The School Bus Driver

My bus number was 7 and it came at 7:20 each morning. Growing up in a rural area I lived a few miles from school. From the time I started school until I began driving my own car, I rode the same bus every day. I remember one year we got a new bus to replace a very old one. But the number was the same. In fact, the driver was the same all those years. His name was Hezekiah Densmore. He was a man of short stature and I remember he had to have a block glued on the top of the gas pedal so he could reach it. He was a good man as I recall. I remember the one thing he couldn’t tolerate was whistling. If you whistled on the bus he would make you stand up and whistle for everyone. Or at least that was the threat, I never remember that happening. No one ever whistled.

I have fond memories of growing up. School was such a big part of my life. That probably led to my choice of a first career. I grew up and became a school teacher and in fact spent the last half of my career as a school principal, the head of the school.

Now what on earth does the head of the school and a bus driver have to do with the scriptures? Let’s visit a verse that will make use of both ideas. The KJV of Galatians 3:24 reads “… the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ.”

If we look up the definition of schoolmaster we find one who teaches school or the head of the school. We may thus conclude that Paul was saying the function of the Law of Moses was to serve as a teacher of the children of Israel to lead them to Christ.

Such is NOT the case. This is a great example of the limitation we sometimes have in translating the Greek to English. The word schoolmaster is translated from the Greek word paidagōgos and means a servant in control of children given the responsibility of escorting them to the school house door where they are placed in the care of the teacher. Note that paidagōgos is not the teacher but just the one charged with the responsibility of bringing the student to the teacher. Aw yes, the school bus driver!

In our modern vernacular, we might render verse 24 as, “The law was a school bus driver to escort the Jews to Christ.”

Now knowing this let us consider some other translations of the word paidagōgos:
NIV tutor
ESV guardian
RSV custodian

I like Conybeare’s translation of the verse best of all:
Thus, even as the slave who leads a child to the house of the schoolmaster, so the Law has led us to Christ, that by faith we might be justified.

Now here is the lesson we should learn from Galatians 3:24. The old law was responsible only for bringing the children of GOD to Christ. The old law was not the teacher. It did not teach one how to become a Christian. That was not the purpose of the old law. When the Jews were brought to Christ there was no more need for the school bus driver (the Law of Moses). They were then ready to learn about the new covenant. To learn from the Master how to become a follower of the Christ. To become a New Testament Christian.

And note further, when the Christ came, He took away the old law. He did away with the old law. Not in the sense that He destroyed it. He said in Matthew 5:17 that He came not to destroy the old law but to fulfill it. When it was fulfilled it was replaced by the new covenant.

We are no longer under the old law. The Old Testament served its function but we are no longer under the Law of Moses. Col 2: 13-14 and Eph 2: 14-15 are very clear that this Law has been replaced by the Law of Christ. Rom 10:4 makes it very clear; Christ is the end of the law.

I am thankful for the old law. I love to study the Old Testament and it gives me a greater understanding of the New Testament. But I am thankful that I am able to serve GOD under the Law of Christ. I am thankful for the grace and mercy that is available to me. Forgiveness of sin was not possible under the Old Law (Heb 10:4); it is available under the Law of Christ (Acts 22:16).

Very fond memories of bus number 7. Thankful for the fact it brought me to school to get an education. Even more thankful for the salvation I have in Christ Jesus under the new covenant!

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