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Bible Commentaries
Galatians 3

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New TestamentRobertson's Word Pictures

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Verse 1

Who did bewitch you? (τις υμας εβασκανεν?). Somebody "fascinated" you. Some aggressive Judaizer (Galatians 5:7), some one man (or woman). First aorist active indicative of βασκαινω, old word kin to φασκω (βασκω), to speak, then to bring evil on one by feigned praise or the evil eye (hoodoo), to lead astray by evil arts. Only here in the N.T. This popular belief in the evil eye is old (Deuteronomy 28:54) and persistent. The papyri give several examples of the adjective αβασκαντα, the adverb αβασκαντως (unharmed by the evil eye), the substantive βασκανια (witchcraft).

Before whose eyes Jesus Christ was openly set forth crucified (οις κατ' οφθαλμους Ιησους Χριστος προεγραφη εσταυρωμενος). Literally, "to whom before your very eyes Jesus Christ was portrayed as crucified." Second aorist passive indicative of προγραφω, old verb to write beforehand, to set forth by public proclamation, to placard, to post up. This last idea is found in several papyri (Moulton and Milligan's Vocabulary) as in the case of a father who posted a proclamation that he would no longer be responsible for his son's debts. Γραφω was sometimes used in the sense of painting, but no example of προγραφω with this meaning has been found unless this is one. With that idea it would be to portray, to picture forth, a rendering not very different from placarding. The foolish Galatians were without excuse when they fell under the spell of the Judaizer. Εσταυρωμενος is perfect passive participle of σταυροω, the common verb to crucify (from σταυρος, stake, cross), to put on the cross (Matthew 20:19), same form as in 1 Corinthians 2:2.

Verse 2

This only (τουτο μονον). Paul strikes at the heart of the problem. He will show their error by the point that the gifts of the Spirit came by the hearing of faith, not by works of the law.

Verse 3

Are ye now perfected in the flesh? (νυν σαρκ επιτελεισθε?). Rather middle voice as in 1 Peter 5:9, finishing of yourselves. There is a double contrast, between εναρξαμενο (having begun) and επιτελεισθε (finishing) as in 2 Corinthians 8:6; Philippians 1:6, and also between "Spirit" (πνευματ) and flesh (σαρκ). There is keen irony in this thrust.

Verse 4

Did ye suffer? (επαθετε?). Second aorist active indicative of πασχω, to experience good or ill. But alone, as here, it often means to suffer ill (τοσαυτα, so many things). In North Galatia we have no record of persecutions, but we do have records for South Galatia (Acts 14:2; Acts 14:5; Acts 14:19; Acts 14:22).

If it be indeed in vain (ε γε κα εικη). On εικη see 1 Corinthians 15:2; Galatians 4:11. Paul clings to hope about them with alternative fears.

Verse 5

Supplieth (επιχορηγων). It is God. See on 2 Corinthians 9:10 for this present active participle. Cf. Philippians 1:19; 2 Peter 1:5.

Worketh miracles (ενεργων δυναμεις). On the word ενεργεω see 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Corinthians 12:6. It is a great word for God's activities (Philippians 2:13). "In you" (Lightfoot) is preferable to "among you" for εν υμιν (1 Corinthians 13:10; Matthew 14:2). The principal verb for "doeth he it" (ποιε) is not expressed. Paul repeats the contrast in verse Galatians 3:2 about "works of the law" and "the hearing of faith."

Verse 6

It was reckoned unto him for righteousness (ελογισθη εις δικαιοσυνην). First aorist passive indicative of λογιζομα. See on 1 Corinthians 13:5 for this old word. He quotes Genesis 15:6 and uses it at length in Romans 4:3 to prove that the faith of Abraham was reckoned "for" (εις, good Koine idiom though more common in LXX because of the Hebrew) righteousness before he was circumcised. James (James 2:23) quotes the same passage as proof of Abraham's obedience to God in offering up Isaac (beginning to offer him). Paul and James are discussing different episodes in the life of Abraham. Both are correct.

