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Galatians Chapter Three


Galatians 3

What a loss, dreadful and irreparable, to lose such a Christ, as we, under grace, have known Him; such a righteousness; such a love; the Son of God our portion, our life; the Son of God devoted for us, and to us! It is indeed this which awakens the strong feelings of the apostle: "O foolish Galatians," he continues, "who hath bewitched you?" Christ had been portrayed as crucified before their eyes. Thus their folly appeared still more surprising, in thinking of what they had received, of what in fact they were enjoying under the gospel, and of their sufferings for the sake of that gospel. Had they received the Spirit through works done on the principle of law, or through a testimony received by faith? Having begun by the power of the Spirit, would they carry the thing on to perfection by the wretched flesh? They had suffered for the gospel, for the pure gospel, unadulterated with Judaism and the law: was it then all in vain? Again, he who ministered to them the Spirit, and worked miracles among them, was it through works on the principle of law, or in connection with a testimony received by faith? Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. It was the principle established by God in the case of the father of the faithful. Therefore they who placed themselves by grace on the principle of faith,-they were the "children of Abraham." And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles through faith, preached this gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "In thee shall all nations be blessed."

The epistle is necessarily elementary, for the Galatians were forsaking the foundation, and the apostle insists on that. The great principles of the epistle are, connected with the known presence of the Spirit, promise according to grace in contrast with and before law, Christ the accomplishment of the promise, the law coming in by the bye meanwhile. The Gentiles were thus heirs in Christ, true and sole Heir of promise, and the Jews acquiring the position of sons.

We have then the principle on which Abraham stood before God, and the declaration that it was in him the Gentiles should be blessed. Thus they who are on the principle of faith are blessed with Abraham the believer; while the law pronounced an express curse on those who did not keep it in every point. This use of Deuteronomy 27 has been considered elsewhere. I would call to mind only that (the twelve tribes having been divided into two companies of silt each, the one to announce the blessing and the other the curse) the curses alone are recited, the blessings entirely omitted-a striking circumstance, used by the apostle to shew the true character of the law. At the same time the scripture plainly set forth that it was not the works of the law that justified; for it said, "The just shall live on the principle of faith." Now the law was not on the principle of faith, but he who has done these things shall live by them. But was not this authority of the law to be maintained, as being that of God? Assuredly. But Christ had borne its curse (having redeemed and thus delivered those who-subject before to the sentence of the law-had now believed in Him), in order that the blessing of Abraham might reach the Gentiles through Him, so that all believers, both Jew and Gentile, should receive the Spirit who had been promised.

Christ had exhausted for the believer-who before was subject to the law and guilty of having broken it-all the curse that it pronounced on the guilty: and the law which distinguished Israel had lost its power over the Jew who believed in Jesus, through the very act that bore the most striking testimony to its authority. The barrier therefore no longer existed, and the former promise of blessing could flow freely (according to the terms in which it was made to Abraham) upon the Gentiles through the channel of Christ, who had put away the curse that the law brought upon the Jews; and both Jew and Gentile, believing in Him, could receive the Holy Ghost, the subject of God's promises, in the time of blessing.

Having thus touched on this point, the apostle now treats, not the effect of the law upon the conscience, but the mutual relationship that existed between the law and the promise. Now the promise had been given first, and not only given, but it had been confirmed; and, had it been but a human covenant solemnly confirmed, it could neither be added to nor annulled. But God had engaged Himself to Abraham by promise 430 years before the law, having deposited, so to say, the blessing of the Gentiles in his person (Gen. 12). [1] (Isaac: Gen. 22), and to only one; he does not say to the seeds, but "to the Seed," and it is Christ who is this Seed. A Jew would not deny this last point. Now the law, coming so long after, could not annul the promise that was made before and solemnly confirmed by God, so as to render it of no effect. For if the inheritance were on the principle of law, it was no more on that of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise. "Wherefore then the law?" since the unchangeable promise was already given, and the inheritance must come to the object of that promise, the law having no power to change it in any way. It is because there is another question between the soul and God, or, if you will, between God and man, namely, that of righteousness. Grace, which chooses to bestow blessing, and which promises it beforehand, is not the only source of blessing for us. The question of righteousness must be settled with God, the question of sin and of the guilt of man.

