GOD'S GRACE
    AND GOD'S LAW

    * GALATIANS THREE

    * Foolish Galatians

    Understanding the Abrahamic Covenant
    Blessings and Curses
    Role of the Law and Promise

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Bible Studies --Galatians Chapter Three
1. You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?
 
Paul is referring to things the Galatians knew, things they had been taught. The knowledge and understanding was there, but foolishly they were not applying their knowledge.

"Who has bewitched you?"
Someone had a mesmerizing hold over these people, presenting errors with such conviction and power that it completely shut down the knowledge and understanding they had previously obtained.
The word "bewitched" has a spiritualistic connotation,suggesting these Galatians were being drawn away from Christ and His kingdom of truth, into the pagan idolatrous practices they were used to. Paganism is full of superstitutous rituals of afflicting the flesh to ward off the evil spirits, etc.

Paul had figuratively led them to the cross. He had made it as real for them as words can make it. How Christ took their sins and was publicly humiliated and crucified in their place was presented in all its pathos and meaning. They had experienced the gospel in their lives.
But now, why were they being drawn away?

2. 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?
 
These false teachers in Galatia were saying that God's plan to save the Gentiles was through obedience to the laws that set apart the Jews from other nations. Prominent among which was circumcision. In other words, these teachers were saying the Gentiles had to become full fledged proselytes of the Jewish covenant community to share in the blessings of the world to come.
In Acts 10 Peter had a great revelation on this very question:"Peter went inside (Cornelius house) and found a large gathering of people. He said to them, 'You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean....I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.....All the prophets testify of Christ, that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through His name'. While Peter was still speaking the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on these Gentiles. (Acts 10:27,28,34,43-45)
3. Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
 
These Gentiles had experienced Christ's saving power in the cross. They had received the Holy Spirit. Now they are accepting the notion that they must participate in the rituals that turn them "into Jews" or God will not bless him. This means they must be circumcised according to the Law of Moses. So the Gentile starts thinking if he goes in for the operation, and as soon as the cut is made, the evil spirits leave and the Holy Spirit is poured out upon him, and he is perfected?
NO! says Paul, that's foolishness. The Holy Spirit has begun a good work in you, and the Holy Spirit is to continue to live in you. The Spirit of God alone can carry out the perfect will of God. You will not be perfected by a ritual of the flesh! "Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Phil. 1:7)

4. Did you suffer so many things in vain--if indeed it was in vain?
 
Paul's questions reveal that the Gentiles had indeed been genuine Christians. The Spirit had been given to them, miracles had taken place. Their experience had brought on persecution from unbelievers for "all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution," 2 Tim. 3:12

Was it all in vain?

5. 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?
 
Paul is not knocking a “perfect” or sanctified, life in these verses, he is debating how this is achieved. Compared with Romans chapters 7 and 8, we find that no matter how hard we try in the flesh to please God we cannot. However when the Spirit dwells within, through Him we put to death the deeds of the flesh. The Holy Spirit ministers to us and works out the miracle of transformation in our lives.

Our faith must grasp the righteousness of Christ, accepting it as our righteounseness. Christ gives us the Holy Spirit, who works in the heart to create holiness therein and we follow His leading. It is only through the daily transforming influence of the Spirit that we are sanctified and ennobled, and by Christ's justification that we are made perfect..

6. Even so Abraham BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.
 
The Jewish party placed high regard on their connection with Abraham. They insisted that God made definite covenant arrangements with them and that the Gentiles were strangers and aliens to these blessings. (See Eph. 2:12)

Paul now builds on the very arguments the Jews were presenting to prove that they grossly misunderstood the true meaning of the Abrahamic covenant.

The Jewish party claimed the covenant promises came through Abraham and were for the children of Abraham and they looked to their circumcision as proof that they were the recipients of these promises.
BUT Paul points out, "Abraham was righteous before he was circumcised. (Romans 4:11) He was not justified by his circumcision, not by any works or rituals, but by believing God.

By faith, Abraham, when called to leave his homeland, obeyed....Heb. 11:8
By faith he sojourned in the land of promise.........Heb. 11:9
Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive....Heb. 11:11
By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac...Heb. 11:17

This believing faith is far more than intellectual acknowledgment of something. It is a life-giving, trusting, active belief in the reality, greatness and goodness of God, that results in entrusting our whole lives into His care, and under His direction, trusting fully in His salvation.

It was because of this type of faith, that God accounts Abraham as righteous. That is his standing before God, and God’s accounting is not pretending. God does not account to us a pretended righteousness, but a real one in Jesus Christ. .

7. Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham.
 
The children of Abraham are consistently referred to as the children of faith, not the children of the flesh.

“And if you be Christ’s, then are you Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Gal, 3:29.
FOR HE IS NOT A JEW WHO IS ONE OUTWARDLY; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly and circumcision is of the heart, in the Spirit." Romans 2:28,29

8. The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU."
 
The most significant aspect of this verse, reveals the Abrahamic covenant was actually for the justification of the Gentiles. Paul declares that God preached the GOSPEL to Abraham in order to bless all nations! Yes, the GOSPEL was given to Abraham! Verse 3:16 tells us, "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." The call to sacrifice the "only begotten son" (Heb.11:17) and the appearance of the ram in the thicket which was offered in the place of his son, (Gen. 22:13) all pointed TO CHRIST.

Paul is addressing the Jewish misconceptions which failed to see that it was THROUGH CHRIST, that God had fulfilled His promises to Abraham, and that these promises INCLUDED the Gentiles. All who would believe as Abraham did, regardless of which nation they belonged to, would be able be able to receive the blessings and privileges of the Abrahamic covenant of promise. (See Genesis 12:1-3; 17:4-6, 22:18)

By the standards of the Jewish community, Abraham would have been considered a "Gentile" when he was called. His father, Terah "served other gods" (Joshua 24:2) Circumcision came years later in Abraham's life. God made the covenant with Abraham who accepted it strictly by faith and followed God. The Jews seemed to regard these covenants as placing God under obligation to favor them. At the same time they ignored their own obligations and failed to witness to the heathen nations around them.

God never meant for the Jews to build a "dividing wall" that excluded people from hearing the truths. It was God's purpose all along that Abraham's descendants would spread the gospel to those around them. God placed them in Palestine which was the crossroads of the ancient world!

9. So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, who had faith.
 
THE BLESSED God preached the gospel to Abraham, saying "in you shall all the nations be blessed," therefore those who believe in this very same gospel are blessed with faithful Abraham. There is no blessing for any man except the blessing Abraham received! And the gospel preached to him is the only gospel given to anyone, no matter what nation, tribe or people. "There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12)

What does this mean to us today? We need to be honest with ourselves and ask: “Am I of faith?” Do I believe God even as Abraham did? When God says it, do I believe it? Do I live as if I really believe God is true, entrusting my whole life into His care, placing myself under His direction, trusting fully in His salvation? Can others see that I am trusting God?

Sadly people still teach that the "flesh" is what counts. Dispensationalism teaches that Palestine is the fulfillment of the Abrahamic promise, and the blessed qualify simply because of their ethnic descent. Yet it is THROUGH CHRIST, that God had fulfilled His promises to Abraham, and these promises INCLUDED the Gentiles -- it is those who are of faith which are blessed with Abraham.

10. For as many as rely on works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, "CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM."
 
THE CURSED Paul is addressing the law as a document of election. The Jewish people prided themselves as having the law, thus being the favored people of God.
Those who depend on the law to make them right with God are under his curse. WHY?