The Gospel in Galatians

There was another (different) gospel being preached to the Galatians. It was not another of the same kind, but wholly unlike the true gospel. We see this in Galatians 1:6, 7. We get to the heart of the matter in Galatians 2:16, “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ…”


So what does it mean to be justified? To “justify” means to be made “righteousness”. Look at some of these verses and compare the Greek. Gal 3:8 “justify” (G1344); Heb 11:33 “righteousness” (G1343); Gal 3:11 “is justified” (G1344); Heb 11:4 “righteous” (G1342); Rom 2:26 “righteousness” (G1345); Rom 6:16 “righteousness” (G1343).


G1342 δικαιος dikaios dik’-ah-yos

from G1349;  adjective

AV-righteous 41, just 33, right 5, meet 2; Total times used: 81

Definition: equitable (in character or act); by implication, innocent, holy (absolutely or relatively): — just, meet, right(-eous).


G1343 δικαιοσυνη dikaiosune dik-ah-yos-oo’-nay

from G1342;  noun feminine

AV-righteousness 92; Total times used: 92


G1344 δικαιοω dikaioo dik-ah-yo’-o

from G1342;  verb

AV-justify 37, be freed 1, be righteous 1, justifier 1; Total times used: 40


G1345 δικαιωμα dikaioma dik-ah’-yo-mah

from G1344;  noun neuter

AV-righteousness 4, ordinance 3, judgment 2, justification 1; Total times used: 10


These words are all related. G1343, G1344 and G1345 all come back to G1342. The main difference is one is an adjective, one a verb and two nouns.


Gal 3:8 “And 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.”

Heb 11:33 “Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,”

Gal 3:11 “But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, the just shall live by faith.”

Heb 11:4 “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.”

Rom 2:26 “Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision?”

Rom 6:16 “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?”


Hopefully that wasn’t overkill. Those are all good verses and there are many more. The blessing of the gospel: being justified through faith is the same thing as being made righteous through faith. As I’ve shown before, those that are righteous keep the law. (See Psalm 119:172; Isaiah 51:7; 1 John 5:17, 1 John 3:4; Isaiah 26:2, Psalm 119:142 etc.) Yet we know that no man is justified by the law. There is no disconnect in these concepts.


Let’s look at an example, using the laws of the U.S.A., to help understand the concept of not being able to be justified by the law. Hypothetically if a man murdered someone 20 years ago, but was never caught, and since then he obeyed the law; he paid his taxes, didn’t murder, didn’t steal and didn’t even get as much as a traffic violation for the past 20 years, then today he was caught, with overwhelming evidence that he committed that murder 20 years ago; when in court he even confesses to that murder, but asks the judge, “Since I’ve kept the law the past 20 years, will you rule that I am innocent of this murder charge?” What do you think the response of the judge will be? Guilty!


In the same way we are all guilty of sin. So no matter how closely we were to follow God’s law from here out, which we couldn’t do on our own strength anyway, we can not be found to be just by the law. The law can’t make us just, it can’t make us righteous. The law can only point out the truth that we are sinners, we are unjust, we are not righteous. That is why we need a Savior. That is why God sent his only begotten Son to be a propitiation for our sins. We can, by faith, be washed clean; forgiven of our past sins. Even more we can have Christ’s righteous life imparted to us so that we can not only live a life without sin, but even be joyful in keeping God’s perfect law of love.


Like Christ we can say, “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart. (Psalm 40:8)”

Galatians 2:17, 18 “But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. 18 For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.”

What Was Destroyed? – “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. (Romans 6:6)”

So if I have been crucified (“For I through the law am dead to the law” – Galatians 2:19) and then I resurrect my old life of sin, then “I make myself a transgressor.”


“How does a man become dead to the law?-By receiving its full penalty, which is death…. By the body of Christ he is raised from the death which he has suffered from the law because of his sin, and now he walks “in newness of life,” (Romans 6:4) a life unto God. Like Saul of old, he is by the Spirit of God “turned into another man.” (1 Samuel 10:6).” (Waggoner – SITI January 18, 1899)


Philippians 2:5 “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:”

Galatians 2:20 “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”


Trying to attain righteousness in any other way than to invite Christ into your heart by faith is futile. If we could attain righteousness by the law or any other way, then Christ wouldn’t have had to die. He never would have had to come to this sin cursed world and taken on our sinful flesh. (See Gal 2:21) Our own works can do nothing for us. We need to distrust self and see our utter insufficiency, and trust fully in God’s power.



