corner graphic   Hi,    
ver. 2.0.19.07.19
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to classic.studylight.org/

Bible Commentaries

The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann
Galatians 3

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-5

Salvation Is Not of Works, but by Faith.

Paul appeals to the experience of the Galatians:

v. 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?

v. 2. This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the Law or by the hearing of faith?

v. 3. Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

v. 4. Have ye suffered so many things in vain?—if it be yet in vain!

v. 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?

The apostle here opens the doctrinal section of his epistle. But so great is his agitation over the threatened defection of the Galatians that his customary cool argumentation is here replaced with an excited chain of rhetorical questions: O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, to whom Jesus Christ, the Crucified One, was painted before your eyes? It was an evidence of senseless folly which the Galatians offered by their behavior in this instance, just as though somebody had bewitched or hypnotized them, as though they were being led astray as a result of magic. For the Cross of Jesus Christ and His atoning death, on the one hand, and the shallow legalism of the Judaistic teachers, on the other, are such great contrasts that no expression seems strong enough to describe their foolishness. The content of all Paul's preaching had been Christ's redemptive work; His expiatory death had been the theme of all teaching in their midst; their justification and salvation had been based upon His atonement alone: this was the picture which Paul had drawn and painted before their eyes as often as he appeared in their midst. Their present attitude, therefore, in giving ear to the seducers, seemed inexplicable unless one referred it to demoniac powers. It is always thus when people give ear to false doctrine, the folly often taking hold of them in such a way as to render them insensible to all appeals from Scriptures.

Paul here tries the one method which had any hopes of success, that of reminding them of their own experience at the time of their conversion: This alone I want to learn from you. Out of the works of the Law did you receive the Spirit or by the hearing of faith? To what agency did they ascribe the inward change which they experienced at the time of their conversion? The Spirit with all His gifts and blessings had come upon them; they had received forgiveness of sins, the assurance of the mercy of God, of their adoption as children of God. Surely not one of them would assert that this gift of the Spirit came to them as the result of their keeping the Law. The blessings of the Gospel had come to them through the preaching concerning faith. They had heard the message of redemption which wrought faith in their hearts, through the power of the Spirit; that they knew, and thus only one answer was possible.

The apostle now draws the conclusion which shows them the extent of their folly: So foolish are you? Having made a beginning by the Spirit, you now make the ending in the flesh? When they were regenerated by the power of the Spirit, they accepted the fact of their salvation through the work of Christ in simple faith, and the Spirit had free rein in their hearts, teaching them the various facts pertaining to their new state. But the promise of the splendid beginning did not continue; the end of their spiritual history threatened to be connected with things of the flesh only, with matters concerning circumcision, the various laws about purification, the observance of certain days and festivals, etc. To such matters of the Jewish ceremonial law they were attaching an importance which tended to make them eclipse the fundamental doctrines of Christianity in importance. Instead of going forward, they are losing ground in Christian knowledge so rapidly that there was danger of a speedy end, so far as their spiritual life was concerned.

Another question concerning their experience as Christians: So many things have you suffered in vain?—if it be really in vain! The Galatian Christians, like those of other provinces, had been subjected to various persecutions, most of which had been due to the jealousy and hatred of the Jews; many and various had been these experiences, and they had endured them all for the sake of the Gospel. But if they should now incline to the teaching of the Judaistic intruders, then all their sufferings would be vain and worse than useless. For their behavior would then proclaim their former resistance to have been stubborn and wanton caprice, without any foundation of Christian persuasion, without an object that would really make it worthwhile.

Paul finally refers to the situation as it obtained when he was writing this letter: He that now supplies you with the Spirit and works miraculous powers in you, does He do it by the works of the Law or by the preaching of faith? Paul had the confidence that the communication of the Spirit was still continuing in their midst, that they were being supplied bountifully from the riches of His treasures, that He was exhibiting miraculous powers among them: did any of them have the boldness to argue that these supernatural manifestations were the result of performing works of the Law and not rather such as followed the preaching of faith? If this experience has taught them nothing, then Paul would feel greatly disappointed.


