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Bible Commentaries

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable
Galatians 5

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 1

Paul"s mainly Gentile readers were in danger of returning to slavery, not to the slavery of their heathen sins as before but to the slavery of the Mosaic Law. The false teachers were evidently telling them that they needed to submit to circumcision to be truly acceptable to God.

"Before plunging into this third section of his letter, Paul interjects a verse that is at once a summary of all that has gone before and a transition to what follows. It Isaiah , in fact, the key verse of the entire Epistle. Because of the nature of the true gospel and of the work of Christ on his behalf, the believer is now to turn away from anything that smacks of legalism and instead rest in Christ"s triumphant work for him and live in the power of Christ"s Spirit.... The appeal is for an obstinate perseverance in freedom as the only proper response to an attempt to bring Christians once more under legalism." [Note: Boice, p486.]

In the quotation above, Boice used the term "legalism" as it is commonly used to describe both legalism and nomism.

In what sense has God liberated Christians from the "yoke of slavery" ( Galatians 5:1) that is the Mosaic Law (cf. Romans 10:4; 2 Corinthians 3:7-11; Hebrews 7:12; Galatians 3:24)?

Calvin and many reformed theologians have answered this question this way. They have said the ceremonial laws (e.g, animal sacrifices, dietary restrictions, feast days, etc.) are no longer binding on Christians because of the death of Christ. Nevertheless the moral laws (the Ten Commandments) are still binding. God has done away with the moral laws only in the sense that they no longer condemn us ( Romans 8:11). [Note: John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1:2:11:4.] The problem with this explanation is that it makes a distinction between two parts of the Law that the text does not make. The text simply states that Christ is the end of "the Law" ( Romans 10:4), not the ceremonial part of the Law. Furthermore if the Ten Commandments are all still binding on us, why have Christians throughout history ( Acts 20:7; cf. 1 Corinthians 16:2) met to worship on Sunday rather than on the Sabbath? Some reformed theologians, following Calvin, believe that God abolished Sabbath worship along with the ceremonial laws. [Note: Ibid, 1:2:8:33 , 34.] This seems somewhat inconsistent. Others, following the Westminster Confession, regard Sunday worship as a continuation of Sabbath worship. [Note: The Confession of Faith; the Larger and Shorter Catechisms, with the Scripture Proofs at Large, 21:7.] Nevertheless it Isaiah , of course, very different.

Dispensational theologians have suggested another answer to this question that to me seems more consistent with what Scripture says. They say that God did away with the Mosaic Law completely, both the ceremonial and the moral parts. He terminated it as a code and has replaced it with a new code, "the Law of Christ" ( Galatians 6:2). Some commandments in the Law of Christ are the same as those in the Law of Moses (e.g, nine of the Ten Commandments, excluding the command to observe the Sabbath day). God-given codes of laws that governed people"s behavior existed before God gave the Law of Moses (e.g, Genesis 1:28-30; Genesis 2:16-17; Genesis 3:14-19; Genesis 9:1-17). God incorporated some specific commands from these former codes into the Law of Christ even though they were not part of the Law of Moses (e.g, 1 Timothy 4:3; cf. Genesis 9:3). He also incorporated nine of the Ten Commandments from the Mosaic Code.

"May this procedure not be likened to the various codes in a household with growing children? At different stages of maturity new codes are instituted, but some of the same commandments appear often. To say that the former code is done away and all its commandments is no contradiction. It is as natural as growing up. So it is with the Mosaic Law and the law of Christ." [Note: Charles C. Ryrie, "The End of the Law," Bibliotheca Sacra124:495 (July-September1967):247.]

"The "yoke" was used in current Jewish parlance in an honorable sense for the obligation to keep the law of Moses, and the Judaizers may well have urged the Galatians to "take the yoke of the law" upon themselves. But Paul bluntly points out that the ordinances of the law as demanded by the Judaizers constitute a slave"s yoke, so that he uses the word in the bad sense of an imposed burden, like slavery (cf. Acts 15:10; 1 Timothy 6:1)." [Note: Fung, pp216-17.]


