THE PROPHECY LETTER
Galatia is a region of central Anatolia which includes the modern capital of Turkey, Ankara, and the highland regions to the south. It is named for its Celtic (Gaulic) settlers who immigrated to the area from the Balkans in the third century BC.
The Apostle Paul traveled through the region in his missionary journeys, establishing several congregations of believers.
So Galatia was a province, not a city, of Roman Asia Minor.
Paul’s opening sentence describes himself as an apostle “... by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, Who raised Him from the dead.”
Gal 1:1 Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)
In his usual manner, his words clearly distinguish between God from His Son, showing that they are two separate and distinct beings ... and that his authority as an apostle sprang from Jesus Himself, and that he was not made so by any natural man or men. Therefore his credentials are of the highest order...
Gal 1:2 And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia:
He brings to the Galatian brethren the personal greetings of all the brethren in his household at Rome, for the last verse of the last chapter informs that the epistle was written from Rome.
His customary greeting takes the familiar form of a loving address of grace and peace from the Almighty and His Son.
Gal 1:3 Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,
Always the fundamentalist teacher, Paul further describes the benefits which they have commonly received from the Lord – that He gave Himself for our sins in His mission of delivering us from this temporal, wicked world by God’s will.
Gal 1:4 Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:
It is a benefit for which he is always profoundly grateful, always proffering his thanksgiving to the Giver of all good gifts.
Gal 1:5 To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Paul’s immediate concern as to Galatia’s fidelity to the Almighty is the subject of his first words ... that the brethren in Galatia are “so soon removed from Him that called you ... unto another gospel.”
The reader is not informed immediately as to the nature of their deviation from the faith of Christ. But Paul does not restrain his observations that their departure from the faith has brought deep concern to his spirit. It apparently was his basic motivation for writing to them at this time – to correct that deviant course.
Gal 1:6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
Their adoption of “another gospel,” as he termed it, was wrong, because their new frame of an understanding was not actually “another” gospel, because there is only ONE Gospel. But some among them were pushing for the adoption of false teachings much to their disadvantage and hurt.
In telling them that “there be some that trouble you,” he reminds the reader of a much earlier error of similar magnitude (although of a different kind) as seen in Achan, the “troubler of Israel” whose sin is recorded early in the book of Joshua (see chapter 7).
It is curious that the name Achan actually means, “troubler.” By confiscating some valuable booty of Jericho for his own possession and hiding it in his tent, Achan brought the wrath of the Almighty on the entire congregation, causing a troublesome defeat in battle.
It becomes clear from that case that seemingly minor transgressions can have far wider implications than we might suspect.
Paul is striving to prevent the spread of this erroneous thinking in Galatia because it appears that also in Galatia there were those who were bringing trouble upon the entire congregation by their sinful deviance from the Gospel.
Gal 1:7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
Paul’s conviction is that his careful and exhaustive personal teachings defined the Gospel, and that whoever had preached any “other” Gospel should be accursed. He has good reason for this opinion because the source of His doctrines of salvation was directly from the mind and inspiration of Jesus Himself – verses 11, 12.
His concern for their integrity shows clearly that the principle was of supreme importance to Paul – and he was now conveying to them the gravity of the matter.
Gal 1:8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
The Greek word for accursed is anathema, and means to excommunicate – to issue a religious ban upon those perpetrating the error.
The extreme gravity of such deviation from the Gospel bore repeating ... so he does so – verbatim. It is a principle that cannot be overstated.
His dire warning must be heeded without hesitation...
Gal 1:9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
As a platform for his assertion, Paul reasons with his brethren whether he is seeking to please a man; or is he seeking to please God?
The answer is devastatingly simplistic: if he is being a man-pleaser he cannot be a valid servant of Christ.
His determination is to preach only the Gospel of Christ.
Gal 1:10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
Gal 1:11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
In order firmly to establish his own miraculous premise of conversion, he presents his motives from his recent experience in Damascus: he was taught the principles that he consistently taught them by direct revelation from Jesus Christ Himself.
