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Bible Commentaries
Galatians 5

The Bible Study New TestamentBible Study NT

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Verse 1


Freedom is what we have! “Because Christians are the children of the free woman, you Gentiles must not allow yourselves to be made slaves again by believing that the Law of Moses is necessary to your salvation!!!”

Verse 2


I, Paul, tell you this. “As a true apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ I tell you this true fact: If you let yourselves be circumcised as if it were necessary for this to be done in order for you to be saved, Christ-on-the-cross will no longer be available to you!”

Verse 3


To be circumcised. That is, with the idea of this being part of his salvation. As a national sign (Acts 16:3) or a health practice, everyone can be circumcised with no change at all in their relationship to Christ. But when a Gentile is circumcised to show he is placing himself under The Law, it cuts him off from the blessings of Christ. To obey the whole Law. Because the Law of Moses was so complicated and required expensive travel back to Jerusalem at certain times of the year, the false teachers told the Gentiles that they would only have to keep certain parts of The Law such as holydays (Galatians 4:10), Kosher dietary rules, not fraternizing with the uncircumcised, etc. Paul says plainly that if you place yourself under The Law, you are obligated to keep the entire mass of rules and regulations!!! Compare James 2:10 and note.

Verse 4


Have cut yourselves off from Christ. “By trying to be put right with God through The Law, you have in fact RENOUNCED Christ!!! Therefore you are outside God’s GRACE and cannot expect to receive the PROMISE which comes through Christ-on-the-cross!!!”

Verse 5


Our hope. “We who are in Christ look forward to the time when God will put us right with himself by setting our whole being free in the Resurrection (Romans 8:18-23)! God’s Spirit who lives in us Christians (Romans 8:11) is both the guarantee and the means of this!!!” [Compare the contrast in Galatians 3:2; Galatians 3:5. The Spirit does not make himself available to people through The Law!!!]

Verse 6


For when we are. “In our union with Christ, such things as circumcision have no meaning at all!!! It is that faith which works through love, that God counts!!!”

Verse 7


You were doing so well! “You were making such great progress in the Good News of Christ! You were really living God’s truth!!! How could you let anyone talk you out of it???”

Verse 8


It was not done by God. “God calls people to be saved (John 6:44-45), but I have already showed you from The Law itself that God’s promise does not come through The Law! Certainly God himself would not now be calling you to obey The Law!!!”

Verse 9


It takes only a little yeast. “The errors of one teacher are enough to turn a whole church away from the truth!!!”

Verse 10


But I still feel sure. “I do not want you to think you are beyond God’s reach. I still have confidence in you, because of our union in the Lord. But God will punish the man who is upsetting you by the things he teaches!”

Verse 11


But as for me. “My enemies tell you that I still preach circumcision, and perhaps point to Timothy as an example. But if that were true, why would they continue to persecute me??? If I did preach that circumcision were necessary to salvation, my offensive preaching about Christ-on-the-cross would cause no trouble with the circumcision party and the unbelieving Jews!” (Compare 1 Corinthians 1:23 and note.)

Verse 12


I wish. Both the TEV and the NIV give the literal translation of what Paul actually said. Paul is speaking in bitter irony! The Expositor’s Greek Testament says: “APOKOPSONTAI. This word was habitually used to describe the practice of mutilation which was so prevalent in the Phrygian worship of Cybele. The Galatians were necessarily familiar with it, and it can hardly bear any other sense.”

Verse 13


You were called to be free. “The Good News of Christ has called you out from slavery into the freedom which Christ gives!” But do not let. “Your freedom does not mean you are free to sin as you please!” Instead. “Let love be the motivation of your life to such a degree that you will serve one another, in a spirit of community!”

Verse 14


For the whole Law. “The Law of Moses is condensed in this one commandment: Love your fellowman as yourself. You cannot please God without doing this!!!” Compare Matthew 22:39; Romans 13:8; 1 John 4:20.

Verse 15


But if you act like animals. “But if, in your frantic action either for or against The Law, you begin to act like animals, hurting and harming one another as you bite and devour each other, watch out!!! You may condemn each other to hell!!!” Compare Acts 26:9-11; James 4:1-5.

Verse 16


Let the Spirit. The voice of the Spirit speaks through the New Testament especially, and as we listen to Him speak and guide our lives by what He says, we will avoid the evil desires of human nature that make us bite and devour each other.

Verse 17


Is opposed. “The evil desires of our human nature (Galatians 5:20-21) are in conflict with what the Spirit wants us to do (Galatians 5:22-23).” This means. “If you are to live your life in the Spirit, you cannot please yourself and do everything you are tempted to do.”

Verse 18


If the Spirit leads you. “If you listen to the Spirit speak through the teaching of the Good News (see note on Romans 3:31), as sons and daughters of God (Romans 8:14) you have escaped from the curse of The Law!!! You have no need to be circumcised and follow its ritual!!!”

Verse 19


What human nature does. Paul is talking about the evil side of our human nature, not ordinary human desires and needs. Even Christians still have this evil side, as the case of the Galatian Christians show. The Devil tries to use this side of us to seduce us to sin!!! Immoral. Sex acts outside the marriage relationship [fornication]. Filthy. Such things as pornography, that lead to adultery, homosexuality, and immorality in general. Indecent actions. Sinning openly and not caring who knows it! The sort of things that shocks public morals.

Verse 20


Idols. Worship to these included obscene and bizarre practices. Witchcraft. This formed part of idolatry. The pagan priests claimed to be able to speak with and control the evil spirits. By this they frightened people and made themselves rich. Enemies. Who bear grudges against each other and will never forgive and forget. Fight. Hostility, such as the kind that brings on unreasonable lawsuits. Compare 1 Corinthians 6:7. Jealous. Which leads to selfish scheming and plotting against others. Angry. Violent, uncontrolled anger. Ambitious. The selfish spirit that is willing to crush others just to get ahead. Separate. The spirit that causes people to form parties and groups (sects) in religion out of selfish motives.

Verse 21


Envious. The success of others makes them unhappy. Get drunk. Drunkenness has always been a sin. Have orgies. Drunken dancing that leads to immoral actions and the attitude of indecency. Those who do these things. Part of the preaching of the Good News, was this warning that those who continue to rebel against God by doing such things as these will have no part in the Eternal Kingdom!!!

Verse 22


But the Spirit produces. Christians are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). The real evidence of the Spirit living in them, is not speaking in tongues and miraculous powers! The real evidence is these things which Paul now mentions. These are what the Holy Spirit produces as fruits in the branches of the true vine (John 15:1-10). Love. AGAPE – Christian love. See 1 Cor. Ch. 13. Joy. Love induces joy in the Christian! Jesus was a “man of sorrows” to some degree, yet he was also a man of joy (Hebrews 12:2) and showed a sense of humor in the things he said to the Pharisees, Joy is especially associated with the Holy Spirit (compare Romans 14:17 :1 Thessalonians 1:6). Joy contrasts with apathy, gloom, remorse, etc. Peace. An inner harmony and serenity. The Christian can have a different attitude toward everyone and everything, because he is a refugee, a citizen of another world!!! Just a short time and he will be going home!!! Patience. Being able to put up with the other people’s faults. The endurance of wrong without anger to revenge. Kindness. The attitude that actively reaches out with a helping hand to others. It is both gentle and generous. Goodness. This is the motive behind kindness. Compare 1 Corinthians 13:6. Faithfulness. Reliability, loyalty.

Verse 23


Humility. Not proud or arrogant, but willing to listen to others and willing to cooperate. Compare 2 Corinthians 10:1 and note. It is the meekness of Matthew 5:5 and note. Self-control. See 1 Corinthians 6:12 and note. There is no law. “To praise these good qualities which the Spirit produces, I remind you that there never was a law or a religion which prohibited these things or that punished a man for doing them!!!”

Verse 24


Have put to death. The New birth of waste and the Spirit (John 3:5) marks the dividing line between the world and the church. In dying with Christ and being buried in the liquid grave (Romans 6:3-4; Colossians 2:12) you have put to death and crucified with Christ the evil side of human nature. Your love to Christ and your loyalty to him, will not allow you to follow the evil desires of your human nature!

Verse 25


The Spirit. “The Spirit has given us lite (Titus 3:5) and we are free (2 Corinthians 3:17-18). Therefore, we must permit Him to control our lives, by actively following his instructions ( Romans 8:5-9).”

Verse 26


We must not be. These things destroy Christian community and fellowship!

Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Galatians 5". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ice/galatians-5.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.
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