corner graphic   Hi,    
ver. 2.0.19.07.18
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to classic.studylight.org/

Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Galatians 3

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-5

II

Paul opposes the LEGAL VIEW itself, which through the false teachers had found entrance among the Galatians

Galatians 3:1 to Galatians 6:10

A. Remonstrance and expression of astonishment, at the contradiction into which this brings them with their own experience respecting the receiving of the Spirit

( Galatians 3:1-5)

1O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched [did bewitch][FN1] you, that ye should not obey the truth [omit this clause][FN2] before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been [was][FN3] evidently set forth, crucified among you [set forth among you, crucified]?[FN4] 2This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law [was it by the works of the law that ye received the Spirit], [FN5]or by the hearing of faith? 3Are ye so foolish? having begun in [with] [FN6]the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by4[being made[FN7]perfect with] the flesh? Have ye suffered [or experienced][FN8] so many things in vain? if it be yet [really] in vain 5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among [or miraculous powers in][FN9] you doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

[Lightfoot:—“The word βασκάνειν originally referred to witchery by spells and incantations, but in actual use it denotes the blighting influence of the evil eye. It here involves two ideas: 1) The baleful effect on the recipient, and2) the envious spirit of the agent. The false teachers envy the Galatians this liberty in Christ, have an interest in subjecting them again to bondage. This idea, however, is subordinate to the other.” See Wordsworth, who quotes authorities for both ideas. There may be allusion to the notion that the power of the sorcerer was felt whenever the eye of the recipient rested on him,[FN10] in the expression “before whose eyes,” as if keeping their eyes on that object would have preserved them from this bewitching; but this must not be pressed.—R.]

Before whose eyes Jesus Christ was evidently set forth.—Portrayed before the eyes, of course, by means of preaching, but the expression hints at the pains which Paul took to make known to them the crucified One, and to bring Him as near as possible to them. This is done designedly, in order to contrast the more strongly with this the apostasy that had taken place, and to justify the astonishment which he expresses—Among you strengthens the statement still further: in the midst of you, by oral communication, not merely from a distance by letters. The following is the simplest explanation: “Before your eyes,” so distinctly points out the meaning; “to paint,” as that of προεγράφη, that we cannot hesitate to accept it, although the compound verb does not occur elsewhere in this sense. Wieseler: “But as γράφειν is very frequently used of painting, there is little occasion for hesitation in extending the signification to the regularly formed compound, even though there were no further warrant for it. In the New Testament there are other ἄπαξ λεγόμενα, both in form and meaning, and as to the latter in this case we have also the voice of the Greek Fathers.” To give προ a temporal reference [Meyer, Alford, and others.—R.] is less suited to the context, while the local signification corresponds with “before whose eyes.” [The safest rendering is that of the E. V. Lightfoot says of the verb: “This is the common word to describe all public notices and proclamations; hence: programme;” and this Isaiah, on the whole, preferable. Wordsworth finds here an allusion to the heathen practice of carrying amulets to guard against witchcraft, and to the Jewish custom of binding phylacteries between the eyes. “Who bewitched you, before whose eyes was written and bound up by me, as your frontlet of Faith, your spiritual Phylactery, Christ crucified; and who had, as I thought, been thus guarded by me against all the envious fascination of your spiritual enemies.” This is ingenious, but it presses unduly the allusion in the word “bewitched.”—R.]

Galatians 3:2. This only would I learn of you.—The unreasonableness of the apostasy is still further, and now, indeed, for the first time, expressly exposed. Not merely has the proclamation of Christ’s death on the cross been made among them, but, through faith thereon, they have already attained to the receiving of the Holy Ghost,—and yet are you disposed to turn away from that which has already so attested itself? “Vide, quam efficaciter tractat locum ab experientia.” Luther. [“Learn” = obtain information, not used ironically in the stricter sense of “learning as a disciple,” as Luther, Bengel, and others.—R.] He refers them to the receiving of the Spirit through faith, as a proof that it is Faith which works justification. For the Spirit can only be given by God to the man whom He justifies (not whom He reprobates); the gift of the Spirit is a token of grace, not of wrath.—“Only,” for this is the main question; by this—so far as the proof is to be sustained by facts—the thing is proved.—The Spirit, generally, not merely as the principle of miraculous gifts; “for Paul reminds the collective body of his readers of their receiving of the Spirit; not till Galatians 3:5 are the δυνάμεις, as a species of the Spirit’s workings, particularly cited.” Meyer.—By the hearing of faith.—“Through the preaching concerning faith,” is the right translation, although not quite congruous with the first member, which has a subjective reference. [̓Ακοή, “hearing,” has a passive sense always in the New Testament, i.e., it refers to what is heard (see Meyer, Ellicott), “the preaching.”—Πίστεως, “of faith,” evidently an objective genitive. See Lightfoot, Wordsworth, against both the above positions. Most modern expositors agree with Schmoller’s next remark on the meaning of πίστις—R.] Not = “through listening to the faith,” since πίστις is never = doctrina fidei, but is only the subjective believing. “That in the first member of the double question their own strength, and, in the second, the power of the gospel (= of preaching) is made prominent, is quite natural, as it was through human strength that the Judaizing teachers would fain achieve that which was in truth only to be bestowed by the might of the gospel.” Wieseler. That the “hearing” was accepted is understood, of course, since, from the “hearing,” the gift of the Spirit proceeded (comp. Romans 10:17); from preaching (sc. from believing) comes faith, and with it the Holy Ghost.

Galatians 3:3. Having begun with the Spirit.—You have made a beginning in the Christian life through the receiving of the Holy Ghost ( Galatians 3:2). Where a beginning is made, the next question is about the completion. Now—remarks Paul with cutting irony, bringing homo the sense of this ἀνόητον of their conduct—such a completion there is also with you; but with the flesh! i.e., according to your and your false teachers’ fancy, this now is the true completion; yet, in truth, it is no completion, but the direct opposite of it, an annihilation of the work begun, because it is a completion with the flesh. “Flesh” is the opposite of “Spirit,” and where the “flesh” reigns, the “Spirit” must give way. “The flesh,” of course, rises again to dominion, where there is a retrogression to the legal position; for therewith the Holy Ghost, which has been obtained only through faith, is necessarily lost; and where the “Spirit” is wanting, there is the “flesh.” [Meyer:—“Spirit and flesh do not describe Christianity and Judaism themselves, but the specific vital agencies in each, the Holy Spirit, and the unspiritual, corporeally-physical human nature, leading contrary to God and to sin.” The datives are both modal, indicating the manner in which the two actions took place.—R.]’̓Επιτελεῖν signifies not merely “to end,” but “to complete,” consummare.’̓Επιτελεῖσθε may be middle; if Song of Solomon, then it is simplest to take it as = do ye now bring to completion (s. c. the work begun) in the flesh. But ἐπιτελεῖσθαι does not occur in the New Testament in a middle sense, though it is thus used by profane writers. Hence, others take it as passive, e. g. Meyer = you are brought to completion, sc., by the false teachers, inasmuch as they make of you people who lie under the dominion of the “flesh.” This renders the reproach still sharper. So also Luther : instead of saying, carne consummastis, he suddenly turns the address, and says: carne consummamini, which strictly signifies: Will you then let the matter be carried through with you in the flesh, and thereby be made completely righteous?—The present tense denotes that the Galatians are now engaged in this ἐπιτελεῖσθαι Comp. Galatians 1:6.—Νῦν = cum magis magisque deberetis spirituales fieri relicta came. Bengel.

[Are ye so foolish?—“So very foolish are ye then?” οὔτως being emphatic.—R.] Have you experienced [or suffered] so many things in vain?—Meyer, in connection with his explanation of “being made perfect,” interprets it as referring to the many burdensome performances connected with observing the law, which they had been obliged, by their new teachers, to undergo, in order, according to their notion, to become complete Christians. Having (according to Meyer) reminded them of these by ἐπιτελ’ he then lays before them the uselessness of such things by the exclamation (not question) : “So many things,” etc.—This is evidently a strained interpretation, and it Isaiah, by no means, probable that this would have been described as a παθεῖν’ or even that any such παθεῖν is to be presumed to have taken place. It Isaiah, therefore, to be understood, either of sufferings and persecutions, that they underwent, on account of their faith, or, since nothing is otherwise known of such, παθεῖν is to be taken as vox media, with the general signification, “to experience,” here “to experience manifestations of Divine grace.” [While the use of the aorist seems conclusive against the view of Meyer, it is more difficult to decide which of the other two interpretations is to be taken. Though nothing be known of such “sufferings,” yet what more likely to occur? And if these arose from Judaizing influences, as was generally the case in Apostolic times, additional point is given to the Apostle’s language. The other view, however, seems to give a greater logical unity to the passage, since Galatians 3:3; Galatians 3:5 both refer to “benefits.” But was not Paul, who gloried in tribulation, likely to cite “sufferings” also as evidences of spiritual benefits? These considerations, in connection with the fact that there is no other instance in the New Testament of such a neutral meaning of πάσχειν render it more prudent to follow the ancient versions and expositors, and adopt “suffered,” instead of “experienced.”—R.]

If it be only [or really] in vain.—That Isaiah, if rather you are not in much worse case, as notorious backsliding is apt to make the man worse than he was before. This addition has special force against the interpretation of ἐπάθετε as denoting persecutions, as with this it gives a scarcely intelligible sense: for the mitigating thought, that perhaps the Galatians will yet bethink themselves, so that the παθείν will not have been in vain, can hardly be in Paul’s mind here, where he meditates only severe rebuke [?], while the explanation: “if only in vain!”=“if it do not rather turn to your loss and greater condemnation,” in its turn is not in keeping with the reference of παθεῖν to sufferings endured. For although, when sufferings have been endured for the faith, assistance rendered by God in bearing them may make the guilt of a subsequent apostasy greater, the sufferings themselves cannot well be said to increase it. [Notwithstanding the high authorities for this interpretation, which intensifies instead of softening “in vain,” it does seem more probable that Paul here leaves “a loophole of doubt.” If suffered is the thought implied, then as he recalled their sufferings, would be the very moment for a flash of doubt, or rather of hope, to enter. In this view it is better to render: “If it be really in vain,” “I would fain doubt whether it can be, that all this was in vain.”—R.]

Galatians 3:5. He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit.—With this Paul returns to the decisive question of Galatians 3:2, but with some variation of the thought. He no longer sets the matter back into the past, but represents (no doubt designedly) the communication of the Spirit as something still going on, on the ground of faith. They were to recognize themselves as still experiencing this gracious operation of God. Besides this, he singles out and notes particularly the miraculous powers which God communicates through the same medium. [The word “ministereth” means “to supply bountifully.” The ἐπί in the compound indicates the direction of the supply, not an enlargement of it. Δυνάμεις ἐν ὑμῖν may be rendered either, as E. V, “miracles among you,” or better, “miraculous powers in you,” i. e., the peculiar powers there brought by the Spirit, which Paul everywhere alludes to, as observable in the Christians to whom he writes ( 1 Corinthians 12:28). Meyer decides for the latter from the analogy of 1 Corinthians 12:6, and it suits better the line of argument, which refers throughout to their personal experience.—R.] Moreover he now designates God expressly as the Bestower of the Spirit, doubtless, in order to bring home with special emphasis the truth that God Himself declared for the preaching of faith. For the Scripture proof which follows supports this idea. God declares for this among the Galatians because He has declared for it in His word, and He must ever agree with Himself, His acts with His testimony.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. A Christian church without a “receiving the Spirit” is not conceivable. It may lose the Spirit again (comp. σαρκὶ ἐπιτελεῖσθε), but it must once have received it. Paul, therefore, because he knows that the Galatians have been converted to Christ, assumes of course that they have received the Spirit. The primary reference is undoubtedly to the Holy Ghost only as a charism from God. The immediate reference is not to definite ethical effects on the hearts of recipients, though it is true that these cannot be wanting, if the Spirit received is retained. But as the Holy Ghost here is to be apprehended primarily as a charism (comp. Galatians 3:5 : ἐπιχορηγῶν), it is quite intelligible that what is given elsewhere as the condition of justification appears here as the condition of “receiving the Spirit,” namely: Faith. “Receiving the Spirit” Isaiah, it is true, not immediately identical with “being justified,” but is nevertheless an inseparable consequence. At all events no receiving of the spirit” can take place without the “being justified,” because the receiving of the Spirit is a token of Divine grace. Hence from the “receiving of the Spirit” “by the hearing of faith” it is concluded that the “being justified” comes by the same method. See also on this point the remarks on the previous section.

2. The personal experience of the operation of the preaching of the gospel is rightly (according to the example of Paul) regarded as a principal proof of the truth of the same. The proof lies more particularly in the receiving of the Holy Ghost: if I receive this through the preaching of the gospel, then this must doubtless be true, be the Divinely ordained way to salvation. Thereby does God declare Himself for this preaching; for the Holy Ghost is certainly a gift of God. A special application of the “witness of the Holy Ghost” which it might not be amiss to call the strict and original meaning of this doctrine.

3. All evangelical preaching should in its essence be nothing else than a portraying of Christ, the Crucified, before the eyes of men. It is by this that it leads them to the receiving of the Spirit.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

Galatians 3:1. “O foolish Galatians.”—In Starke:—It must not be supposed that this is such a phrase of contumely as “Fool,” Matthew 5:22, but it is a sorrowful and earnest representation of their spiritual blindness. Christ also addresses His disciples with a similar term of rebuke. Luke 24:25.—Severe reproofs, when they flow from a zeal for the wounded honor of God, and from love to our neighbor, and a desire to save him, are not wrong. The sharp tongue of good men is many times more wholesome than the friendly tongue and flattering words of the ungodly.—As to know Christ aright is the true Wisdom of Solomon, so on the other hand it is the greatest folly not to know Christ aright and not to cleave fast to Him.—[Luther:—A carnal man would interpret this to be a reviling, rather than a godly reprehension. Not so. So parents, of a fatherly and motherly affection, do sharply reprove and rebuke their children, which they would not bear if another should do it. Therefore one and the self-same word in the mouth of Paul is a benefit; but in the mouth of another it is a reproach.—R.]

Würt. Summ.:—False doctrine Isaiah, as it were, an enchantment, wherewith the devil bewitches men’s hearts. For as through sorcery men’s minds are blinded, so that they think they see something, when yet they see nothing, and nevertheless it is hard to fetch them off from the notion; even Song of Solomon, when the devil through false doctrine engages the hearts of men, he bewitches them so that they fancy they have the truth before them, when yet it is mere error and lies. Let us therefore the more diligently take heed to ourselves, that we be not taken in and infected with doctrine; let us the more diligently cleave to God’s word, and moreover pray heartily with David, Psalm 119:18; Psalm 119:37.—[What spell is this that holds so many eyes, before which Jesus Christ has been set forth so plainly as the crucified One, who dies not “without cause!”—R.]

“Jesus Christ evidently set forth before your eyes, crucified.”—Starke:—By this way of speaking is indicated the clearness of the evangelical doctrine of the cross of Christ. In the Old Testament Christ was portrayed to the Jews under many images and types, as in the type of the high priest, of the paschal lamb, etc.; but in the New Testament, He was, through the preaching of the gospel, without any shadows such as these, clearly placed before men’s eyes, inasmuch as His suffering, shame, satisfaction on the cross, were most clearly published and proclaimed. That was, as it were, the programme which the Apostles placarded in all places whither they came.—Spener:—The best church-paintings are plain instructions concerning Divine truth; thereby can a matter be brought as plainly, and more plainly into the hearts of the hearers, than by the skilfullest painter of them all, yea, those things also which no painter can set forth. Actual paintings in the church are to be by no means utterly rejected, they have their use as memorials; but the other painting of doctrine must be joined therewith, and Christ must be portrayed in the heart, else outward paintings, if men are to learn only by gazing upon them, are a lifeless affair.—[Calvin:—Paul intimates that the actual sight of Christ’s death could not have affected them more powerfully than his preaching. Such a representation could not have been made by any eloquence, or by enticing words of man’s wisdom. When the Church has painters such as this, she no longer needs the dead images of wood and stone, she no longer requires pictures. Such things come, when pastors become dumb.—R.]

Galatians 3:2. “Was it by the works of the law that ye received the Spirit?”—Hedinger:—A definite, keenly importunate question, with an “either—or,” from which there is no escape, appealing to actual experiences, in which no debate is possible,—well fitted to dispel the sorcery ( Galatians 3:1) of the false teaching.—A hint as to the right way of convincing and freeing misguided souls out of such enchantment.—Law quickens not, but enjoins, commands, threatens and terrifies, it is true, yet without life. Bondage, constraint; good appearances enough, hypocrisy enough; carefully contrived clockwork, but mute wheels, without soul. Of such are many, that are praised as Christians. Hourglasses are they, that punctually show the time, but where is there Spirit, Heaven, marks of grace? On that hangs all.—Spener:—The only means of receiving the Holy Ghost, is the preaching of the gospel, as being a word of the Spirit. Where this is heard, and its energy not resisted, the Holy Ghost comes into the soul, not only to work, but also to dwell therein.—Starke:—Whatever doctrine the Holy Ghost brings to Prayer of Manasseh, assuring him of Divine grace, and impelling him to all good, that is the true saving doctrine.

Galatians 3:3. It is not enough to have begun well, the matter must also be carried through. The beginning and the continuing of our salvation must be after one way, and we must not desire to be perfected otherwise than we have begun, else is it folly to us.—Spener:—That is a doctrine to be abhorred, which to be sure ascribes the beginning of salvation to faith and so to the Spirit, but afterwards feigns that the rest must be accomplished and completed with works.

Galatians 3:5. Starke:—It is God alone who gives the Holy Ghost. The Apostles also imparted it through their preaching and imposition of hands, but they were only instruments of God. Now-a-days teachers and preachers impart the Holy Ghost, so far as they preach the Word, which in itself has power, and has the Holy Ghost with it.—It is a truly Divine property of the gospel that God aforetime accompanied it with the most excellent miracles. No one who passed over to Judaism, received from God the power of working miracles, but those did who turned from Judaism to Christianity.—Hast thou, O Prayer of Manasseh, the Holy Ghost and His energy in too small measure? Seek the cause in thyself, in that thou usest not the stated means aright.—Spener:—Where the Holy Ghost Isaiah, there He works, although not always outward miracles, yet in the conversion and renewal of men themselves, which is a greater miracle than to make the sick well.

On Galatians 3:1-5. To portray Jesus Christ before men’s eyes as the Crucified is the soul of all preaching of the gospel: 1. This it must do, because in the cross of Christ alone salvation is found, and it must do it unweariedly and explicitly, with all earnestness, all fidelity, and all zeal2. But more it cannot do; the inscribing on the heart it must leave to God; although indeed it must ever admonish of the necessity of this, and exhort men to prove whether this has taken place (must warn against dead faith).—Jesus Christ has been portrayed before your eyes as the Crucified; is He also portrayed in your hearts?—Whoever seeks his salvation elsewhere than in Christ, the Crucified, 1) lacks understanding, for he leaves the living spring, which God Himself has opened for us, and hews out for himself broken cisterns; 2) is entangled in an enchantment, bewitched by the deceiving spirit of self-righteousness.—Who hath bewitched you? A question which must be sounded forth in many a congregation; for1) Christ, the Crucified, is portrayed before their eyes, and yet2) there is such an utter neglect to seek salvation in Him.—How is the Holy Ghost obtained? 1. Not from works of the law, this follows from the nature of the law, but2. through faith in the gospel—simply because it is the good news of Christ, the Crucified.

Faith in Jesus Christ the true way to salvation; for through it alone is the Holy Spirit received, not through the works of the law.—How have you received the Spirit? A question to strengthen and warn those who are in danger of embracing the righteousness of works.—Faith in Christ Jesus, 1) it is true in itself, not yet a proof that a man has received the Spirit, for there is also a dead faith; 2) but yet the only way to receive Him.—The preaching of faith the way to the receiving of the Spirit. Therewith is condemned all fanaticism with which, indeed, a righteousness of works of some kind or other is commonly joined.—It is God who bestows the Spirit, but only through the preaching of faith.—The Holy Ghost is the true heavenly gift.—Where God gives the Spirit, He also gives power (Spirit and power always conjoined).—To begin in the Spirit, to end in the flesh, is the most preposterous folly, and yet how frequent.—Hast thou begun in the Spirit? Continue in like manner, and end in the Spirit!

[Christ only, Christ plainly, Christ crucified! the Gospel we preach.—That which is “so foolish” is yet so natural.—Take heed that what God blessed to your spiritual profit, be not despised by you. What means He has honored with His Spirit, do not dishonor by your treatment of them.—Is it indeed in vain? All past sufferings for the Gospel’s sake? Aye, and worse than in vain. These have no power to save. Christ’s sufferings alone can save.—Our works do not earn God’s, works.—The Gospel, “the hearing of faith,” still has the “witness of the Spirit,” is still the δύναμις; of God, by which He works δυνάμεις—R.]

Footnotes:

FN#1 - Galatians 3:1.—[As a rule the English simple past tease is the better rendering of the Greek aorist.—R.]

FN#2 - Omitted in א. A. B. and others; by Meyer, Alford, Ellicott, Wordsworth, Lightfoot.—R.]

