Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator.
New Living Translation
Why, then, was the law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the law was designed to last only until the coming of the child who was promised. God gave his law through angels to Moses, who was the mediator between God and the people.
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.
Berean Study Bible
Why then was the law given? It was added because of transgressions, until the arrival of the seed to whom the promise referred. It was administered through angels by a mediator.
Berean Literal Bible
Why then the Law? It was added on account of transgressions, until the seed to whom promise has been made should have come, having been ordained through angels in the hand of a mediator.
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.
New King James Version
What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator.
New American Standard Bible
Why the Law then? It was added on account of the violations, having been ordered through angels at the hand of a mediator, until the Seed would come to whom the promise had been made.
Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made.
Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed should come to whom the promise had been made.
Why, then, the Law [what was its purpose]? It was added [after the promise to Abraham, to reveal to people their guilt] because of transgressions [that is, to make people conscious of the sinfulness of sin], and [the Law] was ordained through angels and delivered to Israel by the hand of a mediator [Moses, the mediator between God and Israel, to be in effect] until the Seed would come to whom the promise had been made.
Christian Standard Bible
Why, then, was the law given? It was added for the sake of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise was made would come. The law was put into effect through angels by means of a mediator.
Holman Christian Standard Bible
Why then was the law given? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise was made would come. The law was put into effect through angels by means 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.
Aramaic Bible in Plain English
Why therefore is there The Written Law? It was added because of apostasy until The Seed would come to whom The Promise belonged, and The Written Law was given by Angels in the hand of a mediator.
Contemporary English Version
What is the use of the Law? It was given later to show that we sin. But it was only supposed to last until the coming of that descendant who was given the promise. In fact, angels gave the Law to Moses, and he gave it to the people.
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.
Good News Translation
What, then, was the purpose of the Law? It was added in order to show what wrongdoing is, and it was meant to last until the coming of Abraham's descendant, to whom the promise was made. The Law was handed down by angels, with a man acting as a go-between.
International Standard Version
Why, then, was the Law added? Because of transgressions, until the descendant came about whom the promise pertained. It was put into effect through angels by means of a mediator.
Literal Standard Version
Why, then, the Law? It was added on account of the transgressions, until the Seed might come to which the promise has been made, having been set in order through messengers in the hand of a mediator—
New American Bible
Why, then, the law? It was added for transgressions, until the descendant came to whom the promise had been made; it was promulgated by angels at the hand of a mediator.
Why then was the law given? It was added because of transgressions, until the arrival of the descendant to whom the promise had been made. It was administered through angels by an intermediary.
New Revised Standard Version
Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring would come to whom the promise had been made; and it was ordained through angels by a mediator.
New Heart English Bible
What then is the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise has been made. It was ordained through angels by 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.
World English Bible
What then is the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the seed should come to whom the promise has been made. It was ordained through angels by the hand of a mediator.
Young's Literal Translation
Why, then, the law? on account of the transgressions it was added, till the seed might come to which the promise hath been made, having been set in order through messengers in the hand of a mediator --
Additional Translations ...
ContextThe Purpose of the Law
…18For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God freely granted it to Abraham through a promise. 19Why then was the law given? It was added because of transgressions, until the arrival of the seed to whom the promise referred. It was administered through angels by a mediator. 20A mediator is unnecessary, however, for only one party; but God is one.…
"Speak to us yourself and we will listen," they said to Moses. "But do not let God speak to us, or we will die."
At that time I was standing between the LORD and you to declare to you the word of the LORD, because you were afraid of the fire and would not go up the mountain. And He said:
you who received the law ordained by angels, yet have not kept it."
The law came in so that the trespass would increase; but where sin increased, grace increased all the more,
The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say, "and to seeds," meaning many, but "and to your seed," meaning One, who is Christ.
Treasury of Scripture
Why then serves 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.
Romans 3:1,2 What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? …
Romans 7:7-13 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet…
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, verily righteousness should have been by the law…
Deuteronomy 4:8,9 And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day? …
Psalm 147:19,20 He sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel…
Galatians 3:16,25 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ…
Galatians 4:1-4 Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; …
Deuteronomy 33:2 And he said, The LORD came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them.
