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1: O thoughtless Galatians - He breaks in upon them
with a beautiful abruptness. Who hath bewitched you - Thus
to contradict both your own reason and experience. Before
whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been as evidently set forth - By
our preaching, as if he had been crucified among you.
2: This only would I learn of you - That is, this one
argument might convince you. Did ye receive the witness
and the fruit of the Spirit by performing the works of the
law, or by hearing of and receiving faith?
3: Are ye so thoughtless - As not to consider what you have yourselves
experienced? Having begun in the Spirit - Having set out under the light
and power of the Spirit by faith, do ye now, when ye ought to be more
spiritual, and more acquainted with the power of faith, expect to be made
perfect by the flesh? Do you think to complete either your justification
or sanctification, by giving up that faith, and depending on the law, which
is a gross and carnal thing when opposed to the gospel?
4: Have ye suffered - Both from the zealous Jews and from the
heathens. So many things - For adhering to the gospel. In vain - So as
to lose all the blessings which ye might have obtained, by enduring to
the end. If it be yet in vain - As if he had said, I hope better things,
even that ye will endure to the end.
5: And, at the present time, Doth he that ministereth
the gift of the Spirit to you, and worketh miracles among you,
do it by the works of the law - That is, in confirmation of his
preaching justification by works, or of his preaching
justification by faith?
6: Doubtless in confirmation of that grand doctrine, that
we are justified by faith, even as Abraham was. The Apostle,
both in this and in the epistle to the Romans, makes great use
of the instance of Abraham: the rather, because from Abraham
the Jews drew their great argument, as they do this day, both
for their own continuance in Judaism, and for denying the
gentiles to be the church of God.(Ge 15:6)
7: Know then that they who are partakers of his
faith, these, and these only, are the sons of Abraham,
and therefore heirs of the promises made to him.
8: And the scripture - That is, the Holy Spirit, who gave
the scripture. Foreseeing that God would justify the gentiles
also by faith, declared before - So great is the excellency and
fulness of the scripture, that all the things which can ever be
controverted are therein both foreseen and determined. In
or through thee - As the father of the Messiah, shall all the
nations be blessed.(Ge 12:3)
9: So then all they, and they only, who are of faith - Who
truly believe. Are blessed with faithful Abraham - Receive the
blessing as he did, namely, by faith.
10: They only receive it. For as many as are of the
works of the law - As God deals with on that footing, only
on the terms the law proposes, are under a curse; for it is
written, Cursed is every one who continueth not in all the
things which are written in the law. Who continueth not
in all the things - So it requires what no man can perform,
namely, perfect, uninterrupted, and perpetual obedience.(De 27:26)
11: But that none is justified by his obedience to
the law in the sight of God - Whatever may be done in the
sight of man, is farther evident from the words of Habakkuk,
The just shall live by faith - That is, the man who is accounted
just or righteous before God, shall continue in a state of
acceptance, life, and salvation, by faith. This is the way God
hath chosen.(Hab 2:4).
12: And the law is not of faith - But quite opposite to
it: it does not say, Believe; but, Do.(Le 18:5)
13: Christ - Christ alone. The abruptness of the
sentence shows an holy indignation at those who reject
so great a blessing. Hath redeemed us - Whether Jews or
gentiles, at an high price. From the curse of the law
- The curse of God, which the law denounces against all
transgressors of it. Being made a curse for us - Taking
the curse upon himself, that we might be delivered from it,
willingly submitting to that death which the law pronounces
peculiarly accursed.(De 21:23).
14: That the blessing of Abraham - The blessing
promised to him. Might come on the gentiles - Also.
That we - Who believe, whether Jews or gentiles. Might
receive the promise of the Spirit - Which includes all the
other promises. Through faith - Not by works; for faith looks
wholly to the promise.
15: I speak after the manner of men - I illustrate this
by a familiar instance, taken from the practice of men.
Though it be but a man's covenant, yet, if it be once legally
confirmed, none - No, not the covenanter himself, unless
something unforeseen occur, which cannot be the case with
God. Disannulleth, or addeth thereto - Any new conditions.
