The Agora
Bible Commentary

1 2 3 4 5 6

Galatians 3

Gal 3:1

CLEARLY PORTRAYED: "Prographo" = written up on a placard; set forth for all the world to see! Christ lifted up on a cross (Joh 3:14; 12:32).

CRUCIFIED: A ref to Isa 53! In Gal 3:2, "believing what you heard" = "believed our message" (Isa 53:1).

Gal 3:4

See Act 14:2,5,22; Rom 5:3,4; Heb 12:6.

Gal 3:6

Man is justified by faith (vv 6,8), but cursed by law (v 10).

Gal 3:8

ALL NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED THROUGH YOU: "[This] was God's promise to Abraham before he left his native Ur to go to the land of promise (Gen 12:3). This purpose was repeated as the ground of God's communication concerning the overthrow of Sodom. 'Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?' (Gen 18:17,18). What is the blessing here promised? We perhaps think firstly of the material blessings of Christ's reign, the era of peace, the establishment of justice, the abundance of food; houses for all; security based on law; the removal of tyranny, bloodshed, oppression and torture of all forms; the bringing of enlightenment, and love of the things that are best to all. It is true that these things are included, as the glowing pictures of the prophets of the coming age abundantly show: but they are not the first or the most important blessing. Paul quotes the words... as proof that God would justify the Gentiles through faith. 'All the nations' included Gentiles as well as Jews -- clearly, therefore, the blessing of Abraham is for Gentiles. The proof that God would justify them lies in the word 'blessed' -- in other words, when God said the nations would be blessed the promise concerned the justification of the nations" (CGal 66).

Gal 3:11

THE RIGHTEOUS WILL LIVE BY FAITH: The central affirmation of Habakkuk is the last part of Hab 2:4: 'the righteous will live by his faith.' There are three key words in this affirmation: righteous, live, and faith. It is interesting that in the three places where this verse is quoted in the NT, in each case a different word receives the emphasis: (1) In Rom 1:17, the emphasis is on 'righteous.' Paul's concern in Romans was with the righteousness of God and how people can obtain it. (2) In Gal 3:11, the emphasis is on 'faith.' Paul contrasted salvation by works and salvation by faith in Galatians. (3) And in Heb 10:38, the emphasis is on 'live.' The writer to the Hebrews stressed the importance of living by faith as a way of life rather than turning back to Judaism and living by the Law.

Thus we can see that this statement is packed with meaning. In fact, many people believe that this verse expresses the central theme of the entire Bible.

This verse may be amplified thusly: "The righteous (ie, those who are justified and declared righteous by God -- being absolved of their sins) shall live (ie, NOW, in their daily lives of faith, and in the FUTURE, in the day of resurrection and glory) by their faith (ie, by acknowledging their utter dependence upon the LORD)."

Gal 3:13

REDEEMED: The Greek "exagorazo", which literally means 'to buy out of the agora, or marketplace'. This is one of the most powerful pictures, or parables, in the New Testament: that of the sinner as a "slave to Sin", where "Sin" is personified as the powerful but ruthless Master to whom allegiance is owed -- who brutalizes his "property" and gives it at last only "death". "I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin" (Rom 7:14). In this metaphor Paul is recalling the words of Jesus: "Everyone who sins is a slave to sin" (Joh 8:34).

"But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness" (Rom 6:17,18). Christ has come into the "agora", or marketplace, and purchased the sinner out of his bondage; now he has a new Master (Christ himself), and a new life.

CHRIST REDEEMED US FROM THE CURSE OF THE LAW: In addition to being redeemed from sin and wickedness and the world and men (Tit 2:14; Heb 9:15; Rev 14:3,4), man was also redeemed from the Law of Moses (Gal 4:5), and from the "curse" of that Law (Gal 3:13).

But the Law itself was not evil (it was holy and just and good: Rom 7:12-14). However, the Law brought into focus and highlighted man's sin -- in effect, making him a "sinner". Thus it came to stand -- by metonymy (putting the cause for the effect) -- for his sin.

By coming under the curse of the Law -- more or less artificially, and in the manner of his death only -- whilst living a perfectly righteous life... Christ effectively removed that curse, and made it meaningless. And thus he did the same for those who are "in Christ" also.

Gal 3:14

BLESSING: Forgiveness of sins: Rom 4:1-3.

Gal 3:16

Promises to Abraham in NT: Christ confirms promises (Rom 15:8); great and precious promises (2Pe 1:4); God's covenant promises re Israel (Rom 9:4); no covenant = no hope (Eph 2:12).

