21 Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law.
22 But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
The law came after the promise and was inferior to it. Was the law in opposition to the promise?
Certainly not! (v.21) — God forbid. It is incomprehensible. The law reflects God’s righteousness. The promise reflects God’s grace.
life (v.21) — lit. make alive, spiritual life
truly (v.21) = really, not just seemingly or pretending
righteousness (v.21) = (here) life — all that came via the promise
Romans 8:3-5 — For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
The failure of the law to give life wasn’t due to a fault in the law but in those to whom it was given.
Scripture (v.22) — Deuteronomy 27:26; Psalm 143:2; Romans 3:9-20
confined (v.22) = shut up, as fish in a net — with no excuse
under sin (v.22) — under sin’s dominion
that (v.22) = in order that
promise by faith (v.22) — promise (which is given) by faith
faith in Jesus Christ (v.22) — His worthiness to be believed
The law demanded righteousness but could not give it.
The apostle then asks the question, “Is the law then against the promises of God?” The answer is that the law and the promises are not in conflict because each has a distinct function. The law is a ministry of condemnation. The promises are a ministry of salvation. The law judges a person on the basis of obedience or disobedience. The promises judge man on a basis of faith. The law, whose ministry is one of condemnation, was not intended to express God’s attitude towards man. God’s attitude towards man is one of grace. The law is not the basis of God’s judgment of man. A sinner who rejects Christ, goes to the Lake of Fire for all eternity, not because he has broken God’s laws, for his sin is paid for. He goes to a lost eternity because he rejects God’s grace in the Lord Jesus. The law is a revelation of the sinner’s legal standing, and as such condemns him. It cannot therefore justify him, as the Judaizers claim. — Galatians in the Greek New Testament, by Kenneth S. Wuest, page 107.