The Galatians were being taught that they needed to be circumcised in order to be saved. (See Galatians 5:2-6; 6:12-15) In other words they were being taught that their own works could save them.

But what was the point of circumcision to begin with?


Romans 4:9-11 “……faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. 10 How was it then reckoned? When he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. 11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised:….”


Circumcision was a sign of righteousness by faith. In and of itself circumcision does nothing. True circumcision happens in the heart, and brings obedience to the law; that is the very spirit of the law, not simply the letter of the law which can be twisted by man. For example we know that Jesus said that even to lust after a woman is adultery. So the spirit runs deeper than the letter. In the law, there is the underlying principle of love which can only be lived by those who like Paul can say, “Christ liveth in me”.


Romans 2:25-29 ” For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. 26 Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? 27 And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law? 28  For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 29  But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.”


In Galatians 2:3, 4 we see liberty vs. bondage. Seeking salvation by works brings bondage.


So how were they being “bewitched” in Galatians 3:1?

Galatians 3:1 “O 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?”


Let’s look at 1 Samuel 15:23: “The literal Hebrew is, “Rebellion is the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is iniquity and idolatry.” And how so?-Plainly enough, for stubbornness and rebellion are rejection of God; and he who rejects God, puts himself under the control of evil spirits. All idolatry is devil-worship. “The things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils.” 1 Corinthians 10:20. There is no middle ground. Christ says, “He that is not with Me is against Me.” Matthew 12:30. That is, disobedience, rejection of the Lord, is the spirit of antichrist.” (Waggoner – SITI January 25, 1899)


What were the results of this bewitching, this snare of a false gospel, which caused them to “not obey the truth”? The curse of death. Whether you think the truth here is the law as in Psalms 119:142 or Jesus as in John 14:6, it is one and the same, for his Father’s commandments are his commandments because they are one in spirit and in purpose.


Galatians 3:10 “For 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.”


Contrast this with the blessing in verse 9 for those of the faith as was Abraham. What was the blessing of Abraham? It was the forgiveness of sins and being turned away from sin.


Romans 4:6-8 “Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, 7  Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. 8  Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”

Acts 3:25, 26 “Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. 26 Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.”


So if the blessing includes being turned away from iniquity (sin) and sin is the transgression of the law, then the blessing includes being able to keep the law. But Galatians 3:10 said that those “of the works of the law” are under the curse. How do we reconcile these things.


Revelation 22:14 says, “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” Psalm 119:1 says, “Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD.” So can Galatians 3:9 mean that those that do the law are under the curse? Let’s dig deeper.

Romans 9:30-33 “What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. 31  But Israel, which followed after [pursued or tried to attain] the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. 32  Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; 33 As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.”


From Galatians 3:10 “of the works of the law” and “by the works of the law” from Romans 9:32 are the same in the Greek: Even “of” and “by” use the same Greek word. In Rom 9:30-33 and Gal 3:9, 10 you see the same contrast between faith and works. Faith is the only way to attain righteousness. Those trying to attain righteousness “by the works of the law” are under a curse. Why? Because they can’t attain their goal; their works are futile; they need faith.


So let’s look at Galatians 3:9,10 again: “So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.10 For 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.” Those not of faith are “of the works of the law” and it says they don’t continue in (do) the things in the law; thus they transgress the law. We know that whatsoever (speaking of actions, thoughts etc.) is not of faith is sin (see Romans 14:23). To be “of the works of the law” is to break the law, because they are trying to keep the law by their own strength, instead of by faith, which is impossible.


Deuteronomy 11:26-28 “Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; 27 A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day: 28 And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.”


