Reproof of the Galatians for Abandoning Faith
for Legalism. Justification by Faith
Vindicated: The Law Shown to Be
Subsequent to the Promise: Believers Are
the Spiritual Seed of Abraham, Who Was
Justified by Faith. The Law Was Our
Schoolmaster to Bring Us to Christ, that We Might Become Children of
God by Faith.
1. that ye should not obey the
truth—omitted in the oldest manuscripts.
bewitched—fascinated you so that you
have lost your wits. Themistius says the
Galatians were naturally very acute in intellect. Hence, Paul wonders
they could be so misled in this case.
you—emphatical. "You, before whose
eyes Jesus Christ hath been graphically set forth (literally, in
writing, namely, by vivid portraiture in preaching) among
you, crucified" (so the sense and Greek order require rather
than English Version). As Christ was "crucified," so ye ought to
have been by faith "crucified with Christ," and so "dead to the
2:19, 20). Reference to the
"eyes" is appropriate, as fascination was supposed to be
exercised through the eyes. The sight of Christ crucified ought to have
been enough to counteract all fascination.
2. "Was it by the works of the law that ye
received the Spirit (manifested by outward miracles, Ga 3:5;
Mr 16:17; Heb 2:4; and by
spiritual graces, Ga 3:14; Ga 4:5, 6; Eph 1:13), or by the hearing of faith?" The
"only" implies, "I desire, omitting other arguments, to rest the
question on this alone"; I who was your teacher, desire
now to "learn" this one thing from you. The epithet "Holy" is not
prefixed to "Spirit" because that epithet is a joyous one, whereas this
Epistle is stern and reproving [Bengel].
hearing of faith—Faith consists not in
working, but in receiving (Ro 10:16, 17).
3. begun—the Christian life (Php 1:6).
in the Spirit—Not merely was Christ
crucified "graphically set forth" in my preaching, but also "the
Spirit" confirmed the word preached, by imparting His spiritual gifts.
"Having thus begun" with the receiving His spiritual gifts, "are
ye now being made perfect" (so the Greek), that is, are
ye seeking to be made perfect with "fleshly" ordinances of the
law? [Estius]. Compare Ro
2:28; Php 3:3; Heb 9:10.
Having begun in the Spirit, that is, the Holy Spirit ruling your
spiritual life as its "essence and active principle" [Ellicott], in contrast to "the flesh," the element
in which the law works [Alford]. Having
begun your Christianity in the Spirit, that is, in the divine life that
proceeds from faith, are ye seeking after something higher still (the
perfecting of your Christianity) in the sensuous and the earthly, which
cannot possibly elevate the inner life of the Spirit, namely, outward
ceremonies? [Neander]. No doubt the
Galatians thought that they were going more deeply into the Spirit; for
the flesh may be easily mistaken for the Spirit, even by those who have
made progress, unless they continue to maintain a pure faith [Bengel].
4. Have ye suffered so many
things—namely, persecution from Jews and from unbelieving
fellow countrymen, incited by the Jews, at the time of your
needlessly, since ye might have avoided them by professing Judaism
[Grotius]. Or, shall ye, by falling from
grace, lose the reward promised for all your sufferings, so that they
shall be "in vain" (Ga 4:11; 1Co 15:2, 17-19,
29-32; 2Th 1:5-7; 2Jo 8)?
yet—rather, "If it be really
(or 'indeed') in vain" [Ellicott]. "If,
as it must be, what I have said, 'in vain,' is really the fact" [Alford]. I prefer understanding it as a
mitigation of the preceding words. I hope better things of you, for I
trust you will return from legalism to grace; if so, as I
confidently expect, you will not have "suffered so many things in vain"
[Estius]. For "God has given you the
Spirit and has wrought mighty works among you" (Ga 3:5; Heb
5. He … that ministereth—or
"supplieth," God (2Co 9:10). He
who supplied and supplies to you the Spirit still, to the
present time. These miracles do not prove grace to be in the heart
39). He speaks of these
miracles as a matter of unquestioned notoriety among those
addressed; an undesigned proof of their genuineness (compare 1Co
worketh miracles among you—rather,
"IN you," as Ga 2:8; Mt 14:2; Eph 2:2; Php 2:13; at your conversion and since [Alford].
doeth he it by the works of the
law—that is, as a consequence resulting from (so the
Greek) the works of the law (compare Ga 3:2). This cannot be because the law was
then unknown to you when you received those gifts of the Spirit.
