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Week Five: 3:1-12 Paul Contrasts Salvation By Faith And Condemnation By Law
Deffinbaugh illustrates the former and coming passage by telling of two men that made mistakes.
He relates, in much more detail if you are interested, the accounts of Mr. Roy Riegels a football star and Mr. "wrong way Corrigan" a pilot. Riegels ended up with the ball and in all of his zigging and zagging across the field became disoriented and headed for the wrong goal line. He was finally tackled by one of his own team one yard from the wrong goal line. This mistake cost his team the game ultimately.
"Wrong way Corrigan" on the other hand attempted to fly from the east to the west coast, but ended up in Ireland. He had filed a flight plan for Ireland but it had been denied. His coast to coast attempt, some say, due to the extra fuel tanks on his plane, was actually an east coast to Ireland attempt in his class of air craft.
Deffinbaugh goes on to apply this with the thought that Peter, in the previous chapter had a mix up of direction and inadvertently done wrong as Mr. Riegel. The Judaizers on the other hand, and the Galatians as well, had made a deliberate mistake of adding to the Gospel that Paul had taught them. (Galatians: The Gospel of God’s Grace; Robert L. Deffinbaugh, Th.M.; Biblical Studies Press; 1998)
Constable in his commentary suggests that Paul argues on three levels in this passage. From experience in 3:1-5 and then from the Word in 3:6-14 and finally from a logical view 3:15-29. This division is quite accurate and clear.
O foolish Galatians, who bewitched you not to obey the truth, to whom before your eyes Jesus Christ was written among you crucified?
Jamieson, Fausset and Brown suggest that this could be paraphrased as follows "fascinated you so that you have lost your wits" He mentions that one commentator thought that they were highly intellectual, which would make this phrase even more stinging to them.
Wow, "foolish" "bewitched" disobeying the truth - what strong language, yet it is the language that Paul used to get the peoples attention. Imagine sitting in the meeting when the elder rose and began reading this letter from the man that had founded their church.
First, to just hear such language from someone you most likely loved deeply in the Lord, and second to know that you had been duped and thirdly you had been caught in your foolishness by the one person you wouldn’t want to find out that you had erred.
Who? As if Paul didn’t know the one that had misled his sheep. He most likely knew not only the group but the particular person that was leading the group.
The term "foolish" not only has the thought of a fool but also the thought of not understanding. We tend to view foolishness as just the fooling around and not being serious, but this word relates to "not getting it" and acting in a foolish or misguided manner. Actually this word is the antonym for the normal word for wisdom. Some use the word gullible to describe the actions of the Galatians.
The term "bewitched" relates to the idea of casting a spell or to charm. The construction here indicates that this is done, they have been tricked, they have been bewitched, and they have been led off the proper path; it is a done deal, they have bought it, they have assimilated it, and they are living it - this error, or disobedience to the truth.
Barclay translates this as follows “Above all I pray that you may be in health unharmed by the evil eye and faring prosperously."
Deffinbaugh says that there is a word contrast here that the Galatians would have picked up on. Paul contrasts the gospel presented by way of the evil eye to his gospel presented before their eyes - Christ crucified.
Some translations leave out part of what the King James and Young include. (KJV, "who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth,” Young states, "who did bewitch you, not to obey the truth") Not only had they been tricked to accept this false "truth," they had been tricked into leaving the truth.
There is a lot of "persuasion" indicated in this passage - someone went to great lengths to bring the people to absolute rejection of the truth.
In today’s church the people have been persuaded to leave what they believed to be true worship, AND they have been convinced to accept another way, which is now supposed to the "true worship."
Kind of a double negative Paul sets forth in my mind. Reject truth and then accept falsehood as truth.
Now, we know why Paul has taken two chapters to lay foundation to the gospel that he had given them in the beginning. He is attempting to overcome all this persuasion and charming and foolish teaching to gain their trust once again, for if they have rejected truth so completely, they surely have rejected Paul as a truth bearer.
He goes on to remind them that they had heard or been shown all that was needed of the crucifixion of Christ - by the way the term translated crucified is in a perfect tense - something that happened in the past, which is carrying through the present and which will continue on into the future to an ultimate and sure end. Think of the ramifications of that for awhile.
In short, Paul requires of them to consider who it was that bewitched them into rejecting the simple gospel and taking on this new false, untruthful gospel that in essence diminishes the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ. If they must add obedience then his death was not sufficient.
Matthew Henry relates the thought of Christ being envisioned to them in some manner to the idea that Paul had taught them the clear meaning of the Lord’s Supper observance, the death, the burial, and the resurrection of Christ. They had full knowledge along with the clear gospel from him of what they must do to be saved. Belief and faith alone.
Deffinbaugh concludes his thoughts well on this verse. "I believe that by the use of these two expressions ("bewitched" and "publicly portrayed") Paul is contrasting his methodology with that of the Judaizers. Their method is underhanded, secretive, and subtle. Paul’s method is direct, open, and public. I sense the same contrast that we find in the book of Proverbs. Wisdom is portrayed as publicly calling forth, speaking forthrightly, inviting all to gain knowledge. Folly is more secretive and seductive; her appeal is to that which is either forbidden or unavailable to the masses. Error is sneaky while truth is straightforward. Error is offered to the elite-truth, to the all." (Galatians: The Gospel of God’s Grace; Robert L. Deffinbaugh, Th.M.; firstname.lastname@example.org; Biblical Studies Press; 1998)
1. And so, how do we apply this particular passage? Be very careful what you accept from a new pastor. Be very careful of what you accepted from your old pastor. Be careful what you accept from any source for all sources must be suspect or you are in danger of being duped.
Many are the sound Bible churches that have called pastors that have an agenda counter to the churches and have seen their churches slip into the reform camp or into some other groups clutches.
This calls to question those that accept a call to a church where they know they are in doctrinal disagreement. How does this happen? Seminaries that are not teaching their men ethics or at least real honest ethics.
It is never ethical to step into a position in a church where you know you disagree in the basic doctrines. That is dishonest and is the symptom of an underlying agenda to take that church into waters where it ought not to be.
The ethics of these men run along this line. They are the purveyors of truth, they hold and know the truth, and they must spread truth to the world no matter what the method. Thus if a "doctrinally incorrect" church calls them, they are by moral ethic required to go and teach them the truth that they alone hold.
You may say that is quite harsh - yes it is, but I have seen this over and over in life and I have seen this mindset on the internet many times.
The person that holds to a reform position views it as truth and as a result all other teaching is heresy and false teaching. No matter if the other person is a believer, he teaches other than reform doctrine, thus is in error. Many of them would not hold to the person being a "true" believer, because they do not conform to a creed or confession.
Heaven forbid we hold to the Scriptures for truth. Many of them teach their families confessions rather than Scripture in devotional times. They would counter that they are teaching Scripture for the confession is based entirely on Scripture. Then, I would wonder, why you don’t teach the Scripture and use the confession to show that the church has taught this truth before - not that I think those churches that taught reform theology were correct.
2. I do not believe that I can ever know the mind of God, but I wonder if He isn’t hurt to the core when a person, saved by faith, determines that what He has been freely given is not good enough to satisfy God, but that he must add works to the mix to make it to heaven.
Problems with that thinking:
a. God’s decrees were inadequate.
b. God’s word is incorrect.
c. God’s works are imperfect.
d. God’s planning is deficient.
e. God’s law was better than His grace.
f. God is really not up to the job of saving us.
And there are probably other points - the main point being, we are better at saving ourselves than God - what supreme arrogance the creature has to question and put himself above his Creator - uh oh, I guess that is what Satan did isn’t it.
