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Galatians 3 - IVP New Testament Commentaries

Paul's Exposition of Promise and Law

The questions cut like a knife. "Why did you ever listen to such a crazy man? How could you believe such nonsense?" The talk-show host badgered the former members of the Branch Davidian cult with piercing questions after David Koresh and his followers destroyed themselves by fire in Waco, Texas.

Paul's questions in Galatians also cut like a knife. Having concluded his autobiography, Paul addresses his readers directly with a series of piercing questions. These questions are asked in a tone of rebuke and thus continue the rebuke section of the letter. Paul rebukes the Galatians for their foolishness. Their defection from the gospel was caused by their foolish confusion of gospel and law. Paul's rebuke for their foolish exchange of faith in the gospel for works of the law is then enforced by an exposition of Scripture (3:6--4:7) to clarify the relationship of the gospel and the law. After his exposition of Scripture, Paul turns to the Galatians and again rebukes them with questions (4:8-11).

My exposition of this passage will follow the flow of Paul's thought:

* understanding the presence of the Spirit (3:1-5)

* recognizing the children of Abraham (3:6-9)

* facing the alternatives of curse and blessing (3:10-14)

* understanding the promise (3:15-18)

* understanding the law (3:19-25)

* identifying the recipients of the promise (3:26-29)

* moving from slavery to freedom (4:1-7)

* returning to slavery again? (4:8-11)

Next commentary:
Understanding the Presence of the Spirit

About this commentary:
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.