Galatians 3:1-25 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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God's Ideal Righteousness
Comments for Study 3

Galatians 3:1-25
Memory Verse: 8


gal old test refs

* This chapter marks the beginning of doctrine and goes until 5:1. Paul uses questions as he goes through this doctrinal teaching. Asking questions during teaching makes us think about the subject. That is why question sheets are posted on this web site.

I. Blessed Along with Abraham (1-9)

>1. According to verse 1, what must we remembered so that we are not bewitched by preachers of the law?

* Galatians 3:1 "You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified."

* "You foolish Galatians" -Perhaps the harshest rebuke Paul gave believers in Jesus. Paul is not stating that they are mentally deficient, but that they simply failed to use their powers of perception. (Luke 24:25; Rom. 1:14; and 1 Tim. 6:9; Titus 3:3) He's saying, "You stopped thinking. Use your mind and you see the false teaching here." God is logical. His word is truth, revealing and exemplifying his character. God reveals himself and his ways to those who seek him in uncomplicated ways; though not all at once and often you wrong thinking makes understanding truth hard. Jesus says, "Seek and you will find." (Deut. 4:28-29; and 1 Chron. 28:9-10; and 2 Chron. 15:2-4; Jer. 29:12-13; Matt. 7:7; Luke 11:9) Numbers 12:6-8 states, "(The Lord) said, 'Listen to my words: When a prophet of the LORD is among you, I reveal myself to him in visions, I speak to him in dreams. But this is not true of my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my house. With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?'"

* "!" -Ancient writers pressed down hard as they wrote when they wanted to express strong feelings.

* "Who has bewitched you?" -A rhetorical question. Paul knew it was the legalistic Judaizers.

* "bewitched" -Bewitched in Greek "baskaino" is only used here in the Bible. It means, "to fascinate by false representation." Paul is not saying a witch cast some spell to blind and mislead them. "Ignatius uses it of grudging the triumph of martyrdom. The two ideas of envy or maliciously. Chrysostom, followed by Lightfoot, thinks that the passage indicates, not only the baleful influence of the Galatians, but also the envious spirit of the false teachers who envy them their liberty in Christ. this is doubtful." (Word Studies in the New Testament, Vincent)

* "Before your very eyes" -They did not see, however people like the apostles and Mark saw and told them. More than that Paul used picture words and examples as he taught them so that they knew all about the subject. Jesus' crucifixion was "clearly portrayed".

* "Jesus Christ" -Jesus is the name the angel told Joseph to give to Jesus. It means, "the Lord saves." christ is the Greek word for the Hebrew word "Messiah". Both mean "the anointed one".

* "clearly portrayed" -The Greek word verb here means "to publicaly portray or placard". To get a good understanding of how Jesus' crucifixion was portrayed to them consider what Jesus said, "Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life." (John 3:14-15; Num. 21:8)

* "crucified" -Crucifixion was well known throughout the Roman Empire. It was a common method used to stop rebellion and treason. Crucifixion was not a good thing to Roman citizens and subjects. The cross was feared and gruesome. Nobody would wear it as an ornament.

* God looks for those who have faith in him. Not just knowing and believing in Jesus. Rather, Abraham was credited as righteous when he believe and his belief was with all his mind, heart, thoughts and body. He never believed his actions saved him. He did not follow a set of rules and laws. The Old Testament was not written. He didn't keep the Sabbath from sunset to sunset on the last day of the week.

The Spirit does not come because of anything I do. The Holy Spirit comes when I believe. The Holy Spirit comes because of Jesus crucified. . The Holy Spirit did not enter kings and prophets because they obeyed the law.

I am justified by faith just like Abraham. I am blessed by grace through faith. If I rely on the law I am cursed. I recently saw a message on video on a denomination that says only those who keep the Sabbath as in the Old Testament will be saved. The rest will go to hell. This is salvation by law. It is a curse to believe and teach these things.

>How is our faith in Jesus and his power confirmed in believers? (2; Rom. 9:1)

* Galatians 3:2 "I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?"

* Romans 9:1 "I speak the truth in Christ--I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit"

* From this point on Paul in Galatians Paul refers to the Holy Spirit sixteen times.

