Galatians 3

Galatians 3:3 Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

Paul understands the fundamental principle that in mortality the physical precedes the spiritual. 'Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual' (1 Cor. 15:46). Man, born in a natural and carnal state, can only become spiritual by the putting off the natural man and becoming sanctified by the Spirit. For the Galatian saints who had started down the spiritual path of discipleship to turn from Christ's gospel to the law of carnal commandments was an illogical progression. The schoolmaster was given to bring them to the gospel of Christ, not the other way around.

Galatians 3:6 Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness

Righteousness is more than obedience to God's laws. Abraham's greatness was not that he kept the gospel better than anyone else but that he exercised more faith. He had great desires for righteousness and actually believed that God would bless him according to his desires: 'I sought for the blessings of the fathers...desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to posses a greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers' (Abr. 1:2).

Galatians 3:7 they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham

"Nephi explained...that the Israelites should not think they are more righteous than the Gentiles solely on the basis of Israelite lineage. Nor should they suppose that all of the Gentiles will be utterly destroyed. Nephi explained the doctrine this way: 'As many of the Gentiles as will repent are the covenant people of the Lord; and as many of the Jews as will not repent shall be cast off; for the Lord covenanteth with none save it be with them that repent and believe in his Son, who is the Holy One of Israel' (2 Ne. 30:1-2).

"This principle is known as 'gospel adoption,' and by it one who is a Gentile by lineage may be adopted into the house of Israel...Paul taught the same thing in Gal. 3:25-29, showing that by accepting the gospel of Christ, the Gentiles become the seed of Abraham. This is a fundamental provision of the covenant made to Abraham, as recorded in Abr. 2:10, that 'as many as receive this Gospel shall be called after thy name, and shall be accounted thy seed, and shall rise up and bless thee, as their father.'" (Robert J. Matthews, Selected Writings of Robert J. Matthews: Gospel Scholars Series [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1999], 600.)

Galatians 3:8 God...preached before the gospel unto Abraham

Joseph Smith

"For our own part we cannot believe that the ancients in all ages were so ignorant of the system of heaven as many suppose, since all that were ever saved, were saved through the power of this great plan of redemption, as much before the coming of Christ as since... It will be noticed that, according to Paul, (see Gal. 3:8) the Gospel was preached to Abraham. We would like to be informed in what name the Gospel was then preached, whether it was in the name of Christ or some other name. If in any other name, was it the Gospel? And if it was the Gospel, and that preached in the name of Christ, had it any ordinances? If not, was it the Gospel? And if it had ordinances what were they? Our friends may say, perhaps, that there were never any ordinances except those of offering sacrifices before the coming of Christ, and that it could not be possible for the Gospel to have been administered while the law of sacrifices of blood was in force. But we will recollect that Abraham offered sacrifice, and notwithstanding this, had the Gospel preached to him. That the offering of sacrifice was only to point the mind forward to Christ, we infer from these remarkable words of Jesus to the Jews: 'Your Father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.' (John 8:56.)...we conclude that whenever the Lord revealed himself to men in ancient days, and commanded them to offer sacrifice to him, that it was done that they might look forward in faith to the time of his coming, and rely upon the power of that atonement for a remission of their sins. And this they have done, thousands who have gone before us, whose garments are spotless, and who are, like Job, waiting with an assurance like his, that they will see him in the latter day upon the earth, even in their flesh.

"We may conclude, that though there were different dispensations, yet all things which God communicated to his people were calculated to draw their minds to the great object, and to teach them to rely upon God alone as the author of their salvation, as contained in his law." (Discourses of the Prophet Joseph Smith, compiled by Alma P. Burton [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1977], 80.)

Bruce R. McConkie

"God has spoken in successive ages, giving as much saving truth to every people as they are able to bear. Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and hosts of others, had the fulness of the everlasting gospel, the same gospel restored and established anew by Jesus and his apostles." (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 2: 466.)

