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 2:1-5

I am being stretched! For those who don’t know, this “verse for the day” project started out as a way to send an email each day to my children to encourage them in their faith. At first, I did random verses, but was convicted to do more of a study to keep the verses in context.

This has required much more from me. I find myself having to work harder and study more to put together a post. I’m trusting that my theologian husband will correct me if I am misunderstanding something! Truly, I am fascinated by God’s Word and what I am reading and pondering.

Today we move into Galatians 2 with the first five verses:

“Then after fourteen years I [Paul] went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and also took Titus with me. 2 And I went up by revelation, and communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to those who were of reputation, lest by any means I might run, or had run, in vain. 3 Yet not even Titus who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. 4 And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage), 5 to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.” (NKJV)

Most of the notes I read seem to think that Paul is talking about 14 years after his conversion. He has gone up to Jerusalem by revelation, something that the Lord revealed to him to do, to communicate to them the gospel he has preached among the Gentiles.

In Genesis 17, God established his covenant with Abram. God would multiply Abram exceedingly and make Abram the father of many nations. God made an everlasting covenant with Abram and his descendants. The sign of the covenant was that every male child would be circumcised. This sign of circumcision would continue generation to generation.

At one point, I studied the word “covenant” in the Old Testament. It was an interesting study, and I Iooked back at some of my notes today. The first mention I found of the word “covenant” in the Bible was in Genesis 6:18, followed by Genesis 9:9-17, which describe the Noahic covenant. It was between Noah and his descendants after him. Never again would God flood the earth or cut off all flesh with a flood. The sign of this covenant was a rainbow. God would look on it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh on the earth. Even today, when I see a rainbow, I remember that covenant.

In Genesis 15:18, God made a covenant with Abram to give him and his descendants the land.

You could continue to trace the thread of covenant throughout the Bible. An everlasting covenant sounds like a pretty big deal, doesn’t it?

Now in the New Testament after Jesus’ resurrection with the apostles having been sent out to make disciples of all peoples and nations, there was conflict over this sign of circumcision.

As we’ll see, Peter had been sent to the Jewish people, while Paul was sent to the Gentiles. In Romans 1:16-17, Paul tells us that the gospel of Christ is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. So though the Gentiles/Greeks had not been part of this initial covenant with Abram, they were offered salvation through Christ, and Paul is making the point that they do not need to be circumcised to be saved. For salvation comes by grace through faith in Jesus, not by any works we can do.

Paul points out that Titus had not been circumcised, indicating that the Gentiles did not have to follow Jewish law to become a Christian. Salvation is God’s gift to those who believe in Jesus. False brethren were around, though, who tried to tell them otherwise, who tried to add circumcision as a requirement to the gospel.

In Galatians, Paul is defending the true gospel of God against these false brethren who want to bind the new converts with legalism instead of giving them the freedom and liberty found in Christ.

This issue is mentioned several times in Paul’s letters, and he is very passionate about clarifying the pure and true gospel of Christ – that it comes not as a result of works or of the law, but through Christ, by grace, through faith, as a gift, given by God. Paul is laboring for this gospel, and doesn’t want those labors to be in vain, to be set aside by thinking something else must be done to be saved.

These verses tell us Paul does not submit for a moment to those who would steal their liberty in Christ, so that the truth of the gospel may continue with them.

PRAYER: Lord, these are heavy verses. I don’t know if I’ve understood them all completely correctly, but I do pray that we would know and love and cherish your gospel – the truth that we are sinners, but through Jesus, through your gracious gift, we can be saved. Jesus came to earth as a man, fully God and fully man, lived a perfect life, died on the cross, taking our sin and shame and the punishment we deserved, and rose from the dead validating all that He said and did. We will celebrate Sunday this resurrection after we remember on Good Friday the sacrifice Jesus made and the cost he paid so willingly for us, so that by faith in Jesus, we can be forgiven and walk in new life, in fellowship with God. We rejoice in this gospel, that it comes to us so freely, that we don’t have to earn it, that we don’t have to do something to attain it, we just believe. Thank you, Jesus. May we also defend your gospel, as Paul did, and be willing to share it with others who need to know this truth. Awaken their hearts by the power of your Holy Spirit to know you, too. In Jesus’ name, Amen.