The Book of Galatians
James J. Barker
THE BLESSING OF ABRAHAM
- I mentioned two weeks ago (when I preached from verses 6
through 9) that Abraham is referred to 311 times in the Bible -- 237 times in
the Old Testament, and 74 times in the New Testament.
- Abraham is mentioned nine times in the book of
Galatians (cf. 3:6-9, 14, 16, 18, 29).
- The theme of this epistle is we are saved by grace
through faith, not the law.
Abraham could not be saved by keeping the law because Abraham lived
over 400 years before God gave the law to
- In Galatians 3:6, the apostle Paul is quoting Genesis
15:6 -- "And he believed in the LORD; and he counted (or
"imputed") it to
him for righteousness." "Impute"
is an accounting term which means to count, or put to someone’s account (cf.
- This is the principle of justification by
- In Galatians 3:8, Paul is quoting Genesis 12:3. This is what is referred to as "the
Abrahamic Covenant" (Gen. 12:1-3).
- The word "promise" is used eight times in this chapter
(Gal. 3:14, 16, 17, 18 twice, 19, 21, 22, 29).
- This promise refers to God's promise to Abraham that
in him would all the nations of the earth be blessed. This is part of the Abrahamic
- In the context of Galatians 3, the promise refers
specifically to the blessing of salvation by God's grace through faith in the
promised Messiah, who would be Abraham's seed
- Tonight we will consider three aspects of this
THE BLESSING IS
SALVATION BY FAITH (3:14).
- Paul quotes Genesis 15:6 (Gal. 3:6). The blessing of salvation is not just
for the physical descendants of Abraham.
Galatians 3:7 says, "Know ye
therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham"
(cf. 3:7-9, 26-29).
- The blessing
includes "the promise of the Spirit" (3:14).
- Our Lord
referred to the promise of the Holy Spirit as "the promise of my Father" in Luke 24:49 and Acts
- The term is
also used in Acts 2:33 and 39; and in Ephesians 1:13.
- “The promise of
the Spirit” is received the same way we receive forgiveness of sins and
salvation in Christ -- by faith (Gal. 3:14).
- FB Meyer said,
"To me this text once came as a perfect revelation. It was the clue to unravel
perplexity, the point around which truth held long in solution suddenly
crystallized. Before this verse spoke to my heart it had been my constant
endeavor to feel the Spirit’s presence as the sign of my having received; but
now it became clear that one might receive by simple faith God’s very richest
communications, even though the emotion tarried long."
- Romans 4:13 says, the promise was not through the law, "but through the righteousness of
- This is stated
repeatedly in Paul's epistles, especially in the epistle to the Galatians (cf. 2:16, 21; 3:11).
- The blessing of
Abraham is available to all -- both Jews and Gentiles -- and it is based solely
upon God's grace (3:14).
THE BLESSING IS
"THROUGH JESUS CHRIST" (3:14).
- The blessing was to come through "Abraham and
his seed," specifically through the Lord Jesus Christ
- The Bible
concept of the "seed" goes back all the way to Genesis 3:15, after the fall of
- God said to the
serpent (Satan), "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between
thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his
- There would be
a long conflict between Satan's seed and the woman's seed. Satan's goal throughout the Old
Testament, and into the beginning of the New Testament was to keep the Messiah
from being born.
- The devil knew the seed of the woman would crush his
head, so he tried many times to extinguish the Messianic line. He unsuccessfully attempted to destroy the Messianic line
so Christ couldn’t even be born.
- Pharaoh and
Haman and many other evil men tried to wipe out the
- You may recall
how Saul tried several times to kill David. Our Lord was descended from King
- You may recall how wicked Queen
Athaliah killed the royal descendants (her own
grandchildren). She killed
them all except for little Joash.
- Jehosheba, the
sister of Ahaziah, who was married to the high priest Jehoiada, rescued Joash,
the little son of King Ahaziah, and hid him until he was old enough to be
crowned the king of Judah.
- Our Lord was descended from King
- Revelation 12:4
says, "The dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be
delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born."
- At our Lord's
birth, King Herod issued a decree to find the baby Jesus and kill Him. Matthew
2:16 says, he "slew all the
children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years
old and under."
- Joseph was warned by God in a dream, and so he took Mary
and the little baby Jesus and escaped to Egypt.
- When that
Satanic plot didn’t work, the devil tried to conquer Christ in the wilderness
- God made His
covenant with Abraham "through Jesus Christ" (Gal. 3:16). This is not very clear in the Old
Testament, but it is very clear in the New Testament.
- Galatians 3:19 says, "Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of
transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was
- "The seed" in Galatians 3:19 is singular, and it refers
to Christ (cf. 3:16).
- This is why our Lord said to the Jews in John 8:56,
"Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was
- Then our Lord said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you,
Before Abraham was, I am" (John 8:58). They responded to this by attempting to
stone Him (John 8:59).
THE BLESSING CANNOT BE
ANNULLED BY THE LAW.
- God's covenant
with Abraham was a covenant of grace.
Abraham did not make a covenant with God. God made a covenant with
- God did not lay down any conditions for Abraham. It
was an unconditional covenant. In fact, when the covenant was ratified,
Abraham was asleep (see Genesis 15).
- The covenant
was based completely upon the grace of God.
- Paul brings out
that Abraham's descendents (Israel) broke God's law, but nevertheless the
blessings of God were not annulled.
brings God's chastening, but God will never break His promise (Gal.
- The word "disannul" means "to cancel; make
void." In other words,
"disannul" means "to annul."
- The Judaizers
taught that the giving of the law changed the original Abrahamic Covenant. Paul
argues that it did not (3:15).
- Paul makes the
point that if men of the world respect covenants, how much more does God? (Gal.
- God's promise
to Abraham preceded the law by more than 500 years (3:17). The Judaizers tried to add the law to
God's covenant, but they were not part of the original covenant. The two parties were God and Abraham, so
the Judaizers could not alter the covenant.
"four hundred and thirty years" in Galatians 3:17 have
puzzled some Bible readers because the interval between Abraham and Moses was
more than 430 years. Paul seems to
conclude here the culmination of the promise of the patriarchs who came later
(e.g., Jacob, Abraham's grandson).
- The point here
is that the law could not possibly set aside an unconditional covenant that God
had already made and confirmed.
- In Galatians
3:18, Paul states that since the inheritance was promised to Abraham, it could
not have come from obedience to the law.
- Likewise, the
promise concerning salvation through faith was made long before the law was
- Last week I
said the law is like a mirror. A
mirror shows us we need to get cleaned up, but a mirror cannot clean us
- Another example
would be to compare the law to a plumb line. Carpenters check their work by
using a string with a weighted plumb-bob on the end of the string. When the plumb line reveals that
something (a wall or a door, etc.) is not plumb or straight, the plumb line
cannot correct it.
- The carpenter must get out his tools (hammer and saw) to
correct the problem.