Galatians 3 the law and the promise

I am reading Galatians 3 and verse 19 should answer one of the time old questions of why have you given the law. But the verses to follow are very confusing. Please help me understand. I know that the law is perfect and would be a way to heaven if anyone could actually follow it. Proof is in Jesus who was a jew. But those verses don’t make sense. Please help


Mr. Michael,

Yes sir. There are many verses explaining the law, and depending on the verses and their reference they might be a bit confusing.

Would you like to elaborate further on your question? I might have some trouble reading right now and it will be best if I know exactly your question about the law in refernce to this scripture?

It is so nice to meet you and I pray your questions will find answers. There are so many on here who will see your words.


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Hello, @Michael_Ryan! We would love to help you with this however we can! I do echo @sanahdalah15’s request and ask if there is maybe more you could tell us as to what particular verses in the passage are confusing you and why. :slight_smile:

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@Michael_Ryan Great question :slight_smile: I think we need to step back and look at Paul’s whole argument in Galatians 3. It goes something like this:

  • God’s covenant of faith with Abraham was greater than the law, which was only temporary
  • The law did have a purpose—it was like a tutor who trains up a child until such a time as they are ready to fully join the family as an adult
  • When Christ came, there was no longer any need for the tutor—we are now sons and daughters of God through faith in Jesus

Paul was frustrated because the Galatians were being tricked into relying on the works of the law for their faith: “Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard?” Paul demonstrates that it has always been by faith—as we see in Abraham—that we are truly saved. The law had a purpose, but it was only a temporary purpose. And faith has always been more important than works—as we see with Abraham.

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Thx all. I don’t quite understand verses 19 to 22. Please explain

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Thank you for clarifying, @Michael_Ryan! I am going to put the verses up so that we can see them more easily as we discuss:

Galatians 3:19-22:

“What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one. Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe” (NKJV).

@SeanO has given a good explanation of why Paul was writing and what his points were.

Zeroing in on these particular verses:

Verse 19:

Why was the law given? Paul says the law was given to point out and underscore humanity’s transgressions/sinful state. It served this purpose until Jesus Christ (the Seed), the recipient of the promises and the one who fulfills them, came. But the law was appointed by a mediator.

Verse 20:

Paul is pointing out that a mediator was needed for the law, because there was an agreement to be reached and action to be taken between two parties. However, in the giving of the promise, there was no mediator needed, because God was the one and only actor–simply giving the promises to Abraham without requiring any work on his part.

Verse 21: Paul goes on to ask if the law is against God’s promises since the blessings of the promises are received by grace, and the blessings of the law are only received based upon the merit of one’s actions according to the law: “If you do not obey, you will be cursed and cast out of the land. If you obey, you will live in the land and be blessed.” Paul says, of course the law does not contradict the promises. It simply served a different purpose than the promises in the outworking of God’s redemptive plan. If the law had been able to give life, then righteousness surely would have come through it.

Verse 22: The law made humanity’s inability to meet what was required more apparent. It made them more aware of their sinfulness (“confined all under sin”) and therefore more aware of their need for a savior in whom the promises could be fulfilled and received. (Like John the Baptist preparing the way for Jesus, the law prepared the way for the receiving of the promises given through Jesus.)

I hope this helps. Please let me know if anything is unclear :slight_smile:

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Thanks so much for the help. It really helped a lot

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Glad it helped. Thank you so much for asking your question. Chances are, someone else reading was wondering the same thing :slight_smile: