22 July Galatians 3:19-29

22 July. Why did God give the Law of Moses to the Jewish people?

"God had an agreement with Abraham and promised to keep it. The law [given to Moses], which came 430 years later, cannot change that agreement and so destroy God's promise to Abraham."

"If the law could give us Abraham's blessing, then the promise would not be necessary. But that is not possible, because God freely gave his blessings to Abraham through the promise he had made."

"So what was the law for? It was given to show that the wrong things people do are against God's will. And it continued until the special descendant [of Abraham], who had been promised, came [in the person of Jesus]..."

"Does this mean that the law is against God's promises [made to Abraham]? Never! That would be true only if the law could make us right. But God did not give a law that can bring life. Instead, the Scriptures [containing the law] showed that the whole world is bound by sin..."

"This was so the promise [given by God to Abraham] would be given by faith to people who believe in Jesus Christ..."

"In other words, the law was our guardian leading us to Christ so that we could be made right with God through faith. Now the way of faith has come, and we no longer live under a guardian [the Jewish law]."

"You were all baptised into Christ, and so you were all clothed with Christ. This means that you are all children of God through faith in Jesus Christ."

"In Christ, there is no difference between Jew and Greek [non-Jew], slave and free person, male and female. You are all the same in Christ Jesus."

"You [all] belong to Christ, so you are [all] Abraham's descendants. You will [all] inherit all of God's blessings because of the promise God made to Abraham."

          (Galatians 3:19-29)

 

 

Paul's arguments were far easier to follow by his 1st century listeners who knew the Jewish Scriptures than they are for us today.

In this passage, Paul is rejoicing in the fact that followers of Jesus are receiving the blessings that God promised to Abraham in c.1876BC. To make his argument clear, he's explaining why the Law of Moses given to the Jewish people in c.1446BC is no longer relevant to believers in Jesus Christ.

When Abraham, the forefather of the Jewish people, left his home in Mesopotamia and set off via Haran for the 'promised land' of Canaan, God promised him, 'Go to the land I will show you. I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you... And ALL the people on earth will be blessed through you." (see Genesis 12:1-3)

This covenant agreement between God and Abraham's descendants - which was renewed on many occasions - became the recurring theme of the Old Testament (literally, the 'Old Covenant').

By Paul's day, however, Jewish descendants of Abraham had come to believe (as many Jews in Israel still do today) that God's blessings promised to Abraham were exclusively for Jews. They regarded themselves as the only true descendants of Abraham (see John 8:31-33).

This is despite the fact that, when God later renewed his covenant promise to Abraham, he said, 'I am making my [covenant] agreement with you: I will make you the father of many nations. I am changing your name from Abram to Abraham [meaning 'father of many'] because I am making you a father of many nations. I will give you many descendants. New nations will be born from you, and kings will come from you." (see Genesis 17:3-8)

Not only did the Jews of Paul's day believe that they were the exclusive heirs of God's promises to Abraham, but they also believed that they would only receive these promises from God if they painstakingly kept every single commandment in the Jewish law given by God to Moses 430 years after his promises to Abraham (see Exodus 20:1-24:18).

But Paul argues that keeping the minutiae of the Jewish law is not the way to receive God's blessings. Instead he says that the law was given to act like a 'guardian' to children - to give them rules to keep them safe and within God's ways. Indeed, he argues, the whole purpose of the law was to show people what evil deeds they should NOT do.

But now that Jesus ('Abraham's special descendant') has come, Paul says that the Jewish law is superfluous - because people can become God's children, and share in the blessings God promised to Abraham, by having faith in Jesus as their Lord and Saviour.

And as God's promise to Abraham was to bless ALL nations, these promises fulfilled in Jesus apply equally to Jews and non-Jews (Gentiles), to slaves and non-slaves, to men and to women (see Galatians 3:28).

Paul concludes that all believers, both Jews and Gentiles, are now part of God’s single united family, heirs to the covenant promise made by God to Abraham (see Genesis 17:3-7).

The photo shows the Mevlana Lodge at Konya (Iconium) in Galatia (southern Turkey).

You can read more from Paul's Letter to the Galatians @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/…/13-pauls…/alive-in-christ/


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