“Consider the experience of Abraham; as the scripture says, ‘He believed God, and because of his faith God accepted him as righteous.’ You should realize, then, that the real descendants of Abraham are the people who have faith” (Galatians 3:6-7 GNB).
The false teachers who were involved with the first-century churches of Galatia are known to us today as the Judaizers. The Judaizers were Jews who recognized Jesus as the Messiah but taught that it was necessary to observe the Law of Moses in order to receive salvation through Christ.
But despite Moses’ prominent standing in Israel’s national history, there is one figure of greater historical importance. That person is Abraham, the one from whom the nation of Israel descended. Beginning here in Galatians 3:6 and continuing into Galatians chapter four, the Apostle Paul will compare and contrast the legacies of these important Biblical figures and examine their places in the history of salvation.
One way to illustrate the issue with the Judaizers’ doctrine involves the use of a book or novel. For instance, let’s consider the example of a person who begins to read a novel at its halfway point. A person who begins reading a novel in the middle is someone who is sure to encounter difficulties with the narrative of that book. He or she may fail to grasp the meaning of the references contained within the book or draw the wrong conclusion regarding the characters or the plot. However, a person who starts where the author intended -at the beginning- is someone who is best equipped to understand, appreciate, and correctly interpret the author’s work.
In a similar manner, the Judaizers pressed the churches of Galatia to “start in the middle of the book” in regard to salvation. Unfortunately, their history of salvation only reached back to the Mosaic era. Because of this, the Judaizers began from an incorrect stating point that ultimately led to the wrong destination (salvation in Christ plus the works of the Law).
Just as we would not begin to read a novel at its midway point, Paul encouraged the Galatians to start from the beginning when it came to this question of salvation. In this context, that meant reaching beyond the Law of Moses to the example of Abraham. Abraham did not find acceptance with God through the works of the Law for the Law had not yet come into existence during his lifetime. Instead, “He believed God, and because of his faith God accepted him as righteous.”
So just as Abraham was justified by faith, his spiritual descendants are justified in the same manner.