Verses 6-9

Paul brings Scripture-proof for his position:

v. 6. Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.

v. 7. Know ye, therefore, that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.

v. 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.

v. 9. So, then, they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.

The apostle here reminds the Galatian Christians that were inclined to follow the Judaizing teachers of the example of Abraham, the ancestor of the Jewish nation, to whom the Jews were wont to refer with particular pride, and thus incidentally answers the questions of vv. 2 and 5. He quotes Gen_15:6 according to the Greek translation: Just as Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness. See Rom_4:3. Not by any works which Abraham performed, but by his faith was he justified before God. For the faith of Abraham was not the mere assent to the words of the Lord upon that single occasion but it was faith in God as the Father of Jesus Christ and in the Messiah of the world, whose coming was promised to the patriarch. But Paul now draws a conclusion: You perceive, you understand, then, that they who are of faith, these are the children of Abraham. Since faith was the ground of Abraham's justification, it follows that all those that have the faith of Abraham are his true children. The mere bodily descent from Abraham secures salvation for no man, but as Abraham was saved, thus all believers are saved, namely, by faith. See Joh_8:39. No matter what the nationality of a person map be, if he proves himself a true child of Abraham by exhibiting the same faith in God and the Savior, then he will inherit the blessing given to Abraham and to his seed forever.

To this proof from Scriptures Paul adds another to show that the heathen were also included in the promise: Moreover, the Scripture, foreseeing that by faith God would justify the Gentiles, proclaimed the Gospel to Abraham before: Blessed shall be in thee all the nation; (or Gentiles). Paul's reference is to Gen_12:1-3; Gen_18:18, and he identifies the Word of God with the Scripture. God knew in advance that the Gentiles would be justified by faith: it was thus determined in His eternal and immutable counsels; He is the God that justifies by faith. Therefore the Gospel-message which was included in the promise to Abraham proclaimed a blessing to be bestowed upon all Gentiles. Since, however, the Gentiles were not connected with the Law of Moses, it is obvious that their justification could not be based upon anything else than their faith; works of the Law were excluded by the nature of the case. Therefore the conclusion offered by the apostle must be correct: So, then, they that are of faith are blessed with the believing Abraham. All men who, like Abraham, put their trust in their Lord and Savior in simple faith are included in the blessing of the promise. Men of faith are heirs of salvation, not men of works.


Verses 10-14

Paul's opponents are subject to the curse of the broken Law:

v. 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.

v. 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.

v. 12. And the Law is not of faith; but, the man that doeth them shall live in them.

v. 13. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the Law, being made a curse for us; for it is written, Cursed be every one that hangeth on a tree;

v. 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.

Paul here takes up the claim of the Judaizing teachers as to obtaining the blessing of righteousness and salvation on the score of perfect obedience to the Law. He flatly declares: For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse. Instead of obtaining the blessing of perfect righteousness and being accepted by God, all men that have the idea that they can fulfill the Law perfectly are subject to the curse of the Lord, which He pronounced Deu_27:26 : Cursed is every one that does not continue in all chat is written in the Book of the Law to do it. The apostle implies, of course, that all the efforts of men to keep the Law of God perfectly are vain: no man can fulfill the demands of the just and holy God as expressed in His written will; there is no man without sin. And therefore they that persist in their endeavors to obtain justification before God by keeping the Law are under that curse which was pronounced from Mount Ebal.

That the Law and all attempts at fulfilling the Law cannot come into consideration in the justification of man is furthermore established by the fact that the Word of God itself excludes it as an agency of salvation: But that in the Law nobody is justified before God is evident, for, The just shall live by faith. Even though a person should strain every nerve to keep the Law of God perfectly and thus to be acceptable in the sight of God, it would avail him nothing, not only because the goal is unattainable from the very outset, but because God Himself makes the statement that faith is the justifying factor, Hab_2:4. Obtaining eternal life depends not upon works, but upon faith alone; salvation comes to him that places his trust in Jesus Christ as his Savior. This is not a matter of argument, of dispute, but it is a fact of the Gospel to which we must testify and bear witness unceasingly. To clinch his argument, Paul sags: But the Law is not of faith; it has nothing in common with faith; the two ideas, faith and works, mutually exclude each other. He that is justified by faith is not justified by the Law; he that still hopes to get to heaven by his good works, by his keeping of the Law, shuts himself out from faith, closes the one way of salvation which is open to all men. For only he that can point to an actual and entire performance of all requirements of the Law can justly demand eternal life in payment, a condition which is obviously unthinkable. So the apostle's argument stands that the Law is excluded as an agency of salvation by its very nature, since it demands a fulfillment which no man can render and, on the other hand, since it cannot work faith, by which alone justification before God is applied to man.