3. This passage brings up a pet point of mine. Just how are we saved? Are we saved by the act of accepting Christ? Are we saved by the believing in His death, burial and resurrection? Are we saved by knowing he was God?
This text is quite clear that none of those things are mentioned, but what is mentioned is that Abraham believed, and had faith in God’s promise - in short Abraham believed God and what He said and trusted in that and that alone.
Some would counter with the Acts passage that states that there is no other name under heaven whereby we might be saved -- the name of Christ. I would suggest that this is so very true, but it is not that name that saves us, it is not believing in that name that saves us, it is the work of that one named Jesus Christ that saves us, as God said in His word. We are saved by faith in God, and that salvation is provided by Christ.
This doesn’t directly bring up the next point, but I will.
4. If Christ’s death is the provision of salvation, then just when were the Old Testament saints saved. Were they saved at the moment of belief? I personally do not believe they were. I believe that at the moment of their belief all was done to carry them through to heaven. I do, however, believe that they were not born again or regenerated at that moment of faith. How could they be? Christ had not died yet, there was no provision for them, and there was no way for them to enter into God’s presence.
Indeed, that is the very reason for Sheol, that two compartment holding area for departed Old Testament saints. They were not entirely prepared to meet with God, so they were ushered into Abraham’s bosom to await that work of the cross completed.
I don’t expect you to accept this as Gospel, so would refer you to my book on regeneration on my website for the "REST OF THE STORY" as Paul Harvey would say it. This has a complete look at this thought of regeneration and when it occurred.
I might add that this is another area where reformed people "have the truth" and reject all other teaching. They have it in their head that regeneration is something other than being born again and so reject any thought of mine concerning regeneration - it is automatically wrong.
I discussed this at length one time and there were seldom Scriptures given to disprove what I had to say, only "statements of fact" that were not backed up by fact. (They view regeneration as a process whereby lost man is made a little spiritual so that he can understand the gospel. It is not actual rebirth, only preparation for the possibility of rebirth. They suggest that John the Baptist was regenerated when he moved in his mother’s womb - thus anyone can be regenerated at anytime, prior to believing faith.)
5. Many preachers today tip toe around their congregations as though they can’t stir up anyone lest the giving drop and the salary be cut for the preacher. Paul tells them they are foolish, that they have been bewitched. He told them the truth. He told them they were fools. He told them they were tricked. How much clearer could he make the truth?
A preacher that made things that clear today in most churches would be replaced quite quickly. Thus we have little clarity of teaching in our churches today - few there are that will chance unemployment to assist their congregations into a true spiritual life.
We attended a church where the pastor was wearing khaki pants and a sport shirt. He said that he did not feel comfortable dressing that way for ministering - he blamed it on his elder board that told him to dress more casually. What happened to back bone, what happened to courage, what happened to right? Guess it is out and "get along with the paycheck writers" is in.
I suspect that is one reason I opted to be a tent maker all my life - I knew that boards would not like the truth and a stand for it.
6. Verse seven and eight bring up a question that we need to consider. "Therefore know that those of faith, these are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the nations through faith, preached the gospel before to Abraham, saying , "In you shall all nations be blessed."
What relationship is there between the Old Testament saint, via Abraham and the New Testament saint via Christ? This passage declares that we are sons of Abraham, that we will be "blessed with faithful Abraham." What does this mean for the believer today?
We know that we are all God’s people whether Old or New Testament, but are we equals? We are equals in the spiritual sense of our relationship to God, though there will be some differences in how we will be treated in the end times. The Jews will occupy the land promised, and we will be in some other relationship to God and the Jews.
Are we equal in the respect that we will be given the promises of Israel? No, the above point in the end times proves that we will not receive the promises of Abraham and the Jews, only that we are blessed in the thought of being allowed salvation with the Jews.
If you look to the New Testament and notice how the Jews and gentiles and believers are spoken of, you will soon notice that there is a difference between the Jew and the Church age believer. This is the crux of dispensational teaching. If there is no difference between Israel and the Church then dispensations makes little difference.
The reform camp ignores the differences in the New Testament, ignores the literal promises to the Jews, and mixes Jewish and Church believer into one mess. Circumcision for all males becomes baptism for all, both male and female. Baptism becomes a rite for all ages, including infants, etc. The mixing of Israel and the church changes all sorts of things in ones belief system.
7. It seems to me that the Galatians had received the gospel and had settled into their new life and like many even today felt that there must be more. They may have found themselves in the boredom of the day to day world and felt that there had to be something more to this Christianity. They may have been open and looking for something new and exciting. Something to excite and stir the flesh seems to be the goal of most, even today.
Many today do the same thing. They may even get into daily Bible study and prayer, but become bored and seek more. This is the basis for much of the charismatic movement - excitement, lots of new stuff, lots to do, lots to seek.
Others find excitement in all the Bible studies and seminars and cruises etc. that the worldly church offers. Why not, everybody is doing it? The hand waving, the beat, the stirring of the mind rather than the spirit seems to be the thrill of our day. No matter what the Scripture teaches, if it feels good, then do it is the assumed command that they seek to fulfill.
The Christian life is what God wants it to be - Him and the individual and nothing more, why would any believer think they could add to that relationship anything of worth?
8. Abraham was saved by faith. Genesis 15:6 "And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness." and Romans 4:3 "For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness." clearly show this.
The Life Application Bible notes suggest that the Judaizers were saying you must first become Jews, and then become Christians. This most likely is a true statement of the facts. How like some in our own day, that require you to jump through hoops of their own to be a part of their church. We have attended, briefly, several churches that required you to become part of their group before you could be part of the Church. They required that you be baptized by one of their group before you could join "THEIR" church. This in essence says that their church is the only true church and that all others are defective in some manner. Not unlike the Judaizers.
9. A little off the subject, but related to this thought is the fact that we believers today are not unlike those that were scattered at the tower of Babel. We have divided ourselves into so many splinters and splatters of Christianity that it takes volumes to list the groups, the splinters, and the sub splinters of groups of Christians today.
I am not making a case for denominationalism; I am saying that within orthodox, basic Bible believing people we are so splintered that we can’t get along. The case of the group in point eight. I agree with them in almost every doctrine except the doctrine of the Universal church, which in my mind they would agree with me if they would understand the doctrine. They believe, due to their rejection of the universal church that only their church is valid to baptize. As a result of my not being baptized by one of their pastors, I a believer in every way, I a believer of 95% of their doctrine, I a believer in the same gospel as they, cannot partake of the Lord’s table and celebrate what Christ did for all of us, in their church because I have not been "properly baptized" by one of their own.
Based on my inadequate baptism, I cannot be a member of their church, I cannot partake of the Lord’s Table, and I cannot manifest my spiritual gifts in their midst. There just has to be something wrong in our thinking as believers today. Babel must have been an inherent part of man, or we certainly have not learned anything about ourselves since.
10. The keeping of law as rule for life is called "nomism" - does that trigger any thoughts? Antinomianism is the rule of life that there is no law for life - kind of like America today - live life any way you want, any old way will do it. There is no moral compass there is no truth, and there is no reason to follow any set of rules if we don’t want to.
The two extent of the spectrum. We even see this in the church today. We have those that follow their prescribed laws and we have those that follow no law, not even God’s guide, the Word.
11. In Verse five Paul mentions that the Spirit worked miracles in their midst. This is secondary to the Spirit himself. He made clear note that it was the Spirit that worked the miracles. This clarification may be due to the fact that miracles do not make something true. Miracles via the Spirit are true.
