Galatians 3

This post follows the Bible reading plan available at oaktreechurch.com/soap. You can read all my New Testament notes in my book New Testament: Chapter by Chapter.

Chapter three begins the second of three sections, this time with a question of accusation against Paul’s readers. Based on their movement away from faith toward works, Paul believed that they had been put under a spell of sorts. Galatians 3:1-5 is a figurative snapping of Paul’s fingers or shaking them awake from a spiritual trance. Had they so quickly (Galatians 1:6) forgotten that they were saved through faith so that they were now willing to require circumcision for new converts in their churches, from their communities?

Using his favorite example (see also Romans 4), Paul pointed them to Genesis 15:6, where Abraham – the great father of the faith – simply believed, centuries before the Law was given (Galatians 3:6-14). At the same time, Paul introduced Abraham’s spiritual family, consisting of those, and only those, who simply believe as he did. This family included Gentiles, as God had promised in the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 12:3). Paul also pointed out that one cannot obey only parts of the Law to be declared righteous. In fact, when one places himself under any part of the Law, he places himself under the entire Law and is subject to every part of it. Yet even that cannot provide eternal salvation because the Law could never accomplish that. This is why Christ had to die, becoming a curse under the Law so he could free people from the Law and receive the promised Spirit.

In Galatians 3:15-22 he used classical Greek logic to unquestionably show the difference between the physical promises (plural) that God made to Abraham and his physical descendants and the spiritual promise (singular) that he made to Abraham and everyone who believes. Because the Law came after God made these promises, it could not invalidate the promises. Instead, God designed the Law to protect the Israelite people from defecting from him so they could one day receive the promised Spirit through faith in Jesus. Under the Law, neither a Gentile, a slave, nor a woman could receive an inheritance. In Christ, however, all people can receive the Spirit through faith, whether Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female (Galatians 3:28). No believer is left out of this spiritual inheritance because we “ARE ALL SONS OF GOD THROUGH FAITH” (Galatians 3:26).

Sadly, many today who attempt to use this passage to eliminate functional roles in the home or church (female elders, feminist theology, etc.) completely miss the context of spiritual inheritance and are bringing their false theology to the passage for their own purposes. Others go so far to teach that God has even removed the distinctions between male and female to support their depraved belief that God approves of homosexuality in the Church.

 

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