Summary: Paul argues that the Law of God does not make void the promise of God. It is the Law that leads us to His promise.
“The Promise vs. The Law”
• Paul is anticipating a possible argument from the Judiazers in the churches in Galatia; or maybe it was a well known one he had come across before.
o The acknowledged that salvation was by faith in Abraham’s time.
o That all changed when God gave Moses the Law.
o The Law was the new standard for salvation.
o Mosaic Covenant nullified the Abrahamic Covenant.
I. An Illustration of the Matter (15)
• “I speak after the manner of men.”
o Let me give you a human illustration.
o “Man’s covenant” the Greek word here was also used to describe a person’s will.
o Once the will has been certified, no one is able to come in and change it after the fact.
o It becomes a binding agreement that affects more than one party, but is only subject to the one who originally created it.
o Paul is comparing this fact to the fact that God’s promises are absolute and unchangeable.
II. The Fact of the Matter (16-18)
• Paul makes a distinction here, the promise was made to Abraham and his seed (singular); and not seeds (plural).
o Genesis 17:19; 22:18
o This is not a grammatical interpretation of the text.
o This is a Holy Spirit revealed exegesis of the word delivered to the Apostle Paul from the mouth of God.
• Paul clearly identifies that seed as Jesus Christ.
o Abraham was declared righteous because He believed God’s promise of blessing (salvation) to all nations of the world through the promised seed to come (Jesus).
o The cross is not the beginning of salvation, it is just the completion of it; there were those looking forward (OT) and those looking back (us); but all looking to the same promise.
• The Law does not void out the promise of faith made to Abraham, which by the way was confirmed by God.
• But if now we are going to say that the Law is our inheritance or the source of our salvation, then it is no longer a promise but is now based on merit.
o The promise was given by God and could only be upheld or made complete by God.
o But the Law on the other hand would be upheld by our obedience to it.
• Really what we find our two opposing forces working here.
o The Law which man cannot keep.
o The Promise which god cannot break.
o Therefore one is incomplete and the other is fully complete.
III. The Questions of the Matter (19-22)
1. Why then do we have the Law?
o The answer: because of sin.
o To give us a sense of exactly how far we are away from God’s perfect standard. (It’s like knowing how fast over the speed limit you are going because you read the speed limit sign).
o Also to show how far God had to reach down in order to save us.
• The Law had a mediator between God and the people, Moses.
• While the promise was given directly by God.
2. Is the Law contrary to the promise?
o Absolutely not.
o The Law was never given as a means to eternal life.
• The Law has concluded that all men are under sin.
o All people stand condemned before God.
o Therefore if all are condemned then all men need to be saved, by a promise, a promise of a Savior.
• “That the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.”