Online Bible Commentary
The Blessing of Abraham
Galatians 3:10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them." 11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for "the just shall live by faith." 12 Yet the law is not of faith, but "the man who does them shall live by them." 13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree"), 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (NKJV)
The Apostle Paul is writing to believers in southern Galatia likely from his home city of Antioch, Syria in 49 A.D, prior to attending the Jerusalem Council meeting which occurred that same year. Paul has just completed his first missionary journey in which he and Barnabas planted churches in southern Galatia at Antioch in Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe. This letter is the first of Paul’s letters.
The churches in Galatia, influenced by Judaizers, have already turned from Paul’s Gospel to a false gospel of a mix of works and grace instead of grace alone. Judaizers claimed that Christians must also follow the Old Testament law, including circumcision. So Paul is writing to the Galatian believers to direct them back to the true Gospel of salvation by grace and not a combination of grace and works.
In this passage Paul writes that those who believe that salvation can be attained through good works, obeying the law, are cursed (v. 10). The law, the first five books of the Old Testament that were written by Moses, contains more than 600 commandments. If just one of these commandments is broken the law breaker has sinned and would be under a curse from God (v. 10b). It is impossible for anyone to live without breaking at least one of these commandments. So Paul writes “no one is justified by the law in the sight of God” (v. 11a).
Paul reinforces this statement by quoting Habakkuk 2:4 "the just shall live by faith" (v. 11b). The literal Greek reads “the just one by faith will live.” The person who is justified to live in Heaven in the eyes of God is the one who lives by faith in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, and not by trying to do good works, as expressed in the law.
Paul continues this point when he writes “the law is not of faith”, meaning the person who puts himself under the law does not live by faith (in Jesus Christ) (v. 12a). He then quotes Leviticus 18:5 "the man who does them shall live by them", suggesting a theoretical ideal that can not be attained (v. 12b). In other words if you choose to live by the law you will go down with the law.
Since we all have broken at least one of the over 600 commandments we are all cursed. But “Christ has redeemed us from the curse” by taking our curse upon Himself while on the cross (v. 13).
Christ did this so that “the blessing of Abraham might come upon (not just the Jews but also the non Jews), the Gentiles, (who believe) in Christ Jesus” (v. 14a). This “blessing of Abraham” is identified in Genesis 22:18; “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.” The Seed is Jesus Christ, a descendant of Abraham (Mt. 1:1). This blessing is salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Salvation includes “the promise of the (Holy) Spirit” (v. 14b), which is given to all who receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior when they become a Christian. The Holy Spirit helps us to live the Christian life here on earth.
The blessing of Abraham, salvation by grace through faith, is available to all who receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. We do not get to Heaven by being a good person. We get to Heaven because of our faith in Jesus Christ.