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Galatians 3:8

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

The Scripture, foreseeing - See the notes on Romans 4:3-16; (note). As God intended to justify the heathen through faith, he preached the Gospel that contains the grand display of the doctrine of salvation by faith, before, to Abraham, while he was in his heathen state; and thus he is called the father of believers: therefore it must refer to them who shall believe the same Gospel among the Gentiles; and, as the door of faith was open to all the Gentiles, consequently the promise was fulfilled: In thee shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

And the Scripture - The word Scripture refers to the Old Testament; see the note at John 5:39. It is here personified, or spoken of as foreseeing. The idea is, that he by whom the scriptures were inspired, foresaw that. It is agreeable, the meaning is, to the account on the subject in the Old Testament. The Syriac renders this, “Since God foreknew that the Gentiles would be justified by faith, he before announced to Abraham, as the scripture saith, In thee shall all nations be blessed.”

Foreseeing - That is, this doctrine is contained in the Old Testament. It was foreseen and predicted that the pagan would be justified by faith, and not by the works of the Law.

That God would justify the heathen - Greek: “The nations” - τὰ ἔθνη ta ethnē- the Gentiles. The fact that the pagan, or the Gentiles would be admitted to the privileges of the true religion, and be interested in the benefits of the coming of the Messiah, is a fact which is everywhere abundantly predicted in the Old Testament. As an instance, see Isaiah 49:6, Isaiah 49:22-23; 60. I do not know that it is anywhere distinctly foretold that the pagan would be justified by faith, nor does the argument of the apostle require us to believe this. He says that the Scriptures, that is, he who inspired the Scriptures, foresaw that fact, and that the Scriptures were written as if with the knowledge of that fact; but it is not directly affirmed. The whole structure and frame of the Old Testament, however, proceeds on the supposition that it would be so; and this is all that the declaration of the apostle requires us to understand,

Preached before the gospel - This translation does not convey quite the idea to us, which the language of Paul, in the original, would to the people to whom he addressed it. We have affixed a technical sense to the phrase “to preach the gospel.” It is applied to the formal and public annunciation of the truths of religion, especially the “good news” of a Saviour‘s birth, and of redemption by his blood. But we are not required by the language used here to suppose that this was done to Abraham, or that “the gospel” was preached to him in the sense in which we all now use that phrase. The expression, in Greek προευηγγελίσατο proeuēngelisatomeans merely, “the joyful news was announced beforehand to Abraham;” scil. that in him should all the nations of the earth be blessed. It was implied, indeed, that it would be by the Messiah; but the distinct point of the “good news” was not the “gospel” as we understand it, but it was that somehow through him all the nations of the earth would be made happy. Tyndale has well translated it,” Showed beforehand glad tidings unto Abraham.” This translation should have been adopted in our common version.

In thee shall all nations be blessed - See the Acts 3:25 note; Romans 4:13 note. All nations should be made happy in him, or through him. The sense is, that the Messiah was to be descended from him, and the religion of the Messiah, producing peace and salvation, was to be extended to all the nations of the earth: see Genesis 12:3; compare the note at Galatians 3:16.

Εὐαγγελίζω Euangelizōdoubtless here, as elsewhere, signifies to announce glad tidings. And in all the passages where this word occurs, even in those where the author might be disposed to allow that the “gospel technically” was meant, the translation which he proposes here would be very suitable and exact. It was certainly the same gospel that was preached to Abraham, that is now preached to us, though not with, the same fulness of revelation, in his case. The apostle here affirms that the gospel, that is, the way of justification through Christ, in opposition to the legal system he had been condemning - was, in few words, preached to Abraham, being contained in that promise, “in thee shall all nations be blessed;” see Genesis 22:17. The full meaning of the promise, indeed, could not be gathered from the words themselves, but Abraham must have understood their application in a far more extensive sense than that “somehow through him all the nations of the earth would be made happy.” Whether the true import were made known to him directly by the Spirit of God, or discerned by him in typical representation, it is certain that Abraham‘s faith terminated on the promised Seed, that is, Christ whose day he desired to see, and seeing it afar, was glad, John 8:56. “Hereof it followeth,” says Luther on the place, “that the blessing and faith of Abraham is the same that ours is, that Abraham‘s Christ is our Christ, that Christ died as well for the sins of Abraham as for us.”)

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The apostle proves the doctrine he had blamed the Galatians for rejecting; namely, that of justification by faith without the works of the law. This he does from the example of Abraham, whose faith fastened upon the word and promise of God, and upon his believing he was owned and accepted of God as a righteous man. The Scripture is said to foresee, because the Holy Spirit that indited the Scripture did foresee. Through faith in the promise of God he was blessed; and it is only in the same way that others obtain this privilege. Let us then study the object, nature, and effects of Abraham's faith; for who can in any other way escape the curse of the holy law? The curse is against all sinners, therefore against all men; for all have sinned, and are become guilty before God: and if, as transgressors of the law, we are under its curse, it must be vain to look for justification by it. Those only are just or righteous who are freed from death and wrath, and restored into a state of life in the favour of God; and it is only through faith that persons become righteous. Thus we see that justification by faith is no new doctrine, but was taught in the church of God, long before the times of the gospel. It is, in truth, the only way wherein any sinners ever were, or can be justified. Though deliverance is not to be expected from the law, there is a way open to escape the curse, and regain the favour of God, namely, through faith in Christ. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law; being made sin, or a sin-offering, for us, he was made a curse for us; not separated from God, but laid for a time under the Divine punishment. The heavy sufferings of the Son of God, more loudly warn sinners to flee from the wrath to come, than all the curses of the law; for how can God spare any man who remains under sin, seeing that he spared not his own Son, when our sins were charged upon him? Yet at the same time, Christ, as from the cross, freely invites sinners to take refuge in him.
Ellen G. White
Selected Messages Book 3, 193.4