The blessing mentioned here is also by faith: the only way to be lawful. And those not of faith are cursed. That curse is death: the wages of sin – the wages of transgressing the law. Also notice that not obeying God’s commandments is “to go after other gods” (witchcraft). We have free will. We can choose whom to obey. But there is no way in between God’s way and Satan’s way. There is no middle ground where one can just do their own thing. All are obeying either God or Satan. Even those trying to obey God’s commandments, without faith, are walking in Satan’s way. Why? It comes down to motive. Only God can implant the love in our hearts to truly obey out of love. And the whole point of the law is love, which is the narrow way. Trying to obey without that love, without faith, is only selfishly trying to save one’s self. Selfishness is the broad way: Satan’s way.


Matthew 7:12-14 “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. 13  Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: {strait: or, narrow }14  Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”


The law is not of faith. Yet by faith we keep the law.

But what do we make of Galatians 3:12? “And the law is not of faith: but, the man that doeth them shall live in them.”


“Life is Doing. – “The man that doeth them shall live in them.” The law calls for action, deeds, and nothing else. If good deeds are manifested, the law is satisfied. “The law is not of faith;” it cares nothing for faith; works, and works alone, commend themselves to it. How those works are obtained is of no concern to it, provided they are present. …. “In keeping of them there is great reward.” Psalm 19:11.” (Waggoner -SITI February 1, 1899)


Ephesians 2:8-10 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.


These verses show that we are saved by grace through faith. It says we are not saved by works in verse 9. But what about the walking in the good works mentioned in verse 10? This is how we are to walk as a new creation, created in Christ Jesus.


Galatians 6:15 “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.” (See also Eph 4:24 and Col 3:10)

Ephesians 4:24 “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”

Colossians 3:10 “And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:”


Covenant Not Disannulled

Galatians 3:17, 18 “Now 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. 17  And 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.”


This covenant; these promises were repeated multiple times in Genesis, but let’s take a look at one instance. “And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. (Genesis 17:7,8)”


“Here we see most clearly that the promised inheritance is land; the land of Canaan. But, let it be borne in mind, it is an “everlasting possession.” Abraham himself, as well as his seed, possess it to eternity. Therefore the possession of the land of Canaan, according to the promise to Abraham, involves the possession of everlasting life in which to enjoy it; but immortality is bestowed only at the coming of Christ and the resurrection. This Abraham well understood; for even while he was in the land of Canaan, he sojourned in it as in a strange country, desiring and looking for “a better country, that is an heavenly” (Hebrews 11:9-16); and the fact that he “died in faith, not having received the promises” shows that he knew that he was to receive it at the resurrection.” (Waggoner – SITI February 8, 1899)


This plan of salvation, the promise of eternal life through Christ, was revealed to Adam and Eve, when it was said, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” – As soon as there was sin, the Son of God was a Savior! His heel was bruised, but he was resurrected; Satan will not be. The law can never make void the promises of God.


Why Then The Law?

Galatians 3:19 “Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions”


“Serveth” is a supplied word. More literally “Why then the law?” or what is the law’s purpose? “It was added because of transgressions” What was transgressed that caused the law to be added? The law was transgressed, therefore the law was “added” (In the Greek G4369: “to place additionally, i.e. lay beside, annex, repeat: —add, again, give more, increase, lay unto, proceed further, speak to any more.”) The law already existed before Sinai. (see Genesis 26:5; Exodus 16:1-4, 22-28) Yet, “the law entered, that the offence might abound. (Romans 5:20).” They were sinners and needed to be shown their true condition, so God repeated his law at Sinai. They said they would do it. Then they speedily showed that they didn’t have the strength to keep their promise when they worshiped the golden calf. (Exodus 32) They broke the covenant by their disobedience.


“God would have put His law into their hearts, even as He put it into Abraham’s heart, if they had believed; but when they disbelieved, yet still professed to be heirs of the promise, it was necessary to show them in the most marked manner that their unbelief was sin. The law was spoken because of transgression, or, what is the same thing, because of the unbelief of the people.” (Waggoner – SITI February 15, 1899)


The law is not against the promise. (See Galatians 3:21) In fact the promise includes the law (See Hebrews 8:10). “Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings. (Isaiah 51:7)” The promise of the new covenant, the everlasting covenant, of writing the law in the heart was something God was already doing for Abraham and other patriarchs, as well as those from the Mosaic dispensation, before the everlasting covenant was ratified by the blood of Christ. This was done by the Holy Spirit through faith, as it is for us. And it was necessary for them to be saved, as it is for us. This is righteousness by faith. (See also Romans 4:13)


“But the scripture hath concluded [imprisoned, shut up, confined] all under sin, (Galatians 3:22)” What is translated here as “concluded” is translated as “shut up” in verse 23. Just like human laws imprison criminals.


