Under the Microscope: Galatians 3

Apr 27, 2015 | General |

This discussion has not yet been rewritten or presented in the updated multi-part format.  That will occur as God wills to provide me the time and energy to do so.

This article is adapted from an article on the excellent web site, www.EliYah.com.

Galatians 5:2-6
2 Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, the Messiah will profit you nothing. 3 And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. 4 You have become estranged from Messiah, you who [attempt] [to] be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. 5 For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6 For in the Messiah Yeshua neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love

The key words are, “Justified by the law”, and this is where most people get caught up.  Over and over and over again Paul plainly states that trying to be saved by keeping the law is useless.  But why?  Well here is the key:

Nobody, EXCEPT YAHSHUA, has ever kept the law perfectly

YHVH’s standard is perfection.  Only if a person keeps that law perfectly could the law ever justify them.  But no one ever has kept it perfectly except Yeshua the Messiah.  This is why he says that if one were to believe as those that sought justification through Torah (Law), they would then be “debtors to keep the whole law”.

Therefore the law condemns them rather than justifying!  The Law will not Justify us on Judgement day because of our transgressions…but Yeshua will because of his lack of transgressions!  Why is Paul so adamant on this point?  Why is it stressed over and over again?

Let’s think about the times that they were living in.  Paul was constantly teaching in the synagogues and reasoning with both Jews and Greeks.  Many Jews believed they didn’t need the Messiah for salvation because they had the law, and they were sons of Abraham.  Yeshua said that true sons of Abraham are those who do the things that Abraham did (see John 8:39), which was to keep the Torah and trust in YHVH.

Genesis 26:5
5 “because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.”
The New King James Version, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers) 1998, c1982.

The term translated “laws” in Genesis 26:5 is Torah (Law).  Contrary to the “grace only” or “faith only” promoters, Scripture CLEARLY proves that Abraham merited his good standing with YHVH through obedience, which is an integral, inseparable component of “faith”!  FAITH WITHOUT OBEDIENCE IS NOT BIBLICAL FAITH!  You have the verse above to prove my point.  If you continue to believe or teach “grace only” using Abraham as your example, then you directly conflict with Genesis 26:5, or more to the point, you directly conflict with YHVH!  In fact, Abraham was so intent on obeying YHVH that he was willing to sacrifice his son in obedience to YHVH!  How can anyone possibly believe or teach that Abraham’s example somehow removes the requirement for obedience?!

In short, the Israelites whom Paul addressed had “confidence in the flesh” – that is – much of their confidence was in the fact that they were Israelites to whom the promises and the Torah (Law) were given.  This is what Paul had to always fight against.  He attempted to teach that law and fleshly heritage can not save us due to our transgressions of the Law.  The Torah (Law) can only condemn us; however, Paul NEVER meant to imply the Law was abolished.

We have a similar situation, which today dominates Christianity!  During the first century, it was commonly believed, particularly among Jewish religious leaders whom Yeshua and Paul opposed, that one’s “fleshly heritage” guaranteed entrance into the world to come (salvation).  It was the “once saved, always saved” belief of the first century!  They believed their “salvation”, once promised to their father Abraham and confirmed through his seed (Jacob / Israel), made them “eternally secure”.  Then, as now, Paul tried to explain how putting your faith in a PAST experience or in that of someone else’s faith was a recipe for eternal disaster!  We ALL will be judged according to OUR OWN works!  Yeshua’s sacrifice is effective ONLY for those that persevere in trying to live a righteous (Torah observant) life.  Those that profane his death by living habitually sinful lives are eternally damned because they have made his sacrifice “of no effect” in their lives!  The “eternal security” or “once saved, always saved” doctrine of today may be THE single most damning error in all of Christianity, which WILL result in the eternal death of untold millions of surprised Christians.

It MUST be understood that Paul’s teachings on Law were almost always with respect to the narrow specifics of JUSTIFICATION.  Traditional Christians take Paul’s limited discussions and incorrectly apply them to the general Torah.  Such misapplication of Paul’s teachings have been tragic to the cause of Truth and have created a situation in which the majority of Christians openly transgress the Law!  Paul is pointing out the need for a Savior!  He is NOT pointing out that the Law has been nullified.  Yeshua kept that law perfectly; therefore, only HIS deserved justification according to the letter of the Law can justify us in our undeserving sinful condition.  Reading Paul’s writings with this mind set will reveal the truth that Yeshua never abolished the Torah.  In fact, the requirement for Yeshua to perfectly abide by Torah in order to justify us proves Torah is eternal and vindicates YHVH against those that slander Him with the accusation that the Torah (Law) was/is impossible to keep!

