I am having a b…
I am having a blast (and it’s a really exhausting blast!) writing an exegesis paper on Galatians 3:15-18. I’ve spent about the last 4 hours doing brain-hurting word studies on promise, offspring, and covenant. But I’m really excited about some of the stuff I’ve been finding and as a warning, I will probably post a non-Greekified version of my paper up on here once I finish it in about a month. In the meanwhile, here is my tentative translation (not so different from the English ones):
15 Brothers, to give a human example: even with a man-made covenant, no one nullifies it or adds to it once it has been ratified. 16 Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” as if concerning many, but rather it is concerning one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. 17 Now what I mean is this: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not revoke a covenant previously ratified by God so as to nullify the promise. 18 For if the inheritance comes from the law, it no longer comes by promise, but God gave it to Abraham through promise.
And finally, a couple of possible insights that I’m getting pretty excited about. I may change my mind on any of these as I do more research, but currently I’m intrigued by the following possibilities:
1. The “man-made covenant” in 3:15 is not just a generic example that Paul is giving, but is actually likely an allusion to Abraham’s covenant with Abimelech in Gen 21:25-34.
2. The OT quotation “and to your offspring” in v. 16 is most likely a reference to Gen 22:17b-18. If #1 is true then that would make a good argument that this is the Genesis text alluded to in Gal 3:16, and not one of the other numerous promises to Abraham’s offspring (Gen 12, 15, 17, etc.)
3. What is the inheritance in verse 18? This one is tricky and maybe a bit of a long-shot contextually, but I’m beginning to think that the inheritance is the heavenly city or the city of God, which is synonymous with eternal life (Heb 11:10, 1 Jn 2:25, Eph 1:11-14, Col 3:24).
4. And lastly, in v. 18 I’m considering arguing that the translation of “promise” is best in both occurrences without an article (most English translations translate the second occurrence as “but God gave it to Abraham by a promise”). This would here turn both occurrences into not so much specific promises which were given to Abraham, but rather would see “promise” as a larger theological category as opposed to “law”.
Anyways, if you made it through that it probably doesn’t sound that interesting at this point, but it is as I’m trying to figure all of this out! Thankfully we can have the inheritance by promise and not by law!