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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Galatians 3

 

 

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Verse 1

O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?

Foolish , [ anoeetoi (Greek #453)] - 'unthinking.' They were, like most Kelts, 'acute' (Themistius); but their inconstancy generated thoughtlessness.

Bewitched - fascinated you so that you have lost your wits.

That ye should not obey the truth. So C, Vulgate. But 'Aleph (') A B Delta G omit it.

You - emphatic 'You, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been graphically set forth [proegraphe, in word-painting; but lexical usage favours "hath been openly set forth"] crucified' (so the sense and Greek order). Delta G f g have "among you;" join it with "set forth." 'Aleph (') A C B C omit it. The perfect participle implies, 'in His permanent character as the crucified.' As Christ was "crucified," so ye ought to have been by faith "crucified with Christ" "to the law" (Galatians 2:19-20). Reference to the "eyes" is appropriate, as fascination was exercised through the eyes. The sight of Christ crucified ought to have counteracted all fascination.


Verse 2

This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 'Was it by the works of the law that ye received the Spirit (manifested by miracles, Galatians 3:5; Mark 16:17; Hebrews 2:4; and by spiritual graces, Galatians 3:14; Galatians 4:5-6; Ephesians 1:13), or by the hearing of faith?'

Only - `I desire, omitting other arguments, to rest the question on this alone:' I who was your teacher, desire now to "learn" this one thing from you. 'Holy' is not prefixed to "Spirit," because that epithet is joyous whereas this letter is stern.

Hearing of faith - `or, by faith, of which you heard in preaching.' Faith consists not in working, but in receiving (Romans 10:16-17).


Verse 3

Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

Begun , [ Enarxamenoi (Greek #1728)] - after having taken the initiatory step in the Christian life (Philippians 1:6), which ought to be the pledge of its completion (cf. Deuteronomy 2:24-25; Deuteronomy 2:31).

In the Spirit - Not merely was Christ crucified 'graphically set forth' in my preaching, but also "the Spirit" confirmed it by unparting His gifts. 'Yet are ye now being made perfect' (Greek) - i:e., seeking to be made perfect with fleshly, i:e., sensuous and earthly ordinances? (cf. Romans 2:28; Philippians 3:3; Hebrews 9:10.) Having begun with the Holy Spirit ruling your spiritual life as its 'essence and active principle' (Ellicott), in contrast to "the flesh," the element in which the law works (Alford). The Galatians thought that they were going more deeply into the spirit; for the flesh may be easily mistaken for the spirit, unless believers maintain a pure faith.


Verse 4

Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.

Have ye suffered so many things - namely, persecution from Jews and from fellow-countrymen, incited by the Jews: evidences that ye 'began with the Spirit' (1 Thessalonians 2:13-14).

In vain , [ eikee (Greek #1500)] - needlessly; since ye might have avoided them by professing Judaism. Or, shall ye, by falling from grace, lose the reward promised for your sufferings, so that they shall be "in vain?" (Galatians 4:11; 1 Corinthians 15:2; 1 Corinthians 15:17-19; 1 Corinthians 15:29-32; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-7; 2 John 1:8.)

Yet - rather, 'if indeed (or at least) it be really [ eige (Greek #1489) kai (Greek #2532)] in vain' (Ellicott). Paul mitigates the preceding words. I will not think that ye will make your sufferings in vain, but that ye will return from legalism to grace.


Verse 5

He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

He therefore (resumptive of Galatians 3:2) that ministereth - `supplieth' [epichooregon], God (2 Corinthians 9:10). He who supplied and supplies to you the Spirit. Miracles do not prove grace (Mark 9:38-39). He speaks of them as of unquestioned notoriety: an undesigned proof of their genuineness, (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:1-31.)

Worketh miracles [mighty powers: dunameis (G1411)] among you - rather, 'IN you' (Matthew 14:2; Ephesians 2:2; Philippians 2:13), at your conversion and since.

Doeth he it by the works of the law - i:e., as a result from [ek] the works of the law (cf. Galatians 3:2). This cannot he, because the law was unknown to you when you received those gifts of the Spirit.


