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CHAPTER III. 1-5.
By the account St. Paul has given of himself, in the foregoing section, the Galatians being furnished with evidence, sufficient to clear him, in their minds, from the report of his preaching circumcision, he comes now, the way being thus opened, directly to oppose their being circumcised, and subjecting themselves to the law. The first argument he uses, is, that they received the Holy Ghost, and the gifts of miracles, by the Gospel, and not by the law.
3 Are ye so foolish? perfect by the flesh ?
1 O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?
2 This only would I learn of you: Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made
10 ye foolish Galatians, who hath cast a mist before your eyes, that you should not keep to the truth of the Gospel, you to whom the sufferings and death of Christ upon the cross hath been by me so lively represented, as if it had been actually 2 done in your sight? This is one thing I desire to know of you: Did you receive the miraculous gifts of the Spirit, by 3 the works of the law, or by the Gospel preached to you? Have
1 "Obey the truth,” i. e. stand fast in the liberty of the Gospel; truth being used in this epistle, as we have already noted, chap. ii. 14, for the doctrine of being free from the law, which St. Paul had delivered to them. The reason whereof he gives, chap. v. 3-5.
St. Paul mentions nothing to them here but Christ crucified, as knowing that, when formerly he had preached Christ crucified to them, he had shown them, that, by Christ's death on the cross, believers were set free from the law, and the covenant of works was removed, to make way for that of grace. This we may find him inculcating to his other Gentile converts. See Eph. ii. 15, 16. Col. ii. 14, 20. And accordingly he tells the Galatians, chap. v. 2, 4, that if, by circumcision, they put themselves under the law, they were fallen from grace, and Christ should profit them nothing at all: things, which they are supposed to understand, at his writing to them.
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, doth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
you so little understanding, that, having begun in the reception of the spiritual doctrine of the Gospel, you hope to be advanced to higher degrees of perfection, and to be completed by the 4 law? Have you suffered so many things in vain, if at least you will render it in vain, by falling off from the profession of the pure and uncorrupted doctrine of the Gospel, and aposta5 tizing to Judaism? The gifts of the Holy Ghost, that have been conferred upon you, have they not been conferred on you as Christians, professing faith in Jesus Christ, and not as observers of the law? And hath not he", who hath conveyed these gifts to you, and done miracles amongst you, done it as a preacher and professor of the Gospel, the Jews, who stick in the law of Moses, being not able, by virtue of that, to do any such thing?
3 It is a way of writing very familiar to St. Paul, in opposing the law and the gospel, to call the law Flesh, and the Gospel Spirit. The reason whereof is very plain to any one conversant in his epistles.
5 "He." The person meant here by ó iπony”, "he that ministereth,” and chap. i. 6, by xéoas, "he that called," is plainly St. Paul himself, though, out of modesty, he declines naming himself.
CHAPTER III. 6-17..
His next argument against circumcision, and subjection to the law, is, that the children of Abraham, entitled to the inheritance and blessing promised to Abraham and his seed, are so by faith, and not by being under the law, which brings a curse upon those who are under it.
6 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness:
7 Know ye, therefore, that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.
8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the Gospel unto Abraham, saying, "In thee shall all nations be blessed."
9 So then they which be of faith, are blessed with faithful Abraham. 10 For as many as are of the works of the law, are under the curse; for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things, which are written in the book of the law, to do them." 11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for the " just shall live by faith."
12 And the law is not of faith: but, "The man that doeth them, shall live in them."
6 But to proceed: As Abraham believed in God, and it was ac7 counted to him for righteousness; So know ye, that those who are of faith, i. e. who rely upon God, and his promises of grace, and not upon their own performances, they are the children of Abraham, who shall inherit; and this is plain in the 8 Scripture. For it being in the purpose of God, to justify the Gentiles by faith, he gave Abraham a fore-knowledge of the Gospel in these words: "a In thee all the nations of the earth 9 shall be blessed." So that they who are of b faith, are blessed 10 with Abraham, who believed. But as many as are of the works of the law, are under the curse: for it is written d, "Cursed is every one, who remaineth not in all things, which 11 are written in the book of the law, to do them." But that no man is justified by the law, in the sight of God, is evident; 12" for the just shall live by faith." But the law says not so, the law gives not life to those who believe; but the rule of the law is, "He that doth them, shall live in them?