Gal 1:12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
He reminds his readers of that episode in his life when in Damascus he had seen the light of Truth as represented by the bright, physically blinding rays of light.
That experience had devastated him physically, had incapacitated him entirely, and had arrested his spiritual attention, having struck down the future apostle so that others were required to lead him about by the hands.
And as to that aggressive maltreatment of his fellow Jews who were now Christians, he admits that it was the stark, dreadful sin of persecution of the brethren, and that it ravaged, or wasted, the brethren holding those the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth as Truth.
Gal 1:13 For ye have heard of my conversation (conduct) in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:
His zealous and aggressive persecution of the brethren of Christ had boosted Paul’s prestige among the Pharisees and with the Sanhedrin. He became their poster child of religious zealotry and bigotry above all his peers. His adeptness at upholding the “traditions of my fathers” was superior to all his fellows.
They sang his high praises in the Temple at Jerusalem!
So he relates...
Gal 1:14 And profited (proceeded, benefited, advanced) in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.
But the God who Saul sought to serve had another Plan for Saul.
With overwhelming might He struck Saul down, disabled him, and brought to him a timid, humble, but faithful disciple named Ananias who instructed him in the True Way.
To his credit, Saul humbly accepted that miraculous intervention, and admits God’s grace in calling him to His service.
Saul’s zeal in the tenets of the Law as he understood it had stood him in good stead with his peers at Jerusalem.
When he had set out for Damascus bearing the official articles of persecution of his future brethren there, he had no inkling of the changes which would shortly alter his remaining life’s course.
He was about to learn of the critical importance of the disdained Son of David whom the Jews had crucified in recent time outside the walls of Jerusalem upon Golgotha’s hill.
Gal 1:15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace,
Gal 1:16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:
The entirely unorthodox instruction of Saul in the True Way became quickly apparent to his newly discovered brethren.
He did not consult the leaders of the Ecclesia at Jerusalem – the apostles and disciples who had been recruited and taught personally by Jesus.
Instead, he traveled to Arabia.
Where did he travel to in Arabia? He does not reveal that information here, but we suspect it was to Mt. Horeb (Mt. Sinai) “which is in Arabia.”
In Galatians 4: 25, he references that specific place in another context altogether as a symbol of the Law and its requirements. If that was indeed his destination in Arabia, it was to a sacred mountain that projected its influence over many centuries after Moses’ ascents and activity there – the details of its Law leading unrelentingly (as the “schoolmaster” of Galatians 3: 24, 25) to Christ Who became our Salvation.
Gal 1:17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.
This later sojourn in Damascus served as a period of adjustment by Saul to his newly found brethren, leading him into the gentler career of the Apostle Paul.
His completion of this apostolic apprenticeship at Damascus stood him in good stead when he finally did proceed up to Jerusalem to confer with two of his fellow apostles on a trusted basis.
Gal 1:18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.
Gal 1:19 But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother.
We may suppose the apostle makes this point of visiting only two of the principles in order to preserve the principle that his grand tutor in the faith had been Jesus Christ Himself and no other leader of the Way.
Gal 1:20 Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.
Gal 1:21 Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia;
Realizing the necessity to preach to the Gentiles in general preference to the Jews, Paul set out on his foray into the Gentile regions of the north, traveling first to Syria and Cilicia. His birth city was Tarsus, a city of Cilicia – the southeastern-most section of Turkey today. So we realize that he wanted to begin his missionary activity within familiar territory and among people with whom he was acquainted as to custom and language.
He stresses the point that he had not yet visited the congregations of Judaea. These are here recorded as perhaps relieved to know that their late persecutor was now a bona fide preacher of Christ and His Truth. Yet some of them still feared Saul who had now become Paul...
Gal 1:22 And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ:
Gal 1:23 But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed.
Gal 1:24 And they glorified God in me.
We can imagine that their relief at Saul’s conversion to “Paul the apostle to the Gentiles” was thankfully recalled by them whenever they heard his name. And so they are recorded as giving glory to God for his conversion to the true Way.
