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  • JAMIESON-FAUSSET-BROWN - GALATIANS 3
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    CHAPTER 3

    Ga 3:1-29. REPROOF OF THE GALATIANS FOR ABANDONING FAITH FOR LEGALISM. JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH VINDICATED: THE LAW SHOWN TO BE SUBSEQUENT TO THE PROMISE: BELIEVERS ARE THE SPIRITUAL SEED OF ABRAHAM, WHO WAS JUSTIFIED BY FAITH. THE LAW WAS OUR SCHOOLMASTER TO BRING US TO CHRIST, THAT WE MIGHT BECOME CHILDREN OF GOD BY FAITH.

    1. that ye should not obey the truth--omitted in the oldest manuscripts.
    - bewitched--fascinated you so that you have lost your wits. THEMISTIUS 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, Ga 3:5; Mr 16:17; Heb 2:4; and by spiritual graces, Ga 3:14; Ga 4:5, 6; Eph 1:13), 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 receiving (Ro 10:16, 17).

    3. begun--the Christian life (Php 1:6).
    - 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 Ro 2:28; Php 3:3; Heb 9:10. 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 your conversion.
    - 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 "in vain" (Ga 4:11; 1Co 15:2, 17-19, 29-32; 2Th 1:5-7; 2Jo 8)?
    - yet--rather, "If it be really (or 'indeed') in vain" [ELLICOTT]. "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" (Ga 3:5; Heb 10:32-36) [BENGEL].

    5. He . . . that ministereth--or "supplieth," God (2Co 9:10). 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 genuineness (compare 1Co 12:1-31).
    - worketh miracles among you--rather, "IN you," as Ga 2:8; Mt 14:2; Eph 2:2; Php 2:13; 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 (compare Ga 3:2). 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 Ga 3:5 is here taken for granted, It was by the hearing of faith: following this up, he says, "Even as Abraham believed," &c. (Ge 15:4-6; Ro 4:3). 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 Ro 3:26.
    - the same--these, and these alone, to the exclusion of all the other descendants of Abraham.
    - children--Greek, "sons" (Ga 3:29).

    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 Joh 8:56; Heb 4:2. 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 (Ga 3:16), who is the Object of faith (Ge 22:18; Ps 72:17), and imitating thy faith (see on Ga 3:9).
    - 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 Ga 3:7, beginning).
    - with--together with.
    - 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 Ga 3:9. They who depend on the works of the law cannot share the blessing, for they are under the curse "written," De 27:26, Septuagint. PERFECT obedience is required by the words, "in all things." CONTINUAL obedience by the word, "continueth." No man renders this obedience (compare 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, as "written" (Mt 1:22; Mr 1:2; Lu 2:22, 23) [TOWNSON].

    11. by the law--Greek, "IN the law." Both in and by are included. The syllogism in this verse and Ga 3:12, 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 before men, Ro 4:2) --not even if he could, which he cannot, keep the law, because the Scripture element and conditional mean of justification is faith.
    - The just shall live by faith-- (Ro 1:17; Hab 2:4). 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 (Ga 3:12), 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 3:14; compare 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. Ga 3:10, "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 (Ro 2:1-29). 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 (Ga 4:5), 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; compare Mt 20:28; Ac 20:28; 1Co 6:20; 7:23; 1Ti 2:6; 2Pe 2:1; Re 5:9).
    - 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

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