9/08/20 – Galatians 3:1-6
Galatians 3:1 – 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?
foolish – anoetos (unwise; foolish; not understanding) Irrational, illogical. an absence of reasoning. He uses this same word in Vs 3 below: “Are ye so foolish (anoetos)?”
Jesus uses this word for “fools” in Luke 24:25 – Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:
Paul uses this word only 5 times in all his letters, and 2 of them are in today’s passage. This emphasises what Paul really thought of these Galatians!
hath bewitched – baskaino (to speak ill of one; to slander; bring evil upon one by feigning praise or an evil eye; charm; bewitch) To put the evil eye on! Its only use in the NT.
Our word “fascinate” derives from Latin fascinus (a charm, enchantment, spell, witchcraft) Earliest used of witches and of serpents, who were said to be able to cast a spell by a look that rendered one unable to move or resist. Possibly from Greek baskanos "slander, envy, malice," later "witchcraft, sorcerery," To fascinate is to bring under a spell, as by the power of the eye. (etymologyonline.com)
Bewitched had to do with casting a spell by a look (also associated with the supposed hypnotic stare that a snake is said to use upon its opponents). In fact, this is the original meaning of the word fascinate which ultimately derives from the Greek word for bewitched. Thus fascinate comes from baskiano. In a way this aptly describes those teachers of a false gospel that Paul started off with, declaring them anathema. In other words, how is it possible for you to lose sight of the truth here, the truth you were taught so clearly, asks Paul.
eyes – ophthalmos (the eye; metaphorically the eyes of the mind; the faculty of knowing) Our word “ophthalmology” derives from this Greek word.
before whose eyes – This cannot mean that they literally saw the crucifixion of Christ in person. It has to mean that enough information was given to them so that they could reasonably understand it.
hath been evidently set forth – prographo (to write beforehand; to depict or portray openly) From pro (before; beforehand) and grapho (to write). That is, this truth has been set down before their eyes (or rather it has been made clear to them already) so they cannot excuse themselves because of ignorance; they cannot claim ignorance.
The truth of the gospel of Christ has been made clear to them, so why do they not obey it? Who has “put the evil eye upon you” such that you refuse to obey the obvious truth, a truth that you cannot deny knowledge of, that Jesus Christ has been crucified among you? Of course, Jesus wasn’t literally crucified among them, yet Paul did preach Christ and Him crucified, as noted in his letter to the Corinthians.
1 Corinthians 2:1-2 – 1And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. 2For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
Paul would have preached the gospel bluntly and directly to them without confusion, so who was it that caused them to think so irrationally. Paul doesn’t ask “what” but “who”! Who was it that bewitched you?
Today we have so many false teachers that their followers swear by as more truthful than the Bible itself it seems. It’s like what one of MacArthur’s besotted followers wrote to me: “I see no evidence that Macarthur would purposely mis-interpret anything to make his point.” “he is a widely respected scholar theologian world wide the only criticism seems to come from free will believing Christians which is fine but some of the criticism is out of line and I know we will find out the truth one day. But until someone can show me hard facts about some of the things Macarthur has supposedly said or done I will dismiss them.” “I'm thinking perhaps the rule itself can be interpreted in a way to suit one's belief in whatever point one is trying to get across.” Apparently it was my fault because I mistakenly thought I had free will!
Today Paul would say to this person something like, “You foolish calvinists, who has deluded you so that you can’t see the obvious truth? (Who has put the evil eye on you?) You can’t say that you were kept in the dark about the truth. Everything you needed to know about the gospel of Jesus Christ has been explained so well in the Bible as if Jesus Christ had been literally crucified among you.”
Galatians 3:2 – 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 – or “This alone” or “This is the only thing”. Thus, I only need to ask you one thing in order to make my point (of Vs 1 above) clear.
learn – manthano (learn; increase one’s knowledge; hear; be informed) Translated “learn” 24 times and “having understood” once (in Acts 23:27).
Received ye the Spirit – The Holy Spirit was responsible for the giving of new life to converts, permitting them to become part of God’s family as a part of the body of Christ, the Church.
1 Corinthians 12:13 – For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether [we be] Jews or Gentiles, whether [we be] bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
Jesus caused them to receive the Spirit by breathing on them. The word “Spirit” (pneuma) derives from “pneo” (to breathe). (We get our word “pneumatic” from this.)
John 20:22 – And when he had said this, he breathed on [them], and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:
The Holy Spirit could only be given after Jesus was glorified (after His resurrection).
John 7:39 – (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet [given]; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
Receiving the Holy Spirit (often with miraculous signs) was a sign of the new birth. Here it signified that the Gentiles could also be God’s people (as well as the Jews).
