Galatians 3:10
(10) In this and the following verses the action of the Law is contrasted with that of faith, and the necessity of faith and the system of things to which faith belongs brought out into strong relief. The antithesis is: faith--blessing; law--curse. The "curse" was the penalty which the Law itself imposed upon all who failed to keep it. None really kept it, and therefore none escaped this curse.

As many as are of the works of the law.--An expression corresponding to "they which are of faith" in Galatians 3:7; Galatians 3:9. The meaning is, "Those who take their character from works done in obedience to law--the cast of whose lives is determined by the principle of legal obedience.

Under the curse.--Strictly, are under a curse; subject to a curse.

For it is written.--The Apostle proceeds to quote the clause in the Law by which this curse was entailed. The quotation is from Deuteronomy 27:26, where it forms the conclusion of the series of curses to be pronounced from Mount Ebal. The Hebrew text is, "Cursed be he that confirmeth not the words of this law to do them." The word "all" is inserted in the Authorised version, probably from this passage. The Hebrew has also simply "he that" for "every one who;" so that the absolute and sweeping nature of the condemnation would seem to be much less marked in the original. It is not, however, clear that this character was first given to it by St. Paul. "Every one" is found in the Peshito Syriac, which may have been influenced by the language of St. Paul; "in all things" is found in the Samaritan Pentateuch, which certainly was not so influenced. The quotation is made by Justin (Trypho, ? 95) in precisely the same words as by St. Paul. Justin, however, is not improbably quoting through the medium of this Epistle. (See Introduction.)

