The Book of Galatians
James J. Barker
WHEREFORE THEN SERVETH THE LAW?
- The theme of
the book of Galatians is we are saved by God's grace through faith in Christ,
and not by keeping the law.
- According to
Galatians 1:6-9, those who preach salvation by works are guilty of preaching
- The book of
Galatians teaches that the law of Moses did not annul or add any conditions to
the promise God made to Abraham (cf. 3:14-18).
- My message is
entitled, "Wherefore Serveth the Law?" (3:19). In other words, "What is the purpose of
THE LAW WAS ONLY TEMPORARY (3:19,
- The law "was
added because of transgressions" (3:19).
If it "was added," it was not permanent.
- The law "was
added because of transgressions" (3:19). Obviously sin existed before the
law. Romans 5:13 says, "For until
the law sin was in the world."
- There was sin
in the Garden of Eden, but there was no law until God handed it down to Moses on
- John 1:17 says,
"For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus
- While sin
existed before the law, man did not recognize it as sin until the law came.
Transgression is the violation of a known law.
- Paul says in
Romans 7:7, "What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not
known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said,
Thou shalt not covet."
- This then is
the purpose of the law -- to know the mind of God, and to recognize our helpless
and hopeless estate.
- The law was
given to reveal sin, not to remove sin.
The law was given to sinful people who did not have the power to obey
it. This does not mean that the law
failed; it means that man failed.
- Romans 8:3
says, "For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own
Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the
- The law was successful in that it accomplished what God
had intended for it to do -- it showed men their lost condition, so that they
would recognize their need for God's grace.
- With the death and resurrection of Christ, the law was
done away and we are now "dead to the law" (Romans
- Romans 8:2 says, "For the law of the Spirit of life in
Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death."
- F.B. Meyer said, "The law of the Spirit of life in
Christ Jesus makes us free from the law of sin and death, just as the law of
elasticity of the air makes the bird free from the predominating power of the
pull of gravitation."
- Galatians 3:19 says that the law "was added because of
transgressions, till the seed should come..." This refers to the first advent of
Christ (cf. 3:16b).
- Therefore, the law was given as a temporary
measure until the coming of Christ.
The promise given to Abraham was fulfilled in Christ. "In thee shall all nations be blessed"
- The law involved two contracting parties -- God and the
nation Israel. In Deuteronomy 5:5,
Moses said to the children of Israel, "I stood between the LORD and you at that
time, to shew you the word of the LORD."
- Therefore, Moses was the mediator.
- The angels were God's messengers in delivering the law
to Moses (Gal. 3:19).
- Acts 7:53 says the Jews "received the law by the
disposition of angels, and have not kept it."
- In Galatians 3:20, Paul is not speaking of the law, but
of the unconditional covenant God made with Abraham (cf. 3:18). God gave His promise to Abraham, and
there was no need for a mediator.
THE LAW CANNOT GIVE LIFE
- In fact, the
law is referred to as "the ministration of death" in II Corinthians
- The law is not
"against the promises of God" (Gal. 3:21).
- Paul says, "God
forbid" (3:21), and then goes on to say that if it were possible to establish a
law by which sinners could achieve the perfection required by God, then
salvation would come by the law.
- And if
salvation could come by the law, why did Christ have to die on the cross for our
sins? (cf. 2:21).
- The law cannot save. The law cannot give
life. The law only condemns sinners.
- The law of
Moses regulated the lives of the Jewish people, but it could not give them life;
i.e., it could not provide spiritual life to them.
- Galatians 3:22
says, "But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith
of Jesus Christ might be given to them that
- "Might be given
to them that believe." Not
might be given to them that keep the law.
- "But before
faith came..." (3:23). Paul is
referring to the Gospel era brought in by the death and resurrection of the Lord
- The Scofield Study Bible says, "The law shut
sinful man up to faith as the only avenue of escape."
- The expressions "kept under" and "shut up" (3:23)
suggest restriction and confinement.
- In Acts 15:10, Peter said, "Now therefore why tempt ye
God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor
we were able to bear?"
THE LAW WAS OUR SCHOOLMASTER TO BRING US TO CHRIST
- In Galatians
3:19, Paul asks, "Wherefore then serveth the law?" Here is the answer (3:24,
- Scofield says,
"The true intent of the law is condemnation, and as a preparatory
- Scofield quotes
H.A.W. Meyer, who defines the schoolmaster: "Among the Greeks and Romans,
persons, for the most part slaves, who had it in charge to educate and give
constant attendance upon boys till they came of age."
- The law was
like this schoolmaster who taught the child valuable lessons concerning the
sinfulness of man, the holiness of God, and the need for blood
- The law brought
us to the cross of Christ, "that we might be justified by faith" (3:24). Justification was promised on the basis
of faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross, not on keeping the
schoolmaster's services were no longer needed "after that faith is come"
- The law was a
preparation for the nation Israel until the coming of the Messiah. Unfortunately the people of Israel did
not recognize their Messiah. They
preferred staying under the law, though they failed to keep
- Therefore, God
judged them. He destroyed
their temple and scattered them all over the world. Today the Jew has no temple,
no altar, no priesthood, no sacrifice, and no king.
- They have a
country but there is little peace and tranquility in their ancient
- But when they repent and turn to Jesus, God will
graciously restore them.
April 19, 1857, CH Spurgeon preached a
message from this text, "Wherefore then
serveth the law?" and his exposition had four
- The first use
of the law is to manifest to man his
- The second,
The law serves to slay all hope of
salvation of a reformed life.
- The law is
intended to show man the misery which will, fall upon him through his
- It was sent into the world to shew the value of a