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Preacher’s Meeting (September 11, 2017, Wadsworth, Ohio)

Preliminary: this is not a position paper, but a study on what I think is a misguided notion concerning justification and perfect-keeping of the Law of Moses. Problem set Out: Can righteousness be attained through the Law if one perfectly obeyed it (2:21). Quite a number of Bible expositors so declare, but below are just a few referenced. “Since the Jews were unable to obey the Law perfectly, they could not make themselves right with God.”[1] “The law cannot justify us because it is impossible for carnal people to fulfill it, and God demands that it be kept perfectly.”[2] In a discussion on the nature of justification and innocence in the court of law, Barnes writes: “In either case, if the point is made out, he will be just or innocent in the sight of the Law. The Law will have nothing against him, and he will be regarded and treated in the premises as an innocent man; or he has justified himself in regard to the charge brought against him.”[3] (italics added, RT) “The only way in which the Law could justify was through a complete obedience to its provisions.”[4] In a discussion on the Law being added, Bales writes, “It could not within itself justify man, for man did not do all the law said all of the time; therefore man was under the curse (Gal. 3:10-11).[5]

SUMMARY OUTLINE of Galatians per chapter, and as will be seen, it’s an over-simplification. CHAPTER 1. Introductory greeting (1:1-5). That which is contrary to what Paul preached/taught is that which is contrary to God’s express will (1:6-11). That which Paul preached/taught has its origin in God (1:12-24). CHAPTER 2. Paul’s Gospel from God is greater than those who live in Jerusalem (2:1-10). The Gospel Paul preached is partial to no one, accepting of all (2:11-21). CHAPTER 3. The Gospel message (seed) antedates the Law of Moses (3:1-9). The law, by its very nature, is unbending and can only condemn or show that one is not condemned (3:10-14). The Law of Moses is not contrary to Paul’s Gospel message (in its blossomed form; Eph. 3:1-7), but is the completion of the very thing the Law of Moses was designed to accomplished (3:15-29). CHAPTER 4. Paul illustrates, twice, to make his point about immaturity/maturity (4:1-7) and a figurative/allegorical understanding of two physical locations (4:21-31). The connection between the two illustrations is made in 4:7 and 4:31. In between these two points is Paul’s concern about those who would try to enslave them (4:8-20). CHAPTER 5. Paul’s perplexity concerning the saints in Galatia is continued (5:1-7). Paul expresses sternness toward those who influenced them into this confused way of thinking, calling upon them to walk in love (5:8-15). Paul contrasts two kinds of walks: those who walk according to the flesh and those who walk according to the Spirit’s teachings (5:16-26). CHAPTER 6. Paul continues with his contrast (6:1-10), then giving some final exhortations to bring his epistle/letter to a close (6:11-18).

THRUST OF THIS STUDY.  Paul’s thought in summary through 3:9. Paul contrasts two systems; the reception of the Holy Spirit either by 1) works of the Law or, 2) the hearing of faith. This hearing of faith pertains to the message preached (1:8; 3:1). The “hearing of faith” is the “gospel” that goes as far back as Abraham (3:8).

Some Remarks on Galatians 2:16. The remarks made here are in relation to Law/faith. Is it one’s personal faith the Holy Spirit is speaking about, or does the word faith stand for something else. Translations (emphasis added, RT). “But knowing that man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, we also believe in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by the faith of Christ and not by the works of the law: because by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified” (1899 Douay-Rheims Bible). “…knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; because no flesh shall be justified by the works of the law” (English Majority Text Version). “Yet we know that a person is put right with God only through faith in Jesus Christ, never by doing what the Law requires. We, too, have believed in Christ Jesus in order to be put right with God through our faith in Christ, and not by doing what the Law requires. For no one is put right with God by doing what the Law requires” (Good News Bible). “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified” (KJV). “…yet we know that no one is justified by the works of the law but by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by the faithfulness of Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified” (New English Translation).

