Galatians 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?”  

O foolish Galatians ( ἀνόητοι Γαλάται – O anoaetoi Galatai – O foolish Galatians).

In thus apostrophizing them, the apostle brands their present behavior, not any lack

of intelligence on their part in general (compare Luke 24:25). "Foolish" - to allow

yourselves to be thus robbed of your happiness. The transporting feeling of elevation

and joy with which, in Galatians 2:19-21, the apostle describes himself as crucified

with Christ to the Law, and as living in Christ and through Christ, makes him the

more keenly sensible of the senseless folly shown by the Galatians in taking up the

observance of the Law. Who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth?

(τίς ὑμᾶς ἐβάσκανε – tis humas ebaskane – who hath bewitched (misled) you ;

[Receptus adds, τῇ ἀληθείᾳ μὴ πείθεσθαι – tae alaetheia mae peithesthai – that ye

should not obey the truth]); who in his envy did bewitch you? With respect to the

Greek text, there is now no doubt amongst editors that the words τῇ ἀληθείᾳ μὴ

πείθεσθαι, are not genuine here, being in all probability foisted (imposed an

unwelcomed thing) in from Galatians 5:7. We have, therefore, to omit them and to

read ἐβάσκανεν as before οῖς. Ἐβάσκανεν is a remarkable word, and calls for

comment. In common Greek, βασκαίνειν τινά - baskainein tina - to treat one with

malignant words, means either to slander, belie, blacken character, or to cast upon

him primarily words conveying baleful spells, and then, in later usage very frequently,

baleful spells of any kind, and more especially spells from the "evil eye" (Aristotle,

Plutarch); in the language of old English superstition, "forelook" or "overlook."

Indeed, so closely did this last notion cling to the verb, as to have suggested to

Greek grammarians for its etymology, φάεσι καίνεινphaesi kainein - to kill with

the eyes. The more scientific etymologists of recent days derive it from βάζω β´ασκω

bazo b’asko -  speak; as if it were to bespeak a man. The nouns βάσκσνος βασκανία –

basksnos baskania  following the senses of the verb, express the ideas, either of

envious detraction or of sorcery (see Schneider; Passow; Liddell and Scott).

In the New Testament the word occurs only here. In the Septuagint we meet

with it in Deuteronomy 28:54, where, for the words, "His eye shall be evil

towards his brother," we have Βασκανεῖ τῷ ὀφθαλμῷ αὐτοῦ τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ -

Baskanei to ophthalmo auton ton adelphon autou - meaning apparently, "He shall

grudge with his eye his brother;" and so again in v. 56, the same phrase is used

analogously of the tender woman, "She shall grudge with her eye her husband;"

In Ecclesiasticus. 14:6, "There is not a worse man (τοῦ βασκαίνοντος ἑαυτόν -

tou baskainontos heauton - than he that grudges his own self;" ibid. v. 8, "Evil is

(ὁ βασκαίνων ὀφαλμῷ - ho baskainon ophalmo - he that grudgeth with his eye.

In Scripture, both in the Old Testament and the New, and in the Apocrypha,

the phrases, "the eye being evil," "the evil eye," following the Hebrew, always

denote envy, ill nature, niggardliness (Deuteronomy 15:9; 28:54, 56; Proverbs 23:6

[compare Proverbs 22:9, "a bountiful eye"]; Matthew 20:15; Mark 7:22). Nowhere

either in the Scriptures or in the Apocrypha is there any reference to "forelooking,"

unless perchance the me'onen, Deuteronomy 20:10 (Authorized Version,

"observer of times"), is etymologically connected with the Hebrew word for

"eye," which, however, few critics suppose. Ignatius, 'Ad Romans', 3, has

Οὐδέποτε ἐβασκάνατε οὐδένα ἄλλους ἐδιδάξατεOudepote ebaskanate

oudena allous edidaxate -  never grudged any man. This Septuagintal use of

the verb presents, as the reader will observe, a somewhat different shade of

meaning to any of those cited above from the lexicons. Following, however, its

guidance, we may understand the apostle as here asking, "Whoso ill-natured

jealousy was it that did light upon you?" and as intending to convey these two ideas:

(1) the envy of their once happy state which actuated the agent referred to; and,
(2) by implication, the baleful effect wrought by the envier upon them.


The aorist of the verb seems to point to a decisive result. He had, it is hinted,

succeeded in his wish; he had robbed them of the blessedness which had excited

his jealousy. In respect to the former idea, elsewhere (ch.4:17, "They would fain

shut you out") the apostle ascribes the action of their misleaders to sinister designs

against their well-being. It is, indeed, this thought that inspires the extreme severity

of his language above in ch. 2:4; the βάσκανος, of whom he here speaks, belonged to,

or derived from, them. In short, the pathetic question here before us breathes the

like indignation and vexation as that in Galatians 5:7, "Ye were running on well:

 who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?" - the last words of which

passage, though not admissible here in the text, would, however, if there, form a

perfectly correct explanatory clause. The more distinctly to mark the effect actually

produced by the envier, very many commentators have woven into their interpretation

of ἐνάσκανεν, besides its Septuagiutal sense, its other sense of blasting with some kind

of charm: "The malignity," Chrysostom writes, "of a demon whose spirit [or, 'breath']

had blasted their prosperous estate." Great use has been made, in particular, by many,

as, e.g. Jerome and, according to Estius, by Thomas Aquinas, of the superstition

of the "evil eye," which, in the countries bordering on the Mediterranean, has in

all ages been so rife. Bishop Lightfoot, in his interesting note on the passage, offers

the following paraphrase: "Christ's death in vain? O ye senseless Gauls, what

bewitchment is this? I placarded Christ crucified before your eyes. Ye suffered

them to wander from this gracious proclamation of your King. They rested on the

withering eye of the sorcerer. They yielded to the fascination and were riveted

there. And the life of your souls has been drained out of you by that envious gaze."

It may, however, be questioned whether the apostle would have recognized his

own thought in this thorough-going application of the superstition of the "evil eye."

It is doubtful whether he used the verb ἐβάσκανεν with reference to any species

of sorcery at all; but if he did, he may have intended no more than this: "What

envious ill-wisher has by some strange, inexplicable sorcery so wrought upon you?

Or, how can I explain your behavior, except that you have been acting under some

binding spell? Surely such folly is well-nigh inconceivable with men in free

possession of their own souls." But:

(1) each of these two renderings of the passage is open to the objection that St. Paul,

in writing ἐβάσκανεν, either might have intended to express by the word "envious

grudging," according to its Septuagintal use, or he might have meant some kind of

sorcery according to a common acceptation of the term, but could hardly have

meant to convey both senses together.

(2) The introduction of the supposition is inconvenient, not only because there

could not have really been any such ingredient in the actual circumstances of

the present case, but also because its mention would serve to excuse the folly

of the Galatians, as indeed Chrysostom observes that it does, rather than to

enhance its censure, which latter would have been more to the apostle's purpose.

(3) It seems especially improbable that the apostle was thinking of the "evil eye"

when we consider the entire absence of its mention in the sacred writings. Before

whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?

(οῖς κατ ὀφθαλμοὺς Ἰησοῦς Ξριστὸς προεγράφη ἐν ὑμῖν ἐσταυρωμένος –

hois kat ophthalmous Iaesous Christos proegraphae en humin estauromenos –

to whom, before your very eyes, Jesus Christ had been [literally, was] aforetime

[or, openly] set forth crucified (among you)? The genuineness of the words, ἐν ὑμῖν

(among you) is very doubtful. The Revised Greek text omits them. The words,

κατ ὀφθαλμούς (before your very eyes), are very pointed; for the Greek expression,

compare κατὰ πρόσωπονkata prosopon - to the face (ch. 2:11), and Aristoph.,

'Ran.,' 625, ἵνα σοι κατ ὀφθαλμοὺς λέγῃ - hina soi kat ophthalmous legae - that he

may say it to your very face. The sense of προεγράφη (set forth; was portrayed)

is much disputed. It is not clear whether the πρὸ is the "before" of time or of place.

Of the other passages in the New Testament in which this compound verb occurs,

in Romans 15:4 twice, and Ephesians 3:3, πρὸ is certainly, and in Jude 1:4 probably,

not so certainly (compare  I Macc. 10:36, "enrolled"), "before" of time. In the present

passage a reference to the prophecies of the Old Testament seems out of place. It is

far more suitable to the connection to suppose that the apostle is referring to his own

preaching. Some commentators, retaining the words, ἐν ὑμῖν (among you), connect

them with προεγράφη in the sense of "in you," comparing "Christ in you" (Colossians

1:27), and "written in your hearts" (II Corinthians 3:2); and so render the words thus:

"written of, or described, before in you." But such an expression, sufficiently awkward

in itself, would further be very unsuitably introduced after the words, "before your very

eyes." Supposing we take the πρὸ as of time, there is no satisfactory explanation of the

ἐγρὰφη, if understood in the sense of writing, there being no tablet (so to speak)

suggested on which the writing could be conceived of as done. Γράφω – Grapho –

to describe; write, it is true, means "describe" in John 1:45 and Romans 10:5;

but it is still a description in writing. We are, therefore, driven to assign to the verb

the notion of portraying as in a painting, a sense which in Common Greek it certainly

does sometimes bear, and which attaches to it in the διαγράφω diagrapho -  to

portray of Ezekiel 4:1; Ezekiel 8:10 (Septuagint). We thus gain the sense, "had before

been set forth or portrayed;" before (that is) the envier assailed you. This same sense,

of portraying rather than of writing, would be also the best to give to the verb,

supposing the πρὸ to be understood as the "before" of place; which conception of the

preposition Bishop Lightfoot contends for, urging the use of the verb προγράφειν,

and the nouns πρόγραμμα and προγραφή, with reference to the placards on which

public notices were given of political or other matters of business. When, how ever,

we consider how partial the apostle is to verbs compounded with πρὸ of time, as is

seen in his use of:


·         προαιτιάομαι – proaitiaomai – prove, charge;                                                                                                                                                         

·         προακούωproakouo – hear;

·         προαμαρτάνω – proamartano – sin;

·         προελπίζω – proelpizo – hope, trust;

·          προενάρχομαι – proenarchomai – begin;

·          προεπαγγέλλομαι  - proepaggellomai – aforepromised, promise;

·         προτετοιμάζω – protetoimazo – ?

·          προευαγγελίζομαιproeuaggelizomai – to bring glad tidings beforehand;

·         προκαταγγέλλω – prokataggello – foretell, forshew, shew;

·          προκαταρτίζω – prokatartizo – make;

·          προκυρόομαι – prokuroomai – confirm;

·          προπάσχω – propascho – suffer;


not a few of which were probably compounded by himself as he wanted them,

it appears highly probable that, to serve the present occasion, he here forms the

compound προγράφω in the sense of "portraying before," the compound not

existing elsewhere in the same sense. He compares, then, the idea of Christ crucified,

presented to his hearers in his preaching, to a portraiture, in which the Redeemer

had been so vividly and with such striking effect exhibited to his converts,

that it ought in all reason have for ever safeguarded their souls against all danger

from teaching of an alien character. If the phrase, ἐν ὑμῖν (among you), be retained,

it appears best, with Chrysostom and many others, to understand it as meaning, that

St. Paul had presented Christ crucified in such lively colors to their view, that they

had, as it were, seen him hanging on the cross in their very midst. The position of

ἐσταυρωμένος (having been crucified), disconnected from Ἰησοῦς Ξριστὸς

(Jesus Christ) and at the end of the sentence,  gives it intense significance. What the

idea of Christ crucified was to his own self, the apostle had just before declared; for

him it at once had destroyed all spiritual connection with the ceremonial Law,

the Law which bade the crucified One away from itself as accursed, and also by the

infinite love to himself which he beheld manifested in Christ crucified for him, had

bound him to him by spiritual ties both all-constraining and indissoluble. And such

(he means) should have been the effect produced by that idea upon their souls. What

envier of their happiness in him could, then, possibly have torn them from him?

This same portraiture of "Christ crucified" which he reminds the Galatians he had

in those days presented to them, he also, as he tells the Corinthians (I Corinthians 1:23;

2:2; II Corinthians 5:20-21), had been intent on holding up before the Greeks of

Achaia; while, further, he intimates to the Romans, in his Epistle to them, how

eager he was to come and at Rome also hold up Christ as him whom God had set

forth to be a Propitiation, through faith, by his blood (Romans 1:15-16; 3:25).

Both to the Jew and to the Gentile, both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise

and to unwise, this, emphatically this, WAS THE ALONE AND SOVEREIGN

SALVATION!  This picturing forth of the crucified One, however, would hardly

from Paul's lips concern itself much with the outward particulars of the passion;

it might have been this, in a far greater degree, in St. Peter's presentment of it,

who had been himself witness of those sufferings; but Paul, with his habits of

thought, as we know them from his writings, who knew Christ as in the spirit rather

than as in the flesh, would occupy himself more with the spiritual idea of the cross –

its embodiment of perfect meekness and gentleness and self-sacrifice, of humility.

of obedience to the Father's will, of love to all mankind, of especial care for His own,

and its antagonism to the spirit of Levitical ceremonialism. "Such presentment,"

remarks Calvin, "as if in a picture, nay, as if actually crucified in the very midst of

the hearers themselves, no eloquence, no artifice of rhetoric, can produce, unless

that THE MIGHTY WORKING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT be assistant of which

the apostle speaks in his two Epistles to the Corinthians (e.g. I Corinthians

2:4-5, 13-14; II Corinthians 3:3, 6). If any, therefore, would fain duly discharge

the ministry of the gospel, let them learn not so much to apply eloquence and

declamation, as to likewise so pierce into men's consciences that these may

truly feel Christ crucified and the dropping upon them of His blood. Where

the Church hath painters such as these, she very little needeth any more

representations in wood and stone, that is, dead images, very little any

paintings; and certainly among Christians the doors of the temples were not

open for the reception of images and paintings until the shepherds either had

grown dumb and become mere dolls, or else did say in the pulpit no more than

just a few words, and these in so cold and perfunctory a manner that


 was utterly extinct!”


                                           Review (v. 1)                                                      


Some one or some group, in their envy or jealousy of the happy

state of those Galatians who believed in Christ because of Paul’s

preaching,  had come in and  “bewitched”  (βασκαίνω baskaino –

bewitched - akin to [φάσκω – phasko - to assert, affirm, profess, say]

to malign, i.e. (by extension) to  fascinate (by false representations)



“O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not

obey the truth”


Paul  points to the “witcheries” of the false teachers as the only way of

accounting for the sudden and inexplicable change of sentiment in Galatia.

There must have been some extraordinary power of delusion or of

fascination at work to throw them so completely out of the line of

Christian thought.


“before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified

among you?”  Paul had presented “Christ…crucified” in such lively colors to

their view, that they had, as it were, seen Him hanging on the cross “in their

very midst”.  “We preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling-block, to

the Greeks foolishness; but to them that are called,… Christ the Wisdom of

God, and the Power of God.” (I Corinthians 1:23-24)  The death of Christ, as

expressing the whole mystery of redemption, involved the whole matter in dispute.

There could be no compatibility between Christ’s cross and Jewish legalism.

We can, therefore, well understand why the apostle resolved to know nothing in

his preaching but “Christ, and Him crucified”.



Beginning of the Polemic Part of the Epistle (v. 1)


The apostle has finished his task of self-vindication, and now proceeds in

regular theological method to expound and defend the doctrine of

justification by faith without the deeds of the Law. “O foolish Galatians!

who bewitched you,… before whose eyes Jesus Christ was evidently set

forth in you, crucified?’


  • THE APOSTLE’S SEVERE REPROOF. “O foolish Galatians! who

bewitched you?” Reproof is allowable and necessary, especially when it is

prompted by love to God and truth and by a tender interest in the welfare

of men.


Ø      He points to the “witcheries” of the false teachers as the only way of

accounting for the sudden and inexplicable change of sentiment in Galatia.

There must have been ome extraordinary power of delusion or of

fascination at work to throw them so completely out of the line of

Christian thought. Whether it was the witchery of logic or the witchery of

sanctity, it was most effective in deluding the Galatians.


Ø      The Galatians were foolish in yielding to such ensnaring delusions.

They were not answerable for the conduct of their deluders, but they

showed an uncommon folly. The Celtic nature is quick, but unstable.

The change was a senseless one.



eyes Jesus Christ was evidently set forth in you, crucified.” The apostle

refers to his own clear exhibition of gospel truth in Galatia, and especially

to the individualizing distinctness with which the Redeemer was set before

his converts as the only Hope of salvation. It was not only an exhibition,

like a placard exhibited before their eyes, but it had its answering

impression “within them.” How, then, with such a view of Christ’s person

and work, could they have opened their minds to such destructive errors?



Naturalistic writers give us a Christ exalted far above the average altitude

of men, but a man nevertheless; rationalistic writers give us a Christ as a

leader of thought or as an example of self-sacrifice and sympathy. “We

preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling-block, to the Greeks

foolishness; but to them that are called,… Christ the Wisdom of God, and

the Power of God.”  (I Corinthians 13-24)  The death of Christ, as expressing

the whole mystery of redemption, involved the whole matter in dispute. There

could be no compatibility between Christ’s cross and Jewish legalism. We can,

therefore, well understand why the apostle resolved to know nothing in his

preaching but Christ, and Him crucified.


2 “This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law,

or by the hearing of faith?” This only would I learn of you (τοῦτο μόνον θέλω

μαθεῖν ἀφ ὑμῶν – touto monon thelo mathein aph humon - this only would I be willing

to learn from you). I need ask for nothing more to show that the Law is nothing to you,

than that you should tell me this. Received ye the Spirit by the works of the Law?

(ἐξ ἔργων νόμου τὸ Πνεῦμα ἐλάβετεex ergon nomou to Pneuma elabete – out of

works of law the spirit ye got?); was it in consequence of works of the Law that ye

received the Spirit? I came amongst you as an apostle, preaching the gospel, and

upon your baptism laying my hands upon you; and the Holy Spirit came down

upon you, proving the reality of His presence both by signs and miracles and

powers, and also by the love, joy, and peace with which your hearts were filled;

sealing at once the truth of my doctrine and your own position individually as

recognized heirs of the kingdom of God. You remember that time. Well, how was

it then? Had there a word been then spoken touching meats or drinks, or washings

of purification (besides your baptism into Christ), or circumcision, or care of

ceremonial cleanness? Had you attended to any one point whatever of Levitical

ordinance? Had either you or I cast one thought in that direction? The "works of

the Law" here referred to must still be works of ceremonial performance, not those

of moral obedience; for repentance, the practical breaking off from sin, the surrender

of the soul to God and to Christ in faith and loyal obedience, the outward assuming

of the character of God's servants, the purpose and inchoate (rudimentary)

performance of works meet for repentance, - these dotings of compliance with

the moral Law were there. The gift of the Spirit was evidenced by charisms plainly

supernatural; but it comprised more than the bestowment of these. Or by the hearing

of faith? (ἤ ἐξ ἀκοῆς πίστεωςae ex akoaes pisteos – or out of hearing of faith?);

or was it in consequence of the hearing of faith? The noun ἀκοὴ denotes sometimes

(what is heard) "report," "rumour," as Matthew 4:24; 24:6; Romans 10:16-17;

sometimes, especially in the plural, the organs or sense of hearing, as Mark 7:35;

Luke 7:1; Acts 17:20; Hebrews 5:11; II Timothy 4:3-4; sometimes the act of hearing,

as Matthew 13:14; I Samuel 15:22 (Septuagint). The last appears more suitable here

than the first taken (as some take it) as describing the doctrine or message which

they heard respecting faith; standing as ἀκοὴ does in contrast to "works" which

would have been an acting of theirs, this likewise was most probably meant by

the apostle subjectively of something appearing on their own part. "Were you

not at once received into the kingdom of God and filled with joy in the Holy Spirit,

immediately upon your believing acceptance of the gospel message?" With

exquisite propriety, as Bengel observes, is hereby marked the nature of faith,

not working, but receiving. This agrees also best with the illustration which

in v. 6 the apostle gives of the phrase as introduced by him again in v. 5.


3  “Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by

the flesh?”  (οὕτως ἀνόητοί ἐστε ἐναρξάμενοι, πνεύματι νῦν σαρκὶ ἐπιτελεῖσθε –

houtos anoaetoi este enarxamenoi, pneumati nun sarki epiteleisthe - are ye so foolish?

having begun with the Spirit, are ye now finishing with the flesh?)  Πνεύματι (Spirit)

as contrasted with σαρκί (flesh), means the element of spiritual existence (compare

the use of πνεῦμα in Romans 1:4; I Peter 3:18) into which they had been brought at

their conversion by the Holy Spirit's influence; including the spiritual sensibility

and spiritual activity which had at first marked their Christian life, as e.g. joy in

God in the sense of pardon, adoption (ch. 4:6), love to God, affectionate attachment

to their spiritual teacher (ibid. vs.14-15), brotherly love among themselves: at that

hour all their soul was praise, joy, love. Σαρκὶ denotes a lower, merely sensuous

kind of religiousness, one busying itself with ceremonial performances, observance

of days and festivals (ibid. v. 10), distinctions of meats, and other matters of

ceremonial prescription; with petty strivings and disputings, of course, about

such points, as if they really mattered at all; in which kind of religiousness the

former tone of love, joy, sense of adoption, praise, had evaporated, leaving their

souls dry, earthly (compare "weak and beggarly rudiments," ibid. v. 9; and for the

use of σαρκος – sarkos – of flesh, carnal -  Hebrews 9:10). Perhaps the apostle

includes also in his use of the term the loss of spiritual victory over sin. If in place

of surrendering themselves to the leading of the Spirit (compare ch. 5:18) they put

themselves under the Law, then they fell back again under the power of the "flesh,"

which the Law could only command them to control, but could of itself give them

no power to control (Romans 8:3). The Authorized Version, "begun in," is doubtless

faulty, in taking πνεύματι as governed by the ἐν of the compound verb. The two

verbs ἐνάρχομαι (one who undertakes; one beginning) and ἐπιτελεῖν (one completing;

one performing) are balanced against each other in II Corinthians 8:6;

Philippians 1:6. Ἐπιτελεῖσθε may be either a passive, as it is rendered in the

Authorized Version, "Are ye made perfect," i.e. "Are ye seeking to be made

perfect;" so the Revised Version, "Are ye now perfected;" or a middle verb,

as ἐπιτελοῦμαι is often used in other writers, though nowhere in the New

Testament or Septuagint. The latter seems the more suitable, with the understood

suppletion of "your course" or "your estate," as in our English word "finishing."

The apostle is partial to the deponent form of verbs.


4 “Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.”

