Paul’s Defense of the Gospel
Chapters 1 and 2 was a defense of the gospel from Paul’s own personal experience and calling.
3:1 He addresses them as “Galatians” not “brothers” as earlier in the letter.
It is an impersonal greeting.
“Bewitch” means to have a magic spell cast on them that controls their thinking and behavior.
- It means to have damage brought on them through an evil eye that drew them away from their convictions by getting them to focus on this one thing. They have been hypnotized by someone’s evil eye.
3:1-3 Paul calls their turn from the true teaching to a different teaching as irrational for three different reasons.
1) He addresses them as “foolish” in verse one.
The word for foolish is not the Greek word for foolish “moros.”
Jesus used this in Matt. 5:22; 7:26; 25:2. It means mentally deficient and refers to those who play the fool in moral or spiritual matters.
The Word in Gal. 3:1 is “anoetos” (“anotoi”) which is:
- The actions of one who can think but fails to use his powers of perspective.
- It denotes stupidity that arises from deadness and impotence of intellect.
- Refers to one who does not reflect.
- It is the failure of moral responsibility to think.
- This was not a reference to their limited ability, but quite the opposite. It was a reference to failure to use what they knew.
- They had knowledge, but not the application (or, wisdom)
- Paul does not accuse them of lacking intelligence but of the inability or refusal to recognize the real situation.
“Foolish,” or, “anoetos” is used in:
1 Timothy 6:9
Titus 3:3 where it is used along with “foolish, disobedient,
The Galatians were refusing to think and be rational.
While Christianity is based on the death of Jesus, they were embracing teaching that resulted in the death of Christ being unnecessary.
This is “anoetos,” foolishness. See Galatians 2:21.
2) Their conduct was inexplicable because the gospel was clearly preached
The word “portrayed” is the Greek word “proegraphe” (“proegrafh”) meaning:
- to write before
- to write up in public
- describes all public notices, proclamations and indicates a public
announcement in which the validity of a particular fact or condition is proclaimed.
The gospel had not been obscured by non essentials.
Notice then that the heart of the gospel was “Christ crucified.”
“Crucified” is in the perfect tense indicating an action completed in the past with results abiding into the future.
3) It is totally contrary to their initial experience as Christians
Did they become Christians by living up to a standard or by believing the message.
Point: Begin in faith, so continue in faith.
Three comparisons made in 3:2 and 3:
a) Observing (works) vs. hearing
b) Law vs. faith
c) Flesh vs. Spirit (chapters 5,6 devoted to this)
1:4 “suffered so much for nothing”
This is a continuation of appealing the Galatians to remember and consider their own experiences to evaluate the “true gospel.”
“Suffered” is the Greek word “epathete” and means “to experience.”
- It can mean to experience evil (and so, “to suffer”), or
- It may be used in the neutral sense as in “to experience.”
In verse five these things are identified:
- being given the Spirit (New Birth)
- miracles (manifestations of the Spirit’s presence after the New Birth)
1:5 Did the things the experienced occur because they kept a law or because they believed the message? They know! They were there! No one was teaching the law. They had been taught the message of truth and they received it. The result was their salvation and the manifestation of the Spirit of God.
According to Wuest the Greek construction demands that the same one who gave the Spirit must be the one who did the miracles. This would be God.
NIV: “Does God give you his Spirit”
Greek: “o oun epicorhgwn umin to pneuma”
“The (one) therefore supplying to you the Spirit”
“epicorhgwn” (“give” in NIV, “supplying” in interlinear, “ministereth” in the KJ) means
- the simple verb means “to defray the expense of providing a chorus at the public feast.”
- This use as a preposition means “to supply abundantly and bountifully”
- It is in the present tense which means the action is permanent.
“work” is in the present tense also the word means “to be energetic, to work.”
“miracles” is from the word
“dunamis” and is used in 1 Co.12:10 and 2
In each of these places “dunamis” is a reference to the Spirit giving miracle working power on certain believers.
POINT: The same Spirit that sanctified them (born again) empowered them to do miracles. And both are in the present tense meaning these activities were current in their midst even among the law. But, obviously they were being hindered by the turning to the law which was not the Spirit but the flesh.
The following verses in chapters 3 and 4:1-7 are Paul’s argument against the law and for the Spirit.
3:6-9 Faith (“Abraham”) compared with 3:10-14 Law (the “curse”)
3:15-18 Faith (“covenant”) compared with 3:19-22 Law (“transgressions”)
3:23-29 Faith (“heirs’) compared with 4:1-7 Law (“bondage”)
Also note: The last three ( “transgressions,” “heirs,” and “bondage”) digress into their own comparisions with in the argument.
“Transgressions” compared with “promises”
“Heirs” compared with “a slave teaching the underage son”
“Freedom” compared with “bondage”
3:19 “Sin” always has existed since Adam. A “transgression” can not occur until a law is broken. So, though “sin” existed, there was no “transgression” until the law was given and then broken. The “Law” turns “sin” into “transgression.”