The Just shall Live by Faith

Galatians 3:11-14 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that does them shall live in them. Christ had redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hanged on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. 

‘But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.’ This is the 2nd Old Testament prophecy fulfilled in Galatians (3:11; Hab. 2:4. See Rom. 1:17 and Heb. 10:38).

‘No man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.’ Again, it is repeated that no man can be justified by the law in the sight of God. The just shall live by faith and the law is not of faith; but the man who keeps it shall be required to do and live in all things that are written in the law (3:10-12; Jas. 2:10).

‘Redeemed’ [Greek: exagorazo] to buy from; redeem (3:13; 4:5; Eph. 5:16; Col. 4:5). Christ has bought us back from the curse of the law (1Cor. 6:19-20; 1Pet. 1:18-23). We are no longer in bondage to it, sold as a slave to the law, and its death penalty. Christ has freed us from all these things, being made a curse for us. He was made an atonement for us. Whatever was offered as the atonement for sin was considered as bearing the punishment due to sin. If sin, sickness, pain, sufferings, death, and all the effects of sin were a part of the curse and the result of it, then they are all atoned for and removed from us in God’s plan.

‘Cursed is every one that hanged on a tree.’ This is the 3rd Old Testament prophecy fulfilled in Galatians (3:13; Deut. 21:23). The same day a criminal was executed he was buried (Deut. 21:22-23).

‘That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.’ Two things Christ died for here: That Abraham’s blessing of justification by faith might come to Gentiles (3:6-14; Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:1-25). That we might receive the promised Spirit through faith (Matt. 3:11; John 1:31-34; Acts 1:4-8; 2:33-39; 11:14-18; 15:7-13.) It is referred to as a promise (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-8; 2:33-39; Gal. 3:14)

‘Through Jesus Christ … through faith.’ These two blessings come through Jesus Christ and through faith (Rom. 3:24-31; 5:1-11; Acts 13:38-39). Christ is the direct agent to baptize His followers in the Holy Spirit (Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; 24:49; John 1:31-34; Acts 1:4-5; 2:33; 11:15-18). Compare two things in Colossians 2:14.

‘That we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.’ All blessings, even the Spirit baptism, come through redemption and atonement (3:13-14). How could God give to fallen, rebellious men on any other basis? This confirms beyond doubt the fact of healing in the atonement as well as all the other phases of redemption from the fall. If all results of the curse are removed by the atonement, then this certainly includes healing of sickness, which is one of the major effects of the fall. In this connection, there are specific scriptures that state that by His stripes we were and are healed (Isa. 53:4-5; Matt. 8:17; 1Pet. 2:24). Thus, healing of the body is mentioned in particular as a blessing from the sufferings of Christ. Being wounded for our transgressions and striped for our healing are stated in the same verses (Isa. 53:5; 1Pet. 2:24).

Under the Curse

Galatians 3:10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continues not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. 

‘For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse.’ All who seek salvation by the works of the law are under the curse because they can’t keep the law and come up to its standards. The law pronounced all cursed who would not continue “in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them” (3:1-12; Jas. 2:10).

‘Cursed is every one that continues not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.’ Quoted from Deuteronomy 27:26 and from verse 15, we have twelve sins meriting curses: Making any graven or molten image and setting it up to be worshipped in any secret or public place (Rom. 1:23). Dishonouring, cursing, or in any way showing irreverence and disobedience to parents (Deut. 21:18-21; Ex. 20:12; 21:17; Eph. 6:1-3). Removing landmarks of a neighbour (Deut. 19:14; 27:17; Pro. 22:28; 23:10; Rom. 13:9). Causing the blind to lose their way (Lev. 19:14; Matt. 5:44; 19:19; 22:39). Perverting judgment of the stranger, the fatherless, or the widow (Deut. 10:18; 14:29; 16:11, 14; Jas. 1:27). Adultery with father’s wife, with a sister or a mother-in-law (Deut. 27:20, 22, 23; Lev. 18:8, 9, 17; 20:11, 14, 17; 2Cor. 5:1-21). Bestiality (Deut. 27:21; Ex. 22:19; Lev. 18:23; 20:15; Gal. 5:19). Murder (Ex. 20:13; Matt. 5:44; Gal. 5:21). Bribery (Deut. 10:17; 16:19; Ps. 15:5; Matt. 26:15; 28:12-15; Acts 24:26; 1Tim. 6:10). Rebelling against God and His word (Deut. 5:1; 6:3-25; Mark 6:52 Acts 19:9; Heb. 3:8, 13). Old Testament sins are still sinful for us under the New Testament. The Mosaic Law and its rituals have been annulled, but the gospel of Christ has not annulled sin so that one can continue therein (Rom. 6; Heb. 10:26-31; 1Jn 3) only the methods of forgiveness and worship have changed.