Sin is a horrible thing. It binds us. The law shows us our wrongs and imprisons us.


“I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house. (Isaiah 42:6, 7)” (See also Isa 61:1 and Proverbs 5:22)


Galatians 3:22, 23 “But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.”


“When, then, does faith come? -“Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” Romans 10:17. Whenever a man receives the Word of God, the word of promise, which brings with it the fullness of the law, and no longer fights against it, but yields to it, then faith comes to him. Read the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, and you will see that faith came from the beginning. Since the days of Abel, men have found freedom by faith. The only time fixed is “now,” “to-day.” “Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2) “To-day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” (Hebrews 3:15, 4:7)” (Waggoner – SITI March 1, 1899)


Whatsoever is not of faith is sin. So before one has faith, the law can only condemn: imprison. One is “kept under the law” because they transgressed the law. This has been true from Adam and Eve until now. Everyone has had the opportunity to be saved by grace through faith. Until that faith comes, the law does its job imprisoning the person and showing them their need for salvation. “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. (Galatians 3:24)” And what a glorious light it is that is shed abroad in the heart, by faith, to bring us out of the darkness.


“It will be noticed also that the new version has “tutor” in the place of “schoolmaster.” This is better, but the sense is still better conveyed by the word that is used in the German and Scandinavian translations, which signifies “master of a house of correction.” The single word in our language corresponding to it would be jailer. The Greek word is the word which transliterated is “pedagog.” The word has come to be used as meaning “schoolmaster,” although the Greek word has not at all the idea of a schoolmaster. “Taskmaster” would be better. The idea here is rather that of a guard who accompanies a prisoner who is allowed to walk about outside the prison walls. The prisoner, altho nominally at large, is really deprived of his liberty just the same as though he were actually in a cell.” (Waggoner – SITI February 22, 1899)


We may seem free, while living as sinners, but that is a delusion. But we can be free.


John 8:36 “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”

2 Corinthians 5:21 “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

Galatians 5:25 “But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.”


Once we are walking by faith and are free from sin the law is no longer our jailer.


Till the Seed Should Come


Galatians 3:19 “Wherefore 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.”

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


“Christ Not for Himself. -Christ did not live and die for Himself. It was not necessary that He should bear the curse of the earth in order to possess it as God; for it never passed out of God’s ownership. Christ came as the Son of man, to win back as man, for man, that which man had lost. “He taketh on Him the seed of Abraham.” Therefore it is that it is impossible that the seed should be complete in Jesus alone, as a single individual. He is the representative man. God’s purpose is to “gather together in one all things in Christ.” Ephesians 1:10. So the seed includes every soul who can be induced to accept the Lord Jesus, and become one with Him. And this gives the glorious assurance that whatever He has is ours.” (Waggoner – SITI March 1, 1899)


““Until the Seed Should Come.” -It needs not many words now to determine what is meant by the phrase, “till the seed should come to whom the promise was made.” We know what the seed is, and we know that it has not yet come in its fulness. To be sure, Christ was once manifested on earth in the flesh, but He did not receive the promised inheritance, any more than Abraham did. Abraham had not so much as to put his foot on (Acts 7:5), and Christ had not where to lay His head (Luke 9:58). Moreover, Christ can not come into the inheritance until Abraham does also, for the promise was “to Abraham and to his seed.” [Luke 1:55; Romans 4:13] The Lord by the prophet Ezekiel spoke of the inheritance at the time when David ceased to have a representative on his throne on earth, and He foretold the overthrow of Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome, in these words: “Remove the diadem, and take off the crown; this shall not be the same; exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high. I will overturn, overturn, overturn it; and it shall be no more, until He come whose right it is; and I will give it Him.” Ezekiel 21:26, 27.” (ibid.)


