Galatians 3 The Christian, Law, and Living by Faith
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 foolish Galatians
The gist of this is: "You're acting like a bunch of fools! Who in the world came through there and put a hex on you to get you to turn from the truth of the gospel and act like you're acting? You have heard about Christ's crucifixion; you understood my message about it perfectly; and I described it so vividly you could see it! And my own conduct proved what I just said in 1:20. How come you dropped that and started all this "works" mess?"
who hath bewitched you
The Galatian believers had become fascinated by the false teachers' arguments, almost as though they had been bewitched. Magic was common in Paul's day. Magicians used both illusions and Satan's power to perform miracles. People were drawn into the magician's mysterious rite, not recognizing their dangerous source. See reference verses below:
Acts 8: 9 - 11 9But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one:10To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. 11And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.
Acts 13: 6,7 6And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus: 7Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God.
that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?
Christ was not only "set forth, crucified" among them by sermon, He was "set forth, crucified" by the presence of Paul. . See reference verses below:
Galatians 1: 20 - Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.
2 Corinthians 4:10 - Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.
There can be only one answer:
Those on the day of Pentecost HEARD:
Acts 2:37 - Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
Those in Acts 13 HEARD:
Acts 13:44 - And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.
Cornelius came to LISTEN:
Acts 10:33 - Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.
And "faith cometh by hearing":
Romans 10:17 - So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Notice that Paul is not addressing Christians only. His tirade began with "O foolish Galatians"! This allows for the unregenerate in the community to take warning too!
Occasionally one will see long dresses, no lipstick or jewlery, or one will see beards, black suits and horse drawn wagons of adherents of "religions" that try to perfect holiness by altering their "flesh." You cannot, nor can I, do anything with the flesh. We can prime it, pamper it, primp it, crucify it, cultivate it, educate it, exercise it, and suppress it but IT IS STILL FLESH!
Philippians 3:21 - Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
No, the Christian life is begun by GRACE through faith when the Holy Spirit enters and seals the believer.
Ephesians 1:13 - In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
The Christian life is begun by grace through faith in the power of the Holy Spirit.
It appears that they had suffered persecution because they had believed the Gospel of Grace. All this suffering would not benefit them at all if they now abandoned their position and went over to the side of those that were heckling them. The unsaved man will never severely persecute a man who puts WORKS in as a condition of salvation, even where those works do not match his own.
You see, self-righteousness is universal. It is result of Genesis 3. Self-righteousness has always been a "head" thing not a heart thing.
This is a rhetorical question. The Galatians knew they received the Holy Spirit when they believed, not when they obeyed the law. People still feel insecure in their faith because faith alone seems too easy, people still try to get closer to God by following rules. By asking these questions, Paul hoped to get the Galatians to focus again on Christ as the center of their faith.
The Holy Spirit gives Christians great power to live for God. Some Christians want more than this. They want to live in a state of perpetual excitement. The tedium of everyday living leads them to conclude that something is wrong spiritually. Often the Holy Spirit's greatest work in us is teaching us to persist to keep on doing what is right even when it no longer seems new and interesting. The Galatians quickly turned from Paul's Good News to the teachings of the newest teachers in town; they needed the Holy Spirit's gift of persistence. If our Christian life seems ordinary, we may need the Spirit to stir us up to see the challenge of everyday living.
"When thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee"
Worshiping in Everyday Occasions. We presume that we would be ready for battle if confronted with a great crisis, but it is not the crisis that builds something within us -- it simply reveals what we are made of already. Do you find yourself saying, "If God calls me to battle, of course I will rise to the occasion"? Yet you won't rise to the occasion unless you have done so on God's training ground. If you are not doing the task that is closest to you now, which God has engineered into your life, when the crisis comes, instead of being fit for battle, you will be revealed as being unfit. Crises always reveal a person's true character.
A private relationship of worshiping God is the greatest essential element of spiritual fitness. The time will come, as Nathanael experienced in this passage, that a private "fig-tree" life will no longer be possible. Everything will be out in the open, and you will find yourself to be of no value there if you have not been worshiping in everyday occasions in your own home. If your worship is right in your private relationship with God, then when He sets you free, you will be ready. It is in the unseen life, which only God saw, that you have become perfectly fit. And when the strain of the crisis comes, you can be relied upon by God.
