(Gal 3:1 NASB) You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?
Gal 3:1: Paul was relating this rebuke of Peter with the situation the Galatians were facing. The question is, “What problem were they having?” We were told later in Galatians 5 that they were being told that if they get circumcised, obey Jewish Law, and convert to Judaism, then they were held sinless.
Paul said the Galatians were being “bewitched.” This certainly does not mean they merely wanted to follow Yahweh’s Torah, as many churches teach.
They were being led to believe that if they became Jews, they would then be made perfect. Verse 3 describes this very plainly.
The enormity of the conflict between Paul and the Jews in the area of Galatia must be highlighted. First of all, the area of Galatia, by many Bible maps, is greatly understated. As a matter of fact, the area shown as “Galatia” on most Bible maps does not show a city or an area where Paul actually visitied on his journeys. But the area is actually much greater:
“This large province was divided into regions for administrative purposes; and the regions coincided roughly with the old national divisions Pisidia, Phrygia (including Antioch, Iconium, Apollonia), Lycaonia (including Derbe, Lystra and a district organized on the village-system), etc. See Calder in Journal of Roman Studies, 1912. This province was called by the Romans Galatia, as being the kingdom of Amyntas.
Paul was in the City of Iconium (which we now know is in Galatia) where the unbelieving Jews were stirring up strife against him and others who had faithfulness in Messiah (Acts. 14:1-3). We see also that they were performing miracles there in order to verify their message (Gal. 3:5). The unbelieving Jews in that area caused great strife and division among the people so much that they tried to stone Paul and those with him (Acts 14:4-7). Then later after performing miracles and healing in the area, Paul was grabbed by the Jews who incited the crowd against him and stoned him (Acts 14:19-22).
How did the Galatians, who stoned Paul and even dragged him out of the City, not know he was dead? We are told historically that the inhabitants of the Galatian region were illiterate:
“In fact, we do not know what the Galatians called themselves or their tribes because they were illiterate. Roman authors Latinized all names.”
With this as our background of the conflicts Paul had with the Jews who hated him in Galatia, we can better understand his animosity toward the Jews who hated him and hated his message of Messiah. Paul was dealing with an illiterate people who kept trying to go back to paganism (Acts 14:12-15). That is why Paul warned the Galatians not to return to their pagan ways (Gal. 4:8-11).
The Galatians were illiterate and easily swayed by the rabid unbelieving Jews to reject Messiah and follow their instructions instead of following Messiah in faithfulness through the Spirit of the Father.
(Gal 3:2 NASB) This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?
Gal 3:2: Paul is saying that they received the Spirit of Elohim which gave them faithfulness. They will not receive the Spirit of Elohim by becoming a Jew.
Throughout this writing, and especially this chapter, Paul is contrasting the conversion to Judaism for salvation through Yeshua Messiah which gives the Spirit which gives the bearer faithfulness to the ways of Elohim.
(Gal 3:3 NASB) Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
Gal 3:3: They were listening to the Judaizers who claimed that they must become Jewish proselytes in order to be saved (“are you now being perfected by the flesh?”). They claimed that if one becomes a Jew, then they are declared righteous. This conflict is the main theme of the letter to the Galatians. “Do people need to become Jewish proselytes and follow Jewish Talmudic laws in order to be saved?” Paul is addressing those attacks in this letter.
The confusion that churches cause with this letter stems from their desire to remove the Instructions (Torah) of Elohim from their lives. Paul is not removing Torah from the lives of the people, he is desiring them to follow Torah completely through the Spirit which grants them faithfulness and to dump the traditions of pagans and the traditions of Jews.
(Gal 3:4 NASB) Did you suffer so many things in vain– if indeed it was in vain?
(Gal 3:5 NASB) Does He then, who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?
Gal 3:5: Those that were faithful to the Father probably suffered similar persecutions that Paul suffered. As we are told in Acts 14, the people had miracles worked among them.
These miracles were done out of faithfulness before the Judaizers arrived and declared that the people must become Jews before they are saved. It was hearing with faithfulness that saved them, not the works of becoming a Jew or the works of following Torah.
In his writings, Paul is often forced to deal with the lowest common denominator because of the lack of knowledge of the Gentiles toward Scripture. Especially in dealing with an illiterate people like the Galatians. That lowest common denominator is salvation through faithfulness in Yeshua. Paul focuses on this while also teaching them Torah, which tells them how to live a righteous life.
