The Promise: Galatians 3:15-18
“15) Brethren, I speak in terms of human relations: even though it is only a man’s covenant, yet when it has been ratified, no one sets it aside or adds conditions to it. 16) Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ. 17) What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise. 18) For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise.” Galatians‬ ‭3:15-18‬
Sometimes small insights carry huge ramifications. Such are the points Paul makes in these four verses. The promise made to Abraham that in his “seed” all the nations would be blessed was not conditional on the Law for three reasons.
First, it was made to Abraham based on a promise from God and not on any condition of the the Law. This is evident because the promise was made 430 years before the Law was given. The promise was based on the Character of God and not on the goodness of man. God and not man was responsible to keep the promise. The Law did nothing to change God’s Covenant.
Second, the promise made to Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:15 and later to Abraham in Genesis 22:18 of a coming Redeemer was singular and not plural. It was the “seed” of the woman and not “seeds.” Paul points out in Galatians 3:16 that this was a reference to Christ. God so loved the world that He worked out the details for human redemption is such a way that it was not dependent on human effort. Man always falls short, but God never fails.
Finally, Paul points out that if the promise was dependent on the condition of keeping the Law it was no longer a promise. Verse 18 says, “God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise.” That’s a very good thing because Abraham had numerous character flaws. From lying about Sarah being his wife to sleeping with Hagar, Abraham messed up multiple times. He struggled with his sinful flesh like everyone else.
Make no mistake, Abraham did not earn salvation by his own goodness. He was justified by faith that God would keep His promise. (See Galatians 3:6 & 11) Abraham was justified by faith in God.
So how does this affect you and me? Well, if you back up one verse from this context, Galatians 3:14 talks about the blessing of Abraham coming to the Gentiles and that they would receive “the promise” of the Spirit through faith. Bingo! The promise to Abraham was ultimately talking about the indwelling Holy Spirit given to all believers.
How do we know that? Take a moment and read Acts 1:4; 2:33 and 2:39. The promise from the Father pointed to the coming ministry of the Holy Spirit. Now turn and read Titus 3:4-7. Personal faith in Jesus Christ places the believer in the promised dynamic work of the Holy Spirit. This amazing relationship with God is for all believers. This was Gods plan and promise from the beginning.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global