Christ Hath Redeemed Us From The Curse Of The Law: An Exposition On Paul's Words In Galatians 3:13

Samuel Smith



You are welcome to another edition of Insights from God's Word, a Bible study programme that is committed to sharing God's Word by allowing the Bible to speak for itself.

In this edition, we continue with our series on The Law of God. The topic for this study is: "... Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law ...": an exposition on Paul's words in Galatians 3:13. In this study, we are going to consider in detail Paul's message to the Galatians as recorded in Galatians 3:10-14. This passage reads: "3:10 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.

3:11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.

3:12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.

3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

3:14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith."

(Galatians 3:10-14; Capital Emphasis Added)
In order for us to understand this passage, the first question we need to ask ourselves is this: What does Paul mean by the phrase "the works of the law"? Beloved, the phrase "the works of the law", is used by the apostle Paul six times and only in Romans and Galatians (see Romans 3:20; Romans 3:28; Galatians 2:16; Galatians 3:2; Galatians 3:5; Galatians 3:10) to denote the six hundred and thirteen precepts of the Torah, with a particular focus on the Ceremonial Laws of the sanctuary.

As we have noted above, Paul clearly states in Galatians 3:10 that the Ceremonial Laws were compiled in the "book of the law". It is interesting to note that this "book of the law" was placed beside the ark by the Levites in contrast to the Ten Commandments that were placed inside the ark by Moses himself (compare Deuteronomy 10:5 with Deuteronomy 31:24-26).

The "book of the law" contained laws which included purification rites such as circumcision; and other ceremonial ordinances such as sacrifices and offerings for sins, diverse washings, and the celebration of various feasts and holidays (see Leviticus 1; Leviticus 4; Leviticus 5; Leviticus 23; Ezekiel 45:13-17). These ordinances were all types or shadows that were pointing forward to the coming Messiah (see Hebrews 9:1-15).

As we have noted in some of our previous studies, after Christ has died, the Ceremonial Laws of the sanctuary came to an end (see Daniel 9:27; Matthew 27:50-51). This fact notwithstanding, some of the Jews who had been converted to Christianity continued to keep the Ceremonial Laws, and more so sought to instruct their Gentile brethren to do the same. This is exactly the picture of what was happening in the Galatian Church.

You see friends; the apostle Paul had instructed the Galatian church to accept the free gift of salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. When he later learnt that this church had been deceived by some false teachers and that they were now focusing on the "works of the law" instead of exercising an abiding faith in Christ, he wrote a strong letter to address the issue. From Galatians 3:1-5, we read Paul's strong words to the Galatians: "3:1 O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?

3:2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by THE WORKS OF THE LAW, or by the hearing of faith?

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

3:4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.

3:5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by THE WORKS OF THE LAW, or by the hearing of faith?"

(Galatians 3:1-5; Capital Emphasis Added)
Friends, from the second and fifth verses of this passage, we once again come across the expression; "the works of the law", which is a clear reference to the Ceremonial Laws of the sanctuary. According to Paul, this law was no longer necessary because the great Antitype, Jesus Christ had come to die. Concerning the Ceremonial Laws of the sanctuary, Paul makes the following clear statements in other portions of the New Testament:

i) "Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace" (Ephesians 2:15).

ii) "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross" (Colossians 2:14).

Beloved, it is with this same understanding that Paul wrote to the Galatian church the following:

iii) "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree" (Galatians 3:13).

Notice that Paul makes use of similar expressions in these three passages above to make the same point. Let us take some time here to examine the key phrases that are used in these three passages with a special focus on Galatians 3:13:


After our first parents sinned against the express command of God, the human race were sold to Satan (see Genesis 3:1-6; Romans 6:16). For us to be reconciled back to God there was the need for us to be redeemed. This was the work that Christ came to do for each son and daughter of Adam through His death on the cross. Here are some texts that express this important point:

i) "For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's" (1 Corinthians 6:20).

ii) "And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation" (Revelation 5:9; NASB).


