparation, paving the way for him who is perfected in Christ." (--Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, Bk. 1 ch. 5.)

Perhaps we do not need to choose between but examine how the law functions as both an instructor and a guardian

·         The law the paidagogos was eis Christon  The preposition eis can be variously translated unto, toward, to, until, etc.  The thought is that the laws ultimate duty was to bring us to Christ as the redeemer and in doing so it therefore had fulfilled its responsibility. 

·         that – (hina) Always pay attention to this important term of purpose or result

·         we may be justified Justified (acquitted, vindicated, freed) by faith: “Judaizers wanted their hearers to go back to Moses (to be their "PP" their permanent pedagogue!), but that was not far enough. In fact they really needed to go back to Abraham where the promise of justification by faith was given (Ge 15:6-note). The Law came hundreds of years after Abraham's "conversion" by faith and notably did not annul the promise of salvation by grace through faith. To the contrary the LAW was given to reveal sin (Ro 3:20-note) and prepare the way for Christ to come and fulfill the promise (Galatians 3:24,25).”

Martin Luther - The law does not lead us to another lawgiver requiring good works, but to Christ, our justifier and Saviour, so that we might be justified by faith in him, and not by works. … The true function of the law is to bring me to the knowledge of my sin and to humble me, so that I may come to Christ and be justified by faith. But faith is neither law nor work, but an assured confidence that lays hold of Christ, who is the end of the law (Romans 10:4). How? It is not that he has abolished the old law and given us a new one, or that he is a judge who must be pacified by what we do. He is the end of the law to all those who believe; that is to say, everyone who believes in him is righteous, and he will never accuse such people. The law, then, is good, holy, and just if we use it as we should. (Galatians 3 Commentary)


[1] Preparationism is the view in Christian theology that unregenerate people can take steps in preparation for conversion, and should be exhorted to do so. Preparationism advocates a series of things that people need to do before they come to believe in Jesus Christ, such as reading the Bible, attending worship, listening to sermons, and praying for the gift of the Holy Spirit.[1] By making use of these means of grace, a "person seeking conversion might dispose himself toward receiving God's grace."[2]Many Puritans held to this view, especially in New England. These include Thomas Hooker (the founder of Connecticut Colony), Thomas Shepard, and Solomon Stoddard.[2] Later preparationists include William Shedd.[1] Preparationism originated within Calvinism,[2] although its views were criticised for being Arminian.[3]  Consult for references

[2] Literally, Neonomianism is to do with having a 'new law'. (Nomos = law, antinomianism = rejecting the law, Neonomianism = having a new law.) But that still doesn't really explain what Neonomianism is. So what really is it?  Neonomianism is basically the following: Christ's death has made us saveable, but must be coupled with our sincere, but admitedly imperfect obedience.  In other words, it's a form of legalism - salvation through our obedience to the law.   Neonomianism admits that we cannot fully obey the law of God, and so argues that, through His death, Jesus has satisfied the "old Law" and brought in a "new law" or "law of grace" which doesn't demand perfect obedience on our part, but only a sincere, though imperfect, obedience. In other words, Jesus, through His death, has lowered the bar of God's law to make it easier for us to obey and merit God's favor.   Now, laid out doctrinally like that, it's clear that Neonomianism is contrary to the Bible's teaching on justification by grace alone through faith alone, in Christ alone. Neonomianism replaces the imputed righteousness of Christ with our own sincere efforts at obedience.  Adapted from


[4] Joe English Lee

[5] New Kings James Version,  Prophecy Edition, Introduction to Galatians,  pg 1185

[6] NLT Galatians 3:21


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