Now the promise which was unconditional and made to Christ, did not raise the question of righteousness. It was necessary that it should be raised, and in the first place by requiring righteousness from man, who was responsible to produce it and to walk in it before God. Man ought to have been righteous before God. But sin had already come in, and it was in reality to make sin manifest that the law was brought in. Sin was indeed present, the will of man was in rebellion against God; but the law drew out the strength of that evil will, and it manifested its thorough contempt of God by overleaping the barrier which the prohibition of God raised between it and its desires.

The law was added that there might be transgressions, not (as we have seen already, when meditating on the Romans, where this same subject is treated) that there might be sin, but that there might be transgressions, through which the consciences of men might be reached, and the sentence of death and condemnation made to be sensibly felt in their light and careless hearts. The law was therefore introduced between the promise and its fulfilment, in order that the real moral condition of man should be made manifest. Now the circumstances under which it was given rendered it very obvious that the law was in no wise the means of the fulfilment of the promise, but that on the contrary it placed man upon an altogether different ground, which made him know himself, and at the same time made him understand the impossibility of his standing before God on the ground of his own responsibility. God had made an unconditional promise to the seed of Abraham. He will infallibly perform it, for He is God. But in the communication of the law there is nothing immediate and direct from God simply. It is ordained by the hand of angels. It is not God who, in speaking, engages Himself simply by His own word to the person in whose favour the promise is to be fulfilled. The angels of glory, who had no part in the promises (for it was angels who shone in the glory of Sinai; see Psalm 68) invested, by the will of God, the proclamation of the law, with the splendour of their dignity. But the God of the angels and of Israel stood apart, hidden in His sanctuary of clouds and fire and thick darkness. He was encompassed with glory; He made Himself terrible in His magnificence; but He did not display Himself. He had given the promise in person; a mediator brought the law. And the existence of a mediator necessarily supposes two parties. But God was one; and it was the foundation of the whole Jewish religion. There was therefore another on whom the stedfastness of the covenant made at Sinai depended. And in fact Moses went up and down, and carried the words of Jehovah to Israel, and the answer of Israel who engaged themselves to perform that which Jehovah imposed on them as a condition of the enjoyment of the effect of His promise.

"If ye will indeed obey my voice," said Jehovah. "All that Jehovah hath spoken we will do," replied Israel intermediately through Moses. What were the consequences? The apostle, with touching tenderness, as it appears to me, does not answer this question-does not deduce the necessary consequences of his argument. His object was to shew the difference between the promise and the law, without needlessly wounding the heart of a people whom he loved. On the contrary, he endeavours at once to prevent any offence that might arise from what he had said; further developing at the same time his thesis. Was the law against the promises of God? By no means. If a law had been given that was to impart life, then righteousness (for that is our subject in this passage) should have been by the law. Man, possessing divine life, would have been righteous in the righteousness that he had accomplished. The law promised the blessing of God on the terms of man's obedience: if it could have given life at the same time, this obedience would have taken place, righteousness would have been accomplished on the ground of law; they to whom the promise had been made would have enjoyed its fulfilment by virtue of their own righteousness. But it was the contrary which happened, for after all man, whether Jew or Gentile, is a sinner by nature; without law, he is the slave of his unbridled passions; under law, he shews their strength by breaking the law. The scripture has shut up all under sin, in order that this promise, by faith in Jesus Christ, should be accomplished in favour of those who believe.

Now before faith came (that is, christian faith, as the principle of relationship with God, before the existence of the positive objects of faith in the Person, the work, and the glory of Christ as man, had become the means of establishing the faith of the gospel), the Jews were kept under the law, shut up with a view to the enjoyment of this privilege which was to come. Thus the law had been to the Jews as a child's conductor up to Christ, in order that they might be justified on the principle of faith. Meanwhile they were not without restraint; they were kept apart from the nations, not less guilty than they, but kept separate for a justification, the necessity of which was made more evident by the law which they did not fulfil, but which demanded righteousness from man; thus shewing that God required this righteousness. But when once faith had come, those until then subject to the law were no longer under the tutelage of this law, which only bound them until faith was come. For this faith, placing man immediately in the presence of God, and making the believer a son of the Father of glory, left no more place for the guidance of the tutor employed during the nonage of one who was now set free and in direct relationship with the Father.