“So Christ sits on His Father’s throne, “from henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool.” Soon will He come, but not until the last soul has accepted Him that can by any possibility be induced to accept salvation. When He comes to execute judgment, and to slay those who said, “We will not have this Man to reign over us,” He comes “with ten thousands of His holy ones.” Jude 14.” (ibid.)


“Then will the Seed be complete, and the promise will be fulfilled. And until that time the law will faithfully perform its task of stirring up and pricking the consciences of sinners, giving them no rest until they become identified with Christ, or cast Him off altogether. Do you accept the terms? Will you cease your complaints against the law which would save you from sinking into a fatal sleep? And will you in Christ accept its righteousness? Then, as Abraham’s seed, and an heir according to the promise, you can rejoice in your freedom from the bondage of sin, singing:-


“I’m the child of a King,

The child of a King,

With Jesus my Saviour,

I’m the child of a King.”” (ibid.)


What about after the seed has come at the second coming of Christ, will the law disappear? No because it will have been engraved on the hearts of all the saved.


Children in Bondage Vs. Adopted Sons

Galatians 4:1-7 “Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; 2  But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. 3  Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: {elements: or, rudiments } 4  But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5  To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. 6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. 7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”


The children in bondage under “the elements of the world” are the same mentioned on Colossians 2:8 after “the rudiments of the world” (both phrases are the same in the Greek). Thus those in Galatians 4:3 are “not after Christ”, but once redeemed and adopted we have the Spirit of Christ in our hearts, crying, Abba, Father.


Colossians 2:8 “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”


Another example of children in bondage is given in Ephesians 4:14.

Ephesians 4:14 “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;”

Being “under the law” in Galatians 4:5 is the same as we saw in Galatians 3:22-24 earlier (imprisoned, shut up, confined).


““To Redeem Them That Were under the Law.” -He does it in the most practical and real way. Whom does He redeem?-“Them that were under the law.” We can not refrain from referring for a moment to the idea that some have that this expression, “to redeem them that were under the law,” has a mere local application. They would have it that it means that Christ freed the Jews from the necessity of offering sacrifices, etc. Well, suppose we take it as referring only to the Jews, and especially to those who lived at the time of His first advent; what then?-Simply this, that we shut ourselves off from any place in the plan of redemption. If it was only the Jews that were under the law, then it was only the Jews that Christ came to redeem. Ah, we do not like to be left out, when it comes to the matter of redemption! Then we must acknowledge that we are, or were before we believed, “under the law;” for Christ came to redeem none but those who were under the law. “Under the law,” as we have already seen, means condemned by the law as transgressors. But the law condemns none but those who are amenable to it, and who ought to keep it. Therefore, since Christ redeems us from the law, from its condemnation, it follows that He redeems us to a life of obedience to it.” (Waggoner – SITI March 8, 1899)


The Galatians were Observing Heathen Customs

Galatians 4:8-11 “Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. 9 But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? 10  Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. 11 I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.”


Heathen do service to false gods: they worship idols which are not gods. (See 1Cor 10:20)


“….The Galatians were not Jews. They had been converted from heathenism. Therefore, previous to their conversion they had never had anything to do with any religious custom that was practiced by the Jews. They had nothing whatever in common with the Jews. Consequently, when they turned again to the “weak and beggarly elements” to which they were willing again to be in bondage, it is evident that they were not going back to any Jewish practice. They were going back to their old heathen customs. “But were not the men who were perverting them Jews?”-Yes, they were. But remember this one thing, when you seek to turn a man away from Christ to some substitute for Christ, you can not tell where he will end. You can not make him stop just where you want him to. If a converted drunkard loses faith in Christ, he will take up his drinking habits as surely as he lives, even though the Lord may have taken the appetite away from him. So when these “false brethren”-Jewish opposers of “the truth of the Gospel” as it is in Christ-succeeded in seducing the Galatians from Christ, they could not get them to stop with Jewish ceremonies. No; they inevitably drifted back to their old heathen superstitions.” (Waggoner – SITI March 15, 1899)


Deuteronomy 18:10 “There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch,”

Isaiah 47:13 “Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels. Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee.”

