Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Galatians 3:17

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Confirmed before of God in Christ - i.e. The promise of justification, etc., made to believers in Christ Jesus, who are the spiritual seed of Christ, as they are children of Abraham, from the similitude of their faith. Abraham believed in God, and it was reckoned to him for justification; the Gentiles believed in Christ, and received justification. Probably the word Christ is to be taken, both here and in the preceding verse, for Christians, as has already been hinted. However it be taken, the sense is plainly the same; the promise of salvation must necessarily be to them who believe in Christ, for he is the promised seed, Genesis 3:15, through whom every blessing is derived on mankind; and through his spiritual seed - the true Christians, the conquests of the cross are daily spreading over the face of the earth. The present unparalleled dispersion of the sacred writings, in all the regular languages of the universe, is a full proof that all the nations of the earth are likely to be blessed through them; but they have nothing but what they have received from and through Christ.

Four hundred and thirty years after - God made a covenant with Abraham that the Messiah should spring from his posterity. This covenant stated that justification should be obtained by faith in the Messiah. The Messiah did not come till 1911 years after the making of this covenant, and the law was given 430 years after the covenant with Abraham, therefore the law, which was given 1481 years before the promise to Abram could be fulfilled, (for so much time elapsed between the giving of the law and the advent of Christ), could not possibly annul the Abrahamic covenant. This argument is absolute and conclusive. Let us review it. The promise to Abraham respects the Messiah, and cannot be fulfilled but in him. Christians say the Messiah is come, but the advent of him whom they acknowledge as the Messiah did not take place till 1911 years after the covenant was made, therefore no intermediate transaction can affect that covenant. But the law was an intermediate transaction, taking place 430 years after the covenant with Abraham, and could neither annul nor affect that which was not to have its fulfillment till 1481 years after. Justification by faith is promised in the Abrahamic covenant, and attributed to that alone, therefore it is not to be expected from the law, nor can its works justify any, for the law in this respect cannot annul or affect the Abrahamic covenant. But suppose ye say that the law, which was given 430 years after the covenant with Abraham, has superseded this covenant, and limited and confined its blessings to the Jews; I answer: This is impossible, for the covenant most specifically refers to the Messiah, and takes in, not the Jewish people only, but all nations; for it is written, In thy seed - the Messiah and his spiritual progeny, shall all the nations of the earth be blessed. This universal blessedness can never be confined, by any figure of speech, or by any legal act, to the Jewish people exclusively; and, as the covenant was legally made and confirmed, it cannot be annulled, it must therefore remain in reference to its object.

In opposition to us, the Jews assert that the Messiah is not yet come; then we assert, on that ground, that the promise is not yet fulfilled; for the giving of the law to one people cannot imply the fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant, because that extends to all nations. However, therefore, the case be argued, the Jewish cause derives no benefit from it; and the conclusion still recurs, salvation cannot be attained by the works of the law, forasmuch as the covenant is of faith; and he only, as your prophets declare, who is justified by faith, shall live, or be saved. Therefore we still conclude that those who are only under the law are under the curse; and, as it says, he that doeth these things shall live in them, and he that sinneth shall die, there is no hope of salvation for any man from the law of Moses. And the Gospel of Jesus Christ, proclaiming salvation by faith to a sinful and ruined world, is absolutely necessary, nor can it be superseded by any other institution, whether human or Divine.

How we arrive at the sum of 430 years may be seen in the note on Exodus 12:40; (note). Dr. Whitby also gives a satisfactory view of the matter. "The apostle refers to the promise made, Genesis 12:3, since from that only are the 430 years to be computed, for then Abraham was 75 years old, Genesis 12:4; from thence to the birth of Isaac, which happened when Abraham was 100 years old, ( Genesis 21:5;), 25 years; from his birth to the birth of Jacob, 60 years, for Isaac was 60 years old when Rebecca bare him, Genesis 25:26. From Jacob's birth to the descent into Egypt, 130 years, as he said to Pharaoh, Genesis 47:9. The abode of him and his posterity in Egypt was 215 years; so that, with their sojourning in Canaan, was 430 years;" the sum given here, and in Exodus 12:40; (note).

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

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 ChristonThat 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.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
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.
Ellen G. White
The Publishing Ministry, 102.3

Danger of Straining to be Original—Some are always straining to get something original. This places them in great danger. They produce something new that is not according to the Word of God, and they have not the discernment to see the real harm that results from their ambition to excel some other one in new and strange productions. Thus error comes to appear to them as truth, and they present it as wonderful new light, when it is an innovation that makes of none effect a “Thus saith the Lord.” PM 102.3

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Ellen G. White
Selected Messages Book 3, 54.2

Bearing Testimony Unexpectedly—Sabbath morning early, I went into meeting and the Lord gave me a testimony directly to them, all unexpected to me. I poured it out upon them, showing them that the Lord sent his ministers with a message and the message they brought was the very means God had ordained to reach them, but they felt at liberty to pick it in pieces and make of none effect the Word of God.... I can tell you there was great astonishment and marveling that I dared to speak to them thus.—Letter 19, 1884. 3SM 54.2

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Ellen G. White
Selected Messages Book 3, 167.3

Satan has been having things his own way; but the Lord has raised up men and given them a solemn message to bear to His people, to wake up the mighty men to prepare for battle, for the day of God's preparation. This message Satan sought to make of none effect, and when every voice and every pen should have been intensely at work to stay the workings and powers of Satan there was a drawing apart; there were differences of opinion. This was not at all the way of the Lord. 3SM 167.3

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Ellen G. White
Selected Messages Book 3, 324.1

You ask me why it is that you awake in the night and feel enclosed in darkness? I often feel the same way myself; but these desponding feelings are no evidence that God has forsaken you or me.... Gloomy feelings are no evidence that the promises of God are of no effect. 3SM 324.1

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