The Old Covenant is a stumbling stone that alienates people from Christ. These three chapters must be in a zillion of the posts on this blog, but I will present them again, for those of you who are interested in a close examination. Keep in mind what I say at the end of every article – This is based on my current understanding. You must research thoroughly, on your own (you, your Bible and Jesus of course) because you cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom. Let’s begin!
Faith or Observance of the Law
1You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?
[Okay. Something has changed with the Galatians, and apparently they should know better (you foolish Galatians). What is it? Someone has tricked them about something.]
Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.
[Christ, by His death, brought in the NC, replacing the OC, which had fulfilled its purpose.]
2I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?
There it is! The subject! Law or Faith! This is the whole heart of this matter with the Galatians!
What is he asking here? He says they received the Spirit because they believed. Could it be that they have been observing the law AND believing, but forgot that they received the Spirit by believing and not by the observing, and Paul was merely reminding them which one it came by? Or that they observed the law, but didn't believe? That wouldn't even make sense, would it? So obviously, he's saying that there is either observing the law, or there is belief. One or the other. The Holy Spirit doesn't come by the OC law though, because observing the OC law alienates one from Christ. Thus, Paul is asking why they have turned back to the OC.]
3Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?
[Same thing here. By faith they had received the Spirit, but now they've turned back to the OC. Thinking that the OC was something they were still required to do.]
4Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing?
[They had suffered so much under the curse of the OC. But it was good, because it led them to Christ. But if they returned to the OC, then it was all for nothing because they hadn’t gained Christ.]
5Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?
[Again, he says the Spirit doesn't come by the law, but by belief. What's Paul doing here? Is he correcting a misunderstanding because they were keeping the law and having faith, but forgot that the Spirit came by the faith and not the law? Or did they simply return to observing the OC?]
6Consider Abraham: "He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." 7Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. 8The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith,
[The Gentiles would be justified? How? By their Faith. Does it say they'd be justified because they kept the OC AND had faith? No. Simply by their faith.]
and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: "All nations will be blessed through you." 9So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
[Those who keep the law? No. Those who have faith. The man of what? Law keeping? No. The man of faith.]
10All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law."
[What could be so difficult to understand in that statement? Rely on observation of law=under a curse. Why/ Because you are cursed if you don’t do EVERYTHING in the Book of the Law… EVERYTHING. If you keep one part, you MUST keep it in it's entirety. Is the statement not clear?]
11Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, "The righteous will live by faith."
[why doesn't it say the righteous live by observance of the law AND faith? Because they are separate. They are oil and water. Just as Jesus said about the new cloth not being compatible with the old, or the new wine with the old wineskin. They are not compatible. You CANNOT put them together!]
12The law is not based on faith;
[So one is to keep a law which is NOT based on faith and combine it with faith?! How do you take that which IS NOT faith based and combined it with faith?]
on the contrary, "The man who does these things will live by them."
[This means they are your whole life. You keep the whole thing!]
13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law
[How did He do that? Did He say, "the law is no longer a curse because previously you weren't allowed to have faith while observing it, and that made it a curse, but now I've given you permission to have faith with it so it won't be a curse any more."? Of course not. That doesn't even make sense, does it? God isn't a God of confusion. No, He did it by ending the old, which wasn’t faith based, and giving the new, which is faith based.]
by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." 14He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.
[By faith.. we might receive the promise of the Spirit.]
The Law and the Promise
15Brothers, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case.
[In what case? In the case of the Covenants. NO ONE can set aside or add to a human covenant, OR to God’s Covenant.. not even for lack of a Temple or even practicality! God’s Covenants CANNOT be altered or set aside. Not even God would do so, because He keeps His word. He didn’t alter anything. He simply implemented the New Covenant He had prepared to follow the previous one, once it had been completed.]
16The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say "and to seeds," meaning many people, but "and to your seed," meaning one person, who is Christ. 17What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise.
[What's he talking about? It's about the fact that it was faith based with Abraham, and just because, 430 years later, He introduced a law-based covenant to Israel, doesn't mean that the faith-based covenant previously established by God is set aside or does away with the promise of a multitude of children – It was a temporary Covenant with an expiration date, set in place for a specific purpose, which had been fulfilled.]
18For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise;
[If the inheritance depends on the law, then the promise was meaningless. It's one, or the other. They are oil and water. Not compatible.]
but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.
19What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions
until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come.
[It had an expiration date. The date of the death of Christ on the cross. At this point it would no longer be all about Israel, but the Gentiles, also, would be included in the inheritance.]
The law was put into effect through angels by a mediator. 20A mediator, however, does not represent just one party; but God is one.
[That mediator was Moses.. the ‘go-between’ between God and the Israelites. God is one party.. Israel is the other party in this Covenant.]
21Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not!
[He's already said that the introduced temporary, law-based covenant would not set aside the faith-based covenant previously established with Abraham.]
For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law.
[Why? Because no law-based covenant can impart life. Why? Because the one observing it would have to be perfect. We know that's just not possible. Otherwise, we would be told that righteousness can come by a law.]