FN#3 - Galatians 3:1.—̓Εν ὑμῖν is probably to be retained, on account of its difficulty, with D. E. F. L. K, although it is wanting in א. A. B. C. and omitted by Lachmann. [The uncial authority for it is not much stronger than for the clause above, but its omission is so much more readily accounted for than its insertion, that it is retained by Meyer, Ellicott, Wordsworth. Alford rejects it, Lightfoot is doubtful.—R.]

FN#4 - Galatians 3:1.—[The E. V. by putting “among you” after “crucified,” destroys not only the emphasis which belongs to the latter, but also the proper connection of the former phrase.—R.]

FN#5 - Galatians 3:2.—[The order of the Greek, given above, is to be preserved, as rendering the contrast more striking.—R.]

FN#6 - Galatians 3:3.—[The E. V. renders the datives in this clause differently. Πνεύματι ... σαρκί, not “in the Spirit” and “by the flesh,” but “with the Spirit,” “with the flesh.”—R.]

FN#7 - Galatians 3:3.—[̓Επιτελεῖσθε, passive, not middle, “being made complete,” not “completing yourselves.”—R.]

FN#8 - Galatians 3:4.—[The meaning of ἐπάθετε is open to discussion. Schmoller renders “erfahren.” See Exeg. Notes.—R. J

FN#9 - Galatians 3:5.—[Δυνάμεις ἐν ὑμῖν; the two interpretations of this phrase are indicated above. See Exeg. Notes.—R.]

FN#10 - Coleridge paints this in his wierd lines:

“So deeply had she drunken in

That look, those shrunken, serpent eyes,

That all her features were resigned

To this sole image in her mind.” Lady Christdbel.—R.]


Verses 6-14

B. Doctrinal Exposition

Galatians 3:6 to Galatians 4:7.

1. Salvation is not to be attained by works of the law, but through faith alone

( Galatians 3:6-18).

a. Demonstration from Scripture

( Galatians 3:6-14.)

6Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness 7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children [sons] of 8 Abraham. And [Moreover] the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify [or justifieth][FN11] the heathen [Gentiles] through faith, preached before the gospel [proclaimed beforehand the glad tidings][FN12]unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.[FN13] 9So then they which be [who are] of faith are blessed with [together with the][FN14] faithful Abraham 10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the [ora] curse: for it is written,[FN15]Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them 11 But that no man is justified by the law [in the law no man is justified][FN16] in the sight of God, it is evident: for, 12The just shall live by faith. And [Now] [FN17] the law is not of faith: but, The Prayer of Manasseh 13[He][FN18] that doeth [or has done] them shall live in them. Christ hath [omit hath][FN19] redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made [having become][FN20] a curse for us; for [as][FN21] it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: 14That the blessing of Abraham might come on [unto] [FN22] the Gentiles through [ἐν, in] Jesus Christ [Christ Jesus];[FN23] that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Galatians 3:6. Even as Abraham believed God.—This stands in immediate connection with the preceding, and gives the answer to the question in Galatians 3:5, by an affirmation of the second part of it (for Paul views the gift of the Spirit previously mentioned as a proof of justification, and can therefore answer the question in Galatians 3:5 with the statement in Galatians 3:6). Through the preaching of faith God bestows the Spirit of faith, and thereby justifies, even as Abraham attained to justification in the same way. But in a much as Paul in going on still keeps Abraham in view, we may, and ought to begin here a new section. This verse does not contain a citation proper, but Paul gives what is contained in Genesis 15:6 respecting Abraham, as his own immediate declaration. (Comp. Romans 4:3.) That accounted to him for righteousness is understood by Paul entirely in the sense of “being justified” needs no demonstration.[FN24]

Galatians 3:7. Here, in the first place, he only draws from it the conclusion, that a man by faith becomes a son of Abraham. (Οἰ ἐκ πίστεως, “the spiritual character represented under the form of the causal relation,” those that are born of faith, have as it were their nature from it. Ewald explains it somewhat differently: those whose efforts and achievements proceed from faith, as the deepest, and at the same time highest power.) This conclusion of course rests on the presupposition that faith was an essential trait in Abraham’s character, and is directed against the Judaizers, who believe that they can prove themselves genuine children of Abraham by works of the law. [The older commentators took γινώσκετε as indicative; “ye know then;” modern ones generally consider it an imperative: Know ye therefore.—So Meyer, De Wette, Ellicott, Wordsworth, also Syriac, Vulgate. Ellicott: “The imperative is not only more animated, but more logically correct, for the declaration in the verse is really one of the points which the Apostle is laboring to prove.” He contends that ἄρα is most properly joined with the imperative. Alford and Lightfootadopt the other view, the latter suggesting that the verb means “to perceive” rather than “to know,” which makes the indicative more suitable. There is not necessarily any “argumentative irony” (Alford) here. On the whole the imperative seems preferable.—R.]

Paul has made reference to Abraham as the type of justifying faith; he does not, however, content himself with that, but, going deeper, he finds still more striking proof in the significance of Abraham as the bringer of blessing for all the heathen. He dwells the longer on the Old Testament because it was to this that the false teachers naturally appealed against Paul, and by their appeals to it imposed on the Galatians. So he on the other hand seeks to establish his doctrine from the Old Testament, simply by going more deeply into it. [Lightfoot: “The passage Galatians 3:6-9 was omitted in Marcion’s recension of the Epistle, as repugnant to his leading principle of the antagonism between the Old and New Testaments.”—R.]

Galatians 3:8. Moreover the Scripture foreseeing.—Δἑ is simply continuative. [Neither “and” nor “but” gives the precise force.—R.] What God has promised is ascribed to the Scripture itself, not simply because it is related in the Scripture, but because the Scripture, as inspired by God, is conceived as the organ of the Spirit of God. The same then is true of God’s foreknowledge, from which the promise proceeded. Yet Paul has not gained from some other source a knowledge of the fact that the Scripture foresaw, and in this foresight gave the promise (Wieseler), but he draws the conclusion as to the “foreseeing” simply from the promise itself: because it is promised, that “all nations shall be blessed in Abraham,” the “justifying of the Gentiles through faith” must also have been predetermined. Why, he then explains in what follows.—[Ellicott calls δικαιοῖ an ethical present, with significant reference to the eternal and immutable counsels of God. Alford: “Present, not merely because the time foreseen was regarded as present, not present as respected the time of writing, but because it was God’s one way of justification—He never justified in any other way—so that it is the normal present: ‘He is a God that justifieth’ through faith.”—R.] Paul cites as proof Genesis 12:1-3; Genesis 18:18. The chief emphasis lies upon “shall be blessed,” which is therefore placed first in the Greek; yet only so far as it is a “being blessed in Abraham.” The sense is: The blessing bestowed upon thee includes a blessing hereafter to come upon all the Gentiles (ἔθνη here of course in the pregnant sense=Gentiles). From this the conclusion is drawn in

Galatians 3:9. So then they which be of faith.—“So then”= agreeably to the promise in Galatians 3:8. Galatians 3:9 is nothing else than an exposition of the promise cited in Galatians 3:8. In Abraham, it was promised, all the heathen are to be blessed, a promise which has the sense indicated above. Now, he was the believing one, and it was (as follows from Galatians 3:6) on account of his faith that he received the promise of blessing. Therefore it Isaiah, of course, believers that are partakers of the blessing promised to him, it is they who are his children, and it is to them therefore that the promise of blessing holds good.—Are blessed with [together with the] faithful Abraham.—In this sentence the ἐν is dropped, for the sense is: because the “being blessed in him,” is promised to all the heathen, therefore “they which be of faith” (the heathen, if they are “of faith”) are blessed with him, that Isaiah, primarily, in like manner as he; but still further: it expresses the sameness of the lot into which they entered with him, and through this one lot they entered into inner communion with him.—[The preposition shows their community with him in the blessing; the adjective “faithful” renders prominent that point of ethical character in which they must resemble each other, in order to partake of the same blessing. (So Meyer, Alford.)—R.] “Are blessed.”—As to the meaning of this, there is little occasion for dispute. If we look at the original passage, this Isaiah, of course, to be understood quite generally, as is implied in the idea of Blessing = Manifestation of Divine Favor. This again is more specially defined in different ways, and so here; so far as concerns the blessing received by Abraham himself: “together with the faithful Abraham,” the primary meaning is that he should obtain a posterity, and as concerns the blessing of the Gentiles in Abraham, the passage is justly regarded as a Messianic promise in the wider sense=the Gentiles shall have part in the salvation brought by the Messiah, in the salvation that proceeds from one who is Abraham’s offspring. The latter is the sense here. Which side of this Messianic salvation, however, Paul has in mind, is to be made out solely from the connection, most simply from what is put in opposition to it, namely, to be “under the curse,” and, to that again, the simple antithesis is “justified” ( Galatians 3:11). Paul of course views “blessed” and “justified” as essentially correlative, coincident ideas: and hence in Galatians 3:8 the one, namely, “justified,” is inferred from the other, “blessed.” Only, as is easily understood, “blessed” still remains the more general idea; what kind of blessing is meant must be shown by the context. Somewhat more restricted, again, than “justification,” is “receiving the Spirit,” which, however, is not only connected with the “justification,” but is really the true “blessing,” on which account Paul, starting from “receiving the Spirit” in the beginning of this chapter, returns to it again in Galatians 3:14.—The ground of the promise in Galatians 3:8, and also of the statement expository of it in Galatians 3:9, is given in Galatians 3:10. A blessing to be bestowed upon the Gentiles in Abraham, and therefore one resting upon faith, is promised; such a one Isaiah, and only such a one can be, contemplated.

Galatians 3:10. For as many as are of the works of the law, are under a curse.—The force of this is: it must be those “of faith” who are blessed; for those who busy themselves with “works of the law” (the only alternative possible, if not “of faith”) cannot be blessed; since these are under the curse, and therefore a bestowal of blessing cannot avail for them. [This negative argument ( Galatians 3:10; Galatians 3:12,) strengthens the position taken in the preceding verses, and has an immediate application to the Galatian errors, to which however no allusion is made in this strictly argumentative passage.—R.] “Of the works of the law;” the form is the same as in the antithetical expression, “of faith,” but more fully stated.—Cursed is every one, etc.— Deuteronomy 17:26, freely quoted from the LXX. The passage proves what it is cited to prove, viz, that “as many as are of the law are under the curse,” provided a non-continuance can be established. This shows that the reference here is to ethical requirements, and not merely to ritualistic ones; thus confirming the view of “works of the law,” given in chap2. At the same time the passage shows that the ground of “a man is not justified by the works of the law,” is that those who “are of the works of the law are under the curse;” the non-justification has then of course its ground, not in the externality of the law, for that would not of necessity involve a curse, but in our not keeping it.

Galatians 3:11. But that in the law no man is justified, etc.—Those who are of the works of the law are under the curse. This includes not being justified, but only implicite. Paul now states it expressly, in order to support it by declarations of Scripture, as he previously did the positive side. The course of thought might, perhaps, be still more accurately defined as follows: Cursed, it has been declared, is every one that continueth not in all things; but, on the other hand, it might be said, such as entirely fulfil the law will be blest. But, remarks Paul, that is excluded by the tenor of the two Scripture passages about to be cited, for according to them man ζήσεται ἐκ πίστεως, but the law is in no wise ἐκ πίστεως, therefore no one is justified ἐν νόμῳ; the thought that “in the law” justification is possible, is to be entirely put aside.—In the sight of God.—Παρὰ θεῷ defines more particularly the idea of “justified,” and sets it in antithesis to any (justifying) human judgment. The proof that “in the law no man is justified,” Paul derives from two Scripture passages. According to the one ( Habakkuk 2:4) “to live,” results from “faith,” according to the other ( Leviticus 18:5) the law does not take note of faith, but of doing; through doing, fulfilling the law, a man has life.—This, of course, has demonstrative force, for “no man is justified” only on the presupposition that this doing (in the second passage) remains only a requirement, and does not actually take place, and that it is with the knowledge of this state of things that the prophet represents faith as the condition of life.—The just shall live by faith.—אֱמוּנָה in the original has, rightly explained, not the signification “faithfulness,” but as Paul translates it, “Trust, Faith.” [The first is undoubtedly the primary meaning of the Hebrew word, but the other is implied in it. It is noteworthy that this passage is one of the two in the Old Testament, where the word “faith” is used in the E. V. See a very suggestive note in Lightfoot, p152.—R.]—יִחְיֶח he then naturally understands, agreeably to the New Testament knowledge of salvation, in the higher sense of the Messianic life, that which renders its consummation in eternal life. ̓Εκ πίστεως must be joined as in the original with ςήσεται, and not with ο ̔δίκαιος. Wieseler justly remarks: In proof of the connection δίκαιος ἐκ πίστεως, it is alleged that the origin of justification was to be shown, not that of salvation or life. It must not be forgotten, however, that according to the connection the emphasis does not rest upon δικαιοῦσθαι in itself, but upon the fact that this results ἐκ πίστεως; moreover that Paul is not here using his own words, in which case instead of ἐκ πίστεως ζήσεται he would undoubtedly have chosen another term of expression, such as πίστεως δικαιοῦσθαι, but that he had to choose from the actually existing passages which treated of the central significance of faith. Whoever examines these more particularly will not be able to deny that the choice made is a happy one. For what does ἐκ πίστεως ζήσεται signify, but that Faith is the fundamental condition through which a man becomes well-pleasing to God, and partaker of the gracious gift of life? In this formula, therefore, the δικαιοῦσθαι ἐκ πίστεως, or the statement that one is declared righteous or well-pleasing to God, in consequence of faith, is in truth included. Δίκαιος, on the other hand, signifies the righteous or devout Prayer of Manasseh, and has here nothing more than an etymological connection with δικαιοῦσθαι. That ἐκ πίστεως is joined by Paul in the Galatians with ζήσεται, appears, moreover, from its antithesis, ζήσεται ἐν αὐτοῖς: “he will live through the commandments.” [It is difficult to decide this question of connection; either would be grammatical, both are sustained by high authorities. Winer, De Wette, Ewald, Ellicott agree with Wieseler; while Bengel, Pareus, Meyer, Alford, and very many others connect “by faith” with “the just.” The former conforms better with the Hebrew; the latter with the general course of Paul’s thoughts here and elsewhere. The former is safer, the latter more pointed, but from either the same truth would be deduced.—R.]

Galatians 3:12. Now the law is not of faith.—[Δέ, logical, introducing the minor proposition: “The just shall live by faith.” “Now the law is not of faith” (so Meyer).—R.] “The law is not an institution whose nature is determined by faith.” Wieseler. [Lightfoot: ‘Faith is not the starting-point of the law. The law does not take faith as its fundamental principle. On the other hand, it rigidly enforces the performance of all its enactments.’—Has done them.—Actual and entire performance of all requirements. Doing, not believing—.R.]

Galatians 3:13. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law.—“The asyndeton makes the contrast more energetic.”—Meyer. [ “Redeemed.” Wordsworth: “The aorist is important to be observed, as intimating that the Redemption was effected by one Acts, i. e., by the shedding of His blood, paid as the price of our ransom, when He became a curse for us by dying on the cross.”—R.] That Paul here proceeds to speak of the redemption from the curse, and therefore presupposes the latter as existing, is of easy explanation. In Galatians 3:10 it had been declared that “as many as of the works of the law are under a curse;” and, on the other hand, it needed no demonstration that all those who had the “law,” and as yet nothing else, that Isaiah, the Jews, are “of the works of the law” and therefore “are under a curse.” “Us,” therefore, naturally refers primarily to the Jews, for these, who alone had the “law,” alone stood under the “curse of the law.” Comp. also, particularly, Galatians 4:5 : “to redeem them that were under the law.” Wieseler also justly remarks, that particularly in the doctrinal exposition in the Galatians, Paul loves, from easily intelligible reasons, to include himself with the Jewish people, in the first person. Yet I would not be disposed wholly to reject the more general sense of ἡμᾶς. It is true, it was primarily only the Jews who stood under the curse of the law; but Paul here may be thinking not only of the actual, but also of the ideal or possible being under it; that Isaiah, through Christ the true way to justification by faith in Him is opened to all. it could not therefore be any longer demanded of the Gentiles (and they could not be tempted) to concern themselves with “the works of the law,” through which they also would have come under the curse of the law. Ἔθνη, Galatians 3:14, need not be taken as the direct antithesis of this; doubtless it has the emphasis, and on this account stands first, but the ἔθνη may have been made particularly prominent, only because the fulfilment of the promise given in relation to them has become possible through the atoning death of Christ, and in the blessing of the Gentiles the reality and effect of the death of Christ is chiefly manifest. But that the effect of this extends of course to the Jews, also is added in the clause introduced by iva. In this clause at least Meyer, Wieseler, and others, understand the first person plural generally, of Jews and Gentiles. Meyer, limiting ἡμᾶς, Galatians 3:13, to the Jews, understands the somewhat difficult connection of Galatians 3:13-14 peculiarly, almost too artificially: as long as the curse of the law stood in force, and the Jews therefore were unredeemed, the Gentiles could not become partakers of that blessing; for it was involved in the preëminence which, according to the Divine plan of redemption was bestowed on the Jews, that salvation should proceed from them to the Gentiles. When therefore Christ through His atoning death freed the Jews from the curse of their law, God must necessarily have had the design therewith, of imparting to the Gentiles the promised justification, and that not in any such way as through the law, but in Christ Jesus, through whom already redemption from the curse of the law had been effected for the Jews. More simple, and more congruous also with the interpretation of ἡμᾶς in the general sense, is Usteri’s explanation: Christ has, by His vicarious death, redeemed us from the curse of the law, in order that (if now henceforth justification is attained through faith) the Gentiles may become partakers of the blessing of Abraham, as from now henceforth there is required for justification a condition possible for all, namely, Faith. The simplest and best exposition of “redeemed from the curse of the law” is Meyer’s: “The law is personified as a potentate, who had subjected those dependent upon him to his curse; but from this constraint of the curse, out of which they would not else have come, has Christ redeemed them, and that by His having procured for them, through His mors salisfactoria, the forgiveness of sins ( Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14; Romans 3:24 et al.), so that now the curse of the law had no more relation to them (objectively—to which must then be added—and nothing else can be added—‘faith,’ in order that this redemption may also be subjectively realized.)

Having become a curse for us.—The mode of the redemption is here expressed, namely, by His crucifixion, in which he was set forth as burdened with the Divine ὀργή. The emphasis therefore rests on the word κατάρα, which on this account is attracted to the end, and the use of which is immediately to be justified by a declaration of Scripture. The abstract instead of the concrete is chosen, in order to represent with more of vigorous precision the adequacy of the satisfaction which Christ has rendered (comp. the previous ἐκ κατάρας), and it stands without the article, because the thought is not, that Christ suffered the definite, just named curse of the law, to which the subjects of the law are exposed, but in a general sense, that He became an accursed one; it is meant to express not what curse he became, but that He became a curse (the that moreover appears from the following Scripture passage).—̔Ψπὲρ ἡμῶν : “ὑπέρ in all places where the discourse is of the atoning death not=instead of, but=in behalf of. The satisfaction, which Christ rendered, was rendered in our behalf: that it was vicarious is implied in the nature of the act itself, not in the preposition. The curse of the law would have had to be realized in that all who did not completely satisfy the law (and this no one could), would have been compelled to endure the execution of the Divine ὀργή against them; but for their deliverance from this sentence Christ with His death has intervened, inasmuch as He died as Accursed, whereby, as through a ransom, that damnatory relation of the law was dissolved.” See the Doctrinal Notes below.

As it is written, Cursed is every one, etc.—Scriptural justification of the declaration just made respecting Christ, “having become a curse:” from Deuteronomy 21:23, cited freely from the LXX. “The original passage has reference to persons stoned, and then far greater ignominy, publicly hung up on a (probably cruciform) stake, who, however, must not be left to hang over night, because such accursed ones would else have defiled the holy land. Deuteronomy 21:23; Numbers 25:4 : Joshua 10:26-27; 2 Samuel 4:12. And in that Christ also when executed hung upon a stake, the epithet ἐπικατάρατος applies also to Him.” Meyer. [Wordsworth notes a remarkable conformity of the prophetical reference to Christ in the passage here cited. The body must be taken down, but “if He had been crucified on some ordinary day, not on the day before that High Day, the Jews would have been as eager that He should remain on the cross as they were then earnest that He should be taken down. Thus, in crucifying Him, and taking Him down from the cross, they proved unconsciously that He whom they crucified is the Messiah, and that it was He who, bearing the curse of the law, has taken away that curse from all who believe.”—R.] “Therefore, even if in the original passage crucifixion proper is not meant (which was not an ancient Israelitish punishment), yet that which particularly made both kinds of punishment a curse, the hanging and exposure on the wood was common to them. Ξύλον, used of the wood of the cross, undoubtedly on account of the עֵץ of the Old Testament passage, is found also Acts 5:30; Acts 10:39; Acts 13:29; 1 Peter 2:24.” Wieseler. [Ellicott: “It is interesting to notice that the dead body was not hanged by the neck, but by the hands, and not on a tree, but on a piece of wood.”—R.]

[Lightfoot: ‘The law, the greater barrier which excluded the Gentiles, is done away in Christ. By its removal the Gentiles are put on a level with the Jews; and thus united, they both gain access through the Spirit to the Father.’ Comp. Ephesians 2:14-18. Ellicott: “After a wondrous chain of arguments, expressed with equal force, brevity and profundity, the Apostle comes back to the subject of Galatians 3:2; the gift of the Holy Ghost came through faith in Jesus Christ.”—R.]

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL.

