3:1-5-Paul Reprooves of the Galatians



O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?”
Paul now returns to the subject of the experience of the Galatians.  How had they been saved?  Were they saved by the Law or were they saved by faith in Jesus Christ. 

         “O foolish Galatians”
         Literally: “O senseless Galatians.”

         The Greek word here translated as “foolish” is from a root word meaning “mind.”  What Paul is saying is, “You’re not using your mind.”  He might say,  “Are you out of your minds?  or, “You mindless, unthinking Galatians!” This is really an expression of surprise mingled with indignation.  Galatia was a land where the people were a mixture Celtic (and thus, druid type) and Greek civilizations.  Thus, there was a strong spiritist, or mystical influence. 
         This is a prevalent problem in America:  the “mindless follow the herd mentality (or rather, the lack thereof, of mentality, I mean).  The common excuse we constantly hear (especially from our teenagers) is: “everybody is doing it.”  This is nothing but the mindless “herd” or mob mentality, for those who do not, or cannot, think for themselves.  We are told in the Word of God that we believers, all of us, regardless of what age group we may fall into, are to be a “peculiar” people (I Pet. 2:9).  That means we are to be different, not like rest of the world; not like the rest of the mindless herd.
         Paul is telling these Galatians: you are foolish (literally:  “mindless”) for having yielded to the influence of these false teachers, and for having embraced doctrines that really subvert the gospel of the Redeemer. He is saying, “You make as little use of reason as those who have no powers of reasoning.” The Greek word used here denotes being void of understanding; and they had shown it in the remarkable manner of their rejecting the doctrine of the apostles, and in embracing the errors into which they had fallen. The particular thing to which Paul refers here is, that they were so easily led astray by the arguments of the false teachers.

         “who hath bewitched you?
         Literally:  “Who bewitched you?
         Paul’s metaphor is derived from the popular superstition of the “evil eye.”  Paul is attributing the infatuation of the Galatians to the effects of some mysterious power of evil. 

        The word here for “bewitched” properly means, “to prate about any one;” and then to mislead as if by magic arts; “to fascinate; to influence by a charm”.

         The idea here is, that they had not been led by reason and by sober judgment; but that there must have been some charm or fascination to have taken them away in this manner from what they had embraced as true, and what they had the fullest evidence was true. Paul had sufficient confidence in them to believe that they had not embraced their present views under the unbiased influence of judgment and reason, but that there must have been some fascination or charm by which it was done. It was, in fact, accomplished by the arts and the plausible pretenses of those who came from among the Jews.
         Or, as we would say,  “What’s gotten into you? Or, “What has so fascinated you” Or, What has deluded you?”    What has fascinated you so that you have lost your wits?  Actually, the Galatians were quite acute in intellect. Hence, Paul wonders they could be so misled in this case.  Paul is here appealing to their vanity.  What strange, Satanic influence has come over you?  By what horrible deceit have you been entangled and held captive?  You have heard and known the way of salvation by faith in the crucified Savior–how could you then have been duped by legalistic teachers?     

         “that ye should not obey the truth”
         Literally:  “not to obey the truth”

         They were not obeying the truth; that’s their problem; that is, they did not adhere to the gospel way of justification, that Paul had taught them; and which they had professed to embrace. Note, It is not enough to know the truth, and to say we believe it, but we must obey it; we must heartily submit to it, and we must steadfastly abide by it. Note, also, those are spiritually bewitched who, when the truth as it is in Jesus is plainly set before them, will not thus obey it. Several things proved and aggravated the folly of these believers.

         “before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth
         Literally:  “To whom before {your} eyes Jesus Christ was written afore.”

         That is, it has been done so clearly that you may be said to have seen it in the preaching of the gospel. He has been so fully and plainly preached that you may be said to have seen Him. The effect of His being preached in the manner in which it has been done, ought to have been as great as if you had seen Him crucified before your eyes.
         The verb rendered as “set forth” literally means, “placarded” or “painted; “to write before and then to announce beforehand in writing; or to announce by posting up on a tablet.”  Paul had painted many “word pictures” teaching about the crucified Christ; that it was His death on the cross that made possible their salvation. The meaning here is, probably, that Christ had been announced among them crucified so clearly, as if the doctrine was set forth in a public written tablet. There was the utmost clearness and distinctness of view, so that they need not make any mistake in regard to him

Application Of The Test Of Experience.

“This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by the hearing of faith?

“This only would I learn of you”
Literally:  “This only I desire to learn from you.”

Paul now strikes at the heart of the problem. He will show their error by pointing out to them that the gifts of the Spirit came by the hearing of faith, not by works of the law.

ONLY: The word “only” here implies that this was enough to settle the question. This one argument just might convince you.

