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Quits Sabio
Elder at Sovereign Mercy Evangelical Church Inc. and President of Reformed Exegetes Society
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The first Christmas happened in order to establish God's kingdom through His Son Jesus Christ.
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When He who is clean, namely the Lord Jesus Christ, touched us, we are made clean
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Haggai 2:1-9
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Elect Exiles According To The Foreknowledge Of The Father, In The Sanctification Of The Spirit, For Blood Bought Obedience To Jesus
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Christian Hospitality Covers a Multitude  of Sin
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True knowledge about God will result in true love for others.
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Ephesians 2:1-10
To be under the Mosaic law again is not only childish, but also devilish and damning.
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Beware of working for God! Instead, gladly obey God as our Father and not as our taskmaster.
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The law serves the promise until the coming of the seed
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The Law cannot nullify the Promise
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Galatians 3:6-9
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Lead others to the truth of the gospel not just with propositions but also with our actions.
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Psalm 42:11
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Foolishness of returning to the Law
Galatians 3:1-5
We can't start with the Spirit and then end with the flesh
Published April 7th, 2019; Updated April 15th, 2019
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Main point summary
Discourse 3:1-5
Main point summary
We are being foolish when (1) we can't draw right inferences from the vivid portrayal of the death of Christ on the cross, and (2) knowing that we began by receiving the Spirit through faith, we're now trying to finish by works of the law.
Discourse 3:1-5
Galatians 3:1-5
1 You foolish a Galatians,
You 1 foolish Galatians!
O foolish Galatians!
῏Ω ἀνόητοι Γαλάται,
You foolish Galatians!
who has bewitched you,
Who has cast a spell 2 on you?
Who has bewitched you?
τίς ὑμᾶς ἐβάσκανεν,
[that is] who has bewitched you,
before whose eyes Jesus Christ b was publicly portrayed as crucified?
Before your eyes Jesus Christ was vividly portrayed 3 as crucified!
z It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly a portrayed as crucified.
οἷς κατʼ ὀφθαλμοὺς Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς προεγράφη ἐσταυρωμένος;
[for] before your eyes Jesus Christ was vividly portrayed as crucified?
This is the only thing I want to find out from you:
The only thing I want to learn from you is this:
Let me ask you only this:
τοῦτο μόνον θέλω μαθεῖν ἀφʼ ὑμῶν•
The only thing I want to learn from you is this:
did you receive the Spirit
Did you receive the Spirit
b Did you receive the Spirit
τὸ πνεῦμα ἐλάβετε
Did you receive the Spirit
by the works of 1 the Law,
by doing the works of the law 4
by works of the law
ἐξ ἔργων νόμου
by [means of] works of the Law,
or by 2 a hearing with faith?
or by believing what you heard? 5
or by c hearing with faith?
ἢ ἐξ ἀκοῆς πίστεως;
or by [means of] hearing with faith?
Are you so foolish?
Are you so foolish?
Are you so foolish?
οὕτως ἀνόητοί ἐστε,
[Thus] are you so foolish
Having begun 1 by the Spirit,
Although you began 6 with 7 the Spirit,
d Having begun by the Spirit,
ἐναρξάμενοι πνεύματι
[that] although you began with the Spirit,
are you now 2 being perfected by the flesh?
are you now trying to finish 8 by human effort? 9
are you now being perfected by 1 the flesh?
νῦν σαρκὶ ἐπιτελεῖσθε;
are you now [trying] to finish by [means of] the flesh?
Did you 1 suffer so many things in vain—
Have you suffered so many things for nothing? -
e Did you suffer 1 so many things in vain—
τοσαῦτα ἐπάθετε εἰκῇ;
[That is] have you suffered so many things in vain-
a if indeed it was in vain?
if indeed it was for nothing.
if indeed it was in vain?
εἴ γε καὶ εἰκῇ.
if indeed it was in vain?
So then, does He who a provides you with the Spirit and b works 1 miracles among you, do it
Does God then give 10 you the Spirit and work miracles among you
Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and f works miracles among you do so
ὁ οὖν ἐπιχορηγῶν ὑμῖν τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ ἐνεργῶν δυνάμεις ἐν ὑμῖν,
Therefore does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you do it
by the works of 2 the Law,
by your doing the works of the law 11
g by works of the law,
ἐξ ἔργων νόμου
by [means of] the works of the Law,
or by 3 c hearing with faith?
or by your believing what you heard? 12
or by hearing with faith—
ἢ ἐξ ἀκοῆς πίστεως;
or by [means of] hearing with faith?
