Galatians 3:18
Galatians 3:15-18
The Law does not negate the Promise, it's the restatement of the Promise
Published October 25th, 2017; Updated September 29th, 2018
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Main point summary
Main point summary
The Law does not negate the promise!
Galatians 3:15-18
y To give a human example, brothers: 1
Brothers and sisters, 29 I offer an example from everyday life: 30
Ἀδελφοί, κατὰ ἄνθρωπον λέγω•
Brothers, humanly speaking:
z even with a man-made covenant,
When a covenant 31 has been ratified, 32 even though it is only a human contract,
ὅμως ἀνθρώπου κεκυρωμένην διαθήκην
even a ratified human covenant,
no one annuls it
no one can set it aside
οὐδεὶς ἀθετεῖ
none can annul
or adds to it once it has been ratified.
or add anything to it.
ἢ ἐπιδιατάσσεται.
or add to it
Now a the promises were made b to Abraham and to his offspring.
Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his descendant. 33
τῷ δὲ Ἀβραὰμ ἐρρέθησαν αἱ ἐπαγγελίαι καὶ τῷ σπέρματι αὐτοῦ.
On the other hand the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his offspring
It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many,
Scripture 34 does not say, “and to the descendants ,” 35 referring to many,
οὐ λέγει• καὶ τοῖς σπέρμασιν, ὡς ἐπὶ πολλῶν
Not saying, " And to offsprings", referring to many
but referring to one, c “And to your offspring,”
but “ and to your descendant ,” 36 referring to one,
ἀλλʼ ὡς ἐφʼ ἑνός• καὶ τῷ σπέρματί σου ,
But referring to one, "And to your offering"
who is Christ.
who is Christ.
ὅς ἐστιν Χριστός.
Who is Christ
This is what I mean:
What I am saying is this:
τοῦτο δὲ λέγω•
What I'm saying is this:
the law, which came d 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God,
The law that came four hundred thirty years later does not cancel a covenant previously ratified by God, 37
διαθήκην προκεκυρωμένην ὑπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ ὁ μετὰ τετρακόσια καὶ τριάκοντα ἔτη γεγονὼς νόμος οὐκ ἀκυροῖ
The Law that came 430 years afterward, does not cancel a covenant established in advanced by God
so as e to make the promise void.
so as to invalidate the promise.
εἰς τὸ καταργῆσαι τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν.
To the point of invalidating the promise
For if the inheritance comes by the law,
For if the inheritance is based on the law,
εἰ γὰρ ἐκ νόμου ἡ κληρονομία,
For if the inheritance is base on the law
it no longer comes by promise;
it is no longer based on the promise,
οὐκέτι ἐξ ἐπαγγελίας•
Then it is no longer based on the promise,
but f God gave it to Abraham by a promise.
but God graciously gave 38 it to Abraham through the promise.
τῷ δὲ Ἀβραὰμ διʼ ἐπαγγελίας κεχάρισται ὁ θεός.
But God graciously gave it to Abraham through the promise.