 (τοσαῦτα ἐπάθετε εἰκῆ εἴγε καὶ εἰκῆ - tosauta epathete eikae eige kai eiki –

 did ye suffer all those troubles for naught? if indeed really for naught –

so much ye suffered feignedly since surely also feignedly). The ambiguity of

τοσαῦτα, which means either "so many" or "so great," is preserved by the

rendering all those. The Revisers put so many in the text, and "or so great"

in the margin. In respect to ἐπάθετε, the leading of the context in which the

verse is embedded might incline us to take the verb in the sense in which it

frequently occurs in Greek writers, that of being subjects of such and such

treatment, good as well as bad; as, for example, in Josephus, 'Ant.,' 3:15, 1,

Ὅσα παθόντες ἐξ αὐτοῦ καὶ πηλικῶν εὐεργσιῶν μεταλαβόντες – Hosa pathontes

ex autou kai paelikon euergsion metalabontes - "What treatment having received

from Him [God], the character of the treatment being sufficiently indicated by the

context as being that of kindness. But it is a fatal objection to this view of the

passage that, in the forty passages or more in which the verb πάσχω – pascho –

to suffer - is used in the New Testament, it never is used of good treatment, but

always of bad; and so also always in the Septuagint. We are, therefore, shut up

to the sense of "suffering ills," and must endeavor to find, if we can, some

circumstances marking the troubles referred to which might serve to explain

the seemingly abrupt mention of them here. And the probable explanation is this:

those sufferings were brought upon the Galatian converts, not only through the

influence of Jews, but also in consequence of the bitter enmity with which the

Jews regarded St. Paul, as bringing converts over from among the Gentiles to the

service of the one true God apart from any regard to the ceremonial Law of Moses.

That Jews in general did thus regard St. Paul is shown by the suspicion which even

Christian Jews felt towards him (Acts 21:21). For this no doubt, it was that the Jews

in Asia Minor persecuted him from city to city as they did, their animosity against

him extending itself also to these who had attached themselves to him as his

disciples. That it did extend itself to his disciples as such appears, as from the

nature of the case, so also from Acts 14:22, "That through many tribulations

we must enter into the kingdom of God;" as also it is evinced by the strongly

indignant tone in which he speaks of the persecuting Jews in his two Epistles

to the Thessalonians, written near the very time to which he here alludes

(I Thessalonians 2:14-16; II Thessalonians 1:8-9) - this indignation being best

accounted for by the supposition that it was roused by his sympathy with the

similarly originated sufferings of the Macedonian brethren to whom he was

writing. That the troubles here referred to emanated from the hostility of Jewish

legalists may be further gathered from ch. 5:11; 6:12 (on which see Exposition).

Those Jewish legalists hated both St. Paul and his converts, because they alike

walked in "the Spirit," that is, in the element of Christian spirituality emancipated

from the bondage of the Law, and not in "the flesh" of Mosaic ceremonialism.

Hence it is that the mention in v. 3 of the Galatian brethren having "begun with

the Spirit," leads him on to the thought of the sufferings which just on that very

account had been brought upon them. "For naught." This adverb εἰκῆ sometimes

means, prospectively, "to no good," as in ch.4:11, "bestowed labour upon you in vain,"

and probably in I Corinthians 15:2; sometimes, retrospectively, "for no just cause,"

as in Colossians 2:18, "vainly puffed up." The English phrase, "for naught," has

just a similar ambiguity. The apostle may, therefore, mean either this:


·         Did ye suffer all these troubles to reap after all no benefit from your

suffering them, forfeiting as you do (ch. 5:4) the reward which you might

else have expected from the great Retributor (II Thessalonians 1:6-7)

through your forsaking that ground of faith on which ye then stood,

if indeed ye have forsaken it? or this –


·         Did ye provoke all that persecution without just cause? - if, indeed,

there was no just cause as ye seem now to think.


According to the former view, the Galatians were now nullifying the benefit

which might have accrued to them from their former endurance of persecution;

according to the latter, they were now stultifying their former conduct in

provoking these persecutions. The first seems somewhat the easiest. Eἴγε

Eige – If ye continue; if surely, as in Colossians 1:23. The concluding clause has

been here regarded as a reaching forth of the apostle's soul towards the hope that

better thoughts might yet prevail with the Galatian waverers, so that they would

not lose the reward of having suffered for Christ - a hope which he thus glances at,

if so be he might thus lure them to its realization. But another view of the words

has commended itself to not a few eminent critics, namely, that the apostle

glances at the darker prospect; as if he had said, "If it be, indeed, merely for

naught, and not for far worse than that! By falling away from the gospel, ye

not only lose the crown of confessorship: ye forfeit also your hope of

your heavenly inheritance" (compare ch. 5:4). The conjunction καὶ is,

confessedly, sometimes almost equivalent to "merely," "only," as e.g. in

Homer, 'Odyssey,' 1:58, Ἱέμενος καὶ καπνὸν ἀποθρώσκοντα νοῆσαι ῆς γαίης –

Iemenos kai kapnon apothroskonta noaesai haes gaiaes - Longing if only but

to see the smoke leaping upward from his native land.  But in the present case

εἴ γε does not so readily suggest the last proposed suppletion of thought as it

  does the other.


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?

He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you

(ὁ οϋν ἐπιχορηγῶν ὑμῖν τὸ Πνεῦμα καὶ ἐνεργῶν δυνάμεις ἐν ὑμῖν – ho oun

epichoraegon humin to Pneuma kai energon dunameis en humin - He then that

supplieth to you the Spirit and worketh powers in you, or, miracles among you;

the one then supplying ye the Spirit and operating powerful works among ye).

The "then" marks the taking up afresh of the topic brought forward in v. 2, with

especial prominence given here to the miraculous manifestations of the Spirit's

presence. The argumentative treatment of this topic of the gift of the Spirit was

interrupted in vs. 3 and 4 by curt, strongly emotional interrogatives, darted forth

upon the apostle's recollecting the animated spirituality which marked those early

days of their discipleship. The impassioned randomness of his language here,

together with its abrupt, stingy wording, is paralleled by ch. 4:10-20. Perhaps these

features in the form of the composition were in part occasioned by the circumstance

that he was writing this Epistle with his own hand and not through an amanuensis;

such manual exertion being, it should seem, unusual with him, and from some cause

even laborious and painful: and so from time to time he appears, as it were, laying

down the pen, to rest, to quell emotion, to reflect. The compound verb ἐπιχορηγεῖν

(supply), differs probably from the simple form χορηγεῖν only by indicating profusion

in the supply; but this qualification of its meaning is too slight to be representable

in translation. Besides II Peter 1:5, 11, we find it in II Corinthians 9:10, "He that

supplieth (ὁ ἐπιχορηγῶν – ho epichoraegon – one supplying) seed... shall supply

(χορηγήσει – choraegaesei – may be furnishing or supplying) and multiply your

seed for sowing;" Colossians 2:19, "From whom all the body... being supplied;"

I Peter 4:11, "As of the strength which God supplieth." And with similar application

the substantive "supply" (ἐπιχορηγίας – epichoraegias) in Philippians 1:19, "Supply of

the Spirit of Jesus Christ;" Ephesians 4:16, "Through every joint of the supply." These

passages make it clear that "He that supplieth" is no other than God. And this

conclusion is borne out by the comparing of the other clause, "worketh powers in you,"

with I Corinthians 12:6, "It is the same God ( ἐνεργῶν) who worketh all in all"

referring to the charismata [gifts}) - which passage shows that "powers' (δυνάμεις –

dunameis) are not "miracles" themselves as in Matthew 7:22 and Matthew 11:20,

and often, but power to work miracles, the plural number pointing to the various forms

of its manifestation, as in I Corinthians 12:10, 28-29. The apostle uses the present

participles ἐπιχορηγῶν (supplying) and ἐνεργῶν (operating) as describing an agency

which the Almighty was continually putting forth among believers in general, including

the Galatian Churches themselves. Doeth he it by the works of the Law, or by the

hearing of faith? (ἐξ ἔργων νόμου ἐξ ἀκοης πίστεωςex ergon nomou ay ex akoaes

pisteos – out of works of law or out of hearing of faith; in consequence of works of the

Law or of the hearing of faith?) With the sparingness of words above noted, the apostle

barely jots down, so to speak, the substance of the interrogative dilemma, without filling

in the form of the question. The suppletion would naturally be that of our version,

"doeth he it." The substance of the argument apparently required no more than, as

before, the question - Was it in consequence of works of the Law or of the hearing

of faith that the Spirit and His wonder-working powers were received? But instead

of putting it so, St. Paul interposes the personality of the great God Himself

as imparting these great gifts, making his sentence thereby the more stately and

impressive: it is with God in the might of His working that these corrupters

of the gospel HAVE TO RECKON! The impartation of the Spirit and the charisms

evidenced God's complacency in the recipients. On what was that complacency

(gifts) founded? on their earning it by ceremonial performances, or on their simply

opening their hearts to receive His love? It was a question which the Galatian

Churchmen might, if they would, see the answer to in experiences of their own.

Among themselves these powers had appeared, and no doubt were still operative.

"Well, then," says the apostle, "look and see: are they not operative in those only

of you who had received them upon the mere acceptance of righteousness offered

them through faith in Christ simply, without having given any heed to Mosaic

ceremonialism? Have any of you received them after taking up with such

ceremonialism?" The apostle, it will be observed - and the remark is one of no

small importance - makes an appeal to simple matters of fact, founded upon his

and their own familiar acquaintance with the facts, and defying contradiction.

We may be sure, therefore, that the facts were as he indicates, however small the

extent may be to which we, with our imperfect knowledge of the circumstances,

are ourselves able to verify his statement. In some degree, however, we can. Besides

the striking illustration afforded by what occurred in the house of Cornelius (“While

Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.”

Acts 10:44), we see that such charismata were bestowed, and in some instances, as,

e.g. at Corinth, in exceeding great profusion, in the train of St. Paul's evangelizing

ministrations; and how remote those ministrations were from the inculcation,

or even the admission, among Gentile converts of Mosaic ceremonialism we

know perfectly.





      The Apostle’s First Argument in this Controversy (vs. 2-5)



Spirit by the works of the Law, or by the hearing of faith?” He begins by a

practical test, which can be easily settled by experience and history. He

refers to the time of awakening grace and first love. They had “received the



Ø      He concedes that they were Christians, though they were neither

faithful, nor stable, nor sound. “The Holy Spirit is the characteristic

possession of believers.” “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is

none of His.” (Romans 8:9) The reference may have been both to ordinary

and extraordinary gifts of the Spirit.


Ø      He concedes that they were conscious of the possession of the Spirit.

They had no occasion to ask him what he meant by their receiving the

Spirit. Christian people ought to possess, not only a good hope through

grace, but “a full assurance of hope.” (Hebrews 6:11)



PRINCIPLE OF LAW, BUT OF GRACE. Though the Spirit was given

under the Law, it was never given on a principle of Law, but it was under

the gospel dispensation that it was given in Pentecostal power and

abundance. No man ever yet received the Spirit, as the Author and

Sustainer of the new life, by “the works of the Law,” or by a course of

obedience specially designed to work out salvation. Conspicuously, as to

historic fact and inward experience, the Spirit was given to men in

connection with the first promulgation of the “word of faith” at Pentecost.

The Spirit was given “by the hearing of faith.” “Faith cometh by hearing,

and hearing by the Word of God.”  (Romans 10:17)  Yet the hearing that

brings faith with it is only possible through the Spirit’s power, for many hear

who do not believe, and therefore RECEIVE NOT the Spirit. There is no

inconsistency here. We need the Spirit to enable us to believe, but the

hearing is instrumentally necessary to our fuller reception of the Spirit.

The apostle here, however, seems primarily to refer to the extraordinary

gifts of the Spirit, of which Peter spoke when he said that, after his

preaching the Word, “the Holy Ghost fell upon them as upon us at the

beginning” (that being Pentecost - Acts 11:15).



LAW, BUT OF GRACE. “He that ministereth to you the Spirit and

worketh miracles in you, doeth He it by the works of the Law, or by the

hearing of faith?’ He first spoke of the reception, now he speaks of the

donation of the Spirit: he first referred to a particular point of time, namely,

their conversion; he now speaks of the principle of God’s continued action.

It is God who ministers the Spirit — not the apostle — whether to work

miracles of power or miracles of grace. But He does it, not on the principle

of legal obedience, but on the principle of grace working through the

instrumentality of the preached gospel. He is “the God of grace,” who sent

His Son, “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14), to pour grace into innumerable




AND TO END ON ANOTHER. “Are ye so foolish? having begun with the

Spirit, are ye now being completed with the flesh?” This is folly, for it is to

reverse the natural order of things. The opposites here are not Christianity

and Judaism, but the essential and vital principle of each. If we begin our

life with the Spirit, it must reach its maturity with the Spirit. The

introduction of the flesh would be the annihilation of the Spirit. Judaism

ministers to the sensuous element in our nature by making religion a thing

of rites and ceremonies; but this is to go back upon all the progress we

have made in life, light, and blessing.



suffer so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.”


Ø      It is a sign of sincerity to suffer for our opinions. There is no record in

the Acts of a persecution in Galatia; but the Jewish element was strong

enough there as elsewhere to resent by violence the contempt put upon

their Law by the Gentiles being freed from it. There is a possible reference

to these sufferings in the Epistle (ch. 5:1l).


Ø      You stultify all your past sufferings if you recede from the gospel. All

these sufferings represent so much wasted endurance or misery.


Ø      The apostles reluctance to think their sufferings were in vain. “If it be

yet in vain.” He hopes better things of his converts. He knows that God

keepeth the feet of his saints, so that they cannot altogether lose the things

they have wrought.



                                                            Review (vs. 2-5)


  • The test of experience – v. 2 -Received ye the Spirit by the works

            of the law, or by the hearing of faith?  They had “received the

            Spirit.”  He concedes that they were Christians, though they were neither

            faithful, nor stable, nor sound. “The Holy Spirit is the characteristic

            possession of believers.” “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is

            none of his.” (Romans 8:9) He concedes that they were conscious of the    

            possession of the Spirit.  They had no occasion to ask him what he meant by

            their receiving the Spirit.


  • The folly of attempting to begin on one principle and to end on another- v.3 -

      “Are ye so foolish? having begun with the Spirit, are ye now being

            completed with the flesh?”  If we begin our life with the Spirit, it must

            reach its maturity with the Spirit. Judaism ministers to the sensuous element

            in our nature by making religion a thing of rites and ceremonies; but this is

            to go back upon all the progress we have made in life, light, and blessing.

            “God is a Spirit:  and they that worship Him must worship Him in

            Spirit and in truth” (John 4:24)


  • The uselessness of their past sufferings – v. 4 - “Did ye suffer so many

      things in vain? There is no record in the Acts of a persecution in Galatia;

      but the Jewish element was strong enough there as elsewhere to resent by

      violence the contempt put upon their Law by the Gentiles being freed from

      it. There is a possible reference to these sufferings in ch. 5:1l).  If you recede

      from the gospel. All these sufferings represent so much wasted endurance or         

      misery.  Paul is reluctant to think  their sufferings were in vain. “If it be yet

      in vain.” He hopes better things of his converts. He knows that God

            keepeth the feet of his saints, so that they cannot altogether lose the things

            they have wrought.  (I Corinthians 15:58)


  • The reception of the Spirit is not on the principle of Law, but of Grace – v.5

      Though the Spirit was given under the Law, it was never given on a principle

      of Law, but it was under the gospel dispensation that it was given in

      Pentecostal power and abundance. No man ever yet received the Spirit,

      as the Author and Sustainer of the new life, by “the works of the Law,” or

            by a course of obedience specially designed to work out salvation.

            Historically, the Spirit was given to men in connection with the first

            promulgation of the “word of faith” at Pentecost. The Spirit was given

            “by the hearing of faith.” “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the

            Word of God.” (Romans 10:17)  Yet the hearing that brings faith with it

            is only possible through the Spirit’s power, for many hear who do not

            believe, and therefore receive not the Spirit.


6 “Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”

 (καθὼς Ἀβραὰμ ἐπίστευσε τῷ Θεῷ καὶ ἐλογίσθη αὐτῷ εἰς δικαιοσύνην – kathos

Abraham episteuse to Theo kai elogisthae auo eis dikaiosunaen - ); Even as Abraham

beleives in God and was accounted [reckoned] unto him for righteousness. The answer

to the question in the foregoing verse is so obvious that the apostle goes on as if that

answer had been given, namely, that it was simply in consequence of the hearing of

faith that God conferred on any the Holy Spirit and His powers. This, he now adds,

was in exact conformity with what was recorded of Abraham; as soon as Abraham

heard the promise made to him, "So shall thy seed be" (Genesis 15:5),  he believed it,

and by the hearing of faith was justified. The mutual correspondence of the two cases

lay in this, that in imparting to those believers the Holy Spirit, God showed that they

were in His favor, were justified people, simply because of their faith; even as

Abraham was shown to be in His favor, having likewise by faith been justified.

The apostle weaves into his sentence the very words of Genesis 15:6, as they

appear in the Septuagint, with scarcely any modification; the Septuagint reading

thus: Καὶ ἐπίστευσεν Αβραμ τῷ Θεῷ καὶ ἐλογίσθη αὐτῷ εἰς δικαιοσύνην – Kai

episteusen Abram to Theo kai Elogisthae auto eis dikaiosunaenAnd Abraham

believed God and it was counted unto him for righteosness.  But in doing so he

both himself feels, and will have his readers feel, that they are words of Scripture

from which, as such, reliable conclusions might be drawn, as is shown by the next

verse. In the Hebrew, however, the passage runs as in our Authorized Version,

"He believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness." The words

are quoted with substantially the like agreement with the Septuagint and divergence

from the Hebrew also in Romans 4:3, and by St. James in his Epistle (James 2:23)

(ἐπίστευσε δὲ Ἀβραὰμ – episteuse de Abraham – Abraham yet believes, etc.).

"It was reckoned;" in the Hebrew, "He reckoned it;" "it," that is, his believing:

God regarded it as imparting to him perfect acceptableness, his sins no longer

disqualifying him for being an object of the Divine favor. It is of the greatest

importance to take note what the kind of faith was which God reckoned to him

for righteousness. It was not simply a persuasion that what God says must be true.

As Calvin remarks, Cain might have a hundred times exercised faith in what God

had said to him, without thereby receiving righteousness from God. The reason

why Abraham was justified by believing was this: a promise had been given him

by God of His fatherly goodness towards him; and this word of God's he embraced

as certainty. The faith, therefore, which the apostle is thinking of is the faith which

has respect to some word of God which is of such a sort that reliance upon it will

enable a man to repose IN GOD’S LOVE TO HIM FOR TIME AND ETERNITY!

The reference to Abraham's case which St. Paul makes in such very brief terms he

expands in the fourth chapter of his Epistle to the Romans to a considerable length,

ending with these words: "Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was

reckoned to him [for righteousness]; but for our sake also, unto whom it shall

be reckoned, who believe on Him that raised Jesus our Lord from the dead,

who was delivered up for our offences, and was raised for our justification."

Christ's death and resurrection are God's word and guarantee to the whole human

race (see Acts 17:31), assuring us of His forgiveness and of His offer to us

of eternal life. If we hear this word with faith, committing ourselves to His love,

God on that ground at once justifies also us. It is evident that, in the apostle's view,

the word "righteousness," as used in the recited passage of Genesis, does not mean

"a righteous act," that is, that Abraham's believing God's promise was viewed by

Heaven with approval; but complete acceptableness investing Abraham himself.

In consideration of that exercise of faith God accounted him a righteous man.

The Greek phrase, ἐλογίσθη εἰς δικαιοσύνην – elogisthae eis dikaiosunaen - was

reckoned for righteousness, i.e. reckoned as being righteousness, is similar to

λογισθῆναι εἰς οὐδέν – logisthaenai eis ouden, reckoned as naught; in nothing

be reckoned (Acts 19:27); εἰς περιτομὴν λογισθήσεταιeis peritomaen logisthaesetai –

reckoned; counted for circumcision (Romans 2:26); λογίζεται εἰς σπέρμαlogizetai

eis sperma -  reckoned; counted for a seed (Romans 9:8). Are we to infer from these

two verses, 5 and 6, that in the apostle's view all who received spiritual gifts were

thereby proved to be, or to have been, justified persons and in enjoyment of the

Divine favor? We can hardly think this. The phenomena disclosed to us in the

two Epistles addressed to the Corinthians. as to the moral and spiritual behavior of

some at least of their body, tend to show that individuals possessed of charisms

(gifts) were found in some instances to make a very vainglorious use of them,

and needed to be reminded that the thaumaturgic gifts (working of wonders or

miracles) were of a fleeting character and of incomparably less value than qualities

of moral goodness. Certainly Christ Himself has told us that "many" will at the

last be found to have been possessed of such miraculous gifts, whom nevertheless

He "never knew." One of the very apostles was a Judas. Perhaps the solution is

this: companies of men were dealt with in the diffusion of these gifts according as

they were characterized, viewed each as a whole, though there might be individuals

in each company imperfectly, very superficially, some perhaps not at all, animated

by the sentiment generally prevailing in the body. If a community as a whole was

pervaded extensively by a spirit of frank acceptance of the gospel doctrine and of

pious devotion, its members brought by baptism into the "body which is Christ,"

the HOLY SPIRIT made such a community HIS HABITATION (I Corinthians

3:16-17; 6:19; II Corinthians 6:16), and diffused His gifts among its members

diversely and to all appearance indiscriminately (I Corinthians 12:13); at all events

not in such wise discriminately as that degrees of personal holiness and acceptableness

before God could at all be estimated as standing in proportion to the outward brilliancy

of thaumaturgic gifts severally possessed.


7 “Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of

Abraham.” Know ye therefore (γινώσκετε ἄρα – ginoskete ara – be ye knowing

consequently or, ye perceive then. Critics are divided between the two renderings,

the imperative and the indicative, both here and Matthew 24:43; I John 2:29. In

Luke 10:11 and Hebrews 13:23 γινώσκετε is certainly imperative. The categorical

imperative seems of the two the more suited to the apostle's impetuous temperament.

The verb γινώσκω – ginosko - , like the Latin nosco, properly denotes "to come to

 know," "learn," "perceive," "get apprised;" ἔγνωκα – egnoka or ἔγνων – egnon ,

like now, having more properly the sense of "knowing." But this distinction does

not always hold, as e.g. Romans 7:1. That they which are of faith (ὅτι οἱ ἐκ πίστεως –

hoti hoi ek pisteos - that the men of faith); that is, who derive their position from faith,

belong to faith, are above all things characterized by faith. Compare the expressions,

τοῖς ἐξ ἐριθείας – tois ex epitheias – to the ones out of faction; strife; the men of

factiousness, i.e. "factions men" (Romans 2:8); τὸ ἐκ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ - to ex pisteos

Iaesou - the man of faith in Jesus, taking his stand thereupon (Romans 3:26).

