Matthew Henry's Commentary
he Galatians reproved for departing from the great doctrine of justification alone, through faith in Christ. (1-5) This doctrine
established from the example of Abraham. (6-9) From the tenor of the law and the severity of its curse. (10-14) From the covenant
of promises, which the law could not disannul. (15-18) The law was a school master to lead them to Christ. (19-25) Under the
gospel state true believers are all one in Christ. (26-29)
Several things made the folly of the Galatian Christians worse. They had the doctrine of the cross preached, and the Lord's
supper administered among them, in both which Christ crucified, and the nature of his sufferings, had been fully and clearly
set forth. Had they been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, by the ministration of the law, or on account of any works done
by them in obedience thereto? Was it not by their hearing and embracing the doctrine of faith in Christ alone for justification?
Which of these had God owned with tokens of his favour and acceptance? It was not by the first, but the last. And those must
be very unwise, who suffer themselves to be turned away from the ministry and doctrine which have been blessed to their spiritual
advantage. Alas, that men should turn from the all-important doctrine of Christ crucified, to listen to useless distinctions,
mere moral preaching, or wild fancies! The god of this world, by various men and means, has blinded men's eyes, lest they
should learn to trust in a crucified Saviour. We may boldly demand where the fruits of the Holy Spirit are most evidently
brought forth? whether among those who preach justification by the works of the law, or those who preach the doctrine of faith?
Assuredly among the latter.
Verses 6-14: The apostle proves the doctrine
he had blamed the Galatians for rejecting; namely, that of justification by faith without the works of the law. This he does
from the example of Abraham, whose faith fastened upon the word and promise of God, and upon his believing he was owned and
accepted of God as a righteous man. The Scripture is said to foresee, because the Holy Spirit that indited the Scripture did
foresee. Through faith in the promise of God he was blessed; and it is only in the same way that others obtain this privilege.
Let us then study the object, nature, and effects of Abraham's faith; for who can in any other way escape the curse of the
holy law? The curse is against all sinners, therefore against all men; for all have sinned, and are become guilty before God:
and if, as transgressors of the law, we are under its curse, it must be vain to look for justification by it. Those only are
just or righteous who are freed from death and wrath, and restored into a state of life in the favour of God; and it is only
through faith that persons become righteous. Thus we see that justification by faith is no new doctrine, but was taught in
the church of God, long before the times of the gospel. It is, in truth, the only way wherein any sinners ever were, or can
be justified. Though deliverance is not to be expected from the law, there is a way open to escape the curse, and regain the
favour of God, namely, through faith in Christ. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law; being made sin, or a sin-offering,
for us, he was made a curse for us; not separated from God, but laid for a time under the Divine punishment. The heavy sufferings
of the Son of God, more loudly warn sinners to flee from the wrath to come, than all the curses of the law; for how can God
spare any man who remains under sin, seeing that he spared not his own Son, when our sins were charged upon him? Yet at the
same time, Christ, as from the cross, freely invites sinners to take refuge in him.
15-18: The covenant God made with Abraham, was not done away by the giving the law to Moses. The covenant
was made with Abraham and his Seed. It is still in force; Christ abideth for ever in his person, and his spiritual seed, who
are his by faith. By this we learn the difference between the promises of the law and those of the gospel. The promises of
the law are made to the person of every man; the promises of the gospel are first made to Christ, then by him to those who
are by faith ingrafted into Christ. Rightly to divide the word of truth, a great difference must be put between the promise
and the law, as to the inward affections, and the whole practice of life. When the promise is mingled with the law, it is
made nothing but the law. Let Christ be always before our eyes, as a sure argument for the defence of faith, against dependence
on human righteousness.
