GALATIANS 3 “UNTIL CHRIST CAME”
Bible Background: Again, Paul is arguing against false teachings that have circulated among churches he helped to found: Namely, that keeping the Law of Moses is the way to win God’s approval. This is really at the heart of the age-old debate: “Are we save by our works? Or by faith in Jesus Christ?” For Paul, the answer is obvious!
Digging Deeper: 1. “You foolish Galatians!” Paul is trying to wake them up to the truth of what Christ’s death and resurrection accomplished. (No, the Galatians were not eyewitnesses to Jesus’ crucifixion, but Paul no doubt emphasized it heavily in his preaching and teaching.) He’s pointing out that the Spirit was working in them…why would they take a step backwards and put their trust in the law again? In our hearts we know we are saved by faith. Yet think of a time when we take a step backward and wonder “am I good enough?” “Am I doing enough for God or…?”
2. Paul makes his argument for faith by referring to Abraham’s faith and the promise God made to Abraham and Sarah that “all nations” would be blessed through them. He’s assuring these Gentile believers that Abraham and Sarah are their faith ancestors too!
3. Then (v.23 and following) Paul describes the “old” way things worked: The Law of Moses was necessary. It served as our disciplinarian. But then in v. 25 Paul is insisting that everything has changed with the coming of Christ, who he understands to be the fulfillment of God’s promises and of generations of Jewish hopes for the Messiah.
4. In Christ (v.27) we are indeed new creations! We have a new status “baptized” and “clothed with Christ” that matters far more than our race or our gender or our social class. And this new status, as the baptized children of God, is where our unity lies. We are one in Christ! What does it take to live-into the unity that Christ brings? Diversity isn’t always easy to work with, but with such a variety of people in the world, it seems pretty clear that God wants diversity! How do we resist unity? How do we help it along?
5. Paul doesn’t mention in this passage how Christ breaks down the walls that divide people, but ponder this thought of being one in Christ: one in our vulnerability; one in Spirit; one in compassion; one in purpose. Where do you see one-ness in a good way in the church? In the world? How wide dare we open our hearts and minds to others?