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Galatians 3:16  (King James Version)
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<< Galatians 3:15   Galatians 3:17 >>


Galatians 3:16-17

Paul writes these verses to assure all that the Abrahamic Covenant, which contained the wonderful promises that Herbert Armstrong simply called "the race and grace promises," was in no way negated or cancelled out by the Old Covenant.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 27)



Galatians 3:16-17

Under the New Covenant, the promises of the Abrahamic Covenant are valid, and Abraham is our spiritual father, as it were. He is the model of the family, with whom God first made the covenant, and he obeyed God's voice (Genesis 26:5). He kept the commandments and the laws, and Abraham's children are going to do the same thing! Otherwise, they will not really be his children.

Paul is not doing away with the law! He is simply saying that the law cannot justify us. We see here, by God's own witness, that Abraham lived up to the terms of the covenant. Because he did, it was passed on to Isaac for him to do as his father had done.

The problem of transgressions in the Old Covenant was not resolved until the promised Seed, Christ, came. He lived perfectly, qualifying to be the payment for sin, and at the same time, He confirmed the promises that were made unto Abraham—and they were made absolutely and eternally binding. God then proposed the New Covenant that He had previously shown in prophecy (Jeremiah 31). God has presented it to all of mankind—not just to Abraham's physical descendants.

It is not circumcision that makes one a part of this covenant. Rather, it is circumcision of the heart! The sign is repentance and faith in the sacrifice of the promised Seed, Jesus Christ. The receipt of the Holy Spirit is the seal; it authenticates what has occurred. It completes the making of the New Covenant with the individuals whom God calls.

Nowhere does God say that the laws that define sin are done away. On the contrary, the One who made the New Covenant possible said that not one jot or tittle would pass from the law until all was fulfilled (Matthew 5:18).

God's moral and spiritual laws have been from eternity, and an agreement between Him and mere man is not going to do away with them. God Himself would have to pass from existence for that to occur. In addition, the loving intent of those laws as they apply to human relationships is still valid.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 27)



Galatians 3:16-18

Comparing Genesis 17:23; Exodus 12:41; and Galatians 3:16-18, we have evidence of a significant Genesis event that later became a festival date, and thus it is important to Christianity. Exodus 12:2-6 dates the Passover on the fourteenth of Abib. Israel left Egypt on the next day, the fifteenth. Verse 41 strongly suggests that the Exodus was 430 years to the very day from when Abraham made the covenant with God which was sealed by the patriarch's circumcision. Galatians 3 reinforces the link between the events of the Exodus (Paul sums them up in the term "the law," which was given about two months after leaving Egypt), the 430 years and God's covenant with Abraham. These verses confirm that the Abrahamic covenant, the introduction of circumcision, and Israel's going out of Egypt took place on Abib 15, the First Day of Unleavened Bread.

John W. Ritenbaugh
God's Promises Are Sure!



Galatians 3:15-17

Four hundred and thirty years after the covenant God made with Abraham the law came. We understand that it was already in existence, but it was given to Israel in a codified form as a portion of the covenant that God made with him.

The real beginning of the Old Testament church was not at Mt. Sinai but in the land of inheritance where Abraham pitched his tent 430 years earlier; the Old Testament church began with Abraham. And the New Testament church, in that sense, also began at the same time—because Abraham is the father of the faithful. This highlights how important Nisan 15 is.

We understand that the real, true beginning of the New Testament church was on the day of Pentecost—when God gave His Spirit. But these are the very roots of that event! By combining Exodus 12:40-41 with Genesis 17 and Galatians 3, we know that these two events, God's covenant with Abraham and Israel's exodus from Egypt, took place on the same date 430 years apart.

From that small beginning with Abraham and Sarah came Isaac and Rebecca and then Jacob and his wives and children. Joseph was sold as a slave into Egypt. Then the famine drove Jacob down into Egypt along with all of his relatives, where they grew into a sizable nation subjugated by the Egyptians. They became a nation of about 2½ million people. Then came the raising up of Moses and the destruction of Egypt culminating in the slaying of the firstborn on Nisan 14. And then the climax: The children of Israel leaving Egypt 430 years to the day that God entered into the covenant with Abraham!

On that very day, Abraham, Ishmael, and all the males of Abraham's household were circumcised, and thus they received the sign of the covenant. The covenant made at Mt. Sinai was essentially the same covenant as that entered into by God and Abraham but expanded to include the entire nation (that is, all the descendants of Abraham). Added to it, then, were civil and ceremonial laws necessary for administering the covenant to the whole nation. That makes Nisan 15 a very significant date.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Night to be Much Observed



Galatians 3:16

In all of mankind since Adam, only one person has qualified to receive the inheritance of the promises that were made to Abraham—Christ.

