Overview of Chapter Three:

Chapters one and two were largely personal in nature. Paul was defending his apostleship and the truth of his message. We are now embarking on chapters three and four which are largely doctrinal, presenting the mechanics of the truth. We will see in chapters five and six the practical applications of the doctrine in our Christian lives.

In chapter 3 Paul continues to present arguments for the truth of the grace message, both for eternal life and for the Christian's daily life. He then launches into a powerful and decisive discourse stating the purpose for the law as it applies to us today. Paul's conclusions about the purpose of the Law are in conflict with that of many religious leaders of today. We choose to go by God's Word, not the majority.[1]

In chapters 3 and 4 Paul presents 6 bases of arguments[2] for the truth of the grace message that he taught; three in chapter 3 and three in chapter 4. His argument is to prove that salvation is by grace through faith apart from the works of the law (Eph. 2:8, 9) and that we as believers are to live the same way (Col. 2:6; Gal. 2:20).

1. Personal argument- 3:1-5

Paul challenges the Galatian believers to test their experience by God's Word.  They had no excuse. The OT Scriptures are replete with prophecies concerning their coming Messiah and justification by faith. He did not question their salvation but confronts them as to whether they were saved by the Spirit or by works; probably meant as a rhetorical question. He then questions the means of their sanctification. (cf. Col. 2:7). There is no provision in the law for the Holy Spirit to do the work of sanctification.



2. Scriptural argument - 3:6-14

Paul quotes or alludes to 6 OT passages (Gen.15:6; Gen. 12:3; Deut. 27:26: Hab. 2:4; Lev. 18:5; Deut. 21:23).   

These verses establish several pertinent points including: that Abraham was justified by faith long before the law was given; that just as Abraham was saved by faith, so are those who claim to be his children; that the law does not save; it condemns; that the just shall live by faith, not the law; and more.

3. Logical argument - 3:15-29 - The Abrahamic Covenant was a unilateral agreement and unconditional. A contract is a contract. The law came after the covenant and cannot nullify it. The purpose of the law is to bring us unto Messiah.

4. Dispensational argument - 4:1-7  Paul highlights the distinction that can help us discern the relative place of the OT believers with those of us in this present dispensation. We are heirs of God through Christ (v. 7) and we become sons of God by belief in Jesus (John 1:12).

5. Sentimental argument - 4:8-18 - When you have liberty, why voluntarily return to bondage?

6. Allegorical argument - 4:19-31- Abraham & law - two sons, two types of birth; of the flesh and or the spirit, two women, two covenants, two mountains, two states; children of the bondwoman and children of the free.

Chapter Three Text

3:1. O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?

2.  This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

3.  Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

4.  Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.

5.  He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

1. Personal argument- 3:1-5

The Hebrew Scriptures, which we call the Old Testament and the Jews call the Tanach,[3] contains over 300 prophecies[4] of Yeshua's[5] first advent and much more than that amount of His second advent. These verses challenge the Galatian believers to judge their experience by God's Word and to then discard the error. In verses 1 and 2, he relates his argument to their salvation experience and in verses 3-5, to their Christian life experience. Many people today get this backwards; they judge God's Word by their experience. Basing the establishment of truth upon experience is invalid if it conflicts with the truth of God's Word.

3:1. O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?

"O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched[6] you, that ye should not obey[7] the truth,..."[8] By calling the Galatians "foolish" he does not mean that they were ignorant or stupid, for they were well-informed. They had been led to Christ and taught by the apostle Paul. He means that they were "unthinking" or "unwise"[9] to "not obey the truth." He was not being improperly judgmental; he was speaking the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). They had been foolish to embrace a doctrine which declared the death of Jesus unnecessary. This action is totally irrational when compared with what they knew of Scripture.  They were acting as if they were under some kind of a spell. Clearly, they had lost the basic truth of what they had once adopted. There is much in the OT concerning Messiah's coming to earth to pay for our sins by His sacrificial death on the cross. Paul had reinforced that teaching while he was with them on his first missionary journey (Acts 13 and 14). Yes, in spite of some of the current liberal and tolerant ideologies, there is such a thing as absolute truth.[10]

"... Before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth,[11] crucified[12] among you?

"Hath been evidently set forth" is from one Greek word  προγράφω (prog-raf'-o), and means, "written before;" possibly in this context implying clarity or emphasis. The crucifixion/sacrificial death of Messiah was prophesied in their Scriptures (Ps. 22; Isa. 53: et al).  It was not only clearly written in the OT but Paul had also taught the truth. They were without excuse (cf. Rom. 1:20).

I have spoken with many people over the years about the truth[13] of the gospel. Many simply are not seeking truth and some are adamantly against truth if it happens to disagree with what they think or want. There are legitimate interpretation issues, but some things are quite clear. In Eph. 2:8, 9, it states that we are saved "...not of works..." I have been told by some that this phrase does not mean, "not of works," but actually means, "not of works only;" which is exactly opposite of what it says and is not supported by its context nor other Scripture. I have also been told, "That is your interpretation." When they were asked how they would interpret the phrase, "not of works," they don't come up with any better interpretation.

I would be a millionaire if I had a million dollars. "If" is a mighty important word in that statement. Words mean something. Frequently, but not always, the issue in accepting Bible truth is not interpretation. It is willful unbelief.

In Acts 17:11, Luke speaks approvingly of the Jews of Berea,[14] who upon hearing Paul teach, diligently scrutinized the message to see if it aligned with God's Word.

