Galatians 3: The Law Is Not the Gospel

by Bob Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

Today's Bible Reading: Galatians 3

Selected Biblical Text
But the law is not of faith, rather "The one who does them shall live by them." Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us--for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree"-so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, "And to offsprings," referring to many, but referring to one, "And to your offspring," who is Christ. This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise. (Galatians 3:12-18 ESV)

Reflecting and Thinking
Paul's introduces his description of the "just right" gospel, the gospel that undergirds genuine freedom and liberty in Christ, with a contrast of faith and law. The law is not of faith. The presence of law denies the gospel. Dependence on law eliminates appreciation for the promise. The promise came first, and the law was added to deal with transgressions until the promise could be fulfilled in the Seed who is Christ. The law was temporary, pointing toward Christ who is the end of the gospel. In Christ we find genuine freedom, sonship, and inheritance.

Why do people seek to guarantee their relationship with God through legal means, that is, by keeping a law code? How was Abraham justified? What was the purpose of the Old Testament law?

Dear God, help us understand the beauty of the good news of Jesus and live our lives by its power rather than our own feeble efforts to measure up. Build our faith as we wear Christ's riches through baptism. Help us recognize our own filthy rags (our own works) as the blot that they are on the gospel message. Thank you for the "just right" gospel of Jesus. In Jesus' name, Amen.

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Last updated January 23, 2019