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 stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; …
Exodus 20:19-22 And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die…
Exodus 24:1-12 And he said unto Moses, Come up unto the LORD, thou, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; and worship ye afar off…
Exodus 34:27-35 And the LORD said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel…
no power to modify the promise--what was its true function? It was a sort of measure of police. Its object was to deal with transgressions. It was also a temporary measure, of force only until it should be superseded by the coming of the Messiah. Unlike the promise, too, it was a contract. It was given by a mediator--that is, a person acting between two parties. Two parties were involved, with rigid conditions binding them both. On the other hand, the promise was given unconditionally by the sole act of God.
In stating the true function of the Law, the Apostle brings out its inferiority to the promise in four respects. (1) It dealt with sins, not with holiness; (2) it was temporary and transitory; (3) it was given, not directly, but indirectly, through the double mediation of the angels and of Moses; (4) it was conditional, and not like the promise, unconditional. It depended upon the fallible action of man, and not only upon the infallible word of God.
(19) Wherefore then serveth the law?--Literally, What then is the Law? What is its object or function? If it did not affect the promise, what did it do? The Apostle proceeds to answer this question.
It was added.--It was not a part of the original scheme, but came in as a sort of marginal addition. It was, as it were, a parenthesis in the design of Providence. The direct line of God's dealings with man ran through the promise and its fulfilment. The Law came in by the way.
Because of transgressions.--It has been usual to give to this one of two opposite interpretations, to make it mean (1) to check or put down transgressions; (2) to multiply and increase transgressions, as in Romans 5:20. The expression seems wide enough to cover both ideas. The Law was given "because of transgressions:" i.e., it had its object in transgressions. Its original purpose was to make them known, and by imposing a penalty to check them; its real effect was to provoke and enhance them. The expression "because of transgressions" leaves it ambiguous which of these points is meant, or rather, it includes them all.
Till the seed should come to whom the promise was made.--By "the seed" is meant, as above, in Galatians 3:16, Christ, the Messiah. The promise is said to have been made to Him in whom it is fulfilled, just as, in Galatians 3:14, Christians are said to "receive the promise"--i.e., the fulfilment of the promise "of the Spirit." . . .Verse 19. - Wherefore then serveth the Law? (τί οϋν ὁ νόμος;); what then (or, why then) is the Law? The apostle is wont thus to introduce the statement of some objection or some question relative to the point in hand which requires consideration (cf. Romans 3:1; Romans 4:1). He wishes now to show that, while the Law was a Divine ordinance, it was yet not intended to supersede the previously ratified covenant, but rather to prepare for its being completely carried out. It was added because of transgressions (tw = n παραβάσεων χάριν προσετέθη); on account of transgressions it was superadded. As χάριν denotes that so-and-so is done in consideration of this or that; this latter may be either some antecedent fact furnishing ground for subsequent action, as in 1 John 3:12; Ephesians 3:1; Luke 7:47, or some prospective result, which the action signified in the verb is intended to forward, as Jude 1:16. Here it intimates that the Law was given from a regard to men's sinful actions, with an implied contrast with the covenant of Christ's gospel, which was concerned with men's justification and benediction. The province of the Law is to expose sins, rebuke them, pronounce God's curse upon them, coerce and restrain them by the discipline of a system of outward rites and ceremonies. The office of the Law, as dealing with sinners as continuing sinful, while unable to make them new creatures, is indicated by St. Paul in 1 Timothy 1:9, where, after saying, "The Law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and unruly, for the ungodly and sinners," he proceeds to add a catalogue of offenders chargeable with the grossest form of criminality; which furnishes a most apt illustration of the word παραβάσεις ("transgressions") which he here uses, and which marks sins in their most wilful and most condemnable character. What was spiritually the outcome of the Law's action upon men's sinful nature, in making their "sin exceeding sinful," the apostle has vividly portrayed in the seventh chapter of the Romans. This last point, however, is probably not even glanced at here; and it is only by straining the sense of χάριν, that some commentators, notably Meyer, find the apostle to be here stating that the Law was added for the behoof of transgressions, as it were in their interest, to increase and intensify them, as in Romans 5:20, that the trespass might abound. This, however, is not naturally found in the present passage. All that the apostle here states is that the Law merely dealt with sins, having no function in relation to life and righteousness. The article before παραβάσεων indicates the whole class of objects referred to, as e.g. in τοῖς ἀνθρώποις (Hebrews 9:27). This" superadded" (προσετίθη) is not inconsistent with the οὐδ ἐπιδιατάσσεται, "nor addeth thereto," of ver. 15; inasmuch as it points to a Divine ordinance, which stood, so to speak, in a different plane from the covenant of grace, and in no way interfered with it. Till the seed should come (ἄχρις οῦ ἔλθῃ τὸ σπέρμα). The form of expression indicates the purpose of him who arranged it all, that the Law should last only so long, and was to come to an end when the seed came. To whom the promise was made (ῷ ἐπήγγελται); to whom the promise hath been made. The perfect tense of the verb, as in the case of κεχάρισται, in ver. 18, points to the still continuing validity of the promise. The "seed" is "Christ;" the historical Christ, indeed, but still viewed collectively as summing up in himself all who should be united to him. And it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator (διαταγεὶς δἰ ἀγγέλων ἐν χειρὶ μεσίτου); being ordained through angels by the hand of a mediator. The verb "ordain" (διατάσσειν), being most commonly used for "command," "order," as Luke 8:55; 1 Corinthians 7:17, is introduced in preference to δοθείς (comp. ver. 20 and John 1:17; John 7:19), as making more prominent the notion of imperative action on the part of the Divine Lawgiver. The whole passage is tinctured with the feeling that the giving of the Law, as contrasted with the dispensation of the Messiah, was marked by distance, sternness, alienation. This is the meaning of the mention of "angels" as the medium of communication on the side of Heaven, and of "a mediator" as the selected medium of reception on the side of Israel (compare the contrast between the two dispensations in Hebrews 12:18-24). This representation of the Law as given through angels is unmistakably made again in the Epistle to the Hebrews, in the words, "The word spoken through angels" (Hebrews 2:2), where also it is placed in the same contrast with the gospel as spoken by the Lord Jesus, which here is plainly implied, if indeed it is not expressly alluded to, in the enigmatic words, "but God is one," in the next verse. This view of the Law as communicated through the medium of angels is distinctly referred to by St. Stephen as the accepted belief of the Jewish theologians before whom he spoke: "Ye who received the Law as the ordinances of angels" (Acts 7:53), where the phrase, διαταγὰς ἀγγέλων, forms a remarkable parallel to the words, διαταγεὶς δι ἀγγέλων, now before us. The same view is put forth by Josephus ('Ant.,' 15:05, 3), "We having learned the most excellent of our doctrines and the most holy part of our Law through angels from God." Such, then, was incontestably the current belief of the Jewish people, both Christian and non-Christian. The Hebrew theologians directed a great deal of attention upon the doctrine of angels, of which the "boundless genealogies" spoken of by St. Paul (1 Timothy 1:4; comp. Colossians 2:18) was certainly one diseased branch. We may without improbability suppose that their exegetical sagacity, not unaided by the Spirit of God promised by him to his people upon their restoration from Captivity, detected the particular fact here indicated in Deuteronomy 33:2; Psalm 68:17; Exodus 19:16, 19. The countless hosts of his "saints" who attended upon the Lord on that occasion were not surely mere spectators; and to their intervention acting out the volitions of God might be most reasonably ascribed all the physical sights and sounds which gave to the giving of the Law its sensible awfulness (comp. 1 Thessalonians 4:16). "They raised the fire and smoke; they shook and rent the rock; they framed the sound of the trumpet; they effected the articulate voices which conveyed the words of the Law to the ears of the people, and therein proclaimed and published the Law; whereby it became ' the word spoken