Acts 10:44-45 – 44While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. 45And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Paul asks them how the Galatians received the Spirit: Was it the consequence of obedience to the law, or was it the consequence of responding by faith to the hearing of the gospel? Paul is clearly making an assumption here: that their only logical and rational answer is that they received the Spirit by “the hearing of faith”. (The next verse can only make sense if Paul has assumed that there is only one possible answer: that it was by faith.)
We can assume that it is likely to have been Paul who originally preached the gospel to them, although it may have been another worker who travelled with Paul (Galatians 1:2).
Galatians 1:10-11 – 10For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. 11But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
the hearing of faith – It is reasonable to relate this to the following:
Romans 10:17 – So then faith [cometh] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Paul has asked the question: Was it by the law or by faith that they received the Spirit? And did the person who ministered the Spirit to them do it by the works of the law or the hearing of faith? Note Vs 5 below where Paul asks the question again.
Galatians 3:5 – 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?
Paul knows that they must admit that they began in the Spirit (see next Vs), yet the problem he faces is that somewhere they have come off the tracks. They started off in the right direction, yet somehow they are now going the wrong way.
Galatians 3:3 – Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
As the saying goes, there are none so blind as those who will not see. “Are you so foolish? Surely no-one could be that foolish!” It’s similar to what the writer to the Hebrews wrote of people who just wouldn’t get the point; they were so dull of hearing! The writer had many things to say but no way of getting the message through to such dull-witted people!
Hebrews 5:11 – Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.
by the flesh – sarx (flesh; the body; a living creature; the flesh) It is translated “carnal” in Hebrews 9:9-10 – 9Which [was] a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; 10[Which stood] only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed [on them] until the time of reformation. where “carnal ordinances” refers to the rites of the law of Moses.
Thus “the flesh” in Galatians 3:3 has to refer to the works of the law.
Paul says that their new life in Christ began in the Spirit (by the hearing of faith, responding by faith in the biblical gospel through the power of the Holy Spirit), yet now they claimed to be made perfect by the flesh (by their physical obedience to the works of the law).
It is clear that the Galatians accepted that they were saved according to faith in the gospel of Christ by the Spirit; it does not appear as if they were denying this part of their salvation. But, while holding onto their justification by faith in Christ, they were also adding the law (works of the flesh) as a means of perfecting their salvation.
having begun – enarchomai (to begin; make a beginning) This word is only used in one other place in the NT, translated “hath begun” in Philippians 1:6 – Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform (epiteleo – bring to an end; accomplish; perfect; execute; complete) [it] until the day of Jesus Christ: where Paul in his letter to the Philippians told them that the good work in them would one day be perfected in them by the same one who had begun the good work. Scriptural consistency here (comparing Philippians 1:6 with Galatians 3:3) has to assume that the one who began the good work, who will also complete it, can only refer to the Holy Spirit here in Philippians 1:6.
made perfect – epiteleo (to bring to an end; accomplish; perfect; execute; complete)
In fact, this is the same word as used for “will perform” in Philippians 1:6. This is yet another scriptural consistency to note.
Paul is making the same point in Galatians 3:3: How can one begin the good work, yet another one perfect or complete it? How can they believe in something so irrational!
Galatians 3:4 – Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if [it be] yet in vain.
have ….. suffered – pascho; patho; pentho (to be affected or have been affected; to be well off; to suffer sadly) Strongs 3958. It appears to be related to Strongs 3957 Passover – pascha (paschal sacrifice; paschal lamb; paschal supper; paschal feast)
It is apparent that the Galatians must have suffered persecution after being saved by the gospel of Christ. It is also clear that, according to Paul, the suffering was a consequence of their new-found faith in Christ. So, asks Paul, what was the point of that suffering if it didn’t actually completely save you? It would be worth it if you gained so great salvation (see Hebrews 2:3) through Christ alone but why suffer for something of so much lesser value? In fact, Paul asks them whether their suffering would be in vain (useless) if the works of the flesh (the law) were required as well.
if (it be) in vain – According to Paul, it is these Galatians, not the biblical gospel, who seem to think that the works of the law (that is, circumcision) are needed as well. Paul doesn’t agree with them, for he questions whether the suffering was really in vain. It all rests upon what’s required for their perfection (Vs 3 above). If the gospel which Paul first preached to them is all that’s needed, then the suffering is worth every bit of it. But if it needs the works of the flesh (the law) as well (specifically circumcision), then the suffering they’ve experienced for the sake of the gospel first preached is totally wasted, in vain, useless.
Romans 8:12-18 – 12Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. 13For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. 14For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with [him], that we may be also glorified together. 18For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time [are] not worthy [to be compared] with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
Galatians 3:5 – 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?
ministereth – epichoregeo (to supply; furnish; present; to be supplied; ministered to; assisted)
This word is used 5 times in the NT. It is also translated “ministereth” in 2 Corinthians 9:10 – Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for [your] food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)
It is translated “add” in 2 Peter 1:5 – And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
In Galatians 3:5 it would have the idea of supplying them with the Spirit (“giving” the Spirit to them).
