What does Paul say about Law in Galatians?
In Galatians, Paul explains that the Law was not eternal, but was added. It was added because of transgressions.10 The Law is then temporary. Since it has a beginning, it must also have an end.11 Again, it is important to point out that there is some debate about this issue. Wesley say that “this [moral] Law passeth not away; but the ceremonial Law was only introduced till Christ.”12 There are questions lurking, “Is there an end to the Law?” “If so, is it just the end of ceremonial Law? Or the moral Law also?” These questions will be addressed later.
What is clearer in Galatians is the fact that saints are justified by faith in Christ, not by works or the Law.13 Paul makes five key appeals to justification by faith in chapter three.14 First is his appeal to personal experience. Paul asks the disciples whether they received the Spirit ‘by works of the Law’ or by hearing with faith in God? If they genuinely received and partook of the Holy Spirit, how could they forget? They had such an experience. Their “hearing of faith” occurred when they first came to know Christ as their own by accepting the Holy Spirit in their live.15 The second appeal is to Abraham. Galatians three reflects Romans four. The beauty of these two chapters is that God could have made righteousness come through works and obeying the Law, but instead God gave grace and let’s righteousness come through faith in Him and His Son. Thirdly, the appeal to the Law. Paul says the Law tells us to do things, while faith is just the opposite, saints are told to believe things. This belief will manifest in action, but the faith is believing. Where the Law is just doing, there is no belief. Gill makes the case that what Paul is referring to Lev. eighteen, verse five16 and that this passage is speaking about the moral Law, not the ceremonial Law. At any case, the point is that justification is not by the Law, but by grace. Fourth, Paul makes an appeal to history. God made promises through covenant before giving the Law. The Law was an addition. It does not invalidate God’s previous promises. In fact, justification cannot be by both merit and promise. It is one or the other and it is not by merit. And fifthly, Paul makes the appeal to the Gospel from verse nine-teen to the end of the chapter. Christ is the object of our faith and the only way to be justified. The Law is merely a “tutor” or “custodian” until Christ came.
As discussed above, in Galatians, the Law was also our “pedagogue” or tutor. The principle Greek word used here means “to keep or guard someone.17” Before the promised faith through Jesus, saints were locked up under the Law in order to keep us imprisoned under sin until the coming faith was revealed.18 The Law was master over them, keeping them in its custody as long as they were in bondage to sin. When the time was right, God sent for His Son in order to redeem those under the Law.19 This is the Gospel message, which Paul continues to stress over and over again especially in chapter four. Paul emphases that saints are sons of God and no longer slaves to sin! So why, he asks, are you turning your back on God and being enslaved by these worthless things again? Christians have choices to make. Christ is the only way to be justified, but man can choose to live enslaved to other things. Paul builds from this place, as he discusses how Christians can and should live according to the Spirit instead of the flesh. Paul also gives great practical wisdom in Christian living as he speaks about the armor of God and the spiritual forces.
The key of Galatians is getting back to the basics of the Gospel. The Judaizers, had been teaching falsely that believers had to follow the Mosaic Law and be circumcised in order to be saved.20 Paul refutes these teachings and goes over the Gospel message again. He reminds them that the Son of man came from God and requires nothing. Men are not saved through works of the Law.21 In summary, “man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus…and [again] not by works of the Law…” (Gal. 2;16).