Paul explains to the Galatians the distinction between grace and law and in doing so shows them why the Law was given in the first place, and how it prepares people for the Gospel and serves the goals of the Gospel.
- Paul here reminds his readers of the larger picture of the history of salvation with reference to God’s promise to Abraham, and the giving of the law (cf. Gen. 15; Deut. 27, 28). God takes the curse of the covenant on Himself.
- Because none of us can keep the law perfectly, every human being stands condemned under the curse of the law. Christ became cursed for us, redeeming us from under the curse (Gal. 3:13).
- Hanging on a tree signifies an accursed death.
- God’s promise that through Abraham’s offspring all the nations will be blessed, is a reference to Christ (Gal. 3:14). It is through Him that the promise is fulfilled and the nations are blessed.
- Because Christ took the curse in our place, we now receive the blessing of the Spirit. It is a blessing of grace and peace (Num. 6:24-26).
- The law does not annul the promise; the promise came earlier than the law, and is irrevocable.
- The law was added “because of transgressions” (cf. Rom. 3:20). The law functions as a mirror or a spotlight, to reveal our sins to us.
- Paul is emphatic that the law is not contrary to the promise, for it is the promise, not the law, which makes us alive. Law and grace work together.
- Paul uses two illustrations to describe the law: a prison guard, and a guardian. As sinners, we are convicted under the law. Lest we think we can achieve godliness by our own works, the law reminds us that we are guilty and in need of redemption.
- The law functioned as a guardian until the coming of Christ. This is a reference to a first century childhood disciplinary figure. The law punishes us for being bad, but cannot make us good. We cannot continue under this guardian; Christ is the new guardian under whom we live and walk.
- We are occasionally tempted to live as though we were still under the old guardian of the law.
- Coming to the Lord’s Table, we recognize it as a meal of repentance, as well as of blessing, knowing that Christ has redeemed us from the righteous sentence of the law.
- What accounts for the common idea that law and grace are opposed to one another?
- How does the law function in the life of the believer today, in helping us to live godly lives?