We can see the requirements as early as Genesis 17:1, where God says to Abraham, "Walk before Me, and be perfect." Some Bibles translate it, "Be blameless," which means the same thing; "Be without sin." Christ, at the end of His life, was found to be blameless; therefore, He qualified to receive the promises. He met every condition of the Covenant, and then became the Inheritor.

Verse 29 is explaining that, if we are "in Christ" (in union with Him), then we become co-heirs with Him. We become co-inheritors with Him, if we have met the conditions the Bible gives: God has called us; we have unconditionally surrendered to God; we believe the gospel; we believe in the blood of Jesus Christ; we have been baptized; we have received the Holy Spirit; we have had hands laid on us. Then we also become "in Christ." The picture is as if we were part of Christ's body, and we are "in" Him. That is not actually what has occurred, but we are within the church.

Christ, being the Inheritor of the promises, then made out a will, as it were, prior to His death for the forgiveness of our sins. This will is also the New Covenant, which includes all the promises and blessings the Scriptures show us.

Christ had to die for a number of reasons. First of all, He was physical; and it is given to all men to die once (Hebrews 9:27). Another reason is that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), and when our sins were placed on Him, He then came under the law and the law claimed its penalty—He died. Another reason is that He had to be transformed, glorified by means of a resurrection, because, as long as He was in the flesh, He could not inherit the promises either. One has to be eternal to inherit them; "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God" (I Corinthians 15:50).

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace and Law (Part 13)



Galatians 3:16-17

Ceremonies identified Israel as a nation that was in the world but separate from all the other nations. It played a part in driving the Gentiles up the wall and building barriers between them.

What makes the spiritual family that God is drawing us into separate and distinct from the world? God makes it clear: It is the way we live, not ceremonies or rituals! Jesus said, "By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:53).

God insured that the ceremonies could not be performed. He allowed the Temple and the altar to be destroyed, and scattered the Levites all over the world. Those three things were necessary for making sacrifices. In order to get the focus away from the nation of Israel and the Old Covenant, God made sure that they could not make those sacrifices. (1) They had to be made at the Temple. (2) They had to be made on one altar. And (3) it had to be done by the Levites, and, specifically, the family of Aaron.

God got that out of the way because He wants people to focus on the way His children live! And His children live according to His law. If you do away with His law, you cannot live according to His law. You cannot show the characteristics of God unless you know the way that He lives, and He lives according to His law, which describes Him.

Though God no longer requires ceremonies, this in no way means that the spiritual intent of those ceremonies is done away. Though we are no longer required to cut an animal's throat, bleed its blood out, and burn it on an altar—the intent, the stretching out of those principles, still applies.

Thus, Jesus said in Matthew 18:9, "If your eye offend you, pluck it out." Jesus requires sacrifices so that we do not sin. Paul also said, "Put to death therefore your members which are on earth" (Colossians 3:5). He restates this in Romans 12:1 and Ephesians 5:2.

The principle of sacrifice remains. This is why Jesus could say that not one jot or tittle of that law would pass until all is fulfilled (Matthew 5:18). In the book of Galatians, the laws of God are hardly even in question except as they pertain to justification. Those laws that define sin, which guide us in the way of God, are just as binding as they ever have been, and they will remain so because God is using them to prepare us to live at one with Him and His Family.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 27)



Galatians 3:16

It is evident that a specific descendent was implied: that one of Abraham's "seed" had the same promise made. The promises entailed so much more than justification by faith. If that were the main or only promise, it had already been given to multiple characters throughout the Old Testament (Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, the prophets, etc.). Even Noah, living before Abraham, "became an heir of the righteousness which is by faith" (Hebrews 11:7)—yet none of these received the promises (Hebrews 11:13)! The promises made to Abraham cannot be limited to justification because all of these "men of faith" mentioned in Hebrews 11 did receive that. The promises entail eternal life, inheritance of the earth (Matthew 5:5, not heaven), and being born into the Family of God.

These promises were made to Abraham and Christ. Abraham died without receiving them (Hebrews 11:13), which means he must live again in order for the promises to be fulfilled. Christ came to earth to confirm that those promises were still in existence and to set in process a means by which true Christians could inherit them. This will be fulfilled at the first resurrection, when the firstfruits are changed into immortal beings, given a full measure of God's Spirit, and begin reigning on the earth with Christ (Revelation 5:10; 20:4-6).

David C. Grabbe




Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Galatians 3:16:

Genesis 3:15
Genesis 12:3
Genesis 17:23
Genesis 22:16-18
Exodus :
Galatians :

 

<< Galatians 3:15   Galatians 3:17 >>



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