"These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so."[15]

A key to applying this verse in our lives is the "readiness of mind" which the Bereans displayed. They consistently and diligently searched God's Word for truth but they were willing to accept a teaching if it was shown to be true.[16] If God's Word speaks favorably about comparing what the apostle Paul taught them with Scripture, then it would certainly be advisable to do the same with what I say or what any other Bible teacher says (and especially what we ourselves say to others). Eph. 4:14 warns us that we should "...be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive." The doctrine of many Christians is about as strong as the last exciting TV preacher that they heard. You are accountable for your own doctrine and Bible study[17] (2 Tim. 2:15).  

Several qualities that we see to be essential for beneficial  Bible study and consistent spiritual growth include: 1. Honesty (Rom. 12:17) - a difficult quality to achieve since "the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked." (Jer. 17:9). 2. Diligence - which is actually the message of 2 Tim. 2:15. KJV "study" is σπουδαζω (spoo-dad’-zo) and the word actually means "to be diligent." The same word is translated "diligence" in 4:9 and 4:21. We believe that some of the "gems" in the Word are reserved for those who are willing to dig for them and then use them for Yahweh's[18] glory, and 3. The willingness to be able to be proven wrong, i.e. humility (James 4:10 and context). This might be the most difficult to achieve due to our pride. Initially, it is difficult but in the long run, it is easier because you then don't have to keep trying to defend something that is indefensible and those efforts can be directed elsewhere toward growing in truth.

2.  This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

This probably is a rhetorical question as it pretty much answers itself in its context. He was not questioning their eternal salvation.[19] Their eyes had turned from the cross to the law. The point that he was pressing here is that just as they were saved by faith and not by the law, neither could they live the Christian life by the law. There is no provision in the law for the Holy Spirit to do the work of sanctification. Our spiritual growth has to be by faith also. The Christian life was not intended to be controlled by the commandments, but by the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:16). This was essentially a Gentile church. The Gentiles never even had the law. The Judaizers were promoting this legalistic teaching.

3.  Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

Paul advances another rhetorical and pointed question concerning their foolishness. Perhaps he had not read Dale Carnegie's book, "How to Win Friends and Influence People."[20] Paul loved the Galatian believers and endeavored to influence them, but his primary goal was not to make friends (Gal. 1:10). It is foolish to think that a believer can be brought to maturity by the law. As one Bible teacher put it, "The law cannot justify the sinner nor can it sanctify the saint." We are exhorted to "grow in grace" as it says in 2 Peter 3:18:

"But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen."

Some of the false teachers who had influenced the Galatians were teaching justification by works (Gal. 2:4, 16).  Here we see that some of the false teachers were accepting salvation by faith but making the law a requirement for sanctification or the means of living the Christian life. Both of these teachings are rampant today.

We see a contrast here between the Spirit and the flesh. this will be expanded upon in comments on Galatians 5:16-26. We need to live by faith in the power of the Holy Spirit.

4.  Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.

This is the fourth question in this immediate context. Paul had suffered persecution when he ministered to the Galatians (Acts 14:2, 5, 19, 22). If the Galatians had taken a stand for Christ, they would have suffered persecution for their "grace" stand. If they then returned to the yoke of the law, they would have branded their former position as error and suffered so much for nothing.

2 Tim. 3:12 tells us, "... all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." If you as a believer have not suffered persecution then either you are not living godly in Christ Jesus, or, just wait awhile; it's coming. We are in enemy territory (2 Cor. 4:4) and the enemy is spiritual (Eph. 6:10-20).[21] We need spiritual armor and weaponry in order to be victorious.

Though we do not look forward with glee to suffering, we have God's promise," For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." (Rom. 8:18; Please see also 1 Pet. 4:12-14).

Paul later informs us how he could have avoided persecution himself; simply to stop taking a stand for Christ by not preaching the truth[22] (Gal. 5:11). What do you suppose our Savior would think about that?

5.  He therefore that ministereth[23] to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

Another rhetorical question: Upon what basis did God through Paul accomplish the miracles among them? The one who supplied the Spirit to you (God, through Paul), and worked miracles among you (could be translated "in you" - εν υμιν), did he do it through the works of the law or by the hearing of faith? (See Acts 14:3, 10, 20, for miracles which Paul did while in Galatia during his first missionary journey). This is almost a repetition of the question that he asked in verse 2. It should be clearly apparent that these supernatural acts were not by works of the law. "...The hearing of faith:"[24] faith in whom, see verse one; Jesus Christ.

In verse 2 and verse 5, we see that Paul makes two similar contrasts.  In verse 2 he contrasts receiving the Spirit "by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith," referring to their initial salvation experience. In verse 5, he contrasts the one who ministered the Spirit to them and worked miracles among them as to how he did it, "by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith." This has to do with their sanctification and spiritual growth.

The following shows how one Bible teacher[25] aptly outlines and summarizes these 5 verses:

Verses 1-5 – Five questions from their very own experience:

     Question 1:  Who has bewitched you?   “foolish” = senseless or unthinking  “bewitched” = ‘to delude’ or ‘cast a spell on.’

     Question 2:  How did you receive the Holy Spirit?

                     By the works of the Law?    By hearing with faith?

     Question 3:  How is God sanctifying you?

                     Perfected by the flesh?        Perfected by the Spirit?

     Question 4: Have your sufferings been useless?

                     Suffered because of Law?    Suffered because of faith?

