What does “guardian/tutor” mean in Galatians 3:24?
The guardian was much like what we would think of as a nanny today. Before the son of the house was old enough to receive the inheritance, the guardian kept it safe for him. This required the guardian to make sure the sun was safe and did what he was supposed to.
The guardian is represented by Paul as the law of Moses. It kept us in check and made sure we were living a holy life that would please God. But once Jesus came, he completely fulfilled the law and there was no need for the guardian any longer.
While the Israelites waited on God’s promised Messiah to come, they relied on the law of Moses. But the law can only tell you what you’re doing wrong. It can talk about the outside actions. It can’t see the heart or judge the inner person.
So the law feels like we are imprisoned by legalism and rules that we must follow. And yet inside we can violate the spirit of the law easily. Like the sun who wants to do his own thing, we are limited on the outside but not on the inside. We can sin all we want on the inside.
But when Jesus came, he changed everything. He was the promised Messiah. He fulfilled the law and was the end of the law (Matthew 5:17-20; Romans 10:4). Now that Jesus has arrived we are God’s children and the inheritance is ours by faith instead of by working to fulfill the law on our own. The law taught us righteousness but now we come under the righteousness of Christ.