Verses 1-10

IV. PRACTICAL APPLICATION TO CHRISTIAN LIVING5:1-6:10

Paul moved next from theology (chs3-4) to ethics, from doctrine to practice. This is a change in degree of emphasis, however, rather than a totally new emphasis.


Verses 1-12

1. Living without the Law5:1-12

The apostle warned his readers not to think that they could satisfy the demands of the Mosaic Law by obeying only a few of its commands. Only complete compliance satisfies its demands.


Verse 2

Paul now began to attack the Judaizers" teaching about circumcision. Insistence on circumcision was a central feature of the false gospel that the Judaizers were promoting. It was the practice around which the whole controversy swirled.


Verse 3-4

The Galatians would be obligating themselves to obey the whole Mosaic Code if they allowed the false teachers to circumcise them. [Note: Lightfoot, p203.] Their confidence in circumcision would reveal confidence in their own ability to earn salvation by obeying the Law. This legal approach to salvation would separate them from Christ since what He did was provide salvation as a gift. They would fall away from the grace method of salvation if they chose the law method. " Grace" was a favorite word of Paul"s. He used it100 of the155 times it occurs in the New Testament. In view of the many scriptural promises that God never withdraws His gift of salvation, Galatians 5:4 cannot mean the readers had lost their salvation (e.g, John 1:12; John 3:16; John 3:36; John 5:24; John 6:47; John 10:28-29; Romans 8:31-39; et al.).

The legalists appear to have been claiming that circumcision was a necessary step in the process by which people become acceptable to God. These steps from their viewpoint were faith in Christ, reception of the Spirit, and circumcision of the flesh. Paul argued that anyone who submits to circumcision to gain acceptance with God really believes in salvation by law-keeping. If one believes in law-keeping for salvation, he must keep the whole Law, not just the requirement of circumcision. That is impossible for sinners to do. Rather than gaining acceptance with God, circumcision would be what separated them from Christ.


Verse 5-6

Paul"s approach, and the one he tried to persuade the Galatians to adopt, was simply to trust God to deliver all that we anticipate in the future because we are now righteous (justified). [Note: Fung, pp225-26.] This hope includes our ultimate glorification (cf. Romans 8:18-25; 1 Peter 1:3-4; 1 Peter 1:13). We do not work for this, but we wait for it. Paul typically used "righteousness" to describe what we have now because of justification, but he used "salvation" to stress our future deliverance. [Note: "Eagerly await" (Gr. apekdechometha) appears seven times in the New Testament in reference to Christ"s return ( Romans 8:19 , 23 , 25; 1 Corinthians 1:7; Galatians 5:5; Philippians 3:20; Hebrews 9:28).] God does not care if a Christian has a circumcised body or not. What does matter is that we trust God because we love Him. Paul united the three basic Christian virtues in these verses: faith, hope, and love. The Holy Spirit makes all three possible.

"This verse on its own merits would show that Paul is not out of harmony with James" doctrine of faith plus works ( James 2:24 ff.)." [Note: Guthrie, Galatians , p130.]

"We must guard against the misunderstanding current especially in Catholic theology (though Protestantism is far from exempt) that only faith made perfect in love leads to justification. This represents a serious distortion of the relationship between faith, love, and justification. In speaking of justification Paul never talks of faith and love, but only of faith as receiving. Love is not therefore an additional prerequisite for receiving salvation, nor is it properly an essential trait of faith; on the contrary, faith animates the love in which it works." [Note: Bornkamm, p153.]


Verses 7-10

The false teachers had bumped Paul"s readers as they ran the Christian race. God had not led the ones who interfered with them to do so. The "leaven" in Paul"s proverb ( Galatians 5:9) could refer to the error in the church, the leading false teacher in their midst (the bad apple in the barrel, cf. Galatians 5:10), and the single requirement of circumcision already mentioned ( Galatians 5:2-3). Paul was confident that the Galatians would side with him and that they or God would judge the false teacher or teachers. "Whoever he is" may allude to the high standing of the false teacher in the Galatians" minds rather than expressing Paul"s ignorance about his identity. [Note: Fung, p238.]


