Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 2 Study # 4
Thesis: Faith allows God to "bless" men.
Introduction: For 1500 years, Jewish theology held that the only true God had decreed that only certain Israelites would inherit the rich blessings of that God. That theology was deeply rooted in three things: that the God of Israel was the only true God; that only those who worship the only true God have any hope whatsoever of being acceptable to Him; and that the true worship of the only true God consists of carefully following the dictates of a verbal, written, revelation given by Him to Israel. The dominance of this theology over Israel reached its ascendancy by means of the impact of the Babylonian captivity (when the issue was the identity of the One true God) and it reached its zenith in the days of Jesus of Nazareth (when the extreme focus upon human responsibility had resulted in rules upon rules within a Santa Claus theology).
It was to destroy this theology that was Paul's calling in life by the preaching of the Gospel. His message did not, however, challenge the notion that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the only true God. His message did not challenge the notion that only those who worship the only true God have any hope of being acceptable to Him. His message took on the definition of true worship as "obedience".
Paul saw three huge flaws in "obedience". First was its impossibility (Galatians 3:21). Then was its impact in terms of "boasting" -- the ultimate destroyer of relationships (Romans 3:27). And, finally, was its position as an intermediate issue made fundamental by men over-committed to boasting (Romans 4:1-2). Thus, his solution was to press the issue of the Scriptures: God seeks men who will "believe" what He tells them, beginning with His character as the only true God (God is love), and following through with the understanding that behavior must be dominated by His Spirit's reproduction of that divine character in men in order to produce non-boastful, good results.
Thus, it must be obvious that Paul's goal is to establish the primacy of "faith" as the "point of contact" with the One true God that allows Him to shed His blessings abroad in the lives of those who "believe Him". Thus, the text before us this evening -- Galatians 3:7-9 -- is a crucial part of that goal.
January 1, 2012
- I. The Structure of the Text.
- A. It has a clear "book-ends" structure with verses 7 and 9 as the statement/restatement.
- B. It has a clear one-verse substantiation in verse 8.
- II. The Meaning of the Text.
- A. First, the meaning focuses upon the phrase "out of faith" in all three verses.
- 1. This phrase clearly focuses upon the fact that those who "believe" receive, "out of that faith", the blessings of righteousness -- both the position and its fruit.
- 2. A lesser known issue is that "out of faith" means that, ultimately, God is the One Who is to be seen as the Mover and Shaker of those who "believe".
- a. Note Romans 9:8-13.
- 1) The issue is that "out of faith" means that the entire "realm", out of which anything good comes, is one of "promise" wherein it is the activities of God that are crucial, not the responses of men.
- 2) The point here is one: "faith" is in the God of absolute dominion Who does as He says He will do.
- a) "Faith" is not in "faith" as man's response to God's words.
- b) "Faith" is in "God" as He is defined by His own self-description in words of revelation.
- b. Note the lesson of Romans 4:17-22 as the mature realization of Abraham, the "believer".
- B. Second, the meaning establishes the fact that God has always intended to be the God of the nations, not just of Israel.
- 1. As early as Genesis 12:3 the word of God has indicated that God's objective is "all of the nations of the earth".
- 2. In Revelation 7:9 we are told that the end result is going to be the initial objective accomplished.
- 3. The Jewish exclusiveness in its heyday was not rooted in divine revelation, but in the desire to "boast" -- i.e., present oneself as "superior" to as many others as possible.
- C. Third, the meaning is focused upon the outcome of "faith": being included in "the blessing".
- 1. The term in verse 8 is actually intensified according to Paul's meaning by the addition of the Greek preposition "en" ... indicating a total baptism into blessedness.
- 2. The repetition of the term without the intensifier in verse 9 opens the door to the next paragraph which is all about just what it means to be "blessed".