3:1-14 The Gospel Of Grace Is Received By Faith
Memory Verse: Galatians 3:6
3:1-5 Paul’s Examines Faith And Works
- 3:1 Paul comes back to the problem of the Galatian churches. Their problem is that they are not obeying the truth of the gospel. They left the truth that was first delivered to them and started to believe in a false gospel—a message that can only bring condemnation. Paul calls them foolish because they have made foolish conclusions even though when they heard the gospel, Jesus was evidently set forth and crucified before their eyes—they heard a clear, passionate and powerful presentation of the truth.
Galatians 1:6-7; 2:4
- 3:2-3 Paul ask them several rhetorical questions to help them better understand the problem. He asked them: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by works or faith? The answer to the question is obviously “faith” and so he continues saying that he wonders if they are so foolish to believe they can begin in the Holy Spirit by faith and then be made perfect by the works of the flesh. It seems that the Galatians were humble enough to know they were saved because of faith but fearful enough to think that they must keep the law to stay saved and be sanctified. Paul is trying to combat this thinking. He wants them to know we are saved by faith and we are sanctified by faith—not by human effort.
- 3:4 Paul then causes them to remember all the things they have already suffered for the sake of the gospel of grace. If they are now leaving this gospel then they suffered all those things in vain. He wants them to remember their commitment to the truth and the price they paid for it.
- 3:5 Finally, Paul brings God into the argument. Does God ministers to you the Holy Spirit by works or faith? Are the miracles done by works or faith? Does God work among us because of our obedience to the law or because of our faith? The Galatians are not Jews, so they didn’t have the same connection to the law as a Jews did. They didn’t know it as well as the Jews. Therefore, Paul is using all of these arguments to cause them to realize that they became Christians by faith and they should continue living for God by faith—not letting the false teachers confuse them and think they must also keep the law.
3:6-9 Paul Exemplifies Abraham’s Faith
- 3:6-8 Paul uses the Old Testament example of Abraham—the father of the Jews—to show that He even agrees with this truth. Abraham believed God’s promise and it was counted to him for righteousness. Abraham was justified by faith. Then Paul says that those who are “of faith” are the children of Abraham. What he means is those who are justified by faith are those who are partakers of the promise of the gospel of grace first preached to Abraham—not those of physical birth. This is pivotal in understanding God’s plan of salvation. God knew that He was going to justify man through faith (because of the death and resurrection of Jesus), therefore, He preached the gospel to Abraham saying, “In thee shall all nations be blessed”. So the condition for salvation has always been faith and never works.
Genesis 12:1-3; 15:6
- 3:9 He concludes that anyone who is “of faith” are the fulfillment of the promise given to Abraham. They “are blessed with faithful Abraham”. This is important to remember and a point that Paul will return to later in this letter to the Galatian believers.
3:10-12 Paul Exposes The Law’s Curse
- 3:10 The law has a major curse that is often overlooked when people are trusting in it as their way of salvation. It requires that your obey everything written in it. That means you have to be perfect. The law demands perfection. If you don’t obey all the things that are written in the book of the law then you are cursed. If you keep all of the law, but you are disobedient in just one point, then you are guilty of all the law. The law is strict. The law offers no mercy. The law says you are 100% obedient or 100% disobedient.
Deuteronomy 27:26; James 2:10; Romans 3:23
- 3:11 Paul makes himself extremely clear: “The law cannot justify you.” It doesn’t matter how hard you try the law will condemn you. If you have already failed once, you are under the curse of the law. You are marked as disobedient—a sinner. But there is hope. It is called “faith”. From the Old Testament through the New Testament “the just shall live by faith.” God has provided a way that can redeem us.
- 3:12 The “law” or “faith” as a means of salvation are opposites. Therefore, you have to choose one or the other. You cannot choose both. The law is not of faith and faith is not of the law. “Law” stands for trusting in any human effort to be made righteous. “Faith” stands for trusting in Jesus’ effort to be made righteous. We cannot trust in Jesus and our own works at the same time. You can only trust in one. If you trust in the law you must live by the law and this can only bring condemnation. On the contrary, salvation if a gift given to us by God and received by faith. We don’t receive salvation by merit or because we earned it. If it is because we earned it then it is of works and not of grace. That is the whole purpose of the law, to show us that we can’t earn salvation and we fall short of the standard of perfect. It points us to grace and grace says, “By faith”.
Romans 11:6; Leviticus 18:5
3:13-14 Paul Elevates Christ’s Redemption
- 3:13 Paul finally gets to the main point: “We couldn’t but Jesus could”. Jesus did everything that we couldn’t do. It was Jesus who redeemed us from the curse of the law. After studying the law, you will come to the conclusion that you are cursed. You are doomed to die and to be separated from God for all eternity. But Jesus was willing to pay the price to purchase you. Your price was death. So He died in your place. Jesus was perfect, completely obeying law, but he was made a curse for us by dyeing on the cross, thus redeeming us from the curse of the law. Now we are made prefect in Christ.
Romans 5:8; 6:23; Deuteronomy 21:23
- 3:14 Why did Christ do this? First, that through Him we (Gentiles) could receive the blessings of Abraham: salvation by grace through faith. He knew we couldn’t be saved by the law (we didn’t even know the law) and this was His plan all along. Second, He did this so that we could receive the Holy Spirit through faith. The Holy Spirit is making us holy by faith. We are saved and sanctified by faith. Today, we can live for God by faith.
- What was the answer to Paul’s rhetorical questions?
- Why did Paul use Abraham as an example?
- What is the curse of the law?
- How did Jesus redeem us?
- We are saved and sanctified by what?