6. The answer to the question in Ga 3:5 is here taken for granted, It was by
the hearing of faith: following this up, he says, "Even as Abraham
believed," &c. (Ge 15:4-6; Ro 4:3). God supplies unto you the Spirit as
the result of faith, not works, just as Abraham obtained justification
by faith, not by works (Ga 3:6, 8, 16; Ga 4:22, 26, 28). Where justification is, there
the Spirit is, so that if the former comes by faith, the latter
7. they which are of faith—as the source
and starting-point of their spiritual life. The same phrase is in the
Greek of Ro 3:26.
the same—these, and these
alone, to the exclusion of all the other descendants of
children—Greek, "sons" (Ga 3:29).
8. And—Greek, "Moreover."
foreseeing—One great excellency of
Scripture is, that in it all points liable ever to be controverted,
are, with prescient wisdom, decided in the most appropriate
would justify—rather, "justifieth."
Present indicative. It is now, and at all times, God's one way
the heathen—rather, "the Gentiles"; or
"the nations," as the same Greek is translated at the end of the
verse. God justifieth the Jews, too, "by faith, not by works."
But he specifies the Gentiles in particular here, as it was
their case that was in question, the Galatians being
preached before the gospel—"announced
beforehand the Gospel." For the "promise" was substantially the Gospel
by anticipation. Compare Joh 8:56; Heb 4:2. A proof that "the old fathers did not
look only for transitory promises" [Article VII, Church of England].
Thus the Gospel, in its essential germ, is older than the law though
the full development of the former is subsequent to the latter.
In thee—not "in thy seed," which is a
point not here raised; but strictly "in thee," as followers of thy
faith, it having first shown the way to justification before God [Alford]; or "in thee," as Father of the
promised seed, namely, Christ (Ga 3:16), who is the Object of faith (Ge
22:18; Ps 72:17), and
imitating thy faith (see on Ga 3:9).
all nations—or as above, "all the
Gentiles" (Ge 12:3; 18:18; 22:18).
be blessed—an act of grace, not
something earned by works. The blessing of justification was to Abraham
by faith in the promise, not by works. So to those who follow Abraham,
the father of the faithful, the blessing, that is, justification, comes
purely by faith in Him who is the subject of the promise.
9. they—and they alone.
of faith—(See on Ga
faithful—implying what it is in which
they are "blessed together with him," namely, faith, the prominent
feature of his character, and of which the result to all who like him
have it, is justification.
10. Confirmation of Ga 3:9. They who depend on the works of the law
cannot share the blessing, for they are under the curse "written,"
Perfect obedience is required by
the words, "in all things." Continual
obedience by the word, "continueth." No man renders this
obedience (compare Ro 3:19, 20). It is observable, Paul quotes
Scripture to the Jews who were conversant with it, as in Epistle to the
Hebrews, as said or spoken; but to the Gentiles, as
written. So Matthew, writing for Jews, quotes it as "said," or
"spoken"; Mark and Luke, writing for Gentiles, as "written" (Mt 1:22; Mr 1:2; Lu 2:22, 23) [Townson].
11. by the law—Greek, "IN the law." Both in and by are
included. The syllogism in this verse and Ga 3:12, is, according to Scripture, "The just
shall live by faith." But the law is not of faith, but of doing, or
works (that is, does not make faith, but works, the conditional ground
of justifying). Therefore "in," or "by the law, no man is justified
before God" (whatever the case may be before men, Ro 4:2)—not even if he could, which he
cannot, keep the law, because the Scripture element and conditional
mean of justification is faith.
The just shall live by faith—(Ro 1:17;
Hab 2:4). Not as Bengel and Alford,
"He who is just by faith shall live." The Greek supports
English Version. Also the contrast is between "live by
faith" (namely, as the ground and source of his justification), and
"live in them," namely, in his doings or works (Ga 3:12), as the conditional element
wherein he is justified.