     Question 5: What is the basis of God’s present work among you?

                     By the works of the Law?    By hearing with faith?



3:6. Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.

7.    Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.

8.  And 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.

9.    So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.

10. For 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.

11.  But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.

12.  And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.

13.  Christ 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 Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

2. Scriptural argument - 3:6-14

Paul quotes or alludes to 6 OT passages (vs. 6, 7 - Gen.15:6; vs. 8, 9 - Gen. 12:3; v. 10 - Deut. 27:26; v. 11 - Hab. 2:4; v. 12 - Lev. 18:5; v. 13 - Deut. 21:23). These verses establish several pertinent points including: that Abraham was justified by faith long before the law was given; that just as Abraham was saved by faith, so are those who claim to be his children; that the law does not save; it condemns; that the just shall live by faith, not the law; and more.

Paul had just presented his argument by asking several questions pertaining to their experience; how were they justified and how were they sanctified; by faith or by the law. He now turns to several OT passages on order to further establish his grace message.

Let us follow a brief "rabbit trail" and look at several NT passages for a moment to establish a point that many of us frequently do not consider. In Luke 24:13-27, we read the account of Jesus walking on the road to Emmaus with two of His followers shortly after His resurrection. He informed them in verse 24, “…beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.”

In Acts 28:23, 31, we see the apostle Paul under house arrest for two years in Rome, where he diligently taught many about Yeshua the Savior and the Kingdom of God, “…persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.”

In 2 Timothy 3:15, 16, Paul is speaking to Timothy and proclaims, “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” Timothy was justified in God's sight after Jesus' crucifixion the same way that Abraham was justified about 2,000 years before; by faith (Gen. 15:6; cf. Rom. 4:3; Gal. 3:6; James 2:23).

What is one consistent factor[26] in these three passages? We see that God has revealed much of what we might call "New Testament truths" in the Old Testament. The point meant to be established here is, even though the NT expands on many OT doctrines, God's plan of salvation through Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah or Annointed) is evident throughout the OT. The Old Testament is the "Bible" that was used by Yeshua and his apostles.[27] In this portion of his epistle Paul uses OT passages to establish his argument for the grace gospel.

6. Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted[28] to him for righteousness.

Paul quotes Gen. 15:6[29] here. Abraham was justified in God's sight the same way that he had taught the Galatians that they could be justified; by faith. Some believers of our day, knowing that we are no longer under the Dispensation of Law, might ask the reasonable question, "How were people in the Old Testament justified; by the law?" The answer is found in this verse and others; they were justified by believing/faith,[30] just as we are today. They believed in the Messiah to come. We believe in the same Messiah who already has come to earth and paid the death penalty for our sins (Rom. 6:23). 

The Judaizers could not use the argument that the father of the Jewish nation was circumcised in order to be justified in God's sight. Abraham was accounted righteous by faith in Genesis 15. He was not circumcised until Gen. 17:9-14 (cf. Rom. 4;9, 10). This was about 13 years after the events of Genesis 15. This was also about 400 years before the Law. Abraham could not have been justified by the Law of Moses even if it was otherwise humanly possible.

Even though Abraham was considered to be the father of the Jewish nation,[31] he was not a Jew. He was a Gentile and a Hebrew.[32] His son Isaac[33] was not a Jew.[34] His son Jacob,[35] who was later named Israel,[36] could be called an Israelite, but even he was not a Jew. He had 12 sons who were the patriarchs of the 12 tribes of Israel; Judah[37] was one of them. Judah's lineage technically were Jews but those from all 12 tribes of Israel are frequently called Jews today.              

For an interesting side-note on the Hebrew language: When God changed the name of Abram and Sarai (Gen. 17:5, 15), He added the letter ה (hay) to each of them. The Hebrew alphabet is unique in that each of the 22 letters not only represents a sound, but also a number and a word or concept.

In the Hebrew pictorial language, the ה (hay) represents a window, behold, or breath, spirit. Could there be any reference to the Holy Spirit here and His future purpose for them? (Hebrew reads right to left).

      Abram (אברם - ab-rawm') high father

Abraham ( אברהם - ab-raw-hawm') father of a multitude (Gen. 17:5)

  Sarai (שׂרי - saw-rah'ee) princess

Sarah (שׂרה - saw-raw') noblewoman

The word "father" in Hebrew is אב - (awb) - (abba, in the vocative case; Gal. 4:6). Notice above that it is also the first two letters in Abram and Abraham. In paleo-Hebrew, the א (aleph) looked like an ox head and represents "strength, leader." The ב (bet) resembled and means a house. (E.g. The word "bet" is used in Bethel which means "house of God," Bethlehem means "house of bread.") The father, אב (awb), is intended to be the head and strength of the home.

When we take the word אב (awb - father) and add ה (hay, the Holy Spirit?) to it, we get (אהב - aw-hab'). This is none other than the Hebrew word for "Love." Love is the essence of the Father (1 John 4:8b). This is also the end of our mini-Hebrew lesson for the day.

  Back to Abraham: "Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." He was justified in God's sight; not by works, not by the Mosaic Law, but by believing God. This same verse is quoted in James 2:23. This is the context of the well-known phrase, "faith without works is dead" (James 2:17, 21).

That statement, "faith without works is dead," is frequently used as a catch-all "proof text" by both the cults and mainline, and supposedly Bible-believing denominations, in an attempt to substantiate their doctrine of a faith-plus-works requirement for eternal life. It is extremely important to know what this passage is not saying, but, I think, also equally important to know what it is saying. For those who wish to pursue it, we highly recommend several excellent Bible studies on our website[38] that offer a reasonable explanation for the whole context.

