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Galatians; The promise to Abraham

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posted on Jan, 29 2016 @ 05:05 PM
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The epistle to the Galatians is the text which Browning’s monk “in a Spanish cloister” was hoping to use to tempt his enemy into heretical conclusions.
Certainly this letter stands out among the letters of Paul as presenting the contrast between faith and legalism.

Over the first couple of chapters, Paul was explaining to the Galatians his reasons for unwillingness to compromise on the gospel.
In the third chapter, he goes on to explain why the gospel of Christ needs to be centred upon faith.
He found the first reason in the Christian experience of knowing the Cross and receiving the Spirit.
Then he turns to the original covenant with Abraham, on which his opponents depend, and begins to show that this covenant itself is based upon faith.

The starting point is the episode in which Abraham complains that he has no offspring (Genesis ch15 vv1-6)
In response, his God shows him the stars of heaven and promises that his descendants will have similar numbers.
Then, as Paul reminds them, Abraham believed the Lord “and it was reckoned to him as righteousness” (ch3 v6)

Paul is not twisting or straining the words.
That is exactly what we find in Genesis.
Abraham trusts God, and the state of trust itself is defined as “righteousness”; that is, being in a right relationship with God.

For the rest of the argument, this is understood as the definition of Abraham’s character.
He is the one who trusts.
Therefore the true “offspring”, the true sons of Abraham, are those who have the same character.
That is, they are the men who have faith (v7).

This understanding of Abraham is then applied to a previous declaration;
“In you shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” (Genesis ch12 v3).
Once the character of Abraham has been defined as “the one who has faith”, then “in you” can be taken as “in faith”.
So the blessing promised to Abraham is promised to “the men of faith”. It amounts to a pre-announcement that the Gentiles, the nations of the world, would be justified by faith (vv8-9)

The opposite of the blessing is the curse.
The law pronounces a curse on anyone who fails to live up to everything that is written in the Law.
The exact words are “Cursed be he who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them” (Deuteronomy ch27 v26).
Paul’s argument really needs an intermediate stage; “Everyone who relies on works of the law also fails to do everything that is contained in the words of the law”.
The point is spelled out in Romans ch3, but here it’s only implied.
Once the intermediate stage of the argument is established or assumed, Paul’s conclusion is valid;
“All who rely on works of the law are under a curse” (v10).

One of the curses imposed by the law is “A hanged man is accursed by God”, because hanging is the normal death-penalty for criminals (Deuteronomy ch21 v23).
But Christ himself hung on a tree, or the nearest equivalent, and therefore comes under that same curse (v13).

I’m inclined to think that Paul is familiar with that curse because he used to quote it in his persecuting days.
His argument then would have been that the followers of Jesus were following one who was accursed, according to the statement of the law, and that was enough to justify their condemnation.
Once he became a Christian, he found this way of turning the argument right round.
“Yes, Christ came under a curse, but that’s exactly how he saved us”.

Paul needs to mix metaphors to explain the effect of the Cross on the curse imposed by the law.
He says that Christ became a curse (or an accursed thing) “for us” [HYPER HEMON].
This implies a “scapegoat” image, taking the curse upon himself in order to carry it away from us.
But he adds that Christ “redeemed” us from (“bought us out from”) the curse.
“Redemption” suggests release from a state of slavery.
It also brings in the thought that a “price” was paid, in terms of the self-offering of Christ.
Paul may have spelled out these connections more clearly in his previous teaching amongst the Galatians.
It was necessary to employ these metaphors, because the Old Testament does not seem to offer any language relating to what we call the “lifting” of curses (based on the image of the curse as a burden that weighs people down).
The nearest thing I could find was “turning the curse into a blessing”, which is what happened to the curse of Balaam (Deuteronomy ch23 v5).
And that is exactly what Paul is describing here, when the curse of the law is turned into the blessing of Abraham.
This has already been defined as “that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (v14).

But is the promise to Abraham not superseded by the law, which came later?
No, because the promise came by covenant, and a covenant cannot be annulled.
Even a human covenant is treated as unchangeable, so the same must be true of a covenant which God himself has ratified (v15, v17)

The Greek word DIATHEKE, like the English word “testament”, can also mean “last will and testament”.
That’s why some modern translations use the word “will”, which seems to be supported by the word “inheritance” (v18)
But the word KLERONOMIA, though translated as “inheritance”, can simply mean “an allocation of property-rights”. It is the word used in the Septuagint for the allotments of land to the twelve tribes.
So it is not necessary to assume that someone must die before the inheritance can be received.
Indeed, the “will” metaphor stumbles over the fact that the one who died also rose from the dead, and hasn’t relinquished his own rights.
The real point here is the security of God’s word, making “covenant” the better translation.

Finally, the law cannot combine with faith in providing the inheritance, because they work on a different basis, making them incompatible.
The difference can be spelled out more clearly in terms of two quotations from the Old Testament (vv11-12).
On the one hand, the basis provided by the promise; “The righteous shall live by his faith” (Habakkuk chv2 v4).
On the other hand, the basis provided by the law; a man shall live “ by doing my statutes and my ordinances” (Leviticus ch18 v5). Incidentally, the man who relies on this approach is not called “righteous”.
One approach is a form of rest, trusting in God, and the other is a form of activity, which makes it impossible to be in both states at the same time.