Verse 11

Evidently some people were saying Paul advocated circumcision. He may have preached it before his Damascus road conversion, but since then he had stopped. Probably Paul meant that the accusation of his critics that he preached circumcision when it suited him was not true (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:18). [Note: Boice, p490.] Paul thought it wise for some Christians, such as Timothy, to undergo circumcision for the sake of effective ministry ( Acts 16:3). However, he did not teach that it was necessary for salvation.

Paul"s point here was that if he taught circumcision was necessary for salvation the Judaizers would not have persecuted him. If people need circumcision, they do not need the cross of Christ. The legalists opposed Paul"s preaching of the Cross because it implied that people are unable to please God themselves.

"The skandalon [stumbling block] of the cross, for Jews (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:23), lay in the curse which it involved for one who was hanged on it (cf. Galatians 3:13). That one who died such a death should be proclaimed as Lord and Christ was intolerable. In the eyes of Gentiles the idea that salvation depended on one who had neither the wit nor the power to save himself from so disreputable a death was the height of folly. But there is a more general skandalon attached to the cross, one of which Paul is probably thinking here: it cuts the ground from under every thought of personal achievement or merit where God"s salvation is in view. To be shut up to receiving salvation from the crucified one, if it is to be received at all, is an affront to all notions of proper self-pride and self-help-and for many people this remains a major stumbling-block in the gospel of Christ crucified. If I myself can make some small contribution, something even so small as the acceptance of circumcision, then my self-esteem is uninjured." [Note: Bruce, pp237-38.]

In short, Paul"s gospel was a stumbling block for two reasons: it presented a crucified Messiah and it advocated a way of salvation apart from circumcision and the Law.


Verse 12

The Judaizers had gone too far with circumcision. Paul"s wish that the Judaizers who were so keen on circumcision would mutilate (i.e, castrate) themselves reflects his deep feelings about the seriousness of their heresy. If God granted Paul"s wish, they could not produce converts, figuratively speaking. Priests of the Cybele cult in nearby Phrygia practiced castration. [Note: Barclay, p48; George, pp371-72.] Paul regarded his legalistic rivals as no better than pagan priests.

". . . for Paul to compare the ancient Jewish rite of circumcision to pagan practices even in this way is startling. For one thing, it puts the efforts of the Judaizers to have the Gentiles circumcised on the same level as abhorred pagan practices. For another, it links their desire for circumcision to that which even in Judaism disbarred one from the congregation of the Lord ( Deuteronomy 23:1)." [Note: Boice, p491.]

Thus Paul"s desire for the false teachers seems to have been that they would cut themselves off from the company of believers. [Note: Fung, p242.]

"Most often Galatians is viewed as the great document of justification by faith. What Christians all too often fail to realize is that in reality it is a document that sets out a Christ-centered lifestyle-one that stands in opposition to both nomism and libertinism. Sadly, though applauding justification by faith, Christians frequently renounce their freedom in Christ by espousing either nomism or libertinism, and sometimes (like the Galatians) both. So Paul"s letter to the Galatians , though directly relevant to the Galatian situation, speaks also to our situation today." [Note: Longenecker, p235.]


Verse 13-14

The "flesh" is the sinful human nature that every person, saved and unsaved, possesses. It is possible to conclude that since it is unnecessary to keep the Law to be saved, it is unnecessary to pay attention to the Law for any reason. However, Paul was not urging his converts to burn their Old Testaments. The Law has values, as he previously pointed out, one of which is to reveal how to express love for God and other people. Really the whole Law is a revelation of how to love ( Leviticus 19:18; cf. Mark 12:28-31). Under grace we are free to fulfill the Law by loving one another. For the Christian the Mosaic Law has revelatory value ( 2 Timothy 3:16-17) even though it does not have regulatory value, controlling our behavior. [Note: See J. Dwight Pentecost, "The Purpose of the Law," Bibliotheca Sacra128:511 (July-September1971):227-33.]