The believer then is a son in immediate connection with his Father, with God (God Himself being manifested). He is a son, because all who have been baptised to have part in the privileges that are in Christ have put on Christ. They are not before God as Jews or Gentiles, bond or free, male or female; they are before God according to their position in Christ, all one thing in Him, Christ being for all the common and only measure of their relationship with God. But this Christ was, as we have seen, the one Seed of Abraham: and if the Gentiles were in Christ, they entered consequently into this privileged position; they were, in Christ, the seed of Abraham, and heirs according to the promise made to that seed.


[1] We must read, "It is to Abraham that the promise was made, and to his seed": not, "to Abraham and to his seed." The promises relating to the temporal blessings of Israel were made to Abraham and to his seed, with the addition that this seed should be as the stars in multitude. But here Paul is not speaking of the promises made to the Jews, but of the blessing granted to the Gentiles. And the promise of blessing for the Gentiles was made to Abraham alone, without mentioning his seed (Gen. 12), and, as the apostle says here, it was confirmed to his seed-without naming Abraham (chap. 22)-in the alone person of Isaac, the type of the Lord Jesus offered up in sacrifice and raised from the dead, as Isaac was in a figure. Thus the promise was confirmed, not in Christ, but to Christ the true seed of Abraham. It is on this fact, that the promises were confirmed to Christ, that the whole argument of the apostle depends. The importance of the typical fact, that it is after the figurative sacrifice and resurrection of Isaac that the promise was confirmed to the latter, is evident. Doubtless that which realised this figure secured thus the promise to David; but at the same time the middle wall of partition was broken down, the blessing can flow to the Gentiles-and, let us add, to the Jews also-by virtue of theexpiation made by Christ; the believer, made the righteousness of God in Him, can be sealed with the Holy Ghost who had been promised. When once the import of Genesis 12 and 22 has been apprehended, in that which relates to the promises of blessing made to the Gentiles, one sees most clearly the foundation on which the apostle's argument rests.

── John DarbySynopsis of Galatians


Galatians 3

Chapter Contents

The Galatians reproved for departing from the great doctrine of justification alone, through faith in Christ. (1-5) This doctrine established from the example of Abraham. (6-9) From the tenor of the law and the severity of its curse. (10-14) From the covenant of promises, which the law could not disannul. (15-18) The law was a school master to lead them to Christ. (19-25) Under the gospel state true believers are all one in Christ. (26-29)

Commentary on Galatians 3:1-5

(Read Galatians 3:1-5)

Several things made the folly of the Galatian Christians worse. They had the doctrine of the cross preached, and the Lord's supper administered among them, in both which Christ crucified, and the nature of his sufferings, had been fully and clearly set forth. Had they been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, by the ministration of the law, or on account of any works done by them in obedience thereto? Was it not by their hearing and embracing the doctrine of faith in Christ alone for justification? Which of these had God owned with tokens of his favour and acceptance? It was not by the first, but the last. And those must be very unwise, who suffer themselves to be turned away from the ministry and doctrine which have been blessed to their spiritual advantage. Alas, that men should turn from the all-important doctrine of Christ crucified, to listen to useless distinctions, mere moral preaching, or wild fancies! The god of this world, by various men and means, has blinded men's eyes, lest they should learn to trust in a crucified Saviour. We may boldly demand where the fruits of the Holy Spirit are most evidently brought forth? whether among those who preach justification by the works of the law, or those who preach the doctrine of faith? Assuredly among the latter.

