“…but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father”
but is under guardians
Paul uses two terms that both carry the idea of entrusting someone with something of value: 1) guardians and 2) stewards. Both of these terms indicate that others have authority over the heir.
A “guardian” was one to whose care something is committed. The word comes from two Greek words: upon and to turn, direct. This individual has delegated authority over the person of the child. He was a guardian of his daily life. He made sure that he combed his hair and that he washed behind his ears. He was both an attendant and a bodyguard. The Mosaic law is an attendant and bodyguard to teach us how to conduct ourselves.
A “steward” literally is one who rules a house. This person managed the estate of the heir until he came of age. He had authority over the property of the heir.
until the time appointed by the father
The word “appointed” means set beforehand, prearranged. The father of the heir prearranged a time when the child would become an adult. This was an Athenian legal term for the termination of childhood set by the father of the child.
God the “father” is the originator of the decision as to when the ceremony would take place. He gives us positional rights at the moment of salvation in the dispensation of grace.
In the dispensation of grace, we have special rights with God.
In God’s eternal timing, He appointed a time when the believer would operate under grace. The fact that the law had to rule over believers shows its insufficiency. A child must be subject to rules and regulations. The law was incapable to bestow full liberty of Christian living. There came a time when God appointed the grace concept to fully engage the life of believers. This was the point when the Son of God step foot on earth.
“And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:16-17).
When Christians revert to the law, they put themselves back under the guardianship of rules and regulations. When we accept the work of Christ, we live under grace.