In 1 Cor 7.17-19, we learn that we are to walk in the Torah as God has called us. If you are circumcised (Jewish), walk in the Torah as it applies to the Jews. If you are non-Jewish, walk in the Torah as it applies to non-Jews. When he says “circumcision is nothing” he isn’t saying it doesn’t mean anything. Paul circumcised Jews according to the Abrahamic Covenant found in the Torah (Acts 16.1-3, 21.21-24). He is saying circumcision does not give you merit before God. What matters is keeping the commandments of God as they apply to you. That’s why Paul circumcised Timothy (because he was Jewish) and didn’t circumcise Titus (because he was a non-Jew-Gal 2.3). Now, what are the commandments of God? It has to be the Torah because there were no Gospels and Epistles at that time. Whenever the Gospels and Epistles talk about the commandments it is talking about the Torah. When Gal 2.20 and 3.22 talk about “faith in Christ” it should be “faith of Christ.” Modern translations have “in” but that is not correct. Faith of Christ refers to his faith in God, not our faith in Yeshua. It speaks of his walk with God, not ours. It involves only God and Yeshua, his integrity, his spotless faithfulness, his obedience to God. He didn’t wobble or fall short of the glory of God or “miss the mark.” God wants us to have faith in Yeshua because his faith was perfect. If it wasn’t, he would need a saviour, too. That is why the “works of the Law” do not justify us. His death covered, erased, expiated and propitiated our sins. His faith kept his own blood from being tainted by sin. We are saved by our confidence in him and the fact that he was perfect. This means that we can be certain of the fact that his blood justifies us before God. We do not “work” for this, it is done.
Our walk is imperfect and always will be incomplete, but his wasn’t. He can sit down at the right hand of the Father because his mission, which he agreed to before the world was created, is done. Salvation is out of our hands, understanding that it is the “faith of Christ.” We put our faith in Yeshua and our faith is ratified by his faith, or we are not saved (“I never knew you”-Matt 7.23) In Rom 1.17, it says “from faith to faith” and it means that we believe in Yeshua to be saved by the faith of Yeshua. He did everything that needed to be done as far as our salvation is concerned. This bolsters the doctrine of Imputation.
Gal 2.17-20 means that we are to live a life he would approve of by observing the Torah, so he “lives” in those who follow him, and not through the 18 Edicts. We live by the faith of Messiah, who loves us and gave up his life for us. Gal 2.21 is saying that we do not nullify the grace of God if we obey him according to the Torah, it doesn’t save us and neither does the 18 Edicts, especially the one that says that a non-Jew must be circumcised to be saved. Salvation is a gift from God. If keeping the Torah or the 18 Edicts gives us righteousness, then Yeshua died needlessly.
Paul asks the Galatians in Gal 3.1-2, “Who has bewitched you?” It means “to lead astray, to lead away through wicked arts.” Then he says “that you should not obey the truth” as found in the Torah. He then asks “did you receive the Spirit by works of the Law or by hearing by faith?” The word “Spirit” there should be understood as the Shekinah, the indwelling presence of God within us. The Ruach Ha Kodesh comes upon us and these are two different manifestations.
The word “pneuma” was translated as “Holy Spirit” all through the New Testament. The word can mean either the Shekinah or the Ruach Ha Kodesh. In Gal 3.2, it should be Shekinah and here’s why. A person receives the Shekinah as soon as they become a believer. The Ruach Ha Kodesh could come later and that would be two, distinct manifestations. For example, the Talmidim received the Shekinah (translated “Spirit” incorrectly) in John 20.22. Later they received the Ruach Ha Kodesh in Acts 2. The terms “works of the Law” is “erga nomou” in Greek, which in this case is ritual circumcision of a non-Jew in order to be saved according to the 18 Edicts of Shammai.
Paul goes on to say in Gal 3.3-5 that the Galatians were already saved by faith and were they going to be “perfected” by ritual circumcision of the flesh, or works? No, that is impossible. God has provided the Shekinah, but did he give it based on a work of the flesh, in this case ritual circumcision, or did they receive it by faith? The word for faith is “emunah” which is confidence based on “da’at” (knowledge of God).
Gal 3.6-12 says that Abraham had emunah based on the da’at of God, and the “basorah” (gospel) was preached to him. These verses say that if you seek to be justified by works of the Torah, then you are “under a curse” because you would have to keep it perfectly. But no one is justified this way. In v 12 where he says that the Torah is not of faith, it means that we are saved by the “faith of Messiah” and he ratifies our faith in him apart from works, leading to salvation. The Torah has always taught this.
Gal 3.13-14 says that Messiah has redeemed us from the curse of the Law which is the penalty for sin, death. Now, how do we know what sin is? Sin is defined in the Torah (1 John 3.4). When we sin, or break the Torah, the penalty is death. Yeshua has redeemed us from that. We now receive the Shekinah within us through the faith of Yeshua, not by any act or series of acts by us. Gal 3.15-18 talks about the “promise” which is synonymous with “the hope.” The promise comes through the “seed” who is Messiah. The Torah came 430 years after Abraham and it cannot nullify the promise of salvation. We have an inheritance, which is everything God promised to Israel (Rom 9.4) and is associated with “the root” in Rom 11.17-18. How do we receive this inheritance? By faith in Messiah, it is not through keeping the Torah. When Galatians is taught by most people, they say that faith annuls the Torah, but it is not saying that. He is simply saying how people were justified and redeemed before the Torah (faith). He is not “destroying the Torah” but he is destroying a message of “works” that is an incorrect message about the Torah.
Gal 3.19-25 begins by asking, “Why the Torah then?” When the Torah came, it became our tutor. The word “tutor” is “paidagogos” in Greek and it means “a guardian or trustee” and the Torah leads us to the Messiah. In the first century when this was written, a paidagogos was a disciplinarian over children. They had custody over the master’s children until they reached maturity. This goes hand in hand with the concept of the “dual nature” of the Torah. The Torah has two roles, and understanding this concept is essential. It has a “judicial” or legal role because the Torah identifies us as sinners and it demands our punishment for sin. It holds us in “custody” or “under arrest” to be prosecuted at a later time. But, this aspect of the Torah only applies until we come to salvation through Yeshua. Then, the second aspect of the Torah takes over, and that is the “educative” or instructional role. The Torah reveals God’s way of life for the believer, the path he desires us to follow. It tells us about his good and perfect will. Once “emunah” leading to salvation comes, we are no loner “under arrest” and we are set free from the “curse of the Law” which is the just punishment for our sins (death). We are no longer “under the Law” which means “under an indictment” or arrest, which will lead to punishment for sin. We are now “under Messiah” but the Lord will not cast away the Torah in our life. Now the Torah is instructional. It guides and teaches us how to live before him.. This is because the Torah is not a means of salvation, so there is no need to cast it away. On the contrary, we establish the Torah in our lives by obeying its commands, which is what the Lord wants.
As a result, Gal 3.26-29 says we now belong to Messiah, and it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a non-Jew, slave or free, male or female. We all have the same status before God, no matter who we are, because God shows no partiality. Now we belong to Messiah and “Abraham’s seed” according to the promise God made to Yeshua. We have the same status but we have different roles. Our relationship to Abraham is not through a direct relationship to him, but it comes through Yeshua.
In Part 20, we will pick up in Gal 4.1-7.