<>HEL ~2050 words. Galatians Chapter One. March 18, 2021.
Paul’s opening statement of this section refers without a doubt to the end of his Second Missionary Journey because the first of these ended in Antioch of Syria where it had also begun.
Paul had written that he had returned from his mysterious sojourn in Arabia and had lived and preached in Damascus for three years.
At the end of that time he journeyed to Jerusalem (Galatians 1: 21) to confer intimately with Peter and James.
In that verse Paul states that after his visit with Peter and James (that visit was limited to Jerusalem) he had gone immediately to “Syria and Cilicia.”
From that region he would initiate his First Missionary Journey.
That briefest of his three forays into Gentiledom was a journey from Antioch of Syria to Antioch of Cilicia and return by a different route! It was his shortest missionary journey.
It would be fourteen years before he returned to Jerusalem as Paul, the apostle, although he had been brought up at Jerusalem.
Galatians 2:1 Then fourteen years after (after that date of his earlier visit as Paul the apostle) I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.
The record of that event is found in Acts 18:22 – Jerusalem being his destination after landing at the seaport at Caesarea Maritima. He had determined to arrive there in time to celebrate a festival day in Jerusalem; he does not reveal exactly which of the main Jewish feasts he intended to observe...
A similar deadline seems to loom at the termination of his Third Journey as well. We read in Acts 20: 16 that he hastened homeward intending to arrive in time to observe the Day of Pentecost at Jerusalem.
The main discussion that Paul intended for this visit was a decided clarification of the extent to which believers in Christ must kowtow to the already discarded regulations of the Law of Moses. Circumcision was one of the main bones of contention. It may seem a bit strange that he was intent on attending the two above-mentioned festivals of the Jews in Jerusalem but we conjecture that he would attend only to watch them from afar and not to participate in them.
We learn immediately that Paul is accompanied by Titus, a Greek (Gentile) who had not been circumcised as was insisted upon by the Judaisers that contended with Paul.
The matter was of grave and urgent concern for Paul – this visit to the elders at Jerusalem – for it was prompted “by revelation,” whether by a spoken revelation or by a dream or vision we are not informed. In that day these methods were prevalent means of divine communication with select brethren who were filled with the Spirit gifts.
Paul always paid strict attention to such events...
Gal 2:2 And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately (severally, or individually) to them which were of reputation (the elders), lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.
We see a glimpse here of an humble trait exhibited by the apostle. He desired the approbation of the elders at Jerusalem whom he obviously respected greatly in matters of the Spirit. He wished to be absolutely certain that he was “on track” to preach doctrines that were scriptural, and upon which all could agree and uphold. All the leaders needed to be “on the same page.”
Gal 2:3 But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised:
Paul’s frank opinion of brethren who insisted upon circumcision for believers is not a matter of conjecture; he outrightly condemns them as “false brethren” who had spuriously entered the flock of Christ ... those seeking to curtail their newly achieved “liberty” which knowing Christ had brought to them.
Their self-appointed task was to re-impose the “bondage” (the strictures, the ties) of the respected Law of Moses, continuing its surpassing pressure upon those who had passed from under the Law by partaking through baptism in His better Covenant, and living beyond its outmoded strictures.
Note well how Paul pulls no punches in his resistance to these false brethren...
Gal 2:4 And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us (back) into bondage (the bondage of the Law):
Because Paul realized fully the vitality and the efficacy of the Way of Christ, he gave them no quarter – only full-court resistance. There was not even any room for discussion; case closed!
Gal 2:5 To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.
The apostle was the Crusader in Chief against the corruption which was always striving to penetrate and exert control over the body of Christ.
He withheld no punches against their interference with the brethren in his charge, “the care of all the Ecclesias:” II Corinthians 11: 28, q.v.
