Galatians 3:15-18 Gentiles share in God’s covenant, which is not based on law.

SUMMARY

The inheritance which God’s covenant promised was not “based on law” (v18). In other words, it did not depend on the observance of the law. When the Law was later added, it did not set the covenant promises aside (v15, 17).  God gave the covenant promises “to Abraham and to his seed.” The true “seed” is Christ (v16). When He came, He inherited the covenant blessings. God promised to bless all nations through Abraham. “In Christ Jesus” (3:14) Gentile Christians share in the covenant promises, which are not “based on law.” They, therefore, do not have to be circumcised and comply with the Law of Moses to share in the promises.

GALATIANS 3:15-18

3:15 Brethren, I speak in terms of human relations: even though it is only a man’s covenant, yet when it has been ratified, no one sets it aside or adds conditions to it.

ABRAHAM

3:16 Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ.

3:17 What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise.

3:18 For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise.

GOD’S COVENANT IS NOT SUBJECT TO THE LAW.

God made the Covenant with Abraham. The inheritance which the covenant promised (Genesis 12, 22:17) was not “based on law” (v18). In other words, it did not depend on the observance of the law.

For the next 430 years, Abraham’s children did not have to comply with the Law of Moses to inherit the covenant blessings. The law did not even yet exist.

THE LAW DID NOT SET THE COVENANT ASIDE.

When the Law was added to the covenant through Moses, it did not set the covenant promises aside. The covenant remained the fundamental binding agreement. The promises which God made to Abraham did not become conditional on the “works of the Law:”

Paul uses the example of a human will, which, after “it has been ratified, no one sets it aside or adds conditions to it” (v15).

“The Law, which came 430 years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise” (v17).

GENTILES SHARE IN THE COVENANT; NOT IN THE LAW.

God gave the covenant promises “to Abraham and to his seed.” The true “seed” is Christ (v16). When He came, He inherited the Covenant promises (3:16-19) and became the “heir of all things” (Hebr. 1:2).  

God said to Abraham, “All the nations will be blessed in you” (Gal 3.8). By implication, God’s covenant with Abraham includes the Gentile nations. The Law of Moses, on the other hand, was specifically given to the nation of Israel.

Other people (Jews and Gentiles) can also become “Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise” (3:29), but only “in Christ Jesus” (3:14). Since these promises are not “based on law” (v18), they do not have to be circumcised and comply with the Law of Moses to share in the promises, as some Jewish Christians claimed. 

All of this is still part of Paul’s explanation that man is justified through faith in Christ Jesus (2:16); not on the basis of the Law of Moses.

TO: Galatians Table of Contents
TO: Summary of Galatians chapters 1 to 3
NEXT: Galatians 3:19-25

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