Paul begins chapter 3 by trying to re-direct the Galatians to the origins of their faith. "Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?" If we aren't constantly revisiting the Bible and refreshing our memory of the truth, it can be easy for influences around us to warp our understanding of the truth over time.
As the first convert to Judaism, Abraham is a revered figure in ancient Jewish culture. With that in mind, it makes sense that Paul would use Abraham's faith (which came BEFORE any sacrificial or ceremonial laws were formally introduced) as an example for us today. Paul demonstrated that faith came before the law, and it was sufficient on some level to be counted as righteousness(meeting God's standard). Even Jewish scholars opposed to Christian teaching would have to admit the validity of "faith" apart from any good works, in this case.
Paul also demonstrates that God planned all along for people to ultimately be justified(declared or made righteous) by faith. He does this by pointing to God's promise to bless "all nations" through Abraham's offspring. Specifically, Jesus.
Paul then makes his case against depending on our own goodness to save us. He paraphrases Deuteronomy 27:26, which clearly puts a curse on anyone who fails to obey God's commands. Doing the right thing doesn't simply earn us "bonus points" in God's eyes. Perfect obedience is the minimum requirement! Sounds pretty hopeless, doesn't it? And it would be, if Jesus hadn't "redeemed" us. (v. 13)
as used here, this word means "to buy". Jesus purchased us. The price was his own life
as used here, this word means "to buy". Jesus purchased us. The price was his own life.
Paul further disconnects obedience from our salvation by reminding his readers that God's promise to Abraham (to bless all nations through him) was unconditional. There are certainly times in the Old Testament when a blessing from God was conditionally based on obedience, but this was not one of them.
"So what was the purpose of the law?" (v. 19) Not an easy question to answer completely, but one that we can easily answer partially.
The laws set down by God were put in place to show us the difference between humanity and God. To demonstrate clearly that we are broken and need to be repaired. Without the law, we would not know when we're doing something that fails to reflect God's perfect character. So the law was given to guide us toward God, like a supervisor or tutor, until Jesus came. (v. 24-25) For more reading on this, see Romans 4:15 and Romans 7:7.
As this chapter closes, we can see the value scripture gives to human equality. Although everyone has unique skills and roles, all have equal value to God. Even more, all who choose to believe and trust in Christ are the "Huios" of God. This Greek word translated as "Sons" in verse 26, implies not just a biological or creative connection. A "Huios" shares the characteristics of its Father. This word was specifically used of Jesus and those who put their trust in him. In God's eyes, no matter what we have done, when we choose to put our trust in Jesus, He looks at us and sees perfection. Wow! Try to wrap your brain around THAT one!
Coffee House Question:
What do you think life would be like if everyone lived forever, but still with tendency towards sin and selfishness? Next Week: Slaves or Heirs?
What do you think life would be like if everyone lived forever, but still with tendency towards sin and selfishness?
Next Week: Slaves or Heirs?