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Galatians, what a misunderstood book!
Often, one of the first things Christians will say when you tell them the law has not been abolished is: “you need to read the book of Galatians!” In spite of the multitude of scriptures in the “New Testament” which demonstrate we should keep Yahweh’s law, many understand Paul’s letter to Galatians to state otherwise.
In reality, there is not a single verse in the book of Galatians or anywhere in the scripture that would tell us that the law has been abolished. Rather, much to the contrary! The book of Galatians actually proves that while we are not saved by our observance of the Torah (The Hebrew word translated “Law” all throughout the scriptures), true believers will make a sincere effort to walk in its precepts.
In this study we will go through each of the verses in Galatians chapter 2 through chapter 5, which contain the key verses speaking of Yahweh’s Torah/law and its place in our life. It is the words in these chapters that are most frequently understood as “abolishing the law”. Thus, we will examine them to see if Paul is really making any claim that the law is now abolished and not to be heeded.
Almost all of the Christian world regards Paul’s letter to the Galatians as “proof” that we need not concern ourselves with keeping Yahweh’s Torah/law. This is a major mistake that must be addressed thoroughly. It is often more difficult for a person to ‘unlearn error’ than to ‘learn truth.’ For this reason, the studies into the book of Galatians is longer than most.
If you feel that I’m in error in this study, feel free to contact me. I’m only interested in the truth.
Galatians Chapter 3
This study is a continuation of the study on chapter 2 of the book of Galatians. If you have not read the study chapter 2, please read it before reading this study. Otherwise, the points made here may not make any sense to you.
The words in Galatians 3 were written to explain, from the Old Testament scriptures, why circumcision and Torah keeping are not prerequisites to receiving salvation. Paul demonstrates very clearly why we receive salvation through Yahushua the Messiah and why all Gentiles are sons of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob through Him.
Let’s begin by quoting the end of chapter 2 to get a context of the first verses in chapter 3.
Galatians 2:20- I have been crucified with Messiah and I no longer live, but Messiah lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of Yahweh, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 – I do not set aside the grace of Yahweh, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Yahweh died for nothing!”
Looking at the context from which Paul was speaking, Paul is facing those who are presenting “another good news/gospel,” the gospel of circumcision. The Gentiles were not accepted by those who were “of the circumcision” because they believed that even though the Gentiles received Yahushua, that was not good enough. They believed that the Gentiles were not sons of Abraham and they were not saved until they were first circumcised and kept the Torah. This unscriptural method of receiving salvation was a threat to Yahushua Himself. It was so dangerous that Paul said in the beginning of his letter:
Galatians 1:8- But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! 9 – As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!
For if we choose to proclaim the good news, the message we proclaim must be true. Otherwise, we are building a foundation on falsehood. Yahushua is the way, the truth and the life. The “good news of the circumcision” was a threat to being able to reach the rest of the world with salvation.
All throughout the scriptures, including the ‘Old Testament’, it is always the hearts of men that Yahweh is most concerned about. Suppose there was a Gentile that lived 200 years before Messiah who came to the conviction that Yahweh was the true Elohim and he repented of his ways. Then, as he learned more about Yahweh’s commandments he began to make a sincere effort walk in them. This being the case, at what point would such a man be received by Yahweh? Would it be after he observed 5 commandments? Or would it be after he observed 10? Or might it be the observance of 613 commandments were necessary for him to achieve salvation? The truth is Yahweh knows the hearts of all men and can meet them where they are. This has always been true:
Ezekiel 33:12 (NKJ) Therefore you, O son of man, say to the children of your people: ‘The righteousness of the righteous man shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression; as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall because of it in the day that he turns from his wickedness; nor shall the righteous be able to live because of his righteousness in the day that he sins.’
Ezekiel 33:12 (NIV) “Therefore, son of man, say to your countrymen, ‘The righteousness of the righteous man will not save him when he disobeys, and the wickedness of the wicked man will not cause him to fall when he turns from it. The righteous man, if he sins, will not be allowed to live because of his former righteousness.’
So the “good news of the circumcision” was not based on a correct understanding of how Yahweh deals with mankind. It wasn’t true in Paul’s day and it was never true at any point in history. Yahweh sees the hearts of all men. It was prideful men who wanted to have their own little ‘club’ that turned the good news of Yahushua into some kind of works based salvation with circumcision being the ‘hazing act’ in order to be accepted into the club. This was a perversion of what Yahweh intended His plan of salvation to be and what He intended circumcision to be.
