Galatians 3:17
And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot cancel, that it should make the promise of none effect.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(17) The fulfilment of the promise is thus to be seen in the Messianic dispensation now begun. The Law, which was given four hundred and thirty years after the promise, had no power to cancel it.

This verse contains the direct inference from the argument stated in Galatians 3:15. When a document has been sealed, no subsequent addition can affect it. The Law was subsequent to the promise; therefore the Law cannot affect it.

And this I say.—Now, what I mean to say is this; the inference that I intend to draw is this.

Confirmed before of Godi.e., confirmed by God before the giving of the Law.

In Christ.—These words are omitted in the group of oldest MSS., and should certainly be struck out. If retained, the translation should be: unto Christi.e., “with a view to Christ,” to find its fulfilment in Christ.

Four hundred and thirty years after.—The giving of the Law from Mount Sinai is thus placed four hundred and thirty years after the giving of the promise to Abraham. This would include the two periods of the sojourn of the patriarchs in Canaan and the sojourn in Egypt. According to another system of chronology, the sojourn in Egypt alone occupied four hundred and thirty—or, in round numbers, four hundred—years. Thus, in Genesis 15:13, Abraham is warned that his seed is to be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and to be afflicted “four hundred years.” In Exodus 12:40 it is expressly stated that “the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years.” In Acts 7:6 the prophecy of Genesis 15:13 is quoted: the people were to be “entreated evil four hundred years.” It is noticeable, however, that in Exodus 12:40, which is the least ambiguous of the three passages, the L.XX. and Samaritan Pentateuch add, “and in the land of Canaan,” so as to make the four hundred and thirty years cover the whole of the two periods, in agreement with the present passage. It has been thought that an examination of the genealogy of Levi favours the same reckoning. It would seem, however, that there were two systems of chronology really current. Josephus adopts both in different parts of his writings (comp. Ant. ii. 15, § 2, with Ant. ii. 9, § 1; Wars, v. 9, § 4), and both are represented in other writers of the period, or not very much later. It is possible that the shorter reckoning may have arisen from difficulties observed in the longer, though it may be questioned whether it does not raise greater difficulties itself.

Galatians 3:17-18. And this I say — What I mean by the foregoing example of human covenants is this; The covenant that was confirmed before of God — By the promise itself, by the repetition of it, and by a solemn oath, concerning the blessing all nations through Christ; the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after the date of it, cannot disannul — Abolish, or make it void, by introducing a new way of justification, or of blessing the nations, namely, by the works of the Mosaic law; so as to make the promise of no effect: 1st, With regard to other nations, which would be the case if only the Jews could obtain the accomplishment of it: yea, 2d, With regard to them also, if it were to be by works superseding it, and introducing another way of obtaining the blessing. “The apostle’s argument proceeds on this undeniable principle of justice, that a covenant made by two parties cannot, after it is ratified, be altered or cancelled, except with the consent of both parties: who in the present case were, on the one hand, God; and on the other, Abraham and his seed, Christ. Wherefore, as neither Abraham nor his seed, Christ, was present at the making of the Sinai covenant, nothing in it can alter or set aside the covenant with Abraham, concerning the blessing of the nations in Christ.”

It must be observed, that the four hundred and thirty years here spoken of are not to be computed from the time when the covenant was confirmed, but from the time when it was first made, as mentioned Genesis 12:3, when Abraham was yet in Ur of the Chaldees, and was seventy-five years old, Galatians 3:4. From that time to the birth of Isaac, which happened when Abraham was one hundred years old, are twenty-five years, Genesis 21:5. To the birth of Jacob were sixty years, Isaac being sixty years old when Jacob was born, Genesis 25:26. From Jacob’s birth to his going into Egypt were one hundred and thirty years, as he says to Pharaoh, Genesis 47:9; and according to the LXX. the Israelites sojourned in Egypt two hundred and fifteen years; for thus they translate Exodus 12:40 : Now the sojourning of the children of Israel in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, was four hundred and thirty years, the number mentioned by the apostle. For — Or, besides, this being a new argument, drawn not from the time, as the former was, but from the nature of the transaction; if the inheritance — Of the blessing promised to Abraham; be of the law — Be suspended on such a condition that it cannot be obtained but by the observation of the Mosaic law, it must then follow that it is no more of promise — By virtue of a free gratuitous promise; but that cannot be said, for God gave it to Abraham by promise — It must therefore be by it, and not by the law, which must have been given for some other and subordinate end, as the next verse shows.3:15-18 The covenant God made with Abraham, was not done away by the giving the law to Moses. The covenant was made with Abraham and his Seed. It is still in force; Christ abideth for ever in his person, and his spiritual seed, who are his by faith. By this we learn the difference between the promises of the law and those of the gospel. The promises of the law are made to the person of every man; the promises of the gospel are first made to Christ, then by him to those who are by faith ingrafted into Christ. Rightly to divide the word of truth, a great difference must be put between the promise and the law, as to the inward affections, and the whole practice of life. When the promise is mingled with the law, it is made nothing but the law. Let Christ be always before our eyes, as a sure argument for the defence of faith, against dependence on human righteousness.The covenant which was confirmed before of God - By God, in his promise to Abraham. It was confirmed before the giving of the Law. The confirmation was the solemn promise which God made to him.

