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"Blessed with Believing Abraham "
Galatians 3:6-14

Wednesday Evening Home Bible Study
October 12, 2005

In arguing for justification by faith, Paul was inventing nothing new. It was the plan that was laid out in the Old Testament Scriptures all along. This passage has many references to the Old Testament. Key passages drawn from are:

  • Genesis 15:1-6;
  • Genesis 12:1-3;
  • Deuteronomy 27;
  • Habakkuk 2:4;
  • Leviticus 18:1-5; and
  • Deuteronomy 21:22-23.


A. In calling the Galatians to trust completely in the sufficiency of Christ's cross as the means of our justification, Paul points to Abraham as the foundational example of saving faith (vv. 6-7).
1. Abraham was important to point to because he is an example of someone God saved though faith in God's promise. This was apart from God's law, because he lived four-hundred and thirty years before the law was given (vv. 17-18).

2. Paul cites Genesis 15:6 as scriptural proof that salvation by faith in God's promise. Abraham believed God's promise of a heir that would come from his own body. This was a confirmation of God's promise that, in Abraham - that is, in his seed - the whole world would be blessed (Genesis 12:3). This itself was a confirmation of the promise God made concerning the Seed of the woman who would bruise the head of the serpent - that is, the promise of the Savior (Genesis 3:15).

3. The basis of God's act toward Abraham was not works but Abraham's faith in God's promise. And as a result, God "reckoned" his faith (logizomai, that is "imputed", "credited", "counted") to him as "righteousness". This stands forever as Scripture's primary example of a faith that saves (Romans 4:1-3; 13-22). Therefore, we are to "know" (an imperative) that those who are of faith are truly the sons of Abraham (and, by implication, not those who seek God's favor through the law [cf. John 8:39]).

B. That, as verse 7 suggests, is the true standard of salvation for the Jew. But Paul makes it clear from the Scripture that this example was not meant to stand for the Jew alone, but also for the Gentile who would believe as Abraham did (vv. 8-9).

1. The Scripture "foresaw" that God would justify those who are of the faith of Abraham - that is, who place their faith in the promise of God apart from the works of the law. It "foresaw" it in the sense that it declared it BEFORE the law was given; in that it "preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand" (proeuanggelizomai, to announce joyful news beforehand) by God telling him at the time of his call, "In you all the nations shall be blessed" (Genesis 12:3).

2. In verse 7, Paul said that all those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. Now, in verse 9, he asserts that all those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham! He here calls him "believing Abraham". Abraham is the original "believer".


A. Paul now paints a contrast from the faith of believing Abraham (v. 10).
1. Those who have faith are blessed; but those who are of works of the law (that is, that try to achieve favor with God on the basis of conformity to the law of Moses) are far from "blessed". They are, in fact, "under the curse".

2. It is called "the curse", because the Scripture has placed all under a curse who fails to keep God's law. This was affirmed when, at the second giving of God's law - just before the people of Israel entered the promised land - the Levites pronounced a curse on all who didn't keep God's law, as the people responded with their "Amen!": "Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all the things which are written in the book of the law, to do them" (see Deuteronomy 27:26).

B. But even then, the Scripture made it clear that no one could ever become righteous before God on the basis of the law, but only on the basis of faith. This is something that should have already been known.

1. This is "evident" (dălos; "clearly visible, manifest") from what it says in Habakkuk 2:4; that "the just shall live by faith" (see also Romans 1:17; Hebrews 10:38) - that is, not as one who keeps the law through works, but as one who believes in the promise of God as did Abraham.

2. The standard given in Habakkuk 2:4 is not possible to keep by works of the law, because works of the law performed to earn God's favor are not of faith. The standard of works of the law is different from the standard of faith; for when it comes to the law, "the man who does them shall live by them" (Leviticus 18:5). The original intent of those words in Leviticus was to encourage the people to stay true to God's law because, by them, they will live the prosperous life. But Paul takes that meaning and uses it to underscore the impossibility of keeping the standard (Matthew 5:48; James 2:10; Romans 3:20) - and thus bringing a curse upon one's self and making salvation through faith in God's promise of grace our only hope (Romans 4:1-5; Galatians 3:22-24).


A. Christ has "redeemed" us from the curse of the law. To "redeem" (exagoraző) means to redeem or to buy out - such as when a slave is bought out of his slavery by the grace of another.

B. Jesus did this for us by becoming "a curse" for us. He Himself hung on the cross and experienced the curse of Deuteronomy 21:23 - "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree" (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:22-24). "Tree" (xulon) can mean "timber" or "stocks" or "wood" in general as well as "tree". Thus He paid the debt of the curse for us.

C. He did this so that the blessing of Abraham - that is, the blessing that comes through being related to the promise given to him by faith - might come not only on the Jew who believes on Christ, but also on the Gentiles who believe on Christ. To receive the promise of the Spirit, as Paul says it here, is synonymous with being saved (see verse 3). This, he affirms, is only by faith.

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