You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?
(a) You foolish Galatians. Some of Paul’s strongest language is reserved for those who mix grace and law. “You stupid Galatians!” (CEV). The same Paul who said, “Let your conversation be full of grace” (Col. 4:6), didn’t hesitate to tell those running back to law that they were foolish and stupid.
(b) Who has bewitched you, or put an evil spell on you (to quote the CEV)?
(c) Before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. The cross is the heart of the gospel of grace. Christ’s one-time sacrifice for sin was so complete that no further sacrifice is needed. Anything we might add only detracts to the perfections of Christ’s finished work.
When we are tempted into dead works, we need to be reminded about the cross. Christ’s work is a finished work. There is nothing further to be done. Your part is to believe it and thank him for it.
Further reading: “How religion makes us stupid, and Jesus makes us wise”
This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?
(a) Did you receive the Spirit? Paul is speaking to Christians who have received the Holy Spirit. The Galatians were believers who had started well.
(b) By the works of the Law. The law has a good purpose (see Gal. 3:24), but the Law cannot make you right with God. Paul is contrasting two ways to live; by relying on our law-keeping, or by faith. These are not complementary for the law is not of faith (Gal. 3:12).
(c) The Law; see entry for Gal. 2:19.
(d) Hearing with faith. We receive the Holy Spirit when we hear the good news with faith (Eph. 1:13). Faith is a positive response to what God has done. We hear that Jesus loves us and gave himself for us so that we might be delivered from our sins, and live in union with him (Gal. 1:3, 2:20), and we say, “Thank you, Jesus!” That’s faith (see entry for Rom. 10:17).
Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
(a) Having begun by the Spirit. The Christian life begins when we are born of the Spirit or born again. See entry for John 3:3.
(b) Perfected by the flesh? Some might think, “Jesus got me started, but now it’s up to me to maintain my salvation.” Or, “I was saved by grace, but now I need to make myself holy.” Or, “I’m not saved by the law, but the law shows me how to live right before God.” These are foolish mindsets because they seek to mix grace with law, or the work of the Spirit with the work of the flesh.
Then there are those who say all the right things about grace, but their lives are burdened with religious activity. They are wearying themselves because it’s expected of them or because that’s the way they’ve always done it. They are anxious and exhausted, because they have set aside grace. They haven’t done this intentionally, but they have felt the pressure to perform. Instead of hearing, “Grace is enough,” they’ve heard, “You have to obey, wrestle, contend, strive, intercede until you bleed, and fight until you die.” It sounds spiritual but it is Galatian foolishness.
The Message Bible translates this verse: “Only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God.” Other translations say foolish (NASB), senseless (Darby) and stupid (CEV). Those who rely on human effort to improve their standing before God are crazy, foolish, senseless and stupid. Strong words to convey a strong message: don’t walk after the flesh.
(c) The flesh. Human effort; see entry for The Flesh.
So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?
(a) The Law; see entry for Gal. 2:19.
(b) Hearing with faith; see entry for Gal. 3:2.
Even so Abraham BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.
Reckoned to him as righteousness. Before the cross, no one could be made righteous. The gift of righteousness had not been given and the “one act of righteousness” had not be done (Rom. 5:18). This is why Old Testament saints such as Abraham were credited with righteousness on account of their faith in God (Gen. 15:6). In the old days, righteousness was credited to those who believed; now righteousness is created in the believer. Back then, righteousness was imputed; now it is imparted.
See entry for Righteousness.
Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham.
(a) Those who are of faith are believers.
(b) Are sons of Abraham. Abraham is considered the father of all who believe (see entry for Rom. 4:11).
Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”
No one is justified by the Law. No one is justified or made right with God by doing good works or keeping the law (see entry for Rom. 3:20). Rather, our justification is paid for with the blood of Jesus (Rom. 5:9) and comes to us as a gift of grace (Rom. 3:24, Tit. 3:7) that is received by faith (Rom. 3:28, 5:1, Gal. 3:24).
See entry for Justification.
However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, “HE WHO PRACTICES THEM SHALL LIVE BY THEM.”
(a) The Law; see entry for Gal. 2:19.
(b) Not of faith. Living under the law is carnal.
The law is not inherently sinful, but it encourages us to rely on our own strength. “Do this. Don’t do that.” These righteous demands excite the flesh and extinguish faith. Instead of trusting in the Lord, we start writing checks our flesh can’t cash. “Tell me what to do Lord, and I will do it.”
in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
Through faith. All of God’s blessings, including forgiveness, salvation, righteousness and sanctification, come to us freely by grace and are received by faith. Faith does not compel God to forgive us or sanctify us. But faith is the conduit through which grace flows. See entry for Faith.
