Monday, August 27, 2007

Galatians, Chapter 3

I really like the third chapter of Galatians, as it gives us a good guide to connecting the Old Testament with the New Testament. I was once told that the Old Testament was Man's attempt to reach God, while the New Testament is God's attempt to reach man in Christ. What we can see in the third chapter of Galatians is that the two are separated, but each plays a vital role in the other. I mentioned in my last writing that the law meant nothing, and I admit that I was wrong in that. We can see here in the third chapter the law serves a purpose, and while the strict interpretation of that law may mean little, the purpose and message behind that law is different and very much is important.

How would we know Christ's role if we didn't have the law? This is what the law does. It sets such a high standard if strictly followed that we have no choice but to choose Christ as a mediator between us. What it shows us is that we cannot live up to God's standards and that we need faith in Christ in order to earn salvation. It also shows us what sin is and that Christ is the only answer to that sin.

"11Clearly no one is justified before God by the law because, "The Righteous will live by faith." 12The law is not based on faith: on the contrary, "The man who does these things will live by them."" – Galatians 3:11-12

When we see this it is important to think of Abraham, whom the first promise of faith was given to. When reading about Abraham's life in the book of Genesis it is amazing to see just how much faith he had in the face of God and His challenges, yet he still faltered several times. He faithfully moved his entire family and God provided for him, yet he tried to take matters in his own hands concerning his heir by sleeping with Hagar to have Ishmael before Isaac was born. Still, because he was faithful God made his covenant with him 430 years before the law was handed down to Moses. Jewish tradition taught that contact with Gentiles makes one ceremonially unclean, but the faith promise through Abraham laid out a plan where even the Gentiles, through Abraham, would find salvation. This is a critical difference as it shows that the promise of Christ is meant for everyone, not just the Jews as the people of the day tended to believe. If Abraham was declared righteous by God based on faith alone, then we can find righteousness through faith alone, as long as that faith is based in Christ.

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

We see in earlier verses that the seed referred to here is Christ, as Christ came from the line of Abraham. The mediator refers to Moses, whom it is believed was given the law by angels. The law itself does not do away with the promise of Christ, but instead paves the way for Him. Christ was a promise, based then on faith and even now still based on faith. The law does not takeaway this faith.

"24So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. 25Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law. – Galatians 3:24-25

These are two verses that sum things up, and show us that the law served its purpose by pointing us in the right direction. Regardless of what we do though, the end of the message is still Christ. Christ does not care if we are a Gentile, Jew, or whatever. Once we accept Him His promise in our lives is fulfilled and we are washed anew in His blood. Accepting Christ in our hearts begins a transformation from what we were to what we can truly be. As the end of the chapter says, we become heirs to Abraham's promise. The law shows that there is sin, and the promise of Christ shows that there is hope and salvation from that sin. He is the ultimate end to the law!


  1. If you have read about Abraham's life in Genesis, how does his life have context in the New Testament?
  2. Is there more to the law than just showing that there is sin?
  3. How does faith play a role in your current life even if you already know Christ?

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