Friday, December 24, 2021

Eternal Security is Eternal

The bottom line is that if we could gain salvation, or lose salvation, then it was never grace at all. Anyone who does not teach eternal security is misinterpreting the Scriptures. Eternal security is a dispensation of grace doctrine only. It was not in affect under the law, or during the gospels, nor will it be in the coming Tribulation. It is for the church age only. Anyone who believes you can lose your salvation is getting it from passages that concern the nation of Israel and not the Body of Christ, i.e., the Old Testament, the Gospels, and the Hebrew Epistles. Paul never taught that one can lose their salvation. Yes, churches can fall from teaching grace by adding works as necessary for salvation, but an individual can never lose their salvation, period.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

How Many Churches are There?

There are four churches identified in the Bible and we also run into problems when we try to combine them. 

1. Historically, there was the church in the wilderness mentioned in Acts 7:38 by Stephen, which was the assembly of the children of Israel that were called out of Egypt and assembled in the wilderness. 

2. Then there was the Jerusalem church which was made of none but the lost sheep of the house of Israel and proselytes. This was the Kingdom Church. No one is a part of this church today. It stopped after the rejection was complete. 

3. And today, we are a part of the Body of Christ which is made up of Jew and Gentile that was the mystery revealed to Paul. This is the Mystery Church that was revealed through Paul in which all are justified freely by grace (Colossians 1:18; Romans 11:25,16:25; Ephesians 3:1-2). 

4. And finally, there is the Tribulation Church which will be made up of those who will seal their fates in their own blood by not accepting the Mark of the Beast which is made up of the congregations mentioned in Revelation 2-3. It is those who overcome and sit with him on his throne. That is not us. We are already sitting in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6). Eating of the Tree of Life in Revelation 22:14 will be the reward for those who made it through the Tribulation. During this time the Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached again by the 144,000 according to Matthew 24:13-14. To interpret the churches any other way, as I did for years, is allegorizing the text which is exactly what dispensationalists are not supposed to do.

Spearman, H. Dwayne. The Book of Acts: A Mid-Acts Perspective (pp. 179-180). Directional Bible Ministries. Kindle Edition. 

Monday, December 6, 2021

Galatians | Session 25 | 6:3-18

We conclude our study today through the book of Galatians by taking a closer look at Paul's concluding remarks and admonitions to the church in Galatia regarding restoration of those who had fallen and their restoration.

Verse 3: For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. Now Paul addresses the issue of deception. Specifically, the deception of self.

This fault seems to be prevalent in our society today for sure. We have become quite an arrogant people in my opinion and social media has not helped, but propagated it.

Verse 4: But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. This verse seems to be still spring boarding off the previous one. In other words, a good way to avoid deception is by examining ones on own works, i.e., instead of comparing themselves to others. It runs with what he was saying in 5:13 about loving and serving one another instead.

Verse 5: For every man shall bear his own burden. The word burden is where we get our word portion. Paul is continuing the same thought of self-examination that will result in one carrying their own burdens instead of worrying about someone else’s.

Verse 6: Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. In this verse Paul is encouraging those who are taught to support those who teach them. The NASB translates it as And let the one who is taught the word share all good things with him who teaches

What does he mean by communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things? or share in all good things with him who teaches? Barnes says that it means to share what is needful for their comfortable subsistence. It seems to be the same thing Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:11-13 and 1 Timothy 5:17. Lightfoot says that it means to provide for the temporal needs of your teachers in Christ.

Martin Luther also wrote, “These passages are all meant to benefit us ministers. I must say I do not find much pleasure in explaining these verses. I am made to appear as if I am speaking for my own benefit.” Luther also said, "I have often wondered why all the apostles reiterated this request with such embarrassing frequency . . . We have come to understand why it is so necessary to repeat the admonition of this verse. When Satan cannot suppress the preaching of the Gospel by force, he tries to accomplish his purpose by striking the ministers of the Gospel with poverty.”

Verse 7: Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. Paul now reminds them of God's principle of sowing and reaping for those who share in all good things with him who teaches (NKJ). His point is that there is a return on the investment (ROI) involved as well.

To further the point, for those who choose not to do so is not only selfish and shortsighted, but also mocks God's generosity. Luther also said of this verse, "Be careful, you scoffers. God may postpone His punishment for a time, but He will find you out in time, and punish you for despising His servants. You cannot laugh at God.”

Verse 8: For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. In other words, if we want to reap spiritual things, we must sow or give ourselves to them and not the flesh. Of course, this principle extends beyond just giving and supporting those who sow into our lives. Simply put, we get out what we put in.

Paul essentially said the same thing in 1 Corinthians 9:11 when he asked, If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? Also, he said in 2 Corinthians 9:6-10, But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever. Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;). 