For review let’s examine again the characteristics of those who were proclaiming this “good news of the circumcision”:
- They were from Judea. (Acts 15:1)
- They were “sect of the Pharisees” (Acts 15:5)
- They claimed to be believers in Yahushua. (Acts 15:5)
- They believed that one cannot have salvation unless they are first circumcised and/or keep the Torah. (Acts 15:1)
- They were vigorous in their belief to the point that they would argue with Paul and Barnabas over it, and even approach the apostles and elders about it. (Acts 15:1,5)
- They were actually “false brethren” (Galatians 2:4)
- They liked to sneak into the assemblies of true brethren to convert them to their own “good news” understanding of how to receive salvation. (Galatians 2:4)
- They didn’t even keep the law themselves. (Galatians 6:12-13)
- They were interested in circumcising the Gentiles so that they could receive glory from men. (Galatians 6:12-13)
- Their sect had a history of being focused on “man pleasing” and laying heavy burdens on people that they themselves wouldn’t do. (Matthew 23:4-5)
With this in mind, let’s continue to Galatians 3:
Galatians 3:1- You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Yahushua Messiah was clearly portrayed as impaled. 2 – I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?
The Gentiles who turned their lives over to Yahweh didn’t receive the Holy Spirit because they had been keeping the law. They received the Holy Spirit because they repented and accepted Yahushua the Messiah. In response to the false ‘good news of the circumcision’, Paul was reminding them that the Spirit was given as evidence of their immediate salvation. Kepha (Peter) also had been shown this truth:
Acts 10:44- While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45 – The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles.
Yahweh’s plan of instant recognition of the Gentiles’ salvation was something very difficult for many Jews to accept. It was so ingrained in their culture that a Gentile couldn’t just come to Yahweh and be accepted the same as a natural Jew without going through a long process. But Yahweh showed that He accepted them when He poured out His Spirit on the Gentiles the moment they believed, thereby demonstrating that their sins were forgiven by faith, not by circumcision and Torah/law keeping. So Paul pointed out that they received the Spirit by the hearing of faith, not because they had kept the Torah (they hadn’t).
Galatians 3:3– Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
In this verse, it is believed by some that anyone attempting to be obedient to Yahweh’s law is seeking to “be made perfect by the flesh.” But would doing something like honoring your parents be an attempt to “be made perfect by the flesh”? Certainly not, but submitting to the ‘good news of the circumcision’ certainly would be.
Nevertheless, let’s examine the Greek word translated “made perfect” in this verse. It is Strong’s word #2005 and it means “to fulfill further (or completely), i.e. execute; by implication, to terminate, undergo” or in the Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, “to bring to an end, accomplish, perfect, execute, complete.” Young’s Literal Translation reads:
Galatians 3:3 Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?
In this verse, it is believed by some that anyone attempting to be obedient to Yahweh’s law is seeking to “attain your goal by human effort.” But would doing something like honoring your parents or refraining from adultery be an attempt to “attain your goal by human effort”? Certainly not, but submitting to the ‘good news of the circumcision’ certainly would be.
Since the Gentiles had already received the Holy Spirit as evidence of their salvation, it was senseless for them to convert to the good news of ‘the circumcision’ which would have actually resulted in their condemnation rather than salvation. For if we require Torah obedience as a prerequisite to salvation, none of us would be found faultless before the throne of Yahweh on the day of judgment. We would be relying on the Adam man (self) and his abilities in the flesh to obey the Torah to achieve salvation rather than trusting in what Yahushua has already done for us.
Thus, our end would be “human effort” rather than a work of Yahweh’s Spirit. Anyone relying on their perfection in the flesh as one of the prerequisites to salvation will find that their own righteousness will not save them in the day of judgment.
The Jews of that time period taught that you were not a child of Abraham and therefore ‘not Israel’ until you were circumcised. They believed that one couldn’t receive Israel’s promises unless you ‘became Israel’ by being circumcised. Overall, they were putting too much of their faith in the fact that they were children of Abraham. But John the Baptist rebuked them for this:
Matthew 3:7- But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 – Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 – And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones Yahweh can raise up children for Abraham.