Gal 2:6 But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man's person (anyone’s appearance, or surface presentation):) for they who seemed to be somewhat (influential, or prominent in authority) in conference (in their detailed discussions) added nothing to me:
We believe Paul means that they added no importance or impetus to his assignment: to preach to the Gentiles. But they also added nothing to his knowledge of The Way of Life in Christ Jesus. His authority had come from the highest source; any added support meant nothing to him – did not add to his authority or privilege...
Behold with what righteous disdain the apostle regards these persons whose self-importance asserted itself over and over.
He is righteously indignant of their attempts to interfere with his divinely appointed mission to preach Truth to the Gentiles (the uncircumcision).
The apostle saw supreme authority in this divine commission.
He had a special mission just as Peter had received his Messianic commission to “feed My Sheep” (John 21: 16, 17) meaning that He was to be the chief instructor of the Jewish converts to the Way of Christ (see verse 8 below).
In this manner, Paul reinforces his divinely appointed position as Apostle to the Gentiles, recognizing the “magnification” (the special status) of his office to do so: Romans 11: 13.
The entirety of the complex affair in Paul’s life – the crux of his entire spiritual life – was the incident which occurred on the road to Damascus. It made an impression upon Paul like none other could have made. He continuously pressed that experience upon his hearers as a large part of his credentials as Apostle to the Gentiles.
In that episode he received his uniquely direct commission to preach to the Gentile world of the uncircumcised the Gospel of Christ.
Gal 2:7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the (duty to preach the) gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the (duty to preach the) gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;
Paul is explaining that whatever authority others seemed to have (see vs. 6) it did not obviate the sheer necessity of his intensive effort to preach Christ to the uncircumcised Gentiles of the Roman world. His next statement just reaffirms that principle...
Gal 2:8 (For He (surely none other than his Commissioner, the LORD Jesus Himself) that wrought effectually in Peter (also Jesus, speaking directly to Peter as recorded in John 21: 16, 17) to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same ((Jesus)) was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)
Gal 2:9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars (that is, supporters, or leaders), perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.
In this way, a “division of labor” between them was agreed upon.
This gesture was arrived at after a thorough discussion of the matter in the Council of Jerusalem – among the elders; it was the orderly way to arrive at scriptural conclusions, and was without a doubt, heavily influenced by the vision that had appeared to Peter at the house of Simon the Tanner by the seaside in Joppa.
It had had decisive divine approval, the immediately forward events of that episode being by divine edict: go to Caesarea and baptize Cornelius, a Gentile, and his household!
This action sealed their agreement on their respective responsibilities.
The “right hand of fellowship” is a gesture that we extend to our brethren of today upon submission to immersion into the name of Christ. It is a signal of full approval of one’s positions on matters of spiritual importance and unanimous acquiescence to the individual path forward for each convert.
The apostles’ orderly division of primary duties was thus not only assigned but also sealed.
Gal 2:10 Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.
Evidence of this aspect of Paul’s ministry is clearly shown in the collection which he garnered in Asia for the relief of the poor saints at Jerusalem: Acts 11: 29, 30, q.v.
Paul’s next words raise a bit of controversy.
Gal 2:11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.
One group of critics holds that the account indicates some swaying of the opinion of Peter the Apostle to the opinion that the Jews had an upper hand of favor as holders of the Gospel.
Others have claimed that the “Peter” named in the A.V. is actually not the Apostle Peter, but is “Cephas,” and indicates one of the seventy disciples who had been dispatched to teach the Truth abroad.
These claimants have been loath to attribute this weakness to Peter. But in the text of Paul’s scroll, Cephas is not the source of the word translated “Peter,” but Petros (Peter) is (Vv. 11, 14).
We tend to favor the former view – that the claim was indeed against Peter the apostle – for the reasons elaborated by the scholar Ellicott. Here is an excerpt on vs. 11 from his Commentary:
Gal 2:12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.
The views of the commentator Matthew Henry seem to coincide with Ellicott in this account. An excerpt from his Concise Commentary may be useful...
Paul’s narrative continues ... as does their disagreement.
Gal 2:13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.
Gal 2:14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?
