Galatians 3:2
I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law, or by hearing with faith?
A Lesson for the ChurchGalatians 3:2
Directions for HearingBishop Beveridge.Galatians 3:2
Faith and WorksC. H. Spurgeon.Galatians 3:2
The Hearing of FaithBishop Beveridge.Galatians 3:2
The Mode of SalvationC. H. Spurgeon.Galatians 3:2
The Venture of FaithC. H. Spurgeon.Galatians 3:2
Appeal to Experience and ScriptureR. Finlayson Galatians 3:1-14
The Bewitchery of LawR.M. Edgar Galatians 3:1-14
Going BackW.F. Adeney Galatians 3:2-5

In expostulating with the Galatians for forsaking grace for Law, St. Paul appeals to their own experience. He is not expounding the gospel for the first time to strangers; he is arguing with Christians who know its power. His argument applies to all who turn aside from the early life of faith and grace to any supposed improvement of human discipline. Their own experience uses up in condemnation of them. Three proofs of the foolishness of such a course are here given.

I. THIS COURSE REVERSES THE NATURAL ORDER OF PROGRESS. It is absurd to think of being perfected in the flesh after having begun in the Spirit. These two, the flesh and the Spirit, correspond in our experience to the two methods - by Law and by grace through faith. It is the weakness of Law that it is external, and governs only external acts, that it directs the flesh, the outer life, but infuses no inward spiritual life. Grace does not concern itself directly with such outward acts. It is a spiritual inspiration, and faith is a spiritual act. Now, the natural progress is from the outward to the inward. We see this in our personal experience. Children first learn to obey direct commands, and gradually learn principles of right conduct, until conscience takes the place of external authority. With the race the same progress holds good. Earlier forms of religion are more external. The latest is the most spiritual. To turn away from the spiritual is not merely to go back; it is to revert to a more improper method. Spiritual religion is the highest religion. Nothing can exceed the power of faith and love and inward grace. If these influences are slow in ripening the perfect character, it is absurd to think of hastening the result by reverting to weaker influences of Law and formal rules,

II. THIS COURSE STULTIFIES THE PAST ENDURANCE OF PERSECUTION. (Ver. 4.) St. Paul's allusion implies that the Galatians had been persecuted - as we know other Churches had been - at the instigation of the Jews. If the Jewish Law were the highest method of righteousness, persecution provoked by slighting or opposing it must have been endured for nothing. This was an argumentum ad hominem. We have to make sacrifices in other ways if we are faithful to spiritual religion. We are also appealed to by the memories of our fathers, who testified to spiritual liberty at the rack and the stake. When we play with the broken chains which they cast off, and even forge them afresh by submitting to the revival of old formalities and superstitions, the spirits of those martyred heroes of Protestantism rise up to rebuke us. Or does the most noble page of England's history describe only a huge, quixotic delusion?

III. THIS COURSE CONTRADICTS THE EVIDENCE AFFORDED BY THE POWER THAT FLOWS FROM SPIRITUAL GRACE. (Ver. 5.) St. Paul and other men endued with the Spirit wrought miracles. The most rigid follower of the Law could not do so. But more than power over material things grew out of the grace of the Spirit. The conquests of the gospel flowed from faith and spiritual gifts. The men of formal devotion never turned the world upside down. There is no fire in Law, The new creation of the world only follows spiritual activity. It is the work of the men of faith. "By their fruits ye shall know them." Whatever fascination there may be in religions of strict rules and rigid ordinances, we find that it is the free spiritual energy of unfettered souls that moves the hearts of others. This religion of faith and grace which possesses the most Divine power must be for us the highest and best. - W.F.A.

Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

1. A historical (James 2:19).

2. Dogmatical (Acts 8:13, 23; Luke 4:41).

3. A temporary (Luke 8:13; John 5:35).

4. A faith of miracles (Luke 17:6; 1 Corinthians 13:2).

5. A saving faith (Romans 10:10; Acts 16:31; 1 Peter 2:6).

II. WHAT IS MEANT BY HEARING? Hearing the Word of God —

1. Read.

2. Expounded.

3. Preached.

III. HOW IS FAITH WROUGHT BY THE WORD? Not as a principal, but as an instrumental cause. Thus —

1. The minister commissioned by God speaks it to the ears sometimes of God's mercy to man, sometimes of man's duty to God (2 Timothy 4:2).