‘All things which are written in the book of the law’ – “All things” of the law must be practised, if one is under the law (3:10-12; Jas. 2:10). This not only means the ten commandments but all the rituals, feasts, sacrifices, and “all things which are written in the book of the law.” If one can prove that only the ten commandments make the book of the law, then he can prove that they are the only part of the law he is to keep. If one finds the feasts, rituals, sacrifices, and other things in the book of the law, then he is still under obligation to keep all of them if he insists on being under the old covenant which was abolished (Acts 15:1, 24; 2Cor. 3:6-15).

Accounted to Him for Righteousness

Galatians 3:5-9 He therefore that ministered to you the Spirit, and worked miracles among you, does he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know you therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. 

‘He therefore that ministered to you the Spirit, and worked miracles among you.’ The apostle here refers to himself as ministering the Spirit to them and as working miracles among them by faith and through the gospel and not by the works of the law.

‘And it was accounted to him for righteousness. Quoted from Genesis 15:6 and Romans 4:3-5 where it speaks of Abraham’s faith that was accounted to him for righteousness.

‘Know you therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.’ Those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham. He was justified by faith before he was circumcised and 430 years before the law (Gal. 3:7-18). This being true, then the law is not necessary to salvation. Remarkably, the Jews’ maintained Abraham was saved by faith, for righteousness was imputed to him before both circumcision and the law (Gen. 15:6). They recognized that it had to be by faith. Paul’s argument here is very strong, backed by this fact concerning Abraham.

‘In thee shall all nations be blessed.’ This is the 1st Old Testament prophecy fulfilled in Galatians (3:8; Gen. 12:3). This is here called the gospel or glad tidings for all nations. All who are to partake of this promise must likewise be justified by faith apart from circumcision and keeping the law (3:7-18; Rom. 4:1-25).

By the Hearing of Faith

Galatians 3:1-4 O foolish Galatians, who had bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ had been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received you the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are you now made perfect by the flesh? Have you suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain. 

‘Foolish’ [Greek: anoetos] senseless. Translated “unwise” (Rom. 1:14); “fool” (Luke 24:25); and “foolish” (3:1, 3; 1Tim. 6:9; Tit. 3:3). They make as little use of reason as those who had none.

‘Bewitched’ [Greek: baskaino] to use ill words of another; slander; bewitch by spells or through an evil eye.

‘Obey’ [Greek: peitho] used 55 times and is translated “persuade,” “assure,” “trust,” “obey,” etc. (Acts 5:36-37; Rom. 2:8; Gal. 3:1; 5:7; Heb. 13:17; Jas. 3:3).

‘Set forth’ [Greek: prographo] to write in public; to give public notice of. Translated “write afore” (Rom. 15:4; Eph. 3:3); and “ordain before” (Jude 1:4). The prophecies of Jesus Christ crucified had been set forth and they portrayed the event to them as vividly as a real scene.

‘Received you the Spirit by the works of the law.’ Three things the law could not do (3:3-5): The law could not impart the Holy Spirit. The law could not bring perfection. The law could not work miracles.

‘Have you suffered so many things in vain’ – This could refer to their sufferings for Christ which were now in vain if they left Christ to go back to the law of works, as is clear in Galatians 1:6; 3:1-5 and 5:1-4.

Justified by the Faith

Galatians 2:15-21 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. 

‘Jews by nature’ – Descendants of the Jewish nation; having Jewish parents.

‘Not sinners of the Gentiles’ – Not Gentile sinners brought up without the knowledge of God and the law.

‘Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ.’ Many modern religionists do not know this yet (Rom. 1:16-17; 3:24-31; 5:1-11; 8:1-4; 10:9-10; Acts 13:38-39; Gal. 3:11-28; 2Cor. 5:14-21; Eph. 2:8-9; 1Jn. 1:9).

‘But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin?’ If while we acknowledge that we must be justified by faith in Christ, we find ourselves to be sinners through such justification, and we are compelled to go back to the law for that justification, then Christ, instead of being a minister of righteousness and salvation, is the minister of sin and condemnation. God forbid.

