NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY
By Dr. Robert R Seyda
PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIANS
CHAPTER THREE (Lesson XLI)
3:22 Doesn’t the Scriptures teach that we are all prisoners of sin? Therefore, the only way to become an heir to God’s promise of freedom is by having faith in Jesus the Anointed One to set us free.
When speaking of Scriptures, since there was no other written document that was considered the Word of God in Paul’s day, he, of course, was referring to the Tanakh – Jewish Bible. Paul’s quote is from a prayer of King David: “Adonai, hear my prayer; listen to my pleas for mercy. In your faithfulness, answer me, and in your righteousness. Don’t bring your servant to trial, since in your sight, no one alive would be considered righteous.” This was an accepted part of Jewish theology. But Paul saw the origin of what caused this universal sinfulness. It spread to all humanity through the sin of Adam and Eve. But there’s more, that inherent tendency to sin became a part of human nature. But it became epidemic because of the Law. In other words, those with little knowledge of God became infected when they came into contact with the Law. But Paul brought Good News. All along, God intended it this way so that He might show how loving and kind He really was.
Was God being sinister? Was He playing games with man’s eternal soul? No! Not at all! He wanted to show people they couldn’t save themselves, that they needed help, and He would provide them a Savior. And when the Savior came, He was crucified on a cross and raised from the dead, He told His disciples to go out and tell everyone that whoever came to listen could put their trust in Him and be baptized would be saved from the punishment of sin. But those who do not put their trust in Him are guilty and will be punished forever. This message began with John the Baptizer. Jesus made that part of His message wherever He went. It was especially needed when He went to raise Lazarus from the dead. And so it is no wonder that Paul made it a central point in his Gospel.
Paul shows clearly that the promise that was given to Abraham and the Law that was given to Moses are not opposed or in conflict with one another, but simply that they are mutually exclusive because they were meant to accomplish two different things. He now proceeds to explain how the promise to Abraham alone does what Mosaic Law cannot do. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command, they led all humanity from the Garden of Eden to the Garrison of Evil. But God already possessed a plan to set mankind free, and He chose Abraham to be the one through whom the Deliverer would come.
Since that time, Jews existed in a state of spiritual imprisonment, unable to attain their freedom by having their sentence annulled by the same Mosaic Law that put them there. They were found guilty and remained guilty with all the evidence clearly against them. Even though Mosaic Law was sympathetic by revealing what they did wrong and convict them of their sinful ways, it could not offer them any reprieve through salvation.
The Mosaic Law provided ways for mankind to be remorseful and show how sorry they were through appointed sacrifices and purifications. Still, it was only trying to help the sinner make up for their sin and give them some sense of personal pride, knowing they obeyed God. But it could not wash the sin away and cleanse the sinner white as snow so they could begin life anew in freedom. Model prisoners are still prisoners; they are not freed with a clean record.
It took a Deliverer, a Savior, to make a radical change, but not through jailbreak or introducing new evidence that might bring an acquittal, but by the Savior trading places with the prisoner, then serving out the whole sentence by accepting their death penalty. But God in His mercy brought Him back to life again, so the prisoner for whom He died could start all over on the outside with a clean slate. Furthermore, not just a new life here on earth, but a life that will go on into eternity. How wonderful is that!
So, says Paul, the fulfillment of the promise did not come through any work on sinful man’s part, but through the work of a sinless Anointed One. By having faith in the Anointed One, the believer also accepts the faithfulness of the Anointed One as meeting all of God’s demands. In my own ministry, whenever I prayed with sinners who came forward for salvation, I always made sure I included the phrase, “I now accept Jesus the Anointed One as my Lord and Savior.” Too often, the sinner’s prayer leads the convert to believe that by merely praying such a prayer, salvation is automatically granted them. Being sorry for one’s sins is not enough. The new believer must never walk away from the altar, thinking, “I just got saved!” It’s too easy then to lose it, to fall short, or to backslide. Rather, to walk away from the altar believing “Jesus the Anointed One just saved me,” and it’s impossible for Him to fail or fall short, thereby annulling their salvation.
The Apostle Paul knew from his own experience that if the Israelites really knew that the Mosaic Law was incapable of saving them unless it was kept to perfection, their souls would cry out for a permanent redemption from sin. Consequently, they might see things differently when the true Messiah came. But by thinking they were given the sacrifices and ceremonies in order to make them holy by going through the motions, they missed the whole purpose of the Mosaic Law in preparing them for the Anointed One. Paul’s message in Galatia brought believers freedom through the Anointed One, but now these Judaizers wanted to take them back to the old way of doing things. No wonder Paul felt so demoralized by these unfaithful people.