The Devil can do miracles: 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10 " [Even him], whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved." Also you could refer to the wonders that were done by Pharaoh’s men when God was doing great things through Moses.
The point here and now, just because someone is doing miracles, do not assume he is of God. Many of the miracles done in God’s name today are just plain falsehood and trickery. There are wondrous things done in the name of Black magic as well, so don’t assume God is in something that you are told about just because it was wondrous or a miracle.
12. In verse five he relates the receiving of the Spirit directly with the point of salvation. This is a prime text to show that the gift of the Spirit is near synonymous with the theological point of salvation - justification etc. This disturbs any thought that it is a second work of grace at some other point in time.
It also is a clear point of proof that they were saved without the law, that by faith they received Christ and received the Spirit. They were true believers without the law.
NOTE: Concerning Scofield and Dispensationalism.
These are just some footnotes from his reference Bibles. The first is the one most use to prove he believed in two ways of salvation, and the rest are quotes that show that he did not.
from the Old Scofield Reference Bible on John 1:17 note: "The point of testing is no longer legal obedience as the condition of salvation, but acceptance or rejection of Christ, with good works as a fruit of salvation, (John 1:12-13; John 3:36 Matthew 21:37; Matthew 22:24 John 15:22; John 15:25 Hebrews 1:2 1 John 5:10-12) The immediate result of this testing was the rejection of Christ by the Jews, and His crucifixion by Jew and Gentile (Acts 4:27)"
From page 1124 (Note on John 1:17) of the New Scofield Reference Bible: "Under the former dispensation, law was shown to be powerless to secure righteousness and life for a sinful race (Galatians 3:21-22); now it is clearly revealed that salvation and righteousness are received by faith in the crucified and resurrected Savior (John 11:12-13; John 5:24; 1 John 5:11-13), with holiness of life and good works following as the fruit of salvation (John 15:16; Romans 8:2-4; Ephesians 2:8-10; Ti. 2:11-14)."
From page vii of the New Scofield Reference Bible: "As a further aid to comprehending the divine economy of the ages, a recognition of the dispensations is of highest value, so long as it is clearly understood that throughout all the Scriptures there is only one basis of salvation, i.e. by grace through faith; and that strict limits cannot be placed upon the terminations of all the dispensations because (1) there is some overlapping, and (2) the divinely-given stewardship may continue after the time-era of special testing has ended."
From page 3 of the New Scofield Reference Bible: "Before the cross man was saved in prospect of Christ’s atoning sacrifice, through believing the revelation thus far given him. Since the cross man has been saved by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ in whom revelation and redemption are consummated."
From page 19 of the New Scofield Reference Bible: "In the continuance through the centuries of this stewardship of truth, believers of the church age are called upon to trust god as Abram did (Romans 4:11; Romans 4:16; Romans 4:23-25; Galatians 3:6-9), and thus enter into the blessings of the covenant which inaugurated the dispensation of Promise."
From page 94 of the New Scofield Reference Bible: "...the law is not here proposed as a means of salvation ...."
From page 1211 of the New Scofield Reference Bible: "The Hebrew and Greek words for salvation imply the ideas of deliverance, safety, preservation, healing, and soundness [wholeness]. Salvation is the great inclusive word of the gospel, gathering into itself all the redemptive acts and processes, as justification, redemption, grace, propitiation, imputation, forgiveness, sanctification, and glorification. Salvation is in three tenses: (1) The believer has been saved from the guilt and penalty of sin (Lu 7:50; 1 Corinthians 1:18; 2 Corinthians 2:15; Ephesians 2:5; Ephesians 2:8; 2 Timothy 1:9) is safe. (2) the believer is being saved from the habit and dominion of sin (Romans 6:14; Philippians 1:19; Philippians 2:12-13; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Romans 8:2; Galatians 2:19-20; 2 Corinthians 3:18) And (3) The believer is to be saved in the sense of entire conformity to Christ. (Romans 13:11; Hebrews 10:36; 1 Peter 1:5; 1 John 3:2) Salvation is by grace through faith, is a free gift, and wholly without works (Romans 3:27-28; Romans 4:1-8; Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8) The divine order is: first salvation, then works (Ephesians 2:9-10; Titus 3:5-8)."
Again last night this question came up on a board where I took great pains to clarify Scofield’s comments less than a month before. The person decided because Scofield was in error in that one instance that they should reject all he taught and that since Dispensationalism hangs in the balance of what Scofield taught then Dispensationalism was completely discredited.
That is kind of like saying, because one of my college professors made a mistake in what he said that all he ever said was false and that since he was teaching Calvinism, all Calvinistic teaching is false doctrine and to be rejected.
I hate to say it, but many reformed people have this line of illogical progression anytime they engage their brains and fingers to type or tongues to talk. They are brothers in Christ, but they act as if they are God making declarations from His holy throne in the heavens.
This only I would learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law, or by hearing of faith?
He calls them to remembrance of that first act of faith in which they accepted Christ and His work on the cross - that step of faith, rather than any works of the law. It should have pulled them up short to recall that they were saved by an act of faith, in simply taking God at His word. They did not have to follow any set of rules for ten days before they were acceptable, they didn’t have to be baptized five times before they were born again, and they didn’t have to follow some teacher before they were heaven-bound, they simply trusted God and His word.
This only will tell the real tail of what brings them salvation - Christ or works.
He isn’t even going to tell them, they are to tell him - they are to instruct the apostle of their salvation. Almost an affront to them, in my mind - I told you the gospel, you received it, now you say I was wrong by adding to it, so now you tell me how you were saved. In essence he is saying, you tell me cuz I must not have been there - how were you saved?
Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, do you now perfect yourself in the flesh?
Some further logic; if you started in the Spirit do you, can you, must you now perfect yourself by your own works? The construction here is of note. They began at a point in time, but have to perfect themselves on a continual basis. You were saved - fact - done deal - now you are saving yourselves by works of the flesh - how so is the implication.
How can you be saved by Christ, then you, by your works do it again? This should scream out to anyone that doubts their salvation and security in it. It was done once, how can you add to it? That is impossible.
This should also scream at the charismatic that was saved, but now seeks to finish the work by seeking some special unction from on high that allows them to do things that make them even more spiritual.
There is something deeply wrong in any thought that seeks by works to add to the salvation God has given, be it works relating to gifts, to the works of doing of good, or works of making oneself spiritual.
For further on this concept see Philippians 1:6 and Colossians 2:6.
Did you suffer so many things in vain, if indeed it is even in vain?
It seems Paul refers their minds back to the persecution they suffered by the hands of the Jews when they were first saved - the persecution of rejection etc. when they converted from Judaism to Christianity. (You might find Acts 14:1-7 of use, as it depicts the Jew’s reaction to Christians.)
Some logical conclusions might be derived here: Did you suffer all that in vain, if it is in vain then it was. All that they had gone through was in vain, including accepting Christ by faith would be in vain if indeed their suffering was in vain.
Actually, Paul is saying, did you suffer all these things in vain, even if it wasn’t in vain - again calling their logical minds to reality. Was it in vain? No, certainly not. Why would they then take on the works of those that persecuted them to become spiritual?
One might wonder if the persecution had softened their resolve and they had somewhere started wondering if their lost persecutors were right - then along came the Judaizers and they decided they had been wrong somehow.
Then He supplying the Spirit to you and working powerful works in you, is it by works of the law, or by hearing of faith?
If God supplied the Holy Spirit and great and powerful works in you (when you were saved) did you do it by works of the law or did it occur because you responded in faith to the gospel that you had heard and the working of the Spirit of God?
