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Galatians 3:1

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

O foolish Galatians - O infatuated people; you make as little use of reason as those who have none; you have acted in this business as those do who are fascinated - they are led blindly and unresistingly on to their own destruction.

That ye should not obey the truth - This clause is wanting in ABD*FG, some others, the Syriac, Erpenian, Coptic, Sahidic, Itala, Vulgate MS., and in the most important of the Greek and Latin fathers. Of the clause Professor White says, Certissime delenda, "It should certainly be expunged." There are several various readings on this verse, from which it appears that the verse in the best ancient MSS. and versions was read thus: O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you? Before whose eyes Jesus Christ crucified hath been plainly set forth.

Among you? - Εν ὑμιν is wanting in ABC, several others, the Syriac, Erpenian, Coptic, Sahidic, Ethiopic, Armenian, Vulgate MS., one copy of the Itala, and in several of the fathers. The words appear to disturb the sense, and have obliged commentators to have recourse to a sort of technical meaning; viz. "The doctrine of the Gospel had been so fully preached among these people that it might be said Jesus Christ had been crucified among them; so fully had his sufferings been detailed, and the design of them pointed out."

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

O foolish Galatians - That is, foolish for having yielded to the influence of the false teachers, and for having embraced doctrines that tended to subvert the gospel of the Redeemer. The original word used here ( ἀνόητοι anoētoi) denotes void of understanding; and they had shown it in a remarkable manner in rejecting the doctrine of the apostles, and in embracing the errors into which they had fallen. It will be remembered that this is an expression similar to what was applied to them by others; see the introduction, Section I. Thus, Callimachus in his hymns calls them “a foolish people,” and Hillary, himself a Gaul, calls them Gallos indociles, expressions remarkably in accordance with that used here by Paul. It is implied that they were without stability of character. The particular thing to which Paul refers here is that they were so easily led astray by the arguments of the false teachers.

Who hath bewitched you - The word used here ( ἐβάσκανεν ebaskanen) properly means, to prate about anyone; and then to mislead by pretences, as if by magic arts; to fascinate; to influence by a charm. The idea here is, that they had not been led by reason and by sober judgment, but that there must have been some charm or fascination to have taken them away in this manner from what they had embraced as true, and what they had the fullest evidence was true. Paul had sufficient confidence in them to believe that they had not embraced their present views under the unbiassed influence of judgment and reason, but that there must have been some fascination or charm by which it was done. It was in fact accomplished by the arts and the plausible pretences of those who came from among the Jews.

That ye should not obey the truth - The truth of the gospel. That you should yield your minds to falsehood and error. It should be observed, however, that this phrase is lacking in many manuscripts. It is omitted in the Syriac version; and many of the most important Greek and Latin Fathers omit it. Mill thinks it should be omitted; and Griesbach has omitted it. It is not essential to the passage in order to the sense; and it conveys no truth which is not elsewhere taught fully. It is apparently added to show what was the effect of their being bewitched or enchanted.

Before whose eyes - In whose very presence. That is, it has been done so clearly that you may be said to have seen it.

Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth - By the preaching of the gospel. He has been so fully and plainly preached that you may be said to have seen him. The effect of his being preached in the manner in which it has been done, ought to have been as great as if you had seen him crucified before your eyes. The word rendered “hath been evidently set forth” ( προεγράφῃ proegraphē), means properly to write before; and then to announce beforehand in writing; or to announce by posting up on a tablet. The meaning here is, probably, that Christ has been announced among them crucified, as if the doctrine was set forth in a public written tablet - Robinson‘s Lexicon. There was the utmost clearness and distinctness of view, so that they need not make any mistake in regard to him. The Syriac renders it, “Christ has been crucified before your eyes as if he had been represented by painting.” According to this, the idea is, that it was as plain as if there had been a representation of him by a picture. This has been done chiefly by preaching. I see no reason, however, to doubt that Paul means also to include the celebration of the Lord‘s supper, in which the Lord Jesus is so clearly exhibited as a crucified Saviour.