22But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin,
so that what was promised,
being given through faith in Jesus Christ,
[not the law]
might be given to those who believe.
[Jew and Gentile, alike.]
23Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law,
[held prisoners.. By what? The law.]
locked up until faith should be revealed.
[locked up.. For how long? Until faith should be revealed. Revealed in the New Covenant, telling us that salvation can only come by faith. Faith in Christ Jesus.]
24So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ
[The purpose of the law was to lead us to Christ. How? If you were being held prisoner and were told that there was someone who could free you, would you not seek him out? By being cursed under the law and then having Jesus step in to free us from that curse (by ending the law-based covenant and presenting a faith-based covenant, again (as with Abraham. The man of faith.)) Why was the law temporarily put in charge to lead us to Christ?]
that we might be justified by faith.
[Since we can’t be justified by the law.]
25Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.
[What did that say? We are no longer under the supervision of the law. What does that mean, ‘We are no longer under the supervision of the law?’ We are no longer supervised by the law. The law has left the building, (sorry, couldn’t resist that one.) We are no longer under the rule of the law, because what the law was intended to do, had been done, had been fulfilled and Christ had given a New Covenant, a faith-based covenant.]
Sons of God
26You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus,
[Because the OC alienates us from Jesus, but the NC enables us to receive Jesus in us, and only in this way can we be sons of God.]
27for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
[Baptized into Christ, not the law.]
28There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
[Now that’s a powerful statement! Read it again… There is no longer ‘those who observe the law’ and ‘those who do not’, for we are all one in Christ by faith, through the NC.]
29If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed,
[They go hand-in-hand; Christ and Abraham… FAITH. Abraham is the man of faith. Not the man of law. If you belong to Christ, then you have part in the promise.]
and heirs according to the promise.
1What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate.
[So, as a little boy, though you are heir to the throne, you do not sit on the throne, and you are still bossed around by those who teach and guide you. Just as Israel was by the OC.]
2He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father.
[And what was that time set by the Father? The moment His Son would die on the cross. Thus ushering in the New Covenant. The one that would replace the Old, and now include even those who were not Israel… The Gentiles, that they too, might receive salvation by faith.]
3So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. 4But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law,
[So, they were slaves to sin, slaves to the law, for a period of time. Even Christ was subject to the law… up until the time set by the Father.]
5to redeem those under law,
[He exchanged His life for ours. He freed us from the law, from the curse of the law, from the death penalty.]
that we might receive the full rights of sons.
[Receiving this by faith. By this faith we become sons. Not by law, but by faith. And…]
6Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." 7So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.
[Do we receive that Spirit by observance of law, or by faith? By faith. No longer a slave.. to sin, to the law.]
Paul's Concern for the Galatians
8Formerly, when you did not know God,
[Being Gentile, they did not know God.]
you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. 9But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles?
[Now that they know God because the NC includes them, how is it they turn back to the OC?
Let’s pause here a moment… Some may argue that they had not gone back to observing the OC, but to their pagan ways. I ask you this, then: Does that argument hold any water, whatsoever, if we look back at the beginning of Paul’s questions? Look at chapter 3 verse 2. If this is about a return to Pagan ways, then let’s replace some words to indicate so (in red), and see if it makes sense: “Did you receive the Spirit by observing pagan days or by believing what you heard?” Really? These guys thought they could receive the Holy Spirit from one God, while worshiping another god (idols)? That’s not a logical argument.
Let’s look at verse 3 the same way, replacing some words to indicate pagan observance: “Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are now trying to attain eternal life by returning to pagan worship?” These guys must have been REAL ignorant if they actually thought they could receive the gift of one God, from another god (idol).
And verse 5: “Does God give his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the pagan law, or because you believe what you heard?” Again, it doesn’t make sense, does it? He is asking if they received the Spirit by observing the OC or by their belief. That actually makes logical sense, doesn’t it? We will visit this issue again in verses 21-31, just a little further down the page.]
Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?
10You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! 11I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.
[They had returned to OC observance.]
12I plead with you, brothers, become like me, for I became like you. You have done me no wrong. 13As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you. 14Even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself. 15What has happened to all your joy? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. 16Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?
17Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may be zealous for them.
[There were Jews who were trying to convince them that they must be circumcised, avoid certain meats, observe certain days…]
18It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always and not just when I am with you. 19My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you,
[Wait. What did he mean by that? “…until Christ is formed in you.”? Because earlier, he was asking how they had received the Spirit… Is he saying they no longer have the Spirit in them and thus is in the pains of childbirth until Christ is again formed in them?]
20how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you!
[And now comes the analogy that compares Hagar and Sarah with the OC and the NC:]
Hagar and Sarah
21Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says?
[If you want to be under the OC, you should be aware of what the OC says, which is: Those under the OC will not inherit with those under the NC.]
22For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman.
[Note the use of the words ‘slave’, and ‘free’.]
23His son by the slave woman was born in the ordinary way;
[Note the words ‘slave’ and ‘ordinary’.]
but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise.
[Note the words ‘free’ and ‘promise’.]
