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.