Galatians Part 4

From general to specific: works of law to THE law

Galatians 3:17 And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect.
Galatians 3:18 For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise.
Galatians 3:19 What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator.

Now here we are talking about a specific law. Added because of sin (breaking the law 1 John 3:4) (not added specifically to the Covenant between God and Abraham but a different covenant all together; everyone wants to be of the promises and inheritance of Abraham, but they do not come through the law that was added later).

Where there is no law there is no transgression (Romans 4:15)

Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—

Shows that the law has been around since the beginning of the world, if there was sin at that time. Some think it was initially given at Sinai. Sinai was the regiving or codification [writing down for the Israelites who had been in slavery for centuries]

Romans 5:13 (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

Paul can mean many different laws when he uses the word nomos for law.

Paul’s use of law

Romans 7:22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.
Romans 7:23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

All sinned [previous verse] so there was a law, so he has to be referring to another law.

Romans 5:14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.

From Adam to Moses is a reference back to timing of this law

Law was in effect at the time of Adam and Eve as well as Abraham, Genesis 26:5

Specifically added meaning AFTER the Israelites had transgressed against God and they did this by building a golden calf – they broke at least 2 of the 10 – they transgressed the 1st and the 2nd.

Paul doesn’t even have the 10 Commandments in mind when he talks about the “law” that “was added because of transgressions.” This was the law that was added after Israel had been given the law; after they made the golden calf; after Israel had sinned against God’s Ten Commandments and fallen into transgression.

Sacrificial system! Not sacrifices

That is what fits the context of what Paul is saying

It was a system built around the tabernacle in the wilderness of sacrifices, washings and rituals


  1. We learned from Galatians 3:17 and 19 that “the law” was “added” “four hundred and thirty years” after God’s covenant with Abraham.
  2. This “law” was added “because of transgressions.” We know already that sin is the transgression of the law.
  3. Transgressions implies another law already in existence. Does this passage teach us that the Ten Commandments or the Law has been abolished? Can’t then refer to the Ten Commandments (The spiritual laws) or the “Law” that was in effect but to a different set of rules altogether.

Jeremiah 7:22 “For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices.
|Jeremiah 7:23 “But this is what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you.’

God did give them commands or laws or rules to live by, but they did not follow them as they should have.

Jeremiah 7:24 “Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but followed the counsels and the dictates of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward.

God only wanted obedience and He did NOT want sacrifice, but due to their disobedience He implemented an additional law of sacrifices. It was meant to be a laborious work that cost the sinner a price to make them aware of their infractions and the repercussions of them. The people were then motivated through this process to avoid sinning, at least to an extent.

The law that Paul was referring to in Galatians 3:19 was the law of the Sacrificial System

Notice now how the “law” and “sacrifices” are equated:

Hebrews 10:1 For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect.

If we remove the phrases offset by the commas that refer to the ultimate sacrifice of Christ that the sacrificial system pointed to, we see even more readily that he is associating the sacrifices to the law: “For the law…can never with these same sacrifices….” To simply put it – the “law of the sacrificial system.”

Similar format to Galatians 3:19

Hebrews 9:7 But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance;
Hebrews 9:8 the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing.
Hebrews 9:9 It was symbolic for the present time [temporarily] in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience—

[The sacrifices could never accomplish what the sacrifice of Jesus did.]

Hebrews 9:10 concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation.

Reforming how we worship God. [in spirit and truth]

John 4:23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.
John 4:24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Hebrews 9:11 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation.
Hebrews 9:12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.

till the Seed should come

It was added UNTIL THE SEED (Jesus Christ) WOULD COME (so it was temporary)

Added at Sinai — so it was not the eternal spiritual law that was in place from the beginning.

Something temporary was added to something eternal until Christ came

Sacrifices taught the consequences of sin and that is what is no longer in effect

Galatians 3:20 Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one.
Galatians 3:21 Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law.

Against: contrary to

If there was ANY law (sacrificial, washing, 10 Commandments etc) — but there wasn’t

We need to understand this! The law, whether it be this one or any other is not in conflict with the promises of God! The two go hand in hand.

As Paul is saying here, the law does not give life – what it does is regulate it though.

Galatians 3:22 But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

Seeing that all are under sin, from the time of Adam through until now, shows that the law has been in effect the entire time.

Galatians 3:23 But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed.

Very few had God’s Holy Spirit in Old Testament

KJV: kept under the law.

kept under guard by the law the Jews/Israelites were kept under guard by the ritual law of physical works, washings, and sacrifices. The laws that were added later were to make sure that Israel walked the straight and narrow. The sacrificial system did that – it became Israel’s tutor and schoolmaster, teaching them

And what did it teach them:

Galatians 3:24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

Definition of pedagogue: today a pedantic or dogmatic teacher

from Greek paidagōgos slave who looked after his master’s son

This law taught us about was to come in Christ and how He in turn would renew our relationship with God through reconciliation. It foreshadowed what Christ would accomplish through His sacrifice.

The burnt offering represented reconciliation with God
The grain offering pictured reconciliation with our neighbor.
The peace offering pointed to peaceful fellowship with God and with our neighbor.
The sin offering showed forgiveness of our sins through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
The trespass offering taught forgiveness of our sins against our neighbor.

These sacrifices served as a reminder of their sins so that unconverted people can begin to appreciate the awesome purpose and meaning of Christ’s Sacrifice as well as how God looks at sin.

Hebrews 10:2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins.
Hebrews 10:3 But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. (this is how it was their tutor)
Hebrews 10:4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.

Typically sacrifices were made in Old Testament times by unconverted people for the most part because they had done something wrong…it was a reminder. What needs to be understood by the Galatians is that the sacrifices never did away with sin thereby making them “perfect” or righteous or just. The sacrificial system does not take away sins like our Savior could.

Hebrews 10:5 Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: “SACRIFICE AND OFFERING YOU DID NOT DESIRE, BUT A BODY YOU HAVE PREPARED FOR ME.

God never wanted this sacrificial system to be imposed upon His people, but He implemented it as a teacher and tutor for them in the way that they should go UNTIL Christ was able to replace it – it pointed them towards Christ and the sacrifice that could take away sins since the sacrifice of animals could never do that. We are justified by faith – in Christ’s sacrifice and God’s forgiveness for our sins.

Galatians 3:25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.

So now in light of all that we have covered we should understand this verse. This is and has been Paul’s point – works of law, the sacrificial system that was put in place as a guard and guide, as a schoolmaster and tutor had finished serving its purpose once we had the faith in and of Christ – made possible by His sacrifice and life.

Galatians 3:26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 3:27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

God’s overall plan is just and fair. Everyone will have a chance, each in his own order. Once we have been baptized into Christ, have had hands laid on us and receive the Holy Spirit and have put on Christ, we are His. All the lines of separation that had been put up, have at this point been removed.

Galatians 3:29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Once we are Christ’s by faith then we bypass the bloodline to be considered a part of Abraham and the eternal promises made to him – those of being co-inheritors with Christ in the family of God and the Kingdom of God forever.