12. doeth—Many depended on the law
although they did not keep it; but without doing, saith Paul, it is of
no use to them (Ro 2:13, 17, 23; 10:5).
13. Abrupt exclamation, as he breaks away
impatiently from those who would involve us again in the curse
of the law, by seeking justification in it, to
"Christ," who "has redeemed us from its curse." The "us" refers
primarily to the Jews, to whom the law principally appertained, in
contrast to "the Gentiles" (Ga 3:14;
4:3, 4). But it is not
restricted solely to the Jews, as Alford thinks; for these are the representative
people of the world at large, and their "law" is the embodiment of what
God requires of the whole world. The curse of its non-fulfilment
affects the Gentiles through the Jews; for the law represents that
righteousness which God requires of all, and which, since the Jews
failed to fulfil, the Gentiles are equally unable to fulfil. Ga 3:10, "As many as are of the works of
the law, are under the curse," refers plainly, not to the Jews
only, but to all, even Gentiles (as the Galatians), who seek
justification by the law. The Jews' law represents the universal law
which condemned the Gentiles, though with less clear consciousness on
their part (Ro 2:1-29).
The revelation of God's "wrath" by the law of conscience, in some
degree prepared the Gentiles for appreciating redemption through Christ
when revealed. The curse had to be removed from off the heathen, too,
as well as the Jews, in order that the blessing, through Abraham, might
flow to them. Accordingly, the "we," in "that we might receive
the promise of the Spirit," plainly refers to both Jews and
redeemed us—bought us off from
our former bondage (Ga 4:5), and
"from the curse" under which all lie who trust to the law and the works
of the law for justification. The Gentile Galatians, by putting
themselves under the law, were involving themselves in the curse from
which Christ has redeemed the Jews primarily, and through them the
Gentiles. The ransom price He paid was His own precious blood (1Pe 1:18,
19; compare Mt 20:28; Ac 20:28; 1Co 6:20; 7:23; 1Ti 2:6; 2Pe
2:1; Re 5:9).
being made—Greek, "having
a curse for us—Having become what we
were, in our behalf, "a curse," that we might cease to be a
curse. Not merely accursed (in the concrete), but a curse
in the abstract, bearing the universal curse of the whole human
race. So 2Co 5:21,
"Sin for us," not sinful, but bearing the whole sin of our race,
regarded as one vast aggregate of sin. See Note there.
"Anathema" means "set apart to God," to His glory, but to the person's
own destruction. "Curse," an execration.
written—(De 21:23). Christ's bearing the particular
curse of hanging on the tree, is a sample of the "general" curse which
He representatively bore. Not that the Jews put to death malefactors by
hanging; but after having put them to death otherwise, in order
to brand them with peculiar ignominy, they hung the bodies on a
tree, and such malefactors were accursed by the law (compare Ac 5:30;
10:39). God's providence
ordered it so that to fulfil the prophecy of the curse and other
prophecies, Jesus should be crucified, and so hang on the tree,
though that death was not a Jewish mode of execution. The Jews
accordingly, in contempt, call Him Tolvi, "the hanged
one," and Christians, "worshippers of the hanged one"; and make it
their great objection that He died the accursed death [Trypho, in Justin Martyr, p. 249] (1Pe 2:24). Hung between heaven and earth as
though unworthy of either!
14. The intent of "Christ becoming a curse for
us"; "To the end that upon the Gentiles the blessing of Abraham (that
is, promised to Abraham, namely, justification by faith) might
come in Christ Jesus" (compare Ga 3:8).
that we might receive the promise of the
Spirit—the promised Spirit (Joe 2:28, 29; Lu 24:49). This clause follows not the
clause immediately preceding (for our receiving the Spirit is
not the result of the blessing of Abraham coming on the
Gentiles), but "Christ hath redeemed us," &c.
through faith—not by works. Here he
resumes the thought in Ga 3:2. "The
Spirit from without, kindles within us some spark of faith Whereby we
lay hold of Christ, and even of the Spirit Himself, that He may dwell
within us" [Flacius].
15. I speak after the manner of men—I
take an illustration from a merely human transaction of everyday
but a man's covenant—whose purpose it
is far less important to maintain.
if it be confirmed—when once it hath
no man disannulleth—"none setteth
aside," not even the author himself, much less any second party. None
does so who acts in common equity. Much less would the righteous God do
so. The law is here, by personification, regarded as a second
person, distinct from, and subsequent to, the promise of God. The
promise is everlasting, and more peculiarly belongs to God. The
law is regarded as something extraneous, afterwards introduced,
exceptional and temporary (Ga 3:17-19, 21-24).
addeth—None addeth new conditions
"making" the covenant "of none effect" (Ga 3:17). So legal Judaism could make no
alteration in the fundamental relation between God and man, already
established by the promises to Abraham; it could not add as a new
condition the observance of the law, in which case the fulfilment of
the promise would be attached to a condition impossible for man to
perform. The "covenant" here is one of free grace, a promise
afterwards carried into effect in the Gospel.
16. This verse is parenthetical. The covenant
of promise was not "spoken" (so Greek for "made") to Abraham
alone, but "to Abraham and his seed"; to the latter especially; and
this means Christ (and that which is inseparable from Him, the
literal Israel, and the spiritual, His body, the Church).
Christ not having come when the law was given, the covenant could not
have been then fulfilled, but awaited the coming of Him, the Seed, to
whom it was spoken.
promises—plural, because the same
promise was often repeated (Ge 12:3, 7; 15:5, 18; 17:7;
22:18), and because it
involved many things; earthly blessings to the literal children of
Abraham in Canaan, and spiritual and heavenly blessings to his
spiritual children; but both promised to Christ, "the Seed" and
representative Head of the literal and spiritual Israel alike. In the
spiritual seed there is no distinction of Jew or Greek; but to
the literal seed, the promises still in part remain to be fulfilled
11:26). The covenant was not
made with "many" seeds (which if there had been, a pretext might exist
for supposing there was one seed before the law, another under the law;
and that those sprung from one seed, say the Jewish, are admitted on
different terms, and with a higher degree of acceptability, than those
sprung from the Gentile seed), but with the one seed; therefore, the
promise that in Him "all the families of the earth shall be blessed"
12:3), joins in this one
Seed, Christ, Jew and Gentile, as fellow heirs on the same terms of
acceptability, namely, by grace through faith (Ro 4:13); not to some by promise, to others by
the law, but to all alike, circumcised and uncircumcised, constituting
but one seed in Christ (Ro 4:16). The
law, on the other hand, contemplates the Jews and Gentiles as distinct
seeds. God makes a covenant, but it is one of promise; whereas the law
is a covenant of works. Whereas the law brings in a mediator, a third
3:19, 20), God makes His
covenant of promise with the one seed, Christ (Ge 17:7), and embraces others only as they are
identified with, and represented by, Christ.
one … Christ—not in the
exclusive sense, the man Christ Jesus, but "Christ"
(Jesus is not added, which would limit the meaning), including
His people who are part of Himself, the Second Adam, and
Head of redeemed humanity. Ga 3:28, 29 prove this, "Ye are all ONE in Christ Jesus" (Jesus is added here as the
person is indicated). "And if ye be Christ's, ye are Abraham's
SEED, heirs according to the
17. this I say—"this is what I mean," by
what I said in Ga 3:15.
continued … of God—"ratified by
in Christ—rather, "unto Christ"
Vulgate and the old Italian versions translate as English
Version. But the oldest manuscripts omit the words altogether.
the law which was—Greek, "which
came into existence four hundred thirty years after" (Ex 12:40, 41). He does not, as in the case of
"the covenant," add "enacted by God" (Joh 1:17). The dispensation of "the promise"
began with the call of Abraham from Ur into Canaan, and ended on the
last night of his grandson Jacob's sojourn in Canaan, the land of
promise. The dispensation of the law, which engenders bondage, was
beginning to draw on from the time of his entrance into Egypt, the land
of bondage. It was to Christ in him, as in his grandfather Abraham, and
his father Isaac, not to him or them as persons, the promise was
spoken. On the day following the last repetition of the promise orally
46:1-6), at Beer-sheba,
Israel passed into Egypt. It is from the end, not from the beginning of
the dispensation of promise, that the interval of four hundred thirty
years between it and the law is to be counted. At Beer-sheba, after the
covenant with Abimelech, Abraham called on the everlasting God, and the
well was confirmed to him and his seed as an everlasting possession.
