The theme of the his book is the inability of the Mosaic law to save anyone. We saw in chapter 2:4 that the problem was false brethren trying to convince the Galatians that they had to keep the old Jewish ceremonial laws if they would be truly saved, particularly circumcision and the Jewish holy days. In fact, Paul mentions circumcision 12 times in this short book, showing that circumcision is the real issue.
Though Paul is addressing the Jewish ceremonies, his words apply to all the Mosaic laws, including the Moral law as found in the Commandments.
Chapter 2 contained Paul's warning to the Galatians of the false teachers from Jerusalem (v. 4) who had quietly united with this church to spy out the liberty the people had. That liberty was not liberty from keeping the moral laws of God, for no one has ever had that liberty, nor has that liberty ever been taught in Scripture. Paul does make it clear here that no law can provide justification. Faith alone in Christ alone produces eternal life.
As we saw with Paul in Philippians 3:1-14, Paul had been bound by the ceremonial laws, looking to them for peace with God. So he was speaking to these people from experience.
What we are saying here is quite contrary to the general teaching of it today. The accepted teaching today holds that the Law Paul is talking is the Ten Commandments. Though many people live like that, such a teaching is anti-Christian, so verse 19 must be the Jewish laws and traditions.
John Brown comments on Galatians 2:4: (John Brown was a graduate of Edinburg University, senior minister of the United Presbyterian Congregation in Edinburg, and professor of exegetical theology to the United Presbyterian Church. He wrote an Exposition of Galatians in 1857.)
And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:
[Paul] refers to those men mentioned in the fifteenth chapter of the Acts, who first at Antioch and then at Jerusalem, opposed the doctrine of the apostle respecting the freedom of gentile converts from the yoke of the Mosaic law. These men "privily crept into the church of Antioch" to spy ou the Christian liberty which the gentile Christians there enjoyed: and they did this for the purpose of bringing them into bondage, buy subjecting them to the requisitions of the ceremonial law.... (P 29)
Matthew Poole says at v. 4:
Further yet, these brethren urged the observation of these rites, as necessary to salvation, (as appears from #Ac 15:1), for they were of the sect of the Pharisees, #Ga 2:5. And to use them under that notion, was no matter of liberty.
Albert Banres says:
To spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus. In the practice of the Christian religion. The liberty referred to was, doubtless, the liberty from the painful, expensive, and onerous rites of the Jewish religion. See #Ga 5:1. Their object in spying out the liberty which Paul and others had, was, undoubtedly, to be witnesses of the fact that they did not observe the peculiar rites of the Mosaic system; to make report of it; to insist on their complying with those customs, and thus to secure the imposition of those rites on the Gentile converts. Their first object was to satisfy themselves of the fact that Paul did not insist on the observance of their customs; and then to secure, by the authority of the apostles, an injunction or order that Titus should be circumcised, and that Paul and the converts made under his ministry should be required to comply with those laws.
These men followed Paul, trying to convinced the new Christians that the Jewish religious rites were necessary for salvation. So the freedom that was being spied on was the freedom from the rites and rituals required by the Jews' religion. Certainly, all that is said about the Moses' law not saving can be applied to the Ten Commandments, but the basic context is that these people were being influenced to adapt the Jewish rites and rituals, along with the work of Christ.
2:19, 20, it was the new law of Christ sacrifice that made Paul dead to the old Jewish laws that required sacrifices and offerings. If the law Paul is talking about were the Commandments, then 2:19 would have to say that in Christ, his people are dead to the Commandments, and they have no more authority over them.
Note that we cannot be dead to the moral law of Godthat is, it has no more power or authority over us. That is antinomianism. So the law Paul is dead to through the new law of Christ is the Mosaic ordinances that pointed to Christ.
Ephesians 2:15 Having abolished in his flesh
the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances;
for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
(Christ did not abolish the Commandments.)
Colossians 2:14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
Colossians 2:20 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,
Ordinances... That is, the contract the people entered into with under Moses. These ordinances consisted of the Jewish ceremonial laws that had to be observed at all times, particularly when one sinned. These ordinances are spelled out particularly in Leviticus. They were the burdensome and numerous rites and ceremonies that were required by the Jews' religion. All of those laws all pointed to the work that the Messiah would do in the future. When Christ came, his death on the cross suspended all these burdensome requirements, but his death did not suspend the Ten Commandments.
The false brethren in Galatians 2:4 were trying to place the new Christians under those burdensome requirements. They told them that they still had to be kept though they had trusted Christ.
We will see Paul's clear reference to these ordinances as we go along.
2:21, we showed how the law that was looked to for righteousness was the ceremonial laws that the false brethren were trying to force upon these new Christians. However, it equally applies to all the Law of Moses, for no law nor amount of law-keeping can make one righteous before God. Only the righteousness of Christ applied by faith can do that.
I will mention this again in Chapter 4, but let me give some idea of what Paul was dealing with concerning these false brethren.
Based upon Geneses 17:10, 11, many of Abraham s descendants believed that if they were circumcised according to the law in vv. 10, 11, they had no fear of hell. They misapplied the covenant promise there as saying that circumcision assured one of heaven. Paul mentions circumcision at least 12 times in Galatians, telling the people that it is useless. Christ has replaced that rite.
According to Charles Hodge, here is what Paul confronted:
It is obvious that the Jews regarded circumcision as in some way securing their salvation. That they did so regard it, may be proved not only from such passages of the New Testament where the sentiment is implied, but also by the direct assertion of their own writers. Such assertions have been gathered in abundance from their works by Eisenmenger, Schoettgen, and others. For example, the Rabbi Menachem, in his Commentary on the Books of Moses, Fol. 43, col. 3, says, "Our Rabbins have said, that no circumcised man will see hell." In the Jalkut Rubeni, num, 1. it is taught, "Circumcision saves from hell." In the Medrasch Tillim, fol. 7, col 2, it is said, "God swore to Abraham, that no one who was circumcised should be sent to hell." In the book Akedath Jizehak, fol. 54, col. 2, it is taught that "Abraham sits before the gate of hell, and does not allow that any circumcised Israelite should enter there." The apostle considers circumcision under two different aspects. First, as a rite supposed to possess some inherent virtue or merit of its own; and secondly, as a sign and seal of God s covenant. (A Commentary on Romans, p 63. 1853. 1973 reprint by Banner of Truth Trust, PO Box 652, Carlisle, Pennsylvania. This writer has dealt thoroughly with circumcision in his book, "Padobaptism and the Word of God.")
