4. Arguments in support of the proposition, 3:1-4:7

i, ii, iii] The first three arguments


From 3:1 to 4:11 Paul sets out to show, from scripture, how the gospel, of itself, apart from law-obedience, facilitates new life in Christ. In our passage for study he outlines three arguments in support of his proposition: First, experience shows that the renewing presence of the Spirit is a product of Christ's faithfulness, not our own, v1-5; Second, those who inherit God's promised new life are the spiritual children of Abraham, and like Abraham, they are people who rely on the faithfulness of God, v6-9; Third, it is simply not possible to inherit the blessing of new life, in all its fullness, through obedience to the law. The blessing of new life is a product of Jesus' faithfulness to God's will, not our own, v10-14.


i] Context: See 1:1-10. Paul now embarks on a series of arguments to support his proposition, namely, that the gospel, of itself, apart from the law, facilitates new life in Christ. Paul contends that a person, who is in the right with God on the basis of the faithfulness of Christ, is freely able to appropriate the fullness of God's promised new life, and this apart from law-obedience, 3:1-4:11. The seven arguments are as follows:

#1. Given that experience itself demonstrates that the renewing presence of the Spirit is facilitated by the faithfulness of Christ, it is obvious that new life in Christ is not dependent on our faithfulness, 3:1-5.

#2. Scripture reminds us that those who inherit God's promised new life are the spiritual descendents of Abraham, and like Abraham, they are people who rely on the faithfulness of God, 3:6-9.

#3. Scripture also makes it clear that it is not possible to inherit the blessing of new life, in all its fullness, through obedience to the law. Rather, the blessing is a product of Jesus' faithfulness to God's will, 3:10-14.

#4. The promise, a promise encapsulated in the covenant with Abraham and now realized in the gift of new life in Christ, is independent of the gift of the law, 3:15-18.

#5. The function of the Mosaic law was not to promote new life in Christ, but rather, to promote death until everything is put right by Christ, 3.19-24.

#6. The realization of the promised blessing of a worldwide people united before God, apart from the law, further proves that new life in Christ rests wholly on what Christ has done for us, 3:25-29.

#7. For those in Christ, the law has completed its appointed purpose of confinement, such that in Christ we now have the full and free enjoyment of sonship in God, and this with all its associated blessings, 4:1-7.


ii] Background: See 1:1-10.


iii] Structure: The first three arguments in support of the proposition present as follows:


The gospel, of itself, apart from the law, facilitates new life in Christ.

Supporting arguments:

#1. New life in Christ is not dependent on our faithfulness, 3:1-5;

#2. Those who inherit God's promised new life are the spiritual descendants of Abraham, 3:6-9;

#3. It is not possible to inherit the blessing of new life through obedience to the law, 3:10-14.


iv] Interpretation:

a) The first argument: For his first argument Paul draws on the personal experience of the Galatians, 3:1-5. Having experienced the renewing power of the Holy Spirit (a new heart within, Jer.31:33) through faith in Jesus Christ, the Galatians should have realized, by now, that their participation in the blessings of the kingdom (the promised blessing of the Abrahamic covenant) is based on Christ's faithfulness, not their faithfulness.


b) The second argument: The truth stated in 3:5, that God's promised blessings rest on Christ's faithfulness, leads Paul to his second argument, one supported from scripture, 3:6-9. In this argument, Paul reminds his readers of Abraham, a man who stood right before God due to his reliance on the faithfulness of God, v6. Paul then exegetes this verse, aligning Abraham's trust in God with the trust of believers in his own day, identifying them as Abraham's true children and therefore recipients, in like manner to Abraham, of the promised covenant blessing, v7-9.


c) The third argument: In his third argument, 3:10-14, Paul establishes from scripture that the promised blessing of life is not a product of law-obedience. All that law-obedience does is inculcate the curse of the law, v10. The promised new life is not facilitated by a faithful attention to the law, rather, it rests on the faithfulness of Christ, Hab.2:4, v11, and this because the commandments must be "done" to find life in them, Lev.18:5, v12. The simple fact is that the promised Abrahamic blessing, now realized in this present moment through the gift of the Holy Spirit, a gift experienced by Gentile believers as well as Jewish believers, rests wholly on Christ's atonement, v13-14.


v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage can be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 3:1

Arguments in support of the the proposition:

i] Given that experience itself demonstrates that the renewing presence of the Spirit is facilitated by the faithfulness of Christ, it is obvious that new life in Christ is not dependent on our faithfulness, v1-5.

Although the judaizers/nomists agree that a person is justified (judged right / set right before God) on the basis of the faithfulness of Christ, they hold that their ongoing participation in the Christian life (life under the covenant, in the kingdom of God), with all its associated blessings, is by "works of the law", as if law-obedience can restrain sin and progress holiness. Paul, on the other hand, contends that the blessings of the Christian life are a natural product of a person's standing in Christ. So now, in v1-5, Paul refers his readers to their Christian experience. It was through their belief in the gospel of the crucified Christ that they received God's promised blessing - life in the now through the wonder-working power of the Spirit, daily renewing them, building a new heart within. Given this fact, what has possessed them to abandon this mechanism of renewal for the subjection of the law?

We have noted in 2:16, and will see again in 3:6, that the judaizers seem to agree with the proposition that a person's justification rests on the grace of God and so obviously the problem lies with how they apply the doctrine in the Christian life. The judaizers seem to have a limited view of justification, namely, it only achieves our forgiveness. When it comes to a full participation in the Christian life (eg. sanctification) the judaizers see law-obedience as an essential supplement to the benefits of the atonement. For Paul, the totality of kingdom blessings are ours in Christ apart from works of the law.


Paul begins with a rhetorical questions, "who hypnotized you Galatians", who took away your capacity to think?