If his readers insisted on living in slavery, Paul wished they would enslave themselves to love of one another. If they wanted to live under law, let it be the law of Christ ( Galatians 6:2) impelled by the indwelling Spirit rather than by an external code. There is no external entity that can enable us to love our neighbors as ourselves, but the Holy Spirit can produce that love within us.

In what sense does Leviticus 19:18 fulfill the whole Mosaic Law?

"There is a play on two meanings of the Greek word peplerotai, translated "summed up" [NIV, or fulfilled, NASB]. On the one hand, it refers to the fact that the law can aptly be summarized by the words of Leviticus 19:18. This idea was a commonplace of rabbinic opinion and Jesus endorsed it in Matthew 22:39 and Luke 10:25-28. On the other hand, the word can also mean "fulfilled" (as in Romans 13:8), and in this sense Paul is suggesting that it is actually out of the new life of love made possible within the Christian community through the Spirit that the law finds fulfillment." [Note: Boice, p493.]

". . . the primary meaning is not that we must properly love ourselves before we can love others (although this is true in itself), but that we are to love our neighbor with the same spontaneity and alacrity with which we love ourselves. [Note: Fung, p246. Cf. Ridderbos, pp201-2.]

Paul wrote, "no one ever hated his own flesh but nourishes and cherishes it" ( Ephesians 5:29). By this he meant that it is not normal behavior to hate oneself but to love oneself. We only hate ourselves because bad experiences or influences have that effect on us.


Verses 13-15

2. Living without license5:13-15

Paul urged his readers to live unbound to the Law of Moses ( Galatians 5:1-12). He also warned them against using their liberty as a license to sin to prevent them from overreacting.

"Christian freedom is not licence [sic] for the simple but tremendous reason that the Christian is not the man who has become free to sin, but the Prayer of Manasseh , who, by the grace of God, has become free not to sin." [Note: Barclay, p50.]

"The theme of love ... informs all of Paul"s exhortations vis--vis the Galatians" libertine tendencies ...

"Yet undergirding all of Paul"s admonitions regarding love and service is the reality of life lived "by the Spirit," with references to the Spirit being more frequent in Galatians 5:13 to Galatians 6:10 than references to either love or service." [Note: Longenecker, p236.]


Verse 15

Apparently the believers who advocated grace and the believers who advocated law bitterly opposed one another in the Galatian churches. Paul cautioned both sides to love one another or they would consume each other. That would not be a good example of Christian love. This is the only sin Paul warned the Galatians to avoid. They were better off spiritually than some other congregations to which he wrote, or possibly he did not want to deal with other needs of theirs in this letter.


Verse 16

Walking by the Spirit means living moment by moment submissively trusting in the Holy Spirit rather than in self.

""Walk by the Spirit" means "let your conduct be directed by the Spirit."" [Note: Bruce, p243.]

"To "walk by the Spirit" means to be under the constant, moment-by-moment direction, control, and guidance of the Spirit." [Note: Fung, p249.]

"Walking is a metaphor used from time to time in Scripture to denote spiritual progress. People in the first century could not travel as fast as we do, with our cars, planes, trains and the like, but even Song of Solomon , for them as for us, walking was the slowest way of going places. But even though walking was slow and unspectacular, walking meant progress. If anyone kept walking, she or he would certainly cover the ground and eventually reach the destination. So for the apostle walking was an apt metaphor. If any believer was walking, that believer was going somewhere." [Note: Morris, p167.]

We could translate the Greek present tense imperative "Keep on walking." To the extent that we do this we will not at all (Gr. ou me, the strongest negative) carry out our fleshly desires. This is a promise.

This does not mean that one must be constantly thinking about his or her dependence on God to be walking in the Spirit. It Isaiah , of course, impossible to be thinking about this all the time. Nevertheless we should be trusting in Him all the time. The more we think about our dependence on Him the more consistent we will be in trusting in Him and in walking by the Spirit.

"The contrary way of living is to fulfil the lust of the flesh. The flesh is the physical part of our being and stands accordingly for that which is opposed to our spirit as well as to the divine Spirit. Our flesh is characterized by lust, which stands for the strong, but sometimes evil, desires that are associated with bodily living." [Note: Ibid, p168.]

