Just as Paul dealt with Peter’s error in the previous chapter, he now deals with why the faith of the Galatians has faltered: They have been put under an evil spell.
The Greek term for, “crazy,” is the antonym of the word for wisdom. The willfulness of the Galatians in wandering from the truth is evident to Paul, and it is deserving of a rebuke. The bluntness of the word, “crazy,” is intended to jar these saints from their error, and to quicken their interest and attention in what Paul is about to say.
“Crazy” is not only discomforting; it’s humbling. The Galatian Christians likely claimed a new level of truth, a higher level of spirituality. This was certainly true of the teachers of this “different gospel.” Paul strategically used the word, “crazy,” to challenge the pride of those who professed to be newly enlightened.
The term “put under an evil spell” was also pregnant with meaning to the first readers of this epistle. F. F. Bruce, in his commentary, renders the term “hypnotized.” While the Galatians were foolish to have fallen for such teaching, Paul acknowledges that those who taught such heresy were cunning combatants of Christ. Their teaching had the effect of mentally disarming the saints so as to convince them of doctrine that they should have seen as false.
In these words, Paul is contrast the method with which he preached the Gospel to the Galatians with the method of the Judaizers. The Judaizers’ gospel had “hypnotized” the Galatians by giving them the “evil eye.” Paul’s preaching had converted them by portraying Christ: “His sacrifice on the cross was certainly set before you clearly enough.” Paul’s presentation of the Gospel was deliberately visible. While the method of the Judaizers was underhanded, secretive, and subtle, Paul’s method is direct, open, and public.
Paul proclaimed Christ. He was always the essence and focal point of Paul’s preaching. Paul preached Christ crucified. Many then—as now—would gladly speak of Christ as an Example, an inspiring Teacher, a Man committed to truth and justice. But Paul spoke of Christ as hung upon a Roman cross and put to death for the sins of men. It is the death of Christ, followed by His resurrection and ascension, which is central to Paul’s teaching and doctrine. We will not find Christ apart from His cross in Paul’s Gospel. To the Jews, the cross was a stumbling block; to the Gentiles, an offense (I Corinthians 1:23). But for Paul, the crucified Christ was his sole message to all men.