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Gromacki: “Paul wanted to prove that legalism was no better than paganism. In principle they were identical because both required strict observance of rituals and laws to gain salvation. To the apostle the Judaizers were similar to the pagan religious priests who once supervised the Galatians before their conversion.”

A. (:8) Legalistic Bondage Was their Lifestyle Prior to Conversion

1. Timestamp = Pre-conversion days

“However at that time”

2. No Knowledge of the True God

“when you did not know God”

3. Serving False Gods

“you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods”

B. (:9-10) A Turning Back to a Lifestyle of Legalistic Bondage after Conversion is Shocking

1. Timestamp = after Conversion

“But now”

2. Essence of Salvation

a. From man’s perspective

“that you have come to know God”

b. From God’s perspective

“or rather to be known by God”

Campbell: “This statement refutes the idea that man is the one who reaches out to God, and it emphasizes the fact that God is the One who does the reaching out. God is the One who draws men unto Christ the Redeemer (John 6:44).”

3. Enigma of Reverting back to Legalistic Bondage

“how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again?”

Hogg: “Weak in the sense of powerless to produce results, an epithet elsewhere applied to the law and in the same sense, Rom. 8. 3, Heb. 7. 18… Beggarly in the sense of powerless to enrich. Without spiritual wealth, without an inheritance, present or prospective, without any gift of life or of the Spirit, these religions of childhood, v. 1, and of bondage, were ‘poverty-stricken’ indeed and could give nothing, for they had nothing to give. With this poverty contrast the riches of God…”

4. Examples of Dependence Upon Legalistic Ritual

“You observe days and months and seasons and years.”

Fung: “In this enumeration Paul apparently intends to say that the Galatians had taken over the entire Jewish system of religious observances. In his view this religious observance of sacred days and seasons according to the Jewish calendar–as an obligation imposed by the law, and not simply as a matter of custom–was a form of subservience to the stoicheia which could neither save nor justify its adherents but only cast them into bondage.”

C. (:11) The Perplexity of Apostasy

“I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain.”

Piper: ” It’s not surprising then that the Judaizers should find a foothold for their false teaching in the hearts of the recent Galatian converts, just like all kinds of cults and ego-centric fads are able to gain a foothold in the church today. The teaching of the Judaizers did not oppose the pride left in the Galatian believers. It catered to that pride. They said, move on from faith to works; move on from the booster rocket of the Holy Spirit and kick in with the efforts of your flesh (Gal. 3:1-5). They offered the law as a means of enjoying one’s pride in a morally acceptable way. And so their teaching was not as radical and humbling as Paul’s was. It was very appealing to people who wanted to be religious and moral but did not want to become putty in the hands of God.”



A. (:12-14) Appeal to Love and Affection Based on Their Initial Acceptance of Paul — the Evangelist

“I beg of you, brethren, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You have done me no wrong; but you know that it was because of a bodily illness that I preached the gospel to you the first time; and that which was a trial to you in my bodily condition you did not despise or loathe, but you received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus Himself.”

Fung: “The point of reference is probably freedom from the law.”

B. (:15) Appeal to Love and Affection Based on Their Earlier Willingness to Love Paul Sacrificially (Based on the Spiritual Blessing He Had Communicated in the Discipleship Process)

“Where then is that sense of blessing you had? For I bear you witness, that if possible, you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me.”

C. (:16) Exhortation to Not Stumble Over Paul’s Present Loving Instruction

“Have I therefore become your enemy by telling you the truth?”

MacArthur: “Many people appreciate a preacher or teacher only as long as he says what they want to hear. The confused and defecting believers in Galatia had once greatly admired Paul, but now they looked on him as their enemy, because he confronted them with the truth about the genuine gospel of God, which had saved them, and the false teaching of the Judaizers, which led them back into the bondage of legalism.”


A. (:17-18) Discern the Motives of Those Desiring to Minister to You

1. Beware of the Ulterior Motives of Fanatical False Teachers

“They eagerly seek you, not commendably, but they wish to shut you out, in order that you may seek them.”

Watch out for spiritual leaders that try to make you dependent on their ministry.

Campbell: “The context indicates that with a selfish zeal the Judaizers affectionately courted the friendship of the Galatians.”

2. Appreciate the Commendable Motives of All Godly Disciplers

“But it is good always to be eagerly sought in a commendable manner, and not only when I am present with you.”

Paul was not expressing jealousy at the fact that they would respond to other teachers … he just wanted them to be discerning in their response.

B. (:19-20) Respond to the Pastoral Care Offered By Those Who Genuinely Love You

1. (:19) Paul Renews His Commitment to Lovingly Disciple Them

“My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you –“

What a tremendous description of the goal of all discipleship!

2. (:20) Paul Reiterates His Pastoral Care to Keep Them On Track

a. This Pastoral Care may well involve the need for discipline — at least it will involve saying some hard things to them in a confrontational tone

“but I could wish to be present with you now and to change my tone”

b. This Pastoral Care includes an Element of Perplexity

“for I am perplexed about you”