Summary: Expound the work of the Holy Spirit in liberating the believer as seen in the book of Galatians.
Galatians has been called the emancipation proclamation of Christianity. In this letter Paul declares the freedom that believers have in Christ. In Galatians Paul is protesting against the corruption of the gospel of Christ. The essential truth of justification by faith rather than by the works of the law had been compromised by the legalists insistence that believers must keep the law in order to be in right standing before God. When Paul learned that this teaching had begun to penetrate the Galatian churches and that it had alienated them from their liberty in Christ, he wrote this impassioned epistle.
Thus the central theme that Paul illustrates with his various arguments is that justification comes by faith alone. Paul begins the epistle by establishing that divine revelation is the source of the gospel that he preaches. He then declares that both Jews and Gentiles are justified by faith rather than by keeping the law. Paul supports his argument by showing that the law is subordinate to the promise that was given to Abraham and that the law was only intended by God to be a temporary institution. Paul shows that since Christ has come, the law no longer restricts and governs Christians. Paul moves on to declare Christian freedom and to show that love rather than the law is to govern the life of the believer. Paul also exhorts the believer to walk by the Spirit thus producing the fruit of the Spirit rather than the works of the flesh.
The doctrine of the Holy Spirit has an important place in Paul’s argument to the Galatians. First, Paul points to the Galatians’ reception of the Spirit as proof of his message. The Judaizers’ message would not have had this "divine stamp of approval". That the Galatians have received the Spirit of God is proof that they are sons of God and is a promise of the full eschatological redemption.
II. Reception of the Spirit is proof of justification by faith
A. You Experienced the Spirit when you believed (3:1-5)
O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?
This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.
He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
1. Both justification and the gift of the Spirit are received not out of legal works but through the means of faith: through one and the same act of faith. The gift of the Spirit and justification by faith are two sides of one coin
2. Out of vs. Through — law is a dry well from which blessings of Spirit cannot be drawn but faith is not the source rather the rope through which blessing of Spirit is carried
3. Holy Spirit is fully involved in bringing salvation: He convicts of sin, unveils the beauty of Christ, and draws you toward God.
2. They began their Christian career by the Spirit, can they now find it conceivable that the perfection of that career is to be sought on the lower plan of the flesh? The Spirit belongs to the foundation of the gospel. His reception does not mark a second and higher stage than justification; it is the confirmation of Christ’s redemptive work
3. In Galatians 3:5 Paul sums up the essence of his argument in the past four verses, "He who supplies the Spirit to you and performs mighty works among you, is it from the works of the law or from the hearing of faith." The fact that these are present participles implies that this divine activity still continues; it is not something which the Galatians experienced once-for-all when they believed the gospel.
B. Tradition of Blessings on faithful (3:14)
That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
1. In Galatians 3:6-14, Paul continues to argue that the Galatians’ reception of the Spirit is proof that they have been justified by faith rather than works; however, he moves from arguing on the basis of their experience to arguing from Scripture.
2. Although the law makes a distinction between the people of Israel, to whom it was given, and the Gentiles, to whom it was not given, the promise to Abraham embraced the Gentiles within its scope; they were to have a share in the blessing promised to him. The blessing of Abraham comes on believing Gentiles through their receiving the promise of the Spirit through faith