We are concerned here about Abraham being justified by faith. In a nutshell, the James 2 passage is not saying that a person who has faith without works is lost or unsaved, nor is it saying that to receive eternal life that there are two requirements; faith and some undetermined quantity of good works.

What it is saying is that there are two types of justification; one by faith before God and another by works before man. Please take time to seriously consider the recommended Bible studies along with the whole context and then make your own decision.

James also quotes Genesis 15:6 and uses Abraham as an example of being justified by faith in God's sight in 2:23 and of being justified in man's sight by works in 2:21. He specifies that this works-related justification occurred "when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar"[39] (Gen. 22). This event occurred probably at least 30 years after his justification by faith mentioned in Gen. 15.

Another quote of Genesis 15:6 is found in Romans 4:1-5, which also shows the distinction between the two types of justification:

1  What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?

2  For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.

3  For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

4  Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

5  But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

Using Abraham as an example, this passage identifies the difference between being justified in man's sight by works, and being justified in God's sight by belief. It clarifies the distinction between unmerited justification in God's sight by faith, and a reward that is out of debt. Abraham was not justified by faith and works. There were two types of justification, by two different methods, before two different entities. He was justified by faith before God and he was justified by works before man. These same principles also apply to us today.

Later in this same chapter (Rom. 4), we see the record of an example of Abraham's faith. Usually, when we seek a Bible definition of faith, we go to the "faith" chapter, Hebrews 11. Verse 1 tells us, "Now faith is the substance[40] of things hoped for, the evidence[41] of things not seen." This is probably a shortcoming on my account, but the full impact of this verse is just not real clear to me. In Romans 4, we have what I call the description of faith. This is something that I can really "hang my hat on." (A colloquialism that improperly ends with a preposition☺).

Abraham had been told by God that he was to be the father of many nations. Humanly speaking, both he and Sarah were much too old to have children. We see in verses 20 and 21:

"He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform."

To me, "being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform" is a reasonable and understandable expectation for me in response to such an awesome and trustworthy God (Psalm. 33:8; Prov. 3:5, 6).

7.  Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children[42] of Abraham.

In John, chapter 8, the Jews claimed Abraham as their father (v. 53). Yeshua agreed that they were Abraham's seed (v. 37), but in the process of them seeking to kill Him, He negated the claim that they were Abraham's children (v. 39), and pronounced that their father was the devil (v. 44). Jesus went on to establish that He was greater than their father, Abraham. Jesus is eternal and outside of time; He is God Himself." Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am." (v. 58).

As a side note: This verse as it stands is fatal to the Jehovah's Witness doctrine that denies the deity of Christ. An attempt to refute the doctrine of the deity of Christ was made with their first edition of the "New World Translation" in 1950 which was translated by a group of JW's and is their official translation. The NWT translates this verse as, "Before Abraham came into existence, I have been." This inaccurate and unsubstantiated translation eliminates any apparent allusion to Yahweh's statements in Exodus 3:14 and the "I am" passages in Isaiah. This could mean that Yeshua came into existence sometime before Abraham but was not eternal. Their first defense for translating the present tense as past tense was that they said that the verb portion of "I am" (ἐγώ εἰμί[43] - eg-o' i-mee') was in the "perfect indefinite tense."

When it was exposed that this "tense" was an invention of the JW's and did not exist, they presented no defense for their assertion but then defended their translation by stating that the verb should be translated as a "historical present." However, historical presents[44] have nothing to do with perfect tenses nor with the present tense following an "aorist infinitive clause." The new defense in effect rejected the old defense but was no better.

Later NWT footnotes at John 8:58 were changed from using "perfect indefinite" to "perfect indicative" or just "perfect tense." There is a "perfect tense" in Greek but I can find no example of it being used with εἰμί. The word εἰμί is present active indicative. If it was in the perfect tense it would begin with "η" (eta) not "ε" (epsilon). The Watchtower has come up with several explanations for all this; some of them are self-contradictory.

A couple of lessons that we can apply out of this are: 1. Don't believe everything you hear, even if (or especially if) it comes from a religion or a religious leader. Check it out before you depend on it as truth (Acts 17:11; 2 Tim. 2:15). And 2. It has been wisely said, "Sometimes it is easier to lie in Greek than in English."[45] Don't let the esoteric terms sway you. Check it out first.[46]  

Back to Galatians: Verse 7 is a deduction from verse 6 (see "therefore").[47] According to this verse, we as believers, due to our faith, are considered as children of Abraham. The Jews can claim Abraham in the physical sense[48] but both believing Jews and Gentiles can claim Abraham as our father in the spiritual sense. The point made here is that physical descendency from Abraham[49] did not ensure or bring with it spiritual descendencey. Personal faith is a prerequisite for spiritual identity with God in any age (Heb. 11:6).

We will see shortly how the Abrahamic Covenant is of benefit to us, Jew and Gentile alike.

8.  And 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.

Paul quotes here from Genesis 12:3. "Heathen" here is referring Gentiles or non-Jews. They were to be saved just as Abraham was; by faith. The Judaizers reasoned that Abraham was their father, that they were chosen by Yahweh to propagate His name, and that Abraham had received the rite of circumcision as a sign of Yahweh's covenant blessing (Gen. 17:10), that therefore, the Gentiles would have to receive circumcision in order to be blessed in Abraham. What "gospel"[50] or "good news" did scripture preach to Abraham? "In thee shall all nations of the earth be blessed." It was the good news about the coming Messiah Who would be in Abraham's lineage. Notice that the blessing is not just for the Jews; it is for all nations; ”... God would justify the heathen [Gentiles] through faith."

