Tuesday 26 March 2019

Bible Book:

] ‘receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.’ (v. 14)

Galatians 3:6-14 Tuesday 26 March 2019

Psalm: Psalm 104:1-23


Galatians was written by Paul after the Council of Jerusalem (c. 50CE), a meeting of church leaders in the early church that decreed that gentile (non-Jewish) Christians did not have to observe the Mosaic Law of the Jews. This was a controversial decision.

Here, Paul argues from Hebrew Scripture, and particular from the law, to defend the gentile position.

(v. 6) The crucial quality that Abraham (ancestral father of the Jewish people) showed was that he ‘believed God’ and it was this quality of faith which enabled God to ‘justify’ him, put Abraham into right relationship with Godself. Abraham’s faith (Genesis 15:6) preceded God’s covenant with Abraham by 13 years and the law another few hundred years, so Abraham, like the Galatians, was a Gentile at the time.

(v. 7) True descendants of Abraham, as a chosen people, are chosen because they model Abraham’s faith and that includes the Gentiles.

(v. 8 -9) Hebrew Scripture (Genesis 22:18) foresaw that Gentiles would be blessed through the descendants of Abraham.

(v. 10-12) The Jewish people understood that in keeping the law they were blessed, whereas those who walked in the ways of Gentiles were cursed.

Paul subverted this position and presumably shocked his Jewish listeners by arguing from Scripture (Deuteronomy 27:26) that those who relied on the law were in fact the ones living under a curse.

Perhaps this was because it was impossible to keep every jot and tittle of the law. The annual Day of Atonement made reparation for all the sins the community had inadvertently committed, because the Jewish people knew it was impossible not to sin.

Perhaps Paul was also suggesting that relying on keeping the rules and externally correct behaviour is doomed to failure. It does not get us right with God, which comes out of a much deeper inner transformation.

(v. 13) Christ sets us free from the doomed failure of living politically, socially and religiously correctly on our own interpretations (without love?). Christ sets us free by becoming the ‘curse’: the failed, isolated, separated, lost, doomed self, by hanging on a tree; the cross. (Deuteronomy 21:23)

(v. 14) In this way the blessing of Abraham is extended to Gentiles, who are enabled to receive the promise of the spirit through their faith, the defining quality of Abraham.


To Ponder:

  • Why is it so difficult to let insiders in and especially if they don’t join in the normal way of doing things?
  • In what ways are having rules helpful or unhelpful in the life of a community of faith?
  • What do you think of the way that Paul argues from the Hebrew Scriptures, reading back an interpretation in light of his experience of Christ? In what ways helpful, in what ways might you want to be cautious?
  • What do you think is the equivalent today of the argument about allowing Gentiles into church communities without first becoming circumcised Jews?
Previous Page Monday 25 March 2019
Next Page Wednesday 27 March 2019