Verses for the Day – Galatians 3:19-22

Note: To find out about the verses for the day, click here. And to read the other posts in the Galatians series, click here. (They appear in reverse order.)

Summer is officially over for our family. We’ve had the annual back-to-school picnic, the faculty in-service dinner for my husband, I started back to work this week, and my children are headed back to school.

I studied 1 and 2 Thessalonians this summer in a home Bible study with various women, many of whom I had never met, but who heard about the study and joined us. It’s amazing to see how God’s Word draws people together. One evening after the study, I was struck by the reality of what God can do when you are willing just to open the door to your home and invite people in.

After a wonderful summer of a slower pace, fascinating travel, and having time away from work and school, we return to routine and more structure to our days. We welcome this. My Galatians study had been put aside, but now I hope to daily study and complete this goal!

Today I pick back up with Galatians 3:19-22:

What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. 20 Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one.

21 Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law.22 But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

Paul has been talking about the law and faith. What is the law? You know, the law given to Moses in the Old Testament? 

We had been looking at what it is not.

The law does not justify (make us right) before God. (3:11). (This happens by faith.)

The works of the law did not give them (or us) the Holy Spirit or accomplish the working of miracles among them (3:2, 5). (Again, this happens by the hearing of faith.)

In fact, the law actually brings a curse (3:10).

The law is not God’s covenant with Abraham and does not annul the covenant. God gave his covenant to Abraham by promise, not law (3:17).

The law is also not contrary to the promises of God (3:21), as we see in today’s text.

The law cannot give life, and righteousness does not come by the law. (3:21).

So let’s see two things, one today and one tomorrow, about what the law is:

  • Why then was the law given? (our question for today)
  • And what does the law do? (our question for tomorrow)

So why then was the law given? The law “was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator.” (3:19-20).

Basically, because of the sin of God’s people, the law was given through a mediator (Moses) until the Seed (Jesus) should come. The law then showed them clearly how they were to live – and how they were not able to keep this standard perfectly – and what therefore to do when they sinned. (Remember the sacrifices they made in the Old Testament?)

Ultimately, in this way, the law will then really lead them to God, to their need for a Savior because of their sin. Jesus, the Seed, would come and be the once for all sacrifice for sins (Hebrews 10:1-18). At his coming, the Mosaic law no longer would have the same force. More on this tomorrow.

PRAYER:Heavenly Father, thank you for a new day and a new school year. We look forward with anticipation to what you have for us in the coming year. We rejoice that you are a God who loves us and gave your Son for us so that we might know you. You have purposes and plans for our lives, even this year, even this day. We are not just meaninglessly existing. Let us live to follow you and bring you glory. Teach us this year your ways, that we might walk in your path and rely on your faithfulness. Give us undivided hearts to fear your name. Let us praise you with all of our hearts and glorify your name forever, for great is your love toward us (Psalm 86:11-13). In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Verses for the Day – Galatians 3:15-18

Note: To find out about the verses for the day, click here. And to read the other posts in the Galatians series, click here. (They appear in reverse order.)

To summarize what we have studied so far, we have seen that Paul was writing to the churches of Galatia (1:1-2) to remind them of the gospel and to clarify what the true gospel of grace is (1:3-5). This was because the gospel was being distorted by false teachers who were preaching a different gospel and perverting the gospel of truth (1:6-9), causing the Galatians to turn away from God to a different gospel (1:6) and to be bewitched (3:1).

Paul describes his own conversion (a stunning and clear act of grace!) and call to be an apostle (1:10-24), and then begins to define and defend the gospel truth. Many were wanting to add to the gospel by works of the law (i.e., circumcision), but Paul maintains and declares the gospel of grace: that we are not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ (2:16, 3:11).

In chapter 3, Paul has been describing this justification (being made right with God) by faith. We are saved by faith in Christ and His finished work on the cross, not by the works of the law or the things that we do. Our salvation is a gift of grace.

He begins to clarify for them then what the law is and is not. If the law doesn’t save us, what does it do? What is it? In Galatians 3:10-14, we saw that the law brings a curse, but that Christ redeemed us from the curse by becoming a curse for us.

Today we pick up with Galatians 3:15-18, again seeing what the law is not:

15 Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it is only a man’s covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it. 16 Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ. 17 And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect. 18 For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise. (NKJV)

Paul introduces the word “covenant” here. In Genesis 12:1-3, God called Abraham out of his country and family to go to a land that He would show him. God promised to make Abraham a great nation and bless him, to make his name great, and that he would be a blessing. In the Abrahamic “covenant” God promised to bless those who bless Abraham and curse those who curse him and that in him all the families of the earth would be blessed.