Thus, there was a tremendous amount of emphasis put on whether or not a person was a son of Abraham–even to the point of someone getting puffed up and believing they didn’t need to repent.
Let’s continue in Galatians 3:
Galatians 3:4- Have you suffered so much for nothing– if it really was for nothing? 5 – Does Yahweh give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?
Further proof that the context of Paul’s words on this issue is the question of which “good news” is to be believed and what is necessary for salvation is what Paul says here in verse 4.
If the Gentiles had received a false message of salvation from Paul and the other apostles, all their suffering they endured up to that point was in vain because they weren’t even saved to begin with.
Paul is making this very point when he asks them if they suffered persecution in vain. In verse 5, he also adds further evidence that Yahweh has accepted them by bringing to remembrance the ministry of the Spirit which worked miracles among them even though they were uncircumcised and unlearned in the Torah. Yahweh had purified their hearts by faith just as Kepha said in Acts 15:
Acts 15:8- Elohim, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9 – He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 10 – Now then, why do you try to test Elohim by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? 11 – No! We believe it is through the grace of our Master Yahushua that we are saved, just as they are
So we are all saved by grace, not by this “good news of the circumcision” which was in contrast to the true good news. Again for review compare the two side by side:
The true Good News is that we receive salvation when we repent and accept Yahushua as our righteousness. Those who lived before Yahushua’s day were still saved by faith in Yahweh’s promises:
Galatians 3:6- Consider Abraham: “He believed Yahweh, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
So even Abraham ‘believed’ Yahweh and because of that belief he was declared righteous. He believed the promises and his faith in Yahweh was evidenced by his works when he demonstrated a willingness to offer his own son Isaac on the altar to Yahweh:
Hebrews 11:17- By faith Abraham, when Yahweh tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 – even though Yahweh had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 19 – Abraham reasoned that Yahweh could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.
And Yahushua said:
John 8:56- Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”
And so Paul demonstrates that even Abraham was saved by faith. Those who are of faith are also considered to be children of Abraham:
Galatians 3:6- Consider Abraham: “He believed Yahweh, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” 7 – Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham.
If one has faith like Abraham, one is like Abraham. Therefore they are child of Abraham. Consider what Yahushua said to the Scribes and Pharisees on this same subject:
John 8:37- I know you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38 – I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you do what you have heard from your father.” 39 – “Abraham is our father,” they answered. “If you were Abraham’s children,” said Yahushua, “then you would do the things Abraham did.
So Paul is in total agreement with what Yahushua had taught on this.
Continuing in Galatians:
Galatians 3:8- The Scripture foresaw that Yahweh would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” 9 – So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
In keeping with the theme of understanding the true “Good News,” Paul begins to explain how the true “Good News” was preached all the way back in the 12th and 22nd chapter of Genesis.
Genesis 12:3- I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
Genesis 22:11- But the angel of Yahweh called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. 12 – “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear Elohim, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” 13 – Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 – So Abraham called that place Yahweh. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of Yahweh it will be provided.”
Because of this, Yahweh said to Abraham:
Genesis 22:15- The angel of Yahweh called to Abraham from heaven a second time, 16 – and said, “I swear by myself, declares Yahweh, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 – I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 – and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”
Because Abraham did not withhold his only son, Yahweh gave him the promises. We read earlier in Galatians 3:8 that the “Good news” was preached to Abraham when he was given this promise. But how was the true “good news” preached in this promise? And does the Torah play a role in the good news at all? That’s what Galatians 3 explains in detail, and it is actually quite awesome when fully understood! So let’s continue:
Galatians 3:9- So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. 10 – All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”
Because of a misunderstanding of the book of Galatians, there are a lot of people who believe that anyone attempting to obey Yahweh’s commandments are “under a curse.” But if this was true, we would be cursed every time we tried to honor our parents. We would be cursed for refraining from adultery or even choosing to worship Yahweh alone. But the truth is that we are no more cursed for doing those things than we would be if we kept the Sabbath. So what does verse 10 actually mean?
We see that he is comparing those “who have faith” against those “who rely on observing the law“. In this is the contrast of the two versions of the “Good news,” the ‘good news of the circumcision’ and the True Good News. The ‘good news of the circumcision’ says that we do not receive salvation through faith in Yahushua alone, but we receive salvation when learning/keeping the Torah and are circumcised.
