Brethren: To Abraham were the promises made, and to his seed. He saith not: And to his seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ. Now this I say, that the testament which was confirmed by God, the law which was made after four hundred and thirty years, doth not disannul, to make the promise of no effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise. But God gave it to Abraham by promise. Why then was the law? It was set because of transgressions, until the seed should come, to whom He made the promise; being ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. Now a mediator is not of one: but God is one. Was the law then against the promises of God? God forbid. For if there had been a law given, which could give life, verily justice should have been by the law. But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by the faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
Verse 15, &c. I speak after the manner of man; or, by a comparison, says S. Chrys. common among men. If a man make or execute his last will, or any deed or contract, it stands good; no one contemns it, or pretends to annul it, or add any thing to it: how much more shall the testament, the covenant, or solemn promise which God made to Abraham, to bless all nations, stand firm and have its effect? And he said to his seed, to one, i.e. in Christ only, not to his seeds, as it were by many. It is observed, that the word seed being a collective signification, may grammatically be taken for the plural as well as for the singular number; so that we are to have more regard to S. Paul’s authority, who expounds to us what is here signified by the word seed, than to the word itself. — The law which was made after four hundred and thirty years (consult the chronologists) does not make void the testament: nor the promise which God himself made to Abraham, that mankind should be blessed only by Christ. These blessings could not be by the law of Moses ordained, or delivered by angels in the hand of a mediator, to wit, of Moses, according to the common interpretation, who, in receiving and publishing the law, was as it were a mediator betwixt God and his people. — And a mediator is not of one, (but is called so, as mediating betwixt two parties) but God is one. This is to signify, that when he made the covenant or promise to Abraham, he made this promise himself, and did not make use of a mediator inferior to himself, as when he gave the law; and the law, in this respect, was inferior to the promise; but the chief difference was, that true justice and sanctification was not given by the law, for so it would have contradicted and have made void the promise made before to Moses, that the blessings of true sanctification should only be by his seed and by faith in Christ, the Son of Abraham and of David. According to the Scriptures all things (i.e. all men) were shut up together under sin, under the slavery of sin, from which they were not to be redeemed but by the accomplishment of the promise, and by the coming of Christ, by his grace, and faith in him. Wi. — Because of transgressions. To restrain them from sin, by fear and threats. — Ordained by Angels. The law was delivered by Angels, speaking in the name and person of God to Moses, who was the mediator on this occasion between God and the people. Ch. — The law was established not to occasion sin, but to manifest sin, and to punish sin. Ezechiel (xx. 11.) shews the meaning of the apostle, when he says: that God, after bringing the Israelites out of Egypt, imposed laws upon them that gave life to such as observed them. This was the decalogue, published immediately after the passage of the Red Sea; but violating these commandments, they became guilty of idolatry. To punish them, God imposed upon them precepts which are not good, and which give not life. v. 24, 25. This is the ceremonial law, which was established and published by degrees during the forty years the Israelites sojourned in the desert. It is then evident that this law was given to punish transgressions in the Israelites, and to prevent relapses. This is the sense of S. Paul.
Verse 22. Hath concluded all under sin; i.e. hath declared all to be under sin, from which they could not be delivered but by faith in Jesus Christ, the promised seed. Ch. — The law was not given to all; but all its precepts and prohibitions were binding under sin, and all violators of the law were guilty of sin.