NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY
By Dr. Robert R Seyda
PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIANS
CHAPTER THREE (Lesson XXVII)
Kenneth Wuest shares with us the three Greek words translated by the words “bought” or “redeemed.” These three tell the story of redemption. The first is agorazo, which means to buy in the slave market. We all were born in slavery to sin. Our ransom price was paid by the precious blood of the Lord Jesus, the Anointed One. Peter says that we were not redeemed with mere silver and gold coins used to buy a slave out of slavery, but with precious blood, highly honored, as of a lamb without spot or blemish. Thus, believers become willing bondslaves of the Lord Jesus by “right of purchase.” The word doulos (bondslave), translated “servants,” refers to one born in slavery but was purchased to become a slave.
The second word is the one Paul uses in the verse we are studying, exagorazo (to buy a slave out of the market-place.) The bondslave of the Lord Jesus is bought not only to be His bondslave but is bought out of the slave market, never to be put up for sale in any slave market again. The bondslave of the Lord Jesus belongs to Him for time and for eternity. It is only through foolishness like the Galatians that a person would go back into slavery by adopting the Law instead of the LORD as their master. And since you cannot serve two masters, you must choose. Some make their choice and then stick with it, while others make that same choice on a daily basis.
The third word is lutroo. The noun has the same root and means “ransom money” used to liberate a slave. The verb means “to set free by the payment of a ransom.” The bondslave of the Lord Jesus is set free from the former slave master of sin, to realize in the bondslave’s life that for which God created him or her, to glorify Him and to enjoy His fellowship forever. There is no fellowship in sin, just misery. Satan tries to fool us by saying it won’t hurt, just try a little of it. But just like narcotics, once tasted, it gets a hold on the person who tries it. On the other hand, as King David said, “Taste and see that the LORD is good,” to which we can add Paul’s recommendation that we not become drunk on the world’s wine, but be filled with the Spirit, Be addicted to the Spirit of God rather than to the spirits of this world and sin.
Ronald Y. K. Fung says that the foolish conduct of the Galatians was the more culpable in that Jesus the Anointed One was publicly proclaimed before their very eyes as crucified. The word rendered “openly displayed” (prographō) refers not to some document or letter previously written by Paul, nor to a depiction of the suffering and dying Jesus, but to the public and official character of the apostolic kerygma (proclamation) which was displayed like a metaphorical billboard for all to see, “Jesus the Anointed One … crucified.” The perfect participle estaurōmenos (“crucified”) in this phrase does not merely fasten attention upon the death of the Anointed One as the culmination and, therefore, summary of his life as that of “one who took the form of a servant,” nor does it characterize Jesus as one hanging on the cross and to be considered as such even now; rather it describes Him in His character as the crucified (and risen) One. The phrase “Jesus the Anointed One crucified” concisely summarizes the decisive event in salvation history and, as such, the fundamental content of the Pauline kerygma. If only the Galatians had fixed their eyes on that billboard, it would have enabled them to escape the fascination of the false teachers; for that one phrase, had it been truly understood, would have removed the ground from the Judaizers’ argument.
J. L. Nye (c. 1851-1899), collector of anecdotes to be used in sermons tells of a young man living in Pennsylvania whose father was a well-to-do businessman, who gave in to the temptation of buying expensive goods and forging his father’s name on the bill. Once it was discovered, the boy ran away from home. He was able to live off of the money he got from pawning his goods but eventually became penniless. The boy remembered a minister who was a friend to his father. So, after living a life of sin he showed up at the minister’s house. He was full of remorse but also is the last stage of cancer.
The minister knew there were three things needed for the boy and his father to be reconciled. First, the boy must be repentant and ask forgiveness. Second, the law must be satisfied by paying back all the money he embezzled. And third, the father must be willing to forgive him and receive him back into the family. The father confirmed that the first part was taken care of because he paid all the bills. The second point was also met in that the boy was deeply repentant. But the third point was not provided. As the boy neared death, the minister sent a telegram to the father saying, “Your son is dying; for God’s sake read Luke 15 and come before it is too late.” The reply from the father was: “When he is dead, send his body here at my expense.” That was all – the father was unwilling to forgive.
How different is the case with our Heavenly Father, says Nye. He also has provided for the satisfaction of the broken law by His Son’s death on the cross. He is longing to receive us. Did He not say, “Those that comes to Me, I will never turn away?” He invited us – will we come? If we fail to come, did He also not say, “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me?” He has provided all that is required; we need only to accept His gift, leave ourselves in His hands, and be prepared to meet our God with joy.
