19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. 20 Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.
Galatians 3:19-20, English Standard Version
The Apostle Paul tells us the law was “added” to help the Jewish people to become aware of how far they have sinned against God. The two words “added” and “until” implied the Law was not the central theme of God’s salvation plan, but it played a secondary role and a shadow of the good things to come (Hebrews 10:1).
The Law was “added” and “until” it was fulfilled by Christ who is the promised seed of Abraham, appearing to bring the new covenant. This is both the re-affirmation and continuation of the abrahamic covenant. In other words, the abrahamic covenant was not just for the jews but for all who are in Christ. While the Mosaic covenant is time-limited, temporal and conditional, the new covenant which is the spiritual fulfilment of the abrahamic covenant is eternal and unconditional.
As God is one, He ratified His promise to Abraham by Himself. There was no need for an intermediary or any other person to do anything except to accept and believe the gospel by faith. If we are to continue to follow the law in order to be right with God, we are saying that we are still slaves to our sin. Knowing that we have been set free from sin and into the liberty of a new life in Christ, we can walk circumspectly (Ephesians 5:15).
It is beneficial to know that Paul wasn’t dismissive of the Law. While he repudiates the Law on the issue of circumcision, he re-appropriated the Law for what it is. It was a source leading to the revelation of a new and living way, the gospel of Jesus Christ. For example, in 1 Corinthians 9:9-10, Paul quotes Deuteronomy 24:5 and asserts that the Mosaic call “not to muzzle an ox” was “written for our sakes”. The new covenant believers are to financially support ministers of the gospel.
It is absolutely impossible to reconcile the gospel with a lifestyle that embraces Old Covenant laws and practices. Such a way of life contradicts all of what Christ had done for us. Instead of seeing the Law as the “legal” authority in the life of a believer, we should acknowledge Christ as our “living” authority over every aspect of life.
© Copyright Richard Tan, 2019.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®.
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