The Midrash (purpose to expound the Torah, or Jewish law) recounts how a man was supernaturally rescued from an attack by his enemies because he had just been circumcised. (Midrash Rabbah, Translated into English with Notes, Glossary and Indices under the Editorship of Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman, B.A., PH.D. and Maurice Simon, M.A. In Ten Volumes, I.396. The Soncino Press, London. First Printing, 1939. "The Midrash thus created and brought into shape by the Soferim for the purpose of expounding the Torahand latter also other parts of the Hebrew Scripturesfulfilled a vital necessity..." From the Foreword, I.xi.)
Accordingly, there was a very strong public attitude among the Jews in Paul's day toward circumcision. Paul had to confront this attitude in all his books. He is especially bold in Galatians as well as in Romans.
We see, then, that the basic false teaching Paul was dealing with in both Romans 4 and Galatians was the teaching that in order to be heir to God s promise to Abraham, one had to obey the Mosaic law as understood by the Pharisees and be circumcised. (Christ came speaking against the Pharisees' interpretation of the law, and they killed him.) Then once the person was circumcised, he could pretty well live as he pleased.
Paul will discuss circumcision more in-depth. I did not peruse the study enough to understand how they got women to heaven under their laws.
Let me give the conclusion of this chapter before we start:
1) Paul gives the instructions in this chapter in the context of the entire book. His basic teaching is against the Jewish laws that were being forced upon the Galatians, particularly circumcision.
2) Abraham was not an Israelite. He received the covenant-promise while still a Gentile, and before he was circumcised.
The covenant promise was given in Genesis 12. As he followed the Word of the Lord and departed from his home land, he was set apart Abram from the world. (We will look at that promise when we get to it in Galatians.)
Circumcision was not given until chapter 17. Paul uses this fact to expose the teachers of 2:4 as liars, and enemies of the gospel of faith alone in Christ alone.
Abraham and those after him are identified as Hebrews because Abraham was a son of Eber. Esau was also a Hebrew, as are the Arabs of today. The term Jew came into being in 2 Kings 16, and it simply identified those living in the land of Judah.
3) the false teachers were saying that in order to be part of the covenant-people, and heir to the covenant-promise given to Abraham, one had to be either a physical heir to Abraham, or had to proselytize to the Jewish religion as passed down from Moses, exhibited by circumcision.
Paul reminds us that the distinction between Abraham and the rest of the world was not the moral law nor the rites handed down by Moses, such as circumcision. The distinction was God's grace claimed by Abraham through faith. Abraham did not have the covenant-promise according to the flesh nor according to the works of the any law, ceremonial nor moral. Accordingly, the covenant-promise could not be passed down by the law because it was made before circumcision was given and 400 years before the law was given.
4) Paul points out that there was no Jew/Gentile distinction at the time when the promise was given to Abraham. Therefore, the promised blessings to Abraham are inherited apart from any Jew/Gentile distinction. Throughout Galatians, there is a strong curse against those who seek to rebuild the physical distinction that was destroyed in Christ between the old Israel and the Gentile nations.
Paul makes it clear throughout his writings, including this book, that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, apart from any work of any law. These people had believed the gospel message, but were being influenced away from that simple gospel by the false brethren.
The primary purpose of Paul's words is to point out to the Galatian Christians the falsehood and danger of the message the Judaising teachers were attempting to impose on them: that the observance of the Mosaic law was equally necessary with faith in Jesus as the Messiah to secure for them the Divine favor and everlasting happiness. His goal is to recall them to and to establish them in the fundamental truths of the gospel which they had been taught. JESUS CHRIST WAS THE ONLY AND ALL-SUFFICIENT SAVIOR, AND HIS VICARIOUS OBEDIENCE, SUFFERING AND DEATH WERE THE SOLE GROUND FOR THE SINNERS JUSTIFICATION. And that believing that gospel is the only means of justification.
There are even groups today who also hold that salvation is through Christ alone, but one's continued salvation depends upon being faithful to the law. Now, if one is saved, he will be faithful to God's law, but his salvation is dependant upon faith in Christ. As James says, faith without works is dead.
There are many "Christian" traditions added to the gospel today. "Sure," we are told, "You must believe the gospel and flee to Christ for your hope, but there are these "Christian" traditions that go along with faith in Christ."
This chapter opens with Paul expressing his utter surprise at the total lack of understanding of the Old Testament exhibited by these people, v. 6ff. They had been well instructed in the gospel, yet they quickly forsook the gospel of faith alone.
Human nature has always desired to add rites and rituals to simple faith. About the closest thing today I can think of to compare to what Paul was confronting is the Roman church. I have no doubt but that there are saved people in the Church of Rome, but they have been convinced that they must follow many rites and rituals that make a mockery of Christ such as the Mass.
The rites and rituals overshadow Christ so much, that many people mistake the rites and rituals for their justification.
But Rome is not the only one. Some of the Protestant groups are almost as bad. Lutherans, Presbyterian, Espicalian to name a few. Though the Presbyterians have produced some of the best Bible scholars the world has ever seen, they do not seem to be able to see the fallacy of continuing in some of the old rites and rituals which they believe make them more right with God.
V. 1. Paul says that surely the people are under a demonic spell to exchange the simple truth of the free grace of God as revealed in the gospel for the human invention being offered by the false teachers.
He says "Surely it was not sound argument, but some kind of enchantment that caused you to exchange the reality of Christ for the shadow of the Jewish rites. Who has such a great hold on you and such an influence over you?
He expresses his surprise at how foolish they can be, and how quickly they were led astray. He points out that they started out by faith in the finished work of Christ for their justification, yet they gave that up for works of the flesh for justification.
We must say that human nature desires to be lead astray from the truth, so it does not take much encouragement. The fallen nature desires to follow about anything that sounds good, and the gospel does not sound good to that nature.
