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 καίνειν – phaesi 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
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 ἐδιδάξατε – Oudepote 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:
the envy of their once happy state which actuated the agent referred to; and,
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
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:
each of these two renderings of the passage is open to the objection that
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.
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.
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 πρόσωπον – kata 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,
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 –
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
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;
· προακούω – proakouo – hear;
· προαμαρτάνω – proamartano – sin;
· προελπίζω – proelpizo – hope, trust;
· προενάρχομαι – proenarchomai – begin;
· προεπαγγέλλομαι - proepaggellomai – aforepromised, promise;
· προτετοιμάζω – protetoimazo – ?
· προευαγγελίζομαι – proeuaggelizomai – 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
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;
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
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
THE POWER AND EFFICACY OF THE GOSPEL MINISTRY
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
for the sudden and inexplicable change of sentiment in
There must have been some extraordinary power of delusion or of
fascination at work to throw them so completely out of the line of
“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?’
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
Ø He points to the “witcheries” of the false teachers as the only way of
the sudden and inexplicable change of sentiment in
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
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 ἐλάβετε – ex 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
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 πίστεως – ae ex akoaes pisteos – or out of hearing of faith?);
or was it in consequence of the hearing of faith? The noun ἀκοὴ denotes sometimes
sometimes, especially in the plural, the organs or sense of hearing, as Mark 7:35;
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
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
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
service of the one true God apart from any regard to the ceremonial Law of Moses.
That Jews in general did thus regard
Christian Jews felt towards him (Acts 21:21). For this no doubt, it was that the Jews
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
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
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
Those Jewish legalists hated both
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
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 (ὁ 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 πίστεως – ex 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,
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,
ministrations; and how remote those ministrations were from the inculcation,
or even the admission, among Gentile converts of Mosaic ceremonialism we
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
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 apostle’s 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)
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.
“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)
things in vain? There is no record in
the Acts of a persecution in
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)
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 dikaiosunaen – And 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
(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
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 λογισθήσεται – eis peritomaen logisthaesetai –
reckoned; counted for circumcision (Romans 2:26); λογίζεται εἰς σπέρμα – logizetai
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
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,
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
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,
including both Jews and Gentiles? In answer, we observe:
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.
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 γῆς – Kai 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
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
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 - eneulogaethae – being
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,"
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 Abraham’s blood, but Abraham’s 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?
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
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
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 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.
they who are of faith, the same are sons of Abraham.” It is not Abraham’s
blood, but Abraham’s 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
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.
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
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
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
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,
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 ὁ 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
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.
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.
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
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
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.”
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.
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.
pronounces the curse upon all transgressors of the Law. The curse here
is the last of the twelve curses pronounced by the Levites on
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
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
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
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."
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
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
"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
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 (ὁ 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
“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:
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,
annihilating its ceremonial enactments, SHATTERED IN PIECES THE
WHOLE LEGISLATION 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
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
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 –
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),
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 –
"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,
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
*** (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:
CRUCIFIED SAVIOUR FOR THE HOMAGE OF THOUGHTLESS
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
AS CONTRASTED WITH RELIANCE ON LAW. (vs. 6-9.) The
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.
Two thoughts are here brought into contrast:
“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us.”
Ø This language does not countenance the theory that there was nothing
in Christ’s 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”
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
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
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.”
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
curses pronounced from
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
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”.
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
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”.
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).
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”
“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
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.
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
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.
“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.
“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,
We were kept under the Law, shut up (ὑπὸ νόμον ἐφρουρούμεθα, etc.).
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
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
WOULD BE SURE TO BRING IT, THE PREDETERMING PURPOSE OF GOD
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
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
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:
"Though ye have ten thousand tutors in Christ, yet have ye not4:15,
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 (ἄγω – ago –
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
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
(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 πίστεως – elthousaes 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:
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.
under sin, that the promise by faith in Christ might be given to them
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!
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
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.
our tutor for Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” Thus we see
how “Christ becomes the end of the Law for righteousness.”
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)
deserved God’s mighty condemnation.
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
favorite form of indicating the channel through which the great blessings of the
"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 υἱός – huios - 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 τέκνον – teknon - 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 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.
paidia - in I Corinthians 14:20 for children in years, in place of the word νήπιος
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”.
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).
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.
now are we the sons of God.” I John 3:2) The adoption carries with it:
ü Divine favor
ü tenderness and
ü conformity to the image of God’s Son.
We receive the witness of the Spirit that we are children of God
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:
of the Holy Ghost" (Matthew 28:19);
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 γίγνεσθαι – koinonous 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
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,
ONLY BY THE HAND OF GOD as
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.”
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
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.
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);
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
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
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.”
“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.
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
strangers to the covenants of promise” (Ephesians 2:12). But Jew
Greek stand on exactly the same footing in
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
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.
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”
ü By their own self-surrender. They are “a living sacrifice.” (Romans
12:1) They have “committed themselves to him” (2 Timothy 1:12).
and therefore they, as one with him in the mystical union, are Abraham’s seed.
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
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
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