Gal 3:17

THE LAW, INTRODUCED 430 YEARS LATER, DOES NOT SET ASIDE THE COVENANT PREVIOUSLY ESTABLISHED BY GOD: The promise to Abraham, which might also be called the covenant with Abraham, was pronounced 430 years before the other covenant made with Moses and Israel, described in Exodus 24. Yet -- strangely -- the covenant made with Moses is treated as the older covenant, whereas that made with Abraham -- though spoken much, much earlier -- is treated as the newer covenant. And the reason would seem to be this: that the Mosaic covenant was confirmed IMMEDIATELY, in the sprinkled blood of the sacrifices, and in the fellowship meal, whereas the Abrahamic covenant was not confirmed when first given.

To illustrate, think of two contracts, one drawn up in, say, 1950, BUT NOT SIGNED AND SEALED; and the other drawn up in, say, 1960, and signed and sealed immediately. The 1950 contract -- though all ready to be legalized, remains unsigned and unwitnessed until, let us say, 1980 -- and so, in that sense, when it is finalized, it becomes the newer and later contract, although written first.

So the Mosaic covenant was confirmed immediately. But the covenant made by God with Abraham (like the 1950 contract in the illustration) was not so confirmed at the beginning; rather, it had to be taken on faith by Abraham and his descendants -- in fact, Paul and other New Testament writers make much of this fact: that Abraham was justified by his FAITH in what God had promised (see, for example, Rom 4), although he never received what was promised, but only saw it afar off (Heb 11:13).

The covenant with Abraham could only be confirmed -- "signed and sealed and delivered", so to speak -- by the shed blood of the covenant-victim, which was the Lord Jesus Christ (so Paul argues in Gal 3:1,13,16,19,20). Thus may be understood the words of Jesus: "This is the new covenant in MY blood!" And since nothing can replace or supplant it, once it has been confirmed and established, this Abrahamic covenant becomes also the "eternal covenant", in contrast to the Mosaic covenant, which was temporary, and destined to "disappear" (Heb 8:13).

430 years: For a reconciliation with 400 years, see CGal 84.

Gal 3:19

THROUGH ANGELS: See Exo 3:2; 23:20; Isa 63:9; cp Heb 2:2-4.

BY A MEDIATOR: Moses: Heb 9:19,20. See Lesson, Mediatorship of Christ.

Gal 3:20

DOES NOT REPRESENT JUST ONE PARTY: Moses and the Law could not mediate the blessing by faith of the "one" seed (Gal 3:16).

GOD IS ONE: But since God is one, He must have one way of salvation, which, as just proved, was not the (exclusively Jewish) law!

Gal 3:21

Since God is one (v 20), there can be no real antagonism between Law and faith.

Gal 3:23

LOCKED UP: As the leper in Lev 13:5.

Gal 3:24

PUT IN CHARGE: "Paidogogus" = the "tutor-slave", to discipline and educate young boys in the better households (CGal 90). But, with the passage of time, the pedagogue's service necessarily comes to an end.

" 'A child-custodian' or 'child-attendant.' The pedagogue was a slave employed by wealthy Greeks or Romans to have responsibility for one of the children of the family. He had charge of the child from about the years six to sixteen and was responsible for watching over his behavior wherever he went and for conducting him to and from school. The pedagogue did not teach. Therefore the translation 'schoolmaster' [KJV] is wrong; if Paul had meant this, he would have used 'didaskalos' rather than 'paidagogos'. Paul's point is that this responsibility ceased when the child entered into the fullness of his position as a son, becoming an acknowledged adult by the formal rite of adoption by his father (see Gal 4:1-7). 'To Christ' is not to be taken in a geographic sense as though the pedagogue was conducting the child to a teacher, as some have implied. The reference, as in the preceding verse, is temporal; it means 'until we come of age at the time of the revelation of our full sonship through Christ's coming' " (EBC).

TO LEAD US TO CHRIST: "The Law served its usefulness as a schoolmaster [AV] to bring men to Christ, but as a law code it is no longer binding upon believers. This is not, however, to be confused with the many Messianic prophecies referring to the reign of Christ on the earth which still await fulfilment. The Christadelphian must establish the legitimacy of his frequent OT refs before the full import of their force registers. The inspired application of more than 630 OT refs cited and used by Christ and the Apostles in the NT is an authoritative guide to Biblical interpretation" (WS 78).

Gal 3:26

YOU ARE ALL SONS OF GOD: No higher relationship with God is possible than that of sonship: Joh 1:12; 1Pe 1:14; Rom 8:14,15.

Gal 3:28

In ct to traditional synagogue prayer: "Lord, I thank thee that thou didst make me not a Gentile, but a Jew; not a slave but free; not a woman but a man" (WEnj 158; CGal 92).

ALL ONE IN CHRIST: Joh 10:16; 17:11,20-23.

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