W "-" - Oh. Interjection.

ebaskanen (baskainw) aor. "[who] has bewitched" - Used in sorcery, "cast an evil eye on." "Who has hypnotized you", Hunter.

kata + acc. "before" - Often expressing a standard, "according to the eyes", here probably spacial, "before", as NIV. Possibly with "eye" serving to form an adverbial construction, "vividly / clearly / visibly".

oi|V dat. pro. "your [very eyes]" - to whom [Jesus Christ was, according to eyes, put forward, having been crucified]. Dative of indirect object / interest, advantage / possession, "for whom", of the verb "to put forward / placard / portray." The Galatians have been drawn aside by the "evil eye" (sorcery) of the judaizers and this because they have taken their eye off the crucified Lord. "You have had a clear picture of Jesus Christ crucified, right in front of your eyes", NJB.

proegrafh (prografw) aor. pas. "clearly portrayed as" - was put forward, portrayed, placarded. Obviously referring to the preaching of the gospel to the Galatians by Paul and his missionary team. "Was so graphically presented as", Berkeley.

estaurwmenoV (staurow) perf. pas. part. "crucified" - having been crucified. The participle serves as an object complement asserting a fact about the object "Jesus Christ"; "Jesus Christ the crucified", Moffatt. The perfect emphasizing the ongoing effects of this past event. The phrase "Christ crucified", a truth that was set before the Galatians, summarizes the apostolic gospel. It was placarded before them, so how could they ignore its facts?


In his second question, a question repeated in v5, Paul asks, "by what means did you Galatians receive the promised gift of the Holy Spirit?" Paul asks them to think for a moment about the reception of the Holy Spirit; did they receive the Spirit on the basis of their law-obedience, or their faith-response to the gospel?

monon adv. "one thing" - [this] only [I want to learn from you]. "I ask you only this", ESV = "answer me this single question."

maqein (manqanw) aor. inf. "to learn" - be informed, find something out. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of qelw, "I would like". Possibly used in the Old Testament sense of learning about the will of God, but more likely in a general sense of learning about something.

af (apo) + gen. "from [you]" - Expressing source/origin.

elabete (lambanw) "did you receive [the Spirit]" - "Receive" is limiting so "take hold of" is better, even emphasizing the agency of God, "the Spirit bestowed upon you", Cassirer. Certainly, in part, referring to "the inception of Christian life", Martyn, so Dunn, Garlington, Barnes (regeneration/conversion), Betz ("ecstatic experience" of), Bruce, George ("receiving by faith the promise of the Spirit"), Fung ("begun their Christian lives") ... although not just conversion, but "progress in the faith", Dumbrell, "the wonderful new spiritual life that had come to the Galatians", Hunter = the fruits of the Spirit, 5:22-23 (ethical?), that are a product of being "drenched" in the Spirit, 1Cor.12:13, in fulfillment of prophecy, cf. Acts 2, and the covenant promise of a new heart within, Jer.31:33. The outpouring of the Spirit, "the abundant supply of the Spirit", Guthrie, v5, was theirs by responding to the gospel in faith, not law-obedience. Interestingly, Martyn suggests that Paul raises the issue of the Spirit at this point as the judaizers were claiming that "law-obedient exegesis of scripture is the means by which one can be assured of a steady supply of the Spirit and of his wonder-working power" (the only person able to confirm a theory like this is Dr. Who!!). Martyn is surely right on the "steady supply of the Spirit". So, Paul is rightly amazed. Having experienced the "steady supply of the Spirit" through faith, the Galatians have now adopted the heresy that it is through obedience. So, "receive the Spirit" is best understood as "did you experience the renewing power of the Holy Spirit ....?"

ex + gen. "by" - out of, from. Here ek possibly taking the not-so-common sense of cause/reason where the idea of origin is expanded somewhat, so possibly: cause, "because of"; reason, "by reason of"; result, "as a result of", possibly means / basis, "by means of", Wuest. Cassirer opts for result, "as a result of works done", Barclay result/cause. In v5 the NIV opts for the causal sense, "because of". "Did you receive the Spirit because you observed the law, or because you .....?" Of course, the idea of origin does work by itself; "from works of the law", Berkeley, or better, "on the basis of law", Longenecker.

nomou (oV) gen. "[observing] the law" - [works ] of law. The genitive is adjectival, epexegetic / of definition, specifying the works in mind, namely those associated with the law. For "works of the law" see Galatians 2:16. Note the new perspective angle, eg. "In a nutshell, they received the Spirit not in the old era of the "flesh" (= "works of the law"), but in the new, eschatological age by "the hearing of faith", Garlington - another example of a focus on ecclesiology rather than soteriology. "Observance of God's law", Martyn.

h] "or" - Disjunctive.

ex + gen. "by" - See above.

pistewV (iV ewV) gen. "believing [what you heard]" - [hearing] of faith. The difficulty lies in whether we take the word with its active, or passive sense, and whether it is an objective, or subjective genitive. It seems likely that it is active, "believing", although a passive sense cannot be ruled out, but their is endless debate as to whether it is subjective, "is in faith / comes of faith / accompanied by faith", or objective, "leads to faith", eg. "the proclamation that has the power to elicit faith", Martyn. It seems more likely that it is a qualitative genitive, functioning adjectivally and so is modifying hearing / what is heard, ie. a faith/trust/believing type of hearing, the type that relies on God's promises. This term then, lit. "hearing of faith", expresses the same idea as "we believed in Christ Jesus", 2:16, and describes a faith-response to the gospel. This should not be confused with lit. "justified ... by means of faith of (NIV, "in") Christ", 2:16, or with lit. "by / out of faith", eg. 3:7, both of which phrases refer to God's/Christ's faith / faithfulness, upon which we place our faith. The one who responds to the gospel in faith is the one who receives the regenerative indwelling compelling presence of the Holy Spirit. cf. Ridderbos, or Fung for an extended discussion on the Gk. "Did you experience ...... from works of the law or from a hearing of faith."

akohV (h) "what you heard" - hearing. Most often in the NT taken in the passive sense of "tidings or news", as opposed to the active sense of "the act of hearing", and so the word often becomes a technical designation for what is preached, ie. the gospel; "the gospel message", REB. But see above.