Closely affine to this usage of the preposition, if not quite the same, is, ὁ ων ἐκ τῆς

ἀληθείας – ho on ek taes alaetheias - that is of the truth (John 18:37); οἱ ἐκ νόμου

oi ek nomou - they which are of the Law (Romans 4:14); ὅσοι ἐξ ἔργων νόμου εἰσίν –

hosoi ex ergon nomou eisin – as many as are of the works of the law (v. 10 of this

chapter). The same are the children of Abraham (οῦτοί εἰσιν υἱοὶ Ἀβραάμ – outoi

eisin huioi Abraham - these are sons of Abraham. The form of expression is precisely

the same as in Romans 8:14, "As many as are led by the Spirit of God (οῦτοί εἰσιν υἱοὶ

Θεού - houtoi eisin huioi Theou – these are sons of God ) these are sons of God." In

both cases the absence of the article before υἱοὶ suggests the feeling that the apostle

is simply stating a predicate of the class before defined, but not now affirming that

this predicate is confined to that class, although, again in each case, he knew that

it was so confined. Just here, what he is concerned to affirm is that the possession

of faith is a complete and sufficient qualification for sonship to Abraham. There is,

perhaps, a polemical reference to the teaching of certain in Galatia, that, to be sons

of Abraham or interested in God's covenant with His people, it behoved men to be

circumcised and to observe the ceremonial Law. This error would be satisfactorily

met by the affirmation of the present verse, that the being believers, simply this,

constitutes men sons of Abraham. In the tenth verse the apostle goes further,

aggressively denying to those who "were of the works of the Law" the possession

at all of Abrahamic privilege. The class, "men of faith," did in fact include Jewish

believers as well as Gentile; but just here, as seems probable from what is said in

the next verse, the apostle has in view Gentile believers only. The writer's thoughts

are hovering round that promise of God ("So shall thy seed be" – Genesis 15:5)

which had been on that particular occasion the object of Abraham's faith. That

this was the case we may infer from his citation of the words in Romans 4:18,

the explanation of which had been prepared for by him in what he has said before

in v. 16, "To the end that the promise may be sure to all the seed: not to that

only which is of the Law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham,

who is the father of us all." It was this that led him to speak of being sons of

Abraham. This train of thought is pursued further in the next two verses.


8 “And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through

faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations

be blessed.”  The substance of this verse, taken in conjunction with the next, is this:

The announcement which the Scripture records as made to Abraham, that "in him all

the nations should be blessed," that is, that by being like him in faith all nations

should be blessed like him, did thus early preach to Abraham that which is the great

cardinal truth of the gospel preached now: it proceeded upon a foresight of the fact

now coming to pass, that by faith simply God would justify the Gentiles. As well as the

Scripture quoted before from Genesis 15, so this announcement also ascertains to us

the position that they that are of faith, and they alone, are blessed with the believing

patriarch. Such appears to be the general scope of the passage; but the verbal details

are not free from difficulty. And the Scripture, foreseeing (προιδοῦσα δὲ ἡ γραφή -

proidousa de hae graphae – perceiving before yet the scripture); and, again, the

Scripture, foreseeing. The conjunction δὲ (yet) indicates transition to another item of

proof, as, e.g. in Romans 9:27, Ἡσαίας δέ - Esaias de – Isaiah yet. The word "Scripture"

in II Peter 1:20, "no prophecy of Scripture," certainly denotes the sacred writings as

taken collectively, that is, what is frequently recited by the plural, αἱ γραφαί - hai

graphai -  the Scriptures. So probably in Acts 8:22, "the passage of Scripture."

We are, therefore, warranted in supposing it possible, and being possible it is here

also probable, that this is the sense in which the apostle now uses the term as well

as in v. 22, rather than as denoting, either the one particular passage cited or the

particular book out of which it is taken. This view better suits the personification

under which the Old Testament is here presented. This personification groups with

that in Romans 9:17, "The Scripture saith unto Pharaoh, For this very purpose did

I raise thee up." In both cases the "Scripture" is put in place of the announcement

which Scripture records as having been made, the Scripture itself being written after

the time of both Abraham and Pharaoh, and not addressed to them. But here there is

the additional feature, of foresight being attributed to Scripture - a foresight, not

exactly of the Holy Spirit inspiring the Scripture, but of the Divine Being who, on

the occasion referred to, was holding communication with Abraham; although, yet

again, "the Scripture" seems in the words, "foreseeing that God would justify," etc.,

distinguished from "God." The sense, however, is clear; Scripture shows that, as

early as the time of Abraham, a Divine intimation was given that God would,

on the ground of faith simply, justify any human being throughout the world

that should believe in Him as Abraham did. Rabbinical scholars tell us that in

those writings a citation from Scripture is frequently introduced with the words,

"What sees the Scripture?" or, "What sees he [or, 'it']?" That God would justify

the heathen through faith (ὅτι ἐκ πίστεως διακαιοῖ τὰ ἔθνη ὁ Θεός – hoti ek

pisteos diakaioi ta ethnae ho Theos – that out of faith God is justifying the nations;

that by [Greek, out of] faith would God justify the nations. The position of ἐκ πίστεως

- ek pisteos – out of faith - betokens that the apostle's point here is, not that God

would justify the Gentiles, but that it was by faith that he would do so irrespectively

of any fulfillment on their part of ceremonial observances. The tense of the present

indicative δικαιοῖ (is justifying) is hardly to be explained thus: would justify as we

now see He is doing. The usual effect of the oratio obliqua (paraphrase) transfers

the standpoint of time in δικαιοῖ to the time of the foresight, the present tense being

put instead of the future (δικαιώσει), as intimating that God was, so to speak, even

now preparing thus to justify, or, in the Divine estimate of spaces of time, was on

the eve of thus justifying; analogously with the force of the present tense in the

participles "given" and "poured out" (διδόμεν – didomen – being given;

ἐκχυνόμενον –ekchunomenon – poured out; being shed) in Luke 22:19-20.

The condition of mankind in the meanwhile is described here in vs. 22, 23 –

shut up unto the faith that was to be revealed. A question arises as to the exact

interpretation of the word ἔθνη as twice occurring in this verse. Does the apostle use

it as the correlative to Jews, "Gentiles;" or without any such sense of contradistinction,

"nations" including both Jews and Gentiles? In answer, we observe:

(1) The great point in these vs 6-9 is, not the call of the Gentiles, but the efficacy

of faith without Levitical ceremonialism, as summed up in the words of v. 9.

(2) The original passage which the apostle is now referring to is that in Genesis 12:3,

where the Septuagint, conformably with the Hebrew, has Καὶ ἐνευλογηθήσονται ἐν

σοὶ πᾶσαι αἱ φυλὰι τῆς γῆςKai eneulogaethaesontai en soi pasai hai phulai taes

gaes -  And in thee shall all families [Hebrew, mishpechoth] of the earth be blessed:"

in our Authorized Version," only, through some cause or other, instead of "all families,"

he writes the words, "all nations" (πάντα τὰ ἔθνη – panta ta ethnae), which we find in

what was said by the Lord to the two angels (Genesis 18:18), Καὶ ἐνευλογηθήσονται

ἐν αὐτῷ [that is, Abraham] πάντα τὰ ἔθνη τῆς γῆς: Authorized Version, "all the nations

of the earth" (Genesis 22:18, and the promise to Isaac, Genesis 26:4, are irrelevant to

the point now under consideration). We, therefore, are warranted in assuming that,

as ἔθνη might be used as coextensive with φυλαί ("families"), it really is here

employed by the apostle with the same extension of application. We may add that,

most certainly, the apostle utterly repudiated the notion that God justifies Gentiles

on a different footing from that on which He justifies Jews: whether Jews or Gentiles,

they only who are of faith are blessed with Abraham; and, whether Jews or Gentiles

all who are of faith are blessed with him.


Preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying (προευηγγελίσατο τῷ Ἀβραάμ ὅτι –

proeuaeggelisato to Abraham hoti – he preached the gospel beforehand unto Abraham

that; preached the gospel beforehand unto Abraham, saying). Very striking and

animated is the apostle's use of this word προευηγγελίσατο, a compound verb,

minted no doubt for the occasion out of his own ardent thought, though it is

found also in his senior contemporary, Philo. It is plainly an allusion to the "gospel"

now openly proclaimed to the world as having been "by anticipation" already

then announced to Abraham, the Most High Himself the herald; signifying

also the joy which it brought to the patriarch, and (Chrysostom adds) his great

desire for its accomplishment. The blessed and glorious gospel of the grace of God

has been the thought of God in all ages. May we connect with this the mysterious

passage “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it and was glad.”

in John 8:56? In point of construction, the verb εὐαγγελίζομαι – euaggelizomai – I am

bringing good tidings is nowhere else followed by ὅτι: but as it is sometimes found

governing an accusative of the matter preached (Luke 1:19; 2:10; Acts 5:42; 8:12;

Ephesians 2:17), there is no harshness in its construction with ὅτι, which we may

here represent in English by "saying." In thee shall all nations be blessed

(ἐνευλογηθήσονται [Receptus, εὐλογηθήσονται] ἐν σοὶ πάντα τὰ ἔθνη –

eneulogaethaesontai en soi panta ta ethnae – shall be being blessed in you all

the nations). "In thee" as their type and pattern, in respect both to the "blessing"

bestowed upon him and to the faith out of which his blessing sprang. The "blessing"

consists of God's love and all the well-being which can flow from God's love; the

form of well-being varying according to the believer's circumstances, whether in

this life or in the life to come; it receives its consummation with the final utterance,

"Come, ye blessed (εὐλογημένοι – eulogaemenoi – ones being blessed) of my Father,

inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." (Matthew

24:34)  Into this condition of blessedness the sinful and guilty can only be brought

through justification; but justification through Christ does of necessary consequence

bring us into it. The compound form of the verb, ἐνευλογηθή - eneulogaethaebeing

blessed added to ἐν σοὶ - en soi – in you, forcibly indicates that moral inherency in

Abraham, through our being in faith and obedience his spiritual offspring, whereby

alone the blessing is attained and possessed. Chrysostom remarks, "If, then, those

were Abraham's sons, not who were related to him by blood, but who follow his faith,

for this is the meaning of the words, 'In thee all nations,' it is plain that the Gentiles

are brought into kindred with him." Augustine explains "in thee," similarly: "To wit,

by imitation of his faith by which he was justified even before the sacrament of

circumcision." Luther writes "In Abraham are we blessed, but in what Abraham?

The believing Abraham, to wit; because if we are not in Abraham, we are under

a curse rather, even if we were in Abraham according to the flesh." Calvin likewise:

"These words beyond all doubt mean that all must become objects of blessing after

Abraham's fashion; for he is the common pattern, nay rather, rule. But he by faith

obtained blessing; therefore faith is for all the means."


9 “So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.”

(ὥστε οἱ ἐκ πίστεως εὐλογοῦνται σὺν τῷ πιστῷ Ἀβραάμ hoste hoi ek pisteos

eulogountai sun to pisto Abraham - ) "Are blessed;" are objects of benediction.

The apostle gathers from the words cited in v. 8 the two particulars, that there are

who get to be blessed like Abraham and with him, and that it is by faith like

Abraham's, without works of the Law, that they do so. He seems to have an eye to

the sense of Divine benediction which the Galatians had themselves experienced,

when upon their simply believing in Christ the Spirit's gifts had been poured forth

upon them. The word "faithful" (πιστῷ) is inserted, ex abundanti (abundant caution

does no harm) almost, to mark the more explicitly and emphatically, the condition

on which both Abraham and therefore others in him gain the blessing. This being

"in Abraham," which is here predicated of all who gain justification and God's

benediction, is analogous to the image of Gentiles, being by faith "grafted,"

and by faith abiding, in the "olive tree," which we have in Romans 11:17, 20.

The verbal πιστὸς is generally passive, "one to be believed or trusted in," and so

a man "of fidelity;" but it is also at times active, in the sense of "one who believes,"

as John 20:27; Acts 10:45; II Corinthians 6:15; Ephesians 1:1; I Timothy 4:10;

5:16; 6:2 (so in ἄπιστος – apistos - unbelieving, John 20:27; ὀλιγόπιστος – oligopistos –

scant of faith ones; of little faith, Matthew 6:30). In consequence of this use of the

term in Scripture, both  fidelis in ecclesiastical Latin and "faithful" in English have

often this signification.



Second Argument:  The Case of Abraham (vs. 6-9)


The natural answer to the previous question is “through the hearing of

faith,” and this as naturally suggests the case of “faithful Abraham.” The

Jews boasted of their relationship to Abraham, and therefore an example

taken from his history would have special force.



CIRCUMCISION, BUT BY FAITH. “Even as Abraham believed God,

and it was counted to him for righteousness.” No exception could be made

to these words, for they were the very words of Moses (Genesis 15:6).

The apostle dwells longer on the old Testament, because the Judaists

would naturally appeal to it.


Ø      Abraham was not accepted for his virtues or his piety, or his

circumcision, but because “he believed God, and it was counted

to him for righteousness’’ (see homily on ch. 2:16). His faith was

accepted as righteousness, not as an act, for it had no merit in itself,

but as a fact, for it was not by works, but by faith, he was accepted.

His faith was the mere instrument of his justification, not the ground

of it; for Scripture always represents it as being “through” faith or

“of” faith, never on account of it.


Ø      The transaction here referred to occurred hundreds of years before the

Law was given on Sinal, and even some time before circumcision was

appointed as a “seal of righteousness.” (Romans 4:11)  If he, therefore,

could be justified without circumcision, and prior to it, how then could

the Judaists insist on its necessity? Abraham was not circumcised in

order to be justified, but circumcised because he was justified.


Ø      The doctrine of the apostle was not, therefore, in any sense a novelty,

as the Judaists might think. It was at least as old as Abraham.



therefore that they who are of faith, the same are sons of Abraham.”


Ø      It is not Abrahams blood, but Abrahams faith, which establishes the

connection between the patriarch and his descendants. The Jews might

say, “We have Abraham to our father” (Matthew 3:9); and they might

ask in surprise, “What profit, then, is there in circumcision?” (Romans

3:1)  They would imitate his circumcision rather than his faith. But the

apostle says emphatically that the true sons are “they of faith,” whose

fundamental principle is faith.


Ø      It is Christ who makes the nexus between Abraham and us. We believe

in Christ, who is Abraham’s seed; therefore we are sons of Abraham.


Ø      There is but one Church in the two dispensations. Some modern sects

hold that the Church is a New Testament organization, and that Old

Testament saints have no part in it. How can this be, if we believers “are

blessed with” — not apart from — “faithful Abraham” (ch. 3:9)?

The apostle shows how Abraham has the heirship, the sonship, the

kingdom, the glory, on the ground of the promise. He did not, therefore,

receive the promise only for his children. Take the promise of the Spirit

from Abraham; we take it from ourselves. Is the father of the family to be

excluded, and only the children to gain admission to the kingdom?


  • THE PROOF FROM SCRIPTURE.Moreover, the Scripture,

foreseeing that God justifies the heathen through faith, announced the good

news beforehand to Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.”


Ø      The exact import of the promise.


o        The blessing is justification, which is opposed to the curse of which

he presently speaks. But that includes a title to eternal life as well

as pardon.


o        The unity of Abraham and his spiritual descendants. He is the root

and the representative of his seed. The unity is not that established

by circumcision, but something far deeper.


Ø      God had purposes of mercy toward the heathen. These purposes

included their justification on the same grounds as those which secured the

acceptance of the Jews. The Jewish dispensation was particularistic, and

was so far temporary and preparatory to a dispensation universalistic in its

character. In Christ there was to be henceforth “neither Jew nor Gentile.”


Ø      The way of salvation is the same in both dispensations. Old Testament

saints were saved exactly like New Testament saints, by faith in the Lamb

slain frorn the foundation of the world.” (Revelation 13:8)  The Levitical

system was in itself an evangelical representation of the true method of



Ø      We see here the value of Scripture for proof, for confirmation, for

comfort, through all ages.



they which be of faith are blessed together with the faithful Abraham.”


Ø      The blessing. It is the manifestation of Divine favor. The blessing and

justification are regarded in the context as correlative terms.


Ø      The community between Abraham and his seed.


o        He is “faithful Abraham,” because of the simplicity, strength, and

activity of his faith. He manifested all these characteristics of faith in:


§         his self-expatriation;

§         his readiness to sacrifice Isaac;

§         his warlike courage;

§         his self-abnegation in the case of Lot.


o        He is the “father of the faithful.” There are but two properly

representative men, the first and the second Adam; but Abraham

holds a relation of his own, though not of a federal character,

towards all who are his seed spiritually. He and they are blessed



Ø      The ground of this community. It is the promise of God, “In thee shall

the nations of the earth be blessed,” realized in course of time in the

common faith of all who, whether Jew or Gentile, trust in one Redeemer,

and find in Him their true inheritance as joint-heirs with Him.


                                                            Review (vs. 6-9)


  • The Case of Abraham who was justified through faith, not by circumcision.

                The Jews boasted of their relationship to Abraham and an example from

            him would carry special force – “Even as Abraham believed God, and it

            was accounted to him for righteousness” – (v.6)  - No exception could be

            made to these words, for they were the very words of Moses (Genesis 15:6).

            Abraham was not accepted for his virtues or his piety, or his circumcision,

            but because “he believed God, and it was counted to him for

            righteousness”.  His faith was accepted as righteousness, not as an act,

            for it had no merit in itself, but as a fact, for it was not by works, but by faith,

            he was accepted. His faith was the mere instrument of his justification,

            not the ground of it; for Scripture always represents it as being “through”

            faith or “of” faith, never on account of it.  The transaction here referred to            

            occurred hundreds of years before the Law was given on Sinai, (see v. 17)

            and even some time before circumcision was appointed as a “seal of

righteousness.”  If he, therefore, could be justified without circumcision,

and prior to it, how then could the Judaists insist on its necessity? Abraham

was not circumcised in order to be justified, but circumcised because he was

justified.  The doctrine of the apostle was not, therefore, in any sense a novelty,

as the Judaists might think. It was at least as old as Abraham.


  • The true conception of Abraham’s sonship – (v.7) “Know ye therefore that

      they who are of faith, the same are sons of Abraham.”  It is not Abrahams

            blood, but Abrahams faith, which establishes the connection between the   

            patriarch and his descendants.  The Jewish legalists would imitate his

            circumcision rather than his faith. But the apostle says emphatically that

            the true sons are “they of faith,” whose fundamental principle is faith.

            It is Christ who makes the true connection between Abraham and us.

            We believe in Christ, who is Abraham’s seed; therefore we are sons of



  • The proof from Scripture - “Moreover, the Scripture, foreseeing that God

            justifies the heathen through faith, announced the good news beforehand to          

            Abraham, saying, “In thee shall all nations be blessed.” - The blessing is  

            justification, which is opposed to the curse of which he presently speaks.

            But that includes a title to eternal life as well as pardon.  (v. 8)  God had

            purposes of mercy toward the heathen. These purposes included their

            justification on the same grounds as those which secured the acceptance

            of the Jews. The Jewish dispensation was particularistic, and was so far    

            temporary and preparatory to a dispensation universalistic in its

            character. In Christ there was to be henceforth “neither Jew nor Gentile.”

            The way of salvation is the same in both dispensations. Old Testament

            saints were saved exactly like New Testament saints, by faith in the Lamb

            slain frorn the foundation of the world.”  (Revelation 13:8) The Levitical           

            system was in itself an evangelical representation of the true method of

            salvation.  We see here the value of Scripture for proof, for confirmation,

            for comfort, through all ages.


  • There is community as well as unity in the Blessing – “So then they which

      be of  faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.”  The blessing is the

      manifestation of the Divine favor – the “blessing” and “justification” are

            synonymous terms - The ground of this community is the promise of God,

            “In thee shall the nations of the earth be blessed,” (v. 8, Genesis 12:3)

             realized in course of  time in the common faith of all who, whether Jew or            

            Gentile, trust in one Redeemer, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and find in

            Him their true inheritance as “joint-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17).


10 “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is

written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written

in the book of the law to do them.”  For as many as are of the works of the Law

are under the curse (ὅσοι γὰρ ἐξ ἔργων νόμου εἰσίν ὐπὸ κατάραν εἰσίν); under a curse,

or, under cursing. "For." The apostle is now making the clause in the preceding verse,

"they who are of faith," the limiting description of those who "are blessed with faithful

Abraham;" - I say, they who are of faith; for they who are of the works of the Law are

in a very different case. In the phrase, "are of the works of the Law," the preposition

"of" (ἐκ) has the same force as has been already noted in the phrase (v. 9), "they who

are of faith;" it signifies dependence upon, belonging to, taking position from; and

it marks a moral posture of mind voluntarily assumed. The apostle in laying down

the aphorism of the present passage has doubtless an eye to those of the Galatians

who were moving for the adoption of circumcision and the ceremonies of the

Levitical Law. Withdrawing from the category of those who were of faith, they

were preparing to join those who were of the works of the Law. If their taking up

with circumcision, and with these or those of the Levitical ordinances, was not

mere childish trifling; if in serious and solemn earnest it meant anything, it meant

this - that they looked to gain from these observances acceptableness before God,

as performing works commanded by His Law given through Moses; but in that view

they were bound to take the Law in its entirety, and do every work which it prescribed,

ceremonial and moral alike; for all of it came invested with the like authority and as a

part of that institution was alike binding (see ch. 5:3). Let them now consider well how

in such circumstances their case would stand. That the "works of the Law" which stand

foremost before the apostle's view in the present discussion are those of a ceremonial

character is apparent from the tenor both of vs. 12-19 of the preceding chapter and of

vs. 1-10 of the next. There is, indeed, generally this difference observable between

the phase of the Law regarded in this Epistle, as compared with that which engages

the apostle's thoughts when writing to the Romans: in the Romans the prominent

notion of the spiritual condition of those under the Law is that they are in a state

of guiltiness, condemnation, spiritual inability, unconquered sin; while in the

Galatians the prominent notion of their condition is that they are in a state of

slavery, that the dispensation they are under is spiritually an enslaving one, a yoke

of bondage (v. 24; ch.4:1-3, 9, 24, 31; 5:1, 13). In the Romans the moral aspect of

the Law is mostly in view; in this Epistle its ceremonial aspect. The consideration

of these distinctive features marking this Epistle will perhaps prepare us the more

readily to apprehend the particular shade of meaning with which the apostle uses the

words, "are under cursing." He means, not precisely that a curse has already been

definitely pronounced upon them so that they now stand there condemned, but that

the threatening of a curse is always sounding in their ears, filling them with

uneasiness, with constant apprehension that they shall themselves fall under it. The

noun κατάρα – katara – curse -  is thus used for malediction, cursing, in James 3:9-10,

"Therewith bless we the Lord and Father; and therewith curse we men;... out of the

same mouth cometh forth blessing and cursing (εὐλογία καὶ κατάρα – eulogia kai

katara – blessing and cursing);" Deuteronomy 27:13 (Septuagint), "These shall

stand (ἐπὶ τῆς κατάρας – epi taes kataras – for the cursing) for the cursing upon

Mount Ebal" - that is, for the denouncement of the several curses with which they

were to threaten different classes of transgressors. As many, says the apostle, as are

of the works of the Law are under a black cloud of malediction, which is ready to

flash forth in lightning wrath upon every failure in obedience. And what man of

them all can hope not to merit that inexorable lighting down of judgment? Supposing

them to be ever so exact and punctual in their observance of those ordinances of the

flesh which certain of those Galatian Churchmen are hankering after, how will it fare

with them in respect to those other weightier precepts of the Law which require

spiritual obedience? For one single example, how will they be able to render

unfailing obedience to the commandment, Thou shalt not covet? Beyond question,

the apostle writes with the sense which he has so fully developed in his Epistle to

the Romans (Romans 3:9-20; 7:7-24; 8:3), that no one under the economy of the

Law ever did, or ever could, continue in all things which were written in the Law

to do them; and that therefore they that forsook the gospel of Christ to look to the

Law for acceptance with God would beyond doubt become, nay, taken as they were

at any moment had already become, each individual, the specific object of malediction,

a child of cursing, a child of wrath (II Peter 2:14; Ephesians 2:3; Romans 4:15).