Now, I’m not going to jump up and down here but don’t you think Paul is putting it out just about as simply as he could - can you ask a clearer, concise, and considered question to get to the point? I doubt it - simple - faith or works but not both.
Personally I think I will opt for the faith that Paul sets forth, because he doesn’t seem to have too good an opinion of working for salvation.
Even as Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness.
This is from Genesis 15:6 "And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness."
Now, he goes clear back to Abraham, to the one all would call their father most likely, and says, look - even Abraham responded to what he heard by faith - this was before the law so works of the law do not relate. He heard God and he responded to God, the Galatians heard the gospel and responded to the gospel - both in faith in what God was saying.
Some in the reformed camp and others in other camps declare that dispensationalists believe in two gospels. They view the Old Testament people as keeping the law for salvation and in the church age they see the people accepting the gospel - two different methods of reaching God for salvation.
I don’t know how many times on the internet I have confronted people that declare this falsehood. I have challenged all to share with the boards a quote from a real dispensationalist that taught this heresy. None has even attempted to supply the proof of their accusation, and I might add, none has offered a retraction.
If you disagree with some teaching, just attach it, lie about it, and disparage the person that believes in it - it don’t matter about the truth, don’t matter about the veracity of the speaker, and it certainly don’t matter if you are wrong, cuz you believe in what is true and that makes you right is the attitude.
I will admit that Scofield in his first Study Bible made a comment that was very poorly constructed and could be read to see two ways of salvation, however he clarified that statement a number of times and it was corrected in the next edition of his notes Bible. (I will insert here the mistaken comment and some other information as a footnote to this lesson if you are interested in further information.)
Therefore know that those of faith, these are the sons of Abraham.
Simple statement, those of faith, those that believe are sons of Abraham as opposed to those that keep the law that aren’t sons of Abraham is the clear implication.
And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the nations through faith, preached the gospel before to Abraham, saying, "In you shall all nations be blessed." (Genesis 12:3 "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.")
Here we see the Scripture living and personified. The Scripture foresaw, the Scripture preached and the Scripture said. Now, some would suggest, and rightly so, that the Scripture was not set down in Abraham’s time and it could not preach nor say anything.
We know that the Scriptures were coming via the method of transmission of the day - word of mouth. Abraham told his kids, and they theirs, etc. until Moses sat down at his laptop and started pounding out the Pentateuch.
No, the Scripture did not literally foresee, no the Scripture did not preach nor say anything, but Paul uses this method of illustrating his point.
It is a significant truth however that Scripture was always in God’s plan and was always an integrated part of His working with mankind.
So then those of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
Constable suggests that the line of thought of the Judaizers might have been, that the Galatians were justified by faith as was Abraham, but that they must undergo circumcision at a later point as did Abraham to complete the process of coming to God. Circumcision was also required of the gentile coming into the Jewish nation in the Old Testament. This may well be the reasoning of the false teachers. They were trying to draw the Galatians into their line of thinking that was based on their Jewish bent of thought.
Those of faith are truly blessed, with salvation while those under the law are cursed according to the next verse.
For as many as are out of works of the Law, these are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the Book of the Law, to do them."
Once obedient to the law for salvation, one has rejected Christ and thus is under the complete law - one hundred percent obedience to the law if they really want to be saved - of course no one (except Christ Himself) can obey the law perfectly, thus the curse.
But that no one is justified by the Law in the sight of God is clear, for, "The just shall live by faith."
Paul just won’t let it drop - he adds another nail to the coffin of the gospel of the law - the Scripture’s requirement for salvation is faith and faith alone.
But the Law is not of faith; but, "The man who does these things shall live in them."
A further statement of fact - if you are going to obey the law, you must live in it completely.
So, we have three quotes here - just where do they come from?
1. "Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the Book of the Law, to do them." 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."
2. "The just shall live by faith." Habakkuk 2:4 "... but the just shall live by his faith."
3. "The man who does these things shall live in them." Leviticus 18:5 A bit of a paraphrase by Paul, "Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I [am] the LORD."
There is a very interesting study that any Bible school student should be required to do - not that I was, it is something I should, yet do before I am with the Lord. A study of how the New Testament writers used and quoted the Old Testament.
Week Six: 3:13-27 Paul Contrasts Abraham’S Promise To The Law
Last study we saw that we were tied completely to the law if we were to try to keep any of it. Verse twelve was quite clear on the subject.
Romans 10:5 Adds to this thought. "For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them."
The Romans text is a reference to Leviticus 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."
In this study we see that Christ freed us from all those bonds and ties.
Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed [is] every one that hangeth on a tree:
The term redeemed has many thoughts. It can mean to buy with ones own belongings something from another for ones own use. It can be translated ransom - a price paid to another to gain something back from domination.
In this context it relates to Christ buying us back or paying the price to free us from the domination of the law. Before, the law and it kept, was our only possible salvation, now that Christ has fulfilled that law, and given his life as atonement, we are free from the laws dominion and rule over us.
The fact that this redemption is in an aorist tense means that it was done at a point in time, that it is no longer going on. There is no further redemption being provided on a continuing basis, there is no cross on a continuing basis and there is no need for offering Christ on a continuing basis. It was done in the past, on the cross and it remains done for all time.
The verb "is written" is a perfect tense, something that was written in the past, something that remains written even now, and something that will always be written into the future to a time of completion. Rather well describes the eternality of the Word of God doesn’t it.
The passage referred to is 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."
The "us" to some commentators relates specifically to the Jews in Paul’s audience as well as himself, however it also extends to the gentiles in that, a way had to be made for the gentiles to be blessed through Abraham. We will see a little more on this in the next verse and find that this idea of "us" is not necessarily true.
Christ being made a curse speaks to the substitutionary aspect of the atonement, He was cursed for us - we need not suffer death as did Christ since He already suffered and paid the price.
A couple of verses in Deuteronomy picture this portion of Christ’s ministry to us on the cross.
This passage pictured what He would go through hundreds of years before the fact. 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."
The second passage relates to the curse upon any that does not follow the entire law. 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."
Just a little freebie here, the first Deuteronomy passage is a great illustration of how the Old Testament helps us know and interpret the New Testament. Many are the passages of the Old that open the secrets of the New.
1. In verse fourteen it mentions that the gift of the Spirit was a direct result of the blessing via Abraham. Was this the only blessing? Was this THE blessing promised? Was the gift of the Spirit to the gentiles the blessing to all nations through Abraham, or was there some other part to this blessing?
Seems like the subject of a good study to me.
2. I have no doubt that some might use verse fifteen and following to suggest that Paul is talking to saved people and that he is speaking of a promise of the Spirit yet to come, as in you get saved, and THEN you will be promised the Spirit and you must groan and moan and seek and try to find and all those other antics that you must go through to "get" the Spirit.
Not so, Paul is merely saying that the promise is where it all began and by faith we gain salvation - the indwelling Spirit being the sign of said salvation. He is pointing out the absolute truth that salvation comes from faith and that the Spirit is our proof of said saving.
3. One might suggest that there is quite a contrast between two special benefits to our faith in Christ. Not only are we saved and all that entails, but we also receive the Spirit and all that entails.
We could go on about those two topics for quite some time. We have already listed a few of the benefits of the Spirit, let’s just take a moment and list some of the benefits of salvation.
Saved from eternal hell
Saved from our sinful nature
Freedom from the law
Freedom from a sinful life governed by our lost nature
Wow, what benefits we have in Christ!
4. Might I step into areas of thin ice? I know I am going to get very wet!
Years ago, and I might say most churches have wised up a lot since this time in church history, I was told by a church member of some actions that had gone on in his church.