Ok, let’s start with the beginning of the 3rd chapter in Galatians

Galatians 3:1
1 O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Yeshua the Messiah hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?

Someone has slandered them so they wouldn’t “OBEY” the truth.  Even though Yeshua was clearly shown to them as impaled.

2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

The Gentiles who turned their lives over to YHVH didn’t receive the Holy Spirit because they had been keeping the law.  They received the Holy Spirit because they repented and accepted Yeshua the Messiah.  Kepha (Peter) also had been shown this truth:

Acts 10:44-47
44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. 45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify El’. Then answered Peter, 47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?

YHVH even had to send a vision to prove this point to Kepha.  I believe it was something very difficult for Jews to accept because it was so ingrained in their culture that a Gentile couldn’t just come to YHVH in one day.  The tradition at that time was that a Gentile had to go through a one year proselyte period in which they were circumcised and fully taught the Torah (Law).  But the Gentiles received YHVH’s Spirit because their sins were forgiven and a beautiful inward change had taken place, not because they were circumcised and had known all about the law.  However, it is important to understand these were FIRST STEPS into YHVH’s saving grace – those things necessary to “get your foot in the door”.  To assume, just because the Law is not necessary for INITIAL salvation, that it not necessary at all, is expanding greatly upon the text.  Also, we read in Acts 15 that, during the Jerusalem conference, the BASICS were stated as:

Acts 15:19-21
19 Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, 20 but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood. 21 For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.
The New King James Version, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers) 1998, c1982.

Obviously, the statement in verse 21 regarding Moses being read (literally meaning the Torah being taught) every Sabbath (the day one is BIBLICALLY supposed to set aside for YHVH), means it was an assumption that all new believers would study and learn Torah!  This is blatantly obvious yet overlooked by most Traditional Christians.  Some things, particularly basics of the Hebraic faith, are rarely talked about in the New Testament because of the assumption that everyone knew it!  In short, ALL the New Testament authors ASSUMED you and I would know to study the Canaan (Older Testament) and Torah (Pentateuch Gen. – Deut.) and would not have be told to do so!

3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

Speaking the Jews’ doctrine concerning circumcision.  The gentiles were starting to fall into this false doctrine that they were not saved unless they were circumcised.  The Jews of that day taught that you were not a child of Abraham and therefore ‘not Israel’ until you were circumcised.  They believed that one couldn’t be saved or receive Israel’s promises unless you were ‘Israel’ by being circumcised.  They were putting all their faith in the fact that they were children of Abraham.  But John the baptist rebuked them for this:

Matt 3:7,8
7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: 9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to [our] father: for I say unto you, that YHVH is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

Therefore, when the gentiles were taught this doctrine, they were troubled.

4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if [it be] yet in vain.5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, [doeth he it] by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

The gentiles are being reminded of all the things they suffered for Yeshua’s sake.  Those miracles did not come because they had kept the law or were circumcised.  But YHVH had purified their hearts by faith.  And also the miracles that had been done among them as further evidence that they were indeed accepted by YHVH.

6 Even as Abraham believed YHVH, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.

Here it is pointed out that even Abraham ‘believed’ in YHVH and it was considered righteousness.  Note that Abraham’s belief was backed up by his works.  He was willing to even offer his own son unto YHVH! Abraham spent much of his life not being circumcised, yet YHVH accepted him.  Note again the verses in Genesis regarding Abraham.

Genesis 26:5
5 “because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.”
The New King James Version, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers) 1998, c1982.

As I stated before, the term translated “laws” in Genesis 26:5 is Torah (Law).  Contrary to the “grace only” or “faith only” promoters, Scripture CLEARLY proves that Abraham merited his good standing with YHVH through obedience, which is an integral, inseparable component of “faith”!  FAITH WITHOUT OBEDIENCE IS NOT BIBLICAL FAITH!  How can anyone possibly believe or teach that Abraham’s example somehow removes the requirement for obedience?!