Commentary on Galatians 3:6-14

(Read Galatians 3:6-14)

The apostle proves the doctrine he had blamed the Galatians for rejecting; namely, that of justification by faith without the works of the law. This he does from the example of Abraham, whose faith fastened upon the word and promise of God, and upon his believing he was owned and accepted of God as a righteous man. The Scripture is said to foresee, because the Holy Spirit that indited the Scripture did foresee. Through faith in the promise of God he was blessed; and it is only in the same way that others obtain this privilege. Let us then study the object, nature, and effects of Abraham's faith; for who can in any other way escape the curse of the holy law? The curse is against all sinners, therefore against all men; for all have sinned, and are become guilty before God: and if, as transgressors of the law, we are under its curse, it must be vain to look for justification by it. Those only are just or righteous who are freed from death and wrath, and restored into a state of life in the favour of God; and it is only through faith that persons become righteous. Thus we see that justification by faith is no new doctrine, but was taught in the church of God, long before the times of the gospel. It is, in truth, the only way wherein any sinners ever were, or can be justified. Though deliverance is not to be expected from the law, there is a way open to escape the curse, and regain the favour of God, namely, through faith in Christ. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law; being made sin, or a sin-offering, for us, he was made a curse for us; not separated from God, but laid for a time under the Divine punishment. The heavy sufferings of the Son of God, more loudly warn sinners to flee from the wrath to come, than all the curses of the law; for how can God spare any man who remains under sin, seeing that he spared not his own Son, when our sins were charged upon him? Yet at the same time, Christ, as from the cross, freely invites sinners to take refuge in him.

Commentary on Galatians 3:15-18

(Read Galatians 3:15-18)

The covenant God made with Abraham, was not done away by the giving the law to Moses. The covenant was made with Abraham and his Seed. It is still in force; Christ abideth for ever in his person, and his spiritual seed, who are his by faith. By this we learn the difference between the promises of the law and those of the gospel. The promises of the law are made to the person of every man; the promises of the gospel are first made to Christ, then by him to those who are by faith ingrafted into Christ. Rightly to divide the word of truth, a great difference must be put between the promise and the law, as to the inward affections, and the whole practice of life. When the promise is mingled with the law, it is made nothing but the law. Let Christ be always before our eyes, as a sure argument for the defence of faith, against dependence on human righteousness.

Commentary on Galatians 3:19-22

(Read Galatians 3:19-22)

If that promise was enough for salvation, wherefore then serveth the law? The Israelites, though chosen to be God's peculiar people, were sinners as well as others. The law was not intended to discover a way of justification, different from that made known by the promise, but to lead men to see their need of the promise, by showing the sinfulness of sin, and to point to Christ, through whom alone they could be pardoned and justified. The promise was given by God himself; the law was given by the ministry of angels, and the hand of a mediator, even Moses. Hence the law could not be designed to set aside the promise. A mediator, as the very term signifies, is a friend that comes between two parties, and is not to act merely with and for one of them. The great design of the law was, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ, might be given to those that believe; that, being convinced of their guilt, and the insufficiency of the law to effect a righteousness for them, they might be persuaded to believe on Christ, and so obtain the benefit of the promise. And it is not possible that the holy, just, and good law of God, the standard of duty to all, should be contrary to the gospel of Christ. It tends every way to promote it.

Commentary on Galatians 3:23-25

(Read Galatians 3:23-25)

The law did not teach a living, saving knowledge; but, by its rites and ceremonies, especially by its sacrifices, it pointed to Christ, that they might be justified by faith. And thus it was, as the word properly signifies, a servant, to lead to Christ, as children are led to school by servants who have the care of them, that they might be more fully taught by Him the true way of justification and salvation, which is only by faith in Christ. And the vastly greater advantage of the gospel state is shown, under which we enjoy a clearer discovery of Divine grace and mercy than the Jews of old. Most men continue shut up as in a dark dungeon, in love with their sins, being blinded and lulled asleep by Satan, through wordly pleasures, interests, and pursuits. But the awakened sinner discovers his dreadful condition. Then he feels that the mercy and grace of God form his only hope. And the terrors of the law are often used by the convincing Spirit, to show the sinner his need of Christ, to bring him to rely on his sufferings and merits, that he may be justified by faith. Then the law, by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, becomes his loved rule of duty, and his standard for daily self-examination. In this use of it he learns to depend more simply on the Saviour.

