1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified?
2 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?
4 Have you suffered so many things in vain — if indeed it was in vain?
5 Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
foolish (v.1) — not naturally stupid, but rather not using the sense they have. A reproach because of where they have allowed themselves to be led. One who does not reflect or use his powers of perception.
bewitched (v.1) — subjected to evil influence by occult practices. Lit. — “the evil eye.” The workings of Satan.
Christ was clearly portrayed (v.1) — by Paul’s preaching
Here, [portrayed] is probably used in a sense, unexampled in the Scriptures but not uncommon in the language of the day, = “proclaimed,” “placarded,” as a magistrate proclaimed the fact that an execution had been carried out, placarding his proclamation in a public place. The apostle carries on his metaphor of the “evil eye”; as a preventative of such mischief it was common to post up charms on the walls of houses, a glance at which was supposed to counteract any evil influence to which a person may have been subjected. “Notwithstanding,” he says in effect, “that the fact that Christ had been crucified was placarded before your very eyes in our preaching, you have allowed yourselves to be “overlooked,” you have been fascinated by the enemies of the Cross of Christ, when you had only to look at Him to escape their malignant influence. — Galatians, by W.E. Vine, page 174.
receive the Spirit (v.2) — new birth, salvation (Ephesians 1:13; Romans 8:9). The Galatians were saved, therefore the following verses pertain to Christians.
works of the law (v.2) — obedience to the law
hearing (v.2) = receiving a message and the message itself
faith (v.2) — (Romans 10:17) — The answer to Paul’s question is “by faith.” (Colossians 2:8-10).
foolish (v.3) — not using your sense to the extent that you haven’t noticed the discrepency.
having begun (v.3) — tense indicates the moment of salvation.
in the Spirit (v.3) — as opposed to “in the flesh”
made perfect (v.3) — completed. A process. Are you perfecting yourselves?
by the flesh (v.3) — by the works of the flesh — rites, ceremonies, obedience to the law
It is preposterous that a process begun in the higher sphere of the Spirit can be completed in the lower sphere of the flesh, that those who received the righteousness of God by faith should seek their own righteousness by works of the law.
suffered so many things (v.4) — Acts 14:1-7
in vain (v.4) — to no purpose, a mistake. They were persecuted by the Jews for their faith. Would they now buckle to the Judaizers?
if indeed it was in vain (v.4) — Paul holds out hope that they will see the truth.
therefore (v.5) — Taking up where verse three leaves off. Verse four is parenthetical.
He who supplies the Spirit (v.5) — God. The tense is continuous.
works miracles (v.5) = powers, supernatural in origin — whether outward miracles were still being performed in Galatia or sign gifts or simply God’s working in believers.
among you (v.5) — within you
does He do it by the works of the law (v.5) — in response to obedience to the law
or by the hearing of faith (v.5) — Again, the answer to Paul’s question is “by faith.”