Galatians 3:19-29

Galatians 3:19 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 scriptures proclaim that God created His own special people Israel through one man named Abraham. Ultimately, the purpose of this nation was to bring forth the Messiah (anointed) one who would save the world from their sin.

We learned in the last passage we studied that the promise was given to Abraham's seed (1- Jesus) not seeds (many- Israel). We have also pointed out that through the process of time Israel became very arrogant about their relationship with God. It is true that they were His chosen people. However, they became very self-centered in their view of themselves. It was always God's intention to save whosoever will take a drink of the water of life (John 7:37-39). 

In other words, God has always had a progressive plan that would eventually include the salvation of the entirety of the human race. We must be careful that we do not become short sighted and self-righteous as Israel did. Religion blinds the spiritual eyes and man has a way of somehow believing that he or his denomination is right and everyone else is wrong. 

Furthermore, we have a tendency to notice when others are struggling in the faith and judge them unworthy because they are not where we are. We must be reminded that the journey of Christianity is a lifelong process that does not take place overnight. Once a person is saved and exposed to the truth of the Gospel, a process takes place where their "old man" dies daily in Christ, and their "new man" begins to look more like Jesus everyday through access to the power of the Holy Spirit. But remember what I said, "This journey is a process." It does not happen overnight. 

In a similar fashion, God's redemption plan has been a steady, methodical process of revelation. Thus far in Galatians, Paul has been seemingly deriding or bashing the Law of God. But it is important for us to realize that the Law of God is not the enemy of man- sin is. The Law had a purpose. What Paul is trying to explain at this point is that the Law's purpose for man has passed because grace has come through Jesus.

Now we have covered this on multiple occasions, but we must be ever vigilant to remember that it is possible for the modern day Christian to submit themselves under the "government" of law, which will frustrate rather than give access to the grace of God in their lives. Also, mentioned numerous times is the idea that grace is not just forgiveness from God; instead, grace is power from God purchased by Jesus on the cross. Therefore, if the Christian submits himself under law…trying to live for God according to rules and regulations, he will frustrate the power of God in his life, which will result in failure rather than victory. 

Let's get back to the idea that just as the individual Christian journey is a process so is the salvation history of God. I love the terminology "Salvation History". It reminds me that God is at work not only in my life and your life but that He has been at work in the lives of millions of people since the beginning of time. It reminds me that He has been at work in the midst of human history. Better yet, it reminds me that He holds human history in his hands. He is the author and we are the characters in the book. The plot is that man has made choices that have introduced poison into his midst resulting in a slow insidious death, but God has a plan, which will prevail because it is His narrative.

While it may seem as though Paul has been harsh on the Law, he will now remind us that the Law served its purpose in the midst of "Salvation History". If you will notice, there are two words in this verse that point to this concept... It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; the two words I speak of are: (added and till). The Law was added to act as a throttle against sin until the time when the seed (Jesus) would be revealed. In addition, it is important to understand that these words describe a temporary answer.

I introduced an idea last week that God has always had a remnant in the land. He has had a people throughout human history to which He has revealed Himself. At the point in salvation history that He created His own special nation of people, He gave them the Law (Deuteronomy 6:1-9). The Law provided them with instruction on what was expected from them in order for them to represent Him by living a life of separation so that the heathen nations around them would have a witness before their eyes that there was another way to live their lives. In this fashion, the Law was added for a period of time to clearly delineate what God expected of His people. Because there were people then and even now who truly want to live for God, the adding of the Law gave them a guideline for their behavior. However, once the manifestation of the seed (Jesus) was fulfilled, the purpose of the Law was complete.

A quick review of Salvation History reveals that there was a time of innocence where man was without sin and enjoyed intimate fellowship with God. Then the cataclysmic change of the fall occurred, which infected humanity with a disease called sin. This malady separated God's prize creation from Himself. 

The process of restoration began with a purging of wickedness from the earth, which started with the flood and was followed with a promise given to Abraham. Part of the promise was that God would make a nation out of Abraham, which would ultimately produce a seed that would bless the entirety of the world (Genesis 12). 

God created the nation Israel as He promised and through Israel He brought forth Jesus. Through The ministry of Jesus a new time-frame in Salvation History was birthed. The New Covenant...the church age has been in existence for 2000 years and we are rapidly moving towards the next pages in salvation history, which will be the rapture of the church.

Following the Rapture of the church will be the second coming of Jesus where evil will be defeated, and Satan will be cast into the bottomless pit for 1000 years. This will usher in the next phase of Salvation History known as the millennial reign of Christ. During this time-frame, Jesus will literally rule and reign on the earth and His throne will be in Jerusalem.


Galatians 3:20 Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.

The idea here is that oftentimes when there is negotiation between parties there is a mediator who acts as a go between for the two parties. In the old Covenant, the Law was mediated by Moses and throughout Israel's history God utilized angels as messengers to communicate His plans and purpose. In the New Covenant, God became man, and Jesus mediates between man and God (2 Timothy 2:5). 

