Galatians 3:13-14: "Christ 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. 14: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith."
The last part of verse 13, underlined here, Paul quoted from Deuteronomy 21.
In Deuteronomy we learn that the Jewish method of executing criminals was not by hanging, they stoned the one condemned to die. However, if they wanted to bring extra shame on the criminal they hung him from a tree, and those criminals were cursed by the Law.
God brought it to pass that the death of Jesus would be on a tree in order to fulfill the prophecy that He would become a curse for us. Matthew 5:17: ďThink not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.Ē Jesus willingly laid down His life, His humiliation and suffering on a tree was of His own choosing because He came to fulfill every demand of God His Father.
Romans regarded crucifixion as entirely too shameful for a Roman citizen and they refused to allow a Roman citizen to be hanged. The Jews, too, saw crucifixion as very shameful, but they wanted to heap all the shame and disgrace possible on Jesus.
The cross with its shame is a stumbling block to the flesh. Proud mankind recoils at the thought of a bloody salvation, purchased by the death of a man on a shameful cross! But Jesus died the death of the cross that you and I might be delivered from shame, disgrace and damnation. The natural man does not accept the cross with all of its shame and suffering, simply because it is foolishness to the natural man that someone would die for your sins.
The first part of verse 13 reads, "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the Law." Paul is stating here that Christ came to redeem the Jews from the curse of the Law. Bible scholars agree that the word "us" as used here applies solely to the Jews. Galatians 3:10: ďFor 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.Ē Galatians 4:4-5a "When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the Law, to redeem them that were under the Law . . ."
We Gentiles have never been under Law, nor will we ever be.
Jesus was made a curse for His brethren in the flesh, that they might become the sons of God through faith. They could receive the blessing of Abraham, which is justification by faith, if they would only believe on the Lord Jesus Christ; but for the most part, the Jews refused to accept Jesus as the Messiah, the Savior of sinners. Instead, they looked on Him as the despised Nazarene, born of fornication.
Itís very clear in the New Testament that the Gentiles were never under Law.
Romans 2:14: ďFor when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:Ē The Law was "the middle wall of partition" dividing the Jews from the Gentiles, and vice versa.
Verse 14 tells us that the Jews were shut out from the blessing by the very Law in which they gloried, consequently, there was no way the Gentiles could hope to obtain the blessing of God by putting themselves under the Law that couldnít bless the Jews. Since the Jews were offered the blessing by faith in the death of Jesus Christ, that is, by exercising faith in His finished work, then Gentiles could also receive the blessing on the same grounds.
2 Corinthians 5:21: ďFor he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.Ē The believer is complete in Jesus, because Jesus lived completeness in the flesh. Paul puts himself with all believers in that scripture. The "we" in that verse includes all believers, while the "us" in Galatians 3:13 refers to the Jews only.
However, in verse 14, Paul refers distinctly to the Gentiles: "That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." Paul puts himself (we) and all believers in one group. There is no contrast between Gentile believers and Jewish believers. The person who acknowledges that the Law's curse came because of sin, and that the Law was given to make us aware of the curse, can then by grace through faith become a child of God.
I understand why Paul made such an issue of this. You can't over-emphasize the fact that we are not under the Law. Even today there are some groups that cling desperately to the Law. Salvation is totally and entirely apart from the Law: Romans 8:3-4: "For what the Law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."
If you havenít yet been born into the family of God by the Holy Spirit, then you canít fulfill the righteousness of the Law. No one, except Jesus, ever kept the Law, but the righteousness of the Law which we couldnít attain is ours when we have Christ in our heart.
Jesus died for us, He took our place, so the believer is spared from the Law. There is no double jeopardy, the Law canít condemn us twice. Jesus took our place in judgment and when we receive Jesus we are through with the Law forever because the Law has no power over a believer.
Verse 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."
When a covenant between two men has been confirmed and recorded, itís binding on both parties. Neither one has any right to make any change in the agreement. A covenant between God and man is more important than any contract between men.
God made a covenant with Abraham and He wonít break it or change it until it has been completely fulfilled.
Verse 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 Christ."
The covenant referred to here is between God on the one hand and two men on the other. Those two men were Abraham and Christ.
The promise wasnít to Abraham and his natural seed of the flesh which we call the children of Israel. Itís also not to his heavenly seed, believers in general. It was made to only one of Abrahamís seed (singular), Christ, the seed of the woman, who would bruise the head of the serpent.
The devil did everything in his ungodly power to frustrate the plan and the program of God and to corrupt the seed. There are many places in the Old Testament that tell the story, but in spite of all Satan did, Jesus came, the Seed of the woman, conceived of the Holy Spirit. His coming made good every promise God had made to the faithful.
Verse 17: "And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years after, cannot dis-annul, that it should make the promise of none effect."
The covenant God made with Abraham was unconditional and couldnít be broken. Since all the promises God made to Abraham havenít been fulfilled yet, the Law given on Mount Sinai did not and could not set aside the covenant between God and Abraham.
Verse 18: "For if the inheritance be of the Law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise."
God's promises to Abraham were based upon pure grace; with no conditions attached. Neither Abraham nor his seed could do anything toward the fulfillment of those promises.
By way of contrast, all the promises of the Law of Moses were conditional. In the account in Exodus God uses the word "IF" for the first time in the giving of the Law. God said, "IF you will obey my voice, IF you keep my covenant, then you shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people."