V. 2. The answer to Paul's question in v. 2 should settle the matter, but did it?
Did they receive the Spirit of God through faith in Christ, or by observing the Mosaic rites? Paul later lists the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22, 23.
Paul asks, What is the origin of the inward peace, love and joy?
Albert Barns says of v. 2:
He appeals to them to show that the great benefits which they had received had not been in consequence of the observance of the Mosaic rites, but had come solely by the hearing of the gospel, #Ga 3:2-6. Particularly the Holy Spirit, with all his miraculous and converting and sanctifying influences, had been imparted only in connexion with the gospel. This was the most rich and most valuable endowment which they had ever received; and this was solely by the preaching of Christ and him crucified.
Paul shows them that the great benefits they had received were not the result of observing the Mosaic rites, but solely from hearing the gospel. All the benefits of the Holy Spirit came in connexion with hearing the gospel of Christ and him crucified.
Was it by means of obedience to the Mosaic institution that you obtained these blessings?
The obvious answer is certainly not, for the Galatian believers knew little or nothing about those Jewish rites until after they had obtained those blessings through the hearing of faiththat is, received the Gospel of Christ.
Did you receive the Spirit of God through faith or through the Mosaic law?
V. 3. If you received the Spirit of God and his works in your life, then why are you so foolish as to want to abandon faith for works? It is absurd to leave the perfect for the imperfect.
In Christ, we have the perfect religion with free access to God the Father. How can we improve on what we have in Christ? Can any works improve what we have in Christ? How can any ritual improve on Christ's work.
Referring back to the groups that emphasize a great deal of rites, rituals and traditions. Do those things bring faith, peace, love one for another, and joy in the Holy Spirit? Of course not.
Paul, countering the men of 2:4, points out that the old Jewish rites were childish, pointing to the future maturity to be found in Christ. Chapter 4. In Christ, the child becomes a man, as it was designed by God. So why do they want to go back to being children.
Hebrews 9:8 ¶ The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: 9 Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; 10 Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation. 11 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; 12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. 13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: 14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
Are you so foolish, Paul says, that you want to return to the shadow or figure when you have the reality of Christ?
Bettie and I have discussed this many times: Why do people desire all of those formal ceremonies when they simply pointed to Christ, who did away with them. They are now dead, nailed to the Cross.
We attended a Protestant "worship service" in Harrisonburg where the "pastor" was dressed in his white robe and walked down the center eyle behind two others also dressed in white, as he walked up to the pulpit to tell a short Bible story. He obviously loved the rites and rituals more than the Word of God, for his emphasis was on the rituals. He is as close to Rome as one can get without being in Rome.
Why do people desire those rituals that point to Christ when they have Christ available. Evidently, they think those rituals will produce in them the fruits of the Spirit, or even make them more holy before God.
V. 4. This verse sounds as though the new believers had suffered many evils in vain at the hands of the Jews for leaving the Jews religion for Christ. Paul did persecute the new believers, so it may well be true, though we have no record of such suffering at Galatia.
Another understanding might be, suffered or experienced. That is, have you experienced all the freedoms and gifts of the Holy Spirit in Christ in vain, or for nothing? If you accept the message of the necessity of circumcision as presented by the men in 2:4, then all the good you have experienced in Christ has been worthless.
V. 5. He... Was this Paul or another? Regardless, Paul's question is the same as in v. 2.
In this case the force of the apostle's question is, Was the person by whose instrumentality ye received the Holy Ghost, and who confirmed His doctrine among you by miracles, an upholder of the Mosaic law? or was he a preacher of the simple gospel?" (John Brown, p. 46.)
The man of v. 5 clearly presented the truth that is in Christ Jesus. They received the Spirit and the benefits of the Spirit through the hearing of faith, not by the works of any law.
Conclusion of this section:
The works of the law, no matter how closely observed, whether the contained in the rituals or the Commandments, cannot produce redemption and justification. The works of the Mosaic law which the natural man enjoys so much cannot produce the fruits of the Spirit, nor can they produce peace with God. As we will see, those Mosaic laws could only point to Christ.
The Commandments did not die with Christ, but the Jewish rites and rituals did. It was those laws that the men of 2:4 were trying to impose upon these new Christians.
And Paul's question is just as valid today as it was thenWhy do we desire a system of works over the work that was done by Christ?
Paul's message is that Christ did not free us from the laws contained in the commandments, but he did free us from the bondage that was in the Jewish laws.
The theme of the book is found in 2:4. Though the people at Galatia had been taught the truth of Christ and received it, the false brethren who were influencing them to become Jews by adopting the Jewish rites and rituals, particularly circumcision. Paul has expressed surprise that they have been so easily swayed from the truth in Christ. In fact, he accuses them of being bewitched and of being foolish.
He expresses his surprise that they would believe that the benefits of the Holy Spirit can be accomplished by works of the law rather than by the hearing of faith.
Paul argues that the works of the Mosaic law, no matter how closely observed, cannot produce redemption and justification. The works of the Mosaic law which the natural man enjoys so much cannot produce the fruits of the Spirit, nor can they produce peace with God. As we will see, those Mosaic laws could only point to Christ.
The Commandments did not die with Christ, but the Jewish rites and rituals did. It was those laws that the men of 2:4 were trying to impose upon these new Christians.
Paul's message is that Christ did not free us from the laws contained in the commandments, but he did free us from the bondage that was in the Jewish laws.
As we saw, the primary issue in Galatians is over circumcision. The false brethren were telling the people they needed to be circumcised if they would be part of the promise given to Abraham. And the people were believing them.
Paul now presents another argument against the message of the false brethren. That is the circumcision of Abraham in the Old Testament. No one would argue that Abraham was a justified person. In fact, Abraham was called the friend of God. Isaiah 41:8.