(Gal 3:6 NASB) Even so Abraham BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.
Gal 3:6: Abraham was also saved by his faithfulness (Gen 15:5-6). Does that mean that Abraham now does not need to obey the Instructions of Elohim?
Ee see that the faithfulness of Abraham brought with it obedience to the laws, commandments, statutes and ordinances of Elohim (Gen. 26:4-6).
(Gal 3:7 NASB) Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham.
Gal 3:7: This is not a new concept. Yeshua said that same thing a couple decades earlier (John 8:39-44). A descendancy through blood is meaningless without faith in Yeshua.
Paul is telling them that joining up to this descendency through Judaism (which declares one righteous by default) is wrong also.
(Gal 3:8 NASB) And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “ALL THE NATIONS SHALL BE BLESSED IN YOU.”
Gal 3:8: Paul is referring back to the passage he quoted earlier. The blessings through all nations is the blessing of being Abraham’s son through faithfulness in Yeshua. Paul said Scripture spoke of the Gospel when it says “All nations will be blessed in you (Abraham).” Scripture is speaking of the Kingdom of Heaven.
(Gal 3:9 NASB) So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.
Gal 3:9: Faithfulness saves us. Elohim plants faithfulness in our hearts that makes us righteous in His eyes. It is all Elohim and nothing of our own works.
(Gal 3:10 NASB) For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM.”
Gal 3:10: Paul went into a short interlude on Abraham. But previous to that, he was contrasting being saved by faithfulness in Yeshua through the Spirit of the Father in their hearts with being saved through conversion to Judaism (Gal. 3:3-5). There he called “works of the Law” through Judaism, “works of the flesh.”
The Jews were claiming salvation through the bloodline of Abraham and by being obedient to Jewish Law (salvation by works). But if one counts their obedience as their salvation, they are cursed by not following them. That is not the salvation provided through Yeshua (Deut. 27:26).
Paul is not saying not to follow Torah. He is saying that the works of the flesh on ones own effort will not bring “salvation” (or justification, see next verse).
(Gal 3:11 NASB) Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”
Gal 3:11: Paul is saying that salvation never DID come through fleshly works of the law, even in the days before Yeshua.
Paul quotes Habakkuk here (Hab. 2:4). Paul contrasts the proud one in Habakkuk (one who thinks he is justified by his obedience to the Law) to the righteous man who shall live by faithfulness.
(Gal 3:12 NASB) However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, “HE WHO PRACTICES THEM SHALL LIVE BY THEM.”
Gal 3:12: This is a quote from Lev. 18:5. Practicing Torah is different from faithfulness. Paul is showing that there is no salvation in Torah for those who are proud and rely on their bloodline or their works of the flesh for perfection. If their perfection is not attained (which it is not), man is cursed according to Torah.
(Gal 3:13 NASB) Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us– for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE”–
Gal 3:13: Torah only brings curses on those who are not perfect.
Torah states that a man deserving of death will have his body hung on a tree as an illustration of the evil and it’s consequences (Deut. 21:22-23).
Messiah was given a death He did not deserve. Messiah became for us a curse in the vilest of ways, by hanging on a tree until dead. He did that for our redemption in order that the Spirit of the Father may dwell in those whom He has chosen. Yeshua took upon Himself the curses of Torah because we are imperfect and unable to do so. It is the faithfulness we receive from the Spirit of the Father through the death of Messiah that saves us.
(Gal 3:14 NASB) in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
Gal 3:14: This is the blessing of many nations that came through Abraham. We receive the promise of the Spirit through faith, just as he did.
(Gal 3:15 NASB) Brethren, I speak in terms of human relations: even though it is only a man’s covenant, yet when it has been ratified, no one sets it aside or adds conditions to it.
Gal 3:15: Pauls is saying, “In the case of a man’s agreement, when it has been ratified, it does not change afterward. Much moreso, this applies to a covenant made by Elohim!!”
(Gal 3:16 NASB) Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ.
Gal 3:16: Paul’s argument here comes from Gen. 22:17-18. Abraham’s Seed spoken of here is specifically Yeshua Messiah.