Paul's third question, supported by another in v4, asks, "Are you Galatians so stupid, that having commenced your Christian walk with the gift of the indwelling Spirit of Christ, you now rest on law-obedience to access what is freely yours in Christ?"

ou{twV adv. "so" - in this way, so. Here adverbial, of degree, "so foolish."

anohtoi adj. "foolish" - senseless. Predicate adjective. "How can you be so sensless?", Barclay.

anarxamenoi (anarcomai) aor. part. "after beginning" - having begun. The participle is obviously adverbial, temporal, as NIV. Describing the beginning of a believer's Christian life in the hearing and acceptance of the gospel and the reception of the Holy Spirit, although the ongoing application and completion of that beginning, is what is in Paul's mind.

pneumati (a atoV) dat. "with / by means of the Spirit" - in/by spirit. Is the dative instrumental, or local (Bligh suggest adverbial), "by", or "with/in (the sphere of)?" This dative is balanced by the dative of "flesh" ("by human effort"), so the NIV has the first as local and the second as instrumental. Surely both are local, eg., Burton, "begun with Spirit ... finishing with flesh", so Moffatt, NAB .... ("in ... in", NJB), or instrumental, eg., "did you begin by the Spirit, but are now approaching perfection by fleshly means?", Williams, so Barnes, NASB ..... An instrumental sense seems best, although the point is typically condensed. The Galatian nomists began their Christian journey by putting their trust in the faithfulness of Christ and as a consequence were judged right before God and so received the blessing of the new covenant, namely, the gift of the Holy Spirit and his indwelling compelling love = a new heart within. Having begun their Christian walk by means of the Spirit = "live by [the] Spirit", they now foolishly seek to progress their Christian life "by [the] flesh" = by obedience to the law.

epiteleisqe (epitelew) pres. mid. "are you [now] trying to attain your goal" - are you perfecting / completing, finishing (mid = yourselves). The middle "bring [yourselves] to perfection" is better than the passive "being made perfect / being perfected", NASB, NEB ..., or "ending/completing" = "attain your goal", NIV. Surely this reflects the judaizers sanctification by obedience position, although in opposing this position, Paul is not proposing a Keswick sanctification position, a veiled perfectionism, although there is much of the "let go and live" about it. Sanctification, as a product of justification, is a state of holiness, which, through a reliance on the renewing power of the indwelling Spirit of Christ, we strive to apply in our daily life (be what we are); albeit, always imperfectly. "Are you trying to make yourselves perfect ....?"

sarki (sarx koV) dat. "by human effort / by means of the flesh" - by flesh. The dative is instrumental, expressing means. Paul is surely referring to "works of the law" = "the strict observance of the law of Moses" to maintain standing before God and thus, progress the Christian life. Of course, commentators tend toward the more specific issues of "circumcision and holy days", Barnes, while new perspective commentators argue that "flesh" = "the era of the flesh, that is, the old covenant / old creation as superintended by the law of Moses", Garlington.


epaqete (pascw) aor. "have you suffered" - did you experience / experience evil, suffer [so much in vain]. Paul may be referring to some specific suffering experienced by the Galatians, even just suffering in general, but it seems more likely that he is using the word here in the sense of "experience", referring to the Galatians experience of all that is theirs through the ministry of the indwelling Spirit, including the "signs, wonders and mighty works", cf. v5, so Fung, Garlington, Martyn, Betz, Dumbrell; "is all you have experienced to come to nothing", REB.

eikh/ adv. "in vain" - [so many things] in vain. "To no good purpose."

ei ge "if it really was [for nothing]" - if really indeed [in vain]. The construction often introduces the protasis of a conditional clause. Here, after a main clause, serving as an afterthought, even as a qualification, "an assumption the writer believes to be true", Burton; "of course / at any rate / I take it that."

kai "-" - even. Bligh suggest the particle here is emphatic serving to emphasize "in vain"; "have they all been useless (ie. their experience of the Spirit), if indeed one can say 'useless' in such a case?"


Paul now rounds off his argument by answering the question he posed in v2, so we may be better served if we translate the verse as a statement. "Therefore, God's gift to you of the continuous wonder-working renewal of the Spirit within you, is appropriated, not by obeying (because you obeyed) the law, but by believing the gospel".

oun "-" - therefore. Inferential, drawing a logical conclusion for the question posed in v2 (Bligh, "resumptive"?); "[so] would you say then that ...", NJB.

oJ epicorhgwn (epicorhgew) pres. part. "does God give" - the one supplying, giving abundantly. The participle serves as a substantive.

uJmin dat. pro. "you" - to you. Dative of indirect object.

energwn (energew) pres. part. "work [miracles]" - working, performing [powerful acts]. The participle serves as a substantive. The present tense is durative; "constantly working miracles", Wuest; "effects wonderworking power among you".

en uJmin "among you" - The preposition is local, distributive, "among you." Possibly "in you", Bligh, which would imply that the "works of power / mighty works" concern the renewal of our inner being, "the inward renewal of the Spirit", Burton, rather than miracles, eg., healings, exorcisms, ie., miraculous manifestations of the Spirit. So, instead of an expression of the eschatological powers of the age to come that, in the early church, accompanied conversion, it is more likely that Paul is referring to the gift and fruits of the Spirit, "the signs of God's continuous activity", Dumbrell, of his "sanctifying work of inner transformation [in you]", George.

ex + gen. "because" - from. See v2 above.


ii] Scripture reminds us that those who inherit God's promised new life are the spiritual descendents of Abraham, and like Abraham, they are people who rely on the faithfulness of God, v6-9.

In v1-5 Paul has contended that the consequent blessings that flow from having been justified (set / judged right with God), here with particular reference to the gift of the Spirit, stem from God's grace (covenant mercy) facilitated in the faithfulness of Christ (the atonement), which grace is appropriated by faith in Christ rather than law-obedience. Paul now supports this contention by quoting Genesis 15:6, reminding his readers of Abraham, a man who rested on the faithfulness of God and thus stood right before God, v6. Paul then goes on to exegete the verse. It was not Abraham's willingness to leave Haran for the promised land, nor his circumcision, nor his willingness to sacrifice his son that gained him standing before God, rather, it was God's faithfulness (grace / covenant mercy) appropriated through faith. The true children of Abraham are the children of "faith", not law, v7. It is they who are justified, v8, and who receive the promised blessings of the covenant, v9.

