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Galatians 3:7-10 by Robert Dean
Series:Galatians (1998)
Duration:55 mins 54 secs

Abraham's Example Excludes Human Works; Gal. 3:7-10

The principle that is laid down in Galatians 3:6 is that when Abraham was saved it was on the basis of faith alone. There was no circumcision, all that was required of Abraham was faith alone. This strikes home with the Gentile Galatians because they are just like Abraham. Abraham didn't have to do anything to be justified. We don't have to do anything either, it is faith alone in Christ alone. This is the point of the illustration which is set up in v. 6: "Even as Abraham." There is the parallel drawn between Abraham the Gentile who became the father of the Israelites and the Galatians who were also Gentiles. The principle here is that no attribute of the first birth, physical birth, can provide us with fellowship with God. That comes only as a result of the second birth, by faith alone in Christ alone. That is the point that Paul is emphasising here.

What Paul has done is to lay down the fact that there are two options. Option # 1 is faith alone; option # 2 is works. Works is related to the flesh or the sin nature—human good; faith alone is related to the work of God the Holy Spirit, that He is the one who works "in you." The illustration of this is Abraham. Abraham lived by faith alone. What can we conclude from this? 

Galatians 3:7 NASB "Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham." He uses the present active imperative of ginosko [ginwskw], "be sure," but that is not an adequate translation. He is really saying: "Therefore, have certain knowledge," or "know this, that those who are of faith are sons of Abraham." Therefore because Abraham did it by faith alone it is only those who are operating on faith alone that can claim to be true descendants of Abraham. So it is to those who are from the source of faith, those who are using faith alone and not works, who are sons of Abraham.  For "sons" Paul uses the word huios [u(ioj] and it describes an adult son. Another word that can be used is teknon [teknon] but this refers to a son who is still a child. In the remainder of this chapter and into chapter four Paul is going to run a contrast between a huios and a teknon. It is important to understand this distinction. The word here is huios in the plural and it is only those who have faith who are adult sons.

Believers in the church age are always called adult sons. In the Roman empire the adult son put on what was called a toga virilus. It symbolised that he had attained maturity and adulthood. He received at that time the right to vote, he had the responsibility to serve in the army, he could manage his own property, and he could choose his own wife. This took place when he was fourteen years old. Until that point he was called a teknon and was under the guardianship of a slave who managed his property, took him to school, handled his discipline, etc.. That slave was called a pedagogue, and that is compared in the analogy with the law. So the law in Israel served like that slave in Roman society as a pedagogue, a kind of slave master, and there was no freedom for the teknon. Up until the time that he received the toga virilus he was no better than a slave in his father's household. But for an adult son, once he attained the age of adulthood at age 14 and put on the toga virilus, had freedom. He was no longer under the authority of the pedagogue. In the same way the huios or adult son who is in Christ in the church age is no longer under the law. huios, or adult son, is a term specifically related to believers in the church age. They are not under the law, they are descendants of Abraham because they follow him in faith alone. They become children of Abraham by virtue of what they do in trusting Christ alone for their salvation.

Galatians 3:8 NASB "The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by [means of] faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, {saying,} "ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU." When Paul says "the Scripture" he is referring back to Genesis 12:1-3 where God gives Abraham the outline of the covenant and makes the initial promises to him.

Genesis 12:1 Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father's house, To the land which I will show you." Abraham only went as far as Haran. He didn't go any further and his obedience in only partial because he took his father and his household with him and didn't make it to the land that God had promised him because he wasn't being fully obedient. They stayed there for a number of years until Terah died and then they moved out from there and moved to Canaan—"to the land which I will show you." So God promises to give Abraham a specific parcel of land.  

Genesis 12:2 NASB "And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing." This is not Abraham going out in his own power and ability to make himself great. "…make your name great" means he will have a great reputation. He is going to have descendants and this is classified scripturally as the seed of Abraham. He will have physical descendants who will become a great nation. This is the second aspect of the Abrahamic covenant. The third is: [3] "And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed." The third category in the Abrahamic covenant is blessing for all families, not just his physical descendants and Jews but for all families in the human race. What Paul is telling the Galatians is that when we go all the way back to the Abrahamic covenant we discover that God always had a plan and a purpose for the Gentiles. 

Galatians 3:9 NASB "So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer." Paul draws the conclusion. Two categories: those who are operating on faith and those who are operating on the works of the law. The works of the law come from the flesh; those who are of faith operate the spiritual life by dependence upon God the Holy Spirit, the filling of the Holy Spirit and walking by means of the Holy Spirit. Those who operate on works are fooling themselves because it comes from the energy of the flesh.

Gal 3:10  For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, 'CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM'."