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After a Covenant Is Confirmed

The Gentile churches in Galatia were being troubled by Judaizing teachers who sought to bind the keeping of the Old Testament law (specifically circumcision) on them. Both Jews and Gentiles could recognize that God’s threefold promise to the fathers was that every family on the earth would be blessed (Gen. 12:3). These teachers made the keeping of the law absolutely essential to obtaining this blessing. The church at Rome also had this problem.

Paul answers this false teaching by looking at a secular promise or covenant. He looked at an ordinary covenant and states, “Though it is only a man’s covenant, yet if it is confirmed no one annuls or adds to it” (Gal. 3:15). Think of a business contract which once it is “signed, sealed and delivered,” it cannot be changed.

The covenant made with the fathers was given and confirmed by God. God made the covenant (and remember He cannot lie) and sealed it with an oath. He swore by Himself that He would keep that covenant promise (Heb. 6:13-18). That covenant was “signed, sealed and delivered” and nothing could change it.

Now note how Paul uses the simple truth about ordinary business contracts (covenants). He first shows that the covenant was given before circumcision. The covenant was made in Genesis 13 and circumcision was given 20 years later in Genesis 17.  Read Romans 4:9-12 to see this “time” argument. Paul makes the same “time” argument to the Galatians when he clearly states that the law came 430 years after the covenant. Thus, neither circumcision nor the law have anything to do with God’s confirmed covenant.

What is the significance of this to us and how does the “time” argument impact us? God has made a New Covenant (testament) with us. Like He gave the covenant with the fathers and confirmed it, He has given a new covenant with us.

How did He confirm this New Covenant? Read the closing verses of Mark. “So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through accompanying signs” (Mark 16:19-20). Those miracles were the confirmation. They were God’s seal of the New Testament.

Those miracles no longer exist. The dead are no longer being raised! The covenant has been given and confirmed. What follows is that once given and confirmed, “No one annuls or adds to it.” No synod, convention, church hierarchy or pastor can make a single change to it. Think about this!!