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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Galatians 3

 

 

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Verse 1

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?

Ver. 1. O foolish Galatians] Those that are sick of a lethargy must have double the quantity of medicine given them that other men have in other diseases. These Galatians were in a spiritual lethargy, and are therefore thus sharply rebuked, that they might be sound in the faith.

Who hath bewitched you] Or, bemisted you, and dazzled your eyes, Titus 1:13. The word properly signifies to overlook, as they call it, or to kill with the eyes, by casting out venomous beams, as the basilisk and as witches are said to do. εβασκανε αρα το φαεσι καινειν. (Plin. vii. 2.)

Hath been evidently set forth] As a remedy, by looking whereon ye might have been cured or kept from that bewitching by the eye, like as the stung Israelites were healed by looking on the brazen serpent.

Crucified among you] In the evidence of the doctrine of Christ crucified, and in the administration of the Lord’s Supper, that lively picture of Christ on the cross. The Greek word προεγραφη signifieth to paint forth a thing, Romans 15:4, by a theological painting, not artificial, as the Papists would have it to warrant crucifixes.


Verse 2

2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

Ver. 2. Or by the hearing of faith] The manna of the Spirit comes down from heaven in the dews of the ministry of the gospel, Numbers 11:9; 1 Peter 1:21. If our eyes see not our teachers, we cannot expect to hear the voice behind us, Isaiah 30:20-21.


Verse 3

3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

Ver. 3. Are ye so foolish?] Those then that have the Spirit may play fools in some particulars. Those that are recovered of a frenzy, have yet some mad fits sometimes.

Made perfect by the flesh] As Nebuchadnezzar’s image, whose golden head ended in dirty feet.


Verse 4

4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.

Ver. 4. If it be in vain] q.d. It is not in vain. God keepeth the feet of the saints, that they cannot altogether lose the things they have wrought, they cannot fall below his supporting grace; the Lord puts under his hand, Psalms 37:1-7 Yet it cannot be denied that a hypocrite may suffer, and all in vain, 1 Corinthians 13:3, as did Alexander the coppersmith, who was near unto martyrdom, Acts 19:34. {See Trapp on "1 Corinthians 13:3"}


Verse 5

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?

Ver. 5. Or by the hearing of faith] Faith (and so life) is let into the soul by the sense of hearing, Isaiah 55:1-3, to cross the devil, who by the same door brought death into the world.


Verse 6

6 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.

Ver. 6. It was accounted to him] This the Papists jeeringly call a putative righteousness. The Jews also deride it, and say, that every fox shall yield his own skin to the flayer. See Romans 4:9; Romans 4:11-12.


Verse 7

7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.

Ver. 7. The same are children, &c.] And heirs together with him of the world, Romans 4:14, which is theirs in right, though detained a while from them by the Amorites, till their sins be full.


Verse 8

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.

Ver. 8. And the Scripture foreseeing] Scripture therefore is not a brute dead thing, as the Jesuits blaspheme. Excellently spake he, who called the Scripture, Cor et animam Dei, The heart and soul of God. (Greg. in Reg. 3.)

Preached the gospel] There is gospel therefore in the Old Testament.

In thee shall all nations] {See Trapp on "Genesis 12:3"} "All nations shall be blessed," i.e. justified by faith.


Verse 9

9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.

Ver. 9. Are blessed, &c.] For they only are blessed whose sins are remitted, Psalms 32:1. Oh, the blessedness of that man, saith the Psalmist.


Verse 10

10 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.

Ver. 10. Are under the curse] Aut faciendum, aut patiendum, Either to obey or to be punished. He that will not have the direction of the law must have the correction.

That continueth not in all] Deuteronomy 27:26. Heb. Shall stand firm, as a square stone, יקים, τετραγωνος.

In the book of the law to do them] Done they must be exactly, upon pain of God’s curse. For a groat too short in payment of some dues required, our William the Conqueror forced the monks of Ely to lay down a thousand marks, saith the chronicler. The law is no less strict with those that are not freed by Christ.


Verse 11

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.

Ver. 11. Shall live by faith] As being justified by faith. {See Trapp on "Romans 1:17"}


Verse 12

12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.

Ver. 12. And the law is not of faith] Because it promiseth not life to those that will be justified by faith, but requireth works.


Verse 13

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:

Ver. 13. Christ hath redeemed us] As man he bought us, as God he redeemed us, saith Jerome. For to redeem is properly to buy some things back that were mortgaged. Qui redimit, emit quod suum fuit, et suum esse desiit.

Cursed is every one that hangeth] The tree whereon a man was hanged, the stone wherewith he was stoned, the sword wherewith he was beheaded, and the napkin wherewith he was strangled, they were all buried, that there might be no evil memorial of such a one, to say, This was the tree, sword, stone, napkin, wherewith such a one was executed. {a} Constantine abolished this kind of death out of the empire. But what an odd custom was that of the Tiberenes to hang their best friends in courtesy, Longasque ex iis literas facere quos charos habebant? The death on the tree (saith one) was accursed above all kinds of death; as the serpent was accursed above all beasts of the field. Both for the first transgression, whereof the serpent was the instrument, the tree the occasion. (Sphinx Philos.)

{a} Casaub. ex Maimonide.


Verse 14

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.

Ver. 14. The promise of the Spirit] That is, the spiritual promise made to Abraham and his spiritual posterity.


Verse 15

15 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.

Ver. 15. I speak after the manner] I set the matter forth to you by a familiar comparison.

Though it be but a man’s testament] William Tracy, Esq., of Gloucestershire, made in his will, that he would have no funeral pomp at his burying, neither passed he upon a mass. And he further said, that he trusted in God only, and hoped by him to be saved, and not by any saint. This gentleman died, and his son as executor brought the will to the bishop of Canterbury to be proved, which he showed to the Convocation; and there most cruelly they judged that he should be taken out of the ground and be burnt as a heretic, A. D. 1532. Dr Parker, chancellor of Worcester, executed the sentence, and was afterwards sent for by King Henry VIII, who laid high offence to his charge, &c. It cost him 300 pounds to have his pardon. (Acts and Mon.)


Verse 16

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.

Ver. 16. Which is Christ] Mystical Christ, that is, whole Christ; for he accounts not himself complete without his members, who are therefore called his fulness, Ephesians 1:23. Caput et corpus, unus est Christus, saith Augustine, the head and members make but one Christ.


Verse 17

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.

Ver. 17. Four hundred and thirty, &c.] This space of time between the promise and the law, the Divine providence cast into two equal portions, of 215 before the people’s going down into Egypt, and 215 after their being there. (Lightfoot’s Har. Prolegom.)


Verse 18

18 For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.

Ver. 18. Gave it to Abraham] Gr. κεχαρισται, freely gave it. What is more free than a gift? And what better freehold than the divine promise?


Verse 19

19 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.

Ver. 19. Because of transgressions] Which are discovered by the law. Sight of misery must go before sense of mercy. Lex, lux, the law is a light (saith Solomon), which lays all open, as 1 Corinthians 14:25, and threateneth destruction to transgressors.

And it was ordained, &c.] Therefore it is not to be disrespected, though we cannot attain eternal life by it.

In the hand of a mediator] That is, of Moses, who was a mediator of that communication of the law to the people, Exodus 20:19. Christ is the only Mediator of expiation. And of Christ alone some take this text.


Verse 20

20 Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.

Ver. 20. Is not a mediator of one] q.d. God and men were at odds, else what use of a mediator? Sin is the makebate (mischief maker), as being a transgression of the law.

But God is one] One and the same now as of old in taking vengeance on the law’s transgressors. Or, God is one party disagreeing or displeased.


Verse 21

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.

Ver. 21. Have given life] That is, have justified a sinner. But herein lay the law’s weakness through the flesh, Romans 8:3.


Verse 22

22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.

Ver. 22. But the Scripture] The law and the prophets.

Hath concluded all] Gr. Hath clapped them up close prisoners. All in the neuter gender (both men and women), to prevent cavils, συνεκλεισεν παντα.

That the promise, &c.] That he might have mercy upon all, Romans 11:32. {See Trapp on "Romans 11:32"}


Verse 23

23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.

Ver. 23. But before faith came, &c.] i.e. Before Christ came; faith is put for the object of faith.

We were kept under the law] φρουρουμεθα, as in a prison or garrison, being circled with a compassing strength. The sinner, having transgressed, is kept by the law, as with a guard or garrison, that he cannot escape unless he be delivered by Christ. Some learned men make this expression of the apostle here, "Kept under the law," to denote the duty of a schoolmaster; as one who is to give an account of such as are committed to his charge.


Verse 24

24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

Ver. 24. The law was our schoolmaster] Such a one as that Livy and Florus speak of in Italy, who brought forth his scholars to Hannibal; and if he had not been more merciful than otherwise, they had all perished.


Verse 25

25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

Ver. 25. But after that faith] That is, the gospel, or Christ the author and matter of the gospel. See Galatians 3:23.


Verse 26

26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

Ver. 26. The children of God] Gr. The sons of God, grown up at man’s estate; Qui magnum ferulae subduximus, who are no longer under a schoolmaster. How we are the children of God by faith. {See Trapp on "John 1:12"}


Verse 27

27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

Ver. 27. Baptized into Christ] And so have had your adoption sealed up unto you, like as in the civil adoption there were certain rites and ceremonies usually performed.

Have put on Christ] To justification and sanctification. {See Trapp on "Romans 13:14"} This is to be clothed with the sun, Revelation 12:2. Some think the apostle alludeth here to a custom they had in the primitive times, that those that were to be baptized should come to the church on Whit Sunday (called therefore Dominica in albis) and put upon them white clothing.


Verse 28

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.

Ver. 28. Ye are all one in Christ] Souls have no sexes, and Christ is no respecter of persons. The servant paid the half shekel, as well as the master, Exodus 30:12-16


Verse 29

29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Ver. 29. Heirs according] Heirs are kept short in their under age, and sometimes forced to borrow of servants; but when once at years, they have all. So shall the saints in heaven, though here hard put to it.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Galatians 3:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/galatians-3.html. 1865-1868.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, October 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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