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|New American Bible|
2002 11 11
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1 2 O stupid Galatians! Who
has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as
I want to learn only this from you: did you
receive the Spirit from works of the law, or from faith in what you heard? 3
Are you so stupid? After beginning with the
Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh? 4
Did you experience so many things 5
in vain? - if indeed it was in vain.
Does, then, the one who supplies the Spirit to
you and works mighty deeds among you do so from works of the law or from faith
in what you heard?
Thus Abraham "believed God, and it was
credited to him as righteousness." 6
7 Realize then that it is those who have faith
who are children of Abraham.
Scripture, which saw in advance that God would justify
the Gentiles by faith, foretold the good news to Abraham, saying, "Through
you shall all the nations be blessed."
Consequently, those who have faith are blessed
along with Abraham who had faith.
8 For all who depend on works of the law are
under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed be everyone who does not
persevere in doing all the things written in the book of the law."
And that no one is justified before God by the
law is clear, for "the one who is righteous by faith will live."
But the law does not depend on faith; rather,
"the one who does these things will live by them."
Christ ransomed us from the curse of the law by
becoming a curse for us, for it is written, "Cursed be everyone who hangs
on a tree,"
that the blessing of Abraham might be extended
to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that we might receive the promise of
the Spirit through faith.
9 Brothers, in human terms I say that no one can
annul or amend even a human will once ratified.
Now the promises were made to Abraham and to
his descendant. 10 It does not say, "And to
descendants," as referring to many, but as referring to one, "And to
your descendant," who is Christ.
This is what I mean: the law, which came four
hundred and thirty years afterward, 11 does not annul a
covenant previously ratified by God, so as to cancel the promise.
For if the inheritance comes from the law, it
is no longer from a promise; but God bestowed it on Abraham through a promise. 12
13 14 Why, then, the law? It
was added for transgressions, until the descendant came to whom the promise had
been made; it was promulgated by angels at the hand of a mediator.
Now there is no mediator when only one party is
involved, and God is one.
Is the law then opposed to the promises (of
God)? Of course not! For if a law had been given that could bring life, then
righteousness would in reality come from the law.
But scripture confined all things under the power
of sin, that through faith in Jesus Christ the promise might be given to those
15 Before faith came, we were held in custody
under law, confined for the faith that was to be revealed.
Consequently, the law was our disciplinarian 16
for Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
But now that faith has come, we are no longer
under a disciplinarian.
For through faith you are all children of God 17
in Christ Jesus.
18 19 For all of you who were
baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is
neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all
one in Christ Jesus.
And if you belong to Christ, then you are
Abraham's descendant, heirs according to the promise.
1 [1-14] Paul's contention that
justification comes not through the law or the works of the law but by faith in
Christ and in his death (⇒ Gal 2:16,
⇒ 21) is supported by appeals to Christian
experience (⇒ Gal 3:1-5) and to scripture
(⇒ Gal 3:6-14). The gift of God's Spirit to the
Galatians came from the gospel received in faith, not from doing what the law
enjoins. The story of Abraham shows that faith in God brings righteousness
(⇒ Gal 3:6; ⇒ Genesis
15:6). The promise to Abraham (⇒ Gal 3:8;
⇒ Genesis 12:3) extends to the Gentiles
(⇒ Gal 3:14)
2  Stupid: not just senseless, for
they were in danger of deserting their salvation.
3  Faith in what you heard: Paul's
message received with faith. The Greek can also mean "the proclamation of
the faith" or "a hearing that comes from faith."
4  On the contrast of Spirit and
flesh, cf ⇒ Romans 8:1-11. Having received the
Spirit, they need not be circumcised now.
5  Experience so many things:
probably the mighty deeds of ⇒ Gal 1:5 but possibly
the experience of sufferings.
6  Abraham . . . righteousness:
see ⇒ Genesis 15:6; ⇒ Romans
4:3. The Galatians like Abraham heard with faith and experienced
justification. This first argument forms the basis for the further scriptural
evidence that follows.
7 [7-9] Faith is what matters, for
Abraham and the children of Abraham, in contrast to the claims of the opponents
that circumcision and observance of the law are needed to bring the promised
blessing of ⇒ Genesis 12:3; cf
⇒ Genesis 18:18; ⇒ Sirach
44:21; ⇒ Acts 3:25.
