Monday, February 09, 2015

Galatians 3

Of all the correctives that need to be used upon ourselves, Galatians 3 is the most timely for us, all over the world.  And indeed, Paul is not speaking about a local custom of limited scope here.

In order for something to be a corrective, then we will have had to first be  incorrect at some point.  Paul says "you foolish Galatians!  Who has bewitched you ..." (3:1)?  That's why 3:2 is a rhetorical question.  He's not asking for information, but for them to confess what they all know, that they received the Spirit by the hearing of faith (3:2).  This should be a corrective for them.  And he proceeds in 3:3 from there.  They have "begun by the Spirit."  Then the next rhetorical question is given; again, he is not asking them for information, but telling them what they already know, that they are NOT being perfected by the flesh (3:3).
   What a shock this must be to the congruentialist, who makes no distinction between the results of "the works of the Law" and the results of "the hearing of faith," as if they are interchangeable in their effects!  One does NOT result in the receiving of the Spirit, and one does!  They couldn't be more different in what they result in!  But isn't this some subtle point, about which Christians can and do differ?  No.  They do, but they can't.  Paul attributes it to some inconceivable bewitchment, that they would consider the works of the Law to result in what the hearing of faith resulted in!  Part of the factual proof of their foolishness is that they know the answers to Paul's questions immediately upon hearing them.

Next, Paul takes up the objection that things are like that ("hearing of faith") at the start, but are superseded by works of the Law.  He asks "does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?" (3:5)  This is about ongoing things.  Not only did they receive the Spirit at the beginning, but the Spirit is provided by God on an ongoing basis.  Does God do that, which is ongoing, by the works of the Law?  Or by hearing with faith!  It is also the same with the miracles among them!  In conclusion, he claims not merely that they started with faith, but that they have a permanent state because of it:  "Therefore, know that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham" (3:7). From the origin of it, to the current state of those who originated that way.  That is how you recognize a Christian among other religious people.

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