by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 1 Study # 2 October 23, 2011 Dayton, Texas
2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.
5 He 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?
1901 ASV Translation:
2 This only would I learn from you. Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now perfected in the flesh?
4 Did ye suffer so many things in vain? if it be indeed in vain.
5 He therefore that supplieth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
I. The Six Questions.
A. Who bewitched you? [See Notes for Oct. 16, 2011(125)]
B. Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
1. This only would I learn of you...
a. Paul's preliminary comment indicates that if the Galatians are willing to stop being "foolish", there is only one question that they need to answer.
b. The obvious implication is that, if they "think", they will be delivered from the "bewitching" that is so threatening to their well being.
2. Interestingly, the issue is not "how were you justified?", but "how did you receive the Spirit?"
a. At the heart of Paul's wording is this reality: he is most interested in clarifying the basis for living. The question of justification's methodology is crucial because it sets the stage for all else, but the real question is sanctification's methodology.
b. The "reception" of the Spirit of God is the most critical issue of all for "living". If a man has all of his sins forgiven, but is not empowered to stop sinning, what has he really gained? Every sin has its own built-in backlash that "forgiveness" does not eliminate. Any man who "sins" will destroy himself. Thus, if a man is "forgiven" but continues to "sin", he is headed for a horrible experience.
3. This is the first of fifteen texts in Galatians wherein the word "spirit" is found. That Paul decided to insert this reality into his argument at this point is illuminating: it reveals that Paul's real goal in the letter is not to establish the method of justification; rather, it is to empower "Life". Paul's apostleship (Galatians 1-2) is a critical truth because it establishes the origins of Truth; the method of justification (Galatians 3-4) is a critical truth because, as he says it in this paragraph "it is the beginning" (3:3); but the method of "living" (Galatians 5-6) is the most crucial truth because "Life" is the bottom line. Paul's critical assumption is this: the methodology for relating to God is always exactly the same; He does not use one method for justification and another for sanctification and another for glorification.
4. The issue is "received ye ... by the works of law or by the hearing of faith".
a. The bottom line in works of law is simple: initiatory action that must be recompensed because "law" requires compensation.
b. The bottom line in the hearing of faith is just as simple: one hears and believes and receives what was promised because the one making the noise that is heard is the one dictating the principles of what follows and Abraham's final conclusion was that the One making the promise(s) is the One obligated to fulfill it/them (Romans 4:21).
5. The answer to Paul's question was obvious beyond debate.
a. The Galatians knew exactly how they had come to be indwelt by the Spirit of Christ.
b. The Galatians knew that God had not demanded initiatory actions on their part to get Christ to die for them; nor had they done anything to get Paul to preach the Gospel to them; nor had they responded with obedience to a message that required obedience. They had simply believed what Paul had told them in his preaching of his Gospel and, at the point of faith, they were given the gift of the Holy Spirit.
C. Are ye so foolish? (A repeat of the first part of 3:1)
D. Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? (A repeat of 3:2)
E. Have ye suffered so many things in vain?
F. He therefore that supplieth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? (A repeat of 3:2)