by angels'" (Owen, 'Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews,' 2:2). In the hand of a mediator (ἐν χειρὶ μεσίτου); by the hand of a mediator. Ἐν χειρί, in or by the hand, is unquestionably a Hebraism, being in the Septuagint the ordinary literal rendering of the Hebrew beyad; see e.g. Numbers 4:37, 45; which passages likewise show us whom the apostle means to designate as the mediator; in reference to which comp. also Deuteronomy 5:5, "I stood between (ἀνάμεσον) the Lord and you at that time [i.e. at the giving of the Law], to show you the word of the Lord." So Philo ('Vit. Mos.,' 678) speaks of Hoses as acting like a μεσίτης καὶ διαλλάκτης, "mediator and reconciler." Schottgen ('Hor. Hebr.') gives numerous examples from the rabbinical books of this application of the term "mediator "to Moses. This conception of Moses as a mediator seems implied also in the words, "Mediator of a better covenant" and "Mediator of a new covenant," which we have in Hebrews 8:6 and Hebrews 12:24, with reference to Christ. Evidently the mention of a mediator in the present passage is intended to point to the relations between the Lord and Israel as being those of distance and estrangement. If it be objected that the same inference would be deducible from the description of Christ as "Mediator between God and men," in 1 Timothy 2:5, we have it to say, in answer, that Christ, being in his nature both God and man, not only mediates between God and men, having made atonement or reconciliation by his cross, but in his own being unites God and man, abolishing actually that state of mutual alienation which the mediation of Moses by figure implied but could not in reality do away. We, too, were enemies to God before we were reconciled by the death of his Son (Romans 5:10); but now, being reconciled, we are at one with God in Christ: Christ's life in our nature both guaranteeing and effectuating our continued state of reconciliation with the Father as well as our own spiritual and eternal life.
Parallel Commentaries ...
Interrogative / Indefinite Pronoun - Accusative Neuter Singular
Strong's 5101: Who, which, what, why. Probably emphatic of tis; an interrogative pronoun, who, which or what.
Strong's 3767: Therefore, then. Apparently a primary word; certainly, or accordingly.
[ was ] the
Article - Nominative Masculine Singular
Strong's 3588: The, the definite article. Including the feminine he, and the neuter to in all their inflections; the definite article; the.
Law [ given ]?
Noun - Nominative Masculine Singular
Strong's 3551: From a primary nemo; law, genitive case, specially, (including the volume); also of the Gospel), or figuratively.
It was added
Verb - Aorist Indicative Passive - 3rd Person Singular
Strong's 4369: To place (put) to, add; I do again. From pros and tithemi; to place additionally, i.e. Lay beside, annex, repeat.
Strong's 5484: Accusative case of charis as preposition; through favor of, i.e. On account of.
Noun - Genitive Feminine Plural
Strong's 3847: A transgression, overstepping, deviation. From parabaino; violation.
Strong's 891: As far as, up to, until, during. Or achris akh'-rece; akin to akron; until or up to.
Verb - Aorist Subjunctive Active - 3rd Person Singular
Strong's 2064: To come, go.
Article - Nominative Neuter Singular
Strong's 3588: The, the definite article. Including the feminine he, and the neuter to in all their inflections; the definite article; the.
Noun - Nominative Neuter Singular
Strong's 4690: From speiro; something sown, i.e. Seed; by implication, offspring; specially, a remnant.
Personal / Relative Pronoun - Dative Neuter Singular
Strong's 3739: Who, which, what, that.
[the] promise referred.
Verb - Perfect Indicative Middle or Passive - 3rd Person Singular
Strong's 1861: From epi and the base of aggelos; to announce upon, i.e. to engage to do something, to assert something respecting oneself.
It was administered
Verb - Aorist Participle Passive - Nominative Masculine Singular
Strong's 1299: To give orders to, prescribe, arrange. From dia and tasso; to arrange thoroughly, i.e. institute, prescribe, etc.
Strong's 1223: A primary preposition denoting the channel of an act; through.
Noun - Genitive Masculine Plural
Strong's 32: From aggello; a messenger; especially an 'angel'; by implication, a pastor.
Strong's 1722: In, on, among. A primary preposition denoting position, and instrumentality, i.e. A relation of rest; 'in, ' at, on, by, etc.
Noun - Genitive Masculine Singular
Strong's 3316: From mesos; a go-between, i.e. an internunciator, or a reconciler.
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NT Letters: Galatians 3:19 What then is the law? It was (Gal. Ga)