I am in no position to speak on Greek grammar as it relates to this verse. By context, however, I have a few thoughts. Paul speak of the system of justification (2:7, 14). This system goes back to his earlier remarks in C-1, there Paul states some are trying to assert a different gospel when there is no other gospel (system of justification) than that which he taught and teaches (1:6-9, 24). Prior to 2:16, Paul speaks only of the system of justification, not one’s personal faith. It is in 2:16, that one reads of both the system of justification and one’s personal response/faith.[6] An AMPLIFIED rendering of my own: yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law [the system of the Law of Moses] but through [anarthrous] faith in Jesus Christ [the system of justification revealed in Jesus], so we also have believed in Christ Jesus [one’s personal response/faith], in order to be justified by faith in Christ [the system of justification revealed in Jesus] and not by works of the law [the system of the Law of Moses], because by works of the law no one will be justified.

Does the “but through faith in Jesus Christ” refer to a system (the New Covenant) or one’s personal faith?[7]

Brief Remarks on Galatians 3:10-12. Galatians 3:10. For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them” (ESV). The emphasis in this verse is on what a person relies (or relied) on. Does one rely on expending energy to obey commands? If so, because failure to comply is guaranteed, the one who so lives is cursed by God. Galatians 3:11. Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” One cannot be/will not be justified by the Law (Law of Moses).[8] Perhaps 3:11 can be interpreted to mean it is evident because no one could possibly have success at meeting the demands of the Law in complete perfection, thus one has to be justified in some other manner, in this case, by faith. Another possible interpretation (one that I accept): The Law, in and of itself, cannot/does not justify anyone, even one who lived it perfectly. Justification comes by faith. The Law of Moses was not designed by God to accomplish that end. What was designed by God to accomplish that end (justification) is one’s faith. Galatians 3:12. But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” The Holy Spirit makes clear as to why one could not/would not be justified by the Law. However, according to the Holy Spirit, one who lived under the authority of the Law, though the Law was not of faith, could/would live by the Law. This means the one who lived under the authority of the Law would be justified, saved, redeemed (in view of the Cross of Jesus) by God as those who live under the New Covenant today. Their reliance was not on the Law, but on God. Another option is that one is to live by all of it and without ail.[9] I do not think this is a natural or reasonable understanding of the passage. In my view, for one to read it this way is the result of the interpretive perspective that to be justified by the Law, one must live the Law perfectly.[10] In what way could one live, or be pleasing to God under a Law that was not of faith? Paul give the answer in Romans 2:28-29, which is another way of saying what Moses did in Deuteronomy 10:12-13.

With this before us: What does it mean to live the law (Law of Moses) perfectly? Does this mean that all things in the Law are obeyed, including the sin offering? If so, then the one who offers is guilty of sin, and the Law could not “justify” (or move one from) an imperfect status (guilty of sin) to perfection.  Does this mean all the exhortations in the Law are obeyed precisely (without any deviation), without regard to the proper motivation?[11] Does it mean one will do as #2 above, but in the spirit in which it was written? Does this mean something else?

Gal. 3:10, plainly states one is cursed when one does not abide by all things written in the Law of Moses to do them. Thus, if one does all the things written in the Law – what then? As set out at the beginning of this outline, some think it results in one’s justification because the Law was obeyed perfectly, that is, there was no violation of the written code. Since there is (was) no curse or condemnation, but the one who did all things in the Law is innocent, then it must be that justification results. I think this is misguided. If one fails in one point to meet the Law’s demands, that same person who failed is guilty of the entirety of the Law (James 2:8-11). It is my contention the one who received no curse because he/she met the Law’s obligations in all respects and perfectly (assuming it could have been done by ordinary man) is still not in a justified position before God because he/she did what was supposed to be done[12] (cf. Luke 17:7-10).[13] Justification is a matter of God’s declaration, not a matter of meeting the Law’s obligations in total, complete sinlessness. Under the authority of the Law of Moses, the Law could not justify anyone (3:11, 21; Acts 13:39). Justification is God’s declaration because “one is justified by faith” (Hab. 2:4). This is NOT the same thing as “justification by faith alone.”[14] The curse of the Law was to point out the guilty verdict of all who lived under its parameters (or authority) when one failed to meet the God-ordained obligations. It had direct application to those to whom it was given. The curse of the Law was not in failing to live it perfectly.[15] The curse of the Law was in showing those who lived under its authority were guilty of sin. This emphasis is important. This distinction places the emphasis in the right location (if you will). There is nothing in the Old Testament (if I recall correctly) that speaks of one obligated to live it perfectly to be justified. There was an obligation given to walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8; cf. Gen. 17:1; 18:19; Deut. 10:12-13). Connecting this with the teaching of Paul in Romans 7:22-8:1, the thought becomes clearer (in my mind anyway).