In Christ - With respect to the Messiah; a covenant relating to him, and which promised that he should descend from Abraham. The word "in," in the phrase "in Christ," does not quite express the meaning of the Greek εἰς Χριστὸν eis Christon. That means rather "unto Christ;" or unto the Messiah; that is, the covenant had respect to him. This is a common signification of the preposition εἰς eis "The law." The Law given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai.

Which was four hundred and thirty years after - In regard to the difficulties which have been felt respecting the chronology referred to here; see the note at Acts 7:6. The exact time here referred to was probably when Abraham was called, and when the promise was first made to him. Assuming that as the time referred to, it is not difficult to make out the period of four hundred and thirty years. That promise was made when Abraham was seventy-five years old; Genesis 12:3-4. From that time to the birth of Isaac, when Abraham was a hundred years old, was twenty-five years; Genesis 21:5. Isaac was sixty when Jacob was born; Genesis 25:26. Jacob went into Egypt when he was one hundred and thirty years old; Genesis 47:9. And the Israelites sojourned there, according to the Septuagint Exodus 12:40, two hundred and fifteen years, which completes the number: see Doddridge, Whitby, and Bloomfield. This was doubtless the common computation in the time of Paul; and as his argument did not depend at all on the exactness of the reckoning, he took the estimate which was in common use, without pausing or embarrassing himself by an inquiry whether it was strictly accurate or not.

His argument was the same, whether the Law was given four hundred and thirty years after the promise, or only two hundred years. The argument is, that a law given after the solemn promise which had been made and confirmed, could not make that promise void. It would still be binding according to the original intention; and the Law must have been given for some purpose entirely different from that of the promise. No one can doubt the soundness of this argument. The promise to Abraham was of the nature of a compact. But no law given by one of the parties to a treaty or compact can disannul it, Two nations make a treaty of peace, involving solemn promises, pledges, and obligations. No law made afterward by one of the nations can disannul or change that treaty. Two men make a contract with solemn pledges and promises. No act of one of the parties can change that, or alter the conditions. So it was with the covenant between God and Abraham. God made to him solemn promists which could not be affected by a future giving of a law. God would feel himself to be under the most solemn obligation to fulfil all the promises which he had made to him.

17. this I say—"this is what I mean," by what I said in Ga 3:15.

continued … of God—"ratified by God" (Ga 3:15).

in Christ—rather, "unto Christ" (compare Ga 3:16). However, Vulgate and the old Italian versions translate as English Version. But the oldest manuscripts omit the words altogether.

the law which was—Greek, "which came into existence four hundred thirty years after" (Ex 12:40, 41). He does not, as in the case of "the covenant," add "enacted by God" (Joh 1:17). The dispensation of "the promise" began with the call of Abraham from Ur into Canaan, and ended on the last night of his grandson Jacob's sojourn in Canaan, the land of promise. The dispensation of the law, which engenders bondage, was beginning to draw on from the time of his entrance into Egypt, the land of bondage. It was to Christ in him, as in his grandfather Abraham, and his father Isaac, not to him or them as persons, the promise was spoken. On the day following the last repetition of the promise orally (Ge 46:1-6), at Beer-sheba, Israel passed into Egypt. It is from the end, not from the beginning of the dispensation of promise, that the interval of four hundred thirty years between it and the law is to be counted. At Beer-sheba, after the covenant with Abimelech, Abraham called on the everlasting God, and the well was confirmed to him and his seed as an everlasting possession. Here God appeared to Isaac. Here Jacob received the promise of the blessing, for which God had called Abraham out of Ur, repeated for the last time, on the last night of his sojourn in the land of promise.

cannot—Greek, "doth not disannul."

make … of none effect—The promise would become so, if the power of conferring the inheritance be transferred from it to the law (Ro 4:14).