Commentary on Galatians 3:26-29

(Read Galatians 3:26-29)

Real Christians enjoy great privileges under the gospel; and are no longer accounted servants, but sons; not now kept at such a distance, and under such restraints as the Jews were. Having accepted Christ Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, and relying on him alone for justification and salvation, they become the sons of God. But no outward forms or profession can secure these blessings; for if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. In baptism we put on Christ; therein we profess to be his disciples. Being baptized into Christ, we are baptized into his death, that as he died and rose again, so we should die unto sin, and walk in newness and holiness of life. The putting on of Christ according to the gospel, consists not in outward imitation, but in a new birth, an entire change. He who makes believers to be heirs, will provide for them. Therefore our care must be to do the duties that belong to us, and all other cares we must cast upon God. And our special care must be for heaven; the things of this life are but trifles. The city of God in heaven, is the portion or child's part. Seek to be sure of that above all things.

── Matthew HenryConcise Commentary on Galatians


Galatians 3

Verse 1

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

O thoughtless Galatians — He breaks in upon them with a beautiful abruptness.

Who hath bewitched you — Thus to contradict both your own reason and experience. Before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been as evidently set forth - By our preaching, as if he had been crucified among you.

Verse 2

[2] This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

This only would I learn of you — That is, this one argument might convince you. Did ye receive the witness and the fruit of the Spirit by performing the works of the law, or by hearing of and receiving faith?

Verse 3

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

Are ye so thoughtless — As not to consider what you have yourselves experienced? Having begun in the Spirit - Having set out under the light and power of the Spirit by faith, do ye now, when ye ought to be more spiritual, and more acquainted with the power of faith, expect to be made perfect by the flesh? Do you think to complete either your justification or sanctification, by giving up that faith, and depending on the law, which is a gross and carnal thing when opposed to the gospel?

Verse 4

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

Have ye suffered — Both from the zealous Jews and from the heathens.

So many things — For adhering to the gospel.

In vain — So as to lose all the blessings which ye might have obtained, by enduring to the end.

If it be yet in vain — As if he had said, I hope better things, even that ye will endure to the end.

Verse 5

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

And, at the present time, Doth he that ministereth the gift of the Spirit to you, and worketh miracles among you, do it by the works of the law - That is, in confirmation of his preaching justification by works, or of his preaching justification by faith?

Verse 6

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

Doubtless in confirmation of that grand doctrine, that we are justified by faith, even as Abraham was. The Apostle, both in this and in the epistle to the Romans, makes great use of the instance of Abraham: the rather, because from Abraham the Jews drew their great argument, as they do this day, both for their own continuance in Judaism, and for denying the gentiles to be the church of God. Genesis 15:6

Verse 7

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

Know then that they who are partakers of his faith, these, and these only, are the sons of Abraham, and therefore heirs of the promises made to him.

Verse 8

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

And the scripture — That is, the Holy Spirit, who gave the scripture. Foreseeing that God would justify the gentiles also by faith, declared before - So great is the excellency and fulness of the scripture, that all the things which can ever be controverted are therein both foreseen and determined. In or through thee - As the father of the Messiah, shall all the nations be blessed. Genesis 12:3

Verse 9

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

So then all they, and they only, who are of faith - Who truly believe.

Are blessed with faithful Abraham — Receive the blessing as he did, namely, by faith.

Verse 10

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

They only receive it.

For as many as are of the works of the law — As God deals with on that footing, only on the terms the law proposes, are under a curse; for it is written, Cursed is every one who continueth not in all the things which are written in the law. Who continueth not in all the things - So it requires what no man can perform, namely, perfect, uninterrupted, and perpetual obedience. Deuteronomy 27:26

Verse 11

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

But that none is justified by his obedience to the law in the sight of God - Whatever may be done in the sight of man, is farther evident from the words of Habakkuk, The just shall live by faith - That is, the man who is accounted just or righteous before God, shall continue in a state of acceptance, life, and salvation, by faith. This is the way God hath chosen. Habakkuk 2:4.

Verse 12

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

And the law is not of faith — But quite opposite to it: it does not say, Believe; but, Do. Leviticus 18:5

Verse 13

[13] Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

Christ — Christ alone. The abruptness of the sentence shows an holy indignation at those who reject so great a blessing.

Hath redeemed us — Whether Jews or gentiles, at an high price.

From the curse of the law — The curse of God, which the law denounces against all transgressors of it.

Being made a curse for us — Taking the curse upon himself, that we might be delivered from it, willingly submitting to that death which the law pronounces peculiarly accursed. Deuteronomy 21:23.