You foolish Galatians! [that is] who has bewitched you, [for] before your eyes Jesus Christ was vividly portrayed as crucified? The only thing I want to learn from you is this: Did you receive the Spirit by [means of] works of the Law, or by [means of] hearing with faith? [Thus] are you so foolish [that] although you began with the Spirit, are you now [trying] to finish by [means of] the flesh? [That is] have you suffered so many things in vain- if indeed it was in vain? Therefore does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you do it by [means of] the works of the Law, or by [means of] hearing with faith?
After a two chapter defense of his apostolic authority, Paul now proceeds with the defense of his message, namely the gospel. Galatians 3:1-5:12 comprises the main or central argument of the epistle. The preceding verses, Galatians 2:15-21 introduces many of the key words and issues raised in these succeeding chapters but formally we can be assured that 2:15-21 belongs to the apostolic defense. According Douglas Moo: "The first-person plurals and singulars indicate that Paul is to some extent relating the content of the speech he gave at Antioch (2:11–14). The direct address to the Galatians in 3:1 signals a shift." Verse 1-5 of chapter three expresses the essential argument for the entire section. We can treat it as Paul's Thesis Statement. We can summarize the thesis this way: Justification is by faith alone apart from works of the Law, both in conversion and after conversion or in maintaining our being justified.
Folly of turning to another gospel Paul begins this section with a strong rebuke directly addressed to the Galatians. "O foolish Galatians!", he said. The fact that only four times elsewhere in his letters he directly names his audience(2 Cor. 6:11;Phil. 4:15; 1 Tim. 1:18; 6:20). makes this address a very powerful one. Take note also that this foolishness does not merely mean lack of intelligence, but lack of obedience. This is not just an intellectual issue but a moral one. (Luke 24:25; 1 Tim. 6:9; Titus 3:3). The rhetorical questions in the following verses imply that they do know the gospel. That's why the charge against them was not owing to ignorance but owing to blatant disobedience. Now Paul demonstrates their foolishness in two ways with two rhetorical questions. First, is in verse 1; " who has bewitched you, [for] before your eyes Jesus Christ was vividly portrayed as crucified?" Then second in verse 5 ; "D oes He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you do it by [means of] the works of the Law, or by [means of] hearing with faith? " The former is a failure to draw the right conclusion from the death of Christ objectively, while the latter is a failure to draw the obvious inference from their own experience subjectively. Let's look at the two one at a time. Who has bewitched you?(verse 1) The important aspect of this question is not the who but the what of this question. In what sense were they bewitched? The word for bewitched in greek literally means "to exert an evil influence through the eye" or "to be given an evil eye." This is just a rhetorical device to make a point that they failed to see what is there to see in the crucifixion of Christ. The second part of the verse says that it was before their “very eyes” that “Jesus Christ was vividly portrayed as crucified”, and the failure to see what Paul stated in Galatians 2:19-20 is nothing short of having been bewitched. The Galatians were expected to draw from the death of Christ that we were crucified with Him and renders us dead to the law. They heard the gospel preached to them clearly yet they failed to see its implications on our relationship to the law. The cross is central to Paul's conception of the gospel. The cross delivers from the present evil age (1:4) and murders the law, thus terminating its lordship (2:19-20; 4:5), so that we can die to the law, sin, and the world (5:24; 6:14); the cross of Christ justifies (2:21), absorbs our guilt (3:10-14). John Stott states the importance of the cross this way: “There is then, it is safe to say, no Christianity without the cross. If the cross is not central to our religion, ours is not the religion of Jesus.” Therefore to go back to law keeping for our justification is as if Christ was never crucified. Works of the Law or Hearing with Faith?(verses 2-5) The second argument is in verse 5. All the rhetorical questions in verses 2-4 only serve as support to that last rhetorical question in a crescendo fashion. As mentioned earlier the second argument is more of an appeal to their experience hence it is subjective. One commentary said; "Paul here appeals not to logic or Scriptural foundation, but to the Galatians’ experience of conversion and Christian living." First he asked them about their own conversion experience in verse 2; "Did you receive the Spirit by [means of] works of the Law, or by [means of] hearing with faith?" He preface it with these words " The only thing I want to learn from you is this." This clause not only implies importance but also that Paul's whole argument hangs on this very first question. If they