1. Abraham’s justification on the ground of his faith (or rather the direct declaration of the Scripture respecting it), is adduced by Paul as an argument for Justification on the ground of Faith here, and particularly, as is known, in Romans 4. also. The faith in Christ must therefore be regarded by Paul as one in kind with that of Abraham. But it by no means follows from this, as Wieseler justly remarks, that Abraham himself already believed on the Messiah. “For in the Old Testament history of Abraham the idea of the Messiah is nowhere mentioned, often as there was occasion for it, but only the idea of a salvation and blessing coming from Abraham to all nations, the first traces of a universal kingdom of God, to which however the Divine Head is yet lacking. In the New Testament also the idea of the Messiah is nowhere attributed to Abraham. The passage John 8:5-6, hardly signifies any thing else than that Abraham, in the theophanies, etc., experienced by him, already beheld the preëxisting Christ.” Yet Paul, with entire justice, places the Christian faith in parallelism with that of Abraham; for the one, as well as the other, was essentially a trustful laying hold of a promise coming from Divine grace, as to which, moreover, Wieseler points out that with Abraham, the promised heir of his body came into view at the same time as the future bearer of the collective blessing promised to Abraham, and faith on the promise respecting Him was therefore faith also on the kingdom of God originating in his posterity. It by no means follows from this, that then the matter [inhalt] of the Christian and of the Abrahamic faith would be a different one, and that faith would justify on account of its subjective character, while yet it justifies only on account of its matter and object. In the promise given by Divine grace, the faith of the Christian, as of Abraham, has its common matter. For such a promise the Christian lays hold of in faith on Christ, as much as Abraham did in his faith. The real ground of justification in both cases is therefore the grace of God, which gives man something that he could not of himself attain to, and on natural conditions could not even expect, and faith Isaiah, as that which nevertheless confidently lays hold of this grace, only the conditio sine qua non.—It is very true, this grace of God itself has a different matter with Christians and with Abraham; with Christians its matter is essentially the reconciliation accomplished in Christ, and the forgiveness of sin implied therein, with Abraham it is what has just been mentioned—a distinction which is conditioned simply by the course of the economy of salvation, and which does not prejudice Paul’s parallelizing of the two; for Paul speaks here—comp. Galatians 5:7-9—quite generally of πίστις, has in view, therefore what constitutes its generic nature.—Agreeably to this the definite matter of the δικαιοῦσθαι in the two cases is different, i.e., the generic unity is the becoming acceptable to God and accordingly being blessed by Him, and this community of character fully justifies this parallelizing also. But with Christians this general idea is still further defined as follows: to be delivered from the divine wrath incurred by their sins, and to become partakers of the forgiveness of sins. A distinction, to this extent at least, between the δικαιοῦσθαι of Abraham and that of Christians, must be conceded even by those who assume the Messiah to have been the object of faith in the case of Abraham also. For even on this assumption, it will not be alleged that “accounted to him for righteousness” in the case of Abraham has exactly the sense: his sins were forgiven him. This is not treated of in any way in this passage.—That this appeal to Abraham’s faith is in no respect an arbitrary laying hold of a single chance passage, that accords with the line of argument, is clear. For, allowing that this judgment respecting the faith of Abraham is found only here, yet confessedly faith in God’s gracious promise was that which specifically characterized Abraham, was precisely that which made him the child of God, nay, the Friend of God, and so of course acceptable to God. This would be irrefragably established by the history of his life, even if we had not this direct declaration. Genesis 15:6.—With perfect justice therefore Paul can designate those who are “of faith” as Abraham’s sons. A strong, crushing expression against the Jewish national pride, corresponding to the words of John the Baptist, Matthew 3:9, and of Jesus Himself, John 8:39—and yet not in conflict with the truth that according to the Divine purpose the Jewish nation as such, agreeably to its natural descent from Abraham, was the chosen nation. For this people itself, as a whole, was meant to be of the faith of its ancestor, in order to be a true people of God; and the Divine judgment made, we know, a perpetual distinction among the mass of the people between such as were “of faithful Abraham” =were his legitimate [i. e., spiritually legitimate.—R.] children, and such as were not.[FN25]

2. The Scripture is the exposition of a Divine plan of salvation, connected and of uniform tenor throughout, which has had its definite historical unfolding. In it therefore the earlier has respect, to the later, the first to the last; a word of God, belonging to the beginning, is already shaped in view of the consummation; to this is added, that the God who beholds at once the beginning and the end, ideally anticipates with direct words of promise the future development of His counsel of salvation.—To recognize even in the germ the development, requires, doubtless, an apprehension intimately conversant with Scriptural truth, an eye illumined by the Spirit.

3. The curse of the law. As the blessing comes from God, as a revelation of His favor and grace (in gifts), so also the curse, as a revelation of His wrath (in judgments, which concentrate themselves in the κατάκριμα of death). In that this revelation of wrath is a consequence of the non-fulfilment of the law, the curse is called “the curse of the law,” Galatians 3:13 (under which therefore, in the first place, only the Jews stood, as being alone those who hold to the law, but under which of course all would come, who are “of the works of the law”). More precisely: a man comes under this “curse,” is under bonds to it, and held prisoner by it, if he is “of the works of the law” ( Galatians 3:10), that Isaiah, performs indeed single works, but nothing more, and yet believes himself thereby to have satisfied the law, which is in no wise the case (see above on “works of the law” in the preceding section).

4. Christ a curse for us. To avert this curse of God and to bring His blessing upon all men, Christ has become “a curse for us.” Here we stand in presence of the deepest mystery of atonement; we may not, in order to make it more comprehensible, weaken the fact, but must take the words even here, as they say and sound, without artifices of interpretation. Since Christ has freed us from our curse, by having become a curse for us, then, if our redemption from the curse is not to be an illusion, but something real, He became also really the bearer of the Divine curse, He has borne the Divine ὀργή passively, has felt it, and also actively has sustained it. And this has come to pass by His death on the cross. Only we must of course not suffer the monstrous thought to arise that God was angry with Him, something that could not be; nay more, it was in His death on the cross that He was above all an ὀσμὴ εὐωδίας, “odor of sweetness,” unto God. Nevertheless He has, in the first place, undergone the Divine wrath by suffering death, whereby there was accomplished on Him the κατάκριμα, “condemnation,” of death, and so the curse upon sin; the mode of death, moreover, exhibiting this death, even in form, as a death under curse. Yet that is not all, He has, in the second place, also felt the wrath of God, in that the enjoyment, the sense of the blessed communion of love with God vanished from Him without the reality of this communion itself thereby ceasing. He was, it is true, an ὀσμὴ εὐωδίας to God, but the sense of it vanished from Him, although perhaps only momentarily in those instants of anguish when He uttered the complaint upon the cross that God had forsaken Him. But what was lacking in duration, so to speak, was most completely, as it were, compensated by the fearful intensity of such a sense of abandonment by God, in the soul of the beloved Son of God. To this extent He has fully become a curse, has felt the wrath of God, even as condemning wrath. But if it is objected, “but not as eternally condemning,” we must again refer to that intensity of the sense of wrath as an adequate expiation.—He has thus become a curse for us =in our behalf; but in our behalf only inasmuch as He thereby came in our place. The vicariousness does not lie in the expression ὑπέρ, but in the fact; if we, by the very fact that He became “a curse,” have been made free from the “curse,” in that there is of course involved that He came in our place; an exchange of positions occurred.—For it is stated that the effect of Christ’s “becoming a curse” is to “redeem us from the curse of the law,” and so at all events an entire acquittal therefrom, and averting of it. Christ is here represented as showing Himself (immediately, yes alone) active in the work of redemption; He offered Himself, is the sense, in becoming a curse, and therewith He presented a ransom—to whom? to “the curse of the law” which had dominion over us. The ransom consisted in Himself; He devoted Himself in this very “becoming a curse” to the power of this potentate, and thus in return let us go free. Analyzing the conception thus, we see that it is a figurative one; in order to reduce it to its exact expression, we must take in the idea (which Paul does not here introduce in so many words) of the sin-offering. In becoming a curse Christ became a sin-offering, and this, because it was an unblemished one, and for this reason an ὀσμὴ εὐωδίας, was accepted by God; and in return Christ, as it were, discharged us from the curse of the law which He represented, took it from us. (Inasmuch as Christ Himself brought this sin-offering in free obedience, He is with justice described as the one active in it, as here; the action of God Himself being of course understood.)—This is only the negative side, the positive is then added Galatians 3:14, where the positive (and moreover subjective) effects of the redemption “from the curse of the law” are named; generically, the being blessed, specially, the receiving of the Spirit. Upon this, especially upon the relation of it to justification, see above in the Exeg. Notes. We add only the observation: in the Apostle’s apprehension of the history of salvation, the operation of the death of Christ is taken out of its isolation; we recognize in it only the fulfilment of the promise given in the beginning of the redemptive revelation; in Christ it is nothing else than the blessing of Abraham that comes to fulfilment; Beginning and End are united. (See upon this the next Sections.)

5. [The two curses. Wordsworth thus sums up the doctrinal points implied: “Two curses pronounced in the law are here referred to by St. Paul. All mankind was liable to the former one. How was it to be removed?

(1) He who was to remove it must not himself be liable to it. He who was to be a substitute for the guilty must himself be innocent He who was to suffer in the stead of the disobedient must himself be obedient in all things.

(2) He who was to be the substitute for all must have the common nature of all. He must not take the person of one individual man (such as Abraham, Moses, Elias), but He must take the nature of all, and sum up all mankind in himself.

(3) He who was to do more than counterbalance the weight of the sins of all must have infinite merits of His own, in order that the scale of Divine Justice may preponderate in their favor. And nothing that is not divine is infinite. In order, therefore, that He may be able to suffer for sin, he must be human; and in order that He may be able to take away the sins, and to satisfy God’s Justice for them, He must be Divine.

(4) In order that He may remove the curse pronounced in the law of God for disobedience, He must undergo that punishment which is specially declared in the Law to be the curse of God.

(5) That punishment is hanging on a tree. That is specially called in the Law the curse of God. Deuteronomy 21:23.

By undergoing this curse for us, Christ, He who is God from everlasting, and who became Emmanuel, God with us, God in our flesh, uniting together the two natures—the Divine and the Human—in His One Person—Christ Jesus, redeemed us from the curse of the Law. Thus, having accepted the curse, He liberated us from it.”—R.]

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

Galatians 3:6. Rieger:—This reckoning somewhat for righteousness rests most of all on God’s taking pleasure in faith, and on the fulfilling of His promises, those to which faith trusts. True, even faith gives God the honor, and is in this respect greater than any work. But even faith cannot always give to God the honor so willingly, so fully, with such victory over all doubts arising from the reason, as it should. Therefore God’s imputation is still the best, according to which good pleasure of His will He counts even a weak spark of faith for righteousness, and therefore I may be assured that, though I now and then be somewhat doubtful of His gracious will, which He has towards me, mistrust Him, become in spirit sad and heavy, I am yet surrounded and overspread with the broad heaven of His promises, and especially of His forgiving grace, and even then His gracious imputation remains valid.

Galatians 3:7. Heubner:—Abraham’s spiritual children are only those like-minded with him, i.e. believing souls. By faith thou becomest like the old patriarchs; they acknowledge thee for worthy offspring, whether thou be derived from the same nation, according to the flesh, as they, or not. Spiritual genealogy and probate is of another sort from civil.

[Calvin:—Paul has omitted one remark, which will be readily supplied, that there is no place in the Church for any man who is not a son of Abraham.—Hooker:—The invisible Church consisteth only of true Israelites, true sons of Abraham, true servants and saints of God.—R.]

Rieger:—The footsteps of faith and the walk therein prove this descent ( Romans 4:12).

Galatians 3:8.—O man be assured, all thy temptations also, and needs, He hath seen beforehand! Only go with confidence to the Scripture, therein to seek God’s consolations.—Who reads the Old Testament enough with the view of finding Christ every where therein?

Galatians 3:9. Berlenb. Bible:—Already with Abraham began the stream of blessing that proceeds from God to believers. This now is the blessing of the one God, flowing from the like grace of God, even though in the most manifold manifestations.—Companionship in blessing a blessed companionship.—Wilt thou have blessing? Believe! Other way there is none.—We see then, where the trouble Isaiah, if one finds in his soul no such well-being or blessing, but rather the curse, and disquietness in his conscience. It is in this matter of faith, which a man will not frankly receive from God, and let old matters go, and deny them for Christs sake. But a man must himself be of faith, as Paul here expresses it, that Isaiah, thou must have so committed thy heart to the Spirit of Christ, that He has been able to gain possession of thee, and through faith bear thee as a child of God. Then is a man “of faith,” that Isaiah, he has, as to the spirit, a Divine origin.

Galatians 3:10. “As many:” let there so as many of them as there will; and were there of them as many again who declare for this party and make their boast and glory of it, and will have their salvation from it.—“Of the works of the law:” this expresses the inner ground of the Prayer of Manasseh, what fashions his soul, and whose child he is. It is not people who teach the law, but such as are born of the same. It means not: who give diligence to live after the measure of the law, but who live legally, take here a work and there a work, approach therewith before God, and so place themselves under the curse. “Under” signifies imprisonment, for these people bar themselves in.—Luther:—Our Lord God has two manner of blessings, a bodily, that appertains to this life, and a spiritual, that appertains to the life everlasting. Such bodily blessing have the ungodly in fulness and abundance. To banish the eternal curse, that Isaiah, the eternal wrath of God, death and damnation, there avails neither the world’s nor the law’s righteousness. Therefore those that have not more than the corporeal blessing alone, are for this reason not God’s children, and blessed before God, but under the curse they are and abide.—If now God’s law puts men under a curse, how much more other laws, which are of much less worth?

Heubner:—If we will be saved by the law, we must do all, and must be able to say, that we have never neglected any thing commanded, nor done any thing forbidden. In brief, the matter stands thus: if we will merit salvation, amazingly little will come of it, for our virtue is piece-work; against one or two legal performances God can oppose ten transgressions. Whoever does not view the requirements of the law with the diminishing glass of light-mindedness, and his own works with the magnifying glass of self-love, must acknowledge this.—[John Brown:—It is absurdity thus to seek for justification from that which is and must be the source of condemnation. To expect to be warmed by the keen northern blast, or to have our thirst quenched by a draught of liquid fire, were not more, were not so incongruous.—R.]

Galatians 3:11. Cramer:—The religion that teaches us to believe that we are saved by grace without works, is the true, original, Catholic religion, to which also Habakkuk and the old prophets bear witness; therefore the Romish religion, which contradicts this, can be neither the original, nor the true Catholic church, but must be a new church.—Starke:—The regenerate, who are already righteous through faith, continue in their righteousness and blessedness, and become at the last perfectly blessed, but still only through faith.

Galatians 3:12. The law will have doers, that deserve Heaven by works. The gospel will have only sinners, who have done working, but who, repenting them of their sins (or broken into contriteness by the law), seek medicine, help and grace in Christ and His Father’s compassion. They now see aright their guiltiness, together with the loathsomeness of sin; they now first understand and love Moses aright, and walk after his law; not out of constraint or hope of reward, but as being already righteous in Christ, and minded to show forth the profit, purpose, joy and might of such righteousness in all manner of works possible.

Galatians 3:13. Luther:—God hath cast all sin of all men upon His Son. Then forthwith comes the law, accusing Him and saying: Here find I this one among sinners, yea who hath taken all men’s sins upon Himself, and bears them, and I see in the whole world besides not another sin, except upon Him alone; therefore shall He suffer for it and die the death upon the cross.—Insomuch then as through this only Mediator, Jesus Christ, Sin and Death are taken away, without doubt the whole world were so pure that our Lord God therein could see nothing except mere righteousness and holiness, if we only could believe it.—On that side there is no lack. But the lack is with us, who believe it so faintly. If we believed it fully, doubtless we should already have been blessed and in Paradise, but the old sack, that still hangs around our neck, holds us back from arriving at such certain faith.—We should not look at Christ after the flesh, as if He were a Prayer of Manasseh, righteous and holy for Himself alone, and having nothing to do with us. True it is that Christ is the holiest person of all, but thou must not stop with that knowledge, that does not yet give thee Christ. But thou knowest Him aright, and obtainest Him for thy own, when thou believest that this holiest Person of all has been bestowed upon thee by the Father, that He should be thy High-priest and Saviour, yea, thy minister and servant, who should lay from Him His own innocence and holiness, and take upon Him thy sinful person, and therein bear thy sin, death and curse, and thus become a sacrifice and a curse for thee, that He might so redeem thee from the curse of the law.—All virtue lies in the little words: for us.

[Two curses are here mentioned by Paul. The one: “Cursed is every one that continueth not,” etc. That curse lay on all mankind. The other: “Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” This curse Christ took, that He might redeem us from the first. Both were curses in and of the law. The one specifies the guilt, the other the punishment. Christ bore the accursed punishment, thus He takes away the accursed guilt. He stood for the “every one” who continueth not, by becoming the very one who hung; upon the tree.—R.]

[Wordsworth:—How much reason have we to abominate our sins, which were the principal causes of the crucifixion of Christ! They were indeed the traitors which, by the hands of Judas, delivered Him up. The Jewish priests were but our advocates; we by them did adjudge and sentence Him. Pilate was but our spokesman, the Roman executioners were but our agents therein. The Jewish people were but proxies acting our parts; our sins were they which cried out: “Crucify Him,” with clamors more loud and more effectual, than did all the Jewish rabble.—The second Adam hung on the tree in Calvary, in order that by hanging on the tree He might abolish the sin committed by us in the first Adam, when he ate of the fruit of the tree of good and evil in Paradise.—There on the cross He extends His hands to all and calls all—Gentiles as well as Jews.—R.]

Galatians 3:14. Lange:—The blessing comes not alone from Christ, but also in Christ. For whoever does not receive it in Christ, receives it not from Christ; as indeed many wish to have it from Christ, but not to take it in Christ, that Isaiah, receive it so that they thereby suffer themselves to be brought into His fellowship and in it enjoy the blessing with large addition.

On the whole Section:—The Christian’s walk, a walk in the footsteps of the faith of Abraham.—Those who occupy themselves with works of the law, are under the curse: (1) a fearful word, (2) yet only too true.—Blessing or Curse? Other alternative there is none.—Christ has turned the curse into blessing.—The redemption from the curse of the law through Christ.—He became a curse for us. (1) How is that possible? and yet (2) it was necessary, for (3) thereupon rests our salvation.—Our righteousness before God is grounded alone upon faith: (1) this is taught by Abraham’s example; (2) proved by the promise given by God to Abraham; (3) attested by the innermost essence of the law; (4) made sure by the redemption established by Christ.—Only through faith in the Crucified One have we part in the redemption accomplished by Him. I. That faith generally is the condition, Galatians 3:6-12. (1) Proof from the example of Abraham’s faith, Galatians 3:6-9; (a) on account of his faith was Abraham accounted righteous before God, Galatians 3:6; (b) the promise given to him of the blessing of the Gentiles, presupposes in these also faith. (2) Demonstration from the impossibility of any one being redeemed from the curse of the law through any manner of works, Galatians 3:10-12. II. That the redemption accomplished by Christ is the essential matter [Inhalt] of faith on Him. (1) That Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law; (2) that He has effected this by Himself becoming a curse for us.—The death of Christ deserves an imperishable remembrance, because in it He became a curse for us. (1) He became a curse for us: (2) Therein lies the power of His death for blessing.

[Cowper:—

Oh, how unlike the complex works of Prayer of Manasseh,

Heaven’s easy, artless, unincumbered plan!

No meretricious graces to beguile:

No clustering ornaments to clog the pile.

From ostentation as from weakness free,

It stands, like the cerulean arch we see,

Majestic in its own simplicity.

Inscribed above the portal, from afar

Conspicuous as the brightness of a star,

Legible only by the light they give,

Stand the soul-quickening words—Believe and Live.]

Footnotes:

FN#11 - Galatians 3:8.—[Δικαιοῖ, present—Ellicott calls it the “ethical present.” “God justifleth,” this is His one way (Alford).—R.]

FN#12 - Galatians 3:8.—-[Since “gospel” has a distinct meaning now. it is perhaps better to take the more etymological phrase in rendering προευηγγελίσατο. Schmoller: “Gab die verheissuang.”—R.]

FN#13 - Galatians 3:8.—Elz. has εὐλογηθήσονται instead of ἐνευλογηθήσονται against decisive authorities.

FN#14 - Galatians 3:9.—[“Together with” is more distinct than “with.” The article of the Greek is retained to emphasize “faithful.”—R.]

FN#15 - The generally received reading does not affect the English form, since ὅτι is here a mere quotation mark.—R.]

FN#16 - Galatians 3:11.—[Since ἐν νόμῳ must be rendered “in the law;” to avoid the too close proximity with “in the sight of,” it is better to retain the Greek order, which is emphatic also.—R.]

FN#17 - Galatians 3:12.—[Δέ “logical, introducing the minor proposition” (Alford). “Now” is perhaps better than “but.”—R.]

FN#18 - Galatians 3:12.—After αὐτά, Elz. reads ἄνθρωπος against decisive authorities.

FN#19 - Galatians 3:13.—[The aorist ἐξηγόρασεν is historical, hence the simple past is better.—In Galatians 3:12, ποιήσας, aorist participle, should be rendered “hath done” to bring out its proper force.—R.]

