The Berean Expositor
Volume 39 - Page 71 of 234
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No.65. (23) GALATIANS.
Galatians 3: 13 - 20.
The Galatian Will (3: 15, 16).
pp. 32 - 35
We have observed the strong Hebrew colouring of Gal. 3: 10-13, and the clearing of
the way for the blessing of Abraham to come on the Gentiles through faith, apart from the
law and its works.  Gal. 3: 15-20 is occupied with a further argument to show how
completely the law is set aside in the Gospel, and this appeals not to the Jew or to Jewish
customs or O.T. types, but to the existing law of the land in which the Galatians lived.
"Brethren I speak after the manner of men" (Gal. 3: 15).
This expression introduces an illustration from common life in Rom. 6: 19.  No
knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures was necessary to understand "slavery" for many of
those who read the epistle to the Romans were at the time slaves themselves.
Many commentators, because not possessed of certain historical facts now brought to
light, and not safeguarded by humility in the presence of the inexplicable in Scripture,
have not hesitated to pronounce the Apostle's argument in Gal. 3: 15-20 as "very weak,
and such as the Apostle ought not to use for the confirmation of a matter of so great
importance" (Luther). Yet upon consideration it will be admitted, that whereas there was
O.T. evidence for the fact that the original promise made to Abraham was addressed to
"faith", no such O.T. evidence was available to meet the next difficulty, namely, that the
subsequent introduction of the law of Moses four hundred and thirty years after the
promise, cancelled the terms made with Abraham and substituted in their place "works of
law". With a quick wit, sharpened as it must have been by his deep concern for these
Galatians as well as used and illuminated by the Holy Spirit, the Apostle fastened upon
the existing Galatian law of adoption to furnish an argument.
"Though it be but a man's covenant."
Here, before we can proceed, it will be necessary to settle the meaning of the word
diatheke "covenant".
In every case where the O.T. is in view diatheke must be rendered "covenant",
agreeing with the Hebrew berith, which refers to the ceremony of cutting or dividing the
sacrificial victim. Even where it is associated with the word "testator" in Heb. 9: 16, 17
a literal rendering of the passage leaves this translation of diatheke unaltered. Realizing
this, many commentators have strenuously maintained that diatheke in Gal. 3: 15 must
be translated "covenant". Where disputants seem to have missed their way in this matter
is the recognition of the clause we have used above: "in every case where the O.T. is in
view". Here in Gal. 3: 15 Paul is turning away from the O.T. Scriptures and appealing
to some matter of common knowledge shared by himself and the Galatians.