2. The ears of the hearer take in what is spoken, and convey it to the understanding. But that cannot receive it (1 Corinthians 2:14): therefore —

3. The Spirit goes along with the "Word, and enables the understanding to receive it.

4. And also inclines the will to embrace it (Philippians 2:13; Romans 7:15; Hebrews 4:12).

(Bishop Beveridge.)


1. Consider what thou art going about.

2. Set all worldly thoughts aside (Nehemiah 13:19, 20) and sins (James 1:21).

3. If thou would have God pour forth His blessing, do thou pour forth thy spirit to Him in prayer (Psalm 10:17; Psalm 65:2).

(1)For the minister (Romans 15:30).

(2)For your. selves, that God would put in with the Word (Isaiah 8:11).

4. Come with an appetite.

5. With large expectations.

6. With strong resolutions to practise.


1. Reverently.

2. Diligently, with hearts as well as ears.

3. Meekly (James 1:21).

4. With faith (Hebrews 4:2).

5. Apply it to thyself (Job 5:27).

6. Renew your resolutions, lifting up your heart in prayer.


1. Meditate (1 Timothy 4:15).

2. Confer with others.

3. Square thyself according to it, that thy life may be the commentary (James 1:22; Matthew 7:24, 25).

(Bishop Beveridge.)

The helmsman may work the wheel with the greatest dexterity and earnestness, but unless he hears and obeys the captain's signal, his work will be worthless, and the ship must go out of its course. The builder may accumulate the best materials, and may put them together with industry and skill; but what if he be so busy as to have no time to listen to the architect's instructions? His labour will be lost, and lost in proportion to his very carefulness: and the house he builds will be thrown upon his hands as not according to the plan, and may possibly be his ruin. A child to whom a father has promised a gift may earn what he deems an equivalent, and may offer it as a filial recompense; but that is not the way to secure it, and will probably lead to disappointment. And so men may work in what moral manner they like, and in what moral direction they like, but they will only labour in vain and go astray unless they hear God's voice, and obey His directions respecting the Divine gift of the Spirit. "If ye being evil know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask for Him?" The Holy Spirit comes through the believing hearing of that message. Works will only obstruct, but faith will open an entrance for the Spirit. And we have learned this as individuals, but we have yet to learn it as Churches. How many revivals are manufactured, yet how few Churches are revived, but on the contrary made more impotent by the manufacture. The patching of organizations, the utilization of special agencies may be hindrances rather than helps. The Spirit alone quickeneth a dead Church, and He is to be had not by special services as such, but by the hearing of faith. "Not by might nor by power," etc. "I will pour My blessing on thy seed, and My spirit on thy offspring." Hear this, ye Churches, and your souls shall live.

A great delusion is upon the heart of man as to his salvation. His ways are perverse. He does not love the law of God; nay, his mind is opposed to it, and yet he sets up to be its advocate. When he understands the spirituality and severity of the law, he reckons it to be a sore burden; and yet, when the gospel is preached, and set forth as the gift of sovereign grace, and he is bidden to accept it by an act of faith, he professes great concern about the law, lest it should be made void by the freeness of grace. He takes the broken pieces of the two tables of the law, and hurls them at the cross. He will resort to any pretence to oppose the way of salvation appointed by God. The reason is, that man is not only poor, but proud; not only guilty, but conceited. He will not humble himself to be saved upon terms of Divine charity. Rather than believe God, he will accept the proud falsehoods of his own heart, which delude him into the flattering hope that he may merit eternal life. Against this error the text opposes itself. St. Paul points out to the Galatians that they were bound to admit, each one for himself, that they received the Holy Spirit by faith, and by no other means.


1. See the testimony to this in the early history of the Church (Acts 1.- 8.).

2. In your own experience.




(d)Communion with God.

(e)Assurance. These are all received by "the hearing of faith." They cannot be obtained in any other way but that.

II. AN ARGUMENT DERIVED FROM OBSERVATION FOR THE USE OF SEEKERS. Honesty, generosity, righteousness — these have not justified, cannot justify. Why not abandon this vain method, and try the Lord's appointed way "the hearing of faith"?

1. Personal hearing. Each for himself.

2. Hearing of the gospel. The faith that saves does not come by just hearing whatever comes first; it only comes by hearing the testimony of the Spirit to the appointed Saviour.