The application (or approach) of many Israelites was to make use of the Law as the standard of righteousness in and of itself. For instance, the Rabbis looked (and look) upon Torah study as the ultimate end of spiritual knowledge and attainment, rather than end of one thing and the beginning of something else (as in Jeremiah 31). There are 13 principles of faith that are incumbent on every Jew, and 2 of them (#’s 8, 9) refer to the Torah. “I believe with complete faith that the entire Torah now in our hands is the same one that was given to Moses…I believe with complete faith that this Torah will not be exchanged, nor with there be another Torah from the Creator…”[16] In a discussion of the greatness of Jacob, the Chumash (anthology of rabbinic commentators) speaks of Jacob spending fourteen years of his life in study of the Torah at the academy of Shem and Eber to become a scholar.[17] In introductory remarks, one reads these words: “…Man’s highest privilege and loftiest attainment is in the study of the Torah itself – the light – whereby mortal man unites with the thought and the wisdom of God Himself.”[18]

Paul wrote to the church in Rome, What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written, ‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.’ Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.” (Romans 9:30-10:3, ESV)

The purpose of the Law was more than just to identify sin for what it was, how those who lived under its authority were guilty if one failed to meet God’s obligations (2:15-17; Romans 3:20), it was also to point one to the coming Messiah (Galatians 3:24-27).

If one did not fail in one point of the law, all that could be said about the one who did not fail is that the Law of Moses did not condemn/curse. Does that mean the one not condemned is justified by God? At the very least (or, perhaps, at the very most), one can speak of innocence, but the Law (Law of Moses) which did not condemn/curse could only show/manifest innocence of any violation of the Law’s obligatory exhortations. That innocence did not result in declared justification. In this light, it is my contention there is a gap (if you will) between innocence and justification.

Justification comes from God’s declaration, not anything associated with innocence in relation to wrong-doing and the Law because the Law could not declare on righteous/justified; all it could do is “say” not guilty. I think Paul bears this out in 3:10-24. No one is justified before God by the Law (3:11), The Law is not of faith (3:12), God’s promise to Abraham does not come through the Law (3:14, 18), The Law cannot annul God’s method of justification to Abraham (3:17), The Law was a temporary arrangement (3:19, 23), The Law could not give life/righteousness (3:21), The Law could only imprison (3:22-23, 10), The Law’s temporary arrangement was to teach (3:24).

Objections considered. OBJECTION: What about a “pre-accountable” person (such as an 8-year old) who died under the authority of the Law, but was not guilty of violating the Law’s obligations? Considering Jonah 4:11, those of their “pre-accountable” years do not have a lost relationship with the Lord because knowledge of right/wrong is lacking, thus they are innocent. Innocent, but not declared justified, as in “just as if I had never sinned” type circumstance.[19] OBJECTION: Why talk about something that is only theoretical? This objection was offered, not because it may prove to be an unfruitful study, but because it is only theoretical, not practical or actual. Fair enough, but I suggest the reason for this study is because of the remarks made in the opening of the paper – that one would be or could be justified by the Law if one lived it perfectly. OBJECTION: Philippians 3:9. Paul wrote of righteousness that comes through the Law.[20] And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith” (KJV). Based on Paul’s own words in Galatians 3:11, Paul was not contradicting what he earlier wrote to those of Galatia. How should it be understood? In relation to Romans 10:3, it is my view that Paul spoke of attaining righteousness from the perspective of those who seek to establish their own. Some, however, have interpreted it to be in relation to Jesus. “Here we infer (from the general line of Pauline teaching) that the primary thought is that of an acceptance for Christ’s sake, as against acceptance for any personal merits of the man.”[21] Perhaps, one might understand the verse in relation to Galatians 3:12 and, if so, then Paul is speaking in connection to Galatians 3:24-27. OBJECTION: Jesus was not guilty of the Law, thus He lived the Law perfectly. He was not imprisoned by the Law because He was innocent of failing to meet its demands. In His innocence, was He justified by the Law? No, justification can’t come via the Law and, justification is a matter of God’s declaration. As Charles Hill expressed it (in comments I have not included in this document), Jesus was extraordinary; He was man, but also unlike ordinary man.[22]