Verses 9-10: And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. As such, we should not grow tired of doing good for others, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

Verse 11: Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand. Paul says this because if was usually custom in the ancient world to dictate a letter through a scribe. This does not necessarily mean he wrote the entire letter himself, but he did write the conclusion. This was often done to authenticate the letter. He also did this in other places such as 1 Corinthians 16:21-24; Colossians 4:18; and 2 Thessalonians 3:17.

Another thing when can gather from this verse in found in the words ye see how large a letters have I written. Many speculate this was because he had poor eyesight and could not read or write small print. However, this view certainly seems to go with what he said in Galatians 4:15 about them being willing to pluck out their own eyes and give them to him. It certainly lends itself to the conclusion that Paul had an eye problem that was not nice to look at and limited his vision.

However, there are others who just say that Paul used large letters just to make his point along the lines of John Hancock and his signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Verses 12-13: As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. Now Paul accuses the ones who pushed the law on them to be just making a fair shew in the flesh. How? - By constraining them to be circumcised.

His point to me is that while pretending to care for those who they were placing under the law, their motive was actually selfish in that they were trying to bring glory to themselves. It reminds me of what Jesus said in Matthew 23:25 when he said, Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. They were merely viewing these Galatians as notches in their self-righteous belts.

Paul also says that their motivation was only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. Morris says of this, "To advocate circumcision was to align the new movement with Judaism, a religion that had official Roman sanction, and therefore one that avoided persecution. The preachers Paul was opposing may have included the cross in their proclamation, but by adding the necessity of circumcision they avoided persecution.” I would add that they not only could avoid persecution at the hands of the Romans, but also their fellow Jews. That kind of makes me ask what sin or deception are we trapped in because we do not want to suffer persecution for the cross of Christ?

Also, reminds me of what the writer of Hebrews said in Hebrews 12:3-4 when he wrote, For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. 

Personally, I do not think persecution, while not sought after, can be avoided if we are truly living for God. That is why Paul told young Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:12, Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

Verses 14-15: But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. On the other hand, Paul says that he glories only in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, because the world is crucified to him and he to the world. Why? - Because it isn't about circumcision or uncircumcision, but about becoming a new creature through Christ.

Verse 16: And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. Paul now pronounces a blessing upon those who walk according to this rule. What rule? - Glorying in the cross and becoming a new creation.

Interesting that he began the letter with a curse in Galatians 1:8-9 and ends with a blessing on those who glory in the cross, not the keeping of the Law, but becoming new creatures in Christ. These are those who are the true Israel of God, or the spiritual descendants of Abraham according to faith. The same faith that Abraham exercised when the promises where made to him just as Paul argued in chapter 3.

Verse 17: From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen. What did he mean by let no man trouble me? It could be that he is saying that he doesn't want to hear any more of this nonsense about the Law or possibly that no one can accuse him of not having suffered for preaching the cross of Christ.

Interestingly, a teaching rose out of this statement for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus called the stigmata which says that Paul actually had the wounds of Jesus in his hands, feet, side, back, and head as a result of his devotion and identification with Christ. The Catholic Church teaches that this is very possible and five saints have actually received them; the most famous being Saint Francis of Assisi. They teach that the stigmata is a unique mystical sign that few people have experienced, and that would someone receive it, they literally share in the sufferings of Christ, by bearing the wounds of Christ crucified such as wounds in their hands, feet, or side (the wounds of the Crucifixion), on their head (the wounds of the Crown of Thorns), on their back (the wounds of the scourging), or some combination of these. In truth, what Paul is referring to is the marks, wounds, scars that he had received in his service for Christ. He mentioned these in detail in 2 Corinthians 11:23-25.

Verse 18: Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen. Paul concludes by emphasizing the grace our our Lord Jesus Christ. In other words, his desire was that they not walk in legalism through the Law, but in the grace that comes through faith. Barclay says of this, "After the storm and stress and intensity of the letter comes the peace of the benediction. Paul has argued and rebuked and cajoled but his last word is GRACE, for him the only word that really mattered.”

Galatians | Session 24 | 5:16-6:2

In today's study, we see Paul encouraging the Galatian believers to avoid the teaching of the Judaizers who were telling them that they needed to place themselves under the Law, but to instead walk in the Spirit and the liberty that had been afforded to them by the gospel of grace. He also encourages them to be quick to restore those who had stumbled in their walks, keeping in mind that it could also happen to them.

Verses 16-18: This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Paul’s solution was simple, liberty comes as a result of walking in the Spirit. Those who do so will not fulfil the lust of the flesh. In other words, the flesh will never lead us to do something spiritual, and the Spirit will never lead us to do something fleshly. So, when it comes to liberty, we need to first ask ourselves if what we are wanting to do is a work of the flesh or a work of the Spirit, and then obey what the Spirit.

Notice the last part of verse 17 which says, so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. In other words, if we would spend our lives walking the Spirit, we will not have time to fulfil the needs of the flesh. I believe that is when we as believers begin to struggle, drop our spiritual swords, and start thinking of the flesh. Paul is basically saying, if you stay in the game, you will not have time to feed the flesh.