Verse 6

Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.

The answer to Galatians 3:5 is here taken for granted, It was by the hearing of faith: following this up, he says, "Even as Abraham believed," etc. (Genesis 15:4-6; Romans 4:3.) God supplies unto you the Spirit as the result of faith, not works, just as Abraham obtained justification by faith, not by works (Galatians 3:6; Galatians 3:8; Galatians 3:16; Galatians 4:22; Galatians 4:26; Galatians 4:28). Where justification is, there the Spirit is, so that if the former comes by faith, the latter must also.

It - his believing.

Accounted - `reckoned.'


Verse 7

Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.

They which are of [from: ek (G1537)] faith - as the source and starting-point of their spiritual life (cf. Greek, Romans 3:26). The same - these, and these alone, to the exclusion of all other descendants of Abraham.

Children - Greek, 'sons' (Galatians 3:29).


Verse 8

And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.

And , [ de (Greek #1161)] - 'Moreover.'

Scripture, foreseeing. Scripture is identified with the mind that inspired it. The promise to Abraham is a Gospel germ developed by Paul. In Scripture all points liable ever to be controverted, are, with prescient wisdom, decided in the appropriate language.

Would justify - `justifieth.' Present indicative. It is now, and at all times, God's one way of justification.

The heathen - `the Gentiles,' or 'the nations,' as at the end of the verse. God justifieth the Jews too, 'by faith, not by works.' But he specifies the Gentiles, as it was their case that was in question, the Galatians being Gentiles.

Preached before (announced beforehand) the Gospel - for the 'promise' was substantially the Gospel by anticipation (cf. John 8:56; Hebrews 4:2). 'The old fathers did not look only for transitory promises' ('Article' VII., Church of England). The Gospel, in its essential germ, is older than the law, though the development of the former is subsequent to the latter.

In thee - not "in thy seed," a point not here raised; but strictly "in thee," as father of the faithful (Galatians 3:9), as well as (what was the reward of his faith) father of the promised Seed-namely, Christ (Galatians 3:16), the Object of faith (Genesis 22:18; Psalms 72:17).

All nations - or as above, 'all the Gentiles' (Genesis 12:3; Genesis 18:18).

Be blessed - an act of grace, not earned by works. Justification was to Abraham by faith in the promise, not by works. So to those who follow Abraham, the father of the faithful, the blessing - i:e., justification-comes purely by faith in Him who is the Subject of the promise.


Verse 9

So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.

They - and they alone.

Of faith - (note, Galatians 3:7.)

With - together with. As "IN" regards Abraham as the spiritual father in whom, so "with" regards him as one with whom all believers shall be blessed (Matthew 8:11).

Faithful - the point in which they are 'blessed together with him'-namely, faith, his prominent characteristic, of which the result is justification.


Verse 10

For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

Confirmation of Galatians 3:9. 'They who depend on [ ex (Greek #1537)] the works of the law' cannot share the blessing, for they are under the curse "written," Deuteronomy 27:26, Septuagint PERFECT obedience is required by "in all things;" CONTINUAL obedience by "continueth." No man renders this (cf. Romans 3:19-20). Paul quotes Scripture to the Jews as conversant with it (cf. letter to the Hebrews) as said or spoken, but to the Gentiles as written. So Matthew, writing for Jews, quotes it as said or spoken; Mark and Luke, writing for Gentiles, as written (Matthew 1:22; Mark 1:2; Luke 2:22-23) (Townson).


Verse 11

But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.

But - furthermore.