As we said earlier, if we require Torah obedience as a prerequisite to salvation, none of us would be found faultless before the throne of Yahweh on the day of judgment. We would be relying on the Adam man (self) and his abilities in the flesh to obey the Torah rather than trusting in what Yahushua has already done for us.
Anyone attempting to trust in the Adam man for their righteousness are those “who rely on observing the law” and are under a curse because the Torah itself says “cursed is everyone” who has not done the things which were written in the Torah/law!
Since none of us has done them, none of us will receive salvation by them. Anyone attempting to be declared righteous (justified) by them will find themselves condemned.
Sadly though, today many think that we are under a curse if we seek to obey them. But this is not what it says. Paul is quoting from Deuteronomy 27:26 where it says:
Deuteronomy 27:26- Cursed is the man who does not uphold the words of this law by carrying them out.” Then all the people shall say, “Amen!”
Does this scripture say that those who do them are under a curse?
Certainly not. It is saying those who DO NOT do them are under a curse!
Paul is not saying that we should not do them. Paul is saying that no one should submit to the false ‘good news of the circumcision’ which actually places a person under a curse by trying to insert the works of the ‘Adam man’ into Yahweh’s plan for salvation. Anyone seeking to be justified (declared righteous) by the law is going to be condemned because they haven’t kept the law–thus, they are cursed and not blessed with believing Abraham. So Paul says:
Galatians 3:9 So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. 10 – All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” 11 – Clearly no one is justified before Yahweh by the law, because, “The righteous will live by faith.”
No one is justified by the law because the law doesn’t declare us righteous. It declares us to be unrighteous. Therefore, the “just” (one who is declared righteous) must live (have eternal life) by faith that Yahweh has mercy and will forgive our sins. Let’s look at the scripture quoted here:
Habakkuk 2:4- “See, he is puffed up; his desires are not upright– but the righteous will live by his faith–
One cannot live or be justified by trusting in his own righteousness. This scripture says “he is puffed up; his desires are not upright.”
So just because a person claims to be “upright” does not mean he is. We cannot be justified before Yahweh by our claims of righteousness because all men have sinned at some point in their life. We are left with no choice but to “live” (have eternal life) by faith!
We must come to Yahweh and trust in Him to forgive us of our sins and make us righteous through Yahushua the Messiah if we expect to have any hope whatsoever. Any other claim to righteousness is pure pride! The ‘good news of the circumcision’ minimized the sufficiency of our righteousness in Yahushua.
Galatians 3:11- Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, “The righteous will live by faith.” 12 – The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, “The man who does these things will live by them.”
This is once again a quote from the law. Let’s examine it:
Leviticus 18:5- Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am Yahweh
If a man has done the law, he will certainly LIVE and have eternal life. This man would be justified by the law. But NO MAN has ever done this except Yahushua the Messiah. Therefore no man can LIVE or have salvation because they kept them. We all must rely on Yahushua! We cannot rely on our own obedience to the law to save us.
Galatians 3:13– The Messiah 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:
Is the law a curse? Some would love to quote this verse to you to tell you that. But as we learned earlier, it isn’t those who KEEP the law that are under the curse, but those who have BROKEN it. Yahushua redeemed us from the curse that came when we disobeyed the law, For He was cursed for us by being hung on the tree.
Deuteronomy 21:22– And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: 23 – His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of Elohim;) that thy land be not defiled, which the Yahweh thy Elohim giveth thee for an inheritance.
Yahushua was hanged on a tree, yet He committed no sins. It was for our iniquities and our transgressions that He was put to death, just as the prophets foretold:
Isaiah 53:5- But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 – All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and Yahweh hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
We have committed sins (transgressions of the law, 1 John 3:4) that are worthy of death (the wages of sin IS death, Romans 6:23). Yahushua has redeemed us from this curse by becoming a curse for us when Yahweh laid on Him the iniquity of us all. So for anyone to claim that they have salvation because they have done the law, they cannot be speaking the truth. None of us has done them, so none of us will live (have eternal life) by them. Anyone saying that you aren’t saved unless you are first circumcised and keep the law is seeking salvation by their own works and are under a curse. Such a one has not submitted to the truth that Yahushua’s righteousness is sufficient to bring a sinner the cleansing he needs to be a child of Abraham:
Galatians 3:13– The Messiah 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: 14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Yahushua the Messiah; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
We see this promise fulfilled when we saw how the Gentiles received the Spirit in Acts 10. So now the blessing of Abraham (eternal life in the promised land) would also come to the Gentiles when they receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. The Spirit of Yahweh was poured out on the Gentiles when He purified their hearts by faith in Acts 10 and other scriptures, proving that He had accepted them in their uncircumcised state when they believed in Yahushua. For Jews to refuse fellowship with Gentiles (Galatians 2, Acts 11, 15) until they were circumcised and kept the law was hypocritical, was a misrepresentation of the true good news, and denied the power of Yahushua’s blood as being sufficient to cleanse us of all unrighteousness.