The covenant, that was before confirmed of God in Christ: the word translated covenant, is the same as before; ordinarily signifying one’s disposal of things in his last will and testament. Which name is given to the covenant of grace, with respect to the death of Christ; for though Christ as yet had not died, yet he was, by virtue of the covenant of redemption, and in God’s counsels: The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, Revelation 13:8. This (he saith) was in Christ, ( as Abraham’s promised seed), confirmed of God to Abraham, by God’s oath, Hebrews 6:17,18; by frequent repetitions of it; by such solemn rites as covenants use to be confirmed by, Genesis 15:17,18; by the seals of circumcision, Genesis 17:11 Romans 4:11; by a long prescription, &c.; though it received indeed its final and ultimate consummation by the death of Christ, yet it was before many ways confirmed.

The law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul: the law was given four hundred and thirty years after the giving this promise to Abraham: though, Genesis 15:13, the round number of four hundred years only be mentioned, which are to be counted from the birth of Isaac; yet, Exodus 12:40, they are reckoned (as here) four hundred and thirty years, from Abraham’s going out of Canaan, Genesis 12:4; from whence to the birth of Isaac were twenty-five years, Genesis 21:5, compared with Genesis 12:4; from the birth of Isaac till Jacob was born, sixty years, Genesis 25:26; from thence till Jacob went down into Egypt, one hundred and thirty years, Genesis 47:9, where they abode two hundred and fifteen years. Hence the apostle concludes, that it was impossible that the law, which was not given till four hundred and thirty years after the confirmation of the promise,

should make the promise confirmed

of no effect. And this I say,.... Assert and affirm as a certain truth, that is not to be gainsaid;

that the covenant that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul; by "the covenant" is meant, not the covenant made with Adam, as the federal head of all his posterity; for this was made two thousand years before the law was given; nor that which was made with the Israelites at Mount Sinai, for that itself is the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after this covenant; nor the covenant of circumcision given to Abraham, for that was not so long by some years, before the giving of the law, as the date here fixed: but "a covenant confirmed of God in Christ"; a covenant in which Christ is concerned; a covenant made with him, of which he is the sum and substance, the Mediator, surety, and messenger; and such is what the Scriptures call the covenant of life and peace, and what we commonly style the covenant of grace and redemption; because the articles of redemption and reconciliation, of eternal life and salvation, by the free grace of God, are the principal things in it. This is said to be "in Christ", , "with respect to Christ"; though the Vulgate Latin and Ethiopic versions leave out this clause, nor is it in the Alexandrian copy, and some others; meaning either that this covenant has respect to Christ personal, he having that concern in it, as just now mentioned, and as it was made manifest and confirmed to Abraham, was promised in it to spring from him; or rather that it has respect to Christ mystical, as before, to all Abraham's spiritual seed, both Jews and Gentiles: and this is said to be "confirmed of God", with respect thereunto; which must be understood, not of the first establishment of the covenant, in and with Christ, for that was done in eternity; nor of the confirmation of it by his blood, which was at his death; nor of the confirmation of it in common to the saints by the Spirit of God, who is the seal of the covenant, as he is the Spirit of promise; but of a peculiar confirmation of it to Abraham, either by a frequent repetition thereof, or by annexing an oath unto it; or rather by those rites and usages, and even wonderful appearances, recorded in Genesis 15:9 and which was "four hundred and thirty years before" the law was given, which are thus computed by the learned Pareus; from the confirmation of the covenant, and taking Hagar for his wife, to the birth of Isaac, 15 years; from the birth of Isaac, to the birth of Jacob, 60 years, Genesis 25:26, from the birth of Jacob, to his going down into Egypt, 130 years, Genesis 47:9, from his going down to Egypt, to his death, 17 years, Genesis 47:28 from the death of Jacob, to the death of Joseph in Egypt, 53 years, Genesis 50:26 from the death of Joseph, to the birth of Moses, 75 years; from the birth of Moses, to the going out of the children of Israel from Egypt, and the giving of the law, 80 years, in all 430 years. The Jews reckoned the four hundred years spoken of to Abraham, Genesis 15:13 and mentioned by Stephen, Acts 7:6 from the birth of Isaac; but they reckon the four hundred and thirty years, the number given by Moses, Exodus 12:40 and by the apostle here, to begin from the confirming the covenant between the pieces, though somewhat differently counted; says one of their chronologers (f), we reckon the 430 years from the 70th year of Abraham, from whence to the birth of Isaac were 30 years, and from thence to the going out of Egypt, 400 years; and another (g) of them says,

