I don’t have the ability to call my readers foolish, though. Paul felt this question of sufficient importance that repeating the thought in a couple of ways might make his readers think more than twice about what they were doing. What they were doing had changed:
Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? (Galatians 5:7 KJV)
The Galatians had moved away from faith to works. Paul sees this move as a response to someone: “who hath bewitched you,” “who did hinder you.” It is a big deal who we listen to when it comes to determining our actions.
Galatians’ third chapter reminds me much of Hebrews’ eleventh chapter – faith must be understood:
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1 KJV)
Empirical evidence is quantitative. It is definable and measurable. We know that specifically measured recipes will give specific results – how else could we anticipate the taste of chocolate chip cookies? faith does not offer such measurements, so we like to substitute works in order to quantify results. We can list commandments and count the times people see us obey them. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work, which Christ explained in Matthew 5:27-28.
From Galatians 5, we see circumcision, an empirical evidence, not as a sign of compliance, but as a rejection of Christ:
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. (Galatians 5:3-4 KJV)
Paul gives us a single standard:
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. (Galatians 5:5-6 KJV)
Here he combines the two items – faith and love – through which Christianity works. Without one or the other, Christians fail. James explains that very well in this example:
What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? (James 2:14-16 KJV)
Moving back to Galatians 3:2, the question remains for us to answer – are we doing good works expecting to win God’s favor (and perhaps mankind’s?), or through love because of His gift?
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 KJV)