Galatians, Part III [11-21-10]


Part III

Chapter 3:1–5




21) [GNB] I refuse to reject the grace of God. But if a person is put right with God through the Law, it means that Christ died for nothing!

(BBE)  I do not make the grace of God of no effect:

(CEV)  I don’t turn my back on God’s undeserved kindness.

(NIV) I do not set aside the grace of God,

(NASB) I do not nullify the grace of God;

(NLT) I am not one of those who treats the grace of God as meaningless.

QUESTION: What does this mean, “I refuse to reject the grace of God”?

ANSWER: If I return to the Law, or any legal system of justification, I AM WALKING AWAY FROM GRACE!

QUESTION: Why does a system of trying harder to gain acceptance with God nullify grace?

ANSWER: If I truly believe that I can be in an acceptable relationship with a Holy God by virtue of my keeping the commandments of the Law, then that belief is saying that Christ didn’t have to die; I just needed to try harder.

CLOSING NOTE: This isn’t only true for the Jews Paul was speaking to, or to the “legalists” that practice modern day law-keeping in hopes of pleasing God; this is also true for you and me. We often fall off the wagon of grace, and land back in the performance mode, which is the gutter of failed attempts to please God. We then try harder to please God. It’s so difficult to fully believe that the total conquest of Christ at Calvary was enough to satisfy God’s justice, so we keep returning to Law, which is rejecting grace. And, in doing so, we make it impossible to do the very thing we yearn to do, which is to truly live for God.


On To This Week’s Lesson:

Galatians 3:1-9) [GNB] You foolish Galatians! Who put a spell on you? Before your very eyes you had a clear description of the death of Jesus Christ on the cross!

[GNB] You foolish Galatians! Who put a spell on you?

(BBE) O foolish Galatians, by what strange powers have you been tricked,

(CEV) You stupid Galatians! ——– Has someone now put an evil spell on you?

(GW) You stupid people of Galatia! Who put you under an evil spell?

(MSG) You crazy Galatians! Did someone put a hex on you? Have you taken leave of your senses? Something crazy has happened,

(NLT) Oh, foolish Galatians! What magician has cast an evil spell on you?

(TLB) Oh, foolish Galatians! What magician has hypnotized you and cast an evil spell upon you?

QUESTION: What’s the Apostle doing here?

ANSWER: He’s trying to get their attention! He’s giving them a proverbial slap-in-the-face.

[GNB] Before your very eyes you had a clear description of the death of Jesus Christ on the cross!

(BBE) to whom it was made clear that Jesus Christ was put to death on the cross?

(CEV) I told you exactly how Jesus Christ was nailed to a cross.

(GW) Wasn’t Christ Jesus’ crucifixion clearly described to you?

(MSG) for it’s obvious that you no longer have the crucified Jesus in clear focus in your lives. His sacrifice on the Cross was certainly set before you clearly enough.

(NLT) For you used to see the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death as clearly as though I had shown you a signboard with a picture of Christ dying on the cross.

QUESTION: What’s Paul saying here, in simple English?

ANSWER: Paul is reminding them of how clearly he had presented to them, when he was with them in the province of Galatia, the teaching about what the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Christ meant to them in a practical way.

QUESTION: What happened?

ANSWER: Their understanding of this doctrine had been perverted by other teachers.

Galatians 1:6-9) [GNB] I am surprised at you! In no time at all you are deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ, and are accepting another gospel.

7) [GNB] Actually, there is no “other gospel,” but I say this because there are some people who are upsetting you and trying to change the gospel of Christ.

8) [GNB] But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel that is different from the one we preached to you, may he be condemned to hell!

9) [GNB] We have said it before, and now I say it again: if anyone preaches to you a gospel that is different from the one you accepted, may he be condemned to hell!

QUESTION: Was Paul passionate about the truth of the Gospel?

ANSWER: Paul believed that the truth of the Gospel that God had entrusted to him was so important that it must not be changed. Future generations of believers had to understand what happened at the cross. He was convinced that the false teachers that had arrived at Galatia were “false brethren,” and that their doctrine was based on false motives. He believed that whoever would purposely distort the truth of the Gospel would end up in Hell!

Galatians 2:4) [GNB] although some wanted it done. Pretending to be believers, these men slipped into our group as spies, in order to find out about the freedom we have through our union with Christ Jesus. They wanted to make slaves of us,

NOTE: Paul is not teaching us that anyone who teaches a legalistic version of the “Gospel” is going to end up in Hell. These particular teachers were merely Jews who pretended “to be believers” in order to coax true believers into submitting to circumcision, which is the initiation into the Law. There are sincere teachers/preachers who teach what they teach out of a sincere belief that it’s the truth.

Galatians 3:2-3) [GNB] Tell me this one thing: did you receive God’s Spirit by doing what the Law requires or by hearing the gospel and believing it?

3) [GNB] How can you be so foolish! You began by God’s Spirit; do you now want to finish by your own power?

Galatians 3:2-3) [KJV] This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

3) [KJV] Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

QUESTION: What important Gospel principle is being taught here?

ANSWER: Paul is telling us that we mature in our spiritual walk the very same way we started our spiritual walk; i.e., were born again.

QUESTION: Paul writes quite often about the idea of “in the Spirit,” “by the Spirit,” of the “Spirit,” etc.; he also writes about the idea of “in the flesh,” “by the flesh,” “of the flesh,” etc. What does this passage show regarding these thoughts?

ANSWER: Draw a line between the phrases of verse 2 that connect with the phrases of verse 3:

Verse 2:                                              Verse 3:

“by doing what the Law requires”           “You began by God’s Spirit”

“by hearing the gospel and believing it” “do you now want to finish by your  own power”

NOTE: When we believe what God says we’re walking in the Spirit; when we attempt to gain God’s favor by trying harder we’re walking in the flesh/by our own power.

Galatians 3:4-5) [GNB] Did all your experience mean nothing at all? Surely it meant something!

Galatians 3:4) [GW] Did you suffer so much for nothing? I doubt that it was for nothing!

NOTE: Commentators disagree, as do translators, rather the Greek word rendered “experience” in the GNB means “experience” or “suffer.” The word was used both ways by the Greeks; however, Paul uses it in all other cases to refer to suffering. If “experience” is implied here than it connects with verse 5; if “suffer” is implied than it’s a reminder of some past suffering they suffered, perhaps at the hands of the Jews, on account of their belief in Paul’s Gospel.

5) [GNB] Does God give you the Spirit and work miracles among you because you do what the Law requires or because you hear the gospel and believe it?

QUESTION: What is Paul getting at in verse 5?

ANSWER: In verses 2-3 he points out that they were saved by hearing, and believing, the Gospel; now, in this verse, he points out that everything that God had done in their church was also a result of hearing, and believing the Gospel. Everything, from the moment of their salvation to the arrival of these false teachers, that God had done had been the result of their believing what God was saying. Why would that truth now change?

Walk of Grace Chapel, Council Bluffs Church