Main point summary
When God makes a promise he does not change it.
y To give a human example, brothers: 1
Brothers, here is an everyday human example:
z even with a man-made covenant,
even when you have a covenant between to humans,
no one annuls it or adds to it
neither one invalidates the covenant or places addendums on it
once it has been ratified.
once the covenant has been made binding.
Now a the promises were made b to Abraham and to his offspring.
In the same way , God made promises to Abraham and to his descendent.
It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many,
However , The Scripture does not say the promises were made to his descendants referring to people plural,
but referring to one, c “And to your offspring,”
instead , it refers to one descendent, "and to your descendent,"
who is Christ.
namely , that person is Jesus Christ.
This is what I mean:
Here is what I am trying to say:
the law, which came d 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God,
the mosaic law that came 430 years after the abrahamic covenant, does not invalidates the abrahamic covenant previously made binding by God,
so as e to make the promise void.
which would result in voiding the abrahamic covenant.
For if the inheritance comes by the law,
Because if the inheritance comes by means of the law,
it no longer comes by promise;
then it can't also come by the original promise;
but f God gave it to Abraham by a promise.
however , in fact, God did give the inheritance to Abraham by a promise.
INTRO: What is the nature of a promise? A promise by nature is an obligation someone places himself/herself under to act according to the terms of the promise made. A promise, if it is a genuine promise, is not compulsory but voluntary. A promise is hardly a promise if someone is making you do it—in that case it is more of a responsibility or an expectation. In this passage, Paul argues that God made a voluntary promise to Abraham to give him blessings and an inheritance and nothing can change God’s promise. The flow of the argument: In 3:1-5, the point is that the Galatians received the Spirit through faith and they did not receive it by the works of the law. Salvation does not begin by faith and then is completed by works. That is not salvation by faith. Not only does salvation begin by faith, but it also continues by faith. Anything else negates the work of Christ and is heretical. In 3:6-9 Paul points to Abraham as one who receives the promises of God through faith. If we are to receive God’s promises, we will receive them by our faith in the same way Abraham did. In 3:10-14, Paul argues that all who will add law to faith are under the curse of the law because the law must be adhered to 100%. But no one can do all that the law requires and therefore earn the favor of God. That is why Christ came and became a curse for us so that we might be redeemed from the curse and enter by faith into the New Covenant promises of God. It is impossible to obligate God to show you favor, especially the favor of salvation, by doing works of the law—good things that God even commands in a legalistic way. Now the argument continues all the way to verse 25 where Paul seems to be responding to an argument that the Judaizers make and the argument goes like this: Let’s assume that Abraham received the promise by faith. Perhaps that is how God intended to start salvation. But it is clear that God gave the Law to Israel 430 years later and so law has been added to faith and the promises or the inheritance is received by doing works of the law. So now Paul will explain in verses 15-18 that the law does not change anything about the Abrahamic covenant or salvation by faith. And in the following verses Paul will explain how the law functioned and what its purpose was. MAIN POINT: When God makes a promise He does not change it. Within this passage I see four arguments that make this point. 1) Even humans make contracts that do not change (v15); 2) God’s promise to Abraham is ultimately to Jesus (v16); 3) The Mosaic covenant does not invalidate the original promise to Abraham (v17); and 4) The covenant was given by grace as a free gift (v18 Even humans make contracts that do not change (v15) . So, in his effort to explain the fact that the promise given to Abraham that were received by faith and then righteousness was credited to Abraham is similar to contracts that you would find between humans. So Paul says, “To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified.” Paul says that there are man-made covenants that are not invalidated or changed once they have become legally binding. The man-made covenant he refers to can be something like a last will or testament that goes into effect when someone dies. The logic is that if humans can make binding contracts that cannot be annulled or changes, then how much more sure is the promise given to Abraham that is based on the immutability of God. So the point is that there will not be a situation where God’s promise to Abraham that was received by faith would be changed or annulled. But then the argument takes an interesting turn. Paul seems to do some tricky things with the language of Genesis. Argument #2 is: God’s promise to Abraham is ultimately to Jesus—Jesus is the “offspring” (v16) . “Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ.” What exactly is Paul doing here? He seems to change the meaning of “offspring” to fit his argument. When you go back to Genesis and read the passages related to the Abrahamic covenant, you get the sense that “offspring” should be considered as a collective whole—meaning “offspring” refers to many people even though it is a singular noun. So, the promise to Abraham of land, offspring, nations, and kings will be inherited by many into the future. But Paul limits “offspring” to Jesus Christ. How