This is one of the most important and helpful verses on Christian living in the Bible.


Verses 16-18

The promise of victory5:16-18


Verses 16-26

3. Living by the Holy Spirit5:16-26

Paul had told his readers that they should not live either under the Mosaic Law or licentiously. Now he gave positive direction and explained what the leading of the Holy Spirit means. He did this so his readers would know how to live to the glory of God as Christians.


Verse 17

This verse does not present two natures fighting each other inside the Christian. The conflicting entities are God"s Holy Spirit within the believer and the believer"s sinful human nature (cf. Galatians 3:3; Galatians 4:29; Galatians 5:16; Galatians 5:18; Galatians 5:22; Galatians 5:25; Romans 8:4-6; Romans 8:9; Romans 8:13). We experience conflict whether we side with the Spirit against the flesh or with the flesh against the Spirit. The "things that you please" may be good or evil. It is impossible for us to remain neutral; we either follow one or the other. Note, too, that we cannot blame Satan and his demons for all the conflicts we experience. Our own sinful nature is responsible for many of them.

"So long as we remain in this present life, we never outgrow or transcend the spiritual conflict Paul was describing in this passage. There is no spiritual technique or second blessing that can propel the believer onto a higher plane of Christian living where this battle must no longer be fought." [Note: George, pp387-88.]

The conflict described in this verse and in Galatians 5:16-23 is not the same as that presented in Romans 7:13-24. The opponents of the sinful nature are different. In Galatians it is the Holy Spirit, but in Romans it is the whole regenerated individual. The condition of the believer is also different. In Galatians Paul saw him as under law or grace, but in Romans he viewed him as under law only. Furthermore, the results of the conflict are different. In Galatians there may be defeat or victory, but in Romans defeat is inevitable. Finally, the nature of the conflict is different. In Galatians it is normal Christian experience, but in Romans it is abnormal. [Note: See Stanley D. Toussaint, "The Contrast between the Spiritual Conflict in Romans 7 and Galatians 5 ," Bibliotheca Sacra123:492 (October-December1966):310-14.]

The Christian"s Conflicts

Galatians 5:16-23

Romans 7:13-24

Opponent of flesh

The Holy Spirit

The reborn person

Condition of believer

Under law or grace

Under law

Result of conflict

Defeat or victory

Defeat

Nature of conflict

Normal Christian experience

Abnormal Christian experience


Verse 18

If we are led by the Spirit, we are not under the Law. This statement is a first class condition in the Greek text indicating that the writer assumed the statement was true for the sake of his argument. Other information about what he said determines whether it is really true. In this case Paul seems to have believed that the Holy Spirit does indeed lead every Christian (cf. Galatians 5:24-26; Romans 8:14). The question Isaiah , will we follow His leading and walk after the Spirit ( Galatians 5:16) or will we walk after the flesh? The "if" in this sentence has the force of "since." However, we should not conclude that the Spirit forces us to do God"s will. He does not lead us that strongly.

The Holy Spirit leads us to do the moral will of God. He does this primarily through Scripture by helping us understand the will of God as He has revealed it there. Furthermore He motivates us to do what we know to be right, and He provides the power for us to obey God ( Philippians 2:13). We can overcome the flesh by siding with the Spirit.

"Walking by the Spirit, the antidote to nomism [living by the law] of every kind, calls for resolution and staying power, as is made plain by Paul"s frequent use of athletic metaphor for the Christian life." [Note: Bruce, p246.]

"Being led by the Spirit does not imply passivity but rather the need to allow oneself to be led. Responding to the Spirit is described by three mutually interpreting words in Galatians 5:16; Galatians 5:18; Galatians 5:25 -"walk" (RSV), "led," and "live."" [Note: Boice, p495.]

We might have expected Paul to write that since we are led by the Spirit we are not "under the flesh," but instead we read "under the law." His point was that the Christian cannot overcome the desires of the flesh by remaining under the law. The Judaizers were advocating submission to the law as the way to overcome the flesh, but Paul advocated submission to the Spirit.