This echoes the question in Vs 2 above. Did they receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith? Here the question is asked concerning the person who ministered the Spirit to them: Did he impart the Spirit to them, working miracles among them, by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith? (The particular work of the law focused on here is circumcision.) If Paul were the one who preached the gospel to them, then did he do so through works of the law, or through faith.
Paul told the Romans that if they relied upon the works of the law for justification, then they would be found in debt. If they relied upon faith in Christ, then that faith would be accounted for righteousness. Paul consistently taught that we are justified by faith, and not works of the law.
Romans 4:4-5 – 4Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. 5But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
Therefore Paul would have emphasised the same truths to the Galatians that he emphasised to the Romans. In this Paul is clearly demonstrating that their emphasis upon the works of the law for perfection clearly did not come from him.
Galatians 3:6 – Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.
Genesis 15:6 – And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
Romans 4:1-3 – 1What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? 2For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath [whereof] to glory; but not before God. 3For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
The Jews were proud of their heritage in Abraham. When Jesus appeared to belittle Abraham in their eyes, by daring to claim to be even greater, especially claiming to be the eternal God, (the “I AM” – John 8:58) they tried to stone Him for blasphemy!
John 8:39; 53-59 – 39They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.
53Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself? 54Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: 55Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying. 56Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw [it], and was glad. 57Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? 58Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. 59Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.
In Romans, Paul explained to them that Abraham was the spiritual father to all who believed, even the uncircumcised Gentiles.
Romans 4:11 – And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which [he had yet] being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:
Not only was Abraham the father of all who believe, regardless of circumcision, it is worth noting that his faith in God was reckoned to him before he was circumcised himself.
Romans 4:9-10 – 9[Cometh] this blessedness then upon the circumcision [only], or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. 10How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.
Paul even makes it clear that it is not physical circumcision that makes someone a Jew (representing God’s people by covenant with Abraham) but instead a Jew is one who is circumcised inwardly (in the spirit).
Romans 2:28-29 – 28For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither [is that] circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 29But he [is] a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision [is that] of the heart, in the spirit, [and] not in the letter; whose praise [is] not of men, but of God.
Abraham was therefore the father of circumcision to the uncircumcised who walk according to his faith, because Abraham himself walked by faith while not yet circumcised.
Romans 4:12 – And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which [he had] being [yet] uncircumcised.
And so we get to the point of it all: that Abraham, even while uncircumcised, believed God and it was this belief (faith), not the works of circumcision, that was accounted to him for righteousness.
Romans 4:3 – For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
In Galatians 3:6 Paul has quoted from Genesis 15:6 (and he counted it to him for righteousness). It would be many years later before God would seal His covenant with Abraham with his circumcision.
Genesis 17:9-11 – 9And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. 10This [is] my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. 11And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.
In fact, circumcised or not circumcised was really irrelevant; it was obedience to God that really mattered.
1 Corinthians 7:19 – Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.
Calvinism teaches that God really loves only His elect. Calvinist A W Pink wrote: “When we say that God is sovereign in the exercise of His love, we mean that He loves whom He chooses. God does not love everybody.” (The Wisdom of Pink Vol 1) Pink also taught that God loved His elect and hated all else. “‘But,’ it may be asked, ‘Surely you do not deny that God loves the entire human family?’ We reply, it is written, ‘Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated’ (Romans 9:13)”
MacArthur says of God: “His saving love for the world is limited to those in the world, the realm of humanity, who believe.” (The Doctrine of Actual Atonement Pt 2)
Yet Jesus taught that we should love our enemies.
Matthew 5:44 – But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
Paul taught that Jesus died for us while we were His enemies (Romans 5:10).
Romans 5:6-10 – 6For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
The God of the Bible loves all humanity. Woe unto you calvinists, hypocrites, for your God only loves his own elect and hates the rest of mankind. Those who are genuine Christians therefore are more able to love their enemies than the calvinist God wishes to do himself. Hypocrite!! Can man out-love God? Yet the calvinist God requires that we love our enemies, but refuses to do the same himself? Hypocrite!! Woe unto you calvinists, hypocrites, for your hypocritical God hates most of mankind yet wants us to love them all! Calvinism is an evil doctrine of hate for all but its own chosen elite (the unconditional calvinist election). Woe unto you calvinist false teachers, hypocrites, you serpents, you generation of vipers; how can you escape the damnation of hell?
The biblical God loves all people (“the world” – John 3:16) enough to have died for them all (1 John 2:2) and has chosen His own through an election conditional upon whosoever calling upon the name of the Lord to be saved (Romans 10:13).
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