Friday 05 October 2012

Bible Book:

"The scripture has imprisoned all things under the power of sin, so that what was promised through faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe." (v. 22)

Galatians 3:15-22 Friday 5 October 2012


In today's passage Paul continues topersuade the new Christians of Galatia that their renewed livesrest on faith in Christ alone, and not (as some are forcefullysuggesting) on any other marker of the old covenant with his peopleIsrael. In the previous passage, he has introduced along-forgotten promise to Abraham (Genesis 12), showing how that is beingfulfilled now through the Spirit of God working among them. God'sword (like someone's last will and testament) is trustworthy andnot to be overwritten. The promise - that Abraham's family wouldbless all the families of the earth (Genesis 12:3)- came before the law (and eventhe covenant of circumcision, introduced in Genesis 17). This law was to enable Israel -being humans and prone to sin - to live as God's covenant people,and mark them out as such. It was a necessary container for them -as the bearers of the blessing were still weighed down by their ownfailings. But the original Promise still remains. 'Law' and'Promise' are not at odds with each other, but have differentpurposes in God's plans.

The prophet Jeremiah spoke of a newcovenant, where God would put his law "within them" and "write iton their hearts" - he spoke of a new relationship to come betweenGod and his people (Jeremiah 31:31-34). And when the Spirit came atPentecost (Acts 2) this opened the floodgates on that newrelationship. The new covenant has come through the cross and theSpirit. Through the one perfect "offspring" (v. 16) (Jesus Christ),God promises are being fulfilled.

The talk of "offspring" or "seed" isconfusing, since in the Genesis story God claimed that Abraham'soffspring would be as numerous as the stars in the sky (Genesis 15:5); and here Paul claims that God isreferring to only one - 'seed' rather than 'seeds' (when 'seed' and'offspring' are collective nouns themselves). Perhaps the best wayto read this is that 'in Christ', in the 'one'Messiah, God bringsinto being a united "seed" - a single family united in faith -rather than several families divided by ethnicity or background.God the creator, after all, is One.

The law of God in the Bible still has apurpose to instruct and steer us in moral matters, and to remind uswhere God's people went wrong. It is by no means void, but it neverbrings life;, it doesn't bring that right relationship with God,and it cannot make us alive to the plans God has for us: that isthe work of the Spirit, coming through faith in Christ alone.

To Ponder

  • How do you understand the difference between the 'old covenant'and the 'new covenant'? What difference does it make for you?
  • How important is it that we still read and try to understandthe Old Testament?
  • How do you think God's holy words to us in Scripture and theHoly Spirit work together for the believer? Can you think of timein your life where one or the other was more important or'real'? 
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