The Mosaic Law Preaches Faith: A Study In Galatians 3 -- By: Charles H. Cosgrove

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 41:1 (Fall 1978)
Article: The Mosaic Law Preaches Faith: A Study In Galatians 3
Author: Charles H. Cosgrove

The Mosaic Law Preaches Faith:
A Study In Galatians 3

Charles H. Cosgrove

In the fall of 1975 Westminster Theological Journal published an article by Daniel Fuller entitled “Paul and the Works of the Law”. In that article Fuller challenged the very foundation of the traditional Protestant law-gospel distinction. His paper centered around an exegesis of Galatians 3:10–12. What more powerful anti-law polemic could be found than in Galatians 3, yet Fuller argued convincingly from the text that Paul saw the law itself as enjoining faith!

The goal of this study is to show that the remainder of Paul’s argument in Galatians 3 supports Fuller’s exegesis of 3:10–12. Before 3:13–29 is examined, then, an outline of Fuller’s handling of 3:10–12 is in order. No attempt will be made to reproduce all the arguments Fuller puts forth for his conclusions. They are stated cogently in his article. Here is only a brief sketch of his conclusions:

  1. Definitions of the components of Paul’s argument

a. “Works of the law” (3:10), “law” (3:11), and “law”(3:12) all refer to the first century Jewish perversion of the Mosaic law, which perversion Paul saw as a direct threat to the heart of his gospel. It is against this legalistic misunderstanding of the law that Paul’s Galatian polemic is directed.

b. The “Leviticus 18:5 quote” (3.12) does not refer to the objective Mosaic law but rather to the motto of the legalists who love to use the wording of Lev. 18:5. Hence Paul is not countering Moses but legalists in 3:12.

c. The curse of Deuteronomy 27:26 (quoted at 3:10) is upon legalists and not upon those who keep the law by faith. “Law” in this quote means the Mosaic law itself.

  1. The logic of Galatians 3:10–12 (This paraphrase of Fuller’s view makes Paul’s use of “law” and the Old Testament quotes explicit).

10a All legalists are under a curse

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