Therefore (coming back to v18), if the inheritance could be achieved through the law, on the basis of obedience, it would not have been achieved on the basis of promise.
There would be no need for the promise at all.
But Paul has established that the promise cannot be voided.
So if the inheritance must come through the promise, it cannot also come through the law.

The message is that “Faith” as the way to reach a right relationship with God is proved and secured by the promise to Abraham.







edit on 29-1-2016 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)




posted on Jan, 29 2016 @ 05:35 PM
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a reply to: DISRAELI


He says that Christ became a curse (or an accursed thing) “for us” [HYPER HEMON].
This implies a “scapegoat” image, taking the curse upon himself in order to carry it away from us.
But he adds that Christ “redeemed” us from (“bought us out from”) the curse.
“Redemption” suggests release from a state of slavery.



IF Jesus became a curse as Paul puts it, that would imply that HE kept all aspects of "the law" which we know he did not...

Good write up though...




posted on Jan, 29 2016 @ 05:39 PM
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originally posted by: Akragon
IF Jesus became a curse as Paul puts it, that would imply that HE kept all aspects of "the law" which we know he did not...

I don't quite follow that. The curse applies, as Paul points out, to those who don't keep the law.
Paul's line is that he did not deserve the curse, but got treated as one who did.



posted on Jan, 29 2016 @ 05:44 PM
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a reply to: DISRAELI

ah... my mistake




posted on Jan, 29 2016 @ 05:47 PM
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a reply to: DISRAELI
You are not under a curse if you live according to the law just like being circumcised doesn't hold you to the law. The only modification made to the law was by Jesus when he combined the ten into two and said those two fulfill the whole law. Works of law is a phrase I don't recall Jesus using. I think Paul is confused with works of righteousness. Following the law isn't a work. Works of law is a meaningless phrase. Faith is not going to save you if you are a mass murderer with no conscience. Paul saying this to people probably led to a lot of confusion and sin by people thinking " All I gotta do is believe and I go to heaven!!! I love this new religion, Paul is awesome !!!



posted on Jan, 29 2016 @ 05:51 PM
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originally posted by: areyousirius360
You are not under a curse if you live according to the law

Yes, that is exactly what Paul is saying. The curse is on those who fail to obey the law, and those who obey all the law escape the curse.
The catch (implied here and spelled out in Romans) is that nobody DOES succeed in living up to the whole law.



posted on Jan, 29 2016 @ 05:53 PM
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a reply to: DISRAELI

Earlier on in my conversion I happened upon Harry Ironside and quickly purchased all his commentaries .You have a much condensed commentary with this post but it is all there and spot on . bible.prayerrequest.com...



posted on Jan, 29 2016 @ 05:55 PM
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a reply to: the2ofusr1
Thank you for offering that link. I'm sure anyone who wants to understand Paul better will find it invaluable.



posted on Jan, 29 2016 @ 06:03 PM
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a reply to: DISRAELI

No he is saying if you accept the law as living you are cursed. He says only one law, compared to Jesus two, must be followed. You see the subtlety he uses to trick people? Reminds me of the serpent. "Surely you won't die..."



posted on Jan, 29 2016 @ 06:11 PM
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a reply to: areyousirius360
You are not reading the text. Look again.
He quotes (v10) Deuteronomy's declaration of a curse on all who do NOT keep all the commands contained in the words of the law.
His point is that everyone who tries to live by the law comes under that Deuteronomy curse because, and only because, they FAIL to keep the commands as required.





edit on 29-1-2016 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 29 2016 @ 06:28 PM
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a reply to: DISRAELI
Your not interpreting it right. His subtlety and ramblings on about nothing have you over analyzing things with little meaning while you ignore whats important. Jesus. Paul has no use. Pharisee spy.



posted on Jan, 29 2016 @ 06:29 PM
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a reply to: areyousirius360
He quotes the exact words of Deuteronomy. I just repeat the fact that he's quoting them.



posted on Jan, 29 2016 @ 06:30 PM
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a reply to: DISRAELI
He is pushing his faith only doctrine while teaching the old law ended with Jesus. That's not what Jesus said.



posted on Jan, 29 2016 @ 06:31 PM
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a reply to: areyousirius360
I will deal with what Jesus said in other threads later this year.



posted on Jan, 29 2016 @ 06:52 PM
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a reply to: DISRAELI
I just point out what I see based off the text you present, and if I bring up Jesus it's because he has the authority. I don't care who contradicts him I'm pointing it out. Paul is just really the only one who does it. It's Christianity's focus on Paul over Jesus that makes this necessary.



posted on Jan, 29 2016 @ 06:54 PM
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a reply to: DISRAELI

Are you saying Paul has his own religion?



posted on Jan, 29 2016 @ 06:56 PM
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a reply to: areyousirius360
That point will become clearer when I compare the words of Jesus.



posted on Jan, 29 2016 @ 07:21 PM
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a reply to: DISRAELI
That ought to be a fun. It's like night and day vs. just night



posted on Jan, 29 2016 @ 07:28 PM
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a reply to: DISRAELI
I'm just gonna watch because I don't want to disturb your thread. I don't like the extra doctrine Paul brings with him but I don't want to be rude and not let you make your point on your own thread so good luck.



posted on Jan, 29 2016 @ 09:38 PM
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a reply to: DISRAELI
Paul often ties unlrelated passages together. Maybe not here but check this out:
Romans 10:4 "For Christ IS THE END of the law,...

Clearly Paul feels the law has ended, no longer in effect. So he can't be saying your cursed if you DON'T obey a law he considers finished.



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