Verses 19-21

The works of the flesh5:19-21

The deeds of the sinful human nature are as evident as fruit on a tree. Behavior normally demonstrates nature. Paul identified five categories of sins here. He seems to have been saying ironically, Look at the accomplishments of the flesh!

Sexual sins ( Galatians 5:19)

Immorality, fornication (Gr. porneia, all types of forbidden sexual relationships)

Impurity, uncleanness (Gr. akatharsia, all moral uncleanness in thought, word, and deed)

Sensuality, licentiousness, indecency debauchery, lasciviousness (Gr. aselgeia, the open, shameless display of these sins)

"But why begin with these? It may be because of the prevalence and apparentness of them in Paul"s time. They were much in evidence in the pagan background from which the Galatians had come. Indeed they were sanctioned in the rites of pagan worship." [Note: Guthrie, Galatians , pp136-37.]

Religious sins ( Galatians 5:20)

Idolatry (Gr. eidololatria, worship of anything but God and the practices associated with that worship)

Sorcery, witchcraft (Gr. pharmakeia, attempts to aid the powers of evil and the practices associated with that)

Societal sins ( Galatians 5:20-21)

Enmities, quarrels, hatred (Gr. echthrai, hostilities)

Strife, discord, variance (Gr. eris, antagonism)

Jealousy, envy, emulation (Gr. zelos, self-centered animosity)

Outbursts of anger, fits of rage, wrath (Gr. thymoi, temper eruptions)

Disputes, strife, factions selfishness, selfish ambition (Gr. eritheiai, putting others down to get ahead)

Dissensions, divisions, seditions (Gr. dichostasiai, disputes over issues or personalities)

Factions, heresies, party spirit (Gr. haireseis, divisions over issues or personalities)

Envyings, jealousies (Gr. phthonoi, wrong desires to have another"s possessions)

"The general impression created by these words is one of chaos." [Note: Ibid, p137.]

Intemperate sins ( Galatians 5:21)

Drunkenness, drinking bouts (Gr. methai, excessive use of intoxicants)

Carousings, revelings, orgies (Gr. komoi, parties involving excessive eating and drinking)

Other sins ( Galatians 5:21)

Things like these (similar violations of God"s moral will)

"The common feature in this catalogue of vices seems to reside not in the precise ways in which these fifteen items manifest themselves but in the self-centeredness or egocentricity that underlies all of them. [Note: Longenecker, p266.]

Paul warned his readers here, as he had when he was with them, that people who practice such sins will not inherit the kingdom of God (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Ephesians 5:5). The use of the term "inherit the kingdom of God" ( Galatians 5:21) is in keeping with Paul"s emphasis in this letter (e.g, Galatians 4:1-7; et al.). There are two important views as to what this exclusion involves.

Most interpreters understand Paul"s words here to mean that people who practice these types of sins are not the kind of individuals who will inherit the kingdom (i.e, they are unbelievers). [Note: E.g, Bruce, p250; Boice, p497; J. Dwight Pentecost, Thy Kingdom Come, p283.] Those who hold this view usually equate inheriting the kingdom with obtaining eternal life (cf. John 3:3-5). Some who hold this view concede that these vices may mark some Christians, but Paul mentioned the fate of these sinners so the Galatian Christians would avoid these vices. Others who hold this view believe that no genuine Christian would practice these sins.

The second view is that Paul meant that Christians who practice these vices will have less inheritance (reward) in the kingdom than Christians who do not practice them. [Note: See Zane C. Hodges, Grace in Eclipse, pp76-77; Dillow, p90; Bob Wilkin, " Galatians 5:19-21: Who Will Inherit the Kingdom?" Grace Evangelical Society Newsletter (December1987), p2.] Those who hold this view often equate inheriting the kingdom with obtaining an inheritance in the millennial reign of Christ on earth.

I favor the first view. Paul seems to have been contrasting unbelievers whose lives typically bear the marks of these vices with believers whose lives typically manifest the fruit of the Spirit ( Galatians 5:22-23). He said that those who practice these vices will not inherit the kingdom to warn his Christian readers away from them. I do not believe the Scriptures teach that genuine Christians are incapable of committing these sins (cf. Romans 13:13). However, I believe that there will be differences in rewards for believers depending on our faithfulness to God ( 1 Corinthians 3:10-15).


