Galatians Chapter 3:1-14 – Elder Matt Morrison
- Recap (Intro, Chapters 1 & 2)
- False teachers (Judiazers) came after Paul planted the churches
- To attempt to malign Paul’s apostolic authority
- To subvert the gospel of justification by faith alone with the addition of law keeping
- Paul defends his apostolic authority and introduces the gospel of justification by faith alone
Galatians 3 is a polemic for justification through faith in Christ alone.
Paul reminds us how we came to salvation by faith in the first place, shows the historicity of this truth in the character of Abraham, and exposes the futility of salvation by works of the law.
Two ways for eternal life: 1)Perfect obedience 2)Faith in Christ
Sin rendered option 1 impossible, leaving the only path for salvation to be Christ and his finished work.
Reminder of the perpetual pull to add to the simplicity of the gospel, changing it into another gospel
Man by nature hates a gospel that is all of free grace and all of God’s doing, but that is the gospel, and
nothing else can be good news apart from what God has revealed and provided in Christ alone!
Connect to the last verse of chapter 2:
I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
3:1-5 The Vanity of Returning to the Law
O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?
Paul firmly rebukes in love for straying to another gospel (Prov 27:6) (Luke 24:25)
It was Christ who offered up perfect obedience to the law! What foolishness to look elsewhere
“False brothers” have snuck into the churches of Galatia to teach faith + works for salvation
We must zealously guard the gospel in our hearts and in our churches(1 Tim 4:16, 6:20)
It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified.
Preaching sets forth Christ crucified painted in words for the eyes of faith to conceive
We live by faith, not by sight. So, we must conceive Christ in word and in sacrament
The simplicity of the gospel must be constantly put before our eyes with the word preached
Galatians started with sound teaching (hence Paul’s astonishment) but wandered (2 Tim 4:3-4)
Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?
Works of the law and faith in Christ are set in contradistinction
The law only reveals the disease, not the remedy (Rom 3:20) and is powerless to save (Rom 8:2-4)
The gospel shows us where we must look AND supplies the Spirit to make us able.
Death only has power because the law condemns (1 Cor 15:51)
Preaching the gospel is necessary because that is the instrument God has ordained (Rom 10:17)
God regenerates and pours out the Spirit as he wills and by his mean (Ezekiel 36)
Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
If you started by faith in Christ for justification, are you sanctified now by your own works?
All of salvation is by grace through faith in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.
We are neither justified by our good works, nor sanctified by our good works.
This is THE persistent error of the church: starting with Christ, finishing by works.
God is the author AND finisher of our faith. WSC 33 and 35. (Ezekiel 36:27)
Did you suffer so many things in vain–if indeed it was in vain?
Shows Paul has not given up hope, but reproofs strongly out love
Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by
hearing with faith–
Repetition emphasized the folly of the leaving the simple gospel and returning to the law
3:7-9 The Example of Abraham
just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?
Paul appeals to Abraham to expose the folly of the Judaizer’s teaching
Abraham believed God’s promise to give him the seed that was the promised ‘seed of the woman’
Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham.
Abraham’s children are therefore not: merely by birth (Matt 3:9), nor by mere profession, use of
sacraments, nor by doing of good works (Mat 7:21)
We must labor to be in deed and in truth of the faith of Abraham and to walk in the steps of faith
1. Knowledge- we must know the promises of God and the object of faith: Christ
2. Belief- we must heartily trust in the power and truth of the gospel that it is God who will
accomplish the work of salvation in us (Rom 4:21)
3. Obedience- we must by faith obey God in all things “shutting our eyes to led blindfolded by
the word of God” -Perkins (Gen 22:8)
And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.”
We see the antiquity of the the gospel of the covenant of grace in Christ Jesus
There is no other plan of salvation other than justification through faith in Christ
The promise of blessing by faith was always to be extended to all the nations
So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
- How shall we have the same blessing as Abraham seeing as we don’t have like faith?
A. God doesn’t respect the greatness of our faith, but its truth. If faith doesn’t err in its object (Christ
crucified our Redeemer) and joins nothing to him, God accepts and blesses! (2 Peter 1:1) (Gal 3:28)
3: 10-14 Christ Made a Curse
For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.”
If you would enter eternal life, you must keep the whole law of God perfectly
He that breaks one commandment is guilty of all (James 2)
The law was never meant as a way of salvation for sinners
None but Christ (or Adam) could ever do this, hence we are all under the curse and without hope
Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.”
The fault is not in the law (which is holy and good and even promises life) but in the sinner (Rom 7)
Therefore, our only hope is in an alien righteousness (Rom 1:17)
But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.”
The law as a covenant of works cannot save fallen man. Therefore, our hope is in one who fulfilled
the law on our behalf. And we only have access to that by virtue of union with Christ by faith
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us–for it is written, “Cursed is
everyone who is hanged on a tree”–
Christ took on humanity for this purpose- and being the second Adam he could represent us
Christ had no sin so he could be the perfect substitute to bear the curse FOR US! (2 Cor 5:21)
so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the
promised Spirit through faith.
The promise of Abraham’s seed to be a blessing to all the nations is here confirmed (Gen 22:18)
Application : The gospel is of free grace. This is the hardest doctrine for human nature to grasp.
Hold fast that faith is a gift, the Spirit is a gift. Don’t mix works! The law and gospel are contrary.
We must rest in NOT DOING for salvation and look outside of ourselves to Christ. (4:5)
Let the example of the Galatians churches straying be an example of how easy it is to be bewitched.
”Let us be quick to be in the way of grace.” -Chalmers
Header Image digitally reproduced with the permission of the Papyrology Collection, University of Michigan Library.