Nevertheless, his purpose just here may be presumed to be, not to affirm this, but rather

to point to the miserable state of apprehensiveness and fear of instant wrath which they

who were of the works of the Law must needs be in bondage to. Most commentators,

however, understand κατάρα as meaning, not "cursing" or uttering general sentences

of cursing (maledictio), but "a curse" (maledictum), that is, a specific curse incurred

already by each individual in consequence of his having of a certainty already sinned

against some commandment of the Law; if not against some ceremonial commandment,

at any rate against some moral precept. Whichever way we understand it, such (the

apostle at all events means) was the condition into which those Judaizing Gentile

converts were preparing to precipitate themselves. For it is written, Cursed is every

one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the Law to

do them (γέγραπται γὰρ ὅτι – gegraptai gar hoti – for it has been written that

[Receptus has γὰρ (for) without ὅτι, (that) which conjunction is according to the

Greek usage introduced superfluously] Ἐπικατάρατος πᾶς ὃς οὐκ ἐμμένει ἐν πᾶσι

τοῖς γεγραμμένοις ἐν τῷ βιβλίῳ τοῦ νόμου τοῦ ποιῆσαι αὐτά - Epikataratos pas

hos ouk emmenei en pasi tois gegrammenois en to biblio tou nomou tou poiaesai

auta – cursed is everyone who is not remaining in all the things having been written

in the scroll of the law to do them). The Septuagint (Deuteronomy 27:26) has

Ἐπικατάρατος πᾶς ὁ [this of doubtful genuineness] ἄνθρωπος ὅστις οὐκ ἐμμενεῖ

[or ἐμμένει] ἐν πᾶσι τοῖς λόγοις τοῦ νόμου τούτου τοῦ ποιῆσαι αὐτούς – Epikataratos

pas ho anthropos hostis ou emmenei en pasi tois logois tou nomou toutou tou poiaesai

autous. The Hebrew is correctly given in the Authorized Version, "Cursed be he that

confirmeth not all the words of this Law to do them." The apostle, quoting the

Septuagint apparently from memory, gives the general sense rather than the exact

words. He that sins against a commandment, as (to use the Septuagint phrase)

he does not "continue in" it, but departs from it, so also, he, as far as his action

reaches, sets it aside or abrogates it instead of "confirming" it. The word "all,"

not found in our present Hebrew text, is stated by critics to be in the Samaritan

as well as in the Septuagint. This is the last of the twelve several maledictions

pronounced from Mount Ebal, and certainly includes in its scope the ceremonial

as well as the moral precepts of the Law. But what did this malediction import?

Certainly it expressed abhorrence - the Divine Author of the Law, and His ministers

and people accepting, pronouncing, and ratifying the denunciation, all join in

repudiating the offender, casting him out from among them with loathing: so much

is clear. What practical effect was to be given to the malediction, even by men in

this life, not to speak of the action of God hereafter in the life to come, is nowhere

indicated; but all could see thus much - the offender, if dying unreconciled, would

depart hence accursed of both man and God. The notion of guiltiness before God

and accursedness incurred by transgression of merely ceremonial precepts has been

so greatly effaced from men's consciousness by the teaching, direct and indirect,

of Christ's gospel, that we find it hard to realize to our minds that there ever existed

a posture of the spirit answering to such a notion, or. if such did exist, that it could

be other than the fruit of an uninstructed, ill-trained state of the conscience. But it

was not this, so long as the economy of Moses was in force. For these positive laws

were laws of God, binding during His pleasure upon the conscience of every Israelite;

and in proportion as an Israelite's consciousness of the existence of Jehovah and of

his own covenant relation to Jehovah was real and vivid, in that proportion would

he be careful, scrupulously careful even, in obeying those positive laws. He had,

indeed, to duly estimate the comparative importance and obligation of positive

and of moral precepts, especially when in actual practice they came into conflict,

according to the principle laid down for example in Hosea 6:6 (“For I desired

mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings”)

but it was at his peril that he at any time neglected the former, though still less might

he dare to neglect the latter. For every Israelite, as long as the Law continued in force,

that which was said by Christ was strictly true, and in both clauses meant to be taken

in solemn earnest, "These latter ought ye to do, and not to leave the other undone"

(Matthew 23:23). It was, for instance, a matter of conscience for the truly

conscientious Israelite to carefully purify himself from pollution incurred by

contact with the dead, and to abstain from swine's flesh; he might not neglect

such purifications or partake of such meat without breaking a commandment of

God's, without therefore incurring God's displeasure; and it behoved him to feel

that he could not, and in proportion to the sincerity and depth of his religious

sentiment he did feel it. Now, even when Israelites lived in a world of their own,

comparatively free from the presence of Gentiles, the observance of the Levitical

Law must needs have been at times felt to be an irksome or even anxious obligation;

but its irksomeness and anxiety must have been greatly increased when Gentiles were

not merely brought into close contact with them, but were even their masters. St. Peter

confessed how burdensome it was felt to be, when he pronounced it a yoke which

neither they nor their fathers had been able to bear. (Acts 15:10)  The feeling of relief

must therefore have been inexpressibly great when an Israelite could come to be

assured that those positive laws had ceased to be obligatory; that even if from habit

or from national or social sentiment he continued to observe them, yet his conscience

was quite free to disregard them without fear of displeasing God; that God's

covenanted mercy had no longer any reference whatever to such observances,

and that he might worship Him acceptably, and hold joyful communion with Him

(say) in the Lord's Supper, though he had just before been handling a corpse

without being since purified, or eating "unclean" meats, or working on the

sabbath day. This relief the gospel brought; God's servants learned with joy

that they were righteous and accepted before Him simply through faith in Christ

without those "works of the Law." The curse was reversed. Now it ran thus:

"Anathema be he who doth not wholly trust in Christ crucified for righteousness!

Anathema be he who brings dead ordinances of the Law to darken his brethren's



Third Argument — The Curse of the Law (v. 10)


“For as many as are of the works of the Law are under the curse: for it is

written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the

book of the Law to do them.” The apostle is carried naturally by antithesis

of thought from the blessing of faith to the curse of the Law.


  • THE CURSE. This is “the curse of the Law” of v. 13, from which the

Law itself cannot deliver men, for its function is to condemn.


Ø      It is not the mere civil punishment inflicted on the Israelites for the

transgression of the ceremonial or judicial Law. The context shows that the

curse is a far deeper thing, for the contrast is between:


o        wrath and blessing,

o        condemnation and justification.


Besides, the passage refers to Gentiles who could not be affected by the

dispensational peculiarities of Judaism.


Ø      The curse is the Divine sentence upon transgressors involving:


o        doom and shame,

o        the loss of God, and

o        separation from Him (Isaiah 59:2).


The curse includes the penal sanction of the moral Law — a Law written

in the hearts of Gentiles as it was delivered to Jews on tables of stone;

so that Gentiles and Jews were alike under curse. It is a mistake, therefore,

to regard the curse as the mere natural consequence of transgression, as

disease is the consequence of debauchery; it is a penal evil.


  • THE RANGE OF THE CURSE. It extends to “as many as are of the

works of the Law.” A distinction is here necessary between being of the

works of the Law and being under the Law. The Old Testament saints

were under the Law, but they were not under curse, because, like

Abraham, they “saw the day of Christ afar off.” They “believed God, and it

was counted to them for righteousness.” They apprehended God’s mercy

and grace under the sacrificial forms of the Jewish economy. But the curse

must necessarily descend upon “all who are of the works of the Law,”

because they have broken it and are still breaking it day by day.



sentence which pronounces the curse upon all transgressors of the Law.

The curse here quoted is the last of the twelve curses pronounced by the

Levites on Mount Ebal (“Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the

words of this law to do them.”  Deuteronomy 27:26). The reference points

to ethical, not ceremonial, requirements.


Ø      The Law demands practical obedience. It is not “hearers” of the Law,

but “doers,” who are in question.


Ø      It demands a personal obedience. “Every one.” There is no room for a

proxy or a mediator.


Ø      It demands a perfect obedience; for it covers “all the things written” in

the Law.


Ø      It must be a perpetual obedience. Cursed is every one that continueth

not.” The least failure involves the transgression of the whole Law

“For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point,

he is guilty of all.” (James 2:10).


Ø      The effect of transgression is curse. All the evil that is involved in that

terrible word. “Death and hell are the end of every sin, but not of every



Ø      The Law still exists to curse transgressors. It is not abrogated, though

Judaism is no more.




                                                Review (v. 10)


“For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for

it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things

which are written in the book of the law to do them.”


  • This is “the curse of the Law” of v.13, from which the Law itself cannot

            deliver men, for its function is to condemn.   It is not the mere civil

             punishment inflicted for the transgression of the ceremonial or judicial Law.

            The context shows that the curse is a far deeper thing, for the contrast is

            between wrath and blessing, condemnation and justification..

            The curse is the Divine sentence upon transgressors involving doom

            and shame, the loss of God, and separation from him (Isaiah 59:2). The

            curse includes the penal sanction of the moral Law — a Law written in the

            hearts of Gentiles as it was delivered to Jews on tables of stone; so that

            Gentiles and Jews were alike under curse.


  • The range of the curse -  It extends to “as many as are of the works of the

      Law.” A distinction is here necessary between being of the works of the Law

      and being under the Law. The Old Testament saints were under the Law, but

      they were not under curse, because, like Abraham, they “saw the day of

      Christ afar off.” (Hebrews 11:13) - They “believed God, and it was

      counted to them for righteousness.” (v.6) - They apprehended God’s

      mercy and grace under the sacrificial forms of the Jewish economy. But the

      curse must necessarily descend upon “all who are of the works of the Law,”

            because they have broken it and are still breaking it day by day.


  • How the curse comes into operation - It is by a Divine sentence which

      pronounces the curse upon all transgressors of the Law.  The curse here

      quoted is the last of the twelve curses pronounced by the Levites on Mount

      Ebal (Deuteronomy 27:26). The reference points to ethical, not ceremonial,            



ü      The Law demands practical obedience. It is not “hearers” of the

      Law, but “doers,” who are in question.


ü      It demands a personal obedience. Every one.” There is no room

      for a proxy or a mediator.


ü      It demands a perfect obedience; for it covers “all the things written”

      in the Law.


ü      It must be a perpetual obedience. Cursed is every one that

      continueth not.” The least failure involves the transgression of the

      whole Law (James 2:10).


ü      The effect of transgression is curse. All the evil that is involved

      in that terrible word. “Death and hell are the end of every sin, but

      not of every sinner.”  (Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ)


ü      The Law still exists to curse transgressors. It is not abrogated,

      though Judaism is no more.


The Law is a mirror to show man his true spiritual condition:  in a state of

guiltiness before God, condemned, with no spiritual ability to do anything

about the domination of unconquered sin in his life!  No man under the Law

ever did, or ever could do anything about this situation and any person who

rejects the gospel of Christ and looks to the Law for acceptance before God,

is under a specific malediction, a child of cursing, a child of wrath!  What

practical effect was to be given to the  malediction, even by men in this

life, not to speak of the action of God hereafter in the life to come, is no

where indicated; but all could see this much – that the offender, if dying

unreconciled, would depart hence accursed of both man and God!


11 “But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for,

The just shall live by faith.”  But that no man is justified by the Law in the sight

of God, it is evident (ὅτι δὲ ἐν νόμῳ οὐδεὶς δικαιοῦται παρὰ τῷ Θεῷ - hoti de en

nomo oudeis dikaioutai para to Theo - but that in the Law no man is justified with God,

is evident. To "be justified" means to be brought out of a state of guiltiness and

cursedness into a state of acceptance. The apostle, assuming that every one is

guilty and under a curse, now shows that the Law offers no means of justification.

"But." The apostle is meeting the notion that, though one who is of works of the Law

is evermore threatened with a curse ready to light down upon him, and though the

curse has been, as it cannot but have been, actually incurred, yet, by setting himself

afresh to the endeavor and thenceforward continuing steadfast in all things written

in the Law, he may thus win pardon and righteousness with God. To remove this

conception, without stopping to insist upon the fact that through indwelling sin

no man possibly can continue in all the things written in the Law, he puts the

notion aside by stating that this is not the method of justification which Scripture

recognizes. This he shows by adducing that cardinal aphorism of Habakkuk, by

which, as it should seem, the apostle was wont to substantiate the doctrine of

justification by faith (compare Romans 1:17; Hebrews 10:38). The way in which

the passage is here introduced, almost as an obiter dictum (a judge's incidental

expression of opinion, not essential to the decision and not establishing precedent),

and as if not needing a formal indication of its coming out of Scripture, suggests

the feeling that the passage, as taken in the sense in which the apostle reads it,

was one already familiar to his readers, no doubt through his own former teaching.

When in the Acts (Acts 13:39-41) we read that in the synagogue at the Pisidian

Antioch, in close connection with the statement that through believing in Christ

a man is justified, he cited another passage of Habakkuk (Habakkuk 1:5),

denouncing unbelieving despisers, we cannot doubt that he had made good

his statement about justification by alleging this same probative text. "In the Law;"

that is, as being it. the sphere and domain of the Law. Compare the use of the same



Ø      "As many as have sinned under [Greek, 'in'] the Law;"  (Romans 2:12),

Ø      "It saith to them that are under [Greek, 'in'] the Law."  (ibid. ch. 3:19)


An exactly parallel construction is found in Acts 13:39, "From all things from

which ye could not by [Greek, 'in'] the Law be justified." They could not as

being in the Law find therein any means of gaining acceptance. "Is justified

with God;" comes to be accounted righteous with Him. "With God;" not merely

outwardly, Levitically, in the judgment of a Levitical priest - but inwardly and

in reality, in God's estimation. The preposition "with" (παρά - para) is used

similarly in:


Ø       Romans 2:13, "For not the hearers of the Law are righteous with God;"

Ø      I Corinthians 3:19, "The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God."


It is God Himself that justifies the sinner (Romans 3:30; 4:5); but the apostle does

not write "is justified by God," because he is confronting the notion so natural to

man, and above all, to the Judaizing legalist, that a man is to make himself

righteous by doings - ceremonial or moral - of his own. For, The just shall live

by faith (ὁ δίκαιος ἐκ πίστεως ζήσεται – ho dikaios ek pisteos zaesetai - the

righteous by faith shall live. The apostle is not weaving the prophet's words

into his own sentence simply as aptly expressing his own thought, but is citing

them probatively as words of Scripture; as if he had said, "As Scripture saith,

The righteous," etc. The same is the case with the words introduced in the

next verse out of Leviticus; so Romans 9:7. In Romans 15:3 and I Corinthians 2:9

the apostle inserts, "according as it is written," as in parenthesis, before adding

the words of Scripture in such a way as to form a continuation of his own sentence.

"The righteous by faith shall live;" that is, the righteous man shall draw his life

from his faith. It is generally agreed upon by Hebrew scholars that in the original

passage (Habakkuk 2:4) the words, "by his faith" (or possibly, adopting another

reading of the Hebrew text, "by my faith," that is, by faith in me) belong to

"shall live," rather than to "the righteous" (see on this point Delitzsch on

Hebrews 10:38, and Canon Cook on Habakkuk 2:4, in 'Speaker's Commentary').

And that St. Paul so understood it is made probable by the contrasted citation of

"shall live in them "in the next verse. With this conjunction of the words, the

passage suits the apostle's purpose perfect]y; for if it is by or from his faith that

the righteous man lives, then it is by or from his faith that he gets to be accepted

by God as righteous. The "faith" spoken of is shown by the context in Habakkuk

to mean such reliance upon God as is of a steadfast character, and not a mere

fleeting or occasional acceptance of God's promises as true. This is plainly the

view of the passage which is taken by the Pauline writer of the Hebrews in

Hebrews 10:38.


12 “And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.”

And the Law is not of faith ( δὲ νόμος οὐκ ἔστιν ἐκ πίστεως – ho de nomos ouk

estin ek pisteos – yet the law is not of faith; but the Law is not by faith. This is closely

connected with the latter part of the preceding verse, as forming another portion of

the proof which is there introduced by "for." V. 11 should end with a semicolon,

not with a full stop. The δὲ at the beginning of this verse is slightly adversative,

setting "the Law" in contrast with the notion of "living by or from faith." These

words, "by or from faith" (ἐκ πίστεως), are borrowed from the preceding citation.

We may paraphrase thus: The Law does not put forward as its characteristic principle,

"by faith;" the characteristic principle of the Law is rather that which we read in the

third book of Moses (Leviticus 18:5), "The man who hath actually done them shall

live by them." But, The man that doeth them shall live in them (ἀλλ Ὁ ποιήσασ

αὐτὰ [ἄνθρωπος] ζήσεται ἐν αὐτοῖς – all ho poiaesas auta zaesetai en autois – but

the man that doeth them shall live in them: (the word ἄνθρωπος – anthropos – man;

human - is omitted by the recent editors, as having crept into the text from the

Septuagint); but, He that doeth them shall live in them. The whole verse

(Leviticus 18:5) in the Authorized Version, following the Hebrew, stands thus:

"And ye shall keep my statutes and my judgments: which if a man do, he

shall live in them: I am the Lord." The Septuagint runs thus: "And ye shall keep

[or, 'and keep ye'] all my statutes and all my judgments, and ye shall do them

[or, 'and do ye them']: the man that doeth them shall live in them (ὁ ποιήσας

αὐτὰ ἄνθρωπος ζήσεται ἐν αὐτοῖς – ho poiaesas auta anthropos zaesetai en autois –

the man that doeth them shall live in them) I am the Lord your God." It thus

appears that the pronoun "them" recites "my statutes and my judgments."

But this the apostle is not at present particularly concerned to specify; his

main point here is that the Law requires such and such things to be actually

done, before it holds out the prospect of life to be gained thereby. Those

under the Law were bound to render strict obedience to all its requirements,

whether moral or ceremonial; and whosoever set aside any of whichever class

was constituted by the Law a "transgressor" and a man "accursed." As it stands

in the passage of Leviticus referred to, the clause which is cited bears not so much

the aspect of a promise as of a restrictive statement implying a threatening or

warning, and is therefore its harmony with the commination (the action of

threatening Divine vengeance) quoted in v. 10. The "doing" here spoken of

differs essentially from evangelical obedience. Comprising as it did its very

large proportion the observance of the ceremonial prescriptions (προστάγματα –

prostagmata - commands) of the Law, it points to a course of conduct in which

a man, striving to earn pardon and acceptance by a meritorious life,

had continually to be turning his eye, slavishly and under fear of the "curse"

in case of failure, towards an external Law, whose detail of positive enactments,

in addition to the regulation of his moral conduct and inward spirit, he was

bound with scrupulous exactness to copy in his life. The spiritual obedience

of "faith," on the other hand, evolves itself (in the apostle's view) freely and

spontaneously from the inward teaching and prompting of God's Spirit, of

which it is the natural product or "fruit" (ch. 5:22). Such are these two forms

of religious life when viewed each in its idea. When, however, we compare

the spiritual state of many even sincere believers in Christ, so far as we can

estimate it, with the spiritual state of (say) the marvelous author of Psalm 119

or of David and other pious Israelites, as disclosed in the exercises of pious

feeling garnered in that same devotional book, we cannot fail to perceive that

an Israelite under the Law might yet be not "of the works of the Law," but in

no small degree qualified to teach the Christian believer himself, even in the

life which is "of faith." "Shall live in them;" that is, shall find in them a

fountain, as it were, of life. The Targums, Bishop Lightfoot observes, define

the meaning of "living" by "life eternal."



Fourth Argument:  The Inconsistency of Law and Faith

(vs. 11-12)


“But that no man is justified in the Law in the sight of God, it is evident:

for, The just shall live by faith. But the Law is not of faith: but, The man

that hath done these things shall live in them.”




Ø      Not because a perfect obedience would not bring justification, for the

fundamental principle of the Law is, “The man that hath done these

things shall live in them” (Leviticus 18:5).


Ø      But because no one is able to obey the Law perfectly. Thus salvation

becomes impossible on the principle of Law.



WITH FAITH, “The just shall live by faith.” The apostle shows the

Judaists how they misapprehended the doctrine of the old Testament; for,

several hundred years before Christ, the Prophet Habakkuk connects life

eternal with faith. “The Law is not of faith;” it does not find its starting

point in faith; doing, not believing, is the demand of the Law; and it is

in no sense or manner connected with faith.



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:"  Christ hath redeemed

us from the curse of the Law (Ξριστὸς ἡμᾶς ἐξηγόρασεν ἐκ τῆς κατάρας τοῦ νόμου -

Christos haemas exaegorasen ek taes kataras tou nomou - Christ reclaims us out of

the curse of the law; Christ bought us off from the curse of the Law).  The position of

the word "Christ" in the Greek, heading the sentence, makes it emphatic - Christ;

He alone; no means offered by the Law hath procured justification for the sinner.

"Us;" not merely the Israelites after the flesh, who were visibly under the Law:

but either all mankind, Gentiles as well as Israelites, being declared by the Law

unclean and unholy, both ceremonially and morally, and thus under its curse

(compare "for us," II Corinthians 5:21); or God's people, the children of Abraham,

prospective as well as present (compare John 11:50-52 and here ch. 4:5). "Redeemed,"

or "bought us off." The same compound Greek verb occurs in ch. 4:5, "That he might

redeem [buy off] them who were under the Law;" obviously, buy off from being under

it. Another Greek verb, λυτρόω - lutroo - ransom, is rendered "redeem" in

Titus 2:14; I Peter 1:18; whence the compound verbal noun ἀπλούτρωσις - aploutrosis

- redemption, in Romans 3:24;  8:23; I Corinthians 1:30, etc. The apostle may be

supposed to have preferred to use ἐξαγοράζω - exagorazo - here, as pointing

more definitely to the price which the Redeemer paid; for in λυτρόω (redeem),

this notion of a price paid often lies so far in the background as to leave the verb

to denote simply "deliver." The un-compounded verb ἀγοράζω (buy), is found

with reference to Christ's death in:


  •  I Corinthians 6:20 and 7:23, "Ye were bought with a price;"
  • II Peter 2:1, "The Master that bought them;"
  • Revelation 5:9, "Didst purchase unto God with thy blood."