7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.

If one has faith like Abraham, one is like Abraham.  Therefore they are child of Abraham; however, Traditional Christians somehow miss Abraham’s OBEDIENCE, which was the foundation of his faith.  Consider what Yeshua said to the scribes and pharisees on this same subject:

John 8:37
37 I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you. 38 I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. 39 They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father.  Yeshua saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.

So Paul is in total agreement with what Yeshua had taught on this.

8 And the scripture, foreseeing that YHVH would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, [saying], In thee shall all nations be blessed.

So the Scripture quoted here, which is Genesis 22:18 says that all nations (even gentiles) would be blessed.  How? Through Abraham’s seed, Yeshua our Messiah!

Gene 22:18 – And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.

Note, again, what YHVH says, “…because THOU HAST OBEYED…”.  It is through faith in Yeshua (thy seed) that we are blessed and justified/made righteous!  More on this later.

9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.  10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed [is] every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

Now if we took the stance of many on this scripture, we would say that anyone who tries to keep the law is under a curse.  But that isn’t what is being said here at all!  Look at the scripture that is being quoted here.  It is Deut.  27:26.

Deut 27:26 – Cursed [be] he that confirmeth not [all] the words of this law to do them.  And all the people shall say, Amen.

Does this scripture say that those who do them are under a curse?  Certainly not.  It is saying those who DO NOT do them are under a curse!  So how does this fit in with what Paul said?  It is those Jews who did not accept Yeshua’s good news of salvation who are not of faith because they are relying on their obedience to YHVH’s law to save them.  Those who teach salvation by doing the ‘works of the law’ are under a curse because they have broken that law that they are relying on to save them!  No man except Yeshua has kept it perfectly, this is why ALL men need Yeshua the Messiah!

In contrast to the problem Paul faced then, consider the worse problem today.  Then, Paul tried to teach how we are not “saved” (meaning justified), through our efforts but, instead, through Yeshua’s perfect obedience, since ONLY perfection can justify through the letter of the Law.  Today’s, grace only, “once saved, always saved” Christians are taught we are to make NO EFFORT AT ALL!  Thus, Traditional Christianity has taken Paul’s teachings against RELIANCE upon our efforts and twisted it into a teaching against ANY EFFORT AT ALL!  The situation today is absurd and eternally tragic for billions of Christians, and has resulted in generations of godless, hedonistic, carnal and worldly “Christians” that profane YHVH daily through their unholy and unrestrained lifestyles of sin.  But who can blame them since their preachers are telling them they can sin all they want and will still go to “heaven”.  Those preaching such demonic lawlessness will pay eternally for it.  I would NOT want to be in the shoes of any once saved always saved preacher on the day of judgment!

11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of YHVH, [it is] evident: for, The just shall live by faith.

No one is justified by the law because the just must live by faith.  Let’s look at the scripture quoted here:

Haba 2:4 – Behold, his soul [which]is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

One cannot live or be justified by trusting in his own righteousness.  This scripture says “his soul [which] is lifted up is not upright in him”  To claim that we have our own righteousness is to be proud or ‘lift up our soul’.  Here is how the NKJV translates this:

Haba 2:4 (NKJV) “Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith.

So just because a person claims to be “upright” does not mean he is.  We cannot be justified by our claims of righteousness because all men except Yeshua have sinned at some point in their life.  We are left with no choice but to live by faith!  Faith and hope for mercy from YHVH Almighty, which has always been the belief within the Hebraic faith!  We must come to YHVH and trust in Him to forgive us of our sins and make us righteous through Yeshua the Messiah if we expect to have any hope whatsoever.  Any other claim to righteousness is pure pride!

12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.

This is once again a quote from the law.  Let’s examine it:

Levi 18:5 – Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I [am] the YHVH.

If a man will do the law, he will certainly LIVE and have eternal life.  This man would be justified by the law.  But again, NO MAN has ever done this except Yeshua the Messiah.  Therefore no man can LIVE or have salvation because they kept them.  We all must rely on Yeshua!

13 The Messiah hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed [is] every one that hangeth on a tree:

Is the law a curse?  Some would love to quote this verse to you to tell you that.  But as we learned earlier, it isn’t those who KEEP the law that are under the curse, but those who have BROKEN it!  Yeshua redeemed us from the curse that comes when you break the law (For He was cursed for us by being hung on the tree.)