He related that some long haired young men - now this is in the 70’s when long hair meant all those things like peace nick, free love, irresponsibility, laziness, rebellion etc. - had been led to the Lord by some of his fellow church members. The long haired fellows were starting to attend church, when on the second or third Sunday the deacons of the church cornered the group and told them that they really needed to cut their hair - it really wasn’t Christian to look that way.
Now, I must admit I was one of those that had a problem with hair, but early on, the Lord placed me in a working context with some long haired young men, and I found that they were quite likeable, quite bright and quite energetic. I found them to be courteous and hard workers. I would guess these deacons were unfamiliar with these men on a personal basis.
These deacons seem, in my mind, to have been trying to add to God’s covenant just a very little law of appearance. I don’t, for a moment, think these deacons would have verbalized the need to have short hair for salvation, but they seemed to be practicing that line of thought.
I found as the long haired generation matured, that many of these people changed their appearance in their and God’s own good time after they were saved.
The need of the Christian is to lead people to Christ and allow the Holy Spirit to do the convicting - he does a much better job of it. Yes, we should disciple - in one on one situations, not by a mob action cornering people in the church foyer on a Sunday morning.
5. Another point from verse fifteen. When God calls you to do something, when God gives his direction to a church, or when God leads a group to a certain purpose, where do MEN get off, changing God’s mind and/or methods?
God is the one Person in the universe, in time, and in intellect that is capable of directing, leading, or calling as He sees fit. He is concise, He is clear, He is not swayed by public opinion and He is GOD, the one we are to FOLLOW.
How arrogant we are to try to say His way is not valid, how arrogant we are to try to add to His clear direction and how arrogant we are to set ourselves above and over Him that created us and saved our worthless souls - yet arrogant we often are. It is no wonder Satan thinks he can win us over, for we are often just like him - even in our saved, regenerated and on our way to heaven state we tend toward rebellion against Him.
I have run into men on internet boards that think that their particular education is the only valid one to be had. Anyone that didn’t go to a school similar to theirs is deficient in some manner and God will never be able to use those that are so lowly. One man mentioned that God had lead him to a particular school and program, to which the brainiacs countered, that is a deficient education, why would God lead anyone to prepare improperly for the ministry.
They totally discounted the man’s leading and tried to shame him into thinking that God couldn’t have lead him into this substandard program, that he must have been listening to someone besides God.
Such arrogance will surely be met with reality one day and I doubt that I would like to be on the holier than thou men’s side of things.
There is a growing attitude among Christians that if it isn’t the best, in their eyes, then it cannot be Godly. If it is less than my standard then God cannot be in it. Yes, seek the education that God leads you to seek, but do not allow others to set the standard for you, allow God to set the standard.
6. Well one more application from verse fifteen. If God has a plan, and if Christ knows that plan, and Christ is the Head of His church - and all are true - and most evangelical churches would agree - SINCE these things are true, why is it that so many churches so seldom seek Christ’s direction for His church? Why do so many churches bow to their pastor’s decision to lead HIS church in a particular direction? Why do so many churches seek programs and ploys to get people into the church, when Christ has given us direction to go out into the world to win them?
It seems we seldom seek His will, His direction, or His desire for our churches. He has all of these, if we will only seek Him out and ask what He would have us do.
Why, if these things are true, do we not seek Him at least at public prayer times to ask direction from Him that can and will give it?
7. I think this passage points up a very critical issue that many Christians fail to pick up on in their lives. Many doctrines are mentioned in this passage, and all those doctrines are interrelated. If you change one you affect all. This is true when you look at the whole of the Word.
A number of years ago we were asked to pastor a church. The men could not find a doctrinal statement nor constitution. They wanted to move forward without them with the understanding that they would be critical to my decision. They were sure that I would be in agreement and the man that recommended me to them was a trusted fundamentalist in my mind so we did not feel this was out of line.
At the final meeting the men asked me officially to become pastor and they handed me the documents. They wanted an answer so I told them I would be their pastor but it would be contingent on my agreement with the documents. All were in agreement and we parted.
When I arrived home I read the constitution first, which was quite general, quite weak, and quite inadequate, but I figured we cold work on it in the coming days. The final statement seemed to pop back into my mind several times. It ran something like "We will cooperate in ministry with any evangelical group."
I don’t mind cooperation with people of like mind, but the term evangelical screamed for clarification since most charismatics would consider themselves evangelical. I would have a problem with a lot of other evangelicals as well.
I called one of the deacons and sure enough, they had charismatics in mind when they had adopted the statement. He went on to tell me that both documents were patterned after a charismatic movement church’s documents. He further informed me that the church supported a charismatic missionary.
I told him we needed to talk. We drove out to his home and discussed the matter awhile. He could not see what the problem was. He did not agree with tongues, but felt that was not an issue. I asked him if he realized how many doctrines that one false teaching affected. He did not, so I informed him of some of the ramifications of holding to tongues.
He still saw no problem with me being pastor of a church that saw no problem with the charismatic doctrines of the Spirit. I did, and informed him of my decline on their offer to pastor their church.
One simple doctrine can affect how you view so many other teachings.
Just another example lest you question this truth. If you accept the five points of Calvinism as taught today, you may also end up accepting covenant theology and ammillennialism. That is quite a bowl of cereal to swallow!
8. One thing Paul is not saying in this passage is that the law has nothing good in it for the New Testament believer. Most know the familiar passage 2 Timothy 3:16-17 "All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." This passage requires that there is something in the law for our benefit - ALL "scripture is given" and this clearly includes the Old Testament for that is the only scripture that existed at the time.
Though we are not bound by the law, we are to view it as "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness;" In fact we did this when we considered verse thirteen. We looked to the Old Testament for further teaching concerning the work of the cross and the curse of the law.
9. Constable suggests that Abraham had four different seeds.
He had, of course, his natural seed - his physical descendants: Genesis 12:1-3; Genesis 12:7 and many others. There is further what Constable calls "natural-spiritual seed" or the physical descendants that became believers: Isaiah 41:8; Romans 9:6; Romans 9:8; Galatians 6:16. Further he had a spiritual seed that was made up of all Gentile believers: Galatians 3:6-9; Galatians 3:29. His final seed was the ultimate seed, Christ Himself: Galatians 3:16; Hebrews 2:16-17.
10. Some today take the thought that the law is profitable to us to mean that the law is a basis for the ruling of any nation - that the law is the frame work within which you can run a nation in the world. You might like to know that many of these people are attempting to set this up in America. You think we have trouble with the liberals, wait till some charismatics start wielding the law with a rod of iron.
Rushdoony, Greg Bahnsen, and Gary North are some of the prominent reconstructionists. This line of doctrine is also called theonomy as well as Chalcedon school. This doctrine is more prevalent than you would think. It is gaining great strides in the charismatic movement, and by the way normally translates into Postmillennialism.
These folks would have the population of the United States believe that the Old Testament Law is the basis of the government, the basis of all law and an added part of their thinking is that this will bring the Lord back to set up his kingdom. Since man has been able to set up the law as the basis for society, then Christ can return. In case you did not catch that, we are the ones that will bring Christ back, not the plan of God.
11. Another truth that we might draw from this passage is an old truth, a glorious truth and a very comforting truth. Just imagine the changes in the world from Abraham’s time to our own. Drastic changes. From riding on camels to RV’s larger than camels, from cooking on an open fire to opening a pouch, and from the dusty roads of the desert to purified apartments of filtered and cooled air. Yet, God has not changed. He is the same identical God that was there with Abraham. He is here with us today in the same form and character. He not only hasn’t changed, He, indeed, cannot change.