Gal 2:15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,
Gal 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, (understanding well) that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
This writer submits these comments as the best conclusion available to him at this time. The account in Acts 15: 30-35 seems to be the incident referred to by Paul here in Galatians 2: 11. The problem is that Peter is not mentioned in that account, nor even inferred.
We therefore leave the reader with his own conclusions as to the defining details of this account. The final conclusion of the entire affair is that the insistence of the Judaisers was contrary to the Gospel of Christ, and if any of whatever station advised otherwise, he was wrongly applying the teaching and intent of the Gospel.
Paul had seemingly countered those arguments with unassailable objections...
The final conclusion by the apostle hones in on the most basic consideration.
Mixing the tenets of the Law with those of the Gospel of Christ is an affair of confusion, apt to lead many astray. Paul’s inclination, rather, is to build on the newly revealed (at Joppa and in Damascus) stance of salvation in Christ to be preached unto all men on an independent basis: that it does not necessitate any compliance with elements of the Law of Moses, righteous and godly as were its principles, as a requirement for salvation...
Gal 2:17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is, therefore, Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.
Gal 2:18 For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.
The ending conclusion is devastatingly clear: Paul declares himself dead to the Law through the tenets of the Law (it could not give life), so that he might represent and comport himself after the Way of God – crucified with Christ in the overt act of baptism in water and having awakened to a new life in Christ Jesus – Who loved Paul (and us) enough to give His life for us.
Gal 2:19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.
Gal 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless, I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
Any other approach to the articles of salvation innately disturb the scriptural veracity, and the logic and balance of the Gospel ... and make it of none effect. Those who serve the Law are yet in their sins – and are “dead” if they expect it to lead them into true righteousness. And besides, all this negates the death of Christ, Who, if those principles be true, is “dead in vain.”
Gal 2:21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
<>HEL ~2,700 words. Galatians Two. March 1, 2021.
The degree to which the Galatian brethren had been swayed by the Judaisers seems indicated by the apostle’s address to “O foolish Galatians,” as if he means all of them. The incursion of the doctrinal errors was extensive – and worrying in the extreme to Paul.
Gal 3:1 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?
Paul’s approach is to ask them a test question, which he states here. They agreed that they had received the Spirit of Christ, but from what source?
Gal 3:2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
Do they intend to effect a reversal in their pathway to perfection? Do they think they can do so guided by the Law? Such is foolishness to Paul.
Their beginning has been so auspicious – so promising – How can they have been so corrupted?
Gal 3:3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
Gal 3:4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.
His words contain shades of hope ... “if it be yet in vain” holds open their options to turn about from their deception to the ministration of the Spirit ... the true ministration of Christ...
Gal 3:5 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?
His most convincing approach to their enlightenment is to remind them of the most prominent early example of faith being expressed in the promises of God – that of Abraham, the legendary father of the faithful, whose initial credence of God’s promises and His ability to perform what he had promised, was exhibited.
It was the classical example of pure belief in God manifested well before the giving of the Law, so it was well outside of the pale of legal benefits and obligations that it offered.
Gal 3:6 Even as Abraham believed God, and it (Abraham’s belief) was accounted to him for righteousness.
Abraham did not simply confess to God that he believed God’s promises; he ACTED upon his belief and by that act proved his credence...
Abraham, therefore, becomes the supreme example of confidence well-placed in God. By their actions, they proved their credence.
Gal 3:7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.
Gal 3:8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen (Greek, ethnos, any non-Jewish tribe; pagans) through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.
Gal 3:12 And the law is not of faith: but,(instead, it asks an impossible task, which is) The man that doeth them (worketh the works of the Law) shall live in them.
Reliance upon the works of the Law, then, brings the curse of continuing separation (death) from God.
Gal 3:13 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:
The Law cursed even Christ to death, in addition to being born in Adam and subject already to death, having been made and tempted in all points like unto His brethren (Hebrews 4: 15).