"they are to be reckoned from the time that the bondage was decreed, in the standing between the pieces; and there were 210 years of them from thence to the going down to Egypt, and these are the particulars; the 105 years which remained to Abraham, and the 105 years Isaac lived after the death of Abraham, and there were 10 years from the death of Isaac, to the going down to Egypt, and it remains that there were 210 years they stayed in Egypt:''

another (h) of their writers says,

"that from the time that the decree of the captivity of Egypt was fixed between the pieces, to the birth of Isaac, were 30 years; and from the birth of Isaac to the going down of the children of Israel into Egypt, 400 years; take out from them the 60 years of Isaac, and the 130 years that Jacob had lived when he went into Egypt, and there remain 210.''

Josephus reckons (i) these years from Abraham's coming into the land of Canaan, to the departure of the children of Israel out of Egypt, and makes them 430, agreeably to Exodus 12:40 and to the apostle here, and to the Talmud; See Gill on Acts 7:6. However, be these computations as they will, it is certain, that the law, which was so long after the confirming of the covenant to Abraham, could not make it null and void: or that it should make the promise of none effect; the particular promise of the covenant, respecting the justification of Abraham and his spiritual seed, by faith in the righteousness of Christ.

(f) Ganz Tzemach David, par. 1. fol. 7. 1.((g) Juchasln, fol. 156. 2.((h) Jarchi in T. Bab. Megilla, fol. 9. 1.((i) Antiqu. l. 2. c. 15. sect. 2.

{19} And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God {m} in Christ, the {20} law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.

(19) The eighth argument take by comparison, in this way: if a man's covenant (being authenticated) is firm and strong, much more is God's covenant. Therefore the Law was not given to cancel the promise made to Abraham with respect of Christ, that is to say, the end of which depended upon Christ.

(m) Which pertained to Christ.

(20) An enlarging of that argument in this way: moreover and besides that the promise is of itself firm and strong, it was also confirmed by virtue of being in place for a long time, that is, for 430 years, so that it could in no way be broken.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Galatians 3:17. Result of Galatians 3:15-16, emphatically introduced by τοῦτο δὲ λέγω, but this which follows (see on 1 Corinthians 1:12) I say as the conclusion drawn from what is adduced in Galatians 3:15-16 : A covenant which has been previously made valid (ratified) by God, the law … does not annul. What covenant is here intended, is well known from the connection, namely, the covenant made by God with Abraham, through His giving to him, and to his σπέρμα included along with him, the promises in Genesis 12:3; Genesis 18:18 (Genesis 3:8), Genesis 13:15, Genesis 17:8 (Genesis 3:16). The κύρωσις (comp. on Galatians 3:15) is not any separate act following the institution of the covenant, but was implied in the very promises given: through them the covenant became valid. The προ in προκεκυρ. is correlative with the subsequent μετα, and therefore signifies: previously, ere the law existed.

