Law’s Reign has Ended

Galatians 3:15-29

Jerry A Collins



v     Was faith operative after the law came?

v     Does faith take priority over the law?

v     Are we better off under law or believing promise?


We lived on a canal where I grew up in East Rockwood. Living on the water we enjoyed boating, dip-netting, ice skating and hockey and fishing. On those hot summer afternoon we would stand along the edge of the canal and watch garpike slither near in bunches. Slender fish with 3-4 inch long snouts were hard to catch on fishing poles so we would use rakes—the hard end kind to slash into the water and spear them. We would often come up with three of four of them wiggling on its end. I would often with the branch of a tree, kite string as my fishing line with a safety pin on the end for a hook. I remember jerking and pulling on that pole and out of the water I lifted a snapping turtle. Just out of the water my kite string broke and it fell in and swam away. Now these incidents were attempts of mine to use something to accomplish something it was never designed to accomplish. Just like these OT judaizing law-keeping traditionalist hypocrites who were trying to make something out of the Law of Moses it was never designed to accomplish. Namely, that a person can become righteous before God and also have special status with God if he honors that law in his life. This error is exposed in the following.


Newer is not always better. Some argued that since the law came later it has priority. To refute this we have three arguments:

(1) Picture of a contract 15 Here is an example from human relations to illustrate this. When a contract is properly executed it cannot arbitrarily be set aside or changed. When it is notarized and witnessed it is binding. The promise was a permanent contract Gen 15.

(2) Still unfulfilled when law came 16 Promises were given to Abraham in Gen 12 and confirmed again in Gen 15 and ratified again in Gen 22. But those promises came to him and his seed—not Eliezer of Damascus as Abe suggested to God in Gen 15 nor to Ishmael whom Abe sought to have God accept as the heir in Gen 17. But only through Isaac viewed as his only seed in Gen 22 then through Jacob not Esau then thru tribe of Judah then David 2 Sam 7:12-13. Abes seed thru whom the blessing came would always be singular all the way to Christ the ultimate seed according to vs 16. Abes seed to whom the blessings were to be given would always be plural. That would not happen until Christ (Mt 1:1) and it had not happened when the law was given. It was still future.

(3) Faith continues after law 17-18 Here is the summary. The final confirmation of this contract came to Jacob in Gen 46:1-4. 430 years later was the beginning of the age of Law with Moses. During this interval the patriarchs were blessed by God on basis of faith and the coming of the law could not change that. The promise was not invalidated nor was it nullified by the law. The age of promise gave way to the age of law but the promise was still in effect. Vs 18 is another of those BUT GOD phrases! The inheritance given by God when Abe believed was an unconditional gift based of his faith. That is the basis upon which Abe received it so law being of a fundamentally different nature could not alter or change this. Their arrogance was foolish—Abes descendents which the judaizers were by nature did not secure the blessing of Abe because of a supposed privileged status under the law. That security can only come by Abes faith.


So far we have learned that Law could not give the HS 1-5, not bring justification 6-9, not alter permanence of faith 15-18 but brings curse 10-12. So why was there a change made at Mt Sanai?

(1) Transgressions 19 First it makes sin obvious and tangible. So we can see it for what it is. Quit thinking we are better than we really are. To recognize what we are really like because we need a lot of convincing! This law was administered by angels from God to Moses then conveyed by Moses to the people. Second, the law was temporary—until the seed should come. That promise was fulfilled when Christ came hundreds of years after law was given.

(2) Mediator 20 Mention of mediator vs 19 reminds us that even splendor of angels and Moses as intermidiaries suggests more than one party involved. This contract was between God and men and so was destined to failure even with such splendid participants. Men are sinners and the law would expose it so its role is temporary. But God is one so His promise required no mediator as keeping of the promise was only dependent upon His faithfulness and power alone. The promise was a guarantee. (3) No conflict 21-22 In case you were wondering there is no conflict between the law and promises of God. God gave both for different purposes. Laws purpose was not to impart life—only if you could have kept all of it theoretically 21. The law did reveal our need for a Savior by declaring the whole world vs 22 a prisoner of sin. All men are under sin—locked up in a prison of sin, trapped by it’s grip. When we recognize this then we can claim the promise of forgiveness by faith in Christ alone 22. Our salvation is based upon the only reliable and worthy object of such faith—Jesus Christ—not my works but His! The gospel is bad news—I am a sinner and good news—Jesus died for my sin and rose again from the dead!


Jews 23-25 The Jew was once kept in custody under the Law 23. But now they are no longer under that tutor vs 25. It had performed its function prior to coming of Christ—that which was later revealed 23—that we mite be justified by faith 24. The Law had revealed their need for faith leading them to Christ. So this law is no longer binding upon them. Don’t turn back the clock to live under its restrictions again. Legalism is lethal. Trying to gain God’s favor by our works places us under the Law and its curse of never measuring up. The cure for the curse is the cross. Initially for our salvation but also for our sanctification—our xian living!

Gentiles 26-28  From ‘we’ to ‘you’. All believers including jewish ones. 3 changes now seen under promise:

(1) Sons of God 26-27 Under law those supervised by it regarded as children 24. Now, however, vs 26 seen as adult children thru faith in Christ. This maturity includes a vital union with Christ today by being baptized into Christ and clothed by His righteousness 27. Spiritual baptism—RIBS at salvation Gal 3:14 symbolized by water baptism. Not circumcision but baptism signaling a change from living under one contract to another.

(2) All are one in Christ 28 We now all have the same privileges the same access to God. Distinctions based upon ethnic origin, gender, cultural, social, economic have no bearing on one’s standing before God. We all clothed in same righteousness. There are still distinctions in our roles & responsibilities, giftedness & service.

(3) Abes seed 29  Christ is the seed of Abe and faith in Christ makes us an heir by promise too. So we enter into the good things God has for us as heirs by faith placing our confidence only in what Christ did!

(1) Faith is something we must live with this side of the grave. It is God’s plan for us to trust Him. It has always been God’s plan. So don’t demand relief and don’t sinfully find your own way. Trust Him. He has your best interests in mind now!

(2) Legalism is a way today to keep you performing for God by means of manmade rules. No manmade rule keeping ever replaces Christ’s commands nor gives you reward from God.

(3) Unity—our oneness by Christ’s righteousness and diversity—our responsibility to serve and giftedness must both be honored and never compromised.