FN#20 - Galatians 3:13.—[Τενόμενος, “becoming,” but as it explains the manner of the past act “redeemed,” “having become” is more accurate “By becoming” would be still more forcible—R.]

FN#21 - Galatians 3:13.—Lachmann and Tischendorf, following weighty authorities, read: ὅτι γέγραπται instead γἐγραπται γάρ [So Meyer and modern English editors. א. has γέγ.γάρ.—R.]

FN#22 - Galatians 3:14.—[Εις, “unto.” The clause were perhaps better read in this order: “That unto the Gentiles the blessing of Abraham might come in Christ Jesus” (so Ellicott).—R.]

FN#23 - Galatians 3:14.—[Χριστῷ ̓Ιησοῦ is the reading of most MSS. (א. B. Ιριστῷ), and is adopted by most modern editors.—R.]

FN#24 - Calvin thus refers to “the idle cavillings of certain persons who evade Paul’s reasoning. Moses, they tell us, gives the name of righteousness to goodness; and so means nothing more than that Abraham was reckoned a good man because he believed God. Giddy minds of this description, raised up in our time by Satan, endeavor, by indirect slanders, to undermine the certainty of Scripture. Paul knew that Moses was not there giving lessons to boys in grammar, but was speaking of a decision which God had pronounced, and very properly viewed the word righteousness in a theological sense. For it is not in that sense in which goodness is mentioned with approbation among men, that we are accounted righteous in the sight of God, but only where we render perfect obedience to the law. Righteousness is contrasted with the transgression of the law, even in its smallest point; and because we have it not of ourselves, it is freely given to us by God.”—R.]

FN#25 - Stanley (History of the Jewish Church. Vol. I, Sect1) gives a more poetic view of Abraham’s faith. Fascinating as these lectures are. it is easier to see whither they tend as one studies this argument of Paul. The stress which this brilliant author puts upon “obeyed” in this very connection, may sound like the voice of a broader Christianity, but tested by Paul’s argument here, it proves to be the echo of a narrowing Judaism: “of the law.” Lightfoot’s note, p156, is much more satisfactory.—R.]


Verses 15-18

b. Demonstration from the chronological relation of the Lord to the Covenant of Promise.

( Galatians 3:15-18.)

( Galatians 3:16-22. The Epistle for 13 th Sunday after Trinity)

15Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be [when it has been][FN26] confirmed, no man disannulleth [annulleth][FN27] or addeth thereto 16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. [Now to Abraham were the promises made and to his seed.][FN28] He saith not, And to seeds, as of 17 many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. And [Now] this I say, that the covenant, [A covenant][FN29] that was confirmed before of God in Christ [that has been before confirmed by God to Christ][FN30], the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul [does not invalidate][FN31] that it should make the promise of none effect [make void the promise]. 18For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave [hath freely granted][FN32] it to Abraham by [through] promise.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL.

Galatians 3:15.—[Brethren.—An affectionately pathetic address. How different from Galatians 3:1! The tone is greatly softened.—Meyer. “Here is a pause, at which the indignant feeling of the Apostle softens, and he begins the new train of thought which follows with words of milder character, and proceeds more quietly with his argument” (Windischmann).—R.]

I speak after the manner of men.—Κατὰ ἄνθρωπον. Paul thus excuses himself for comparing a man’s διαθήκη with a διαθήκη of God, he will not (he says) regard the matter from a higher point of view, but simply according to the analogy of human relations. [Calvin: “By this expression he intended to put them to the blush. It is highly disgraceful and base that the testimony of God should have less weight with us than that of a mortal man.”—R.]

Διαθήκη is not to be taken here in the sense of covenant (although approved by Meyer and Wieseler). [See below.—R.] The sense is that of Testament. It is true God made with Abraham a covenant, hence God’s covenant of promise with Abraham is here spoken of. But in these verses, Paul takes up this covenant in the aspect of a Testament, in order to emphasize the fact that in it God has made a free promise (of an inheritance) in contrast with the law, which imposes injunctions, making everything depend on merit. This character of the covenant of promise reminds him of a human Testament, and the principles of jurisprudence which are valid with respect to such an instrument, furnish the basis of his argument. [The majority of modern commentators take the other view. The reason here advanced is based upon the idea of “inheritance,” which belongs to a covenant as well as to a Testament. The usage of the LXX. is decidedly in favor of the rendering “covenant.” So the New Testament usage (the exceptional case, Hebrews 9:15-17, beginning with this idea also). So that while doctrinally considered it is not of much moment (Calvin, who however prefers the meaning “covenant”), the order of the words and the comparison require this meaning (Ellicott). Comp. Bagge, Meyer, Lightfoot. The influence of the Vulgate in substituting “Testament” for “covenant” in the name of the two parts of the Bible is perhaps to be deplored.—R.]

No man annullethi. e., of course, legitimately. [̔́Ομως belongs here logically. But the sense is well preserved in the E. V.—R.]—Addeth thereto = adds specifications to it, of any kind whatever.—From what is true of a human Testament [or covenant], Paul now argues as to the Testament [or covenant] of God; this also “no one annulleth or addeth thereto”—“no one” and hence not “the law” either. But before he draws this conclusion ( Galatians 3:17), he furnishes ( Galatians 3:16) the necessary premises for it (Wieseler). He does this, by showing that the διαθήκη referred to the time after as well as before the giving of the law, and in substance remains still in force, without which necessary link the demonstration, that the law made no change in the character of the διαθήκη, would be without value or meaning. For if the διαθήκη had been of limited duration, confined to Abraham for instance, if the promise had been made only to him, it would, when the law came, have been long before fulfilled and thereby done away; the two would not have come in contact. But this is not the case.

Galatians 3:16.—Now to Abraham were the promises made [lit, were spoken], and to his seed.—This, as shown by “were spoken,” and still more by what follows refers to particular passages, and such moreover as contain the clause “and to thy seed” as also the promise of an “inheritance;” not, therefore, such as Genesis 22:18[?], but Genesis 13:15; Genesis 17:8 (and according to the LXX. also Genesis 24:17). The sense is therefore: not merely to Abraham was there in the διαθήκη a promise, sc., of an inheritance, made by God, but also to his seed; the διαθήκη was not exhausted in him, but was valid also for his seed. But especially must it be shown that it has validity even now. Therefore, says Paul, inasmuch as these promises were given “also to the seed of Abraham,” they were given also to Christ. This seed of Abraham (he says), is indeed no other than Christ. This, he says, follows from the very fact of the singular form “his seed” being used. “In order to explain this emphasizing of the singular form in the exegesis of Paul, appeal has been made to the fact that the Rabbins of his time also now and then strain the singular or plural to serve an exegetical turn, and in the passages Genesis 4:25; Genesis 19:32, themselves explain זֶרַע of the Messiah. This comparison is admissible, if only we do not overlook the extraordinary contrast which exists between ordinary Rabbinical caprice, and Paul’s exposition in this passage. That in the Abrahamic promise the idea of the Messiah is concealed, and that the ‘seed of Abraham’ may be actually understood of the Messiah, is unquestionably the true view, on which the whole exposition of Paul rests, and which he has a little before demonstrated from the connection of Scripture and the deepest reality of the fulfilled truth. But the form in which Hebrews, in this passage, rather casually than otherwise, expresses this view, correct in itself, namely, that it is already indicated by the use of the singular in the text which gives the Abrahamic promise, appears to demand the explanation given by most interpreters, as derived from the Rabbinical training of his youth.” Wieseler.

[The ground of this assumption of Rabbinical method in his argumentation is this: that the stress of the argument rests on a grammatical error; the Hebrew word, which he renders σπέρμα, having no plural answering to σπέρματα or “seeds.” Granting this, it must yet be remembered that the consequences involved in an admission of such “playing” with Divine truth, in a writer, who claims to speak for God, are too grave, to permit us to make such an admission hastily. Is there no other reasonably satisfactory explanation, which denies any Rabbinical influence, implying the slightest quibbling? If there be, justice to such a writer as Paul, aside from any reverence for this Epistle as inspired, should lead us to adopt it. Jerome’s application of κατὰ ἄνθρωπον to this verse is hardly allowable. He would not intentionally weaken his own cause thus. Lightfoot well says: “It is quite as unnatural to use the Greek plural with this meaning as the Hebrew. This fact points to St. Paul’s meaning. He is not laying stress on the particular word used, but on the fact that a singular noun of some kind, a collective term, is employed, where τὰ τέκνα or οἱ ἀπόγονοι, for instance, might have been substituted. Avoiding the technical terms of grammar, he could not express his meaning more simply than by the opposition ‘not to thy seeds, but to thy seed.’ The singular collective noun, if it admits of plurality, at the same time involves the idea of unity.” Ellicott: “We hold that there is as certainly a mystical meaning in the use of זֶרַע in Genesis 13:15; Genesis 17:8, as there is an argument for the resurrection in Exodus 3:6, though in neither case was the writer necessarily aware of it. As the word in its simple meaning generally denotes not the mere progeny of a Prayer of Manasseh, but his posterity viewed as one organically-connected whole; so here in its mystical meaning it denotes not merely the spiritual posterity of Abraham, but Him in whom that posterity is all organically united, the πλήρωμα, the κεφαλή even Christ. This St. Paul endeavors faintly to convey to his Greek readers by the use of σπέομα and σπέρματα.” Comp. Wordsworth, Olshausen in loco. How Pauline this conception Isaiah, will appear to every student of the Epistles to the Romans and Ephesians. Paul’s Rabbinical training undoubtedly made him quick and close in discrimination respecting the Old Testament; that it ever made him quibble, and institute false distinctions is against his character as well as against his inspiration.—R.]

That any explanation of the passage which maintains that Paul does not mean to interpret “seed” of the person of Christ is incorrect, needs no proof. [Against this, see Alford in loco.—R.] Doubtless, secondarily, those who are “of Christ” are also “the seed of Abraham” ( Galatians 3:29), but it is only because, primarily, Christ is this seed. This reference of “seed” to the person of Christ is not disproved by alleging that thereby the διαθήκη, the inheritance would be promised to Christ as well as to Abraham. But, it may be asked, is then the inheritance promised to Christ; is He designated as the Heir, and not rather as the Mediator and Bringer of the inheritance? Doubtless the latter, but primarily He is Himself the universal Heir; therefore in Galatians 3:19 he is called distinctly the universal Heir: “the seed to whom the promise was made.” Let us only vividly apprehend the course of prophecy that sketches the history of redemption. The Messiah Himself, according to it, is He who occupies the promised inheritance, that Isaiah, who takes full and abiding possession of it, and by this very fact, brings in the time of salvation and of God’s kingdom. The conception is therefore one somewhat different from that in Galatians 3:14, but both are equally according to truth, and the two modes of conception are most intimately connected. For Christ is certainly the Heir, only, He is the Heir in order to procure for His people the participation of the inheritance and therewith the blessing of God. And, as is self-evident, it is this truth, namely, that He in turn brings the inheritance into the possession of His people, which is here mainly in mind. Inasmuch as the διαθήκη had reference to Him, it had and has reference also to those that are “Christ’s”; the question as to them therefore still remains to be answered; nay, it is as to them that it occurs, how they become partakers of the inheritance promised in the covenant. For that the covenant with the promise of the inheritance is valid also for the Christian dispensation, that it is “confirmed by God to Christ,” is only one side of the truth. On the other side it was maintained with reference to the law that had come between, that the attainment of the inheritance had now become encumbered with the condition of the fulfilment of the law, that it came now of the law and no more simply “of promise.” This assertion Paul now opposes, by applying what was said in Galatians 3:5 about a covenant in general, to the covenant of God.

Galatians 3:17. A covenant that has been before confirmed by God to Christ.—This passage, as Wieseler says, is rightly understood only by considering that the assertion which Paul undertakes to refute is not the assertion of an entire abrogation of the Abrahamic covenant by the law, but only that of a modification in the Judaistic sense by the law of an invalidating, so that it should make void the promise (which would be an “invalidating,” because thereby the character of the covenant as a promise given by grace, and thus its specific peculiarity would be taken away). This alone gives the sense of Galatians 3:18 : I have a right to say: it “does not invalidate that it should make void the promise;” for if the inheritance is obtained by law, it no longer comes “of promise;” but “of promise” it is to come, for it was assured by God to Abraham through promise, and of grace. We cannot therefore concede an invalidating, so that the promise is made void through the law, for this would take away something essential to the covenant; but, according to Galatians 3:15, this cannot be.—[Various interpretations of εἰς Χριστόν have been suggested. The simplest and most obvious one is: “unto Christ,” i.e., as the second party to whom the covenant was ratified. Ellicott suggests “to be fulfilled in Christ,” and renders “for Christ.” Perhaps that of Wordsworth is implied: “unto Christ: so as to tend toward, and be consummated in Christ as its end, who, as Prayer of Manasseh, sums up all Abraham’s seed in Himself.” But on the whole it is best to reject the words as a gloss.—R.]

The law which was four hundred and thirty years after.—Paul has taken the number from Exodus 12:40, but apparently from the text of the LXX. which adds καὶ ἐν γῇ Χαναάν thus including the sojourn of the patriarchs in Canaan (as do also the Samaritan text and Josephus Ant., 2, 15, 3), while according to the Hebrew text this number covers only the duration of the sojourn in Egypt. Therefore “it is hardly to be said, that Paul has here made a mistake of memory, but only that, on account of his Greek-speaking readers, who used the Septuagint, he has here, as commonly in his Old Testament citations, adhered to the tradition of the LXX, which he could the more easily do, because the precise numbers of the years was a matter of no moment.” Wieseler. [Though the precise number is of no moment as respects Paul’s argument, the chronological difficulty is a grave one. The period from the call of Abraham to the departure of Jacob into Egypt is fixed at two hundred and fifteen years. The question is: must we compute the sojourn there as extending over four hundred and thirty years, or only two hundred and fifteen years. The Hebrew text, Exodus 12:40, seems to demand the former term (and also Stephen, Acts 7:6, “four hundred years,” as in the prophecy Genesis 15:13, both of which passages give round numbers). The latter term is that of the commonly received chronology. If it be adopted, the difficulty is thrown mainly upon the passage, Exodus 12:40, to which the LXX. add as above. Alford and Ellicott suggest this strong point in favor of the shorter term, viz, that from the data respecting ages and births, the longer term would make the age of Jochebed, the mother of Moses, at least two hundred and fifty-six years when Moses was born. So that the longer term makes the accurate statement of numbers overthrow the accurate statement of genealogies and events, which was far less likely to be tampered with. The gloss, if it be a gloss, of the LXX. affords the easiest solution of the difficulty, and Genesis 15:40, Acts 7:6, are then to be explained in the same way. Comp. Usher, Windischmann, Hales.—R.]

Galatians 3:18. But God hath freely granted it to Abraham through promise.—Prominence is to be given to the fact that God has .not limited His promise, which He gave to Abraham, by conditioning it on a fulfilment of the law, but that it was a promise of pure grace; therefore, says Paul, God has, out of grace, by means of promise, bestowed, s. c., the inheritance on Abraham, i. e., not put him in actual possession, but assured it to him. The two expressions, “freely granted,” and “through promise,” are conjoined to exclude most definitely the idea “of the law.”

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. Epochs of Revelation. In the preceding section, as well as this, Paul has not cared to conduct a Scripture demonstration merely by the citation of isolated passages, but has used a freer and nobler method with the Scriptures. He showed in the revelation of God to Abraham a prophetic setting forth of the perfect revelation of God exhibited in Christ (especially at the close of Galatians 3:14 had this become evident), and thus placed the Scripture in the light of a history of the revelation of redemption. This view of it has become, in the present section (as far as to Galatians 4:2), the controlling one. The law also here constitutes for him an epoch of the revelation of God, so that there are three of these epochs represented by Abraham, Moses, and Christ. They are not, however, simple stages of development, but the first and the third belong essentially together in one order, as germ and fruit; for the middle epoch, so diverse in character, a false claim is made, which it is his endeavor to refute, and to assign and establish its just position.—The suggestions which Paul here gives are important starting points for a just historical apprehension of Revelation, and at the same time an example of a proper adjustment of relations and reconciliation of apparent contradictions in it.

2. The Law is not a complement of the Covenant of Promise. It is not till in the next section that the purpose and meaning of the law, and its relation to the covenant of promise, are expounded positively. The negative proof, however, here adduced, is of itself important; viz.: That the law is not, and is not to be regarded or treated as a complement and rectification of the Covenant of Promise, so that whatever at first was freely promised as a boon “should be now encumbered with a burdensome condition.” Or rather, this was Song of Solomon, indeed, but only for a time, for a definite season (as is shown afterwards). In this way, however, the inheritance was not actually attained, but as it was originally assured purely by promise, so is it now attained only through faith, the subjective correlative of the promise; and only this is required.

3. The sum of the Apostle’s argument. “This, then, is the sum of the Apostle’s argument: A ratified, unrepealed constitution, cannot be set aside by a subsequent constitution. The plan of justification by believing was a ratified and unrepealed constitution. The law was a constitution posterior to this by a long term of years. If the observance of the law were constituted the procuring cause or necessary means of justification, such a constitution would necessarily annul the covenant before ratified, and render the promise of more effect. It follows, of course, that the law was appointed for no such purpose. Whatever end it might serve, it could not serve this end; it could never be appointed to serve this end.”—Brown. What end it serves, the Apostle states in the section immediately following.—R.]

4. Christ the Seed of Abraham. “ ‘Seed,’ comprehends posterity generally, and therefore of course a plurality. But among this posterity one nevertheless was found upon whom the whole expectation of faith was directed, and through whom also all promise first received its fulfilment. As Christ at His actual coming into the world humiliated Himself to live as a man among men, and had to be discovered and sought out by means of the words and works that were His alone, in like manner was He in the promise also concealed, as it were, among the seed, or among the collective posterity of Abraham, so that only when the time was fulfilled could any plainly distinguish Him and say: This is Christ, this is He who sanctifies and blesses, who yet is of the same descent with those that are sanctified and blessed; therefore also He is not ashamed to call them brethren, and it was not unbefitting Him, that all should be comprehended in the one Seed.”—Rieger.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL.

Galatians 3:15.—“Brethren.”—Rieger: By this address the Apostle noticeably softens the sharpness used in the first verse. Nothing calls for so much consideration, for so thorough a mingling of sharpness and gentleness, as when men fall back under the law and the blindness as to the gospel conjoined therewith. For the bewitching arts of the prince of this world, which are implied therein, and the mischief to be feared therefrom, demand sharpness; the hunger and thirst after righteousness yet alive in the conscience, and the love to the truth, demand to be appealed to with the utmost possible tenderness.—In the word of God throughout there is much condescension to our weakness, or much that is presented in human style, suitable to our power of comprehension. God has also actually so arranged it, that between the visible and the invisible, between the ordinances in the realm of nature and in the realm of grace there is much that is similar, and we therefore through the images furnished us by our experience in human life, obtain a true conception of the ordinances of grace. The Incarnation of the Son of God has such an influence on the whole economy of God forward and backwards, that God everywhere deals with us after the manner of a man.—Lange:—Human ordinances and institutions, which in themselves serve for the outward well-being of human and civil society, are in themselves not to be contemned. Since God counts them worthy that His apostles should therewith make clearer the economy of His kingdom.—In Starke:—If a great lord gives us his hand and seal, we are satisfied and believe, that the heavens will fall before such a promise will be broken. Why do we not rather trust the sealed handwriting of our God who cannot lie.—“Addeth thereto.”—In divine things the human addition is often discernible, but very improperly, often causing that nothing pure is left.—[So the annulling by the addition of the law would make void the promise.—R.]

Galatians 3:16.—Spener: In the Holy Scripture all is written with Divine Wisdom of Solomon, therefore no word, no letter, no arrangement of the words is settled at random.—Divine truth must be found in the Holy Scripture itself and the letter of it, and may not be expected by separate communication from the Holy Ghost. Else Paul could not insist upon a little word and thereupon rest his argument.—[Paul, who takes such a broad view of the Scriptures as the one great history of Redemption, is the one who notices the truth in the least details of the word. One need not be a loose expositor, in order to have broad views; the accurate reader is not contracted by his accuracy.—R.]

Galatians 3:17. STARKE: Sacred chronology gives a great light, for a more accurate insight into the ways of God.—[How many read their Bibles, as if the whole were written at one time. They acknowledge a history there, but it sheds no light for them upon the great truth of God as a whole.—Abraham and Moses. How prominent, how related.—How often the followers of Christ stop at Moses, when they ought to go back to Abraham!—The covenant was confirmed of God to Christ. Through Abraham, indeed, yet It is essentially a covenant between God and our Redeemer. So the Old Covenant is the new and everlasting Covenant.—R. ]

Galatians 3:18. Starke It is impossible to have righteousness and salvation partly from the works of the law, and partly from grace. For these are opposing things, that destroy one another. It must either be of works alone or of grace alone; now it is not of works, therefore it is of grace alone.—Rieger:—So long, indeed, as the human heart in falsehood still parts its love between light and darkness, nothing were more pleasing, than if it could thus turn from side to side between the promise and its own merit, that Isaiah, if, so far as might be, it could boast itself of merit and the law, and where these were too scant, could put forward, under cover of the promise, the grace and merit of Christ. Then, moreover, there would be in this way no great need of going deep in either quarter; it would only be to bend a little to the law, and as to the appropriation of grace, it need not call for any very special humility. But with such a divided heart, one has neither access to grace, nor entrance into the everlasting inheritance.

