1 “You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? 2 This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?”6 Just as Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness. 7 Therefore, recognize that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. 8 The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘All the nations will be blessed in you.’ 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.”
Paul reminds the Galatian church that salvation by faith has always been God’s focus. He references Abraham to express this reality. God made the promise of faith to Abraham before the law came into existence. The law, therefore, did not replace God’s promise to save all people who believe in Jesus.
Foolish Galatians: Paul is using strong language because of the dire situation being faced amongst the Galatians believers. Galatians are mixing law and Gospel, divine promise, and law. And this is truly a foolish endeavor because the law and the promise are incompatible.
Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law?: Paul makes it clear that the Spirit came to live inside of the Galatian believers when they believed, not because they kept the law. They weren’t rewarded with the Spirit because of their performance of spiritual rules and regulations. They were given the Spirit at faith in Jesus.
Perfected by the flesh: Just as Christians were given the Spirit at faith, so do we also grow through faith apart from law. Christians are to continue living a life of faith in Jesus even post-salvation. Christians are to mature into their new identity, not by keeping the Old Covenant law or following spiritual rules or regulations, but by faith in the indwelling Holy Spirit. The flesh calls us to perfect ourselves through performance, but faith calls us to rest in the finished work of Christ.
Provides you with the Spirit: God gifts Himself to His children by grace through faith. We possess God himself because of faith, not performance-based law. And the good news is we have all of God. We cannot get more of Him or become closer to Him.