Paul’s letter to the GALATIANS (Study 4) Pastor Barry Bruce/ The Gathering Church
Father Abraham James 2:22-23, John 15:14-15, Galatians 3:7-9 Aside from Moses, no Old Testament character is mentioned more in the New Testament than Abraham. James refers to Abraham as “God’s friend” (James 2:23/ Isaiah 41:8, 2 Chronicles 20:7), a title used of no one else in Scripture. Yet Jesus Himself said to his disciples: “you are my friends if you do what I command.” This is why the Apostle, Paul, says that “those who have faith are children of Abraham.” Abraham and his “children”(those like him) are friends of God because of faith in Him. When we live our lives by faith in the one true God we are God’s friends.
Jesus went on to describe the difference between a Servant (lit. slave) and a friend. It’s not the privilege of the servant to understand his master’s business. It’s just for him to do what he’s told. No questions. No reasons. A friend on the other hand is informed and encouraged to come along side and learn. Those who live according to traditions and the law are ritually serving God as slaves. Those who live by faith are engaged actively in the works of God. A person who lives by faith embraces the command of God because he/ she loves God and is part of His plan. A person who lives according to the law lives as a slave. Are you a “child of Abraham”/ a friend of God?
“All nations will be blessed through you.” Genesis 18:18 This was the promise God made to Abraham. Through Abraham’s seed (Genesis 22:18/ offspring: lit. “seed”) all nations would be blessed. The “seed” spoken of here is Christ Jesus who would come through Abraham’s lineage. Those who are called “friends of God” must therefore come through Christ— that is by faith in Him. All nations can be blessed because nationality has nothing to do with faith in Christ. Christ embraces anyone as a friend who believes in Him and obeys His command:
But to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God —children born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but born of God.… John 1:12-13
A Blessing or a Curse? Galatians 3:10-18 Paul proclaims that anyone who relies on doing works of the law to be saved from God’s judgment for sin will be cursed, for the law itself actually says that anyone who fails to carry it out will be cursed (Deuteronomy 27:26). Carrying out the law perfectly is impossible for imperfect men. Christ, however, died for our sins. He who carried out the law perfectly died as a sacrifice for our imperfections. We are therefore made righteous by His actions on our behalf. This is why the scripture says “The righteous will live by faith”—that is faith in Christ who took the curse of the law upon Himself by hanging on a tree (NIV “pole”). The law itself read that anyone is cursed who is hung upon a tree in punishment (Deuteronomy 21:22-23).
The Covenant of Grace Genesis 15:1-6, 22:18 In Galatians 3:15–18 Paul tries to clarify the fact that faith in Jesus was written into the original contract (Covenant) with Abraham. The Abrahamic Covenant given by God to Abram (later named Abraham) was spoken to Abraham and his “seed”(Genesis 22:18). Paul states that “seed” was the name for Christ in that contract. When God made that promise to Abraham the Law had not yet been introduced. When the law was introduced 430 years later, it did not end God’s promise to Abraham, but was added to atone (pay) temporarily for sin until Jesus came and paid for it once and for all. The inheritance promised to Abraham through that covenant does not depend on the letter of that law but upon God’s gracious promise, and God always keeps His promises.
Released from Custody Galatians 3:19-25 So why, then, was the law even given at all? Paul rhetorically asks! That law that was given through angels, entrusted to Moses and carried out by priests (mediators: the go-betweens in a conflict), was made to be a prison of sorts to hold back man’s eternal death sentence (because of his sin) until Christ would come with the key to the believers freedom. Now that faith in Christ has come, we are no longer under a “guardian.” We no longer need a prison guard…we are no longer locked up under the law. Jesus, “the seed” of Abraham’s promise came to bring freedom to the captives:
But scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe. Galatians 3:22
Before Jesus came to earth, paid the price for sin and resurrected, believers in God’s promise were temporarily forgiven through faith in the coming Christ and held until the day of their redemption when Christ paid their debts in full. Now that Jesus has come, believers in Christ are forgiven by faith in the risen Savior. We are free and released from the custody of the law. There is no need to return to that prison. Freedom has come and we are friends of Christ!
“One” Galatians 3:26-29, John 17:20-23 If we belong to Christ then we too are part of Abraham’s seed. We are children of Abraham, Children of God. We are “One”! Jesus’ plan laid out in His garden prayer illustrates this. From the beginning…we were created to be God’s friend. Never His slave.