* "receive the Spirit" -Jesus promised, "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." (John 14:26) And he said, "When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me." (John 15:26) Peter quoted prophecy to the crowd on Pentecost, "'In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams." (Acts 2:17)

* "by observing the law" -From Adam to this day people who live by the law for salvation and teach the law as the means to salvation never did and still do not receive the Spirit. They do not received dreams and visions concerning Jesus and so they dismiss it and shun all those do.

* "believing by what you heard" -When a person hears the gospel and believe it truly in their heart, Jesus and the Father send the Holy Spirit. The presence of the Holy Spirit is a testimony that God approves someone's faith. Ephesians 1:13-14 states, "And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession--to the praise of his glory."

* Everyone's experiences are different and personal.

* Experiences do not always mean truth; yet truth always means experiences.

* We do not follow experiences, we follow Jesus.

* We do not rely on experiences, we rely on Jesus.

* An experience can evaluate truth, and truth can authenticate an experience.

* Truth is not subjective; truth is objective. Experiences are subjective; experiences are not objective.

* Those who rely solely on experiences to validate truth rely on sinking sand.

* Better to be lead by truth than by experiences.

* Truth leads to wisdom. and experiences can lead to folly.

* Truth is pure, and experiences can corrupt.

* All truth comes from God, not all experiences can lead to truth.

* God is the father of truth; Satan is the father of lies. God's love and Satan's hate can be experienced.

* Psalm 25:4-5 "Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long."

* Psalm 26:2-3 "Test me, O LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for your love is ever before me, and I walk continually in your truth."

* Joshua 24:31 "Israel served the LORD throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had experienced everything the LORD had done for Israel."

* Psalm 43:3 "Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell."

* Psalm 51:6 "Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place."

* 1 Peter 2:2-3 "Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good."

>2. Answer the questions asked in verses 3-5.

* Galatians 3:3-5 "Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing--if it really was for nothing? Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?"

* "now trying to attain your goal" -The goal is eternity with God, in his kingdom.

* "human effort" -Living by the law for salvation from death and punishment.

* God works among those who accept his call to live by faith in his Son.

>How might living by faith, even though confirmed by the Spirit still bring suffering in our life?

* "Have you suffered so much for nothing" -Living by faith brings attack from the evil one and his followers. Living by faith is not a "cop out"; that is not an easy way to live.

* "if it really was for nothing" -When we suffer for Jesus' name sake and preaching his gospel we are promised a reward when he comes.

* Matthew 5:11-12 "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

* John 16:33 records Jesus saying, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

>If God isn't working amongst us, what should we consider?

* "work miracles among you" -What is a miracle? A miracle can be defined as God doing something extraordinary; something that is not normally done in nature and people's lives. God established laws that govern how we interact with our environments; the law of gravity, the law of entropy, the law of thermodynamics, the law of consequences (action and reaction), etc. When God overrides these laws it is considered a miracle. Holman's Bible Dictionary reads, "Events which unmistakeably involve an immediate and powerful action of God designed to reveal His character or purposes. Words used in the Scriptures to describe the miraculous include sign, wonder, work, mighty work, portent, power. These point out the inspired authors sense of God's pervasive activity in nature, history, and people."

* When a person accepts Jesus as complete sovereign Lord of all activities in his or her life, God begins to work in miraculous ways for others and our benefit.

* The life of faith in Jesus is not dull and boring if we don't resist the leading of the Spirit.

>What are some ways we know that God is working amongst us? (John 13:35; Acts 1:7-8)

* John 13:35 "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

* Acts 1:7-8 "He said to them: 'It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.'"

* A person may know that God is working in their lives if they wilfully display acts of love, especially to fellow believers, and witness to others the love of Christ for them and in our lives.

>3. When was Abraham credited as right? (6; Gen. 15:6)

* Galatians 3:6 "Consider Abraham: 'He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.'"

* Genesis 15:6 "Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness."

* This is a principle and truth from God.

* God said, "I am going to do it." And Abraham said, "Amen." Note: Amen is a statement of acceptance and faith meaning, "So be it done." In other words God said, "I'll do this for you if you believe." Abraham said, "I believe."

* Abraham was not perfect at the time. God made him perfect.

>Who then are children of Abraham? (7; John 1:12-13)

* Galatians 3:7 "Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham."

* John 1:12-13 "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God-- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God."

* "believe" -To believe is to have faith. What do we believe in? The Westminster Shorter Catechism is a list of questions and answers that outlines the basis of Christian beliefs.

* God did bless Abraham's physical descendants, though not all of them because some did not have faith. God does bless all of Abraham's spiritual descendants because one is his spiritual descendant only by faith.