The passage today references back to this covenant with Abraham. The law was given 430 after the covenant, after the Israelites had been freed from slavery in Egypt, to teach them how to live. The law is not the covenant and cannot annul the covenant, which was confirmed by God and which was given to Abraham by promise.

This passage also points out that the promises were made to Abraham and his Seed, who is Christ. All of these promises are ultimately fulfilled in Christ. My Bible notes say, “Christ is the final focus of God’s promises, the ultimate Seed.” And as we have already seen in Galatians 3:7, those of faith are the sons of Abraham, the spiritual descendants.

So the law brings a curse (Gal. 3:10), and it cannot annul the covenant and the promise that was confirmed before by God in Christ (3:17). What then is the purpose of the law? We will see that tomorrow in the coming verses.

PRAYER: Thank you, God, that you are a God who keeps your word and your promises. You made a covenant with Abraham, and you fulfill your promises in Christ. Praise you that we today who are believers by faith in Christ are blessed to be Abraham’s spiritual descendants and heirs of this promise. Thank you also that you are a God who brings freedom. You led the Israelites out of Egypt, out of bondage by a great and mighty hand. In the same way, you lead us out of our sin and bondage into life and freedom in you, through Christ, the ultimate Seed. This is by faith, not by works or law. Help us to live by faith in you. We praise you and bless your great name, In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Verses for the Day – Galatians 3:10-14

Note: To find out about the verses for the day, click here. And to read the other posts in the Galatians series, click here. (They appear in reverse order.)

My son and I sometimes watch the “Amazing Race.” It’s a great study in human behavior and opens up some good conversations. We enjoy learning about places all over the world, and it has inspired my son to want to be a world traveler.

In the “Amazing Race,” one man and his wife made a mistake by booking their airline tickets before they got to the airport. When they realized the error, he said it was half his fault. He was prepared to take part of the blame. He was measuring out who was responsible and justifying himself for part of his actions.

In contrast, another man, a Christian snowboarder, was irritable, jealous that he did not get to participate in one of the more thrilling tasks of speed racing a car. He acknowledged his sin, asked the Lord for forgiveness, and allowed the Lord take his anger and jealousy over the situation, and he became free. He depended on God’s grace.

This contrast is a picture of what we see in the verses for today from Galatians 3:10–14:

“10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.’ 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’ 12 But the law is not of faith, rather ‘The one who does them shall live by them.’ 13 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’ – 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.”

Paul is quoting from Old Testament Scriptures (Deuteronomy 27:26 in verse 10; Habakkuk 2:4 in verse 11; Leviticus 18:5 in verse 12; and Deuteronomy 21:23 in verse 13).

Paul points out that if we are under the works of the law, we are under the curse, because the Scriptures (Deut. 27:26) teach us that everyone who does not continue in all things written in the law is cursed. As human beings who sin and make mistakes, we could never fully carry out the law and its requirements and demands. In this failure, we would come under a curse.

But Paul goes on to tell us the incredible news that Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us (Deut. 21:23). Christ a curse for you and me so that we are not cursed. Ponder that amazing truth!

How then do we live? Not by the law, but by faith. Verse 12 tells us that the law is not of faith. They are not the same. The righteous shall live by faith and receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

This is what the snowboarder seemed to understand. He was walking by faith and dependence on Christ for his forgiveness and justification. The first man was living by law, accepting some of his mistakes and doling out the appropriate blame for others to carry. He was living dependent on himself.

The law brings a curse, and Paul will explain its role in further detail later in Galatians. For now, delight in the truth that Jesus saves us by grace through faith, not of ourselves or any works or keeping of the law that we could do because that would never be enough. Christ alone is sufficient to save us. Praise Him!

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you that you would stoop to reach us. Thank you that you humbled yourself to death on a cross to take our curse and shame and guilt and sin, and give us your righteousness by faith in you. Let this glorious truth sink deeply within our hearts and take root so that we might not live in our own strength but by yours and in the power of your Spirit. Free us by this truth to not live legalistic lives, but ones of faith in you, praising you for all you have done. In Jesus name, Amen.

Verses for the Day – Galatians 3:6-9

Note: To find out about the verses for the day, click here. And to read the other posts in the Galatians series, click here. (They appear in reverse order.)