‘For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.’ Paul states here that if he acts like a Jew, and enjoin the observance of the law upon Gentiles, which he had repeatedly asserted and proved to be abolished by the death of Christ (Eph. 2:14-15; Col. 2:14-17; 2Cor. 3:6-15; Heb. 7:11 – 10:18), then he build again the things he destroyed and thus make himself a transgressor, undoing his justification by faith in Christ.

‘For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.’ Through paying the penalty of the broken law, Paul states he died to the law and that it has no claim upon him. That is, when the law executed Christ in his place, he died in Christ to the law. When Christ arose, Paul arose with Him that he might live unto God (2:19-20).

‘I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless, I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me.’ The death of Christ on the cross showed Paul that there was no salvation by the law. Paul states he was crucified with Him and he lives with Him. It is not his life, it is Christ’s life that Paul is partaking in. The life he now lives in the flesh is one of faith in Christ, who loved him and made it possible for him to live by faith.

‘Frustrate’ [Greek: atheteo] set aside; disregard. Paul did not render useless the grace of God. If righteousness, justification, or salvation come by law observance, then the death of Christ was useless. Since they do not come by the law at all, but by the death of Christ, then His death was a necessity and the law is useless as a means of salvation.

Carried Away

Galatians 2:11-14 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, lives after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compels thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? 

‘Peter’ – a few versions have “Cephas” and for 1,500 years a controversy has raged whether it refers to Peter or some other man; but this need not cause any trouble in view of Galatians 2:9, 14; John1:42 and 2Corinthians 1:12. There is no other Cephas known in Scripture.

‘For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles; but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumsion.’ Peter had already eaten with the Gentiles and had taught that the middle wall of partition was broken down between Jews and Gentiles; but when certain Jews came from James he became fearful, withdrawing all fellowship with Gentiles.

‘Dissimulation’ [Greek: hupokrisis] playing or acting a part; hypocrisy (Matt. 23:28; Mark 12:15; Luke 12:1; 1Tim. 4:2; 1Pet. 2:1). Here they acted what they were not, and practised something that they did not believe (2:14).

‘Not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel.’ They acted in hypocrisy which is called here walking “not uprightly” according to the gospel.

‘Why compels thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?’ This was a cutting rebuke in public, but appropriate for Peter who had gone back again on his master (Acts 10:10-15, 28-34; 11:1-18; 15:7-13). This was like the man Peter was before Pentecost, living in fear and torment (Matt. 26:69-75). He had lost some of the boldness for the truth that he had at Pentecost (Acts 2:14, 40; 3:12; 4:8-13; 5:29-32). No man is infallible (1Cor. 10:13).

The Gospel of the Uncircumcision

Galatians 2:6-10 But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it make no matter to me: God accepted no man’s person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me: But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision. Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do. 

‘For they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me.’ The apostles are the ones referred to. They had nothing to add to Paul’s gospel (Christ’s gospel).

‘But contrariwise’ – the apostles did not wish to alter Paul’s plans or to introduce any new doctrine for the Gentiles, or any new method of reaching them. They saw plainly that his doctrine was the same as their own and came from the same source. They gave him their blessing (2:7-10).

‘Gospel of the uncircumcision’ – the gospel is called this because of its special adaptation to Gentiles of that day. The same gospel is called the gospel of circumcision because of its particular adaptation to Jews. Jews were then allowed certain old Mosaic practices not imposed upon Gentiles (Acts 15:1-41).

‘Effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles.’ This simply means that the signs of an apostle were evident in both Peter and Paul (2Cor. 12:12). One worked miracles among the Jews and the other among the Jews and the other among the Gentiles (Acts 15:12).

‘James’ – the half-brother of Jesus Christ (1:19). ‘Cephas’ – Aramaic for stone, this was Peter (John 1:42; 1Cor. 1:12).

‘John’ – the beloved apostle. This is the only mention of John in Paul’s epistles.

‘Seemed to be pillars’ – they were prominent among the apostles.

‘Pillars’ [Greek: stulos] It was a word used by Jews of teachers of the law and persons of great importance and achievement.

‘Right hands of fellowship’ – this was a mark of confidence, friendship, and fellowship among Jews.

‘Circumcision’ – The Jews (2:7; Php. -3:2).

‘Poor’ – this refers to the poor of Judea who were forsaken by friends, cast out by relatives, refused privileges of trade, and thrown upon the world as outcasts (2 Cor. 8-9).

Went Up by Revelation

Galatians 2:1-5 Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also. And I went up by revelation and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain. But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised: And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. 

‘Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas.’ Paul’s next trip to Jerusalem was 14 years after his visit of Galatians 2:16-18. Whether this refers to the visit of Acts 11:30 or 15:4 is not clear.