Verse 14

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

That the blessing of Abraham — The blessing promised to him.

Might come on the gentiles — Also.

That we — Who believe, whether Jews or gentiles.

Might receive the promise of the Spirit — Which includes all the other promises.

Through faith — Not by works; for faith looks wholly to the promise.

Verse 15

[15] Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man's covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto.

I speak after the manner of men — I illustrate this by a familiar instance, taken from the practice of men. Though it be but a man's covenant, yet, if it be once legally confirmed, none - No, not the covenanter himself, unless something unforeseen occur, which cannot be the case with God.

Disannulleth, or addeth thereto — Any new conditions.

Verse 16

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

Now the promises were made to Abraham and his seed — Several promises were made to Abraham; but the chief of all, and which was several times repeated, was that of the blessing through Christ.

He — That is, God.

Saith not, And to seeds, as of many — As if the promise were made to several kinds of seed.

But as of one — That is, one kind of seed, one posterity, one kind of sons. And to all these the blessing belonged by promise.

Which is Christ — including all that believe in him. Genesis 22:18.

Verse 17

[17] And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.

And this I say — What I mean is this.

The covenant which was before confirmed of God — By the promise itself, by the repetition of it, and by a solemn oath, concerning the blessing all nations.

Through Christ, the law which was four hundred and thirty years after — Counting from the time when the promise was first made to Abraham, Genesis 12:2,3.

Doth not disannul, so as to make the promise of no effect — With regard to all nations, if only the Jewish were to receive it; yea, with regard to them also, if it was by works, so as to supersede it, and introduce another way of obtaining the blessing.

Verse 18

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

And again — This is a new argument. The former was drawn from the time, this from the nature, of the transaction. If the eternal inheritance be obtained by keeping the law, it is no more by virtue of the free promise - These being just opposite to each other. But it is by promise. Therefore it is not by the law.

Verse 19

[19] Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.

It — The ceremonial law.

Was added — To the promise.

Because of transgressions — Probably, the yoke of the ceremonial law was inflicted as a punishment for the national sin of idolatry, Exodus 32:1, at least the more grievous parts of it; and the whole of it was a prophetic type of Christ. The moral law was added to the promise to discover and restrain transgressions, to convince men of their guilt, and need of the promise, and give some check to sin. And this law passeth not away; but the ceremonial law was only introduced till Christ, the seed to or through whom the promise was made, should come. And it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator - It was not given to Israel, like the promise to Abraham, immediately from God himself; but was conveyed by the ministry of angels to Moses, and delivered into his hand as a mediator between God and them, to remind them of the great Mediator.

Verse 20

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

Now the mediator is not a mediator of one — There must be two parties, or there can be no mediator between them; but God who made the free promise to Abraham is only one of the parties. The other, Abraham, was not present at the time of Moses. Therefore in the promise Moses had nothing to do. The law, wherein he was concerned, was a transaction of quite another nature.

Verse 21

[21] Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.

Will it follow from hence that the law is against, opposite to, the promises of God? By no means. They are well consistent. But yet the law cannot give life, as the promise doth.

If there had been a law which could have given life — Which could have entitled a sinner to life, God would have spared his own Son, and righteousness, or justification. with all the blessings consequent upon it, would have been by that law.

Verse 22

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

But, on the contrary, the scripture wherein that law is written hath concluded all under sin - Hath shut them up together, (so the word properly signifies,) as in a prison, under sentence of death, to the end that all being cut off from expecting justification by the law, the promise might be freely given to them that believe.

Verse 23

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

But before faith — That is, the gospel dispensation.

Came, we were kept — As in close custody.

Under the law — The Mosaic dispensation.

Shut up unto the faith which was to be revealed — Reserved and prepared for the gospel dispensation.

Verse 24

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

Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster unto Christ — It was designed to train us up for Christ. And this it did both by its commands, which showed the need we had of his atonement; and its ceremonies, which all pointed us to him.

Verse 25

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

But faith — That is, the gospel dispensation. Being come, we are no longer under that schoolmaster - The Mosaic dispensation.

Verse 26

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

For ye — Christians. Are all adult sons of God - And so need a schoolmaster no longer.