Verse 7

The same are sons of Abraham (ουτο υιο εισιν Αβρααμ). "These are." This is Paul's astounding doctrine to Jews that the real sons of Abraham are those who believe as he did, "they which be of faith" (ο εκ πιστεως), a common idiom with Paul for this idea (verse Galatians 3:9; Romans 3:26; Romans 4:16; Romans 14:23), those whose spiritual sonship springs out of (εκ) faith, not out of blood. John the Baptist denounced the Pharisees and Sadducees as vipers though descendants of Abraham (Matthew 3:7; Luke 3:7) and Jesus termed the Pharisees children of the devil and not spiritual children of Abraham (not children of God) in John 8:37-44.

Verse 8

Foreseeing (προιδουσα). Second aorist active participle of προοραω. The Scripture is here personified. Alone in this sense of "sight," but common with λεγε or ειπεν (says, said) and really in verse Galatians 3:22 "hath shut up" (συνεκλεισεν).

Would justify (δικαιο). Present active indicative, "does justify."

Preached the gospel beforehand (προευηγγελισατο). First aorist middle indicative of προευαγγελιζομα with augment on α though both προ and ευ before it in composition. Only instance in N.T. It occurs in Philo. and Schol. Soph. This Scripture announced beforehand the gospel on this point of justification by faith. He quotes the promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:3; Genesis 18:18, putting παντα τα εθνη (all the nations) in Galatians 18:18 for πασα α φυλα (all the tribes) of the earth. It is a crucial passage for Paul's point, showing that the promise to Abraham included all the nations of the earth. The verb ενευλογεω (future passive here) occurs in the LXX and here only in N.T. (not Acts 3:25 in correct text).

In thee (εν σο). "As their spiritual progenitor" (Lightfoot).

Verse 9

With (συν). Along with, in fellowship with.

The faithful (τω πιστω). Rather, "the believing" (cf. verse Galatians 3:6).

Verse 10

Under a curse (υπο καταραν). Picture of the curse hanging over them like a Damocles' blade. Cf. Romans 3:9 "under sin" (υφ' αμαρτιαν). The word for "curse" (καταρα) is an old one (κατα, down, αρα, imprecation), often in LXX, in N.T. only here and Galatians 3:13; James 3:10; 2 Peter 2:14. Paul quotes Deuteronomy 27:26, the close of the curses on Mt. Ebal. He makes a slight explanatory modification of the LXX changing λογοις to γεγραμμενοις εν τω βιβλιω. The idea is made clearer by the participle (γεγραμμενοις) and βιβλιω (book). The curse becomes effective only when the law is violated.

Cursed (επικαταρατος). Verbal adjective from επικαταραομα, to imprecate curses, late word, common in LXX. In N.T. only here and verse Galatians 3:13, but in inscriptions also (Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, p. 96). The emphasis is on "continueth" (εμμενε) and "all" (πασιν).

Verse 11

In the sight of God (παρα τω θεω). By the side of (παρα) God, as God looks at it, for the simple reason that no one except Jesus has ever kept all the law, God's perfect law.

Verse 12

The law is not of faith (ο νομος ουκ εστιν εκ πιστεως). Law demands complete obedience and rests not on mercy, faith, grace.

Verse 13

Redeemed us (ημας εξηγορασεν). First aorist active of the compound verb εξαγοραζω (Polybius, Plutarch, Diodorus), to buy from, to buy back, to ransom. The simple verb αγοραζω (1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Corinthians 7:23) is used in an inscription for the purchase of slaves in a will (Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, p. 324). See also Galatians 4:5; Colossians 4:5; Ephesians 5:16. Christ purchased us

from the curse of the law (εκ της καταρας του νομου). "Out from (εκ repeated) under (υπο in verse Galatians 3:10) the curse of the law."

Having become a curse for us (γενομενος υπερ ημων καταρα). Here the graphic picture is completed. We were under (υπο) a curse, Christ became a curse

over (υπερ) us and so between us and the overhanging curse which fell on him instead of on us. Thus he bought us out (εκ) and we are free from the curse which he took on himself. This use of υπερ for substitution is common in the papyri and in ancient Greek as in the N.T. (John 11:50; 2 Corinthians 5:14).