Galatians 3:8 In thee shall all nations be blessed

"A major part of the covenant with Abraham is the promise that through Abraham and his seed all the families of the earth would be blessed (see Gen. 12:2; Gen. 18:18; Abr. 2:11). Paul explains that the Lord Jesus Christ was born into the world through Abraham's lineage, and since Jesus is the Savior for all mankind, all are thus blessed through Abraham's seed (see Gal. 3:8-16). This is one application of the promise. Another way in which all people are or will be blessed is that the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are mixed and intermingled with all nations; thus today the descendants of these patriarchs are found more or less among all nations and among all people, making them heirs to the promise that the gospel would be offered to them. Furthermore, the descendants of Abraham bear the holy priesthood and minister the gospel to all nations." (Robert J. Matthews, "Our Covenants with the Lord," Ensign, Dec. 1980, 37)

Galatians 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law

"Paul's logic in support of his position is simple and direct. First, he shows that righteousness is obtainable without the Law of Moses. He uses the example of Abraham, who lived centuries before the Law was even given to Moses, yet who, even without the Law, was still accounted righteous through his faith. (See Gal. 3:7-9.) If Abraham could be counted righteous because of his faith, then those who follow his example can also be accounted righteous through their faith-even (like Abraham) without the Law of Moses.

"Next Paul points out that the Old Testament itself declares that 'the just shall live by faith' rather than by the Law. (Gal. 3:11, quoting Hab. 2:4.) Paul then goes on to show that, in fact, righteousness is not possible by the Law of Moses alone. He points out that those who would rely on the Law for justification, instead of on the atonement of Christ, must keep the Law perfectly, for the Law of Moses provides no means of atonement for intentional sins. Rather, it curses those who fail to live it perfectly:

"'For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.' (Gal. 3:10, quoting Deut. 27:26.)

"In other words, Paul saw the Law of Moses as an all-or-nothing contract. In order for a Jew to be theoretically 'just' as far as the demands of the Old Testament Law were concerned, he would have to live the entire Law perfectly. If he were to fail in the smallest detail to live all the precepts of the Law, he would fall under the curse of the Law and under the power of sin. (See Gal. 3:10-13, 21-22.) Of course, even if he could live the whole Law perfectly, he would still need the principles and ordinances of the gospel in order to receive exaltation in the kingdom of God. Thus, according to Paul, one reason why the Law of Moses fails as a means of justification is that the Law lacks the power to forgive or redeem those who fail to live its precepts; it can only accuse them. Human beings need more than just a rule-book; we also need a means of gaining forgiveness when we break the rules. We need repentance; we need redemption; we need atonement-and these can only come through the gospel of Jesus Christ." (Stephen E. Robinson, "The Law after Christ," Ensign, Sept. 1983, 73)

Galatians 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us...being made a curse for us

"In a way that is incomprehensible to us, the Son of Man bore the effects of the sins of all the sons and daughters of humankind. In an act of infinite irony, the sinless One became the great sinner (see 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13; Hebrews 2:9) and assumed the awful agony of those burdens in Gethsemane and then again on Calvary. He who had always walked in the light of God's Spirit was left to trod the winepress alone, so very alone and without that comforting and confirming influence that had always been a constant companion. He who had brought life and light to the world was subjected to the powers of death and darkness. He who deserved to suffer least suffered most. In the words of the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Mediator 'descended in suffering below that which man can suffer; or, in other words, suffered greater sufferings, and was exposed to more powerful contradictions than any man can be.' In doing so our Lord and Master descended below all things." (Robert L. Millet, The Power of the Word: Saving Doctrines from the Book of Mormon [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1994], 178.)

Galatians 3:13 for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree

See Deut. 21:22-23 and commentary for Acts 5:30.

Galatians 3:15 Paul Paraphrased

"According to the practices of the world (ie. the manner of men), if two men enter into a covenant and that covenant is legally confirmed, then no man can disannul or add to that covenant. Therefore, if the wicked men of the world are expected to keep legally binding covenants, will not God in his righteousness keep his covenants?"

