Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 2 Study # 1
Thesis: Abraham is the prototypical "believer".
Introduction: Since we have concluded our studies of Paul's introductory questions regarding the implications of the doctrine of Christ "crucified", we are now set to begin a study of his actual arguments for the concept of "justification by faith".
The beginning of our study will focus upon what Paul declared in 3:6 in regard to Genesis 15:6.
December 4, 2011
- I. Some Grammatical/Contextual Facts.
- A. There is a question as to whether 3:6 goes with Paul's "questions", or with the next unit of thought.
- 1. The editors of the Greek text behind the NASB thought that it went with the questions, but there are enough problems with that idea that the translators of the NASB refused to follow their lead.
- 2. First, 3:5 should end with the question mark (included by the Nestle/Aland 26 editors).
- 3. Second, 3:6 begins with what the grammarians call " a subordinating or comparative conjunction", which means that the content of 3:6 is either being subordinated to, or compared to, another idea (which means that 3:6 cannot stand as a complete sentence on its own).
- B. That the content of 3:6 goes with 3:7 is crucial to Paul's argument.
- 1. The "Just as" of 3:6 leads into the "therefore" of 3:7 ( "an [often] untranslatable interrogative particle implying anxiety or impatience").
- 2. Paul's argument is not that Genesis 15:6 is the answer to the last question of 3:1-5, but that Genesis 15:6 means that the Galatians should know indisputably that the issue of Abraham's faith sets the stage for everyone afterwards in terms of whether someone is a "son of Abraham".
- a. This was the essence of all of the "hope" in Jewish theology: Matthew 3:9; John 8:33 and following.
- b. This is no small thing as Galatians 3:29 clearly shows.
- c. At issue is participation in the "Promise" (Genesis 12:1-3).
- II. The Issue.
- A. The bottom-line issue, in terms of how one gets to be one of Abraham's heirs, is the answer to the question: How does a man get to be "qualified" to inherit God's goodness?
- B. The bottom-line answer is, "He copies Abraham's response to God", but that immediately raises the next question: "which response?".
- 1. Genesis 15:6 is the first place in the Bible where we are told that anyone was "reckoned to be righteous" by God.
- a. The description of Noah (by Moses) as "righteous" in Genesis 6:9 is just that -- a description.
- 1) It tells us "that" he was righteous, but not "how" he came to be that.
- 2) The issue in Galatians is the "how" issue.
- b. At issue in Moses' declaration regarding "it was reckoned to him" is the question of how God can ignore reality and call a man "righteous".
- 2. Moses simply says that God reckoned "faith" for "righteousness".
- 3. Paul's argument is that one becomes a "son" of Abraham when he copies Abraham's response to God's words.