Galatians 3:3
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?

New Living Translation
How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?

English Standard Version
Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?

Berean Study Bible
Are you so foolish? After starting in the Spirit, are you now finishing in the flesh?

Berean Literal Bible
Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being perfected in the flesh?

New American Standard Bible
Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?

King James Bible
Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

Holman Christian Standard Bible
Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now going to be made complete by the flesh?

International Standard Version
Are you so foolish? Having started out with the Spirit, are you now ending up with the flesh?

NET Bible
Are you so foolish? Although you began with the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by human effort?

New Heart English Bible
Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now completed in the flesh?

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
Are you so foolish that you began in The Spirit and now you finish in the flesh?

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Are you that stupid? Did you begin in a spiritual way only to end up doing things in a human way?

New American Standard 1977
Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?

Jubilee Bible 2000
Are ye so foolish? having begun by the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

King James 2000 Bible
Are you so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are you now made perfect by the flesh?

American King James Version
Are you so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are you now made perfect by the flesh?

American Standard Version
Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now perfected in the flesh?

Douay-Rheims Bible
Are you so foolish, that, whereas you began in the Spirit, you would now be made perfect by the flesh?

Darby Bible Translation
Are ye so senseless? having begun in Spirit, are ye going to be made perfect in flesh?

English Revised Version
Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now perfected in the flesh?

Webster's Bible Translation
Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

Weymouth New Testament
Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now going to reach perfection through what is external?

World English Bible
Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now completed in the flesh?

Young's Literal Translation
so thoughtless are ye! having begun in the Spirit, now in the flesh do ye end?
Study Bible
Faith and Belief
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? 4Have you suffered so much for nothing, if it really was for nothing?…
Cross References
Ezekiel 18:24
"But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity and does according to all the abominations that a wicked man does, will he live? All his righteous deeds which he has done will not be remembered for his treachery which he has committed and his sin which he has committed; for them he will die.

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?

Galatians 3:4
Have you suffered so much for nothing, if it really was for nothing?
Treasury of Scripture

Are you so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are you now made perfect by the flesh?

having.

Galatians 4:7-10 Why you are no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir …

Galatians 5:4-8 Christ is become of no effect to you, whoever of you are justified …

Galatians 6:12-14 As many as desire to make a fair show in the flesh, they constrain …

Hebrews 7:16-19 Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after …

Hebrews 9:2,9,10 For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, …

(3) Foolish.--See the Note on Galatians 3:1.

Having begun in the Spirit.--Begun your career as Christians in a manner so entirely spiritual--with the spiritual act of faith on your part, and with an answering gift of spiritual graces and powers.

Made perfect by the flesh.--Do you wish to finish and complete the career thus auspiciously begun under a system of things entirely different--a system carnal and material, narrow, slavish, and literal--the Law in place of the Gospel? By "the flesh" is here meant the Law, which, though described as spiritual in Horn. vii. 14, and though it really was spiritual in view of its origin, in another aspect--as imposing a system of literal obedience upon its adherents--was carnal, "earthly," rigid, petty, and low. It had none of that sublime expansiveness and aspiration which belongs to faith. It was a grievous reversing of the whole order of progress--to begin with faith, and, instead of completing with faith that which faith had begun, to fall back upon a condition of things which was shared with the Christian by the unemancipated Jew.