* "children" -The Bible compares the spiritual life to growing up physically. Just as we are born physically, we are born spiritual. (John 3:3-6) Just as one is first a physical baby and then grows and matures, so one is first a spiritual baby and then grows and matures spiritually. (Heb. 5:11-14) Just as the physical body needs good physical food to grow, so also the spiritual body needs spiritual food which is the Word of God. (Duet. 8:3; Matt. 4:4; John 1:14, 6:49-51, 63) Just as physical food needs to be digested, so spiritual food needs to be digested. (Heb. 5:14) We should always ask ourselves? If I am born again, am I an infant, child, teenager, or an adult? Am I eating my spiritual food today?

>What did God tell Abraham about his descendants from among the Gentiles? (8; Matt. 8:10-12)

* Galatians 3:8 "The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: 'All nations will be blessed through you.'"

* Matthew 8:10-12 "When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, 'I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'"

* "The Scriptures" -A term that refers to the both the Old and New Testament.

* "foresaw" -The Old Testament foresaw the future directly and indirectly. God revealed to those who loved him what would happen in a future often far beyond the time they lived. God showed Abraham a lot. A study of Genesis can help us understand teachings in the New Testament.

* "God would justify" -This is future tense. This does not state that God didn't save anyone else who had faith in Abraham's day. What this is saying is that God was telling Abraham that not only his physical descendants would be justified by faith, but anyone who had faith would. From Abraham on, the Bible is full of Gentiles (non-Israelites) who came to faith and was justified.

* "the Gentiles" -Gentile is a term that means someone who is not a physical descendant of Jacob (Israel). Jacob sons became twelve tribes. Some mistakenly believe a Gentile is anyone who is not a Jew. This is wrong for modern Jews are only from the tribe of Judah, Benjamin, and some of the Levites.

* "gospel" -Greek for good news. God told Abraham the good news concerning the Messiah.

* "All nations" -Not just Abraham's descendants. Why do people selfishly think only they are blessed because of something they did or their ancestor did? This is one of the main thoughts that Jesus tried to correct with the Pharisees and teachers of the law. Today many are like them who are call themselves Christian.

* "blessed" -Blessed means receiving God's favor. Not only would Abraham's life show us that faith is what God looks for, but the Messiah though whom all blessings come would be his physical descendant.

* Like Abraham's faith became a blessing to others. Our faith can also become a blessing to others.

* Abraham's faith which is stated early in Genesis is seen in this act at the end of his earthly life as recorded in Genesis. Abraham had faith and that faith was seen in his actions. Faith came first and actions of that faith followed.

* Calvin wrote, "Faith alone saves, but faith that saves is not alone."

* J. Vernon McGee wrote, "Saving faith is a dynamic, vital faith that leads to works. The idea of saying that works will sve you is putting the cart before the horse -in fact, some men put the horse in the cart!"

* We should not confuse the root of faith from the fruit of faith.

>On what basis does God bless people? (9)

* Galatians 3:9 "So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith."

* "those who have faith" -Both of Jesus' sermons -On the Mount (Matt. 5:3-12) and On the Plain (Luke 6:20-23)- records Jesus' teachings on blessings. All those blessings require faith as Jesus defines the meaning of a blessing. "Without faith it is impossible to please God." (Heb. 11:6)

* "the man of faith" -Abraham live by faith. God gave him promises and Abraham believed him. The promise for a son was fulfilled twenty-five years after given. Some of the promises were not fulfilled in his physical lifetime. Some of the promises were fulfilled in Jesus, the Messiah. The blessings of God comes in God's time and in God's way.

* He does bless those who have faith. However, God is not a genie who does someone's bidding when summoned.

* Romans 8:28-30 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified."

II. Not Cursed, But Blessed (10-14)

>4. What will happen to us if we rely on the law to provide God's blessing? (10)

* Galatians 3:10 "All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law."

* "All who rely on" -That is they trust it.

* "observing the law" -That is they believe that they are able to keep the law completely and perfectly their whole lives, and thus by doing so they fulfill the law and will be granted eternal life in the kingdom of God.

