Jan Lambrecht, «Abraham and His Offspring. A Comparison of Galatians 5,1 with 3,13», Vol. 80 (1999) 525-536
Just as after the Abraham passage of 3,6-12 Christ is mentioned in 3,13 quite unexpectedly, so also after 4,21-31, Pauls so-called allegory which deals with the wives and sons of Abraham, the sudden statement about Christ in 5,1 cannot but surprise the reader. Although the word order differs, both vocabulary and content of parts of 3,13a and 5,1a are identical or at least similar. Abrahams faith was already, by way of anticipation, Christian faith. Moreover, "those of faith" in 3,7 and 9 implicitly are believers in Christ. This also applies to 4,26. The children of "the Jerusalem above" are free because they belong to Christ, even if in v. 26 this is not (yet) explicitly stated. Therefore, a seemingly brusque transition from the Abraham text or the allegory to Christ should not disturb the reader too much.
These notes do not pretend to offer a full christology of Pauls letter to the Galatians. Nor do they claim to treat the figure of Abraham in Galatians (and Romans) exhaustively. In view of an often unnoticed similarity between Gal 5,1 and 3,13 the two verses will be compared and their respective contexts brought into that comparison. Just as after the Abraham passage of 3,6-12 Christ is mentioned in 3,13 quite unexpectedly, so also after 4,21-31, Pauls so-called allegory which deals with the wives and sons of Abraham, the sudden statement about Christ in 5,1 cannot but surprise the reader1. Although the word order differs, both vocabulary and content of parts of 3,13a and 5,1a are identical or at least similar: Xristo_j h(ma=j e)chgo/rhsen..., and ... h(ma=j Xristo_j h)leuqe/rwsen. In 5,2-6 Christ is mentioned three more times (see vv. 2.4 and 6)2; one can also point to the christological terms "grace" (v. 4) and "faith" (vv. 5 and 6). This attention to Christ is striking. One more introductory remark is called for. In this study the name "Abraham" is taken in a wider sense: not only Abraham himself, but also Sarah and Hagar, and equally Isaac and Ishmael ("Abraham had two sons, one by a slave and one by a free woman", 4,22).
I. Those of Faith with Abraham who had Faith
Gal 3,1-14 forms the first pericope of the middle section of the letter, 3,1-5,12, a lengthy discussion concerning the Mosaic law and Christian freedom. Within that pericope there is the comparison with Abraham (3,6-9)3. After his invective question in verse 1 Paul speaks in verses 2-5 about the Galatians experiences of the Spirit. Twice, in verse 2 and verse 5, Paul interpellates: did you receive and do you possess that Spirit thanks to works of the law or thanks to your hearing with faith? The answer is not given, but it is clear from the context that one has to choose the second alternative: through listening and believing. The comparison with Abraham then follows: he also "believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness" (v. 6; quoting Gen 15,6). Therefore, faith is surely a matter which is common to Abraham and the Galatians. But is this the only such