9.  So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.

 Some of these "foolish Galatians" had made an erroneous deduction due to the false teaching of the Judaizers. Paul's conclusion is that the Gentiles received the blessing of Abraham the same way that "faithful"[51] Abraham had; by believing. The error is repeatedly counteracted by the OT Scripture.

For those who are interested in the typology[52] of Isaac and Jesus. we include here a chart showing some of the areas in which Isaac prefigures Yeshua:




Only begotten Son

Genesis 22:2

John 3:16

Offered on a mountain, hill

Genesis 22:2

Matt. 21:10

Took donkey to place of sacrifice

Genesis 22:3

Matt. 21:2-11

Two men went with him.

Genesis 22:3

Mark 15:27; Luke 23:33

Three day journey. Jesus: three days in the grave

Genesis 22:4

Luke 24:13-21

Son carried wood on his back up hill

Genesis 22:6

John 19:17

God will provide for Himself the lamb

Genesis 22:8

John 1:29

Son was offered on the wood

Genesis 22:9

Luke 23:33

Ram in thicket of thorns

Genesis 22:13

John 19:2

The seed will be multiplied

Genesis 22:17

John 1:12; Isaiah 53:10

Abraham went down, Son didn't, "not mentioned again," until he meets his bride

Genesis 22:19; Genesis 24

Luke 23:46

Servant gets bride for son

Genesis 24:1-4

Eph. 5:22-32; Rev. 21:2,9; 22:17

The bride was a beautiful virgin

Genesis 24:16

2 Cor. 11:2


The Jews call the event in Genesis 22 "The Akedah" (הָעֲקֵידָה), the binding, from עקד (aw-kad') to bind. Abraham knew that if he offered Isaac that God was able to raise him up. (Heb. 11:17-19). By faith, he was willing to obey God in offering Isaac. In effect he was saying, “I will obey you LORD, it’s up to you to work out the details.” God had promised Abraham a son who would be next in the lineage of Messiah. He was asked to believe God in a long-promised, and a long-delayed son when both of them were past child-bearing age. It is apparent that Abraham believed also in the resurrection.

Abraham was  about 75 years old when he was promised a land, a seed, and a blessing; which is in a nutshell, the Abrahamic covenant. (Gen. 12:1-4). He was 86 years old when Ishmael was born. (Gen. 16:16) and 100 years old when Isaac was born Gen. (17:17; 21:5).

It is interesting to me that when the LORD promised to give Abraham virility to bear the promised son, Isaac, that God’s blessing did not stop there. After Sarah died (Gen. 23:1), he remarried and continued to father children for years after and died at 175 years of age (Gen. 25:1-8). Our God has been known to bless His faithful children abundantly.  

For those who are interested, we include here a more detailed explanation of the Abrahamic Covenant from the notes in the Scofield Reference Bible:

The Abrahamic Covenant as formed (Gen. 12:1-4) and confirmed (Gen. 13:14-17; 15:1-7; 17:1-8) is in seven distinct parts:

(1) "I will make of thee a great nation." Fulfilled in a threefold way:

(a) In a natural posterity — "as the dust of the earth (Gen. 13:16; (John 8:37), viz. the Hebrew people.

(b) In a spiritual posterity — "look now toward heaven…so shall thy seed be" (John 8:39; Rom. 4:16,17; 9:7,8; Gal. 3:6,7,29), viz. all men of faith, whether Jew or Gentile.

(c) Fulfilled also through Ishmael (Gen. 17:18-20).

(2) "I will bless thee." Fulfilled in two ways:

(a) temporally (Gen. 13:14,15,17; 15:18; 24:34,35).

(b) spiritually (Gen. 15:6; John 8:56).

(3) "And make thy name great." Abraham’s is one of the universal names.

(4) "And thou shalt be a blessing" (Gal. 3:13,14).

(5) "I will bless them that bless thee." In fulfillment closely related to the next clause.

(6) "And curse him that curseth thee." Wonderfully fulfilled in the history of the dispersion.  It has invariably fared ill with the people who have persecuted the Jew—well with those who have protected him. The future will still more remarkably prove this principle (Deut. 30:7; Isa. 14:1, 2; Joel 3:1-8; Mic. 5:7-9; Hag. 2:22; Zec. 14:1-3; Mt. 25:40,45).

(7) "In thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed." This is the great evangelic promise fulfilled in Abraham’s Seed, Christ (Gal. 3:16; John 8:56-58).

It brings into greater definiteness the promise of the Adamic Covenant concerning the Seed of the woman (Gen. 3:15).

NOTE.—The gift of the land is modified by prophecies of three dispossessions and restorations (Gen. 15:13, 14, 16; Jer. 25:11, 12; Deut. 28:62-65; 30:1-3). Two dispossessions and restorations have been accomplished. Israel is now in the third dispersion, from which she will be restored at the return of the Lord as King under the Davidic Covenant (Deut. 30:3; Jer. 23:5-8; Eze. 37:21-25; Luke 1:30-33; Acts 15:14-17).