Are you saying, "But I can't be expected to live a sanctified life in my present circumstances; I have no time for prayer or Bible study right now; besides, my opportunity for battle hasn't come yet, but when it does, of course I will be ready"? No, you will not. If you have not been worshiping in everyday occasions, when you get involved in God's work, you will not only be useless yourself but also a hindrance to those around you.
God's training ground, where the missionary weapons are found, is the hidden, personal, worshiping life of the saint.
No Holy Spirit is "supplied" to Abraham. David, Moses, and Abraham none were born of the Spirit and none of them were "sons of God."
John 3:3-5 - 3Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.4Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? 5Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
Galatians 4:6 - And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
The ONLY point where Abraham's salvation matches the salvation of the Galatians was on the point of imputed righteousness given by faith (Romans 4). In all other points they differ:
Colossians 2:11 - In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:
Romans 7:1 - 4 1Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? 2For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. 3So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. 4Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.
Abraham was given the promise four hundred years before the Law was given. The law, therefore, cannot change the promise. The promise of God stands true whether the law comes in or not. Further, Paul shows that those who are in Christ are sons, not slaves. They are no longer servants but they are part of the family of God. In this connection he deals with the great allegorical passages concerning Hagar and Sarah, the law and the mount of grace (Jerusalem above). From these passages he declares the great fact of justification by faith.
Now all that is wrapped up in that little phrase, "who gave himself for our sins." Jesus Christ has paid the price himself. He didn't send an angel…
No angel could our place have taken,
highest of the high tho' he.
The one who on the cross was forsaken,
was one of the Godhead three.
It was this truth that delivered the soul of Martin Luther. More than 450 years ago the monk of Wittenberg strode up and nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the door of the castle church and thereby began what we call the Protestant Reformation. Here was a man who had tried his very level best to find his way to heaven according to the pathway of works. He had done everything the church of his day suggested. He had tried fasting, indulgences, the sacraments, the intercession of the saints, penances, and confessions. He had endured long night vigils and heavy days of labor. He had done everything he could, but the harder he worked, the more his inner distress increased.
Then, absolutely desperate, he went to the head of the Augustinian Order, of which he was a monk, and asked for some kind of release. The dear old man, not knowing very much, told him all that he could. He said, "Put your faith not upon yourself but in the wounds of Christ." Then a dim ray of light began to break through into Martin Luther's soul. But it wasn't until he was in his little room in the tower preparing lectures on the Psalms for his students that the full light began to break. He was struck by Psalms 31:1 - In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed: deliver me in thy righteousness.
This gripped Martin Luther's heart because the righteousness of God was to him a terrible thing - that unbendable righteous judgment by which God would destroy everyone who failed in the least degree to measure up to the full expectation of the holiness of God. Luther said that he even hated the word "righteousness."
But then, as he began to investigate the word, it led him to Romans 1:17 - For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. That struck fire in his heart and he saw for the first time that another had paid the penalty. Christ himself had entered the human race and borne the guilt of our sins so that God might, in justice, accept us -- not on our merits, but on his. When that truth broke upon Martin Luther's heart, he was never the same man again. It led him to challenge the system of indulgences and all the other legalistic bondage of the Roman Church and caused him at last to nail the Theses to the door.
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
Paul inserts the word "scripture" instead to word "God." The scriptures raise people up foresee future events, and preach to people BEFORE they are written!
Romans 9:17 - For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.
There was no "Book of Genesis" at the time of Genesis.
The only person who spoke these words was the Lord God Almighty, who here is called "THE SCRIPTURE."
Hebrews 4: 12 - 13 12For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.13Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.
Psalms 138:2 I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.
Preached before the gospel unto Abraham
Paul is referring to a specific message from God to Abraham. Which message is it?
Genesis 12:1 - 5 - 1Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee:2And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 3And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. 4So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. 5And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.
Or is Paul referring to:
Genesis 15:1 -5 - 1After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.2And Abram said, LORD God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? 3And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir. 4And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. 5And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.
Or is Paul referring to:
Genesis 18: 1 - 19 - 1And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;2And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, 3And said, My LORD, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: 4Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: 5And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said. 6And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth. 7And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetcht a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it. 8And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat. 9And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent. 10And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him. 11Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. 12Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also? 13And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? 14Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son. 15Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh. 16And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way. 17And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; 18Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.