Verse 27

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

For as many of you as have testified your faith by being baptized in the name of Christ, have put on Christ - Have received him as your righteousness, and are therefore sons of God through him.

Verse 28

[28] There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

There is neither Jew nor Greek — That is, there is no difference between them; they are equally accepted through faith.

There is neither male nor female — Circumcision being laid aside, which was peculiar to males, and was designed to put a difference, during that dispensation, between Jews and gentiles.

Verse 29

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

If ye are Christ's — That is, believers in him.

── John WesleyExplanatory Notes on Galatians


Chapter 3. The Way of Justification

Begin with the Spirit
Attain by Human Effort

I. The Example of Abraham

  1. Justified by Faith
  2. Blessed Together
  3. The Promise of the Holy Spirit

II. The Law and the Promise

  1. The Covenant of Promise
  2. The Covenant of the Law
  3. In Charge of Leading

III. Become Sons through Faith

  1. Free as a Son
  2. Fellowship of Sons
  3. Blessings of a Son
── Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament
Chapter Three General Review
1) To perceive how we are clearly justified by faith in Christ, and not
   by the works of the Law
2) To understand why the Law was given, what purpose it served, and how
   long it was to last
3) To appreciate the purpose of baptism as it relates to becoming sons
   of God
With a defense of his apostleship behind him, Paul spends the next two
chapters defending the gospel he received by revelation.  It is a 
gospel which proclaims justification by faith in Christ, not by keeping
the works of the Law.  As support, Paul begins by providing a personal 
argument, asking the Galatians to recall how they themselves had 
received the Spirit, and from Whom.  That it came not by the works of 
the Law but through the hearing of faith should be obvious to them.  If
they were so begun in the Spirit, why seek to be made perfect by the 
flesh (1-5)?
For his next argument, Paul appeals to the Scriptures.  First, Genesis
15:6 reveals that Abraham's faith was accounted to him as 
righteousness, and Genesis 12:3 foretold that in Abraham all the 
nations would be blessed.  Therefore, those who are of faith are sons 
of Abraham and blessed along with him (6-9).  As for the Law itself, 
the Scriptures reveal that those who are of the works of the Law are 
under a curse, while proclaiming that the just shall live by faith (Deu
27:26; Hab 2:4).  Christ, however, has redeemed us from the curse of 
the Law and made it possible for the blessing of Abraham to come upon 
the Gentiles, especially that the promise of the Spirit might be 
received through faith (10-14).
Continuing in his argument from the Scriptures, Paul reminds them that 
the covenantal nature of the promise made to Abraham means it cannot be
broken.  Therefore, the promise (along with its inheritance) to Abraham
and His "Seed" (Christ) remained firm, even when the Law came along 430
years later (15-18).  What was the purpose of the Law then?  Paul 
answers that it was added because of transgressions until the Seed 
(Christ) should come.  It was not against the promises of God, but 
because it could not provide life itself, it served the purpose of 
confining all under sin until the promise by faith in Jesus could be 
given to those who believe (19-22).  Thus the law served to keep them 
under guard, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed.  To 
put it another way, it was like a tutor leading them to Christ where 
they could be justified by faith.  Once faith had arrived, the tutor 
was no longer over them (23-25).
Paul then proceeds with a practical argument to prove we are justified
by faith in Christ, which will be continued on into the fourth chapter.
Through faith they have become sons of God in Christ, for in being
baptized into Christ they had put on Christ (26-27).  Being in Christ, 
they are now one in Him, with all racial, social, and sexual 
distinctions removed as it pertains to salvation.  Being in Christ also
makes them Abraham's seed and thereby heirs according to promise God 
made to him (28-29).
      1. Paul's concern that they have been misled (1)
      2. Did they received the Spirit by the hearing of faith, or by 
         the works of the Law? (2)
      3. Having begun the Christian life in the Spirit, did they expect
         to be made perfect by the flesh? (3)
      4. Would this not make their previous suffering in vain? (4)
      1. Consider the One who supplies the Spirit and works miracles
         among them (5a)
      2. Does He do it by the works of the Law, or by the hearing of
         faith? (5b)
      1. Abraham's faith was accounted to him for righteousness (6)
      2. Those who are of faith are sons of Abraham (7)