Galatians 3:17 the law...was four hundred and thirty years after

According to the mentality of some Jews of the day, salvation was only possible through the Law of Moses. However, if that were the case then Abraham must be damned for he never lived the Law of Moses. Paul's point is that the law was given 430 years after the covenant was made with Abraham and that the Law of Moses did not supersede the gospel of Abraham. Otherwise Abraham would be damned. Similarly, Jews who demanded that Gentiles be circumcised of necessity imply that Adam, Seth, Enoch, Noah, and Melchizedek must be damned because they were never circumcised. Apparently, if Adam, Noah, Abraham, and others were saved without circumcision and the Law of Moses, then so could the Galatian saints.

Galatians 3:19 it was added because of transgressions

See Ex. 32:15-35 and JST Ex. 34:1-2.

Joseph Smith

"It is said again, in Gal. 3:19, that the law (of Moses, or the Levitical law) was 'added' because of transgression. What, we ask, was this law added to, if it was not added to the Gospel? It must be plain that it was added to the Gospel, since we learn that they had the Gospel preached to them." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 59.)

JST Galatians 3:20 Moses...was...a mediator of this first covenant...but there is one mediator of the new covenant, who is Christ

"The Apostle Paul's intent here is vague; but the JST makes it clear: 'The law, was added because of transgressions, till the seed [the Messiah] should come to whom the promise was made in the law given to Moses, who was ordained by the hand of angels to be a mediator of this first covenant, (the law.)

"Now this mediator [Moses] was not a mediator of the new covenant; but there is one mediator of the new covenant, who is Christ, as it is written in the law concerning the promises made to Abraham and his seed. Now Christ is the mediator of life; for this is the promise which God made unto Abraham' (JST, Gal. 3:19-20, Bible appendix).

The JST helps us understand the Apostle Paul's points: the law of Moses was not designed to stand for all time but until the coming of the promised seed (the Messiah); the law did contain the promises given to Abraham, including that of the coming Messiah; Moses was not the mediator of the covenant God made with Abraham; Christ alone mediated that covenant because it dealt with eternal life. It was this higher covenant that the Messiah instituted when He came." (Richard D. Draper, "New Light on Paul's Teachings," Ensign, Sept. 1999, 27-28)

Galatians 3:24 the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ

The dictionary says a schoolmaster is one who "presides over and teaches a school...One who, or that which, disciplines and directs...often specifically by intimidation; to force into a dull regularity or consistency." (Webster's International Dictionary, 2nd ed., 1934) The ordinances and observances of the Law of Moses did indeed foster a "dull regularity and consistency," but the idea was to regularly and consistently remember the Lamb of God. The schoolmaster was to administer "tough love" for an unruly class of students. Elder McConkie noted, " Men were still to worship and serve the Lord; they were still to love their neighbors as themselves; and the Ten Commandments retained their efficacy, virtue, and force; but under the law of Moses severe penalties were added for disobedience. The element of fear as well as of love became a dominant incentive in doing the things that must be done if salvation is to be won." (The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979-1981], 1: 79.)

The purpose of the Law was better understood by the Nephites than the Jews, for the former group were definitely more obedient to the schoolmaster, 'we keep the law of Moses, and look forward with steadfastness unto Christ, until the law shall be fulfilled' (2 Ne. 25:24).

"The sacrifices included in the law of Moses were given expressly to point individuals to Jesus Christ. (See Gal. 3:24.) Abinadi taught: 'Therefore there was a law given them, yea, a law of performances and of ordinances, a law which they were to observe strictly from day to day, to keep them in remembrance of God and their duty towards him. . . . All these things were types of things to come.' (Mosiah 13:30-31.) Mormon wrote: 'Now they did not suppose that salvation came by the law of Moses; but the law of Moses did serve to strengthen their faith in Christ; and thus they did retain a hope through faith, unto eternal salvation, relying upon the spirit of prophecy, which spake of those things to come.' (Alma 25:16.) The components of the law of sacrifice were 'types of things to come' in that every element in the offering of sacrifices reflected the eternal ministry of Jesus Christ.