Topic : Proofs of Justification by Faith Alone Theme : Justification is based on the promise, not by the Works of the Law Text : Galatians 3:15-18 Practicality of Theology We are now on the third part of our series dealing with Paul's answer to the objections raised by the Judaizers in Galatia of his time and the legalists of our time. In the first message, we talked about the proof of Justification by faith based on our experiences. It tends to have a more immediate application on our lives since Paul used our very own experiences as an argument to support his theses in verses 1 - 5. But in the second message from verses 6 -14, Paul moved from our subjective experiences, towards the objective word of God by giving proofs from the scriptures itself. Now, in our text today, Paul is not just being biblical but also extremely theological and exegetical and one might ask: how is this relevant in my day to day living? What's the immediate practical application? So what? Now if you live your life on the basis of a "word for the day" devotional kind of energy spiritual drink that would give you immediate practical guidance, then you will have a hard time taking something good from our message today. But if you live your life digging patiently for the spiritual spring of living water, you will be filled with joy when you get to the bottom. The more your roots go down into the depths of the God of scriptures, the more it strengthens and if needed corrects our theological foundations. Though not immediate, theology is way more practical than shallow understanding of the word of God. So I'm praying and pleading with you to be patient for the next few minutes, that you will not see text like this and theology as useless but instead see how extremely beneficial it is. The Objection After Paul's effort to cite and interpret texts from the old testament, he, like any good apologist of our faith, still anticipates possible objections the Judaizers may have with his position. The objection namely that God in giving the Mosaic law after the Abrahamic covenant, was actually adding or amending the covenant and that the law's purpose is to be the basis of our justification otherwise it's useless. And in verses 15 - 18 Paul gave his answers to the objection. Notice that verse 19 begins, "Why then was the law given?" This confirms to me that in verses 15—18 Paul is arguing against one explanation of why the law was given, that is the one suggested by the Judaizers. Then, in verses 19ff., he then explain why he thinks the law was added. But in 3:15—18 the point is negative. No, you are wrong; the law was not given to teach a different way of gaining or earning the inheritance(salvation). 1. God gave a covenant that is permanent or lasting (v. 15). a. The Analogy: A human covenant stands b. The point: God’s covenant stands even more just as human covenant stands Observation: Human covenants, even though imperfect, stands, how much more the covenant of the immutable God Observation on biblical interpretation : Paul is not at all against in using human illustrations or analogy to make a point and to clarify what he was saying. I often hear preachers specially of the "reformed" stripe(but not all) being fuzzy about other preachers who used human analogy to make their point. They say that we should not use human analogies/illustrations, but instead use the "scripture alone". Now they're not being true to that beloved reformation slogan if they missed precisely what Paul did here. Illustrations, as long as it doesn't water down or contradict the truths of what is being illustrated, is warranted by scriptures. 2. God made His covenant with Abraham and his seed (v. 16). a. Stated it emphatically b. The seed is Christ Observation : Paul here, it seems to me, made a detour or segue just to make sure that we understand how we must view the old testament prophecies and events in light of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is crucial on how we should interpret verse 18, and how does it relate to the whole passage. Observation in biblical interpretation : Paul argued based on the singularity of the word "offspring". He gave a defense on the basis of the grammar of the text. This not me saying that the greek noun "sperma" is singular, it is Paul who's arguing that. Objection : But was Paul justified in interpreting it that way when we all know that the word "offspring" is a collective noun, hence even though singular cannot refer to just an individual person? Doesn't Paul in essence reading into the old testament text or committing eisegesis? Answer : 1) He knew "offspring" (or seed) in its singular form does referred to many people. He uses the singular to refer to many in Romans 4:18 and 9:7. So this is not an unconscious mistake. It is an intentional procedure. 2) In Genesis 21:12 the word "offspring" (seed) is used to refer not to all the children of Abraham but to the one who is promised, Isaac (not Ishmael): "In Isaac shall your seed be called." Paul quotes this in Romans 9:7 and then says, "This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of promise are reckoned as seed (or offspring)." Noticed that Paul is perfectly aware of how in different contexts it may mean many(collectively) or in other cases one(individually). So Paul in using the singularity of the word offspring as an argument was not reading into the Old Testament text anything foreign to its meaning. 3. God gave His covenant of faith before He gave the law (v. 17). Observation : The mosaic law is not a parenthesis between the Abrahamic Covenant and the New Covenant wherein the conditions of the covenant was changed but rather it is a restatement of that gracious Abrahamic Covenant. Observation in biblical interpretation : Paul argued on the basis of history. 4. God gave His covenant or inheritance by promise—not by law (the inheritance of righteousness, of being acceptable to God) (v. 18). Observation : Verse 16 was written precisely to help us understand what promise is being referred to here. That promise is the Christ. The closest parallel would be chapter 2 verse 21 "I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification were through the law, then Christ died to no purpose." This is almost the same as saying: if the inheritance had been based on works of the law, then it would not have been based on the promised Christ, and his coming and death would have been in vain.
Disclaimer: The opinions and conclusions expressed on this page are those of the author and may or may not accord with the positions of Biblearc or Bethlehem College & Seminary.