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Bible Encyclopedias

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Schoolmaster

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skool´mas - ter : Galatians 3:24 f the King James Version reads: "The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster." "Schoolmaster" is a translation of παιδαγωγός , paidagōgós , literally, "child-leader." This paidagōgos was not a teacher but a slave, to whom in wealthy families the general oversight of a boy was committed. It was his duty to accompany his charge to and from school, never to lose sight of him in public, to prevent association with objectionable companions, to inculcate moral lessons at every opportunity, etc. He was a familiar figure in the streets, and the (sour) "face of paidagōgos " and "to follow one like a paidagōgos " were proverbial expressions. Naturally, to the average boy the paidagōgos must have represented the incorporation of everything objectionable. Hence, Paul's figure may be paraphrased: "The law was a paidagōgos , necessary but irksome, to direct us until the time of Christ. Then was the time of our spiritual coming-of-age, so that the control of the paidagōgos ceased." The word paidagōgos was taken over into Aramaic at an early date, and Paul's language; which is hardly that of a mere adult observer, suggests that he had had personal experience with the institution. Wealthy and intensely orthodox Jewish parents living in a Gentile city may well have adopted such a precaution for the protection of their children.

No English word renders paidagōgos adequately. "Schoolmaster" is quite wrong, but Revised Version's "tutor" (compare 1 Corinthians 4:15 ) is little better in modern English.


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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Schoolmaster'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/isb/s/schoolmaster.html. 1915.

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