ὁ μετὰ τετρακόσια κ.τ.λ.] cannot be intended to denote a comparatively short time (Koppe), which is not suggested by the context; but its purport is: The law, which came into existence so long a time after, cannot render invalid a covenant, which had been validly instituted so long previously by God and consequently had already subsisted so long. “Magnitudo intervalli auget promissionis auctoritatem,” Bengel. According to Hofmann, the statement of this length of time is intended to imply that the law was something new and different, which could not he held as an element forming part of the promise. But this was obvious of itself from the contrast between promise and law occupying the whole context, and, moreover, would not be dependent on a longer or shorter interval. With regard to the number 430, Paul gets it from Exodus 12:40 (in Genesis 15:13 and Acts 7:6 the round number 400 is used); but in adopting it he does not take into account that this number specifies merely the duration of the sojourn of the Israelites in Egypt. Consequently the number here, taken by itself, contains a chronological inaccuracy; but Paul follows the statement of the LXX., which differs from the original text—the text of the LXX. being well known to and current among his readers—without entering further into this point of chronology, which was foreign to his aim. In Exodus 12:40 the LXX. has ἡ δὲ κατοίκησις τῶν υἱῶν Ἰσρ. ἣν κατῷκησαν ἐν γῇ Αἰγ. καὶ ἐν γῇ Χαναάν (the words κ. . γ. Χ. are wanting in the Hebrew), ἔτη τετρακόσια τριάκοντα. This text of the LXX. was based upon a different reckoning of the time—a reckoning which is found in the Samaritan text and in Joseph. Antt. ii. 15. 3. See Tychsen, Exc. X. p. 148. The interval between God’s promise to Abraham and the migration of Jacob to Egypt—an interval omitted in the 430 years—cannot indeed be exactly determined, but may be reckoned at about 200 years; so that, if Paul had wished to give on his own part a definition of the time, he would not have exceeded bounds with 600 years instead of 430. The attempts to bring the 430 years in our passage into agreement with the 430 years in Exodus 12:40 are frustrated by the unequivocal tenor of both passages.[138]

γεγονώς] is not said ad postponendam legem, (see, on the contrary, John 1:17), as Bengel thinks (“non dicit data, quasi lex fuisset, antequam data sit”); for every law only comes into existence as law with the act of legislation.

On ἀκυροῖ, invalidates, overthrows, comp. Matthew 15:6; Mark 7:13; 3 Esr. 6:32; Diod. Sic. xvi. 24; Dion. H. vi. 78; and ἄκυρον ποιεῖν, in more frequent use among Greek authors.

εἰς τὸ καταργ. τὴν ἐπαγγ.] Aim of the ἀκυροῖ: in order to do away the promise (by which the διαθήκη was completed), to render it ineffective and devoid of result. Comp. Romans 4:14. “Redditur autem inanis, si vis conferendae haereditatis ab ea ad legem transfertur,” Bengel. Observe once more the personification of the law.

[138] E.g. Grotius: The time in Exodus 12:40 is reckoned from Abraham’s journey to Egypt. Perizonius, Orig. Aeg. 20; and Schoettgen, Hor. p. 736 The 430 years do not begin until after the period of the promises, that is, after the time of the patriarchs, and of Jacob in particular. Bengel, Ordo temp. 162: The terminus a quo is the birth of Jacob. Comp. Olshausen: Paul reckons from Jacob and his journey into Egypt. In like manner Hofmann: The terminus a quo is the time “at which the promise given to Abraham was at all repeated;” also Hauck: “From Jacob, as far as the pure, genuine σπέρμα Ἀβρ. reached.”Galatians 3:17-18. The inviolate sanctity of God’s earlier covenant in presence of the subsequent promulgation of the Law is here affirmed in virtue of the principle established in Galatians 3:15. Had the inheritance been made contingent on obedience to Law, the previous promise would have been thereby invalidated.

The Received Text inserts εἰς Χριστόν after Θεοῦ. The words appear from the MS. evidence to be a later addition to the text, suggested probably by the previous argument, which associated the promise to Abraham with the coming of Christ, in whom alone that promise finds its fulfilment. The very form of the sentence forbids the acceptance of the addition here: for διαθήκην in the absence of an article does not denote the particular covenant concluded with Abraham, but signifies any covenant in the abstract, if duly ratified by God, whatever its nature.—διʼ ἐπαγγ. κεχάρισται. The full bearing of the language on the argument can hardly be expressed in English without a paraphrase. χαρίζεσθαι denotes not merely a gift, but a free gift bestowed by the grace of God without reserve, and ἐπαγγελία marks the promise as a spontaneous offer, and not an undertaking (ὑπόσχεσις) based on terms of mutual agreement.17. And this I say] This is what I mean. St Paul here reverts to, and continues the argument of Galatians 3:15, which had been interrupted by the explanatory words, ‘He saith not … is Christ’.