American Baptist minister, missionary, and writer Stanley L. Derickson (b. 1940) points to what Paul says here in verse thirteen as sufficient evidence that we are not freed from the curse of the Law based on our good works or self-effort in changing our character. We are freed by the Anointed One’s work on the cross to live our lives as saints and not sinners. That’s why anyone’s efforts to be holy on their own end up with large holes in their claims of holiness.
My oldest brother, when he was in his teens, cut himself on his arm. But when the wound began to heal, my brother kept removing the scab and the wound became reinfected. My father tried to explain to him that he needed to let the wound heal and the scab would fall off all by itself. However, my brother could not resist and continued to pick at the scab and the infection set in again, only this time worse than before. My father used the method of punishment common back in those days by taking off his belt and applying it to my bother’s bottom.
But sorry, my brother wanted to help the wound to heal so he would unconsciously pick at the scab until it came off, only to have the wound get red with infection again. My father took my brother into the living room where he removed his belt again. My brother was sure this whipping would be more severe than the one before. But strangely, my Dad took off his shirt, handed my brother the belt, got down on his knees and told my brother that he would take the deserved beating for him. My Dad was sure my brother would take out his frustration to pay him back for previous lashings. Instead, my brother began to cry and sob. He asked my father for forgiveness; he just couldn’t bring himself to lay the whip on my father’s back. From that moment on, my brother never touched the scab again and the wound healed quickly.
So, it is with Jesus the Anointed One. We deserved the punishment He received for our constant disobedience by constantly picking at the wounds that sin opened in our hearts and minds. Jesus knew they would never heal on their own so He took the beating on our behalf. That’s why we are drawn to the cross out of love, not fear. We don’t resent that God gave such laws that made sin so attractive to our rebellious spirit. We now understand why it was necessary to show that the wounds of sin will constantly be infected unless they are cleansed by the healing blood of the Lamb. O what a wonderful Savior we have!
3:14 Therefore, God is able to bless the Gentiles with the same blessing He promised to Abraham because of the work of Jesus the Anointed One, allowing us to come alive in the Spirit through faith.
If the Judaizers and their wayward Galatians followers entertained any idea that they should get some credit for their attempt at increasing the value of their salvation by adding their own efforts to the Anointed One’s faithfulness, they proved sorely and embarrassingly wrong. Paul was quick to tell them that God’s promise to Abraham was not limited to Israelis or Jews. His descendants were to be a light to the whole world, not just their race. That’s why he told him to leave Chaldea and to the land that God would show him. Later on, God would speak to Abraham again and tell him good will come to all the nations of the earth through your children and their children’s children. Because you obeyed My voice.
Why couldn’t the Jewish converts in Galatia see that they were part of that chosen group who would witness to the world? Isaiah posed questions about the big task God assigned to him. But the Lord spoke to Isaiah and told him that he was marked to be His servant before he was born. His aim was to bring the children of Israel back to their senses and recognize who their God really was. Not only that, But God shared with Isaiah that there was a group among the Israelites whom He protected because they would be His witnesses to the whole world. So, God’s word to Isaiah was, “I will also make You a light to the Gentiles so that people over all the earth can be saved from the punishment of their sins.”
But God’s plans didn’t require Isaiah to do this all by himself, God kept a select few for this very purpose. He cheers Isaiah up by telling him I will also make You a light to the nations so that men over all the earth can be saved from the punishment of their sins. How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who tells of peace and brings good news of happiness, who tells of saving power, and says to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Not only that, but the Lord will show His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations, that all the ends of the earth may see that our God saves.
 1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23
 1 Peter 1:18; cf., 2 Peter 2:1
 See Romans 618
 See 1 Peter 1:18; Titus 2:14, cf. Luke 24:21
 Kenneth Wuest: Word Studies on Galatians, op. cit., loc., cit.
 Psalm 34:8
 Ephesians 5:18
 Cf. the use of the word in Romans 15:4; Ephesians 3:3; Jude 4
 So rendered in the Revised Standard Version (RSV); the New American Standard Bible (NASB); and the New International Version (NIV)
 Ronald Y. K. Fung: On Galatians, op. cit., pp. 129-129
 John 6:37
 Revelation 3:20
 J. L. Nye: Anecdotes, op. cit., p 114
 Stanley L. Derickson: Notes on Theology, Redemption, New Testament Terms, 1962, p. 913
 Genesis 12:2-3
 Ibid. 22:18
 Isaiah 49:6
 Ibid. 52:7-8, 10