Galatians 3:2
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard?

New Living Translation
Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ.

English Standard Version
Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?

Berean Study Bible
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?

Berean Literal Bible
I wish only to learn this from you: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the Law or by hearing of faith?

New American Standard Bible
This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?

King James Bible
This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

Holman Christian Standard Bible
I only want to learn this from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by hearing with faith?

International Standard Version
I want to learn only one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by doing the actions of the Law or by believing what you heard?

NET Bible
The only thing I want to learn from you is this: Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard?

New Heart English Bible
I just want to learn this from you. Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by hearing of faith?

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
This only I wish to know of you: Did you receive The Spirit by the works of The Written Law or by the hearing of faith?

GOD'S WORD® Translation
I want to learn only one thing from you. Did you receive the Spirit by your own efforts to live according to a set of standards or by believing what you heard?

New American Standard 1977
This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?

Jubilee Bible 2000
This only would I learn of you, Did ye receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by the obedient ear of faith?

King James 2000 Bible
This only would I learn of you, Received you the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

American King James Version
This only would I learn of you, Received you the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

American Standard Version
This only would I learn from you. Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

Douay-Rheims Bible
This only would I learn of you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

Darby Bible Translation
This only I wish to learn of you, Have ye received the Spirit on the principle of works of law, or of [the] report of faith?

English Revised Version
This only would I learn from you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

Webster's Bible Translation
This only would I learn from you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

Weymouth New Testament
Answer me this one question, "Is it on the ground of your obedience to the Law that you received the Spirit, or is it because, when you heard, you believed?"

World English Bible
I just want to learn this from you. Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by hearing of faith?

Young's Literal Translation
this only do I wish to learn from you -- by works of law the Spirit did ye receive, or by the hearing of faith?
Study Bible
Faith and Belief
1O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? 3Are you so foolish? After starting in the Spirit, are you now finishing in the flesh?…
Cross References
Romans 10:17
Consequently, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

1 Corinthians 9:21
To those without the Law I became like one without the Law (though I am not outside the law of God but am under the law of Christ), to win those without the Law.

Galatians 3:3
Are you so foolish? After starting in the Spirit, are you now finishing in the flesh?

Galatians 3:14
He redeemed us so that the blessing promised to Abraham would come to the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

Hebrews 4:2
For we also received the good news, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, since they did not share the faith of those who comprehended it.

Hebrews 6:4
It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit,
Treasury of Scripture

This only would I learn of you, Received you the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

Received.

Galatians 3:5,14 He therefore that ministers to you the Spirit, and works miracles …

Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you …

Acts 8:15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive …

Acts 10:44-47 While Peter yet spoke these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them …

Acts 11:15-18 And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at …

Acts 15:8 And God, which knows the hearts, bore them witness, giving them the …

Acts 19:2-6 He said to them, Have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed? …

1 Corinthians 12:7-13 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit with…

2 Corinthians 11:4 For if he that comes preaches another Jesus, whom we have not preached, …

Ephesians 1:13,14 In whom you also trusted, after that you heard the word of truth, …

Hebrews 2:4 God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with …

Hebrews 6:4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have …

1 Peter 1:12 To whom it was revealed, that not to themselves, but to us they did …

by the hearing.

Romans 1:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: …

Romans 10:16,17 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias said, Lord, who …

(2) This only.--The Apostle considers a single argument enough. He will only place the present conduct of the Galatians in contrast with their past, and ask how they can possibly reconcile the two.

Received ye the Spirit.--The reference is to those spiritual gifts, described more fully in 1 Corinthians 12, 14--the gift of prophecy, the gift of tongues, the interpretation of tongues, the discerning of spirits, gifts of healing, &c.--which attended the first preaching of the gospel, and were poured out upon the first converts in a manner and degree since unknown. The Galatians, it seems, had had a share in this outpouring, like the other churches, though their fickleness prevented them from reaping the full benefit from it. But a spiritual effect, such as this outpouring was, could only have a spiritual cause; it could not come from a mechanical performance of legal obligations.

By the works of the law.--By works done in obedience to the Law. There is a certain emphasis on both words, for the main point in the contrast which the Apostle is drawing is between the Law, on the one hand, and faith, on the other. Still, faith is as much opposed to works (i.e., a spirit of literal and mechanical obedience) as it is to Law, and excludes both at once. It is to be noted, however, that the works here meant are those done, in a Judaising sense, as themselves the direct means of salvation--not Christian works, the natural product and outcome of faith.

By the hearing of faith.--These words correspond very nearly to a phrase which we should perhaps use more naturally: by the preaching of faith--i.e., by that preaching or hearing (hearing on the part of the recipients, preaching on that of the missionary Apostles) which has for its subject faith. What the Apostle had taught the Galatians on his first coming among them was not any system of laborious observances, but the duty of faith. They at first responded to his teaching: and in answer to their enthusiastic impulse of adhesion to Christ the gifts of the Spirit were abundantly shed upon them. Now all this had ceased. For the use of the word translated "hearing," see the Note on Romans 10:16.

