General Exposition & Application
O foolish Galatians!
Who has bewitched you?
It was ... Jesus Christ that was publicly portrayed as crucified.
before your eyes
Let me ask you only this:
Did you receive the Spirit
of the law
or by hearing
Are you so foolish?
Manner of 3:2
by the Spirit,
are you now being perfected
by the flesh?
Did you suffer so many things in vain—
if indeed it [your suffering] was in vain?
Does he who supplies the Spirit to you ... do so
and works miracles
of the law,
or by hearing
just as Abraham “believed God,
and it was counted to him as righteousness”?
Know then that it is those
who are the sons
῏Ω ἀνόητοι Γαλάται, τίς ὑμᾶς ἐβάσκανεν, οἷς κατʼ ὀφθαλμοὺς Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς προεγράφη ἐσταυρωμένος;
τοῦτο μόνον θέλω μαθεῖν ἀφʼ ὑμῶν• ἐξ ἔργων νόμου τὸ πνεῦμα ἐλάβετε ἢ ἐξ ἀκοῆς πίστεως;
οὕτως ἀνόητοί ἐστε, ἐναρξάμενοι πνεύματι νῦν σαρκὶ ἐπιτελεῖσθε;
τοσαῦτα ἐπάθετε εἰκῇ; εἴ γε καὶ εἰκῇ.
ὁ οὖν ἐπιχορηγῶν ὑμῖν τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ ἐνεργῶν δυνάμεις ἐν ὑμῖν, ἐξ ἔργων νόμου ἢ ἐξ ἀκοῆς πίστεως;
General Exposition & Application
Summary Statement Being a believer does not mean that we no longer need the gospel. The Galatians quickly found themselves in danger as they traded in justification by faith for their own checklists of the Mosaic law. Are you depending on a list or are you walking in the Spirit by faith? Outline A. A False Gospel vs. the Real Gospel (vv. 1-2) The false gospel - A great deception - the word 'bewtiched' literally means the evil eye. The implication was that one had cast a spell of control over another person. Paul is obviously being sarcastic. The real gospel - Christ is crucified for sins. Accepting this fact by faith is the means of justification. Paul's statement of this is to shake the Galatians out of the works mindset and remember how it was that Paul preached no other means of justification than that of Christ crucified. The Galatians received the Holy Spirit when they heard and then believed on Christ (cf, Eph 1:13-14). B. Implications of a False Gospel (vv. 3-4) A foolish gospel - The Galatians seemed to have started strong. Paul remarks that they began by means of faith through the Holy Spirit but somehow moved into the flesh. Paul's rhetorical question (one of many) undermines the Galatians' argument for validity of the Law. How is it that one who has the Spirit of God living inside of him, guiding him, and sanctifying him also be sanctified at the same time by something else? In essence this is idolatry because the person has now deemed himself as the one who sets the standard of justification over God. 2. A vain gospel - A gospel that must be completed by ones own efforts is a gospel that is useless! Paul explains that if the Galatians wish to finish their life by means of the Mosaic Law then they really have believed in vain. In verse 10 of this chapter Paul skillfully points his audience back to the requirements of that Law, which is perfection or else those who do not do everything will fall under God's curse. If the Galatians really do depend on the Law then their sufferings for believing in Christ have no cause at all. C. The Results of a Pure Gospel (vv. 5-7) Proof of a Spirit-filled gospel - When God wanted to validate the message of His messengers He worked miracles through them so that the audience would understand that they were not speaking of their own accord. This was also true in the Galatians' case. Apparently Paul worked some kind of miracles upon preaching Christ and the Galatians believed. Paul deduces by logic that it is only by faith and not by their own keeping of the Law that God responded with His mighty works. But just in case the Galatians do not respond to this Paul moves on to now back up his logic with Scripture. Scripture grounds the argument - Abraham, the father of faith, is used as the comparison between justification by ones own efforts of the Law or by justification by faith alone. The quote comes from Genesis 15:6 and recounts when God promises him a son in his old age. This belief led Abraham to persevere in following God and God justified him on the basis of that belief. A logical conclusion - Paul concludes by giving the Galatians a hard reality. If they wish to stand on their own by the Law then God cannot count them as children of faith. Only those who are of the seed of Abraham are those that God counts as righteous; these are the sons of the inheritance and those who please God, for their dependence is not rooted within their efforts but on God's gracious act of salvation. Wisdom, Works, Worship We often times struggle with that fine line between grace and works. Like the Galatians, we often start strong upon our conversion but ultimately begin looking inward to ourselves for "proof" that we are genuinely saved. But looking inward only causes us to begin making checklists by which we compare to others around us. When we check off our daily duties we become puffed up, proud, and arrogant. But looking inward also causes something else: it causes us to see our own sinfulness and become disgusted with ourselves. The more we gaze at our own "righteousness" the more we see how far short we really fall to God's standard. In our lowliness we must once again look to the cross for our security. This was Paul's admonishment to the Galatians as he exclaims, " It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified." This is the very clause which hinges the entire passage together. It was Christ's own sacrifice that allows a person to have a clear conscience before God (Heb 9:14). O, what glorious thought, Christian, that your conscience is completely clear! If this is based upon your checklist why do you still go about mourning because of your wretchedness? If your daily spiritual chores can cleanse you and sanctify you why do you seek to do more until you are exhausted? No! Look to the cross and be converted (John 3:14-15). Be soothed by the idea that your clean conscience comes from the Spirit because of faith (Heb 10:22). When we look outside of ourselves and upward to the cross we will see the beauty of God's gracious gift of our justification. We will fall on our knees and bless Him only, He who has counted us innocent of wrong-doing because His Son absorbed our wrath. We will worship with a clear heart and a clean conscience. We will cease to be foolish for thinking our own works count before God. We will be justified and finally have the peace that we have so longed for.