Galatians 3:6
Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(6-14) These prolific results are due to faith, and not to the Law; just as it was faith which won for Abraham that imputed righteousness. Faith was the cause, blessing the consequence, which extends to all the spiritual descendants of Abraham. The Scripture distinctly foresaw this when it declared that the heathen too (i.e., those who believe from among the heathen) should be blessed in Abraham. The effects of the Law are just the opposite of this. Where faith brings a blessing the Law brought a curse. The Law never made any man accepted as righteous. This is a privilege reserved for faith. The Law demands a literal fulfilment, which is impossible. Hence the Law entailed a curse, which Christ has removed by taking it upon Himself. Thus the blessing promised to Abraham, and the outpouring of the Spirit included in it, have been opened out to Gentiles as well as Jews, and indeed to all who give in their adhesion to Christ by faith.

(6) Even as.—The argument is here very condensed. Ideas lie close together in the Apostle’s mind which are some distance apart in ours. He asks whether, in bestowing the gifts of the Spirit upon the Christian Church, God made use of the medium of the Law or of faith. The answer he assumes to be faith; and his thoughts fly at once to that crucial instance of faith—the faith of Abraham.

Abraham believed God . . .—Quoted from the LXX. version of Genesis 15:6. The same quotation is made, in the same words and with the same object, in Romans 4:3, where see the Note. Comp. also the Excursus E to that Epistle, on “Imputed Righteousness.”

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.Even as Abraham believed God ... - see this passage fully explained in the notes at Romans 4:3. The passage is introduced here by the apostle to show that the most eminent of the patriarchs was not saved by the deeds of the Law. He was saved by faith, and this fact showed that it was possible to be saved in that way, and that it was the design of God to save people in this manner. Abraham believed God, and was justified, before the Law of Moses was given. It could not, therefore, be pretended that the Law was necessary to justification; for if it had been, Abraham could not have been saved. But if not necessary in his case, it was in no other; and this instance demonstrated that the false teachers among the Galatians were wrong even according to the Old Testament. 6. The answer to the question in Ga 3:5 is here taken for granted, It was by the hearing of faith: following this up, he says, "Even as Abraham believed," &c. (Ge 15:4-6; Ro 4:3). God supplies unto you the Spirit as the result of faith, not works, just as Abraham obtained justification by faith, not by works (Ga 3:6, 8, 16; Ga 4:22, 26, 28). Where justification is, there the Spirit is, so that if the former comes by faith, the latter must also. As Abraham was justified, so must all the children of Abraham; but

Abraham believed God, ( that is, agreed to the truth of all those promises which God gave him, and trusted in God for the fulfilling of them; for both those acts of the mind are included in believing God), and so was justified alone.

And it was accounted to him for righteousness: his faith itself was not imputed to him; those that put this sense upon the words, either forget that faith itself is a work, or that the apostle here is arguing for jusjustification by faith in opposition to justification by works, and cannot be imagined to have gone about to prove that justification is not by works, by proving that it is by a work. The meaning is no more than that he was upon it accounted righteous; not that God so honoured the work of faith, but that he so rewarded it, as being the condition annexed to the promise of justification. His faith was not his righteousness, but God so rewarded his exercise of faith, as that open it he reckoned (or imputed) that to him which was his righteousness, viz. the righteousness of him in whom he believed as revealed unto him in the promise. Even as Abraham believed God,.... The apostle having observed, that the special grace and extraordinary gifts of the Spirit were received not through the preaching of the law, but through the doctrine of faith; by an easy transition, passes on to a further confirmation of the doctrine of justification by faith, by producing the instance of Abraham, what the Scripture says of him, and the promise made unto him; which is very appropriate to his purpose, since Abraham was certainly a righteous man, the first of the circumcision, and the head of the Jewish nation; and whom the false teachers much gloried in, and boasted of their being his seed, and of being circumcised as he was; and would fain have persuaded the Gentiles to the same practice, in imitation of him, and as necessary to their justification before God; whereas the apostle here shows, referring to Genesis 15:6 that Abraham was justified by faith, and not by any works whatever, much less by circumcision; for what he here refers to, was many years before his circumcision; and since therefore he was a justified person, declared to be so, before it and without it, it was not necessary to his justification, nor is it to any other person's: he

