Wednesday 27 March 2019

Bible Book:

There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. (v29).

Galatians 3:15-29 Wednesday 27 March 2019

Psalm: Psalm 104:24-35


Paul wrote Galatians after the Council of Jerusalem (c. 50CE) when it was decided that gentile (non-Jewish) Christians did not have to observe the Mosaic Law of the Jews. This was controversial.

Here Paul defends the decision by exploring the nature of the ‘promise’ made to Abraham and the purpose of the Law.

(v. 15-16) God promised his people an ‘inheritance’ in his ‘covenant’ passing through Abraham’s off-spring. Paul’s Jewish audience would have interpreted the ‘off-spring’ to be Isaac, but Paul argues that Abraham’s ultimate off-spring is Christ. Matthew’s Gospel written predominantly for Jews has the genealogy of Christ stemming from Abraham. (Matthew 1:2,16)

(v. 17) The solemn oath of a will (or covenant) cannot be altered. Scholars argue that the Greek word ‘diatheke’ can mean ‘will, testament’ or ‘covenant’. Paul clearly intends both meanings. He argues that the law which came 430 years later did not change the promised inheritance (covenant) from God.

(v. 18-19) The inheritance comes through faith, not the law. The law was a temporary ‘backstop’ to deal with interim problems (sins) in the relationship between God and people until the coming of Christ. The law guarded Israel until the time of fullness in Christ. The law came through the mediation of Moses.

(v. 20) The intermediary role of the law required obligations on both parties to work. However, the ‘promise’ of God to Abraham and his ‘off-spring’ depends only on the overwhelming generosity of God and not on anything humans can do.

(v. 21-25) These verses explore images of being driven (enslaved) and being set free. The law was not a mistake of God. It was never designed to set us free. Its purpose was to give firm guidance as a ‘backstop’ until the fullness of time of Christ.

An inheritance comes to ‘children’ rather than to ‘slaves’ (living under the law). The law was necessary and added to the original promise because we had become enslaved to sin.

Freedom comes through faith and believing in God, and not through our own efforts to keep the law.

All the Galatians are part of this inheritance through baptism into Christ. In Christ all social, religious and gender divisions end; in true nakedness beyond roles, they all stand equal.

And if they belong to Christ, then they are Abraham’s offspring, and heirs according to the promise. They don’t have to keep the Mosaic Law.


To Ponder:

  • Paul argued that freedom in Christ meant that non-Jews did not have to follow the customs of the Mosaic Law. What does that mean for those who respond to Christ today? Is it possible to follow Christ and not observe the customs of the institutionalised Church or is that different?
  • How do you respond to those who say they are ‘spiritual’ but not ‘religious’?
  • What ‘customs’ of the Church would you say are indispensable and why? 
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