24These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants.
[He says he’s making an analogy here, Hagar is one Covenant, and Sarah is the other Covenant:]
One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar.
[So the Covenant given at Mount Sinai bears children who are slaves, represented by Hagar.]
25Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children.
[Meaning that the children of the OC, are slaves, and corresponds to the physical, the old, Jerusalem.]
26But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.
[Meaning that the children of the NC are free, and corresponds to the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven in Rev. 21
27For it is written:
"Be glad, O barren woman,
[Who is the barren woman? How about the Gentiles? Because they had not been God’s people.]
who bears no children;
break forth and cry aloud,
you who have no labor pains;
because more are the children of the desolate woman
than of her who has a husband."
[Meaning that there will be far more children of God coming from the Gentiles than that of the Israelites, (she who has a husband).]
28Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise.
[Those who belong to Christ, are the children of Abraham, the children of promise.]
29At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now.
[Just as Ishmael persecuted Isaac, it is the same now, the Jew persecutes the Gentile.]
30But what does the Scripture say? "Get rid of the slave woman and her son,
[Get rid of the OC and it’s children,]
for the slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman's son."
[for the slave Covenant’s, (OC) children will never share in the inheritance with the free Covenant’s (NC) children.]
31Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.
[Therefore, we are not children of the OC (slaves), but of the NC (free).]
[Okay, back to the pagan days issue. Let’s see what he says to them about these pagan days in chapter 4:21-31.
Verse 21: “Tell me, you who want to be under the pagan law, are you not aware of what the pagan law says?”. 22 Abraham had two sons, one by the pagan woman and the other by the free woman. His son by the pagan woman was born in the ordinary way; but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise.
24These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent one pagan covenant and one covenant from God. One covenant is from the pagan gods and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. 25Now Hagar stands for pagan stuff and corresponds to some pagan place, because she is in slavery with her children. 26But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. 27For it is written:
"Be glad, O barren woman,
who bears no children;
break forth and cry aloud,
you who have no labor pains;
because more are the children of the desolate woman
than of her who is a pagan."
See how badly this theory falls apart? You have to read the entire letter and and keep the subject matter in mind. You can’t take one sentence and say it means something that takes it out of context from the rest of the letter. How can Paul go on and on about the OC and the NC through this whole letter to the Gentiles, and yet in 4:9 be referring to pagan stuff? :/ It’s just like a simple English class assignment: Who? What? Where? When? Why? Remember those? ..Read the story, Who is speaking? Who’s he speaking to? What is it about? Where does it take place? When does he write the letter (after what, takes place), Why? etc. You can keep this experiment in mind as you read the next chapter as well. It’s all part of the letter to the Galatians.]
Freedom in Christ
1It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
[Christ set us free from the OC, the curse of the OC. Stand firm then, and don’t let yourselves be burdened again by the slavery of the OC.]
2Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all.
[If you put yourself under the OC, because you believe it’s required, Christ will be of no value to you, in that He saves those under the NC.]
3Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law.
[If you keep one part of the law, because you believe you are required to, you are obligated to obey the whole law.]
4You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.
[Simply stated, if you are keeping the law because you think it’s required, then you have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.]
5But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. 6For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
[So how do I understand all this? I understand it to mean that there is no issue in observing these things so long as you understand they’re NOT required. However, there is serious issue if you do it as if a requirement, or teach that it is so, to others. Because by this, one becomes separated from Christ Jesus, our Savior! How do we obtain salvation if we are separated from our Lord?
7You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? 8That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you.
[It’s not from God, he says.]
9"A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough."
[No need to comment here. Except that perhaps we derive a whole new meaning.]
10I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion will pay the penalty, whoever he may be.
[And we, clearly, know what this means… And however convincing he may seem.]
11Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted?
[He says, clearly, that he is no longer preaching OC.. otherwise, why is he still being persecuted for preaching the NC?]
In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. 12As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!
[He sounds pretty upset about the Galatians being led astray from the true gospel, by these people.]
13You, my brothers, were called to be free.
[Called to be free.]
But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.
[Just because you’re free from the OC doesn’t mean that love doesn’t guide your heart.]
14The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself."
[And there it is: LOVE.]
15If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
Life by the Spirit
16So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
[Because if you are led by the Spirit, it’s because you belong to Christ. If you belong to Christ, it’s because you believe/have faith. If you believe/have faith, then you have stepped away from a law that is NOT faith-based. Because the two are contrary to each other… one brings life, the other brings death. You cannot obligate yourself to that which brings death AND that which brings life. That’s just illogical. It’s also illogical to obligate yourself to that which brings death. So, that leaves life! Life comes by faith! Through Christ! And Christ alone!]
19The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
[You notice we don’t see a list that includes Sabbath breaking, eating unclean meats or not observing Holy Days. It’s because that Contract ran it’s course, making way for the New Contract.]
22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
[Again, you notice we don’t see a list that includes Sabbath keeping, avoidance of unclean meats or observing Holy Days.]
24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
[And with that, God bless you in your quest for His Truth.]