(Gal 3:17 NASB) What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise.
Gal 3:17: The covenant to Abraham was made more 430 years before Torah was given to the people as a Covenant at Mt. Sinai. Torah did not save anyone after this promise to Abraham, nor after the time of Yeshua.
The Galatians were listening to the Judaizers who told them they must be circumcised in order to be saved. This came from a command to Abraham (Gen. 17:10-12). Circumcision was part of the ritual of becoming a Jew (and it still is..). But becoming a Jew does nothing for us. If circumcision is done, it must be done out of love and obedience to the Torah of Elohim. It cannot be done to make yourself righteous.
Abraham followed the Father’s command of circumcision AFTER he was declared righteous by faithfulness, not before. Paul’s illustration is excellent!
(Gal 3:18 NASB) For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise.
Gal 3:18: We are not part of Abraham’s family through circumcision or any law. The circumcision was to come “after” one is brought into the family of Elohim, just as it did through Abraham. Notice that Paul says that land is “the inheritance.”
Elohim promised blessings to Abraham and made a covenant with him. Notice that the covenant to Abraham was the giving of the land of Israel (Gen. 15:7-21). Elohim made the covenant with Abraham and his descendants, but Abraham did not do anything for his part. Elohim caused a deep sleep to overtake him. Elohim alone made the covenant with Abraham. Abraham had nothing at stake and nothing to offer, so nothing was asked of Him. If the covenant was broken, then the curses were to be born upon Him who made the covenant, Elohim Himself. That is what we have in Yeshau Messiah. Elohim paid the price of the broken Covenant for us by dying and paying that price.
(Gal 3:19 NASB) Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed should come to whom the promise had been made.
Gal 3:19: Torah was to show man his transgressions and to restrain them. The promise was made to all believers that the seed of Abraham would come and save them. Torah was mediated through Moses and angels (messengers, which could be a reference to other writers of Scripture).
Gal 3:21: Torah does not go against any promises of Elohim, despite the teachings of the churches. Through the promises of Elohim came salvation. Through Torah came Elohim’s standard of righteousness.
(Gal 3:22 NASB) But the Scripture has shut up all men under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
(Gal 3:23 NASB) But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed.
Gal 3:23: We were kept in custody for faithfulness by Torah. Torah pointed to the salvation we would later have under Yeshua Messiah.
(Gal 3:24 NASB) Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith.
(Gal 3:25 NASB) But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
Gal 3:25: The law’s (Torah’s) purpose was to communicate Elohim’s standard of righteousness. Torah was a “tutor” (paidagogos, Gk. which means “babysitter”), Torah was a babysitter intended to lead us to Messiah. Now that His people are a part of the New Covenant and have His Spirit within them to teach them His Torah, they no longer need this “babysitter” This is plainly stated in the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34).
(Gal 3:26 NASB) For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
(Gal 3:27 NASB) For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
Gal 3:27: When we are “baptized into Messiah” (or are associated with Him through the Holy Spirit) we have put on Messiah. He is our salvation.
The term “baptized” here is referring to the baptism of the Holy Spirit which writes His Torah on our hearts and minds. This is the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34, Ezek. 11:19-21, 36:25-27). Our redemption comes from being associated with Yeshua Messiah. It does not come from being associated with the Jewish religion.
(Gal 3:28 NASB) There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
(Gal 3:29 NASB) And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
Gal 3:29: Through faithfulness in Messiah, we are actually Abraham’s seed and his heirs according to the promise Elohim made with him. Abraham’s seed is Israel. We are a part of true Israel through Messiah.
This follows the promise made through the prophet Hosea (Hosea 1:10-11).
Paul’s intent here for the people in Galatia is to show them that they should not become Jews according to Talmudic Law. They do not need to go through ritual circumcision, do the sacrifices, and undergo the Pharasaic instruction in order to be sons of Abraham. The false Judaizing teachers were trying to convince the Galatians that they must be sons of Abraham in their manner in order to be a servant of Elohim. Paul uses Torah to demonstrate that they are sons of Abraham by faithfulness, not by the Talmudic works of becoming a Jew.
Patrick McGuireCopyright 2014 Patrick McGuire and Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly All rights reserved, no portion of this Lesson may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations in articles and reviews. Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly Fort Smith, Arkansas