Next Paul begins to explain how the good news was preached to Abraham in the Genesis 12 & 22 promises, and how that applies to us today as well:
Galatians 3:15– Brethren, 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.
Even in covenants of men, no one can take away or add to that covenant. Therefore the same is true of Yahweh’s covenants.
Galatians 3:16– Now 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 the Messiah.
Notice carefully that Paul makes an important point regarding Genesis 22. Yahweh did NOT mean “To seeds” (all descendants of Abraham) but rather “To his SEED” (Yahushua the Messiah). Thus, the promise is made to two people: Abraham and Yahushua. For “He saith not, And to seeds, as of many“.
Not everyone is going to inherit the land promised to Abraham. The wicked among the literal children of Israel will not inherit it. The wicked among the Gentiles will not inherit it. Only the righteous will inherit the land. In order for one to be righteous, they need to be a part of the body of Messiah, the “Seed” to whom the promises are made. Thus, Yahweh said to Abraham:
Genesis 12:3– And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
Genesis 22:18- And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.
So Yahweh also promised to Abraham and to the Messiah that through them all the nations and families of the earth (Yes, Gentiles!) would be blessed.through Abraham and through his Seed, the Messiah. That blessing is eternal life in the promised land. Thus, the following promise in Genesis is fulfilled in Him:
Genesis 3:15- And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
We know that Yahushua bruised the head of the serpent, but not without a wound Himself. Yahweh chose to bring this Seed (the Messiah) through a son of Abraham, then later narrowed it down to a son of David, then through Mary, the prophetic woman who brought forth the Seed that would destroy the work of the enemy–namely, sin and death.
1 John 3:8- He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of Elohim was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.
Let’s continue in Galatians 3:
Galatians 3:16- Now 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 Messiah. 17 – And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of Elohim in Messiah, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.
Now here is where it can get very confusing if we did not understand the previous points and the context in which they were given. The ‘good news of the circumcision’ sought to involve the necessity of circumcision and Torah/law keeping as a prerequisite to receiving salvation (forgiveness of sin and eternal life in the promised land) and being accepted into full fellowship. But Paul is making the point that there is nothing written later on in the Torah that can disannul the promise given to Abraham and to His seed. If we are in Yahushua, we have everything we need! The additional requirements which the ‘good news of the circumcision’ sought to involve were attempts to disannul the Abrahamic covenant or add to it. So Paul said:
Galatians 3:18- For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but Elohim gave it to Abraham by promise.
So if the inheritance (eternal life in the promised land) comes from Yahweh’s law then it is no longer a promise but something conditional upon our own perfection. If it were conditional upon our own ability to obey the Torah, none of us would make it. Therefore, we need the promise. It is this promise to Abraham and to his Seed (Yahushua) which is actually the “Good news” that we need. It is that “Good News” that was preached to Abraham:
Galatians3:8- And the scripture, foreseeing that Yahweh would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, [saying], In thee shall all nations be blessed. 9 – So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
We need to be as faithful Abraham who believed the “good news” and we need to be the Seed of Abraham (Messiah) in order to be blessed with the inheritance. It is no longer we who live, it is Yahushua the Seed of Abraham who lives in us. This is the simple plan of salvation that Yahweh first mentioned in Genesis 3:15 right after the first sin was committed, further revealed by Yahweh’s promise to Abraham and to his Seed, and even further revealed by the righteousness found in the Torah, Yahweh’s promise to David, and the words of the prophets.
So where does the law of Yahweh actually fit in all of this? Paul was glad we asked….
Galatians 3:19– Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.
