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Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

Galatians 3

Verses 15-29

  1. Intro: Galatians - Tutor’s & Toga’s
    1. Sometimes when developers purchase a property it is not for the building on it but for the site itself. Case in point on the corner of Ynez/RC rd. Bill Bachelor (Cent.21 Reality) took the building to the ground & is starting over. [It was here in 1985 info center. 3 lakes]
      1. Compare what God is thinking, when He has a renovation in mind in our lives...to us improving our own lives. It’s like us sweeping the floor of a Slide4 warehouse...when it’s slated for the wrecking ball? When we become God’s, the old life is over. He makes all things new.
  2. WHAT THE LAW COULDN’T DO (15-18) read only vs by vs
    1. (read 14,15) Let’s pick up on the promise in vs.14.
      1. God’s promise/covenant to Abraham that all the peoples would be blessed through him. Has been fulfilled by Christ.
    2. Remember some of God’s covenants are conditional (The Mosaic/Law i.e. Blessing or Cursing based on obedience or lack of it) & some unconditional (Abrahamic, blessing allfamilies).
      1. When they’re unconditional not even our disobedience can invalidate His promise
      2. Though we fail to keep His Law, God never fails to keep His Word.
        1. His promises are timeless & trustworthy.
    3. Paul illustrates his point using a common covenant or contract/formal agreement/pact/or treaty.
      1. His point was that such a contract was binding & was not changed.
      2. They are unalterable. And if that is true for human contracts/relationships, how much more when God draws up the document...like the one He drew up w/ Abraham.
    4. (16) Seed – Here we have a collective noun.
      1. A collective noun is a noun that refers to a group of people or things considered as a single unit.
      2. For instance: we talk about the furniture in our home (sing). Or an audience (sing). [a crowd, clergy, a jury, etc.]
      3. This seed was referring to Christ, but we’ll see we are included in that seed also (vs.29)
        1. Slide7 John Stott, Such was God’s promise. It was free & unconditional. As we might say, there were no strings attached. There was no works to do, no laws to obey, no merit to establish, no conditions to fulfill. God simply said, “I will give you a Seed. To your seed I will give the land, & in your seed all the nations of the earth will be blessed.” His promise was like a will, freely giving the inheritance to a future generation. And like a human will, this divine promise is unalterable. It is still in force today, for it has never been rescinded. God does not make promises in order to break them. He has never annulled or modified his will. (The Message of Galatians, pg.88,89.)
    5. (17,18) You could hear the Judaizer’s say, “Ok, maybe Abraham was justified by faith. But that was before the Mosaic Law was given at Sinai. Once the Law came, it became the vehicle for salvation & superseded everything that came before it.” Charles Swindoll, pg.60
      1. 430 years – The Law, coming centuries later, didn’t change the plan. On the contrary, it was part of the plan.
        1. It was to drive us to God’s gracious promise & into the fold of the covenant community. Charles Swindoll, pg.61
  3. WHAT THE LAW COULD DO (19-22)
    1. ​​​​​​​The Laws Purpose (19-21)
    2. Paul, does the Law have any value or goodness at all?
    3. The Law would be a bad thing IF it were given to bring spiritual life & then failed to do so. [but no law can bring life]
    4. Because of transgressions – there’s the purpose.
      1. As one writer put it, Satan would have us to prove ourselves holy by the Law, which God gave to prove us sinners.” Andrew Jukes
      2. “God wanted to provide His people w/a clear statement of His standards, w/unequivocal definitions of righteousness & sin, so that when they failed to meet His perfect requirements, they would seek His grace.” Swindoll
    5. The promise is superior to the Law even in the very manner of its declaration.
      1. In the case of Abraham God Himself spoke the promises directly; whereas the giving of the law was through intermediaries on both sides (God being represented by angels & the people by Moses)
    6. (21) Is God inconsistent or in conflict w/Himself? [His law vs. His promises]
      1. The Law shows us our sin (21), the Gospel shows us the way to escape (22).
    7. Death Row (22) the scripture has confined all under sin
    8. By looking at just the 10 commandments. Jesus explained that not only outward conformity is required, but also absolute purity of thought, motives, etc was also required
      1. Thus we have broken them all. We’ve all lied. We’ve all put people, possessions, & priorities ahead of God.Out of discontentment we’ve all wanted something that someone else had.
      2. We can’t keep the Law...but praise God that Someone kept it for us.
        1. ​​​​​​​The law was not to make men better but to make man worse; that is to show them their sin, that they might be humbled, terrified, bruised, & broken, & by this driven to seek grace, & so to come to that blessed Seed. Martin Luther
        2. Catherine Booth said, What the law tried to do by a restraining power from without, the gospel does by an inspiring power from within. (William & Catherine Booth, Christian History, no.26.) [school/uniforms. church/dress]
  4. PRISON & PEDAGOGUE (23-25)
    1. Ex-Con’s for Christ (23)
    2. We often forget the grace of God did more than just rescue us from bondage, it brought us into God’s family.
      1. Some Anti Human Trafficking groups deal with Rescues…other groups deal with the victims restoration. (some both, Destiny Rescue)
      2. Most Pet Rescue places only rescue…they don’t adopt the pets themselves.
      3. But God adopts whomever He rescues.
        1. Remember the Israelites under Egyptian bondage? God didn’t free them so they could run around on their own...He freed them so they could be His own. ReadEx6:6,7