It is very worthy of note here that Paul argued for justification by God's grace through faith from the Old Testament. He did not argue from his own words, though he could have, for he was penning the Word of God. Paul did not argue from the words Christ spoke while He walked here on earth, nor from the words of other New Testament men, such as Peter, James or John. He argued from the law and the prophets (Rom. 3:21.) Thus those who do not know the Old Testament are easy prey to the many false doctrines that come along, particular when the message appeals to the natural man and is presented by persuasive, charismatic teachers. (Eph. 4:14; Col. 2:4-9; 1 Cor. 14:20; Heb. 5:10-14.) The people at Gaul were accepting the false message not because of its soundness, but because of the nice messengers.
The new testament Christians, particularly the converted Jews, should have known the truth from the Old testament.
Vv. 6, 7 should have settled the argument. The false teachers were saying that one could not be a child of Abraham and heir to his blessing unless one was circumcised. But Paul says that it was not Abraham the circumcised that was justified, but Abraham the believer that is justified. It is the believer that is a child of Abraham and heir to his blessing.
V. 6 is a quote of Genesis 15:6. Abraham's justification was a result of his faith, not of any work he did. Because of his faith in God, God considered him righteous.
** Note here that God always sees us as we are, not as we try to present ourselves to others.
Romans 1:10. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Abraham was not circumcised unto righteousness, but he believed unto righteousness.
Galatians 3:7. The false teaching of his day was quite similar to ours today, saying that God's chosen people were/are the literal, physical decedents of Abraham. Paul proves that such an idea is not of God; it is totally unscriptural. God's chosen people of all ages, both before and after Christ, were and are those who have the faith of Abraham.
V. 8. The Old Testament foresaw justification through faith.
I want us to notice that according to Christ's own words, it was not just faith in God that accounted for righteousness.
John 8:56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
We have mentioned this before: Some way, Abraham saw Christ, and believed in Christ, and that was his righteousness. The Gospel was probably preached to Abraham Genesis 12. (The promise of Genesis 12:3 is fulfilled in Acts 15:14)
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Justification is a gift of God, given through faith not through obedience to the Mosaic Law.
V. 9 simply confirms what Paul had been saying. The blessing of Abraham is the blessing of justification, and that blessing will be by faith alone in Christ alone, as had Abraham.
V. 10. Those who depend upon the Mosaic law in anyway for justification will have a curse instead.
Every man is under the works of the law, so everyone is born under the curse of the law.
Romans 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. 21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
Deuteronomy 27:26 Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen.
No one should flatter himself in believing he can keep the law perfectly, and thus inherit the blessings of Abraham. For everyone is under the curse of the law, and is condemned accordingly.
V. 10 is a direct reference to those who were and are expecting justification by obedience to the Mosaic law. It equally applies to any who expect to stand approved before God through any works of the flesh.
Romans 4:14 For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: 15 Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.
Vv. 11, 12
Paul quotes Habakkuk 2:4.
Vv. 1-4 go together. Chapter 1, Habakkuk had been distressed that God did not move swiftly to judge the wicked. Chapter 2 is God's answer to him about the judgment of the wicked. When the time is right, the wicked will be judged, and Christ will do the judgment.
V. 4, to trust anything except the justice of God against the wicked in his time, trusting by faith, is corrupt, and will not bring peace. Faith believes God's promises, and waits patiently for him to fulfill those promises.
Believing God has life, for the just shall live by his faith.
Lev 18:5 (Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the LORD) seems to have become a proverb among the Hebrews. And Paul is saying that life is not by keeping any law, but by faith.
Romans 10:5-11. The Mosaic Moral law will produce temporal life and prosperity, but not eternal life. Paul here contrasts the physical hope with the spiritual hope, showing that the hope of eternal life lies in faith.
Moreover, the old Hebrew ceremonial laws would cover sin until Christ came who provided justification and redemption.
Vv. 13, 14.
Answering the question before it is asked...
If what you are saying is true, then how are the Jews who are condemned by the law to obtain Divine favor?
V. 13, Redeemed us... That is, us Jewish believers who were under the Old Testament rites and rituals.
Curse... The curse is spelled out in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 27, 28.
Paul is speaking in the context of the judaizing teachers who were trying to convince these Christians to take on the Jewish rites and rituals. At this time, he is dealing with two classes of people, v. 14. The Jews and the Gentiles. The curse of the law he is referring to here is the curse of the old Hebrew law.
V. 13 quotes Deuteronomy 21:23 His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.
This verse tells us that when a Hebrew was put to death as a punishment for violation of God's law, the dead body was to be hung in a public display to show that he was put to death on account of sin.
According to the Talmud, writings considered the religious authority in Orthodox Judaism, the dead body was to be placed on a piece of timber a stake. The criminal was killed on the ground by stoning, burning, beheading, strangling, and not hung on the upright piece of timber until he was dead.
Speaking as a Jew, Paul says that Christ was treated as accursed in their place by hanging on a stake. The picture could not be missed by those Jews watching the crucifixion.
Paul says that the curse of that law which bound the Jews was removed. Christ redeemed the Jewish believers from the curse of the law by becoming a curse in their stead.
Christ did away with the rites and rituals, so that curse is gone. Christ did away with the eternal results of sin, but he did not do away with the temporal results of sin. Violations of the Moral and social aspects of the Mosaic laws still have their results.
Our nation has violated the honest weights, measures and money laws, and we are now living in those temporal results. A person violates the "Owe no man anything," and over a period of time, the results will catch up. Violate the "thou shalt not steal," or "thou shalt not kill," and see what happens. The curse will catch up.
Paul has rebuked the Galatians for being easily swayed by the false brethren from Jerusalem, influencing them to return or join in the Jewish rites and rituals, particularly Circumcision and holy days.
He has proved from the Old Testament that justification is by faith, not by keeping the Mosaic laws, particularly the ordinances that pointed to Christ.
Now we pick Paul up at Galatians 3:14.
V. 14, the result of Christ's work was 3 fold:
First, that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ. That is, justification by faith alone.
Second, that WE the Jewish believers might receive the promised blessing through faith.
The Jews were under the curse of Deuteronomy 27:26 Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen.
The Gentiles were under the curse of Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
It was the same satisfaction that redeemed the believing Jews that laid a foundation for the justification of the believing Gentiles.
A third thing accomplished by Christ's work was to end the Jewish economy which was built upon the rites and rituals that had been in effect for 2000 years. Christ brought about the reality of the Old Testament shadows which were tied up in those rites and rituals.