10.  For 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.

Paul here alludes to Deut. 27:26. We will approach more about the "curse of the law" when we get to verse 13. Those who try to be justified by the works of the law are under the curse. Justification in God's sight is not possible by man's righteousness (Isa. 64:6; Jer. 17:9).

The breaking of the law in any point, even once, brings a person under the condemnation of the law. Since everyone of us has failed at some points, then everyone of us is brought under the curse of the law. The best that the law can do is to not curse you if you are perfect.[53] It can condemn you but cannot commend you. If you are imperfect, consider yourself  "toast." 

James 2:10 gives us much the same message: "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." A helpful illustration: If you were to swing out off of a cliff over a deep valley hanging on to a chain with all of the links defective, it is obvious that you would fall to the bottom of the valley. But what if all the links were good except for one? Would you just fall two inches? Of course not. One broken link in the chain makes it defective. One sin makes you a sinner. All of us have sinned (Rom. 3:23). Sin cannot enter a perfect heaven (Rev. 21:27). God cannot even let one person in with a little sin as it would pollute the place for everybody. That is why we need a perfect substitute to take our place (2 Cor. 5:21; Isa. 53:6). We will see more about this in verse 13.

This dismal sounding pronouncement of our failure under the law will show a divine purpose when we read further in this chapter and see that the purpose of the condemnation of the law is intended to bring us to Christ, our Savior.

The proposition that a person can obtain divine approval by the law is totally destroyed. That is the point of the law. We, by our own means cannot make it. That is why the only alternative is such good news, as we see proclaimed in the next verse.

11.  But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.

Here is the verse that changed the world, "The just shall live by faith." This is a quote from Hab. 2:4.[54]

[1] There is saying derived from a 1927 song and later movie entitled, "Fifty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong." I've got news for you; not only can they be wrong, but because humans are frequently ungodly, they usually are wrong.  

[2] These 6 points were derived from Galatians MP3 study by Chuck Missler, http://www.khouse.org

[3] Tanach" is the Jewish acronym for Torah, [law], Nevi'im, [prophets], and Ketuvim [writings]). The Tanach, or Hebrew Bible contains the same books as does our OT but a few are in a different order. The Jewish religion does not accept our NT (Brit Hadashaw’ - (בּרית הדשה - New Covenant, from Jer. 31:31) as being God’s Word.

[4] See for example http://www.bibleprobe.com/365messianicprophecies.htm or www.present-truth.org/1-Jesus/300-PROPHECIES-FULFILLED.pdf

[5] Jesus is English for the Hebrew name, "Yeshua," which is a combination of two Hebrew words, Yahweh (יהוה), the name of the LORD (Jer. 33:2), and Yasha, (ישׁע) meaning "save" or "savior;" In other words, "Yahweh is Savior" or Yahweh Saves." "Jesus" is English and has no intrinsic meaning as it is transliterated from the Greek Ιησους (ee-ay-sooce’) which is transliterated from the Hebrew, Yeshua.

[6] "Bewitch" (βασκαίνω - bas-kah'ee-no) to fascinate (by false representations), to charm, to bewitch. This is the only example of the word in the NT. For any who might care, this is called a "hapax legomenon" - (ἅπαξ λεγόμενον), Lit. "something said once."

[7] "Obey" (πείθω - pi'-tho) Also translated "persuade," "trust," "have confidence." This is not the only word that is translated "obey" in the NT.

[8] Some of those in the Galatian churches did not obey the truth. These churches had a problem. There is a fictitious story told of three churches in a small rural community in the South who also had a problem; they all were overrun by pesky squirrels. They were a Presbyterian church, a Methodist church, and a Roman Catholic church. The Presbyterian church held a meeting and decided after much prayer and consideration that the squirrels were predestined to be there and that they should do nothing to interfere with God's divine will. The Methodist church decided that they were not in any position to harm any of God's creation so they decided that they would humanely trap the squirrels and release them a few miles from town. However, each time they did this the squirrels would return a couple of days later. Only the Catholics were able to come up with the best and most effective solution to the problem. They baptized the squirrels and enrolled them as members of the church. Now they only see the squirrels on Christmas and Easter.

Frankly, it would be a relief if the most serious problem in our churches was just that of pesky squirrels. Are you and I any part of the bigger problems? Some pastors have indicated that they feel that they spend the majority of their ministering time "babysitting" only a small portion of the congregation. It's not a sin to be a baby. It's a sin to voluntarily remain one (1 Pet. 2:2; Heb. 5:11-14).  

[9] In contrast, Prov. 9:10 says that, "The fear [reverence] of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom...."

[10] Pilate asked, "What is truth?" God says: "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6) and, "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." John 17:17).

[11] "Hath been evidently set forth" is from one Greek word  προγράφω (prog-raf'-o), and means, "written before;" possibly in this context also implying clarity or emphasis.

[12] It was necessary that the crucifixion and resurrection take place in order for us to be eternally saved (1 Cor. 15:17, 18). Though it is helpful to explain to unbelievers what Jesus did in order for us to be saved, I can find no Biblical evidence that we have to believe in the events in order to be saved. John 3:16 says that whosoever believes in him (Jesus) has everlasting life. We believe in Jesus who was crucified and resurrected, etc..

[13] I have shared the Gospel with several who objected to God's truth and claimed that there are no absolutes. I countered with the question, "Are you absolutely sure of that?" So far I have not received an adequate response to my responding question.

[14] "Berea," presently known as "Veria" or "Veroia" is 40 miles west of Thessalonica in Macedonia, just north of the northern border of Greece. Thessalonica is found on the map on page 28.