That hangeth on a tree (ο κρεμαμενος επ ξυλου). Quotation from Deuteronomy 21:23 with the omission of υπο θεου (by God). Since Christ was not cursed by God. The allusion was to exposure of dead bodies on stakes or crosses (Joshua 10:26). Ξυλον means wood, not usually tree, though so in Luke 23:31 and in later Greek. It was used of gallows, crosses, etc. See Acts 5:30; Acts 10:39; 1 Peter 2:24. On the present middle participle from the old verb κρεμαννυμ, to hang, see on Matthew 18:6; Acts 5:30.

Verse 14

That upon the Gentiles (ινα εις τα εθνη). Final clause (ινα and γενητα, aorist middle subjunctive).

That we might receive (ινα λαβωμεν). Second final clause coordinate with the first as in 2 Corinthians 9:3. So in Christ we all (Gentile and Jew) obtain the promise of blessing made to Abraham, through faith.

Verse 15

After the manner of men (κατα ανθρωπον). After the custom and practice of men, an illustration from life.

Though it be but a man's covenant, yet when it hath been confirmed (ομως ανθρωπου κεκυρωμενην διαθηκην). Literally, "Yet a man's covenant ratified." On Διαθηκη as both covenant and will see on Matthew 26:28; 1 Corinthians 11:25; 2 Corinthians 3:6; Hebrews 9:16. On κυροω, to ratify, to make valid, see on 2 Corinthians 2:8. Perfect passive participle here, state of completion, authoritative confirmation.

Maketh it void (αθετε). See on Galatians 2:21 for this verb. Both parties can by agreement cancel a contract, but not otherwise.

Addeth thereto (επιδιατασσετα). Present middle indicative of the double compound verb επιδιατασσομα, a word found nowhere else as yet. But inscriptions use διατασσομαι, διαταξισ, διαταγη, διαταγμα with the specialized meaning to "determine by testamentary disposition" (Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, p. 90). It was unlawful to add (επ) fresh clauses or specifications (διαταξεις).

Verse 16

But as of one (αλλ' ως εφ' ενος). But as in the case of one.

Which is Christ (ος εστιν Χριστος). Masculine relative agreeing with Χριστος though σπερμα is neuter. But the promise to Abraham uses σπερμα as a collective substantive and applies to all believers (both Jews and Gentiles) as Paul has shown in verses Galatians 3:7-14, and as of course he knew full well Here Paul uses a rabbinical refinement which is yet intelligible. The people of Israel were a type of the Messiah and he gathers up the promise in its special application to Christ. He does not say that Christ is specifically referred to in Genesis 13:15 or Galatians 17:7.

Verse 17

Now this I say (τουτο δε λεγω). Now I mean this. He comes back to his main point and is not carried afield by the special application of σπερμα to Christ.

Confirmed beforehand by God (προκεκυρωμενην υπο του θεου). Perfect passive participle of προκυροω, in Byzantine writers and earliest use here. Nowhere else in N.T. The point is in προ and υπο του θεου (by God) and in μετα (after) as Burton shows.

Four hundred and thirty years after (μετα τετρακοσια κα τριακοντα ετη). Literally, "after four hundred and thirty years." This is the date in Exodus 12:40 for the sojourn in Egypt (cf. Genesis 15:13). But the LXX adds words to include the time of the patriarchs in Canaan in this number of years which would cut the time in Egypt in two. Cf. Acts 7:6. It is immaterial to Paul's argument which chronology is adopted except that "the longer the covenant had been in force the more impressive is his statement" (Burton).

Doth not disannul (ουκ ακυρο). Late verb ακυροω, in N.T. only here and Matthew 15:6; Mark 7:13 (from α privative and κυρος, authority). On καταργησα see 1 Corinthians 1:28; 1 Corinthians 2:6; 1 Corinthians 15:24; 1 Corinthians 15:26.

Verse 18

The inheritance (η κληρονομια). Old word from κληρονομος, heir (κλερος, lot, νεμομα, to distribute). See on Matthew 21:38; Acts 7:5. This came to Israel by the promise to Abraham, not by the Mosaic law. So with us, Paul argues.

Hath granted (κεχαριστα). Perfect middle indicative of χαριζομα. It still holds good after the law came.