Hab. ii. 4.
12 See Acts xiii. 39.
Lev. xviii. 5.
8 a Gen. xiii. 3.
9, 10 “ Of faith,” and “of the works of the law;" spoken of two races of men, the one as the genuine posterity of Abraham, heirs of the promise, the other not. "Blessed," and "under the curse." Here again there is another division, viz. into the blessed, and those under the curse, whereby is meant such as are in a state of life, or acceptance with God; or such as are exposed to his wrath, and to death, see Deut. xxx. 19.
Written," Deut. xxvii. 26.
13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us; for it is written, " Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree."
14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
15 Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; though it be but a man's covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto.
16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith
13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made
a curse for us; for it is written ", " Cursed is every one that 14 hangeth on a tree:" That the blessing, promised to Abraham, might come on the Gentiles, through Jesus Christ; that we who are Christians might, believing, receive the Spirit that 15 was promised. Brethren, this is a known and allowed rule in human affairs, that a promise, or compact, though it be barely a man's covenant, yet if it be once ratified, so it must stand, nobody can render it void, or make any alteration in it. 16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. God doth not say, "and to seeds'," as if he spoke of more seeds than one, that were entitled to the promise upon different ac
13h Deut. xxi. 23.
14 "Blessing:""That blessing," ver. 8, 9, 14. "Justification," ver. 11. "Righteousness," ver. 21. "Life," ver. 11, 12, 21. "Inheritance," ver. 18. "Being the children of God," ver. 26, are in effect all the same, on the one side: And the "curse," ver. 13, the direct contrary, on the other side; so plain is St. Paul's discourse here, that nobody, who reads it with the least attention, will be in any doubt about it.
"Promised." St. Paul's argument to convince the Galatians, that they ought not to be circumcised, or submit to the law, from their having received the Spirit from him, upon their having received the Gospel, which he preached to them, ver, 2, and 5, stands thus: The blessing promised to Abraham, and to his seed, was wholly upon the account of faith, ver. 7. There were not different seeds, who should inherit the promise; the one by the works of the law, and the other by faith. For there was but "one seed, which was Christ," ver. 16, and those who should claim in, and under him, by faith. Among those there was no distinction of Jew and Gentile. They, and they only, who believed, were all one and the same true seed of Abraham, and heirs according to the promise," ver. 28, 29. And therefore the promise, made to the people of God, of giving them the Spirit under the Gospel, was performed only to those who believed in Christ: a clear evidence, that it was not by putting themselves under the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ, that "they were the people of God, and heirs of the promise."
16" And to seeds: " By seeds, St. Paul here visibly means the of ix wisews, "those of faith," and the oi i "pywv vóμov, “ those of the works of the law," spoken of above, ver. 9, 10, as two distinct seeds, or descendants claiming from Abraham.
not," and to seeds," as of many; but as of one," and to thy seed," which is Christ.
17 And this I say, that the covenant that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.
counts; but only of one sort of men, who, upon one sole account, were that seed of Abraham, which was alone meant and concerned in the promise; so that "unto thy seed "," designed Christ, and his mystical body", i. e. those, that become mem17 bers of him by faith. This therefore, I say, that the law, which was not till 430 years after, cannot disannul the covenant that was long before made, and ratified to Christ by God, so as to set aside the promise. For if the right to the inheritance be from the works of the law, it is plain that it is not founded in the promise of Abraham, as certainly it is. For the inheritance was a donation and free gift of God, settled on Abraham and his seed, by promise.
m"And to thy seed;" See Gen. xii. 7, repeated again in the following chapters. ""Mystical body;" see ver. 27.
CHAPTER III. 18-25.
IN answer to this objection, "To what, then, serveth the law?" He shows, that the law was not contrary to the promise: but since all men were guilty of transgression, ver. 22, the law was added, to show the Israelites the fruit and inevitable consequence of their sin, and thereby the necessity of betaking themselves to Christ: but as soon as men have received Christ, they have attained the end of the law, and so are no longer under it. This is a farther argument against circumcision.