Galatians 3:24 f the King James Version reads: "The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster." "Schoolmaster" is a translation of paidagogos, literally, "child-leader." This paidagagos was not a teacher but a slave, to whom in wealthy families the general oversight of a boy was committed. It was his duty to accompany his charge to and from school, never to lose sight of him in public, to prevent association with objectionable companions, to inculcate moral lessons at every opportunity, etc. He was a familiar figure in the streets, and the (sour) "face of paidagogos" and "to follow one like a paidagogos" were proverbial expressions. Naturally, to the average boy the paidagogos must have represented the incorporation of everything objectionable. Hence, Paul's figure may be paraphrased: "The law was a paidagogos, necessary but irksome, to direct us until the time of Christ. Then was the time of our spiritual coming-of-age, so that the control of the paidagogos ceased." The word paidagogos was taken over into Aramaic at an early date, and Paul's language; which is hardly that of a mere adult observer, suggests that he had had personal experience with the institution. Wealthy and intensely orthodox Jewish parents living in a Gentile city may well have adopted such a precaution for the protection of their children.
No English word renders paidagogos adequately. "Schoolmaster" is quite wrong, but Revised Version's "tutor" (compare 1 Corinthians 4:15) is little better in modern English.
Burton Scott Easton
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