New Testament scholar Douglas Moo points out that Galatians employs three main forms of rhetoric recognized by ancient writers. One is epideictic, which “seeks to persuade people to reaffirm a particular view in the present.” Another is deliberative, which “seeks to persuade people to take action.” The third is forensic, which “seeks to persuade people about a past event.”
Today’s passage is the forensic argument Paul used to persuade the Galatian believers that the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham is Christ Himself. The gospel, the good news of redemption in Christ, is in a very real sense the actual person of Christ. Our salvation is the Savior!
God’s covenant with Abraham had not been pushed to the side or abolished, for how could God set aside what He Himself had established? Rather, it had been fulfilled (vv. 15, 17). The way to a right relationship with God had always been by faith. What was new was the coming of Christ. God’s promise (see Gen. 13:15) had referenced not many “seeds” (offspring) but one “seed” (one descendant—even such a small thing as a singular noun matters in Scripture!) Jesus Christ, from the line of Abraham, both fulfilled and was the fulfillment of God’s promises (v. 16).
It had always been true that the promised inheritance (salvation) depended on God’s promise and not the Mosaic Law. God’s faithfulness and grace are the foundation of our hope of life with Him forever (v. 18). As one commentator explained: “Salvation in Christ does not rest on a law that we inevitably break; it rests on a promise that God cannot break. . . . He has promised eternal life to everyone who comes to Christ in faith. God will not—indeed, he cannot—go back on his promise.”
Apply the Word
A first step in understanding the gospel is to realize that we are all sinners in need of a Savior. If we were able to earn salvation, there would be no need for Christ. Without Him, we’re doomed. With Him, our hope is certain. If you’ve never trusted in the name of Christ for salvation from sin, today can be the day!