Reflection on Gal 3:18Post date: 2018-05-05
Reflection on Gal 3:18
This statement in verse 18 is preceded by a mention in verse 13 of the curse of the law which Jesus took upon Himself. And it is explained further: “...so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.” It is said here that the blessing given to Abraham is also given to pagan nations, that means to us too, in Christ. Concerning the Jews, the physical descendants of Abraham, the blessing comes to those who have received Jesus through faith. The prophets and the righteous of the Old Testament believed that the Messiah would come and they de facto received Him beforehand through faith they had at the time. Eventually, the first to receive Jesus were the apostles, who were Jews, i.e. the physical descendants of Abraham. There are other descendants of Abraham, too, who crucified Christ, namely the Jewish scribes, Pharisees and high priests, and today mostly Masonic Jews.
Paul himself was a zealous Pharisee; however, after his conversion he preached the Gospel primarily to the Gentiles, i.e. non-Jews. Through him the Holy Spirit testifies that the blessing we have in Christ, surpasses the blessing given to Abraham on earth. It consists in the fact that salvation, i.e. eternal life in Christ Jesus, is given us as a gift and we become heirs of God’s kingdom. The Apostle emphasizes that through faith – and not through the observance of Old-Testament laws – we receive the promised Spirit who guides us into all mysteries related to Christ as well as into unity with Him.
Both verses 13 and 18 use the word “law”. Paul (Saul), a former Pharisee, was well familiar with the Law of Moses and all its ceremonial and ritual observances described in the Book of Leviticus. We suppose that by the “law” is meant the Decalogue. The Jews, however, understood the “law” as a complex series of regulations. With the coming of Christ, the insignificant regulations or the prefigurations lost their meaning. It concerned circumcision, animal sacrifices for our sins, and numerous ceremonial observances associated with it. One did not even know all of them and was unable to fulfil all of them either. If one only broke one of them, one was guilty, i.e. under the curse. That is why St Paul mentions the curse in connection with the law. The Epistle to the Hebrews says that Jesus died for us on the cross and His blood cleanses us from sins, and therefore the blood of bulls and goats is now useless (cf. Heb 10:4). Prefigurations symbolized the perfect sacrifice of Christ on the cross, which alone reconciles us to God.
The fullness of blessing is given us in Christ through faith in Him rather than through observance of the ritual law.
The Apostle Paul continues: “Brothers, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case. The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his Seed. The Scripture does not say ‘and to seeds’, meaning many people, but ‘and to your Seed’, meaning one person, who is Christ. What I mean is this: The law (given to Moses), introduced four hundred and thirty years later, does not set aside the covenant (given to Abraham) previously established by God and thus do away with the promise (given to Abraham).” (Gal 3:15-18)
And now follows the verse we are going to recite for two weeks: “For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise.”
We ask: What inheritance? Eternal inheritance, God’s kingdom, eternal life. We will not obtain this by observing the Law of Moses or keeping the Law of God – the Ten Commandments. The inheritance of eternal life is given us only and only through faith in Christ. If we keep the commandments of Jesus, we thus love Him, and in this love is contained the saving faith. Therefore Jesus promises that He and the Father will come into our heart an make Their home with us (Joh 14:23). But we must be aware that we are unable to keep God’s or Christ’s commandments by our own effort. That was why Jesus promised to give us the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, through whom we obtain the grace to keep the commandments and to love God with all our heart. Why is it possible only by the power of the Spirit? Because if the Spirit of God dwells in us, as we read in the whole eighth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, the living Jesus is in us. And then it is no longer us who do righteous deeds but Christ who lives in us. Of course, the condition for Christ to live in us is that our old self must be crucified with Him. Because our old self will not allow Jesus to live in us and will keep us in the bondage of our selfishness. This is what St Paul says in the Epistle to the Galatians: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” (2:20)
So the Apostle explains that God gave the inheritance to Abraham by promise, and we receive it through faith in Christ. This faith cleanses us from sin. But the condition is to admit sin, to believe that Jesus, the Son of God, died for my sins, and to give my sins to Him. Through this faith the Holy Spirit gives us everything that Christ has done for our sake. But first of all, this faith unites us to Jesus Himself, who dwells in our hearts through faith (Eph 3:17). In the hour of death, this faith then changes into the sight of God in the light of glory.
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