Moreover, Christ fulfilled all the numerous Old Testament prophecies that pointed to his redeeming work.
V. 16, Paul refers back to the Covenant Promise given to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3. This is a good place to cover that promise, which will take a while. Paul will refer to it several more times in Galatians, as well as others of his books, especially Romans.
Paul argues from the very thing every genuine Israelite was proud of: their link to Abraham. The teachers were trying to convince the people that in order to truly be part of the promised people and heirs to Abraham's promise, they had to follow the Jewish law as established by the Pharisees. Paul proves that God's promised blessing to Abraham's seed is passed down by faith not through literal race nor by religious rituals and persuasion.
Paul's proof text is Genesis 12:1-4a.
Genesis 12:1-3 is one of the most misused verses of our day. It is being used today by the false brethren to lead Christians, who do not know their Bibles, astray, to raise vast sums of money for themselves and for that anti-Christ nation, and to shape US foreign policy.
John Hagee just released a book, In Defense of Israel. John Hagee is the founder and senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas. It is a non-denominational charismatic church with more than 19,000 active members. His TV sermons are carried by 160 TV stations and 50 Radio stations. His sermons can also be heard in Africa, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and in most third word nations.
His influence in the "Christian" community is strong enough to affect US Foreign Policy.
He helped found Christians United for Israel in 2006, which lobbies Congress to support Israel.
Hagee is the one who wanted to endorse McCain, and McCain wisely turned him down immediately.
Here are some the outrageous things Hagee says:
* He claims that we must attack Iran in order to protect Israel. Modern "Jews" living in Iran say they are in no danger. Thus, he lobbies for WWIII, for he is desiring to bring about Armageddon in his desire to fulfill the dispensational version of prophecy.
* He describes Hitler's murdering of the Jews as a logical consequence of the Roman Church's anti-Semitism. However, Pope Pius XII saved the lives of hundreds of thousands Jews during that time. He praises Hitler for driving the Jews to Israel, which needed to be populated for his idea of prophecy to work out.
* He quotes leaders without any documentation. He puts words in their mouths that will support his theology.
* Everything revolves around the Jews, but he offers no Scriptural definition of the identity of Jews. He avoids the fact that the black entertainer Sammy Davis Jr was a Jew.
* He claims that Jesus was not the Messiah, and never offered himself as such.
* Hagee's only proof-text for unlimited support of Modern Israel is the promise given to Abraham in Genesis 12:3.
I full review of his book will be in the next Examiner.
Let us look at the promise as explained by Paul in Galatians, v. 16. When we look at it, we must identify either Paul or the profiting prophets like Hagee as liars, and tools of the Devil to lead people astray.
Genesis 12;1-4a. Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him;
This passage is misused to say that:
* the great nation is the modern nation of
* modern Israel has God's unconditional blessings.
* those who bless modern Israel will be blessed by God.
* those who do not bless modern Israel will be cursed by God.
These serious errors are all lumped together to say that no matter what, Christians must support modern Israel, or God will be angry with them. (Modern Jews are simply a group of Gentiles who took on the Jewish religion a couple of hundred years ago.) For the last 150 years or so, these false ideas have been promoted to Christians around the world, and the money has flowed to the wicked false prophets, and to that anti-Christ nation. Moreover, for the last 100 years, this false teaching has controlled our foreign policy.
The Lord gave the promise three more times to Abraham:
Read all of Genesis 15.
This time the covenant was unconditional, for Abraham was in a deep sleep, v. 12.
Genesis 17:4-10 takes place about 25 years after the first promise in Genesis 12. It is the same covenant, only circumcision is added.
Then in Genesis 22:15-18, the Lord gives the promise a third time.
Hebrews 11:8-16. The land Abraham looked for was not the literal land of Canaan, Palestine. In other words, Palestine was not what was promised to Abraham for an everlasting possession as is claimed by many today. Romans 4:13, tells us that the promise was that Abraham's seed would be heir of the world.
Romans 4:13 For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.
Paul proves that that seed was Christ. And Christians are joint heirs with him through Faith, not through works, though faith will work. Romans 8:17.
The place Abraham looked for was an eternal inheritance, an eternal city built by God where Jesus is the mediator of the new covenant. It is the same city looked for by Christians of all ages.
Hebrews 12:22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.
The problem being dealt with in Galatians is the false brethren from Jerusalem were teaching that for one to be assured of heaven, he had to assume the Jewish manner of worship, particularly circumcision and holy days. The primary problem was that the Jews were proud of their heritage to Abraham, believing that by following the command to be circumcised as given to Abraham, they were right with God.
Paul refers back to the promise, and he points out that the command to circumcise was given 25 years after Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness, and that Abraham was counted righteous 400 years before the law.
The conclusion Paul forces upon his readers is that neither circumcision nor the commandments could make one right before God.
V. 16, Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.
Paul refers to the first time the promise is given:
Genesis 12:1-4a. Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: 2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. 4 So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him;
We looked at the three times: Genesis 12, 17 and 22.
Let me call your attention to something before we look at Abraham's promised blessing. Note v. 2.
Using the modern corruption of v. 2, what is said here? If we want God's blessings, what must we do?
That if we will bless the modern anit-christ nation of Israel, we will be blessed of God.
Following the logical implications of the "secular" understanding of v. 2, it means that though our nation continues to support and praise evil and suppress good, God will bless us as long as we continue to send boat loads of money to the anti-christ as seated today in Palestine.
But is this true?
Let us define Abraham's promised blessing: Genesis 12:3/Galatians 3:8, 9
What is the blessing promised to Abraham and his seed?
The promised blessing passed down from Abraham through the faith of Abraham was/is justification by faith or the Gospel of Christ.
Romans 3:22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
The promised blessing included forgiveness of sin and the clear conscience before God.
Hebrews 10:22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
The preaching of the gospel to Abraham was that through Abraham's seed, even the Gentiles would find forgiveness of sin.
Peter put it this way, quoting the promise:
Acts 3:25 Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. 26 Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.
The blessing is turning from sin to Christ. It includes a hatred for sin and a love for obedience to the Word of God.