Justification Explained—1891—Justification by faith is to many a mystery. A sinner is justified by God when he repents of his sins. He sees Jesus upon the cross of Calvary. Why all this suffering? The law of Jehovah has been broken. The law of God's government in heaven and earth has been transgressed, and the penalty of sin is pronounced to be death. But “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Oh, what love, what matchless love! Christ, the Son of God, dying for guilty man! 3SM 193.4

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Ellen G. White
Selected Messages Book 1, 247

Christ did not make believe take human nature; He did verily take it. He did in reality possess human nature. “As the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same” (Hebrews 2:14). He was the son of Mary; He was of the seed of David according to human descent. He is declared to be a man, even the Man Christ Jesus. “This man,” writes Paul, “was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house” (Hebrews 3:3). 1SM 247.1

But while God's Word speaks of the humanity of Christ when upon this earth, it also speaks decidedly regarding His pre-existence. The Word existed as a divine being, even as the eternal Son of God, in union and oneness with His Father. From everlasting He was the Mediator of the covenant, the one in whom all nations of the earth, both Jews and Gentiles, if they accepted Him, were to be blessed. “The Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). Before men or angels were created, the Word was with God, and was God. 1SM 247.2

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Ellen G. White
Patriarchs and Prophets, 370

It was their own evil heart of unbelief, controlled by Satan, that led them to hide their light, instead of shedding it upon surrounding peoples; it was that same bigoted spirit that caused them either to follow the iniquitous practices of the heathen or to shut themselves away in proud exclusiveness, as if God's love and care were over them alone. PP 370.1

As the Bible presents two laws, one changeless and eternal, the other provisional and temporary, so there are two covenants. The covenant of grace was first made with man in Eden, when after the Fall there was given a divine promise that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head. To all men this covenant offered pardon and the assisting grace of God for future obedience through faith in Christ. It also promised them eternal life on condition of fidelity to God's law. Thus the patriarchs received the hope of salvation. PP 370.2

This same covenant was renewed to Abraham in the promise, “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” Genesis 22:18. This promise pointed to Christ. So Abraham understood it (see Galatians 3:8, 16), and he trusted in Christ for the forgiveness of sins. It was this faith that was accounted unto him for righteousness. The covenant with Abraham also maintained the authority of God's law. The Lord appeared unto Abraham, and said, “I am the Almighty God; walk before Me, and be thou perfect.” Genesis 17:1. The testimony of God concerning His faithful servant was, “Abraham obeyed My voice, and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.” Genesis 26:5. And the Lord declared to him, “I will establish My covenant between Me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee.” Genesis 17:7. PP 370.3

Though this covenant was made with Adam and renewed to Abraham, it could not be ratified until the death of Christ. It had existed by the promise of God since the first intimation of redemption had been given; it had been accepted by faith; yet when ratified by Christ, it is called a new covenant. The law of God was the basis of this covenant, which was simply an arrangement for bringing men again into harmony with the divine will, placing them where they could obey God's law. PP 370.4

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Ellen G. White
Patriarchs and Prophets, 154

Through type and promise God “preached before the gospel unto Abraham.” Galatians 3:8. And the patriarch's faith was fixed upon the Redeemer to come. Said Christ to the Jews. “Your father Abraham rejoiced that he should see My day; and he saw it, and was glad.” John 8:56, R.V., margin. The ram offered in the place of Isaac represented the Son of God, who was to be sacrificed in our stead. When man was doomed to death by transgression of the law of God, the Father, looking upon His Son, said to the sinner, “Live: I have found a ransom.” PP 154.1

It was to impress Abraham's mind with the reality of the gospel, as well as to test his faith, that God commanded him to slay his son. The agony which he endured during the dark days of that fearful trial was permitted that he might understand from his own experience something of the greatness of the sacrifice made by the infinite God for man's redemption. No other test could have caused Abraham such torture of soul as did the offering of his son. God gave His Son to a death of agony and shame. The angels who witnessed the humiliation and soul anguish of the Son of God were not permitted to interpose, as in the case of Isaac. There was no voice to cry, “It is enough.” To save the fallen race, the King of glory yielded up His life. What stronger proof can be given of the infinite compassion and love of God? “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” Romans 8:32. PP 154.2

The sacrifice required of Abraham was not alone for his own good, nor solely for the benefit of succeeding generations; but it was also for the instruction of the sinless intelligences of heaven and of other worlds. The field of the controversy between Christ and Satan—the field on which the plan of redemption is wrought out—is the lesson book of the universe. Because Abraham had shown a lack of faith in God's promises, Satan had accused him before the angels and before God of having failed to comply with the conditions of the covenant, and as unworthy of its blessings. God desired to prove the loyalty of His servant before all heaven, to demonstrate that nothing less than perfect obedience can be accepted, and to open more fully before them the plan of salvation. PP 154.3

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