Verse 10. - For as many as are of the works of the Law are under the curse (ὅσοι γὰρ ἐξ ἔργων νόμου εἰσίν ὐπὸ κατάραν εἰσίν); under a curse, or, under cursing. "For." The apostle is now making the clause in the preceding verse, "they who are of faith," the limiting description of those who "are blessed with faithful Abraham;" - I say, they who are of faith; for they who are of the works of the Law are in a very different case. In the phrase, "are of the works of the Law," the preposition "of" (ἐκ) has the same force as has been already noted in the phrase (ver. 9), "they who are of faith;" it signifies dependence upon, belonging to, taking position from; and it marks a moral posture of mind voluntarily assumed. The apostle in laying down the aphorism of the present passage has doubtless an eye to those of the Galatians who were moving for the adoption of circumcision and the ceremonies of the Levitical Law. Withdrawing from the category of those who were of faith, they were preparing to join those who were of the works of the Law. If their taking up with circumcision, and with these or those of the Levitical ordinances, was not mere childish trifling; if in serious and solemn earnest it meant anything, it meant this - that they looked to gain from these observances acceptableness before God, as performing works commanded by his Law given through Moses; but in that view they were bound to take the Law in its entirety, and do every work which it prescribed, ceremonial and moral alike; for all of it came invested with the like authority and as a part of that institution was alike binding (see Galatians 5:3). Let them now consider well how in such circumstances their case would stand. That the "works of the Law" which stand foremost before the apostle's view in the present discussion are those of a ceremonial character is apparent from the tenor both of vers. 12-19 of the preceding chapter and of vers. 1-10 of the next. There is, indeed, generally tiffs difference observable between the phase of the Law regarded in this Epistle, as compared with that which engages the apostle's thoughts when writing to the Romans: in the Romans the prominent notion of the spiritual condition of those under the Law is that they are in a state of guiltiness, condemnation, spiritual inability, unconquered sin; while in the Galatians the prominent notion of their condition is that they are in a state of slavery, that the dispensation they are under is spiritually an enslaving one, a yoke of bondage (Galatians 3:24; Galatians 4:1-3, 9, 24, 31; Galatians 5:1, 13). In the Romans the moral aspect of the Law is mostly in view; in this Epistle its ceremonial aspect. The consideration of these distinctive features marking this Epistle will perhaps prepare us the more readily to apprehend the particular shade of meaning with which the apostle uses the words, "are under cursing." He means, not precisely that a curse has already been definitely pronounced upon them so that they now stand there condemned, but that the threatening of a curse is always sounding in their ears, filling them with uneasiness, with constant apprehension that they shall themselves fall under it. The noun κατάρα is thus used for malediction, cursing, in James 3:9, 10, "Therewith bless we the Lord and Father; and therewith curse we men;... out of the same mouth cometh forth blessing and cursing (εὐλογία καὶ κατάρα);" Deuteronomy 27:13 (Septuagint), "These shall stand (ἐπὶ τῆς κατάρας) for the cursing upon Mount Ebal" - that is, for the denouncement of the several curses with which they were to threaten different classes of transgressors. As many, says the apostle, as are of the works of the Law are under a black cloud of malediction, which is ready to flash forth in lightning wrath upon every failure in obedience. And what man of them all can hope not to merit that inexorable lighting down of judgment? Supposing them to be ever so exact and punctual in their observance of those ordinances of the flesh which certain of those Galatian Churchmen are hankering after, how will it fare with them in respect to those other weightier precepts of the Law which require spiritual obedience? For one single example, how will they be able to render unfailing obedience to the commandment, Thou shalt not covet? Beyond question, the apostle writes with the sense which he has so fully developed in his Epistle to the Romans (Romans 3:9-20; Romans 7:7-24; Romans 8:3), that no one under the economy of the Law ever did, or ever could, continue in all things which were written in the Law to do them; and that therefore they that forsook the gospel of Christ to look to the Law for acceptance with God would beyond doubt become, nay, taken as they were at any moment had already become, each individual, the specific object of malediction, a child of cursing, a child of wrath (2 Peter 2:14; Ephesians 2:3; Romans 4:15). Nevertheless, his purpose just here may be presumed to be, not to affirm this, but rather to point to the miserable state of apprehensiveness and fear of instant wrath which they who were of the works of the Law must needs be in bondage to. Most commentators, however, understand κατάρα as meaning, not "cursing" or uttering general sentences of cursing (maledictio), but "a curse" (maledictum), that is, a specific curse incurred already by each individual in consequence of his having of a certainty already sinned against some commandment of the Law; if not against some ceremonial commandment, at any rate against some moral precept. Whichever way we understand it, such (the apostle at all events means) was the condition into which those Judaizing Gentile converts were preparing to precipitate themselves. For it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the Law to do them (γέγραπται γὰρ ὅτι [Receptus has γὰρ without ὅτι, which conjunction is according to the Greek usage introduced superfluously] Ἐπικατάρατος πᾶς ο{ς οὐκ ἐμμένει ἐν πᾶσι τοῖς γεγραμμένοις ἐν τῷ βιβλίῳ τοῦ νόμου τοῦ ποιῆσαι αὐτά). The Septuagint (Deuteronomy 27:26) has Ἐπικατάρατος πᾶς ὁ [this of doubtful genuineness] ἄνθρωπος ὅστις οὐκ ἐμμενεῖ [or ἐμμένει] ἐν πᾶσι τοῖς λόγοις τοῦ νόμου τούτου τοῦ ποιῆσαι αὐτούς. The Hebrew is correctly given in the Authorized Version, "Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this Law to do them." The apostle, quoting the Septuagint apparently from memory, gives the general sense rather than the exact words. He that sins against a commandment, as (to use the Septuagint phrase) he does not "continue in" it, but departs from it, so also, he, as far as his action reaches, sets it aside or abrogates it instead of "confirming" it. The word "all," not found in our present Hebrew text, is stated by critics to be in the Samaritan as well as in the Septuagint. This is the last of the twelve several maledictions pronounced from Mount Ebal, and certainly includes in its scope the ceremonial as well as the moral precepts of the Law. But what did this malediction import? Certainly it expressed abhorrence - the Divine Author of the Law, and his ministers and people accepting, pronouncing, and ratifying the denunciation, all join in repudiating the offender, casting him out from among them with loathing: so much is clear. What practical effect was to be given to the malediction, even by men in this life, not to speak of the action of God hereafter in the life to come, is nowhere indicated; but all could see thus much - the offender, if dying unreconciled, would depart hence accursed of both man and God. The notion of guiltiness before God and accursedness incurred by transgression of merely ceremonial precepts has been so greatly effaced from men's consciousness by the teaching, direct and indirect, of Christ's gospel, that we find it hard to realize to our minds that there ever existed a posture of the spirit answering to such a notion, or. if such did exist, that it could be other than the fruit of an uninstructed, ill-trained state of the conscience. But it was not this, so long as the economy of Moses was in force. For these positive laws were laws of God, binding during his pleasure upon the conscience of every Israelite; and in proportion as an Israelite's consciousness of the existence of Jehovah and of his own covenant relation to Jehovah was real and vivid, in that proportion would he be careful, scrupulously careful even, in obeying those positive laws. He had, indeed, to duly estimate the comparative importance and obligation of positive and of moral precepts, especially when in actual practice they came into conflict, according to the principle laid down for example in Hosea 6:6; but it was at his peril that he at any time neglected the former, though still less might he dare to neglect the latter. For every Israelite, as long as the Law continued in force, that which was said by Christ was strictly true, and in both clauses meant to be taken in solemn earnest, "These latter ought he to do, and not to leave the other undone" (Matthew 23:23). It was, for instance, a matter of conscience for the truly conscientious Israelite to carefully purify himself from pollution incurred by contact with the dead, and to abstain from swine's flesh; he might not neglect such purifications or partake of such meat without breaking a commandment of God's, without therefore incurring God's displeasure; and it behoved him to feel that he could not, and in proportion to the sincerity and depth of his religious sentiment he did feel it. Now, even when Israelites lived in a world of their own, comparatively free from the presence of Gentiles, the observance of the Levitical Law must needs have been at times felt to be an irksome or even anxious obligation; but its irksomeness and anxiety must have been greatly increased when Gentiles were not merely brought into close contact with them, but were even their masters. St. Peter confessed how burdensome it was felt to be, when he pronounced it a yoke which neither they nor their fathers had been able to bear. The feeling of relief must therefore have been inexpressibly great when an Israelite could come to be assured that those positive laws had ceased to be obligatory; that even if from habit or from national or social sentiment he continued to observe them, yet his conscience was quite free to disregard them without fear of displeasing God; that God's covenanted mercy had no longer any reference whatever to such observances, and that he might worship him acceptably, and hold joyful communion with him (say) in the Lord's Supper, though he had just before been handling a corpse without being since purified, or eating "unclean" meats, or working on the sabbath day. This relief the gospel brought; God's servants learnt with joy that they were righteous and accepted before him simply through faith in Christ without those "works of the Law." The curse was reversed. Now it ran thus: "Anathema be he who doth not wholly trust in Christ crucified for righteousness! Anathema be he who brings dead ordinances of the Law to darken his brethren's joy!"