Verse 22-23

The fruit of the Spirit5:22-23

Paul identified the behavior that results when we rebel against the Holy Spirit"s leadership and follow the dictates of our sinful nature (cf. Galatians 5:17). He next listed the behavior characteristics that become evident when we allow the Spirit to control us rather than the flesh.

Note that he called what issues from our sinful human nature "deeds" or "acts" (v19), but he called what issues from the Holy Spirit "fruit" ( Galatians 5:22). This contrast is consistent with Paul"s emphasis throughout the epistle. He repeatedly contrasted working and trusting. "Fruit" is singular suggesting the unified Christ-like character that the Holy Spirit produces. This fruit comes in nine delicious flavors. Both deeds and fruit are the behavior manifestations of the driving forces within the Christian: his or her sinful human nature and the Holy Spirit.

Mental or God-ward qualities ( Galatians 5:22)

Love (Gr. agape, self-sacrificing affection for others)

Joy (Gr. chara, deep-seated gladness regardless of circumstances)

Peace (Gr. eirene, inner quietness and repose regardless of circumstances)

Interpersonal or other-ward qualities ( Galatians 5:22)

Patience (Gr. makrothymia, forbearance even under provocation)

Kindness (Gr. chrestotes, benevolence and graciousness)

Goodness (Gr. agathosyne, constructive action reaching out to others)

General or self-ward qualities ( Galatians 5:22-23)

Faithfulness (Gr. pistis, reliability, trustworthiness)

Gentleness (Gr. praytes, acquiescence to authority and consideration of others)

Self-control (Gr. enkrateia, ability to master oneself)

"Again, it appears that Paul is not so concerned with precisely how each of these matters works out in practice, but with the underlying orientation of selfless and outgoing concern for others. For in commitment to God through Jesus Christ one discovers a new orientation for life-an orientation that reflects the selfless and outgoing love of God himself." [Note: Longenecker, p267.]

"Christian character is not mere moral or legal correctness, but the possession and manifestation of the graces of Galatians 5:22-23. Taken together they present a moral portrait of Christ, and may be understood as the apostle"s explanation of Galatians 2:20." [Note: The New Scofield Reference Bible, p1270.]

There are laws against the deeds of the flesh because they are destructive, but there are none against the fruit of the Spirit because it is edifying (cf. Romans 8:1). This fruit involves both character and conduct. [Note: For a helpful exposition of what is and what is not within the scope of the fruit of the Spirit, see James E. Rosscup, "Fruit in the New Testament," Bibliotheca Sacra125:497 (January-March1968):56-66. See also Charles C. Ryrie, "What is Spirituality?" Bibliotheca Sacra126:503 (July-September1969):204-13.]

". . . the law is not against those who walk by the Spirit because in principle they are fulfilling the law ( Galatians 5:14)." [Note: Ridderbos, p208.]

"Law exists for the purpose of restraint, but in the works of the Spirit there is nothing to restrain ..." [Note: Lightfoot, p213.]

Personality Traits for Meaningful Ministry [Note: Roy B. Zuck, "The Dean"s Doodlings," 1:2 (October1985):1.]

This past June 1985], Rick Rood attended a conference on Student Development in Theological Education held in Deerfield, Illinois. At the conference John L. Davis, of the North Central Career Development Center, New Brighton, Minnesota, spoke of nine "personal and social formation characteristics." His staff identified these as being significant for the practice of ministry. . . .

1. Ego-strength
or inner resiliency to cope with personal and professional stress; sense of self-worth.

2. Integrity
about one"s inner being; a willingness to . . . share selectively and appropriately about one"s regrets, fears, needs, aspirations, and visions.

3. Discriminatingly assertive;
self-starting; resourceful, energetic, poised, interdependent; even some degree of entrepreneurship.