16: Now the promises were made to Abraham and
his seed - Several promises were made to Abraham; but
the chief of all, and which was several times repeated,
was that of the blessing through Christ. He - That is, God.
Saith not, And to seeds, as of many - As if the promise were
made to several kinds of seed. But as of one - That is, one
kind of seed, one posterity, one kind of sons. And to all
these the blessing belonged by promise. Which is Christ
- including all that believe in him.(Ge 22:18).
17: And this I say - What I mean is this. The covenant
which was before confirmed of God - By the promise itself, by
the repetition of it, and by a solemn oath, concerning the
blessing all nations. Through Christ, the law which was four
hundred and thirty years after - Counting from the time when
the promise was first made to Abraham, (Ge 12:2,3).
Doth not disannul, so as to make the promise of no effect - With
regard to all nations, if only the Jewish were to receive it; yea,
with regard to them also, if it was by works, so as to supersede
it, and introduce another way of obtaining the blessing.
18: And again - This is a new argument. The former
was drawn from the time, this from the nature, of the
transaction. If the eternal inheritance be obtained by
keeping the law, it is no more by virtue of the free promise
- These being just opposite to each other. But it is by promise.
Therefore it is not by the law.
19: It - The ceremonial law. Was added - To the promise.
Because of transgressions - Probably, the yoke of the
ceremonial law was inflicted as a punishment for the national
sin of idolatry, (Ex 32:1), at least the more grievous parts
of it; and the whole of it was a prophetic type of Christ. The
moral law was added to the promise to discover and restrain
transgressions, to convince men of their guilt, and need of
the promise, and give some check to sin. And this law
passeth not away; but the ceremonial law was only introduced
till Christ, the seed to or through whom the promise
was made, should come. And it was ordained by angels in the
hand of a mediator - It was not given to Israel, like the
promise to Abraham, immediately from God himself; but was
conveyed by the ministry of angels to Moses, and delivered
into his hand as a mediator between God and them, to remind
them of the great Mediator.
20: Now the mediator is not a mediator of one - There
must be two parties, or there can be no mediator between
them; but God who made the free promise to Abraham is
only one of the parties. The other, Abraham, was not
present at the time of Moses. Therefore in the promise
Moses had nothing to do. The law, wherein he was concerned,
was a transaction of quite another nature.
21: Will it follow from hence that the law is against,
opposite to, the promises of God? By no means. They
are well consistent. But yet the law cannot give life, as the
promise doth. If there had been a law which could have given
life - Which could have entitled a sinner to life, God
would have spared his own Son, and righteousness, or
justification. with all the blessings consequent upon it,
would have been by that law.
22: But, on the contrary, the scripture wherein that
law is written hath concluded all under sin - Hath shut them
up together, (so the word properly signifies,) as in a prison,
under sentence of death, to the end that all being cut off from
expecting justification by the law, the promise might be freely
given to them that believe.
23: But before faith - That is, the gospel dispensation.
Came, we were kept - As in close custody. Under the law - The
Mosaic dispensation. Shut up unto the faith which was to be
revealed - Reserved and prepared for the gospel dispensation.
24: Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster unto Christ
- It was designed to train us up for Christ. And this it did
both by its commands, which showed the need we had of his
atonement; and its ceremonies, which all pointed us to him.
25: But faith - That is, the gospel dispensation.
Being come, we are no longer under that schoolmaster
- The Mosaic dispensation.
26: For ye - Christians. Are all adult sons of God
- And so need a schoolmaster no longer.
27: For as many of you as have testified your faith
by being baptized in the name of Christ, have put on Christ
- Have received him as your righteousness, and are therefore
sons of God through him.
28: There is neither Jew nor Greek - That is, there
is no difference between them; they are equally accepted
through faith. There is neither male nor female - Circumcision
being laid aside, which was peculiar to males, and was
designed to put a difference, during that dispensation,
between Jews and gentiles.
29: If ye are Christ's - That is, believers in him.