In an Old Testament context living under the authority of the Law meant what? It meant that perfect-keeping-of-the-Law was not the standard of measurement, but faithful loyalty to God was. Much of the Old Law pertained to what could not be done, what was prohibited. If/when a violation occurred, then the Law set out prescriptive commands for reconciliation. That reconciliation prescription, however, was only temporary and seen via the cross of Jesus (cf. Hebrews 10:4). Compare this with the spirit of the New Covenant as in 1 John 2:1, My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”

In a New Testament context this means what? James 1:25; Galatians 6:2. “But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing” (1:25). “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (6:2). With these passages, it is clear the New Testament is understood as God’s Law. Thus, the concept of Law is not, and never has been a problem. The problem is, and always has been man’s understanding and application of Law. Under the New Law, it pertains to what must be done. There are prohibitions, but the thrust of the New Covenant pertains to how one is to live (cf. Galatians 5:22-23; 1 Timothy 1:6-11). One’s personal salvation: it pertains to what one should, needs to do. The Lord’s Supper: a participation in what should be done. Assembly: it pertains to what one should do, needs to do. Godly living: it pertains to how one should live (1 Peter 1:13-16). Matters pertaining to such things as the “structure” of the New Testament church must do what needs to be done (cf. 1 Peter 5:1-6). These two passages speak of a Law, the Law of Liberty and the Law of Christ. Under the conditions of the Law as set forth by the Father/Son/Holy Spirit, those applying Hebrews 11:6, 1, with Romans 10:17, 2 Corinthians 5:7 and Acts 2:37-38 (for instance) are declared justified, righteous, saved.

Concluding thoughts of the “thrust of my study.” The Law of Moses was designed by God to identify sin for what it is, show man (the Israelite male/female) he is guilty of it and to instruct each toward the New Covenant prepared by God (Jeremiah 31:31-355, John 6:44-45). The Law of Moses never demanded of its subjects a perfect keeping of its precepts/commands or, to say it is another way, it never demanded a person (male/female) to a never-have-failed-to-live-up-to-its-demands way of life. If one was not guilty of failing to meet the Law’s demands, then that one was innocent of any wrong done, but not justified before God. Justification comes (came to Abraham) because God looks upon the heart of faith and “counted it to him [Abraham] as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). Application in a New Testament context (like the point above). Because God set forth His stipulations, as in Acts 2:38; 16:31, etc., justification comes because of the Cross of Jesus.

LAW in Galatians. Paul does not make use of the word in Chapter 1, though he does give some introductory thoughts to his heritage, and the role the Law of Moses played in that. In Chapter 2, Paul begins to bring the concept of law (Law of Moses) into view. He introduced circumcision into the discussion (2:3), but circumcision predates the Law of Moses (Genesis 17). Through verse 14, “circumcision” is the primary word used to stand in the place of Paul’s discussion relative to the Law of Moses. Peter’s apostolic commission to the circumcised (2:7-9). Paul’s apostolic commission to the uncircumcised (2:7-9). The hypocrisy of Peter in application of fellowship/association with Gentiles (2:11-14). It is in 2:15-21, that Paul brings the Law of Moses into focus as it relates to and contrasts with the Gospel of Christ. One is not justified by the “works of the Law” (2:16). “Works of the law” (2:16) must be understood (contextually) to refer to the Law of Moses; “…it is plain that the Mosaic Law is in view.”[23] “Law is unbending, it yields nothing to weakness, its standard is never lowered, not even by a hairbreadth; law makes no compromise, and finds no room for mercy; ‘a man that hath set at nought Moses’ law dieth without compassion,’ Hebrews 10:28”.[24] Through the Law, Jews are made sinners (2:17).[25] Through the Law as a Jew, one dies spiritually (2:19). Through the Law one cannot attain righteousness (2:21).