The true purpose of Old Testament circumcision and the ceremonial laws was to show the Hebrew's faith that the Lord would fulfill the promise to Abraham, and that fulfillment was Christ. The individual's faith was not to be in the required sacrifices, but was in the promise held by those sacrifices.
Note that Ishmeal, the many sons of Katura, and Esau were circumcised, so circumcision guarantees nothing. Read all of Romans 4.
Galatians 3:16. Paul is here referring to the promise given to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3.
Genesis 12:1 ¶ Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: 2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. 4 ¶ So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him;
We saw that this is a key verse in our modern political climate. There has been a great deal of discussion as to whom God referred to in this promise. The modern thought, started in the early 1800s is that the blessing and curse refers to a nation, the nation of Israel.
There was much rejoicing when the land was taken from the Palestinians and given to a group of people who had assumed the Jewish religion. Our foreign policy today is based upon the misuse of this promise:
That is, if the US will support the modern anit-christ nation of Israel, God will bless us. So we send them boat loads of money and military equipment, which enables them to kill those they do not like. Haaga is a big promoter of war in order to fulfill his misunderstanding of prophecy.
However, Paul in v. 16 clears up any misunderstanding of this verse. He is dogmatic. The seed of Genesis 12 is not a nation, but it is a person. The seed is Christ. Those who bless that seed, Christ, will be blessed by God; those who curse that seed, will be cursed by God. The promise has nothing to do with any literal people nor nation.
Genesis 12:1-3 was knowingly hijacked by a group of people who assumed the Jewish religion. They had nothing to do with any physical attachment to Abraham.
We read all of Romans 4, but did not have time to develop several implications from it. So let us reread it, and point out some things that pertain to Paul's message in Galatians.
Note v. 15. My father was a welder, and a good one. He always had to drive, or fly, a good ways to his jobs, or to his contracts after he became a contractor. I can not remember when he drove less than 100 miles to his job. Back then, there was no speed limit, except maybe in towns. The limit was "Safe and reasonable." Police would pull him over for driving fast, but they had no authority to write a ticket, for there was no speed limit. Because where there was no speed law, there was no transgression.
In Romans 4, Paul tells us what took place in Genesis 12:1-3. In Romans four, Paul responds to the idea that Abraham's promised blessing or cursing was passed down through keeping the Mosaic law.
First, in Romans 3:
10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. 13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: 14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: 15 Their feet are swift to shed blood: 16 Destruction and misery are in their ways: 17 And the way of peace have they not known: 18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.
Paul proves that all people, both Jews and Gentiles, are natural born sinners. Because God is no respecter of persons, both Jews and Gentiles are born under the death penalty.
There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. Though a person may enjoy doing "good works," those good works are worthless before God. For if those works are not through saving faith in Christ, they are an abomination to God. Those good works are the works of our own hands, and are unacceptable to God.
Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
Paul tells us in Romans 14:23, for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.
Any good works we might do, no matter what our motive, if they are done apart from salvation and the glory of God are sin.
Second, 3:11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. Paul proved in chapter 3 that no person has any natural desire nor ability to seek after God. The ability to seek after God must be given by God.
John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
Note here also that the desire to do good things apart from the indwelling Spirit of Christ is not seeking after God.
Third, then in chapter 4:9-15, Paul deals with circumcision, which was a very hot issue in his day.
We saw a few weeks ago that the covenant was given again to Abraham in Genesis 15, then again in Genesis 17:4-10, about 25 years after the first promise in Genesis 12. It was not until Genesis 17 that circumcision was added. Then in Genesis 22:15-18, the Lord gives the promise a fourth time.
We saw from Charles Hodge that based upon Geneses 17:10, 11, many Jews believed that if they were circumcised according to the law in vv. 10, 11, they had no fear of hell.
Abraham's Blessing Defined
First, all under sin.
Second, no natural desire nor ability to seek God.
Third, Paul deals with the misunderstanding of circumcision.
And, Fourth, Romans 4, Paul points out that the blessing of Abraham passes down regardless of whether one is a Jew or Gentile, and regardless of circumcision. Therefore, all of those in Christ from both the Old and New Testaments, are the legal heirs to Abraham's blessing namely, the forgiveness of sin.
Acts 3:25 Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. 26 Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.
The promise to Abraham was that the Gospel of Christ would go to the Gentiles by faith. The promise was that the Gentiles, through faith in Christ, would have the same access to the Heavenly Father as would the Jews have through Christ. The promise was forgiveness of sin through faith in Christ.
As I mentioned previously, the Gospel preached to Abraham, Galatians 3:8 & John 3:56, was probably preached to Abraham in Genesis 12.
Galatians 3:10-14 Those who look to a work of the Mosaic law to inherit Abraham's blessing, rather than inheriting a blessing, will inherit a curse because they are unable to continue in all the law. Paul clearly says that the work of Christ was to bring the blessing of Abraham upon all people, Jews and Gentiles. The blessings of Abraham come through faith, and not through the works of any kind.
Paul counters the false teachers of 2:4 (And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage) with two points:
A) he identifies the blessings promised to Abraham, which were two-fold, spiritual and physical.
Spiritual - God promised that Abraham's seed would be a blessing to all the earth.
Physical - The physical promise was that Abraham's seed would be heir to a literal land - a literal place in the earth. Paul tells us that the land promised to Abraham's seed, Christ, as an everlasting possession was not just the literal land of Palestine, but it is the whole world. Romans 4:13.
B) Paul points out that Abraham had the promise from God long before he was given circumcision.
Therefore, the false teachers were just that, false. They were liars, either intentional or unintentional. They did not know the Scriptures, or they would not have corrupted God's promised blessings as given to Abraham.
More likely, they did, and do, know the Scripture, and they sought to retain the power of Judaism over the people. From the tone of Paul's letter, the people also knew the truth, but were willing to listen to the false teachers.
We must remember that the Scriptures clearly teach that the kind of faith Abraham had will result in Abraham's works. God spoke, and Abraham moved according to the word of God. (See the book of James.)
