#170 “THE RIGHTEOUS SHALL LIVE BY FAITH” (GALATIANS 3:10-14)

Those who live by the Law are required to obey each command to perfection. That, of course, is impossible for anyone to do. It’s not DOING the Law (fulfilling it) that saves a person. That’s why Paul affirms “the law is not of faith.”

  1. Justified by Faith (3:10-12): 10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.”After exposing the Legalizer’s false hope in Abraham and the Law, Paul turns his argument to Deut. 27:26 to point out the curse of the Law. He went from expressing the blessings that come from God’s promises (3:6-9) to the punishment that comes from breaking the Law. Cursed be everyone—Paul expresses the fact that no one can keep the Law in its entirety. Js. 2:10, “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.” The law condemns. It can only point out the wrongs we commit. The Law cannot restore people to God (Rom. 3:20-24).
    • 11:26-28, “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: 27 the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, 28 and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way that I am commanding you today, to go after other gods that you have not known.”
    • 8:7-8, “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
  2. 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” Again, Paul quotes Scripture. He links Gen. 15:6, “Abraham believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness” with Hab. 2:4 (“the just shall live by faith”) to point out that righteousness comes from faith (in God)—not following the Law.
    • 1:17, “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
    • 10:38, “but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.”
  3. 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” In his final remark in this section (3:10-14), Paul paraphrases Lev. 18:5 (“You shall therefore keep my statutes and my rules; if a person does them, he shall live by them: I am the Lord.”). Those who live by the Law are required to obey each command to perfection. That, of course, is impossible for anyone to do. It’s not DOING the Law (fulfilling it) that saves a person. That’s why Paul affirms “the law is not of faith.” So, no matter how hard a person tries to keep the Law—they will never inherit eternal life from attempting to obey the Law. Notice what Paul says about Moses (the Father of the Law) and his faith in Rom. 10:5-9: “For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
  4. The Work of Christ (3:13-14): 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—We violated the Law of God and broke the covenantal fellowship with Him. As a result, we deserve eternal damnation. Christ redeemed—The term “redemption” would remind the Jews of the exodus—when God saved his people by delivering them out of the bondage of Pharoah. Similarly, and yet, more importantly, Christ intervened and became “the curse” for us so that we might be forgiven and receive eternal life through Him.
    • 1:7, “In him [Jesus] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the richness of his grace.”
    • 1 Pet. 2:24, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”
    • Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree—Jesus took on our punishment on the cross and His sacrifice was pleasing to the Father. IVP New Testament Commentary, “The Jewish Christians who were pestering the Galatian believers had drawn two circles: the circle of blessing for Jews and the circle of the curse for Gentiles. The Galatian believers were moving from the circle of Gentiles to the circle of Jews so that they could be free from the curse and obtain the blessing. But Paul has demonstrated from the law itself the surprising fact that the circle of Jews is also under a curse for failure to keep all the law. Transferring from the Gentile circle to the Jewish circle is no way to escape the curse of the law. The only way for Jews and Gentiles to escape the curse of the law is to turn to Christ.”
  5. 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. Paul finishes off this section (“the righteous shall live by faith”) by laying down two a twofold proclamation: (1) mentions the blessing of Abraham is for all nations to come (v. 8), and (2) that those who put their faith in the finished work of Christ will receive the Holy Spirit (v. 14).