8 [10-14] Those who depend not on
promise and faith but on works of the law are under a curse because they do not
persevere in doing all the things written in the book of the law
(⇒ Gal 3:10; ⇒ Deut
27:26) in order to gain life (⇒ Gal 3:12;
⇒ Lev 18:5; cf ⇒ Romans
10:5). But scripture teaches that no one is justified before God by
the law (⇒ Gal 3:11; ⇒ Hebrews
2:4, adapted from the Greek version of Habakkuk; cf
⇒ Romans 1:17; ⇒ Hebrews
10:38). Salvation, then, depends on faith in Christ who died on the
cross (⇒ Gal 3:13), taking upon himself a curse
found in ⇒ Deut 21:23 (about executed criminals
hanged in public view), to free us from the curse of the law
(⇒ Gal 3:13). That the Gentile Galatians have
received the promised Spirit (⇒ Gal 3:14) by faith
and in no other way returns the argument to the experience cited in
⇒ Gal 3:1-5.
9 [15-18] A third argument to support
Paul's position that salvation is not through the law but by promise
(⇒ Gal 3:1-14) comes from legal practice and
scriptural history. A legal agreement or human will, duly ratified, is
unalterable (⇒ Gal 3:15). God's covenant with
Abraham and its repeated promises (⇒ Genesis 12:2-3,
7; ⇒ 13:15;
⇒ 17:7-8; ⇒ 22:16-18;
⇒ 24:7) is not superseded by the law, which came
much later, in the time of Moses. The inheritance (of the Spirit and the
blessings) is by promise, not by law (⇒ Gal 3:18).
Paul's argument hinges on the fact that the same Greek word, diatheke, can be
rendered as will or testament (⇒ Gal 3:15) and as
covenant (⇒ Gal 3:17).
10  Descendant: literally,
"and to his seed." The Hebrew, as in ⇒ Genesis
12:7; ⇒ 15:18;
⇒ 22:17-18, is a collective singular, traditionally
rendered as a plural, descendants, but taken by Paul in its literal number to
refer to Christ as descendant of Abraham.
11  Four hundred and thirty years
afterward: follows ⇒ Exodus 12:40 in the Greek
(Septuagint) version, in contrast to ⇒ Genesis
15:13 and ⇒ Acts 7:6, for chronology.
12  This refutes the opponents'
contention that the promises of God are fulfilled only as a reward for human observance
of the law.
13 [19-22] A digression: if the Mosaic
law, then, does not save or bring life, why was it given? Elsewhere, Paul says
the law served to show that sin is (⇒ Romans 3:20;
⇒ 7:7-8). Here the further implication is that the
law in effect served to produce transgressions. Moreover, it was received at
second hand by angels, through a mediator, not directly from God
(⇒ Gal 3:19). The law does not, however, oppose
God's purposes, for it carries out its function (⇒ Gal
3:22), so that righteousness comes by faith and promise, not by human
works of the law.
14  The descendant: Christ
(⇒ Gal 3:16). By angels: ⇒ Deut
33:2-4 stressed their presence as enhancing the importance of the
law; Paul uses their role to diminish its significance (cf
⇒ Acts 7:38, ⇒ 53). A mediator:
Moses. But in a covenant of promise, where all depends on the one God, no
mediator is needed (⇒ Gal 3:20).
15 [23-29] Paul adds a further
argument in support of righteousness or justification by faith and through
God's promise rather than by works of the law (⇒ Gal
2:16; ⇒ 3:22): as children of God,
baptized into Christ, the Galatians are all Abraham's descendant and heirs of
the promise to Abraham (⇒ Gal 3:8,
⇒ 14, ⇒ 16-18,
⇒ 29). The teaching in ⇒ Gal
3:23-25, that since faith (Christianity) has come, we are no longer
under the law, could be taken with the previous paragraph on the role of the
Mosaic law, but it also fits here as a contrast between the situation before
faith (⇒ Gal 3:23) and the results after faith has
come (⇒ Gal 3:25-29).
16 [24-25] Disciplinarian: the Greek
paidagogos referred to a slave who escorted a child to school but did not teach
or tutor; hence, a guardian or monitor. Applying this to the law fits the role
of the law described in ⇒ Gal 3:19-25.
17  Children of God: literally
"sons," in contrast to the young child under the disciplinarian in
⇒ Gal 3:24-25. The term includes males and females
(⇒ Gal 3:28).
18 [27-28] Likely a formula used at
baptism that expresses racial, social-economic, and sexual equality in Christ
(cf ⇒ Col 3:11).
19  Clothed yourselves with
Christ: literally, "have put on Christ"; cf
⇒ Romans 13:14; ⇒ Eph
4:24; ⇒ Col 3:10. Baptismal imagery,
traceable to the Old Testament (⇒ Job 29:14;
⇒ Isaiah 59:17) but also found in pagan mystery
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