Friday, August 28, 2009

Galatians Journal: Chapter 3, verse 11

Galatians 3:11 Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, "The righteous will live by faith.”

Paul continues his second scriptural argument here in Chapter 3 in a logical, proof-type fashion. In verse 10, he invokes the sections of the book of Genesis (connected with the story of the life of Abraham) and Deuteronomy that call down curses on those who disobey even a very small portion of the law. (The curses are many and EXTREME – see Deuteronomy 27). Now, in verse 11, he moves on to another scripture, Habakkuk 2:4. (This was a popular rabbinical technique in those days – connecting one section of scripture to another to prove a point – this would have only enforced the validity of Paul’s arguments in the eyes of the Judaizers).

This is the next logical step. If disobedience to any small, nit-picky part of the Law means we are cursed, then its impossible to please God. (As I noted in the last entry, the Jews of Paul’s day recognized this, and did not expect perfect obedience, despite what the scriptures said about the “curse.”). Well, its at least impossible to please God through obedience to the law. Later in this chapter, Paul will explain the purpose of the Law. But here, he uses the words of the Law (a verse from one of the prophetic books, actually) to show the truth.

“Clearly” The concepts Paul is arguing for have been ensconced in the Scriptures for centuries. I also sense a bit of sarcasm – he’s using a typical rabbinical technique to twist their noses a bit, sort of like saying “the Scriptures obviously say . . ." to point out to the Judiazers that this is God’s plan – as if to say, “if you really knew the Law and God’s Word, this would be plain to you.”

“no one is justified by God before God by the law” This is the logical conclusion of both Duet 27:26, quoted in verse 10, and Habakkuk 2:4, quoted here. If one little slip up leads to a curse, then we can’t be justified through obedience – its impossible, because we’re human – we’re bound to slip up. But the answer then is “the righteous will live by faith.” Paul’s knowledge of the Old Testament is comprehensive. He has quoted the only two verses in the Old Testament that speak of righteousness and faith together. Yet, this reveals the totality of God’s plan, and connects back to Galatians 3:6, with Abraham. From the start, before the 10 commandments were handed down on Mount Sinai, God intended us to come to Him through faith.

“live by faith” Its not a set of rules, its more of the attitude of the heart – even beyond a lifestyle, it’s the essence of life. The word “live” here can also be translated as “justified” – yet, by using a word that can be translated as “live,” again, God wants to emphasize the importance and foundational concept of RELATIONSHIPS. We live by faith. We are justified by faith – but that is not faith in something abstract, or some philosophy, or creed (though we also believe in such things), it is faith in a PERSON who is God – in Jesus Christ!!

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