Were the Ten Commandments Nailed to the Cross or Not?
Many questions have been asked regarding the “law” in regards to portions of Galatians 2 and 3. Perhaps you have had difficulty understanding this portion of Scripture in light of the Commandments and wonder if they are still valid.
Many people read Galatians 3 looking for an excuse to rebel against the authority of God’s law. The issue in Galatians 3 is NOT whether God’s law is obligatory, but whether a person is justified by faith or by compliance with the law. I have inserted commentary within the text to help readers understand Paul’s message.
Comments are within the brackets and not meant to change the meaning of the Scriptures, but to clarify. The NIV version of the Bible is being used.
GAL 2:11 When Peter came to Antioch, I [Paul] opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong.
GAL 2:12 Before certain men came from James [who was serving as the leader of the Christian Church in Jerusalem], he [Peter] used to eat [and freely socialize] with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. [The circumcision group consisted of a significant number of well-educated Christian converts who were unwilling to let go of their exalted position as direct descendants of Abraham. The circumcision group believed that the covenant of circumcision was everlasting (Genesis 17:13), and if any man wanted to be an heir of the promises made to Abraham, he had to first be circumcised according to the everlasting covenant given to Abraham. They believed that Jesus was a Jewish Messiah and as such, Gentiles had to first become Jews before they could benefit from the promises given to Abraham. See also Acts 15.]
GAL 2:13 The other Jews [Jewish Christians not associated with the circumcision party] joined him [Peter] in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was [confused and] led astray.
GAL 2:14 When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew [because you ignore numerous Jewish requirements such as providing required sacrifices]. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?
GAL 2:15 “We who are Jews by birth and not [those ignorant] ‘Gentile sinners’
GAL 2:16 know that a man is not justified [made perfect in God’s sight] by observing the law, but [we know that justification comes] by faith [alone] in Jesus Christ. So we, too [that is, all of us Jewish converts to Christianity], have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law because by observing the law no one will be [or can be] justified. [In other words, it is impossible for a fallen person to obey God’s law without ever sinning, therefore, it is impossible to justify ourselves before God.]
GAL 2:17 “If while we seek to be justified [through faith] in Christ, [and] it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners [because we agree that the law defines sin – where there is no law, there is no sin], does that mean that Christ promotes sin? [Does trusting in Christ for justification permit us to feely violate God’s law?] Absolutely not!
GAL 2:18 [Consider my actions, Peter.] If I rebuild what I [have recently] destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker. [In other words, if I return to my Jewish religion which has a thousand laws and if I set out to obey those laws in order to be perfect before God, I will clearly prove to you that I am a lawbreaker and I justify myself in God’s sight because it is impossible for me to perfectly obey all of those laws all of the time!]
GAL 2:19 For through the [condemnation of the] law I died to the law [I admitted defeat] so that I might live for God.
GAL 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ [as a sinner] and I no longer live [to glorify in a manmade righteousness], but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body [is directed at glorifying Christ], I live by faith in the son of God, [doing all that He has commanded – not to be found righteous from works, but out of love for Him] who loved me and gave Himself for me.
GAL 2:21 I do not set aside the grace of God [by trying to establish my righteousness through works], for if righteousness could be gained through [obeying] the law, Christ died for nothing!”
GAL 3:1 You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you [with sophisticated religious bamboozle]? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.
GAL 3:2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?
GAL 3:3 Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal [of justification] by human effort?
GAL 3:4 Have you suffered so much [persecution] for nothing – if it really was for nothing?
GAL 3:5 Does God give you His spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?
GAL 3:6 Consider Abraham: “He believed God [when God said he would become the father of many nations], and it was credited to him as righteousness [because he trusted that God would fulfill His promise].”
GAL 3:7 Understand, then, that those who believe [who put their full weight on God’s promises] are children of Abraham.
GAL 3:8 The [Old Testament] Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and [God] announced the gospel in advance to Abraham [when He said]: “All nations will be blessed through you.”
GAL 3:9 So those who have faith [in God] are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
GAL 3:10 All who rely on observing the law [to be justified before God] are under a curse, for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”
GAL 3:11 Clearly no one is justified [or has ever been justified] before God by the law, because, “the righteous will live by faith.” [This is a key point. No Jew has ever been justified before God through obedience.]
GAL 3:12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, [God said] “The man who does these things will live by them.” [In other words, the law reflects what faith will produce. For example, the law says “Thou shalt not steal.” If I do not steal, have I fulfilled the law? No! The law is fulfilled when I love my neighbor to the point that I would rather cut off my hand than to steal his property. How is this love acquired? Answer: Through faith in Christ. Faith in Christ means submission to His demands as the Spirit leads the way.]
GAL 3:13 Christ redeemed us [sinners] from the curse of the law [eternal death] by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”
GAL 3:14 He redeemed us [all sinners] in order that the blessing given to Abraham might [also] come to the Gentiles [who are also sinners] through Christ Jesus, so that by faith [submission to the authority of Christ] we might receive the promise of the Spirit [who leads us into all truth and transforms our carnal hearts].
GAL 3:15 Brother, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case.
GAL 3:16 [There were three promises given to Abraham. First, his descendants would be given possession of the land. Second, he would become the father of many nations. Third, through him, the nations of Earth would be blessed (that is, the Messiah would come through his family line.)] The [three] promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning [the promises would only be made possible to people of faith through] one person, who is Christ.
GAL 3:17 What I mean is this: “The law, introduced 430 years later [after the promises were made to Abraham], does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise [s].
GAL 3:18 For if the inheritance [of the Earth made new] depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise, but God in His grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.
GAL 8:19 What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added [to our understanding of God] because of [man’s ignorance and] transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. [We know that the violation of God’s laws, whether willful or through ignorance always produces harm, therefore] The law was put into effect through [the ministry of] angels [and directed] by a mediator [who represents us before God].
GAL 3:20 A mediator, however, does not represent just one party; [He stands between two parties] but [of course,] God is one [side of this relationship].
GAL 3:21 Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart [spiritual] life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law.
GAL 3:22 But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, [we have all sinned, and we cannot live without sinning] so [God has made a better way for us to receive] that what was promised, being given [to us] through faith in Jesus Christ, [this is the key, everything promised to Abraham] might be given to those who believe [in Christ as he believed].
GAL 3:23 Before this faith [in Jesus] came [to Earth], we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith [in Christ] should be revealed.
GAL 3:24 So the law was put in charge to [show us our weaknesses and this was supposed to] lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.
GLA 3:25 Now that faith [in Christ] has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law. [Now we can see the relationship quite clearly. Salvation is a free gift which the Father has provided to all repentant sinners through the perfect life of Christ. On the other hand, discipleship requires everything we can give. Living by faith means granting authority to the Holy Spirit to refine us so we can experience harmony with all God’s laws. We do this not to be saved, but because we love God with our hearts, mind and soul and our neighbors as ourselves. Does the Spirit of God promote rebellion against the laws of God” Of course not! The Spirit reproduces the law of God within us as we mature in faith and love.]