By Brooke Holt
“Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’ But the law is not of faith, rather ‘The one who does them shall live by them.’ Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’—so that in Christ Jesus, the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.” (Galatians 3:11-14)
Some of the Galatians would not have known the Old Testament Scriptures, so Paul taught them the roots of their faith found in the Old Testament. Why was that important? Because the Judaizers had come in after Paul’s departure and sought to convince the Galatian believers that faith in Jesus Christ was not enough. If they really wanted to become Christians, the Judaizers said, these new believers would also need to uphold the law given to Moses and the Israelites.
Paul would help them understand the law, but not so that they could conform to it. Paul taught them how to recognize and resist the false teachings of the Judaizers. Many Bible scholars also believe that Paul was writing not only for the Galatians but also for the Judaizers who were working with these churches in Galatia.
If these Judaizers knew the Old Testament Scriptures, Paul knew them even better. He takes his readers back to Habakkuk 2:4: “But the righteous shall live by his faith.” Throughout the Old Testament, faith in the Lord was the ultimate goal. Habakkuk speaks of the one who is righteous due to faith. Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness (Galatians 3:6).
To further his point, Paul reminds them of the requirements of the law. If you are going to uphold and live by one point of the law, then you must uphold every point. One error, and you are cursed. Who could uphold this impossible standard? Only one. Only Jesus. In his mercy, the only one who ever upheld the law took our curse upon himself and bore our punishment on the cross.
Again, Paul quotes the Old Testament, but this time from the book of Deuteronomy: “And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God” (Deuteronomy 21:22–23). He was cursed so that you could be redeemed and declared righteous through him.
Through his sacrifice, Jesus brought the long-awaited gift of salvation to the Gentiles. There was no longer any need to convert to Judaism and adopt all their practices. The Gentiles were welcome and fully accepted through faith in Jesus.
Paul helped his Gentile readers understand the Old Testament so that they could fully receive and rejoice in the gift of salvation through Jesus. Through Jesus, they were made right with God, redeemed, cleansed, accepted, and loved.
Do you know that what was true for the Gentiles in Galatia is also true for you? Through faith in Jesus, you are made right with God, redeemed, cleansed, accepted, and fully loved. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Why is trust so difficult? Unlike all the broken promises of this world, God’s redeeming promises are absolute, trustworthy, and true. The covenants of God afford us with abundant reasons to trust God with his plan for our lives. Trusting God: Redeeming Promises of the Word small group Bible study explores the six major redeeming promises of God found in his Word. Learn more about God’s commitment to his people, the nature of a covenant, and how you can find your security in being a child of God’s redeeming promises. Learn more about God’s promises today.
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