The argument to which Paul was about to appeal was enough for his purpose; he did not need to go any further. They had been converted. They had received the Holy Spirit. They had had abundant evidence of their acceptance with God; and the simple matter of inquiry now was, whether this had occurred as the regular effect of the gospel, or whether it had been by obeying the law of Moses?

         “Received ye the Spirit by the works of the Law”
         Literally:  “Did you receive the Spirit by works of law?”

This may be referring to the miraculous gifts of the Spirit, which were very common in the apostolic Church.  Paul may be even saying,  “Did ye receive the witness and the fruit of the Spirit by performing the works of the Law?”

THE HOLY SPIRIT:  He refers here, doubtless, to all the manifestations of the Spirit which had been made to them, in renewing the heart, in sanctifying the soul, in comforting them in affliction, and in his miraculous agency among them. The Holy Spirit had been conferred on them at their conversion, Acts 10:44; 11:16; and this was to them proof of the favor of God, and of their being accepted by him.   

         “or by the hearing of faith”
Literally:  “or by hearing of faith?” 

         Or did you receive the Holy Spirit by hearing the gospel, requiring faith as the condition of salvation. You received the Holy Spirit only through the preaching of the gospel.  This is a matter of truth which could not be denied, and this had not been imparted under the law, but had been connected only with the gospel of the Redeemer. (Comp. Acts 2:1-47). The doctrine taught in this verse is that the benefits resulting to Christians of the gifts of the Holy Spirit are enough to prove that the gospel is from God, and are therefore true.
         This was the case with regard to the miraculous endowments communicated in the early times of the church by the Holy Spirit; for the miracles which were wrought, the knowledge of languages imparted, and the conversion of thousands from the error of their ways, proved that the system was from heaven; and it is true now. The Holy Spirit has always been received by the hearing of faith. The Galatians never received the Spirit by the Law.  The presence of the Holy Spirit is evidence of conversion.  “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His”  (Rom. 8:9).
         Every believer has had ample proof, from the influences of the Spirit on his heart and around him, that the system which is attended with such benefits is from heaven. His own renewed heart; his elevated and sanctified affections; his renewed hopes; his consolations in trial; his peace in the prospect of death, and the happy influences of the system around him in the conversion of others, and in the intelligence, order, and purity of the community, are ample proof that the gospel is true. Such effects do not come from any attempt to keep the law; they result from no other system. This is something that no system of infidelity produce.

                 HEARING OF FAITH: What does Paul mean by the hearing of faith? 

         Does he mean the ear, the organ of hearing, or the receiving of the message, or the message itself?  Actually, he is referring to the entire process (see Romans 10:14).  You must hear something before you can be saved, because the Gospel is something that God has done for you, and you need to hear about it.  The answer is plain: It was not through the works of the Law, but through the hearing of faith, that they had received the Holy Spirit; why then turn away from the faith to go under the Law?
         Paul begins his treatise by raising several questions.  He tells these folks to look back on what had happened to them and then begins to asks six questions.  His Question #1: is, “Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by the hearing of faith?”  Nowhere, not even in the O.T., did anyone ever receive the Holy Spirit by the works of the Law.  Everyone has a different experience, but the gospel is true irrespective of experience.  There are people who reason from experience to truth, but the Word of God reasons from truth to experience.

         The Law demands works; grace requires faithGrace, opening up to any demands for works, would cease to be grace.  By obeying the Law of Moses or for that matter, any law, totally negates grace and faith.  It was in no way connected with their obeying the Law that they received the Holy Spirit. This must have been so clear to them that no one could have any doubt on the subject. The inestimably rich and precious gift of the Holy Spirit had not been conferred on them in consequence of their obeying the Law.

“Are ye so foolish?  Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

         “Are ye so foolish?”
         Literally:  “Are you so foolish?”

Paul is really asking, “Are you so thoughtless?”  They are not using their heads.  It was foolish for the Galatians to think for even a moment that the work of God in their hearts, begun by the Spirit, could be brought to perfection in the flesh.  The flesh is weak and sickly (Rom. 6:19). and it is the dwelling place of no good thing (Rom. 7:18).  How foolish for even believers to think that we can expect any good thing from the flesh!  The flesh is no means whatsoever for  sanctification. 

         “having begun in the Spirit,
         Literally:  “having begun in {the} Spirit”

Having received a spiritual faith, which refined and purified your hearts; and having received the Holy Spirit of God, by which you were endowed with various miraculous gifts and influences; and received the spirit of adoption, by which you were assured of the remission of sins, and were incorporated into the family of God.  Do you now think to complete either your justification or sanctification, by giving up that faith, and depending on the Law, which is really a gross and carnal thing when opposed to the gospel?

         “are ye now made perfect by the flesh?”
        Literally:  “Do you now perfect {yourself} in the flesh?”