* "are under a curse" -A curse is the opposite of a blessing. A curse is being in disfavor with God and thus God works against them and does not bring them good things. Why does God curse people? First, his justice demands it. Second, he hopes that they will repent and turn to righteousness that is only found in Christ Jesus. (5:5-6)

* "continue to do everything" -Christianity is the only religion that teaches a person is not made righteous by follow a set of rules, regulations, customs, and/or traditions to be righteous and enter the kingdom of God. All other religious says that a person must do some or all of these to be under the blessing of God. God recognizes that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God". Thus, "no one is righteous, not even one". Many people live under the lie that if their good acts out number the bad acts that they do, then God will accept him into his paradise. If you believe in this, then stop trusting in yourself and start trusting in Jesus.

* Consider the law for the city, county, and Country you live in. If you obey all the civil laws your whole life are they going to come to your door when you are old and present you with a special reward for keeping the law perfectly? Now consider that you keep the civil laws your whole life until when you are very old and break one of the laws. Will they not come to your door arrest, prosecute, and convict you? If you were to say during the trial, "Yes I broke this one law, but my whole life had I obeyed all the rest. So will you please let me go free?" Won't those words mean nothing to them? Doesn't breaking the one law make you a guilty person and deserving conviction? So is it with the law of Moses.

>What does it mean to live by faith? (11)

* Galatians 3:11 "Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, 'The righteous will live by faith.'"

* "no one" -The truth stated here comes directly from God and is for all humans ever born; past, present, and future.

* "The righteous" -The righteous are those made right before and with God and by God. That is, they are right in God's eyes and by his action alone.

* "will live" -This is a continual life style based on a belief in and trust of Jesus and his promises. So a person can "live by the law" or "live by faith". They are not the same.

* Paul quotes Habakkuk 2:4 as he also does in Romans 1:17. Hebrews 10:38 also quotes this verse.

* Hebrews 11:1 "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."

* Romans 1:16-17 "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."

* Faith and the law are opposites. They are like oil and water, they do not mix.

* Living by faith is trusting in God in all things and all times; knowing he loves us and cares for us like a loving father and husband. When trouble comes our way we understand that he has a good purpose in it. When we go astray we accept his discipline. When happy days are experienced we thank him.

* Habakkuk was a prophet who lived before and during the fall of Judah and Jerusalem, God's chosen people. God's people had strayed far from the law, even losing it for nearly one hundred years. (It was found when Josiah had the temple repaired.) Habakkuk was a righteous man living in a corrupt and sinful society. His short book records questions directed towards God's sense of justice. He wanted all the sinners in Jerusalem and Judah to be wiped out. The Lord's answer to him was that he was going to send the Babylonians to completely destroy Jerusalem, kill many, and export the rest in Judea and Jerusalem, including the righteous to Babylon. Habakkuk was shocked and again question's God's justice and righteousness for the Babylon's were terrible Gentiles. After hearing the Lord's reply that he will indeed judge everyone including Babylon according to righteousness, justice, and love. Habakkuk accepts the Lord's words and makes this great exclamation of faith, "the righteous (including himself) live by faith". Habakkuk said he would live by faith, completely trusting the Lord even when the Babylonian's come and destroy Jerusalem and burn down the temple.

* Faith in Jesus ends the cycle of failure brought on by trying to live a good life (by the law).

>5. According to verse 12 why might living by the law be easier than living by faith? (Hebrews 10:35-39; 1 Thessalonians 2:2)

* Galatians 3:12 "The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, 'The man who does these things will live by them.'"

* Hebrews 10:35-39 "So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a very little while, 'He who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.' But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved."

* 1 Thessalonians 2:2 "We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition."

* Living by the law, that is doing what is commanded and written in the Old Testament will not bring an attack from the people of the world. However, living by faith is opposite the world's way of thinking and is a testimony to the world that they are not right with God. So the people of the world and Satan who they follow attack those who live by faith. Those who live by faith face persecution just as Jesus and the apostles did.

>6. How did Jesus remove the burden of the law from us? (13)

* Galatians 3:13 "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: 'Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.'"

* "redeemed" -The term "redeemed" applied in Paul's day to the legal transaction that took place when a slave was purchased from his slavery into freedom.

* "from the curse of the law" -Living and trusting in living by the law makes a person a slave to the law.

* "by becoming a curse for us" -Jesus was the only man besides Adam that was born without sin and the curse of sin. Jesus lived a perfect life; that is, the way God intended man to live. Jesus was not under the curse because he knew no sin. However, when he was on the cross after the first hour and only during the last three hours Jesus took upon himself the sins of the world. (Isa. 53:10) When he accepted this he became a curse.