Here God appeared to Isaac. Here Jacob received the promise of the
blessing, for which God had called Abraham out of Ur, repeated for the
last time, on the last night of his sojourn in the land of promise.
cannot—Greek, "doth not
make … of none effect—The
promise would become so, if the power of conferring the inheritance be
transferred from it to the law (Ro 4:14).
18. the inheritance—all the blessings to
be inherited by Abraham's literal and spiritual children, according to
the promise made to him and to his Seed, Christ, justification and
glorification (Ga 4:7; Ro 8:17; 1Co 6:9).
but God, &c.—The Greek
order requires rather, "But to Abraham it was by promise that God hath
given it." The conclusion is, Therefore the inheritance is not
of, or from the law (Ro 4:14).
19. "Wherefore then serveth the law?" as it is
of no avail for justification, is it either useless, or contrary to the
covenant of God? [Calvin].
added—to the original covenant of
promise. This is not inconsistent with Ga 3:15, "No man addeth thereto"; for there the
kind of addition meant, and therefore denied, is one that would
add new conditions, inconsistent with the grace of the covenant
of promise. The law, though misunderstood by the Judaizers as doing so,
was really added for a different purpose, namely, "because of (or as
the Greek, 'for the sake of') the transgressions," that is, to
bring out into clearer view the transgressions of it (Ro 7:7-9); to make men more fully conscious
of their "sins," by being perceived as transgressions of the
law, and so to make them long for the promised Saviour. This
accords with Ga 3:23, 24; Ro 4:15. The meaning can hardly be "to
check transgressions," for the law rather stimulates the corrupt
heart to disobey it (Ro 5:20; 7:13).
till the seed—during the period up
to the time when the seed came. The law was a preparatory
dispensation for the Jewish nation (Ro 5:20; Greek, "the law came in
additionally and incidentally"), intervening between the
promise and its fulfilment in Christ.
come—(Compare "faith came,"
the promise—(Ro 4:21).
by angels—as the instrumental
enactors of the law [Alford] God
delegated the law to angels as something rather alien to Him and severe
(Ac 7:53; Heb 2:2, 3; compare De 33:2, "He came with ten thousands of saints,"
that is, angels, Ps 68:17).
He reserved "the promise" to Himself and dispensed it according to His
in the hand of a mediator—namely,
5:5, "I stood between
the Lord and you": the very definition of a mediator. Hence the phrase
often recurs, "By the hand of Moses." In the giving of the law, the
"angels" were representatives of God; Moses, as mediator, represented
20. "Now a mediator cannot be of one (but must
be of two parties whom he mediates between); but God is one"
(not two: owing to His essential unity not admitting of an
intervening party between Him and those to be blessed; but as the One Sovereign, His own representative, giving
the blessing directly by promise to Abraham, and, in its
fulfilment, to Christ, "the Seed," without new condition, and without a
mediator such as the law had). The conclusion understood is,
Therefore a mediator cannot appertain to God; and consequently,
the law, with its inseparable appendage of a mediator, cannot be the
normal way of dealing of God, the one, and unchangeable God, who dealt
with Abraham by direct promise, as a sovereign, not as one
forming a compact with another party, with conditions and a mediator
attached thereto. God would bring man into immediate communion with
Him, and not have man separated from Him by a mediator that keeps back
from access, as Moses and the legal priesthood did (Ex 19:12, 13, 17, 21-24; Heb 12:19-24). The law that thus interposed a
mediator and conditions between man and God, was an exceptional state
limited to the Jews, and parenthetically preparatory to the Gospel,
God's normal mode of dealing, as He dealt with Abraham, namely, face
to face directly; by promise and grace, and not
conditions; to all nations united by faith in the one
seed (Eph 2:14, 16, 18), and not to one people to the exclusion
and severance from the One common
Father, of all other nations. It is no objection to this view, that the
Gospel, too, has a mediator (1Ti 2:5). For Jesus is not a mediator separating
the two parties in the covenant of promise or grace, as Moses did, but
One in both nature and office with both
God and man (compare "God in Christ," Ga 3:17): representing the whole universal
manhood (1Co 15:22, 45, 47), and also bearing in Him "all the
fulness of the Godhead." Even His mediatorial office is to cease when
its purpose of reconciling all things to God shall have been
accomplished (1Co 15:24);
and God's ONENESS (Zec 14:9), as "all in all," shall be fully
manifested. Compare Joh 1:17,
where the two mediators—Moses, the severing mediator of legal
conditions, and Jesus, the uniting mediator of grace—are
contrasted. The Jews began their worship by reciting the
Schemah, opening thus, "Jehovah our God is ONE Jehovah"; which words their Rabbis (as Jarchius) interpret as teaching not only the
unity of God, but the future universality of His Kingdom on
3:9). Paul (Ro 3:30) infers the same truth from the ONENESS of God (compare Eph 4:4-6). He, as being One, unites all
believers, without distinction, to Himself (Ga
3:8, 16, 28; Eph 1:10; 2:14;
2:11) in direct communion.