Verse 19

What then is the law? (τ ουν ο νομοσ?). Or, why then the law? A pertinent question if the Abrahamic promise antedates it and holds on afterwards.

It was added because of transgressions (των παραβασεων χαριν προσετεθη). First aorist passive of προστιθημ, old verb to add to. It is only in apparent contradiction to verses Galatians 3:15, because in Paul's mind the law is no part of the covenant, but a thing apart "in no way modifying its provisions" (Burton). Χαριν is the adverbial accusative of χαρις which was used as a preposition with the genitive as early as Homer, in favour of, for the sake of. Except in 1 John 3:12 it is post-positive in the N.T. as in ancient Greek. It may be causal (Luke 7:47; 1 John 3:12) or telic (Titus 1:5; Titus 1:11; Judges 1:16). It is probably also telic here, not in order to create transgressions, but rather "to make transgressions palpable" (Ellicott), "thereby pronouncing them to be from that time forward transgressions of the law" (Rendall). Παραβασις, from παραβαινω, is in this sense a late word (Plutarch on), originally a slight deviation, then a wilful disregarding of known regulations or prohibitions as in Romans 2:23.

Till the seed should come (αχρις αν ελθη το σπερμα). Future time with αχρις αν and aorist subjunctive (usual construction). Christ he means by το σπερμα as in verse Galatians 3:16.

The promise hath been made (επηγγελτα). Probably impersonal perfect passive rather than middle of επαγγελλομα as in II Macc. 4:27.

Ordained through angels (διαταγεις δι' αγγελων). Second aorist passive participle of διατασσω (see on Matthew 11:1). About angels and the giving of the law see on Deuteronomy 33:2 (LXX); Acts 7:38; Acts 7:52; Hebrews 2:2; Josephus (Ant. XV. 5. 3).

By the hand of a mediator (εν χειρ μεσιτου). Εν χειρ is a manifest Aramaism or Hebraism and only here in the N.T. It is common in the LXX. Μεσιτης, from μεσος is middle or midst, is a late word (Polybius, Diodorus, Philo, Josephus) and common in the papyri in legal transactions for arbiter, surety, etc. Here of Moses, but also of Christ (1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 8:6; Hebrews 9:15; Hebrews 12:24).

Verse 20

Is not a mediator of one (ενος ουκ εστιν). That is, a middleman comes in between two. The law is in the nature of a contract between God and the Jewish people with Moses as the mediator or middleman.

But God is one (ο δε θεος εις εστιν). There was no middleman between God and Abraham. He made the promise directly to Abraham. Over 400 interpretations of this verse have been made!

Verse 21

Against the promises (κατα των επαγγελιων). A pertinent question again. Far from it (μη γενοιτο).

Which could make alive (ο δυναμενος ζωοποιησα). First aorist active infinitive of ζωοποιεω, late compound (ζωος, alive, ποιεω, to make) verb for which see 1 Corinthians 15:22. Spiritual life, he means, here and hereafter.

Verily (οντως). "Really" (cf. Mark 11:32; Luke 24:34). Condition and conclusion (αν ην) of second class, determined as unfulfilled. He had already said that Christ died to no purpose in that case (Galatians 2:21).

Verse 22

Hath shut up (συνεκλεισεν). Did shut together. First aorist active indicative of συνκλειω, old verb to shut together, on all sides, completely as a shoal of fish in a net (Luke 5:6). So verse Galatians 3:23; Romans 11:32.

Under sin (υπο αμαρτιαν). See υπο καταραν in verse Galatians 3:10. As if the lid closed in on us over a massive chest that we could not open or as prisoners in a dungeon. He uses τα παντα (the all things), the totality of everything. See Romans 3:10-19; Romans 11:32.

That (ινα). God's purpose, personifying scripture again.

Might be given (δοθη). First aorist passive subjunctive of διδωμ with ινα.

Verse 23

Before faith came (προ του ελθειν την πιστιν). "Before the coming (second aorist active infinitive of ερχομα, definite event) as to the Faith" (note article, meaning the faith in verse Galatians 3:22 made possible by the historic coming of Christ the Redeemer), the faith in Christ as Saviour (verse Galatians 3:22).

