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Galatians, Chapter Three, Lesson Four

HEIRS THROUGH FAITH           Page 2
V.23 (Cont'd.)

** Did God do that before the giving of the Law?

Yes, centuries after God recognized Abraham's faith (645 years to be exact) and reckoned it to him as righteousness, God gave the Law to Moses.

Just a footnote on the timing of the giving of the Law, "...the 430 years (V.17) refers to the time elapsed between God's last statement of the Abrahamic covenant and His giving of the Law to Moses. The Lord repeated the promise to Abraham's son Isaac (Genesis 26:24) and then to his grandson Jacob (Genesis 28:15). The Law came 645 years after Abraham, but 215 years later God repeated the Abrahamic covenant to Jacob, exactly 430 years prior to the Mosaic covenant at Sinai". [John MacArthur Commentary on Galatians, Pg. 85]

** Then if Abraham had faith in God 645 years before the Law, why does Paul say "before faith came" we were under the Law?

He is referring specifically to what we saw last week, that is the faith that is "in Jesus Christ".
(cf. V.22, and from this week - V.26)

** Well, Paul is saying that before people put their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, we were kept in "custody under the Law". What does that phrase mean?

The word custody [phroureo] means lit. "a guard, or to guard". Paul is saying that people were in total subjection to the Law, found guilty as sinners, and imprisoned with no way out!

** What effect did this "custody" have on someone's ability to place their faith in the coming Messiah?

They were "shut up to the faith" - while under the heavy burden of keeping the Law, they could not see God's offer of salvation by grace through faith.

** Was that despairing position for the human race to continue forever? Would we ever come to understand the faith that is available through Jesus Christ?

Yes, praise God, it "was later to be revealed".
Paul spoke volumes on this - cf. Romans 16:25-26, Ephesians 3:1-6
and Colossians 1:26-27.

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