All that we have from the Gospel or from the promise, is a gift, a free gift of grace, and nothing is attained by obedience as a condition. We are not, therefore, to regard a godly life as a condition of obtaining the blessings of grace, but as a part of the grace itself which the Lord shows us—[How old this method of grace by covenant of promise ! Older than Moses. Yet how new! for we never apprehend it until God reveals it to us by His spirit, and then it seems as though it were a revelation of something entirely new.—The benefits of the gospel are all through promise. Hence all of grace, all to faith, all for the glory of the Promiser!—R.]

2. The law had undoubtedly its value, and that for the attainment of salvation itself, but only a preparatory, and therefore also a transitory value. Believers are free from it.


Verses 19-29

( Galatians 3:19 to Galatians 4:7.)

a. The law had its own sufficient end, having respect to transgressions, and so far from opposing to the promises, it had the office of preparing the way for their fulfilment, as a schoolmaster unto Christ

Footnotes:

FN#26 - Galatians 3:15—[Κεκυρωμένην, simply “confirmed.” If anything be supplied, it need not be in the conditional form of the E. V.—R.]

FN#27 - Galatians 3:15.—[“Disannulleth” is now obsolete, the simple form being of precisely the same signification. “Addeth thereto” i. e. new conditions.—R.]

FN#28 - Galatians 3:16.—[The change in order is necessary to emphasize “and to his seed.” ’̓Ερ̀ῥ έ θησαν, א. A. et al. Lachmann, Tischendorf Meyer, et al., instead of” ̓Εῤῥ ή θησαν, Rec.—R.]

FN#29 - Galatians 3:17.—[The structure of this verse is cumbrous, but the insertion of “that” renders it still more so.—R.]

FN#30 - Galatians 3:17.—Εἰς Χριστόν is lacking in several MSS. including א. The connection however favors the belief in its genuineness, since otherwise the argument in Galatians 3:16 would hardly be turned to practical account. [Omitted in א. A. B. C. many versions, by Lachmann, Tischendorf, Meyer, Alford, Lightfoot. Retained by Griesbach, Wordsworth, bracketted by Ellicott. If retained, may be rendered “to Christ,” or “for Christ.” See Exeg. Notes.—R]

FN#31 - Galatians 3:17.—[Ούκ ἀκυροῖ—“cannot” may be implied, but is not expressed. “Invalidate” is preferable to “annul,” as the Greek word differs from that rendered “annul” ( Galatians 3:15).—R.]

FN#32 - Galatians 3:18.—[Κεχάρισται, “has given freely,” “given of grace.” We have no single word to express it—R.]

( Galatians 3:19-24.)

19Wherefore then serveth the law [lit. what then is the law][FN33] It was added][FN34] because of [the] transgressions, till the seed should come to whom[FN35] the promise was [has been] made; and it was ordained [being ordained][FN36] by [by means of] angels in the hand of a mediator 20 Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God Isaiah 21one. Is the law then against the promises of God?[FN37] God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should [would] 22have been[FN38] by the law. But [ἀλλά, But, on the contrary][FN39] the Scripture hath concluded [shut up][FN40] all under sin, that [in order that] the promise by faith of [or in] Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe 23 But before faith came we were kept under the law, shut up [kept in ward, shut up[FN41] under the law] unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed 24 Wherefore the law was [So that the law hath been or become][FN42] our schoolmaster to bring us [omit to bring us] unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

b. But for this very reason it has fulfilled its purpose, when it has brought us to faith, and believers, as children (sons) of God and heirs, are no longer under the law.

( Galatians 3:25-29.)

25But after [now][FN43]that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster 26 For ye are all the children [all sons] of God by faith in Christ Jesus 27 For as many of you as have been [were][FN44] baptized into Christ have [omit have] put on Christ 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female [no male and female][FN45]; for ye are all [all are][FN46] one in 29 Christ Jesus. And [But, δέ] if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and [or omit and][FN47] heirs according to the promise.

( Galatians 3:23-29.—The Epistle for New Year’s festival.)

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Galatians 3:19. Wherefore then serveth the law?—[“What then is the object of the law?”—R.] If the inheritance is not to come by the law, but still “of promise,” the objection is obvious: why then did not God suffer the promise to stand alone?’ Why then did the law come afterwards? Certainly this was in that case superfluous!—To this Paul answers, in effect, thus: was the law then purposeless, if it had not precisely this purpose, of mediating the obtaining of the inheritance? Could it not have another purpose? Yes, this was the case, it had a purpose, but one very different from that of being the means of securing the inheritance. What then?

The direct answer is not given immediately, but is introduced with: “It was added because of the transgressions.—This means, simply, on account of transgressions was the law added. “Transgressions,” multiplying and becoming aggravated, gave, in the first place, occasion for adding the law, necessarily brought it to pass that God came with respect to His people into an entirely different, more distant relation than existed, in the covenant of promise, between Him and the patriarchs. Instead of the more fatherly relation existing hitherto, God was constrained to place Himself in a relation involving the exercise of severe discipline, involving rigorous requirements and commands, nay, sharp threatenings, as it is afterwards expressed: “We were kept in ward, shut up under the law.” And as this relation so different from the former had been occasioned by “transgressions,” it was of course precisely in its right place where the “transgressions” of men prevailed, and it was designed, with reference to this, not so much in order to prevent them, as rather, by its commandments and prohibitions, and the threatenings annexed, to bring them under a more stringent accountability (which now first became possible), and a plainly expressed curse. Comp. Ewald: In order, because offences had come into the world, to punish them the more severely. (At first the judgment of death had kept the sense of sin alive. As men now were too accustomed to this, the law then came, and therewith the stricter imputation of sin, the curse more severely denounced, the obedience more rigorously required. Rieger.) At the most this is as far as we are to go in the explanation of παρασάσεων χάριν. A more precise declaration as to the positive purpose of the law in relation to “transgressions” is not yet given here; and cannot therefore be deduced from the general expression; for then the second objection ( [The view here suggested seems to be in the main that of Ellicott and Wordsworth [Milton. Paradise Lost, 7:285). The purpose of the law as here set forth was, not (1) to prevent transgression, nor (2) to create, multiply transgressions, though elsewhere this is mentioned as its effect, but (3) to bring to light “the transgressions” of it already occurring and to occur, to make them “palpable, to awaken a conviction of sin in the heart, and make man feel his need of a Saviour” (Ellicott). Thus “the law had a supplementary, parenthetical, provisional and manductory character, and came in, as it were, incidentally” (Wordsworth).—R.] To this purpose of the law there then agree also:

1. The limited duration of its binding force, continuing only till the seed should come, for with that its purpose in reference to “transgressions” was fulfilled. (Why? is answered Galatians 3:23, sq.) “The seed” to whom the promise has been made (see on Galatians 3:16) is Christ, for He is the universal Heir; those who are Christ’s are then, it is true, included also in this seed, and become therefore joint-heirs with Him ( Galatians 3:29). 2. The manner of its origin: ordained by means of angels in the hand of a mediator. As agents in giving the law (not as its authors), Paul designates the angels, agreeably to the ancient tradition, which appears first LXX. Deuteronomy 33:2 (not in the original); and also Hebrews 2:2; Acts 7:53; Josephus, Antiq. 15, 5, 3, and in the Rabbins. “In the hand of a mediator”—Moses. Moses received the tables of the law from God, and brought them down to the people. “In the hand” is therefore to be taken strictly. The explanation of most of the Fathers [so Barnes.—R.] referring it to Christ is incorrect. [Lightfoot remarks: “It will be seen that St. Paul’s argument here rests in effect on our Lord’s Divinity as its foundation, otherwise He would have been a mediator in the same sense in which Moses was a mediator. In another and a higher sense St. Paul himself so speaks of our Lord ( 1 Timothy 2:5).”—R.] Schneider refers it to the angel of the law, who, according to Jewish theology, had the special commission to teach Moses the law. Unquestionably the Rabbins speak of an angel of the law, but it is no more possible to prove this Theolo-gumenon to have existed in Paul’s time, than it is to establish it from the Bible (Meyer). The purpose of this reference to the origin of the law is not to demonstrate its inferior dignity, and still less, indeed, is it, as even Meyer and Wieseler strangely assume, to bring the glory of the law, in the magnificence and solemnity of its institution, before the reader. The dignity of the law itself is not under consideration, but its design, as compared with the covenant of promise. We are not, in reading this verse, to pause without reason at προσετέθη, as though this were a complete idea, but should read the whole verse together. It is true, we first read: on account of transgressions it was added, but the complete statement is: on account of transgressions it was added in the definite way which is described, 1. by “till the seed,” etc, 2. by “ordained by,” etc. In this way did it originate, that Isaiah, 1. in an entirely different way from the covenant of promise; it was not an immediate giving of a promise, not a fatherly provision and agreement on the part of God, but was introduced by a mediation, and a double one, first of angels, and then, and not before, of a human mediator expressly chosen; the former mediation being on the side of God, the latter being given at the desire of the people themselves. (“How strangely does this appear in contrast with the former manifestations of God, in which the promises were given.” Reiger.) This is meant to point out how much more of strangeness God used towards the people in the law, how much more distant a relation it established than the covenant of promise; how could it then have had the same purpose as the covenant?[FN48]—But this manner of origin2. corresponded entirely with the purpose of the law as it has been stated: “because of the transgressions.” As these made the law in general necessary, Song of Solomon, moreover, they were the reasons why God came, only through angels, into relation to His people, and that the people on their side had need of a mediator, to hold intercourse with God. The difference indicated in the latter circumstance between the law and the covenant of promise, is then moreover expressly dwelt upon in the following verse.

Galatians 3:20. Now a mediator is not a mediator of one.—The first words are simple and plain: A mediator ( μεσίτης, the Art. generic) can never be mediator of a single party, the very idea presupposes more than one, two at least, between whom he is μέσος. The question can then only by, whether the design of the remark Isaiah, primarily, to express something respecting the mediator himself, personally, or something respecting his function. In the first case the sense would be: He belongs not merely to one, but to the two, the two parties between whom he mediates. So now here in concreto: the mediator of the law belonged to the two parties whose mediator he was, viz.: God and men; and the sense more particularly would be: therefore not merely to God, but also to men. The remark would then be intended as an affirmation respecting the nature of the law, that Isaiah, has not only a Divine, but also a human character.—Yet this explanation by no means commends itself. If we join ἑνός with οὐκ ἔστιν, the interpretation: He belongs not merely to one, is much less obvious than the other: He has to do not merely with one, but with two, mediates between two. Still simpler is the construction of Ewald, who joins ἑνός immediately with μεσὶτης=the mediator of one is not, does not exist, is an impossibility. [So Wordsworth.—R.]

But God is one.—The words can mean nothing else: εἶς has a numerical signification, i.e., it can have no other meaning than that of the preceding εἶς, hence not=the same, One with Himself, etc. It is these words especially that have given rise to such an enormous number of attempts at explanation. As regards these the reader is referred to the monographs of C. F. Bonitz, C. F. Anton Reil, Koppe, or the ordinary commentaries, such as those of Meyer and Wieseler, where the more important modern explanations are arranged in order. A detailed examination may be spared here, especially as the passage of itself is not doctrinally important. [Meyer thus remarks on the course of exegesis: “The many different explanations of the passage, and there must be more than250 of them, have been thus multiplied especially in more modern times; for the Fathers pass lightly over the words, which are plain in themselves, without regarding their pragmatic difficulties, for the most part applying the first clause, which is generally taken correctly, to Christ, who is the Mediator between God and men, some however casting a side glance at the opponents of the Divinity of Christ. Although there was no special dogmatic interest connected with the passage, the variety of interpretations in the 16 th and 17 th centuries’ (see Poole’s Synopsis) was such, that every expositor of importance took his own separate course, yet without polemical spirit, since no dogmatical question was at issue. The variety has become still greater since the middle of the 18 th century, especially since the rise of grammatico-historical exegesis (the Philippians -logical errors of which exegesis it has however fully experienced), and is still increasing. How often too the absurdest fancies and crudest attempts have availed themselves of our text, the explanation of which seems to be regarded as an exegetical work of art!” He then answers fifteen of the later opinions, besides alluding to others. Jowett reckons430 interpretations! What a testimony to the amount of exegetical labor bestowed on the Scriptures! That too on a passage which is at best but a general statement in support of a single point in a long argument, which seeks not so much to set forth the gospel, as to remove mistaken views respecting the law! How thankful we should be that the! gospel texts are so pellucid; had they been less Song of Solomon, we should doubtless have250 interpretations of [ them also. As the exegesis now stands, it is perhaps better to admit that the Verse is δυσνόητόντι ( 2 Peter 3:16). The passage is undoubtedly genuine, and does not refer to Christ. Thus much seems clear. Schmoller gives below an exposition, to which he has added in the second edition another (on which comment is made in the proper place). To this the reader will find added the views of Ellicott and Lightfoot, which have been chosen on account of their clearness, a quality especially desirable, when the explanation has so often been lucus a non lucendo.—R.]

The question is mainly this: Is δέ (of the second clause) simply metabatic, or adversative? A decision in favor of the one view, gives an entirely different sense from that arrived at by adopting the other.—In the first case we have simply the minor premise of a syllogism, θεός is with εἴς subsumed under the εἴς denied with μεσίτης. The mediator is not a mediator of one, now God is one, therefore, &c. The conclusion now may be various. Wieseler gives it: Therefore the mediator has reference not merely to God, but also to men. But the thought that there is found in δὲ θεὸς εἰς ἐστίν, namely, God is only one party, appears to have too little force. Ewald gives it: Therefore the Mediator has not reference to God, for God is only one, consists not, for instance, of two internally distinct Gods, or of an earlier and later God; it is clear therefore that Moses as mediator, did not mediate, say between the God of the promise and the God of the law, and thereby confound the law with the promise, and so annul the former by what was latter and later, but that he only mediated between God and the people of that time. Ingenious, but far-fetched. The chief objection, however, to this whole view of δέ as metabatic Isaiah, that the following sentence in Galatians 3:21 points too evidently in νόμος and θεός to a previous antithesis, from which then οὔν deduces an inference. The above mentioned explanations are wanting in the recognition of the inner connection of the two verses (Meyer); the thought breaks off, and an entirely new one begins. Besides, according to Ewald’s explanation the question as to a κατά would not have been in place here, as this κατά is precisely what the foregoing thought would have denied. Δέ is therefore doubtless to be taken adversatively, and the δέ of the first member is the metabatic δέ of a minor premise. Paul had said : The law was given through a mediator. Now with one there is no mediator, while on the other hand God is One. therefore it might be inferred that the law is against the promises. Meyer: Galatians 3:20 contains two loci communes, from which a possible inference ( Galatians 3:21) with respect to the two concretes which are under consideration, is drawn. Sense: A mediator presupposes two, therefore also the law does; in the case of that, there were two parties, between which the mediator intervened;—on the other hand God is One, not a plurality, if the promise therefore, of which God is author (comp. Galatians 3:18; Galatians 3:21), had its origin through Him alone, there was only a single personage active thereby, it was a purely Divine Acts, not resting upon a contract of two parties. How entirely different in origin, therefore, was God’s covenant of promise, from the law! (Was it not thereby clearly indicated, that the purpose of the law was not to be the same and therefore is not the same, as that of the covenant of promise, that therefore its purpose in specie cannot have been, to secure—directly—the κληρονομία for men?) But can it not be inferred from this, that the law is against the promises of God? that it stands in conflict with them? so that,-because the law has come, the promises are no longer to be regarded as valid, and a fulfilment of them is not to be looked for; as at the giving of a constitution by compact between prince and people the qestion may arise whether previous promises given on one side are still to be fulfilled? The main point is to understand κατά ( Galatians 3:21) rightly (even Meter does not explain this correctly). One objection, that the law is then purposeless, if “the inheritance is not of the law,” Paul has refuted in Galatians 3:19-20, by pointing to the fact that it was given for an entirely different purpose, as appears from the very manner of its origin. But out of this refutation of the first objection arises a second, whether by this superadding of the law (προσετέθη) the purpose of the covenant of promise be not hindered; first a free promise on the part of God (without regard to παραβάσεις), and then a law, coming through a mediator, who intervened between God and the people, originating therefore by a compact of God and the people (with definite reference to παραβάσεις); does not this then hinder the first, and so far do it away?—This abrogation however is not to be taken in the sense of Galatians 3:17, that the law came in the place of the promise, so that the inheritance would now come “of the law,” for this is already refuted, first by the very course of the argument Galatians 3:15 sq. from the idea of a διαθἡκη, then also by the refutation of the objection that then the law is purposeless, Galatians 3:19-20. The question in Galatians 3:21 is to be understood as implying an apprehension that by the law the attainment of the inheritance (which, it is presupposed, according to the proof already given, can only be attained “by promise”) may be hindered, maybe made, comparatively speaking; impossible. It is not, therefore, the form of the “promise” which is here meant, but the substance; on which account we have here again the plural ἐπαγγελιῶν; the question being, whether the law does not render the fulfilment of the promises of God impossible. This alone gives a progress of thought, and this alone is entirely congruous with what follows. Paul now refutes this second objection also. The law in no wise interposes an obstacle to the promises of God, but rather, in itself, agrees fully therewith, nay, although it had not itself the ability or function of bringing—the promises immediately into fulfilment, it was meant nevertheless to serve the purpose of rendering men partakers of this fulfilment by faith in Christ ( Galatians 3:23-24), and with this the law itself then attained its end ( Galatians 3:25 sq.).

I allow this explanation, given in the first edition, to remain. It was grounded on that of Meyer, and has at all events this in its favor, in distinction from other explanations, that it puts Galatians 3:21 in immediate connection with Galatians 3:20, and understands the question in Galatians 3:21 as seemingly resulting from Galatians 3:20, while the other explanations, though otherwise having much in their favor, assume that the thought breaks off with Galatians 3:20, and that in Galatians 3:21 Paul merely turns back to Galatians 3:17 or19.—However a new explanation of Galatians 3:20 has been given by Dr. Vogel in the Studien und Kritiken, 1865, Heft3, which, it is true, also fails to give a connection between Galatians 3:20 and Galatians 3:21, but which, on the other hand, points out the connection between Galatians 3:19-20 with better success than usual, and which, in particular, gives due weight to the statement, the law was “ordained by means of angels.” In the other explanations full justice has not been done to this statement, which though otherwise so abrupt, could not have been made without a purpose. Vogel starts from the usually neglected point of the signification of μεσίτης, and shows that μεσίτης by no means signifies merely, and not even predominantly—as is commonly assumed in advance—one who stands in the midst between two, but that it means most commonly one who acts instead of some one, and cares for his affairs.—A genitive joined with it signifies either the matter, which is accomplished by the mediation, or the person whom the μεσίτης represents, or (which however cannot be shown of Paul’s use of it) the several parties between whom he discharges his function (as in 1 Timothy 2:5). When now it is said of the μεσίτης: ἑνὸς οὑκ ἔστιν; this of course involves the positive affirmition: a mediator can only be the mediator of more than one. And here Vogel admits that it would be most obvious to understand this plurality of a plurality of parties, between whom the mediator stands in the midst, but decides nevertheless in favor of the other interpretation of μεσἰτης: representative—of several persons, for the discharge of their affairs. It is true a representative may very well represent one person only; but then we must understand a representation for the purpose of mediation. In that case it is most natural, only one having to conclude a compact, that he should do it in his own person. But if several have it to do, and that in such a way that the transaction cannot be completed by all, a mediation by one person acting instead of many becomes necessary, and such a person is a μεσίτης. The sense would then be: where a mediator appears, we are obliged to understand him as representing a number of persons. Vogel is led to this interpretation, in the first place by the sentence immediately following: δὲ θεὸς εἰ ἐστίν =but (adversative) Go l is one. He therefore is not that plurality, which the mediator as such implies. Therefore—the strict logical inference—the mediator is not God’s mediator, does not appertain as mediator to God. But whose mediator is this mediator? who is this plurality?

The answer, given Galatians 3:19 is: ἄγγελοι—in these we have the plurality we were looking for. The law Isaiah, according to Paul, διαταγεὶς δἰ ἀγγέλων. (Comp. Galatians 3:15, ἐπιδιατ.: the law is not an ἐπιδιαταγή in the sense that the covenant of promise was thereby prejudiced, or destroyed; it Isaiah, however, a προσδιαταγή—comp. προσετέθη—which, however, was not intended to annul the covenant of promise, for it was only meant to be in force “till the seed should come,” etc, that Isaiah, only for a time, only till the fulfilment of the covenant of promise should take place. The covenant, therefore, neither could nor should be in any way infringed upon.) The author of the law is not mentioned here, as He had not been at προσετέθη. Of course God is to be understood. But Paul is not specially engaged, in making this authorship prominent. He stops with declaring that the law was ordained—promulgated—through angels, having in mind thereby to place it on a lower level than the covenant of promise. With “in the hand of a mediator” (by which of course no one else than Moses is to be understood) Paul now proceeds to name the signs by which the inferior dignity of the law may be known. The disposition of it committed to the angels, took effect through a μεσίτης, who, it is manifest, is to be regarded then as their delegate. The angels, the sense might be, did not even themselves promulgate the law in their own person, but this was done through a (human) mediator. The sense therefore would be: ordained for men, that Isaiah, the people of Israel, through angels, who, moreover, availed themselves of a mediator.—Yet Paul, by “in the hand of a mediator,” is not so much giving a fresh sign of the inferior rank of the law, as strengthening the previous affirmation, “ordained by angels.” The circumstance that a mediator was engaged in the work, was not meant so much to explain the manner of the angelic ministration, as to establish the fact of it. The presence of a mediator was in Paul’s mind closely connected with this, but by no means so closely connected in the current doctrine. How far this circumstance, that a mediator (namely, Moses) had a joint agency in the giving of the law, is a proof of this ministry of angels, is explained in Galatians 3:20. “In the hand of a mediator” Paul has said and had to say: but where a μεσίτης is present, a plurality of parties represented by him is to be assumed; God however is not a plurality, but One: The law, therefore, at whose promulgation a plurality intervened, did not proceed from God, but from the angels (these being the only two parties conceivable)—and therefore form a plurality. The clause would not then be properly a proof (as indeed it is not introduced by γάρ), but the fact of the “being ordained in the hand of a mediator” would be simply alluded to for confirmation of the “by means of angels.” It would then in fact be best to include the clause in a parenthesis. This interpretation is not disproved by the fact that in many other passages Moses is explicitly named as dealing with the people by commission from God Himself. Paul could still have the right to say that if in a single passage, as here, the giving of the law is represented as the work of angels, Moses must necessarily be regarded as their delegate; comp. Acts 7:38.—It might also deserve attention, that in Galatians 3:21 the ἐπαγγελίαι are expressly distinguished by the epithet τοῦ θεοῦ. Is not this connected with the fact that previously at the mention of the law, its Divine origin was entirely passed over and the giving of the law represented as the work of angels?