In the present passage it is not the blood of Christ, as in I Peter 1:18, that is regarded

as the purchase money, - for the notion of expiation with blood of sacrifice is not

even glanced at; but rather, as the next words show, His taking upon Him the

accursedness and pollution which by the Law attached to every one crucified.

"From the curse of the Law;" its cursing affects us no more. God's people are,

in Christ. no longer, as they were before, subject to His disapproval or abhorrence,

in consequence of transgressing the positive, ceremonial enactments of the Law of

Moses. In respect to that class of transgressions, its cursing expended itself, and

perished, upon the crucified body of the Son of God. Being made a curse for us

(γενόμενος ὐπὲρ ἡμῶν κατάρα - genomenos huper haemon katara - becoming for

the sake of us a curse; having become on our behalf a curse). The position of

κατάρα (curse) makes it emphatic. The form of expression, "become a curse,"

instead of "become accursed," is chosen to mark the intense degree in which

the Law's curse fastened upon the Lord Jesus. Compare the expression,

"made Him on our behalf sin," in II Corinthians 5:21. Probably the form of

expression was suggested to the apostle by that found in the Hebrew of the

passage of Deuteronomy which he proceeds to cite (see next note but one).

The preposition ὑπέρ, "for,... . on behalf of," may possibly mean "in place of,"

as (perhaps) in Philemon 1:13; but this idea would have been more distinctly

expressed by ἀντί - anti - : and the strict notion of substitution is not necessary

to the line of argument here pursued. For it is written (γέγραπται γὰρ -

gegraphtai gar - ). But the more approved reading is ὅτι γέγραπται - hoti

gegraphtai - for it has been written; because it is written; which more

definitely marks the writer's purpose of vindicating the propriety of his using

so strong an expression as "becoming a curse." Cursed is every one that

hangeth on a tree (ἐπικατάρατος πᾶς ὁ κρεμάμενος ἐπὶ ξύλου - epikataratos

pas ho kremamenos epi xulou - accursed is every on hanging on a pole;

or, upon wood (Deuteronomy 21:23). The Septuagint has Κεκατηραμένος

[or, Κατηραμένος] ὑπὸ Θεοῦ πᾶς κρεμάμενος [or, πᾶς ὁ κρ.] ξύλου -

Kekataeramenos [or, Kataeramenos] hupo Theo kremanenos [or, pas ho

kr.] xulou - Cursed by God is every one hanging on a tree. The Hebrew is

qillath elohim talui, "a curse of God is he that is hanged." The words, "every one"

and "on a tree," are additions made by the Septuagint; the latter expression,

however, is found in the preceding clause, as also in the preceding verse; so

that the sense is given rightly. The apostle departs from the Septuagintal

rendering of the Hebrew phrase, "a curse of God," probably because he

regarded the rendering as inaccurate; for the phrase, "curse of God," is probably

a strongly intensive form of expression, like "wrestlings of God," in Genesis 30:8

("great wrestlings," Authorized Version). See note on "exceeding great city"

(Hebrew, "a city great unto God") in Jonah 3:3, in 'Speaker's Commentary.'

According to this view, ἐπικατάρατος (cursed), in which the element ἐπὶ is

intensive, is a just interpretation; while it also makes the clause more striking as

an antithesis to the ἐπικατάρατος, etc., in v. 10. We are, perhaps, justified in

adding that it would not have exactly suited the apostle's purpose to admit the

words, "by God;" for, though the Law pronounced the crucified Jesus a "curse,"

God, in the apostle's feeling, did not in this case ratify the Law's malediction.

To understand the bearing of the verse rightly it is necessary to be quite clear as

to the sense in which Christ is here said to have become a curse. The context shows

that He became a curse simply by hanging upon a tree. No spiritual transaction,

such as that of our guilt being laid upon Him, comes into view here at all. It was

simply the suspension upon a cross that imparted to Him, in the eye of the Law,

this character of accursedness, of extreme abhorrent defilement. In other words,

the accursedness was the extreme of ceremonial pollutedness - ceremonial, with

no admixture of guilt or spiritual pollution. It has, indeed, been attempted by critics,

Jewish as well as Christian, as Bishop Lightfoot has shown, to justify this aphorism

of the Law, by the plea that one thus punished might inferentially be supposed to

have merited this form of execution by some especial enormity of guilt. But,

plainly, such previous guiltiness might not have been present; the man crucified,

or impaled, or hung might have suffered upon a false accusation. But though he

had suffered unjustly, his being gibbeted would, notwithstanding his innocence,

constitute him "a curse of God" all the same. Ceremonial pollutedness, as well

as ceremonial purity, was altogether independent of moral considerations. And at

present the line of thought which the apostle is following relates simply to

questions of Levitical or ceremonial purity or defilement. Have Christian believers

as such anything to do with these matters? This is the point at issue. The apostle

proves that they have nothing to do with them, upon the ground that the crucifixion

of Christ did away wholly with the ceremonial Law. It will only confuse the reader

if he supposes that the apostle means here to embody the whole doctrine of Christ's

sacrificial atonement; he is at present concerned with stating the relation which His

passion bore to the Law. The passage before us illustrates the meaning of the words

in ch. 2:19, "I through the Law died unto the Law:" he felt himself disconnected

from the ceremonial Law, in consequence of that Law pronouncing Christ crucified

"a curse of God." A question arises, how far the crucifixion of Christ, viewed in

this particular aspect of its constituting Him in the eye of the ceremonial Law an

accursed thing, modified for those who believe on Him the effect of the malediction

which the Law pronounced upon such as violated its moral precepts. The following

observations are offered for the reader's consideration. The Law given in the

Pentateuch is uniformly spoken of in Scripture as forming one whole. Composed

of precepts, some moral, some ceremonial, some partaking of a mixture of both

qualities, it constituted, however, one entire coherent system. If a part of it was

destroyed, the whole Law as such itself perished. If so, then the cross of Christ,

by annihilating its ceremonial enactments, SHATTERED IN PIECES THE
so that the disciples of Christ are no longer at all

under its dominion, or subjects jurisprudentially (so to speak) to its coercive

punitive power. Yet its moral precepts, so far as they embodied the eternal

principles of rectitude, would, so far, and because they do so, and not because

they were part of the Law given through Moses, CONTINUE TO EXPRESS

THE WILL OF GOD CONCERNING US!  Being, however, "letter" and not

"spirit," they were always altogether inadequate expressions of that Divine will -

a will which is spiritual, which is evermore changing its form and aspect towards

each human soul, according to the ever-varying conditions of its spiritual position.

The moral precepts of the Law are for us no more than types or figures, mere

hints or suggestions of the spiritual duties which they refer to; they cannot be

regarded as definitively regulative laws at all. Thus they appear to be treated by

Christ and His apostles; as e.g. Matthew 5:21-37; I Corinthians 9:8-10; and it is

in this light that the Church of England regards them, in reciting the Decalogue

in her Pre-Communion Office. And, analogously, the curse which the Law

pronounces upon those who set any of its precepts at naught, whether moral or

ceremonial, may be regarded as a mere type, revealing, or rather giving a slightest

most imperfect glimpse of, the wrath with which the Divine justice burns against

willful transgressors of the eternal Law; a hint or suggestion, again, and not its

direct denouncement. God's people, however, by being through faith united to

the crucified and risen Christ, become through His cross dead to the whole Law of

Moses, both as regulative and as punitive, - freed from it absolutely; not, however,

to be without Law unto God; only, the Law they are now under is a spiritual Law,

one conformable to the nature of that dispensation of life and of the Spirit, to which

through the Risen One they belong. With this view it agrees that the execration

which the Law pronounced upon the Son of God as crucified, and by pronouncing

which the Law itself perished, is to be regarded as a most significant and impressive

symbol of the spiritual import of our Lord's death. It pronounces to the universe

that, for those who by faith are one with Christ, the wrath of Divine justice against

them as sinners is quenched - quenched in the infinite, Divine love and righteousness

of Christ.


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.”  Two results are here

stated as having flowed from the abrogation of the Mosaic Law which was effected by

the crucifixion of Jesus:


Ø      one, the participation of Gentiles in "Abraham's blessing," to which they

could not have been admitted as long as the Law was authorized to shut

them out from God's covenant as unclean;


Ø      the other, the impartation to God's people, upon their faith only, apart from

acts of ceremonial obedience, of the promised gift of the Holy Spirit.


Are these stated as co-ordinate results, in the same way as a repeated ἵνα hina –

in order that) introduces coordinate results in Romans 7:13; II Corinthians 9:2;

Ephesians 6:19-20? Or is the second a consequence of the first? In favor of the

first view, it may be said that, in point of fact, Gentiles, as such, were not admitted

into a participation in Abraham's blessing till some time after the day of Pentecost.

But on the other hand, it may be urged:                                                 

(1) that, though not as yet actually admitted, yet in the Divine purpose, and in

the ordering of the conditions of the case, they might have come in, - the door

was open, though the threshold not actually crossed; and

(2) that their admissibility may be supposed to have been in the Divine counsels

the prerequisite condition of the Holy Spirit being imparted, it not being

fitting that the Spirit should be given so long as the Law was, so to speak,

standing there, authorized to debar from this, the most essential portion of

"Abraham's blessing," any who were partakers of Abraham's blessing.


In the three passages referred to as favoring the construing of the two clauses

as coordinate, we have not as here two different results, but one and the same,

only in the second clause more fully described. The second view seems, therefore,

the more probable one. That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles

through Jesus Christ (ἵνα εἰς τὰ ἔθνη ἡ εὐλογία τοῦ Ἀβραὰμ γένηται ἐν Ξριστῷ Ἰησοῦ -

hina eis ta ethnae hae eulogia tou Abraham genaetai en Christo Iaesou – that unto

the nations the blessing of Abraham may be coming in Christ Jesus:  so most recent

editors read, in place of Ἰησοῦ Ξριστῷ [Jesus Christ]).  The phrase, εἰς τὰ ἔθνη...

γένητα – eis ta ethnae.... genaeta – into the nations....may be becoming, is

illustrated by the use of γίγνεσθαι εἰς – gignesthai eis - arrive at; accrue to

(be received by someone in regular or increasing amounts over time),

in Acts 21:17; 25:15; Revelation 16:2.   For the preposition εἰς (into) we may also

compare Romans 3:22, "Unto (εἰς) all and upon (έπὶ) all." By τὰ ἔθνη – ta ethnae,

 as the whole context shows, the apostle means in particular "the Gentiles," the

non-Jews, as such. At the same time, the phrase is evidently used, as found ready

at hand in the passage cited by him in v. 8, "In thee shall all the nations (ἔθνη)

be blessed," which passage also suggested the notion of "the blessing of Abraham."

It had therein been foretold that all the nations should, by exercising the faith of

Abraham, obtain the same blessing; and (says the apostle) we see now by what

method the benefit has been brought to them. "In Christ Jesus;" not merely by Him;

the blessing is, so to speak, immanent in Christ, both procured by him and obtained

by the nations through their coming by faith into union with him. Compare

Ephesians 1:6-7, "His grace which He freely bestowed upon us in the Beloved;

in whom we have our redemption;" Colossians 2:10, "In Him ye are made full;"

and the like. "The blessing of Abraham." The expression, being drawn from the

passages in Genesis in which the Lord assures Abraham that "He would bless him,"

and that "in him all nations should be blessed" (Genesis 22:18), must be taken to

import the Divine good will and whatever benefits would therefrom result. Men

arrive at this "benediction" by being justified; but justification is only the entrance

into it, and not the whole blessing itself. It is styled Abraham's blessing, as having

been emphatically declared to have been possessed by the patriarch, "the father"

of all who should thereafter receive it. That we might receive the promise of

the Spirit through faith (ἵνα τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν τοῦ Πνεύματος λάβωμεν διὰ τῆς

πίστεως – hina taen epaggelian tou Pneumatos labomen dia taes pisteos – that

the promise of the Spirit we may be obtaining through faith). The pronoun "we" points,

not to the Israelites as such, nor to Israelite believers in particular, but to those who

were viewed as God's covenant people. These had hitherto been Abraham's natural

seed only; and had also hitherto been under the Law. But the time had come when

they were to receive the full "adoption of sons," and therewith the Spirit of

God's Son (ch. 4:5-6); which, however, could not come to pass until the Law,

"the yoke of slavery," had been cleared out of the way, opening the gate to God's

benediction to all believers, whether Jews or Gentiles. The Law and the Spirit

could not coexist. Where the Law had sway, there was tutorship (παιδαγωγία

paidagogia) and slavery. Such, it is true, was needed, so long as the Spirit was

not there; for moral beings, forming a people of God's, must be under some Law;

and, if there was not a law written on the "fleshy tables of the heart" by God's Spirit,

there behoved to be one embodied in an outward code of ordinances, which should

coerce men's frowardness and keep them under discipline. But when this outward

code had been taken out of the way***,"nailed to Christ's cross," then the people of

God could not be left without the Spirit - the Spirit of holiness, as well as, or

rather, because also, the Spirit of adoption; which accordingly was forthwith

imparted, the sole condition of the bestowment being their living obedient faith,

felt and by baptism professed, in Christ and in God. Compare Ephesians 4:13-24,

as containing a full presentment of these facts relative to the introduction of the

new covenant, and in the same order of sequence. Thus the apostle has triumphantly

returned to the thesis from which he had started in the two first verses of the chapter –


  • Christ crucified, and
  • the receiving of the Spirit without works of the Law.


"The promise of the Spirit" is the Spirit which had been promised; the word "promise"

here denoting, not as in Hebrews 11:33, the word assuring a subsequent bestowment,

but as in Luke 24:49 and Hebrews 11:39, the bestowment itself. The apostle points

not merely to such passages of the Old Testament as had definitely fore-announced

the outpouring of God's Spirit (Joel 2:28; Isaiah 44:3-8; and the like), but the whole

"kingdom of God," or "world to come," whose blessedness therewith came.

*** (In reference to the Law being taken away before God gave the Holy Spirit;

       in other words the Spirit could not come until the Law was removed, I want

       to cite a  parallel.  The teaching of II Thessalonians 2:7 teaches that the

       antichrist cannot, will not, come until the Holy Spirit be taken away!

       I would like to pose that the Holy Spirit is gradually being taken away,

       in fact I am seeing this in my lifetime, and it is a very dangerous situation for

       our world.  THE HOLY SPIRIT’S PRESENCE IS A MUST for there to

       be salvation of souls and to hold the world and mankind together. 

       Antichrist cares not for your soul or the future of mankind.

       What role are you and I playing in this scenario?  Remember:


Ø      Revelation 6:12-17 [a must read and ponder]

Ø      Revelation 11:18 where God will “destroy them which destroy the earth!”

CY – 2018)



The Bewitchery of Law (vs. 1-14)


Paul, having stated his position as dead to the Law and inspired by Christ,

goes on in the present paragraph to appeal to the Galatians to free

themselves from the bewitching power of Law, and to yield themselves to

the faith in a crucified and now risen Christ, which alone secures

justification and its cognate blessings. And here we notice:




HEARTS. (v. 1.) Paul here declares that two attractive powers had been

presented to the Galatians — a crucified Christ in his own preaching, and

the Law in the preaching of the Judaizers; and, to his amazement, the Law

had so bewitched them as to lead them to look for salvation to Law-keeping

instead of to THE SAVIOUR! And yet it only brings out the fact that

there is in Law and self-righteousness a bewitchery which is continually

leading souls back to bondage. It seems so natural to establish some claim

by Law-keeping and ceremony that poor souls are from time to time falling

into legal hope and its delusions. The superstition, which is abroad now,

and leads so many to ceremonials for salvation, rests upon this foundation.

It is the fascination of an evil eye which is upon the foolish votaries; they

fancy they can save themselves by Law, and maintain their selfcomplacency

and pride all the time. But it is delusion pure and simple.



CONDEMN THEM. (vs. 10, 13.) The position taken up by Law is this

— to condemn every one who falls short of perfect obedience. No partial

obedience will be entertained for a moment. “Every one that continueth not

in all things which are written in the book of the Law to do them,” is by

the Law “cursed.” This tremendous deliverance ought to be the death of all

“legal hope.” The soul who continues to hope in the Law, after such a

definite utterance only proclaims his foolishness. One breach of Law is

sufficient to secure the curse. The Law maintains its demand for perfect

obedience, and, if this be not rendered, it can do nothing but condemn. It

becomes the more amazing that any after this could be bewitched by Law.

Surely if the Law can only curse sinners, the sooner we look for salvation

in some other direction than Law, the better and that direction is to Christ!

And to go back to Law-keeping from grace, in hope of acceptance, is clear




COME BY FAITH, (vs. 2-9, 12, 14.) The Law in the nature of things

cannot justify sinners. It has no means of doing so. But God in His grace

has provided a way of justification. It is through the merits of His Son. And

here we must remember that imputation of merit is the commonest fact of

experience. There is not one of us who does not get a start in life and a

consideration extended to us which are due to the merits of others, a

respected parent or some deeply interested friend. We are surrounded with

a halo of glory by virtue of the character of others. Their character helps us

to a position and opportunity we could not otherwise obtain. It may be

called a mere association of ideas, but it is strictly the passing of merit over

from man to man. In the same way Jesus Christ has come into our world,

allied Himself with our sinful race, merited consideration and acceptance by

obedience to Law, even as far as death, and this merit of the Divine Man

passes over to believers. In the Father’s sight, therefore, we are regarded

as just, notwithstanding all our sin. (Romans 3:26)  We have been justified

through faith.  But besides, the believers obtain the Spirit to dwell within

them, so that a process of sanctification is set up within them as soon as

justification takes place. And the indwelling Spirit may manifest His presence

and power in wonderful works, as appears to have been the case with these

Galatians (v. 5). So that Divine grace not only secures the justification of

all who trust in Jesus, but their sanctification and spiritual power as well.

Wondrous blessings are thus the outcome of Divine grace, and the heritage

of those who believe. What a change from having to endure the curse of





legalists claimed Abraham as their father. One would have supposed that

Abraham had been the greatest ceremonialist of the early dispensation. But

the truth is that Abraham was justified and accepted by simply believing

God when He promised a world-wide blessing through Abraham’s seed.

The blessing came to the patriarch through simple trust in God. Those who

hoped in Law-keeping, therefore, were not the true followers of Abraham.

It was only those who trusted God for salvation and blessing who walked

in the patriarch’s footsteps. Consequently, all the ceremonialism which

tried to shelter itself under the wings of Abraham was a simple imposition ]

The “merit-mongers,” as Luther calls them in his ‘ Commentary,’ have thus

no pretence of countenance from the case of Abraham. It was to simple

trust in God he owed his standing before Him. How needful, then, it is for

us to shake ourselves free from every remnant of self-righteousness, and to

look simply and implicitly TO CHRIST ALONE!   It is by faith we stand

and live.  The Christ who became the curse for us by hanging on a tree, calls

us to trust Him for acceptance and inspiration; and in trusting Him we find

the promise amply redeemed.



Fifth Argument:  Our Salvation is by Christ made curse for us.

    (vs. 13-14)


Two thoughts are here brought into contrast:


  • the Law condemned us;
  • Christ redeemed us:


“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us.”


  • THE NATURE OF THE REDEMPTION. He “redeemed us.”


Ø      This language does not countenance the theory that there was nothing

in Christs work but a mere deliverance from the power of sin. That is

certainly involved in His death; for He came to “redeem us from this

present evil world” (ch. 1:4), and “to redeem us from all iniquity”

(Titus 2:14).


Ø      Neither does it countenance the idea that Christ redeemed us by

entering into union with man and living a sinless human life, which is

reproduced in us by means of fellowship with Him. Neither of these

theories makes any provision for the rectification of man’s relation with

God, which is only effected through Christ being made a curse for us.



curse for us.” This is an unfathomable thought. Yet let us try to interpret it

in the light of Scripture. We are not redeemed by Christ’s Divine doctrine,

nor by His marvelous holiness of character, but by His entering into our

very position before God, becoming “a curse for us.” The Lord visited

upon Him what the Law awarded to us, and BY THAT SUBSTITUTION

OUR REDEMPTION WAS SECURED!  We are not to suppose that the

Son of God was less the object of Divine love at the very time that He was,

in an official aspect as His righteous Servant, an object of Divine wrath.

His Father always loved Him. The assertion is made:


Ø      first, that the curse of the Law rests upon transgressors;

Ø      then, that we are liberated from that curse;

Ø      then, that this result was achieved by Christ becoming a curse for us.


The passage shows what Christ was in God’s account, not what He was in the

eyes of men who despised Him.



“For it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree”

(Deuteronomy 21:22-23). The allusion here is not specially to Christ,

but to a command that those executed by Jewish law should not remain

hanging on the tree all night. It does not refer to death by crucifixion,

which was not a Jewish punishment, but to the exposure of the body after

death, on crosses or stakes. But how was such a person accursed? Not

because he was hanged upon a tree, but he was hanged upon a tree because

he was accursed. The apostle does not mean to attach the idea of shame to

the mode of Christ’s death; for He was not made a curse by His mere

hanging on a tree, but He hung there because He was made a curse for us.



blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles in Christ.” That is, the

curse-bearing prepared the way’ for the blessing, which was henceforth to

stream forth upon the whole world.


Ø      The blessing was justification of life, not mere temporal blessings,

which were restricted to the Jews.


Ø      It was to reach the Gentiles “in Christ,” who was made the curse for

“us both “Jews and Gentiles”not through the Law, which demands

a perfect obedience.


Ø      It was designed for Gentiles as well as Jesus. The stream was destined

to flow through Jews to the Gentiles, freed from all the limitations of the

old dispensation.


  • THE RESULT OF THE BLESSING. “That we might receive the

promise of the Spirit through faith.” There is here an obvious return to the

question of the second verse, and a definite answer is now given to that

question. It was not through the Law, but through faith, we realize the

promise of the Spirit. This was the special subject of promise (Joel 2:28;

Acts 1:4, Ephesians 1:13). Our Lord has placed us in the dispensation

of the Spirit, and has opened all blessings to men out of His

cross and His tomb.