By the law - Greek, 'IN the law;' in the sphere of the law, and in virtue of it. The syllogism (Galatians 3:11-12) is, According to Scripture, The just shall live by [ek, out of] faith. 'But the law is not of [ek, out of] faith, but of works' (i:e., does not make faith, but working, the conditional ground of justifying). Therefore "in," or, 'by the law; no man is justified (i:e., shall live) before God'-at God's tribunal-whatever the case may be before men (Romans 4:2) - not even if he could, which he cannot, keep the law, because the Scripture element and conditional mean of justification is faith (Romans 1:17; Habakkuk 2:4). Alford wrongly translates, 'He who is just by faith shall live.' [Ho dikaios ek pisteos zesetai supports the English version. It would be, if Alford were right, ho (Greek #3588) ek (Greek #1537) pisteoos (Greek #4102) dikaios (Greek #1342).] Also the contrast would be lost between "live by (of) faith" (namely, as the ground and source of justification), and "live in them" - namely, in his doings (Galatians 3:12), as the conditional element wherein he is justified.


Verse 12

And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.

And - `But' [ de (Greek #1161)].

Doeth , [ Poieesas (Greek #4160)] - 'he who hath done.' Many depended on the law, although they did not keep it. Without doing, saith Paul, it is of no use to them (Romans 2:13; Romans 2:17; Romans 2:23; Romans 10:5).

Live in them - as IN the element of life.


Verse 13

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:

He breaks away abruptly from those who would involve us again in the course of the law, by seeking justification in it, to "Christ." The "us" refers primarily to the JEWS, to whom the law principally appertained (cf. Galatians 4:3-4). But it is not restricted to the Jews, for these are the representative people of the world. The curse of the non-fulfillment of the law affects the Gentiles through the Jews; for the law represents that righteousness which God requires of all-which, since the Jews failed to fulfil, the Gentiles must equally fail. Galatians 3:10, "As many as are of the works of the law are under the curse," refers not to the Jews only, but to all, even Gentiles (as the Galatians). The universal law, represented by the Masaic law, condemned the Gentiles, though with less clear consciousness on their part, (Romans 2:1-29) God's 'wrath,' revealed by the law of conscience, prepared them for appreciating redemption from the law's curse through Christ. The curse had to be removed from off them as well as the Jews, that the blessing through Abraham might flow to them. "That we might receive the promise of the Spirit" (Galatians 3:14) refers to both Jews and Gentiles.

Redeemed us - ransomed, bought us off from our former bondage (Galatians 4:5), and "the curse" under which all lie who trust to the law for justification. The Gentile Galatians, by putting themselves under it, were involving themselves in the curse from which Christ redeemed the Jews primarily, and through them the Gentiles. The ransom-price was his own precious blood (1 Peter 1:18-19 : cf. Matthew 20:28; Acts 20:28; 1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Corinthians 7:23; 1 Timothy 2:6; 2 Peter 2:1; Revelation 5:9).

Being made , [ genomenos (Greek #1096)] - 'having become.'

A curse for us - having become what we were, in our behalf [ huper (Greek #5228) heemoon (Greek #2257): Philem 13 sanctions also 'in our stead'], "a curse," that we might cease to be it. Not merely accursed, but a curse, bearing the curse of the whole human race. 'He was called a curse for my sake who does away my curse' (Gregory Nazianzene). So 2 Corinthians 5:21, "sin for us;" not sinful, but bearing the whole sin of our race, regarded as one vast aggregate (see note). 'Anathema' means 'set apart to God's glory,' but to the person's own destruction; "curse" [ Katara (Greek #2671)] is an execration.

Written (Deuteronomy 21:23). Christ's bearing the particular curse of hanging on the cross is a sample of the general curse which He representatively bore. Not that the Jews hanged malefactors; but after having put them to death otherwise, to brand some with ignominy, they hung the bodies on a piece of wood, not on a tree [ xulou (Greek #3586), 'Aleph (')] (cf. Genesis 22:6), not by the neck, but by the hands: such criminals were accursed (cf. Acts 5:30; Acts 10:39). God's providence ordered it that Jesus should hang on the cross by His hands and feet, so as to be a "curse for us," though that death was not a Jewish mode of execution. The Jews, in contempt, call Him 'the hanged one' [ tolwiy (Hebrew #8518)], and Christians, 'worshippers of the hanged one;' and make it their great objection that He died the accursed death (Trypho, in Justin Martyr, p. 249; 1 Peter 2:24). Hung between heaven and each as though unworthy of either.