In Chapter 3, Paul sternly (or plainly) speaks to those of Galatia concerning their waffling on the matter of justification by faith in contrast to justification by the works of the Law. The Spirit (Holy Spirit) did not come via the “works of the law,” but by the hearing of faith (3:2). Perfection (spiritual maturity) did not come via (or by) the flesh, or the works of the Law (3:3, 5). Abraham was justified by God based on his faith (trust), not the works of the Law (3:6-9). Those who rely (ESV) on the Law are under a curse (3:10). The Law (Law of Moses) brought death (cf. 3:10).[26] Righteousness was not attainable through the Law of Moses (cf. 3:11, 21). The Law will not make one justified before God (3:11). Though the Law is not of faith, those who lived under it could be pleasing to the Lord (3:12). Jesus redeemed those who have faith, those who trust in the Lord, from the curse of the Law (3:13). The life of Abraham is the illustration of salvation/righteousness/justification, not Moses and the Law (3:14-18).[27] The Law was added because of transgression (3:19). The Law is not contrary to the promises of God (3:21). Life/righteousness could not be attained by the Law (3:22). The Law imprisoned, held captive (3:23). The Law was a guardian, a teacher, instructor (3:24). The Law of Moses was a guardian, teacher, instructor to bring one to Christ. It was to point one who lived under its authority to Christ, instructing them in the true way of righteousness/justification (cf. John 6:44-45).[28] The guardian (the Law of Moses) is no longer in place (3:25).

In chapter 4, Paul points out the distinguishing difference between two approaches, relating to the role of the Law. When the guardian (Law of Moses) was in control, God’s promise to Abraham was still in the future. It was while the guardian was in place, teaching those who lived under its parameters, that God’s promise came into the world (4:4).[29] The “elementary principles of the word” (ESV) pertains to the material realm, exactly that which the Law of Moses addressed. Paul made use of a historical lesson and turned it into an allegory to make a greater point (4:21-31). Two women and two children. From one woman, a child was born after the manner of human wisdom (Genesis 16). Those born after the manner that pertains to the flesh are in bondage. From the other woman, a child was born after the manner of God’s promise (Genesis 17, 21:1-7). Those born after the manner that pertains to God’s promise are made free from bondage.

In chapter 5, the word “circumcision” (5:2-3) stands for the whole of the Law of Moses. One who receives circumcision, attempting to be justified by the Law is severed from Christ (5:4), that is fallen from grace. The whole Law is filled when one loves neighbor as self (5:14). The Law is implicitly related to the subjugation of the desires of the flesh (5:16-18). In chapter 6, Paul brings the Holy Spirit’s thoughts pertaining to the Law to a close by exhorting the brethren to fulfill the Law of Christ. Those who want the brethren in Galatia to be circumcised, i. e., to obey the whole law, they themselves are hypocrites (6:12).


