Galatians 3:2 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Galatians 3:2, NIV: I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard?

Galatians 3:2, ESV: Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?

Galatians 3:2, KJV: This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

Galatians 3:2, NASB: This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?

Galatians 3:2, NLT: Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ.

Galatians 3:2, CSB: I only want to learn this from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by believing what you heard?

What does Galatians 3:2 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The Galatian believers had accepted the gospel through Paul's preaching (Galatians 1:6–9). Now, however, they are starting to listen to the Judaizers, men claiming they must follow the works of the law to truly be saved. These false teachers suggest that faith is not enough to obtain salvation (Galatians 2:4). Paul has made his opinion clear: falling for this lie is "foolish" (Galatians 3:1).

Here, Paul begins to ask the Galatians a series of leading questions. His purpose is to help them reevaluate what they know to be true.

First, he asks them to look at the evidence of what happened when they were saved. These believers received the Holy Spirit from God at the time of their conversion, as do all Christians. Apparently, this was accompanied by certain outward signs, such as speaking in tongues, meaning languages the Galatians did not know. This often happened in the earliest days of Christianity. Whatever the specifics, Paul is referring to some obvious expression of God's supernatural power.

Paul asks them to remember that moment. Did it happen when they heard and believed in Jesus? Or, did they have to perform some works of the law, first? Paul's question is meant to help them see God gave His Spirit to them willingly by His grace and not because of anything they had done.