Was God in these instances in Deuteronomy and Isaiah telling the Jews not to keep the Sabbath? Of course not, he was forbidding heathen customs. The same is the case in Galatians 4:10.


Two Covenants

Galatians 4:21-26 “Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? 22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. 24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. {covenants: or, testaments } 25  For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. {answereth to: or, is in the same rank with} 26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.”


Abraham had two sons one of the flesh and one by promise. “That is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. (Romans 9:8).” Ishmael was born (gendereth) to bondage, as the son of a slave, and Isaac was born free by faith (trust in the promise of God). Ishmael was born by Abram and Sarai trying to fulfill God’s word in their own strength by having Abram procreate with the Egyptian slave Agar (Hagar in Hebrew). But by faith Abram became Abraham and Sarai became Sarah and God delivered the child of promise: Isaac. (See Hebrews 11:11)


“Notice, it is not the law of God which is represented by the bond-woman, neither is it the gospel which is represented by Sarah. But Hagar represents Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children, and Sarah represents Jerusalem which is above, which is free, which is the mother of us all. The son of the bond-woman represents the children of Old Jerusalem by the first covenant, even as Isaac represents the children of the New Jerusalem, by the new covenant. The bondage of literal Israel was not because the law of God was given to them, but because they were its transgressors, -the servants of sin. John 8:33-36. The freedom of those who are the children of the New Jerusalem is not that the law has been abolished, but that they have been made free from sin. Romans 6:22.”  (J. N. Andrews – ARSH February 1851, page 42.1)


As we have been seeing throughout Galatians, we have those trying to obtain God’s promises by their own works, who fail, (the old covenant), and those who actually attain God’s promises by faith (the new covenant: the everlasting covenant promised to Adam and Eve (Gen 3:15) and later to Abraham (Gen 17:7,8) and repeated to Isaac (Gen 26:4) and Jacob (Gen 28:13,14; 48:4), and repeated to us today). Only those who love death “desire to be under the law”: in prison condemned to death. “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. (Proverbs 14:12)”


“The difference between the two covenants may be put briefly thus: In the covenant from Sinai we ourselves have to do with the law alone, while in the covenant from above, we have the law in Christ. In the first instance it is death to us, since the law is sharper than any two-edged sword, and we are not able to handle it without fatal results; but in the second instance we have the law “in the hand of a Mediator.” (Galatians 3:19) In the one case it is what we can do; in the other case it is what the Spirit of God can do.” (Waggoner – SITI March 22, 1899)


Stand Fast in Liberty – No Yoke of Bondage

Galatians 5:1 “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”


“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” (2 Corinthians 3:17) Does this mean liberty to break the law? No it means liberty from sin, for “the law is spiritual”. (Romans 7:14) “But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” (James 1:25) “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:2) Christ’s Spirit brings his law of liberty to us. (See also James 2:10-12 for more on the “law of liberty”, which it is called in verse 12.)


When one tries to obey the law, without faith, they fail and sin. Look again at Galatians 2:3,4 where we have faith vs. works; liberty vs. bondage. Ultimately this bondage is sin.


Acts 8:23 “For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.”

Proverbs 5:22 “His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins.” {sins: Heb. sin } (Also See John 8:33-36)


And sin comes from Satan and brings death with it.


2 Peter 2:19 “….for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.”

1 John 3:8 “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.”

Hebrews 2:14,15 “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15  And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”


And when we have the Spirit of Christ, by grace through faith, we are freed from bondage. “Free indeed”. Christ gives us victory over sin; he gives us liberty by subduing our iniquities (sins). To subdue means to conquer with superior power; here divine power.


Micah 7:19 “He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.”

Psalm 119:1-3 “Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD. {undefiled: or, perfect, or, sincere } 2  Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart. 3  They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways.”

Matthew 5:48  Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.


Debtor to the Law

Galatians 5:2-4 “Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. 3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. 4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.”


