¶ O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not
obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set
forth, crucified among you?
1 ¶ O foolish Galatians, by what strange powers have you been tricked, to whom it was made clear that Jesus Christ was put to death on the cross? (BBE)
.2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
.4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.
5 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?
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Galatians They had followed false teachers.
2 - This only would I learn The basis of Paul's challenge is set forth in several questions which are discussed in verses 6 to 29. A true response to any one of the questions would show the Galatian people their error.
2 - Received the Spirit ... law? They had. See 1co12, ep0410. On law See ro0320, ga0216.
2 - Hearing of faith Or "faith developed from hearing."
5 - He that ministereth Apparently Paul.
¶ Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.
.7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.
8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.
9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
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believed ... righteousness From ge1506
Greek (Septuagint) translation. Belief in Abraham would have been a strong
argument for those preaching the error that Jewish legal practices were
needed. Paul shows that righteousness by faith is in harmony with Abraham's
6 - Accounted Or "credited." God considered Abraham as righteous considering his faith.
7 - Same as the children of Abraham At the time of the promise, Abraham had not yet received the legal act of circumcision ro0410. Salvation is available to Jew and Gentile in the same way ro0322, ro1012, ac0412.
8 - Foreseeing The promise to Abraham recognized the coming of the Saviour v16.
8 - Heathen Or "nations." From ethne. Always non-Jews in NT usage.
For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it
is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which
are written in the book of the law to do them.
11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.
.12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.
.13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
.14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
- Curse of the law This verse may be misunderstood to say
that we are freed from the law itself. Instead, when we sin, we are cursed
by the law. Through Christ we may claim forgiveness and the power to walk
in righteousness co0206.
14 - Blessing of Abraham He was promised possession of the land ge1207, a city he1110, righteousness ge1506.
Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant,
yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto.
.16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.
.17 And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.
18 For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.
- Inheritance The significant part of the covenant promise
they had inherited offers salvation through faith in Christ and not by
fulfilling the requirements of the legal system. See on ex1905,8.
18 - Of the law Rather, "of law." See on ro0212.
Salvation for people before the cross was by faith as it is now.
¶ Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions,
till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained
by angels in the hand of a mediator.
20 Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.
.21 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.
22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.
.24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
19 - Wherefore then serveth the law? Some interpret the passage as evidence that the inspired rules of the OT to not apply after the cross. This idea supports the concept that before the cross people were saved by obedience to the law and after the cross salvation is by grace. Paul apparently anticipated this very misunderstanding. See ro0331-0401.
19 - Added From prostithemi. The law had always been the divine standard
23 - Law shut up ... faith Paul is not preaching a new way of salvation. Rather that the experience at Sinai the law was revealed and the people were called out to a more intelligent following of God. They were, however, depending on works which was an error ex1908, ex2407. That was the old covenant. The new one was to be written on their (and our) hearts ps03731, je3133, ro0215.
24 - Schoolmaster Literally "child conductor." The law teaches us the meaning of righteousness and it helps us see our need for Christ. Also ro0707.
For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
.28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
.29 And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
28 - Neither Jew nor Greek This is an important passage. It clarifies that ethnic Jews are no different from others as far as promises and relationship to Christ are concerned. Also ro0906ff. and 1co1001 Unfortunately most modern theology has missed this point.
29 - Abraham's seed See ge1316. Also see on ro0906 and ep0219. The blessings were meant to be passed on to the New Testament people of God ge2804.
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simply means that the New Testament people of God inherit promises made
to Abraham and to ancient Israel. It means, for example, that we may read
Ps. 119:11 and claim it as a promise: "Thy word I have treasured in my
heart, that I may not sin against Thee (NASB). It means that we can we
see Christ as our shepherd who takes us like sheep to green pastures of
security and peace. We may be free from fear though we walk through the
valley of the shadow of death (Ps. 23). Peter tells us that we may claim
the precious promises of the Word and receive strength to overcome sin
The Old Testament is packed with guidance and promises given to the patriarchs
and prophets which are for us to claim. If we are in a situation Isaiah
was in, we may claim God's promise to him. God loves us no less than He
did Isaiah and Moses and Hagar and Hannah.
The concept of "replacement theology" is opposed by those who believe today's nation of Israel is an extension of ancient Israel. At the end of the chapter above, Paul clearly shows that their idea is mistaken. It is true that the promises of God which depend on a human response are conditional. See Jonah (esp. chap. 4) and Deut. 28 and Isa. 1:19. The idea described as "replacement theology" is what the Bible teaches.
Those who oppose replacement theology believe that declaring a nation to be "Israel" gives it the status of ancient Israel. After all, was not the land of Canaan which included the area of the present "Israel" promised to the children of Israel? (ex0308).
Let's consider several passages that support replacement theology.
In Joel 3, we see a renewed Judah and Jerusalem (verse 1). Then Jerusalem would be holy (verse 17) And the Lord would bring vengeance (verse 21). This chapter does not describe today's "Israel."
Paul's statement that ethnic background makes no difference is very clear ga0326-29. Also "they are not all Israel, which are of Israel." Rom. 9:6. Also Rom. 11:26 assumes a spiritual Israel.
Daniel's people, the Jews, had been given seventy weeks of years to become faithful people of God da0924. Instead they crucified their Messiah and lost their status as a chosen nation. The national leaders cried "we have no king but Caesar" jn1915. The status of the Jewish nation with the responsibility of taking light to the Gentile world (Isa. 60:1-3) came to an end. Of course many individual Jews, then and now, choose Christ.
A fig tree which appeared to have fruit but had none. Jesus cursed it as an example of the fallen Jewish nation mt2119,20.
He personally and clearly told the Jewish leaders that their "vineyard"—their divine commission—was taken away and given to another (the Christian Gentiles). Read His parable in mt21:33-41.