Doesn’t Galatians 3:19 say that the law was abolished?

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By BibleAsk Team


Galatians 3:19

“What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made…”

Galatians 3:19

Paul’s reasoning until verse 25 have sometimes been mistakenly interpreted to mean that all the divinely revealed codes of laws in the Old Testament were done away with at Calvary. And some have mistakenly concluded that in pre-Christian era men were saved by the keeping of the law, and in the Christian Era by grace through faith. But such a view is contrary to the whole body of Scripture.

God has had only one way of saving man, that is, by faith in the sacrifice of our Lord. This salvation has been declared to man for all times (Hebrews 4:2). And Paul himself affirmed that grace did not abolish the law: “Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law” (Romans 3:31).

It is evident, therefore, that whatever Paul is teaching in Galatians 3:19–25 he is not teaching the doctrine of a pre-Christian era of salvation by law versus a Christian Era of salvation by grace. What he is truly teaching becomes evident when we understand that there are two different laws (Daniel 9:10, 11):

MOSES’ LAW

  • Called “the law of Moses” (Luke 2:22).
  • Called “law … contained in ordinances” (Ephesians 2:15).
  • Written by Moses in a book (2 Chronicles 35:12).
  • Placed outside the ark (Deuteronomy 31:26).
  • Ended at the cross (Ephesians 2:15).
  • Added because of sin (Galatians 3:19).
  • Contrary to us, against us (Colossians 2:14).
  • Judges no one (Colossians 2:14-16).
  • Carnal (Hebrews 7:16).

GOD’S LAW

  • Called “the law of the Lord” (Isaiah 5:24).
  • Called Ten Commandments-“the royal law” (James 2:8).
  • Written by God on stone (Exodus 31:18; 32:16).
  • Placed inside the ark (Exodus 40:20).
  • Will stand forever (Luke 16:17).
  • Points out sin (Romans 7:7; 3:20).
  • Not grievous (1 John 5:3).
  • Judges all people (James 2:10-12).
  • Spiritual (Romans 7:14).
  • Perfect (Psalms 19:7).

Moses’ law contained the temporary, ceremonial law of the Old Testament. It governed the priesthood, sacrifices, rituals, meat and drink offerings, etc., all of which foreshadowed the cross. This law was added “till the Seed should come,” and that seed was Christ (Galatians 3:16, 19). The ritual and ceremony of Moses’ law pointed forward to Christ’s sacrifice. When He died, this law came to an end.

However, God’s law of the Ten Commandments “stand fast forever and ever” (Psalm 111:8). It has existed at least as long as sin has existed. The Bible says, “Where there is no law there is no transgression [sin]” (Romans 4:15). So, God’s law existed from the beginning. When men broke that law, they sinned (1 John 3:4). In fact, Paul spoke of it as holy, just, and good many years after the cross (Romans 7:7, 12).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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