There used to be what was called a “foxhole confession.” Soldiers in battle would pray, “Oh God, save my soul, and if You get me out of this, when I get back home, I’ll serve you the rest of my life.” If God did save them, it wasn’t because of their vow, but because of His vow that whosoever calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved. He stands ready to keep His promise; all they needed to do was believe that He wouldn’t fail and put their complete faith in Him.
Believers must realize that church rituals and regulations are only there to guide, not to save. To depend on them for salvation is to throw away the suffering and death, Jesus went through on their behalf. If we decide to throw anything away, let it be our dependence on religious rituals and regulations designed to govern our lives, which may end up driving us away from God.
Canadian college professor Dyson Hague M. A. (1857-1936), makes an interesting point, especially for those who do not accept the doctrine of original sin beginning with Adam. He points out that with regard to our redemption, the third chapter of Genesis is the basis of our Doctrine of Salvation. If Adam did not fall, there would be no condemnation of sin, no separation from God, and no need for reconciliation. If there was no need for reconciliation, there was no need for redemption; and if there was no need for redemption, the Incarnation of the Son of God was a farce and the crucifixion a folly. That’s what the Apostle Paul was trying to explain to the Galatians here in verse twenty-one.
Paul links the fall of Adam so closely to the death of the Anointed One, says Hague, that without Adam’s fall, Christian theology would be stripped of its most spectacular feature, the atonement. If God did not create the first man Adam as a living soul who then fell, there’d be no reason for the work of the Second Man Adam, the Lord from heaven to be incarnated into Adam’s likeness so He could lead humanity back to their relationship with God in the Garden of Eden. The rejection of the Genesis story as a myth will force the rejection of the Gospel as a reality. One of the chief cornerstones of the Christian doctrine will be removed if the historical reality of Adam and Eve is abandoned. That’s why the fall of Adam and Eve will forever remain as the starting point of God’s revelation of salvation by grace, and of the need for personal regeneration. In it lies the origin of the entire Gospel preached by the Apostles.
3:22 But the Holy Scriptures say that all men are guilty of sin. Then that which was promised might be given to those who put their trust in the Anointed One. It will be because their faith is in Him.
If there was anything that got the Jews’ attention, it was the Holy Scriptures. In Hebrew, they call it the Tanakh, which is an acronym for the three Hebrew letters of its three components: Torah (Genesis-Deuteronomy), Nevi’im (Prophets), and Ketuvim (Writings). The one portion that Paul selected was from the Psalms (Ketuvim) that says: “…no one alive would be considered righteous.” Obviously, Paul is giving his paraphrase of this verse, as we can see from what he said to the Romans. God knew His purpose for it all.
So, when the Apostle reminds them of what the Tanakh says, it makes them more attentive to what he said, especially when he mentions the Promise. God promised to give the world to Abram and to all his family after him. He did not make this promise because Abraham obeyed the Law. He promised to give the world to Abraham because he put his trust in God. This made him right with God. If those who obey the Law are able to inherit the world, then a person putting their trust in God means nothing. God’s promise to Abraham would then be worth nothing.
But the promise God made was backed up by His infallible reputation. In the Book of Hebrews, we find an explanation of this. When people make a promise, they use a name greater than themselves. They do this to make sure they will do what they promise. In this way, no one argues about it. And, therefore, God made a promise showing Abraham that He would never change His mind. So, He made the promise based on His own reputation. With that in mind, the Apostle Peter was able to declare that we will receive the great things promised to us. They are being kept safe in heaven for us. They are pure and will never pass away. They will never be lost!
 Psalm 143:1-2
 Romans 5:12-13
 Ibid. 5:20
 Ibid. 11:32
 Mark 16:16
 John 3:36
 Ibid. 5:24; 6:40
 Ibid. 11:25:26; 12:46; 20:31
 Acts of the Apostles 16:31; Romans 10:9
 Biblical Illustrator: R. A. Torrey (Ed)., The Fundamentals, Vol. 1, Ch. 14, The Doctrinal Value of the First Chapter of Genesis – By Vicar Dyson Hague M. A., M. A. Church of the Epiphany; Professor of Liturgics, Wycliffe College, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, pp.238-239
 The Ketuvim, (Writings) included the Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, in that order.
 Psalm 143:2
 Romans 3:10-12
 Ibid. 11:32
 Ibid. 4:13-15
 Hebrews 6:16-17
 1 Peter 1:4