  1. Bibles: New Living Translation (NLT), English Standard Version (ESV), New English Translation (NET), King James Version (KJV), Good News Bible (GNB), 1899 Douay-Rheims Bible, English Majority Text Version
  2. James Bales, The Scope of the Covenants, James D. Bales, Searcy Arkansas, 1982
  3. Albert Barnes: Barnes Notes on New Testament: Galatians; E-Sword.
  4. Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges: Philippians; E-Sword
  5. Chumash: Torah; Stone Edition: Haftaros and Five Megillos with a Commentary Anthologized from Rabbinic Writings; Artscroll Series, 2000
  6. James B. Coffman: Commentary on Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians; Firm Foundation, 1977
  7. Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers: Galatians; E-Sword
  8. William Hendriksen: New Testament Commentary: John; Baker Book House, 1979
  9. William Hendriksen: New Testament Commentary: Galatians; Baker Book House, 1979
  10. Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: Jonah (vol. 10; Minor Prophets); Hendrickson, p. 280
  11. John MacArthur: The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Galatians; Moody Bible Institute, 1987
  12. Jack McKinney: Truth for Today Commentary: Galatians; Resource Publications, 2017
  13. Douglas Moo: Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: Galatians; Baker Academic, 2013
  14. Leon Morris: Galatians: Paul’s Charter of Christian Freedom; Intervarsity Press, 1996
  15. NET study notes. NET Bible, Second Beta Edition. http://www.netbible.com, 1996-2003
  16. Pulpit Commentary; E-Sword
  17. The Latter Prophets: Isaiah; with a Commentary Anthologized from Rabbinic Writings, Milstein Edition; Artscroll Series, 2013
  18. Gareth Reese: New Testament Epistles: 2 Corinthians, Galatians; Scripture Exposition Books, 2011
  19. Reformation Commentary on Scripture: Galatians, Ephesians; IVP Academic, 2011
  20. Herman Ridderbos: New International Commentary New Testament: Galatians; Eerdmans, 1974
  21. Robert Stein: The New American Commentary: Luke; Broadman Press, 1992
  22. E. Vine (with C. F. Hogg): Vine’s Expository Commentary on Galatians; Thomas Nelson, 1997
  23. Mike Willis; Truth Commentaries: Galatians; Guardian of Truth Foundation, 1994


[1] Jack McKinney on Galatians 2:16. Commentary on Galatians, p. 103.

[2] Erasmus Sarcerius on Galatians 2:16. Reformation Commentary on Scripture: Galatians, p. 72

[3] Albert Barnes on Galatians 2:16 (E-Sword).

[4] Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers on Galatians 2:16 (E-Sword)

[5] James D. Bales, The Scope of the Covenants, p. 16

[6] A counter to this understanding of mine may be stated this way: Paul may be talking about the system of justification, but it’s not the system he emphasizes, but the personal response to each. In other words, the response some had to the Old Law was with an emphasis on deeds done, whereas Paul is emphasizing trust/faith in the One who brought the Gospel. As can be seen in the outline. I argue the emphasis is on the contrast to the systems of justification.

[7] In a translator note from the margin of the NET: “tn Or ‘faith in Jesus Christ.’ A decision is difficult here. Though traditionally translated ‘faith in Jesus Christ,’ an increasing number of NT scholars are arguing that πίστις Χριστοῦ (pisti Christou) and similar phrases in Paul (here and in 2:20; Rom. 3:22, 26; Gal. 3:22; Eph. 3:12; Phi. 3:9) involve a subjective genitive and mean ‘Christ’s faith’ or ‘Christ’s faithfulness’ (cf., e.g., G. Howard, “The ‘Faith of Christ’,” ExpTim 85 [1974]: 212-15; R. B. Hays, The Faith of Jesus Christ [SBLDS]; Morna D. Hooker, “Πίστις Χριστοῦ,” NTS 35 [1989]: 321-42). Noteworthy among the arguments for the subjective genitive view is that when πίστις takes a personal genitive it is almost never an objective genitive (cf. Matt. 9:2, 22, 29; Mark 2:5; 5:34; 10:52; Luke 5:20; 7:50; 8:25, 48; 17:19; 18:42; 22:32; Rom. 1:8, 12; 3:3; 4:5, 12, 16; 1Cor. 2:5; 15:14, 17; 2 Cor. 10:15; Phil. 2:17; Col. 1:4; 2:5; 1 Thess. 1:8; 3:2, 5, 10; 2 Thess. 1:3; Tit. 1:1; Phm. 1:6; 1 Pet. 1:9, 21; 2 Pet. 1:5). On the other hand, the objective genitive view has its adherents: A. Hultgren, “The Pistis Christou Formulations in Paul,” NovT 22 (1980): 248-63; J. D. G. Dunn, “Once More, ΠΙΣΤΙΣ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΥ,” SBL Seminar Papers, 1991, 730-44. Most commentaries on Romans and Galatians usually side with the objective view” (NET study notes, p. 2131).