Galatians 3:14, 15. The covenant that God made with Abraham said that God would gather together all His people into one body. Modern theology divides the world into three parts: the literal, physical seed of Abraham (which is impossible to document), the spiritual seed of Abraham, and the general unsaved, or the Gentiles. The body of God's people would be one and made up of both Jews and Gentiles.
The inheritance is defined:
Genesis 17:7 ¶ And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. 8 And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.
V. 16. Paul is dogmatic: The seed was/is Christ, as we saw from the promise recorded in Genesis 22:17, 18:
17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; 18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.
Galatians 3:16 cannot include all of Abraham's seed, for Ishmael was a son as well as were the many sons of Keturah, (25:1), and Esau. Paul makes it clear that the seed is Christ.
Thus the promise was made to Christ through Abraham. It was and is that the people in Christ will be as the stars in heaven, and as the sand upon the sea shore. The elect will possess the gate of the enemies of Christ, for they are more than conquers through Christ. Only in Christ, can all the nations be blessed with grace and redemption. The promise of the seed was made through Abraham. If Abraham had not obeyed the voice of the Lord, which led to Christ, then the Lord would have raised up someone else.
V. 17. The promise cannot be of the law, for the law was not given through Moses for another 430 years. The promise was given to Abraham. Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness. Then the law was given 430 years latter.
It is the promise that God should be the God of a particular people that is, by virtue of the covenant made with faithful Abraham, all people having the faith of Abraham, Jews and Gentiles alike, have the blessings promised to Abraham in Christ. Paul points out that one cannot claim Abraham's blessings by a mixture of faith and law: it must be either by law or by faith, and it is clearly by faith.
V. 18. Law voids faith, and faith mixed with law is not faith.
V. 21. Righteousness had to be by faith in order for the whole world to be included in the promised blessing, justification.
Psalms 2 and Psalms 110 fit well here, as God promises to make all the enemies of Christ his footstool.
The Purpose of the Law
Paul has been clear it is impossible for the Mosaic law to save a person, or free a person from the power of sin. The false teachers were trying to get the people to either return to the temple rites and rituals in Jerusalem, or if they were Gentiles, become Jewish proselytes.
Acts 15:1 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. 2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. 3 And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. 4 And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. 5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. 24 Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment:
V. 19. So what law is Paul talking about in this section.
The Mosaic law has three parts:
1) Moral thou shalt not kill, &c.
2) Ceremonial that is, the mediation laws contained in the rites, rituals and ceremonies the sinner had to follow if he would have his sins covered until God's sacrifice should appear.
3) The third type of law is much overlooked today, and that is Civil law. These laws are the Ten Commandments put into practical application in society. These laws were applied to Western law by William Blackstone, and were in effect pretty much until Lincoln's war.
Some examples of Civil laws:
Leviticus 19:15 Ye shall do no unrighteousness
in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor
honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou
judge thy neighbour. 16 Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer
among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of
thy neighbour: I am the LORD.
Leviticus 19:35 Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in meteyard, in weight, or in measure. 36 Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin, shall ye have: I am the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt.
Deuteronomy 25:13 Thou shalt not have in thy bag divers weights, a great and a small. 14 Thou shalt not have in thine house divers measures, a great and a small. 15 But thou shalt have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure shalt thou have: that thy days may be lengthened in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
We saw from Acts 15 that the false brethren of 2:4 were convincing the Christians here that in order to be right with God, they had to follow the ceremonial laws, particularly circumcision and holy days.
So to which of the three areas of the Mosaic law is Paul referring in Galatians 3:19-29?
Again, we must refer to the Old Testament to understand Paul's words.
Exodus 19:1-8, v. 8 And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD.
The people said this before they saw the glory of God revealed in his law, Exodus 19:9 through 20:17. Then in Exodus 20:18, the people saw and understood the holiness of God, and every mouth was stopped. Every person who though he could please God understood better when he heard and saw the glory of God in the commandments.
The Ten Commandments were given in Exodus 20:10-17, proving that no person could stand in God's presence. After the Lord God (the Lord Jesus Christ) spoke the Ten Commandments, the people realize the holiness of God and their transgressions. They then stand back, and ask Moses for a mediator, vv. 18-26. Hence, the mediation laws were added.
Exodus also contains many Civil laws: Chapter 21 master-servant relationship, restitution, &c.
Then starting with Exodus 24, God gives the many oppressive laws of the rites, rituals and ceremonies required of those who violate the moral and civil laws. Those laws generally required blood sacrifices, which applied only to Israel. The giving of these lengthy ceremonial laws continue on through Leviticus.
At times, the New Testament authors refer to the moral law, the Ten Commandments. At times, they refer to the blood sacrifices, the mediation laws. Then at times they refer to the total laws of God's government of His household. The context normally tells us to which law they refer.
So the law being dealt with in Galatians 3:19, is the mediation law, which was only good till the seed should come to whom the promise was made, Christ, who is now the only mediator between God and man. Titus 2:5, 6..
Even though many professed Christians say they believe the Commandments still define God's standard of living, they sure do not act like it. They act like Paul says that the Commandments only lasted till the seed, Christ, should come.
Remember, Paul is writing to people who could not imagine any other approach to the Heavenly Father apart from a literal blood sacrifice. The mediation offerings had been practiced for fifteen hundred years. Accordingly, they were very susceptible to the influence of the false teachers to return to the old mediation laws done away with by the Seed, Christ.
So Paul tells them again that the purpose of the temple laws was only to provide mediation until the true Mediator would come, Christ. Paul argues that righteousness and approach to God the Father is now by faith in Christ, not by keeping the mediation laws and being faithful to the temple.
V. 20 makes clear that Paul is speaking of the mediation laws, and not the moral laws as found in the commandments. The need of a mediator was recognized early on:
Job 16:21 O that one might plead for a man with God, as a man pleadeth for his neighbour!
V. 21. Does any of the Mosaic law add to or subtract from what was promised to Abraham? Do any of those laws counter the promises given to Abraham? Certainly not! No part of the law could produce life, for life came only by the faith exhibited by Abraham. In fact, Paul says that if the law had been able to bring about righteousness and life, Christ would not have had to come.