So, as Abraham trusted Him, so we can trust Him, with our lives, our salvation and our souls.
12. Is it the law that condemns us, is it the law that tells us we are sinners, is the law that which brings us to Christ? In a sense, yes it is, but in another sense it is not. It shows us what sinners we are, but how does it accomplish this? It accomplishes this by giving us the reality that this law is God’s requirement for righteous life. It is HIS standard that we are failing. It is HIS requirements that we cannot meet. It is HIS righteousness that we cannot achieve by anything that we do.
In truth the law only shows us what we really are before Who and What God really is - holy, just, pure, righteous and all the other things that we are not. Only through Him can we gain any favor - not by following the law that we cannot keep.
13. Many, including the Jews, believe that the law was given via angels. I do not know what the Jews base their thinking on but others base their thoughts on comments by Stephen in the Book of Acts. Acts 7:38 "This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:" Acts 7:53 "Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it."
Verse nineteen may well add to that thought. The term ordained can be translated ordered or commanded, thus incorporating the angels into the mix in some manner.
So, work if you desire to work for Him, follow the PRINCIPLES that the law contains, but do not look to either for the basis of your salvation for if you do you will be sorely disappointed in your final destination when you pass from this life.
Week Seven: 3:28-4:7 Paul Explains The Oneness Of Believers, Both Of Old And Of New
Please think back to your childhood and remember that relationship you had with your father - probably your "dad" - then mature yourself and consider your relationship with him now. We will look at the Father Son relationship in this lesson. God the Father has opened the way for us to be adopted and made full sons in His family.
Consider what kind of relationship we should have with the Father. Consider your present relationship with the Father. Indeed, if your natural father relationship is lacking maybe you should spend some time considering how you relate to God and apply those truths to your father in this life.
I have heard it said that as your physical father relationship went so will your spiritual Father relationship go. I have found this to be true in many cases. If you have a high regard, respect and awe of your physical father then so will you view God the Father. If you have a close fuzzy relation with your physical father then your spiritual relation will also be close and fuzzy one. What it boils down to is that if you respect your physical father you will have profound respect for God, while if you have little respect for your earthly father there will be little respect for God.
Now, if there are problems between your physical father and yourself, then maybe this is why you have problems with your spiritual father.
Knowing this, try to separate your feelings toward your physical father and concentrate on the Word of God to find out how you should relate to your spiritual Father. You should not make the mistake of forming your relationship with God based on the wrong relation you have with your father. Be sure your concept of God is from the Word and no where else.
That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
Here we see Paul including himself in the collective "we" of the Gentiles, whereas, he included himself in the collective "us" in the previous verse speaking of Jews. It was mentioned that the "us" in the previous verse related specifically to Jews, but I don’t think that case can be made since this observation seems to indicate he is speaking of all elect generically rather than to groups within the files of the elect.
There is a note of interest here in that Paul pictures Christ’s death as being for the Gentiles alone. Now, was there no need for Christ to die for the Jews - of course he needed to die for the Jews as well as the Gentiles. I think he is here just speaking directly to the people of interest at this point in time - the Gentiles that needed to understand that the death of Christ was sufficient for their salvation.
The promise of the Spirit comes from Christ and His work rather than from the promise to Abraham, thus again a thrust of the grace sword into the heart of the legal minded works-a-lot Jews.
The Spirit was promised in the following passages:
Joel 2:28-29 "And it shall come to pass afterward, [that] I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: 29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit."
John 14:16-17 "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 [Even] the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you."
John 14:26-27 "But the Comforter, [which is] the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. 27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
Lu. 24:49 "And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high."
Acts 2:33 "Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear."
Paul seems to tie verse fourteen to the falling of the Spirit at Pentecost and by way of round about says that this was related directly to the promise of God to Abraham.
What are some of the blessings that the Spirit gives to us? We have seen in the previous passages already that we have peace, knowledge and power. Are there other benefits to this blessing?
Yes, of course, let’s just list a few:
Indwelling John 14:16-17
Peace: John 14:26-27
Power: Lu. 24:49
Knowledge: John 14:26-27
Remembrance: John 14:26-27
Learning: John 14:26-27
Gifting: 1 Corinthians 12:1 ff
Fruit: Galatians 5:22 ff "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance"
Not to mention all the ramifications of Salvation: Baptism into the body of Christ, regeneration, justification, etc.
And again we see the same emphasis on faith that we have seen before. Faith alone can bring us to salvation, and it is that same faith that Abraham had when he believed God in the beginning - faith in the Word of God.
Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though [it be] but a man’s covenant, yet [if it be] confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto.
This covenant was "confirmed" - the verb is in the perfect tense - something that will be carried forward "as is" till completion yet future. The question is what covenant we are talking about. Is it the covenant with Abraham, the covenant of the coming Spirit or what?
The context is clear that this is related to the promise to Abraham that has been fulfilled by Christ - the blessing of Gentiles.
It is of note to me that the passage seems to be telling us that the blessing of all nations is done, is set and nothing more is to come. Not that future generations of Gentiles won’t have access to salvation, but that there are no other conditions to be met, in other words, there is no way that the Gentiles are to benefit from the promise of the Land or any other promise other than salvation.
There is the question of Paul’s terminology. Most scholars make great mention, when studying the Old Testament, of the fact that this covenant with Abraham was God’s covenant with Abraham, not Abraham’s covenant with God. How does this relate to our passage, or does it?
First of all, yes, this is God’s covenant, He made the promise, and it is on Him to see to its fulfillment, not Abraham. Having said that, it is a covenant WITH a man, the man Abraham. It is a covenant with man, thus Paul’s terminology only calls to the thought that God made the promise to a man, and that there is no man that can disannul it - in short, this passage backs up the thought that God has the responsibility to fulfill it and that no man, no matter how powerful and smart can do anything to stop God from doing His promised work.
The phrase "if it be" is in brackets meaning that it is not in the original, only added for understanding. I might add that it is to be understood as "if and assumed so" rather than "maybe it will and maybe it won’t" - a much different view. The American Standard Version states "Brethren, I speak after the manner of men: Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet when it hath been confirmed, no one maketh it void, or addeth thereto."
Paul, when he speaks "after the manner of men" is simply saying, from man’s point of view - a covenant once ratified (by God) is not made void or changed by man. Again, how arrogant for a man to assume that he can make void or change the covenant that God has set into motion.
I might clarify my own statement - Paul specifically says no man will ADD to the covenant - and we see another clear, concise lunge to the heart of the Judaizers teaching. Paul isn’t even nice about his little comments here and there that had to inflame the false teachers. No wonder he had so much trouble with them, they must have hated his every word.
At the same time, how sad to see that truth brings hatred from the false teacher. Often this is the case in reality.
Hebrews 9:17 gives a little insight to the thought of a covenant or testament. "For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth."
Kind of relates to why Christ had to die - the covenant was dependant on God and his Word and really His death to put the covenant into effect. This is the seeming conclusion to this passage. A good deal of study could be done on this subject if one had the desire to dig deeper.
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.
(Some passages of interest in the Old Testament are in Genesis 12:7; Genesis 13:15; Genesis 17:7; Genesis 24:7.)
The Net Bible translates the verse as follows: "Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his descendant. Scripture does not say, "and to the descendants," referring to many, but " and to your descendant ," referring to one, who is Christ." This makes it easier to see what Paul is saying, not that the King James doesn’t give this same thought, it just is not as easily seen by some readers - in my opinion of course.