Garlington, Martyn, George, Bets, ... in fact, most commentators suggest that this passage reveals something of the line of argumentation used by the judaizers and there seems much to commend this idea, although we are left in the land of theory more than fact. Did the judaizers argue that Abraham served as the perfect example of a man of faith who progressed his life in faithful obedience, such that he was the father of obedience, the father of circumcision, eg. his willing offering of Isaac....? Then, from v7, did they argue that they, the children of the law, are properly the children of Abraham. So, is Paul establishing that Abraham is the father of "faith", and his children, the children of "faith", as a counter argument? Abraham, the man of faith, and his "true" children, the children of faith, certainly get a run in Galatians, as if central to Paul's argument against his opponents. The new perspective approach to what is a very difficult passage, is, as always, "left-of-field"; Abraham is properly part of the new inclusive covenant that has come to fruition in Christ and the Spirit, leaving behind the old and outmoded exclusive covenant of Judaism. Gentile inclusion certainly gets a run in this passage. Maybe we should just go with the master of simplicity, A.M. Hunter, who states that Paul is simply teaching "that faith, not works, is the way to acceptance with God". It does seem though that Paul's opponents happily accept that Abraham "believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness". What is probably not accepted by the judaizers is the implication of the doctrine, namely, that an ongoing and fruitful participation in the covenant, a genuine and worthy membership of the kingdom of God with all its associated blessings for now and forever, are similarly dependent on the faithfulness of Christ appropriated through faith, and not works of the law.


Paul now asks his readers to consider the example of Abraham. Abraham's true descendents are, like him, children of faith; they rely on the faithfulness of God and not works of the law. To settle this issue Paul quotes Genesis 15:6. Abraham put his trust in God's promises, and this was "credited" (counted) to him "as righteousness".

kaqwV "consider / so also [Abraham]" - insomuch as, just as. It seems likely that this conjunction picks up on what is said in v5 and provides an example. So, possibly the paragraph ends with v9 and not v5, - Barclay, Bruce, ... v6; Moffatt, .... v7; Cassirer, Knox, .. v14. Possibly even standing for "thus is it written", Garlington. "Consider the case of Abraham", Cassirer. With his "just as" Paul seems to be comparing the Galatians gift of the Spirit with Abraham's gift of righteousness.

Abraam "Abraham" - Nominative subject of the verb "to believe." Presumably Abraham gets a run here because he is used by the nomists as the exemplary father of obedience. "Abraham was perfect in all his deeds with the Lord, and well-pleasing in righteousness all the days of his life", Jubilees 23:10; "he kept the law of the Most High", Sir.44:20. Yet, Paul reminds his readers that Abraham is actually the father of faith. God's favour toward him stemmed from his reliance on a promise-keeping God, not his obedience.

episteusen (pisteuw) "believed in" - God set/judged Abraham righteous (justified) on the basis of his faith. Faith is not a meritorious work, nor does it equal obedience in God's sight, it is just that God, in his gracious kindness, counts a person right before him on the basis of their reliance on his promises; "trust in God's work, without consideration of what is attainable by human strength", Ridderbos. Note also, for Paul, the faith that justifies is not just an act of commitment at conversion (another possible approach adopted by the judaizers), rather, faith is "an ongoing trust in the Word of God", Barnes.

tw/ qeou/ dat. "God" - . Dative of direct object after the verb "to believe"; "he had faith in God", Moffatt.

elogisqh (logizomai) aor. pas. "it was credited" - it was accounted, reckoned. Divine passive. God chose to consider/regard Abraham as a covenant-keeping person. It has been traditionally understood that 1st century Judaism had come to understand faith as a deed that could be "accounted" as a meritorious work which earned entry to heaven, but recent investigations into second temple Judaism show that life is just not that simple. It is more than likely that Abraham's faith was not depreciated, but it was certainly validated by his meritorious deeds ("the obedience of faith" - the obedience that flows from faith, as opposed to the obedience that consists of faith - circumcision, the offering of Isaac, his rejection of idolatry, ...), deeds which maintained his covenant standing. It is for this reason that Paul quotes Gen.15:6 where his "hearing of faith" stands alone in securing his "accounted righteousness" before God, long before "works of law" / meritorious deeds come into play (eg. the willing offering of Isaac, Gen.22). It is also possible that the nomists aligned justification with conversion (an error rampant in Christian circles today, ie. we begin by faith, but must go on in obedience). Of course, Abraham was already a child of God having responded to God's word in faith long before this moment in Genesis chapter 15. For Paul, justification "cannot be reduced to an event which takes place for the individual at the beginning of the Christian life", Seifrid.

autw/ "to him" - him. The dative of indirect object / interest, advantage; "he [God] chose to regard him [Abraham]".

eiV "as" - to, into. "Chose to regard him to be right", that is, in respect/reference to his person.

dikaiosunhn (h) "righteousness" - "Fully right" = covenant compliant, right before God; "Upright".


Paul's law-bound opponents have implied that God's "blessing" of new life, evidenced in the gift of the Holy Spirit, comes only to those who, through circumcision and obedience to the law, align themselves with the patriarch Abraham. As far as Paul is concerned, this path leads to God's "curse". The children of Abraham are the children of faith, and it is they who are blessed.

ginwskete (ginwskw) aor. imp./ind. "understand" - know. Possibly imperative, as NIV, so Betz, Bruce, Fung, Garlington, Burton.., but indicative seems better, so Longenecker, Martyn, Barnes. Martyn sees it as an "epistolary disclosure formula" where Paul is drawing a truth from the quote; "so then, you are bound to see that ....", Barclay.

ara "then" - therefore. Drawing an inference from the quotation (possibly v5); "therefore". As noted above, the inference/conclusion is unclear. See below.

oJti "that" - Introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what they should know.

oiJ "those who [believe]" - the ones [of/from faith]. The article serves as a nominalizer turning the prepositional phrase ek pistewV, "from faith", into a substantive, "the ones from faith." "Those whose justification is derived from the faithfulness of Christ"; Restrictive and emphatic. The preposition ek most likely expresses origin, "those whose identity is derived from faith", Martyn, or "on the basis of", Zerwick. Garlington and others suggest that "from" faith is a designation of those who, as Martyn has it, derive their identity from faith, as opposed to the judaizers who derive their identity from circumcision, ie. the law. = "those from the circumcision party." There is a good possibility, therefore, that this is a technical term coined by Paul. Yet, the primary question is whose faith is Paul referring to. It is usually understood as the "faith" of the believer, but there is much to support the idea that Paul has in mind "the faith of Christ" = Christ's faithfulness, cf., 2:16. As noted in 3:11, the faith-response of the believer is a necessary complement to the "faith of Christ". The person whose identity as a justified person is derived from faith is a person who has applied both "the faith that is elicited by the message of Christ's death on [their] behalf and the faith of Christ enacted in his death", Martyn. Yet, what is the point of emphasizing that "those from faith are Abraham's children"? As noted above, Paul is answering the question, "who are the children of Abraham?" Ridderbos, cf. Fung, or even "how do people become children of Abraham and so receive God's blessing?" Allan. Paul may be establishing that "faith, not circumcision, was Abraham's means of entry to a covenant relationship and is thus the means of entry into the New Covenant relationship. So those who by grace believe in Jesus as Messiah and Lord are members of the New Covenant", Dumbrell. As already noted, behind these arguments is the assumption that the judaizers claim Abraham as the father of law, his circumcision, Gen.17, particularly in his preparedness to sacrifice Isaac, Gen.22, to which Paul argues that he is more properly the father of faith, Gen.15:6, and therefore the father of "the faith party", Cole, rather than "the law party". Yet, as noted above, Paul may simply be supporting his contention that the blessings of the kingdom are ours on the basis of what Christ has done for us ("faith of Christ"), as evidenced in the gift of the Spirit, v1-5, and as evidenced in the fulfilment of the covenant promises given to Abraham, namely, the blessing of the nations, v6-9.