V. 22. The Commandments as revealed in Scripture prove that all have sinned, showing the need of a Saviour. And as the Commandments did at the foot of the Mount, they show the need of a mediator. At the mount, the people asked Moses to be the mediator between the holy God and the people. Now Christ is that mediator.
A purpose of the Ten Commandments is to stop the mouth of every person from claiming he or she is good enough for fellowship with the heavenly Father.
Romans 3:19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
The Ten Commandments proved to old Israel at the mount as well as to modern man that every person, without exception, is a sinner before God. The Ten Commandments prove that every person needs a mediator, someone to lay his hand on sinful man and on the Holy God.
Therefore, the Moral Law will never pass away, for it reveals the holiness of God for as long as there is a God. In fact, heaven and earth will pass away before one speck of that law passes away. The Commandments still reveal how God requires man to live; they still reveal how we are to treat both God and others. They are and will always be God's standard. Since Christ, God's spirit dwells in God's people, and He gives them a love for the Ten Commandants.
And until human time is no more, they reveal how short even the best men are of God's standard, and how much they need a mediator.
The purpose of the old mediation laws was to mediate between God and man until the new promise would come; the promise was Christ. Christ came, fulfilling the mediation laws. Also, the mediation laws preserved the Old Testament national Israel as a distinct people just as sure as if the nation had been placed on an island, until the promise was opened up to the Gentiles as well as the Jews. Thus national Israel was preserved until Christ came.
All under sin. Paul is probably referring to:
Psalms 14:1 ¶ To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. 2 The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. 3 They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one. (See also, Psalms 53:1-3, Job 14:4; 15:14; 9:30-33; Rom. 3:9-31.)
V. 22 The mediation laws were only given to a small minority of people, Israel, though all men and nations were under the curse of sin. The Commandments define God's holiness and man's sinfulness, showing man his absolute necessity for a Mediator. The Commandments were given to show man how to please God. (1 Jn. 3:4.)
Though the Old Testament mediation laws were given to a very limited group of people, Israel, Gentiles could participate in the mediation by proselytizing to the Jewish religion. However, with the work of Christ, the mediation was expanded to cover the whole world; Paul makes it clear that the Gentiles no longer had to proselytize to the Jews' religion.
God did not give the Old Testament blood sacrifice to bring righteousness and remission of sins. The blood sacrifice was only a stop-gap measure until the time was right for Christ to come. Then He came, and made the blood sacrifice for sin.
Paul also points out that neither the mediation laws nor the Ten Commandments was given so the people could inherit the promised blessings of God. The promised blessings were by faith.
Then all the New Testament books prove that since Christ, the promised blessings are available to everyone though Christ, regardless of whether they are Jews or Gentiles.
Divine favor did not nor could not come by ceremony and ritual, but only by Faith in Christ.
V. 23, faith in Christ. Before faith in Christ was revealed, Israel was prisoner to ceremonies. Christ revealed faith, and they were released from that prison.
V. 24. Schoolmaster is normally wrongly viewed by all the Mosaic law given at the mount 430 years after the promise.
However, Ephesians 2:11-22 requires that the schoolmaster refer to the mediation laws that kept Israel a distinct nation for many hundreds of years. Exclusiveness in worshiping the Heavenly Father was never God's final plan. The exclusiveness was to teach of or point mankind to Christ. When He came, the Jewish distinct national ceremonies were removed, and the distinction between Jews and Gentiles removed.
Vv. 23-25, the use of we, our and us show that Paul here refers to the mediation laws that had been imposed on Israel for fifteen hundred years. Now the time of reformation has come, or the time of Christ.
Hebrews 9:9 Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; 10 Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation. 11 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; 12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. 13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: 14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
V. 24, our schoolmaster... Paul identified himself with those Israelites to whom he writes. Evidently, they, along with Paul before his conversion, had been practicing the Jewish religion of circumcision and temple worship.
V. 25, is a freedom verse, for it says that the restrictions, confinements and burdens of those laws were removed by faith in Christ. Their purpose of teaching about Christ and His work, and justification by faith in Him was fulfilled, so they are longer in effect.
We should also include the Commandments in this freedom, for conversion includes conversion in one's attitude toward the Commandments of God. They are no longer a binding burden, but a joy in fulfilling.
V. 26, ye are all the children of God by faith... is explained by Ephesians 2:11-22, which we read above.
V. 27, refers to spiritual baptism. (1 Cor. 12:12.) And again, Paul repeats himself, saying that the division between Jew and Gentile has been removed in the body of Christ, the church. (Titus 3:4-7. Isa. 61:10, 11; Rom. 3:19-26.) How foolish to attempt to continue the division between Jews and Gentiles done away with in Christ.
Vv. 28, 29, Abraham's seed and thus the heirs to the promise given by God to Abraham is clearly identified: The seed is Christ, and the heirs are those in Christ:
Romans 8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
See also, St. John 8:37-44; 1 Cor. 3:23; Eph. 3:6; Titus 3:7; Heb. 1:14; 6:17; Ja. 2:5, &c.>
Conclusion to chapter three
1) Abraham was not an Israelite. He received
the covenant-promise while still a Gentile. However, he was a
Hebrew, being a son of Eber, who would have been the first Hebrew.
(See also, Gill on Gen. 14:13.
2) the false teachers were saying that in order to be part of the covenant-people, and heir to the covenant-promise given to Abraham, one had to be either a physical heir to Abraham, or had to proselytize to the Jewish religion as passed down from Moses. Paul had no kind words for those who taught that lie, reminding us that the distinction between Abraham and the rest of the world was not the law nor circumcision. The distinction was God's grace claimed by Abraham through faith. Abraham did not have the covenant-promise according to the flesh nor according to the works of the law. Accordingly, the covenant-promise could not be passed down by the law because it was made long before the law was given.
3) there was no Jew/Gentile distinction before Abraham and the promise. Therefore, the promised blessings to Abraham are inherited apart from any Jew/Gentile distinction. Throughout Galatians, there is a strong curse against those who seek to rebuild any physical distinction destroyed by Christ between the old Israel and the Gentile nations.
4) as we saw back in 2:11-21, the whole issue is illustrated by Peter's dissimulation, v. 13.