So far as the Law, then, was concerned, it left all men in a state of absolute hopelessness; for its blessing could not be realized on account of man's infirmity, and so only its curse remained to drive man to despair. But here the promise given to Abraham exerted its power: Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse in our stead. As matters stood before the promise of the Messiah was given, final and utter condemnation was the inevitable lot of all men. And deliverance from this state of condemnation was possible only by the payment of a ransom which would satisfy all demands of justice. But for the prisoners under the sentence of death and damnation Christ Himself paid the price: He gave Himself as a ransom for all men, He endured the penalty pronounced upon malefactors, He hung upon the accursed tree of the cross as if He had been the guilty one. With great emphasis this is brought out, since Paul does not merely say that He became accursed, but that He became a curse for us, just as he writes, 2Co_5:21, that God made Christ to be sin for us. The word of the Law: Cursed be every one that is suspended upon a tree, Deu_21:23, spoken in general of such as were hanged, found its truest application in the case of Him that was crucified and paid the penalty of sin as all men's Substitute. Thus the atoning death of Christ resulted in our redemption.

The consequence of this atoning death is a matter of comfort to all men: That to the Gentiles might come the blessing of Abraham in Christ Jesus, that we might accept the promise of the Spirit through faith. Although the Gospel was proclaimed even in paradise after the Fall, the promise to Abraham is that to which the apostle has reference as to that upon which the hopes of the Jews were based. By the vicarious death of Christ the blessings of this promise were extended to the Gentiles as well as to the Jews; for it really amounted to an open proclamation that the wall of partition between Jews and Gentiles was now broken down, since the benefit of His death was to come upon all men. And the fact of the finished salvation in Christ is now made the property of the believers, who receive the promise of the Spirit by faith. Through the redeeming death of Christ all believers, both Jews and Gentiles, have free access through the Spirit to the Father. Thus, although the Law condemns all men, yet Christ, since He, as the Sinless One, took upon Himself the punishment of sin and became its victim for our sakes, fulfilled the demands of the Law so that it can no longer accuse and condemn those that place their trust in Him who is our propitiation, whose righteousness is imputed to us.


Verses 15-18

Paul argues finally from the promise of the inheritance made to Abraham:

v. 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.

v. 16. Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy Seed, which is Christ.

v. 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.

v. 18. For if the inheritance be of the Law, it is no more of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise.

The apostle here offers the mystery of God in a human parable, incidentally addressing the Galatians in a kind and captivating manner, to win them by his confidential tone: After the manner of man speak I. In his endeavor to show that the promise alone brings salvation, he uses a comparison taken from the ordinary practice in regard to the last will or testament of a man, by which he disposes of his goods: Though it be hut a man's, yet if it is ratified, no man sets aside a testament or adds thereto. If a man's last will and testament is duly witnessed and sealed, the disposal of his property is commonly regarded as being consummated: how much more, then, ought this to be true of the testament of God by which He made Abraham and all his children heirs of the evangelical blessing! See Heb_6:17-18. Of this testament of the Lord the apostle now says: But to Abraham were spoken the promises and to his Seed. God's testament consists of promises of grace and blessings which are not connected with any legalistic demands and conditions, such as Gen_13:15; Gen_17:8; Gen_22:18. The testament of God was, moreover, not exclusively for Abraham, was not exhausted in him, but included his Seed as well. The blessing in this Seed of Abraham is in force today, is applicable to all true children of Abraham up to the present time, for they represent all nations of the earth. For that reason Paul argues from the singular form of the noun in the Hebrew test, Gen_12:3 : He does not sap. And to seeds, as of many: but as of one, And to thy Seed, which is Christ. In all the divine promises concerning the Seed, as early as Gen_3:15, where the Messiah, through whom God wants to bless all nations, is designated, the Lord always speaks in the singular. In this one descendant of Abraham, in Jesus of Nazareth, all nations are blessed. Note that the argument of Paul, being based upon a single word in the Old Testament, is a powerful argument for the verbal inspiration of the Bible.