3:6-14 The apostle proves the doctrine he had blamed the Galatians for rejecting; namely, that of justification by faith without the works of the law. This he does from the example of Abraham, whose faith fastened upon the word and promise of God, and upon his believing he was owned and accepted of God as a righteous man. The Scripture is said to foresee, because the Holy Spirit that indited the Scripture did foresee. Through faith in the promise of God he was blessed; and it is only in the same way that others obtain this privilege. Let us then study the object, nature, and effects of Abraham's faith; for who can in any other way escape the curse of the holy law? The curse is against all sinners, therefore against all men; for all have sinned, and are become guilty before God: and if, as transgressors of the law, we are under its curse, it must be vain to look for justification by it. Those only are just or righteous who are freed from death and wrath, and restored into a state of life in the favour of God; and it is only through faith that persons become righteous. Thus we see that justification by faith is no new doctrine, but was taught in the church of God, long before the times of the gospel. It is, in truth, the only way wherein any sinners ever were, or can be justified. Though deliverance is not to be expected from the law, there is a way open to escape the curse, and regain the favour of God, namely, through faith in Christ. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law; being made sin, or a sin-offering, for us, he was made a curse for us; not separated from God, but laid for a time under the Divine punishment. The heavy sufferings of the Son of God, more loudly warn sinners to flee from the wrath to come, than all the curses of the law; for how can God spare any man who remains under sin, seeing that he spared not his own Son, when our sins were charged upon him? Yet at the same time, Christ, as from the cross, freely invites sinners to take refuge in him.For as many as are of the works of the law,.... The apostle does not say, "as many as were of the law", to whom it belonged, who were born and brought up in it, and to whom it was given, the Jews; for there were some of them who believed in Christ, were blessed with Abraham, and not under the curse of the law; nor does he say, "as many as do the works of the law": for the works of the law are to be done, though not in order to obtain righteousness and life by them; yet it is not the doing of them, but the not doing of them, that entails the curse on men: his meaning is, that as many as seek for justification by the works of the law, and trust in their own righteousness for acceptance with God, these are so far from being blessed or justified hereby, that they