The unity of God involves the unity of the people of God, and also His
dealing directly without intervention of a mediator.
21. "Is the law (which involves a
mediator) against the promises of God (which are without a mediator,
and rest on God alone and immediately)? God forbid."
life—The law, as an externally
prescribed rule, can never internally impart spiritual life to men
naturally dead in sin, and change the disposition. If the law had been
a law capable of giving life, "verily (in very reality, and not
in the mere fancy of legalists) righteousness would have been by the
law (for where life is, there righteousness, its condition, must
also be)." But the law does not pretend to give life, and
therefore not righteousness; so there is no opposition between the law
and the promise. Righteousness can only come through the promise to
Abraham, and through its fulfilment in the Gospel of grace.
22. But—as the law cannot give life or
righteousness [Alford]. Or the "But"
means, So far is righteousness from being of the law, that the
knowledge of sin is rather what comes of the law [Bengel].
the scripture—which began to be
written after the time of the promise, at the time when the law was
given. The written letter was needed SO as PERMANENTLY to convict man of disobedience to God's
command. Therefore he says, "the Scripture," not the "Law." Compare
Ga 3:8, "Scripture," for "the God of the
concluded—"shut up," under
condemnation, as in a prison. Compare Isa 24:22, "As prisoners gathered in the pit and
shut up in the prison." Beautifully contrasted with "the liberty
wherewith Christ makes free," which follows, Ga
3:7, 9, 25, 26; 5:1; Isa 61:1.
all—Greek neuter, "the universe
of things": the whole world, man, and all that appertains to him.
under sin—(Ro 3:9, 19;
the promise—the inheritance
promised (Ga 3:18).
by faith of Jesus Christ—that is which
is by faith in Jesus Christ.
might be given—The emphasis is on
"given": that it might be a free gift; not something earned by
the works of the law (Ro 6:23).
to them that believe—to them that have
"the faith of (in) Jesus Christ" just spoken of.
23. faith—namely, that just mentioned
3:22), of which Christ is the
kept—Greek, "kept in ward": the
effect of the "shutting up" (Ga 3:22; Ga 4:2; Ro 7:6).
unto—"with a view to the faith,"
&c. We were, in a manner, morally forced to it, so that there
remained to us no refuge but faith. Compare the phrase, Ps 78:50, Margin; Ps 31:8.
which should afterwards,
&c.—"which was afterwards to be revealed."
24. "So that the law hath been
(that is, hath turned out to be) our schoolmaster (or "tutor,"
literally, "pedagogue": this term, among the Greeks, meant a faithful
servant entrusted with the care of the boy from childhood to puberty,
to keep him from evil, physical and moral, and accompany him to his
amusements and studies) to guide us unto Christ," with whom we are no
longer "shut up" in bondage, but are freemen. "Children" (literally,
infants) need such tutoring (Ga 4:3).