ek "-" - [the ones] from [faith]. Expressing origin again; .

ouJtoi "-" - these ones. This resumptive pronoun is also emphatic; "these ones, that is, those from faith rather than from works of the law, are the sons of Abraham."

uiJoi "children" - sons. Predicate nominative. The nonsexist "children" is better than the literal "sons" - "sons and daughters." Is it "are the children", or "are like the children"?

Abraam "of Abraham" - Classified as a genitive, adjectival, relational.


"Given that Abraham's covenant standing was based on faith [God's faith/faithfulness and his own faith/trust], Abraham's true children are those who take their stand upon faith, v7, and scripture tells us that those children include Gentiles, those whose covenant standing, and thus blessing, like Abraham's, is faith-based (not law-based)."

hJ grafh (h) "the scripture" - the writing. Probably referring to the quote to follow, Gen.12:2.

proidousa (proeidon) aor. part. "foresaw" - having seen ahead of time. The participle is adverbial, causal. "A figure of speech", Burton, expressing "divine foresight." A personification of God's Spirit speaking through the scriptures, so Bligh. God is fully aware of the inclusive nature of the time of fulfilment proclaimed in the gospel and reveals the truth of the coming day of Gentile blessing to Abraham. "And the scriptures, seeing what is now happening", Martyn.

oJti "that" - Introducing a dependent statement. Martyn translates it as appositional, "namely that ....."

ek pistewV "[would justify the Gentiles] by faith" - from faith. Usually taken to express means / basis, "by means of faith", Zerwick, but better "on the ground of their faith", Bruce. As already noted the "faith" is God's faith, his faithfulness to his promises, appropriated through faith, cf v7 and 2:16. "On the basis of faith", Martyn.

dikaioi (dikaiow) "would justify" - justify. Futuristic present, Longenecker, Burton; "would bring into a right relationship", Barclay. See 2:16. None-the-less, aspect is probably more important with the present tense expressing durative action, "it is God's abiding policy", Bruce. cf. 2:16.

proeuhggelisato (proeuagglizomai) aor. "announced the gospel in advance" - communicated the news beforehand. In the sense that the covenant promises to Abraham foreshadowed the inclusive nature of the gospel, the kingdom at hand.

tw/ Abraam dat. "to Abraham" - Dative of indirect object.

oJti "-" - that. Here introducing a direct quote that supports Paul's assertion that faith-based Gentiles are properly Abraham's children.

ta eqhn "nations" - the nations. "Gentiles" is intended, Burton.

eneuloghqhsontai (eneulogew) fut. pas. "will be blessed" - The Heb. verb is reflective, "bless themselves", ie. the nations will bless themselves through their association with Israel. Paul's change is fairly radical and would have been contested by the judaizers, none the less the inclusive nature of the kingdom is better reflected in Paul's "interpretive gloss." It can be argued that this text, Gen.12:3, is central to the argument posed by the judaizers and is only used by Paul for this reason. It can also be argued that Paul would be happier if the text had "justified" instead of "blessed", but then for Paul, the blessing of new life is the substance of justification. It is likely that the blessing of the Gentiles is central to Paul's own argument, even if he doesn't use the text again in this letters. Blessing in the Christian life is the issue here, blessings rightly appropriated by faith-based Gentiles, and this against the judaizers who may well accept that covenant acceptance rests on faith, but that the ongoing blessings of the covenant rest on obedience.

en + dat. "through [you]" - in, with. Here possibly expressing space/sphere, "in you shall all the nations be blessed", ESV, instrumental, expressing means, "through / by means of", as NIV, or more basal, "on the ground of", "on the basis of what he is, or has done", Burton. So, the prepositional phrase is somewhat ambiguous. For Paul the sense is obviously "by virtue of Abraham's faith", but for the judaizers it was probably "by virtue of Abraham's obedience". Does Paul use this quote because it is used by the judaizers?


"Therefore, it is the children of faith, along with the man of faith, who receive the blessings of the covenant."

wJste "so" - so that. Often used to introduce a purpose clause, but here obviously a consecutive clause expressing result; "with the result that ...."

oiJ "those who [have faith]" - the ones [from faith]. The article serves as a nominalizer turning the prepositional phrase ek pistewV into a substantival construction; "The men of faith", Betz, possibly exegetes "all the nations" = "all the Gentiles [with a faith like Abraham's]." "Those who are marked by belief [in God]", Bruce, so "believers". Probably best expressed as "the ones whose right-standing before God is derived from the faithfulness of God realized in Christ", cf. v7.

eulogountai (eulogew) pres. pas. "are blessed" - Again the present tense expressing a durative aspect and this with a divine passive. Again many commentators suggest that Paul would have been happier with "justified" instead of "blessed", possibly using "blessed" because it was the language of his opponents. Possibly it was, but for Paul, justification and it's product, the blessing of God, cannot be separated.

sun + dat. "along with" - with. Expressing association; "with / by means of ", Bruce. Of course, it is the children of Abraham that are blessed along with Abraham.

pistw/ adj. "[the man] of faith" - faithful, trustworthy. Here though, "believing"; "the believing man", Bruce = "Abraham the believer", Betz.


iii] Scripture also makes it clear that it is not possible to inherit the blessing of new life, in all its fullness, through obedience to the law. Rather, the blessing is a product of Jesus' faithfulness to God's will, v10-14.