confirmed before of God] Confirmed by oath (see Hebrews 6:17-18). This does not refer to the repetition of the promise to Isaac and Jacob, although by such repetition the promise may be regarded as extending over the patriarchal period down to the going down into Egypt. This makes the four hundred and thirty years agree with the duration of the sojourn in Egypt, as recorded Exodus 12:40. Into the difficulty of reconciling this with the period arrived at by a calculation of the genealogies, it is not necessary to enter. (See Alford’s and Lightfoot’s notes.) For St Paul’s argument it is only necessary that the giving of the law should have been long after the announcement of the covenant promise.

in Christ] These words are probably a gloss; and are properly omitted in R.V. If retained, they should be rendered, “unto (i.e. with a view to) Christ”.

The covenant, ratified before by God, the law, having come into existence after the lapse of 430 years, cannot cancel so as to invalidate the promise.Galatians 3:17. Τοῦτο δὲ λέγω, but this I say) He shows to what the comparison, Galatians 3:15, refers.—διαθήκην) The word is taken here in a sense a little more extensive than that of a testament, for ὁ διαθέμενος, the party entering into an arrangement, who is referred to here, is the immortal[24] [undying] God. And yet the term testament is more consonant with this passage than covenant, Galatians 3:18, at the end. Comp. note on Matthew 26:28.—προκεκυρωμένην,[25] confirmed before) Confirmed, Galatians 3:15, corresponds to this: but πρὸ, before, is added on account of those four hundred and thirty years. The testament was confirmed by the promise itself, and that promise repeated, and by an oath, and that too many years before: ἔτι, in Galatians 3:18, agrees with this word before.—μετὰ, after) It will be said: The epistle to the Hebrews (Hebrews 7:28, note) everywhere prefers to the law those things which were confirmed μετὰ, after the law; how then is that preferred here, after which the law was given? Ans. Those things are noticed there, in which the new confirmation [thing confirmed, covenant] was expressly derogatory to the old confirmation [thing confirmed, covenant]: but that the law was derogatory to the promise, which is here urged, was added neither in the time of Abraham, nor of Moses. Τὸ ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς, that which was from the beginning, is preferred in both cases: comp. Matthew 19:8. Everywhere Christ prevails.—ἔτη, years) The greatness of the interval increases the authority of the promise.—γεγονὼς, which was, came into existence) This also has the effect of attributing inferiority to the law, and of imparting elegance to the personification. He does not say, given, as if the law had existed before it was given; nor does he add, by God, as he had said concerning the testament or covenant. There is another reason for these words, John 1:17.—νόμος, the law) He speaks in the nominative case; so that God who promises, and the law which does not detract from that promise, may be distinctly opposed to each other, and the hinge of this antithesis is the personification previously noticed.—οὐκ ἀκυροῖ, does not make void) A metonymy of the consequent [for the antecedent], i.e. the law does not confer the inheritance.—εἰς τὸ καταργῆσαι) to make of no effect the promise. But it is rendered vain or of no effect, if the power of conferring the inheritance be transferred from it to the law.

[24] Whereas a testament implies the death of the testator; Hebrews 9:16—ED.

[25] The words following εἰς Χριστὸν by the margin of the larger Ed. had been judged as deserving rather to be omitted, but by the excellent decision of the 2d Ed. they have been received into the Germ. Ver.—E. B.

