The question that Paul asks prior to this passage is “Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” (Galatians 3:2).
And in answer he states in verse 14, “that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” Then he goes on to show how the law could not grant the promise of the Spirit because the law could not disannul the promise that was made to Abraham – 15-17 – which it would have to do if now the promise were going to be granted by the keeping of the law.
If the giving of the Spirit were of the law then it would not be of promise – 18 – and God had already promised and confirmed it in Jesus Christ. So what’s the purpose of the law?
- · It was added because of the transgressions to conclude all under sin – 19-22
- · It was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ – 23-25
And once we have faith in Christ then:
- · We are the children of God by faith in Christ – 26-28
- · We are Abraham’s seed and heirs to the promise – 29
Not as of seeds many – but as of one – Christ is one and everyone in Christ is one v.28 – in order to receive the promise you would have to be in Christ and therefore one – and as one there would be no Gentile and Jew because that would be two seeds and there would be no male and female because only the male has seed and there would be no bond and free because the free and the bond are of different seeds.
Paul’s perspective on this is after the cross and with a view to the fulfillment of the promises made and to the effect, if any, the law would have on the promises.
“Shut up to the faith in Christ” only shows that no one in the Old Testament had seen the fulfillment of the promises – the land grant, the Spirit, and the rule over the nations – none of it.
The promise to Abraham did not need a mediator because it was given to him directly by God – but the law had a mediator.
Here is a verse by verse exposition of the text:
- 15 - Even a covenant between men that has been confirmed cannot be disannulled or added to by others later.
- 16 – God made a promise to Abraham and to his seed and his seed (one) is Christ – Matthew 1:1 – Jesus is called the son of Abraham.
- 17 – The covenant was confirmed before in Christ – Genesis 22:8, John 8:56-58, Hebrews 11:17-19 – so the law that came 430 years later cannot disannul it.
- 18 – The covenant w/ Abraham included an inheritance – so if you are saying now that the inheritance comes by the law, then you are disannulling the promise of the inheritance by the covenant [and you can’t do that; God gave it to Abraham by promise] – and part of the inheritance that is available to US is the promise of the Spirit – Luke 24:49, John 14:16, 26; John 15:26; Acts 1:4; Ephesians 1:13-14
- 19 – So why the law? – it was added because of transgressions [Israel was doing things that God wouldn’t approve of under the covenant and he needed to point these out to Israel so they wouldn’t do them and keep themselves from receiving the promise of the covenant – they were doing things like idolatry – where they substituted their God that made the promise for a god that cannot even speak] AND
The law would be in effect until the promised seed arrived to whom the promise was made [remember none of the Old Testament saints received the promise - Hebrews 11:13 – they all died without the promise] – we on the other hand receive the promise when we receive Jesus and become the seed to whom the promise was made AND
Furthermore the law was given by a mediator and angels whereas the promise was made by God AND
- 20 – a mediator is not a mediator of one but God is one – in other words, the seed had to already be there for the mediator to mediate the law between God and the seed, whereas there was no seed there when the promise was made – therefore the promise was made on faith [on belief in what God promised] – but when the law was given it was not made on a promise or on faith – it simply pointed out some conditions on the promise
- 21-22 – the promise of life comes as a result of the promise to Abraham – those who are of the seed who do the law [after the law is given but before Christ rises from the dead] receive the promise of life because of the promise, not because the law promised life [remember that those who followed the law all ended up in captivity in Abraham’s bosom, Lk 16] AND, at the same time, the law is not against the promise [i.e. to make it where no one could get the life promised by the covenant with Abraham] BUT rather the law is there to point out that since Abraham received the promise by faith in what God said, we should also receive the promise by faith in Jesus
- 23-25 – so while they were under the law, it was not revealed to them that they could have faith in Christ and receive the promise [all they knew is that God made a promise to Abraham and if they did those things in the law, they would get in on the promise and if they didn’t do those things in the law they would not get in on the promise] – when Christ came [and all of the conditions of the law were fulfilled in him, Romans 10:4], then the law was simply a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ so that by faith in him we could be justified and therefore guaranteed the inheritance of the promise with no conditions, like Abraham received it – and then after being justified by faith in him there was no more need to follow the law because the law had accomplished what it was here for US to do – find life by faith in Christ
- 26-29 and now everything fits together because of Christ – first Jesus is God’s child and so by faith in him we become God’s children [God’s seed John 1:12] – because we have been baptized into Christ – therefore we are ONE in Christ [remember there is only one seed 16] no matter what nationality, what gender or what station in life, 1 Corinthians 12:13 – and as the seed in Christ therefore we are the seed of Abraham [one seed, 16] and therefore heirs to the promise that was made to Abraham, Rom 9:8