"The Mosaic ordinance of sacrifice consisted of two main types of offerings: the voluntary (burnt offering, peace offering, and meat or cereal offering) and obligatory (sin offering and trespass offering). Though each was performed differently, they shared the same elements: an offering, an offerer, a place of offering, a laying on of hands, a priest, salt, fire, and blood. Layers of meaning rested on each element; the offering symbolized not only the Savior (unblemished and so on), but also the offerer. (See Rom. 6:6.) The priest acted as mediator between humans and God. The altar was the place where Jehovah promised to meet with his people and reconcile them to him. (See Ex. 29:42.) Fire symbolized the eternal covenant, as mentioned above; it also represented the purifying action of the Holy Ghost. With respect to the obligatory offering, the laying on of hands accompanied confession of sins, making the animal a substitute for the person who vicariously suffered the consequences of sin. Salt has been mentioned above as symbolizing a preservative of the covenant. Blood symbolized both life and death, since the shedding of the Savior's blood affected the giving of life. When the three offerings-sin, burnt, and peace-were offered together, they symbolized respectively the progression from atonement through sanctification to fellowship with the Lord. Thus the law of sacrifice was instituted to point men to Christ and finally to sanctify them." (Kent P. Jackson and Robert L. Millet, eds., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 5: The Gospels [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1986], 241 - 242.)

James E. Talmage

"At the time of the Exodus the Israelites constituted the few whom the Lord could call His own; and they had to undergo a disciplinary probation-a course of intensive and purifying cultivation, covering four decades in the wilderness-before they were deemed fit to enter the land of their inheritance. They were distinguished as Jehovah-worshipers, and as such stood apart from the more thoroughly apostate and degenerate world.

"But even Israel's fields were full of tares; and the Lord mercifully suspended the fulness of the Gospel requirements, which, because of violation, would have been a means of condemnation; and the law of carnal commandments, generalized as the Mosaic Code, was given instead-as a schoolmaster, whose rigid insistence and compelling restraint, whose rod of correction would, in the course of centuries, prepare the covenant though recreant people for the reestablishment of the Gospel-as was effected through the personal ministry of the Redeemer." (The Vitality of Mormonism [Boston: Gorham Press, 1919], 34.)

Galatians 3:27 as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ

Ezra Taft Benson

"The Apostle Paul used some vivid expressions to illustrate that a member of the Church must be different from the world. He commended us to 'put on Christ,' 'put off ... the old man,' and 'put on the new man.' (See Gal. 3:27; Eph. 4:22, 24.)

"What does that mean to us as members of the church?

"It means that we must become like Jesus Christ. We must emulate His way of life in our lives. Of necessity, we must be 'born again' (John 3:3) and put aside worldly lusts and former behavior unsuited to the Christlike character. We must seek the Holy Ghost to temper our actions." (Come unto Christ [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983], 50.)

Bruce R. McConkie

"[To put on Christ is to] take upon oneself the name of Christ, making it the new family name, the new name by which the saints are called. King Benjamin's counsel to those who had entered the covenant of baptism was: 'Take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives. And it shall come to pass that whosoever doeth this shall be found at the right hand of God, for he shall know the name by which he is called; for he shall be called by the name of Christ.' (Mosiah 5:8-9.)" (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 2:473)

Hugh Nibley

"Having been baptized in Christ and having put on Christ (cf. Galatians 3:27) [notice the imagery that follows: you put on Christ, you put on the new man, you put on the new body; this is very closely connected with the putting on of clothes], like a garment, you come to resemble (symmorphoi gegonate) the Son of God.'" (Temple and Cosmos: Beyond This Ignorant Present, edited by Don E. Norton [Salt Lake City and Provo: Deseret Book Co., Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1992], 96.)

Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek...for ye are all one in Christ Jesus

Chieko Okazaki

"My dear brothers and sisters, aloha! In February, I rejoiced with you when the number of members outside the United States edged ever so slightly past the number of members inside the United States. That slight shift is an important symbol of the international nature of the Church. I thought of Paul's statement to the Galatians: 'There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus' (Gal. 3:28). This week I celebrate the 54th anniversary of my baptism. People like me who are converts know the promise of Paul: 'For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body' (1 Cor. 12:13).

"Brothers and sisters, today I want to talk about the beautiful oneness that we share in the gospel. I just returned from the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, Tonga, and Fiji three weeks ago, where Sister Susan Warner and I participated in leadership training. Earlier assignments have taken me to Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, Samoa, Korea, and Japan.

