Galatians 3:5
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?
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(5) The appeal by which the Apostle sought to check the defection of his thoughtless converts was not only an appeal to their past experience, when first they listened to his own preaching, but also to their present experience of facts that they saw actually going on among them. The first great outpouring of the Spirit, both in its miraculous and non-miraculous forms, though checked, had not entirely ceased; and the Galatians might thus see, simply by looking around them, that the channel which God chose for conveying His gifts was not that upon which the Judaisers insisted—the Law—but rather the preaching of faith. Where the faith implanted by the Apostle’s preaching still showed signs of vital growth, there the gifts of the Spirit were seen in connection with it; but not amongst the Judaisers and their party.

Therefore.—This word takes up again the question which had been started in Galatians 3:2, but brings it down, as it were, to the present time. The opposition between the effects of faith, on the one hand, and works, on the other, was conspicuous when the Galatians were first converted; it is as conspicuous still. The argument is the same, whichever standpoint is assumed.

Ministereth.—The notion contained in this word is not only that of “supply,” but of “liberal supply.” At Athens it was the custom for wealthy citizens to bear the cost of bringing out the chorus—which was practically equivalent to putting a play upon the stage—at the great public feasts. The word translated “ministereth” was the technical term for this. The same word is used in 2Corinthians 9:10; Colossians 2:19; 2Peter 1:5; 2Peter 1:11. In three out of the four places it is rendered by the same word “minister;” in 2Peter 1:5 it appears in the phrase “add to your faith virtue” (rather, furnish forth in your faith virtuei.e., “let your faith prompt you to abundant acts of virtue”). “He that ministereth” is, of course, God.

Worketh miracles among you.—The Greek means not so much “causes miracles to be wrought in your midst” as “implants in you miraculous powers.” The power to work miracles is regarded as a special faculty bestowed by God upon individual Christians. The means by which they become receptive of it is that enthusiastic condition aroused in them by faith. Mere formal obedience to a written law had no such efficacy.

Galatians 3:5-9. He therefore — Namely, God; that ministereth to you the Spirit — Who is continually giving you additional supplies of grace by the Spirit; and worketh miracles, &c. — Bestows the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit upon you; doeth he it by the works of the law — Through your hearing and embracing the doctrine of those who inculcate the necessity of observing the ceremonies of the law; or by the hearing of faith — By your hearing, receiving, and acquiescing in the doctrine of justification and salvation by faith in Christ and his gospel? Or doeth he it in confirmation of men’s preaching justification by observing regal rites, or of their preaching justification by faith? Even as Abraham, &c. — Doubtless he does it in confirmation of that grand doctrine, that we are justified by faith even as Abraham was. The apostle, both in this and in the epistle to the Romans, makes great use of the instance of Abraham; the rather, because from Abraham the Jews drew their great argument (as they do at this day) both for their own continuance in Judaism, and for denying the Gentiles to be the church of God. As Abraham believed God — When God said, Thy seed shall be as the stars; and it was accounted to him for righteousness — Because his belief of this promise implied that he entertained just conceptions of the divine power, goodness, and veracity. See notes on Romans 4:3-22. Know then that they which are of faith — Who receive God’s truths and promises in faith, relying on the power, goodness, and faithfulness of God to fulfil them; the same are the children of Abraham — Show themselves to be his spiritual children, of the same disposition with him, and entitled to the same blessings of which he was the heir. And the Scripture — That is, the Holy Spirit, by whose inspiration the Holy Scriptures were written; foreseeing that God would justify the heathen — When he should call them by his grace, in the same manner as he justified Abraham; only through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham — Declared to him the glad tidings of salvation; saying, In, or through thee — As the father of the Messiah; shall all nations — Gentiles as well as Jews; be blessed — That is to say, by their faith in that glorious person who is to descend from thee, all persons, of whatever nation they be, who imitate thy ready and obedient faith, shall obtain justification, and all other blessings, as Abraham did by his faith. So then — The inference to be drawn is; all they — And they only; who are of faith — Who believe God as Abraham did, and show their faith by their works; are blessed with faithful Abraham — Shall inherit the promises made to him, and the blessings promised, though they are as he was when he first received these promises, in a state of uncircumcision, and always remain in that state, and never comply with the ceremonies of the Mosaic law.

