REPROOF OF THE
SUBSEQUENT TO THE
1. that ye should not obey the truth--omitted in the oldest
bewitched--fascinated you so that you have lost your wits.
says the Galatians were naturally very acute in intellect. Hence, Paul
wonders they could be so misled in this case.
you--emphatical. "You, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been
graphically set forth (literally, in writing, namely, by vivid
portraiture in preaching) among you, crucified" (so the sense
and Greek order require rather than English Version). As
Christ was "crucified," so ye ought to have been by faith
"crucified with Christ," and so "dead to the law"
(Ga 2:19, 20).
Reference to the "eyes" is appropriate, as fascination was
supposed to be exercised through the eyes. The sight of Christ
crucified ought to have been enough to counteract all fascination.
2. "Was it by the works of the law that ye received the Spirit
(manifested by outward miracles,
and by spiritual graces,
Ga 4:5, 6;
or by the hearing of faith?" The "only" implies, "I desire, omitting
other arguments, to rest the question on this alone"; I who was
your teacher, desire now to "learn" this one thing from you. The
epithet "Holy" is not prefixed to "Spirit" because that epithet is a
joyous one, whereas this Epistle is stern and reproving [BENGEL].
hearing of faith--Faith consists not in working, but in
(Ro 10:16, 17).
3. begun--the Christian life
in the Spirit--Not merely was Christ crucified "graphically set
forth" in my preaching, but also "the Spirit" confirmed the word
preached, by imparting His spiritual gifts. "Having thus begun" with the
receiving His spiritual gifts, "are ye now being made perfect"
(so the Greek), that is, are ye seeking to be made perfect with
"fleshly" ordinances of the law? [ESTIUS]. Compare
Having begun in the Spirit, that is, the Holy Spirit ruling your
spiritual life as its "essence and active principle" [ELLICOTT], in contrast to "the flesh," the element in
which the law works [ALFORD]. Having begun your
Christianity in the Spirit, that is, in the divine life that proceeds
from faith, are ye seeking after something higher still (the perfecting
of your Christianity) in the sensuous and the earthly, which cannot
possibly elevate the inner life of the Spirit, namely, outward
ceremonies? [NEANDER]. No doubt the Galatians
thought that they were going more deeply into the Spirit; for the flesh
may be easily mistaken for the Spirit, even by those who have made
progress, unless they continue to maintain a pure faith [BENGEL].
4. Have ye suffered so many things--namely, persecution from Jews and
from unbelieving fellow countrymen, incited by the Jews, at the time of
in vain--fruitlessly, needlessly, since ye might have avoided them
by professing Judaism [GROTIUS]. Or, shall ye, by falling from grace,
lose the reward promised for all your sufferings, so that they shall be
1Co 15:2, 17-19, 29-32;
yet--rather, "If it be really (or 'indeed') in vain"
"If, as it must be, what I have said, 'in vain,' is really the fact"
[ALFORD]. I prefer understanding it as a mitigation of the preceding
words. I hope better things of you, for I trust you will return from
legalism to grace; if so, as I confidently expect, you will not have
"suffered so many things in vain" [ESTIUS]. For "God has given you the
Spirit and has wrought mighty works among you"
5. He . . . that ministereth--or "supplieth," God
He who supplied and supplies to you the Spirit still, to
the present time. These miracles do not prove grace to be in the heart
(Mr 9:38, 39).
He speaks of these miracles as a matter of unquestioned
notoriety among those addressed; an undesigned proof of their
worketh miracles among you--rather, "IN you," as
at your conversion and since [ALFORD].
doeth he it by the works of the law--that is, as a consequence
resulting from (so the Greek) the works of the law
This cannot be because the law was then unknown to you when you
received those gifts of the Spirit.
6. The answer to the question in
is here taken for granted, It was by the hearing of faith:
following this up, he says, "Even as Abraham believed," &c.
God supplies unto you the Spirit as the result of faith, not works,
just as Abraham obtained justification by faith, not by works
(Ga 3:6, 8, 16;
Ga 4:22, 26, 28).
Where justification is, there the Spirit is, so that if the former
comes by faith, the latter must also.
7. they which are of faith--as the source and starting-point of their
spiritual life. The same phrase is in the Greek of
the same--these, and these alone, to the exclusion of all the
other descendants of Abraham.
8. And--Greek, "Moreover."
foreseeing--One great excellency of Scripture is, that in it all
points liable ever to be controverted, are, with prescient wisdom,
decided in the most appropriate language.
would justify--rather, "justifieth." Present indicative. It is now,
and at all times, God's one way of justification.
the heathen--rather, "the Gentiles"; or "the nations," as the same
Greek is translated at the end of the verse. God justifieth the
Jews, too, "by faith, not by works." But he specifies the Gentiles in particular here, as it was their case that was in question, the
Galatians being Gentiles.
preached before the gospel--"announced beforehand the Gospel." For
the "promise" was substantially the Gospel by anticipation. Compare
A proof that "the old fathers did not look only for transitory
promises" [Article VII, Church of England]. Thus the Gospel, in its
essential germ, is older than the law though the full development of
the former is subsequent to the latter.
In thee--not "in thy seed," which is a point not here raised; but
strictly "in thee," as followers of thy faith, it having first shown the
way to justification before God [ALFORD]; or "in thee," as Father of the
promised seed, namely, Christ
who is the Object of faith
and imitating thy faith (see on
all nations--or as above, "all the Gentiles"
(Ge 12:3; 18:18; 22:18).
be blessed--an act of grace, not something earned by works. The
blessing of justification was to Abraham by faith in the promise, not by
works. So to those who follow Abraham, the father of the faithful, the
blessing, that is, justification, comes purely by faith in Him who is
the subject of the promise.
9. they--and they alone.
of faith--(See on
faithful--implying what it is in which they are "blessed together with
him," namely, faith, the prominent feature of his character, and of
which the result to all who like him have it, is justification.
10. Confirmation of
They who depend on the works of the law cannot share the blessing, for
they are under the curse "written,"
Septuagint. PERFECT obedience is
required by the words, "in all things." CONTINUAL
obedience by the word, "continueth." No man renders this
Ro 3:19, 20).
It is observable, Paul quotes Scripture to the Jews who were conversant
with it, as in Epistle to the Hebrews, as said or spoken;
but to the Gentiles, as written. So Matthew, writing for Jews,
quotes it as "said," or "spoken"; Mark and Luke, writing for Gentiles,
Lu 2:22, 23)
11. by the law--Greek, "IN the law."
Both in and by are included. The syllogism in this verse
is, according to Scripture, "The just shall live by faith." But the law
is not of faith, but of doing, or works (that is, does not make faith,
but works, the conditional ground of justifying). Therefore "in," or
"by the law, no man is justified before God" (whatever the case may be
--not even if he could, which he cannot, keep the law, because the
Scripture element and conditional mean of justification is
The just shall live by faith--
Not as BENGEL and ALFORD, "He
who is just by faith shall live." The Greek supports English
Version. Also the contrast is between "live by faith"
(namely, as the ground and source of his justification), and "live
in them," namely, in his doings or works
as the conditional element wherein he is justified.
12. doeth--Many depended on the law although they did not keep it; but
without doing, saith Paul, it is of no use to them
(Ro 2:13, 17, 23; 10:5).
13. Abrupt exclamation, as he breaks away impatiently from those
who would involve us again in the curse of the law, by seeking
justification in it, to "Christ," who "has redeemed us from its
curse." The "us" refers primarily to the Jews, to whom the law
principally appertained, in contrast to "the Gentiles"
Ga 4:3, 4).
But it is not restricted solely to the Jews, as ALFORD thinks; for these are the representative people of
the world at large, and their "law" is the embodiment of what God
requires of the whole world. The curse of its non-fulfilment affects
the Gentiles through the Jews; for the law represents that
righteousness which God requires of all, and which, since the Jews
failed to fulfil, the Gentiles are equally unable to fulfil.
"As many as are of the works of the law, are under the curse," refers
plainly, not to the Jews only, but to all, even Gentiles (as the
Galatians), who seek justification by the law. The Jews' law represents
the universal law which condemned the Gentiles, though with less clear
consciousness on their part
The revelation of God's "wrath" by the law of conscience, in some
degree prepared the Gentiles for appreciating redemption through Christ
when revealed. The curse had to be removed from off the heathen, too,
as well as the Jews, in order that the blessing, through Abraham, might
flow to them. Accordingly, the "we," in "that we might receive
the promise of the Spirit," plainly refers to both Jews and Gentiles.
redeemed us--bought us off from our former bondage
and "from the curse" under which all lie who trust to the law and the
works of the law for justification. The Gentile Galatians, by putting
themselves under the law, were involving themselves in the curse from
which Christ has redeemed the Jews primarily, and through them the
Gentiles. The ransom price He paid was His own precious blood
(1Pe 1:18, 19;
1Co 6:20; 7:23;
being made--Greek, "having become."
a curse for us--Having become what we were, in our behalf, "a
curse," that we might cease to be a curse. Not merely accursed (in
the concrete), but a curse in the abstract,
bearing the universal curse