are under the curse, that is, of the law; they are under its sentence of condemnation and death, they are deserving of, and liable to the second death, eternal death, the wrath of God, here meant by the curse; to which they are exposed, and which will light upon them, for aught their righteousness can do for them; for trusting in their works, they are trusting in the flesh, and so bring down upon themselves the curse threatened to the man that trusts in man, and makes flesh his arm; not only that trusts in a man of flesh and blood, but in the works of man; his own, or any other mere creature's: besides, by so doing, he rejects Christ and his righteousness, whereby only is deliverance from the curse of the law; nor is it possible by his present obedience to the law, be it ever so good, that he can remove the guilt of former transgressions, and free himself from obligation to punishment for them: nor is it practicable for fallen man to fulfil the law of works, and if he fails but in one point, he is guilty of all, and is so pronounced by the law; and he stands before God convicted, his mouth stopped, and he condemned and cursed by that law he seeks for righteousness by the deeds of:

for it is written, Deuteronomy 27:26

cursed is everyone that continues not in all things written in the book of the law to do them. The law requires doing; it is not content with mere theory without practice; it is not enough to know it, or hear it, it must be done. The Jews boasted of their knowledge, and trusted much to the hearing of it read every sabbath day; but not those who had a form of knowledge, and of the truth in the law, or were hearers of it, were just before God, but the doers of it are justified; and it requires perfect obedience, an observance of all things contained in it, which can never be performed by fallen man. The Jews pretend (p), that Abraham their Father , "fulfilled all the whole law"; and the same they say (q) of the Israelites in common, than which nothing is more untrue; for in many things all men offend: moreover, the law requires constant perfect obedience; not only that a man should do all things commanded in it, but that he should continue to do them from his infancy, to the day of his death; and in failure hereof, it pronounces every man cursed, without any respect to persons, or any regard to pleas, taken from the infirmity of human nature, the sincerity of the heart, or repentance for transgressions. It should be observed, that the word "all" is not in the Hebrew text, in Deuteronomy 27:26, but is manifestly implied, an indefinite proposition being equal to an universal one; and agreeably to the true sense of the words, it is inserted by the apostle here, as it is in the Septuagint and Samaritan versions there; and perfectly accords with the sense of the best interpreters among the Jews; one of them has this gloss upon the words (r), , "here he (Moses) comprehends all the whole law"; and another (s) says the same thing, almost in the same words; this

"(says he) includes all the commandments which are in the law: and the note of a third is (t), there are some that say, this is to be understood "of the whole law"; and there are others that say, it is to be understood of those things that are mentioned (above), but they say nothing, for it is written "to do them"; and it is right in my eyes, that he curses for the negative commands mentioned, and he curses him who does not keep even secretly the affirmative precepts, wherefore he says "to do them":''

to which may be added, the observation of another of them (u) that these words intimate, that a man ought to honour the law, , "in thought, and word, and in deed": nor should this be thought to be too severe, that the law of God curses men for nonperformance of the whole. The Athenians (w) formerly condemned persons as guilty, though they had not broke the whole law, yet if they had transgressed but one syllable of it: upon the whole it is a clear point, that there can be no justification by the works of the law, since it curses in case of want of perfect and constant obedience to it.

(p) Misn. Kiddushin, c 4. sect 14. T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 28. 2.((q) T. Bab. Avoda Zara, fol. 3. 1. (r) Jarchi in loc. (s) Bechai in loc. (t) Aben Ezra in loc. (u) R. Abraham Seba, Tzeror Hammor, fol. 152. 3, (w) Alex. ab Alex. Genial. Dier. l. 3. c. 5.

Galatians 3:9
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