Summary: Understanding the Lord’s purpose in giving the Law, using the Apostle Paul’s question, “why then the Law?” The sermon also touches indirectly on the issue of continuity and discontinuity.
Why Then the Law?
Τί οὖν ὁ νόμος; Galatians 3:19 (NA27INT) "Why then the Law?"
(1). Was "added" because of transgressions.
"The verb "added" indicates that the law was not primary in God’s dealings with sinners. The covenant and promises of God were first." (Alva J. McClain, Law and Grace, BHM Books, IN 1954, p. 24)
aor. pass. ind. προσετέθη
προστίθημι (18) From prós (4314), to, toward or besides, and títhēmi (5087), to put. To set, add, put, lay unto or with something. (Zodhiates, Spiros. The Complete Word Study Dictionary : New Testament. electronic ed., G4369. Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers,
2000, c1992, c1993.)
The giving of the Law was related to man’s sin, "transgressions."
A time element is also involved, "until" ἄχρι(ς) the Seed which was promised.
ἄχρι(ς) - (1) as a conjunction expressing time up to a point until" (Friberg, Timothy, Barbara Friberg, and Neva F. Miller. Vol. 4, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament. Baker’s Greek New Testament library, Page 85. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker
Thus the Law was neither first or final in God’s plan for sin. It was "added" temporary, "this indicates a dispensational aspect." (Alva J. McClain, Ibid,
(2). The Law was enacted for the lawless and ungodly. (1 Tim. 1:9-10)
"We know that the law ( ὁ νόμος) is good if one uses it properly (νομίμως- lawfully- a play on words).
We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for (ἀνόμοις) lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and
liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine" (1 Timothy 1:8-10.
The primary idea here is restraint.
Aslo... “Paul is saying that the law is not given to apply in some mystical way to people who are
already ‘righteous.’ (Tom Constable. Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible, 1 Tim 1:8, Galaxie Software, 2003; 2003.)
(3). To give "the knowledge of sin." (Romans 3:20)
"Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin." (Romans 3:20.
διὰ γὰρ νόμου ἐπίγνωσις ἁμαρτίας." (Romans 3:20.
ἐπίγνωσις - (full) knowledge, acknowledgment, recognition.
"man becomes more fully conscious of his sin and the need for help which is outside and beyond the Law. In this sense alone, Law may be said to prepare lost men for the gospel of Christ..." (Alva J. McClain, Ibid, 25)
The Law shows man his need for the Bread of Life... the Law does not give Bread nor is the Law itself the Bread. Only Christ can satisfy the hunger for righteousness. Christ and Christ alone is the Bread of Life.