“Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it is only a man’s covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it.”
Paul now takes up an argument from the way people make contracts with one another. This is an argument from human illustration.
Paul reaches out personally to the Galatians with the term “brethren.” Although Paul rebuked the Galatians, he still has them in his heart.
I speak in the manner of men:
Using a human argument, Paul assumes for the moment that when God gave the law to Moses, it terminated His covenant with Abraham. This would mean the people could be saved by the law. Paul knew this was a false assumption because God saved people by faith, even under the Mosaic law, just as He does today. The Mosaic law could not save; it could only curse. For God to break His covenant with Abraham would be inconsistent with His character. He did not eliminate salvation by faith when He gave Moses the law.
It was the Mosaic law that was temporary, not the Abrahamic covenant. The Mosaic law came after the Abrahamic covenant and ended immediately after the resurrection of Christ.
Though it is only a man’s covenant,
A “covenant” is a voluntary disposition of property. This is another way of saying “promise,” although a covenant or contract is a more solemn agreement. It is a verbal agreement, a contract made between people.
yet if it is confirmed,
“Confirmed” means to make valid, ratify, or influence. If human beings guarantee a contract, it cannot be annulled.
no one annuls
You can change a contract in two ways: 1) annul it and 2) add to it. The word “annuls” means to put to no value; the idea is to render the covenant void. If we unilaterally cancel a contract as human beings, we are not true to our word or commitment. Even human contracts, once we confirm them, cannot change until they expire.
or adds to it
“Adds to” means to ordain besides, to add something to what has been ordained. If we agree with a contractor to build a house for so many dollars, we cannot demand that the contractor add another room without changing the contract or the price. Neither can the contractor charge you more than what’s set out in the agreement. The Contractor would never do this.
It is not right to add an addendum to God’s covenant He made with Abraham. Although the Mosaic law is newer than the Abrahamic covenant, that does not make the Mosaic law better. The newer Mosaic law does not abrogate the older Abrahamic contract that God made for salvation. God will not breach faith with His promises.
Once God ratifies an unconditional covenant, we cannot change it, and even He cannot change it. A contract is a contract. If God unilaterally ratifies His contract, then certain obligations follow for Him. He cannot set aside a validated covenant. His character demands He not change it. He will not change or revoke salvation by grace.
God’s contract with Abraham was unconditional. It did not depend on Abraham’s belief; it relied entirely on God’s promise that He made by grace. God made a no-strings-attached contract. If Abraham believed, God would justify him. It was all about grace.
God will never change justification by faith because His character never changes.
People market new ideas today as if they are the latest and greatest. Newer is not necessarily better. God is always consistent with His promises made many centuries ago. He will never go back on His Word.
A man may change a contract, but God will always be faithful to His promises. God promised that we will have eternal life by grace through faith. He will never go back on that. To claim that God goes back on His Word would charge Him with a breach of trust. God’s commitment to us is still in force because He is always true to Himself.
If the everyday business world does not alter a contract without permission, then a righteous God surely would not do it. He is immutable. God will never add anything to faith for salvation. He will never welch on His Word.