Galatians 3: 1-14
The passage is a continuation of Paul’s defense for the validity of his gospel. In Chapters 1 and 2, we see Paul defending his authority as an apostle and his Christ-centered gospel from his own personal experience. From Chapter 3, Paul begins to present his theological arguments for his gospel. In the passage under consideration for our meditation, Paul poses before the Galatian Christians a series of rhetorical questions and Scripture. He is presenting three evidences to proof the validity of gospel
1. Experiential Evidence (vv. 1-5)
In this section, Paul is taking the church at Galatia back to where they started, their initial experience when they first received the gospel. Paul asks a series of rhetorical questions to make a point that sums up his gospel. From the way he addresses the church at Galatia, You foolish Galatians!, it looks like Paul is clearly upset and angry with the Galatian Christians over something. However, it has to be noted that Paul is angry, not out of hatred/dislike but out of concern and love for the church. Paul further exclaims, Who has bewitched you?, as if Galatians were under some sort of demonic influence. Apparently, some of the believers, if not all, at Galatia had accepted the work based gospel advocated by the Jewish missionaries who had come to Galatia after Paul.
It is quite evident that Paul has made it very clear to them that the gospel is not about them and what they are doing but it is about Christ and what he has done for all. Galatians have already experienced some sort of Spirit manifestations (see v. 5). Paul is provoking them by asking if they had received the Spirit through works of the law or faith. Certainly, it is faith! Having already been accepted, embraced and sealed by the Spirit, why do you turn to something that has nothing to do with your spiritual life? Galatians already have everything that the Judaizers promise to offer them through observance of the law. To Paul, this is nothing but absolute stupidity. He is wondering if they have learned anything at all from their own personal experience of the Spirit when they first accepted the gospel.
2. Historical Evidence (vv. 6-9)
In this section, Paul brings out the manner in which the blessing to Abraham and his descendants is actually effected. Apparently, the Judaizers have claimed to be the true children of Abraham and thus received the blessing promised to Abraham by keeping the law. However, Paul is bringing out a striking similarity between the experience of the Galatian Christians and that of Abraham. Paul points out that it is by faith that it was counted to him (Abraham) as righteous (See Genesis 15:6). Remember, law was not given until the time of Moses. This is another way of saying that righteousness can never be achieved through works of the law. This is simply because law came much later. The righteousness credited to Abraham happened long before law was given. And the basis on which Abraham was justified (credited righteous) was faith alone. Since, Abraham holds a very important place in Judaism, Paul cleverly used him as an example to refute the claims of the Judaizers.
Hence, it is those of faith who are the true descendants of Abraham. Paul claims that this has already been told in Scripture long before the law came. God has promised that all nations (including the Galatian Christians) will be blessed through Abraham (See Genesis 18:18). From the very beginning itself, the blessing of Abraham was promised to all nations. It is those who are of faith (not the law-keepers) are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
Paul is reminding the Galatian Christians:
How did you receive the Spirit?
How was righteousness credited to Abraham?
Who are the true children of Abraham?
It is not works of the law but faith alone!
Paul shows the Galatian believers that this is the way God has always worked - then and even now
3. Scriptural Evidence (vv. 10-14)
In our third and final section, we shall be looking at how Paul elaborates salvation through a series of quotations from the Scripture.
In verses 10-12, Paul reiterates that salvation is by faith alone, not by works of the law. Instead, law brings curse. Paul quotes from Deuteronomy 27:26 where it says, Cursed be anyone who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them. The law demands complete obedience. The law says, Do and Live! (See Leviticus 18:5). The saddest thing is that no one can keep the law perfectly. The law in itself cannot give life. It cannot give liberty. Then, why go back into the law? If law cannot give life and liberty, then there has to be another way. For Paul, that way is faith in Jesus Christ, the true gospel. It says, Believe and Live! (See Habakkuk 2:4). Salvation comes by faith, justification happens by faith and promised blessings fulfilled by faith. Nothing but faith!
Paul goes on to tell in verses 13-14 that it is faith alone in Jesus Christ that completes the blessing of Abraham. The law that the Judaizers revered so high is actually putting sinners under a curse. However, thanks be to God that Christ has redeemed us from that curse by becoming a curse for us (See Deuteronomy 21: 23). Christ has redeemed us through his blood and set us free. Now, it is through faith in Christ that we are justified and receive the blessing promised to Abraham and the gift of the Spirit.
As we meditate on His word, I want us to think of the cross of Calvary, the love that God demonstrated for us, the grace that you and I do not deserve but given to us freely. So much of blood has been shed to preserve the truth of the gospel. Let us continue to live by the gospel and for the gospel. Let us remember that we are saved by faith in Christ alone and continue walking in faith. This is my prayer this morning that our lives will be shaped, molded, motivated and driven by Christ crucified!