* Deuteronomy 21:22-23 "If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death and his body is hung on a tree, you must not leave his body on the tree overnight. Be sure to bury him that same day, because anyone who is hung on a tree is under God's curse. You must not desecrate the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance."

* The children of Abraham did not use hanging on a tree as a form of capital punishment. They used stoning. So this passage when given was a foreshadow of what was to happen to the Messiah. Why stoning? Because the promised land is full of stones. Then, if the person was stone the Israelites may have put the dead body on a tree as a spectacle.

* Jesus told people, "Your faith has saved you." (Luke 7:50; Matthew 9:2) and "Your faith has healed you." (Matthew 9:22, 29, 15:28; Mark 10:52; Luke 17:19, 18:42) He often rebuked the disciples for they little faith and was amazed at a Gentiles great faith (Luke 7:9).

>Why did God redeem us? (14a)

* Galatians 3:14a "He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus"

* "the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentile" -The Lord God blessed Abraham several times in his life. Abraham was blessed not because he observed laws, but because he believed by faith and so by grace the Lord blessed him. The blessings included a son and his descendants (by and of faith) would possess the promised land forever. Since the promises were believed by faith all those who have the same faith are children of Abraham. The only way the Gentiles could receive the promises if all, including Abraham were redeemed from the same thing, in the same way, and by the same person. What were we redeemed from? We were redeemed from our former sinful ways of life that was exasperated by the law. Who redeemed us? Christ Jesus redeemed us by paying the price of sin, death and curse. And so Jesus was cursed when he freely received our sins in his body while he hung on a tree (the cross).

* "through Christ Jesus" -Jesus is our redemption. He is our Savior. He is our Lord. He is our Master. He is our Bridegroom. He is our Friend. He is our Lover. He is our Righteousness. He is our Mighty God. He is our Prince of Peace.

* God chose Jesus to be the Messiah so that all would bow at the knee to him. Jesus was chosen before the creation of the heaven and the earth. Jesus, who is the creator of all that was ever created became flesh and was anointed to by the Messiah.

>After receiving the blessing of righteousness in the same way Abraham did what did God intend to do? (14b)

* Galatians 3:14b "so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit."

* "we might receive the promise of the Spirit" -The Lord God through his prophets proclaimed a day when the Holy Spirit would be given to all who have faith in Jesus.

* Before Pentecost only a few at various times in their lives had the Holy Spirit upon them. These included kings, prophets, and priests.

* Jesus promised to his disciples during the Last Supper (Passover) to send the Spirit, the Counselor, the Comforter after he rose from the dead.

>What was the intent? (Romans 11:13-14)

* Romans 11:13-14 "I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them."

* Paul was appointed to Jesus as "an apostle to the Gentiles". So he could say "I make much of my ministry" to them.

* When the Holy Spirit was first poured out at Pentecost the first believers were all Jews. Later these same Jews were surprised to see that the same Holy Spirit they received was also given to the Gentiles. Eventually the Gentiles in Jesus' congregation out numbered the Jews. The Jewish Christians, including Paul began realizing that the Gentiles having the promised Holy Spirit made many Jews jealous. So Paul preached more and more the Gentiles "in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy", and so the Jews would see it and come to faith in Jesus. Indeed through several prophets the Lord stated that he would make a people who were not a people, his people and so make his people jealous of the riches he gives to those who live by faith.

* Paul hoped that through jealousy of the Gentiles "save some of them" (the Jews) would come to believe in Jesus.

III. The Law and the Promise (15-25)

>7. What example from daily life is given to understand the covenant of God to Abraham?

* Galatians 3:15 "Brothers, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case."

* "Brothers" -When a person accepts Jesus as Savior and Lord they become a member of God's family. Jesus taught us to pray to God calling him Father. He refered to himself as the Son. Jesus taught us with his parables that we are his brothers. So Paul, a Jew calls all the believers in Galatia his brothers. We should see other believers as family members as well. However, Jesus taught that we are never to call another person, father for we only have one Father in heaven. It is true that all have physical fathers. However he taught us that we have only one spiritual father.

* "let me take an example from everyday life" -I have seen many preachers in my life. The best are filled with the Holy Spirit, of course. As they mature they learn to use examples that their listeners can relate to. Jesus used parables to teach us about spiritual things. Often the Lord told the prophets to give a visual illustration to teach his point. He also showed them messages with visual aids. For example Jeremiah was shown a pot tilting from the north the the south to illustrate Babylon's immediate invasion into Judea and the destruction of Jerusalem.