The Net Bible lists the following passages to show that the singular was the terminology that God used when He spoke to Abraham and indeed they do show this. Genesis 12:7; Genesis 13:15; Genesis 17:7; Genesis 24:7.
This verse is a part of the next verses and all present an argument to the Judaizers which again prove them to be false teachers. My how uncomfortable they must have been when this letter was read.
I must also wonder if some of them didn’t see the pure logic and correctness of Paul’s arguments and repent of their false doctrine. They would have to have been quite hardened to the Spirit to reject what Paul was saying.
So, was the promise for or to Christ might be the question that is raised. Since many preachers tell us that all nations will be blessed by the promise to Abraham, and this passage states that the seed is Christ, then was the blessing Christ that was to the nation or was Christ to be blessed because he was Abraham’s seed?
We need to link to this passage the information given in Genesis 17:4 "As for me, behold, my covenant [is] with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations." He would father nations. This is mentioned in other Genesis texts as well. Add to this, Genesis 18:17 "And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; 18 Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?" and we see clearly that the nations would be blessed through Abraham, but that the seed was Christ. I think some preachers probably are a little sloppy in their use of these passages - myself included. The seed of Abraham is blessed, but the seed proper is more to the point, Christ.
Abraham, by the way means "father of a multitude." You and I are a part of a multitude of spiritual kids. Actually the term "seed" is the word sperma which literally relates to the seed that is placed in the ground in the hope of germination and a plant to follow, and as has been indicated previously is in the singular.
One might wonder if the "seed" thought of the promise wasn’t related to the fact that the Jewish law required brothers to raise up seed for a dead brother that had not. This might well relate to the thought of spilling seed on the ground being wrong. These laws related to the possibilities of the line to the "seed" Christ.
Let’s read this argument in its completeness: 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. 17 And this I say, [that] the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. 18 For if the inheritance [be] of the law, [it is] no more of promise: but God gave [it] to Abraham by promise. 19 Wherefore then [serveth] the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; [and it was] ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.
The promise was first, and then came the law, so how can the law be part of the promise - the promise is the source of salvation, not the law. A very simple logical argument against the teaching of the Judaizers that wanted to make the law a part of salvation.
I don’t know how much clearer Paul could have made it. This is almost a picture drawn with words to refute the intellectual musings of the false teachers.
We might, in our smugness, suggest that this sort of thing can’t happen today - we are too smart to allow ourselves to be drawn into such false teaching yet, just this past Sunday we were visiting an independent, fundamental church and sat through a video presentation that was taking dowry passages from the Old Testament and relating them to how a man should approach a woman today before marriage.
Yes, there might be some application from the feelings, the respect and the approach for today, but to directly start applying such passages to today’s youth is nothing less than Judaizing - telling them they have to court as the law tells them to court. Not a far jump to the relating of law to salvation if you are this close all ready.
Just a side note, the term "He" does not appear in the original. It is assumed from the verb. The Net Bible translates this as "Scripture does not" and their footnote states that this is an alternative translation to assuming "He" in the passage. Whether it is God or Scripture the result is the same, for if it is Scripture it is from God - His Word and He said it, and if it is God, then His word is in complete agreement. It was God that spoke it in the first place anyway.
Just some other thoughts on the passage, the verb "confirmed" is in a perfect tense - something that has happened, but the action is ongoing into the future to a completion. It is confirmed by God, so we have something that is kind of like guaranteed I would think.
In verse eighteen the verb "gave" is also a perfect tense.
Now a mediator is not [a mediator] of one, but God is one.
The term mediator relates to one that comes between two to bring peace. Much as a legal mediator does today. In the spiritual realm there is a rift between God and man, and Christ the mediator is the only one that can mend that rift. The term also can be translated arbitrator. It is someone that brings peace and restores friendship.
Just what is the meaning of the verse? Some suggest that the King James addition for understanding may be incorrect when it puts "[a mediator]" in the verse. Without it we read "Now a mediator is not of one, but God is one." This seems clear to me - a mediator does not work well, if at all if he is working with one person. You can’t mediate without two parties. You can’t restore something between one.
Not having checked commentaries I have to wonder if the passage is just disclosing that there was division within the God head in the area of the promise - in that it was yet to be completed, and Christ was the one, the mediator that brought peace within the trinity - God is one, but there are three.
Another reference for further study: 1 Timothy 2:5 "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;"
21 [Is] the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.
That is quite a thought - had any law been able to give man salvation God would have moved in that direction, Christ would not have had to die. Indeed, the whole sacrificial system would have never come to pass, for a law could have been given to bring us home to Him that created us. God would not have had to kill animals for skins for Adam and Eve when they sinned.
Just a side track, the animals had to be killed to provide covering for Adam and Eve, due to their sin. Indeed, this pictures beautifully the "covering" of sin for the Old Testament saints until their sins could be removed by the Lamb of God. Also what a wonderful picture of the difference between the Old Testament saint pre-Christ and the New Testament saint post-Christ. Sins of the Old were covered until washed away at the cross, while the New Testament believer’s sins are removed immediately.
But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
All are under sin because of the Law - it revealed the requirements, and we all fail. The promise was given to those that believe. Believe what? God and what He said, as we have said before. Belief is the only way to God, not following any law of any sort.
The term faith and the term believe are very closely related - one is "pistis" and the other "pistueo," both relating to commitment to something. Belief being the knowledge, while faith being the action of trusting in that knowledge that is believed.
This passage ought to make the strong Calvinist squirm, since belief seems to be a pre-requisite for the faith. Many of them hold that the faith is given so that we can believe. Others get around this little problem buy saying that God regenerates the lost person so that they can believe and receive faith. A good way to explain things, but they only have one passage to base pre-salvation regeneration on, and that is that John The Baptist was regenerated in His mother’s womb - and the fact that there is no indication of regeneration in this passage isn’t a problem to them - what they assume is truth and that is that (for them :-)
The Net Bible reflects a newer line of thought about "faith of Jesus Christ" that relates the faith to Christ Himself, rather than our faith in Him. "But the scripture imprisoned everything and everyone * under sin so that the promise could be given because of the faithfulness of Jesus Christ to those who believe." The Net Bible note suggests that most modern Greek scholars follow this line of thought.
Some related verses: Romans 8:2-4; Romans 3:11-19; Romans 11:32.
But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.
This suggests clearly that the faith of verse twenty-two is related to Christ, not us.
Now, this passage has some import that I have never heard before - I have always been taught that it speaks simply that we were bound to obey the law. This passage seems to say much more to me. Before faith came, some suggesting this be Christ while others see it simply as faith/belief, we were kept or held guard, or imprisoned under the law. The term used relates to being under guard or the thought of a city under siege - the city dwellers are kept from escape. Shut up in prison until faith should be revealed. Again, some see faith as Christ, others as faith fulfilled coming.
Now, the thought of being imprisoned under law seems to relate to much more than just being bound to the law to obey it, to me it suggests that until Christ came, the believer was literally imprisoned spiritually. This is true, in that they could not have been regenerated until Christ came to do the cross work. The reformed abhor this thought, but it is the logical conclusion - how can regeneration ever occur until Christ has done all that is required for regeneration and redemption.
I do not suggest, as some have intimated, that the Old Testament saint was not saved and on his way to glory, but I am saying that they could not get there until the work of the Cross was done. It is illogical to put the cart before the horse. I have suggested that even God can’t deficit spend - He cannot override the requirements His own decree set forth. It is the cross of Christ that brings salvations possibility and nothing else. It, of course, was from the foundation of the world, but God, when he created set His decree within a framework of time and limited Himself to that medium.