Deut 21:22 – And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: 23 His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged [is] accursed of Elohim;) that thy land be not defiled, which the YHVH thy Elohim giveth thee [for] an inheritance.

Yeshua was hanged on a tree, yet He committed no sins.  We have committed sins (transgressions of the law – 1 John 3:4) that are worthy of death (the wages of sin IS death) yet have never hanged on a tree.  So Yeshua has redeemed us from this curse!!  Yeshua was made a curse FOR US.  We deserved what He endured but He did it for us, HalleluYah!!!  So if we claim to have salvation because we have kept the law, we are surely under that curse!  But if we also claim there is no need for law and willfully disobey, we also fall under a curse because we prove by such behavior that the love of YHVH is not in us and we lie if we say we know him (1 John 2:3-5, Matt. 7:21-23).  If we do not accept Yeshua’s offer of salvation and we instead reject what He has done for us (became the curse) then we are putting ourselves “under the law” which means we are cursed forever.  For we have not obeyed the law as Yeshua did!!  Let us all accept what Yeshua did for us so that:

14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Yeshua the Messiah; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

We see this promise fulfilled when we saw how the Gentiles received the Spirit in Acts 10.  So now the blessing of Abraham would also come to the Gentiles when they receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.  What is meant by this verse is explained in the following verses:

15 Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though [it be] but a man’s covenant, yet [if it be] confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto.

Even in covenants of men, no one can take away or add to that covenant.  Therefore the same is true of YHVH’s covenants.  Unfortunately, Traditional Christian theology takes away the majority of what YHVH promised, especially the specific LAND PROMISE to Israel.  Through “Replacement Theology”, which teaches the “church” has “replaced” Israel by becoming “spiritual Israel” Traditional Christianity erases, through spiritualizing them away, a large majority of YHVH’s direct, unambiguous promises.  Proof of widespread ignorance of the Tanakh (Older Testament) among Christians, is the almost universal acceptance of these false replacement doctrines taught by many denominations.

16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made.  He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is the Messiah.

To Abraham and his seed were the promises made.  He doesn’t say “To seeds” but rather “To his SEED” (Gen.  22:18) that seed being Yeshua, through whom all the nations be blessed!

17 And this I say, [that] the covenant, that was confirmed before of YHVH in the Messiah, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.

Now here is where it gets very confusing.  Even the law, which was given 430 years later cannot annul the covenant to Abraham that in Yeshua would all the nations be blessed.  So the law covenant does not make this promise and covenant void.  So the law never took away the promise of the blessing through Abraham’s seed, Yeshua, nor did it annul any of the other promises – such as the ones regarding the sure fact of a future in which Abraham and his seed would inherit as their’s the literal land of Israel.

18 For if the inheritance [be] of the law, [it is] no more of promise: but YHVH gave [it] to Abraham by promise.

For if the inheritance (which is the promises of YHVH to Abraham) comes from YHVH’s law then it is no longer a promise but rather a condition!

19 Wherefore then [serveth] the law?  It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; [and it was] ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.

What is the purpose of the law?  It was added because of disobedience to YHVH’s will!  YHVH had to show everyone what His will is, what His way of Righteousness is so that when Yeshua would come, we would all realize we are sinners.  And the promise of Yeshua’s coming thru YHVH’s declaration to Abraham said that “all nations would be blessed” so this promise was made to Gentiles also.

20 Now a mediator is not [a mediator] of one, but YHVH is one.

This is a confusing verse, but I believe it is saying that a mediator is not a mediator of one person, but of many.  However YHVH IS one.  So in reality, Moses was mediating not just for Jews but for Gentiles also because the law would also show the Gentiles a need for Yeshua.  Also a human mediator is not in oneness with YHVH because he also is a sinner.  But YHVH and Yeshua are one in spirit since Yeshua’s spirit was free from the defilement of sin.  Therefore Yeshua is a better mediator than Moses or any High Priest.

Gala 3:21 (NKJV) – Is] the law then against the promises of YHVH?  Certainly not!  For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law.