The statement of v. 16 had been made by way of parenthesis. The apostle now names the point which he intended to emphasize by his comparison: But this I say, A testament, ratified by God to Christ, the Law, which came into being four hundred and thirty years later, does not render void that it should invalidate the promise. The testament and will of God, the evangelical promises, were by God sealed to Abraham and therefore to Christ, who was expressly mentioned in the blessing. Some four hundred and thirty years later, Exo_12:40, counting from the journey of Jacob into Egypt to the exodus of the children of Israel, the Law was given by God from Mount Sinai. It is self-evident that this later revelation cannot annul or invalidate the promise given to Abraham. The Mosaic Law is not a codicil which sets aside the testament of the Lord, the Gospel promise given to Abraham. For, as the apostle argues: If out of the Law the inheritance, then no more out of promise: but to Abraham through promise God has freely granted it. If the spiritual inheritance, the grace and mercy of God, were actually obtained through the keeping of the Law, then the promise would no longer be in power, for obviously the two cannot be in force at the same time, that the inheritance is a free gift, and that we are still under obligation to earn it by works. But now the inheritance was a present to Abraham by the promise, by the testament of God; therefore the other assumption as to the earning of its blessings by works cannot stand. It is all free grace on the part of God, and His promise is a means of grace which does not speak of a possible good fortune which might come to Abraham, but of a transmission of the inheritance by virtue of the testamentary disposal; it is not a dead letter, but it is spirit, life, and power. Thus Paul has proved the inferiority, the subordinate character, of the Law.


Verses 19-22

Proofs for the Liberty of a Christian from the Nature and Meaning of the Law.

The secondary office of the Law:

v. 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.

v. 20. Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.

v. 21. Is the Law, the n, 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.

v. 22. But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.

The apostle here meets an objection which the opponents might make. If the Law can be of no assistance in the matter of justification, what is its purpose? He shows that the fact of the Law's being without value so far as salvation is concerned by no means renders it useless. it was added on account of the transgressions until the Seed should come to whom the promise had been made, being ordained through angels by the hand of a mediator. The Law was added to the communications of God to men, as a companion or servant of the evangelical promises, Rom_5:20. On account of the transgressions it was set forth in addition to the Gospel-promise, by the side of the message of salvation. As the children of Israel grew in numbers, they gradually lost sight of the great prophecy of their spiritual inheritance; they became guilty of various transgressions of the will of God; they were in danger of losing the treasure which had been entrusted to them. And so God gave them the Law to show them their transgressions, to keep alive in them the consciousness of sin, to make them feel the need of a Savior at all times. Such is the supplementary, the ancillary character of the Law; it is to serve for the purpose of working knowledge of sin and of the wrath of God on account of sin This object incidentally gives to the Law a temporary character; it was to serve only until Christ, the promised Seed, came. The ministry of condemnation was to be done away with, 2Co_3:11, for Christ is the end of the Law to them that believe. As soon as Christ occupies the heart of a person by faith, the Law as such has lost its power; it can no longer hurl maledictions and condemnations upon us, and its demands become mere sign-posts to show the way to the service of sanctification. The subsidiary character of the Law is finally shown by the manner of its origin, since it was set forth through angels by the hand of a mediator. The angels of the Lord were His servants on Sinai, in proclaiming the Law; their voice sounded forth in the sound of the trumpet, their power was seen in the quaking of the mountain and in the flames of fire. By means of their service the Lord placed the words of the Law into the hands of Moses to deliver them to the people.