The question in Galatians 3:21 would not then express a conclusion apparently resulting from the immediately preceding statement. It would rather express amazement, as to how any one could even imagine that the law, which is proximately to be referred to the angels, could invalidate the promises of God. It is too weak for that. And what would thus be improbable on account of the mode of the law’s origin, would then be further refuted by the truth, that the law is incapable of giving life.

Even on this interpretation of Galatians 3:20, however,—independently of the explanation of οὖν—the sense given by us to the κατὰ τῶν ἐπαγγελιῶν (see above) and to εί γὰρ ἐδόθη (see below) might be preserved.

[The above view to which such prominence is given on account of its novelty and originality, is in all essential features the same as that of Gfrörer [Geschichte des Urchristenthums, das Jahrhundert des Heils; Erste Abtheilung, pp228, 229, Stuttgart, 1838). So that, although thirty years old, it has met with less consideration from commentators than is here given to it in its revived form. As Gfrörer himself intimates that this interpretation is “easy to be perceived by the eye which has been sharpened by accurate acquaintance with the Jewish mode of thought,” it may be allowable to suggest that were this Paul’s meaning, his Rabbinical training would be more apparent than in Galatians 3:16. Besides this view would make Paul apparently disingenuous in his attempt to lower the claims of the law, which is God’s law,—“through angels, by the hand of a mediator.” And yet the chief peculiarity of this novel interpretation is its ignoring that fact. This vitiates the whole, in our view. As Schmoller remarks Galatians 3:19, “the purpose of this reference to the origin of the law is not to demonstrate its inferior dignity.”[FN49]

Subjoined is the view of Ellicott (2d ed.): “The context states briefly the four distinctive features of the law with tacit reference to the promise, 1) restricted and conditioned; 2) temporary and provisional; 3) mediately, not immediately, given by God; 4) mediately, but not immediately, received from God. Three of these are passed over; the last as the most important, is noticed; ‘the law was with, the promise was without a mediator.’ Galatians 3:20 thus appears a syllogism of which the conclusion is omitted: ‘Now a mediator does not appertain to one (standing or acting alone); but (in the promise) God is one (does stand and act alone); therefore (in the promise) a mediator does not appertain to God. Is then the law (a dispensation which, besides other distinctions, involved a mediator) opposed to the promises which rested on God (and involved no mediator)? God forbid.’ According to this view the only real difficulty is narrowed to the minor proposition. How was God one? And the answer seems,—not because He is essentially unity, nor because He is one by Himself, and Abraham is one by himself, nor yet because He is both the Giver, the Father, and the Receiver, the Song of Solomon, united (as held in ed1), but, with the aspect that the last clause of Galatians 3:18 puts on the

whole reasoning,—because He dealt with Abraham singly and directly, stood alone, and used no mediator.” This has the merit of simplicity and is a safe view. Lightfoot is perhaps not so close in his explanation, but it may well be added: “The very idea of mediation. supposes two persons at least, between whom the mediation is carried on. The law then is of the nature of a contract between two parties, God on the one hand, and the Jewish people on the other. It is only valid so long as both parties fulfil the terms of the contract. It is therefore contingent and not absolute. But God (the Giver of the promise) is one. Unlike the law, the promise is absolute and unconditional. It depends on the sole decree of God. There are not two contracting parties, there is nothing of the nature of a stipulation. The Giver is every thing, the recipient nothing. Thus the primary sense of ‘one’ here is numerical. The further idea of unchangeableness may perhaps be suggested; but if Song of Solomon, it is rather accidental than inherent. On the other hand this proposition is quite unconnected with the fundamental statement of the Mosaic law, ‘the Lord thy God is one God,’ though resembling it in form.”—R.]

Galatians 3:21. God forbid. For if there had been a law, etc.—That the law is not in the sense indicated “against the promises of God,” Paul proves first by the consideration, that if a law had been given which could make alive, δικαιοσύνη would have proceeded from it, i. e., not as it is commonly and altogether erroneously explained, in connection with the erroneous view as to the force of the objection: if a law that could do this had been given, and δικαιοσύνη came from it, then were the law actually” against the promises of God (a sense to which γάρ, rightly taken, is unsuitable); but Paul really wishes to show that the law accords with the promises, and cannot be intended to annul these; for if the law were able to make alive, δικαιοσύνη would actually proceed from it, that is the same effect which is to be wrought through the promises. The law cannot, therefore, in itself, have any tendency hostile to “the promises.” But, he continues, “the Scripture has shut up all,” etc.=the power to “give life” (ζωοποιεῖν) was, as it were, denied the law, in order that “the promise might be given by faith in Jesus Christ.” It could not “give life,” and thereby bring “righteousness,” if only on account of the sins of men; but, in truth, it was not to do this, this was in no wise its design, for the promise was to come ἐκ πίστεως Ἰησ. Χρ’—Given life.—Ζωοποιεῖν = to make inwardly living, not == to give eternal life, for the sense is: if the law could awaken man from his death in sins, and give him spiritual life, “righteousness” (=δεδικαιωμένον εἶναι), would actually proceed from the law, for with the ζωοποιηθῆναι, the condition of justification would be of course perfectly realized. The conclusion is therefore from cause to effect. Meyer incorrectly takes it “from effect to cause,” in connection with his explanation of ζωοποιεῖν as the bestowment of eternal life. The “making alive” is not indeed actually the cause of “justification,” but this is only because a making alive through the law is not possible. It is however precisely this unrealized case, viz, a making alive through the law, that is here spoken of. [The being dead in sins is hero taken for granted; what is meant by “life?” Wieseler’s view is given above. Meyer as usual restricts it to future eternal life; but Lightfoot well says, it includes “alike the spiritual life in the present and the glorified life in the future, for in the Apostle’s conception the two are blended together and inseparable.” This seems to accord better with New Testament usage. The reasoning then is not from the whole to its part (Alford), for the “justification” is not strictly a part, but a condition of “life,” nor from cause to effect, but from effect to cause. “Life” does not comefrom the law, it does not, was not designed to justify, it is not against the promise, but has another purpose afterwards set forth.—R.]

Verily.—Ὄντως= in fact, and not merely according to the fancy of the Judaizers, as is now the case, the hypothesis being denied.Righteousness.—Δικαιοσύνη is of course not immediately identical with “the inheritance,” but it is an essential element of it, and the one treated of throughout the Epistle, which to be attained by faith.

Galatians 3:22. But on the contrary, the Scripture shut up all under sin.—Συγκλείειν is the strengthened κλείειν, to shut up, (not to shut together): then more tropically with εἰς to deliver up as a prisoner to some one; and generally, to give up into the power of any one, to deliver over. ̔Υπό in this verse and the next one expresses this state of subjection still more strongly. γραφή: the Scripture, generally, the written word of God: not the law. Τὰπάντα: collective whole=all men; 50] as a fact, doubtless including Gentiles as well as Jews; although, as the context shows, the immediate reference is only to those who have the law, and of whom the Scripture speaks, that Isaiah, the Jews.—The sense of this somewhat peculiar expression is easily deduced from Galatians 3:21. It is meant to explain, why the law (and generally, any law) could not make alive=impart spiritual life. “If the law had been able ζωοποιεῖν, then δικαιοσύνη would have proceeded from it; an impossible thing, for the Scripture has placed all under the power of sin,” it was therefore not possible to fulfil the law and in this way to come to spiritual life; for the law certainly has not the power to destroy the dominion of sin, such a dominion as exists; it has not the power to break as it were the yoke of sin. But how far now can such a “shutting up under sin” be ascribed to the Scripture? Of course only in so far as it bears witness to this “being shut up.” The sense therefore is: according to the testimony of the Scripture all are subjected under the power of sin=sin exercises a dominion, and that over all. This was the fault of men, but the active expression: the Scripture has done it, points nevertheless to an activity, which, it is true, could not have been exercised by the Scripture (for this, in itself, could only be a witness), but which yet was exercised by the Author of the Scripture, God. He has placed all under the dominion of sin (and that, as appears afterwards, with the design that the promise might be given by faith, etc.). But this, of course, He could only do for the punishment of men, on account of their “trangressions;” it is a punishment ordained of God, that sin should exercise a formal dominion over men.—The connection stated with the previous verse excludes an explanation which otherwise would have a good deal for it, especially because then a function would be ascribed immediately to the Scripture. The explanation is this: the Scripture has, by its declaration, its portrayal, as it were, shut up=subjected all men without leaving any escape or exception, to the sentence: Thou art a sinner! and therewith has also shut them up under the curse which sin brings.—Still less is it meant to be said that the Scripture constrains all to acknowledge that they are sinners. Nor is there any allusion here to the truth, that the law, instead of restraining sin, has promoted it. Unquestionably, however, we are warranted by what Paul elsewhere says of the law, to bring in this thought, not in order to explain the words, but in order to gain a clearer conception of the fact.

The purpose of this “shutting up all under sin” was, that “the promise” should not be given “by the law” but “by faith of Jesus Christ” and therefore that matters should proceed according to the “covenant” of God, that Isaiah, that the promised good should be given, in a certain sense attained, not by merit of works, but of free grace. (This was the purpose of God of course with the foreknowledge that this end, on account of the sinfulness of men, cannot be reached through the law.) But more specially this “shutting up under sin” had as its aim, that the promise might be given ἐκπίστεως ̓ΙησοῦΧριστοῦ. For the law was given until the seed should come to whom it had been promised: this shutting up all under sin in consequence of which the law could not make alive, had therefore as its aim, that the promise should be given “by faith” on this Seed, that Isaiah, this Seed is Himself first made partaker of the promised good, since, according to Galatians 3:16, the promises were given also to Him, and to others only through Him. Therefore also the duplicate expression by faith of Jesus Christ—to them that believe.—It no longer concerns the writer merely to show that the promise is given “by faith” or “to them that believe,” agreeably to its original nature, and therefore really “of promise,” or of grace. This has already been established in Galatians 3:17-18, but now, after the new epoch of the history of redemption, the epoch of law, is expressly called an adventitious [hinzugekommene] period, and the sinful condition of men having been made prominent, the discourse is directed more definitely to the point that the promise is given by faith on Jesus Christ, as the Redeemer, of grace therefore, but of grace ministered in this way. [It is perhaps best, with Ellicott and Alford, to take the genitive “of Jesus Christ” as both objective and subjective; the Object and the Giver of faith. St. Paul’s opponents, as nominal Christians, might hold that the promise came to believers only, but he insists that it came not “by the law, but by faith of Jesus Christ.” Hence there is no tautology (Lightfoot)—R.]—“The promise:” here of course, in the objective sense, the object of promise. Taken generally this is=the inheritance; in a more special application that which is attainable for sinful men “by faith of Jesus Christ,” is the “being justified,” as is simply stated in Galatians 3:24.—The promise, therefore, was to be given “by faith;” it was not possible “by the law” on account of sin: but before faith came, the law—and that on account of being shut up under sin—or more precisely, the peculiar position of men in respect to the law, was in its proper place, in order to open the way for the revelation of faith. This Paul says in Galatians 3:23.

Galatians 3:23. But before faith came.—Neither here nor anywhere else [in N. T.] does πίστις mean the doctrina fidem postulans, the gospel, but subjective faith, which however is made objective. When men at the preaching of the gospel, believe on Christ, faith, which before was wanting, was now come, that Isaiah, it had entered, so to speak, the hearts of those who had become believers in Christ (Meyer).—We were kept in ward, shut up under the law.—“We”=the Christians from among the Jews. “Under the law” (ὑπὸ νόμον) is to be joined with “shut up” (συγκεκλ.)‚ and this is then more closely characterized by “kept in ward” (ἐφρουρ.), which marks the transition to “unto the faith‚” etc. Paul then says first: We were “shut up under the law” the law was the master to whose power, we were completely subjected, without any freedom of our own. And as such (shut up under the law), we were guarded, kept in ward (ἐφρουρούμεθα)=that we might not become free, in substance: we were held in subjection to the law. What now does this mean? Plainly it. characterizes, briefly and strikingly, the nature of the law; it was a pressing yoke, a constraining power, to which men were subject. It was such by its continual holding up of commandments and prohibitions, and especially by what was connected therewith, the continual, terrifying denunciation of the curse in case of transgression in case of the non-fulfilment of the enjoined conditions. According to this, how can the condition of men under the law be more strikingly depicted than as a “being shut up under the law” [the perfect participle, which reading we retain, expressing this continued, permanent state.—R.], and because no manner of dispensation therefrom was bestowed in the whole epoch before faith was revealed as a συγκεκλ. φρουρεῖσθαι? [The meaning of ἐφρουρούμεθα is not “safely kept,” but “kept in ward.” We were shut up under the law and thus kept prisoners.—R.]

The purpose of this representation of the condition of law is no longer merely “to place in the light” still more clearly the great difference between the law and the covenant of promise in itself (as in Galatians 3:19-20), but it is now to be shown how the design of the law, in its deeper significance, nevertheless coincided with that of the covenant, how the former was preparatory to the perfecting of the latter. For “we were kept in ward, shut up under the law,” says Paul, unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. This is to be taken not merely as temporal, but also as telic=for faith=to the end that it might be possible for faith to be revealed, the same faith therefore, in reference to which it had just been said, that the Scripture shut up all under sin, in order that the promise might be given through it. The direct aim of the law, therefore, was the revelation of this faith, and through this we are made partakers of the promise; so absolutely untrue is it, that it stood in the way of the promise.—“Revealed:” for “so long as men had not yet believed on Christ, faith had not yet come into manifestation, it was still an element of life hidden in the counsel of God, which, as a historical manifestation, was unveiled, when the congregation of believers came into being.” Meyer. How far now was this being “kept in ward, shut up under the law” preparatory for faith, and pointing to it? This Paul does not state; we must fill out the statement for ourselves, which however is not difficult after the preceding remarks. The Scripture has shut up all under sin. But on the other hand these same were kept shut up under the law. What else was purposed thereby (since ζωοποιεῖν through it is already excluded), than to awaken and keep continually awake in the soul, the fearful consciousness of standing under the curse of the law (the curse comprehended in the law itself, against transgression of it, against sin), and by this very means, on the other hand, to ground more and more deeply in the soul the conviction of the impossibility of attaining to “righteousness” through this law. The first effect, the consciousness of deserving the curse is elsewhere (comp. Galatians 2:19) designated by Paul as a “dying,” and this operation of the law as a “killing.” Comp. 2 Corinthians 3:6. In this way it led to the revelation of faith in men’s hearts, as to the only way of escape yet possible, or, it led to the longing for a redemption from sin, and thus made men willing for faith. on the Redeemer given by God in Christ. [This was the result, but the state “under the law” was still objectively real, whether this consciousness were awakened or not Ellicott remarks on the unusual order, that it “seems intended to give prominence to μέλλουσαν, and to present more forcibly the contrast between former captivity and subsequent freedom.” Comp. Romans 8:18.—R.]

Galatians 3:24. So that the law hath been.—Ὥστε: an inference. The fact of this “being kept in ward,” etc, “unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed” made the law our schoolmaster.—This name it deserves, and that for a twofold reason: 1. The παιδαγωγός 51] approaches his charge with commands and prohibitions, nay, sometimes with threats of punishment, and in general, with limitations of his freedom, and lays upon him in this respect a stringent yoke; there takes place a keeping in ward, shut up under him. This limitation of freedom, and in general this whole relation of subjection, is not however an end in itself, but has place only as a means to an end, serves a higher purpose, namely, that the pupil may be trained for mature age, and for the assuming of that higher grade, for which he is destined; “kept in ward, shut up” only “unto” that, which is afterwards to be revealed. And, according to Galatians 3:23, the function of the law also had precisely this twofold aspect.—This goal that was set for attainment, the second point, was the main thing with the pedagogy of the law; this, therefore, is expressly stated in the added phrase (hath been our schoolmaster) εἰς Χριστόν, unto Christ.—This is unquestionably relic; this again is more precisely explained by that we might be justified by faith.—The goal was Christ=justification by faith in Him. Justification, which the law itself could not bring, because “shutting us up under sin,” it was yet to open the way for, to conduct to; because it could not itself bring it, was yet to impel to the seeking and attaining of it “by faith.”

Galatians 3:25. But after that faith is come, etc.—The law was preparatory to faith in Christ (and so far, indeed, in agreement with the covenant of promise), but for the very reason that it was preparatory, it had only a temporary validity, it ceased with the coming of that for the coming of which it was meant to prepare. Freedom from the law had the way prepared for it by the law itself, leading as it did to faith (how, see on Galatians 3:23); but actual freedom came in only with faith. How?

Galatians 3:26 explains how (in connection with the aspect of the law as schoolmaster). By the fact that man through faith becomes a son of God. In this conception, however, we are not unduly to emphasize “son” as is commonly done, and to attribute to it the sense of free, Song of Solomon, come to majority, who therefore no longer stands, as a παῖς, under the παιδαγωγός . No doubt the “son of God” is also the one of full age, and therefore free; but Paul, instead of the bare notion of majority, substitutes at once a higher, theological idea, that of the Child of God. Whoever now stands to God in the relation of child, can no longer remain under the law, that schoolmaster, whose threats of the wrath of God awaken slavish fear.[FN52]—Πάντες=all without distinction. This word is meant to emphasize strongly the power of faith. Whoever he be that has it, becomes a son of God and free from the schoolmaster, therefore you also are free. “You” writes Paul of set purpose, having before ( Galatians 3:25) spoken only of the Jewish Christians as those who had previously been under the schoolmaster. But now: You all, even the Gentile Christians, all you who are become believers,—that it might come into no one’s mind, to place himself, of his own accord, under the schoolmaster, the law.—Paul says designedly in Christ Jesus instead of a genitive immediately depending on faith because he wishes to predicate of Christians that they are in Christ Jesus. For he proves that they are sons of God, from their putting on Christ, ver27.

Galatians 3:27. The demonstrative force here appear to be simply in this, that Christ was God’s Son (Meyer). Wieseler’s objection that Son of God is not used in a similar sense to that in which υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ would be applied to Christ, because it is not used in the sense to a being begotten of God, is a strange one. Certainly that is not meant, but by this very putting on of Him who as begotten of God is God’s Song of Solomon, believers come into the relation of children to God, of course in the measure in which it is possible with them.—It is peculiar that Paul proves that all are the children of God through faith in Christ, immediately from the fact that they all have put on Christ by baptism, and Song of Solomon, without any intermediate step, puts Baptism in the place of Faith. Faith and Baptism, accordingly, are to him in a certain sense convertible ideas, that Isaiah, he does not conceive faith without baptism, or baptism without faith; he can therefore prove an effect of faith from an effect of baptism, and doubtless he speaks only to and of such as were not only baptized as well as believers, but with whom also the act of baptism was at the same time an act of faith.—The transition, however, from the “faith is Christ Jesus” to the baptizedin to Christ is easily intelligible in another view also. For nothing proves so clearly that any one has become a Son of God, as that he has put on Christ, and this takes place through the “being baptized into Christ” in a way that is also objective, and therefore undeniable[FN53]. On the other hand, his reference to baptism is of course only secondary; he does not as yet mention it in Galatians 3:26, because, according to the connection he is there concerned directly with the effect of faith.

The full import of put on Christ is not developed, yet one thing at least is said, and that is primarily the most important—it involves the having become a son of God. It is not immediately = the putting on of “the new man.” For the discussion here respects not the ethical quality of the Acts, but the relation to God involved in it; it is by justification and the relation of children to God given therewith and not by the subsequent sanctification, that we become free from the pedagogy of the law; the filial relation to God does not result from the putting on of the new Prayer of Manasseh, but the reverse. On the other hand, in becoming a son of God, a man naturally has come into an inner relation to Christ, into communion with Him. This inner relation to Christ, in which we invest ourselves with Him, must then without fail lead to this result, that Christ becomes in us the principle of a new life, and we become inwardly transformed. This result is the more certain in that the entrance into relation with Him is so entirely real, through the act of baptism. One cannot enter into Such inward relation with Christ without also experiencing this inward transformation, at least in its principle. The admonition Romans 13:14 : “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ,” may therefore be understood in the sense of an admonition to a corresponding ethical work=to a becoming like Him through our work.—All are children of God by faith (πάντες, Galatians 3:26; ὅσοι, Galatians 3:27). This Paul carries out in the concrete in Galatians 3:28.

