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Galatians 3:20 NLT

Now a mediator is needed if two people enter into an agreement, but God acted on his own when he made his promise to Abraham.

KJV Galatians 3 : 20

Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.

Galatians 3:20:NIV

A mediator, however, implies more than one party; but God is one.

How to understand the last portion of the NLT concerning Abraham and whether it was actually referring to him

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  • The NLT is a highly interpretive translation: "did not use a mediator when he gave his promise to Abraham." is added by the NLT for explanation.
    – Dottard
    Jun 11, 2022 at 13:06

2 Answers 2

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What you give as the NLT rendering of Galatians 3:20 is not what is written in my 2008 original English version. It reads:

"Now a mediator is helpful if more than one party must reach an agreement. But God, who is one, did not use a mediator when he gave his promise to Abraham."

In the Study Version, these comments are made about that verse:

"The law, given through angels and a mediator, required agreement between God and the people. The law was conditional, with blessings and curses attached to keeping or not keeping its statutes. In contrast, God gave his promises to Abraham directly; He did not use a mediator. It was God's unilateral and unconditional commitment. 'God who is one': Paul used the basic Jewish creed (Deut. 6:4) to convince Gentile Christians not to become Jewish converts." (p1986)

Your question, however, asks if the last portion of the NLT is actually referring to Abraham. This seems a strange question, because every translation says the same thing. Where they speak of Abraham (only the once) they speak of the Abraham of the Old Testament. They all agree that, in that case (centuries earlier) God did not involve any mediator between himself and Abraham (read Genesis 15:1-20 & 17:1-8). This stands in contrast to Galatians 3:19 which says that:

"God gave the law through the angels to Moses who was the mediator between God and the people." (NLT)

God used Moses as an intermediary between himself and the newly formed nation of Israel. See Exodus 20:19 and Deuteronomy 5:24-27. God did not use any intermediary between himself and Abraham.

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    @Michael16 the everlasting covenant is not a legal agreement between two parties. The everlasting covenant is all of God. The beneficiaries do not 'sign up to it' and are not considered as 'participants' in its administration. All is of grace, not of obligation or reward. It is not a covenant of works, for God, alone, is the initiator and the perpetrator. This applies to the covenant God initiated with Abraham. There are crucial differences between that, and the Mosaic one, so it cannot be assumed that if Moses is a mediator, then Abraham must be to. Not so.
    – Anne
    Jun 14, 2022 at 14:52
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    @Michael16 Moses did not see God 'face to face'. He spoke with a similitude and he saw God's back parts. The everlasting covenant is admnistered by God via a Testator. Men are the beneficiaries. But only if they are dead with Christ. And there goes all the initiative and the will of man . . . . . . into the grave.
    – Nigel J
    Jun 14, 2022 at 17:25
  • Although it is written his conversation was face to face Exodus 33.11, it was through the angel, not as direct as with Abraham.
    – Michael16
    Jun 15, 2022 at 3:49
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It seems to imply that a mediator is required for a covenant of two. In the 2015 edition helpful. But God himself made the covenant with Abraham without an angel as a mediator, thus the covenant of promise is shown as more intimate & greater. But there is nothing to suggest a mediator is helpful for a covenant. A mediator implies indirect or a second hand contract.

Now a mediator is helpful if more than one party must reach an agreement. But God, who is one, did not use a mediator when he gave his promise to Abraham

The recepient of the promise in question is clear and understood from verse 16, 18 etc.

ESVActs 7:17: “"But as the time of the promise drew near, which God had granted to Abraham, the people increased and multiplied in Egypt”

Romans 4:13: “For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith.”

Romans 4:16: “That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring-not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all,”

Galatians 3:16: “Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, "And to offsprings," referring to many, but referring to one, "And to your offspring," who is Christ.”

Galatians 3:18: “For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.”

Hebrews 6:13: “For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself,”

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