We were kept in ward under the law (υπερ νομον εφρουρουμεθα). Imperfect passive of φρουρεω, to guard (from φρουρος, a guard). See on Acts 9:24; 2 Corinthians 11:32. It was a long progressive imprisonment.

Unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed (εις την μελλουσαν πιστιν αποκαλυφθηνα). "Unto the faith (verse Galatians 3:22 again) about to be revealed." Μελλω and the first aorist passive infinitive (regular idiom).

Verse 24

Our tutor unto Christ (παιδαγωγος υμων εις Χριστον). See 1 Corinthians 4:15 for the only other N.T. example of this old and common word for the slave employed in Greek and Roman families of the better class in charge of the boy from about six to sixteen. The paedagogue watched his behaviour at home and attended him when he went away from home as to school. Christ is our Schoolmaster and the law as paedagogue kept watch over us till we came to Christ.

That we might be justified by faith (ινα εκ πιστεως δικαιωθωμεν). This is the ultimate purpose of the law as paedagogue.

Now that faith is come (ελθουσης της πιστεως). Genitive absolute, "the faith (the time of the faith spoken of in verse Galatians 3:23) having come."

Under a tutor (υπο παιδαγωγον). The pedagogue is dismissed. We are in the school of the Master.

Verse 26

For ye are all sons of God (παντες γαρ υιο θεου εστε). Both Jews and Gentiles (Galatians 3:14) and in the same way "through faith in Christ Jesus" (δια της πιστεως εν Χριστω Ιησου). There is no other way to become "sons of God" in the full ethical and spiritual sense that Paul means, not mere physical descendants of Abraham, but "sons of Abraham," "those by faith" (verse Galatians 3:7). The Jews are called by Jesus "the sons of the Kingdom" (Matthew 8:12) in privilege, but not in fact. God is the Father of all men as Creator, but the spiritual Father only of those who by faith in Christ Jesus receive "adoption" (υιοθεσια) into his family (verse Galatians 3:5; Romans 8:15; Romans 8:23). Those led by the Spirit are sons of God (Romans 8:14).

Verse 27

Were baptized into Christ (εις Χριστον εβαπτισθητε). First aorist passive indicative of βαπτιζω. Better, "were baptized unto Christ" in reference to Christ.

Did put on Christ (Χριστον ενεδυσασθε). First aorist middle indicative of ενδυω (-νω). As a badge or uniform of service like that of the soldier. This verb is common in the sense of putting on garments (literally and metaphorically as here). See further in Paul (Romans 13:14; Colossians 3:9; Ephesians 4:22-24; Ephesians 6:11; Ephesians 6:14). In 1 Thessalonians 5:8 Paul speaks of "putting on the breastplate of righteousness." He does not here mean that one enters into Christ and so is saved by means of baptism after the teaching of the mystery religions, but just the opposite. We are justified by faith in Christ, not by circumcision or by baptism. But baptism was the public profession and pledge, the soldier's sacramentum, oath of fealty to Christ, taking one's stand with Christ, the symbolic picture of the change wrought by faith already (Romans 6:4-6).

Verse 28

There can be neither (ουκ εν). Not a shortened form of ενεστ, but the old lengthened form of εν with recessive accent. So ουκ εν means "there is not" rather than "there cannot be," a statement of a fact rather than a possibility, as Burton rightly shows against Lightfoot.

One man (εις). No word for "man" in the Greek, and yet εις is masculine, not neuter εν. "One moral personality" (Vincent). The point is that "in Christ Jesus" race or national distinctions ("neither Jew nor Greek") do not exist, class differences ("neither bond nor free," no proletarianism and no capitalism) vanish, sex rivalry ("no male and female") disappears. This radical statement marks out the path along which Christianity was to come in the sphere (εν) and spirit and power of Christ. Candour compels one to confess that this goal has not yet been fully attained. But we are on the road and there is no hope on any way than on "the Jesus Road."

Verse 29

If ye are Christ's (ε δε υμεις Χριστου). This is the test, not the accident of blood, pride of race or nation, habiliments or environment of dress or family, whether man or woman. Thus one comes to belong to the seed of Abraham and to be an heir according to promise.

Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Galatians 3". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/galatians-3.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.
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