does he do that? In some cases “offspring” can refer to one person as it does in Gen 3:15; Gen 4:25; Gen 21:12-13. But perhaps the most important passage that explains how Paul can refer to a singular offspring is found in Genesis 22:17. Here, Abraham has just reached for the knife to offer Isaac, his son, on the altar of sacrifice. But the angel of the Lord stopped him and he offered the ram instead. Then the angel of the LORD says this: “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his (singular) enemies , and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” It is very important to see here that it’s not just that “offspring” can be considered singular, but that you have the 1st person personal pronoun “his” referring to the “offspring” who will possess the gate of his enemies. We can see now how Paul can come to this conclusion in verse 16 of a singular offspring. What Paul seems to be indicating is that the promises to the “offspring” coalesce in Jesus Christ. Here is where Paul’s biblical theology is implied. He sees the promise to Abraham flow through Issac, to Jacob, to Israel, then to a Davidic ruler via the covenant to David and then to Jesus who fulfills all the law and promises, becomes a curse, and purchase redemption with his blood. Now via the new covenant in Christ people from every nation can be the offspring of Abraham by their union with Christ in faith. So everything in the OT funnels to Jesus and everything in NT funnels out from Jesus. The christological element of the Abrahamic covenant is what Paul uses to identify what is not invalidated by the Mosaic covenant explained in verse 17. God would not annul or change a promise made ultimately to His own Son. The Mosaic covenant does not invalidate the original promise to Abraham (v17) . Here, Paul will connect the human analogy from verse 15 to the Mosaic covenant to show that the Mosaic Law did not void or change the Abrahamic promises. He says, “This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void.” The line of reasoning Paul is responding to is the Judaizer theology that goes something like, “God gave the promises to the patriarchs that served as something of a primer until the Law would be given. Then the real means of salvation begins.” But Paul sees this logic as a bait and switch. The promise to Abraham was received by faith, but then God comes along later and changes the deal by changing the whole nature of the relationship to his people? That does not represent God’s character honestly and makes him look like a double-dealer. ILLUS: Like the villain in many movies and books makes a deal with someone and when he gets what he wants he changes the terms. God’s promises to Abraham, and, therefore, God’s promises to all humanity that are in Christ as the ultimate recipient of those promises cannot be annulled, destroy, made powerless, or lose their validity…ever. If something like the Law came along and changed the deal, then the promises to Abraham are null and void. The covenant was given by grace as a free gift (v18) . In the flow of the argument, verse 18 serves as a reason why the Law cannot supplant the promise to Abraham or alter the means of salvation. The Word says, “For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.” Paul introduces the term “inheritance” here that seems to be connected to the idea of a will and testament from verse 15. But we also know that it is related to the promises that he has been talking about all along—including Christ and all the blessings that He secures for those who have faith. So, the question is how does one come to inherit the blessings that are associated with the promise? This is another angle by which Paul will address the idea that the Law cannot change the original promise to Abraham or the means of salvation for those who follow Christ. This argument is one of negation and then affirmation: If the inheritance comes to you via the law—legalistic rule keeping that you think will earn God’s favor, then logically it cannot come by promise because the two are mutually exclusive. ILLUS: Let’s say that you have a rich uncle that wants to leave his inheritance to you. He has amassed something like $100 million dollars and wants to make you his heir. Now, he can set up his will in two ways. First, he can set it up so that you receive all the money on certain conditions. If you are to receive the inheritance, then you must show up at his house when he calls you and mow his yard, fix his sink, clean his house, take out his garbage, repair his roof, pick up his groceries…and the list goes on. Or the second way he can set it up is that you will receive the inheritance upon your acknowledgement that he wants to give it to you. All you have to do to receive it is understand that an inheritance is available to you and you need to go over to his house and sign the document that makes you his heir. When you believe and trust that your rich uncle wants to give it to you and show up to his house to sign the document of promise, it’s yours…all the promises are yours. The first situation is Law; the second situation is promise. “But God gave it to Abraham by a promise.” That is Paul’s argument in this passage. Salvation is either by gracious and gratuitous promise or it is by law—doing things to earn the inheritance; it cannot be both. And since God’s offer of inheritance came to Abraham many years before the Law, and God does not change, the promise of salvation has and always will be by promise. CLOSING: MAIN POINT: When God makes a promise He does not change it Even humans make contracts that do not change (v15) God’s promise to Abraham is ultimately to Jesus—Jesus is the seed (v16) The Mosaic covenant does not invalidate the original promise to Abraham (v17) The covenant was given by grace as a free gift (v18)