The promised blessing of life is not a product of law-obedience. All that law-obedience does is inculcate the curse of the law, v10. A person's participation in the promised blessing to Abraham is not facilitated by a faithful attention to the law. The scriptures make it clear that the promise of new life, for a person who is right with God, rests on the faithfulness of Christ, Hab.2:4, v11, and not on law-obedience, for the commandments must be "done" to find life in them, Lev.18:5, v12. The simple fact is that the promised Abrahamic blessing, now realized in this present moment through the gift of the Holy Spirit, a gift experienced by Gentile believers as well as Jewish believers, is facilitated in/by Christ's atonement, appropriated through faith/trust, v13-14.

This passage is central to the reformed argument that a person is reconciled to God wholly on the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ appropriated through faith. Yet, Paul's argument is not about reconciliation, given that his opponents agree with him on how a person is reconciled to God. Paul's argument is that Christ's faithfulness ("faith of Christ" = Christ's willing reliance on the promises of God even unto death = faithfulness of Christ) facilitates the Abrahamic blessing of new life for a reconciled / justified person, not their own faithfulness. New perspective commentators similarly struggle with this passage in that Paul certainly doesn't define the law in terms of an identifier of Jewish exclusivism. Also, Wright's argument that "the curse of the law" is the exile, leaves us here with Christ undertaking the exile for us, but then, what about our sin?


Paul now quotes three Old Testament passages (Deut.22:26a, Hab.2:4b, Lev.18:5b) in support of his proposition that a person who is set right before God on the basis of Jesus' faithfulness, appropriated though faith, freely receives the blessing of new life in Christ, and this apart from obedience to the law. Law-obedience for blessing serves only to evoke God's curse (expose sin and thus prompt condemnation). It is the righteous by faith who live.

gar "- / for" - for. More reason than cause; introducing a counter argument to v7-9 / a logical connective / a stitching divice; "everyone, however, who is involved in trying to keep the law", Phillips; "on the other hand", NEB.

oJsoi pro. "all who" - as many as. Nominative subject of the verb to-be; "All those who".

ex + gen. "rely on" - from. Possibly with the sense "on the basis of", so "rely on / depend on", but a more technical sense is probably intended, as of a "member of a certain class", Zerwick. A similar construction is used by Paul with reference to "those from circumcision", meaning, "those who are members of the circumcision party", as with "those from faith", ie. members of the faith party, or as Martyn has it, "those whose identity is derived from faith (their faith in Christ and Christ's faith/faithfulness). So here, the law party, "those whose identity is derived from observance of the law", Martyn, possibly even "those who think that their justification is derived from observance of the law".

nomou (oV) gen. "[observing] the law / [works] of the law" - [works] of law. The anarthrous genitive "of law" is adjectival, epexegetic / of definition, limiting by specifying the "works", law type works/deeds, "obedience demanded by the law of Moses." Probably a descriptor of nomism; "performance will win (better "maintain/improve") acceptance (approval) before God", Bruce.

uJpo "[are] under" - Here expressing subordination; "under".

kataran (a) "a curse" - The divine curse prompted by covenant noncompliance. New perspective commentators argue that the curse only applies to an intentional, defiant noncompliance, although this seems unlikely. It is true that the sacrificial system only really covered inadvertent sin, but the perspective of the scriptures is that all Israel is under the curse (people and nation) and that God will have to supply a sacrifice worthy enough to turn aside the divine wrath (note how Burton does not like the link between the curse and divine judgment). The noun is anarthrous giving the sense "curse opposed to blessing", Hendriksen.

oJti "[as it is written]" - Here introducing a dependent statement, quotation.

epikataratoV adj. "cursed" - cursed. Predicate adjective. Under the wrath of God for sin.

paV "[is] everyone" - all. As with "everything" (found in the LXX), the "everyone" is not found in the MT. Paul is generalizing and so extending the legal requirements of the law, something that Jesus was always doing. This has caused commentators some difficulty, particularly those from a new perspective position. Sanders dodges the problem by arguing that the verse stresses "law" and "cursed", not "everyone" and "everything", but then, Paul has chosen to use both words. It is certainly hard to argue that 2nd temple Judaism held that covenant inclusion was gained by obedience (legalism), but certainly it held that covenant standing was maintained by obedience (nomism). Yet, even then it is hard to argue that perfect obedience was expected since covenant membership always rests on God's covenant mercy. It is very unlikely that Paul's opponents would support the notion that perfect covenant compliance, in terms of a strict application of the law, was a necessary requirement for continued covenant standing. So, it is unlikely that mercy and forgiveness are foreign to a judaizer. Yet, the use of "works of law" as a tool to restrain sin and progress holiness to fully access the promised blessings of the covenant, is, for Paul, flawed theology. For "works of law" to work requires perfect obedience - "everyone" and "everything". Without perfection, the tool of law-obedience serves only to expose the human condition of sin and the inculcate the curse of the law, namely divine judgment, and so undermine a believer's standing before God.

ouk emmenei (emmenw) pres. "does not continue" - does not abide, continue. The durative sense of the present tense and the verb itself, "continue", in the quote from Deut.27:26, reminds us again that the maintenance of covenant standing for blessing is the issue at hand. "Persevere in", Zerwick.

tou poihsai (poiew) aor. inf. "to do" - A genitive articular infinitive. Translated in the NIV as a complementary infinitive, completing the sense of "continue", but it could well form a purpose clause, "in order that", or a result clause, "with the result that"; "cursed is everyone who is not steadfast in observing all the things written in the book of the law, so as to do them", Martyn. Possibly serving as a type of Latin modal ablative, "by doing them", Bligh. Possibly, "cursed is every who does not adhere to ........, and practise them", Cassirer.

toiV gegammenoiV (grafw) dat. perf. pas. part. "[everything] written" - [by/in all] the things having been written. The participle can be classified as adjectival, attributive, limiting the substantive adjective "all = everything." The dative may be taken as instrumental, "does not abide by all the things written in the Book of the Law", ESV, or local, sphere, "does not abide in all the things written ..."

en + dat. "in [the Book of the Law]" - in the scroll of the law. Local, expressing space. The whole law is obviously intended, not just the new perspective "boundary markers" of Jewish exclusivism. "Book of the law" is a little confusing since Paul is referring to the totality of God's law recorded in the scriptures so "everyone who doesn't obey everything in the law is under a curse", CEV.