         Are you seeking to complete you spiritual growth, and to perfect these spiritual gifts, by the physical rite of circumcision?    Having begun your Christianity in the Spirit, are you now seeking after something higher still (the perfecting of your faith) in the earthly, through  outward ceremonies?  This is what has happened to so many of our denominations.  Homer Saps just cannot keep his mitts off of God’s simple plans.  He thinks he must do something, and by his doing this “something,” he downgrades what God has begun.  That is why most of our denominations are burdened with needless ceremonies and ritualisms. They have become “feel good” churches instead of gospel preaching churches.  Eph. 4:12 says the local churches are supposed to be “for the perfecting (that is, growing; maturing) of the saints for the work of the ministry.”  But with all these man-made ritualisms and ceremonalisms, there is no way that the believers in these churches (if there really are any) can possibly grow spiritually, because the Holy Spirit is not there to help them grow.  Everything about these churches is carnal and not Spiritual.
        What Paul is asking is, “If the Holy Spirit is the One who converted you, Who brought you into Christ, and now you are indwelt by that same Spirit of God, are you going to turn back to the Law (which was given to control the flesh) and think you are going to live on a higher plane?”

          The word here used means, properly, “to bring through to an end, to finish;” and the sense of perfecting, in the sense in which we now use that word, is not implied in the original. It is that of finishing, ending, completing.

         The sense of what Paul is saying is something like this: You began your spiritual journey under the spiritual influences of the gospel, a system so pure and so exalted above the carnal ordinances of the Jews. Now, having begun through the Spirit, how can it be that you actually believe that you can finish your Christian course, or carry it on to completion, by the observance of these physical ordinances, as if they were more pure and elevating than your faith in the gospel?  Can it be that you regard them as being on a higher plane than the gospel?

        BY THE FLESH:   By the observance of the carnal rites of the Jews–so the word here evidently means. This has not been an uncommon thing.


         Many have been professedly converted by the Spirit, and have soon fallen into the observance of mere rites and ceremonies, and depended mainly on them for salvation. Many churches, and church denominations, have commenced in an elevated and spiritual manner, and have ended in the observance of mere forms. So many Christians begin their course in such a spiritual manner, and end it “in the flesh.”  Any time you depart, in any matter or form, from the teaching of the gospel, and insert any manner of ritualalism, liturgical action, another other form of works, then you have totally destroyed the grace upon which you commenced.
        They soon conform to the world. They are brought under the influence of worldly appetites and propensities. They forget the spiritual nature of their faith and they live for the indulgence of ease, and for the gratification of the senses. They build themselves houses, and they “plant vineyards,” and they collect around them the instruments of music, and the bowl and the wine is in their feasts, and they surrender themselves to luxury of living; and it seems as if they intended to perfect their Christianity by drawing around them as much of the world as possible. Such churches, instead of becoming the evangelistic and growing churches they inteended to be by their use of worldly methods, they instead become ingrown and merely “entertainment” churches. 

The following illustrates the trend of many of our fundamental church toward the use of worldly tactics and adoption of the Marxist philosophy of “the end justifies the means”, in their drives to "win souls" and reach more people.  I wish to thank Pastor Simpson of Winter Haven, Florida for his kind permission to reprint his tract.

Feed My Sheep

Something is drastically wrong in the Church today.   Instead of obeying the Lord's command to “feed My sheep,” we are entertaining “the goats.”

We are trying to “promote” people to heaven…
Preachers shine each others' shoes publicly!
Deacons volunteer to have a cow-milking contest!
One church has the largest popsickle in the world during the Sunday School hour!
Bozo the Clown appears in this Sunday School today!
This is “Old Timer's Sunday” and our preacher will ride down Main Street to church on a horse!
Free hamburgers and cokes are given to all who come!
Two singing groups and a beauty queen featured in this church!
On and on it goes, and we are promoting the Lord and His Holy Spirit right out of the church.

       REMEMBER:  What you win them with is what you win them to.  Win them with worldly methods and you will have a worldly Christian.  Remember, Christ never intended His Local Church to be an entertainment hall!|
       Notice what Paul says in Eph. 4:11, “And He gave some prophets, and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers
       And why were these given to the Church? (No clowns, no entertainers, no showmen seen here).   “For the perfecting (maturing) of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ.”  Any time you depart, in any matter or form, from the teaching of the gospel, and insert any manner of ritualalism, liturgical action, another other form of works, then you have totally destroyed the grace upon which you began.

      Every minute of precious time we are gathering together should be used to instruct, teach, exhort and to worship God.

“Lovest thou Me?…Feed My sheep.”

