10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.”
11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.”
12 Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.”
of the works (v.10) — Paul assumes that his readers know that complete obedience to the law is impossible (James 2:10-11)
curse (v.10) — failure to fulfill an intended purpose and, therefore, rejected. In mans’ case, rejected from heaven and judged worthy of, and sent to, hell.
it is written (v.10) — Deuteronomy 27:26; Deuteronomy 31;26; Joshua 1:8
cursed (v.10) — same as first usage, but stronger.
This curse is not merely the wrath of God in the form of the final banishment of the sinner from His presence, with all the sorrow and misery which that includes, but represents also a present condition of alienation from God caused by a violation of His law. The word continue is a figurative expression. it speaks of the law as a prescribed district or domain in which one remains or out of which one goes. — Galatians in the Greek New Testament, by Kenneth S. Wuest, page 95.
continue (v.10) — stronger form of the word “abide.”
all things (v.10) — the ordinances and the moral precepts to the most comprehensive sense.
book of the law (v.10) — Pentateuch, but also the whole Old Testament.
to do them — the apostle was well aware that the Galatians had not seen what is involved in submission to the Law of Moses; they had not realized that failure to do all, always and everywhere, just as it is written, involves the professed lawkeeper in eternal disaster. Law is unbending, it yields nothing to weakness, its standard is never lowered, not even by a hairbreadth; law makes no compromise, and finds no room for mercy; “a man that hath set at nought Moses’ law dieth without compassion” Hebrews 10:28 — Galatians, by W.E. Vine, page 183.
The law doesn’t bring a blessing (v.9) but a curse (v.10).
but (v.11) — Paul moves the argument forward. Even if a man appears to be justified by the law in the sight of other men … No one is justified by the works of the law before God.
just (v.11) — those in a right relationship with God. A legal, not a moral, term.
shall live (v.11) — spiritual life (Habakkuk 2:4; Leviticus 18:5; Romans 10:5)
yet (v.12) — “but” — shows contrast
law is not of faith (v.12) — The two are mutually exclusive and have no point in common.
Even if a man was obedient to the whole law (which is impossible), he still has original sin and so could not be justified before God. That can only be paid by blood (the result of death, which is the wage of sin). That blood was shed by Christ and can only be accessed by faith.
It is the function of the law to condemn, not to justify. Obviously, if everyone did what was right, we would no need law. This is why the Apostle Paul wrote by inspiration: “… the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient” (1 Timothy 1:9).
The function of law is to put the finger on sin and condemn it. Remember that you do not have to break the whole law to be a law-breaker. “For whosoever shall keep the whole law and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10).
That makes sense. How many links must you break in a chain to break the chain? Just one. How many murders do you have to commit to be a murderer? Just one. How many sins do you have to commit to be a sinner? Just one. And we have all committed one, and keep on committing one or more every day. — Studies in Galatians, by Cornelius R. Stam, pages 157-158.