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The Promises of God Came Before the Law
Bible Verse Galatians 3:15-18
Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it is only a man's covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it. Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, "And to seeds," as of many, but as of one, "And to your Seed," who is Christ. And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect. For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise.
Paul closes this section of passages with a history lesson for the Galatian Christians. Just in case the Galatians had any trouble understanding Paul's argument he emphatically says, "And let me make myself perfectly clear." After which he goes on to clarify that the law, which came more than four hundred years after God's covenant with Abraham, does not nullify the promises of God. In fact the law only emphasizes the need for God's promises, because the law made it obvious no one could be saved by works. The chronology is important to understand because God first made the covenant with Abraham. However, God renewed it with both Isaac and Jacob. The four-hundred and thirty years mentioned by Paul refers to the last time God renewed the covenant with Jacob. Coincidentally, it was also the number of years the Jewish people were in Egypt before the Exodus. This is because God had assured Jacob it was ok to travel to Egypt with his son Joseph.
With that assurance God once again reaffirmed His promise to Abraham with Jacob. However, God originally gave the covenant to Abraham six-hundred and seventy-five years before the law was given to Moses. Therefore, God's promises were made long before the law was given to mankind. Paul concludes this section of passages by explaining that a covenant based on the law was inferior to an inheritance given by God's promise. This was because a covenant based on the law depended solely on man's ability to keep all the laws of God. Which all people knew was impossible. Therefore, such a covenant would be made null and void by man's inability to perfectly keep the laws of God. However, God's promise made to Abraham was solely dependent on God's power to keep His promise. Therefore, such a promise is guaranteed by God Himself and becomes to us an inheritance given to us by faith. In other words, where man has no ability to succeed in perfectly keeping God's law, God cannot fail in keeping His promise which is guaranteed by God Himself. Moreover, God's keeping of the promise was not dependent on the action of Abraham, nor his descendents.