Why in the world should we "haggle" over terminology? Don't the words mean the same thing? No they don't!
preached before the gospel unto Abraham
There are some people who would have us believe that Paul is saying that the Gospel of Galatians and I Corinthians 15 is the same one that was preached to Abraham in Genesis 12:3. Why? If so, they could then say that the literal and physical blessings which are promised to the children of Abraham (Isaac, Jacob, and Israel) were transferred to the New Testament Christians and now are the property of the church. However, what if these promises, which refer to a literal restoration of Israel in the physical land of Palestine, are "spiritualized?" It would mean that the physical blessings to the literal seed of Abraham is confounded with the promise of the Spirit to the spiritual seed of Abraham, Isaac who typifies Jesus Christ. Here we have a modern day example of Galatian error.
The Gospel or "good news" preached to Abraham was the New Testament Gospel only in general typology and only then in reference to one part of the Gospel, i.e., the death of Christ to make the Spirit available (See Galatians 3:12 - 16). The Lord does not preach the death, burial, and resurrection to Abraham as such, although He, God, foresees the death, burial, and resurrection of His son at this time.
John 8:56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
Abraham only sees Christ's day in the sense that he manifested that he had enough faith to believe in the physical resurrection of Isaac in Genesis 22.
Note, further, that Abraham still varies from our salvation in that his JUSTIFICATION (James 2:21 - Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?) is connected with Genesis 22, while his RIGHTEOUSNESS is found in Genesis 15.
9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
The main argument of the Judaizers was that Gentiles had to become Jews in order to become Christians. Paul exposed the flaw in this argument by showing that real children of Abraham are those who have faith, not those who keep the law. Abraham himself was saved by his faith. All believers in every age share Abraham's blessing. This is a comforting promise, a great heritage, and a solid foundation for living: if we want the SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS that Abraham got - imputed righteousness and justification - we must exercise faith as he did, that is faith in what God SAID!
Hebrews 11:8 -19 - 8By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.9By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: 10For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. 11Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. 12Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable. 13These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. 15And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. 16But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city. 17By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: 19Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.
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.
For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written From where is Paul quoting? Deuteronomy 27:26 - Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen. He proves that what the Judaizers claim is wrong! The Law cannot save - it can only condemn. Breaking even one commandment brings a person under condemnation. Because everyone of us have broken the commandments, we are all condemned and the Law can do nothing to reverse the condemnation. But Christ took the curse of the Law upon Himself when He hung on the cross. He did this so we wouldn't have to bear our own punishment. The only condition is that we accept Christ's death on our behalf as the means to be saved.
Colossians 1:20-23 - 20And, having made peace through the blood of his cross,
by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.21And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled 22In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: 23If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;
In all things which are written in the book of the law to do them
"The book of the Law covers everything in the Book of Deuteronomy and almost everything in the Pentateuch. If you are trying to get to heaven by WORKS make sure that bacon, oysters, lobsters, rabbit, crabs, catfish and pork chops never appear on your table - Leviticus 11. Make sure you don't shave in the morning
Leviticus 19:28 - Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard.
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.
Now Paul quotes the Old Testament again in Habakkuk 2:4 - Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith. But does he really quote the phrase about faith in Habakkuk completely? No, Paul leaves out the word his! Why? Faith in the Old Testament is manufactured by the individual (see Hebrews 11; 1 - 30); the personal element enters since salvation under the law is a combination of FAITH and WORKS (James 2 & 3). See Romans 10: 5 - For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. Faith in the New Testament is the gift of God and not even the faith exercised in Christ can be called a WORK. Galatians 2:20.
Ephesians 2:8 - 9 - For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.
The Old Testament "saint" under the Law must perform the works as an evidence of his faith. These works do not justify him unless faith accompanies them. He lives by doing and when he quits doing he has had it! God can take the spirit from him permanently as He did with Saul or temporarily as did He did with Samson or not at all as with David. Grace is every where manifest in the life of Samson who never repents, confesses, or restores anything one time in a lifetime of continued transgressions. But "Eternal Security" is unknown in the Old Testament apart from the Psalms of David (see Psalms 91: 14 - 16), who was given "sure mercies (see Acts 13:34) that other men were not given (see 2 Samuel 7:14 - 15). Even in the Old Testament the JUST LIVES BY FAITH, but it is his faith, whereas the New Testament believer is living by "the faith of the Son of God who loved " Galatians 2:20.
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:
Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
Deuteronomy 21:22 - 23 - And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.