Such was the divine Plan from the beginning – that Jesus Christ should fulfill the role of the Seed of the Woman which should bruise the head of sin (represented by the serpent in the Garden). His blow upon sin was fatal, whereas sin’s effect against Him (“thou shalt bruise His heel”) was only temporary and was immediately annulled by His resurrection because of the fatal blow which He had delivered upon sin by conquering it in His person.
Gal 3:14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
Paul’s next phrases are heavily stilted in our opinion, and do not make much sense as translated in the A.V. – perhaps it’s the language of the Elizabethan era that is confusing (?).
The translation of Weymouth reads in this manner: “Brethren, even a covenant made by a man--to borrow an illustration from daily life--when once formally sanctioned, is not liable to be set aside or added to.” (Weymouth New Testament)
Gal 3:15 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.
That stipulation holds in the case of the Promises made to Abraham as well; they cannot be altered by any human intervention, or disannulled. The Gentiles shall be blessed along with faithful Abraham (who was a Gentile!) for he existed prior to the beginning of the Hebrew nation. No later appearance of a formal set of rules and regulations such as the Law of Moses can possibly alter or nullify that earlier establishment of God’s righteous intentions...
Gal 3:16 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.
Some of the promises made to Abraham concern his natural descendants ... his “seed” in that sense. But others concern the singular result in his entire progeny down through the ages – a progeny which resulted in the person of the LORD Jesus Christ being born of Mary ... and destined to shoulder the responsibility of the Kinsman-Redeemer who should bring out of all men a people for His Name. Cf., Acts 15: 14, q.v.
Gal 3:17 And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was (the Law of Moses, which came into existence) four hundred and thirty years after (after the Promises to Abraham), cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.
The Law did not superpose its effect upon the earlier structures of salvation, but instead it supplemented them and aided in governing the people as to its intent and purpose...
Gal 3:18 For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise (indeed, in such a case, it should be by WORKS): but God gave it to Abraham by promise.
So Paul asks the academic question: What was the purpose of the Law? What end did it serve?
The inspired words of Paul tell the reader that it was “added” because of transgressions....”
It spelled out precisely the nature of sin and individual sins, and was meant to govern the people until the promised Seed should come.
Gal 3:19 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.
Perhaps the wording of the New International Version will be clearer: “Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come.”
The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator.” That mediator was, of course, Moses, to whom it was given by the hand of God on Mt. Sinai written upon two tablets of stone.
Moses was therefore a mediator for his people, collectively.
Gal 3:20 Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.
Paul now raises the obvious question: is (was) the Law contrary to God? And he asserts, No, it was not ... but it fell short of offering life to those under it, or even the attainment of righteousness because it could not be observed perfectly by its followers. If that were possible, then, he says, it possibly could have given life as a result of works.
But it did not...
Gal 3:21 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.
A plan of redemption was therefore necessary which COULD result in prolonged life – the life that was promised to Abraham ... and to his Seed FOREVER, as visualized and promised by the Father’s earlier appointment of Abraham as the father of the faithful.
Gal 3:22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
That plan of redemption made up for all the shortcomings of the Law. It could result in life everlasting.
But before the revelations of Faith came by the mouth of Jesus Christ, the people were held under the Law ... which tutored and governed them until the Christ appeared upon the scene.
Gal 3:23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.
So Paul likens the Law to a schoolmaster who supervises and teaches children in a school setting. Although the Law was not meant to reveal Christ as a schoolmaster would “teach” a series of subjects (although it did contain multiple pointers to Christ as the ultimate sacrifice), it served to guide the people into righteousness until Christ came, bringing His message of salvation.
Gal 3:24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
The apostle states the obvious: the coming of faith overrides the governing aspects of the Law and replaces it with a superior standard of conduct and belief.
Gal 3:25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
Gal 3:26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
Whereas the Law pertained only to the Hebrews, Paul now expands his readers’ understanding, confirming to them that the law of faith in Christ Jesus is applicable to all men, both Jew and Gentile.
The certification of that fact, however, is activated by a singular act of obedience: baptism into the name of Christ.
ALL who have been baptized into Him then bear His Name and are sanctified (set apart) for His service ... and may receive the rewards of their service to Him.