      3. As foretold by Scripture, God would justify the nations by
         faith (8)
      4. Thus, those of faith are blessed along with believing Abraham
   B. THE CURSE OF THE LAW (10-14)
      1. Those who live by the works of the Law are under a curse (10)
      2. The Old Testament proclaimed that one would be justified by
         faith, and not by the Law, which itself was based upon works
      3. Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law, by His death
         on the cross (13)
      4. Making it possible for Gentiles to receive the blessing of
         Abraham in Christ, in particular the promise of the Spirit
         which is received through faith (14)
      1. The Law, given 430 years after the promises to Abraham, did
         not nullify the covenant and its promises that God made with
         Abraham and His "Seed" (15-17)
         a. Just as a man's covenant is not to be broken or added to it
         b. God made promises to Abraham and His "Seed", that is, 
            Christ (16)
         c. The Law cannot annul the covenant God confirmed with 
            Abraham, so as to make the promise of no effect (17)
      2. If the inheritance was based the Law, then it is no longer
         based upon a promise; but it is obvious that God gave the 
         inheritance by promise, not by the Law (18)
      1. It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should
         come (19-20)
      2. The Law was not against the promises of God, but served to
         confine all under sin until the promise by faith in Jesus 
         could be given to those who believe (21-23)
      3. The Law served as a tutor, leading people to Christ, where 
         they could be justified by faith and eliminating the need for
         a tutor (24-25)
      1. It was through faith in Jesus they became sons of God (26)
      2. For by being baptized into Christ (an act of faith), they had
         put on Christ (27)
      1. In Christ, there is no distinction, they are all one (28)
      2. In Christ, they rightfully become Abraham's seed, and thus
         heirs according to the promise (29)
1) What are the main points of this chapter?
   - Justification by faith:  The personal argument (1-5)
   - Justification by faith:  The scriptural argument (6-25)
   - Justification by faith:  The practical argument (26-29)
2) What was Paul afraid had happened to the Galatians? (1)
   - Someone had "bewitched" them, so that they should not obey the
3) To demonstrate that they were justified by faith in Christ and not
   by the works of the Law, what did Paul ask them? (2)
   - How did they receive the Spirit?  By the works of the Law, or by
     the hearing of faith?
4) What did Paul consider foolish on their part? (3)
   - Having begun in the Spirit, trying to be made perfect by the flesh
     (i.e., the Law)
5) To further show that they were justified by faith, what did Paul ask
   them? (5)
   - How did the One who supplied the Spirit, and worked miracles among
     them, do it?  By the works of the Law, or by the hearing of faith?
6) What was accounted to Abraham for righteousness? (6)
   - That he believed God
7) Who are the true sons of Abraham? (7)
   - Those who are of faith
8) What did the Scripture foresee that God would do? (8)
   - Justify the nations by faith
9) What is the condition of those who are of the works of the Law? (10)
   - They are under the curse
10) What did the Old Testament say that makes it evident no one is
    justified by the Law? (11)
   - "The just shall live by faith"
11) What did Christ do by becoming a curse for us? (13)
   - He has redeemed us from the curse of the Law
12) What else did Christ make possible by becoming a curse? (14)
   - That the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in
     Christ Jesus
   - That we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith
13) To whom were the promises made?  Who is the "Seed"? (16)
   - Abraham and his "Seed"
   - Christ
14) How long after the promise or covenant that God made with Abraham
    did the Law come in?  Did the Law annul the promise? (17)
   - 430 years
   - No
15) What purpose did the Law serve?  How long was it to last? (19)
   - It was added because of transgressions
   - Till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made
16) What function therefore did the Law serve?  Are we still under the
    Law? (24-25)
   - As a tutor, to bring them to Christ so that they could be
     justified by faith
   - No
17) How does one become a son of God? (26-27)
   - Through faith in Christ Jesus
   - By putting Christ on in baptism
18) What happens to the racial, social, and sexual differences in 
    Christ as they relate to salvation? (28)
   - They are no more, for we are one in Christ
19) If we are Christ's, who are we? (29)
   - Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise


--《Executable Outlines