* "covenant" -A covenant is a testament, contract, agreement, treaty, pact, and/or will.

* "duly established" -Established by legal means. During Paul's day the Roman courts were often used to establish contract between two human parties and/or individuals. The Law though Moses established that contracts could be made between two with the elders of the city and/or family witnessing the act. Before the Law, during the times of the patriarchs covenants were established in several ways. A common one was for the two parties to pass between two halves of a calf or bull.

* A good understanding of the Old Testament is very important to Bible study. The types, symbols, principles and promises of the New Testament stand on those in the Old Testament. Some say its OK to ignore the Old Testament because its to Israel and the Jews. Some even go father and state that certain books in the New Testament are also mostly to the Jews and therefore can be ignored. But why would God want the church to ignore his words when so much of what the apostles taught and wrote about rested on the Old Testament. Jesus himself said that he is the fulfilment of the Old Testament. So how can we ignore it? Like we can apply these to our lives today as Paul did to his day.

* Faith (believe), the Law (curse), and the covenant (promises) are the important words in this chapter.

* God made a one sided contract with Abraham. Abraham only had to believe (accept) it.

* "...what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe." This is the sum of Paul's point in these verses. God made promises to Abraham. The promised only come from faith in Jesus Christ. Those who believe recieve the promises.

Human nature dictates that I need to do something to receive something. I need to follow laws. I need to be honorable. I need to have my life in order. I need to do what is right. I need to understand. I need to in order to get to. Yet that is not God's way for me. For no matter what I would do I cannot undo what I did in the past.

I believe God's promise to me. I believe Jesus fulfilled all the requirements to satisfy the needs of the promises. I accept that I don't need to obey laws to have a proper relationship with God. I believe Jesus did it all for me.

Old Testament Covenants

* See a chart showing the Old Testament Covenants to the right.

>Who did God speak his promises to? (16; Genesis 12:7, 13:15, 24:7)

* Galatians 3:16 "The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say 'and to seeds,' meaning many people, but 'and to your seed,' meaning one person, who is Christ."

* Genesis 12:7 "The LORD appeared to Abram and said, "To your offspring I will give this land." So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him."

* Genesis 13:15 "All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever."

* Genesis 24:7 "The LORD, the God of heaven, who brought me out of my father's household and my native land and who spoke to me and promised me on oath, saying, 'To your offspring I will give this land'--he will send his angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son from there."

* "promises" -The Lord gave Abraham several promises.

* "were spoken" -Jesus is the living word. God is not an intangible force, rather he takes on forms that we can interact with.

* "to Abraham" -Personal.

* "to his seed" -A physical descendant. Seed is a term that is used in the plant and animal kingdom. (Genesis 1) Seed can be used in a general sense to mean a collected many, but it the reference verse, as Paul points out, it is used in the singular. God could have said all your descendants, but he says specifically and only one.

* "many people" -The Israelites thought that only physical descendants inherited the promises to Abraham. However, they knew from the Law and from their own ancestors that if a Gentile renounced his or her past and became an Israelites (later a Jew) that they would be accepted into the promises. How surprised were the Jews, even the apostles when through Christ the Gentiles received the promised gift of the Holy Spirit without becoming a Jew. (circumcision, obeying the Laws and the rules of the religious leaders, etc.)

* The promises about the promised land was to Jesus. Jesus inherited the promised land. He owns the promised land (and the whole earth) not the Israelites, not the Jews, and not the church. Jesus' parables clearly states that he owns the land.

* God has made promises that I can apply directly in my life. Living by faith is not easy because it incorporates surrendering my will and trust the love of God. This is the very thing that was the basis of Adam and Eve's failure. They did not trust the Lord's love for them. They began to believe he was holding back something that was for their good.

>8. Did the covenant established by the introduction and keeping of the law 430 years later eliminate the promise to Abraham and his seed? (17; Ex. 19:3-6)

* Galatians 3:17 "What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise."

* Exodus 19:3-6 "Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, "This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: 'You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites."

* "What I mean is this" -What Paul had been explaining can be a hard concept to understand so he states it in simple and short words.