believed God. The object of faith is God, Father, Son, and Spirit; here Jehovah the Son seems principally intended, who in Genesis 15:1 is called the "Word of the Lord"; the essential Word, who was with God from everlasting, and was God, and in the fulness of time was made flesh and dwelt among men; and "Abraham's shield", the same the apostle in Ephesians 6:16 calls "the shield of faith"; meaning not the grace of faith, but Christ the object of faith; which faith lays hold on, and makes use of as a shield against the temptations of Satan: and also his "exceeding great reward"; his all in all, being made to him, as to all believers, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption: him he believed, not only that he was God, but he believed his word of promise, and in his power and faithfulness to fulfil it; which regarded not only his natural offspring, and a numerous race, the enjoyment of the land of Canaan, and many temporal good things in it, but the Messiah, and spiritual blessings in him: he "believed in the Lord", Genesis 15:6 in Jehovah the Word, in him as his shield, and exceeding great reward, in him as the Lord his righteousness:

and it was accounted to him for righteousness; that is, by God, whom he believed; for the sense is, not that Abraham ascribed righteousness to God, and celebrated his justice and faithfulness, as some; nor, as others, that Abraham was accounted a righteous man by the world; but that something was accounted by God to Abraham as his righteousness, which could not be the act of his faith; for faith is not a man's righteousness, neither in whole nor in part; faith and righteousness are two distinct things, and are often distinguished one from another in Scripture: besides, that which was accounted to Abraham for righteousness, is imputed to others also; see Romans 4:23 which can never be true of the act of his faith; but is of the object of it, the word of the Lord, his shield and exceeding great reward, the Lord his righteousness and strength, who is made or accounted, as to him, so to others, righteousness. The righteousness of Christ, whom he believed in, was accounted to him as his justifying righteousness now for faith to be accounted for righteousness, is all one as to be justified by faith; that is, by Christ, or by his righteousness imputed and received by faith; and if Abraham was justified this way, as he was, the apostle has his argument against the false teachers.

{5} Even as {e} Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.

(5) The fifth argument which is of great force, and has three grounds. The first, that Abraham was justified by faith, that is, by free imputation of righteousness according to the promise apprehended by faith.

(e) See Ro 4:1-25.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Galatians 3:6. The answer, obvious of itself, to the preceding question is: ἐξ ἀκοῆς πίστεως; and to this, but not directly to that question itself (as Hofmann holds, according to his wrong interpretation of ἀκοῆς πίστεως), Paul subjoins—making use of the words well known to his readers, Genesis 15:6, according to the LXX.—that great religious-historic argument for the righteousness of faith, which is presented in the justification of the progenitor of the theocratic people. Seeing that Paul has just specified the operation of the Spirit caused by the preached news of faith, as that which proves the justifying power of faith, he may with just logic continue: even as Abraham believed God (trusted His Messianic promise; comp. on John 8:56), and it (this faith) was counted to him as righteousness, that is, in the judgment of the gracious God was imputed to him as rectitude.[120] Neither, therefore, is a colon to be placed (with Koppe) after Ἀβρ., nor (with Beza and Hilgenfeld) is Galatians 3:6 to be considered as protasis and Galatians 3:7 as apodosis, for Galatians 3:7 is evidently independent, and it would be a very arbitrary course (with Hilgenfeld) to take Galatians 3:6 as an anacoluthon. See, moreover, on Romans 4:3; Hoelemann, de justitiœ ex fide ambabus in V. T. sedibus, Lips. 1867, p. 8 ff. For the reward of Abraham’s justifying faith according to Gen. l.c., see Jam 2:22 f.; 1Ma 2:52; and Mechilta in Jalkut Sim. I. f. 69. 3, “hoc planum est, Abrahamum neque hunc mundum neque futurum haereditate consequi potuisse, nisi per fidem, qua credidit, q. d. Genesis 15:6.”