Appeal to Experience and Scripture (vs. 1-14)





Ø      Expression of astonishment in view of their first impressions of the

cross. “O foolish Galatians, who did bewitch you, before whose eyes Jesus

Christ was openly set forth crucified?” Paul’s address to Peter concluded

with his presenting the dreadful supposition of Christ having died for

naught. He with that turns to the Galatians, and calls to their recollection

the memorable impression which the first presentation of Christ crucified

had made on their minds. There had been, as it were, a localization of the

cross among them. Christ had been so presented to them that preacher and

time and place were all forgotten. There on Galatian soil was the cross

erected; there was the Holy One and the Just taken and nailed to the tree;

there his blood flowed forth for the remission of sins. And they were

deeply affected, as if the crucifixion scene] had passed before their eyes. It

is a blessed fact that the evil of our nature is not insuperable — that there is

in the cross what can act on it like a spell. Even the greatest sinners have

been arrested and entranced by the eye of the Crucified One. It is, on the

other hand, a serious fact that evil can be presented to us in a fascinating

form. Here the Galatians are described as those who had been bewitched.

It was as if some one had exerted an evil spell on them. His evil eye had

rested on them and held them so that they could not see Him by whose

crucifixion they had formerly been so much affected. And the apostle

wonders who it could be that had bewitched them. Who had been envious

of the influence which the Crucified One had obtained over them? What

false representations had he made? What flattering promises had he held

out? Such a one had great guilt on his head; but they also were chargeable

with foolishness in allowing themselves to be bewitched by him. The

Galatians were by no means stupid; they were rather of quick perception.

They had the strong emotional qualities of the Celtic nature; their

temptation was sudden change of feeling. They were foolish in yielding to

their temptation, in not subjecting their feelings to the guidance of reason,

in not using the Divine helps against their being bewitched. And the

apostle, in charging home foolishness on them, would have them recall

what the cross had once been in their eyes, in order to break the present

spell of evil.


Ø      The one admission he asks of them in order to prove their foolishness.

“This only would I learn from you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of

the Law, or by the hearing of faith?” He felt that he had such a hold on

them from their past experiences that he could have asked of them many

admissions. With one, however, he will be content. This had reference to

the reception of the Spirit. The gospel dispensation was the dispensation of

the Spirit. It was by the sacrifice of Christ that the Spirit was really

obtained. It was soon after the offering of that sacrifice that the Spirit was

poured out, as though liberated from previous restraints. The great

blessing, then, of that dispensation, obtained they it by the works of the

Law, or by the hearing of faith? The Law is to be understood in the sense

of the Mosaic Law, which the Judaists sought to impose on Gentile

Christians. The Law and faith are here placed in opposition.


o        Works are the characteristic of the Law;

o        hearing is the characteristic of faith.


Was it, then, by Law-working that they had received the Spirit? When would

it quantitatively and qualitatively have sufficed for their receiving the Spirit?

Was it not the case, too, that the great majority of them in the Galatian

Churches had not been under the Law? They had not been circumcised,

and yet the Spirit had been received by them. Was it not, then, by the

hearing which belongs to faith? They had not tediously to elaborate a

Law- righteousness. They had not to work for a righteousness at all. They

had simply to hear in connection with the preaching of the gospel. They

had to listen to the proclamation of a righteousness elaborated for them.

And while their faith was imperfect, and could not be in itself the ground

of their justification, they had, as perfectly justified, received the Spirit.


Ø      Two points in which their foolishness was shown at its height. “Are ye

so foolish?”


o        They belied the beginning they had made. “Having begun in the

Spirit, are ye now perfected in the flesh?” They began by renouncing

the flesh, by confessing that, with the weak elements in their nature,

they never could arrive at perfection. In despair of the flesh, then,

and in order to be delivered from its weakness, they cast themselves

upon the Spirit. They called in Divine help against their sinful

tendencies. This was the right beginning to make. And having thus

begun, they should have gone on, in dependence on the help of the

Spirit, toward perfection. But they were proving untrue to the

beginning they had made. They were going back to the flesh which

they professed to have left behind as a source of dependence. They

were now saying that it, forsooth, with all its weakness,

was able. to bring about their ‘perfection.’


o        They stultified their sufferings. Did ye suffer so many things in

vain? if it be indeed in vain.” It is to be inferred that they suffered

persecution. They suffered many things, though of their sufferings

we have no record. They suffered for Christ, and it may have been

for liberty in Him. That gave a noble character to their sufferings,

and promised a glorious reward. But now, with their changed

relation to Christ, those sufferings had lost their character. There

was no longer a Christian halo around them. They were simply a

blunder, what might have been avoided. They could not hope,

then, for the reward of the Christian confessor or martyr. The

apostle is, however, unwilling to believe that the matter has

ended with them. In the words which he appends, “if it be indeed

in vain,” he not only leaves a loophole of doubt, but makes an

appeal to them not to throw away that which they had nobly won.


Ø      The one admission reverted to with special reference to the miraculous

operations of the Spirit. “He therefore that supplieth to you the Spirit, and

worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the Law, or by

the hearing of faith?” It was God who supplied the Spirit to them. He

especially supplied the power of working miracles. It is taken for granted

that miracles were still being wrought in connection with the Galatian

Churches. The miraculous operations of the Spirit are not more remarkable

in themselves than His ordinary operations; but they were more exceptional.

Being more easily appreciated, too, they were especially fitted to attract

attention to Christianity, and to commend it to them that were outside.

And as the Galatians had thrown doubt on their relation to Christianity, he

very naturally meets them by making his appeal to the evidence of miracles.

Did God give any token of His approval to those who were identified with

the works of the Law to the Judaizing teachers? Was there any

exceptional power possessed by them? Did not God work miracles through

those who were identified with the hearing of faith — through the

preachers of the gospel? And was that not conclusive evidence that

He was with them in their teaching?




Ø      He was justified by faith. Scripture statement. “Even as Abraham

believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness.”  (V. 6)

There could be no question regarding the high authority of Abraham’s

example.  And the best way to deal with it was in connection with Scripture.

What, then, was the Scripture account of Abraham’s justification? In Genesis

15:6 it is said, “He believed in the Lord, and He counted it to him for

righteousness.’’ It is not “He was circumcised, and that was reckoned unto

him for righteousness.” There is no mention of his justification in

connection with his circumcision. Indeed, he was justified before he was

circumcised. Abraham’s case, then, tells against justification by the works

of the Law. On the other hand, he was a signal example of the hearing of

faith. He heard God saying to him, “Get thee out of thy country, and from

thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee”

(Genesis 12:1); and he went forth, leaving country and kindred and home,

not knowing whither he went. (Hebrews 11:8)  He heard God saying that

he should have a seed numerous as the stars of heaven, and it was his

crediting this as God’s word, though it conflicted with all human

experience, that was reckoned unto him for righteousness. Again, he

heard God commanding him to offer up the son of the promise, and,

notwithstanding all the difficulties it involved, he acted upon what he

heard. It is true that this was personal righteousness so far as it went.

It was the right disposition towards God.  Abraham approved himself

before God by his faith, and by his works which evidenced his faith.

But it is not said that this was his righteousness. It was not meritorious

righteousness; it was simply faith grasping the Divine word which made

him righteous. It was imperfect faith, and therefore could not be the

ground of his justification. But the language is that “it was reckoned

unto him for righteousness.” Though his faith was not meritorious, was

imperfect, it was reckoned unto him as though he had fulfilled the whole

Law. From the moment of his hearing in faith he was fully justified.

Inference. “Know therefore that they which be of faith, the same are sons

of Abraham.’’ (v. 7)  The contention of the Judaists would be that the keepers

of the Law were the true sons of Abraham. The apostle regards this Scripture

as a disproof of their position. Abraham was notably a believer. He heard

God speaking to him on various occasions, and it was his humbly

distrusting his own judgment and listening to the voice of God for which

he was commended. It was, therefore, to be known, to be regarded as

indisputable, that believers, those who have faith as the source of their life,

and not those who are of the works of the Law, are the true sons of



Ø      The promise on which his faith rested. Scripture with preface. “And the

Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached

the gospel beforehand unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be

blessed.”  (v. 8)  The Scripture is here put in place of the Author of Scripture,

and foresight is ascribed to it which is properly to be ascribed to God. The

foresight of God was shown in the form in which the promise was given. It

had nothing of Jewish exclusiveness about it, but was suitable to gospel

times. Indeed, it could be described as the gospel preached beforehand

unto Abraham. The language recalls our Lord’s words, “Your father

Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it, and was glad.” (John  8:56)


o        It was the promise of blessing without any restriction of contents.

o        It was the promise of blessing to all nations.

o        There was thus the same ring about it that there was about the

angelic message when Jesus was born: “Behold, I bring you

good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”

(Luke 2:10)


And God, having in view the extension of the blessing to the Gentiles,

promised it in Abraham.  He did not promise it in Moses, who was

identified with the Law; but He promised it in Abraham, who was

characteristically a believer. The being in him points to Abraham, not

only as a believer, but as holding the position of the father of believers.

He was thus more than an example of the mode of justification. It was

in him that the blessing was given, that the connection was formed

between faith and justification. It is as his seed, or sons, that it is to be

obtained by us. General inference. “So then they which be of faith

are blessed with the faithful Abraham.” (v. 9)  He has already

shown who the sons of Abraham are, viz. “they which be of faith.”

Founding, then, upon that, as well as upon what he has just quoted, his

conclusion is that believers are sharers with Abraham in his blessing. He

not only stood in the relation of father to believers: as a believer himself, he

was blessed. He had especially the blessing of justification, which has been

referred to. And along with him do all believers enjoy especially the

blessing of justification.


o        A curse lies on the workers of the Law. “For as many as are of the

works of the Law are under a curse.” (v. 10)   So far from enjoying

the blessing, they are under the curse. Having laid down this

proposition, he establishes it in the most conclusive manner. Even

the form of the syllogism is apparent.


§         Major proposition. “For it is written, Cursed is every one

which continueth not in all things that are written in the

book of the Law, to do them.”  (ibid.)  The words are a

quotation from Deuteronomy 27:26. They form the conclusion

of the curses pronounced from Mount Ebal. The Law requires

obedience to be rendered to it in every precept. And it

requires obedience to all time. If a person kept all the precepts

and transgressed only one, or if he transgressed one at last after

having kept all for a lifetime, he would thereby be placed in

a wrong relation to the Law, and would be subject to its curse,

as really as though he had been a flagrant and lifelong

transgressor. All are cursed who do not render whole and

continued obedience to the Law.


§         Minor proposition. “Now that no man is justified by the

Law in the sight of God, is evident.” Of the major proposition

he did not need to offer any proof because it is Scripture; but

this minor proposition, in his singular love for proof, especially

from Scripture, he will not assume. It therefore becomes the

conclusion of another syllogism.


§         Major proposition of second syllogism. “For, The righteous

shall live by faith.” This is cited from Habakkuk 2:4, and is

also cited in Romans 1:17 and Hebrews 10:38. The spirit of

the Old Testament passage is given. The reference was to a

season of danger from the Chaldeans. An announcement of

deliverance was made in plain terms. “Behold,” it is added,

“his soul [either of the Chaldean or of the heedless Jew]

which is lifted up is not upright in him;” i.e. priding himself

in his own sufficiency, he was destitute of righteousness, and

therefore it was to be presumed, from the theocratic standpoint,

would perish; “but the just shall live by faith;” i.e. relying on

promised help, he would be righteous, and thus obtain the

theocratic blessing of deliverance. The New Testament

bearing is obvious. Relying on Divine righteousness,

he is righteous, and thus has title to life. Formally, what the

apostle lays down here is that none but believers are justified.


§         Minor proposition of second syllogism. “And the Law is not

of faith; but, He that doeth them shall live in them.” (v. 12)


ü      The principle of faith is reliance on the promise

in order to obtain a title to life.

ü      The principle of the Law, as brought out in the

quotation from Leviticus 18:5, is reliance on our

own doing of all the precepts in order to obtain a

title to life.


Thus all doers must be excluded from the class of believers.

And thus, by formal proof, is the minor proposition of the first

syllogism established, viz. No man is justified by the Law

in the sight of God. And, it being established, the conclusion

of that syllogism follows, which is given in the first clause of

the tenth verse, “As many as are of the works of the Law

are under a curse.”


o        How the blessing is enjoyed by believers. Redemption from the curse.

“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a

curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on

a tree.” (v. 13)  The Jews (with whom Paul identifies himself) were

under the curse of the Law for many precepts transgressed, and

transgressed many times. They found a Redeemer from the curse

IN CHRIST who redeemed them by becoming a curse for them,

 i.e. on their behalf, and, by implication at least, in their stead. The

transference of the curse, as of sin, was quite familiar to the Jewish

mind. He not only became cursed, but abstractly and more strongly

He became a curse; He became the receptacle of the curse of the

Law. And in his great fondness for Scripture exhibited in the whole

of this paragraph, the apostle points out that this was in accordance

with words found in Deuteronomy 21:23, “Cursed is every one

that hangeth on a tree.” The words did not refer to crucifixion,

which was not a Jewish mode of putting to death; but referred to

the hanging of the body of a criminal on a tree after death as a

public spectacle. The words were applicable to Christ, because

He was made a public spectacle, not only in hanging on a tree, but

in being nailed to a tree. The infamy which Christ was subjected to

from men was a very subordinate element in His death. There was

especially the wrath which He endured from God, the hiding of

the Father’s face from Him as the Representative of sinners.

This was the curse (all curses in one) by bearing which He became



§         Twofold aim of redemption.


ü      Extension of the blessing to the Gentiles. “That

upon the Gentiles might come the blessing of

Abraham in Christ Jesus.” (v. 14)  The effect

of the endurance of the curse was the opening of

the blessing to the Gentiles. The Law, in its

precepts and curse, no longer presented an obstacle.

The whole meaning of the Law was realized; the

whole curse of the Law was exhausted. So

complete was the satisfaction rendered, that there

could be no supplementing it by works of the Law.

All that was needed was faith to receive the

satisfaction presented in Christ, and not in the Law,

for justification. Thus did the blessing attain its

world-wide character, announced to Abraham.

Gentiles had simply to believe, like Abraham, in

order to be blessed in and with Abraham.


ü      Reception of the Spirit. “That we might receive the

promise of the Spirit through faith.”  (ibid.)  Not

only was there the extension of the blessing enjoyed

among the Jews, which was eminently justification

(as appears from the whole strain of this paragraph);

but this extension was signalized by the sending of

a richer blessing. This was the realization of the

promise of the Spirit. In this the Jews were sharers.

All alike were recipients of the Spirit, simply through

faith. And thus the apostle, after a remarkable chain

of arguments, comes back to the point from which

he started.





v. 15 – A New Argument


“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”.


  • Covenants Between Men - A covenant is an arrangement between two

      parties for mutual benefit, with an implied character of permanence. It

      is designed to perpetuate a relation of some sort. The covenant stands in

      the integrity of all its provisions without either party having the power to        

      annul it or to add fresh clauses, whether consistent or inconsistent with

      its provisions.


  • A Divine Covenant from God to Man - It is irreversible and irrevocable,

      since it is a covenant established by oath. God swears and He will not repent.

      The Judaistic supplement, would really effect the entire abrogation of the  




v. 16 – The Contents of the Covenant and the Parties to it.


“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”.


  • The contents of the covenant -  “The promises.” They are elsewhere spoken

      of as “the promise.” It was repeated several times. This promise carries

      the whole of salvation within it. It is elsewhere referred to as “the oath

      and the promise”— “the two immutable things in which it was

            impossible for God to lie” — for God confirmed the promise by an oath,

            and the promise is linked with the Melchisedec priesthood of Christ, and

            thus involves all that is involved in priesthood, that is, atonement and

            intercession. It is the promise that bears up the burden of the world’s hope,

            for it is on the ground of it we have “fled for refuge to the hope set before

            us” (Hebrews 6:18-20).


  • The parties of the covenant - These are - God on the one side; Abraham

      and his seed on the other. Not Abraham alone, but Abraham and his seed.

      “And he saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy

            seed, which is Christ.” They are “all one in Christ,” and “if ye

            be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed’ (vs. 28-29).


 vs. 17-18 - A NECESSARY CONCLUSION. If the seed is Christ, then the

promise was not yet fulfilled, but awaiting fulfilment, when the Law was

given. It could not, therefore, be disannulled by the Law, nor could the

Law add fresh clauses to it.  It stands IRREVOCABLE and

INDESTRUCTIBLE because it has been confirmed by God, that is, by an oath;

for, “Because he could swear by no greater, he sware by Himself, saying,

Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee”

(Hebrews 6:13-14).


“For if the inheritance be of the Law, it is no more of promise; but God

has given it to Abraham by promise.”  The inheritance covers more than the

 land of Canaan; it involves “the heirship of the world” (Romans 4:13); but

it symbolizes the blessings of the Messiah’s kingdom, and especially of that

better country” (Hebrews 11:14-16) which was an object of wistful expectation

to Abraham himself.  If the Law abrogates the covenant, the inheritance would

in that case come of Law; but it is positively asserted that “God has given it -the

perfect tense marking the duration of the blessing — “to Abraham by promise.”


The promise is “To thee and to thy seed will I give this land”; (Genesis 13:15)

the “covenant” that Jehovah would be their God, and that they should

recognize Him as such! (Genesis 17:7-9)


“But God gave it to Abraham by promise (τῷ δὲ Ἀβραὰμ δι ἐπαγγελίας

κεχάρισται ὁ Θεός -  to de Abraham di epaggelias kecharistai ho Theos –

but God hath freely given it to Abraham by promise. The verb χαρίζομα

charizoma – to show favor or kindness emphatically marks a gift as freely

and lavishly bestowed (compare its use in Romans 8:32; I Corinthians 2:12).

The perfect tense points to the now and evermore enduring effect of the

promise. The position of ὁ Θεὸς  (the God) is emphatic — God, no less than He!

(compare Romans 8:31). The march of this sentence, with which the apostle

closes up this paragraph of the discussion, gives, as it stands in the Greek,

the reader to feel the apostle’s soul dilating with wonder and delight as he

gives expression to the two notions — the gracious freeness of the gift,

and the Divine personality of the Giver.


(Reader, to miss out on this promise is the height of folly – CY – 2009)

see Jesus’ words in Matthew 8:11-12 and Luke 13:27-29)



vs. 19-20 - The use and nature of the Law.


“What then is the Law?” The apostle’s reasoning seemed to make the Law a

quite superfluous thing. In the eyes of the Judaists it was God’s most glorious

institute. It was necessary, therefore, to show its nature, office, and characteristics,

and its relation to the covenant of promise. It was really inferior to the dispensation

of grace on four grounds, which themselves explain its nature and use.


  • The Law discovers sin -  “It was added because of transgressions.”


ü      It was not to check sin.

ü      Nor to create sin.

ü      But to discover it.


            “By the Law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20). This discovery

            would necessarily multiply transgressions (Romans 5:20), just as the

            introduction of light into a darkened room makes manifest the things that

            were before unseen. “I had not known sin but by the Law” (Romans 7:7).

            Many sins were not seen to be sins at all till the Law threw its intense

            light upon them. Thus the great service of the Law was to awaken

            conviction of sin in the heart and to make men feel their need of a Savior.

            The ceremonial and the moral Law had equally this effect. The system of

            sacrifice had no meaning apart from the fact of sin. What a mistake, then,

            was that of the Judaists who imagined that the Law could give them a title

            to eternal life in virtue of their obedience to its commands


  • The Law was a temporary dispensation. “It was added … till the seed

      shall have come to whom the promise has been made.” This refers to

      the coming of Christ who is “the Seed.” The apostle puts himself back to

      the time of giving the Law, and looks forward from that starting-point to

      the future incarnation of Jesus Christ. The Law was thus a mighty

      parenthesis coming in between Abraham’s promise and the coming of “the

      Seed,” and was specially preparative and disciplinary in relation to that

      future event. It was destined then to pass away as a dispensation, but the

      moral Law, which it held in its bosom, was to abide in its full integrity.

      (Matthew 5:17-18) - That Law still exists in Christianity, with its old

            power of manifesting sin and carrying conviction to sinners so as to shut

            them up to Christ.


  • The Promise came to Abraham direct from God but the Law came

            through angels in the hand of a mediator?’ This is another point of

            inferiority. God gave the promise to Abraham immediately, not mediately

            by angels or through any intervention like that of Moses; unlike the Law,

            which was superadded through this double intervention.


ü      The share of angels in the giving of the Law.  Stephen says in his

      speech that the Israelites received the Law “at the ordination of

      angels,” or “according to the arrangements of angels (Acts 7:53).   

      The Law is elsewhere described as “the word spoken by angels”  

      (Hebrews 2:2). Yet in the history of the giving of the Law there is

      no reference to angels, not even to their presence. In two passages

      their presence, but not their ministration, is referred to

      (Deuteronomy 33:2; Psalm 68:17).  As the Law is said to have

      been ordained by means of angels and “the word spoken by angels,”

      it is probable that the angels made it audible to the people or were  

      connected with the terrible phenomena which accompanied the giving

      of the Law. The angels came between God and the people. The

      countless hosts of His “saints” who attended upon the Lord

                        on that occasion were not surely mere spectators; and to their

                        intervention acting out the volitions of God might be most

                        reasonably ascribed all the physical sights and sounds which gave to

                        the giving of the Law its sensible awfulness (comp. 1 Thessalonians

                        4:16). “They raised the fire and smoke; they shook and rent the rock;

                        they framed the sound of the trumpet; they effected the articulate

                        voices which conveyed the words of the Law to the ears of the people,

                        and therein proclaimed and published the Law; whereby it became

                        “the word spoken by angels’”


ü      The share of Moses in the giving of the Law. It was “ordained…

      in the hand of a mediator,” who was Moses. He describes his own           

      mediation: “I stood between you and the Lord at that time”        

      (Deuteronomy 5:5, 27).  It was Moses who bore the tables of stone

      from God to the people. We are not to suppose that the reference is           

      designed to mark the inferiority of the Law to the covenant of promise,     

      which, too, had its Mediator, Jesus Christ the Lord. He is not

      contrasting the Law and the gospel, but the Law and the promise of          

      Abraham; and he asserts that, while in the one case the angels and

      Moses had to do with its conveyance, God in the other case gave

      the promise without the intervention of either man or angel.


  • The Law was dependent upon conditions but the Promise was Absolute.

      “Now, a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.” The very

      idea of mediation implies two parties, who are to be brought into some

      relation with each other through the intervention of a third person. In the

      case of the Law, there were two parties — God and the Jewish people.

      In the case of the promise, “God is one;” He is mediatorless - no one

      stands between Him and Abraham, as Moses stood between God and the

            Israelites in the giving of the Law.


