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The Letter of Paul to the Galatians: Chapter 3

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1You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly exhibited as crucified! 2The only thing I want to learn from you is this: Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard? 3Are you so foolish? Having started with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh? 4Did you experience so much for nothing?—if it really was for nothing. 5Well then, does God g Gk he supply you with the Spirit and work miracles among you by your doing the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?

6Just as Abraham “believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,”7so, you see, those who believe are the descendants of Abraham. 8And the scripture,foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, declared the gospel before‐hand to Abraham, saying, “All the Gentiles shall be blessed in you.” 9For this reason,those who believe are blessed with Abraham who believed.

10For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the things written in the book of the law.” 11Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law; for “The one who is righteous will live by faith. a Or The one who is righteous through faith will live 12But the law does not rest on faith; on the contrary, “Whoever does the works of the law b Gk does them will live by them.” 13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us — for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree” — 14in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

15Brothers and sisters, c Gk Brothers I give an example from daily life: once a person's will d Or covenant (as in verse 17 ) has been ratified, no one adds to it or annuls it. 16Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring; e Gk seed it does not say, “And to offsprings,” f Gk seeds as of many; but it says, “And to your offspring,” e Gk seed that is, to one person, who is Christ. 17My point is this: the law, which came four hundred thirty years later, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise. 18For if the inheritance comes from the law, it no longer comes from the promise; but God granted it to Abraham through the promise.

19Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring e Gk seed would come to whom the promise had been made; and it was ordained through angels by a mediator. 20Now a mediator involves more than one party; but God is one.

21Is the law then opposed to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could make alive, then righteousness would indeed come through the law. 22But the scripture has imprisoned all things under the power of sin, so that what was promised through faith in Jesus Christ a Or through the faith of Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

23Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. 24Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith.25But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, 26for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. 27As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.29And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's offspring, b Gk seed heirs according to the promise.


g Gk he

a Or The one who is righteous through faith will live

b Gk does them

c Gk Brothers

d Or covenant (as in verse 17 )

e Gk seed

f Gk seeds

a Or through the faith of Jesus Christ

b Gk seed

Text Commentary view alone

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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