WEEK 3 OVERVIEW - GALATIANS
March 13 - March 17, 2023
Galatians 3 Overview
So far in Galatians 1 and 2, we’ve seen Paul defending his authority and the gospel as he originally taught it to the Galatians. Now, he shifts his focus and begins speaking directly to the Galatians. Paul is not “nice” in Galatians 3:1 when he calls them “foolish.” He can’t be; to turn away from the gospel is not an innocent mistake to laugh off. It’s an abandonment of God (for which we should repent!). That’s the reason for Paul’s strong language. Some Bible scholars say that “the sixty verses that make up Galatians 3 and 4 are some of the strongest writing that Paul ever penned.”
In Galatians 3, Paul uses three different arguments to prove that God saves sinners through faith in Christ and not by the works of the law. He began with the personal argument (3:1-5), in which he asked the Galatians to recall their personal experience with the Spirit when they were saved. Then he moved into the scriptural argument (3:6-14), in which he quotes six Old Testament passages to prove his point. In the logical argument (3:15-29), he reasoned with his readers on the basis of what a covenant is and how a covenant works.
In the same way, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” The real children of Abraham, then, are those who put their faith in God. Galatians 3:6-7
Since the beginning, the real good news has never been about earning entrance into God’s family. To prove this, Paul points back to Abraham as an example, reminding readers that Abraham didn’t earn his right relationship with God. He believed and trusted God’s promise that one day all nations would be blessed through him. God’s plan has always been to have a family of people who relate to Him on the basis of trust, not the Law. The Law, as good as it is, does not provide the power to change—what the Law cannot do, Jesus fully accomplishes.
A valid question about the law arises, though. Paul had just quoted from the Old Testament. If salvation does not involve the law, why was the law given in the first place? Essentially, the law shows us our need for salvation; we should be driven to trust the sufficiency of Christ because we can never keep the law perfectly. The Old Testament still applies today. In it, God reveals His nature and His will for humanity. But we cannot be saved by keeping it.
When reading Galatians, we must admit that we’re a lot like the Galatians. God's Spirit saves us through the work of Christ, and afterward, we slip into rule-following as if we could earn the favor of God. But when we abandon God’s gift of grace for our effort, we should also be called “foolish!” We must realize that we grow spiritually because of God’s work in us by his Spirit, not by our effort.