First and foremost, it was from the curse of eternal death that Christ came to redeem the human race. For Romans 6:23 states clearly that "the wages of sin is death". Moreover, before the advent of Christ to redeem mankind, the various carnal ordinances of the sanctuary were put in place to serve as a means whereby the sins of the people could be atoned for. However, Paul proclaims in the book of Hebrews that these sacrifices and carnal ordinances "could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience" (Hebrews 9:9). It is in this sense that Paul makes the following statements in relation to the Ceremonial Law:

i) "Having abolished in his flesh the ENMITY, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances" (Ephesians 2:15; Capital Emphasis Added).

ii) "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances THAT WAS AGAINST US, WHICH WAS CONTRARY TO US" (Colossians 2:14; Capital Emphasis Added).

Friends, the ceremonial ordinances, which embodied the frequent purchasing of animals for sacrifices, and the frequent handling of blood, with its diverse washings and purifications, were contrary to our very nature. The continual keeping of them could not totally clear or free a person's conscience from sin. It was an enmity or a curse that Christ's death took away forever.


Beloved, Christ suffered the curse of eternal death that we had to suffer for breaking God's law. The way in which this curse of the Law fell upon Christ was through His death. The eternal life of the Son of God had to be cut short for mankind to have another chance at life. From Deuteronomy 21:23, we read the following: "for he that is hanged is accursed of God". And friends, that is exactly what happened to our Saviour and Lord. He was hanged on Calvary's cross so He could redeem you and I back into the bosom of our loving Father. In His being made a curse on the tree, he also abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances" (Ephesians 2:15), "the curse of the law" (Galatians 3:13), "which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross" (Colossians 2:14).

Friends, the Scripture is clear that the death of Christ brought to an end the Ceremonial Laws. It was the Ceremonial Laws that had a curse, and from which Christ's death redeemed us. It was the Ceremonial Laws that was described as the "enmity" or "contrary to us", of which Christ's death totally freed us. It is important to note that these negative connotations which were made in relation to the Ceremonial Laws are never used in relation to the Ten Commandments in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. Concerning the Ten Commandments, the Scripture makes the following bold claims:

i) " ... the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good" (Romans 7:12).

ii) "But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed" (James 1:25).

iii) "7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. 8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. 9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. 11 Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward" (Psalm 19:7-11).

iv) "7 The works of his hands are verity and judgment; ALL HIS COMMANDMENTS ARE SURE. 8 THEY STAND FAST FOR EVER AND EVER, and are done in truth and uprightness" (Psalm 111:7-8; Capital Emphasis Added).

Beloved, the Scripture is clear that the Ten Commandments will stand fast forever and ever. Some of God's children misinterpret Paul's passages which have to do with the law because they do not yet see the difference between the Ceremonial Laws of the sanctuary and the Ten Commandments. Once we come to appreciate the difference between these two major laws that were being kept by the people of ancient Israel, we will be able to understand more clearly the various Pauline passages that deal with "the law".

Beloved, the last book of the Bible, the Revelation of Jesus Christ, makes it clear that God's end time saints will keep the commandments of God (see Revelation 12:17; Revelation 14:12). How could the end time saints of Christ possibly do this with the understanding that Christ has redeemed them from the curse of the law, and that they are under no obligation to keep the law. You see friends, the Scripture is clear that God's people do not have to continue keeping the Ceremonial Laws of the sanctuary because Christ, the great Antitype had died. However, the Ten Commandments, which is the express image of our loving God, we are particularly encouraged to honour as a token of our love response to Jesus, our Creator and Redeemer (see John 14:15).

Exhortation: "12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come" (John 16:12-13).

NOTE: Unless otherwise specified, all Scriptural References are from the King James Version of the Bible.

In our next study, we will consider the topic: "But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law": an exposition on Paul's words in Galatians 5:18. The Bible Study references for this study are John 6:44, John 3:16-19, Galatians 3:23-25, 2 Corinthians 3:18, Romans 7:22-25 and Romans 3:31. Please do well to go through these passages before the next study is released.

Stay blessed and keep shining for King Jesus.


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