23 “But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith

which should afterwards be revealed.”  The feature which distinguishes this new

paragraph (vs. 23-24) from the preceding (vs. 21-22) is the more distinct statement

of the pedagogic (relating to teaching) function of the Law as preparatory to that

economy of grace which was the ulterior purpose of the Lawgiver. In the meanwhile

(the apostle here says) we were committed to the custody of the Law. But before

faith came (πρὸ τοῦ δὲ ἐλθεῖν τὴν πίστιν – pro tou de elthein taen pistin – yet before

the coming of the faith). The "but" is antithetic to the closing clause of v. 22, from

which is taken up afresh the notion of faith, there spoken of as of old destined to

become at the proper time the qualifier for the receiving of the promise. "Faith"

denotes, not objectively, "the faith," that is, the gospel, as ch. 1:23, a sense in which

it is seldom used, and which is repelled here by the whole context; but subjectively,

the principle of belief in One who gives of mere grace. This, by a bold and surely

jubilant figure of speech, is personified as "coming" for men's deliverance, while

the "Law" is also personified as the stern custodian under whose charge till then

men were detained. Compare the frequent references in the Psalms to "light,"

"truth," "righteousness," "word," etc., being “sent," "commanded," by the Lord,

as in angels, dispatched for the help of His saints (Psalm 40:11; 43:3; 57:3;

107:20, etc.). We were kept under the Law, shut up (ὑπὸ νόμον ἐφρουρούμεθα

συγκεκλεισμένοι – hupo nomon ephrouroumetha sugkekleismenoi – under the law

we were garrisoned, [συγκλειόμενοι - sugkleiomenoi - having been locked up

together, Revised Text; so, according to Scrivener, L. T. Tr.]); we were kept in

ward under the Law. shut up. The "we" recites, not exactly Jewish Christians or

Jews, except per accidens (accidently), but God's people. The verb φρουρεῖν-

phrourein - keep carefully guarded, is used with a prominent notion of protection

in Philippians 4:7; I Peter 1:5; whilst in II Corinthians 11:32, as here, the more

prominent idea is that of preventing egress. Compare Romans 7:6, "The Law wherein

we were holden (κατειχόμεθα –  kateichometha – we were retained )." So Wisdom

of Solomon 17:16, of Egyptians, in the plague of miraculous darkness, as it were

imprisoned, unable to move, Ἐφρουρεῖτο εἰς τὴν ἀσίδηρον εἱρκτὴν κατακλεισθείς

Ephroureito eis taen asidaeron eirktaen katakleistheis - was kept ill ward, having

been shut up into the prison which had no iron bars. The reading συγκλειόμενοι

(locked up together) or συνκλειόμενοι – sunkleiomenoi – shut together; shut in

on all sides, although highly witnessed to by uncial manuscripts, appears to be

accounted for by the reading in B, συγκλεισμένοι (very probably a clerical blunder

for συγκεκλεισμένοι), which may have given it vogue. The perfect participle seems

alone suitable to the passage, q.d. shut up for good and all. The present participle

would require to be understood of the repression of a constantly repeated endeavor

to escape (or, what?). As the verb συνέκλεισεν – sunekleisen - locks up together;

concluded ... all; occurs in the preceding verse, συγκεκλεισμένοι takes the shade

of meaning, "shut up as I said." Unto the faith which should afterwards be

revealed (εἰς τὴν μέλλουσαν πίστιν ἀποκαλυφθῆναι – eis taen mellousan pistin

apokaluphthaenai – into the being about faith to be revealed ). "Unto;" with

reference to, with an eye to, the coming economy of free grace, to which they

were then to be transferred. The same preposition (εἰς) is used in the same manner

in the next verse, “unto Christ." In the words, τὴν μέλλουσαν πίστιν ἀποκαλυφθῆναι

(the faith which should afterwards be revealed), we have the same form of sentence

as in Romans 8:18, Πρὸς τὴν μέλλουσαν δόξαν ἀποκαλυφθῆναι – Pros taen mellousan

doxan apokaluphthaenai - , "For the glory which shall hereafter be revealed." In both

cases, the emphatic position of μέλλουσαν (expectation; afterwards; hereafter) appears

to indicate, not merely that the manifestation was future, but that THE FUTURE


MADE IT CERTAIN!   "Revealed:" the principle of faith as accepting a gift bestowed

of free grace, though not unknown to the pious of former ages (Romans 3:21) - for how

in any age could one conscions of sin look for any gift at the hands of the Almighty

except thus? - was destined, under the "gospel of the grace of God," to come forth

into conspicuous prominence as the one supremely commanding element of religious



24 “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we

might be justified by faith.”  Wherefore the Law was our schoolmaster to bring

us unto Christ (ὥστε ὁ νόμος παιδαγωγὸς ἡμῶν γέγονεν εἰς Ξριστόν – hoste ho nomos

paidagogos haemon gegonen eis Christos – so that the law has become an escort

of us unto Christ; wherefore the Law hath been the keeper  of our childhood to

keep us unto Christ. With Paul, ὥστε (so that) frequently is used to introduce a

sentence which is not dependent in construction on the preceding words, but is one

which makes a fresh departure as if with the adverbial conjunction "wherefore," or

"so then." Thus v. 9; ch. 4:7; II Corinthians 4:12; 5:16; I Thessalonians 4:18, in

which the last passage it is even followed by an imperative. Γέγονεν – Gegonen –

has become - differs from η΅ν or ἐγένετο by describing, past action as ending in

a result which still continues. The verb γίγνεσθαι frequently denotes "prove one's

self, ... act as" (compare I Thessalonians 2:7; Acts 1:16; 7:52). The Law hath done

with us (says the apostle) the work of a child's caretaker (παιδαγωγὸς), with an eye

to Christ, to whom we have now been handed over. (For the use of εἰς, see note

on v. 23.) Pαιδαγωγὸς has no equivalent in the English language; "pedagogue,"

"schoolmaster," "tutor," "guardian," are all inadequate, covering each one

an area of thought more or less quite different. "Tutor," as the masculine of

"governess," comes perhaps nearest; but a tutor to a gentleman's children is

generally an educated man, and often of like rank in life with those he is with;

whereas a παιδαγωγὸς was usually a slave - an element of thought probably very

near to the apostle's consciousness in his present use of the term. In illustration

of this and other points bearing upon this subject, the reader will be interested

by a passage cited by Bishop Lightfoot out of Plato's 'Lysis' (p. 208, C). Socrates

is questioning a young friend. "' They let you have your own ruling of yourself:

or do they not trust you with this, either?' 'Trust me with it, indeed!' he said.

'But as to this, who has the ruling of you?' 'This man here,' he said, 'a tutor.

'Being a slave, eh?' 'But what of that?' said he; 'yes; only, a slave of our own.'

'An awfully strange thing this,' I said, 'that you, freeman that you are, should

be under the ruling of a slave. But further, what does this tutor of yours, as your

ruler, do with you?' 'He takes me,' said he, 'to a teacher's house, of course.' 'Do

they rule you too, the teachers?' ' Certainly, of course.' 'A mighty number it seems

of masters and rulers does your father think proper to set over you.'" Teaching,

except possibly of the very first rudiments, was not the παιδαγωγὸς business,

but only the general care and superintendence of his charge - taking him to and

back from his teachers' houses or the schools of physical training, looking after

him in his play hours, and the like. In applying to the Law the figure of a

παιδαγωγὸς, the features which the apostle had in view were probably these:


  • the childhood or non-age of those under its tutelage;
  • their withdrawal from free parental intercourse;
  • their degraded condition probably as being under servile management;
  • the exercise over them of unsympathizing hardness (compare I Corinthians

      4:15, "Though ye have ten thousand tutors in Christ, yet have ye not

      many fathers");

  • coercive discipline;
  • the rudimentary character of their instruction (this particular, however,

      is likewise of questionable application); the temporary and purely

      provisional nature of the condition under which they were placed;

      its termination in the full enjoyment of freedom and of participation

      in their father's inheritance.


The clause, "unto Christ," can hardly mean "to bring us to Christ," tempting

as this interpretation may seem, in view of the verbal constituent (ἄγωago –

 bring in παιδαγωγός, and of the fact that it was one part of the duty of the

child's keeper to take him to his school. For there are the following objections

to taking it so:

(1) The child-keeper's relation to his charge did not end with his taking

      him to school, but continued on throughout his non-age;


(2) the function of Christ is not viewed here as instruction;

(3) if this construction had been in the apostle's view, he would have written

     πρὸς Ξριστὸν or εἰς Ξριστοῦ, as in the εἰς διδασκάλου ("to the teacher's

     house") of the passage above cited from Plato.


We must, therefore, understand the preposition as in the preceding verse, "with

a view to." The next clause is the explanation. That we might be justified by faith

(ἵνα ἐκ πίστεως δικαιωθῶμεν – hina ek pisteos dikaiothomen - in order that by

faith we might get justified. This clause is the most important part of the sentence.

Not from the Law was to come righteousness; the Law was no more than

introductory or preparatory; righteousness (once more the apostle reminds the

Galatians) was to come to us as a free gift THROUGH CHRIST upon simply

our faith, the Law having now nothing to do with us. Hence the emphatic position

of the words ἐκ πίστεως (out of faith). The apostle does not, in the present connection,

make it his business to explain in what way the Law was preparatory, which he does

in Romans 7; his purpose at present is to insist upon its purely provisional character.

What we have here is a description of the relation of the Law to God's people viewed

collectively; but we can hardly fail to be reminded, that this experience of the

collective people of God very commonly finds its counterpart in respect to the

ethical bearing of the Law in the experience of each individual believer. Only,

we have still to bear in mind that the apostle is thinking of the Law just now

more in its ceremonial aspect than its ethical.


25 “But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.”

But after that faith is come (ἐλθούσης δὲ τῆς πίστεωςelthousaes de taes pisteos –

 but now that Faith hath come); this white-robed, joy-bringing angel of deliverance!

(see note on the words, in ver. 23, "before faith came"). We are no longer under a

schoolmaster (οὐκέτι ὐπὸ παιδαγωγόν ἐσμεν – ouketi hupo paidagogon esmen –

we are no longer under a keeper of our childhood. When a child becomes of age,

as determined by his father's arrangement, the παιδαγωγός function, of course,

ceases; so also when we (God's collective people) became believers in Christ,

we had reached the era appointed by our Father for our coming of age,

and the Law lost all hold upon us. This triumphant conclusion is based upon

the premise that the Law was the παιδαγωγός of God's people, and nothing

more. This premise is itself proved true to the apostle's conviction, by the

very nature of the case.


The Law Designed to be Subservient to the Promise (vs. 21-25) 


Though the Law is inferior to the promise in the four points already suggested:


  • The Law is not antagonistic to the Promise.  “Is the Law against the

      promises of God? God forbid.”


ü      The Law and the promise are equally of Divine origin two distinct

                        parts of the Divine plan, each part with its own distinct purpose to be

                        carried out inside the Divine plan. The distinction between them is not

                        that the one is good and the other evil; for “the Law is good if a man

                        use it lawfully,” while the promise is self-evidently and essentially so.


ü      There would be antagonism if life came by the Law. “For if there

      had been a Law given that could have given life, verily

      righteousness should have been by the Law.” In that case, the Law

      and the promise would have come into competition as two diverse

      methods of salvation. In the one case, salvation would have come “of        

      debt;” in the other case, it actually comes “of grace.” If life came by

      the Law, there would, in fact, be no room for free gift at all.


ü      The Law was absolutely incapable of giving life. If it could have

      done so, it would have been chosen as the method of salvation, because,

      in that case, man had only to use his faculties to accomplish it, and the      

      agony of the cross would never have been necessary. But the thing

      was impossible; SALVATION IS A DIVINE WORK and, if it comes

      at all, it must come from the quickening power of the Spirit.


  • The true effect and design of the Law - “But the Scripture shut up all

      under sin, that the promise by faith in Christ might be given to them

      that believe.”


ü      The Law shuts up men under sin. The Scripture, rather than the Law,

      is here represented as doing it. It pronounces all to be guilty before

      God, but solely in virtue of the condemnation pronounced by the Law.

      The phrase here employed is very expressive. Men are, as it were,

      closed in, or shut up, on every side, with only one way of escape

      with no way left open but that of faith.


ü      There is a gracious purpose in this legal incarceration. “That the

                        promise by faith in Christ might be given to them that believe.”


Ø      The blessing - “ the promise,” with all it involves.


Ø      The channel of blessing – “faith” - that is a precious conduit-

      pipe between the soul and the Savior.


Ø      The source of blessing - “Jesus Christ.”


Ø      The recipients – “them that believe.” How evidently all

      blessing reaches us, not by the Law, but by grace!




  • The Jews in ward under the Old Dispensation (I recommend Dispensational

            Truth by Clarence Larkin – can be found in The Second Baptist Church

            Library - CY – 2009) - “But before faith came, we were kept under the

            Law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.”


ü      The old dispensation described as the age before the faith.


Ø      This does not mean that there was no faith in a Redeemer

      in pre-Christian ages. To say otherwise is to say that there

      was no salvation in those ages. The apostle shows elsewhere

      that Abraham was saved as Christians are now saved

      (Romans 4.).


Ø      Pious Israelites lived “before the faith came” – the

      Law and its sacrifices pointed to Jesus – they were

      a “shadow of good things to come, and not the very

      image of the things, can never with those sacrifices

      which they offered year by year continually make

      the comers thereunto perfect”  - (Hebrews 10:1)


ü      The wardship of the Law in the old dispensation. The apostle

      identifies himself with the whole body of believers under the old   

      economy, and represents them as under the strict surveillance of a

      rigorous janitor, who held them firmly under the discipline of the

      Law, with the design, however, that the very severity of their

      bondage might lead them to look believingly for escape to the

      Lord Jesus Christ.


ü      The design of this wardship. “Shut up under the Law unto the

      faith which should afterwards be revealed.” There was thus a

      gracious purpose in the very Law which was thus seen not to be

      “against the promises of God.” The Law still brings conviction

      of sin and shuts men up to the faith of Christ. It is not to be supposed

      “that the faith had not been revealed” from the earliest ages of the         

      world - for Christ was the promised Seed to Adam - but there was

      a veil upon men’s minds till it was rent in the death of Christ. The

      faith revealed in due time was the faith of Christ incarnate.


  • The Law our schoolmaster for Christ - “Wherefore the Law has become

      our tutor for Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”  Thus we see

      how  “Christ becomes the end of the Law for righteousness.”

      (Romans 10:4)


ü      The symbolic ritual of the Law pointed expressly to Christ.

       “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.” (I Corinthians 5:7)

      The sacrifices had no meaning apart from their typical relationship

      to Christ. The Epistle to the Hebrews is the best commentary on

      the Book of Leviticus. The Law with its sacrifices was always

      leading the Israelites to the “Lamb slain from the foundation

      of the world.” (Revelation 13:8)


  • The moral Law was always leading to Christ; for it revealed sin, which

            deserved God’s mighty condemnation.


  • The spiritual insufficiency of the Law was its constant preparation of

            the soul for the faith of Christ.


26 “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”

For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus (πάντες γὰρ υἱοὶ Θεοῦ

ἐστὲ διὰ τῆς πίστεως ἐν Ξριστῷ Ἰησοῦ - pantes gar huioi Theou este dia taes

pisteos en Christo Iaesou - for sons of God are ye all through faith in Christ Jesus).

"For;" that is, what is just affirmed (v. 25) is true, because ye are "sons" and no

longer "children." "Ye are;" in v. 25 it is "we are." The whole course of the

argument, however, shows that the persons recited by each of the personal

pronouns are in effect the same, namely, the people of God; otherwise this verse

would not furnish proof, as by the "for" it professes to do, of the statement of v. 25.

The change from "we" to "ye" has by some been explained as due to the writer's

wish to preclude the supposition that the "we' in v. 25 applied to Jewish believers

only. A more satisfactory explanation is that he wishes to give the statement in

vs. 22-25, which is general, a more trenchant (sharpe) force as applying to those

whose spiritual difficulties he is now dealing with. In I Thessalonians 5:5,

"Ye are all sons of light, and sons of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness,"

we have the converse transition. There likewise the persons recited are in effect the

same; and the change of person in the pronoun, making the discourse, from

exhortation addressed to others, pass into a form of co-hortation applying to all

Christians alike, including the writer himself, is dictated by the apostle's sympathetic

kindness for especially his Thessalonian converts. "Ye are." The fact that faith is the

sole and sufficient ground of qualification eliminates all those distinctions by which

the Law has heretofore fenced off Gentiles, pronouncing them "separated as aliens,"

"strangers to the covenants," and "without God" (compare Ephesians 2:12). In the

sequel (v. 28) the apostle passes on from the thought of this particular outward

distinction of Jew and Gentile to the thought of all other purely external distinctions.

"In Christ Jesus." It is debated whether this clause should be connected with "faith,"

as if it were πίστεως τῆς ἐν Ξριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, the article being omitted, as in

Colossians 1:4; Ephesians 1:15, and often; or with the words, "ye are sons of God,"

with a comma following the word "faith." Both modes of construing find in the

sentence at last the same contents of thought; for each of the two propositions thus

severally formed contains by implication the other. It probably suits the connection

best to take the apostle as at once affirming that it is in Christ Jesus that we are

God's sons through faith, rather than as leaving this to be inferred from the fact

of our being sons through faith in Christ. "In Christ" is, with St. Paul, a very

favorite form of indicating the channel through which the great blessings of the

gospel are realized (compare Ephesians 1:3,6-7,11; 2:6-7, 10, 13, 21-22; 3:12, etc.).

"Sons of God." It is quite clear that the term "sons" (υἱοὶ) denotes those who have

come into the full enjoyment, so far as the present life is concerned, of the position

which their birth had entitled them to; and that it stands in contrast with their earlier

position when children in years under a παιδαγωγός. The noun υἱόςhuios - son,

itself, however, while it is never used as synonymous with νήπιος – naepios – babe,

child to describe one as a child in years, yet, like τέκνονteknon -  child, does not

ordinarily betoken more than simple relationship as the correlative with "father;"

for which reason υἱός (as well as τέκνον) is used in such phrases as:


·         "children of disobedience,"

·         "of Israel,"

·         “of light,"

·         "of the day,"

·         "of the devil,"

·         "of perdition."


In Hebrews 12:6-8 υἱὸς is applied in the case of one who is as yet under the discipline

of the rod; but even there υἱὸς of itself immediately designates his filial relation only.

St. Paul never uses the word παῖς – pais – child; boy; son - at all, though he has παιδία

paidia - in I Corinthians 14:20 for children in years, in place of the word νήπιος

which he ordinarily employs (Romans 2:20; I Corinthians 3:1; 13:11; Ephesians

4:14; Hebrews 5:13), and which we find presently after in vs. 1 and 3 of the next

chapter. The particular modification of meaning in which the apostle here uses

the term is justified by the consideration which he presently puts forward, that

a son of even an opulent or high-born parent, while a mere child, possesses no

more freedom than if he were the child of any other person; his heirship or

distinction of birth is for so long more or less veiled; it is not until he passes

out of his nonage that he appears in his proper character.



The Blessing of Adoption  (v. 26)


For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus”.  Not merely children

of Abraham, but sons of God!  No longer children “in need of a schoolmaster”

for now “ye are all” both Jews and Gentiles “sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus”. 


  • The Foundation of Sonship.  We are “predestinated to the adoption of

children” (Ephesians 1:5)  The Father loves us in His Son, and looks upon

      us with the complacency with which He regards His Son.  This is based on

      the mediatorial work of Christ; for, as it is in Christ “we have redemption          

      through His blood,” so in Him we “have obtained the inheritance.”       

      (Ephesians 1:11) Besides, God has sent forth His Son “to redeem them

      that were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption of sons”

            (Galatians 4:4, 5).


  • The Instrument of Adoption is Faith -  We become “sons of God by faith

      in Christ Jesus” (John 1:12). It is clear, then, that we do not become sons

      of God by nature for:


ü      We are “by nature children of wrath.” (Ephesians 2:3)


ü      We only become sons on believing.


  • The Adoption is Common to All Believers, whether Jew or Gentile. “Beloved,

            now are we the sons of God.” I John 3:2)  The adoption carries with it:


ü      Divine favor

ü      discipline

ü      training

ü      tenderness and

ü       conformity to the image of God’s Son.



  • It is a Privilege Concerning which Believers are not Left in Doubt.

            We receive the witness of the Spirit that we are children of God

            (Romans 8:16).


27 “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”

For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ (ὅσοι γὰρ εἰς Ξριστὸν

ἐβαπτίσθητε – hosoi gar eis Christon ebaptisthaete - for all ye who were baptized

into Christ.) "For;" pointing back to the whole preceding verse, but especially to the

words, “in Christ Jesus." "All ye who were baptized;" more literally, "ye, as many

as were," etc. The rendering in our Authorized Version, "as many of you as have

been baptized," allows of, if it does not suggest, the surmise that the apostle was

aware of there being those among the Christians he was writing to who had not been

"baptized into Christ." But the context proves the fallacy of this surmise; for the baptism

of a part of their body, whatever its consequences to those particular individuals, would

have furnished no proof of the foregoing statement, that "all" of those whom he was

addressing were "sons of God." The class marked out by the ὅσοι (as many as) is

clearly coextensive with the "ye all" of v. 26. The fact is that this ὅσοι marks out a

distinct class, not taken out from amongst Christians, but from amongst mankind

at large. As compared with οἵτινες – hoitines - , which the apostle might have written

instead, it may be regarded as affirming with greater positiveness than οἵτινες would

have done, that what is predicated in the subsequent clause is predicated of every

individual belonging to the class defined in this. It may be paraphrased thus: As surely

as ever any one of you was baptized into Christ, so surely did he become clothed

with Christ. Precisely the same considerations apply to the clause in Romans 6:3,

"All we who were baptized (ὅσοι, ἐβαπτίσθημεν – hosoi ebaptisthaemen – as many

of us who were baptized) into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death." A similar

paraphrase may be given in v. 10 of this chapter: So surely as any are of the works of

the Law, so surely are they under a curse; and in Romans 8:14, So surely as any are led

by the Spirit of God, so surely are these sons of God. Below, in ch. 6:16, "As many as

shall walk by this rule," the ὅσοι does mark out a class from among the general body

of Christians, who were not all acting thus. So also Philippians 3:15, "As many as be

perfect." Were baptized into Christ (εἰς Ξριστὸν ἐβαπτίσθητε – eis Christon

ebaptisthaete – into Christ ye are baptized). So Romans 6:3, "Baptized into

Christ Jesus, baptized into His death." The question arises - What is the precise

force of the preposition "into" as thus employed with relation to baptism? With

the present passage we have to group the following:


  • "Baptizing them into (εἰς) the Name of the Father. and of the Son, and

      of the Holy Ghost" (Matthew 28:19);

  • "Were all baptized into (εἰς) Moses in the cloud and in the sea"

      (I Corinthians 10:2);

  • "In (ἐν) one Spirit were we all baptized into (εἰς) one body"

      (ibid. 12:13),


which statement, we must observe, is preceded by the apologue of a body with many

members ending with "so also is Christ" (ibid. v. 13). With reference to these passages

we may observe that, since ("We were baptized into one body" – ibid. the preposition

retains its strict sense of "into," and since "Christ" is perpetually set forth as for

Christians the sphere of their very existence, in whom they are that which

distinctively they are, it is reasonable to conclude that, when the apostle here and

in Romans 6:3 uses the expression, "baptized into Christ," he uses the preposition

in its strict sense; that is, meaning that Christians are in their baptism brought into

that union with, in-being in, Christ which constitutes their life. Nor does

I Corinthians 10:2, "were baptized into Moses" (where both the Authorized and

the Revised Versions render, "unto," the latter adding in the margin, "Greek, into"),

present any real objection to this view. For in comparing objects together, the apostle

not unfrequently puts a very considerable strain upon a phrase when he wishes to bring

the two several objects under one category, using it alike of that to which it is most

strictly applicable, and of that to which it is not applicable strictly, but only in a very

qualified sense. Compare, as a very noteworthy instance of this, his application of the

words (κοινωνία κοινωνός – koinonia koinonos – "communion," "having communion,")

in I Corinthians 10:16-20 (Revised Version); in which the expression, "having

communion with devils (κοινωνοὺς τῶν δαιμονίων γίγνεσθαιkoinonous ton

daimonion gignesthai -  is, surely with considerable violence, applied to the case

of persons eating things sacrificed to idols; but is applied thus by the apostle

because he wishes to present a parallel to that real "communion of the blood,

of the body, of Christ," which Christians are privileged to have in the Lord's Supper.