[15] It is noteworthy that the next verse begins with, "Therefore many of them believed..." This is an expected result of an unbeliever honestly seeking God's truth in His Word.

[16] I remember reading of a debate some years ago between an atheist and a Christian Bible teacher. During the debate, the Bible teacher was accused of "refusing to follow truth wherever it might lead." This likely was an undeserved accusation but it certainly should not be true of us. This would be comparable to a person saying, "Don't confuse me with the facts. My mind is already made up." 

[17] 2 Tim. 3:16, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:" One Bible teacher's comments on this verse include: "doctrine - what is right; reproof - what is wrong; correction - how to get right; instruction in righteousness - how to stay right."

[18] If you prefer to pronounce the LORD's name "Jehovah," you are in good company as most of English speaking Christendom does so and the KJV translates it as such 7 times, including 3 compound titles. In the KJV over 6,500 instances of the Hebrew word יהוה are translated as LORD, with all uppercase letters. How did the "Jehovah" spelling come to be? According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, 1991 under the heading "Yahweh", here is how this name came into being:

"The Masoretes, who from about the 6th to the 10th century worked to reproduce the original text of the Hebrew Bible, replaced the vowels of the name YHWH with the vowel signs of the Hebrew word Adonai or Elohim. Thus the artificial name Jehovah (YeHoWaH) came into being."

A large amount of, but not all, Hebrew scholars agree that the word should be pronounced as Yahweh or similar. I choose this pronunciation due to the higher probability of it being correct.

[19] We as believers have the Holy Spirit indwelling us (1 Cor. 6:19, 20) and believers are baptized by the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 12:13). This is all comes to us by God's grace with our spiritual birth by our belief in Jesus (John 3:1-18). Believers are never told to be baptized in the Holy Spirit because this is something that God Himself does when we believe. All six references to the baptism of the Holy Spirit are in the indicative mood, not imperative; statements, not commands (Matt. 3:11; 28:19; Mk. 1:8; Luke 3:16; John1:33; Acts 1:5). 

[20] We have all met people whom we think should read and apply a book entitled, "How to Win Back the Friends You've Influenced."

[21] For a helpful study on this passage, please see http://www.freegraceresources.org/armor.html

[22] There is a pointed story told about a young Christian man who was accepted to work during the summer at a logging camp. His father knew that there were some rough and ungodly men working there and was concerned about unnecessary persecution against his son.  

After a while the father received a letter from his son stating that he didn't have to worry about him being persecuted for being a believer. No one even knew he was a Christian!

Needless to say this is a sorry and selfish way to handle our life for our Savior Who has done so much for us (1 Cor. 6:19, 20).

[23] "Ministereth" is not the usual word translated "minister." This is ἐπιχορηγέω - (ep-ee-khor-ayg-eh'-o) and means to "supply" or "furnish."

[24] The phrase "of faith" is used in Galatians 3:2, 5, 7, 9, 12, 6:1. It appears that in verses 7 and 9 that it is referring to those who have faith; i.e. believers in Jesus.

[25] Pastor Kenny Hodges, from Galatians outline.  http://www.emmanuelmsu.org  See "Theological Topics" in menus at left, for some other good grace-related Bible studies.

[26] An unrelated but humorous and possibly convicting consistency issue might be to answer the question, "What is the one common factor in all of your dissatisfying relationships?"

[27] They also used and quoted the Septuagint translation also known as the LXX for the supposed 72 translators. It was the Hebrew scriptures (OT) translated from Hebrew to Greek, ca. 270 BC. Due to the influence of Alexander the Great three centuries earlier, Greek was the "lingua franca" or common trade language of the civilized world at that time. Many people knew both their native language and also the common (κοινή, koy-nay) Greek. God used the universal Greek language and the Roman road system to further His cause when the Messiah came to fulfill His mission here (Luke 19:10).

[28] "Accounted"(λογίζομαι - log-id'-zom-ahee) Also translated, impute, reckon, count. Justification does not make a person righteous, it declares him righteous. It is a forensic or legal term. Justification is something that God does for or to us, sanctification is something that He does in us.

[29] This verse is in the context of Yahweh promising Abram not only progeny, but a multitude of descendants. This is part of the Abrahamic Covenant.  

[30] "Faith/belief" (πίστις - pis'-tis) is the noun form of the verb "believe" (πιστεύω  - pist-yoo'-o).

[31] He is also considered to be the father of the descendants of Ishmael.

[32] Hebrew (עברי - ib-ree') one who crosses over or one from beyond; Has come to also means Abraham's descendants on Isaac's side and also the language.

[33] Isaac, יצחק (yits-khawk') laughter, mockery.

[34] Jew, יהוּדי - yeh-hoo-dee' Technically a descendant of Judah, but frequently used for the whole nation of Israel. After the divided kingdom (shortly after Solomn's death, ca. 931 BC), the northern tribes were frequently called Israel and the southern tribes were called Judah.

[35] Jacob, יעקב (yah-ak-obe') heel catcher (that is, supplanter)

[36] Israel, ישׂראל (yis-raw-ale') prince of God, he will rule as God.

[37] Judah, יהוּדה - (yeh-hoo-daw') praised, celebrated,


[38] Please see http://www.freegraceresources.org/james214.html for several important studies on James 2.

[39] Contrary to the picture that we have seen in our Sunday School quarterly, at that time, Isaac was a grown man, not a small child. Josephus has him as 25 years old and Jewish tradition has him as 38. The typology of Isaac to Yeshua is an interesting study which we recommend to any who are interested.

