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Are you now made perfect by the flesh?

To truly understand Galatians, all of these questions Paul asks must be answered.

  1. Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Galatians 3:2
  2. Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Galatians 3:3
  3. Have ye suffered so many things in vain? Galatians 3:4
  4. 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? Galatians 3:5
  5. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10

And there yet another question Paul asks Peter, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?” (Gal. 2:14b).

Why Peter? Simple, he’s a typical representation of us all who’ve since  have since believed.

“But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?” Galatians 2:14

Paul said, “I withstood him [Peter] to the face, because he was to be blamed.” Galatians 2:11

He was the charge; a hypocrite!  He was not being “straightforward about the truth of the gospel” (Gal. 2:14a). The question Paul asks of Peter, as a rebuke of his actions, contains the key to understanding the terms he is contrasting in chapter 3,

  1. The works of the law vs The hearing of faith, and
  2. The Jews vs The Gentiles

He said, “We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law; for by works of the law no flesh shall be justified” Gal 2:15-16

What that means is we already know God but we know very well that we cannot become right with God by obeying our Jewish laws but only by faith in Jesus Christ. Don’t people know concerning tithes and offerings? They pretty much know that we can only be justified by faith in Christ and not works that we do.

He contrasts Jews and Gentiles.

He specifically charges Peter with encouraging the Gentiles to live as Jews.

  • This obviously includes the act of circumcision and even trying to compel Gentiles to be circumcised.
  • demanding that they be brought into bondage of obeying the law of Moses, keep them or at least parts of it.

The hearing of Faith

– what faith?

Paul is specific about it — a faith in Jesus Christ (cf. Eph. 4:5). We are obviously “justified by faith in Christ.”

Abraham basically believed in Jesus.

In the latter part of Galatians 3:8, Paul tells us that “gospel” that it was preached to Abraham beforehand. “In you all the nations shall be blessed” (Gal. 4:8b). Christ was preached to Abraham, even though Abraham likely did not understand the sum total of what he was hearing, he believed the promise which we now know to have its ultimate fulfillment in Christ, cf. Gal. 3:15-18) and that by believing.

So, this is why Abraham was said to be justified by faith. This is why only those who are “of faith” are sons of Abraham. This is why the Scriptures foresaw the Gentiles being justified by faith. It was because they too would have the gospel of Jesus Christ preached to them, as Abraham did, and that by believing the promise of salvation through Jesus Christ, they too would find eternal life.

Therefore, it is “by the hearing of faith” that we find salvation. It is not hearing the words of faith alone that saves us. It is the hearing and doing of the words of faith, just as Abraham did, that saves us (cf. Jas. 2:21-24). “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (v. 17). This is “the hearing of faith.”

It is faith in Christ, independent of the Law of Moses. As Paul proclaimed in Acts 13:38-41, “[38] Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: [39] And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. [40] Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; [41] Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.”

Here are the remaining  questions in chapter 3 of Galatians;

“… no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.” Galatians 3:11

  • Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us… Galatians 3:13
  • that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith, Galatians 3:14

Well then, why were the laws given? Galatians 3:19

It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.

Are God’s laws and God’s promises against each other? Galatians 3:22

Of course not!

But if we could be saved by his laws, then God would not have had to give us a different way to get out of sin. The only way out is through faith in Jesus Christ.

“Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?” Galatians 5:7

It certainly isn’t God who has done it, but one wrong person among you with such great ‘yeast.’ But God will deal with that person, whoever he is, who has been troubling and confusing you (ref Gal 5:10).

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