      Oh, how well does this describe the condition of our churches today!  We need to realize the lesson of Ishmael vs. Issac.  Issac was the son of promise–the miracle son born through the working of God.  Ishmael was the son of the flesh, born through the working of Abraham.  I am afraid our churches are being filled with Ishmaels, through the result of our own work and our appealing to the carnal nature of man, and we are not getting enough Issacs, or the fruits of the working of the Holy Spirit.  We need to ponder long on the truth of Acts 2:47:  “The Lord (not the Apostles and the other believers, nor their gimmicks and campaigns) added to the Church daily such as should be saved.”

“Have ye suffered so many things in vain?  If it be yet in vain.

         “Have ye suffered so many thing in vain?”
         Literally:  “Did you suffer so much vainly?” 

         This persecution was  incited by the Jews, at the time of your conversion.  Paul reminds them of what they had endured on account of their attachment to Christianity, and he assures them that if the opinions on account of which they had suffered were false, then their sufferings had been in vain. They were of no use to them–for what advantage was it to suffer for a false opinion? The opinions for which they had suffered had not been those which they now attempting to embrace. They were not those connected with the observance of the Jewish rites. They had suffered on account of their having embraced the gospel–the system of justification by a crucified Redeemer.
         What Paul is asking is, “Are you going to let all of the things you have suffered come to naught?”  He reminds them that they had paid a price for receiving the gospel; it had cost them something to believe the gospel.  Was it all that–the persecution from Jews and from unbelieving fellow countrymen, incited by the Jews, at the time of your conversion–going to be in vain, without purpose?

        IN VAIN: fruitlessly, needlessly,
        Since you might have avoided them by professing Judaism. 

Or, shall you, by departing from grace, lose the reward promised for all your sufferings, so that they shall be “in vain” (4:11; I Cor. 15:2,17-19, 29-32; II Thess. 1:5-7; II John 1:13)?

         “if it be yet in vain.”
         Literally:  “If indeed {it}also {was}vainly.” 

In effect, Paul is saying, I trust it has not been in vain. I hope you have not abandoned the gospel so far that all your sufferings on its behalf have just been for nothing. I believe the system is true; and then if it is true, and you are really sincerely Christians, then it was not in vain that you have suffered on its behalf, even though you have strayed from it. Although your principles have been shaken, I trust that they have not completely overthrown, and that you may yet reap the reward for which you have suffered so much on account of the gospel.

“He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth He it by the works of the Law, or by the hearing of faith?”

         “He therefore that ministereth to you in the Spirit?
         Literally:  “He then supplying to you the Spirit.”   

         This verse is mostly  a repetition of the argument stated in verse 2. The argument that the gift of the Holy Spirit to them was not imparted in consequence of the observance of the Law of Moses, but rather it was in connection with the preaching of the gospel.  By the word “he,” in this place Paul probably means himself. It probably means that Paul had been made  the agent or instrument (through his preaching of the gospel) in imparting to them those remarkable endowments, and that this had been done by one who had not enforced the necessity of obeying the Law of Moses, but who had simply preached to them the simple gospel.    
         He (Paul) supplied and supplies to you the Spirit still, to the present time. He speaks of these miracles as a matter of unquestioned notoriety among those addressed; and proof of their genuineness (compare I Cor.12:1-31).

         “and worketh miracles among you”
         Literally:  “And  working works of power in you.”

         Paul is still reminding these Galatians that he was the one who had come into the country, preached the Word of God to them, and performed miracles among them.  He had the evidence that he was an apostle.  Hel had come to the Galatians, not as a Pharisee preaching the Law, but as an apostle preaching Jesus Christ. 
        Justification by faith was the experience of these Galatians.  That is why he asked them, “What has gotten into you?”  He mentions the Holy Spirit three times in this section.  He reminds them hat they did not receive the Spirit by the Law.  The presence of the Holy Spirit is evidence of conversion.

        Paul had the sign gifts.  He performed miracles.  He could heal the sick.  He could raise the dead.  Simon Peter, one of the original Twelve, could do that also.  To do such things was the mark of an apostle in that day.  The apostles have given us the Word of God.  We have a faith that is built upon Jesus Christ as the Chief cornerstone.  The one trait that gave credence to the truth of the apostles message was their ability to perform miracles (signs).  After they had given us the Word of God, these sign gifts disappeared. 

         “doeth He it by the works of the law”
         Literally:  {Is it} by works of law?” 

That is, as a consequence resulting from the works of the law. This cannot be because the Law was then unknown to you when you received those gifts of the Spirit.

         “Or by the hearing of faith.”
         Literally:  “Or by hearing of faith?”  See notes on verse 2

         Is confirmation of his preaching justification by works, or of his preaching justification by faith?  He does it by the hearing of faith, not by the works of the law. The effects of the gospel are con-clusive evidence that is from God. 

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