[120] It is self-evident from the words of the text, how improperly the idea of sanctification is here mixed up with justification by the Catholics (also Bisping and Reithmayr). We have here justification simply as an actus forensis of the divine judgment, and that proceeding from grace. Romans 4:2 ff.Galatians 3:6. The faith of the Galatians is likened to that of Abraham, in that it found the same acceptance with God.

The quotation of Genesis 15:6 was reckoned follows the LXX, whereas our version, following the Hebrew text, refers to God, he counted it. This passage is repeatedly commented on by Philo as well as in the N.T. Paul bases his argument upon it in Romans 4:3 by way of proof that God imputes righteousness on the ground of faith, not of works, and James guards it against misinterpretation by teachers who degraded faith into a barren assent of the intellect (Jam 2:17-23). Obviously Jewish teachers had already concentrated attention on this passage on account of the explicit testimony which it bears to the faith of Abraham and to God’s acceptance of that faith; and stress had been laid upon its authority in their schools of theology.6–9. Exemplified by the case of Abraham

6. We must supply the obvious answers to the question of Galatians 3:5. Assuredly those miraculous powers followed the preaching of faith; (comp. Mark 16:20) and so it was with Abraham; he believed and was justified.

The quotation is from the LXX. version of Genesis 15:6. [The Hebrew reads, ‘and He counted it to him for righteousness’.] It occurs also Romans 4:3; James 2:23. From the appeal thus made by St Paul and St James to the case of Abraham, it would seem that they regarded the passage in Genesis as affording common ground to themselves and all (whether Jews or converts) who acknowledged the authority of the O.T. Scriptures.