Circumcision is covered on page 3, so I won’t rehash that here. Is keeping the law the issue here? No, the issue is trying to be justified by the law (because we know from Galatians 3:11 that “no man is justified by the law”). The ESV and NKJV translate that section of Galatians 5:4 as “who would be justified {Or counted righteous } by the law” and “who attempt to be justified by law” respectively. These were counted as debtors to the law. Why? Simply because they owed something to the law which they hadn’t paid. What did they owe? They owed obedience, yet that can’t be attained without faith. And without faith, one can’t receive God’s free grace, thus they were fallen from grace.


Ephesians 2:4-10 “God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) {by…: or, by whose grace } 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. {ordained: or, prepared }”


So once again we see the same theme repeated: attempted salvation via man’s works vs. actual salvation through faith. There is an interesting parallel in Acts 5:34-39. Gamaliel pointed out that, if the work was of men, “it will come to nought”, but that the things of God cannot be overthrown.


Liberty to Serve, Not to Sin

Galatians 5:13 “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.”


“The two preceding chapters tell about bondage, imprisonment. Before faith comes, we are shut up under sin, debtors to the law. The faith of Christ sets us free, but as we are set at liberty, the admonition is given us, “Go, and sin no more.” We have been set at liberty from sin, not at liberty to sin. How many make a mistake here! Many sincere people imagine that in Christ we are at liberty to ignore the law, and to set it at defiance, forgetting that the transgression of the law is sin. 1 John 3:4. To serve the flesh is to commit sin, “because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Romans 8:7. So when the apostle exhorts us not to use our liberty for an occasion of the flesh, he simply warns us not to misuse the liberty which Christ gives us, and to bring ourselves into bondage again by transgressing the law. Instead of this, we should by love serve one another….” (Waggoner – SITI April 12, 1899)


Law of Love

Galatians 5:14 “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”

Romans 13:10 “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”

1 John 5:3 “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.”


“To say that love is a substitute for the keeping of the law, is to say that love is a substitute for itself. Men may say that they do not see very much love in the commandments, and that they do not seem to them to be the fulfilling of all love; but that tells nothing against the words of the Scriptures. It simply shows that they do not know the law of God, and that they are speaking evil of that which they know not. Let them but become acquainted with the Lord, and they would find that “His commandments are not grievous,” but are the fullness of His own life of love.” (Waggoner – SITI April 26, 1899)


Flesh vs. Spirit

Galatians 5:16-18 “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.  17  For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18  But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.”


Let’s also see what Paul says about this in the epistle to the Romans.


Romans 8:1-8 “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3  For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: {for sin: or, by a sacrifice for sin } 4  That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 5  For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6  For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. {to be carnally…: Gr. the minding of the flesh } {to be spiritually…: Gr. the minding of the Spirit } 7  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. {the carnal…: Gr. the minding of the flesh } 8  So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 9  But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”


So the first thing that we will look at is those being led by the Spirit. They are “not under the law” and the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in them. (Compare Galatians 5:18 to Romans 8:4). Next we notice the direct opposition between the flesh and the Spirit. “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” Why? “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Thus we see that the flesh is at enmity with the law of God, whereas the Spirit is a peace with the law. This makes perfect sense, “For we know that the law is spiritual: (Romans 7:14).” Those at peace with the law, by minding the Spirit, have life, because they don’t receive the wages of sin: death, like those that are minding the flesh. So when it says, “But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.”, that means that those that those that are minding the Spirit, following the spiritual law, are at peace with the law and thus not under the law, which imprisons its transgressors until they choose freedom, by Christ, through faith, or choose death.


Ezekiel 33:11 “Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?”

Deuteronomy 30:19 “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:”

Galatians 6:8 “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”


The choice is the Spirit or the flesh; faith or works. Paul was teaching the Galatians that the works of the flesh couldn’t lead to salvation, and that they must walk in the Spirit by faith. Then there would be no need to be in bondage to sin, because they could have righteousness by faith and have victory over sin; liberty in the perfect law of love.


Galatians 3:2-4 “This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? 4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.”

Choosing the grace of God and walking in the Spirit by faith is the only good decision, every day and every moment. I pray that, “Christ be formed in you”. (Galatians 4:19)

God bless

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