3. Attentive hearing.

4. The hearing of faith. Accepting the gospel as God's message, and depending upon it fully and wholly.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

When a man is in trouble of spirit, faith is a venture to him; it appears to him to be the greatest venture possible. He that saith, "This gospel which I have heard is true, and I will venture my soul upon the truth of it," is the man who has given to the gospel "the hearing of faith." Let me try to set forth faith yet again: This bridge is strong enough to carry me over the stream, therefore I am going over the stream upon it. That is real faith. Faith is a most practical principle in daily life. The most of trade hangs on trust. When a man sows wheat he has to scatter it into the furrows and lose it, and he does so because he has faith that God will send a harvest. When the sailor loses sight of the shore, he has to sail by faith; believing in his compass, he feels safe, though he may not see land for weeks. Faith is the hand which receives what God presents to us, and hence it is a simple, childlike thing. When a child has an apple offered him, he may know nothing about the orchard in which the apple grew, and nothing of the mechanism of his hand and arm, but it is quite enough for him to take the apple. Faith does the most effectual thing when it takes what God gives. All the rest may or may not be. Faith is the main thing. When God holds out to me salvation by Christ Jesus, I need not ask anything further about it, but just take it to myself and be at once saved, for by faith the Spirit of God is received.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I heard a grumbler say, "We do not want this doctrine. What we want is more morality and honesty." You remind me of a poor little child. His father planted bulbs to come up in the spring, and make the garden gay with golden flowers. But the boy said, "We don't want bulbs; we want crocus cups and daffodils." The child forgot that flowers never grow without roots. Flowers stuck into the ground without roots are babes, follies, and good works without faith are childish vanities. We preach faith in order that good works may follow, and they do follow.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Galatians, Paul
Believed, Believing, Faith, Ground, Hearing, Law, Learn, Obedience, Observing, Principle, Question, Receive, Received, Report, Spirit, Wish, Works
1. He asks what moved them to leave the faith, and hold onto the law.
6. Those who believe are justified,
9. and blessed with Abraham.
10. And this he shows by many reasons.
15. The purpose of the Law
26. You are sons of God

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Galatians 3:2

     3230   Holy Spirit, and regeneration
     3236   Holy Spirit, and Scripture
     5159   hearing
     8022   faith, basis of salvation
     8410   decision-making, examples

Galatians 3:1-3

     8707   apostasy, personal

Galatians 3:1-5

     5381   law, letter and spirit
     8822   self-justification

Galatians 3:2-3

     6677   justification, necessity

Galatians 3:2-5

     3242   Holy Spirit, baptism with
     7525   exclusiveness

Galatians 3:2-9

     6678   justification, Christ's work
     8020   faith

Galatians 3:2-14

     5110   Paul, teaching of

July 8. "Having Begun in the Spirit, are Ye Now Made Perfect by the Flesh" (Gal. Iii. 3).
"Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh" (Gal. iii. 3). Grace literally means that which we do not have to earn. It has two great senses always; it comes for nothing and it comes when we are helpless; it doesn't merely help the man that helps himself--that is not the Gospel; the Gospel is that God helps the man who can't help himself. And then there is another thing; God helps the man to help himself, for everything the man does comes from God. Grace is given to the man
Rev. A. B. Simpson—Days of Heaven Upon Earth

Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity God's Testament and Promise in Christ.
Text: Galatians 3, 15-22. 15 Brethren, I speak after the manner of men: Though it be but a man's covenant, yet when it hath been confirmed, no one maketh it void, or addeth thereto. 16 Now to Abraham were the promises spoken, and to his seed. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. 17 Now this I say: A covenant confirmed beforehand by God, the law, which came four hundred and thirty years after, doth not disannul, so as to make the promise of none
Martin Luther—Epistle Sermons, Vol. III

The Universal Prison
'But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.'--GAL. iii. 22. The Apostle uses here a striking and solemn figure, which is much veiled for the English reader by the ambiguity attaching to the word 'concluded.' It literally means 'shut up,' and is to be taken in its literal sense of confining, and not in its secondary sense of inferring. So, then, we are to conceive of a vast prison-house in which mankind is confined.
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Lessons of Experience
'Have ye suffered so many things in vain?'--GAL. iii 4. Preached on the last Sunday of the year. This vehement question is usually taken to be a reminder to the fickle Galatians that their Christian faith had brought upon them much suffering from the hands of their unbelieving brethren, and to imply an exhortation to faithfulness to the Gospel lest they should stultify their past brave endurance. Yielding to the Judaising teachers, and thereby escaping the 'offence of the Cross,' they would make
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Uses of the Law
Yet, pardon me my friends, if I just observe that this is a very natural question, too. If you read the doctrine of the apostle Paul you find him declaring that the law condemns all mankind. Now, just let us for one single moment take a bird's eye view of the works of the law in this world. Lo, I see, the law given upon Mount Sinai. The very hill doth quake with fear. Lightnings and thunders are the attendants of those dreadful syllables which make the hearts of Israel to melt Sinai seemeth altogether
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 3: 1857

