Galatians – Covenantial Theology and Faith

August 23, 2008

Paul continues to explore the correct relationship between the Mosaic law and Gentile Christians in Galatians 3:10. By stating that "in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham [came] upon the Gentiles," he overturns the argument of the Judaizers (cf. 3:14). One must not let the Mosaic Law replace God’s covenant with Abraham, for "Anything that comes afterward does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void" (3:17). With this logic Paul advocates Covenantial Theology: God makes multiple covenants with His people over time to unfold His plan in stages, building block upon block; later covenants do not nullify prior covenants. Biblical Christians ought to contrast Paul’s orthodoxy with the heterodox Dispensational Theology that arose in 19th Century Protestant circles and appears in the Scofield Reference Bible (1st ed. 1909).

He continues, "Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the offspring should come to whom the promise was made" (3:19). The law can do the work of God by stirring up those who have faith to realize that they must rely on the promise of God. One should follow God’s laws without acquiring a delusional attitude of self-righteousness.

The law does not work against God’s promises but serves as a custodian for the people of God until they come of age (cf. 3:24-29). God designed His people to mature and become "sons of God, through faith" in Christ Jesus (3:26). Christians who follow God’s will from the heart are likely to produce works of faith from the heart.

Baptism fundamentally changes one’s soul so that "there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave, nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus," though one’s body and state in life are likely to remain the same (3:28). Further nourished by the gift of the Eucharist, God prepares his people to go into all the world and spread the gospel.

Music: Bach’s Aria Variata, BVW. 989 performed by Brendan Kinsella. www.musopen.com

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