Verse 14

That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

Intent of 'Christ becoming a curse for us'-`that unto ( eis (Greek #1519)) the Gentiles the blessing of Abraham

(i:e., promised to Abraham-namely, justification by faith) might come in [ en (Greek #1722)] Christ Jesus' (not in the law) (cf. Galatians 3:8).

That we (Jews and Gentiles alike) might receive the promise of the Spirit - the promised Spirit (Joel 2:28-29; Luke 24:49). This clause follows not that immediately preceding (for our receiving the Spirit is not the result of the blessing of Abraham coming on the Gentiles), but "Christ hath redeemed us," etc.

Through faith - not by works. Here he resumes Galatians 3:2.


Verse 15

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.

I speak after the manner of men - I take an illustration from a human transaction of everyday occurrence. As faith is older than the law, so the law cannot set aside the promise.

But a man's covenant - whose purpose it is far less important to maintain.

If it be confirmed - when once ratified. No man disannulleth - `none setteth aside,' not even the author, much less any second party. 'None' who acts in common equity, much less the righteous God. The law is, by personification, regarded as a second person, distinct from, and subsequent to, the promise of God. The promise is everlasting, and more peculiarly belongs to God. The law is as something extraneous, subsequent, exceptional, and temporary (Galatians 3:17-19; Galatians 3:21-24.)

Addeth - none addeth new conditions, 'making' the covenant "of none effect" (Galatians 3:17). So legal Judaism could make no alteration in the fundamental relation between God and man, already established by the promises to Abraham; it could not add as a new condition the observance of the law, in which case the fulfillment of the promise would be attached to a condition impossible for man to perform. The "covenant" here is one of free grace-a promise afterward carried into effect in the Gospel.


Verse 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.

Parenthetical.

Now , [ de (Greek #1161)]. 'This, however, is not a case merely of a covenant, but of a promise; yea, of promises: nor was it made merely to a man (Galatians 3:15), Abraham, but to Christ' (Ellicott). The covenant of promise was not 'spoken' [so errethesan, "made"] to Abraham alone, but "to Abraham and his seed;" to the latter especially-namely, Christ (and that which is inseparable from Him, the literal Israel, and the spiritual, His body, the Church). Christ not having come when the law was given, the covenant could not have been then fulfilled, but awaited the coming of Him-the Seed, to whom was spoken.

Promises - plural, because the same promise was often repeated (Genesis 12:3; Genesis 12:7; Genesis 13:15; Genesis 15:5; Genesis 15:18; Genesis 17:7; Genesis 22:18), and because it involved both earthly blessings to Abraham's literal children in Canaan, and spiritual and heavenly blessings to his spiritual children; both promised in Christ, 'the Seed' and representative Head of both Israels. [Zerang sperma is collective: Abraham's seed is 'his posterity (literal and spiritual) viewed as one organically connected whole' (Ellicott), of whom Christ is the representative Head (cf. Hosea 11:1 with Matthew 2:15).] In the spiritual seed there is no distinction of Jew or Greek; but to the literal seed the promises still remain to be fulfilled (Romans 11:26). The covenant was not made with "many" seeds (which if there had been, a pretext might exist for supposing there was one seed before another under the law, and that those sprung from one seed, say the Jewish, are admitted on different terms, with a higher degree of acceptability, than those sprung from the Gentile seed), but with the one seed; therefore, the promise that in Him "all families of the earth shall be blessed" (Genesis 12:3) joins in this one Seed, Christ, Jew and Gentile, as fellow-heirs on the same terms-namely, by grace through faith; not to some by promise, to others by the law, but to all alike, circumcised and uncircumcised, constituting but one seed in Christ (Romans 4:13; Romans 4:16). But the law contemplates the Jews and Gentiles as distinct seeds. God makes a covenant, but one of promise; whereas the law is a covenant of works. The law brings in a mediator, a third party (Galatians 3:19-20); God makes His covenant of promise with the one Seed, Christ (Genesis 17:7), and embraces others only as identified with, and represented by, Christ. The Hebrew noun is collective, and not used in the plural. However many be Abraham's literal and spiritual descendants, they are all included and gathered in the one Christ.

As of ... as of - as speaking of. As of ... as of - as speaking of.

One ... Christ - not merely the individual man Christ Jesus, but "Christ" (without 'Jesus'), including His people, who are part of Himself, the second Adam, and Head of redeemed humanity. Galatians 3:28-29 prove this, "Ye are all ONE in Christ Jesus (Jesus is added where the person is indicated). And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's SEED, and heirs according to the promise."


Verse 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.

And ( De (Greek #1161)) - 'However.'

This I say - `this is what I mean' by my illustration from 'man's covenants' [ legoo (Greek #3004) is here resumed from Galatians 3:15].

Confirmed before of God - `ratified by God' (Galatians 3:15).

In Christ - rather, 'unto Christ' (cf. Galatians 3:16) [ eis (Greek #1519) Christon (Greek #5547)]. So Delta G f g, Vulgate. But 'Aleph (') A B C omit the words.

The law, which was , [ Gegonos (Greek #1096)] - 'which came into existence 430 years after.' In Genesis 15:13; Acts 7:6, the round number 400 is given. He does not, as in the case of "the covenant," add 'confirmed by God' (John 1:17). The dispensation of "the promise" began with the call of Abraham from Ur into Canaan, and ended on the last night of his grandson Jacob's sojourn in Canaan, the land of promise. The law dispensation, which 'engenders bondage,' was drawing on from the time of his entrance into Egypt, 'the house of bondage.' It was to Christ in him, as in his grandfather Abraham and his father Isaac, not to them as persons, the promise was spoken. On the day following the last repetition of the promise at Beersheba, Israel passed into Egypt (Genesis 46:1-6). It is from the end, not the beginning, of the dispensation of promise that the 430 years between it and the law are to be counted. At Beersheba Abraham called on the everlasting God, and the well was confirmed to him and his seed as an everlasting possession. Here God appeared to Isaac. Here the blessing was promised Jacob for the last time. The 430 do not include the 215 years in Canaan, if Genesis 15:13; Exodus 12:40-41; Acts 7:6, be literally true.

Moreover, '600,000 men' (Exodus 12:37) imply, with women and children, a population of 2,000,000: 215 years in Egypt would be too short for the increase from 70 (Genesis 46:27), when Jacob entered Egypt, to 2,000,000 at the exodus. The difficulty as to the great length of life (Ellicott) thus assigned to the generations between Levi and Moses is cleared up by supposing omission of links in the genealogy, as elsewhere in Scripture.

Cannot - Greek, 'doth not disannul.'

Make the promise of none effect - which it would be if the power of conferring the inheritance be transferred from it to the law (Romans 4:14).


Verse 18

For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.

The inheritance - all the blessings inherited by Abraham's spiritual children, according to the promise to him and to his seed, Christ, justification and glorification (Romans 8:17; 1 Corinthians 6:9; Galatians 4:7).

But God ... - Greek order, 'But to Abraham it was by promise that God hath gratuitously given [ kecharistai (Greek #5483)] it.' The conclusion is, Therefore the inheritance is not of, or from, the law.


Verse 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.

Wherefore then serveth the law? As it is of no avail for justification, is it either useless, or contrary to the covenant of God?

Added - to the original covenant of promise; not as a codicil, but to show man's need: not inconsistent with Galatians 3:15, "No man ... addeth thereto;" for there the kind of addition meant, and therefore denied, is one that would add new conditions inconsistent with the grace of the covenant of promise. The law, though misunderstood by Judaizers as doing so, was really added for a different purpose-namely, 'because of [ ton (Greek #3588) parabaseoon (Greek #3847) charin (Greek #5485), "for the sake of"] the transgressions of it;' i:e., to bring them out into clearer view (Romans 3:20; Romans 4:15; Romans 5:13; Romans 7:7-9); to make men more conscious of their sins, as being transgressions of the law; so to make them long for the promised Saviour (cf. Galatians 3:23-24). Not 'to check transgressions,' for the law rather stimulates the corrupt heart to disobey it (Romans 7:13).

Till the seed - during the period up to the time when [achris hou elthe] the seed came. The law was a preparatory dispensation [Romans 5:20; pareiseelthen (Greek #3922), 'the law came in parenthetically'] intervening between the promise and its fulfillment in Christ.

Come - cf. "faith came," Galatians 3:23.

The promise (Romans 4:21).

Ordained , [ diatageis (Greek #1299)] - 'established.'

By (through) angels - as its mediate ministers. God delegated the law to angels as something rather alien to Him and severe (Acts 7:53; Hebrews 2:2-3 : cf. Deuteronomy 33:2; Psalms 68:17). He reserved "the promise" to Himself, dispensing it after His own goodness.

In the hand [by the ministry; Hebrew, b


Verse 20

Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.

'Now a mediator [in the essential idea: ho (Greek #3588) mesitees (Greek #3316): the article is generic] cannot be of one (but must be of two parties whom he mediates between); but God is one' (not two: His unity admits not an intervening party between Him and those to be blessed: as the ONE Sovereign, His own representative, He gives the blessing directly by promise to Abraham, and, in its fulfillment, to Christ, 'the Seed,' without new conditions, and without a mediator such as the law had). He recognizes no second party (as man) dealing on independent terms with Him through a mediator. The conclusion understood is, Therefore a mediator cannot appertain to God; consequently, the law, with its inseparable appendage of a mediator, and two parties to be mediated between in the way of compact, cannot be the normal way of dealing of God, who acts singly and directly. God would bring man into immediate communion, and not have man separated from Him by a mediator, as Israel was by Moses and the legal priesthood (Exodus 19:12-13; Exodus 19:17; Exodus 19:21-24; Hebrews 12:19-24).

The law that interposed a mediator and conditions between man and God was an exceptional state limited to the Jews, parenthetically preparatory to the Gospel, God's normal dealing, as He dealt with Abraham-namely, face to face directly, by promise and grace, not conditions; to all nations united by faith in the one seed (Ephesians 2:14; Ephesians 2:16; Ephesians 2:18); not to one people, to the exclusion of all others from the ONE common Father. It is no objection that the Gospel, too, has a mediator (1 Timothy 2:5); for Jesus is not a mediator separating the two parties as Moses did, but ONE in nature and office with both God and man (cf. "God in Christ," Galatians 3:17), representing the universal manhood (1 Corinthians 15:22; 1 Corinthians 15:45; 1 Corinthians 15:47), and bearing "all the fullness of the Godhead." Even his mediatorial office is to cease when its purpose of reconciling all things to God shall have been accomplished (1 Corinthians 15:24), and God's ONENESS (Zechariah 14:9) as 'all in all' shall be fully manifested.

Compare John 1:17, where Moses, the severing mediator of legal conditions, and Jesus, the uniting mediator of grace, are contrasted. The promise is called 'a covenant' (Galatians 3:17), because settled in the eternal counsels of the triune God, and depending on conditions fulfilled by the Son of God. This covenant was carried out in the unity of God, without a mediator. It supposes only one party (not two, as the law): God is that One. Himself, in Christ, being the mediator. Paul's argument pre-supposes Christ's Godhead; otherwise He would be a mediator distinct from God, as was Moses, and the argument would fail. The Jews began worship by reciting the Schemah, opening thus-`Yahweh our God is ONE Yahweh;' which words their Rabbis (as Jarchius) interpret as teaching not only the unity of God, but the future universality of His kingdom on earth (Zephaniah 3:9). Paul (Romans 3:30) infers the same truth from the ONENESS of God (cf. Ephesians 4:4-6). He, being one, unites all believers, without distinction, to Himself (Galatians 3:8; Galatians 3:16; Galatians 3:28; Ephesians 1:10 : cf. Hebrews 2:11) in direct communion. The unity of God involves the unity of God's people, and also His dealing directly without intervention of a mediator.


Verse 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.

