Galatians Part 18 - Galatians 3:1

Chapter 3

Having reminded them of the doctrine to which they had been initially converted, the precedent established at the Jerusalem council and the error of Peter at Antioch, Paul now directs his rebuke at the Galatians. In the light of such evidence and their own experience, how could they so easily be drawn into the designs of the Judaizers? It is a concern of the man of God that serious labors to show men the way of truth are received with apparent shallowness and that without constant supervision, the sheep will stray, their memory lapse and their conversion seem little more than “some new thing” (ACT 17:21), the spiritual “bright shiny object syndrome.” PSA 106:9-13; NUM 11:12; HEB 5:12; MAT 13:5-6, 20-21; MAR 8:17-18; EXO 32:1; GAL 4:18 ct/w PHIL 1:27; 2:12.

NOTE: Believers are told to heed them that have the rule over them by the word of God (HEB 13:7, 17). Whereas we should be ever willing to be corrected and improved in our understanding, beware, lest in heeding new and contrary teaching from other sources, we be “...moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard...” (COL 1:23). Ask your own minister about the “new thing” before you buy into it: he is likely to have insights that you have not considered.

vs. 1-4.

1. Paul charges the Galatians with foolishness (vs. 1, 3), a strong statement in light of MAT 5:22.

A. foolish: Fool-like, wanting in sense or judgment.

B. fool: One deficient in judgment or sense, one who acts or behaves stupidly, a silly person, a simpleton (In Biblical use applied to vicious or impious persons).

C. Compare MAT 5:22 with LUK 24:25; 1CO 15:36.

D. Paul does not here outrightly call the Galatians fools, but that they were foolish/fool-like.

When a person’s attitudes or actions find too much agreement with the characteristics of a fool, there is sufficient cause for concern. The Galatians had:

(1) abandoned their spiritual father's instructions. PRO 15:5.

(2) been drawn back into past error. PRO 26:11.

(3) left the path of righteousness. ECC 10:3.

(4) decided to build on the unstable ground of works-justification, whereas the heart is established by grace. HEB 13:9; ACT 20:32 ct/w MAT 7:26.

2. Having been subverted by the doctrine of the Judaizers, Paul asserts that they must have been bewitched. v. 1.

A. bewitch: 1. To affect (generally injuriously), by witchcraft or magic. Sometimes with complemental phrase defining the result. 2. fig. To influence in a way similar to witchcraft; to fascinate, charm, enchant...

B. Before we relegate “bewitched” here to a figurative sense, we would do well to consider that the Savior warned against people employing the powers of darkness to deceive others. MAT 24:24.

(1) It is noteworthy that this is the only N.T. epistle which expressly condemns witchcraft. GAL5:20.

(2) Mind that the nation of Israel itself was in the process of being overtaken by the powers of darkness in the form of unclean spirits. MAT 12:43-45.

C. The last prophet of the O.T. had spoken against sorcerers in the wake of John the Baptist and Messiah. MAL 3:5.

D. Observe other examples of apostate Jews in league with dark powers in opposition to the gospel. ACT 8:9-11; 13:5-8.

E. Consider that one of the most subtle and dangerous doctrines of world government as proposed in dispensationalism is substantially the doctrine of Pharisaic Judaism.

(1) The historic origin of this eschatology which purports a coming world government by a “messiah” came out of a radical spiritist “christian” movement in the United Kingdom in the early 1800’s which emphasized long-discarded spiritual gifts, visions, etc.

(2) This is most curious in light of what Paul says about the antichrist man of sin in 2TH 2:1-10.

F. It is true also that false doctrine has intimate ties with powers of darkness. 1JO 4:1 c/w 1TI 4:1.

G. It would be an error to exclude the possibility of open use of occult power to affect people’s thinking, and it would certainly be an error to not connect false doctrine with evil spirits and the powers of darkness.

H. Charismatic orators can indeed have a “spell-binding” effect on men, especially those led by lust, the simple, and the unstable. ROM 16:17-18; 2PE 2:14, 18 c/w 1CO 2:1-5.

(1) The Judaizers had mesmerized the Galatians with their teaching which stirred them emotionally and turned them against Paul. GAL 4:16-17.

(2) Elsewhere we read, “But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and MADE THEIR MINDS EVIL AFFECTED AGAINST THE BRETHREN” (ACT 14:2).

(3) Emotion-driven thought (as opposed to faith and reason) will not only lead you into trouble, it will turn you against the person who genuinely desires your good.

a. You are likely to deem the truth and its teller “hateful” because it/he challenges your comfort and warped vision.

b. “The truth cannot be hateful however, except in the eyes of those who hate the truth.” (Michael Hoffman)

(4) The alluring speech of the Judaizers was so persuasive that it was appropriately called a bewitching. Witches pretend to have power to put people under a curse, and persuading people of justification by the works of the law is to put them under the curse. GAL 3:10.

I. The Galatians had rebelled against the truth (v. 1; GAL 5:7) and opted for an alternative form of service to God, which act is itself likened to witchcraft. 1SAM 15:22-24.

3. Paul concludes v. 1 with this observation about the Galatians: “...before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?”

A. evidently: So as to be distinctly visible or perceptible; with perfect clearness, conspicuously. Hence in active sense, with verbs of perceiving, knowing, explaining, etc: Without possibility of mistake or misunderstanding; clearly, distinctly.

B. Jesus Christ was not personally and physically crucified at Galatia. They did not physically “see” Him on the cross.

C. The gospel message wherein accomplished salvation and sin's destruction are declared is the preaching of the crucifixion. 1CO 1:18, 23; 2:2.

D. Paul preached the cross of Christ to the Gentiles to facilitate the opening of their spiritual eyes. ACT 26:17-18 c/w EPH 1:18.

E. Paul set forth Jesus Christ EVIDENTLY--preaching the word clearly and distinctly, as it ought to be done. NEH 8:8; 2CO 1:13; 3:12.

F. The Galatians had responded positively to the gospel of justifying grace through the faith of Christ. The preaching of the word of the Spirit had provoked a corresponding testimony already written on their hearts. ROM 8:16; 6:17.

G. The fact that the Galatians had believed the gospel, been baptized and repented of their idolatrous ways was abundant evidence that they were children of God. Why now this vacillation? GAL 4:8 c/w 1TH 1:4-10; 1PE 3:21.

H. Proper response to the gospel is close, personal assurance of participation in the crucifixion of Christ. When a person mortifies the errors of his flesh, it evidences that Christ died for him. TIT 2:14; GAL 5:24.

I. This is how Jesus Christ had been evidently set forth, crucified among them. Though their physical eyes had not seen Jesus hanging on the cross, they had just as clear an evidence of that reality from their convicted response to the gospel. Initially, they had walked by faith, not sight. 2CO 5:7 c/w HEB 11:1.

J. When something is presented evidently, there is no excuse for turning from it. ROM 1:20.

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