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.He therefore that ministereth ... - This verse contains substantially a repetition of the argument in Galatians 3:2. The argument is, that the gift of the Holy Spirit to them was not imparted in consequence of the observance of the Law of Moses, but in connection with the preaching of the gospel. By the word "he" in this place, Clarke, Doddridge, Bloomfield, Chandler, Locke and many others, suppose that the apostle means himself Bloomfield says, that it is the common opinion of "all the ancient commentators." But this seems to me a strange opinion. The obvious reference, it seems to me, is to God, who had furnished or imparted to them the remarkable influences of the Holy Spirit, and this had been done in connection with the preaching of the gospel, and not by the observance of the Law. If, however, it refers to Paul, it means that he had been made the agent or instrument in imparting to them those remarkable endowments, and that this had been done by one who had not enforced the necessity of obeying the Law of Moses, but who had preached to them the simple gospel. 5. He … that ministereth—or "supplieth," God (2Co 9:10). He who supplied and supplies to you the Spirit still, to the present time. These miracles do not prove grace to be in the heart (Mr 9:38, 39). He speaks of these miracles as a matter of unquestioned notoriety among those addressed; an undesigned proof of their genuineness (compare 1Co 12:1-31).

worketh miracles among you—rather, "IN you," as Ga 2:8; Mt 14:2; Eph 2:2; Php 2:13; at your conversion and since [Alford].

doeth he it by the works of the law—that is, as a consequence resulting from (so the Greek) the works of the law (compare Ga 3:2). This cannot be because the law was then unknown to you when you received those gifts of the Spirit.

He had asked them, Galatians 3:2, whether they had received the Spirit by the works of the law, or by hearing the gospel? Some think what he saith here to be a continuation of the same argument, but it rather seems a new one: there he spake of their receiving the Spirit, here he speaks of the ministration of the Spirit. Some understand it of God, who gives his Holy Spirit to them that ask him, and who was the Author of those miraculous operations wrought by the Spirit. I should rather understand it of the ministers of the gospel, to whom God hath committed the ministration of the Spirit; and to some of whom God, in the primitive times, gave a power to work miracles.

Doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Doth God concur with our ministry upon our preaching the law, or upon our preaching the gospel? So that though there be a great cognation between the apostle’s arguing, Galatians 3:2, and his arguing in this verse, yet there is some difference; the apostle there arguing from the success of preaching the gospel, here from the ministration itself.

He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit,.... By whom he means not himself, nor any other minister of the Gospel, in whose power it does not lie to minister the Spirit, either the ordinary or the extraordinary gifts of it unto men; but either God or Christ who had ministered, and still continued to minister the grace of the Spirit through the preaching of the Gospel; or rather the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, which were manifested at the first preaching of the Gospel to them for the confirmation of it, and which they were still supplied with, as the following words show:

and worketh miracles among you; so that this is a distinct argument from that in Galatians 3:2 and a further proof and aggravation of the folly and stupidity of the members of this church, who had not only received through the Gospel the Spirit, as a spirit of regeneration, at least many of them, but had seen the Gospel confirmed by the extraordinary gifts, signs, and wonders of the Holy Ghost, and which were still among them; and yet they were departing from this Gospel, through which all this was done: for it is asked,

doth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? and the apostle's meaning is, that these extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, and these miracles done among them, did not attend the preaching of the law, or the doctrine of justification by works, taught by the false apostles, but the doctrine of faith, of justification by faith in the righteousness of Christ, delivered by him and others, for the truth of which he appeals to themselves; and therefore they must be guilty of the most egregious folly, once to think of, or take anyone step towards a departure from that doctrine. The Alexandrian copy reads here, as in Galatians 3:2, "received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?"

{4} 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?

(4) He repeats the third argument which was taken of the effects, because he had included certain other arguments along the way.

Galatians 3:5. After the logical parenthesis (Galatians 3:3-4), οὖν resumes (Hartung, Partikell. II. p. 22 f.; Klotz, ad Devar. p. 719) what was said in Galatians 3:2, but in an altered tense (the present), in order to annex the example of Abraham as a proof of justification by faith.

ἐπιχορηγῶν and ἐνεργῶν are not to be understood as imperfect participles (Castalio, Bengel, Semler, and others); for, if referring to the reception of the Spirit for the first time corresponding to ἐλάβετε in Galatians 3:2, Paul must have written ἐπιχορηγήσας and ἐνεργήσας. No, he denotes the ἐπιχορηγεῖν κ.τ.λ. as still continuing among the Galatians; it has not yet ceased, although now, of course, in consequence of the active efforts of the Judaizers under which they had suffered, it could not but be less strong and general than previously (νῦν σαρκὶ ἐπιτελεῖσθε, Galatians 3:3); “nondum ceciderant, sed inclinabantur, ut caderent,” Augustine.

In ἐπιχορηγεῖν the ἐπί is not insuper, but denotes the direction, as in the German ‘darreichen, zukommen lassen’ (2 Corinthians 9:10; Colossians 2:19; 2 Peter 1:5; comp. also Php 1:19).

καὶ ἐνεργ.] and—to make mention of a particular χάρισμαwhich, etc.

