STUDY IN GALATIANS
1) St. Paul now moves to explaining how the Law relates to the Promise of God
a) It is fashionable to talk about the many covenants of the Old Testament
b) Yet, God merely builds upon His promise without negating any previous promise
i) The Noahic Covenant builds upon the Adamic Covenant
ii) Abrahamic Covenant builds upon the Noahic Covenant
iii) The Mosaic Covenant builds upon the Abrahamic Covenant
c) And St. Paul is about to explain how the Law does not replace the Covenant of Promise but rather leads one to the Covenant of Promise
d) William Barclay, “” .. we always have to remember that Paul was a trained Rabbi; he was an expert in the scholastic methods of the Rabbinic academies.”
e) Martin Luther, “These two things (as I do often repeat), to wit the Law and the Promise, must be diligently distinguished. For in time, in place, and in person, and generally in all other circumstances, they are separate as far asunder as Heaven and earth.”
2) Verse 15ff he Law Does Not Supplant the Promise
a) A Human Will or Covenant is Unchangeable
i) Roman Law, like English Law, allows the Testator to modify his Will by rewriting or producing a codicil
ii) However, only the Testator could make the change
iii) Greek Law rendered an established Will unchangeable – even by the Testator
iv) How much more is the Promise of God unalterable?
b) St. Paul says that the promise to Abraham was for his “seed” (singular – meaning Jesus Christ
i) The immediate promise to his immediate descendants – The Land of Canaan
ii) The long term spiritual promise was to the blessing of all families of the earth
iii) Such was enabled through the Cross of Christ for the Salvation of all who would receive Him
c) As with Abraham, this Gift would be through faith with no required works or salvic effort of humanity
d) Thus, the Law, which came 430 years after the Promise, did not replace the Promise which is a free gift made through Abraham
3) Verse 19ff – The Law Is What Makes the Promise and Its Terms realisable
a) It is not hard to hear the Judaisers plaintiff response, “Then why would the Law be given if it was to have nothing to do with Salvation?”
b) St. Paul was ready with the response that is of continuing value today
i) The Law is absolutely necessary as a major cog in the design plan of God
ii) After all, it was given by the same God Who gave the Promise – thus it cannot be irrelevant
iii) BUT while the Promise was given directly to Abraham from God, the Law was given through the intermediaries of Angels and Moses. Thus the Promise is of even more effect!
iv) The Law was given “because of transgressions.”
v) St. Paul enters into this discussion more fully in Romans
vi) Suffice it here to say that the Law was given to expose sin – a breach of the Will of a Holy God.
vii) Is the Law opposed to the Gospel or righteousness – mee genoita
(1) If the Law had been able to lead to righteousness there would have been no need for the Gift by Promise
(2) But, the whole Scripture teaches that the world is characterised by sin and is a prisoner of sin
(3) Thus, the Promise of God must come through Free Gift
(4) And that Gift ids in and through Jesus Christ given to those who believe and receive Him in Faith
4) Verse 23ff The Law’s Purpose is to Point to the Need of Jesus Christ
a) The Law makes us so aware of sin that we become Prisoners under the guard of the Law
b) It keeps us confined so that we cannot escape God until the Advent of Jesus Christ
c) The Law is also a tutor to lead or teach us – the Greek word is our pedagogue
d) Richard Longenecker, “Historically, it (The Law) was given that men might see themselves for what they really are in the sight of God and as a guardian preparing men for faith in Christ.”
e) It is in Jesus Christ that we are then justified (made not guilty under the Law) by Faith – and faith alone without works.
f) Richard Longenecker, “He (St. Paul) also insists that Christ has fulfilled the legal demands of the contractual obligation established in the Mosaic covenant, thus presenting before the Father a positive righteousness for all those who are ‘in Him’.”
5) Verse 25 – Now Faith Has Come We are No Longer Under the Law
a) Before Jesus we are prisoners of the Law that is our teacher and leader toward Christ
b) But, with the Advent of Jesus Christ into our lives, we are freed from the constraints and condemnation of the Law to justification and Salvation through faith into Jesus the Christ, Messiah, Saviour!
c) While such must be taken in the light of Jesus’ statement that He had not come to destroy the Law and the Prophets but to fulfill them and that nothing could be changed in the same, it is faith in Jesus that leads to Salvation not mere obedience to the Law!
Next Session Galatians 3:26 – 4:20