The hanging of malefactors by the neck till the body was dead was not used at all among the Jews, as with us; but of such as were stoned to death for their crimes. Instead, it was usual, by order of the judges, to hang up the dead bodies upon a post for some time, as a spectacle to the world, to express the cruelty of their crime, and to strike the greater terror upon others. That was Israelites might not only hear and fear, but see and fear. However, regardless of whatever time of the day they were hanged on the tree or post, at sunset they should be taken down from the tree and buried, and not left to hang out all night. The Law says this punishment is sufficient to such a man; therefore let it go no further. Let both the malefactor and his crime be hidden in the grave.
Now observe three things:
K God thus preserves the honor of human bodies and tenderness towards the worst of criminals. The time of exposing dead bodies was limited for the same reason that the number of stripes was limited by another law: Deuteronomy 25:3 - Forty stripes he may give him, and not exceed: lest, if he should exceed, and beat him above these with many stripes, then thy brother should seem vile unto thee.. Punishing beyond death God reserves to himself; as for man, there is no more that he can do.
K Yet it is plain there was something ceremonial in it since by the law of Moses the touch of a dead body was defiling. Therefore, dead bodies must not be left hanging up in the country, because, by the same rule, this would defile the land.
K There is a reason here that this has reference to Christ. He that is hanged is accursed of God, that is, it is the highest degree of disgrace and reproach that can be done to a man. It proclaims him under the curse of God as much as any external punishment can. Those that see him hanging between heaven and earth will conclude him abandoned of both heaven and earth and worthy of neither. Therefore, to allow him hang all night would carry it too far.
Now the apostle Paul, shows us how Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law by being himself made a curse for us. He illustrates it by comparing the brand here put on him that was hanged on a tree with the death of Christ. Moses, by the Spirit, uses this phrase of being accursed of God, when he speaks of one treated most cruelly, that it might afterwards be applied to the death of Christ, and might show that in it He underwent the curse of the law for us. This is a great enhancement of His love toward us and should be a great encouragement to our faith in Him.
Bishop Patrick well observes:
"This passage is applied to the death of Christ, not only because he bore our sins and was exposed to shame, as these malefactors were that were accursed of God, but because he was in the evening taken down from the cursed tree and buried (and that by the particular care of the Jews, with an eye to this law, John19:31), in token that now, the guilt being removed, the law was satisfied, as it was when the malefactor had hanged till sunset; it demanded no more. Then He ceased to be a curse, and those that were His ceased to be a curse. And, as the land of Israel was pure and clean when the dead body was buried, so the church is washed and cleansed by the complete satisfaction of the law which Christ made."
Note that this is Galatians Chapter 3 verse 13. Three times thirteen is thirty-nine.
There are 39 books in the Old Testament, or the LAW. This compares to the thirty-nine stripes laid on the sinner (see 2 Corinthians 11:24) which was commanded under the 39 books of the Old Testament - which end with a CURSE (see Malachi 4:6). See further the match of the curse of the law in the 39th verse of the 13 chapter Acts.
Those of you who might be interested in the curious things of Scripture should note that the Book of Isaiah, in a sense, comprises a miniature Bible. The Bible consists of sixty-six books: Isaiah has sixty-six chapters. The Bible is divided into two parts, the first largely with Israel's past condition and the promise of the Messiah's coming, and the second dealing particularly with their future deliverance. The Old Testament has thirty-nine books: the first half of Isaiah has thirty-nine chapters. The New Testament has twenty-seven books: the second part of Isaiah has twenty-seven chapters. This, of course, is mere coincidence because it was not the Spirit of God but human editors who divided the book in this way; nevertheless it is interesting and quite suggestive when we realize that Isaiah deals in a very definitive way with that which is the outstanding theme of all Scriptures - God's salvation as revealed in His blessed Son.
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 here is the imputed righteousness of verse 6 and the justification of verse 8.
Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ
This second clause is a second promise that was not connected with Abraham. It is connected with:
Luke 24:49 - And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.
Acts 1:4 - And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.
This second blessing applies to the spiritual seed of Abraham at a much later date that Moses or David. It is connected with the "foreseeing" of the scripture back in Galatians 3:8. The "we" of the verse includes Paul and the Galatians .......AND YOU and ME!
that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
The coming of the Spirit is connected to verse 13, for the Holy Spirit could not come to Jew or Gentile until the crucifixion. Christ had to be glorified before the Spirit came and there was to be no "glory" ahead of the "sufferings."
John 7: 39 - (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
1 Peter 1:10 - 12 - 10Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: 11Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.12Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.
I speak after the manner of men;
Paul says, "I'm going to give you a commonplace, ordinary illustration."