"The person who is right with God (articular adj. = the set/judged right before God type of person) is a person who is grounded on the faithfulness of God. Such a person will experience God's promised new life". Habakkuk 2:4. The context and traditional interpretation of this quote is obviously well known to Paul. The "just" person, the person who is right, in the right with God and thus in a right relationship with God, is someone like Abraham. Such a person is "right" because they rely on God's faithfulness, they trust his promises, even in the face of a Babylonian invasion where everything seems lost. Such a person "will live", they will experience God's putting things right, his kingdom with all its blessings, all the eschatological blessing of the realized/inaugurated kingdom of God. The means of being set right before God and thus of experiencing, being part of, Gods setting things right, is "by faith. Again, we have the problem of whose faith, given that the LXX has "my faith" = God's faithfulness. Paul has dropped the "my", but surely not to deny that God's faithfulness (realized in the faithfulness of Christ) is the ground upon which a person is right before God, but to allow the person's faith/trust to be included in the equation. If this approach is correct we are best to reject the NIV translation and opt for "the righteous by faith will live"; "the righteous [those right before God] by faith [on the ground of God's faithfulness appropriated through faith] will live [experience God's setting everything right]". By the time Paul gets to write Romans, this verse has become his key text from scripture in support of his understanding of the gospel, cf. Rom.1:16-17. This verse certainly encapsulates the argument that Paul is running in Galatians, as it does in Romans, namely, that new life in Christ is not facilitated by obedience to the law, but is rather the product of being set right with God on basis of God's faithfulness realized in Christ.

oJti "-" - that. Here introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what "[is] evident"; "it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law."

dhlon adj. "clearly" - it is evident. Serving as a predicate adjective.

dikaioutai (dikaiow) pres. pas. "is justified" - is being justified. See 2:16. The present tense, being durative, with the [divine] passive, gives the sense "is being set right". In reformed circles this "setting right" is usually expressed in forensic terms, so "count / treat as right", Barrett, "judged in the right", Dumbrell, but what God declares right, is right, so "is set right."

para + dat. "before" - with. Expressing sphere, "in the sight of, before"; "with God" = "in the sight of God", AV - of "a participant whose viewpoint is relevant to an event", LN.

en nomw/ "by the law" - in law. Instrumental, as NIV. Obviously short for "by [means of] works of the law", Bruce.

oJti "because" - that. Here causal, as NIV. "Because of the fact stated in the scriptures that ....."

oJ dikaioV (oV) "the righteous" - Obviously "the righteous before God", those right before God.

zhsetai (zaw) fut. "will live" - A difficult term often explained either in an ethical sense, or an eternal sense. Yet, as the promised life of the covenant, the life of the kingdom, it has all the now/not yet qualities of the kingdom. It is the eschatological life now realized by those who have discovered that "the kingdom of God is at hand." So, "will live", is just as much ethical (possessing a new heart within) in the "now" as it is possessing eternity in the "not yet". More particularly, it is clear that Paul sees "will live" in much the same terms of "being set right"; both refer to the same reality - new life in Christ.

ek "by [faith]" - out of, form. Source / origin leaning toward cause / basis, "because of", "by reason of", "as a result of", "by means of"/ "on the basis of". The ground of this "life" is not works of the law, but the faithfulness of Christ appropriated through faith. See 2:16

pistewV (iV ewV) "faith" - As already noted, particularly with reference to 2:16, usually translated "faith in Jesus Christ", the word does not necessarily mean "to believe", but can mean, among other things, "trustworthiness", so the sense is probably "Jesus Christ's faithfulness [to God]", even "God's faithfulness revealed in Jesus Christ", so Barth, Hebert. Taking the word to mean "faithfulness [of God]" here does not undermine the necessary response of our faith/trust/belief in God / God's faithfulness revealed in Christ. In fact, both ideas may be present. "Faithfulness", Howard.


By quoting Lev.18:5, Paul "shows how one is not justified before God (by law)", Bruce. Again Paul exegetes the verse before quoting it. Given that the verse seemingly counters Habakkuk 2:4, it is likely that it was used as a rebuttal text against Paul's thesis drawn from Habakkuk 2:4. So, Paul jumps in first, using the verse to argue that law-obedience ("law") does not rest on / find its origin in God's faithfulness ("faith") / in what God does for us in the fulfilment of his promises, but by implication, it rests on our own effort, the doing of it, and of course, it must be done perfectly to possess life, cf. Rom.10:5. Of course, there is debate over whether it was, certainly for an Old Testament saint, possible to obey the law and thus "live". For Paul, the law enacts the curse and this because it cannot be done. Jesus drives this truth home on numerous occasions, cf. Luke 10:25-37, "do this and you will live", v28, but then who can love like a Good Samaritan?

de "-" - but, and. Here introducing the next step in the argument, although Betz opts for adjunctive; "also".

ek "based on [faith]" - from. As already noted, best understood as "on the basis of", but "from" is a possibility. The law is "not grounded in", Zerwick, "does not lean on / does not find its strength in [faith] as a way of redemption", Ridderbos.

pistewV (iV ewV) "faith" - Usually understood here as "trust", but again "faithfulness", as of God's faithfulness in fulfilling his promises and of our of faith in the faithfulness of God.

alla "on the contrary" - but. Adversative, as NIV.

oJ poihsaV (poiew) aor. part. "the man who does" - the one having done, practiced. Participle serves as a substantive and the aorist expresses punctiliar / completed action.

auta "these things" - Direct object of the participle "having done." The commandments, precepts, of the Mosaic law.

zhsetai (zaw) fut. mid. "will live" - shall live. The middle voice is used by convention with a future active verb. For an Old Testament saint "live" simply means to live a good, healthy, happy and long life, but for a New Testament saint we "live" in Christ, the source of life eternal, the fullness of life.

en + dat. "by [them]" - in. Possibly expressing space/sphere, "in the doing of them", or better, instrumental, expressing means, as NIV.


