Galatians 3:10-14 All who seek to be redeemed through the Law are under a curse.


SUMMARY: No person is able to fully comply with the law.  The law, therefore, is not able to save people. All people who seek to be redeemed through the ceremonies and rituals of the Law of Moses are “under a curse.”  The only way in which we can receive eternal life is by faith. But faith does not merit salvation, therefore we are saved by grace through faith. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law.”


3:10 For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM.”

3:11 Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.3:12 However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, “HE WHO PRACTICES THEM SHALL LIVE BY THEM.”

3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE”—3:14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.


Those who are “of Works of the Law” (Gal 3:10) include both Jews and Gentiles that seek to be justified through the ceremonies and rituals of the Law of Moses.  


In verse 10, Paul then quotes from Deuteronomy 27:26, which reads:

Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.

Paul emphasizes the word “all.”  Unless one does everything “written in the Book of the Law,” one is “under a curse.”  Since nobody is able to do obey the law perfectly (Gal 3:22; Rom 3:9, 23), all people are under this curse. Paul’s point is that the law is not able to justify (save, in modern nomenclature) a person.


Moses wrote that the man who obeys the law will be justified (3:12; Deut 21:23), but even the Old Testament later confirms that “the righteous man shall live by faith” (Gal 3:11, quoting Habakkuk 2:4].

Live by” is used twice in these verses and many times in Paul’s writings. He uses this phrase to explain what gives sinners eternal life (Gal 6:8); the works of the law (e.g. Gal 3:12) or faith (e.g. Gal 3:11).

In verse 11, Paul quotes from Habakkuk to support his point that man is justified by faith; not faith “In Christ” specifically but faith in God.


Since the “curse of the Law” is on everyone that does not “abide by all things written in the book of the law” (Gal 3:10) and since all people sin (Gal 3:22; Rom 3:9, 23), all people are under that curse (Rom 2:12).  But “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law” (Gal 3:13).  As stated elsewhere:

The Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities” (Isaiah 53:11).

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins” (1 Cor 15:3).

So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many” (Heb 9:28).

Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18).

Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood” (Rev 1:5).

The word “redeemed” implies that sinners have a huge financial debt, but Christ, through His death, settled that debt for us. But we should not interpret that literally. “Redeemed” is simply is one of the many Metaphors of Salvation which Paul uses. Many Atonement Theories have been proposed over the centuries.


Our verses mention “faith” three times, but never “grace.”  However, as explained in the article, By Grace through Faith, grace and faith cannot be separated. Faith does not merit redemption. Therefore God redeems us by grace through faith. As stated by Romans 4:16:

It is by faith,
in order that it may be in accordance with grace

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GALATIANS 3:1-5 The “works of the Law” attempt to earn justification in your own power.

Excerpt: The Galatians did not need the works of the Law to receive the Spirit and miracles. But now they want to continue in their own power. That is both illogical and a disregard of the Cross. To seek salvation in your own power puts you at risk of losing eternal life.


The Galatians complied with the “works of the Law” in an attempt to earn justification in their own power. In these verses, Paul gives two reasons why this approach does not make sense:

Firstly, when they became Christians and received the gift of the Holy Spirit, they did not first have to comply with the ceremonies and rituals of the Law. 

Secondly, they do not need “the works of the Law” to receive the supernatural manifestations of the Spirit.

All they had to do was to believe what they heard. To now continue in their own power is, therefore, not only illogical but also a disregard of the value of the Cross of Christ. The mindset that one must earn your salvation might cost you your eternal life.


3:1 You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?

3:2 This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? 3:3 Are you so foolish?  Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 3:4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?

3:5 So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?


After recounting two historical incidents in chapter 2, concluding that chapter with his speech at Antioch, Paul now turns to address the Galatians directly.


The last verse of the previous chapter implies that righteousness comes through Christ:

If righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly” (Gal 2:21).

The current verse continues this thought by referring to “Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified” (Gal 3:1). This implies that the “false brethren” (Gal 2:4) undervalued the Cross of Christ.  The Galatians were “bewitched” by the distorted gospel (Gal 1:6-7), which teaches that man’s “righteousness comes through the Law” (compare Gal 2:16).


In Gal 3:2-5, Paul provides reasons for his statement in Gal 2:16 that man is not justified by the works of the Law, but through faith in Christ Jesus:

Firstly, the Galatians became Christians in the power of the Spirit, but are now trying to “perfect” their lives by their own power (Gal 3:3), which is not logical. This may be compared to the Cornelius incident in Acts 10, where uncircumcised Gentiles received the Holy Spirit just like the Jews at Pentecost (Acts 10:45; 11:15), which implies that one does not have to be a Jew to share in the dispensation of the Spirit. 

Secondly, the Galatians did not need “the works of the Law” to receive the supernatural manifestations of the Spirit. All they had to do was to believe what they heard (Gal 3:5).


Flesh” is often used in Paul’s writings for “the desire of the flesh”, but, in Gal 3:3, “flesh” does not have a connotation to sin.  It would not make any sense to say that the Christians “are … now being perfected” by the desires of their flesh.  “Flesh” in 3:3 simply means by one’s own effort.  To be “perfected by the flesh” (3:3), therefore, explains the nature of the “works of the Law” as an attempt to earn justification in one’s own power


Paul was concerned that the Galatian Christians suffered so many things “in vain” (Gal 3:4; 4:10). This implies that these Christians were at risk of losing their eternal salvation. One can be a Christian and still lose eternal life if one does what the Galatians did.  It is important that we understand what they did wrong so that we can plead with God to protect us from that error.

Gal 5:2-4 explains the error in clear language:

If you receive circumcision,
Christ will be of no benefit to you.  …
You have been severed from Christ,
you who are seeking to be justified by law;
you have fallen from grace


The danger, therefore, is that Christians will receive circumcision, but circumcision, in itself, is not the danger.  Circumcision is only the door into Judaism and to live like Jews according to the Law of Moses and the Traditions of the Elders. But this is also not the real danger.  The real danger rather lies in the thinking behind observing those laws, namely to seek to be justified by law” (Gal 5:4), which means to seek to earn salvation (Gal 3:3).  

People that believe that one has to earn your salvation will always create a large number of demanding rules as a barrier against sin.  These rules turn the mind away from God to self, kill love and lead to selfish and narrow-minded criticism all who fail to comply.  This is what happened in the Judaism of Paul’s day and we still face this danger today.  For a more detailed discussion, see the Real Danger.

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