[8] Gareth Reese offers a studied opinion the phrase “works of the law” does not pertain to the Law of Moses, as revealed by God, but to “man-made halakhic rulings or interpretations.” He writes, “When Paul writes in Romans and Galatians that “works of law” are not a condition of salvation, we can now understand that he is talking about ‘halakhic rulings’ like those typified by the 20 or so examples in MMT” [the first letters of the Hebrew word assigned to a manuscript in the DSS collection] (pp. 83-84). I find this to be interesting, but not convincing. Reese is convinced the term “works of law” is misunderstood and misapplied by the reformers through the centuries (in this, there is much agreement), but it seems to me that Paul makes himself clear in the context of both Romans and Galatians concerning what he means, that is, the Law of Moses.

[9] John MacArthur writes, “God’s written law itself marks the danger of trying to live up to its standard, which is perfection. If you are relying on the works of the law as your means of salvation, then you have to live by them perfectly” (p. 77). This is a misreading of Galatians 3:12, in my view.

[10] Coffman is mistaken when he writes, “The Law did not even require faith, as seen in the quotation Paul gave here from Lev. 18:5, the meaning of which may be paraphrased, ‘No matter about faith; do the Law and live.’” One could not be pleasing to God without it (faith), even in the context of Leviticus 18:5. Moreover, the Law (Torah) does not need to be understood relative to “do this” and “don’t do this” commands, at the expense of devotional commitment to God (cf. Genesis 18:19).

[11] Ridderbos comments on Galatians 3:10-12 that all who seek justification “out of the works of the law” lie under the curse. He supports this by saying, “…Paul cites Deut. 27:26. In that…all those who do not fulfill the demands of the law in all respects are placed under the curse” (Galatians, pp. 122-123). Looking at Deuteronomy 27:26, the word “all” is in the NKJV (in italics), but not in the JPS, ESV, ASV, Young’s Literal, NIV. Paul, however, does include the word “all” in Galatians 3:10, thus it must be implied (if not explicitly stated) in the context of Deuteronomy 27. The Holy Spirit’s point in Deuteronomy 27 is rebellion, not failure in one point (though failure in one point can be rebellion).

[12] In 3:21, there was not a law given that could give life, that is, give life in terms of justification.

[13] Robert Stein writes, “Believers are unworthy in the sense that at their very best all they have done is what they should have done, i. e., what the commandments teach. They have not done more than that. On the contrary, usually they have done much less. Compare Abot 2:8: ‘If you have learned much Torah, do not puff yourself up on that account, for it was for that purpose that you were created’’ (NAC: Luke, pp. 430-431).

[14] Compare the pitiful remark (in my view) by John MacArthur on 2:16. “All claims that salvation is through belief in Jesus Christ plus something else are blasphemous, satanic lies. The passage is as forceful and unequivocal a statement of the doctrine by faith alone as can be found in Scripture. First Paul establishes it on the basis of his apostolic authority. Second, he establishes it on the basis of his own experience. And third, he establishes it on the basis of God’s Word in the Old Testament” (p. 57). This is not only misguided, but plainly false. “Paul! You should have corrected Ananias when he said to you, ‘And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name’ (Acts 22:16) because he clearly taught belief in Jesus plus something else. Paul, you should be ashamed!”

[15] “Those who did not perfectly obey the Law…came under the curse of the Law” (Willis, p. 185). Obviously, something that could not be done by ordinary man. My perspective on this agrees in part with such sentiments as that which Willis wrote, but not because one did not obey it perfectly. Compare this with what the Holy Spirit wrote in Hebrews 7:19, “the law made nothing perfect” (ESV). The Law of Moses could not make perfect because it dealt with fleshly concerns (9:10; 10:1; 11:40), whereas “perfection” attained is more than just the deeds, works, or actions of man.