    3. Kept under guard – kept in custody. Protected by military guards.
      1. We were behind the bars of the Law, powerless to do anything but sin…until faith came.
      2. But the Law did more than just imprison us…it also disciplined us.
    4. Tutor-Free (24,25)
    5. Tutor/Pedagogue [Pie-dog-gaGOS] (paidagōgos) [pais child + agōgos leader] A slave who leads a child to school. A moral caretaker.
      1. This tutor, guardian, child-custodian, or child-attendant, was a slave employed by wealthy Greeks or Romans to have the responsibility of 1 of their children. (Linguistic Ket to the Greek NT)
      2. He was responsible for watching over his behavior wherever he went & for conducting him to & from school. Usually from 6-16 years of age. He did not teach him (schoolmaster is a poor translation). LKGNT
      3. Paul’s point? This responsibility ceased when the child entered his position as a son, becoming an acknowledged adult.
        1. The son, until he was of age, was no better off than a slave. He was under the direction of others.
      4. The law is a tutor, not a Savior, a mirror, not a cleanser. www
      5. The law is meant to lead the sinner to faith in Christ by showing the impossibility of any other way.
        1. It’s the sheep dog, to fetch the sheep to the shepherd.
        2. It’s the burning heat which drives the traveler to the shadow of the great rock in a weary land. Spurgeon
      6. The Pedagogue was often harsh to the point of cruelty, & is usually depicted in ancient drawings w/a rod or cane in his hand.
        1. The Law constantly struck us w/its rod of reproof when we fell short of keeping God’s standards.
        2. With its whippings, the Law draws us to Christ. (Luther)
    6. The Law then as a Prison & a Pedagogue…did its job.
      1. It showed we needed Someone who could keep the Law perfectly, break the prison bars forever, & relieve the pedagogue of his job.
  5. FREEDOM & FAMILY (26-29)
    1. New Status…Sons (26) Now Paul makes it personal.
      1. ​​​​​​​When the kids were young I’d change my identity...I used to try to scare them by saying...w/a drawn out scary voice...I’m not Brian! Stop dad, I’m not Dad!
    2. But I do have a confession to make…back in 1980 I really was given a new identity.
      1. ​​​​​​​It wasn’t a Witness Protection Program…for Jesus wanted all to know about my New Identity.
      2. It wasn’t an Identity Theft which is so infamous today.
        1. Identity-Theft is the fastest growing crime in America. 17.6 mill Americans (7% of US residents age 16 & older) were victims in 2014. [BJS, Bureau of Justice Statistics]
      3. I didn’t steal this new identity…it was given to me.
        1. Actually I was given a new name, a new family, a new home, a new life, yes a completely new Identity. And you have a New Identity also.
    3. Jesus is uniquely & exclusively the Son of God, equal w/the Father from all eternity.
      1. All the more impressive is Paul’s declaration, that we’re sons of God, His children
      2. John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.
      3. And what is the only way to get into this relationship? via faith!
        1. So Paul uses in Christ 172 times. [Meaning participation in & union with JC]
        2. A false gospel then robs you of salvation & of membership in the family of God.
    4. New Clothes (27)
    5. (27) In baptism we are initiated, crowned, killed, chosen, embraced, washed, adopted, gifted, reborn, and thereby sent forth and redeemed. We are identified as 1 of God's own.
      1. ​​​​​​​For Paul baptism w/its symbolic association w/the death, burial, & resurrection of Christ, models justification, although it can never effect it.
    6. Put on Christ – Donald Campbell points out, In the Roman society when a youth comes of age he was given a special toga which admitted him to the full rights of the family & state & indicated he was a grown-up son.Toga,Toga,Toga. John Belushi, Animal House 1978
      1. ​​​​​​​So we w/the Galatians set aside the old garments of the law & don Christ’s robe of righteousness.
    7. All one (28)
    8. By instinct the locust knows it has to be in community with other locusts. When that occurs, they are able to topple kingdoms. The wisdom of the locust is the wisdom that tells us we must have community. (Haddon Robinson, The Wisdom of Small Creatures, Preaching Today, Tape No.93.)
    9. The Law definitely leveled the playing field…& excluded everyone as sinners.
      1. The gospel welcomes everyone regardless of race, social standing, or gender.
      2. Each group is equally loved & valued by God.
      3. A believing master held no higher spiritual position than the believing slave he owned. (i.e. Philemon)
        1. Slide21 Aristotle said that some people were only fit to be slaves. I do not contradict him. But I reject slavery because I see no men fit to be masters. (C. S. Lewis in Equality, form Present Concerns. Christianity Today, Vol.33, no.2.)
      4. Ps: When we say that Christ has abolished these distinctions, we mean not that they do not exist, but that they do not matter.
    10. Heirs (29)
    11. Note...the Galatians were already heirs…why try to keep the Law to be saved, when they’ve already received a promised inheritance?
    12. The American Red Cross was gathering supplies, medicine, clothing, food and the like for the suffering people of Biafra (bē-afra /a secessionist state in Eastern Nigeria). Inside one of the boxes that showed up at the collecting depot one day was a letter. It said, "We have recently been converted and because of our conversion we want to try to help. We won't ever need these again. Can you use them for something?" Inside the box were several Ku Klux Klan sheets. The sheets were cut down to strips and eventually used to bandage the wounds of Africans. It could hardly be more dramatic - from symbols of hatred to bandages of love because of the new creation.
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Galatians 3". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/galatians-3.html. 2017.