What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise.
The Law refers to the Law of Moses, the commandments, ordinances, punishments, and ceremonial observances given to the nation of Israel through Moses (Jos. 8:31, John 1:17). This law is sometimes referred to as the law of commandments (Eph. 2:15) or the law of the Jews (Acts 25:8). See entry for The Law.
For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise.
Granted. The original word for granted (charizomai) means to show favor or kindness and is sometimes give, gave or given (Luke 7:21, Rom. 8:32, Php. 1:29, 2:9). It is closely related to the word that means grace (charis). God showed grace to Abraham.
Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law.
Righteousness based on law. The law is holy and righteous and good (Rom. 7:12), but no one was ever made righteous by keeping it (see entry for Rom. 3:20).
Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.
(a) The Law is not a tutor or teacher in the sense that we understand the word. The Law is more like a guardian (paidagogos) who takes you to the real Teacher who is Jesus (Gal 3:4). Jesus said the Holy Spirit would guide you into all truth (John 16:13). If the Spirit of Christ teaches you everything you need to know, what remains for the law to teach you?
The law serves at least three good purposes: (1) it is a mirror that reveals our sinful state (Rom 3:20, 7:7,14), (2) it ministers death by inflaming sin (Rom 5:20, 7:7-11, 1 Cor 15:56), and (3) it reveals our need for a Savior (Gal 3:24).
(b) Justified by faith. No one is justified or made right with God by doing good works or keeping the law (see entry for Rom. 3:20). Rather, our justification is paid for with the blood of Jesus (Rom. 5:9) and comes to us as a gift of grace (Rom. 3:24, Tit. 3:7) that is received by faith (Rom. 3:28, 5:1, Gal. 3:24). As a result of being justified, we have peace with God (Rom. 5:1) and are saved from his wrath (Rom. 5:9). See entry for Justification.
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
(a) Sons of God. In the New Testament, believers are often referred to as the family or household of God (Matt. 12:50, Mark 3:35, John 11:52, 2 Cor. 6:18, Eph. 2:19, Gal. 6:10, 1 Pet. 4:17).
(b) Through faith. All of God’s blessings, including forgiveness, salvation, righteousness, sanctification and adoption, come to us freely by grace and are received by faith. Faith does not compel God to forgive us or sanctify us. But faith is the conduit through which grace flows. See entry for Faith.
For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
(a) Baptized into Christ. Every believer has been baptized or dipped or placed into Christ Jesus by the Holy Spirit. “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body” (1 Cor. 12:13). See entry for Baptism.
(b) Into Christ… with Christ. Again, Paul reminds us of our spiritual union with the Lord. The believer has been crucified with Christ (Rom. 6:8, Gal. 2:20, Col. 2:20, 3:3), been raised and made alive with Christ (Rom. 6:8, Eph. 2:5, Col. 3:1), is heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17), clothed with Christ (Gal. 3:27), and now reigns with Christ (Eph. 2:6, 2 Tim. 2:12). Truly the believer is hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3). See entry for Union.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
(a) Neither Jew nor Greek. Paul is not saying there’s no such thing as a Jew (or a male), for he was proudly Jewish (Php. 3:5). He is saying racial discrimination has no place in the new creation.
The world of Biblical times was highly segregated. The Jews were prejudiced towards women, Gentiles, and sinners; the Greeks were prejudiced towards barbarians (non-Greeks), and the Romans were prejudiced towards slaves and non-citizens. In contrast, Jesus received everyone without regard for their race, gender or status. He said his kingdom was like a dragnet cast into the sea gathering fish of every kind (Matt. 13:47), and he commissioned his disciples to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19). In contrast with the fallen kingdoms of this world, the kingdom of God welcomes people from every tribe and nation (Acts 2:5, 10:35, Rom. 10:12, Eph. 2:13, Col. 3:11, Rev. 7:9, 14:6).
(b) Neither male nor female. Gender discrimination also has no place in the new creation. All people, regardless of race, status, or gender, are equally valued in the family of God. Although men and women are biologically different, they are equal in grace. This has enormous implications for our view of women and their role in the church.
Further reading: The Silent Queen: Why the Church Needs Women to Find their Voice
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- Galatians 3:1
- Galatians 3:2
- Galatians 3:3
- Galatians 3:5
- Galatians 3:6
- Galatians 3:7
- Galatians 3:11
- Galatians 3:12
- Galatians 3:14
- Galatians 3:17
- Galatians 3:18
- Galatians 3:21
- Galatians 3:24
- Galatians 3:26
- Galatians 3:27
- Galatians 3:28