answer it right then the rest will follow naturally. The obvious answer, if they were truly converted, it is by hearing with faith or by believing what they have heard. The receiving of the Spirit is the mark of a true Christian. There's no Christian who's not indwelt by the Spirit. Therefore all Christians must have at one point in time received the Spirit by faith in the past. Not only that, we're also granted faith by the Spirit when we heard of the gospel, that's why it's hearing with faith. We heard the message, the Spirit granted faith, then we received the Spirit. That's what conversion is all about and that's why preaching is important and reliance on the Spirit's sovereign purpose is important! The debate is over if the Galatians will answer honestly and rightly. For Paul, this will already settle the matter, but he nevertheless continued, so to speak, with the cross examination. Because the real issue in the churches at Galatia was not how they started but how they tried to finish and be perfected. Thus in verse 3 he asked; "Are you so foolish [that] although you began with the Spirit, are you now [trying] to finish by [means of] the flesh?" It has to do with post-conversion and not prior or during conversion. Knowing that we began with the Spirit, it is foolishness then to try to finish by the flesh. The Spirit already accomplished more than what our flesh can ever accomplish if there's any. So to return to works of the law for our sanctification is foolishness indeed. It is suicide! Then he explained with another rhetorical question in verse 4 what's at stake if we rely on the flesh this side of conversion. Paul asked; "Have you suffered so many things in vain- if indeed it was in vain?" This means that if in all our sufferings, and runnings and struggles we rely on our own flesh and not by the power of the Holy Spirit alone, then all will be in vain. That's why in Galatians 5:4 he said that "you are severed from Christ" and "you have fallen away from grace" if you would try to be justified by the law. So in verse 5 he returned to the real issue; " Therefore does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you do it by [means of] the works of the Law, or by [means of] hearing with faith?" I want you to notice how Paul started and how he closed his argument. In verse 2 he asked how we received the Spirit - that's conversion. But here in verse 5 he asked how God provides or sustains the Spirit - that's sanctification. In other words, we start with faith and end with faith. We began with the Spirit then finish off with the Spirit. That's what living by faith and by the power of the Holy Spirit means. If you mix works of the law in the beginning, no justification, and if you mix works of the law in the middle and in the end then no justification. We either rely on Christ and the Spirit's work in us alone or not at all. Galatians 5:2-3 states that if we accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage for us and we are obligated to keep the whole law.
Place for experience and truth Christianity is not just a religion of theories and abstractions. Christianity is also an experience. If you're yet to experience the regenerating work of the Spirit then you're not a Christian. If you haven't receive the Spirit by faith then you're not a Christian. If you're not experiencing the transforming work of the Spirit as you walk your life then that's symptomatic that you are not a Christian. If there's no witness of the Spirit who tells you that you are a child of God then you are not a Christian. Therefore to become a Christian is more than just learning some doctrines. It is experiencing the work of God. But Christianity is not less than doctrines and theology. Our experience must be grounded on an objective reality that is outside of us. Christ died for our sins according to Scriptures, he was buried and on the third day He rose again according to scriptures. That's doctrine! And if you don't believe that, then you can't be justified. Without hearing the gospel doctrine there's no born again experience. 1 Peter 1:23 says that “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through [by] the living and enduring word of God." Then it doesn't stop there. We are are shown to be Christ's disciples when we abide in His word according to John 8:31. In Philippians 2:16 we are called to hold fast to the word of life. Sanctification by the Spirit Yes sanctification is not without obedience and striving. But with all the striving we must rely only on the power of the Spirit and not on the flesh, else we're returning again to works of the law. We don't follow the law of Christ as if we're following the letter(Mosaic law). We follow because our obedience is wrought by the Spirit. It is not a mustering up of will power that we obey but because the Spirit made us willing. Therefore brethren be very careful because legalism lurks not only before conversion but also after conversion with a vengeance!
Disclaimer: The opinions and conclusions expressed on this page are those of the author and may or may not accord with the positions of Biblearc or Bethlehem College & Seminary.