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The New Oxford Annotated Bible New Revised Standard Study Bible that provides essential scholarship and guidance for Bible readers.

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Commentary on Galatians

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3.1–5 : Paul's challenge to the Galatians.

Paul asks the Galatians whether they received the gift of the Spirit through fulfilling practices required by Jewish law, or through accepting the gospel preached by Paul (believing what you heard, vv. 2,5 ).

3 :

Ending with the flesh, an oblique reference to circumcision. The opposition of Spirit and flesh is an important theme in Paul ( 4.29; 5.16–25; 6.8; Rom 8.1–12; 1 Cor 3.1; 15.35–55; Phil 3.2–6 ).

5 :

Miracles are associated with apostolic preaching and the presence of the Spirit (Rom 15.19; 1 Cor 12.10; 2 Cor 12.12 ).

3.6–14 : Abraham the model for Christian faith.

Paul contrasts the believer, whose exemplar is Abraham and who is justified by faith, with those who seek justification through performing the practices of the Jewish law.

6 :

Gen 15.6; see also Rom 4.3 . Paul again uses Abraham as a model of faith in Rom 4 .

8 :

Gen 12.3; 18.18; 22.18 .

10 :

Deut 27.36 .

11 :

Hab 2.4; Rom 1.17 .

12 :

Lev 18.5; see also Rom 10.5 .

13 :

Deut 21.23 concerns execution by hanging but Paul takes tree as a reference to Jesus' cross.

3.15–18 : The inheritance of Abraham.

Paul argues that Christ is the one heir of Abraham and that what was promised Abraham cannot be inherited through the law.

15 :

Will, the Gk means “covenant” as well as a person's document of bequest (note d).

16 :

Offspring, lit. “seed” (notes e and f). Paul uses the same Greek word as the Septuagint text of God's promises to Abraham in Genesis (Gen 12.7; 15.5; 17.8; 22.17 ). Paul contrasts the singular seed in the text with the common (and in his view mistaken) interpretation of it as a plural, seeds.

17 :

Paul follows the Septuagint, not the Hebrew, text of Ex 12.40 by including within the four hundred thirty years not only the Israelite sojourn in Egypt but also the earlier period in Canaan.

3.19–25 : The purpose of the law of Moses.

The law does not replace God's promise to Abraham but is a temporary means of discipline for God's people.

19 :

Added because of transgressions allows several interpretations. It can mean to make aware of sin (Rom 3.20; 7.7 ). It can also carry the further sense of restraining transgressions (vv. 23–25 ). The phrase can also signify that the law provoked sin (Rom 5.20; 7.7–12 ). Ordained through angels reflects a later Jewish belief that the law was delivered on Sinai not directly from God but by angels; see Deut 33.2 (Septuagint); Acts 7.38,53; Heb 2.2 . A mediator, Moses (see Lev 26.46; Num 36.13 ).

20 :

An obscure verse that links monotheism with there being no need for a mediator of God's promise.

22 :

Faith in Jesus Christ stresses the believer's faith as necessary for obtaining the promise, while the alternative, faith of Jesus Christ (note a), emphasizes Jesus' faith as that which grants the promise; see 2.16n.

24–25 :

Disciplinarian, the slave who accompanied a boy to school and who often harshly punished the boy for his behavior.

3.26–29 : Baptism into Christ.

Through baptism believers are incorporated into Christ, abolishing social distinctions, and are made with him the offspring of Abraham and heirs to the promise.

26–28 :

Paul is likely here quoting from an early Christian baptismal formula.

26 :

Christians are adopted children of God and therefore co‐heirs with Christ (Rom 8.14–17 ).

27 :

Baptism unites the believer with Christ (Rom 6.3–11 ). Clothed … with Christ, see Rom 13.14; Col 3.10 .

28 :

A similar erasure of social distinctions is proclaimed in 1 Cor 12.13; Col 3.11 , where baptismal formulas also seem to be quoted, but without the phrase male and female.

29 :

Christ alone is Abraham's offspring or seed (see 3.16n. ) but now includes all those united in baptism with him.

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