might be—rather, "that we may
be justified by faith"; which we could not be till Christ, the object
of faith, had come. Meanwhile the law, by outwardly checking the sinful
propensity which was constantly giving fresh proof of its
refractoriness—as thus the consciousness of the power of the
sinful principle became more vivid, and hence the sense of need both of
forgiveness of sin and freedom from its bondage was awakened—the
law became a "schoolmaster to guide us unto Christ" [Neander]. The moral law shows us what we
ought to do, and so we learn our inability to do it. In the
ceremonial law we seek, by animal sacrifices, to answer for our
not having done it, but find dead victims no satisfaction for the sins
of living men, and that outward purifying will not cleanse the soul;
and that therefore we need an infinitely better Sacrifice, the antitype
of all the legal sacrifices. Thus delivered up to the judicial
law, we see how awful is the doom we deserve: thus the law at last
leads us to Christ, with whom we find righteousness and peace. "Sin,
sin! is the word heard again and again in the Old Testament. Had it
not there for centuries rung in the ear, and fastened on the
conscience, the joyful sound, "grace for grace," would not have been
the watchword of the New Testament. This was the end of the whole
system of sacrifices" [Tholuck].
25. "But now that faith is come,"
&c. Moses the lawgiver cannot bring us into the heavenly Canaan
though he can bring us to the border of it. At that point he is
superseded by Joshua, the type of Jesus, who leads the true Israel into
their inheritance. The law leads us to Christ, and there its office
26. children—Greek, "sons."
faith." "Ye all" (Jews and Gentiles alike) are no longer "children"
requiring a tutor, but SONS
emancipated and walking at liberty.
27. baptized into Christ—(Ro 6:3).
have put on Christ—Ye did, in that
very act of being baptized into Christ, put on, or clothe
yourselves with, Christ: so the Greek expresses. Christ is to
you the toga virilis (the Roman garment of the full-grown man,
assumed when ceasing to be a child) [Bengel]. Gataker
defines a Christian, "One who has put on Christ." The argument is, By
baptism ye have put on Christ; and therefore, He being the Son of God,
ye become sons by adoption, by virtue of His Sonship by generation.
This proves that baptism, where it answers to its ideal, is not
a mere empty sign, but a means of spiritual transference from the state
of legal condemnation to that of living union with Christ, and of
sonship through Him in relation to God (Ro 13:14). Christ alone can, by baptizing with
His Spirit, make the inward grace correspond to the outward sign. But
as He promises the blessing in the faithful use of the means, the
Church has rightly presumed, in charity, that such is the case, nothing
appearing to the contrary.
28. There is in this sonship by faith in
Christ, no class privileged above another, as the Jews under the law
had been above the Gentiles (Ro 10:12; 1Co 12:13; Col 3:11).
bond nor free—Christ alike belongs to
both by faith; whence he puts "bond" before "free." Compare
Note, see on 1Co 7:21, 22; Eph 6:8.
neither male nor female—rather, as
Greek, "there is not male and female." There is no
distinction into male and female. Difference of sex makes no difference
in Christian privileges. But under the law the male sex had great
privileges. Males alone had in their body circumcision, the sign of the
covenant (contrast baptism applied to male and female alike);
they alone were capable of being kings and priests, whereas all of
either sex are now "kings and priests unto God" (Re 1:6); they had prior right to inheritances.
In the resurrection the relation of the sexes shall cease (Lu 20:35).
one—Greek, "one man";
masculine, not neuter, namely "one new man" in Christ (Eph 2:15).
29. and heirs—The oldest manuscripts
omit "and." Christ is "Abraham's seed" (Ga 3:16): ye are "one in Christ" (Ga 3:28), and one with Christ, as having "put on
3:27); therefore YE are "Abraham's seed," which is tantamount to
saying (whence the "and" is omitted), ye are "heirs according to the
promise" (not "by the law," Ga 3:18); for it was to Abraham's seed that the
inheritance was promised (Ga 3:16).
Thus he arrives at the same truth which he set out with (Ga 3:7). But one new "seed" of a righteous
succession could be found. One single faultless grain of human nature
was found by God Himself, the source of a new and imperishable seed:
"the seed" (Ps 22:30)
who receive from Him a new nature and name (Ge 3:15; Isa 53:10, 11; Joh 12:24). In Him the lineal descent from David
becomes extinct. He died without posterity. But He lives and shall
reign on David's throne. No one has a legal claim to sit upon it but
Himself, He being the only living direct representative (Eze 21:27). His spiritual seed derive their birth
from the travail of His soul, being born again of His word, which is
the incorruptible seed (Joh 1:12; Ro 9:8; 1Pe 1:23).