4. Inquisitiveness;
openness to learning; avoidance of rigidity.

5. Healthy skepticism;
evidence of questioning, probing, doubting.

6. Presence of joy, humor, hope.

7. Patience;
long endurance.

8. Adaptability;
willingness to come to terms with role expectations in ministry without violating one"s inner conscience.

9. Demonstration of a collegial attitude and behavior;
avoidance of an authoritative or laissez-faire approach to leadership; leadership sometimes described as participating and/or consultative.

Sounds almost like the fruit of the Spirit, doesn"t it?


Verse 24

The Christian has crucified the flesh in the sense that when he or she trusted Christ God broke the domination of his or her sinful nature. While we still have a sinful human nature, it does not control us as it did before we trusted in Christ (cf. Romans 6:6-7). Paul said we, not God, have crucified it. We did this when we trusted in Jesus Christ as our Savior (cf. Galatians 2:20). Therefore it is inconsistent for us to return to the flesh. "Passions" (Gr. pathemata, cf. Romans 7:5) are the outward expression of inner "desires" (Gr. epithymiai, cf. Galatians 5:16). In another sense we need to continually crucify the flesh by choosing to yield to the Spirit ( Galatians 5:16; Galatians 5:18; Galatians 5:25; Romans 8:13; Colossians 3:5).


Verses 24-26

The provision for victory5:24-26


Verse 25

Now since (or "if," another first class condition in Greek that here states a condition true to reality) God has given us new life, we should do something. We should walk ("keep in step," NIV, as soldiers do when they march) daily by (with) the Spirit (i.e, in dependence on Him). He is God"s provision for us to live victoriously. The Holy Spirit leads every Christian, but not all choose to walk by the Spirit (i.e, follow His leading).

One writer argued that "flesh" and "spirit" were "... theological abbreviations in Paul"s argument that represent the two competing identities of the people of God in Galatia. The "flesh community" (Judaizers) is a community identified with the Mosaic law era and is therefore a community identified and characterized by a person bodily in his or her frailty and transitoriness and not indwelt by God"s Spirit. This community is representative of a person before or apart from Christ"s liberating death, burial and resurrection. By contrast the "Spirit community" is a community identified and characterized by a person bodily aided and enabled by God"s presence and also bodily liberated from sin"s dominion, a person experiencing the full liberation of Jesus" death and resurrection. Such persons are experiencing the freedom that Christ set them free to experience ( Galatians 5:1)." [Note: Walter B. Russell III, "Does the Christian Have "Flesh" in Galatians 5:13-26?" Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society36:2 (June1993):186-87.]

This community view does not commend itself to me as much as the individual view.

"Stated simply, the flesh is the individual behaving independently of the Spirit." [Note: Pyne, "Dependence and . . .," p148.]

Living by the Spirit is similar to walking by the Spirit. The former term looks at the Spirit as the source and sustaining power of the believer"s spiritual life whereas the latter one views Him as the regulative principle in his or her conduct. [Note: Fung, p275.]


Verse 26

This last verse seems to be an application of this principle to the specific Galatian situation.

"This is a very instructive verse because it shows that our conduct to others is determined by our opinion of ourselves." [Note: Stott, p156.]

"To "be conceited" is to boast of things that are insignificant and lacking in true worth, whether the boaster actually has them or only imagines that he has them or desires to have them." [Note: Fung, p277. Cf. Burton, p324.]

Liberty lies between legalism and license. That balance is central in chapter5. The key to being fruitful as a Christian is being submissive to the Holy Spirit, following His leading, walking in dependence on Him (cf. John 15:4-5).

Is the fruit of the Spirit the same as the gifts of the Spirit? In one sense everything that God gives us is a gift since we do not deserve it, including love, joy, peace, etc. However in the apostles" references to gifts of the Spirit the emphasis is on service, abilities God gives us with which to serve Him. In their references to the fruit of the Spirit the emphasis is on personal character and general conduct. Personal character Isaiah , of course, essential for effective service. Thus it should be no surprise to find Paul"s emphasis on love, a fruit of the Spirit, in the middle of his discussion of the gifts of the Spirit in1Corinthians12-14.

 


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Bibliography Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Galatians 5:4". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/galatians-5.html. 2012.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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