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.
But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.
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:
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.
And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.
Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.
Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.
Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.
But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.
 

3:10 it is written. See Deuteronomy 27:26. It was impossible, of course, for any Israelite or any one else, to keep “all” the commandments of the law (James 2:10), and therefore they were all under the “curse” of the law. All men were already under God’s universal curse because of sin (Genesis 3:17-19), but now the curse becomes more explicit because the definition of sin has become more explicit. No one in Israel could any longer offer the excuse that they did not know what sin was, because the law as given to Moses had spelled it out quite clearly. “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law” (Romans 7:7).

3:11 just shall live by faith. In defense of his thesis, Paul not only argues from Genesis but also from the prophets, here quoting from Habakkuk 2:4 (see also Romans 1:17 and Hebrews 10:38). Martin Luther made this great verse, with its doctrine of justification by faith, the watchword of the Reformation.

3:12 that doeth them. This citation is from Leviticus 18:5, again reminding the Christians that if they were determined to submit to Jewish legalism, they would be obligated not only to assent to the law but to do it, and do all of it. This could earn salvation for them, theoretically, if they could do all the laws, but they could not. Only Christ could fulfill all the law (Matthew 5:17), so it is imperative that we receive His righteousness by imputation, and this can only be received through faith.

3:13 a curse for us. Christ has borne the curse for us, both the Adamic curse and the Mosaic curse, even to the extent of the very form of His death, being executed by hanging on a tree, as specified and prophesied (Deuteronomy 21:22-23; Psalm 22:1, 6,16).

3:16 to thy seed. In his theological argument concerning the Abrahamic covenant, Paul almost unconsciously, as it were, makes an exceedingly strong affirmation of the verbal inspiration of the Old Testament Scriptures, basing his argument not just on one word, but one letter, “seed” instead of “seeds.” Thus the promised “Seed” was not the nation Israel, but the one Person who alone could fulfill the great promises made to Abraham, namely, Christ (see Genesis 22:17-18).

3:17 four hundred and thirty years. The 430 years from the Abrahamic promise until the giving of the law to Moses and the 430 years of Israel’s extended stay in Egypt (Exodus 12:40) parallel each other, provided that the reference to “the covenant” here in Galatians 3:17 refers to the final ratification of this covenant, as confirmed to Jacob just as he and his family were leaving Canaan for Egypt (Genesis 46:1-4). This seems quite reasonable in the context of Paul’s argument; see also the comments on Acts 7:6 and Genesis 15:13.

3:19 till the seed should come. Therefore the law would have fulfilled its primary function once the promised Seed came to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17). It was foolish (Galatians 3:1) for the Galatians to want to return to legalistic bondage.

3:19 ordained by angels. The account of the giving of the law through Moses on Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:9-25) makes no mention of angels, although it does record the prolonged sounding of a trumpet; apparently a mighty host of angels was present. Deuteronomy 33:2 mentions “ten thousands of saints” as “the LORD came from Sinai.” See also Psalm 68:17 and Acts 7:53.

3:22 all under sin. The law “was added because of transgressions” (Galatians 3:19), to make it clear what sin is—as a transgression of the character and will of God. When people understand the nature of sin, it soon becomes clear that all are sinners (Romans 3:10,12,23) and need to come to Christ for forgiveness and salvation.

3:24 schoolmaster. A “schoolmaster” (Greek paidagogos) was a person (often a slave) who was delegated as tutor and guardian for young boys until they came of age (usually about eighteen years of age). It was a temporary, and not very prestigious, position. When the son entered on all the privileges of adult sonship, the schoolmaster’s responsibilities were finished. Paul compares this domestic relationship to the spiritual relationships when Christ replaces the law as the controlling basis of our lives.


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