23 But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed.
24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
faith (v.23) — The faith of verse 22 — Christ and His worthiness to be believed. So “before faith came” is before Christ came and especially before Paul’s message of what Christ’s death and resurrection meant.
we (v.23) — Jews, who were under the law, and Gentiles, who had to become Jews to be saved.
kept under (v.23) — a military term for preventing escape and providing protection
kept for (v.23) — a constant state
afterward = to be about to be. Imminent. Throughout the period of the law, the revelation of faith through Christ could have occurred at any moment.
tutor (v.24) = schoolmaster, child-leader. Not a teacher but a supervisor who was responsible for the moral and physical well-being of a child. Inferior in position but responsible for discipline. Paul is saying that the law didn’t bring knowledge but gave severe discipline.
bring us to Christ (v.24) — The meaning may be expressed in a paraphrase: “We were kept in ward under law … with the coming of Christ in view.” The “shutting up” was not an end in itself, it was necessary that they should know and feel the constraints of the taskmaster in order that they might welcome the Deliverer when He appeared — Galatians, by W.E. Vine, page 193.
justified by faith (v.24) — out of bondage to the law and able, by Christ, to enter into the blessing.
faith (v.25) = “the” faith. Again, the faith of verse 23. Faith has always been the means of salvation, but this faith looks back at the finished work of Christ.
It [the law] is subordinate to the gospel. It is inferior to the gospel, yet it makes men ready for the gospel. Its function is that of a “tutor.” Probably this is the best translation of the Greek word paidagogos, which Paul here employs. For this word there is no exact equivalent in English. It defines an office which does not exist in modern life. The pedagogue, in the days of Paul, was a trusted servant, usually a slave, whose duty was not merely to lead his young master to school but in some measure to supervise his manners and morals. He was not qualified to instruct, nor was he given authority to control, but he was appointed to attend and to safeguard the child until his charge attained maturity and was no longer in need of guidance and discipline.
Such, according to Paul, was the place and function of the Mosaic law. It was a stern tutor intended for the guidance of the Jewish race. It regulated outward actions. it prescribed right conduct. It imposed certain checks upon evil until those under its guidance were ready for the spiritual freedom to be found in Christ. — The Epistle of Paul to the Galatians, by Charles E. Erdman, page 75.