DGfg Vulg. and both Syr. Versions support the addition in Rec. Text εἰς Χοιστόν. But ABC, some of the best MSS. of Vulg., Memph., and Syr. reject the addition.—ED.Verse 17. - And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ (τοῦτο δὲ λέγω διαθήκην προκεκυρωμένην ὑπὸ τοῦ Θεοῦ [Receptus adds, εἰς Ξριστόν]); and I say this: a covenant confirmed before of God. We have here the application of the aphorism laid down in ver. 15. "And I say this;" that is," And what I have to say is this." As God had already before made a solemn covenant with Abraham and his seed, the Law given so long after cannot have been intended to do away with it; fundamental principles of even human civil equity disallow of any such procedure. "Confirmed before." If the confirmation or ratification is to be distinguished as additional to the solemn announcement, we may find it either in the "seal" of circumcision (Romans 4:11), or in the oath "with which God interposed" (Hebrews 6:17) after the sacrifice of Isaac. The words εἰς Ξειστόν, "with reference to Christ," are expunged from the text by most recent editors. If genuine, they would seem intended to emphasize that position of "Christ" (i.e. in effect his Church) as future copartner with Abraham, which has been already affirmed in the preceding verse. The Law, which was four hundred and thirty years after ( μετὰ τετρακόσια καὶ τριάκοντα ἔτη [Receptus reads ἔτη before τετρακόσια, instead of here, with no difference to the sense] εγεονὼς νόμος); the Law, having come into existence four hundred and thirty years after. This number of years the apostle finds in Exodus 12:40, 41. In the Hebrew text of that passage this term of four hundred and thirty years defines the stay of the Israelites" in Egypt." But in the Septuagint, as well as in the Samaritan text, the term defines the sojourn of the Israelites ("themselves and their fathers" is, according to Tischendorf, added in the Alexandrian manuscript) "in the laud of Egypt and in the land of Canaan." With the view presented by this Septuagintal version agrees a definite statement of Josephus ('Ant.,' 2:15, 2), "They left Egypt... four hundred and thirty years after our forefather Abraham came into Canaan, but two hundred and fifteen years only after Jacob removed into Egypt." In two other passages, however ('Ant.,' 2:09, 1; 'Bell. Jud.,' 5:09, 4), Josephus speaks of the affliction in Egypt as lasting "four hundred years;" probably following in this computation the period mentioned in the Divine communication recorded in Genesis 15:13, and cited by St. Stephen (Acts 7:6) in his defence. It is unnecessary here to attempt to determine the chronological question, which is one not free from difficulty. Our readers are referred to some valuable observations of Canon Cook's, in his note on Exodus 12:40; who on apparently strong grounds considers that a longer period than two hundred and fifteen years must be allowed for the sojourn in Egypt (see, however, Mr. Reginald S. Peele's article, "Chronology," in 'Dictionary of the Bible,' vol. 1. pp. 321,322). If the Hebrew text of Exodus 12:40 as we have it is correct, and if the Septuagintal version of it errs in including the sojourn of the patriarchs in Canoan in the there mentioned period of four hundred and thirty years, then the number of years which the apostle here specifies, counting apparently from Abraham's arrival in Canaan when he received the first of the promises cited above in the note on ver. 16, is less than he would have been justified in stating by the interval between Abraham's arrival in Canaan and Jacob's going down into Egypt. But, however, even if the apostle's mind adverted to this particular point at all, which may or may not have been the case, it plainly would not have been worth his while to surprise and perplex his readers by specifying a number of years different from that which they found in the Greek Bible, which both he and they were accustomed to use, even though the greater number would have in a slight degree added to the force of his argument. Cannot dis-annul (οὐκ ἀκυροῖ); doth not disannul. The present tense is used, because the apostle is describing the present position. That it should make the promise of none effect (εἰς τὸ καταργῆσαι τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν). The "covenant" is here to a certain degree distinguished from "the promise." The latter, being the fundamental and characteristic portion of the former, is brought prominently forward, for the purpose of illustrating the character of the Christian economy as being above all things one of grace and gratuitous bestowment. The feeling also, perhaps, underlies the words that with one of generous spirit - and who so large-hearted and munificent as God? - in proportion as a promise which he has given is large and spontaneous, and the expectation raised by it eager and joyous, in that proportion is it impossible for him to baulk the promisee of his hope. The "promise" was "To thee and to thy seed will I give this land;" the "covenant," that Jehovah would be their God, and that they should recognize him as such. And this I say (τοῦτο δὲ λέγω)

Now I mean this. Not strictly the conclusion from Galatians 3:15, Galatians 3:16, since Paul does not use this phrase in drawing a conclusion (comp. 1 Corinthians 1:12, and τοῦτο δέ φημι, 1 Corinthians 7:29; 1 Corinthians 15:50). It is rather the application, for which the way was prepared in Galatians 3:16, of the analogy of Galatians 3:15 to the inviolable stability of God's covenant.

Four hundred and thirty years after

Bengel remarks: "The greatness of the interval increases the authority of the promise."

To make of none effect (καταργῆσαι)

See on Romans 3:3.

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