* "The law" -The first five books of the Bible are often called the Law. However, the first book, Genesis does not concern the law given to Israel. Genesis concerns the origins of the heavens and the earth, of man, and the nations -especially the nation of Israel. The second book of the Bible, Exodus records Israel's release from slavery and the establishing and acceptance of the covenant between the Lord and Israel based on the law. The third and fourth books Leviticus and Numbers record the details of the law (covenant). The fifth book, Deuteronomy is a repeat of the second, third and forth books which Moses read to Israel just before he died and Israel entered the promised land.

* "introduced" -The law (a conditional contract between the Lord and Israel) was something new.

* "430 years later" -Paul and Exodus 12:40-41 statement of four hundred and thirty are exact years. Stephen (Acts 7) quoted the Lords' words to Abraham (Genesis 15:13) which rounded it to four hundred years.

* "does not set aside" -Both were still active. Even now with the New Covenant established by Jesus during the Last Supper, the Abraham and Moses covenants have meaning and purpose. However, elsewhere the word says the Law is fading and even the prophets will someday be ashamed of their prophecies.

* "the covenant previously established by God" -All these covenants are established by God.

* "does not... do away with the promise" -All covenants established by God still exist and are active and thus will be/are being fulfilled and finished by God.

What is the Law?

* See a chart from Life Application Bible Studies to the right showing categories of the Old Testament Law.

>What is the promise of the inheritance in the kingdom of God based on? (18)

* Galatians 3:18 "For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise."

* "if the inheritance depends on the law" -The inheritance here is the covenant with Abraham. It did not depend on any law. It is an unconditional covenant.

* "a promise" -The promises had no conditions.

* "God in his grace" -Nothing to do with man. All to do with God. Nothing to do what man did or would do. All to do with what God did and will do. Grace is unmerited divine assistance.

* God is the source and giver of the covenant with Abraham. He promised to do it. Stephen when recanting this promise pointed out that Abraham did not see the fulfillment in his lifetime. Hebrews 11 also states this and adds that he died believing God would still keep his promise.

* Jesus, who is Creator God made promises to us under the New Covenant. He will keep these promises as he keeps all his covenants.

* List some of the promises God made to us and consider that he will keep them. How does this, should this change our daily living? Some are: Matthew 6:31-33, John 15:9-17, Romans 8:28-29, Hebrews 13:4-6, and 1 Peter 1:3-4, and 1 John 5:11-15.

>9. What is the purpose of the law and what does this mean? (19-20, 24)

* Galatians 3:19-20 "What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was put into effect through angels by a mediator. A mediator, however, does not represent just one party; but God is one."

* Galatians 3:24 "So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith."

* The law has two functions. On the positive side it reveals the nature and will of God and shows people how to live. On the negative side, it points out people's sins and shows them that it is impossible to please God by trying to obey all his laws completely. God's promise to Abraham dealt with Abraham's faith; the law focuses on actions. The covenant with Abraham shows that faith is the only way to be saved; the law shows how to obey God in grateful response. Faith does not annul the law; but the more we know God, the more we see how sinful we are. Then we are driven to depend on our faith in Christ alone for our salvation. (Life Application Bible Studies)

* "transgressions" -Paul "has in mind intentional faults... the word used means a stepping aside from a right track. the law had laid down the right track and had made men conscious of deviations from it." (New Century Bible Commentary, Donald Guthrie)

* "it was added" -The law was given for a period of time.

* "because of transgressions" -God knew man's heart. Moses and Joshua knew this too so they said, "You are not able to keep the covenant." We all have inherited the sinful nature from Adam. The sinful nature is our tendency to not do what is right, but to do what is not meant to be. Fallen mankind's nature does not have the ability to resist sin. Without God's help we would completely destroy ourselves. The law is one of those helps to fallen mankind.

* "until" -The law had a clear ending point of usefulness. Why? Because something better was given to help sinful mankind; the Holy Spirit who writes the word of God on our hearts.

* "God is one" -The covenant through Moses was two-sided and conditional: God promised to do certain things if Israel did certain things. A two-sided covenant requires a mediator. By contrast, God's covenant with Abraham was a one-sided and unconditional promise that God would do certain things no matter what anybody did. Since God is one party, He did not need a mediator to make that covenant. (Life Change Series)

>Who is the Seed?

* "the Seed" -Seed here is singular. The Seed is Jesus. See above question 7 for more on seed.

* "to whom the promise referred had come" -The promises to Abraham pointed to Christ. The promises to Israel pointed to Christ. The promises to David pointed to Christ.