[40] "Substance" ὑπόστασις - (hoop-os'-tas-is) "essence," "assurance," "confidence."

[41] "Evidence" ἔλεγχος - (el'-eng-khos) "proof," "conviction," "evidence."

[42] This is not the usual word for children which is "τέκνον" (tek'-non) born ones - from "τίκτω" (tik'-to) to bear a child. The Greek word here is "υἱός" (hwee-os') which is the usual word for "son." It is both a physical and legal term and sometimes carries with it the implication of maturity. For some reason unknown to me, the KJV occasionally translates either of these words as the other one. 

[43] "εἰμί (i-mee') is 1st person singular, present tense, and simply means, "I am." E.g. as in Luke 22:33, "...I am (εἰμί) ready to go with thee...." If we add the ἐγώ (eg-o') to εἰμί (i-mee'), it adds emphasis to the "I" part of the phrase. In the above example if someone asked you and several others in your company, "Which one of you is ready to go with me?" You might reply, "I am (ἐγώ εἰμί) ready to go with you."

" ἐγώ εἰμί" does not inherently indicate deity but in some contexts it clearly does (e.g. John 18:5-7).

[44] "Historical present" is not another tense, it is simply how the present tense verb is used and interpreted. It is used in narrative to vividly portray an event and to draw the hearer into the midst of the scene as it unfolds.  

E.g. "Yesterday I went (past tense) to the store, then I walk (historical present) up to the counter and say (historical present) to the man..."

[45] E.g. A prominent Bible teacher known for his strong stand for Lordship salvation has taught that John 3:16, "whosoever believeth in him" means "whosoever keeps on believing in him." His defense for that is the claim that the verb is in the present continuous tense. There is no present continuous tense in Greek; just a continuous aspect of the present tense. That is determined by the text and context, not by preconceived doctrinal bias. (Actually, it is a present participle, but these principles still apply).

Aorist indicative means "past tense at a point in time." Several examples of aorist indicative "believe" in John: 2:23; 4:39, 41; 4:50, 53; 7:31; 8:30. Jesus said in John 6:47 ..."he that believeth on me hath everlasting life." "Hath" is present tense. That means that you have eternal life now, not in the future if you continue to believe for the rest of your life.

[46] This might be a good place to interject a suggestion which has been extremely helpful for my Bible study. For those who have access to a computer and the internet, there is an excellent and full-featured Bible research program available for free download at http://www.e-sword.net. After it is installed there are numerous module downloads available, both for free and to purchase. This program makes it extremely easy to look up Bible words in the original languages and it has too many other features to list here. It is one of several software applications that I use daily in my Bible study, There is little excuse today for most people not being able to seriously study God's Word.

[47] It's been wisely said that when you see a "therefore," check to see what it's there for.

[48] Of course, any Jew who believes in Yeshua HaMeshiach, their Messiah, has both physical and spiritual lineage to Abraham. It is interesting to note that today, some "Christians" wonder if the Jew can be saved. Almost all of the first Christians were Jewish. Many of them wondered if the Gentiles could be saved. John 3:16 says that "God so loved the world...." 

[49] An interesting side note: In John 8:44, Jesus advised the Jewish leaders who were trying to kill Him, "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do." Is this penetrating assessment just due to the fact that they had not been born again, or the result of their open sin against Messiah by trying to kill Him, or could it be even more literal and be a partial fulfillment of Genesis 3:15; the first prophecy of the coming Messiah (with a veiled implication of the virgin conception), where Yahweh declares war on the serpent and the serpent's seed? There is much more to be said on this topic if we get into a study of Genesis 6:1-4 (Cf. Jude 1:6, 7). This writer believes that a correct understanding of this passage is essential in order to more fully understand other portions of both the OT and  NT, especially in eschatology (the study of last things). There are many events occurring now as we approach the last days which the Bible prophesied, but the understanding of which we may be partially in a fog unless we correctly see the facts about the "seed of the serpent" and the identity of the "sons of God" in Gen. 6:2 & 4. Many excellent Bible teachers do not hold this interpretation but if any wish to pursue it, I have further information available.

[50] The phrase, " preached before the gospel" is one word in the Greek (προευαγγελίζομαι - pro-yoo-ang-ghel-id'-zom-ahee) and is literally "evangelized before," or "good-news-ized before."

[51] "Faithful" here (πιστώ, dative, singular adjective) could also be translated as "believing" as stated in Gal. 3:6.

[52] "Type" (τύπος - too'-pos) Translated as "ensample," "figure," "pattern," "manner," and others. That which is prefigured in a type is seen in the "antitype," αντιτυπον, translated "like figure, (1Pet. 3:21); and "figure," (Heb. 9:24). Events, persons or statements in the Old Testament are seen as types pre-figuring or superseded by antitypes, events or aspects of Christ or his revelation described in the New Testament.

[53] A story is told of a preacher while trying to illustrate this Biblical point, asked his congregation if there was anyone there who was perfect. Surprisingly, a man in the back raised his hand. The pastor then questioned him. He replied, "Oh, it's not me that I'm talking about. It's someone that I hear about often; my wife's first husband."

[54] The verse quoted here in Gal. 3:11 is also quoted in Rom. 1:17 and Heb. 10:38. This trilogy is offered by some as evidence that the Apostle Paul also authored the Epistle to the Hebrews.