Now Paul lists the things that the flesh produces in our lives if we allow it to.

Verses 19-21: Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. His point is that these things should not be what a saved person is involved in because they should be walking in the Spirit and not have any time for it. Yes, these are the things that our flesh naturally wants to do, but if we stay in the Spirit, we will not be drawn to them.

Notice the end of verse 21 where he says that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Seems strange at first glance, but remember that throughout this letter, he has been speaking to both Kingdom Jews, particularly the Judaizers, and Gentiles. Again, it is a pronoun thing. He switches from ye (Galatian Gentiles) in verse 18 to they (Jews, particularly the Judaizers) in verse 19. In my opinion, he does so because the Kingdom was still a valid offer because this letter was written between 53 and 57AD. Again, there is a need to rightly divide even the Paulene epistles.

Verses 22-23: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Now Paul moves on to list the things that the Spirit produces in our lives. Again, his point is that if we would actively walk in these things, we would not be tempted to walk in the works of the flesh listed earlier. Why? - Because we can't do both at the same time.

Verses 24-25: And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Crucifying the flesh is a moment by moment, day by day, year by year action. It doesn't happen instantaneously at conversion. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:31, I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. All believers are to live in the Spirit, by yielding to the Holy Spirit in our lives, and letting Christ live through us daily. Paul also told the Philippians that for him to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21).

Also, the word walk in this verse is an action verb. In other words, it is present progressive and never stops.

Verse 26: Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another. He concludes this chapter by taking a shot at the Judaizers by saying that they should not desirous of vain glory which is applicable to all of us.

I believe that the vain glory that he is speaking of was the subject of circumcision specifically and the law generally which was causing them to provoke one another and creating envy. Remember what I said about verses 14:15 that the law has a tendency to lead to self-righteousness because it becomes all about us. That self-righteousness will lead to division and not love. Nothing but hatred and separation will result as we check our own boxes compared to other's boxes.

Chapter 6

Now Paul turns to practical instruction and application.

Verse 1: Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. In this verse, Paul is encouraging them to be quick to restore a brother who has stumbled unwittingly. I say that because of the word overtaken. It seems to indicate that it was not on purpose.

Henry Morris says of the word, "it contains the idea of falling. It is not the deliberate, the planned, aspect of sin that is stressed here, but rather the unwitting element. Mistake rather than misdeed is the force of the word, though without absolution of responsibility.”

In context, he is most likely speaking of those who for a time did not walk in the spirit but heeded the flesh instead. He may also be specifically referring to those who had briefly heeded the teaching of the Judaizers and had attempted to place themselves under the law. 

His point is that the ones who had should be restored, not ignored, excused, or destroyed. The word restore means to put back in order or to its former condition and it should be done in a spirit of meekness. I have to say that the church is not very good at this! We are much better at shooting our wounded.

Verse 2: Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. In other words, we are called to walk this thing together with each other's help. This walk was not meant to be a Lone Ranger lifestyle.

Galatians | Session 23 | 5:1-15

In our study today we see Paul encouraging the Galatian believers to stand fast in the liberty that has been given to them by their simple faith in Christ's completed work on the cross. He also warns them to steer clear of those who were telling them that they needed to place themselves under the works of the law, and that to do so, would forfeit grace.

Verse 1: Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. The yoke of bondage is a reference to being put under the Law. Now, one argument that legalists will make is that those of us on the grace side believe in what some call "sloppy" grace. Understand something, liberty is not a license to sin, and anyone who believes so is just as deceived as the those who choose the yoke of bondage (Romans 8:15).

Verses 2-4: Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. Notice that Paul says if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. His point is that if you are trusting in your circumcision, or any other work of the law, to save you, you are not trusting in what Christ did for you on the cross of Calvary. In reality, you are trusting in your works for salvation. As such, Christ has become of no effect unto you, i.e., you are saying that you are trusting your justification to be by your works and not Christ's death, burial, and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Faith plus nothing is faith. Faith plus anything is works.

Paul is saying to the Galatians who came to faith through the grace gospel that he preached to them (Galatians 1:6), and were now adding the Law to it, that they have actually fallen from grace. I do not believe he is saying that they have lost their salvation. Instead, he is simply saying that they have departed from the teaching of grace through faith only. Grace is grace. If you gain it by grace, you can't lose it through works.

The bottom line is that if we could gain salvation, or lose salvation, then it was never grace at all. Anyone who does not teach eternal security is misinterpreting the Scriptures. Eternal security is a dispensation of grace doctrine only. It was not in affect under the law, or during the gospels, nor will it be in the coming Tribulation. It is for the church age only.

Anyone who believes you can lose your salvation is getting it from passages that concern the nation of Israel and not the Body of Christ, i.e., the Old Testament, the Gospels, and the Hebrew Epistles. Paul never taught that one can lose their salvation. Yes, churches can fall from teaching grace by adding works as necessary for salvation, but an individual can never lose their salvation, period.

Verses 5-6: For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. Remember that the issue of circumcision was why Paul went up to Jerusalem to meet with the apostles in the first place (Galatians 2:12; Acts 15:1-2). His point is that while once circumcision meant something as a requirement under the law (Romans 2:25), it doesn't now under grace.

Verses 7-8: Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. In other words, you guys were doing so well until the Judaizers came in and confused you that ye should not obey the truth.

I used to tell the students that they can have no fellowship with error. Fellowship is just two fellows in a ship who are going the same way. The synonyms are companionship and communion. Amos 3:3 asks Can two walk together, except they be agreed? The answer is no.

I believe him that calleth you is the same him that called you in Galatians 1:6: Paul. In other words, he is telling them that he is not to blame for the heresy they were falling into.

Verse 9: A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. Summation: you need to get rid of this fallacious doctrine that is being pushed on you. He said something similar to  the Corinthians in 1Corinthians 5:6 when he said, Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?

The bottom line is that we cannot mix truth with error. Too many in the church today are comfortable with death in the pot (2 Kings 4:38-40).

Verse 10: I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be. Paul expresses confidence that the Galatians will do the right thing. However, he has nothing nice to say about the ones who were troubling them.

It is interesting that he uses the personal pronoun he when he speaks of these Judaizers who he had mentioned in the plural in Galatians 1:7, 3:1, 2:4 and even Acts 15:1). It would seem here that he had one particular person in mind.

Why was his tone so harsh? They were confusing the Body of Christ.

Reminds me of James 3:1 when he said, My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. I always pity those who are leading others astray purposefully or through ignorance.

Verse 11: And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased. Again, Paul is making it clear that he is not the one teaching circumcision. As matter of fact, most of Paul's accusers and attackers were doing so because he did not teach that circumcision was a requirement.

Verse 12: I would they were even cut off which trouble you. Harsh words but warranted. He was referring to self-mutilation in the Greek. The NASB translates the term cut off as mutilate and the NIV as emasculate.

Verse 13: For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. When we walk in liberty, instead of the Law, it frees us to serve others. I believe it is because we are comfortable in our relationship with God ourselves. That is freeing. However, we should not use that liberty as an occasion to the flesh, i.e., to sin as Paul stated in Romans 6:1 when he asked, What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?

Verses 14-15: For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. Following the same thought of serving others out of love, Law has a tendency to lead to self-righteousness because it becomes all about you. Self-righteousness always leads to division and not love. Nothing but hatred and separation will result if we check our own boxes and compare them to other's. This is exactly why Paul told the Corinthians that they should not measure themselves by themselves, or compare themselves among themselves, that it is not wise (2 Corinthians 10:12). Neither should we, but we will if we start finding our value in our works instead of Christ.

Galatians | Session 22 | 4:19-31

In our study today Paul continues to make his arguments against the Judaizers who were attempting to lead the Galatian grace believers into the Law. He does this by allegorically comparing Hagar and Sarah and Ishmael and Isaac. His conclusion is that they needed to cast out the legalists.

Verses 19-20: My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you. He calls them his children because he is the one who led them to the faith, and feels like he is having to win them over or persuade them again to the beauty of grace (1Corinthians 4:15). He also wanted to change his tone with them but was afraid that they would continue down this dangerous path away from the grace gospel that he had given to them.

Verses: 21-23: Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Paul is now uses Hagar and Sarah allegorically to make a point. He says that one was a son of the flesh while the other was a son of promise. The one of the flesh was Ishmael who was born to the bondwoman, Hagar, after the flesh. The second of the spirit was Isaac who was born to Sarah. Simply put, Hagar represented bondage in that she was a servant, while Sarah represented freedom because she was a free woman.

Verses 24-26: Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. He then compares Hagar and Sarah to two covenants. The first which was given from Mt. Sinai where the Law was delivered (Exodus 19-20).

The background of Hagar was that she was a bondwoman that he had picked up while out of the will of God running around in Egypt. In the allegory, she represents the law and bondage as a servant to Sarah. The second of the covenants he speaks of is regarding Sarah who was a freewoman who was simply in the will of God waiting for the promise of God to have the child that he told her she would have even in her old age. In the allegory, she represents freedom and faith. The same faith that Abraham had when the promises were given to him.

His conclusion was that the children of Hagar were in bondage and the children of Sarah were free. It is almost like Paul is asking them which mother they would rather be under? 

On a final note, regarding verse 26, Morris says, "Paul is not talking about the Jerusalem in Palestine that was the chief city of the Jewish nation at that time, for that city was not free. It was under the rule of the Romans. But the spiritual or heavenly Jerusalem is not in bondage; it is free.” Again, Paul pointing to freedom as compared to bondage.

Verse 27: For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. Paul goes on to say that it was with the descendants of the one who was initially barren, the nation of Israel, that God made the convent with and he is quoting from Isaiah 54:1.

The second part of the verse is a mind-binder for me. What does he mean for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband? Still not sure to be honest with you. However, the desolate to me is still speaking of Sarah, but hath many more children than she which hath an husband? Could the one who hath an husband be a reference to Israel under the law?

One commentator said that he is saying that there will soon be more Christians than Jews, i.e., the Jews under the law represented by Hagar and the Christians under grace represented by Sarah.

In this he compares Hagar and Sarah's children.

“Ishmaels” = Legalism               “Isaacs” = Freedom

Slavery and bondage                  Freedom

born according to the flesh         born by God’s promised miracle

earthly Jerusalem                       heavenly Jerusalem

Many children                            Many more children

Persecuting                                 Persecuted

Inheriting nothing                      Inheriting everything

based on law-keeping                 based on trusting God, i.e., faith

He doesn't draw a distinction between Israel's earthly promises and the Bodies heavenly promises, but again, I just do not know for sure what Paul meant by that phrase at this time. If you have an idea, let me know.

Verses 28-29: Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. In other words, the ones who insist on the law, i.e., Judaizers were persecuting just like Ishmael did Isaac, the ones who were free from the law. Even so today, the legalists persecute the free and attempt to bring us back into bondage, e.g., observing days, months, times, and years (verse 10).

Verses 30-31: Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free. Paul’s solution to the problem was for them to cast out the legalists who were seeking to enslave them. 

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Galatians | Session 21 | 4:10-18

In today’s study, Paul continues to plead with the Galatian believers to not be misled by the Judaizers who were trying to alienate them from him and lead them to the bondage of the law. His desire was that the relationship that they had with him in the beginning be restored and lets them know that he is not their enemy.

Verses 10-12: Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain. Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am; for I am as ye are: ye have not injured me at all. Again, the Judaizers were convincing them, both Jew and Gentile, that they had to keep the Mosaic law to be saved. Unfortunately, to do so was to pervert the gospel of grace by adding works to it.

Paul also feels the need to let them know that he is not angry with them, and just wants the relationship restored that they once had which he will describe in the following verses. You can only imagine the horrible things that the Judaizers were telling them about Paul. Of course, as a pastor, I do not have to imagine.   

Verses 13-15: Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first. And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me. He goes on to remind them of the relationship that they used to have with each other before the Judaizers stepped in to ruin it. He also makes an interesting comment when he says my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected. From his own statement in Galatians 6:11, he seems to be referring to his eyes or eyesight.

Some have even hypothesized that he was suffering from ophthalmia or a similar eye disease which was very prevalent in the first-century due to poor lighting that caused the eye to become inflamed and a mucus type leak. This may have been Paul's thorn in the flesh that he mentioned in 2 Corinthians 12:7.

Verses16-18: Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth? They zealously affect you, but not well; yea, they would exclude you, that ye might affect them. But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you. He was warning them not to be offended because he was speaking truth to them. Unfortunately, the Judaizers had a lot of zeal in their appeals to them, but they were leading them the wrong way. He further tells them that what the Judaizers were trying to do was to alienate them from Paul to win them over to their side.

Friday, December 3, 2021

Galatians | Session 20 | 4:6-9

In today’s study we see how that we are now the sons of God because God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts. Therefore, we are no longer servants, but heirs through Christ. Specifically, Paul is addressing Galatians Gentile believers that made up the Body of Christ; both Jew and Gentile of which we are a part of today.

Verse 6: And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Now Paul makes another switch from we in verse 5 to ye and is still speaking directly to the Galatian believers (i.e., the Body of Christ made up on both Jew and Gentile). By faith, they have been brought into a sonship relationship by the giving of the Spirit of his Son in which they too can now cry out Abba, Father.

Verse 7: Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. Interestingly, Paul now switches to first person singular. I have come to believe that he is addressing the servant in verse 1 who would eventually have Israel as their Lord has now become equal with Israel as joint heirs.

Again, for clarification, this does not mean that we, the Body of Christ, obtain Israel's earthly promises. However, we do become joint heirs with those Jews who are now a part of the Body of Christ in heavenly places.

Verse 8: Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. This verse is squarely directed at the Gentile believers still who had been misled by the Judaizers regarding the law. I don't think the Gentile believers necessarily believed they had to "go back" to the Mosaic law, because they were never under it, but instead were being led to believe they had to obey it to be saved.

Verse 9: But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? We have already established that the Gentile believers were never under the Mosaic law, therefore, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage cannot be referring to that. Instead, I believe when he asks how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, he is referring to the bondage of their paganism. Either way, the Judaizers would have been promoting the law of Moses which was also bondage.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Galatians | Session 19 | 3:29-4:5

In today's study, we see that those who are of faith are heirs according to the promise that God gave to Abraham. This is possible because Christ fulfilled the law so that both Jews and Gentiles can now be saved simply by faith. Therefore, being in Christ Jesus, we are spiritually speaking, Abraham's seed according to the promise (not the law).

So, Gentile believers are heirs of the promise that God gave to Abraham, not every promise, but one. Which one? Verse 14 tells us that it is That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. So, the blessing of Abraham ultimately is the blessing of receiving the promise of the Spirit through faith just as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 12:13, For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit

Chapter 4

Verses 1-2: Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. The heir in this verse speaks of Israel in its infancy as a nation when it was considered to be a child. As such, it was kept under law of the father until the time appointed of the father which to me was the first advent of Christ. It is also referred to as the fulness of time in verse 4.

Paul is using the Roman practice of tutela or guardianship of a minor to make his point. Just as a Roman father would appoint guardians, e.g., tutors and governors, to manage his child's affairs until he came of age, so too, God did for the nation with the Law.

Verse 3: Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: Again, the we in this verse is reference to the nation of Israel and not us. He is referring to their bondage under the law, e.g., elements of the world.

Verse 4: But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, The fullness of time was appointed by the Father when Christ was to come as prophesied in Danial 9:24-27.

Made of a woman speaks of his virgin birth through Mary. It also implies his pre-existence (cf. and John 1:14). And, since Christ was sent to redeem those under the law, he himself had to be born under the law.

Verse 5: To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. Paul here makes an interesting pronoun switch in this verse. He moves from third-person plural (them) to second-person plural (we). That is because the ones who were redeemed were the nation of Israel who were under the law. He also made that clear in chapter 3:13 when he said, Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: Why? – So that the Galatian gentiles might receive the adoption.

Again, the them is this verse cannot be the Galatian gentiles or the Body of Christ because neither were ever under the law. Israel is the only nation on earth who has ever been under the law, therefore, they are the ones who were redeemed from it. That is the why the kingdom gospel went only to the Jew. They had to be redeemed first from the law and he was their Redeemer. Understand, we Gentiles have never been under the law and therefore were in no need of redemption from it.

It was not until Paul that we hear anything about Jesus being a ransom for all the world as part of the dispensation of grace (1 Timothy 2:1-6). It was only then that salvation could be offered by faith, and faith alone, since the Seed had come and fulfilled the requirements of the law.

Now, by faith, just like Abraham's faith in the promises, we are able to receive the adoption of sons. Another way of expressing it is that after Israel had its chance to be redeemed under the law, then grace could be offered to the Gentiles by faith as revealed in the mystery to Paul.

Now the question arises, has adoption or "sonship" been given to the nation since they rejected the offer? Paul refers to waiting for the adoption in Romans 8:23 when he said, And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body, but that is referring to the redemption of our bodies someday and is not the same as the adoption or sonship that the nation of Israel enjoys.

Paul also refers to adoption in Romans 9:4 in the present tense when he said, Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Therefore, we must conclude that adoption and sonship has already been given to the nation even though they rejected the kingdom offer, and to this day, they are being held accountable as the heirs of that kingdom.

That doesn't mean that they are saved, but that they have been redeemed because they price was paid, whether they accepted it or not, and are therefore no longer under the law. That is also why we must conclude that the redemption given to Israel and salvation given to us are not the same thing. The first required nothing on their part, but the second requires faith on our part.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Galatians | Session 18 | 3:20-28

In today's study, we review verse 19 and work our way through verse 28 where we see Paul continuing to show to the Galatian believers that the law was given to preserve the nation until Christ should come, the law was the nation's schoolmaster, until they could be justified by faith just like Abraham. Now, we are all the children of God by faith and faith alone.

Verse 20: Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one. In other words, there are two parties required for a mediation. In this case, Moses and the nation of Israel. In context, I believe that the verse is pointing out the difference between the giving of the law which required Moses as the mediator and the giving of the covenant which God mediated on His own with Abraham.

Verse 21: Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. The question is, does the law set aside the promises of God that he gave to Abraham in the covenant? No. They actually run parallel. One does not trump the other. However, the law could not give life, for if it could, it would have replaced the promises, i.e., those made to Abraham 430 years prior.

Verse 22: But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. Instead, the scripture, i.e., law, has made it abundantly clear that all are under sin, both Jew and Gentile. Notice also that the faith was first that of Christ, and we merely believe in that faith with our own.

Verse 23: But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. In other words, the purpose of the law was to keep the nation shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed  in and through Christ. The term shut up unto the faith can also be translated imprisoned or confined. In other words, they were controlled or under the law until Christ came because his was the faith that made it possible. Anyone who teaches that everyone has always been saved by grace through faith is confused because the nation of Israel was incapable of this kind of faith because it had been shut up unto them until Christ came.

Verse 24: Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. The law served as the nation's schoolmaster which was given to point them to Christ so that they might be justified by faith.

This is one of the most misunderstood verses in all of the Bible, because we fail to recognize that the pronouns our and we are referring to the nation of Israel and not the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ has never been kept under the law (cf. verse 23). The law was given to the nation to bring them to Christ, so that they could be justified by faith.

