Commentary on Galatians, 3:10-14

Galatians 3:10-14

“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 continue in all things that are written in the book of the law, to do them.”

“for it is written”

Quoted from De 27:26:

“Cursed be he who confirms not the words of this law to do them…”

Disobedience is sin. Sin results in spiritual death, separation from God. Thus the curse is everlasting punishment. James tells us that if we fail to obey even one commandment, it makes us guilty of the whole law:

“For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.”  (James 2:10)

The only way to be justified by the law, is to be obedient in every little detail, and that is impossible to do. The only One who has ever walked in complete obedience to God, is Jesus. Therefore, the law has no power to save. It’s only through faith in Christ, who fulfilled the law, that we receive justification.

“11 Now that no one is justified by the law before God is evident, for ‘the righteous shall live by faith.'”

“the righteous shall live by faith”  (quoted from Hab 2:4)

Also so Romans 1:17:

“For in it is revealed the righteousness of God from faith unto faith: as it is written, ‘But the righteous shall live by faith.”

The meaning is not that the righteous live their lives by faith, but that we are made righteous by faith.

“12 However, the law is not of faith, but ‘the one who does them shall live by them.'”

The law has nothing to do with faith. They are not the same, and there are not two different ways of salvation. The law reveals our inability to keep the law. Thus it reveals our sinfulness and need for Christ. Those who were true believers under the Old Covenant, walked according to the law not for the purpose of obtaining salvation, but because of their faith in God.

“the one who does them will live by them”

Those who walked (tried) according to the law for the purpose of obtaining salvation, failed to obtain it, for those who rely upon the law must keep it in its entirety.

“13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree,”

“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law”

Reliance upon the law for salvation can only lead to the curse of separation from God and eternal punishment.

“redeemed”  (Gr. exagorazo – 1805)

Albert Barnes:

Christ hath redeemed us – The word used here ἐξηγόρασεν exēgorasenis not that which is usually employed in the New Testament to denote redemption. That word is λυτρόω lutroōThe difference between them mainly is, that the word used here more usually relates to a purchase of any kind; the other is used strictly with reference to a ransom. The word used here is more general in its meaning; the other is strictly appropriated to a ransom. This distinction is not observable here, however, and the word used here is employed in the proper sense of redeem. It occurs in the New Testament only in this place, and in Verse Reference5 so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. ” translation=”” ref=”ga+4:5″ tooltipenable=”true”Galatians 4:5; Verse Reference16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil. ” translation=”” ref=”eph+5:16″ tooltipenable=”true”Ephesians 5:16; Verse Reference5 Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. ” translation=”” ref=”col+4:5″ tooltipenable=”true”Colossians 4:5. 

It properly means, to purchase, to buy up; and then to purchase anyone, to redeem, to set free. Here it means, that Christ had purchased, or set us free from the curse of the Law, by his being made a curse for us.

Thus through Christ we are set from from the curse of the law, which everyone is under. The law condemns, but Jesus saves us from condemnation.

“having become a curse for us; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.'”  (De 21:23)

J. Vernon McGee:

This is a quotation from the Old Testament, as we shall see, and is a remarkable passage of Scripture for several reasons. One reason is that the children of Israel did not use hanging on a tree as a method of public execution. Instead they used stoning……Capital punishment in Israel was by stoning, not hanging. However, when a reprehensible crime had been committed, this was the procedure: ‘And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: his body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance’ (De 21:22,23). That is, if he had committed an awful crime and had been stoned to death, his body could be strung up on a tree that it might be a spectacle. But it was not to be left there over night. The reason He gives is this: he is accursed of God – ‘that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.”

Thus the Crucifixion of Christ was regarded as an accursed death. When Jesus hung on the cross (tree) it was as though He were guilty of the sort of crimes that required it. But He was not guilty. It was the “righteous for the unrighteous”:

“Because Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God; being put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;”  (1 Pet 3:18)

Consider how wonderful and how amazing it is, that the glorious and holy God of the universe would be willing to subject Himself to the same treatment as the vilest of sinners. What public shame and suffering He endured on our behalf to secure our redemption (He 12:2).

“14 so that upon the Gentiles might come the blessing of Abraham in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”

Paul is referring back to what he said in verse 8 (Gal 3:8): “in you all the nations will be blessed.” Abraham was justified through faith before the law of Moses was instituted. Thus he says in verse 9 (Gal 3:9): “So then, those of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.”

“that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith”

Paul asked the Galatians in verse 5 (Gal 3:5): “He therefore who provides the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” Paul answers that question directly by telling them that it’s by faith (in Christ) that we receive the Holy Spirit, which confirms that we’ve been born again (Jn 3:3,5,6; Jn 1:12,13), and that we belong to God (Ro 8:9-11).