Verse 3. - Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? (οὕτως ἀνόητοί ἐστε ἐναρξάμενοι, πνεύματι νῦν σαρκὶ ἐπιτελεῖσθε); are ye so foolish? having begun with the Spirit, are ye now finishing with the flesh? Πνεύματι, as contrasted with σαρκί, means the element of spiritual existence (comp. the use of πνεῦμα in Romans 1:4; 1 Peter 3:18) into which they had been brought at their conversion by the Holy Spirit's influence; including the spiritual sensibility and spiritual activity which had at first marked their Christian life, as e.g. joy in God in the sense of pardon, adoption (Galatians 4:6), love to God, affectionate attachment to their spiritual teacher (Galatians 4:14, 15), brotherly love among themselves: at that hour all their soul was praise, joy, love. Σαρκὶ denotes a lower, merely sensuous kind of religiousness, one busying itself with ceremonial performances, observance of days and festivals (Galatians 4:10), distinctions of meats, and other matters of ceremonial prescription; with petty strivings and disputings, of course, about such points, as if they really mattered at all; in which kind of religiousness the former tone of love, joy, sense of adoption, praise, had evaporated, leaving their souls dry, earthly (comp. "weak and beggarly rudiments," Galatians 4:9; and for the use of σάρξ, Hebrews 9:10). Perhaps the apostle includes also in his use of the term the loss of spiritual victory over sin. if in place of surrendering themselves to the leading of the Spirit (comp. Galatians 5:18) they put themselves under the Law, then they fell back again under the power of the "flesh," which the Law could only command them to control, but could of itself give them no power to control (Romans 8:3). The Authorized Version, "begun in," is doubtless faulty, in taking πνεύματι as governed by the ἐν of the compound verb. The two verbs ἐνάρχομαι and ἐπιτελεῖν are balanced against each other in 2 Corinthians 8:6; Philippians 1:6. Ἐπιτελεῖσθε may be either a passive, as it is rendered in the Authorized Version, "Are ye made perfect," i.e. "Are ye seeking to be made perfect;" so the Revised Version, "Are ye now perfected;" or a middle verb, as ἐπιτελοῦμαι is often used in other writers, though nowhere in the New Testament or Septuagint. The latter seems the more suitable, with the understood suppletion of "your course" or "your estate," as in our English word "finishing." The apostle is partial to the deponent form of verbs. Are ye so foolish?.... Is it possible you should be so stupid? and do you, or can you continue so?

having begun in the Spirit; that is, either in the Spirit of God, whom they had received through the preaching of the Gospel. They set out in a profession of religion in the light, under the influence, and by the assistance of the Spirit; they began to worship the Lord in spirit, and in truth, without any confidence in the flesh; they entered upon the service of God, and a newness of life, a different conversation than before, a spiritual way of living in a dependence on the grace and help of the divine Spirit: or in the Gospel, which is the Spirit that gives life, is the ministration of the Spirit of God, and contains spiritual doctrines, and gives an account of spiritual blessings, and is attended with the Holy Ghost, and with power. This was first preached unto them, and they embraced it; this they begun and set out with in their Christian profession, and yet it looked as if they sought to end with something else:

are you now made perfect by the flesh? or "in" it; not in carnality, in the lusts of the flesh, as if they now walked and lived after the flesh, in a carnal, dissolute, wicked course of life; for the apostle is not charging them with immoralities, but complaining of their principles: wherefore, by "the flesh" is meant, either the strength of mere nature, in opposition to the Spirit of God, by which they endeavoured to perform obedience to the law; or else the law itself, in distinction from the Gospel; and particularly the ceremonial law, the law of a carnal commandment, and which consisted of carnal ordinances, and only sanctified to the purifying of the flesh; and also their obedience to it; yea, even all their own righteousness, the best of it, which is but flesh, merely external, weak, and insufficient to justify before God. This is a third aggravation of their folly, that whereas they begun their Christian race depending upon the Spirit and grace of God, now they seemed to be taking a step as if they thought to finish it in the mere strength of nature; and whereas they set out with the clear Gospel of Christ, and sought for justification only by his righteousness, they were now verging to the law, and seeking to make their justifying righteousness perfect, by joining the works of the law unto it, which needed them not, but was perfect without them. 3. begun—the Christian life (Php 1:6).

in the Spirit—Not merely was Christ crucified "graphically set forth" in my preaching, but also "the Spirit" confirmed the word preached, by imparting His spiritual gifts. "Having thus begun" with the receiving His spiritual gifts, "are ye now being made perfect" (so the Greek), that is, are ye seeking to be made perfect with "fleshly" ordinances of the law? [Estius]. Compare Ro 2:28; Php 3:3; Heb 9:10. Having begun in the Spirit, that is, the Holy Spirit ruling your spiritual life as its "essence and active principle" [Ellicott], in contrast to "the flesh," the element in which the law works [Alford]. Having begun your Christianity in the Spirit, that is, in the divine life that proceeds from faith, are ye seeking after something higher still (the perfecting of your Christianity) in the sensuous and the earthly, which cannot possibly elevate the inner life of the Spirit, namely, outward ceremonies? [Neander]. No doubt the Galatians thought that they were going more deeply into the Spirit; for the flesh may be easily mistaken for the Spirit, even by those who have made progress, unless they continue to maintain a pure faith [Bengel].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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