Now if we hadn’t paid any attention to the previous verses, we might get the impression that the law was just a temporary thing until Yahushua came. But since we have been going over this very carefully, we will understand what is truly meant here in verse 19.
Firstly, notice that it says that the law was added ‘because of transgressions.’ It needed to be established that Yahweh has a righteous standard that He wants everyone to live by. If Yahweh had not given the Torah/law, there would have been no transgression from which one needed to be redeemed through Yahushua the Messiah:
Romans 4:15- for where no law is, there is no transgression.
Now notice that it says that it was added…”till the seed should come to whom the promise was made.” But to whom was the promise made? We know the answer:
Galatians 3:16- Now 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 Messiah.
The promise was made to Abraham and to the Messiah Yahushua, his Seed.
But how is it that Seed should come to Abraham and Himself? Oh but this is the beauty of the good news! We ARE the body of the Messiah. It is no longer we who live but Messiah who lives in us. The day will come when Yahushua will return to gather each of us (His body) together with Abraham and at that time we will have no need of the Torah because we will no longer have sin within us.
1 Timothy 1:9- Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 – For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;
Are there such men on the earth today? Certainly, and sometimes those who are in the body of Messiah fail to cleave to sound doctrine. Therefore, the need for the law of Yahweh to instruct us is still here any time we might fall short of righteousness.
Suppose for a moment you had the responsibility to supervise a room of 30 children for a day. On the first day you supervised them, all of the children were loving, obedient and never needed a bit of correction. In such a condition there would be no need for laws, commandments and ordinances to keep the children from doing wrong.
Now suppose that on the second day you supervised them, there were some major problems where the children were starting to get selfish and were fighting with one another. You would then need to set up “ground rules” (i.e. commandments, ordinances, statutes, laws) for the children to follow so that they would learn to walk in love rather than hate.
The same is true of our Heavenly Father. If we were walking in love, He would have no need to give us commandments, ordinances and laws to keep us from doing wrong things to Him and wrong things to one another. But since we have an inclination to do evil and be selfish, the Torah/law of Yahweh was given so that we would see that we have sinned against Him and against one another. When the day comes that we no longer have the inclination to do evil, we will have no need of the Torah any longer. But as long as there are lawless and disobedient sinners, unholy and profane men, liars, or any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine–the Torah/law is necessary to provide instruction in righteousness:
2 Timothy 3:16- All scripture is given by inspiration of Elohim, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 – That the man of Elohim may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
With these principles in mind, the correct understanding of Galatians 3:19 comes to light:
Galatians 3:19– Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.
The simple truth is that the earth was full of disobedient children who needed instruction in righteousness, but in our case also needed redemption from sin. If no law had been given, Yahweh’s righteous standard would have been unknown and none of us would have realized that we needed repent and be forgiven for anything. Yahweh had to show everyone what His will is, what His way of Righteousness is so that when Yahushua would come, we would all realize we are sinners.
Continuing in Galatians:
Galatians 3:20– Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but Elohim is one.
This vagueness of this verse has resulted in much perplexity among various commentators. I’ll be humble enough to join them in saying I’m not 100% sure what Paul exactly intended to say here with so few words, but I think it is at least safe to conclude that there is nothing here that has anything to do with the idea that we are free to defiantly disobey Yahweh’s law now.
Galatians 3:21- Is the law then against the promises of Elohim? Elohim forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.
If the law was able to give us righteousness and eternal life, it would have been against the promises of Yahweh which (as we discussed) involved the Seed (the Messiah) bringing us the blessing rather than the law. The law itself does not deliver the promise of life, it only points out what our sins actually are so that we will receive the promise of the inheritance by faith in Yahushua:
Galatians 3:22- But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Yahushua Messiah might be given to them that believe.
Were it not for the Torah, we would not have recognized our sin and we would have not sought to receive the promise by faith in Yahushua. So the Torah has an important role in us receiving the promise, but the Torah itself does not give us the promise. The Torah does promise life to those who do the things which were written within it, but none of us have done the things which are written within it! Only Yahushua has done it. Therefore we need to be a part of Him, and we need to abide in Him in order for us to receive the promise. The promise is to Him, and He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.. no man comes to the Father except through Him. Of course, as we discussed in the Galatians 2 study, those who abide in Him will want to walk as He walked…keeping the Torah.