δυνάμεις] may be miracles (1 Corinthians 12:10), in which case ἐν is among (Winer and others); or miraculous powers (1 Corinthians 12:28), in which case ἐν is within you (Borger, Usteri, Matthies, Schott, Olshausen, Wieseler, and others). The analogy of 1 Corinthians 12:6 (comp. Php 2:13; Ephesians 2:2) favours the latter.

ἐξ ἔργων νόμου, ἤ ἐξ ἀκοῆς πίστ.] sc. ποιεῖ τοῦτο (Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 336), or ἐπιχορηγεῖ ὑμῖν τὸ πνεῦμα κ. ἐνεργεῖ δυνάμεις ἐν ὑμῖν; Is this his operation upon you caused by works of the law or by the news of faith? comes it in consequence of your prosecuting those works, or of such news being communicated to you? by the former way of active merit, or by the latter way of the reception of divine preaching? As to ἀκοὴ πίστεως, here also not (with Hofmann) = πίστις ἀκοῆς, see on Galatians 3:2.

Galatians 3:5. ἐπιχορηγῶν. The verb χορηγεῖν acquired its meaning from the function of the χορηγός whose duty it was to supply the members of his chorus with all necessary equipment in the course of their training and performance. As men took pride in the liberal fulfilment of this duty, the word came to denote a liberal supply. The compound ἐπιχορηγεῖν denotes apparently an enhancement of this bounty (2 Corinthians 9:10).—δυνάμεις. This word is sometimes applied in the Gospels to visible miracles, but in the language of Paul, as elsewhere, it denotes forces or powers. Here accordingly it refers to the supernatural powers imparted by the Spirit to Christians.

5. He therefore] St Paul, after a digression in which he rebukes their folly in reversing the true order of the soul’s progress (Galatians 3:3) and in relinquishing the truth which they had embraced at the cost even of persecution (Galatians 3:4) resumes the appeal of Galatians 3:2 in another form. ‘He then, as I was saying, &c.’

The reference has hitherto been to the time when they first embraced the Gospel. It is now directed to that continued supply of the spirit which God graciously bestowed upon His Church, as combined with, and manifested by the exercise of miraculous powers.

He … ministereth] ‘He then (i.e. God) who graciously bestoweth on you, &c.’ The force of the word ‘ministereth’ (R.V. ‘supplieth’) may be understood by reference to the use of it elsewhere, e.g. 2 Corinthians 9:10; Php 1:19.

worketh miracles] For the different terms employed in N. T. to designate the supernatural operations of the Holy Ghost through human agency, see Trench On the Miracles, chap. 1; esp. p. 6 for the term ‘powers’ used here.

among you] Perhaps, ‘in you’, both as more personal, and as agreeing with 1 Corinthians 12:6; Php 2:13. See also Matthew 14:2, R.V.

by the works … or by] Rather, ‘from the works … or from’ &c. The preposition denotes rather the consequence or result, than the means.

Galatians 3:5. Ὁ ἐπιχορηγῶνκαὶ ἐνεργῶν) He that ministered—and wrought [viz. God]: so Chrysost. For the participle of the imperfect tense is contained in the participle of the present: ἐπὶ, in the first of these participles, is emphatic; for he who preaches ministers (χορηγεῖ). God, in the strict sense, ἐπιχορηγεῖ.[21]—δυνάμεις, powers) miraculous.—ἐξ, by) Supply, did He it.—ἐξ ἀκοῆς πίστεως, by the hearing of faith) This expression along with the following verse constitutes the proposition, and in καθὼς, even as, assumes the force of an affirmative.

[21] Ἐπιχορηγεῖν, to supply from above and abundantly gifts and graces, applies to God. Χορηγεῖν, to minister those gifts to others as the servant and instrument of God, applies to the minister.—ED.

