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Galatians and the Christ of the Covenants

by randy on May 28th, 2010

As I read through the book of Galatians recently the continuity of the covenants has become more apparent. In fact, in this letter Paul makes the case for covenant theology! Many view the book of Galatians as Paul’s condemnation of the Law given to Moses. But is he condemning the Law (given by God), or is he condemning the improper use of the law as a means of salvation? Clearly it is the later. Paul is condemning an improper use of the law that was even unorthodox for OT Jews in Mosaic times.

Galatians 3:16-17 explains that one successive covenant does not annul the prior. That is, the covenant given to Moses does not annul the promises made to Abraham and his descendants. This confirms the unity of at least the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants. Paul writes to the Galatians as a sort of clarification in this regard. In essence Paul is writing to correct an improper view of the law, to do so he clarifies the unity of the covenants. The promise given under a prior covenant can not be annulled by the succeeding. Paul makes the conclusion that the law given was therefore given not to save, but as a tutor. Paul’s logic to make this case IS the continuity of the covenants and God’s promises. If even a human covenant can not be added or removed from, how much more God’s (Gal 3:15)?!

According to Paul, looking to the law as salvation is another Gospel. If Paul calls this another Gospel, it could never have been preached even in OT times. Paul is not criticizing the orthodox view of the OT because the OT never preached salvation by works. It preached salvation by a future redeemer (Gal 3:21-22). Paul is condemning #1) a false view of the law but also #2) a view that was never biblical even in OT times. On the contrary, dispensationalists view the book of Galatians as a condemnation of the law in general.

Galatians does not condemn the law.  Galatians proves that the OT view of the law was never intended as salvific. The “New Gospel” Paul was accusing the Galatians of embracing was indeed new even in the context of orthodox Judaism. The gospel we are to believe in, is the same gospel preached to Abraham, Moses and David. It is fulfilled in Christ and the promises are ours by faith. Paul applies the promises of the Abrahamic covenant to NT Christians today and includes the gentiles who have been grafted in. This here speaks of unity!

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