[16] Chumash: Introduction: Divine and Immutable, p. xix

[17] “Before going to Haran, Jacob spent fourteen years at the academy of Shem and Eber, a fact the Sages deduce from the chronology of the period. Surely, as great a man as Jacob did not need more years of study to become a scholar.” Later, in the same source, it speaks of him studying the Torah and “it was his own efforts that earned him the prophecy” (Chumash, p. 144).

[18] Chumash, “Torah Study: An Overview” p. xxiv.

[19] Some expositors speak of those 120,000 as infants (Barnes, Calvin, Ellicott), but in a translator’s note of the NET, the number refers to small children, but without regard to age. In the Pulpit Commentary, they are identified as children of “tender years.” Keil and Delitzsch writes, “This is not to be restricted, however, to the very earliest years, say the first three, but must be extended to the age of seven years, in which children first learn to distinguish with certainty between right and left, since, according to M. v. Niebuhr (p. 278), ‘the end of the seventh year is a very common division of age (it is met with, for example, even among the Persians), and we may regard it as certain that it would be adopted by the Hebrews, on account of the importance they attached to the number seven’” (E-Sword).

[20] “From the special Mosaic code he rises to the larger fact of the whole Divine preceptive code, taken as a covenant of ‘righteousness,’ of acceptance: ‘Do this, perfectly, and live; do this, and claim your acceptance’” (Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges: Philippians; E-Sword). I am of the strong persuasion Paul did not have this in mind, because if he did, I am equally persuaded Paul would have said something along this line in other writings of his – but he did not. This is a theology of man.

[21] Ibid.

[22] “Jesus never obeyed the Law vicariously; he obeyed the Law to qualify himself as a perfect sacrifice for the sins of man” (Mike Willis, Galatians, p. 184). I take this to mean that He did not obey simply as a substitute, but He obeyed to qualify as in Hebrews 5:8-9. Though He was tempted in all respects like a man (though without sin), as a man He was never “out-of-fellowship” with the Father, thus, not in need of justification.

[23] W. E. Vine: Galatians, p. 58.

[24] W. E. Vine. Pp. 83-84.

[25] Some difference of opinion as to how best to understand this verse. Douglas Moo has a good discussion on it. The NLT of the Bible gives the opposite view of the perspective Moo adopted, a view I think better reflects what Paul is talking about. Perhaps an accusation was being flung at the Jewish-Christians about how one becomes a sinner when the Law of Moses is abandoned. Paul rejects this and says one becomes a sinner, in truth, when what has been torn down (Ephesians 2:14-15; Colossians 2:15) is rebuilt all-over-again. The NLT gives an alternate view: “But suppose we seek to be made right with God through faith in Christ and then we are found guilty because we have abandoned the law. Would that mean Christ has led us into sin? Absolutely not!” The difference between the two positions is 1) an accusation laid at Paul’s feet, 2) an approach with a consequence.

[26] An important point is worthy of distinction. Though many speak of the concept of law in general, when such discussions are considered, it is my belief the point made like this are not comparable. In other words, some will speak of “law” as being applicable to “any law.” The concept of law as given by God to man is not comparable to any law of man given to others wherein sin can be identified.

[27] “Indeed, Rambam writes that the Messianic king, the scion of David, will possess more wisdom than Solomon and will be a prophet almost as great as our teacher Moses (Hilchos Teshuvah 9:2)” (The Later Prophets: The Milstein Edition, p. 97)

[28] Contrary to William Hendriksen, John 6:45 does indeed weaken the Calvinistic interpretation of John 6:44. “It is not true that 6:45 cancels or at least weakens 6:44. The expression It is written in the prophets, And they shall all be taught of God, does not in any sense whatever place in the hands of men the power to accept Jesus as Lord” (New Testament Commentary: John, p. 239, emphasis his).

[29] Strangely, the Chumash includes the words of Rabbi Zohar Chadash, who said “…that Abraham took him [Lot] because he foresaw that David and the Messiah would descend from Lot…” (p. 55; commenting on Genesis 12:4). Looking at Genesis 49:10, however, the Chumash clearly has the Messiah coming through the line of Judah (p. 279).