The Berean Expositor
Volume 51 - Page 32 of 181
Index | Zoom
Paul gladly yielded to all this, for it was the complete answer to all his personal
problems. He did not attempt to frustrate the grace of God that had worked in this
marvelous way. He now realized that "righteousness inside and out" could never come
by law-keeping. If it could then the sacrificial death of Christ with all its agony and
darkness was a waste of time and of no value whatsoever (verse 21) to deal with the
overwhelming problem of sin.
All these words he addressed publicly to Peter and those with him, doubtless hoping
and praying they would recognize the great mistake Peter had made by re-erecting the
barriers of the law. This matter was so basic and important that the next chapter takes it
further, and what Paul had argued from his own spiritual experience, he now shows to be
grounded upon the Scriptures themselves. And for this, he finds the example of Abraham
a perfect illustration.
When we study the record of this patriarch, we find that all the basic truths of
Christianity are reflected in his life. Consequently we find him also brought forward as
an example in the epistle to the Hebrews and the epistle of James. Abraham was a
Gentile, not a Jew, though he became their ancestor. He knew nothing of Moses' law
with its ritual, its types and shadows, nor of the temple that followed. The Judaizers
quoted Moses, but Paul quotes Abraham with the promises of grace granted him by God.
If they refer to centuries of tradition and practice, he will appeal to the great covenant
based on grace that was older still.
But before he does this, he makes a personal appeal to the Galatians:
"You foolish Galatians: Who has bewitched you? Before your eyes Jesus Christ was
clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn one thing from you; did you receive
the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish?
After beginning with the Spirit, are you trying to attain perfection by human effort?"
(Gal. 3: 1-3, N.I.V.).
Their stupidity amazed Paul. Had they been bewitched by someone? The word
"bewitched" has links with the English "fascinated". They had listened to the glib
tongues from Jerusalem and doubtless these had presented their case very persuasively so
that the Galatians had become fascinated by their arguments. And yet Paul, in his initial
ministry to them, had so truthfully and vividly brought before them a crucified Christ as
the only answer to their needs, that it was as though the Lord Jesus had been "placarded"
before them. This is the sense of the Greek proegraphe. The large hoardings that carry
advertisements by road sides would be a modern example. A crucified Messiah, so
presented, cut the ground from under the Judaizers feet with all their talk about the law of
The Apostle now asks them a simple question, how did their Christian life begin? Did
it begin by their own efforts, by their own faulty attempts to obey the law? Or did it
begin in simple faith in that crucified One which was ministered to them by the Spirit?
That is, they received the Truth by hearing the Word of God as spoken by Paul and
believing it without any works of merit on their part.