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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
Galatians 3

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-29

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?

These Galatians thought that they were very philosophical, and very intellectual; but the apostle says, “O foolish Galatians!” They thought that they had been led by reason, and guided by the learning of their teachers; but Paul calls it witchery: “Who hath bewitched you?” he asks, as if anything which led a man to trust in his own works should be as much abhorred as the incantations of a witch, “Who hath bewitched you?” It is a dangerous state, it is a devilish snare to be brought into; to be led to trust to frames, and feelings, and experiences, and doings, and prayings, or to anything else but Christ. It is a strange thing that those who have seen Christ should ever go back to these things. Lord, keep us every day, amongst our other sins, from our own self-righteous nature!

Now the apostle is going to reason with the Galatians against their self-righteousness.

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?

“You know that the Spirit of God is necessary to salvation. You have received that; did you get the Spirit through the works of the law, or by simply hearing the gospel, and believing it?” The answer comes at once if we have received the Spirit, it was by the hearing of faith, and not by the works of the law.

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

Surely, the way in which the Christian life begins is the method in which it is to be sustained. “As ye have received Christ Jesus, the Lord,” the apostle says in another place, “so walk ye in him.” If you have begun in the flesh, go on in the flesh, but if you really know that your beginning was in the Spirit, then go not back to the flesh.

Galatians 3:4. Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.

This is another pertinent question.

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?

They had miraculous gifts among them as a church, and the apostle asks them whether these were works of the law, or whether they were not exercised as the result of faith. The answer is clear. It was the believing man who wrought the miracle, not the self-righteous man. Paul is now going to take the Galatians far back in Jewish history.

Galatians 3:6. Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.

He was not saved by his works, but by his faith. His faith was the means of the imputation to him of the righteousness of the Saviour who was yet to come.

Galatians 3:7. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.

He was called the father of the faithful, therefore the faithful, those who believe as he did, and are full of his faith, are his children.

Galatians 3:8-10. 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. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. 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.

Now, if every one who has once violated God’s law is cursed for ever, how mad are those who hope to enter heaven by that very law which is the gate to shut them out! How dare they confide in that which is their worst enemy, which is sworn to curse them, in time and in eternity?

Galatians 3:11. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.

Scripture lays it down as a rule, that justified men live by faith; if this be the rule, then certainly they do not live by works.

Galatians 3:12. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.

So that the justified man is not justified by the law, but by faith. He standeth before God, not in what he does, not even in what the Spirit enables him to do; his own prayers, and tears, and communings with Christ, his own labours, his earnest and indefatigable attempts to extend the kingdom of Christ, all tell for nothing in the matter of his justification. He hangeth them all upon the cross of Christ, and relieth only upon the cross, looking in no manner whatever to anything which cometh of himself.

Galatians 3:13-14. 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: that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

We were all under the curse of the law, but Christ voluntarily took our place, and was made a curse for us, so that the blessing might be ours.

Galatians 3:15-16. 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. 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.

Notice how important a single letter of the Scriptures may be. If vital doctrine may depend upon the use of a singular or plural noun, therefore let us jealously guard the smallest jot or tittle of the inspired Word of God.

Galatians 3:17-19. 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. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise. Wherefore then serveth the law?

Some might argue that, as the law cannot justify, it is useless, but, on the contrary, it serves a very definite purpose, as Paul goes on to show.

Galatians 3:19-22. 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. Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one. 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. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.

Paul constantly comes back to this point, that salvation is all of grace, through faith in Jesus Christ.

Galatians 3:23-25. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterward be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

The apostle is not speaking of a schoolmaster, as we understand that word; but of the slave or servant who took the boys to school, watched over them in school and out, and even used the rod if occasion demanded.

Galatians 3:26. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

The fatherhood of God is common to all believers; but there is no universal fatherhood, as many teach it in these days.

Galatians 3:27-29. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 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. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

May this be true of all of us, for Christ’s sake! Amen.

This exposition consisted of readings from Galatians 2:16-21; Galatians 2:3.

 


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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Galatians 3:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/galatians-3.html. 2011.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, July 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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