‘Revelation’ [Greek: apokalupsis] to unveil or uncover. It implies the lifting up of a curtain so that all can see alike what is uncovered. When used of writing, it means to reveal or make clear (1:12; Eph. 3:3); when used of a person, it denotes visible presence (Rev. 1:1; 2Thess. 1:7; 1Pet. 1:7, 13).

‘Communicated’ [Greek: anatithemi] declared. This suggests that it was at the general conference in Acts 15:1-41 when Paul, Barnabas, and others went up to settle doctrinal disputes in the early congregations, and not to take collections to the poor saints, as in Acts 20:21. When taking collections to Jerusalem he did not stay any length of time or discuss doctrines, as far as we know.

‘Privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.’ This suggests that Paul had some private conferences with the apostles previous to going before the public with his declaration of the gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 15:4, 12). He did this lest he finds himself labouring in vain (2:2), and also to keep spies from knowing about his Gentile program to keep down trouble (2:4-5). After these conferences, not even circumcision was demanded of Titus (2:3).

‘Unawares’ [Greek: pareisaktos] brought in stealthily.

Glorified God

Galatians 1:18-24 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother. Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not. Afterwards, I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia; And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ: But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preaches the faith which once he destroyed. And they glorified God in me. 

‘James the Lord’s brother’ James was not the one called the son of Zebedee (Matt. 4:21) or the son of Alphaeus (Luke 24:10), but the actual half-brother of Jesus Christ (1:19; Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3). Christ’s brethren did not believe in Him until after the resurrection (John 7:5), but the other two men named James did. This James experienced a special appearance of Christ but is not classed as an apostle (1Cor. 15:7). The brethren of Jesus are distinguished from the two apostles called James (Acts 1:13-14). The virgin Mary had more sons and daughters than did her sister Mary (Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3).

‘Afterwards, I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia.’ Paul left Jerusalem to arrest the saints (Acts 9:1-43). Later he escaped Damascus and went into the rural regions of Arabia and back to Damascus (1:17; 2Cor. 11:32-33; Acts 9:23-25). Then he went up to Jerusalem completing the three years (1:18; Acts 9:26-27). After this, he went into Syria and Cilicia and to Tarsus his home (1:21-23; Acts 9:28-30; 22:17-21).

‘That he which persecuted us’ – Paul always considered himself the least and not worthy to be an apostle because of his past persecution of the congregations (1Tim. 1:11-16).

‘And they glorified God in me.’ All our testimonies are for God’s glory, not our own.

To Reveal His Son

Galatians 1:16-17 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. 

‘To reveal his Son in me’ – the purpose of his call by grace – Paul was one of the main authors of the New Testament revealing the gospel in practice. His life was a great example of how we are to live today if we want to follow Christ’s example (1Pet. 1:21-23).

‘Heathen’ [Greek: ethnos] nations. Translated: “Gentiles” 93 times; “nations” 64 times; “heathen” 5 times and “people” twice. It simply means any non-Israelite, pagan or Christian (1Cor. 10:32; 12:13).

‘I might preach him among the heathen.’ Paul, not others, was called to work amongst the non-Jews to spread the gospel through his letters.

‘Flesh and blood’ – Meaning man, any man, any human being (Matt. 16:17; 1Cor. 15:50).

‘Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me.’ He had his call and revelation of the gospel direct from Jesus Christ, as did the other apostles (1:12, 15; 2:2; Acts 1:1-3, 21-22; Eph. 3:1-8; 2Tim. 3:16-17).

‘Arabia’ – then included all the kingdom of Aretas from Damascus and east of the Jordan down to Edom in the south. Petra was the capital (2Cor. 11:32-33). It was perhaps into the north part that Paul fled which included Bashan, and which, at that time, was densely populated. Christianity took hold in this part very early, perhaps due largely to Paul himself. How long Paul stayed in Arabia before returning to Damascus is not known. Altogether he was in Arabia and Damascus for three years (1:17-18). Why he speaks of Arabia and Damascus as being different is to emphasize that he did not stay in Damascus for the whole three years. He also went into the rural sections of Arabia. Some think that here is where he received his revelation. This perhaps is true since he associates the three years in Arabia with the receiving of it (1:15-18). He had the revelation before going to see any of the apostles, so it had to be received during these three years before going up to see Peter (1:16-18). Since he would naturally discuss doctrines with Peter (1:18), and since he did not receive his revelation from man (1:16), then it had to be received BEFORE he saw Peter.