Galatians 3:19
Parallel Verses
English Standard Version
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.

King James Bible
Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.

American Standard Version
What then is the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise hath been made; and it was ordained through angels by the hand of a mediator.

Douay-Rheims Bible
Why then was the law? It was set because of transgressions, until the seed should come, to whom he made the promise, being ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.

English Revised Version
What then is the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise hath been made; and it was ordained through angels by the hand of a mediator.

Webster's Bible Translation
What purpose then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.

Weymouth New Testament
Why then was the Law given? It was imposed later on for the sake of defining sin, until the seed should come to whom God had made the promise; and its details were laid down by a mediator with the help of angels.

Galatians 3:19 Parallel
Commentary
Vincent's Word Studies

Wherefore then serveth the law? (τί οὖν ὁ νόμος)

Lit. what then is the law, or, why then the law? What is its meaning and object? A natural question of an objector, since, according to Paul's reasoning, salvation is of promise and not of law.

It was added (προσετέθη)

Comp. παρεισῆλθεν came in beside, Romans 5:20. Not as an addition to the promise, which is contrary to Galatians 3:18, but as a temporary, intermediate institution, in which only a subordinate purpose of God was expressed.

Because of transgressions (τῶν παραβάσεων χάριν)

In order to set upon already existing sins the stamp of positive transgression of law. Comp. Romans 4:5; Romans 5:13. Note the article, the transgressions, summing them up in one mass. Not, in order to give the knowledge of sins. This, it is true, would follow the revelation of sins as transgressions of law (Romans 3:20; Romans 7:13); but, 1. the phrase because of transgressions does not express that thought with sufficient definiteness. If that had been his meaning, Paul would probably have written τῆς ἀπιγνώσεως τῶν παραβάσεων χάριν on account of the knowledge of transgressions. 2. He meant to describe the office of the law as more than giving the knowledge of sins. Its office was, in revealing sin as positive transgression, to emphasize the objective, actual, contrary fact of righteousness according to the divine ideal, and to throw sin into contrast with that grand ideal.

The seed

Christ, whose advent was to introduce the fulfillment of the promise (Galatians 3:16).

Ordained (διαταγεὶς)

The verb means to arrange, appoint, prescribe. Of appointing the twelve, Matthew 11:1; of enjoining certain acts, Luke 8:55; Luke 17:10; 1 Corinthians 7:17; of the decree of Claudius, Acts 18:2. Here, describing the form or mode in which the law was added; the arrangement made for giving it.

By angels (δἰ ἀγγέλων)

Better, through angels as agents and intermediaries. Comp. εἰς διαταγὰς ἀγγέλων with reference to arrangements of angels; or as it was ordained by angels, Acts 7:53. The tradition of the giving of the law through angels appears first in Deuteronomy 33:2 (but comp. lxx and the Hebrew). See Hebrews 2:2; Acts 7:53. In the later rabbinical schools great importance was attached to this tradition, and it was not without influence in shaping the doctrine of angelic mediation which formed one of the elements of the Colossian heresy. Josephus (Ant. 15:5, 3) relates that Herod excited the Jews to battle by a speech, in which he said that they had learned the holiest of laws from God through angels. It is a general O.T. idea that in great theophanies God appears surrounded with a heavenly host. See Habakkuk 3:8; Isaiah 66:15; Zechariah 14:5; Joel 3:11. The idea of an angelic administration is also familiar. See Exodus 23:20; Exodus 32:34; Exodus 33:14; Isaiah 63:9; Joshua 5:14. The agency of angels indicates the limitations of the older dispensation; its character as a dispensation of the flesh.