Verse 2. - This only would I learn of you (τοῦτο μόνον θέλω μαθεῖν ἀφ ὑμῶν); this only would I learn from you. I need ask for nothing more to show that the Law is nothing to you, than that you should tell me this. Received ye the Spirit by the works of the Law? (ἐξ ἔργων νόμου τὸ Πνεῦμα ἐλάβετε;); was it in consequence of works of the Law that ye received the Spirit? I came amongst you as an apostle, preaching the gospel, and upon your baptism laying my hands upon you; and the Holy Spirit came down upon you, proving the reality of his presence both by signs and miracles and powers, and also by the love, joy, and peace with which your hearts were filled; sealing at once the truth of my doctrine and your own position individually as recognized heirs of the kingdom of God. You remember that time. Well, how was it then? Had there a word been then spoken touching meats or drinks, or washings of purification (besides your baptism into Christ), or circumcision, or care of ceremonial cleanness? Had you attended to any one point whatever of Levitical ordinance? Had either you or I cast one thought in that direction? The "works of the Law" here referred to must still be works of ceremonial performance, not those of moral obedience; for repentance, the practical breaking off from sin, the surrender of the soul to God and to Christ in faith and loyal obedience, the outward assuming of the character of God's servants, the purpose and inchoate performance of works meet for repentance, - these dotings of compliance with the moral Law were there. The gift of the Spirit was evidenced by charisms plainly supernatural; but it comprised more than the bestowment of these. Or by the hearing of faith? (ἤ ἐξ ἀκοῆς πίστεως;); or was it in consequence of the hearing of faith? The noun ἀκοὴ denotes sometimes (what is heard) "report," "rumour," as Matthew 4:24; Matthew 24:6; Romans 10:16, 17; sometimes, especially in the plural, the organs or sense of hearing, as Mark 7:35; Luke 7:1; Acts 17:20; Hebrews 5:11; 2 Timothy 4:3, 4; sometimes the act of hearing, as Matthew 13:14; 1 Samuel 15:22 (Septuagint). The last appears more suitable here than the first taken (as some take it) as describing the doctrine or message which they heard respecting faith; standing as ἀκοὴ does in contrast to "works" which would have been an acting of theirs, this likewise was most probably meant by the apostle subjectively of something appearing on their own part. "Were you not at once received into the kingdom of God and filled with joy in the Holy Spirit, immediately upon your believing acceptance of the gospel message?" With exquisite propriety, as Bengel observes, is hereby marked the nature of faith, not working, but receiving. This agrees also best with the illustration which in ver. 6 the apostle gives of the phrase as introduced by him again in ver. 5. This one thing would I learn of you,.... Though there were many things he could have put to them, yet he would only ask this one question, which, if rightly attended to, and honestly answered, must expose their folly, and put an end to the controversy upon this head:

received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? This question supposes they had received the Spirit; that is, the Spirit of God, as a spirit of wisdom and knowledge in the revelation of Christ; as a spirit of regeneration and sanctification; as a spirit of faith and adoption; and as the earnest, seal, and pledge of their future glory. Now the apostle asks, whether they received this Spirit "by the works of the law"; meaning, either whether they could imagine, that they by their obedience to the law had merited and procured the Spirit of God; or whether they thought that the Spirit came to them, and into their hearts, through the doctrine or preaching of the law: the former could not be true, for if they could not obtain righteousness and life by the works of the law, then not the Spirit; besides, works done without the Spirit of God, are not properly good works: not the latter, for though by the law is the knowledge of sin, yet this leaves nothing but a sense of wrath and damnation in the conscience; it is the killing letter, and a ministration of condemnation and death, and not of the Spirit, and of life; this belongs to the Gospel, "or the hearing of faith"; for by "faith", is meant the Gospel, and particularly the doctrine of justification by faith in Christ's righteousness; and by "the hearing" of it, the preaching of it, the report of it, Isaiah 53:1 which, in the Hebrew text, is "our hearing", that by which the Gospel is heard and understood. Now in this way the Spirit of God is received; while the Gospel is preaching he falls on them that hear it, conveys himself into their hearts, and begets them again by the word of truth: and in this way the Galatians came by the Spirit, and which is another aggravation of their folly, that they should enjoy so great an advantage by the Gospel, and yet be so easily removed from it. 2. "Was it by the works of the law that ye received the Spirit (manifested by outward miracles, Ga 3:5; Mr 16:17; Heb 2:4; and by spiritual graces, Ga 3:14; Ga 4:5, 6; Eph 1:13), or by the hearing of faith?" The "only" implies, "I desire, omitting other arguments, to rest the question on this alone"; I who was your teacher, desire now to "learn" this one thing from you. The epithet "Holy" is not prefixed to "Spirit" because that epithet is a joyous one, whereas this Epistle is stern and reproving [Bengel].

hearing of faith—Faith consists not in working, but in receiving (Ro 10:16, 17).3:1-5 Several things made the folly of the Galatian Christians worse. They had the doctrine of the cross preached, and the Lord's supper administered among them, in both which Christ crucified, and the nature of his sufferings, had been fully and clearly set forth. Had they been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, by the ministration of the law, or on account of any works done by them in obedience thereto? Was it not by their hearing and embracing the doctrine of faith in Christ alone for justification? Which of these had God owned with tokens of his favour and acceptance? It was not by the first, but the last. And those must be very unwise, who suffer themselves to be turned away from the ministry and doctrine which have been blessed to their spiritual advantage. Alas, that men should turn from the all-important doctrine of Christ crucified, to listen to useless distinctions, mere moral preaching, or wild fancies! The god of this world, by various men and means, has blinded men's eyes, lest they should learn to trust in a crucified Saviour. We may boldly demand where the fruits of the Holy Spirit are most evidently brought forth? whether among those who preach justification by the works of the law, or those who preach the doctrine of faith? Assuredly among the latter.
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