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Galatians 3:15-18

Context
Inheritance Comes from Promises and not Law

3:15 Brothers and sisters, 1  I offer an example from everyday life: 2  When a covenant 3  has been ratified, 4  even though it is only a human contract, no one can set it aside or add anything to it. 3:16 Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his descendant. 5  Scripture 6  does not say, “and to the descendants,” 7  referring to many, but “and to your descendant,” 8  referring to one, who is Christ. 3:17 What I am saying is this: The law that came four hundred thirty years later does not cancel a covenant previously ratified by God, 9  so as to invalidate the promise. 3:18 For if the inheritance is based on the law, it is no longer based on the promise, but God graciously gave 10  it to Abraham through the promise.

1 tn Grk “brothers.” See note on the phrase “brothers and sisters” in 1:11.

2 tn Grk “I speak according to man,” referring to the illustration that follows.

3 tn The same Greek word, διαθήκη (diaqhkh), can mean either “covenant” or “will,” but in this context the former is preferred here because Paul is discussing in vv. 16-18 the Abrahamic covenant.

4 tn Or “has been put into effect.”

5 tn Grk “his seed,” a figurative extension of the meaning of σπέρμα (sperma) to refer to descendants (L&N 10.29).

6 tn Grk “It”; the referent (the scripture) has been specified in the translation for clarity. The understood subject of the verb λέγει (legei) could also be “He” (referring to God) as the one who spoke the promise to Abraham.

7 tn Grk “to seeds.” See the note on “descendant” earlier in this verse. Here the term is plural; the use of the singular in the OT text cited later in this verse is crucial to Paul’s argument.

8 tn See the note on “descendant” earlier in this verse.

sn A quotation from Gen 12:7; 13:15; 17:7; 24:7.

9 tc Most mss (D F G I 0176 0278 Ï it sy) read “ratified by God in Christ” whereas the omission of “in Christ” is the reading in Ì46 א A B C P Ψ 6 33 81 1175 1739 1881 2464 pc co. The shorter reading is strongly supported by the ms evidence, and it is probable that a copyist inserted the words as an interpretive gloss. However, this form of the “in Christ” expression is somewhat atypical in the corpus Paulinum (εἰς Χριστόν [ei" Criston] rather than ἐν Χριστῷ [en Cristw]), a fact which tempers one’s certainty about the shorter reading. Nevertheless, the expression is used more in Galatians than in any other of Paul’s letters (Gal 2:16; 3:24, 27), and may have been suggested by such texts to early copyists.

10 tn On the translation “graciously gave” for χαρίζομαι (carizomai) see L&N 57.102.



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