* "that we might be justified by faith" -Justified through faith in Jesus, the Messiah, the Christ.

>10. How do we know that the law is not opposed to the promise? (21)

* Galatians 3:21 "Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law."

* "opposed to the promises of God" -A question used to stir thinking in the reader. Today a similar thought is on the same subject. Is the law opposed to grace?

* "if a law had been given that could impart life" -None of the laws found in the second thru fifth book in the Bible give life. "Imparted life" here can also read "give life". The law either in whole, in part, or each one by themselves does not give life. Why? Because it does nothing to remove the root problem. Within the manufacturing and medical fields problem solving has a very applicable phrase here, "root cause failure analysis". When solving these kind of problems, or any problems it is important to distinguish between symptoms (results) of the problem and the problem itself (what is actually causing the symptoms). That is called "finding the root cause". The law deals with the symptoms; before (preventative) and after (reactionary) sins are committed. The root cause of sin, our collective and individual problem is our current sinful/fallen state. The problem is with our heart, our being, our soul. Jesus said, "But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean.' For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander." (Matthew 15:18-19) The law does not deal with our heart.

* "then righteousness would certainly have come by the law" -Righteousness is being right before and with God. The law does not make us right.

* Jesus is the solution to our sin problem. His death and resurrection is our righteousness. Faith in him is what sets into motion the cleansing work of the Holy Spirit. And how does anyone have faith? Through God's love and work. So in all God receives all the praise. He initiates and he finishes.

Sin Fruit - Heart Root

* The picture to the right illustrates man's root cause-problem is not sin which the law deals with, but our heart which Jesus dealt with. A clean heart produces good fruit. A dirty heart produces rotten fruit. Dealing with the fruit will not stop new rotten fruit from being produced. Deal with the cause, the heart, will stop rotten fruit from being produced. Thus, Jesus is our salvation. He dealt with our heart. He gave us a new heart as the prophets said the Messiah would.

>How then do we receive the promise? (22)

* Galatians 3:22 "But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe."

* "the Scripture" -The entire Bible may be called Scripture. However, Paul was referring just tot he Old Testament, since the gospels and the apostles letters were not written yet with the exception of James' letter. (See introduction for more.)

* "the whole world is a prisoner of sin" -Sin, the result of a diseased heart, has power over fallen man. The power of sin is greater than anyone can overcome by human effort. Since Jesus was born without sin (virgin birth) he did not have this problem. Thus all other teachers and religious figures are by far lesser than Jesus.

* "given through faith in Jesus Christ" -God gives it. We do not have it. We need it. We don't deserve it. We only get it by faith in Jesus.

* "might be given to those who believe" -Belief in anyone or anything else does not have this affect. God made Jesus the source.

>What has faith in Jesus released us from? (23, 25)

* Galatians 3:23 "Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed."

* Galatians 3:25 "Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law."

* "we were held prisoners by the law" -Law has grate power over us.

* "locked up until faith should be revealed" -Faith being the key was not revealed before Jesus came.

* "we are no longer under the supervision of the law" -"Put in charge" (24) and "supervision of" (25) is the same Greek term, "paidagogos" in both verses. A clearer translation might be, "The Law was our custodian until Christ came, that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a custodian". The custodian was "the personal slave-attendant who accompanied a freeborn boy wherever he went and exercised a certain amount of discipline over him. His function was more like that of a baby-sitter than a teacher." The discipline which he exercised was often of a severe character, so that those placed under his guardianship would yearn for the day of freedom." (Life Change Series, The NIV Study Bible, Hendriksen)

* Faith is better than the Law.

* My life in Jesus is summed up in these words, "So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian."

The laws of God protected me, but had no power to help me. They only commanded and demanded what to do. The law did not care that I did not have enough strength to carry its requirements through. When I broke one of the laws it would say to me, "You are condemned." And it would be right.

The Jesus came to me and told me the good news. Wow! I am free. I am justified by faith. Yea. Freedom. Yea. Justified. Bye bye law you cruel task master. Bye bye punishment of the law.

Living by faith is better than living by the law. Living by faith is a continual frame of mind. It is always living and believing. I have had doubts. Abraham said, "Will I really have a son?" God reassured him.

Living by faith means that I should not judge the promises of God by my current life circumstances. Rather I look can look at what God says and I then believe what he says about me.


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