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3. Faith or Observance of the Law

1O foolish Galatians, who did bewitch you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was openly set forth crucified? 2This only would I learn from you. Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now perfected in the flesh? 4Did ye suffer so many things in vain? if it be indeed in vain. 5He therefore that supplieth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 6Even as Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness. 7Know therefore that they that are of faith, the same are sons of Abraham. 8And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all the nations be blessed. 9So then they that are of faith are blessed with the faithful Abraham. 10For as many as are of the works of the law are under a curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one who continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law, to do them. 11Now that no man is justified by the law before God, is evident: for, The righteous shall live by faith; 12and the law is not of faith; but, He that doeth them shall live in them. 13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us; for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: 14that upon the Gentiles might come the blessing of Abraham in Christ Jesus; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. 15Brethren, I speak after the manner of men: Though it be but a man's covenant, yet when it hath been confirmed, no one maketh it void, or addeth thereto. 16Now to Abraham were the promises spoken, and to his seed. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. 17Now this I say: A covenant confirmed beforehand by God, the law, which came four hundred and thirty years after, doth not disannul, so as to make the promise of none effect. 18For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no more of promise: but God hath granted it to Abraham by promise. 19What then is the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise hath been made; and it was ordained through angels by the hand of a mediator. 20Now a mediator is not a mediator of one; but God is one. 21Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could make alive, verily righteousness would have been of the law. 22But the scriptures shut up all things under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. 23But before faith came, we were kept in ward under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24So that the law is become our tutor to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25But now faith that is come, we are no longer under a tutor. 26For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus. 27For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ. 28There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither bond nor free, there can be no male and female; for ye all are one man in Christ Jesus. 29And if ye are Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, heirs according to promise.

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Ga 3:1-29. Reproof of the Galatians for Abandoning Faith for Legalism. Justification by Faith Vindicated: The Law Shown to Be Subsequent to the Promise: Believers Are the Spiritual Seed of Abraham, Who Was Justified by Faith. The Law Was Our Schoolmaster to Bring Us to Christ, that We Might Become Children of God by Faith.

1. that ye should not obey the truth—omitted in the oldest manuscripts.

bewitched—fascinated you so that you have lost your wits. Themistius says the Galatians were naturally very acute in intellect. Hence, Paul wonders they could be so misled in this case.

you—emphatical. "You, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been graphically set forth (literally, in writing, namely, by vivid portraiture in preaching) among you, crucified" (so the sense and Greek order require rather than English Version). As Christ was "crucified," so ye ought to have been by faith "crucified with Christ," and so "dead to the law" (Ga 2:19, 20). Reference to the "eyes" is appropriate, as fascination was supposed to be exercised through the eyes. The sight of Christ crucified ought to have been enough to counteract all fascination.

2. "Was it by the works of the law that ye received the Spirit (manifested by outward miracles, Ga 3:5; Mr 16:17; Heb 2:4; and by spiritual graces, Ga 3:14; Ga 4:5, 6; Eph 1:13), or by the hearing of faith?" The "only" implies, "I desire, omitting other arguments, to rest the question on this alone"; I who was your teacher, desire now to "learn" this one thing from you. The epithet "Holy" is not prefixed to "Spirit" because that epithet is a joyous one, whereas this Epistle is stern and reproving [Bengel].

hearing of faith—Faith consists not in working, but in receiving (Ro 10:16, 17).

3. begun—the Christian life (Php 1:6).

in the Spirit—Not merely was Christ crucified "graphically set forth" in my preaching, but also "the Spirit" confirmed the word preached, by imparting His spiritual gifts. "Having thus begun" with the receiving His spiritual gifts, "are ye now being made perfect" (so the Greek), that is, are ye seeking to be made perfect with "fleshly" ordinances of the law? [Estius]. Compare Ro 2:28; Php 3:3; Heb 9:10. Having begun in the Spirit, that is, the Holy Spirit ruling your spiritual life as its "essence and active principle" [Ellicott], in contrast to "the flesh," the element in which the law works [Alford]. Having begun your Christianity in the Spirit, that is, in the divine life that proceeds from faith, are ye seeking after something higher still (the perfecting of your Christianity) in the sensuous and the earthly, which cannot possibly elevate the inner life of the Spirit, namely, outward ceremonies? [Neander]. No doubt the Galatians thought that they were going more deeply into the Spirit; for the flesh may be easily mistaken for the Spirit, even by those who have made progress, unless they continue to maintain a pure faith [Bengel].

4. Have ye suffered so many things—namely, persecution from Jews and from unbelieving fellow countrymen, incited by the Jews, at the time of your conversion.

in vainfruitlessly, needlessly, since ye might have avoided them by professing Judaism [Grotius]. Or, shall ye, by falling from grace, lose the reward promised for all your sufferings, so that they shall be "in vain" (Ga 4:11; 1Co 15:2, 17-19, 29-32; 2Th 1:5-7; 2Jo 8)?

yet—rather, "If it be really (or 'indeed') in vain" [Ellicott]. "If, as it must be, what I have said, 'in vain,' is really the fact" [Alford]. I prefer understanding it as a mitigation of the preceding words. I hope better things of you, for I trust you will return from legalism to grace; if so, as I confidently expect, you will not have "suffered so many things in vain" [Estius]. For "God has given you the Spirit and has wrought mighty works among you" (Ga 3:5; Heb 10:32-36) [Bengel].

5. He … that ministereth—or "supplieth," God (2Co 9:10). He who supplied and supplies to you the Spirit still, to the present time. These miracles do not prove grace to be in the heart (Mr 9:38, 39). He speaks of these miracles as a matter of unquestioned notoriety among those addressed; an undesigned proof of their genuineness (compare 1Co 12:1-31).

worketh miracles among you—rather, "IN you," as Ga 2:8; Mt 14:2; Eph 2:2; Php 2:13; at your conversion and since [Alford].

doeth he it by the works of the law—that is, as a consequence resulting from (so the Greek) the works of the law (compare Ga 3:2). This cannot be because the law was then unknown to you when you received those gifts of the Spirit.




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