In the hand of a mediator (ἐν χειρὶ μεσίτου)

Ἑν χειρὶ by the agency of. A Hebraism. In this sense, not elsewhere in N.T. See lxx, Genesis 38:20 Leviticus 16:21. In the hand of Moses, Leviticus 26:46; Numbers 4:37, Numbers 4:41, Numbers 4:45, Numbers 4:49. Comp. σὺν χειρὶ ἀγγέλου with the hand of the angel, Acts 7:35. For μεσίτης mediator, see on 1 Timothy 2:5, and comp. Hebrews 8:6; Hebrews 9:15; Hebrews 12:24. It is a later Greek word signifying also umpire, arbitrator, and appears in lxx only in Job 9:33. The mediator here is Moses, who is often so designated by rabbinical writers. The object is not (as Meyer) to enable the reader to realize the glory of the law in the dignity and formal solemnity of its ordination, but to indicate the inferior, subordinate position held by the law in comparison with the promise, not the gospel. A glorification of the law cannot be intended, since if that were contemplated in the mention of angels and the mediator, the statement would tend to the disparagement of the promise which was given without a mediator. Paul, in the section Galatians 3:6-9, Galatians 3:7, aims to show that the law does not, as the Judaisers assume, stand in a relation to the divine plan of salvation as direct and positive as does the promise, and that it has not, like the promise and its fulfillment, an eternal significance. On the contrary, it has only a transitory value. This estimate of the law does not contradict Paul's assertions in Romans 7:12-25. In representing the law as subordinate and temporary he does not impugn it as a divine institution.

Galatians 3:19 Parallel Commentaries

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

then.

Romans 3:1,2 What advantage then has the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision...

Romans 7:7-13 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. No, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust...

It was added.

Galatians 3:21-24 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life...

Deuteronomy 4:8,9 And what nation is there so great, that has statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day...

Psalm 147:19,20 He shows his word to Jacob, his statutes and his judgments to Israel...

Luke 16:31 And he said to him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

John 5:45-47 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuses you, even Moses, in whom you trust...

John 15:22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.

Romans 2:13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

Romans 3:19,20 Now we know that what things soever the law said, it said to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped...

Romans 4:15 Because the law works wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.

Romans 5:20,21 Moreover the law entered, that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound...

Romans 7:7-13 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. No, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust...

1 Timothy 1:8,9 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully...

till.

Galatians 3:16,25 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He said not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to your seed...

Galatians 4:1-4 Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differs nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all...

by.

Deuteronomy 33:2 And he said, The LORD came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir to them; he shined forth from mount Paran...

Acts 7:53 Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.

Hebrews 2:2,5 For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward...

in.

Exodus 20:19-22 And they said to Moses, Speak you with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die...

Exodus 24:1-12 And he said to Moses, Come up to the LORD, you, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel...

Exodus 34:27-35 And the LORD said to Moses, Write you these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel...

Leviticus 15:32 This is the law of him that has an issue, and of him whose seed goes from him, and is defiled therewith;

Deuteronomy 5:5,22-33 (I stood between the LORD and you at that time, to show you the word of the LORD: for you were afraid by reason of the fire...

Deuteronomy 9:13-20,25-29 Furthermore the LORD spoke to me, saying, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiff necked people...

Deuteronomy 18:15-19 The LORD your God will raise up to you a Prophet from the middle of you, of your brothers, like to me; to him you shall listen...

Psalm 106:23 Therefore he said that he would destroy them, had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach, to turn away his wrath...

John 1:17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

Acts 7:38 This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spoke to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers...

The Apostle, having just before been speaking of the promise made to Abraham, and representing that as the rule of our justification, and not the law, lest they should think he derogated too much from the law, and thereby rendered it useless--he thence takes occasion to discourse of the design and tendency of it, and to acquaint us for what purposes it was given.

Cross References
Exodus 20:19
and said to Moses, "You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die."

Deuteronomy 5:5
while I stood between the LORD and you at that time, to declare to you the word of the LORD. For you were afraid because of the fire, and you did not go up into the mountain. He said:

Acts 7:53
you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it."

Romans 5:20
Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,

Galatians 3:16
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.

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