Ultimately, in OT times there were mediators, which negotiated and there were sacrifices used to ratify or make binding those covenants. So I want us to consider the concept that Jesus, the eternal Son and Word who spoke the world into existence, became man and was the representative of heaven and earth between God and man. Ultimately, He made right what Adam made wrong, and then He offered His perfect life as a perfect sacrifice, which completed and ratified (made binding) the New Covenant. What is interesting is that in this covenant, man only has one part. His part is to believe. Certainly, obedience is one of the ways that man exhibits faith in God, but man's part is faith in God's covenant. If we travel back to the time in the OT when God sealed this covenant with Abraham, we find that Abraham could not have had an active role in the promise other than faith because he was asleep under a tree while God fulfilled the obligations of the covenant (Genesis 15:5-21; Hebrews 6:13-14).

Galatians 3:21-22 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. 22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.

These two verses represent a common technique that Paul uses when he writes. He anticipates an argument that his enemies will make about his teaching and then he gives the answer to it. By doing this, he shuts their mouth before they open it. So the argument he expects the Judaizers to make is that Paul is claiming that God is confused and contradicting Himself. Instead, Paul's point is that the Law is merely a piece in the overall plan of Salvation History. The Law could not give righteousness to sinful man. It could communicate what righteousness looked like. However, in order for man to truly be made righteous, there would have to be a nature change. In the New Covenant, when we place our faith in Jesus, the "old man" we were dies in Christ and a "new man" is resurrected. Through faith in Jesus Christ and what He did for us on the cross, God is able to impart His righteousness to us, which results in a nature change.

So the Law served its purpose in its place in salvation history. However, its purpose was not to produce true righteousness in the lives of God's people. Some things that it did do: it throttled sin, it revealed sin, and it revealed God's holiness. In addition, Paul is about to explain that it acted as a warden and a nanny or disciplinarian until grace came, but ultimately, it was intended to reveal to Israel their need for Jesus because they could not keep the Law. 

Galatians 3:23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.

A comparison in the Greek of the words "22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin" in verse 22 to the words "shut up" in this verse, reveal the idea of imprisonment or being under the direction of a warden. Interestingly, in both cases, it is the same exact Greek word it was just translated into English two different ways by the translators. So the idea here is that sin imprisoned man and before grace came through Christ, the Law served as a warden, specifically, for Israel to carry humanity to the next phase of Salvation History. A modern day illustration would be that our society has laws and the citizens are expected to follow those laws. The laws provide an understanding of what is right and wrong. However, many times people choose to break the law and there are repercussions resulting in imprisonment where a person is placed under the control of a warden. In a similar since, God had requirements for His people Israel. There were certain behaviors that the other nations were partaking in that disgusted Him, and He was unwilling to allow His people to live their lives that way. The Law clearly communicated His desire for their behavior and when they went their own way, they were disciplined. In this sense, they were imprisoned or corralled until the promise came.

Galatians 3:24-25 24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

In addition to the Law acting as a warden, it also acted as a schoolmaster for Israel. It is important to take notice of the pronouns "we" used in this verse and the previous verse. In these verses Paul is referring to the Jews. Don’t misunderstand what I am saying everything that Paul is saying applies to the Galatians and us for that matter, but the point is that the Judaizers are trying to get the Galatians to live for God in a way that was never intended for Gentiles. Furthermore, at this point, it is now outdated for the Jews. In the next verses, he will use the pronoun "you" describing the Galatians. Once again, the Law’s purpose was in relation to His nation Israel during a specific time in Salvation History.

Let’s finish the analogy of a schoolmaster. The word in the Greek is pedagogue. There is no exact word in the English to describe this word. The idea is somewhat similar to our version of a nanny. 

Pedagogues were servant/ slaves whose purpose was to closely monitor the child throughout their maturation (development). They were responsible to correct, discipline and attend to the matters of their education. While they did not actually educate, they were overseers of that process. 

In this analogy, the idea is that God had created His own special people to whom He revealed Himself. The giving of the Law was intended to act as a temporary guardian or nanny to protect and preserve His people from the ravages of sin until the coming of the promised seed.

Galatians 3:26-27 26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

Here we see Paul referring to the fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham. By using the pronoun ye (you), he is referring to the Gentile Galatians. Through the fulfillment of the New Covenant, God has restored relationship with all humanity in Christ. Ultimately, sin had separated God from the presence of His prize creation. Now, through our new birth in Christ, we have been clothed in the righteousness of Jesus. We have put Him on- He is our cloak of righteousness.

Galatians 3:28-29 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 Christ Jesus. 29 And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

The result of our new birth in Christ, the putting on of His righteousness, and our right standing with God has produced equality amongst man. In other words, in God's eyes we are all equal because of the cross. In Christ, we are all His people. The product of a healthy vertical relationship with God results in a proper horizontal relationship with man. There is an entire discipline of philosophy that is devoted to the concept of ethics.

Ethics- that branch of philosophy that deals with the rightness and wrongness of human behavior. It deals with the goodness and badness of motives and the results of such actions.

However, true ethics cannot take place without conversion and submission to the Gospel. Mankind can put on an act and oftentimes deceive society...politicians do it all the time because humanity left to themselves incapable of exhibiting pure ethics towards their fellow man. While the Law communicated God’s ethical standards, it did not give man the strength he needed to accomplish God’s standards.

However, conversion in Christ writes the Law of God on the heart of the believer (Jeremiah 31:31; Ezekiel 36:25-27). How is the Law written on our hearts? The Law is written on our hearts because the author of the Law, the Spirit of God, has come to live on the inside of the believer. For the believer, there is an opportunity for true ethical behavior to take place because the Holy Spirit through the Word discerns and reveals to us the motives of our hearts.

Hebrews 4:12 12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.