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Bible Commentaries
Galatians 5

Orchard's Catholic Commentary on Holy ScriptureOrchard's Catholic Commentary

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Verses 1-26

[V:1a]. A variant reading gives the sense: ’Christ freed us in order that we should be free, not slaves’. V:1 [V:1b]. Having escaped the slavery of paganism, they are exhorted not to fall again into slavery—of Judaism this time. /par/par2. The Judaizers must have told the Galatians that circumcision was necessary for salvation (cf.Acts 15:1).

4. ’made void from Christ’, i.e. made nothing and separated from him.

5. ’in spirit’, viz. acting by the Holy Spirit. ’The hope of justice’, i.e. the good things received through justification.

6. Faith working through charity is all-sufficing.

7-12 An Attack on the Judaizers— 9. Though few in number they are capable of ruining the Church.

11. Cf. 1:10. It appears from this verse that the Judaizers claimed St Paul as at least a secret supporter of circumcision for Gentiles. His reply is that if he were such, (1) he would not be persecuted as he is, and (2) then also what is for them the ’scandal of the cross’ would—per impossibile—be set aside.

12. ’Let them who trouble you castrate themselves!’ A strong sarcasm. If these Judaizers are so interested in the question let them go one better than circumcision!

V:13-VI:10 Christian Liberty Is not Licence and requires Good Works done in Charity— The danger that freedom from legal observances may lead Christians into excesses of other kinds can only be guarded against by the practice of Christian charity. 14. Cf.Leviticus 19:1817-18 form a slight digression.

17. By ’the spirit’, St Paul means the intelligence and will of a man when guided by the Holy Ghost; by ’the flesh’, the same powers divorced from the guidance of the Holy Spirit and so leading to evil.

18. ’But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law of Moses’.

19-23 contrast the works of the flesh with the fruits of the Spirit.

19. ’fornication’: p???eía signifies rather sexual irregularity in general. ’Luxury’ is not in Gk. 20. ’Emulations’, i.e. jealousies.

21. ’Revellings’, i.e. sacred orgies.

22-23. DV following Vg makes the number of ’fruits’ up to twelve, by adding ’longanimity, modesty, chastity’.

23. Cf. 18. The Law was largely negative; there is now no limit to the practice of virtue under the influence of the Spirit.

24. The Christian by his baptism has died to all ’the works of the flesh’. 25. Yet the complete victory over ourselves is not yet ours, but will be if we follow the Spirit.

Bibliographical Information
Orchard, Bernard, "Commentary on Galatians 5". Orchard's Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/boc/galatians-5.html. 1951.
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