In connection with this plain statement Paul now remarks: But the mediator is not of one: the very term excludes his being the mediator of a single party; but God is one. These two statements may be regarded as the first two members of a logical conclusion, the third member then being: A mediator does not mediate between God. The meaning of the apostle then would be: By giving the Law through the mediator, Moses, the Lord wanted to indicate plainly that the Law should and could have nothing to do with the subject under discussion, the justification of poor sinners. But an even simpler explanation is the following: At the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai God made use of a mediator, Noses. But a mediator, by virtue of his position, is the representative of both parties of a covenant. These parties at Mount Sinai were God and the children of Israel. By using Moses as mediator, God indicated that He was entering upon a covenant with the Israelites under certain conditions. God promised them eternal life, but only on condition of their fulfilling His Law in all its particulars. But it is different with the promise which the Lord gave to Abraham, vv. 16 and 19. God there did not make use of a mediator, but spoke to Abraham in person, face to face. He alone was active in giving His free promise of grace, with His testament of mercy, given absolutely without condition; He acted as one, in the freedom of His divine favor.

A second objection: Is the Law, then, against the promises of God? By no means. People might object that, since there is such a great difference between the character of the two communications of the Lord to men, the one nullifies the other. But that does not follow. God does not contradict Himself. For if a law were given which could have given life, then truly were righteousness out of the Law. If that were the character, the nature, of the Law, not only to demand righteousness, but also to transmit righteousness, if it were able to give spiritual life to such as are in spiritual death, then the order of salvation would indeed have been changed, then both doctrines, the Law and the Gospel, would be advancing the claim of bringing salvation, then we could be justified before God by means of the Law. But there are no powers of regeneration in the Law, it cannot work the new, spiritual life.

The Law thus being excluded as a means of grace, only one thing remains: Rather has the Scripture shut up all under sin, in order that the promise might be given by faith in Jesus Christ to them that believe. What Paul writes, Rom_3:22-23, that there is no difference, all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, is amply substantiated in many passages of God's Word, Psa_14:3; Psa_143:2. All men without exception are prisoners under sentence, condemned to pay the penalty of sin; not one there is that can deny his guilt. And since they are all thus in the same condemnation by the sentence and the power of the Law, therefore the purpose of the Law to pave the way for the action of the Gospel may now be realized. Works and merits have been discarded, the Law as a means of grace can no longer be considered: the Gospel-promise is given by faith in Christ to them that believe. Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling! The promise is given, faith is given; and faith accepts the promise and thus has forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation.


Verses 23-29

The Law's pedagogical task has now been completed:

v. 23. But before faith came, we were kept under the Law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.

v. 24. Wherefore the Law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

v. 25. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

v. 26. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

v. 27. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

v. 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.

v. 29. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise.

The apostle here completes his discussion as to the purpose of the Law by holding before the Galatians an example with which they were familiar: But before faith came, we were in custody under the Law, shut up unto the faith which was to be revealed in the future. Before the era of the Gospel, before the preaching of faith in the redemption of Christ in the proper sense of the term had begun, the Jews were under restraint, confined, kept in custody under the Law. The believers of the Old Testament were under the guardianship of the Law, which regulated their lives even to the last detail. It was a galling bondage which was thus exercised, depriving them of all liberty and choice of action. But God's purpose in imposing this temporary restraint was kind and merciful, for it was to serve in the interests of the future time of the New Testament, when Christ would come to deliver them from the bondage of the Law.

This relationship and aim the apostle illustrates: So that the Law has been our pedagogue unto Christ, that by faith we might be justified. Among the Greeks the pedagogue was a faithful slave entrusted with the care of the boy from his infancy to the time of his beginning manhood, whose specific duties consisted in keeping the boy under his charge from physical and moral evils and in accompanying him to school and to places of amusement. The pedagogue thus had the right, to a certain extent, to issue commands and prohibitions, to threaten punishment, and to limit the boy's freedom, but always to the end that the pupil might be trained for mature age and for the assuming of the higher duties which devolved upon him as a citizen of the state. The believers of the Old Testament, according to this comparison, were spiritually not yet of age; God had given them the Law with all its demands and injunctions as a pedagogue, its purpose being to lead them to salvation in Christ, with whom the era of the Law would come to an end. Not as though the Law was able to make the believing Israelites better morally and thus render them worthy of Christ's love. Its aim was simply to make the people conscious of their inability to fulfill the Law, and thus to make them eager for the free mercy which was revealed in Christ. in this manner the eager desire of the Old Testament believers was kept awake: I have waited for Thy salvation, O Lord! Gen_49:18. Note: The fact that the Law is a pedagogue holds true even now, inasmuch as it works knowledge of sin in the heart of man, showing him his utter insufficiency and inability even with his best efforts. For when so much has been achieved in the heart of man by the preaching of the Law, then the gracious Gospel brings faith in the righteousness of Jesus Christ and assures the believer of his salvation.