Verse 5. - He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you (ὁ οϋν ἐπιχορηγῶν ὑμῖν τὸ Πνεῦμα καὶ ἐνεργῶν δυνάμεις ἐν ὑμῖν); he then that sup-plieth to you the Spirit and worketh powers in you, or, miracles among you. The "then" marks the taking up afresh of the topic brought forward in ver. 2, with especial prominence given here to the miraculous manifestations of the Spirit's presence. The argumentative treatment of this topic of the gift of the Spirit was interrupted in vers. 3 and 4 by curt, strongly emotional interrogatories, darted forth upon the apostle's recollecting the animated spirituality which marked those early days of their discipleship. The impassioned desultoriness of his language here, together with its abrupt, stubborn wording, is paralleled by Galatians 4:10-20. Perhaps these features in the form of the composition were in part occasioned by the circumstance that he was writing this Epistle with his own hand and not through an amanuensis; such manual exertion being, it should seem, unusual with him, and from some cause even laborious and painful: and so from time to time he appears, as it were, laying down the pen, to rest, to quell emotion, to reflect. The compound verb ἐπιχορηγεῖν, supply, differs probably from the simple form χορηγεῖν only by indicating profusion in the supply; but this qualification of its meaning is too slight to be representable in translation. Besides 2 Peter 1:5, 11, we find it in 2 Corinthians 9:10, "He that supplieth (ὁ ἐπιχορηγῶν) seed... shall supply (χορηγήσει) and multiply your seed for sowing;" Colossians 2:19, "From whom all the body... being supplied;" 1 Peter 4:11, "As of the strength which God sup-plieth." And with similar application the substantive "supply" (ἐπιχορηγία) in Philippians 1:19, "Supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ;" Ephesians 4:16, "Through every joint of the supply." These passages make it clear that "he that supplieth" is no other than God. And this conclusion is borne out by the comparing of the other clause, "worketh powers in you," with 1 Corinthians 12:6, "It is the same God ( ἐνεργῶν who worketh all in all" (referring to the charismata) - which passage shows that "powers' (δυνάμεις) are not "miracles" themselves as in Matthew 7:22 and Matthew 11:20, and often, but power to work miracles, the plural number pointing to the various forms of its manifestation, as in 1 Corinthians 12:10, 28, 29. The apostle uses the present participles ἐπιχορηγῶν and ἐνεργῶν as describing an agency which the Almighty was continually putting forth among believers in general, including the Galatian Churches themselves. Doeth he it by the works of the Law, or by the hearing of faith? (ἐξ ἔργων νόμου η} ἐξ ἀκοης πίστεως;) in consequence of works of the Law or of the hearing of faith? With the sparingness of words above noted, the apostle barely jots down, so to speak, the substance of the interrogative dilemma, without filling in the form of the question. The suppletion would naturally be that of our version, "doeth he it." The substance of the argument apparently required no more than, as before, the question - Was it in consequence of works of the Law or of the hearing of faith that the Spirit and his wonder-working powers were received? But instead of putting it so, St. Paul interposes the personality of the great God himself as imparting these great gifts, making his sentence thereby the more stately and impressive: it is with God in the might of his working that these corrupters of the gospel have to reckon. The impartation of the Spirit and the charisms evidenced God's complacency in the recipients. On what was that complacency founded? on their earning it by ceremonial performances, or on their simply opening their hearts to receive his love? It was a question which the Galatian Churchmen might, if they would, see the answer to in experiences of their own. Among themselves these powers had appeared, and no doubt were still operative. "Well, then," says the apostle, "look and see: are they not operative in those only of you who had received them upon the mere acceptance of righteousness offered them through faith in Christ simply, without having given any heed to Mosaic ceremonialism? Have any of you received them after taking up with such ceremonialism?" The apostle, it will be observed - and the remark is one of no small importance - makes an appeal to simple matters of fact, founded upon his and their own familiar acquaintance with the facts, and defying contradiction. We may be sure, therefore, that the facts were as he indicates, however small the extent may be to which we, with our imperfect knowledge of the circumstances, are ourselves able to verify his statement. In some degree, however, we can. Besides the striking illustration afforded by what occurred in the house of Cornelius (Acts 10:44), we see that such charismata were bestowed, and in some instances, as, e.g. at Corinth, in exceeding great profusion, in the train of St. Paul's evangelizing ministrations; and how remote those ministrations were from the inculcation, or even the admission, among Gentile converts of Mosaic ceremonialism we know perfectly. Galatians 3:5Therefore (οὖν)

Resumes the thought of Galatians 3:2 (Galatians 3:3, Galatians 3:4 being, practically, parenthetical), in order to adduce the example of Abraham as a proof of justification by faith. The thought of Galatians 3:2 is further emphasized. The gift of the Spirit, and the bestowment of miraculous powers, is a purely divine operation in believers, which is not merited by legal works, but can be received and experienced only through the message of faith.

He that ministereth (ὁ ἐπιχορηγῶν)

Or supplieth. See 2 Corinthians 9:10; Colossians 2:19; 2 Peter 1:5. The idea of abundant supply (Lightfoot), if conveyed at all, resides, not in the preposition ἐπὶ, which indicates direction, but in the simple verb, which is used of abundant, liberal supply. He that ministereth is God.

Worketh (ἐνεργῶν)

See on 1 Thessalonians 2:13.

Miracles (δυνάμεις)

See on Matthew 11:20. Either miracles, as Mark 6:2; 1 Corinthians 12:10, or miraculous powers, as 1 Corinthians 12:6; Philippians 2:13; Ephesians 2:2. The analogy of these latter passages favors the second meaning.

Among you (ἐν ὑμῖν)

So, if δυνάμεις is explained as miracles. If miraculous powers, render in you.

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