"Is the law (which involves a mediator) against the promises of God (which are without a mediator, and rest on God alone and immediately)? God forbid."

Life. The law, as an externally prescribed rule, can never internally impart spiritual life to men naturally dead in sin, and change the disposition. If what was given were a law able to impart life, 'verily (in reality, not in the mere fancy of legalists) righteousness would have been of (resulting from) the law' (for where life is, there righteousness, its condition, must also be). But the law does not pretend to give life, and therefore not righteousness; so there is no opposition between the law and the premise. Righteousness can only come through the premise to Abraham, and through its fulfillment in the Gospel of grace.


Verse 22

But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.

But - So far is righteousness from being of the law, that, etc., Romans 3:20, end.

The Scripture - which began to be written just after the promise, at the time when the law was given. The WRITTEN letter of the law was needed to PERMANENTLY convict man of disobedience to God's command. Therfore he says, "the Scripture," not the "law." Compare Galatians 3:8.

Concluded - `shut up on every side' under condemnation, as in a prison. Compare Isaiah 24:22. Beautifully contrasted with 'the liberty wherewith Christ makes free,' which follows (Galatians 4:7; Galatians 4:9; Galatians 4:25-26; Galatians 5:1; Isaiah 61:1). All , [ Ta (Greek #3588) panta (Greek #3956)] - 'the universe of things:' the whole world, man, and all that appertains to him.

Under sin (Romans 3:9; Romans 3:19; Romans 11:32).

The promise - the inheritance promised (Galatians 3:18).

By faith of Jesus Christ - i:e., which is of faith IN Jesus Christ. In contrast to 'of the law' (Galatians 3:21).

Might be given. The emphasis is on "given:" a free gift; not something earned by the works of the law (Romans 6:23).

To them that believe - to them that have the "faith of (in) Jesus Christ."


Verse 23

But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.

Faith , [ teen (Greek #3588)] - namely, that just mentioned (Galatians 3:22).

Kept , [ efrouroumetha (Greek #5432)] - 'kept in ward:' the effect of the 'shutting up' (Galatians 3:22; Galatians 4:2; Romans 7:6; Zechariah 9:12).

Under the law - as a jailor.

Unto - with a view to the faith, etc. We were constrained to it, so that there remained to us no refuge but faith. Compare Septuagint; Psalms 77:1-20; Psalms 78:50; Psalms 31:8.

Which should afterward ... - `afterward to be revealed.'


Verse 24

Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

'So that the law hath proved to be [ Gegonen (Greek #1096)] our schoolmaster ('tutor,' 'pedagogue;' among the Greeks, a faithful servant intrusted with a boy from childhood to puberty, to keep him, with severe disciplinary strictness, from evil, physical and moral, in his amusements and studies) to guide us unto Christ,' with whom we are no longer "shut up" in bondage, but are freemen. "Children" (literally, infants) need such tutoring (Galatians 4:3). The law did so by warnings, threatenings, and convictings of sin.

Might be , [ dikaioothoomen (Greek #1344)] - 'that we may be justified by faith;' which we could not be by the law. Meanwhile the law-by outwardly checking the sinful propensity, ever afresh breaking out, and so awakening consciousness of the power of the sinful principle, and hence of the need both of forgiveness of sin and of freedom from its bondage-became our 'schoolmaster to guide us unto Christ.' The moral law shows us what we ought to do; so we learn our inability. In the ceremonial law we seek, by sacrifices, to answer for our not having done it, but find that dead victims are no satisfaction for the sins of living men, and that outward purifying will not cleanse the soul; that therefore we need an infinitely better sacrifice, the antitype of all the legal sacrifices. Thus delivered up to the judicial law, we see the awful doom we deserve: thus the law leads to Christ, with whom we find righteousness and peace. 'Sin, sin! is the word again and again in the Old Testament. Had it not there for centuries rung in the ear, and fastened on the conscience, the joyful sound, "grace for grace," would not have been the watchword of the New Testament. This was the end of the whole system of sacrifices' (Tholuck.)


