To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.
Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.
Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law.
Comment: Paul underlines several obvious facts.
- The promise to Abraham of blessing through his offspring was made 430 years before the law was given to Moses on Mt Sinai. It was not cancelled because the law was given.
- The law was given because of lawlessness. It wasn’t there to replace the covenant of promise.
- If perfectly kept it could have been enough, but that was/is an impossibility because of man’s fallen nature, unless you take Jesus and His perfect life into account as the exception. The law could direct the way, but it couldn’t forgive.
- In English ‘sheep’ means one or many depending on the context. In Amharic ‘birr’ is used for a unit of, or for much money. ‘Offspring’ (seed) seems to, in the Hebrew of the OT, be much the same. The world knows much blessing through the nation of Israel, whose members are the offspring of Abraham, but in the singular it is the Christ who is the fulfilment of the Abrahamic promise. He has dealt the death blow to the power of sin and death.
- A will in relation to inheritance depends on the death of the testator. Christ as man was the offspring of Abraham. By His Divine nature His death was the event which could bring the (inheritance) ‘covenant’ to fulfilment.
Prayer: Thank You that I don’t have to understand everything perfectly, but can come in simple trust to You, as I hear and believe Your gospel.