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Galatians chapter 3

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6Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. 7Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. 8And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. 9So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. 10For 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. 11But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. 12And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. 13Christ 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: 14That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. 15Brethren, 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. 16Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. 17And 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. 18For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.

What does Galatians chapter 3 mean?

In Galatians 3, Paul continues to make the case that faith in Christ is all that is required to be justified—"made righteous"—in God's eyes. Paul also continues to write with great urgency. This matters deeply to him.

The Galatian Christians had believed in Jesus and began enjoying their freedom in Christ. Then a group of false teachers known as the Judaizers showed up. These men from Jerusalem agreed that it was necessary to believe in Jesus. However, they also claimed that, in order for non-Jewish people to truly be included in the family of God, the men must be circumcised and all must follow the law of Moses.

Paul begins this chapter by calling the Galatians Christians foolish for beginning to believe such teaching. He then presents three separate arguments for why it does not make sense for the Galatians to begin to follow the law of Moses.

First, Paul talks about the Galatian believers' own experience of coming to Christ. Not only did they "see" Christ crucified in Paul's teaching, they experienced firsthand the arrival of the Holy Spirit after they believed (Galatians 3:1). Often in the New Testament, the Holy Spirit demonstrated God's power in some supernatural way when coming to indwell new Christians. That had apparently happened to the Galatians. Perhaps they spoke in tongues or experienced some other supernatural event. In addition, they saw miracles happen through the work of God's Spirit.

Paul asks them directly: Did the Spirit come from God as a result of your hearing the truth by faith or did it happen by doing works of the law? Since they had not done any works before believing in Jesus, the clear answer is that God sent His Spirit in response to their faith. What, then, do they have to gain from following the law (Galatians 3:2–5)?

Second, Paul begins to quote the Scriptures. Perhaps the Galatians will be persuaded from the same parts of God's Word the Judaizers are distorting to mislead them. Paul shows that the Scriptures have always pointed to God's blessing coming by faith and a curse from God coming through the law. Paul states flatly that people of faith—not "people of the law"—are Abraham's children. After all, Abraham was counted righteous—"justified"—for believing God (Genesis 15:6), and God told Abraham that all the nations would be blessed through him (Genesis 12:3). Thus, those of faith are the ones blessed along with Abraham (Galatians 3:6–9).

Paul then quotes Deuteronomy, Habakkuk, and Leviticus to show that the law brings only a curse to those who fail to follow it in any way. It's not about faith; it's about action. Since all people fail to keep the law in some way, Christ had to pay the curse with His own life. That's how He redeemed those in slavery under the law so that they could be justified by faith in Him (Galatians 3:10–14).

Finally, Paul presents to the Galatians a legal argument. Covenants are legal documents. As such, the covenant God made with Israel, recorded in the Law, did not undo the covenant He made with Abraham. The promises of that covenant remained in place all the way until the arrival of Jesus, who legally claimed those promises. Now all who come to Christ by faith are entitled to share in that inheritance, including non-Jewish people known as Gentiles. In fact, that legal transaction gives believers a permanent standing as God's children, whether Jewish, Greek, slave, free, male, or female. All are one in Christ, since all are equal heirs to the inheritance God promised to Abraham (Galatians 3:15–29).
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