GRACE: NOT BY MAN
The Restraints of Law and Grace – Galations 3:15-20
Has anyone noticed that the law only restrains those who are friends of the law? Has anyone noticed that locks on the doors keep out only those who know what a locked door means?
We know the restraints of the Law; but does grace have restraints? 2 Corinthians 5:14
Verse 15 – The apostle speaks now to the “foolish Galations” as brethren; maybe to soften his first accusation a bit; and give them some benefit of the doubt.
Men put high esteem upon covenants, testaments, wills and such. It is a pitiful thing in men’s eyes to break a covenant or promise.
Verse 16 – If the covenants of men when broken are frowned upon by men; then how can man conceive of the promises of God being broken?
The promises were made to Abraham and his seed. Not to Ishmael; son of Hagar, nor to the other sons of Abraham through Keturah (Genesis 25:1-4). But to the seed who is ultimately the Christ. See also Romans 9:6-9.
That is also seen in Genesis 25:5ff.
Verse 17 – The promise was given to Abraham, he believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness; then to Isaac; then to Jacob. From the time of Jacob’s going to Egypt until the time of the giving of the law was 430 years.
The giving of the Law did not negate the promise. It is one promise passed on to the Patriarchs of the faith. It is the promise to make of them a great nation and people of God.
Verse 18 – Romans 4:13, 16.
“An objection: we grant that the promise was not cancelled by the covenant of the Law, and therefore we join the Law with the promise. No, the apostle says, these two cannot stand together, that is, that the inheritance should both be given by the Law and also by promise, for the promise is free. And from this it follows that the Law was not given to justify, for by that means the promise would be broken.” From the e-Sword Geneva Bible study notes.
The inheritance is not by the Law, or else there is no more promise. It is the promise of God which cannot be nullified.
Verse 19 – “What is the purpose of the law?”
“Gal. 3:19 Why then the law? The question then arises: If the law has no impact on God’s plan rooted in his promise, why was the law ever given? Because of transgressions might mean (1) “to provide a sacrificial system to deal temporarily with transgressions,” (2) “to teach people more clearly what God requires and thereby to restrain transgressions,” (3) “to show that transgressions violated an explicit written law,” or (4) “to reveal people’s sinfulness and need for a savior” (cf. Rom. 3:20: “through the law comes knowledge of sin”). All four senses are theologically true, but the last is probably uppermost in Paul’s mind. put in place through angels by an intermediary. Deuteronomy 33:2 talks about God coming from Sinai, where he gave the law, “from the ten thousands of holy ones,” so the angels were present with God on that occasion (cf. Acts 7:53; Heb. 2:2). Moses was God’s “intermediary” in the gift of the law to Israel (Lev. 26:46; John 1:17). The Mosaic law was part of a temporary covenant never intended to last forever. Now that Jesus has come as the true offspring of Abraham, the Mosaic law is no longer in force. Therefore, circumcision is no longer required, since it is part of the Mosaic covenant.” From English Standard Version Study Bible note online.
Mankind would not know what displeases God without the law. Law helps set order among men, and standards of conduct. A locked door, or car, is no prevention from theft to one who cares nothing for ownership or the law itself; which tells us, “Thou shalt not steal”.
Verse 20 – Mediator is one who is a “go between” or “a reconciler”. Moses was a mediator between God and Israel (Exodus 20:19-22; Deuteronomy 5:5, 22-23, 27, 31; Acts 7:38).
In the MacArthur Study Bible the note on this word says,
“3:20 mediator. Paul’s point is apparently that a ‘mediator’ is required when more than one party is involved, but God alone ratified the covenant with Abraham (see notes on Gen. 15:7-21).” p. 1793.
God has made a covenant with Himself.
-Tim A. Blankenship