Verse 22: "But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe."
The Scriptures declare that we are all under sin, all in the same category, "that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe." Faith and believing can’t be separated so far as spiritual matters are concerned. If we believe in Jesus we have faith in Him. The only way any person has ever been saved (or ever will be saved) is by believing God’s Word. Scripture tells us that Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Paul told the Philippian jailer, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved~”
The Scriptures had not been written in Abraham's time, with the possible exception of the book of Job. They began to be written about the time the Law was given. The first five books were written by the mediator of the Covenant of the Law, and of course that was Moses.
There is a lawful use of the Law, and there is an unlawful use (1 Timothy 1:8-11). The lawful use is to reveal sin and cause men to see their need of a Savior. The unlawful use is to try to achieve salvation by the keeping of the Law. People can’t be saved by "keeping the Ten Commandments," that’s not the true meaning of the Law. The Law concludes "all [men] under sin," Jews and Gentiles alike. But since all are under sin, then all may be saved by grace. God does not have two ways of salvation; He has only one, faith in Jesus Christ.
Verses 23: “But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.”
Those who were shut up, or kept, under the Law, were the people to whom the Law was given, the Children of Israel. Romans 3:19 states, "We know that what things soever the Law saith, it saith to them who are under the Law."
Before we Gentiles start feeling too smug, we read that the Gentiles are similarly condemned; Romans 2:14b-15: “For 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: 15: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another.”
Even though God gave no written law to the Gentiles, He put the knowledge of right and wrong and guilt and innocence in the heart and conscience of all men and scripture states that we are without excuse.
God gave His Law to one nation (Israel) as a demonstration of man's inability to save himself. Romans 3:19-20. "Now we know that what things soever the Law saith, it saith to them who are under the Law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the Law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin."
The Word of God clearly defines the reason for giving of the Law: The Law was given to Israel to stop the mouths of all men forever, that is, all men who teach salvation by Law, or by grace plus Law.
For more than fifteen hundred years God gave Israel the opportunity to prove that man can’t keep the Law. God knew that man would fail. If Israel couldn’t keep the Law in the course of fifteen hundred years, (they broke every Law God ever gave them), we have to face the fact that no one can be saved by keeping the Law.
The Word of God clearly points out, "By the Law is the knowledge of sin."
Nowhere does the Word of God say, "By the Law comes salvation." Salvation comes by faith in the grace of God: Titus 2:11-12. "The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world."
Verse 24: Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith."
The Law was given to prepare the way for the coming of Christ and Paul uses an illustration that is familiar to all his readers, the child guardian or schoolmaster. Paul points out several things about the Jews and their Law. First, that the Jews were not born through the Law, but rather were brought up by the Law. The schoolmaster was not the child's father, he was the child's guardian and disciplinarian.
So, the Law didn’t give life to Israel, it regulated life. The Judaizers taught that the Law was necessary for life and righteousness, and Paul's argument shows their error.
But the second thing Paul says is even more important. The more important work of the guardian was to prepare the child for maturity. Once the child came of age, he no longer needed the guardian. So the Law was a preparation for the nation of Israel until the coming of the promised Seed, Jesus Christ. The ultimate goal in God's program was Christ’s coming but until then, the nation was literally imprisoned by the Law.
The Law separated Israel from the Gentile nations (Ephesians 2:12-18); it governed every aspect of their lives. During the centuries of Jewish history, the Law was preparing for the coming of Christ. The demands of the Law reminded the people that they needed a Savior. The types and symbols in the Law were pictures of the coming Messiah.
A good example of this purpose of the Law is in the account of the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:16. This young man had every material thing anybody could want, but he wasn’t satisfied. He had tried to keep the commandments all his life, but still something was missing, but the commandments brought him to see Christ. This is one of the purposes of the Law, to create a sense of guilt and need in lost sinners. The sad thing is that the young man was not sincere and he went away without eternal life.
Verse 25: "But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster." The Law was our schoolmaster up until Christ. But when the Lord Jesus came, we were no longer under a schoolmaster. When Christ returned to glory, He left us another teacher, the Holy Spirit.
Jesus said, in John 16:12-13: "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will shew you things to come." These are some of the things Jesus promised His disciples before His crucifixion.