On the faith of Abraham, see Appendix IV. p. 88.Galatians 3:6. Ἀβραὰμ, Abraham) See Romans 4:3, note. The genealogy [pedigree]—the armoury of Paul, Galatians 3:6; Galatians 3:8; Galatians 3:16; ch. Galatians 4:22; for we must have recourse to our origin [the first beginnings of things], Matthew 19:4.Verse 6. - Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness (καθὼς Ἀβραὰμ ἐπίστευσε τῷ Θεῷ καὶ ἐλογίσθη αὐῷ εἰς δικαιοσύνην); was reckoned unto him for righteousness. The answer to the question in the foregoing verse is so obvious that the apostle goes on as if that answer had been given, namely, that it was simply in consequence of the hearing of faith that God conferred on any the Holy Spirit and his powers. This, he now adds, was in exact conformity with what was recorded of Abraham; as soon as Abraham heard the promise made to him, "So shall thy seed be," he believed it, and by the hearing of faith was justified. The mutual correspondence of the two cases lay in this, that in imparting to those believers the Holy Spirit, God showed that they were in his favour, were justified people, simply because of their faith; even as Abraham was shown to be in his favour, having likewise by faith been justified. The apostle weaves into his sentence the very words of Genesis 15:6, as they appear in the Septuagint, with scarcely any modification; the Septuagint reading thus: Καὶ ἐπίστευσεν Αβραμ τῷ Θεῷ καὶ ἐλογίσθη αὐτῷ εἰς δικαιοσύνην. But in doing so he both himself feels, and will have his readers feel, that they are words of Scripture from which, as such, reliable conclusions might be drawn, as is shown by the next verse. In the Hebrew, however, the passage runs as in our Authorized Version, "He believed in the Lord, and he accounted it to him for righteousness." The words are quoted with substantially the like agreement with the Septuagint and divergence from the Hebrew also in Romans 4:3, and by St. James in his Epistle (James 2:23) (ἐπίστευσε δὲ Ἀβραὰμ, etc.). "It was reckoned;" in the Hebrew, "he reckoned it;" "it," that is, his believing: God regarded it as imparting to him perfect acceptableness, his sins no longer disqualifying him for being an object of the Divine favour. It is of the greatest importance to take note what the kind of faith was which God reckoned to him for righteousness. It was not simply a persuasion that what God says must be true. As Calvin remarks, Cain might have a hundred times exercised faith in what God had said to him, without thereby receiving righteousness from God. The reason why Abraham was justified by believing was this: a promise had been given him by God of his fatherly goodness towards him; and this word of God's he embraced as certainty. The faith, therefore, which the apostle is thinking of is the faith which has respect to some word of God which is of such a sort that reliance upon it will enable a man to repose in God's love to him for time and for eternity. The reference to Abraham's case which St. Paul makes in such very brief terms he expands in the fourth chapter of his Epistle to the Romans to a considerable length, ending with these words: "Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was reckoned to him [for righteousness]; but for our sake also, unto whom it shall be reckoned, who believe on him that raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up for our offences, and was raised for our justification." Christ's death and resurrection are God's word and guarantee to the whole human race, assuring us of his forgiveness and of his offer to us of eternal life. If we hear this word with faith, committing ourselves to his love, God on that ground at once justifies also us. It is evident that, in the apostle's view, the word "righteousness," as used in the recited passage of Genesis, does not mean "a righteous act," - that is, that Abraham's believing God's promise was viewed by Heaven with approval; but complete acceptableness investing Abraham himself. In consideration of that exercise of faith God accounted him a righteous man. The Greek phrase, ἐλογίσθη εἰς δικαιοσύνην, "was reckoned for righteousness," i.e. reckoned as being righteousness, is similar to λογισθῆναι εἰς οὐδέν, "reckoned as nought" (Acts 19:27); εἰς περιτομὴν λογισθήσεται, "reckoned for circumcision" (Romans 2:26); λογίζεται εἰς σπέρμα, "reckoned for a seed" (Romans 9:8). Are we to lifter from these two verses, 5 and 6, that in the apostle's view all who received spiritual gifts were thereby proved to be, or to have been, justified persons and in enjoyment of the Divine favour? We can hardly think this. The phenomena disclosed to us in the two Epistles addressed to the Corinthians. as to the moral and spiritual behaviour of some at least of their body, tend to show that individuals possessed of charisms were found in some instances to make a very vainglorious use of them, and needed to be reminded that the thaumaturgic gifts were of a fleeting character and of incomparably less value than qualities of moral goodness. Certainly Christ himself has told us that "many" will at the last be found to have been possessed of such miraculous gifts, whom nevertheless he "never knew." One of the very apostles was a Judas. Perhaps the solution is this: companies of men were dealt with in the diffusion of these gifts according as they were characterized, viewed each as a whole, though there might be individuals in each company imperfectly, very superficially, some perhaps not at all, animated by the sentiment generally prevailing in the body. If a community as a whole was pervaded extensively by a spirit of frank acceptance of the gospel doctrine and of pious devotion, its members brought by baptism into the "body which is Christ," the Holy Spirit made such a community his habitation (1 Corinthians 3:16, 17; 1 Corinthians 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16), and diffused his gifts among its members diversely and to all appearance Indiscriminately (1 Corinthians 12:13); at all events not in such wise discriminately as that degrees of personal holiness and acceptableness before God could at all be estimated as standing in proportion to the outward brilliancy of thaumaturgie gifts severally possessed. Even as (καθὼς)

The answer to the question of Galatians 3:5 is so obvious that it is not given. Paul proceeds at once to the illustration - the argument for the righteousness of faith furnished in the justification of Abraham. The spiritual gifts come through the message of faith, even as Abraham believed, etc.

Believed God (ἐπιστευσεν τῷ θεῷ)

See on Romans 4:5. Believed God's promise that he should become the father of many nations. See Romans 4:18-21. The reference is not to faith in the promised Messiah.

It was accounted to him for righteousness (ἐλογίσθη αὐτῷ εἰς δικαιοσύνην)

See on Romans 4:5. Ἑις does not mean instead of, but as. His faith was reckoned as righteousness - as something which it really was since all possibilities of righteousness are included in faith.

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