- Locate the Passage
3:1-9 is the first preaching unit in Galatians 3.
- Identify the Genre
The macro level is epistolary. The micro level is expository/hortatory.
This passage has a single and highly significant command.
- Determine the Structure of the Passage
The passage begins with Paul’s seemingly rapid-fire interrogation of the Galatian believers (1-6). He makes a series of rhetorical inquiries which may be encapsulated in the following three questions:
-How did you receive the Spirit?
-How do you make progress in your spiritual lives?
-How are you empowered to live for Christ?
The second part/division of the text (7-9) contains the command “know” or “perceive.” Paul wants his readers to understand that those of faith are the sons of Abraham. He supports this assertion by referencing the foresight and testimony of Holy Scripture.
- Exegete the Passage
In verse 1, Paul calls the Galatian believers “foolish” (anoeti) and asks an introductory question: Who has bewitched/cast a spell on (ebaskanen) you? He clearly perceives them as having been brought under a deceptive and dangerous influence. This is especially alarming to Paul because he knows that, through his teaching, Christ was “put on public display” (proegraphe-aorist passive indicative-“placarded”) as having been crucified (estauromenos-perfect participle) before their eyes. Now, they were failing to keep those eyes on Christ crucified. In verse 2, Paul launches a series of more penetrating and specific questions which were designed to induce thoughtful reflection on the part of his readers. The first of these questions concerns how they received the Spirit. Here, Paul contrasts the works of the law with the hearing (akoes) of faith. Of course, they received the Spirit by the hearing of faith. The second key question is found in verse 3 and concerns the matter of how the readers were making progress in their spiritual pilgrimages. In this case, the contrast is between Spirit and flesh. Having begun (enarchamenoi) in the Spirit, they are wrong to think that they are being completed (epiteleisthe) by the flesh. Such a perspective would render the things they had suffered/endured (epathete-aorist) meaningless and empty (verse 4).
Paul’s third key question is found in verses 5-6. It concerns the source of empowerment to live the Christian life. Here, he refers to God as the One supplying (epichoregon-present active participle) the Spirit to believers and working (energon-present active participle) power (dunameis) in them. Paul’s emphasis is that God’s provision is not based on works of the law but, rather, on hearing of faith. In verse 6, Paul appeals to the example of Abraham (Gen. 15:6). Abraham believed God and it was counted (elogisthe-aorist passive-“reckoned”) to him for righteousness.
Verses 7-9 form the second major division of the passage. In verse 7, “know” (ginoskete-present active imperative) may be taken as a command. Paul wants his readers to understand/perceive that the true sons of Abraham are those of faith. Being a son of Abraham is a matter of “faithline” and not bloodline. Marshaling support for his argument, Paul refers to the foresight (proidousa-aorist active participle-“seeing ahead of time”) of Holy Scripture that God would justify the Gentiles by faith. The testimony of Scripture is such that it proclaimed ahead of time (proeunggelisato-aorist) the gospel to Abraham. The specific testimony (Gen. 12:3) was that all the nations would be blessed (eneulogethesontai-future passive) through Abraham. Consequently, in verse 9, Paul notes that those who have faith are being blessed with Abraham, who had faith in the promises of God.
- Let the Structure of the Text Drive the Sermon
- Paul interrogates the Galatians (1-6)
Three key questions: (See 3. Determine the Structure of the Passage)
- Paul issues a command to the Galatians (7-9)
Perceive/Understand: Those of faith are sons of Abraham.
foresight of Scripture
testimony of Scripture
- Paul interrogates the Galatians (1-6)