Romans 6:19 - I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.
2 Samuel 7: 18 - 22 - 18Then went king David in, and sat before the LORD, and he said, Who am I, O Lord GOD? and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto? 19And this was yet a small thing in thy sight, O Lord GOD; but thou hast spoken also of thy servant's house for a great while to come. And is this the manner of man, O Lord GOD? 20And what can David say more unto thee? for thou, Lord GOD, knowest thy servant. 21For thy word's sake, and according to thine own heart, hast thou done all these great things, to make thy servant know them. 22Wherefore thou art great, O LORD God: for there is none like thee, neither is there any God beside thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears.
The apostle points to the stability of the covenant which God made with Abraham. It was not vacated nor disannulled by the giving of the law to Moses. Faith had the precedence of the law, for Abraham was justified by faith. It was a promise that he built upon, and promises are the proper objects of faith. God entered into covenant with Abraham (see verse 8), and this covenant was firm and steady; even men’s covenants are so, and therefore much more his. When a deed is executed, or articles of agreement are sealed, both parties are bound, and it is too late then to settle things otherwise. Therefore, it is not to be supposed that by the subsequent law the covenant of God should be vacated.
Isaiah 55:8 - 9 - 8For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.9For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Now the promise made to Abraham was more a testament than a covenant. When a testament has become of force by the death of the testator, it is not capable of being altered. Therefore, the promise that was given to Abraham having the nature of a testament remains firm and unalterable. But, if it should be said that a testament may be defeated because there is no one to claim the benefit of it, Paul shows that there is no danger of that in this case. How? Abraham is dead. The prophets are dead. But the covenant is made with Abraham and his seed. And Paul gives us a very surprising exposition of this because the Galatians (and we) may have thought the testament was meant only for the Jews. "Not so,’’ says the apostle, "seed is in the singular number, and points at a single person—that seed is Christ,’’ So that the covenant is still in force! WHY? For Christ abideth for ever in his person, and in his spiritual seed, who are his by faith.
Promises were made to Abraham. Some were physical. Some were spiritual. ALL of them were made to the SEED; and since the SEED (Isaac) was a type of Christ, it is apparent that what God did before the Law was a reference to some operation He was going to do after the Law was fulfilled. That dispensation of Abraham and this dispensation of today are controlled by GRACE! And where GRACE is in charge, the Scriptures are always pointing to Christ.
Ephesians 1:17-23 - 17That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:18The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 21Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: 22And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
The spiritual promises then made in regard to Isaac had a future reference to Christ. The coming of the Law could not add or subtract from those promises. The literal inheritance on earth was promised to Abraham than 430 years before the giving of the Law; therefore, even though literal Israel is temporarily displaced and set aside it must eventually receive the inheritance.
See Romans 11.
Paul objects that the law, which was given by Moses, annuls this covenant, because it insists so much upon works. There was so little in it of faith or of the promised Messiah, he argues that the subsequent law could not disannul the previous covenant or promise. Obviously, if the inheritance is by the law, it is no more by promise. Paul shows that God gave it to Abraham by promise, and therefore it would be inconsistent with His holiness, wisdom, and faithfulness, by any subsequent act to set aside the promise. To do so, would alter the way of justification which He had thus established. If the inheritance was given to Abraham by promise, and thereby to his spiritual seed, we may be sure that God would not retract that promise; for he is not a man that he should repent.
God kept His promise to Abraham, He has not revoked it, though thousands of years have passed. He saved Abraham through his faith, and He has blessed the world through Abraham by sending the Messiah as one of his decendents. Circumstances may change, but God remains the constant and does not break His promises. He has promised to forgive our sins through Jesus Christ and we can be sure He will do so!
From this point on, Paul is discussing spiritual things only and any references to the physical inheritance of Abraham or his seed is put aside. We are now dealing with FAITH in its relationship to LIFE.
The Law serves 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 his 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 Him. 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.
When the law was added…. it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. There was no mediator between God and Abraham. The two made a covenant without a third party intervening. However, when the Law was given, Moses was the Mediator between God and Israel.
You don't need a middleman unless two parties are involved. Christ is the "one Mediator between God and man"; but once a man is saved, there is no "Mediator," for this text does not say Christ is "one Mediator between God and the Child of God!" Notice: 1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; We are one with Christ, being in Christ and part of Christ. See following verses:
Ephesians 2:6 - And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
Colossians 1:27 - To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
God deals as directly with us as He dealt with Abraham, whom He called "my friend!" God is "ONE" and He dealt directly with Abraham, but He dealt indirectly with Israel.