How can the law be “against” YHVH’s promises of eternal life thru Abraham’s Seed, Yeshua?  It certainly does not take precedent over the promise to Abraham.  The law itself doesn’t give us life.  If the law gave eternal life, then righteousness would have been by the law and not by a promise.  Our life is given through Yeshua, the PERFECTLY obedient servant of YHVH.

Gala 3:22 (NKJV) But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Yeshua Messiah might be given to those who believe.

The scriptures in His law show us that we all are in sin so that the promise (by faith in Yeshua) would be given to those who believe.  So the promise that Yeshua would bless us and give us life was there because the law shows us that we are sinners.  So the purpose of the law was to lead us to the promise!!  He gave us the law so that we would realize we are sinners and have faith in the promise of eternal life in Yeshua.

Gala 3:23 (NKJV) – But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed.

But until this promise of Yeshua’s coming came to fulfillment, we were guarded by the law and kept there for the faith in the promise (Yeshua blessing us and giving us eternal life) which would be revealed.

Gala 3:24 (NKJV) – Therefore the law was our tutor [to] [bring] [us] to Messiah, that we might be justified by faith.

Because we were guarded and kept by the law, the law was our teacher to bring us to Yeshua, in whom is the promise of Abraham that all Gentiles would be blessed.  HERE IS THE QUESTION: And what did it teach us?? It taught us that we are sinners!

25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.

So now that we have faith in Yeshua, in whom is the promise of Abraham that all Gentiles would be blessed, we no longer need to be taught that we have sinned because now that we are forgiven of all those sins!  The law has done what it always does.  It brings us to the realization that we have sinned so that we would turn to Yeshua.  So now we are not under (the condemnation of) the law (which condemned us) but under grace.  So now that we are no longer under the condemnation the law requires, does this mean that once we have been forgiven for breaking that law that now it is okay to go out and break it again?

Roma 6:15 (NKJV) What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!

Sin is transgression of the law (See 1john 3:4) or breaking any sort of His commandments.  Now what would happen if we continue to sin or break his law?  We would then be back under the law’s curse and once again we would need the law to “teach or tutor” us to come to Yeshua.  And this is what the law does.  It doesn’t save us.  It shows us our sins so that we will repent and come to Yeshua.  Another fact to ponder is the question, after one is “tutored” does that person then go off and purposely discard all he was taught?  It is puzzling that many consider the ONLY tutoring we are free to forget is the law!  Obviously, even without Scriptural support, one cannot reasonably state that we are free to discard our schooling of law.

So once again, we are left to conclude that the law shows us our sins but does not save us from them.  YHVH’s plan of salvation has been distorted by those who despise His law.  YHVH’s plan was to promise all of us eternal life through Abraham’s seed, Yeshua.  First by showing us the path of righteousness which is in His law.  And YHVH, being ever so merciful gave His only Son to redeem us from the curses that result in our disobedience to Him.  The standard of righteousness DOES NOT CHANGE when we accept Yeshua, but our standing before YHVH does!  It is a total distortion to teach that everyone else in the world is expected to refrain from sin (transgression of the law) but those those who receive Yeshua are free to transgress the law all day long!!  This is not YHVH’s glad tidings!!  Why would we ever want to go back and break that law again?  It was for forgiveness of breaking it that Yeshua had to die in the first place!  If, after accepting Yeshua as Messiah, one then returns to sin, it is as Peter states in 2 Peter 2:22:

2 Peter 2:22
22 It has happened to them according to the true proverb, “A dog returns to its own vomit,” and, “A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.”
The New American Standard Bible, (La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation) 1977.

So even after being “washed” of sin, the fool (Proverbs 26:11) returns to sin, and thus his cleanliness is erased.  But praise Yah!  Even then YHVH is ever present to forgive IF we TRULY turn to Him with our WHOLE heart!

Gala 3:26 (av) – For ye are all the children of YHVH by faith in the Messiah Yeshua.27 For as many of you as have been baptized into the Messiah have put on the Messiah.28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in the Messiah Yeshua.29 And if ye [be] the Messiah’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

So in conclusion I would like to admonish all that YHVH does not change.  His standard and His love is the same yesterday, today and forever. Let us remember the words of YHVH in Malachi 3:6.  “I YHVH, CHANGE NOT”.  If He says “forever”, He means “forever”.  If He says obey, He means obey.  Whatever He said in the Tanakh is in force yesterday, today, and forever.