The peopleís answer to God when the Law was given is in Exodus 19:8: ďAnd all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD.Ē
You talk about ďfoot in mouthĒ disease, that was it. They voluntarily put themselves under the Law which they couldnít keep. Instead of doing everything God commanded, they did just the opposite, and God punished Israel severely every time.
This was an entirely different covenant than the one God made with Abraham. Abraham need make no promise either for himself or for those who would come after him since all Godís promises were unconditional.
Verse 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."
Why was the Law given? That is an appropriate question in light of Paulís earlier statements. He anticipated the question so he answered it before it was asked.
In the first three chapters of Galatians, Paul proved that the Law of Moses was not given to save man, nor to make him righteous, nor to justify man. The Law was given to condemn the sinner so that he would realize his need for the Grace of God. Paulís reasoning that the sacrifice of Godís Own Son is the final proof that salvation couldnít have come by the Law.
Galatians 2:21: "If righteousness come by the Law, then Christ is dead in vain!"
To preach salvation by the Law, or salvation by grace plus Law, denies the finished work of Christ and denies the value of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Law canít save, sanctify, nor redeem. All the Law could do was show man that, without the Grace of God, he is a hopeless sinner in Godís sight.
If Paul preached that the Law could neither justify, sanctify, nor satisfy the sinner, why did God give the Law? It had a purpose. Verse 19: "(The Law) was added because of transgressions." It was added to reveal the true nature of unregenerate man. The Law was given for a certain period of time. "It was added till the seed should come." When the Seed came (the Lord Jesus) the Law came to an end. Romans 10:4. "Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to everyone that believeth." Paul was speaking of the whole Law, all 613 ordinances plus the Ten Commandments.
John 1:17: "For the Law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." All of the Law was given to a specific people at a specific time. It came from God, and the angels delivered it to a mediator, Moses, to give to the Children of Israel at Mount Sinai.
Verse 19 also tells us it would be in effect until "till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator."
God dealt with man in grace for two thousand years before giving the Law of Moses. Adam lived under the grace of God in the Garden of Eden. Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness, he lived under the grace of God and God is still dealing with man in grace today.
No one knew anything about law until Moses received the Law of Moses on Mount Sinai. From Adam to Moses, a period of more than two thousand years, there was no law, there were no Ten Commandments. Romans 5:13 "For until the Law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no Law."
Verses 19b and 20: "it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. Now a mediator is not a mediator of one (for one only), but God is (only) one."
In the covenant between God and Abraham, there was only one party who made promises (or who was under obligation). That one party was God. God required no promises from Abraham, so there was no need for a mediator between God and Abraham.
On the other hand, the covenant of Mount Sinai was a conditional covenant between God and several million people. There, Godís promises were conditional. The people of Israel had to obey and follow God's commands to receive the benefits, therefor a mediator was needed.
In the New Testament, the Lord Jesus is called the One mediator between God and man, but He is not a mediator negotiating between two parties of a covenant like Moses was. Jesus is the One in whom the two parties, God and man, are united to become one body.
Verses 21-22: "Is the Law then against the promises of God? (the promises of the Gospel) God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the Law. But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe."
The Gospel is good news, itís by grace that hell-deserving sinners can become sons of God, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ. The sinner can be saved by grace, through faith, plus nothing! The Law is bad news for the unsaved because it condemns him and shows him how bad he is. The Law actually demands the death of the sinner: Ezekiel 18:4"The soul that sinneth, it shall die!" Romans 6:23"The wages of sin is death" Romans 3:20: ďBy the deeds of the Law there shall be no flesh justified in His sight.Ē
God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but He canít overlook sin. God forgives our sins for Jesus' sake when we professes faith in the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
When we are born again by faith in that blood and we actually become a member of His body-bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh (Ephesians 5:30). Believers are dead to this world and their lives are hid with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3).
Verse 21: "Is the Law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the Law."
The question is simply this: Is the Law which involves a mediator (Moses) contrary to the promises of God which are without a mediator and rest entirely on God for their fulfillment? The answer to that question, of course, is "God forbid!"
If eternal life could have come through the Law, or if there could had been a Law given that would bring righteousness to man, then certainly righteousness would have come by the Law and there would have been no need for the death of Christ on the cross.
It was impossible for God to legislate holy life. The first man sinned and ever since Adam, all men are born sinners, we are born unholy. God is holy, He canít look on sin, He canít acquit the wicked. God demands holiness because He is holy. "Without holiness no man shall see God." It was impossible for a holy God to give unholy men a law that would make them holy. The Law was holy, but it couldnít make men better, but it could show them how sinful they really were.
God has always demanded a blood sacrifice for sin. The only solution that could make man holy was for Jesus to take the body of a man, and in that body fulfill every jot and tittle of God's holy Law in order that we might become the righteousness of God through faith in Christís atoning sacrifice for our sins.
It is true that the Law promises life to whoever could obey it perfectly, but who on this earth except Jesus Christ ever perfectly obeyed God's holy Law?
Romans 3:23: "All have sinned and come short of the glory of GodĒ.
Isaiah 53:6: ďAll we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.Ē
1 John 1:10: "If we say we have no sin, we make God a liar!"
Who would dare suggest that they could live a life worthy of the righteousness of a holy God? Salvation comes only through the shed blood of the Lamb of God.