The Law was added because God was dealing with nation of people who had been integrated with the Egyptians for over 200 years and had picked up their habits, manners and morals. The thunderings from Sinai were given to cool off more than three generations that still carried their gods with them long after they had crossed the Red Sea. This nation was not a fit vehicle for the seed promised to Abraham. Notice, God did not produce "Isaac" until the flesh was dead, i.e., Sarah was an old woman and beyond normal child bearing years. Likewise, Jesus Christ does not show up until Israel's spiritual and national life are completely "shot."
If a law had been given which had the power to bestow life, then righteousness would have come in with that law and the seed would not have had to come. But the law could not GIVE life because human beings cannot keep it!
ALL includes the Galatians, it includes YOU, it includes ME! The scriptures of Deuteronomy and Leviticus settled the matter, for no Jew who ever lived could keep every jot and tittle. This is manifest by the need for the yearly atonement for sins.
Hebrews 10:1-4 - 1For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.2For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. 3But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. 4For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.
This is obviously a reference to the age or dispensation of faith, not personal faith, for many Old Testament saints had faith. See Hebrews 11.
The law made sure that nobody finds a "loophole" until after Calvary. All the loopholes and knotholes are plugged up, the sinner is imprisoned or surrounded by the Law and he can't get out of it. He cannot keep it, he cannot obey it, and he cannot rid himself of it! Even then if his conscience survives the onslaught, in the stillness of the night it speaks to him, "You ain't fooling anybody but yourself, son!"
An old Southern preacher tells the following story to illustrate:
One night four police officers surround a shack where a crap game was in full swing. There were only two doors to the shack - which was a single room with boarded up windows. Two lawmen came in one door and the other two through the other door. The men kneeling on the floor in front of them kept right on rolling, betting, and snatching money for nearly five minutes after the officers had entered. Suddenly in the crowd of about ten men, one old man lifts up his head and saw the badge and uniform standing across the room from him. For a moment he blinked, then he tried to speak, and as the game went on, he stammered and pointed - now to his buddies then to the doorway. It was twenty seconds before he could choke out," Heyyy ahhhhh! De Law!"
Dice, coins, cigarettes, matches, and chewing tobacco went all over the room, everybody wheeled and headed for the exit. But there were only the two exits and each one was blocked by two big policemen with clubs and pistols. One old guy get caught between the legs of one of the officers; looking wildly about, he hollered out, "Lawsy mercy! Here I is needin' to go somewheah, ain't got no place to go!"
The Law had him hemmed in. And that is right where it has us!!
The essence of teaching is repetition with variety. The law was a schoolmaster that every day, in every rite and ritual taught one thing and one thing only, "YOU are a sinner!" It taught this curriculum through more than 1400 years of history and absolutely prevented any man from justifying himself.
Martin Luther King:
"Free at last, free at last, Thank God Almighty, I am free at last!"
People are NOT all "children" of God. "The Brotherhood of Man" is one of the greatest religious blasphemies ever taught. We are all the children of God by one thing only …… by faith in Jesus Christ. If you don't believe in Jesus Christ we can have no "brotherhood" or "fellowship!"
The Galatians were familiar with the practices of the Roman society where a youth when coming of age laid aside their robe of childhood and put on a new toga. This represented his move into adult citizenship with full rights and responsibilities. Paul combines this understanding with baptism. By becoming Christians and by being baptized, by were becoming spiritually grown up and ready to take on the privileges and responsibilities of the mature. Paul is saying, "You have laid aside the old clothes of the Law, and now you are putting on Christ's new robe of righteousness."
2 Corinthians 5: 21 - For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
Ephesians 4: 23 - 24 - 23And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
Jewish men greeted each other every day by praying, "Lord, I thank you that I am not a Gentile, a slave, or a woman." The role of women was enhanced by Christianity. Faith in Christ transcends these differences and makes all believers one in Christ.
Luke 18:10-13 - 10Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.11The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
When we allow our differences to separate us from our fellow believers, we are disregarding clear biblical teaching. Maybe we should make a point of seeking out and appreciating people who are not just like us and our friends. We may find out we have a lot in common.
The original covenant with Abraham was intended for the whole world, not just his descendants. All believers partake of this covenant and are blessed as children of Abraham.