How can He provide something that He has not supplied? He can’t. The Old Testament saint was bound for heaven as sure as I, but based on the coming "faith" or work of Christ. (See my work on regeneration for more on this line of thinking.)
Finally, to the point - the Old Testament saint was in bondage until Christ was come. This is what Sheol and Luke sixteen is about. The saints of old were contained in Sheol until they could be liberated and set free by their coming savior.
Oh, what a truth - and the reformed folks I have spoken with on the subject just bristle and foam over such thinking - how clear it is to me from this passage as well as others.
The term "kept" has the thought of kept by a garrison, or kept under guard - be kept from moving freely where you will. The Old Testament saint was not free spiritually; they were very limited in their position before God, until Christ came and made provision for all of us.
This was a keeping of their soul as well as their mind and will, this is also why the Old Testament saints were such sinners, they did not have the Holy Spirit to convict and guide them, they were very limited in their ability to do right - the law was their prison.
Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster [to bring us] unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
This term schoolmaster is also translated instructor in the Bible. It really just pictures the fact that anyone attempting to obey the law found how inadequate to the task they were - in short they knew they needed another way for they could not do it. The law informs them that Christ is needed.
The term is used of Roman slaves that were entrusted with the bringing up of boys in that culture. The boy was taught and mentored in all sorts of ways to bring him to manhood. The boy could not leave the house without his schoolmaster.
Again, Paul emphasizes the fact that it is not the law that can justify, but rather Christ by faith.
There are some today, mostly in the independent Baptist circles from my observation that are saying you can’t properly teach the gospel until you teach the law. This passage is partial basis for this teaching. I would agree to the fact that we need to get them lost - help them understand their position before God - but I don’t think we are required to teach the law. If you want to show the law (how impossible it is to keep) yes, go ahead, this will show them their lostness as well, but I personally feel that they only need to know they are lost and that Christ is the only answer available now or in the future.
The law was our schoolmaster or our teacher to bring us to Christ.
But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
In the classical use of the term, when the boy becomes a man there is no need for the schoolmaster. The one standing born again before the Master has no need of keeping the law, only serving his Savior.
For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
I say uuuuupppps. Faith brings us to Christ - baptism allows us to put on Christ. Hummm. I think we have a topic to discuss here.
Is baptism a requirement for salvation? We have covered this as false doctrine before, so of course baptism is not contingent on salvation. It is an important act of obedience, but it is post salvation - if it was part of salvation, it couldn’t be an outward sign of inward change. Simple isn’t it when you apply a little logic.
However, I doubt a baptismal regenerist would buy that simple logical explanation.
In verse twenty-six "ye are" is a present tense - something that is ongoing. In twenty-seven "baptized" and "have put on" are aorist tense - point in time. This does not seem to point out anything in particular other than once you are saved it is a continued classification/condition.
The question that needs to be answered is which baptism is being considered here? Is this speaking of water baptism, or is it speaking of Spirit baptism, or is it maybe - read that as "this is" - the baptism of the believer into the body of Christ.
The only time we are baptized "into" Christ is when we are baptized into the body of Christ. This is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Many misconstrue the baptism of the Holy Spirit as your baptism with the Spirit when you speak in tongues, but this is not a teaching that is in keeping with Scripture. This passage itself speaks directly to "into" Christ - nothing about the gifts in the context, nothing about salvation in mind, and nothing but the body of Christ can fit the context. (John the Baptist foretold this baptism - see the following for further study Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Lu. 3:16; John 1:33.)
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
Now, I am told that young Jews of old prayed the following prayer each morning upon rising from their nights rest. "Lord, I thank you that I am not a Gentile, a slave, or a woman." They pray it, I don’t okay! The verse we have just read tends to disprove the thought of their prayer.
In short there is no room in Christianity for Archie Bunkers, even though we have some that are close to that mind set scattered through the church.
The word Greek can relate to specifically Greek people, but also it can relate to any nation/people that are different than Jew either in cultural or religion. It is the later thought in this context as Paul is speaking to the Jew/Gentile questions.
Bond in the verse is the normal word for slave - one that is controlled by a master/owner. This is of major note in Paul’s day in that there were slaves that had heard the Gospel and had accepted Christ. Philemon is a letter written concerning a Christian slave. There is no label of slave in the church; they are counted as one with all others.
This ought to be a priority in our churches today. There are many clichés and groups that segregate out by all sorts of demographics. The rich stick together, the poor stick together, the professionals stick together, the blue collar stick together, etc. This ought not to be the case.
Just a comment on how one church dealt with the rich poor differences. The rich loved to do their get togethers up in a big way and it usually cost money to attend through tickets. Being one of the poor at the time, we seldom attended these functions. Some of the better off couples made it a habit of buying extra tickets and providing them to those that couldn’t afford them. Others would invite other couples to attend with them.
This was a good way for the different groups to get to know each other and find out that they are real people too - in fact they probably had common interests. It was a good time of bringing people of the church together.
There are three sets of groups, each separated by the word "nor" however the final phrase is divided by a different term than the other two. The first two phrases are divided by a term that means simply neither or nor. The phrase "male nor female" actually is divided by a term that is normally translated "and" but is not translated "nor" normally. I assume that the first two divisions are not quite as well defined as the male/female grouping, although in our present American society the differences have been blurred to the point that one must wonder what sex a person is at times the way people dress/act.
That last phrase has a little word in it that is so big in concept; "one" really is a monumental concept to achieve within the church. We are one - declaration - not open for discussion - done deal - completed - over and done with - etc. So, why are we so many categories these days?
Let’s just list some categories we separate believers into these days.
Clergy - layman
Church leadership - simple member
Black - white
Brown - black
Rich - poor
Educated - uneducated
Professional - non-professional
Young - old
Middle aged - child
Mature - immature
Outgoing - inward
I have heard lately that they are doing separate youth worship services rather than the usual, everyone together. With the kids in Jr. Church and the youth in their service how could anyone consider the church fragmented?
Just enough to get your thought processes going - all these divisions are improper and unscriptural and we should root them out of the church so that we all can know that we are one with the other.
I have a study relating to the Bible’s many passages that speak to the "one another" PEOPLE that we are and should act like.
Just some other passages that relate to this truth:
1 Corinthians 12:13 "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit."
Ephesians 2:14 "For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 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;"
Colossians 3:11 "Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all."
29 And if ye [be] Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
The term "seed" is a figurative use of the term "sperma" which relates to physical generation of life. It is normally translated seed and is the word for the seed that you plant in the ground for life to spring forth from. It cannot mean that any believer is the literal seed of Abraham, for that is a physical impossibility. We are his descendants in a figurative manner. Just what that means we need to consider in the application section.
Just what are we heirs of? Simply we are benefiting from the work of the seed - Christ and his work on the cross.
Heir is simply the people in line to inherit. When a person dies there is usually a will and if not the state divides up the remainder of the estate and gives it to those that are legal heirs, people that legally descend from the person that died. In fact one of the aspects of this word is the thought of partitioning or dividing. It can be translated appointment. It is not only something that is deserved, but it is something that is apportioned correctly and is given as a thing scheduled.
Kind of interesting to view your salvation in this light - as coming from that promise so long ago - God has been working on bringing this to pass for a long long time. It, to me, shows a tremendous love and concern on God’s part for insignificant me!
Copyright 2008. Used by Permission. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the author, except as provided by U.S.A. copyright laws. Do feel free to make copies for friends that might be interested as long as you do not make profit from the copies. This is God's work and I don't want anyone to profit from it in a material way.
Derickson, Stanley. "Commentary on Galatians 3". "Derickson's Notes on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany