The Book of Galatians
James J. Barker
HAVING BEGUN IN THE SPIRIT
- Paul's epistle
to the Galatians is very practical.
- The theme of
the epistle is salvation from sin by God's grace through faith in the Lord Jesus
- Mixing together
law and grace is renounced and is described as "another gospel" and a
"perverted" gospel (1:6-9).
- Now as we move
into chapter 3, the emphasis is on the indwelling of the Holy Spirit
- The Scofield Study Bible says: "The
gift of the Spirit is by faith, not by law-works."
- There are five questions here in our text, and I have
framed my outline around them.
WHO HATH BEWITCHED YOU?
- The word
"bewitched" is a strong word. This
is the only time it is used in the New Testament. AT Robertson in his Word Studies in
the New Testament defines "bewitched" as "to bring evil on one by feigned
praise or the evil eye, to lead one astray by evil
- HA Ironside put
it this way, "How is it that you seem to come under a sort of spell, so that you
have lost your grasp of the truth, and your hearts and minds have become clouded
- Paul wanted to
know what had gotten into them. They understood the Gospel. They had known the truth, but had turned
from it. They were disobedient
- They were
"foolish" (3:1, 3). Proverbs 14:8
says, " The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way: but
the folly of fools is deceit."
- The Galatians
were foolish. They were deceived. They were "bewitched" by
RECEIVED YE THE
SPIRIT BY THE WORKS OF THE LAW, OR BY THE HEARING OF FAITH?
- The Galatians
were Gentiles, not Jews. They were saved by "the hearing of faith" (3:2).
- This means they
received the Holy Spirit by faith, not by the works of the
- Andrew Murray
wrote, "He reminds them that by the preaching of faith they had received the
Holy Spirit. He had preached Christ to them; they had accepted that Christ and
had received the Holy Spirit in power. But what happened? Having begun in the Spirit, they tried to perfect the
work that the Spirit had begun in the flesh by their own effort. We find the
same teaching in the epistle to the Corinthians. Now, we have here a solemn discovery of
what the great need is in the Church of Christ. God has called the Church of
Christ to live in the power of the Holy Spirit. But the Church is living, for
the most part, in the power of human flesh, and of will and energy and effort
apart from the Spirit of God."
- No one in the
Old Testament, and no one in the New Testament, ever received the Holy Spirit by
the works of the law.
HAVING BEGUN IN THE SPIRIT, ARE YE NOW MADE PERFECT
BY THE FLESH? (3:3)
- For the second time, Paul calls them "foolish" (3:1,
- It is very foolish to think we can be made perfect
(complete, mature) by keeping the law (cf.
- Legalism has
two aspects. First, there is the
error of thinking that salvation comes from keeping the law.
- The second
error is believing that sanctification comes by the works of the law.
The Bible teaches we are saved by grace
and kept by grace -- not "by the flesh" (3:3).
- Some people
understand that we are saved by grace through faith, but they think they have to
keep the law in order to stay saved.
- Andrew Murray
said, "The Galatians received the Holy Spirit, but what was begun by the Spirit
they tried to perfect in the flesh. How? They fell back again under Judaizing
teachers who told them they must be circumcised. They began to seek their
religion in external observances. And so Paul uses that expression about those
teachers who had them circumcised so 'that they may glorify in your flesh'
SUFFERED SO MANY THINGS IN VAIN? (3:4)
- When the
Galatians first trusted the Lord Jesus Christ, they exposed themselves to bitter
persecution, both from religious Jews who hated the Gospel, as well as from
heathen friends and relatives who did not understand the
- Paul is now
asking them if their suffering was "in vain."
- In other words,
in going back to a works-salvation, they were saying their persecutors were
right all along, because all false religions teach salvation by works
- By going back
to a works-salvation, the Galatians were aligning themselves with the enemies of
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?
- This fifth
question is the longest.
- It is somewhat
similar to Paul's second question (3:2). In Galatians 3:2, Paul says that
believers receive the Holy Spirit by faith, not by the works of the law. Here in verse 5, Paul refers to the
various ministries of the Holy Spirit.
- Paul refers to
the ministry that he had among them, including
- You will recall
that the Judaizers were attacking Paul's apostolic authority, and so he began
this letter by defending it (1:1, 11, 12).
- In Paul's day,
miracles were the evidence of apostolic authority.
Corinthians 12:12 says, "Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in
all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds."
- Hebrews 2:3, 4
says, "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first
began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard
him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers
miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?"
- Paul had to
remind them that it was he who preached the Gospel to them (3:5; cf. 3:1); and
it was he who had ministereth to them the Holy Spirit, and worked miracles
- None of this
had been in "the flesh" (cf. 3:3). None of this was by the works of the law (3:2, 5).
Paul never preached the law. He preached the Gospel.
- The Judaizers did not preach the Gospel to them.
The Judaizers "bewitched them" (3:1). They were "false brethren"
I will conclude with an illustration by Andrew
Murray. "You may all know what
shunting is on a railway. A locomotive with its train may be traveling in a
certain direction, and the points at some place may not be properly opened or
closed, and unobservingly it is shunted off to the right or to the left. And if
that takes place, for instance, on a dark night, the train goes in the wrong
direction, and the people might never know it until they have gone some
"And just so, God gives Christians the Holy Spirit with
this intention-that every day, all their life, should be lived in the power of
the Spirit. A man cannot live one hour of a godly life unless by the power of
the Holy Spirit. He may live a proper, consistent life, as people call it, an
irreproachable life, a life of virtue and diligent service. But to live a life
acceptable to God, in the enjoyment of God's salvation and God's love, to live
and walk in the power of the new life -- he cannot do it unless he is
guided by the Holy Spirit every day and every hour."