The Holy Spirit was given at Pentecost, and John, who was one of those present at it’s giving, later wrote this: I John 2:20: "But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things: and verse 27: but the anointing which ye have received (the Holy Ghost) of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him."
The Law has performed its purpose. The Savior has come and the "guardian" is no longer needed. The nation of Israel didn’t recognize their Messiah when He came. God finally destroyed the temple and scattered the nation so badly that today it’s impossible for an orthodox Jew to practice the faith of his fathers. There is no altar, no priesthood, no sacrifice, no temple, no king. All of these have been fulfilled in Christ, so that any man, Jew or Gentile, who trusts Christ becomes a child of God.
Verse 26: "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." With the coming of Jesus Christ, the nation of Israel moved out of childhood into adulthood, and now the believer has an adult status before God, so why go back into the childhood of the Law?
There was a certain amount of glory to the Law, but now the long period of preparation was over. There was a greater glory in the salvation found in Christ. The Law could reveal sin and, to a certain extent, control behavior, but the Law could not do for the sinner what Jesus Christ can do.
King Solomon, at the dedication of the temple, reminded God to condemn the wicked and to justify the righteous (1 Kings 8:32). His request was a proper one in light of the holiness of God but the trouble is, nobody was righteous. The sinner can only be justified and declared righteous before God through faith in Jesus Christ.
The Law actually separated man from God. There was even a fence around the tabernacle and a veil between the holy place and the holy of holies where God appeared.
All believers, regardless of color or nationality, are children of God through faith in Christ. This doesn’t mean that our race, political status, or sex is changed at conversion, but it does mean that these things are not taken into consideration when it comes to our spiritual relationship to God through Christ. The Law perpetuated these distinctions, but God in His grace has declared everyone to be on the same level that He might have mercy on all (Romans 11:25-32).
Verse 27: “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Quoting from Ironsides’ commentary on Galatians; “Paul probably has two thoughts in mind here. Outwardly we put on Christ in our water baptism. That ordinance indicates that we professedly have received the Lord Jesus Christ, but I think also he has in view the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and by that we are actually made members of Christ and, in the fullest, deepest sense, we put on Christ. And now as members of that new creation, "there is neither Jew nor Greek," national distinctions no longer come in. In this connection there is "neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus."
He does not ignore natural distinctions. Of course we still retain our natural place in society, we remain servants or masters, we remain male or female, but as to our place in the new creation, God takes none of these distinctions into account. All who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ are made one in Him. Ephesians 5:30: "For we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones." How we need to remember this!
Verse 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 Christ Jesus."
Paul goes on to again point out that we are all one in Christ. All believers are baptized into one body by one Spirit.
Verse 29: “And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."
Then Paul points out that if we are believers in Christ, we are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. Since it’s true that all believers are members of the body of Christ, and all believers constitute one man in Christ, then it’s also true that we are born again and are the spiritual children of Abraham and will inherit the promise along with Abraham. We are members of the body of Christ.
The Law could never make us heirs of God, but if we are "in Christ" by faith, then we too are heirs of the spiritual blessings God promised to Abraham. This does not mean that the material and national blessings promised to Israel are set aside, but that Christians today are enriched spiritually because of God's promise to Abraham.
To sum it up we see that the inheritance is not by Law, but by promise. It doesn’t come through good works but only by Grace, through faith in the finished work of the Lord Jesus, plus nothing. It’s Christ, all Christ, totally apart from man's work or man's ability. “Christ in you, the hope of glory” And then these wonderful words; “ye are complete in Him.”
The saints in the Old Testament era couldn’t see nor understand what we see and understand since the cross. The Old Testament saints since Moses were under the bondage of the Law.
Thank God the New Testament saint (since Jesus came, paid sin's debt and took the curse for the sinner) has the liberty that grace provides.
During the Old Testament era, the believer, though an heir of God, was an infant (spiritually speaking). Today, when we accept by faith the finished work of Jesus Christ we become a recipient of God's saving grace and we receive the position as adult sons.
This section of Galatians gives us many valuable spiritual lessons. It shows us that the spiritual lessons of the Old Testament are not for the Jews only but have application to Christians today.
Our Christian life should take on new meaning as we realize all that we have in Christ, and it’s all by grace, not by Law. We are adult sons in God's family, and an heir of God.
Paul's theme in the next section will be our standing with God and he asks the question, “Are we drawing on our inheritance daily?”