Galatians 3:28. There is neither Jew nor Greek.—All these natural antitheses do not come into account in this relation,=if one only believes on Christ, he is a son of God, let him be what else he may. This is tersely expressed at the end of the verse by for ye all are one in Christ Jesus.—For this, according to the connection, can mean nothing else than: these distinctions, in a certain sense, antagonisms, do not, as respects being in Christ, come into consideration. All who are in Christ Jesus, are in the same degree “sons of God,” how different soever they may be in other relations, that Isaiah, they are all, (ἕν) one and the same. Paul, however, goes somewhat farther yet, and by using εἷς, says that they are capable of being regarded all together, as one (moral) person.—Here too, we are not to think, at least directly, of “the new man” as if the “one new man” were meant.—Why now precisely this concrete explication of the “all” in Galatians 3:26? The connection shows that the Apostle’s first concern is to represent the antagonism of Jews and Gentiles as done away in Christ; for by the law this antagonism especially was maintained, and was therefore removed by the falling away of the law. And, on the other hand, the abrogation of the law could not be maintained in full earnest unless that antagonism were regarded as removed. But in order to make this “all” more vivid, or to place in still stronger light the power and meaning of faith in Christ, he adjoins yet other antitheses, and remarks that they too, in the new relation, are no longer reckoned of account; the slave also is through “being in Christ” a “son of God” as well as the freeman, and it is the same with sex. In this also, he appears to have the law still in mind. For these antitheses were maintained by the law; at least the law spoke sometimes of slaves, sometimes of freemen, sometimes of men, sometimes of women, and gave in respect to one class, ordinances which were not in force for another, while in view of faith in Christ, or of baptism in Christ’s name—these antitheses fell entirely away. [There is a slight change of construction in the last antithesis. “The alterable social distinctions are contrasted by οὐδέ, the unalterable natural one is expressed by καί. The latter distinction is specially applicable as against the Jews insisting on their own spiritual privileges, and on the perpetual obligation of circumcision.”—Wordsworth. Of this there may be a hint in the use of vial, “sons,” not “children,” as e. v. The other sex have now the same privilege once belonging to “sons” alone. “Ἄρσενand θῆλυ, generalized by the neuter, as being the only gender which will express both” (Alford).—R.]

Galatians 3:29. But if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed.—Because Christ Himself is Abraham’s seed ( Galatians 3:16; Galatians 3:19), and those that are His participate in His status.—Heirs according to the promise—for it was to Abraham and his seed that the promise was given, therefore=the promise goes then for you also into fulfilment. On the other hand it needs no proof that those who are Christ’s (because they are heirs by virtue of this fact, that they are Christ’s) are heirs in the way of the promise of grace, not of works.

[Ellicott: “The declaration of Galatians 3:7, is now at length substantiated and expanded by twenty-two verses of the deepest, most varied, and most comprehensive reasoning that exists in the whole compass of the great Apostle’s writings.”—R.]

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. The Law and the Covenant. Three points respecting the law are treated of in this section: a) the difference between the law and the covenant of promise; b) the inner relation of the law to the covenant as the means of preparation for the faith which receives the promised inheritance; c) the liberation from the law on the entrance of faith. Upon the first two points we have little more to say in addition to what has been already said in the Exeg. Notes.

a. The difference between the Law and the Covenant of Promise. The law was not only given much later ( Galatians 3:17), but had also an entirely different character from the covenant of promise made with Abraham, and is not therefore to be regarded as a sort of renewal of that first covenant. The revelation of God to the patriarchs was essentially a different one from the subsequent one at the giving of the law on Sinai. In the first God gave pure, free promises of grace for faith; in the second He also, it is true, gave promises, but imposed as a condition of their fulfilment, the observance of a complex system of law. Or, primarily, the whole sinful people were placed under a constitution of law, and to this promises were attached, but only in the case of obedience; in the case of disobedience, there were threatenings, quite as distinct. To this corresponded the entirely different way in which the law was brought in—in the formal way of a compact concluded through a third party, a mediator, where both sides make engagements, and take on themselves obligations. By this was indicated a separation of God and His people, and it was therefore not the normal relation of God to His people, the one corresponding to the nature of God, but only a relation induced by the circumstances, especially by the transgressions of the people at the time; from the beginning, therefore, it pointed beyond itself, but was, no doubt, for a certain time the proper one, adapted to prepare for the relation of grace between God and His people that had been introduced by His dealings with the patriarchs.

b. The inner relation of the Law to the Covenant as the means of preparation for the faith which receives the promised inheritance. Respecting the second point we give here only the apt remarks of Rieger (although his interpretation of Galatians 3:22 is in itself incorrect): The attestation of God, written down and publicly promulgated in the law, has so taken hold of us and all our doing and leaving undone, that no denying, palliating, justifying of ourselves can any longer avail anything, but we must give ourselves up guilty and prisoners under the curse denounced against every transgression; and through this captivity under the law, become pliant and ready for faith on the promise, as afterwards for coming humbly to the cross of Christ preached in the gospel, and thus seizing the only way of escape left remaining to us. The law, then, by its confining me under sin, so far from having the will or power to close against me the access to grace, on the contrary drives me into a strait, in which I am most apt to find and lay hold on the only means of escape. Deluding hiding places of the caves of sin, it indeed closes; but the appointed fleeing to the wounds that have atoned for me it furthers, rather than hinders. In brief: the promise ratifies to man everything, the law comes between and denies him all. Thereupon it is thought, God is against Himself, that must be allowed; but at last it turns out, that, the law itself has had to help to this end, namely, that faith and the promise should have the victory. Christ is the law’s honor, end, and fulfilment.

c. The liberation from the Law on the entrance of faith. Christ is the law’s honor, that Isaiah, what honors the law is precisely this, that it leads to Christ. But at the same time and on this very account is He the law’s end and fulfilment. The end of the law, for this beyond question is the intention of the whole Epistle, to demonstrate that Christians are no longer under the law, and in Galatians 3:25, this is expressly declared: now that faith is come, we are no longer under the schoolmaster; he has fulfilled his office.—This Isaiah, in the first instance, to be understood historically. With the coming of Christ the epoch of the law, when it exercised dominion, is past, and a new epoch has begun, that of faith on Christ. Hence, also, those who in this new epoch are added to the people of God, through faith in Christ, that Isaiah, the Gentiles, are no longer to be held subject to the law, as though faith were not sufficient for salvation.—But this is to be understood also more specially, in a subjective sense; the man who has attained to faith in Christ, is thereby no longer under the law, but may and ought to view himself as free therefrom, and to appropriate to himself the full consolation of God’s grace, and to oppose it to all accusations of the law.

2. The Law hat still its use, and must be preached among Christians. But if now from (c) it were inferred: The law then no longer concerns us, and ought not to be preached among Christians! this would be a false conclusion. A usus justificatorius, unquestionably, cannot be made of the law under any circumstances, and we must, with Paul, warn men against any such use; and to this extent the position of the Christian preacher, as respects the law, is a negative one. But such a usus, indeed, did not belong to the law in itself, according to its Divine intention (as Paul teaches us), even though it was actually so employed. What belonged to the law, was the usus pædagogicus, and that it has still, and so far it has a function even in this, the New Testament era. For although the epoch of the law as a historical preparation for redemption, ceased with the coming of Christ, and with that the epoch of faith began, yet in the individual the “coming of faith” is always at first inchoate, and in this respect it cannot be said that in the Christian era we simply admonish the soul to have faith in Christ, and lead it at once to the true source of justification. This may indeed take place, nor can it be disputed that there is such a thing as coming to faith in Christ at once. But its depth, its steadfastness, its true, full worth, this faith receives, now as ever, only through the service of the law. This must be held up before each Prayer of Manasseh, and that distinctly and repeatedly, in order to bring him to the knowledge of his incapacity of fulfilling it, of the impossibility of attaining in this way to justification, and of the necessity of faith in Christ. Even the ceremonial part is applicable to this end, in order to make the value of its fulfilment in Christ the more plainly visible. Naturally, however, the specially ethical precepts come into the foreground. (That, in the application of the law within the Christian sphere, these latter, of the whole complex system of the “Mosaic law,” are most prominently in mind, and that, therefore, when we speak of the law as still having a use at the present time, the word is not to be taken in its full sense, Isaiah, of course, easily understood.)—In this holding up of the law, in its usus pædagogicus, there Isaiah, it is true, only an analogon of what took place in the actual epoch of the law; for the subjection under the law is renewed, so to speak, only in an ideal way. At most, it may be said to him who will not be persuaded of the impossibility of being justified by works of law: then make trial of the law awhile! But on no one may the law be actually imposed, for the sake of having it do its work on him, to prepare him for faith; and no one ought to impose it on himself to this end. And as to the “bondage under law” of the Christian Church before the Reformation, we may. it is true, view in it a permissive Providence of God, and therefore something that was salutary, but we are bound to stigmatize the fact in itself as indicating an entire misconception of the true character of Christianity.—Yet, if the law is to have its usus pædagogicus, an actual subjection under the law must take place, namely, through the medium of the conscience. Only where this “law written in their hearts” exercises its function (but not where there is a mere agitation of feeling or conviction of the intellect), is it possible for a vitally active faith to come into existence. Only for conscientiæ perterrefaclæ do the consolations of the grace of the gospel in reality exist. And these exactions and threatenings of the law in the conscience are in turn essentially enlarged, more clearly defined and intensified by the positive law of God, so that in this sense it amounts to a complete “shutting up under the law.” How long then this “keeping in word, shut up,” etc., is to last, how soon faith is to be revealed, and justification to be brought in, is reserved to God’s secret counsel, who in the history of His people alone knew when the time was fulfilled and who in the case of each soul also, alone knows it. To wish to continue “shut up under the law” would be perverse, for Christ is come, we must press through to Him, and in Him find consolation. But even when faith has been attained to, the temptation may come, to a retrogression “under the law,” which must therefore be overcome with all appropriate means of strengthening faith. In this case then we are to take a decidedly negative position with respect to the law, turning from it, suffering it not to terrify us, nor to expel Christ, and set Moses again in His place. Comp. also, on the whole subject, the admirable observations of Luther. below, in the Homiletical remarks. This no doubt is the usus, which the law even since Christ’s coming has retained. But this use manifests Christ more than ever as the kind of the law; the law is only meant to drive us to Him. But Christ is also the Fulfiller of the law. The question therefore arises, whether the law have not another usus also, for the Christian. Upon this see below, in the remarks upon Galatians 5:15 sq.[FN54]

3. The significance and the blessing of Baptism. Upon the idea of the “sons of God” see Doctrinal Note7, on the following Section. Those, are “sons of God,” who believe on Christ, the more certainly so because they have received Baptism, and therewith have been baptized “unto Christ.” For therewith they have “put on Christ” = have come into Christ = into Christ’s relation to God = into the relation of the sons of God. Two things are implied in this passage. (1) Baptism is only a “putting on Christ,” because joined with faith, it is therefore to be considered as such only when this connection really exists. That is: whoever positively does not believe on Christ, of him it. is true, even if he chance to have received baptism outwardly, that he has not put on Christ. (Indeed, his being baptized could hardly be called “baptized into Christ.”) On this ground, however, our practice of infant baptism remains legitimate. In the case of those, who do not yet believe when they are baptized, only because they are not yet capable of believing, but in whom there is just as little unbelief, or perverted faith in any thing else; in the case of children, who are brought by their believing parents to baptism, nothing certainly hinders us from assuming that they in fact “put on Christ.” Let us consider only what this means. Not, to become a new man (see above, in the Exeg. Notes), but in the first instance only to enter into the relation of children to God. For children certainly are not yet “under the law,” and are not placed under the law (and consequently slavish fear of the Divine wrath and curse is out of the question), but are consciously placed by their parents under the promise of God in Jesus Christ. And if any significance at all is to be attributed to the parental care in this behalf, it must be assumed that an actual transfer under the promise takes place, where no positive opposition can exist. They receive from God the adoption of children, although as yet they do not use or comprehend it, that Isaiah, God comes into the relation of a Father to them, and accepts them as His children “in Christ Jesus,” although as yet, they know it not. From this possession in fact, to the conscious use of it, those baptized then make the transition in the measure in which they themselves apprehend in faith the promise of God in Christ, and the most efficacious means for promoting this conscious apprehension in faith, is precisely the translation in fact into this relation to God, that has already taken place in baptism. What therefore with the adult, come to self-consciousness, is one Acts, namely, the communication of the blessing and the consciousness of having it, the translation into the adoption of children and the use and enjoyment of the same, Isaiah, with the child, divided. The possession is assured to it, in order that from the very beginning of self-consciousness, it may feel itself already in possession of the good, and may so much the more certainly make use of the same.[FN55] And yet—more nearly regarded—the distinction is not even so great as this, for with the adult also, the possession in fact of the adoption of children (the “putting on Christ”) and the consciousness and enjoyment of it—are two things by no means always coincident, but the latter is lacking only too often, from the weakness, nay, want of faith, that may intervene, and then the first, concern always is to apprehend the promises of God afresh in faith, or more exactly, by recalling to mind that we possess them in fact, to quicken anew faith, that Isaiah, the consciousness of the possession. (2) But it is to be observed, that on the other hand also, the power of effecting the putting on of Christ, and of making one a child of God is ascribed to faith only because it is joined with the being “baptized into Christ,” and therefore also, we may further conclude, can be ascribed only to it, when it is joined therewith. So then the candidate’s longing after faith inheres, as it were, in his baptism, and finds first through this its realization, so the converse is true: Faith not without Baptism! i. e., not merely that baptism must be added to faith, to perfect and to seal it, &c. but although a beginning of faith, more, however, in the nature of an inquiry of the heart after the salvation in Christ, than any thing more definite must precede baptism,—faith itself comes to the certainty: I have salvation in Christ, that Isaiah, in fact, comes really to be faith, only upon the ground and in virtue of that acceptance of the individual on the part of God, and that giving of himself up to God, which takes place in the act of baptism. Only on the ground of baptism, therefore, does the actual putting on of Christ take place, and therewith the becoming a child of God. Unquestionably this is the blessing and the significance of baptism, that it would thus help us to faith, to certainty as to our personal state of grace in Christ, even though in special circumstances it is reserved to God to lead a man without baptism to the certainty of faith.

[Calvin’s remarks on Galatians 3:27, present the middle ground of the Reformed Confession: “It is customary with Paul to treat of the Sacraments in two points of view. When he is dealing with hypocrites, in whom the mere symbol awakens pride, he then proclaims loudly the emptiness and worthlessness of the outward symbol, and denounces in strong terms, their foolish confidence. In such cases he contemplates not the ordinance of God, but the corruption of wicked men. When, on the other hand, he addresses believers, who make a proper use of the symbols, he then views them in connection with the truth—which they represent. In this case he makes no boast of any false splendor as belonging to the sacraments, but calls our attention to the actual fact represented by the outward ceremony. Thus, agreeably to the Divine appointment, the truth comes to be associated with the symbols.—The sacraments retain undiminished their nature and force; they present both to good and to bad men, the grace of God. No falsehood attaches to the promises which they hold out of the grace of the Holy Spirit. Believers receive what is offered; and if wicked men, by rejecting it, render the offer unprofitable to themselves, their conduct cannot destroy the faithfulness of God, or the true meaning of the sacrament. With strict propriety, then, does Paul, in addressing believers, say, that when they were baptized, they ‘put on Christ. ’In this way, the symbol and the Divine operation are kept distinct, and yet the meaning of the sacraments is manifest; so that they cannot, be regarded as empty and trivial exhibitions.”—R.]

4. “Ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” In this sentence there are two truths expressed, complimentary to each other, respecting the faith of Christians: a. All are one, that Isaiah, the natural differences, relative antitheses, which exist among men, place no limitations in the way of Christian faith. No one is hindered, by nationality or rank or sex, nor even by his religious belief, from becoming a Christian. Christianity is destined for absolutely all; as certainly as it is the specifically Divine, God-revealed religion; so on the other hand, this character of universality shows it to be the genuinely human religion, the religion destined for mankind as such.—Inasmuch as all can thus attain to faith in Christ, they can therewith, and this is the main thing, all attain also to the blessings contained therein, can all become Gods children, all become heirs of the heavenly kingdom.—b. All, moreover, are also one in Christ. Inasmuch as the Christian faith embraces all, it also unites all, comprehends all in one great whole, and so first realizes in the full sense the idea of the unity of the human race, which by it is transformed into a great family of God. This it was meant to be, but is not of itself, not so much in consequence of the naturally established distinctions, as of the continual influence of (falsely uniting as well as) falsely sundering sin, to which so many false distinctions owe their first origin (as that of slaves and freemen), and which has given to those naturally existing a false tension, and turned them into sundering antagonisms.—This implies at the same time, that Christianity, while it unquestionably does away all artificially established distinctions, does not level down natural ones, grounded in the Divine order of creation (such as sex, age, and also nationality), although it will have them divested of all harshness and false exaggeration (comp. also Anacker).

[The truth here set forth by the Apostle contains also the principle of true evangelical catholicity. As all are one, irrespective of the natural differences, relative antitheses, which previously existed; so all, who are “in Christ Jesus” are one, irrespective of the differences and antitheses, which remain after they become Christians. That through the influence of yet remaining sin, these antitheses become antagonisms, does not destroy the real unity, since all “in Christ Jesus” are at least tending towards assimilation to Him. This unity (or catholicity, as applied to the church) is something superior to external uniformity, whether of rite, order or mere theoretical creed. But, at the same time, it is something widely different from latitudinarianism. The latter has no positive basis, but this is the actual unity “in Christ Jesus,” the real catholicity of those who are “one,” not from outward constraint, or ecclesiastical regulations (however excellent), but from their position “in Christ Jesus,” which necessarily involves oneness of life from Him, with Him and in Him. Such a catholicity will lead neither to attempts to unite the visible church by means of external uniformity, nor to less earnest holding fast to the truth as it is in Jesus. In the Catholic Church, as thus constituted, “neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision” (rites, polity, philosophic or speculative theology), “but a new creature.” Galatians 6:15.—R.]

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

Galatians 3:19. Luther:—Even as it does not make sense for a man to say: Money maketh no one righteous, therefore it is worth nothing, just as little does it profit to say: The law maketh no one righteous, therefore is it a useless thing. But a man should so acquaint himself with the matter, as to attribute to each particular thing its own functions, that suiteth and appertaineth thereto. [Bunyan:—He that is dark as touching the scope, intents and nature of the law, is also dark as to the scope, nature and glory of the gospel.—R.]

Luther:—See here most evidently the evil consequence of transgressions. On account of these God was constrained to change His countenance towards His people, and could no longer simply give promises of grace. A separation had ensued, and a mediator must intervene, who yet could only throw a bridge over, but could not do away the schism; the people were placed under a law, that commanded, and promised also, it is true, and yet the promises could not receive their fulfilment.—Essentially this, even now, is always the result of transgressions. The law comes in, held up by the conscience, but this is only a mediator, which throws a bridge over, so that there is still a connection, but the separation cannot thus be taken away.—Yet as it was true of the people collectively, so is it true of the individual, that the law came indeed because of transgressions, but only until the seed should come. It is to find its end when it has done its work; is then to yield again to the Divine grace in Christ. Christ also it is true was called a Mediator, for He also was to unite that which was severed. But He has really united it, and not merely thrown over a bridge. For He received from God and brought to the people not merely the law, but came for the people’s sin and transgression “with His offering of Himself, and so removed the separation.” Whereas when Moses interceded upon the Mount for his sinful people, his office of mediator approached, indeed, to that of Christ; but after the intercession, although it preserved the people from destruction, he still came back to them with new tables of the law, and with the glory on his countenance which the people feared, and which he must therefore hide. Entirely different is the glory of the new Covenant.

Galatians 3:21. Spener:—What God has ordained, is not at variance within itself, and therefore law and gospel are not at variance. Both agree together, But that we sometimes think they are contrary to one another, comes from our want of understanding. If we find therefore any two things in the Holy Scriptures that seem to contradict one another, we must yet believe otherwise concerning them, because both are spoken by God, and the defect is in us alone, that we cannot comprehend it.—[John Brown:—What a sad aptitude is there in our depraved nature to misapprehend the design of the gifts and works of God, and to pervert that to our destruction which was meant for our salvation, rendering such an exuberance of illustration necessary to prevent fatal mistake as to the purpose of “the law.”—R]

Berlenb. Bible:—The law cannot make living. It commands only: This shalt thou do, else thou art accursed. It does not give spiritual energies, hut presupposes them. It cannot, bring new Divine life into the dead heart of man. Therefore also it cannot justify. If it could do this, “then would be extolled and revealed to Prayer of Manasseh, not God’s grace, but rather men with their own power, merit, and work, which would be wholly opposite to the gospel, wherein God alone is recognized as righteous, but all men as false and powerless.”

