Can you shed light on Galatians 3:20?


by Shawn Brasseaux

The Bible says in Galatians 3:20: “Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.” What should we take from this?

It is better to read the context first to get the thought-flow of the passage: “[15] Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto. [16] Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. [17] And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. [18] For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.

“[19] Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. [20] Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one. [21] Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. [22] But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.”

No mediator was necessary between the LORD God and Abram back in the opening verses of Genesis chapter 12: “[1] Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: [2] And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: [3] And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” God made promises to Abram, but Abram did not promise God anything. Abram was under no obligation because the Abrahamic Covenant was God’s grace (gift to Abraham). The promise was certain (unconditional) because God alone was the party who needed to perform to bring it to pass. “Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.”

In stark contrast, the Mosaic Covenant (the Law) was conditional. God would work and give Israel the blessing—but only if Israel kept all His commandments first! Both Israel and God were obligated to perform under this arrangement. The Jews had to obey God 100 percent to get His blessings (impossible for sinners, for sinners “transgress”—see Galatians 3:19 above). This two-party agreement meant that God had to give Israel the Law through a mediator—Moses. Again, no such mediator was present or required in Genesis chapter 12 with Abram (later renamed Abraham). “Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.”

Exodus chapter 19 speaks of the Law being given to Israel through Moses: “[1] In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai. [2] For they were departed from Rephidim, and were come to the desert of Sinai, and had pitched in the wilderness; and there Israel camped before the mount. [3] And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; [4] Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself. [5] Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: [6] And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. [7] And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the LORD commanded him. [8] And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD.”

Also see:
» What are the “sins that are past” in Romans 3:25?
» Does God see us Christians as sinners?
» Was the Law of Moses given by the LORD or by angels?