Verse 25

But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

'But now that faith (which makes the man full-grown) is come,' etc. Moses the lawgiver cannot bring us into the heavenly Canaan, though he can bring us to the border. At that point he is superseded by the true Joshua, who leads the spiritual Israel into their inheritance. The law leads us to Christ; there its office ceases.


Verse 26

For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

Children - no longer children in years [paides], but [ huioi (Greek #5207)], 'sons,' and that, too, not merely sons of Abraham, but of God. Fully developed sons.

By faith in Christ , [ Dia (Greek #1223) tees (Greek #3588) pisteoos (Greek #4102)] - 'through the faith in Christ.' 'Ye all' (Jews and Gentiles alike) are no longer children requiring a tutor, but SONS walking at liberty.


Verse 27

For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

Baptized into (into living incorporation with) Christ (Romans 6:3; Matthew 28:19 : Greek, 'INTO the name').

Have put on Christ - ye did, in that act of being baptized into Christ, clothe yourselves in Christ [ enedusasthe (Greek #1746)]. Christ is to you the toga virilis (the Roman garment of the full-grown man, assumed when ceasing to be a child) (Bengel). By baptism ye have put on Christ; therefore, He being the Son of God, ye become sons by adoption, by virtue of His Sonship by generation. God regards us in Him, as bearing Christ's name and character, rather than our own. Baptism, where it answers to its ideal, is not an empty sign, but a means of spiritual transference from legal condemnation to living union with Christ, and sonship to God through Him (Romans 13:14). Christ alone can, by baptizing with His Spirit, make the inward grace correspond to the outward sign. As He promises the blessing in the faithful use of the means, the Church rightly presumes, in charity, that such is the case, nothing appearing to the contrary.


Verse 28

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.

There is in [ eni (Greek #1762)] this sonship by faith in Christ no class privileged above another, as the Jews under the law were above the Gentiles (Romans 10:12; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Colossians 3:11).

Bond nor free - Christ belongs by faith to the "bond" as much as to the "free." Notes, 1 Corinthians 7:21-22; Ephesians 6:8.

Neither male nor female - Greek, 'there is not male AND female.' Alterable social distinctions are contrasted by "neither ... nor:" the unalterable human one of sex, by "and" (Mark 10:6). Male and female form a unity, the one supplementing the other. There is no distinction, spiritually, into male and female. Difference of sex makes no difference in Christian privileges. But under the law the male had great privileges. Males alone had in their body circumcision, the sign of the covenant, (whereas baptism applies to male and female alike); they alone were capable of being kings and priests, whereas all of either sex are now "kings and priests unto God" (Revelation 1:6); they had prior right to inheritances. In the resurrection the relation of the sexes shall cease (Luke 20:35).

One , [ heis (Greek #1520)] - 'one man;' masculine, not neuter; "one new man" in Christ (Ephesians 2:15).


Verse 29

And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

And heirs. So G. But A B C Delta 'Aleph (') f, Vulgate, omit "and." Christ is "Abraham's seed:" ye are "one in Christ" (Galatians 3:28), and one with Christ, as having "put on Christ" (Galatians 3:27); therefore YE [ humeis (Greek #5210): emphatic] are "Abraham's seed," - tantamount to saying (whence the "and" is omitted), ye are "heirs according to (in the way of) the promise" (not 'by the law,' Galatians 3:18); for it was to Abraham's seed that the inheritance was promised (Galatians 3:16). Thus he arrives at the truth which he set out with (Galatians 3:7). But one "seed" of a righteous succession. One faultless grain of human nature was found by God Himself, the source of a new imperishable seed: "the seed" (Psalms 22:30) who receive from Him a new nature and name (Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 53:10-11; John 12:24). In Him David's line becomes extinct. He died without posterity. But He lives and shall reign on David's throne. No one has a legal claim to it but Himself, He being the only direct representative (Ezekiel 21:27). His spiritual seed derive birth from the travail of His soul, being born again of His Word, the incorruptible seed (John 1:12; Romans 9:8; 1 Peter 1:23).

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Galatians 3:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/galatians-3.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, July 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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