Similarly, in vs. 2-4 of the same chapter, for the purpose of exhibiting a parallelism,

he strains the expressions, "spiritual meat," "spiritual drink," justly and precisely

applicable to the Lord's Supper, to apply them to the manna and water from the rock,

the meat and drink of the Israelites in the wilderness, although the only justification

of their being thus designated consists in their having been supernaturally supplied,

and perhaps also that they had a typical meaning. We can thus, then, understand how,

with reference to the other sacrament in v. 2 of the same chapter, he strains the

expression, "baptized into," justly descriptive of Christian baptism, by applying

it to that quasi-immersion of the Israelites in passing "through the midst of the

Red Sea and under the cloud," which he construes into a "baptism" which made

them over to a sort of union with, in-being in, Moses, thenceforward their lawgiver

and leader. The import of the expression, "baptized into Moses," is to be estimated

in the light thrown upon it by the more certain import of the expression, "baptized

into Christ;" not this latter to be explained down for the purpose of making it

correspond with the other. This view of the clause before us helps us to understand

the words in Matthew 28:19, "Baptizing them into the Name of the Father, and of

the Son, and of the Holy Ghost;" in the comprehension of which we are further

assisted by the very remarkable, pregnant use sometimes made in the Old Testament

of the word "Name," when it is employed to designate that presence of Divine power

and grace which is the security of God's people and the confusion of their enemies

(see Proverbs 18:10; Psalm 20:1, 7; 75:1; Isaiah 30:27, etc.). For the baptism which

brings men "into Christ" brings them into the Name of the triune God as manifested

to us in the gospel. Such an interpretation of these words approves itself fully with

reference to their use in the supremely solemn hour of spirit-fraught utterance

recorded in Matthew 28:19; notwithstanding that in other passages, of plain

historical narrative, such as Acts 8:16 and 19:5, it may be more natural to take

the preposition in the phrase, "baptize into the Name of Christ," in a lower and less

determinate sense - either as "unto," "with reference to," or, which seems more

probable, as pointing to that professed connection with Christ as His people

("Ye are Christ's," I Corinthians 3:23), into which the sacrament brings men.

But this lower interpretation, if admitted in those passages, has no claim to

dominate our minds when endeavoring to apprehend the full import of

the passage now before us, and of Romans 6:3. In these the apostle is

evidently penetrating into the inmost significance and operation of the rite;

and therefore beyond question means to indicate its function, as verily blessed

by God for the translation of its faithful recipients into vital union with Christ.

For the just comprehension of the apostle's meaning, it is of the utmost

consequence to note that he introduces this reference to baptism for the purpose

of justifying his affirmation in v. 26, that in Christ Jesus those whom he is addressing

were all sons of God through faith. This consideration makes it clear that he viewed

their baptism as connected with faith. If there was any reality in their action in it at all,

if they were not acting an unreal part, their coming to baptism was an outcome of faith

on their part in Christ. By voluntarily offering themselves to be baptized into his Name,

they were consciously obeying His own instructions: they were manifesting their desire

and their resolve to attach themselves to His discipleship and service; to be thenceforth

people of His, as by Him redeemed, and as expecting at His hands spiritual life

here and perfected salvation hereafter. Therefore it was that they were in their

baptism translated "into Christ;" their voluntary act of faith brought them under

such operation of Divine grace as made the rite effectual for the transcendent

 change which the expression indicates; for it is abundantly apparent that a spiritual

transition such as this cannot be wrought by a man's own volition or action,

BUT ONLY BY THE HAND OF GOD as St. John testifies (John 1:13).

Have put on Christ (Ξριστὸν ἐνεδύσασθε – Christon enedusasthe - did put on

Christ). In Romans 13:14 we find the imperative used, "Put ye on (ἐνδύσασθε

endusasthe) the Lord Jesus Christ." There the phrase has an ethical application,

denoting the adoption of that whole system of habits which characterized the

Lord Jesus, and presents in a more definite form that "putting on"

of "the new man" which is insisted upon in Ephesians 4:24. This can hardly

be its meaning here; rather it is to be regarded as a more determinate form of

the notion of “being justified." The penitent convert, by that decisive action

of his faith which by seeking "baptism into Christ" put forth his hand to lay

hold of the righteousness which is by faith, became invested with this particular

form of "righteousness," namely, that very acceptableness, in the sight of God,

which shone in Christ Himself.  In that hour God "made him acceptable in the

Beloved" (compare Ephesians 1:6, ἐχαρίτωσεν ἡμᾶς ἐν τῷ ἠγαπημένῳ -

echaritosen haemas en to aegapaemeno – He graces is in the Beloved);

endued this poor guilty creature with the loving-kindness with which He

regarded His own Son. The middle voice of the Greek verb, though it denotes

in Romans 13:14 action of the Christian's own, is not to be so far pressed as to

exclude the notion of our having in this case been subjected to the action of another.

Compare Luke 24:49, "Until ye be clothed (ἐνδύσησθε – endusaesthe – ye should

be putting on) with power from on high;" I Corinthians 15:53, "This mortal must

put on (ἐνδύσασθαι – endusasthai - to be putting on) immortality;"

so II Corinthians 5:3. It is the exclusive prerogative of God to justify the sinner;

and therefore it must have been by Him that the believer became clothed with Christ,

not by himself, though it was by his own voluntary act that he came under this

operation of the Divine grace. It is, perhaps, impossible more strongly to express the

intense character (so to speak) which belongs to the righteousness which comes to us

through faith in Christ, than by the form in which it is here exhibited. The apostle,

however, in II Corinthians 5:21, uses an expression which may be put by the side of it:

"That we might become the righteousness of God in Him." It is now clear how

completely this verse makes good the affirmation in the preceding one. We have

indeed been made sons of God in Christ Jesus IF WE HAVE BECOME CLOTHED

WITH CHRIST!  For what other in this relation does the phrase, "sons of God,"

denote as applied to ourselves, than the intense love into the bosom of which God

has received us? No higher degree of adoption to be sons is conceivable; though the

complete manifestation of this adoption still remains in the future (Romans 8:19).



The Import and Obligations of Baptism (v. 27)


For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”


  • The Import of Baptism unto Christ


ü      It declares our union with Christ. We are baptized into His death,

     so far as we partake of its benefits, and are like Him separated from

     the world and sin. We are by baptism separated from sin and devoted

     to Christ.


ü      The text does not imply that all baptized persons have been baptized

                        into Christ. Calvin well remarks that the apostle treats of the

                        sacraments from two points of view. When he is arguing with

                        hypocrites, he declares the emptiness of the outward symbols and

                        the folly of confiding in them. But in dealing with the case of

                        believers, while he attributes no false splendour to the sacraments,

                        he refers emphatically to the inward fact signified by the outward                                      

                        ceremony. There is no warrant in this passage for the doctrine of

                        baptismal regeneration, because the very persons here

                        referred to were regenerated before they were baptized. Baptism

                        followed upon their profession of faith in Christ.


  • The Obligations of Baptism.  They did “put on Christ.”  Baptized into

      His death and buried with Him in baptism, they rise with Him into newness

      of life. They put on Christ like a cloak. The beauty of holiness is to be upon

      them, because they are “predestinated to the very image of Christ.” The text

      is very expressive.


ü      Christ is put on for a complete covering. Not merely as a girdle to

     the loins, but to enfold the whole manhood of believers. The idea is

     not that of protection from the coldness of an outside world, but that

     of the full adornment of Christian character. Believers are so to put

     on Christ that the world may see Christ in the believer himself.


ü      Christ is put on for a constant covering. Not as a beautiful robe to

     be worn on high days and holidays, but on every day, in every scene

     of human life. 



ü      While believers are here represented as having put on Christ at

     their baptism, it is quite consistent for the apostle to say, “Put ye

     on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 13:14), and “Put on the

     new man” (Ephesians 4:24). They are two sides of one great truth,            

     representing in the one case a change that was complete from the

     very beginning, and in the other a change that is incomplete, but in

     process of still further development.


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."  There is neither Jew nor

Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female (οὐκ ἔνι

Ἰουδαῖος ουδε ελλην, οὐκ ἔνι δοῦλος ουδε ἐλεύθερος, οὐκ ἔνι ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ - 

ouk eni Ioudaios oude ellaen, ouk eni doulos oude eleutheros, ouk eni arsen kai

thaelu - there is no Jew here nor Gentile [literally, Greek], there is no bond man

here nor freeman, there is not here male and female). The word ἔνι (there is in),

occurring also in I Corinthians 6:5 (according to the now accepted reading);

James 1:17; Ecclesiasticus. 37:2; and very noticeably in Colossians 3:11, is

probably (see Winer's 'Gram. N. T.,' § 14, 2, 'Anm.') an adverbialized form of the

preposition ἐν (in), of the same description as the thus accented πάρα and ἔπι.

The prepositional element implies a somewhat indefinite indication of a sphere in

which the statement of the clause holds good. The Revised Version renders, "there

can be," and Bishop Lightfoot, "there is no room for;" but Ecclesiasticus. 37:2 and

I Corinthians 6:5 do not much favor this particular modification. In Colossians 3:11

we have a very similar passage; there, after describing Christians as "having put on

(ἐνδυσάμενοι - endusamenoi -  putting on) the new man, which is being renewed unto

knowledge after the image of Him that created him," the apostle adds, "Where there

is not Gentile [Greek, 'Greek'] and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian,

Scythian, bondman, freeman; but Christ is all [literally, 'all things'] and in all." We

may group with them also I Corinthians 12:12-13, "So also is Christ; for in one Spirit

were we all baptized into one body, whether Jews, whether Gentiles [literally,

'Greeks'], whether bondmen, whether freemen." In all three of these passages we

see the reference both to "Jew and Gentile" and to "bondman and freeman." The

particular mention of these two forms of outward classification was suggested by

the circumstances of the Christian Church generally at that time. Wherever the

apostles went, they were sure to be confronted by questions and difficulties arising

both from the one and from the other. In the kingdom of God were Jew and Gentile,

were circumcised and uncircumcised, to stand on the same footing? Should believers

as such be concerned to vary their treatment of one another or to modify their own

condition from regard to these circumstances? Questionings of this description were

being agitated everywhere, and most especially just now in the Galatian Churches.

And, on the other point, the universal existence of slavery more or less throughout

the civilized world would necessarily give occasion to a variety of questions relative

to the position which bondmen should hold in the Christian community; how a

bondman on becoming a Christian should stand, or what he should do, in respect to

obedience to his owner or to seeking a change in his condition. St. Paul, in his

Epistles, has briefly discussed some of these points, as in I Corinthians 7:20-24;

Ephesians 6:5-9. So often had the apostle occasion to affirm the perfect identity

of Christian privilege possessed by all believers in Christ, that the statement would

naturally mold itself into a sort of formula. In Colossians he varies the form by

inserting "barbarian, Scythian;" degrees of national civilization made no difference.

In place of this, he here adds the particular, that diversity of sex made no difference.

We cannot tell what especial reason he had for introducing these modifications in

writing to the Colossians and the Galatians respectively. Possibly he had none beyond

the pleasure which he felt in dilating on the large universality of the Divine grace.

In the clause, οὐκ ἔνι ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ, "there is here no male and female," the neuter

is used (remarks Alford) as being the only gender which will express both. The change

of form, "male and female," from "no Jew nor Gentile," "no bondman nor freeman,"

was perhaps suggested by the passage in Genesis 1:27 (ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ), "male and

female created He them," which is quoted in Matthew 19:4; Mark 10:6. If so, the

clause may be regarded (as Bishop Lightfoot says) as forming a climax: "even the

primeval distinction of male and female." But perhaps the change is simply made

for the sake of variety; as in the way in which several of the classes are introduced

in the Colossians. For ye are all one in Christ Jesus (πάντες γάρ ὑμεῖς εἷς ἐστὲ ἐν

Ξριστῷ Ἰησοῦ - pantes gar humeis eis este en Christo Iaesou - for all ye are one and

the same man in Christ Jesus. The pronoun ὑμεῖς (ye), is inserted to recite emphatically

the qualification already expressed; as if it were, "ye being what ye are, believers

baptized into Christ." The apostle's object here is not, as in I Corinthians 12:13;

Colossians 3:11-15, to exhort to the performance of certain mutual duties on the

ground of the unity which in Christ is established among all believers, but to enforce

the view that each individual's title to the inheritance is altogether irrespective of

external distinctions, and is based entirely, in one case as well as in another, upon

his being clothed with Christ. The word εῖς is "one and the same," as in τὸ ἓν
φρονοῦντες - to hen phronountes - of one mind (Philippians 2:2); and in εῖς Θεός,

εῖς μεσίτης - eis Theos, eis mesitaes - One and the same God, one and the same

Mediator" (I Timothy 2:5). So Chrysostom: "That is, we have all one form and

one mold, even Christ's. What," he adds, "can be more awful than these words?

He that was a Greek, or Jew, or bondman yesterday, carries about with him the

form, not of an angel or archangel, but of the Lord of all, yea, displays in his

own person THE CHRIST." The distribution of the universal quality to each

individual, so far as the grammar of the sentence is concerned, is imperfectly

expressed. But the grammatical inadequacy of the verbal exposition is not

greater than in 1 Corinthians 6:5, "Decide (ἀνὰ μέσον τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ -

ana meson tou adelphou autouu - between his brethren) literally, "between

his brother;" and in vs. 19-20 of the same chapter, σῶμα ὑμῶν - soma humon -

your body; not "thy body," nor "your bodies." The apostle has in view the

subjective application only of the principle here stated; each was to feel that,

having the qualification which he has explained, he himself is a son of God

and full inheritor, without casting about for any further qualification, as, for

example, from ceremonial Judaism. The principle plainly is pregnant with an

objective application also; namely, as to the manner in which they were to

estimate and treat each other and every baptized believer, notwithstanding

any circumstances of extrinsic diversity whatever.



The Unity of Believers (v. 28)


“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is not

male and female: for ye are ALL ONE in Christ  Jesus.”


  • It is an Organic Unity -  Believers are “one body in Christ” (Romans 12:4-5);

      “one man;” “one new man” (Ephesians 2:15). The unity in question is no

      ecclesiastical unity; for it joins together those who are ecclesiastically

      separated, and it connects together the believers of all generations.


ü      It has a sevenfold relationship. There is one body, and one Spirit,

     one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one hope of your calling, one

                        God and Father of all” (Ephesians 4:4-6).


ü      It is created in Christ by the Holy Spirit. It is Christ, not the Spirit,

     who“hath made both one” (Ephesians 2:14); and we, “being

     many, are made one body in Christ” (Romans 12:5). But wherever

     the Spirit is there is union with Christ. The indwelling of the Spirit is          

     herefore the bond of unity in the Church.


  • It is a Unity which Obliterates or Ignores Many Worldly or Natural

      Distinctions.. All distinctions, whether of condition, or nature, or sex, are in

      Christ lost sight of or forgotten.


ü      National distinctions. “There is neither Jew nor Greek.”

     This distinction meant much in pre-Christian ages. The Jews were

     God’s peculiar people, blessed with great privileges and prepared for

     great destinies. The Greeks, representing the Gentile world, stood apart

     from the Jews - “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and    

     strangers to the covenants of promise” (Ephesians 2:12). But Jew

     and Greek stand on exactly the same footing in the kingdom of God,        

     possessed of equal privilege, equally sons of God, and equally heirs

     of God. Christ broke down the middle wall of partition that

     severed them for ages, and made them one commonwealth.


ü      Distinctions of human station. There is neither bond nor free.”

     Slaves were excluded from certain rites of heathen worship. But

     Christ takes the slave by the hand and places him in His kingdom

     side by side with the free man. The largest body of practical counsel

     in the apostolic Epistles is directed to slaves.


ü      The distinction of sex. There is not male and female.” The

     apostle does not touch the original subordination of the woman to

     the man, which is a still existing fact (1 Timothy 2:11-14), but shows

     how, religiously regarded, men and women are equal. Their relation

     to Christ does not destroy the old fact, but causes it to be lost sight of.      

     How true it is that Christianity alone has elevated women, has

     created the sentiment which destroys slavery everywhere, and

     creates a better understanding among the nations of the world!

     (What God has done through Christ for man and woman is to make

     them “heirs together of the grace of life” [I Peter 3:7} – CY – 2009)


29 "And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to

the promise."  And if ye be Christ's (εἰ δὲ ὑμεῖς Ξριστοῦ - ei de humeis Christou -

and if ye are Christ's.) The δὲ simply marks a fresh stage in the argument, as e.g.

Romans 8:17, εἰ δὲ τέκνα καὶ κληρονόμοι - ei de tekna kai klaeronomoi - if yet

children then enjoyers of the allotment; and if children, then heirs. For the preceding

verse is no digression, requiring us to render this δὲ "but," but simply an amplification

of the notion of putting on Christ in v. 27; and the present clause recites that previous

conclusion, to serve for a premise to a further conclusion. "Are Christ's;" compare

I Corinthians 3:23, "And ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's." This genitive here,

as also there, denotes the closest and most intimate approximation conceivable,

"Christ's own;" covering, in fact, the notion of being clothed with Christ; and

expresses what that "one and the same man" is, which according to v. 28 in

Christ Jesus all had become. Compare Titus 2:14, λαὸν περιούσιον - laon periousion -

a people of His very own. Then are ye Abraham's seed (ἄρα τοῦ Ἀβραὰμ σπέρμα

ἐστέ - ara tou Abraham sperma este - consequently of Abraham's seed; then seed of

Abraham are ye. "Ye,' Gentiles though ye be. In v. 7 the apostle has affirmed that

they who are of faith are sons of Abraham; in v. 16, that the promises were made

to Abraham and "his seed, which is Christ." We have seen that in that v. 16

"Christ" appears to mean that branch of Abraham's offspring which was, so to

speak, to proceed from Christ and was to be called by His name. If, however,

"Christ" be there taken to mean the individual Son of Abraham, Jesus, then those

who believe in Him and have been baptized into Him are to be understood as

here affirmed to be "Abraham's seed," because, being clothed with Christ,

they share his position. The same result is arrived at either way. And heirs

according to the promise (καὶ [which word is rejected by recent editors] κατ

ἐπαγγελίαν κληρονόμοι; - kai kat epaggelian klaeronomoi - and according to

the promise, enjoyers of the allotment; heirs in pursuance of a promise. "Heirs,"

not of Abraham, but of God; for the notion connects itself with that of the

sonship to God, which has been predicated in v. 26 of believers in Christ;

and these two united conceptions form the topic of the first seven verses

of the next chapter. This is in accordance with Romans 8:16-17, "We are

children of God; and if children, also heirs; heirs of God, joint-heirs with Christ."

It goes upon the same lines of thought as the statement made above in v. 16, that

the promises were spoken, not to Abraham only, but also to his seed as well;

the seed being conceived of by the apostle, not as inheriting from Abraham,

but as holding an independent position of their own at his side. The benefits

accruing to them have been styled "the inheritance" in v. 18, which verse

also serves to illustrate the spirit of the clause now before us, by affirming

that the inheritance was a free gift of God conveyed by a promise, and not

one to be either gained or made sure by obedience to a ceremonial law as

the Galatians were in danger of supposing. The article is wanting before

"promise" here, as it was also in v. 18; because the apostle is not thinking

immediately of the terms of the promise, but rather of its distinctive character

as a promise, betokening A FREE GIFT OF GOD! The inheritance is no doubt the

adoption of sons, both in its first-fruits in this life and in its complete manifestation

hereafter in the bliss and glory of heaven (compare Romans 8:23, 30; I Peter 1:4).


The Heirs (v. 29)


“And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs

according to the promise.” Mark how the apostle moves from point to point.


  • Believers are Christ’s Possession. They are so:


ü      By gift. “Thine they were, and thou gavest them me” (John 17:6).

ü      By purchase. “Ye are bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20).

ü      By conquest. “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power”

                        (Psalm 110:3).

ü      By their own self-surrender. They are “a living sacrifice.” (Romans

      12:1) They have “committed themselves to him” (2 Timothy 1:12).


  • Christ’s People are Abraham’s Seed. Christ himself is Abraham’s Seed (v.16),

      and therefore they, as one with him in the mystical union, are Abraham’s seed.


  • The Heirship of Promise. They became heirs, not by any legal

            observances, but according to the promise made to Abraham.


ü      The inheritance is the only one worth having.

ü      It is the only one that can be kept for ever.

ü       It is, unlike earthly riches or honors, within everybody’s reach.

ü      It is the duty of heirs to live according to their prospects, to walk

      worthy of a Father’s house, and to behave like a brother to




                                    ADDITIONAL NOTES


The province of the Law is to expose sins, rebuke them, pronounce God’s curse

upon them, coerce and restrain them by the discipline of a system of outward rites

and ceremonies. The office of the Law, as dealing with sinners as continuing sinful,

while unable to make them new creatures, is indicated by St. Paul in

1 Timothy 1:9, where, after saying, “The Law is not made for a righteous man,

but for the lawless and unruly, for the ungodly and sinners,” he proceeds to add

a catalogue of offenders chargeable with the grossest form of criminality; (v.10)

which furnishes a most apt illustration of the word παραβάσεων – parabaseon –

 transgressions - which he here uses, and which marks sins in their most willful

and most condemnable character. What was spiritually the outcome of the Law’s

action upon men’s sinful nature, in making their “sin exceeding sinful,” the

apostle has vividly portrayed in the seventh chapter of the Romans.



The Law merely show sins to a person like a mirror shows his image.

The Law has NO FUNCTION in relation to life and righteousness!


The Law was not