Galatians 3:22. The Scripture does not acknowledge in man the ability to help himself. It is the revelation of the general ruin, of the dominion of sin, over all men, showing how it began with the fall of the first Prayer of Manasseh, and has extended itself over the whole. There follows from this the necessity of a redemption. This testimony of Scripture, still continued, should persuade us also, of the impossibility of attaining through works, that Isaiah, through our own strength, to justification, and of the necessity of entering, for that purpose, upon the way of faith. If the Scripture has shut up all under sin, it is an idle fancy, if thou thinkest thou canst nevertheless, in contradiction thereto, fulfil the law.—“That the promise‚” etc. Blessed purpose of the terrifying judgment: God would thereby only close up the false way, and therewith, as it were, procure Himself space for the redemption through Christ, and thus for the manifestation of His free grace agreeably to the covenant of promise.

Galatians 3:23. Luther:—The law is a prison, both bodily and spiritually. Bodily, it guards the ungodly outwardly, and restrains them so that they may not according to their will and pleasure practice all manner of villainy without fear. Then it shows us also spiritually our sin, terrifies and humbles us, in order that, when it has so terrified us, we may recognize our misery and perdition. And this is its true work or office, which it is appointed to discharge in us; yet so that it endure not forever.—The law with its custody is meant to serve our best good, namely, that when we are terrified thereby, grace and the forgiveness of sins may become to us so much the sweeter and more amiable, such as man can attain to by no works, but only through faith.—Whoever now is so well skilled, that in time of temptation he can bring together these two things, which are yet else of all things most opposite to one another, that Isaiah, whoever knows, when the law terrifies him most vehemently, that then the end of the law is at hand, and also the beginning of grace and faith, such a one knows rightly how to use the law. Know thou, that the law slays thee to this end, that thou mayest, through Christ, be made truly alive?—What has happened historically, at a certain point of time, since Christ has come, has done away the law, and brought freedom to light; the same happens day by day, spiritually, in every Christian man. For in such a one the matter is wont to take such a course, that now the time of law and the time of grace, ever one after the other, has room and place.—The law has its time, when it urges him, torments and plagues him, and brings him to feel his sin and acknowledge its greatness, to be afraid of death and God’s judgment. And when it does this, it accomplishes its fitting and becoming work, which a Christian, while he yet lives in the flesh, feels more and oftener than he would fain feel it. But the time of grace Isaiah, when the heart, through the promise of Divine grace, is again helped up, so that it gains confidence through Christ towards God, and says: “Why then art thou cast down, O my soul, and why art thou disquieted in me?” Seest thou then nothing at all than merely law, sin, terror, mournfulness, despair, death, hell and the devil? Is there not also such a thing as grace, forgiveness of sins, righteousness, consolation, joy, peace, life, the kingdom of Heaven, God and Christ? We should with diligence learn to distinguish both manner of times, not with words only, but also in the heart, wherein they have their working. But this is above all things difficult. For although these two times, of law and grace, are widely different from each other, as concerns their unlike working, yet are they of all things most closely Joined together, namely, in one heart. Yea, no one thing is to another so near as fear and faith, law and gospel, sin and grace. For so near are they to one another, that one consumes away and devours the other.—The law is abused, first, by all such as set their holiness in works, and indulge themselves in such dreams as that men can be made righteous by the law.—The law, secondly, is also abused by those that would set Christians wholly free therefrom, as the enthusiasts essayed to do, and who dream that Christian freedom is such a freedom us that every one, after his own pleasure and presumptuous mind, may do what he will.—The law is abused, thirdly, by those that are terrified thereby, and yet understand not, that such terror should not endure longer than until they reach Christ. These, through such abuse of the law finally fall into despair, even as hypocrites by their abuse of the law, become proud and presumptuous. On the contrary, one can never highly enough estimate and value, what a dear, precious, and excellent thing it is to have the law, when it is rightly used.—[Such wrong use of the law is made by those who, appointed to lead children to Christ, continually din in their cars such false doctrine, such old legalism, as this: “My child, be good, do thus and Song of Solomon, or God will not love you.” What wonder when parents and teachers make the first wrong use of the law above referred to, that the little ones, whom a better training would speedily bring to Jesus, waiting to receive them, make the third wrong use of the law, and are terrified by it. “Forbid them not” thus! Parents do not stand in the place of the law as a schoolmaster, but, as it were, in the place of God, the Father.—R.]

[Burkitt:—Moses and the law is a rigid and severe schoolmaster, who by whips and threats requires an hard lesson of his scholars, whether able to learn it or not; but Christ and the gospel, is a mild and gentle teacher, who by sweet promises and good rewards, invite their scholars to duty, and guide and help them to do what of themselves they cannot do; by which means they love both their Master and their lesson, and rejoice when it is nearest to them to direct them in their studies—R.]

Luther:—If the law is done away, we are never henceforth under its tyranny, but are under Christ, and live in all security and joy, through Him who now reigns in us mildly and graciously by His Spirit. Therefore, if we could rightly apprehend Christ, the dear Saviour, this severe and wrathful schoolmaster would not dare to touch a hair of our heads. From this it follows, that believers, as concerns the conscience, are by all means free from the law; on this account the schoolmaster [Zuchtmeister] should not rule therein, i. e., he should not affright, threaten, or take the conscience captive, and though he should undertake it, the conscience should not care for it, but should behold Christ on the cross, who through His death had freed us from the law and all its terrors. Nevertheless there is sin still remaining in the saints, whereby their conscience is accused and plagued. Yet Christ helps it up again through His daily, yea, continual drawing near. For like as Christ, when the time was fulfilled, came once upon earth, that He might redeem us from the insupportable burden and power of our schoolmaster, even so does He come every day, yea, every hour, to us spiritually, that we may grow and increase in faith and the knowledge of Him, and that the conscience may from day to day better and more certainly apprehend Him, and on the other hand, that the law of the flesh and of sin, the fear of death, and terror before God’s wrath and judgment, and whatever else my unhappiness Isaiah, that the law is wont to bring with it, may continually grow weaker and weaker, and diminish more and more.

[Calvin:—It would not be enough to say that we are no longer children, unless it were added that we are freemen; for in slaves age makes no alteration. The fact of our being children of God proves our freedom.—R.]—In Starke:—Even among God’s children are many found that still are burdened with many weaknesses, as is witnessed by the example of the Galatians.

Galatians 3:27. Luther:—To put on Christ according to the gospel, means not, to put on the law and its righteousness, but means, by baptism to receive the unspeakable treasure, namely, forgiveness of sins, righteousness, peace, comfort, joy in the Holy Ghost, blessedness, life and Christ Himself with all that He is and has.—Starke:—The putting on of anything is such a union with that which we put on, that it becomes quite our own, that we therewith cover our nakedness, adorn ourselves, yea, it may even be, are superbly attired. Considering this matter, we may remember how our first parents, before their fall, needed no clothes to cover their nakedness, but after the fall sought them idly in fig-leaves, as an image of their own righteousness, in the place of which God made them other clothes of skins, as an image of the righteousness of Christ; for this is our beautiful garment, because it covers our nakedness, and protects us against the wrath of God, and adorns our soul.—O exceeding benefit, that we were baptized into the name of Jesus, even in our childhood ! The remembrance of our baptism should be to us a continual assurance of participation in Christ and the kingdom of God; but not the less also give to us a continual impulse to all the faithfulness which the covenant of grace requires.—Believing Christians have in their daily putting on of apparel, especially when they put on new and clean garments, a beautiful figure, whereby they should bethink themselves, partly for comfort, of their legitimate nobility in Christ, partly of their bounded duty towards Him.

[Burkitt:—Now since the coming of Christ there is no difference or discrimination between one nation and another, no regard to any national privilege, either of Jew or Gentile, no distinction of conditions either bond or free; or of sexes, cither male or female; but circumcised or uncircumcised, we are all, one as good as another, in respect of outward privileges, or external advantages; but being sincere believers, we are all equally accepted of God in Christ. No external privilege or prerogative whatsoever, without faith in Christ, is any whit available to salvation; none are debarred from Christ, nor more nor better accepted with Him for any of these things.—R.]—Luther:—“For ye all are one in Christ Jesus.” These are great and admirable words. Before the world and according to the order of the law, there is a very great distinction of persons, which should be most diligently maintained. For if the wife in the family would be husband, the son father, the scholar master, the servant lord, the subject ruler, what would come of it all? Truly a wild confusion, so that no one could know which was which.[FN56] But because Christ’s kingdom is not a kingdom of the law, but of grace, there is also no distinction of persons therein. The Christ whom St. Peter and St. Paul, together with all the saints, have had, even the same I, thou, and all believers, also have, the same have all baptized children also. Therefore a Christianly believing conscience knows nothing at all of the law, but looks alone upon Christ, through whom it comes to the unspeakable glory of being God’s child.—Lange:—If all men are one in Christ, as respects the Divine benefits or blessings of salvation, so no less do the rules of life given, and the duties inculcated by Christ, apply to all, so that no one may except himself.

Galatians 3:29. Starke:—The seed of Abraham is Christ with all His Christians, who cleave to Him in faith. He the Head, they as His members; He as the One through whom the blessing comes; they as His associates. Intimate and glorious union!

On Galatians 3:15-22. (The Epistle for the 13 th Sunday after Trinity.) Heubner:—The covenant of God with Abraham an everlasting covenant with the good1. Establishment, character of the same in itself: a) it is truly Divine, inviolable ( Galatians 3:15) and b) had reference as to its contents to all men and their redemption through Christ2. The continuance of the same even under the law ( Galatians 3:17-20): a) The law cannot abrogate the covenant of grace ( Galatians 3:17-18). b) On the other hand the law is meant as a dispensation on account of sin to prepare the way for the perfect dispensation of the covenant ( Galatians 3:19-20). 3. The perfecting of the same by Christianity: a) necessity of this covenant even according to the law ( Galatians 3:21), b) the condition of the same is faith in Christ ( Galatians 3:22).—The false and the right use of the law.—The dispensations of God for the salvation of men: Abraham, Moses, Christ. (The three stages of the economy of Salvation in their relation to each other.)—The unity of God with all the external difference of his revealed dispensations.—The one purpose of all the institutions of salvation.—Christ the consummation of all revelations.—Genzken: Promise and law: (1) Both given by God, (2) have both one divine purpose.—Westermeier: The testament of our God: (1) its excellence, (2) its irrepealableness.—Joh. Chr. Starr: The use of the gospel for our salvation: whoever uses the same aright, regards it as a Testament, a) to which he adds nothing, because it is God’s Testament ( Galatians 3:15 sq.), b) as a testament confirmed by the death of Christ ( Galatians 3:17), c) as a free irrevocable gift of grace ( Galatians 3:18-20), d) in which alone righteousness and life are to be sought.—In Lisco: The purpose of the law : (1) what it is not, (2) what it is.—God’s covenant of promise an unchangeable one=not abrogated by the law: (1) the law might not abrogate it, because it had long before been established ( Galatians 3:15-18); (2) could not abrogate it, because it could not replace it = could not help to justification ( Galatians 3:21-22).

Galatians 3:23-29. (Epistle for New Year’s Day.)[FN57] Heubner: The happiest entrance into the new year: (1) When we grow out of sin and the law’s constraint and through faith become children of God ( Galatians 3:23). (2) When We begin a new life after Christ’s example, and become united in love ( Galatians 3:27-28). (3) When we keep in mind the hope of one day celebrating in Heaven the eternal year of jubilee—The free, courageous mind with which the Christian enters upon the new year.—Westermeier: The precious New-year’s gifts out of God’s word, which this epistle offers: (1) Golden freedom; (2) A high rank; (3) A beautiful garment; (4) Peace and unity; (5) The best hopes for the future.—In Lisco: At the entrance upon a new year how important for all believers is the certainty that we are God’s children.—Schazzer:—How happy our life in the new year will be, when it is a life in the new covenant! (1) What means it: to live in the new covenant? a) not to live without God; b) nor as in the old covenant =under the law; c) it means: life in the faith of the Son of God—in the adoption of God’s children—in communion also with all the children of God. (2) Such a life is happy; for (a) it takes from us what makes us wretched: love of the world and the servile mind; (b) it gives us what makes us truly happy: the joyfulness of faith, the filial feeling, the blessing of Christian communion; (c) it promises us eternal life.—The blessing of being children of God consists (1) in the inward fear; (2) in the brotherly union; (3) in the promised inheritance.

Conard: We are God’s children: (1) this ought to give us repose; (2) impel us to holiness; (3) fill us with blessed hope.—Harless: Freedom in Christ: (1) freedom out of Christ; (2) actual slavery out of Christ; (3) the law and freedom in Christ.

Galatians 3:19-29. How is the law related to the covenant of promise? (1) It is essentially distinct therefrom, Galatians 3:19-20; (2) yet it is not in conflict with it, for it does not aim to justify ( Galatians 3:21-22); (3) it is on the other hand advantageous for it, Galatians 3:23-24; (4) it must however recede before it ( Galatians 3:25 sq.)—Christ, (1) the law’s honor=this is the law’s honor, that it points to Christ; (2) the law’s end.—The law points to Christ, but also ends in Christ 1, historically, 2, ethically].—Justification before God (1) comes into effect not without the law, (2) yet not through the law. Or (1) only through faith in Christ, (2) yet not without the law.

[ Galatians 3:27; Galatians 3:29.—Chrysostom (in Turner):—Thus we say, with regard to friends, such a one has put on such a one, when we mean to describe great love and increasing harmony and union. For he who has clothed himself appears to be that with which he is clothed. Let Christ, therefore, always appear in us.—Augustine:—We having put on Christ are all Abraham’s seed in Him, and we are Christ’s members; we are one man in Him.—R.]

[ Galatians 3:26-28. True freedom in Christ, hence true equality and true unity! How often are they sought by the world and even by the Church in some other way!—R.]

Of Galatians 3:21-29 each one is suited to immediate homiletical application. Special suggestions are not needed.

Footnotes:

FN#33 - Galatians 3:19.—[The E. V. is sufficiently accurate. Ellicott renders “what then is the object of the law ?” Schmoller: Wie verhült es sick mit dem Gesetz?—R.]

FN#34 - Galatians 3:19.—Griesbach and Scholz hare ἐτέθη, which is not sufficiently supported. [So Rec, but προσετέθη is adopted by most modern editors.—The article should be retained with “transgressions” in the E. V. So Ellicott, Alford.—R]

FN#35 - Galatians 3:19.—Instead of ἐπήγγελται, J. and many cursive, some Fathers also, have ἐπήγγελται; but this is poorly supported, probably arising from the fact that was not understood.

FN#36 - Galatians 3:19.—[The italics in the E. V. separate διαταγείς too much from the first clause, with which it is closely connected.—“By means of” brings out the purely instrumental force of διά.—R.]

FN#37 - Galatians 3:21.—Τοῦ θεοῦ, bracketted by Lachmann. The omission is not well sustained. א. retains it. [B. is the main authority for rejecting it. Meyer rejects it mainly on exegetical grounds.—R.]

FN#38 - Rec.] There are different variations: א. has ἐκ νόμου ἤν ἄν, the best attested order is ἐκνόμουἂνἢν. [So A. B. C, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Meyer, critical editors generally.—R.]

FN#39 - Galatians 3:22.—[The strongly adversative αλλά requires the insertion of “on the contrary” (Alford, Ellicott).—R.]

FN#40 - Galatians 3:22.—(As the E. V. renders the same verb (συγκλείειν) Galatians 3:23, “shut up,” it is substituted here as less ambiguous than “hath concluded.”—R.]

FN#41 - Galatians 3:23.—Συγκεκλεισμένοι is in all probability the correct reading—not συγκλειόμενοι. Yet א. has it [συνκλειόμενοι (sic.) The perfect of the Rec. is adopted by Tischendorf, De Wette, Meyer, Wordsworth. Ellicott (on critical and exegetical grounds). Lachmann. Scholz, Alford, Lightfoot, adopt the other. The order is changed; “under the law” seems to be best joined with “shut up.”—R.]

FN#42 - Galatians 3:24.—[“So that the law hath become” Is more literal. “Schoolmaster” is retained, Since we have-no better word with which to translate παιδσγωγός. “Tutor” (Alford) is no more exact.—“To bring us” is better omitted, since it presents but one side of the meaning.—R.]

FN#43 - Galatians 3:25.—[“Now” brings out the idea that it it so.—R.]

FN#44 - Galatians 3:27.—[The aorist verbs in this verse are better translated by the simple past tense of the English.—R.]

FN#45 - Galatians 3:28.—[The change of particles in Greek with this last pair is thus noted. On its peculiar force see Exeg. Notes.—R.]

FN#46 - Galatians 3:28.—Εἶς ἐστε ἐν Χριστῷ ̓Ιησοῦ. A. has ἐστε Χριστοῦ I. “But εἶς would easily be overlooked after the preceding ὑμεῖς, and then ἐν Χρ.̓Ι. was first followed by Χριστοῦ as a gloss, from the beginning of Galatians 3:29, and afterwards supplanted by it. The reading ἕν instead of εἶς is an explanation.” Meyer. א. has ὑμε͂ις ἐστε ἐν Χριστοῦ, but ἐν is marked doubtful [marked for erasure; the marks afterwards removed, א.3reading as Rec—It is doubtful whether we should read πάντες or ἄπαντες. א. has the latter.—R.]

FN#47 - Galatians 3:29.—Καί is omitted in good MSS, including א., by some versions and Fathers, but may very easily have been overlooked, as it follows καἰ (Meyer). It is rejected by Lachmann, Tischendorf, Scholz, [also by Meyer in 4 th. ed, Alford, Ellicott, Lightfoot, on the authority of א. A. B. C. D. As Schmoller follows Meyer in retaining it, it may be rejected here on the same authority.—R.]

FN#48 - John Brown: “The existence of a mediator is certainly no proof that a dispensation is not a dispensation of mercy, for the new covenant has a mediator. But the facts connected with the law being given by the hand of Moses as a mediator, plainly show that the law was not, in its literal meaning and direct object, a revelation of the way of obtaining the Divine favor.”—R.]

FN#49 - See Turner in loco. to whose valuable remarks I am indebted for the discovery that this view is not a new one.—R.]

FN#50 - Calvin, Bengel, Alford. Jowett are disposed to give this a wider meaning: omnia humana, everything which men are, possess or can accomplish, But or this there is no indication in the context, the neuter being chosen because men are here regarded as a collective whole (Meyer).—R.]

FN#51 - As Schmoller omits any detailed reference to the word παιδαγωγός, Alford’s note may well be inserted here: “The παιδαγωγός was a faithful slave, entrusted with the care of the boy from his tender years till puberty, to keep him from evil physical and moral, and accompany him to his amusements and studies. The E. V. ‘schoolmaster’ does not express the meaning fully; but it disturbs the sense less than those have done, who have selected one portion only of the pedagogue’s duty and understood by it, ‘the slave who leads the child to the house of the schoolmaster, thus making Christ the schoolmaster, which is inconsistent with the imagery.” So Lightfoot: “This tempting explanation ought probably to be abandoned. Even if this sense did not require πρός Χριστόν or εἰς Χριστοῦ, the context is unfavorable to it. There is no reference here to our Lord as a teacher. ‘Christ’ represents the freedom of mature age, for which the constraints of childhood are a preparation. Comp. Ephesians 4:13.”—R.]

FN#52 - In Galatians 3:25, the article is omitted before παιδαγωγόν, as if to imply, under any schoolmaster, unter Pädagogengewalt (Meyer). Still as meyer himself suggests, the emphasis must be laid on. θεοῦ, “sons of God;” therefore not in the old pedagogic bondage.—R.]

FN#53 - Alford says “Observe here how boldly and broadly St. Paul asserts the effect of Baptism on all the baptized.” Wordsworth also at some length presses the objective grace of this rite. But surely there is as much and more reason for pressing “by faith in Christ Jesus” ( Galatians 3:26). Clearly the primary truth is “ye are all sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus;” the thought of Galatians 3:27 is secondary. Where there is baptism and no sonship by faith, the question is an open one, as far as this passage is concerned, whether there has been any such “effect of baptism.” See Doctrinal Notes, 3.—R.]

FN#54 - This third use of the law, viz.: as a guide to duty, is denied by Schmoller in form, but not in fact. That we must have a guide to our new life is evident enough. The only dispute Isaiah, as to whether we shall call it a law or not. Paul certainly does so in Galatians 5:14, Galatians 6:2. And when this New Testament guide to duty is compared with the ethical precepts of the Mosaic law, it is found to be nothing else than the Decalogue itself, as Christ interpreted it, and as it was from the first designed to be understood. Compare the position of the law in the third part of the Heidelberg Catechism, of Thankfulness, especially Questions90, 91, 115.—R.]

FN#55 - Although any wider discussion of the subject of infant baptism would be inappropriate in this place, yet it must be added that any consistent pedo-baptist view must admit as much as Schmoller maintains here. The practice, however cherished from “custom or superstition,” must inevitably fall into disuse (where there is no law compelling it), unless parents and children are brought to look at it in this light. Undoubtedly to my mind, it were better that it should fall into disuse, than be a mere public naming of a child, without any such delightful reality in it, as is here held. Of its efficacy as a means for promoting “the conscious apprehension of the promise of God in Christ,” in after years, instances are still occurring, despite the prominence of “spasmodic” over “educational” Christianity in these days.—R.]

FN#56 - Dass Niemand wüsste wer Koch oder Keller würe.]

FN#57 - In the Lutheran church, etc, not in the church of England.—R.]

 


Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at BibleSupport.com. Public Domain.

Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Galatians 3:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/galatians-3.html. 1857-84.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, July 18th, 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