A Call to the Unconverted
But my hearer, I am solemnly convinced that a large proportion of this assembly dare not say so; and thou to-night (for I am speaking personally to thee), remember that thou art one of those who dare not say this, for thou art a stranger to the grace of God. Thou durst not lie before God, and thine own conscience, therefore thou dost honestly say, "I know I was never regenerated; I am now what I always was, and that is the most I can say." Now, with you I have to deal, and I charge you by him who
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 4: 1858

The Work of the Holy Spirit
This evening, however, I shall run away from my text somewhat. Having just in a few words endeavored to explain the meaning of the whole sentence, I intend only this evening to dwell upon the doctrine which incidentally the apostle teaches us. He teaches us that we begin in the Spirit--"Having begun in the Spirit" I have already illustrated the whole text sufficiently for our understanding if God the Holy Spirit shall enlighten us; and I shall now, I say, confine myself to the thought that Christians
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 4: 1858

The Curse Removed
"Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us; for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree."--Galatians 3:13 THE law of God is a divine law, holy, heavenly, perfect. Those who find fault with the law, or in the least degree depreciate it, do not understand its design, and have no right idea of the law itself. Paul says, "the law is holy, but I am carnal; sold under sin." In all we ever say concerning justification by faith, we never intend to lower
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 57: 1911

Ephesians ii. 8
For by Grace, are you saved, through Faith; and that not of your selves: it is the Gift of God. I Now come to the Second part of that Design, which I have, for some Time, had in View; viz. to examine particularly the principal of those false Pretences, and mistaken Notions, concerning the Terms of our Acceptance with God, by which Men support themselves in their Continuance in their beloved Vices; and endeavour to elude the Force, and arm themselves against the Power, of those plain Texts of Scripture,
Benjamin Hoadly—Several Discourses Concerning the Terms of Acceptance with God

The Critical Reconstruction of the History of the Apostolic Age.
"Die Botschaft hör' ich wohl, allein mir fehlt der Glaube." (Goethe.) Never before in the history of the church has the origin of Christianity, with its original documents, been so thoroughly examined from standpoints entirely opposite as in the present generation. It has engaged the time and energy of many of the ablest scholars and critics. Such is the importance and the power of that little book which "contains the wisdom of the whole world," that it demands ever new investigation and sets
Philip Schaff—History of the Christian Church, Volume I

Light for them that Sit in Darkness;
OR, A DISCOURSE OF JESUS CHRIST: AND THAT HE UNDERTOOK TO ACCOMPLISH BY HIMSELF THE ETERNAL REDEMPTION OF SINNERS: ALSO, HOW THE LORD JESUS ADDRESSED HIMSELF TO THIS WORK; WITH UNDENIABLE DEMONSTRATIONS THAT HE PERFORMED THE SAME. OBJECTIONS TO THE CONTRARY ANSWERED. 'Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.'--Galatians 3:13. by John Bunyan--1674 ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR. This solemn and searching treatise was first published in 1674, a copy of which is in
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3

A Case of Conscience Resolved
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3

The Substance of Some Discourse had Between the Clerk of the Peace and Myself; when He came to Admonish Me, According to the Tenor of that Law, by which I was in Prison.
When I had lain in prison other twelve weeks, and now not knowing what they intended to do with me, upon the third of April 1661, comes Mr Cobb unto me (as he told me), being sent by the justices to admonish me; and demand of me submittance to the church of England, etc. The extent of our discourse was as followeth. Cobb. When he was come into the house he sent for me out of my chamber; who, when I was come unto him, he said, Neighbour Bunyan, how do you do? Bun. I thank you, Sir, said I, very
John Bunyan—Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners

The Promises of the Christian Home.
"The promise is unto you, and to your children." ACTS II., 39. "Parent who plantedst in the joy of love, Yet hast not gather'd fruit,--save rankling thorns, Or Sodom's bitter apples,--hast thou read Heaven's promise to the seeker? Thou may'st bring Those o'er whose cradle thou didst watch with pride, And lay them at thy Savior's feet, for lo! His shadow falling on the wayward soul, May give it holy health. And when thou kneel'st Low at the pavement of sweet Mercy's gate, Beseeching for thine erring
Samuel Philips—The Christian Home

