Galatians 3:1
O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth…

Here, it is said, the doctrinal section of the Epistle begins, (he preceding section being historical and the concluding section hortatory. But how unlike this is to a cold abstract theological argument the opening words clearly show. St. Paul cares little for mere speculations of divinity. His object is practical, personal, earnest. Thus he expostulates rather than argues, and appeals to experience for confirmation. He is not simply shocked at a heresy; he is grieved and hurt at the unfaithfulness, the weakness, the folly of his hearers. All error that leads us away from Christ is sad and shameful.


1. He preaches Christ. Christ is Christianity. To know him is to know all. St. Paul was most anxious to make manifest the person and character and life of Christ. To demonstrate a system of doctrine or to expound a "plan of salvation" was not his method of preaching the gospel. Only show men Christ; that was enough. Even doctrinal errors would melt and vanish before that vision.

2. He preaches the crucified Christ. A crucified Christ was a King humiliated, a Lord slain; yet herein lay the essence of St. Paul's gospel. We see Christ, not only as a beautiful character, a great Teacher, or a wise Reformer; we see him dying - revealing thus his faithfulness, his purity, his love, suffering for us, sacrificed for us.

3. He preaches Christ by setting him forth openly. St. Paul says that Christ was "placarded" before the eyes of the Galatians. This suggests a vivid, pictorial style of language united to an energetic, almost dramatic, force of expression. The whole effort of the apostle was to make his hearers see Christ. No doubt the method was in some respects specially adapted to the Celtic excitability and the semi-barbarous condition of the Galatians, and was in form very different from the apostle's manner of speaking to the cultured Athenians on the Areopagus. Yet to the Greeks at Corinth he says he determined to know nothing among them "save Jesus Christ, and him crucified." It is to be feared that of late the pulpit has lost weight through abandoning descriptive for argumentative preaching, in deference to the supposed higher intelligence of the age, but in defiance of the natural disinclination of average men for reasoning and of their susceptibility to visual imagination. Whatever may be said as to the method of doing it, it is plain that what is most wanted for the man of culture, as much as for the illiterate man, is not to understand Christian theology, but to see Christ.


1. They must have seen him. The vision by the hearer may be missed through no fault of the preacher. There must be the eyes to see. Cattle that see only the grass at their feet will not be impressed by the grandest scene of crag and moor. They who see Christ to any effect must see him spiritually, not merely as the crowd about the cross saw his bodily agony, but as St. Paul set forth the great, awful fact.

2. Such a vision of Christ will produce a profound impression. No one who saw the sea for the first time - really saw it - returned home the same man. There are sights that transform. Sinking deep into our hearts, they saturate our whole nature and haunt our memories for ever. Such is a true vision of Christ crucified. At the sight of the cross, Christian lost his burden, never to recover it, The Divine majesty of sorrow and love that illumines this vision, once possessing a man's soul, should dwell with him for ever.

3. To forsake Christ after such a vision is only possible through some strange malign influence. St. Paul compares it to the blighting effect of the evil eye. To turn to the Lord from such a gracious sight as to a higher and better thing is indeed most unaccountable. If anything allures us from Christ after we have once truly seen him, it must be an irrational influence to which we weakly succumb, for no reasonable attraction can be greater than the power with which, when once lifted up before them, he draws all men to himself. - W.F.A.

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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?

WEB: Foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you not to obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was openly set forth among you as crucified?

Beholding the Crucifixion
Top of Page
Top of Page