1 John 2:6- He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.
But it is faith and salvation that comes first, not Torah observance. Otherwise, we are ALL condemned. Continuing in Galatians 3:
Galatians 3:23- But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24 – Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Messiah, that we might be justified by faith.
Before we believed, the Torah/law kept us under guard as a schoolmaster to teach us that we needed salvation and redemption. It confined us all under sin, kept until the promise by faith in Yahushua would be revealed to us. It’s purpose is to bring us to Yahushua so that we can be declared righteous by faith.
If today we chose to put ourselves under the law, we would be condemned. But if we humbly admitted that we needed Yahweh’s grace and chose to believe in the promise of justification by faith in Yahushua, we would be a part of His body and He would dwell in us so that we can receive the promise of eternal life.
Galatians 3:25- But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 26 – For ye are all the children of Elohim by faith in Messiah Yahushua. 27 – For as many of you as have been baptized into Messiah have put on Messiah.
If we were still under the schoolmaster/law, we would still be looking for the way to get out of the confinement of sin. But we consider ourselves children of Elohim by faith in Yahushua who is a Child of the living Elohim. We were baptized into Messiah and have put on Messiah. It is no longer we who live; it is Messiah who lives in us.
This being the case, we are no longer under the law/tutor which had the intent of bringing us to Yahushua through confining/concluding us all under sin. But of course, this does not mean that we can continue in sin so that grace may abound:
Romans 6:15- What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? Elohim forbid. 16 – Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
Romans 6:1- What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 – Elohim forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? 3 – Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Yahushua Messiah were baptized into his death? 4 – Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Messiah was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 – For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 6 – Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
Paul never taught that being under grace was a license to continue breaking Yahweh’s law. This is another perversion, the modern “good news” that is often proclaimed today. Rather, the fact that we are now Body of Messiah should demonstrate that we are to live as He did, walk as He walked and love as He loved. He kept the Torah perfectly, and it is He who now lives in us. Our choice to turn away from Torah breaking and receive Him for our salvation is evidence that He lives in us.
The problem with the Galatians is that they had it backwards. You don’t seek obedience to the law through human effort and then receive salvation; you receive salvation through Yahushua’s indwelling so that you have the power to walk in obedience!
The ‘good news of the circumcision’ was a false doctrine that created division within the body of Messiah, with the Gentiles being like second class citizens who needed more than Yahushua’s righteousness to be considered worthy of full fellowship.
In Galatians 3, Paul’s purpose is to demonstrate quite clearly one principle that exposes the ‘good news of the circumcision’ as a false doctrine that was never true: Salvation is not of the law, it is of promise. Therefore, we don’t need circumcision to be a son of Abraham, we need Yahushua the Messiah, the Seed of Abraham dwelling in us!
Galatians 3:27- For as many of you as have been baptized into Messiah have put on Messiah. 28 – There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Messiah Yahushua. 29 – And if ye be Messiah’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
HalleluYah, for in Yahweh’s eyes we are all Abraham’s Seed through Yahushua. It is through Yahweh’s promise to Abraham that this is so. Not through circumcision, not through our own righteousness…only through Yahushua and His Sonship, His righteousness, His indwelling. We are Israelites indeed through Yahushua who dwells in us. Because of this we are no longer strangers, but heirs:
Ephesians 2:8- For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of Elohim: 9 – Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 – For we are his workmanship, created in Messiah Yahushua unto good works, which Elohim hath before ordained that we should walk in them. 11 – Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12 – That at that time ye were without Messiah, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without Elohim in the world: 13 – But now in Messiah Yahushua ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Messiah.
Indeed, many of us in time past were Gentiles in the flesh, aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise. But through the good news of Yahushua the Messiah we are no longer Gentiles, but we are sons of Abraham, made nigh to the covenants of promise, joint heirs according to the promise, being one new man: Yahushua the Messiah living in each one of us.
For this, we have much to be thankful for. Let’s allow Him to live in each of us in such a way that others recognize the Torah observant Savior and want the peace and reconciliation with Yahweh that we have received through Him; cleaving to His promises, heeding His word, loving Yahweh with all our hearts, and loving one another as He so loved us. That’s what Yahushua is all about, and that’s what the Torah is all about. Fellow children of Yisrael, follow His example! Let no one tell you any different.
Next, read the study on Galatians 4 and 5.