Paul now talks of the law in two ways. First, he says that the law was the strict moral captor of God’s people until the object of their faith was truly revealed (v.23). Faith was always first and foremost in what we would refer to as the Old Testament but the object of it was always shrouded in future-fog, so to speak.
Second, he speaks of the law as a guardian. Perhaps your Bible says tutor, or schoolmaster. Either way, it speaks of the idea that the law was in place to fulfill a similar role to that which a member of an ancient household held. There was often someone charged with the moral protection of a minor until they came of age. Educate them, teach them, protect them from the worst elements of society. The law itself, then, was never going to take people to faith in the Messiah, rather, it was going to temporarily keep a strict watch over the morals of God’s people until He came (v.24).
But, Paul writes, now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian (v.25). This stands to reason: the temporary guardian is out of a job when the minor reaches maturity and by application, the law is now no longer the ultimate authority and guardian over the lives of God’s people, Jesus is.
Keeping up with his use of (then) current cultural imagery, Paul writes that as many of you as were baptised into Christ have put on Christ (v.27). Upon reaching the aforementioned maturity, minors in Roman society were given a special toga to wear signifying that they were now fully-fledged members of the household and of society itself, and they could now claim all the rights that went along with that. As for them, Paul says, so for you now who have come to faith in Jesus. Putting on Christ means you have inherited full rights in the family of God’s people.
Whereas this was once limited to a certain people from a certain place, in this new family of Messiah people there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for everyone who has put faith in Jesus is all one family (v.28). Human distinctions melt away where justification by faith is concerned. By faith in Jesus, we are counted as Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise (v.29). Our inheritance as believers in Jesus is being justified before God by faith alone (3.6-9).
Are you then living like a member of the family? Have you, as Paul writes, put on Christ? The societal and familial rights and privileges that this brings you are out of this world, literally. To put on Christ means that you are part of God’s new community and stand fully accepted before Him. It means that you are part of God’s great renewal and renovation project to have things be on earth as they are in heaven. It means that you are part of a worldwide family that transcends space and time. It means that you have discovered that your life has dignity, worth, and value simply because you are here: nothing you can do to define yourself or anything others to do define you will ever top the status you have if you have put on Christ.