“Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it is only a man’s covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it. Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as of many, but as of one, ‘And to your Seed,’ who is Christ” (Galatians 3:15-16).
To help explain the concept of salvation by grace through faith in Christ, Paul the Apostle turned to an illustration from everyday life here in Galatians 3:15-16. The instrument chosen for that illustration was a contract or a “covenant” as we read in the Scripture quoted above. This should serve as a familiar analogy that needs no special explanation for modern-day readers of this passage.
For example, we see this concept in action whenever a person or company negotiates an agreement to provide goods or services. Once those negotiations are complete, the parties will often sign a contract to formalize their arrangement. The “covenant” mentioned within these verses was like a modern-day contract in that it involved a legally binding promise between two groups or individuals. And just as the terms and conditions of a 21st century contract cannot be altered without prior approval, the terms and conditions of a Biblical covenant could not be changed or annulled without consent of the parties involved.
Nevertheless, Paul anticipated a potential objection to the idea of salvation by grace through faith in Christ and proactively addressed it within this passage. You see, some might argue that the Mosaic Law superseded God’s arrangement with Abraham from Genesis 15:6: “(Abraham) believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith” (NLT). The idea was simple: since Abraham’s life pre-dated the Mosaic Law, the “new” way of finding acceptance with God through the works of the Law supplanted the “old” way of salvation by grace through faith.
However, Paul closed off that argument with a compelling response: even though the Mosaic Law followed God’s covenant with Abraham, the Law could not alter that original covenant. Just as a modern contractual agreement cannot be modified without the consent of both parties, God’s earlier arrangement remained in force with Abraham and his descendant (CEV) was well.
So just as a police officer might establish a roadblock to eliminate a means of escape for a fleeing suspect, Paul neutralized this objection and established another pillar to support the concept of salvation by grace through faith in Christ here in Galatians 3:15-16.