In Genesis 15, God told childless Abraham he would have an heir from his own body and that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars. Though this could have seemed unbelievable to Abraham given his and Sarah’s old age, Gen. 15:6 says that Abraham “believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.”

This is the verse (Gen. 15:6) that is referenced in our passage today, Galatians 3:6-9:

just as Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.

Abraham’s faith demonstrates the previous thought from Galatians 3:1-5 that we receive the Spirit and continue in the Spirit by faith, not by works. God had supplied the Spirit and worked miracles among them by the “hearing of faith,” not by the “works of the law,” just as Abraham had believed God.

This Scripture passage then clarifies that the ones who are children of Abraham are the ones who are of faith. This then is not speaking of his physical descendants as being his sons, but of his spiritual descendants, those of faith.

What an interesting thought that the Scriptures preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand – before Christ and the cross. Verse 8 is a reference to Genesis 12:3 which says, “in you [Abraham] all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

As Christians this side of the cross, looking back, we have a fuller picture of what this all means. Abraham believed what God said, God’s promise to him, with perhaps much less known to him of how it would come to pass. In fact, he even died without seeing the promise fulfilled (Hebrews 11:8-13). But it’s this picture of faith that should encourage us to also believe, and this faith that makes us true children of Abraham.

PRAYER: Thank you, Lord, for saving us by faith in Christ, not by our works through which we could never do good enough to attain heaven and repair what sin has done. You, Lord Jesus, did it all for us! You died and rose again! By grace through faith in you, we can know you and live eternally – just as Abraham received you, by faith. What an incredible thought that we come through this same line of these faithful patriarchs. May we walk with you and please you today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Verses for the Day – Galatians 3:1-5

The verses for the day are from Galatians 3:1-5:

“O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?—

Those words ring in my ears again and again as I ponder this passage: “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?”

“Bewitched” means to cast a spell, to charm, to fascinate or enchant. If these Galatians — who lived so close to the time of Christ, whose eyes had seen Jesus Christ publicly portrayed as crucified (verse 1) — could be bewitched, don’t you think it’s possible that we who live 2000 years after His death and resurrection are likewise in danger of it?

This is why Paul writes – to give them again the truth of the gospel, and this is why we read the Bible – to be reminded of truth that will keep us from being bewitched, foolish, or led astray. We need our daily bread, our time in the Bible, as much if not more than our literal daily bread of food and drink. We need it to be reminded of truth. It’s so easy for our hearts to be fooled.

What had bewitched them? It sounds like the idea that they could be made righteous through works of the law instead of through faith. This is a timeless issue that can challenge every one of us. The Galatians who had begun by faith in Christ, begun in the Spirit (v.3), were now beginning to turn to works of the law, believing they could be perfected in their flesh. This could again be a reference back to circumcision and looking to a certain work to gain them righteousness.

Paul asks them how they received the Spirit (v.2)? Through works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

Works righteousness seems to be the default mode of our lives. Can we do enough? Can we maintain what God has started?

We do obey Him out of love for Him. We are saved by faith and want to live for Christ, our Savior. But these works show our love and devotion to God; they do not make us righteous. We cannot add to the work God has done on the cross. We would be silly to try. We would be bewitched.

Likewise, just as our righteous works cannot add to our salvation, our sin also cannot take away from our salvation! Rejoice in this! We can’t add to it or take away from it! Our pastor pointed something out like this on Sunday during our study of Romans. If you believe your sin is too great, or that it is something that would separate you from Christ, you don’t understand that your good works are not good enough to bring you to Christ. Jesus and His grace do it all! The law shows us this.

Rejoice! Repent! Turn to Him. Seek Him. Obey Him. Not so that your works will save you, but so you can say, “I love You, Jesus, and I thank You for what You have done for me, and I give my life to You!” Let Him bless you as you follow and run hard after Him. Study the Bible, know the truth, that you may live in Him, your crucified and risen Savior and King, each and every day.

PRAYER: Father, thank You for the cross where our sins were covered by the blood of Jesus. Nothing we bring, nothing can we add. We would be foolish to try. You have paid the price and done it all. The law shows us our need for you, it does not save us. Let us not believe that our good works could ever save us or add to our salvation. You provided for our salvation and you provide for our sanctification. We want to walk in the Spirit, not in the flesh. Show us where we might be bewitched, and let us walk in faith. In Jesus’ name, Amen.