Verse 25: But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. The faith that was to come was through Christ, and the law is no longer their schoolmaster. Again, the law pointed them to Christ. Obviously, the faith was not prior to Christ!

Verses 26-27: For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Note the change in pronouns, i.e., ye. He changes from the first-person plural to the second-person plural. Paul is now referring to the Galatians which were both Jew and Gentile. All of them must come by faith in Christ and not the law. By their faith, they had been baptized into Christ and had put on Christ apart from the law. This baptism has nothing to do with water.

Verse 28: There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. Under the law there was Jew and Greek, bond and free, male and female, but not now! How can you not be a dispensationalist after reading a verse like this!?

Galatians | Session 17 | 3:19

We continue our study by reviewing a bit of 3:15-18 and taking a closer look at verse 19 to discover why the law was given and possibly why the angels were involved.

Verse 19: Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. His question was if the covenant had nothing to do with the law, why was the law later given? His answer was that it was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator

The context clearly dictates that the transgressions he is referring to are those of the nation of Israel and the Law would serve as a preservation agent for the nation until the seed (Christ) should come to whom the promise was made.

How was it ordained by angels? This may be a reference to Deuteronomy 33:1-2 which says, And this is the blessing, wherewith Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death. And he said, The LORD came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them. First, the word saints in this verse are referring to holy ones or angels. Second, if this verse is what Paul is referring to, that would make Moses the mediator between God and the nation just as described in Exodus 20:19-22 where it says, And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die. And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not. And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was. And the LORD said unto Moses, Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, Ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven. 

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Galatians | Session 16 | 3:15-18

We continue our study by reviewing 3:10-14 and continue to verse 18 where we see Paul saying that Abraham received the promise through faith and that through Christ the blessings of Abraham has come to the Gentiles.

Verse 15: Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man's covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto. His point here is that in response to the covenant that God made with Abraham, he can only think as a mere mortal, and that means that God made a deal with Abraham and He was not going to change his mind by getting rid of it or adding to it.

Verse 16: Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. So, back to the promises that God gave to Abraham and his descendants; they involved a land and a seed. He mentioned this when writing to the Romans when he said, Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen (Romans 9:4-5) and Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: (Romans 15:8).

Notice that he says very clearly that the promise was made to Abraham and is seed and He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. He then further clarifies that this seed of which he speaks is none other than Christ. That means that the land of Israel is the inheritance of Christ and the Abrahamic Covenant will be ultimately fulfilled in Christ.

This is where many translations go off the rails in that while they may translate this verse correctly, they do not do so in the Old Testament passages that Paul is referring to. For example, in Genesis 13:15 and Genesis 17:8 they translate seed as offspring and descendants, yet the word for seed is always in the singular and never in the plural. To do so removes the specific reference to Christ that it clearly is.

Verses 17-18: And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise. Again, Paul is pointing out that the covenant given to Abraham by faith was in Christ just like the gospel that he preached, and the law had no bearing on it since it wasn't given until 430 years later.

His conclusion is that the promises made to Abraham were by faith and not law, therefore, the two should not be intermixed, i.e., complete in the flesh what was begun in the Spirit (cf. verse 3).

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Galatians | Session 15 | 3:10-14

We continue our study through the book of Galatians today where Paul is declaring that our faith must be in Christ's completed work on the cross and not a mixture of law and grace.

Verse 10: For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. This verse is condemning the Judaizers who were trying to get the Gentiles to submit to only portions or the law, e.g., circumcision, but not all of it. His point is that for one to place themselves back under the law in any circumstance is to place themselves back under the curse that comes with it because it brings death.

Verse 11: But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. His point is that no man is justified by the law in this current dispensation. Notice that the phrase is justified is in the present passive tense. This verse also requires a dispensational view.

Verse 12: And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. The them is the verse is a reference to the law and is a quote from Leviticus 18:5 where it says, Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the LORD. Again, Paul's point is that people under the present dispensation are justified by faith and not by the keeping of the law.

In context, he is still addressing those who wanted to mix law with grace. However, as he said in verse 10, the law is not a pick and choose option, but an all or nothing proposition. He will further elaborate on this further in Galatians 5:2-4.

Again, these verses will not make sense, and even contradict, if they are not viewed through a dispensational lens, i.e., justification by works (Kingdom) or justification by faith (Grace).

Verse 13: Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: In this current dispensation, we have been redeemed from the curse of the law meaning that we do not have to keep it.

Notice that it says that Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law. The word redeemed means to purchase. The purchase was that Christ became the curse by his death. Remember that Christ redeemed the Jews from the curse of the law by taking the curse on himself. Who is the us in this context? The nation of Israel. Again, I have come to understand that pronouns are important in Bible interpretation.

The we/us in the epistle are the Jews (Galatians 2:15). The ye/you in the epistle are the Galatian gentiles. The ones that were redeemed were not ye/you, but we/us! Why is this important? - Because the Gentiles have never been under the curse of the law, ever, therefore, they did not need redemption from it. Instead, the Bible says that the Gentiles were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel in Ephesians 2:12-13, That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. 

If you still doubt that, keep reading.

Verse 14: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. This verse makes I clear that the nation of Israel was redeemed for two reasons. First, so that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ, and second, so that that we (the House of Israel) could receive the promise of the Spirit through faith which was fulfilled at Pentecost.

Galatians | Session 14 | 3:7-9

We continue in our study of the book of Galatians today where Paul continues to make the argument that the gospel that he preached must be received with the same faith that Abraham had when God made the covenant with him, i.e., without works.

Verse 7: Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. Remember that this verse is referring to kingdom Jews who were still very much part of the Abrahamic Covenant and their faith in the gospel of grace was the same faith that Abraham exercised at the giving of the covenant. Again, context is key and Paul's overall point is that Judaism is built on faith, i.e., Abrahamic Covenant and not circumcision (cf. 2:1-3).

Verse 8: And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. Yes, the Bible does teach that God should justify the heathen through faith. The scripture foresaw it. Now, I cannot find anywhere in the Old Testament that the Gentiles would be justified by faith. However, Paul says that God foresaw it, not Abraham and it was preached before the gospel unto Abraham. Can he possibly be referring to Paul's gospel? No! (Ephesians 3:1-10) The good news that Abraham received was that God was going to justify the heathen (Isaiah 49:6). That was indeed good news!

Paul's reference to the Abrahamic Covenant in this section is a proof text that indeed, through Abraham all the nations would be blessed as that the Messiah came through Israel.

Verse 9: So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. In other words, Paul concludes that they which be of faith are the ones who receive the blessing just like Abraham did.

In conclusion, in verses 6-9 Paul is simply illustrating that God has other promises that are by grace through faith and one of them is the Abrahamic Covenant. How? – Because it required no work on Abraham's part since it was given 430 years prior to the law and circumcision. So too, the grace gospel (remember this is Paul's entire point) is also not based on law, but simple faith.

My final thought is that for anyone to interpret this section in any other way is to place Gentiles under the Abrahamic Covenant as a means of salvation, i.e., Covenant Theology. Wrong.

Galatians | Session 13 | 3:6

We continue in our study of the book of Galatians today where Paul is doubling down against the false teaching that was being introduced to them that they must also keep the law in addition to faith to be saved. We also see that Paul is making a case that just as Abraham believed simply by faith without works, so must they.

Verse 6: Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. This verse is often misinterpreted to be saying that Abraham was saved by faith while it is actually referring to the Abrahamic Covenant which was received by faith. We see the account in Genesis 15:4-6 where it says, And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.  

Paul’s point is that Abraham was not required to do anything on his part as that it was an unconditional covenant, i.e., no conditions were set on Abraham. Therefore, the promise was received by faith. Unfortunately, many today erroneously point to this event as proof of his and our salvation today. However, this event has absolutely nothing to do with Abraham’s personal salvation. Paul's point in these verses is that faith is part of both law and grace

I have heard, and even said myself, that those in the Old Testament were saved by the same faith that those of us in the New Testament are saved by. That statement is dead wrong. Their faith in the Old Testament had to be accompanied by works, period. James made this clear when he said that Abraham was not made righteous by faith and faith alone like the Body of Christ today. James 2:20-24, But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. 

Galatians | Session 12 | 3:1-5

We continue in our study of the book of Galatians today where Paul is doubling down against the false teaching that was being introduced to them that they must also keep the law in addition to faith to be saved.

Verse 1: 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? He accuses them of being foolish and bewitched. Interestingly, some of the other translations omit that ye should not obey the truth and among you. I do not understand that because that is the entire point that he is making because they are not obeying the truth of his gospel.

The phrase evidently set forth implies that he is referring to written resources. Yet, in spite of that, they had been bewitched into thinking that the gospel of grace was not enough to save them, and they needed works as well.

Verse 2: This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? His question is simple, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit by works or by faith?" Of course, it is rhetorical in nature. Again, we must remember that he is addressing Jewish grace believers.

Verses 3-4: Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain. His question is, "Are you so foolish as to believe that what your received by faith must now by kept by works?"

The word perfect means complete. It was actually an insult to think that the Holy Spirit could not finish what He had started or needed their help to do so.

The question have ye suffered so many things in vain implies that they had apparently already suffered for their faith at the hands of other Jews and to walk away now would make those sufferings in vain.

Verse 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? Paul is either referring to himself and his first visit with them or he is referring to God, i.e., the Holy Spirit? If he is referring to himself, it would be in reference to his ministry pre-acts 28 because of the mentioned miracles. Of course, either way, the answer is faith and not works. The bottom line is that Paul never told anyone to do anything other than believe to receive the Holy Spirit unlike Peter who had told them that they must repent and be baptized (Acts 2:38).