The concept of being “redeemed from the curse of the law” comes from Galatians 3:13, which says “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.'” To properly understand what this means, we must look at the broader context of Paul’s letter to the Galatians.
In Galatians, Paul is writing to churches in Galatia that were being influenced by some false teachers known as “Judaizers.” These Judaizers were teaching that in order to be saved, Gentile believers needed to adhere to certain ceremonial laws from the Old Testament, like circumcision and dietary restrictions. They taught that faith in Christ was not enough – works of the law were also required for justification (see Galatians 2:16).
Paul argues vigorously against this false teaching. He makes the case that people are justified by faith in Christ alone, apart from works of the law. As part of his argument, Paul points out that the law brings condemnation and curse, while faith in Christ brings justification and blessing:
“All who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.’ Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’ But the law is not of faith, rather ‘The one who does them shall live by them.’ Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’— so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.” (Galatians 3:10-14)
There are a few key things to notice in this passage:
1. The law brings a curse – Paul quotes Deuteronomy 27:26 which says anyone who does not perfectly obey all the law is under a curse. Since no one can keep the whole law, all are under the curse.
2. No one is justified by the law – Paul argues that the Old Testament itself teaches justification is by faith, not law (he quotes Habakkuk 2:4 – “the righteous shall live by faith”).
3. Christ redeemed us from the curse – By taking the curse upon Himself when He hung on the cross, Jesus freed us from the curse that the law pronounced upon lawbreakers.
4. The purpose was that we might receive the blessing of justification that was promised to Abraham by faith. The blessing promised to Abraham for the nations was justification and the Holy Spirit, which is received by faith alone (see Galatians 3:8, 3:14).
So in summary, Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by taking the law’s curse on Himself as our substitute, so that the Abrahamic blessing promised to all nations could come to the Gentiles through faith in Christ. This redemption was necessary because the law did not provide for justification or the Holy Spirit – it only condemned lawbreakers. But Jesus took that condemnation on Himself so that through faith in Him we could receive justification and the Spirit instead of curse and condemnation.
Galatians 4:4-5 provides further insight: “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” Here we see that Jesus was born under the law and fulfilled its demands perfectly in order to redeem those under the law. By His sinless life and substitutionary death, He purchased our freedom from the law’s requirements and condemnation. We are no longer slaves under the supervisory custody of the law but are now adopted as God’s children (Galatians 3:23-26, 4:1-7).
Romans 6:14 also confirms this: “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” Whereas the law stirs up sin and provokes transgressions, resulting in condemnation and death, God’s grace in Christ sets us free from sin’s dominion and empowers us for righteousness, resulting in justification and eternal life (Romans 5:20-21, 6:14-23).
Some key implications of our redemption from the curse of the law include:
– We are justified and receive the Spirit by faith alone, not works of the law (Galatians 2:16, 3:2, 5)
– Gentiles do not need to convert to Judaism or keep the Mosaic law to be saved (Galatians 3:14, 5:1-6)
– Jewish believers are not obligated to continue keeping ceremonial aspects of the law (Galatians 5:1-6)
– Trying to be justified by the law severs us from Christ and His grace (Galatians 5:4)
– We are now under the “law of Christ”, which is to fulfill the law by loving others through the power of the Spirit (Galatians 5:14, 6:2)
– Our salvation is secure in Christ and not dependent on our own law-keeping (Galatians 3:3, 5:1)
In conclusion, Christ’s redemption frees us from both the penalty of failing to keep the law flawlessly and the burden of trying to establish our own righteousness through good works. It removes the law’s power to condemn us and instead empowers us by grace to truly love and serve others. This gracious redemption was necessary because the law could never provide justification or enable obedience; it only defined sin and pronounced condemnation. But God provided what the law could not by sending Jesus to perfectly fulfill the law on our behalf and pay the penalty for lawbreaking in our place. All who have faith in Christ are redeemed from the curse of the law and blessed in Him with the gifts of righteousness, the Spirit, and eternal life.