The Law teaches valuable lessons that prepare us for faith and keep us from evil. But, after the Messiah came, we graduated from the protective custody of the Law. All of us receive justification by the same path: faith in Jesus Christ.
In the first two chapters, Paul defended his authority and his gospel. He argued he did not invent the gospel nor did he learn it from any other human being. Instead, he received it through revelation from Jesus Christ. He was called and given authority by Jesus to preach the gospel. The other apostles confirmed he preached the same gospel.
In Galatians 3:1-4:31, the apostle details five persuasive arguments for justification by faith alone.
- Galatians 3:2-5—argues from experience. Did you receive the Spirit because you got your act together and finally started keeping the law? Or because you heard the gospel — that Jesus died in your place — and believed it? You received the Spirit because you have faith.
- Galatians 3:6-14—argues from the plain declaration of Scripture. From the beginning, justification came through faith. God promised He would bless all those who have faith like Abraham.
- Galatians 3:15-22—appeals to common sense. God made a promise to Abraham, but the Law is a deal which came later. The deal does not nullify the promise. God gave the Law to teach us we are sinful.
- Galatians 3:23-4:11 explains the purpose of the Law.
- Galatians 4:12-20—argues from his relationship to them.
- Galatians 4:21-31—uses a story from biblical history as an illustration.
23Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. – Galatians 3:23-29
- The phrase “before faith came” (3:23) refers to before Jesus came. Note the parallel in 3:24 “until Christ came.”
- Before Jesus came and explained the gospel clearly, we were in protective custody (“held captive” 3 3:23) under the law. The rules fenced us in, teaching us what is right and wrong.
- The Greek word “guardian” (3:24) is a kind of tutor or “learning enforcer,” something like a drill instructor breaking in new military recruits.
- The Law teaches valuable lessons that prepare us for faith, point us in the right direction, and keep us from evil.
- After the Messiah came, we graduated from the protective custody of the Law. All of us (both Jew and Gentile) are children of God through faith.
- To put on Christ or clothe myself with Christ is to define my identify as one of his followers. The ceremony of baptism symbolizes that I have made that decision.
- All of us come to faith the same way. The path to faith is the same for Jew, Gentile, male, female, slave and free.
- If you have faith in Christ, then you are a child of Abraham and stand to inherit the promised blessing from God.