"...The most important lesson was that we are truly all one in Christ Jesus. We are one in our love of the Savior. We are one in our testimonies of the gospel. We are one in faith, hope, and charity. We are one in our conviction that the Book of Mormon is the inspired word of God. We are one in supporting President Hinckley and the other General Authorities. We are one in loving each other." ("Baskets and Bottles," Ensign, May 1996, 12)

James E. Faust

"We do not lose our identity in becoming members of this Church. We become heirs to the kingdom of God, having joined the body of Christ and spiritually set aside some of our personal differences to unite in a greater spiritual cause. We say to all who have joined the Church, keep all that is noble, good and uplifting in your culture and personal identity. However, under the authority and power of the keys of the priesthood, all differences yield as we seek to become heirs to the kingdom of God, unite in following those who have the keys of the priesthood, and seek the divinity within us. All are welcomed and appreciated. But there is only one celestial kingdom of God.

"Our real strength is not so much in our diversity but in our spiritual and doctrinal unity. For instance, the baptismal prayer and baptism by immersion in water are the same all over the world. The sacramental prayers are the same everywhere. We sing the same hymns in praise to God in every country. ("Heirs to the Kingdom of God," Ensign, May 1995, 62.)

"The multiplicity of languages and cultures is both an opportunity and a challenge for members of the Church. Having everyone hear the gospel in their own tongue requires great effort and resources. The Spirit, however, is a higher form of communication than language. We have been in many meetings where the words were completely unintelligible, but the Spirit bore powerful witness of Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the world. Even with language differences, hopefully no minority group would ever feel so unwelcome in the 'body of Christ' (1 Cor. 10:16-17) that they would wish to worship exclusively in their own ethnic culture. We hope that those in any dominant culture would reach out to them in the brotherhood and sisterhood of the gospel, so that we can establish fully a community of Saints where everyone will feel needed and wanted." (James E. Faust and James P. Bell, In the Strength of the Lord: The Life and Teachings of James E. Faust [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1999], 293 - 294.)

Harold B. Lee

"as George Bernard Shaw said, 'If we all realized that we were the children of one father, we would stop shouting at each other as much as we do.' We are all of one great family. And that should apply not only in political matters, but it should apply in our dealings with each other. What we may do as politicians, or as those who are engaged in competitive temporal activities, we must say, 'Because I am a holder of the priesthood of the living God, I am a representative of our Heavenly Father and hold the priesthood by which He can work through me; I can't stoop to do some of the things that I might have done otherwise because of my fellowship with the priesthood of God.'" ("Priesthood Address," Ensign, Jan. 1974, 97)

Spencer J. Condie

"The Apostle Paul taught that in the Church of Christ 'there is neither Jew nor Greek ... for ye are all one in Christ Jesus' (Gal. 3:28). But there is some cultural baggage of which Jews and Greeks and Germans and Italians and Iranians and Japanese and Americans must rid themselves before they can become 'one in Christ.'" (Your Agency, Handle with Care [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 57.)

Galatians 3:29 if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise

Bruce R. McConkie

"What, then, is the promise made to Abraham and to his seed, meaning to that portion of his seed who, rising up and blessing him as their father, in fact do Abraham's works and qualify for the rewards he received? The blessings of Abraham and his seed are the blessings of celestial marriage, which order of matrimony is the gate to exaltation in the mansions on high.

"What a wondrous thing it is to behold mortal men-Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, our patriarchal fathers-receiving the divine word that in them and in their seed all generations shall be blessed, and that their posterity, through the continuation of the eternal family unit, shall be as the dust of the earth in number, as the sands upon the seashore in multitude, as the stars in the sidereal heavens in endless continuance!...And as the crowning cause for wonderment, that God who is no respecter of persons has given a like promise to every elder in the kingdom who has gone to the holy temple and entered into the blessed order of matrimony there performed. Every person married in the temple for time and for all eternity has sealed upon him, conditioned upon his faithfulness, all of the blessings of the ancient patriarchs, including the crowning promise and assurance of eternal increase, which means, literally, a posterity as numerous as the dust particles of the earth." (The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982], 264.)