Paul now explains how a person is set right before God (justified) on the basis of Christ's faithfulness, 2:16, given that law-obedience only serves to inculcate the curse of the law (it draws out our sinfulness and places us under God's condemnation). In his faithful obedience to the will of God, Christ took the curse upon himself, redeeming those under the curse.

exhgorasen (exagorazw) aor. "redeemed" - bought back, redeemed, ransom / delivered. A technical terms used for buying the freedom of slaves, so of Christ buying the freedom of those confined by, and facing execution under, the curse of the law. The aorist is punctiliar, describing the nature of Christ's once and for all act on the cross. The prefix is perfective expressing the idea of completion, so "completely redeem". Redemption terminology is intended rather than that of facilitating an escape, eg. "Christ bought us freedom", REB.

hJmaV "us" - Direct object of the verb "to buy back." Who are the "us"? Presumably Jewish Christians are in Paul's mind, as in 2:15, although Gentiles are similarly under the curse of the law. In our case, the revelation of nature, rather than the Torah, is our executioner, Rom.1:20.

ek + gen. "from" - Here expressing separation; "away from."

thV kataraV (a) gen. "the curse" - Genitive after ek, "from". Presumably "the curse that the law brings". Some suggest that it is the law itself, but it is more likely the divine punishment, outlined in the covenant, destined for those who disobey the law, eg. the blessings and cursings outlined in Deuteronomy.

tou nomou (oV) gen. "of the law" - The genitive my be treated as subjective, or ablative, source/origin; "the curse that issues from the law."

genomenoV (ginomai) aor. part. "by becoming" - having become. The participle is probably adverbial, instrumental, expressing means, "by means of", as NIV, although temporal is possible, "when he became a curse for us", even possibly causal, "because" ; "Christ has bought us free from the curse of the law inasmuch as he became a curse for us", Berkeley. Ridderbos opts for both temporal and causal. The curse on those who fail to obey the law entails divine wrath. Christ, on our behalf, expends that wrath on himself and since he is the one just man, the grave cannot contain him. Those in Christ similarly cannot be contained. Although not defined here, Christ's death is most likely propitiatory, "a curse offering", Betz, although the sense may be that Christ takes the place of the sinner.

uJper + gen. "for [us]" - in stead of / for the sake of, on behalf of. Here expressing representation or advantage / benefit for, so "for us / for our sake", or substitution, "in our stead", Zerwick.

oJti "for [it is written]" - that. Here causal; "because".

epikataratoV adj. "Cursed is [every one]" - Verbal / predicate adjective. Deut.21:23. Both LXX and MT have "An accursed of God is ..." Note, Paul again exegetes the verse before quoting it. The point of the quote is that the form of Jesus' death indicates that it was the product of the divine curse, a curse he did not deserve and therefore a curse taken for others.

oJ kremamenoV (kremannumi) pres. mid. part. "[everyone] who is hung" - [all] the one having hung. The participle may be classified as adjectival, attributive, limiting the substantive adjective "all = everyone."

epi + gen. "on" - Spacial; "on, upon."

xulou (on) "a tree / a pole" - tree, wood, post. Obviously the cross is in Paul's mind.


Finally, the punch-line of Paul's argument. A person who is set right before God is a person who lives, that is, a person who is redeemed is a person who inherits the promised blessing of "life" (the kingdom of God) to Abraham, both Jew and Gentile, which, in the present moment, entails the gift of Christ's indwelling, compelling, Spirit.

"He redeemed us" - Added for meaning by the NIV. "This happened so that ......"

iJna + subj. "in order that" - that. Possibly forming a purpose clause, "in order that", "and the purpose of it all was that Abraham ....", Cassirer, so Ridderbos, Fung, Bligh, Bruce, Martyn, Garlington, Betz, Dumbrell, Longenecker, Guthrie, yet a consecutive clause expressing result seems more likely, "with the result that ...", "thus the Gentiles are given the happiness promised through Abraham", Junkins, "so that the blessings of Abraham might come ... so that ......", NJB, cf. NAB, Barclay, Williams, Barnes. Note that there are two hina clauses in the sentence. The second could be "subordinate in logical and temporal terms to the first", Dumbrell, but it is more likely that both are coordinate with each other such that the verse "states the results of Christ's death in a two-fold form", Guthrie; "this happened with the result that / so that / such that ........ and with the result that / so that ...."

hJ eulogia (a) "the blessing" - "The promise to Abraham is one of blessing", Guthrie, and in the context of Galatians, the blessing is "life", life in all its dimensions. As far as the here and now is concerned, it is a life lived in the Spirit. It could be argued, particularly from v6-9, that the blessing is justification, but it is more likely that it is the "will live" of Habakkuk 2:4, cf. v11, ie. life in the kingdom of God, the promise of a kingdom encapsulating God's covenant with Abraham, a blessing for the whole world, not just Jews, but also Gentiles. Although, for Paul, the blessing entails the substance of our justification.

tou Abraam gen. "given to Abraham" - of Abraham. The genitive is usually taken as verbal, objective, but adjectival, attributive / idiomatic, is possible; "the blessing which was promised to Abraham", TH.

genhtai (ginomai) aor. subj. "might come" - "Might come to rest upon the Gentiles", Cassirer.

eiV "to [the Gentiles]" - to, into. Spacial / goal. Possibly of the blessing (inheritance) coming to the Gentiles, so Turner, or simply just taking a local sense, that "salvation goes out from the Jews to the Gentiles", Bligh.

en + dat. "through [Christ Jesus]" - in. The NIV opts for an instrumental / agency sense, but cause is possible, "because of", as is a local sense expressing incorporative union; "in union with Christ Jesus".

iJna + subj. "so that" - The NIV takes the first hina clause as final, expressing purpose, and the second as consecutive, expressing consequence, see above.

dia + gen. "by [faith]" - through, by means of. Instrumental; through the faithfulness of Jesus' death on our behalf, cf 2:16, "the faith of Christ".

labwmen (lambanw) aor. subj. "we might receive" - Note the 1st person plural; "so that all of us, Jews and Gentiles, might receive ....."

thn epaggelian (a) "the promise" - the promise. Accusative direct object of the verb "to receive." Either "a promise", or "that which is promised", ie., "the promised blessing", Bligh.

tou pneumatoV (a atoV) gen. "of the Spirit" - The genitive is adjectival epexegetic / of definition, limiting by specifying the "promise / gift"; it is the promise which consists of the gift of the Spirit; "the promised Spirit", NJB, NEB, Moffatt; the Spirit is the substance of the promise, certainly in the here and now.


Galatians Introduction


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