Key Verse: Galatians 3:6 “Consider Abraham: ‘He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.'” (NIV)
The key verse occurs in a context that stretches from chapter three, verse one to chapter four, verse seven. The discussion is about the role of law and faith as they relate to righteousness. And remember, Paul’s readers are Gentiles.
As I said in the introduction, there were two competing faction in the Galatian churches, both undermining Paul’s work: the legalists (Judaizers) and the libertines (Gnostics). Most of Paul’s counterattack, however, is against the legalists.
He comes on strong, wondering how the Galatian Christians could have been “bewitched” (v.1) by the legalists. They were actually beginning to believe they had to be circumcised and obey they ceremonial law in order to be accepted by God. Paul asks them a fundamental question: “Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? . . . After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?” (v.2,3). He then goes back beyond the lawgiver (Moses) to Abraham, “the man of faith”. The point he makes is clear and powerful, “those who believe are children of Abraham” (v.7); and this does include the Gentiles because God’s promise to Abraham was, “All nations will be blessed through you” (v.8).
He calls the law “a curse”. Not because it’s bad, but because it’s good — so good, in fact, that no one can measure up, and all are thereby “cursed”, not blessed, by its uprightness.
The only way to righteousness is if someone takes the curse of the law upon Himself in our place. That has happened, in Christ (v.13,14). So we put our faith in Him, and the cure becomes a blessing. More than blessed, we are redeemed by belief in Christ. We believe, and the righteousness demanded by the law ours — all because of faith in Jesus.