He refers to baptism as “putting on” Christ as a garment. The only difference is that His name may never be “put off” unless He judges that that be done by condemning an individual who is by Him deemed to be unworthy at His coming Judgment Bema.
Gal 3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
The name of Christ named upon an individual erases all class- or gender- or status-markers, and certifies His followers as “all one in Christ Jesus.”
It is a standing which has one superior quality: it designates all its recipients as the seed of Abraham, and adopted brother to Him who is The Seed of Abraham as well as the Seed of the Woman of the Garden of Eden ... the banner-bearer and giver of all the blessings which flow from those gracious promises...
Gal 3:28 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.
The apostle’s summary statement is the grand finale of his contention that those who insist on aspects of the Law being imposed upon the follower of Christ as having been “bewitched” into an utterly false and useless profession of re-adopting tenets of the Law as necessary for salvation...
Gal 3:29 And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
The apostle now enters into a summary of a slightly different sort showing the utility of the Law as a schoolmaster, now comparing the people under the Law to a young heir who is yet a child. Though he is “lord” of all, he is yet subject to his tutors. He has no authority whatever; he is always subject to those who govern him until his appointed time...
Gal 4:1 Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all;
Gal 4:2 But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.
Gal 4:3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:
Although they who existed under the Law (and who no insisted on its inclusion in the teachings of Christ) might not have been aware that they were awaiting a drastic change in their affairs, one was surely on its way.
You see, those who were under the Law needed redemption just as did their counterparts outside the Law – the Gentiles.
Both were sold under sin. Romans 7: 14, q.v.
But relief from that state of bondage was on its way ... and had been since before the Law’s inception ... and indeed before the creation of the world.
The Agent of relief was especially sent forth from the Father: His Son...
Gal 4:4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
Paul’s stress on the fact of Jesus’ being “made” under the Law showed the necessity of this factor in order for Him to redeem those who were under that Law. An outsider could not effect their redemption...
Gal 4:5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the (status of the) adoption of sons.
Under the Law, the subjects of it constituted God’s family in a temporal manner of speaking.
But it required the special obedience of His Son to open up the possibility of creating sons and daughters – the brothers and sisters of that only begotten Son – all becoming his siblings, and equal sharers of a future kingdom to be established through His grace.
Gal 4:6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
Abba is transliterated from the Greek, and means beloved father, or “daddy,” as a young child often addresses his parent. It is the warmest, most intimate form of address – the least formal; the most emotional; expressing the closest and most trusting bonds.
Every son and daughter of our Father has felt this unique bond on certain occasions when stress or frustration – or even the soaring emotions of small victories – have raised our awareness to a new, heightened level of our utter dependence upon Him, or has given cause for our expression of great appreciation or deep gratification.
Writing to the Romans, Paul speaks of the mystical bond of ourselves with our Master in these beautiful phrases: Romans 8:26 - Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
Rom 8:27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
The brothers and sisters of Christ are supremely blessed to have this special favor – to have the ability and the inclination to pray in the Spirit – with deeply-felt emotion ... supreme conviction of the rightness of our position and the dire need to express our deepest appreciation.
Such a circumstance marks those with an higher calling; it separates mere servants from sons ... heirs ... blessed offspring.
Gal 4:7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
The apostle reminds his readers of the former futility of their estrangement from YHVH – a condition that exists even for those under the Law, because it contained no provision for their extension of life beyond the grave.
Gal 4:8 Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.
This statement includes even the Hebrews of Israel and Judah who fell into idolatry and its abominable practices; in a real sense, they “knew not God,” and were dying of starvation for the words of knowledge (Hosea 4: 6).
The apostle hints at a physical impediment – an illness of sorts – more than once in his writings. One such instance is found in 2Corinthians 11:5 - For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles. 6 But though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge; but we have been throughly made manifest among you in all things.
If those two injunctions are fulfilled by all, there is no need for added governance; the saints of God who practice these two principles will be perfect (meaning, approaching perfection – the end of the refining process for each).