Crucified among you - That is, represented among you as crucified. The words “among you,” however, are lacking in many manuscripts and obscure the sense. If they are to be retained, the meaning is, that the representations of the Lord Jesus as crucified had been as clear and impressive among them as if they had seen him with their own eyes, The argument is, that they had so clear a representation of the Lord Jesus, and of the design of his death, that it was strange that they had so soon been perverted from the belief of it. Had they seen the Saviour crucified; had they stood by the cross and witnessed his agony in death on account of sin, how could they doubt what was the design of his dying, and how could they be seduced from faith in his death, or be led to embrace any other method of justification? How could they now do it, when, although they had not seen him die, they had the fullest knowledge of the object for which he gave his precious life? The doctrine taught in this verse is that a faithful exhibition of the sufferings and death of the Saviour ought to exert an influence over our minds and hearts as if we had seen him die; and that they to whom such an exhibition has been made should avoid being led astray by the blandishments of false doctrines and by the arts of man. If we had seen the Saviour expire, we could never have forgotten the scene! Let us endeavor to cherish a remembrance of his sufferings and death as if we had seen him die.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
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.
Ellen G. White
The Upward Look, 209

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? Galatians 3:1. UL 209.1

The redemption that was wrought out for us by our Lord on the cross of Calvary was to bring us to obedience to the law of God, making it possible, through His righteousness imputed to us, to keep the law of God.... UL 209.2

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies on Sexual Behavior, Adultery, and Divorce, 147.2

Equal Guilt of Two Persons—In the night season I saw you in the company of the matron of the institution. As far as your attentions to each other were concerned, you might have been man and wife. Your conduct toward each other was wrong in the sight of God, and my heart was grieved by the condition of things. I asked, “Who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth?” God is displeased. You have grieved his holy spirit. Sister n will never again be what she once was. Both of you are guilty before God.—Letter 30, 1887 (Written June 11, 1887). TSB 147.2

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 142

He who holds the truth in unrighteousness, who declares his belief in it, and yet wounds it every day by his inconsistent life, is surrendering himself to the service of Satan and leading souls to ruin. This class hold intercourse with fallen angels and are aided by them in gaining the control of minds. When Satan's bewitching power controls a person, God is forgotten, and man who is filled with corrupt purposes is extolled. Secret licentiousness is practiced by these deceived souls as a virtue. This is a species of witchcraft. The question of the apostle to the Galatians may well be asked: “Who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?” There is always a bewitching power in heresies and in licentiousness. The mind is so deluded that it cannot reason intelligently, and an illusion is continually leading it from purity. The spiritual eyesight becomes blurred, and persons of hitherto untainted morals become confused under the delusive sophistry of those agents of Satan who profess to be messengers of light. It is this delusion which gives these agents power. Should they come out boldly and make their advances openly they would be repulsed without a moment's hesitation; but they work first to gain sympathy and secure confidence in themselves as holy, self-sacrificing men of God. As His special messengers they then begin their artful work of drawing away souls from the path of rectitude by attempting to make void the law of God. 5T 142.1

When ministers thus take advantage of the confidence the people place in them and lead souls to ruin, they make themselves as much more guilty than the common sinner as their profession is higher. In the day of God, when the great Ledger of Heaven is opened, it will be found to contain the names of many ministers who have made pretensions to purity of heart and life and professed to be entrusted with the gospel of Christ, but who have taken advantage of their position to allure souls to transgress the law of God. 5T 143.1

When men and women fall under the corrupting power of Satan, it is almost impossible to recover them out of the horrible snare so that they will ever again have pure thoughts and clear conceptions of God's requirements. Sin, to their deluded minds, has been sanctified by the minister, and it is never again regarded in the loathsome light that God looks upon it. After the moral standard has been lowered in the minds of men, their judgment becomes perverted, and they look upon sin as righteousness, and righteousness as sin. By associating with these, whose inclinations and habits are not elevated and pure, others become like them. Their tastes and principles are almost unconsciously adopted. 5T 143.2

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Ellen G. White
Sons and Daughters of God, 336

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. Hebrews 12:2. SD 336.1

Many of the youth repine because they have not ability to do some large work, and they covet talents by which they might do some wonderful things; but while they are spending their time in vain desires, they are making a failure of life. They are overlooking opportunities which they might improve in doing deeds of love in the path of life in which their feet are set.... SD 336.2

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