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.
Christian "we" (h(mei=j). The Christian situation is one of eagerly expecting the final, eschatological righteousness, a life of being in Christ, of having a faith which works and expresses itself through love (cf. vv. 5-6).
In verses 7-12 Paul explicitly addresses the Galatians: "You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth?" (v. 7). He attacks and accuses the opponents. They cause trouble, they unsettle the Galatians. Paul announces their condemnation at the day of judgment; in an outburst, he even expresses the wish that they should mutilate themselves. Then, Paul once more refers to himself. No, he does not preach circumcision; he does not remove the scandal of the cross.
Apparently the whole of 5,2-12 is needed in order to explain correctly the freedom for which Christ has set us free. Pauls pleading, his severe attacks, his protestation and self-presentation: all his arguing testifies to the fear that the Galatians may listen to the "different gospel" (1,6) which ultimately means slavery and absence of freedom.
III. Christ and Those of Christ: Abrahams Offspring
In between 3,1-14 and 4,215,12 there occurs the lengthy section 3,154,20, by no means a strictly unified text. No doubt, the rest of chapter three, with the mention of Abraham and his offspring (spe/rma) in 3,16, as well as in 3,29, forms a unit: 3,15-29. What follows in 4,1-7 seems still to be connected with it, a kind of supplementary pericope. Because of Pauls airing of his fear for the Galatians and because of his warning against judaizing practices, the differing passages 4,1-11 and 4,12-20 can be considered together. The first subdivision 3,15-29 requires a careful reading in view of the presence of references to Abraham and Christ; Pauls type of reasoning is no longer the same here.
After 3,14 Paul writes "brothers" and announces a human example (kata_ a@nqrwpon le/gw): no one annuls a will (diaqh/khn) which has been ratified, or adds to it (v. 15). The term diaqh/kh is used again in v. 17, in the same sense of will or testament18. For Paul the reality of that will is the promise (or promises) made to Abraham. The noun e)paggeli/a has already occurred in 3,14 ("the promise of the Spirit"). The promise-terminology reappears in vv. 184.108.40.206.21.22 and 29. It will become obvious that the content of the promise is Abrahams blessing, is the inheritance, life, righteousness and the Spirit.
With reference to Gen 13,15, verse 16 states that "the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring". In a curious way Paul modifies the originally collective meaning of "offspring" (spe/rma). Since the term is in the singular, he claims that it points to one only, and this one is Christ. As said above, the sudden mention of Christ in 3,13 was unexpected. In 3,16 that identification of Abrahams offspring with Christ alone is not