Retiring Before the Sanhedrin's Decree.
(Jerusalem and Ephraim in Judæa.) ^D John XI. 47-54. ^d 47 The chief priests therefore and the Pharisees gathered a council [called a meeting of the Sanhedrin], and said, What do we? [Thus they reproach one another for having done nothing in a present and urgent crisis. As two of their number (Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathæa) were afterwards in communications with Christians, it was easy for the disciples to find out what occurred on this notable occasion.] for this man doeth many signs.
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

The Ordinance of Covenanting
John Cunningham—The Ordinance of Covenanting

Letter iv. You Reply to the Conclusion of My Letter: "What have we to do with Routiniers?...
My dear friend, You reply to the conclusion of my Letter: "What have we to do with routiniers? Quid mihi cum homunculis putata putide reputantibus? Let nothings count for nothing, and the dead bury the dead! Who but such ever understood the tenet in this sense?" In what sense then, I rejoin, do others understand it? If, with exception of the passages already excepted, namely, the recorded words of God--concerning which no Christian can have doubt or scruple,--the tenet in this sense be inapplicable
Samuel Taylor Coleridge—Confessions of an Inquiring Spirit etc

Here Therefore These Men Too Evil, While they Essay to Make Void the Law...
9. Here therefore these men too evil, while they essay to make void the Law, force us to approve these Scriptures. For they mark what is said, that they who are under the Law are in bondage, and they keep flying above the rest that last saying, "Ye are made empty [1715] of Christ, as many of you as are justified in the Law; ye have fallen from Grace." [1716] We grant that all these things are true, and we say that the Law is not necessary, save for them unto whom bondage is yet profitable: and that
St. Augustine—On the Profit of Believing.

The Right Understanding of the Law
Thou shalt have no other Gods before me.' Exod 20: 3. Before I come to the commandments, I shall answer questions, and lay down rules respecting the moral law. What is the difference between the moral laud and the gospel? (1) The law requires that we worship God as our Creator; the gospel, that we worship him in and through Christ. God in Christ is propitious; out of him we may see God's power, justice, and holiness: in him we see his mercy displayed. (2) The moral law requires obedience, but gives
Thomas Watson—The Ten Commandments

The Wrath of God
What does every sin deserve? God's wrath and curse, both in this life, and in that which is to come. Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire.' Matt 25: 41. Man having sinned, is like a favourite turned out of the king's favour, and deserves the wrath and curse of God. He deserves God's curse. Gal 3: 10. As when Christ cursed the fig-tree, it withered; so, when God curses any, he withers in his soul. Matt 21: 19. God's curse blasts wherever it comes. He deserves also God's wrath, which is
Thomas Watson—The Ten Commandments

The Gospel Message, Good Tidings
[As it is written] How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the Gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! T he account which the Apostle Paul gives of his first reception among the Galatians (Galatians 4:15) , exemplifies the truth of this passage. He found them in a state of ignorance and misery; alienated from God, and enslaved to the blind and comfortless superstitions of idolatry. His preaching, accompanied with the power of the Holy Spirit, had a great and marvellous effect.
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 2

The Impotence of the Law.
HEBREWS vii. 19.--"For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh to God." It is the aim of the Epistle to the Hebrews, to teach the insufficiency of the Jewish Dispensation to save the human race from the wrath of God and the power of sin, and the all-sufficiency of the Gospel Dispensation to do this. Hence, the writer of this Epistle endeavors with special effort to make the Hebrews feel the weakness of their old and much esteemed religion,
William G.T. Shedd—Sermons to the Natural Man

Justification by Faith --Illustrated by Abram's Righteousness
Referring to the chapter before us for a preface to our subject, note that after Abram's calling his faith proved to be of the most practical kind. Being called to separate himself from his kindred and from his country, he did not therefore become a recluse, a man of ascetic habits, or a sentimentalist, unfit for the battles of ordinary life--no; but in the noblest style of true manliness he showed himself able to endure the household trouble and the public trial which awaited him. Lot's herdsmen
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 14: 1868

Adoption --The Spirit and the Cry
The divinity of each of these sacred persons is also to be gathered from the text and its connection. We do not doubt tee the loving union of all in the work of deliverance. We reverence the Father, without whom we had not been chosen or adopted: the Father who hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. We love and reverence the Son by whose most precious blood we have been redeemed, and with whom we are one in a mystic and everlasting union: and
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 24: 1878

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