Verses 19-22: If that promise was enough for
salvation, wherefore then serveth the law? The Israelites, though chosen to be God's peculiar people, were sinners as well
as others. The law was not intended to discover a way of justification, different from that made known by the promise, but
to lead men to see their need of the promise, by showing the sinfulness of sin, and to point to Christ, through whom alone
they could be pardoned and justified. The promise was given by God himself; the law was given by the ministry of angels, and
the hand of a mediator, even Moses. Hence the law could not be designed to set aside the promise. A mediator, as the very
term signifies, is a friend that comes between two parties, and is not to act merely with and for one of them. The great design
of the law was, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ, might be given to those that believe; that, being convinced of
their guilt, and the insufficiency of the law to effect a righteousness for them, they might be persuaded to believe on Christ,
and so obtain the benefit of the promise. And it is not possible that the holy, just, and good law of God, the standard of
duty to all, should be contrary to the gospel of Christ. It tends every way to promote it.
23-25: The law did not teach a living, saving knowledge; but, by its rites and ceremonies, especially by its
sacrifices, it pointed to Christ, that they might be justified by faith. And thus it was, as the word properly signifies,
a servant, to lead to Christ, as children are led to school by servants who have the care of them, that they might be more
fully taught by Him the true way of justification and salvation, which is only by faith in Christ. And the vastly greater
advantage of the gospel state is shown, under which we enjoy a clearer discovery of Divine grace and mercy than the Jews of
old. Most men continue shut up as in a dark dungeon, in love with their sins, being blinded and lulled asleep by Satan, through
wordly pleasures, interests, and pursuits. But the awakened sinner discovers his dreadful condition. Then he feels that the
mercy and grace of God form his only hope. And the terrors of the law are often used by the convincing Spirit, to show the
sinner his need of Christ, to bring him to rely on his sufferings and merits, that he may be justified by faith. Then the
law, by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, becomes his loved rule of duty, and his standard for daily self-examination. In this
use of it he learns to depend more simply on the Saviour.
Real Christians enjoy great privileges under the gospel; and are no longer accounted servants, but sons; not now kept at such
a distance, and under such restraints as the Jews were. Having accepted Christ Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, and relying
on him alone for justification and salvation, they become the sons of God. But no outward forms or profession can secure these
blessings; for if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. In baptism we put on Christ; therein we profess
to be his disciples. Being baptized into Christ, we are baptized into his death, that as he died and rose again, so we should
die unto sin, and walk in newness and holiness of life. The putting on of Christ according to the gospel, consists not in
outward imitation, but in a new birth, an entire change. He who makes believers to be heirs, will provide for them. Therefore
our care must be to do the duties that belong to us, and all other cares we must cast upon God. And our special care must
be for heaven; the things of this life are but trifles. The city of God in heaven, is the portion or child's part. Seek to
be sure of that above all things.
we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter making an application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. Many applications
can be made from each day's text. Today we continue in the book of Galatians with Chapter 3 and in our text we see Superiority
of the Gospel with how the law brings us to faith. We are not saved by the law but rather Paul explains how the law is a Schoolmaster
to show us our lost condition so that we can call unto the Lord for Salvation. How about you? Do you see that the law of God
shows us our lost condition? Let us learn from our text today and the words Paul shared with to the Galatian Church that we
are all sinners, none of us can keep the law, but that the Law is Schoolmaster showing us our lost condition and that we need
a Savior, Jesus-Christ.
foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently
set forth, crucified among you?
would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
3Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the
4Have ye suffered so many things in
vain? if it be yet in vain.
that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing
6Even as Abraham believed God, and
it was accounted to him for righteousness.
ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.
8And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the
gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.
9So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
10For 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.
11But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for,
The just shall live by faith.
12And the law
is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.
13Christ 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:
the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through
15Brethren, 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.
16Now 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.
this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years
after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.
18For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.
19Wherefore 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.
20Now a mediator is not a mediator
of one, but God is one.
21Is 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.
22But the scripture
hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
23But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which
should afterwards be revealed.
the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
25But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
26For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
27For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
28There 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.
if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.