Updated: Feb 24
24 February • Friday after Ash Wednesday
1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?
7 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. 10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.
There is much going on in this passage and theological themes abound. Perhaps we may bring all this together under the simple dictum: ‘Begin right, finish right’. We all know how common it is to begin right, but only to end wrongly. Hence, this passage has much to teach us.
The Galatian Christians began by faith. This is certainly right, for without faith in Christ our Saviour, there can be no salvation. Unfortunately, they were hoping to finish without faith, by latching on to human works, such as ceremonies, rites or good deeds. Sadly, this came about because of the
wrong teaching of some teachers. To be sure, works are good. They are the fruit of our salvation, but they cannot be the way of our salvation.
The life of faith was God’s plan all along, starting with the promise he made to Abraham. He was declared righteous by God because of faith in God’s word of promise. To fulfil this promise, Christ gave his life on the cross for us all, so that we too may be made righteous by faith. After being saved, we were given the Spirit to guide us in this life of faith. Hence, when we deviate from the path of faith, thinking perhaps that it is inadequate, we are actually disavowing God’s great plan
for redeeming the world, disrespecting the great price Christ paid for our salvation and deserting the all-important guidance of the Spirit.
The Christian life is all of faith. We must not let anything divert us from this path, not even the prestige markers and definitions of honour given by our society. It is far better to be recognised as a person of great faith, than a person of great prestige. Begin by faith, end by faith.
Dear God, help me never to forget that I am saved by grace
through faith. May I never deviate from this path of faith.
Whatever God has led you to start by faith, seek to also
complete it by faith.
Dr Tan Kim Huat
Chen Su Lan Professor of New Testament
Trinity Theological College