But the work of the Law is only preparatory: But now that faith has come, we are no longer under the pedagogue. For you all are children of God through faith in Christ Jesus; for as many of you as are baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Now that the Gospel-era is upon us, now that the time of the New Testament is come, now that faith in Jesus Christ is being proclaimed, we are no longer under the jurisdiction of any pedagogue. We are now spiritually of age, we have grown to manhood, we are adult children of God; the services of a special overseer are no longer required. By faith in Christ Jesus, which was kindled in us by the preaching of the Gospel, we have entered into that wonderful relationship to God the Father. The apostle here expands the thought to include the Gentile Christians as well: You all are children of God by faith in Jesus, not by any work of the Law. And with this thought he connects another, namely, that we have become children of God by faith, through the Sacrament of Baptism. Our baptism was done in Christ, unto Christ; we have thereby entered into the most intimate relation to Christ, we have put on Christ with His garment of perfect righteousness. In and with Christ we are clothed with His innocence, righteousness, wisdom, power, salvation, spirit, and life. "It is a spiritual putting on... and is done in this way, that the soul accepts Christ and all His righteousness as its own possession, is defiant, relying upon it as if done and earned by itself... Such accepting is a spiritual putting on: that is the manner and nature of faith."

In this respect, moreover, all believers are alike before God: Not is there Jew or Greek, not is there slave or freeman, not is there male or female; for you all are one in Christ Jesus. Because in Baptism the believers have put on Christ, have been clothed with the garment of his righteousness, therefore all distinctions of nationality are abrogated. It makes no difference to the Lord whether a person was originally a Jew, and burdened with the yoke of the Law, or a Greek, a Gentile living in the license of heathenism: by putting on Christ in Baptism they all become His dear children. All distinctions of rank and social position, too, are done away with, just as all differences of sex. In the Christian Church a man does not hold a higher rank because he is a freeman, or a lower rank because he is a slave; nor does one stand higher, if a man, and lower, if a woman. All are in the same way children of God through Christ. Social distinctions are indeed not abrogated in the world, just as all the other differences will continue to exist, 1Co_7:17-22. But within the Church, before God, we are all alike, poor sinners in need of salvation, children of God by faith in Christ Jesus, and therefore all one in Him. Christ the Head, and all believers the body; in Him is power and life, from Him all His members derive life and strength.

And so the apostle concludes: But if you are Christ's, then you are the seed of Abraham, heirs according to the promise. By faith the believers are one with Christ, one in Christ. And since Christ is the true Seed of Abraham, therefore the believers, having put on Christ, having entered into the most intimate fellowship with His person, become related to Abraham as Christ is related to the patriarch by the promise of God: they are Abraham's true seed, his spiritual descendants. And here also there is no difference between Israel according to the flesh and according to the spirit: in fact, whether Jews or Gentiles, the true children of Abraham are those that have accepted the promise of God given to him by faith. And so they are also heirs, not by nature, not by merit, but according to the promise. The believers receive the inheritance, righteousness before God, life, and salvation by reason of the Gospel message proclaimed to Abraham and are children and heirs of the promise. Not by the works of the Law, but by faith these wonderful gifts become theirs. Thus Paul has refuted the errors of the Judaizing teachers of all times with powerful and irrefutable arguments.

Summary

Paul shows that salvation is not of works, but by faith, from the experience of the Galatians, from the example of Abraham, and from the nature of the Law; he shows that the purpose of the Law is subordinate as serving in the capacity of a pedagogue unto Christ, in order that the liberty of the believers as children of God may finally be realized.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Galatians 3:4". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kpc/galatians-3.html. 1921-23.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, July 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
ADVERTISEMENT
Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
ADVERTISEMENT
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology