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Bible Commentaries
Galatians 5

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

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Verses 1-12

E. Admonition to perseverance in Christian freedom—with a threatening allusion to the pernicious consequences of the opposite course

Galatians 4:31 to Galatians 5:6

31So then [Wherefore],41 brethren, we are not children of the [a] bondwoman, but 5 of the free. 1Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free [Stand fast therefore in the liberty for which Christ made us free, or For freedom Christ made Us free. Stand fast therefore],42 and be not entangled again with 2[in] the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul43 say unto you, that if ye be circumcised 3[i. e., submit to circumcision],44 Christ shall [will] profit you nothing. For [Moreover, δέ continuative] I testify again to every man that is circumcised [who has himself circumcised], that he is a debtor to do the whole law. 4Christ is become of no effect unto you [Ye are separated from Christ],45 whosoever of you are justified [being justified] by [in] the law; ye are fallen [fallen away] from grace. 5For we through 6[by] the Spirit wait46 for the hope of righteousness by [from] faith. For in Jesus Christ [Christ Jesus] neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by [working through] love.

F. Renewed lamentation over the apostasy of the Galatians. Sharp testimony against the misleading misrepresentations of his preaching on the part of the false teachers

Galatians 5:7-12

7Ye did run [were running] well; who did hinder47 you that ye should not obey 8, 9the truth?48 This [The] persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little 10leaven leaveneth49 the whole lump. I [I, for my part] have confidence in [as regards] you through [in] the Lord, that ye will be none [in nothing] otherwise 11minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be. And [But] I, brethren, if I yet [still] preach circumcision, why do I yet [still] suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased [the scandal of the cross done away with]. 12I would they were even cut off which trouble you [I would that they who are unsettling you would even mutilate themselves, or would even cut themselves off from you].50


Galatians 4:31. Wherefore, brethren, we are not children of a bondwoman.—Paul, after the indirect warning in Galatians 4:29-30, sums up the contents of Galatians 4:22 sq. once more, in an exact form, appealing to the Christian sense of dignity =you will therefore surely not suffer yourselves to be reduced to children of the bondwoman. [Notice the omission of the article: “not of any bondwoman,” Judaism or any form of heathenism (Lightfoot, Meyer, Ellicott). This explanation is more striking and appropriate than that of Alford, who is disposed to think παιδίσκης is anarthrous, because emphatically prefixed to its governing noun.—R.]—But of the free,—therefore ourselves free. This Paul expressly states in the following sentence.

Galatians 5:1, refers the freedom of Christians to Christ; yet the main idea is no longer the fact or method of their having become free, but the end, namely: τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ, for freedom, for being and remaining free. Then follows the admonition itself; στήκετε, used absolutely, without any modifying clause=remain firm. [Schmoller follows Lachmann, in beginning a new sentence with στήκετε; of course if a different punctuation is adopted, the verb is modified by the preceding clause, without altering its meaning however. He also takes τῇ ἐλευθερία as dative commodi, “for freedom,” not instrumental, “with freedom” (so Alford). It must be remarked that this pointing makes the style very abrupt, and that since the stress in this interpretation rests on for freedom, the end of their being made free, so emphatic a thought would scarcely be expressed by a dative of doubtful force, for as Lightfoot observes, the dative is awkward, in whatever way it is taken. Even Meyer explains the passage far more satisfactorily, on the theory that the other reading is correct. Following this reading, we render: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty for” or “with which Christ made us free.” The prominent dative then denotes “the sphere in which and to which the action is limited” (Ellicott); and the relative ῇ is either dative commodi (Winer, Ellicott) or ablative (instrumental, Luther, Beza, Calvin). Meyer thinks this latter usage is uncommon with Paul. The former is safer. The sense is then: therefore stand fast in that liberty (which is our state as children of the freewoman, and) for which, to remain in which, Christ made us free.—R.]

Be not entangled again.—As Gentiles they had not formerly been under the yoke of the Mosaic law, but for all that had certainly (see Galatians 4:8) been in bondage; having now become free from it by their faith in Christ, they ought not to allow themselves to be enslaved again by a yoke. [In the yoke of bondage.—“In” it, because the thought is of being ensnared; they were to stand upright, not to bow to the yoke (Lightfoot); “bondage” was its predominant nature (Ellicott).—R.] All that preceded, doctrinal exposition and expostulation, pointed to this exhortation: to remain free. But just because this lies at the foundation of everything preceding, the brief, plain utterance in this verse suffices, and the Apostle at once turns to a warning menace in case the admonition should not be heeded, and the Galatians instead should go so far as to submit to circumcision.

Galatians 5:2. Behold I Paul say unto you that if ye be circumcised.—Rousing personal attention with “Behold” and with the interposition of his personal authority,11 “I Paul,” he warns them against the final step, not yet taken by them, which would bring them completely under the yoke of the law, namely, the receiving of circumcision. [It is highly probable that some of them had been circumcised, and that the present points to the continuance of this course of conduct among them (Alford, Ellicott). He does not mean that the fact of a man’s being a circumcised man would prevent his being a Christian, but if after all this instruction and warning, they resorted to this rite as necessary to salvation, “Christ will,” etc.—R.] They would then have had no advantage of Christ, because they would have sought salvation, in circumcision and not of Christ.—Will profit you nothing.—The future is probably (as in Galatians 5:5) to be referred to the παρουσία and the establishment of the Messianic kingdom. [So Meyer, who finds in this a reference to its nearness. But he is fond of such references. Ellicott with more propriety says: “it simply marks the certain result of such a course of practice; ‘Christ (as you will find) will never profit you anything.’ ”—R.]

Galatians 5:3. Moreover I testify again.—Paul strengthens his warning by referring to a further consequence of receiving circumcision. It obliges to the observance of the whole law; “for circumcision makes one a full participant in the covenant of law, a proselyte of righteousness, and the law demands of the one that is held to it its complete fulfilment (Galatians 3:10).” Meyer. At the same time Paul gives with this a more precise explanation of “Christ will profit you nothing” so much the more certainly will this be the case, because a man by receiving circumcision becomes a debtor to do the whole law, and therefore is not at liberty to persuade himself, that he does not mean to erect again the law as a whole, but only to accept one point. But all, who are “of the works of the law are under the curse,” Galatians 3:10.—In view of the solemnity of the asseveration we must suppose that the false teachers designedly concealed this perilous consequence of circumcision or sought to soften it. “Again” alludes to the earlier (second) presence of the Apostle.

Galatians 5:4. Ye are separated from Christ.—“Paul by speaking asyndetically and recurring to the second person speaks so much the more emphatically and vividly.”—Meyer.—The verse expresses the consequence of becoming “a debtor to do the whole law” (for ἐν νόμῳ δικαιοῦσθαι is substantially identically with this). This is the καταργ. ἀπὸ τοῦ Χρισποῦ which completes the explanation of the declaration in Galatians 5:2.—Καταργεῖσθαι�, a pregnant expression = the connection in which one stands with any one is done away, and so one is loose from him.—Justification by the law and justification for Christ’s sake are mutually exclusive; whoever seeks the first falls out of fellowship with Christ. Justified, here of course an expression representing the view of the persons concerned, who think “through the law we shall be justified.”—Ye are fallen away from grace.—Here he expressly names the benefit the loss of which they suffer by “being justified in the law” and the resulting separation from Christ. A cutting contrast: they think that they are being justified, but by this very means instead they are fallen away from grace, so far is an actual justification from being possible in this way.12 Ἐκπίπτειν τῆς χάριτος opposed to ἑστηκέναι ἐν τῇ χάριτι (Romans 5:2).

Galatians 5:5. For we by the spirit wait for the hope of righteousness from faith.—“A justification of the judgment passed in Galatians 5:4 upon those that seek to be justified through the law, drawn e contrario, i. e., from the entirely different manner in which Paul and those like him wish to be justified.” Meyer. [“We” i. e. those who have not sought justification in the law, and fallen from grace; the contrast is not very strongly marked in the subject however (δέ is not used), for Paul addresses the Galatians, not as those who had fallen, but were in danger of falling, and the subject “we” may include them also.—R.] Πνεύματι is used neither of the human spirit in itself, nor of the spirit of man enlightened by the Holy Ghost, but of the Spirit of God as the objective principle of the Christian life. As it is from the Holy Spirit working in believers, that the whole Christian life proceeds, so in particular the persevering Christian hope is thus wrought, of the fulfilment of which he also gives pledge (2 Corinthians 1:22; 2 Corinthians 5:5, Ephesians 1:14; Romans 3:11-23). So Wieseler and Meyer. But of course this hope of future righteousness proceeds from the Holy Ghost only so far as it rests upon a right basis. This basis is then stated in ἐκ πίστεως, which is meant to express that Christians ground their hope of future righteousness not upon the works of the law, but precisely on faith alone, that they hope to be justified not in the law but by faith. [Ἐκπίστεως does not therefore describe πνεύματι (Luther), but the latter sets forth the agent: “by the spirit,” the former the origin or source (Schmoller says with less exactness, the ground) of their hope. “By faith” cannot qualify “righteousness,” as the order of the E. V. seems to indicate.—R.] Δικαιοσύνη is here also of course, Righteousness before God = δικαίωσις. But this is here represented for Christians as something future; we are therefore not to understand it of that which takes place in time, but of the δικαίωσις which comes to completion only at the final judgment. But it is a difficulty that it does not simply read: ἐλπίδα δικ. ἔχομεν, but ἐλπ. ἀπεκδ. whereby the hope itself is presented in turn as an object of hope. Ἐλπίς is therefore here to be understood as the object of hope, res sperata, as in Colossians 1:5; Titus 2:13, and δικαιοσύνης as genitive of apposition. Ἀπεκδέχεσθαι is more precisely not = ἐλπίζειν itself, but = to wait for, to expect perseveringly (Wieseler). [This view of the passage, which is that of Wieseler, avoids the seeming pleonasm, “wait for the hope,” but is open to one serious objection, viz.: that the genitive is never thus used with ἐλπίς (Meyer). Besides ἐλπίδα� is not pleonastic, but forcible and almost poetical, the accusative being cognate (Ellicott). The genitive may be regarded as 1) subjecti; the hoped for reward of righteousness, sc. eternal life (so Beza, Bengel and most older commentators). This avoids the seeming difficulty of every other interpretation, viz.: making “righteousness” future, but it is not in keeping with the context, as it introduces and gives prominence to an adjunct of “righteousness,” while the passage treats of “justification.” 2) It seems best then to take it as genitive objecti, i. e. the hope of being justified (so Meyer, Ellicott, Alford, also the versions of Tyndale and Cranmer). This is strictly grammatical and in keeping with the context. The objection that it makes “righteousness” future is easily met, see below.—R.] That Paul should here speak of the (complete and final) justification, as something to be expected first in the future, is entirely accordant with the context. In Galatians 5:4 he speaks of such as, being already justified by faith, now turn to the law and thereby suffer the loss of grace. In order to illustrate the latter, he now enforces the truth, that a Christian must remain in faith, because only then can he have the hope of justification at the judgment; faith remains the condition of the state of grace, for even at the final judgment it is the condition of gracious acceptance. [This view contrasts Christianity with Judaism, and represents “justification as one of those divine results, which stretches into eternity, conveying with it and involving the idea of future blessedness and glorification” (Ellicott).—R.]

Galatians 5:6. He now proceeds to justify the waiting “for the hope from faith” on the part of the Christian. For in Christ Jesus = for him that is in Christ Jesus, for the Christian, neither circumcision availeth anything = has no influence in the attainment of justification (in the sense of Galatians 5:5), nor uncircumcision (while the Galatian false teachers laid so great stress upon this distinction); but faith working through love, faith which shows itself operative through love.—Ἐνεργεῖσθαι is always middle in the New Testament. The passive meaning given by many of the older Catholics, as Bellarmine and Estius, in the interest of the Catholic system, is therefore incorrect. Reference is made to this display of the activity of faith through love, in view of the following section Galatians 5:13 sq., the theme of which is given in our verse. [Lightfoot: “These words bridge over the gulf which seems to separate the language of St. Paul and St. James. Both assert a principle of practical energy, as opposed to a barren, inactive theory.” Against the use made of this passage by modern Romanist commentators who give up the passive sense, such as Windischmann, Möhler, Symbolik, see Alford and Doctrinal Notes below.—R.]

Galatians 5:7. Ye were running well.—Short, emotional, and therefore asyndetic propositions respecting the unhappy alterations which had taken place with the Galatians.—The comparison of the Christian walk to a race is, as is well known, a favorite one with Paul. The running well consisted in obedience to the truth, that is, in their going in the true=evangelical, way, seeking their righteousness in faith.—Paul asks in surprise: Who did hinder you?13

Galatians 5:8. He here answers the last assertion to himself and them. Certainly, it is not God that has turned you away, has brought you upon this other way! The intriguing of the false teachers is represented as something ungodly. Ἡ πεισμ. κ. τ. λ., therefore, is to be translated; The persuading is not from your caller=God. The calling and the persuading are opposed to each other as distinct in character; the former is divine activity, the latter not, but essentially human with human intention, art, importunity (Meyer).—In itself “persuasion” could have also a passive signification=the being persuaded, disposition to follow; and so many interpreters take it here also=obsequiousness towards the false teachers. [In favor of the latter meaning we have the support of the Greek expositors, and perhaps the paranomasia (πείθεσθαι, ver 7). But Meyer, Alford, Ellicott prefer the active meaning, both because it is better established, and because it suits the active meaning of “calleth.” It seems to accord better with Galatians 5:9 also.—R.]

Galatians 5:9. A little leaven.—It is disputed whether this refers to doctrine or persons; a little leaven of doctrine, as a few bad men, false teachers. Manifestly the former. It is not the number of the false teachers that is of account, but the influence of their teaching, not the πείθοντες but the πεισμονή. Plainly nothing else is meant by “leaven” than the immediately preceding “persuasion,” for of this, “leaven” is an image. As the leaven works into the lump, so does the “persuasion,” the persuasive, seducing word into the soul (or into a whole community): therefore=even an influence in itself apparently insignificant, may nevertheless be ruinous to the whole man (or whole community of men). [The proverb (quoted also 1 Corinthians 5:6) is undoubtedly true both of doctrines and persons. To which it refers here is extremely doubtful. In support of each view the best commentators may be cited, and the context is not decisive, for while Galatians 5:8 may favor the former reference, Galatians 5:10 with its individualizing turn, favors the latter. Leaven is, as usually, a symbol of evil.—R.] This of course contains a warning to be on their guard, and to turn back in time, and remove the leaven.—The Apostle, in order the easier to win them to him, expresses the confidence which he still continues to have in them.

Galatians 5:10. I, for my part,—even though the false teachers believe you already won over to them.—He knows his confidence to be grounded in the Lord. The Lord will doubtless bring it to pass and give you the right mind—in the interest of His cause.—Οὐδὲν ἄλλο φρονήσετε is best taken absolutely=that you will not be otherwise minded than hitherto, that you will not alter your conviction, will not apostatize. It is true, a giving way had indeed already begun; but it was as yet only in its incipiency; evidently Paul deals with them throughout as those that are yet wavering, and therefore it may well be hoped of them that matters will not come to an actual ἄλλο φρονεῖν=change of conviction. Up to the present time they are only, as is immediately expressed, “troubled.”—He that troubleth you=every one, who, &c. The supposition that the Apostle refers to a leader among his opponents well known to himself (Erasmus, Luther, Bengel and others), or even to Peter (Jerome), is supported by nothing in the Epistle. Therefore also whosoever he be ought to be understood as entirely general, and not referred to any eminent consideration enjoyed by the false teachers. Undoubtedly, however, Paul means to signify, that no consideration whatever could cause him to waver in this judgment.—Κρῖμα=God’s sentence of condemnation (e. g. Mark 12:40, Luke 20:47; Romans 2:3; Romans 13:12); this is conceived as something exceedingly irksome, a burden, therefore βαστάσει.

Galatians 5:11. But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision.—Paul refutes moreover the pretence of the false teachers, invented to further their cause, that he himself elsewhere preached circumcision. They had probably appealed, in support of their charge, to the circumcision of Timothy, which had lately taken place, but which by no means took place on the ground of its necessity to salvation (Acts 16:3. See I moreover, the explanation of Galatians 2:4).—“Still” dates not from a period within his apostolic career itself, as though Paul as Apostle had yet at one time preached circumcision, which in view of the manner of Paul’s conversion and of his whole previous course is an unpsychological and unhistorical assumption, but it dates from his conversion. Why do I still suffer persecution.—This second ἔτι is a logical one: what reason remains, etc.?Then is the scandal of the cross done away with.—Apodosis of the conditional sentence, “if I still preach circumcision,” for the purpose of demonstrating the nullity of the protasis: he would no longer be persecuted.—Τὸ σκάνδ. τοῦ σταυροῦ more precisely—that, which is offensive in the preceding of Christ’s death on the cross, namely, that it is proclaimed as the only ground of salvation. Had Paul, with this or instead of it, still preached circumcision as necessary to salvation, the Jew would have seen his law maintained in authority, and would not have taken offence at the death on the cross, and especially the preaching of it.

Galatians 5:12. Ὄφελον καὶ�.—The ordinary explanation is: Would that they would even have themselves made eunuchs, for which partly the middle signification of the future ἀποκόψονται is cited, partly the connection, which is thought to point (καί) to a play of words upon περιτομή. But, as this would be a bitter turn of wit, and as the assumption, that Paul means thereby to lash the sexual intemperance of the false teachers, is arbitrary, it is not pleasant to accede to this explanation. The lexical argument, which has the most weight, is the hardest to meet; it can only be said that the passive use of the future middle, even in the classics, is by no means unknown. On the other hand the connection, which is especially adduced in support of this explanation, has not a strictly demonstrative force, as Wieseler remarks. He, it is true, lays almost too much stress on the absence of an actual paronomasia; on the fact that Paul did not at least choose ἐκτείνειν, as being a very common word among the Greeks for castration, and the paronomasia with κατατομή (Phil. 3:23) proves at least so much as this, that Paul in opposition to such Judaizers, was not particularly tender in dealing with περιτομή, for this is a sarcastic allusion to περιτομή. On the other hand this remark of his particularly is correct, that we should then expect instead of ἀναστ. an allusion to περιτ., the more so, as in Galatians 5:11 περιτ. is not at all alluded to in the light of a demand made by them. If we can therefore make up our minds to take ἀποκ. as passive, this would be in itself entirely suitable, especially for the final sentence: Would they were even hewn off=condemned by God (since the reference to excommunication is less congruous). Καί certainly is far from necessitating the reference to περιτ., as with either explanation it is alike a climactic particle. [It seems entirely incorrect to take the passive sense, for which there is no authority in the New Testament. Ellicott, preserves the middle sense, and yet avoids the seemingly coarse interpretation, which is usually given. He renders: “would even cut themselves off from you.” Unfortunately καί is a climactic particle, and this view gives us an anti-climax. In fact were there no question of taste involved, scarce a doubt would arise as to the Apostle’s meaning. Have we a right to adopt forced interpretations, to avoid a natural one, because it seems to us unrefined? As Lightfoot remarks “If it seems strange that St. Paul should have alluded to such a practice at all, it must be remembered that as this was a recognized form of heathen self-devotion, it could not possibly be shunned in conversation, and must at times have been mentioned by a Christian preacher. The remonstrance is doubly significant as addressed to Galatians, for Pessinus, one of their chief towns, was the home of the worship of Cybele, in honor of whom these mutilations were practiced.” Wordsworth: “There would be more hope from their ex-cision, than from their circumcision. For then they would be excluded from the Jewish congregation, they would feel the rigor of the law, they would be ashamed of enforcing it on you. Then there would be good hope, that they also would joyfully hail and accept the gracious liberty of the gospel, and would be joined as sound members to the Body of Christ.”—R.]—Ἀναστατοῦντες, unsettling=to bring into tumult, stronger than ταράσσειν. Wieseler: To render seditious, namely, against the order of Christianity, or rather against its Lord and King, Christ.—[Chrysostom: “Well does he say ἀναστατοῦντες, for abandoning their country and their freedom and their kindred in heaven, they compelled them to seek a foreign and a strange land; banishing from the heavenly Jerusalem and the free, and forcing them to wander about as captives and aliens.” (From Lightfoot.)—R.]


1. Christian Liberty. Respecting the idea of Freedom, which Paul in this Epistle maintains and vindicates for Christians with such decision (from Galatians 3:25 on, substantially this, but more on its negative side; in express words in this section), we are to consider that it does not primarily mean freedom from the accusations and the curse of the law (wrath of God, etc.), but, agreeably to the whole polemics of the Apostle, means freedom from the claims (requirements) of the law, from the obligation of attaching ourselves to it, in order by works of the law to seek salvation (to seek it through these conjointly with faith, yes, essentially to seek it through these). Too precipitately and too prevailingly does Luther, for example, take this freedom, which Christ has won, in the former sense, and in this sense eulogizes it as the most precious benefit. Undoubtedly, however, freedom in this sense stands causally connected with freedom in the other; in the first place by the very fact that only he who through Christ is delivered from the curse of the law, is a Christian, and only to him does freedom from the law itself accrue (although strictly speaking this does not belong here);—and secondly, inasmuch as only to him who does not give himself any more into bondage under the law, does freedom from its curse also remain assured, while conversely, whoever gives up the other freedom, loses also this, and thus comes into double bondage. Hence it is fully admissible to comprehend in the freedom which Paul claims for the Christian, his freedom from the curse of the law—not exegetically it is true, but at least in the practical application of the doctrine. Still more; in the reference to freedom from the curse of the law (wrath of God), an entirely just apprehension of the doctrine is involved, since Paul contends with such earnestness for the freedom of the Christians from the law, and against the imposing of the law upon them, and thus against their being brought upon the ground of the righteousness of works, for this very reason, that thereby we forfeit also our freedom from the curse of the law, and so come under this curse, losing thereby the advantage that we have in Christ, the certainty of the grace of God. His strong emphasizing of the freedom of Christians has its ground indeed not merely in an abstract pride of freedom, leading him to feel: Christians now have no longer need of allowing themselves to be held in bondage by a law, but it is grounded in the doctrinal knowledge of the loss of salvation, which would result from the giving up of that freedom.

2. Either the law wholly, or not at all; either Christ or the law. The Apostle presents two momentous alternatives and thereby sets himself against all half courses and their self-deceiving effect. The first is: “Either the law wholly—or not at all.” Whoever once places himself in one particular on the legal ground, cannot stop short with that one. For in the first place the law, although a whole consisting of many members, is yet a whole in which one member depends on another. And secondly for this very reason the blessing of God is not promised to the observance of one or the other part of it, but only to the observance of the whole; whoever therefore will become partaker of the blessing in the way of law, must observe the whole law. But if he shrinks from undertaking the whole, either because he recognizes much of it as abolished for the Christian, or because much of it is burdensome to him, or as he thinks of the impossibility of fulfilling all aright, and of the curse which is denounced against all short comings, then let him give up the legal position altogether. This suggests then the other alternative: “Either Christ or the law,” The two “do not match,” i. e. whoever will be justified by works of law, thereby renounces virtually, and ought therefore to renounce formally the consolations of grace in Christ; for in so doing he does not seek his righteousness in Christ, but rejects Him. Commonly however man would be glad to take the latter with the former, would at least, without building upon it, be well content with the free grace of God, as the complement of his imperfect righteousness of works; but in vain—the sentence is: Fallen away from grace!—“This text, Galatians 5:2; Galatians 5:4, is a true touchstone, by which we may securely and certainly judge all manner of doctrines, works and ceremonies of all men. Whoever now, be they Papists, Turks, Jews, sectaries,—or whoever they may be, teach, that anything is necessary to salvation besides faith in Christ, they hear in this place the sentence of the Holy Ghost pronounced against them by the Apostle, namely, that Christ profiteth them nothing. But if St. Paul can venture to pass so terrible a judgment against the law and circumcision, which God Himself has given, what kind of judgment would he utter upon the chaff and the dross of men’s ordinances? Wherefore this text is such a thunderclap, that by right the whole papal realm should be astounded and terrified thereat.” Luther.

3. “Waiting for the hope of righteousness.” Justification, on one hand, is a benefit to be obtained even now, but on the other hand, that which we now obtain is not yet the whole, not yet the consummation. But the justification of the Christian in the present is not on this account in any way an illusion, nor is the joyful certainty, which faith has, of being justified in Christ, prejudiced. On the contrary the believer knows very well that at first he can only have this benefit in a measure corresponding to the imperfection of the present dispensation. The joyfulness of faith would be beclouded if the hope of consummation in eternity, in spite of all present imperfection, did not essentially appertain to faith, as certain hope. Hoping and waiting include, it is true, a negative element, a not yet having; but they also include essentially a positive element, the certainty that what is not yet possessed will nevertheless be attained, and this positive element is derived from nothing else than faith. Hope is grounded in faith—but never in our works; faith is therefore not only necessary in the beginning, but remains so perpetually; if we lose it, we lose hope also.

4. Faith, Hope, Love. Faith, that has hope, is the one thing that characterizes the Christian, to which is added Love. As in hope faith becomes a waiting faith, πίστις�, so through love does it become an active faith, π. ἐνεργουμένη, i. e., the ἐνέργεια does not first through love come into faith, but rather faith manifests in this love its own indwelling energy; had it no such ἐνέργεια in itself, there would be no such result as love, and where this energy is wanting to it, because it is a mere nominal faith, there is no such result. Even so the capacity of waiting does first come into faith, not through hope, but on the contrary, because this inheres in faith, from faith emanates hope.—The Catholic doctrine of a fides caritate formata, as the condition of justification, has of course not the least support in this passage; for the simple reason that “working through love” affirms something enirely different: “non per caritatem formam suam accipere vel formari fidem, sed per caritatem operosam vel efficacem esse ap. docet.” Calovius. Nor can it be concluded from this passage that the Apostle would make love the principle of justification together with faith. See the Exegetical Notes above, but especially Luther, who has so truly apprehended the significance of our passage: “Paul treats not in this place of what Faith accomplishes before God, as how one becomes righteous before God; for this he has done at full length above; but he says just here at the end, as it were for a short conclusion, what is a true Christian life; in Christ such a faith alone avails, which is no feigned, hypocritical one, but a true living faith. Now such a faith is one that exercises itself and perseveres in good works through love. For this is nothing else than to say: Whoever will be a true Christian man and in Christ’s Kingdom, he must forsooth have a true faith. But now assuredly the faith is not sound, where the works of love do not follow after. Therewith he shuts out from the Kingdom of Christ all hypocrites, both on the right hand and on the left; on the right all Jews and work-saints, but on the left all slothful and secure folk, who say: If faith without works makes righteous, then God requires nothing of us than only that we believe, therefore we are permitted to do what we list.”

5. Love does not overlook perversion of doctrine. Certain as it is that faith, active through love, is part of the Christian life, yet over against those, who destroy faith by perversion of doctrine, indulgence for love’s sake, is not in place, but earnestness and severity (comp. the remarks of Luther upon this, in the Homiletical Notes, Galatians 5:10).


Galatians 5:1. Luther:—Let us learn to count this our freedom, most noble, exalted and precious, which no emperor, no prophet, nor patriarch, no angel from heaven, but Christ, God’s Son, hath obtained for us; not for this, that He might relieve us from a bodily and temporal subjection, but from a spiritual and eternal imprisonment of the cruellest tyrants, namely, the law, sin, death, devil, &c.—Those that will be secure and snore on without care, these will not keep this freedom. For Satan is to the light of the Gospel hostile above measure, i. e., to the doctrine of grace, freedom, consolation and life. Therefore, where he is aware that it is about to dawn, he keeps no holiday, but sets himself speedily with all might against it. [Calvin:—He reminds them that they ought not to despise a freedom so precious. And certainly it is an invaluable blessing, in defence of which it is our duty to fight, even to death. If men lay upon our shoulders an unjust burden, it may be borne; but if they endeavor to bring our conscience into bondage, we must resist valiantly, even to death. If men be permitted to bind our consciences, we shall be deprived of an invaluable blessing, and an insult will be, at the same time, offered to Christ, the author of our freedom.—R.]

[Cowper:—This is a liberty unsung

By poets, and by senators unpraised;
Which monarchs cannot grant, nor all the powers
Of Earth and Hell confederate take away:
A liberty which persecution, frand,
Oppression, prisons, have no power to bind;
Which whoso tastes can be enslaved no more.
’Tis liberty of heart, derived from Heaven,
Bought with His blood who gave it to mankind.

* * * The oppressor holds
His body bound; but knows not what a range
His spirit takes, unconscious of a chain,
And that to bind him is a vain attempt,
Whom God delights in, and in whom He dwells.—R.]

Galatians 5:2. Luther:—Under the sun there is no more hurtful or poisonous thing, than the doctrine of human laws and works, that, are received in the imagination of thereby obtaining forgiveness of sins. For they take away in one heap the truth of the gospel and Christ Himself.

Galatians 5:3. “A debtor to do the whole law.” If we overlook this chance, and Moses begins in one particular to rule over us, we must thereafter be wholly and entirely subject to his power, whether we will or not. Therefore, to be brief, we cannot, yea, ought not, nor will not suffer, that any one should hang any one fraction of Moses’ law [Gesetzlein Mosis] upon our neck.

Galatians 5:4. “Ye are separated from Christ.”—How could one speak more powerfully against the law? What can or will any one bring up against this mighty thunderclap? It is not possible that the gospel and the law can dwell and rule in one heart at the same time with one another, but of necessity either Christ must yield to the law or the law to Christ. Therefore, when thou fanciest that Christ and confidence in the law might dwell together with one another in thy heart, thou art of a certainty to believe and know, that in thy heart not Christ, but the very devil dwells and keeps house, who under the form of Christ accuses and terrifies thee, and demands that thou through the law and thine own works shouldst make thyself righteous; for the true Christ has not that way.—Even as one that falls out of a ship, let it happen as it may, must certainly drown in the sea; even so can it not be otherwise than that whoever falls away from grace, must be condemned and lost.—If those fall away from Grace, that will be justified by the law of God, beloved, whither will those fall that will be justified through human ordinances, their vows and merits? Into the deep abyss of hell, to the devil.

Galatians 5:5. Spener:—Faith is not merely the beginning of our salvation, so that we must receive the first grace from God, and afterwards earn the rest ourselves, but all remaining gifts of grace and glory are alone expected and bestowed from faith.—Luther:—This is an admirable, noble consolation, wherewith all wretched, perplexed hearts, that feel their sin and are terrified thereat, are mightily holpen against all the fiery darts of the devil. For when the conscience has to wrestle and strive in such distress and perplexity, it becomes terrified and anxious, and the feeling of sin, of God’s wrath and of death is so great that it seems as if there were neither righteousness nor salvation to hope for. Then is it time to say: Dear brother, thou wouldst be glad to have such a righteousness, as might be felt, whereof thou mightest have joy and comfort, even as sin lets itself be felt and stirs up terror and despond; now that cannot be done, but do thou labor on, that the righteousness, which thou hast in hope, and which is yet hidden, may surpass the sin which thou feelest; and know, that it is not such a righteousness as lets itself be seen or felt, but as to which one must hope that in is time it will be reached. Therefore thou art not to judge after the feeling of sin, but according to the promise and doctrine of faith, through which Christ is promised to thee, that he may be thy perfect and everlasting righteousness.—Starke:—Waiting comprehends in it; a believing assurance of certain attainment of the thing hoped for, a high estimation of the j same, a continual remembrance thereof, an ardent longing thereafter, a joy in the apprehension of future felicity, a patient expectation, an abstinence from all that stands opposed to the purity and steadfastness of such hope.—Those that will be righteous by the law have nothing more to expect of Christ but believers have yet glorious benefits to hope from him.

Galatians 5:6. Luther:—St. Paul points out here what is the fashion of the Christian life, namely, that it is nothing else than, inwardly, faith towards God and, outwardly, love and works towards our neighbor, so mat a man becomes perfectly a Christian, inwardly by faith towards God, who does not need our works, and outwardly by works towards men, whom our faith can help nothing, but our works and our love.—Of faith, what it is, what its inward hidden nature, power, work and office is, has he treated above, where he says that faith makes us righteous before God. But here he conjoins it with love and works, i. e. he speaks of its works and office, which it outwardly and publicly accomplishes, that it is the stirrer up to good works and to love, yea not alone the stirrer up, but the true doer and workmaster of all good works.—There stands St. Paul and says outright, that faith, which worketh by love, makes a Christian, says not that cowls, fasts, distinct attire or genuflections make a Christian.—Anything else, be it called what it may, makes no one a Christian: only faith and love do so. See also above in the Doctrinal Notes.

Galatians 5:7. In Starke:—Running in religion is good, running well still better, to accomplish the race best of all. To a Christian life there appertains standing and walking: standing, that one may not fall, walking, that one may not stand still, which is commonly linked with a going back.—Luther:—These words are very comforting, for Christians have ever this temptation, to imagine that their life is an idle and sleepy matter, it seems more a creeping than a running. But so far as they remain steadfast in the wholesome doctrine, walk in the Spirit and wait on their vocation, they should in no wise trouble themselves, although it seems as if their work and doing went slowly on, and crept rather than walked. But our master, God, judges far otherwise. What seems to us slow walking, seems to Him quick and swift running, item, what we count for mournfulness, suffering, death etc., that is with Him joy, laughing and blessedness.—“Who did hinder you?” And now they supposed, forsooth, that all their matters were going most prosperously and most swiftly along.—Hedinger:—Have a care, pilgrim! on the way to heaven there are many stumbling blocks.—Hearest thou the sirens sing and the robbers whistle? Finish thou thy course with joy, let not the threatening and flattering of the world lead thee astray! The Lord is with thee!—Lange:—Beware of all credulousness, especially in spiritual things, which concern the well-being of the soul! Let a doctrine wear ever so good a guise, it must nevertheless be tested by God’s word.

Galatians 5:8. Luther:—The devil is a prince of persuaders. He can so blow up and magnify the very smallest sins, that he who is tempted, thinks nothing else than that they are so great and terrible sins, as are worthy the punishment of eternal death. Then is it high time that we comfort such a disturbed soul in such wise as St. Paul has here done, saying to it, that such persuasion is not of Christ, since it gainsays the word of the gospel, which depicts Christ to us, not as an accuser, but as meek and compassionate, a Saviour and Comforter.

Galatians 5:9. Hedinger:—The least particle of evil infects, a single spark kindles a forest. Away with it! But O ye careless! is it a small thing to you, to be corrupted through idle talk and companyings, through poison of lies against Christ?

Galatians 5:10. Luther:—Has St. Paul done right in saying: I have a good confidence towards you, while yet the Holy Scripture forbids that we should have confidence in man? Answer: Faith and Love both believe, yet is the belief of the two not directed upon one thing. The faith is directed towards God, therefore it cannot be deceived: but love believes man, therefore is it often and greatly deceived. But yet the faith that love has is such a needful thing in this present life, that without it this life cannot at all continue. For if no man trusts nor believes another, what would this life upon earth become? Christians out of love believe people easier than the subtle children of the world are wont to do. For that believers trust people and expect good of them, that is beautiful fruit of the Holy Ghost and faith. But the Christian adds: In the Lord=so far do I trust you and expect good of you, as the Lord is in you and ye in Him, that is, so far as ye abide in the truth.—We must diligently distinguish doctrine from life. Doctrine is heaven, life the earth. In life there is sin, error, discord. Here love should pass by and overlook, should forbear; here should forgiveness of sins bear sway, yet so that one should not wish to uphold such sin and error. But with doctrine it is quite another thing, for it is holy, pure, ummixed, heavenly, divine; therefore can we not suffer it, that any one should distort it even in the least particular. Whoever will alter or adulterate it, against such a one there is neither love nor compassion.

Galatians 5:11. St. Paul holds that for a certain sign, that it is not and cannot be the true gospel, if it is preached in peace and in quietness and is not gainsayed nor persecuted. On the other hand, the world, when it sees that from the preaching of the gospel great rumors, divisions, scandal and tumults follow, holds that for a certain size that such teaching is heretical and seditious.—To murderers, thieves and other evil-doers grace is shown; on the contrary the world deems that no more evil, mischievous people are to be found than Christians; therefore it also persuades itself that they can never have punishment and torment enough inflicted on them.—As long as persecutions and suffering endure, the state of the church is good. The church must suffer persecution, if the gospel is purely preached. For the gospel goes about to preach alone God’s compassion, grace, glory and praise, and on the other hand discovers the devil’s craft and malice. Where the gospel comes it cannot be otherwise, there must follow the scandal of the cross; where that does not come to pass, there certainly the devil is not yet fairly hit, but only a little grazed.—May God be surety that the offence of the cross do not cease, which would soon come to pass, if we only preached, what the prince of this world with his members would be glad to hear, namely, how to be justified and saved by one’s own works. [The offence of the cross. 1. It asks men to humble their pride and take salvation as a free gift; this is a great scandal. 2. It sometimes seems to cease: 3. It never does.—R.] The homiletical uses of the single verses, especially 1–9, are easily suggested by the sententious character of the greater part.

Galatians 5:1-6 From Lisco:—The care taken by the Christian, to stand fast in the true freedom.

Galatians 5:7-12. How are we to rescue those who stand in danger of apostacy? 1. By bringing to their minds their earlier life in communion with God: 2. by warning against the destruction to which they are hastening, Galatians 5:9-10; Galatians 3:0. by the testimony of our own walk and perseverance in fellowship with God through Christ, Galatians 5:11. For Galatians 5:1-6 at New Year. Frantz:—A good counsel at the New Year for all, who will strengthen their inward life: 1. Stand fast in the freedom, wherewith Christ hath made us free; 2. lose not Christ and fall not away from grace; 3. wait in the Spirit through faith for the righteousness that is to be hoped for; 4. walk in faith which worketh by love.


[11][Wordsworth finds here a reference to the false accusation (Galatians 5:11) that he preached circumcision, and Lightfoot thinks this is probably an indirect refutation of calumnies as well as an assertion of authority.—R.]

[12][Lightfoot renders “are driven forth, are banished with Hagar your mother,” but white this meaning of ἐκπίπτειν is classical, it is not found elsewhere in New Testament and must not be pressed.—R.]

[13][The verb here used means “to break up a road,” so as to render it impassable. It originally took the dative of the person, but in the New Testament is followed by an accusative. Lightfoot seems to think ἀνέκοψεν (Rec.) would suit the metaphor of the stadium better, its meaning being “to beat back,” to hinder with the further idea of thrusting back (Ellicott), but the other reading is too well supported, he also remarks that the transcribers seem to have taken offence at the word ἐγκόπτειν, since it is frequently altered, e. g. 1 Thessalonians 2:18; Acts 24:4.—R.]

[41] Galatians 4:31.—א. διό. [So B. D1. Lachmann, Tischendorf, Meyer, Ellicott, Alford, Lightfoot. Ἄρα (Rec.) is feebly supported; as also ἡμεῖς δέ.—R.]

[42] Galatians 5:1.—The correct reading is probably that of Lachmann: τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ ἡμᾶς Χριστὸς ἠλευθέρωσεν· στήκετε οὖν. So א. which also begins Galatians 5:0 with στήκετε. [This reading is supported also by A. B. C. D., and adopted by Usteri, Meyer (4th ed., Schmoller mentions the other reading as his) and Alford. Τῇ ἐλευθεριᾳ, ᾖ ἡμᾶς Χριστὸς ἠλευθέρωσεν, στήκετε οὖν is supported by D.2 3 E. K. L., the great majority of cursives, many versions and fathers, and is adopted by Griesbach, Rückert, Tischendorf, Wieseler, Ellicott, Wordsworth, Lightfoot (who differs in punctuation however), Between these two readings the choice is very difficult. The authorities are so equally divided, and as the verbal difference is slight, the critical question resolves itself into this delicate one: whether the transcriber was more likely to have omitted or inserted ᾖ, because of ἡμᾶς immediately following. Meyer thinks it was inserted, others that it was omitted. The latter opinion seems more probable, and the second reading is preferable on diplomatic grounds. The renderings given above are in accordance with the two readings, but minor variations in interpretation are noticed in the Exeg. Notes.

We find besides, οὖν placed after ἐλευθερίᾳ, but this is feebly supported; it is put after στήκετε in א. A.B.C.F. On this position of the particle, an argument for Lachmann’s punctuation is based, though it is not decisive. Χριστός is placed before ἡμᾶς in C.K.L.: after it in א. A. B. D. E. F. G.

Lightfoot not only begins a new sentence at δτήκετε, but, retaining ᾖ, is forced to join the first clause directly with Gal 5:31, and to render: we are sons “of her who is free with that freedom which Christ has given us.” So Schott and Rinck. This seems forced, but Lightfoot’s note on the various readings is valuable.—On the other variations from the E. V., in this verse, see Exeg. Notes.—R.]

[43] Galatians 5:2.—א. omits Παῦλος, inserted however by the corrector.

[44] Galatians 5:2.—[Both here and in Galatians 5:3, the reference is not to the fact of having been circumcised, but now resorting to the rite as necessary.—R.]

[45] Galatians 5:4.—[Schmoller renders: abgetrennt seid ihr von (der gemeinschaft mit) Christo. The construction is pregnant, and scarcely admits of a literal translation. Vulgate: evacuati estis a. Alford’s “annihilates from Christ” is objectionable. Ellicott’s paraphrase is good: “Your union with Christ became void” (so Meyer). It seems both more lively and more exact to retain the present in English, since “the aorists (κατηργήθητε, ἐξεπέσατε) represent the consequences as instantaneous” (Lightfoot).—R.]

[46] Galatians 5:5.—א. has ἐκδεχόμεθα, א.3 ἀπεκδεχόμεθα.

[47] Galatians 5:7.—[Rec. has ἀνέκοψε, but the correct reading is ἐνέκοψε (all MSS., most cursives, and modern editors).—R.]

[48] Galatians 5:7.—Τῇ� is, without ground, deemed spurious by Semler and Kopp. [א. A. B. Lachmann, Lightfoot, omit τῇ; retained on good authority by Tischendorf, Meyer, Ellicott.—R.]

[49] Galatians 5:9.—Δολοῖ is a gloss.

[50] Galatians 5:12.—[See Exeg. Notes, on the meaning of this verse.—R.]

Verses 13-24

G. Extended exhortation to the Qalatians, instead of turning back from Faith to works of the Law, to give activity to their Faith (in a right understanding of Christian freedom) by ministering Love, as the best fulfilment of the Law

Galatians 5:13 to Galatians 6:10

1. More general—reverting to the principle of ethical opposition between Spirit and Flesh, in a discussion, partly didactic

(Galatians 5:13-24)

(Galatians 5:16-24.—Epistle for 14th Sunday after Trinity)

13For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty [ye were called unto liberty, brethren];14 only use not liberty [or your liberty] for an occasion to the flesh, but by [or by means of your] love serve one another. 14For all the [the whole] law is fulfilled15 in one word,16 even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.17 15But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. 16 This I say then [Now I say], Walk in [by]18 the Spirit and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and [for]19 these are contrary [opposed] the one to the other; so that 18ye cannot do the things that ye would [that20 ye may not do what things ye would]. But if ye be led of [by] the Spirit, ye are not under the law. 19Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these [of which kind are],21 adultery [omit adultery],22 20fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness [wantonness], idolatry, witchcraft [sorcery], hatred [hatreds], variance [strife],23 emulations [jealousy], wrath, strife, seditions, 21heresies [caballings, dissensions, factions], envyings, murders,24 drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past [I forewarn you as I did forewarn you], that they which do such things [as these]25 shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, 23longsuffering, gentleness [benignity], goodness, faith [or trustfulness], Meekness, 24temperance: against such [as these] there is no law. And [Now]26 they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the [its] affections and lusts.


Galatians 5:13. For ye were called unto liberty, brethren.—“For”: Paul justifies the strong expression, he has used in Galatians 5:12, against the false teachers. They deserved this rebuke, for—they seek to deprive you of your freedom, and yet—ye are called to that (by God through your conversion to Christ); therefore they strive against the counsel and will of God Himself.—To this thought: “ye were called unto liberty,” Paul however now adds a restriction, a warning against misunderstanding and misuse of this liberty (which in all that precedes he had vindicated with such decision for Christians, and which he had made it their duty not to surrender): only use not your liberty for an occasion to the flesh, μόνον μὴ κ. τ. λ. We must supply, say τρέπετε=Turn not, use not liberty as a pretext for the flesh=let not the flesh (your sinful human nature) obtain in this freedom (from the law) an occasion to pretend that it is therefore now allowed to man to do what he will, and therefore it also may claim indulgence with its sinful lusts. This of course would be an entire perversion of Christian freedom, were the flesh thus allowed to take advantage of it. The antithesis shows distinctly, what Paul regards as the essence of the sarcical state; not by any means the corporeal nature, properly so called, but the selfish Egoism. For he exhorts: but by your love serve one another; love being conceived as the means of serving.—Δουλεύειν in happy antithesis to the ἐλευθερία of Christians. Christians are not to be servants to the law; in this sense they are free; but on the other hand this freedom does not exclude but includes δουλεύειν in the sense of “serving one another. [Lightfoot: “Both ἀλάπης and δουλεύετε are emphatic. St. Paul’s meaning may be expressed by a paraphrase thus; ‘you desire to be in bondage: I too recommend to you a bondage, the subservience of mutual love. Temper your liberty with this bondage, and it will not degenerate into license’.”—R.]

With this verse a new section, of course, begins, but it is incorrect to begin here, as is variously done, a second or third main division. Above all it is not to be supposed that the Apostle henceforth addresses himself to those Galatian Christians who had held fast the principle of evangelical freedom; on the contrary he has throughout the whole Epistle the same individuals in mind, namely, those led astray by Judaism, and his present exhortation also is immediately connected with the leading thought of the Epistle. How nearly? This he, himself, plainly sets forth in the first place with μόνον μή: the energetic admonition to the maintenance of freedom receives its needful complement in the warning against misuse of the same, by the reference to its ethical character.—But this is unquestionably only one side, hardly more than the mere point of attachment. Paul gives his exhortation to serviceable love not merely as a precaution in case the Galatians, perceiving the inadmissibleness of the legal position, should desire to return to the freer one, but this also belongs, together with the entire explication which it receives in the following verses, to the polemics against their present erroneous view. To that legalism, which he combatted, as slighting faith, and surrendering Itself into false bondage, he opposes as the truth, “the fulfilling of the law” by the activity of faith in love (comp. Galatians 5:6), where we make ourselves servants, more generally in a walk by the Spirit, in which one is free from the law in the very “fulfilling” of it (Galatians 5:14; Galatians 5:18; Galatians 5:23). He is the more earnest in holding this up to them, because the Galatians especially, in spite of (or on account of) their legal zeal, were wanting in this fulfilment of the law through a walk by the Spirit, a fulfilment which obliges Christians also (comp., especially Galatians 5:15). The same persons who wanted to impose the law upon themselves, were content to be lacking in that which is the heart of the law; those who wished to make themselves servants to the law, would not be servants to one another. It was therefore of moment, to exclaim to these: Behold, what you need, is not in any way to turn yourselves away from faith, as if this were too little, to the law, but simply to make faith active through a walk in the Spirit, in love. Comp. Galatians 5:6, and also chap. 6, where the more detailed exhortations follow. We thus see plainly how impossible it is to disconnect this section from the preceding one, how on the other hand it concurs with the entire polemics of the Apostle, nay, how these find in it their true, convincing culmination.—It is of course incorrect to oppose this section, as hortatory, to the preceding part of the Epistle, as didactic, for this reason that the preceding part also includes exhortation (especially ver.1); this however was dogmatic, and now comes ethical exhortation. Unquestionably therefore this section might with some propriety be called the Ethical part, in distinction from the Doctrinal; but if by this were meant, as commonly, that Paul now leaves the controversy concerning the relation of the Law to Faith, and, having no longer in mind the defection of the Galatian churches, merely proceeds to exhort to a walk of Christian morality, with reference to ethical short-comings, this too must be deemed incorrect according to what has been remarked. Moreover, even if such a distinction into a dogmatic and an ethical part is not unwarranted in fact, it is at all events not exact in form; this section cannot be formally contrasted with all that precedes. For certainly the discourse proceeds without interruption; Paul is speaking hortatively to the Galatians (especially from ver.1 on), but on the ground of the doctrinal exposition, and now he merely gives a sudden ethical turn to this exhortation, bringing, as has been remarked, the whole to an appropriate conclusion.27

Galatians 5:14. For the whole law is fulfilled.—It is not easy to determine either the meaning of this clause, or its connection with what precedes. The first explanation, which offers itself on account of ἐν ἑνὶ λόγῳ, taken πληροῦται as= ἀνακεφαλαιοῦται, comprehenditur, as Romans 8:9. [So Luther, Calvin, Olshausen, et al.—R.] But this must be rejected as lexically untenable. Besides with the reading [now generally adopted], πεπλήρωται it becomes at once incorrect.—As little does νόμον πληρ. have here the same sense as in Matthew 5:17=to bring out, to make evident the deeper sense, the ideal substance in distinction from the literal form. Doubtless it is not a πληροῦν in the doctrine that is here in question, and in reality, if πληρ. were taken in this sense, the explanation would come back again to the one already disapproved, namely, that the commandment of love to our neighbor is the substance of ὁ πᾶς νόμος, since that which is substance, in another aspect, is also foundation. Πληροῦν is to be understood of fulfilment by deed, conformity, satisfacere legi. [Ellicott: “The perfect πεπλήρωται suitably points to the completed and permanent act.”—R.] It is peculiar then, no doubt, that this is said to be in one word, ἐν ἑνὶ λόλῳ, and this to be regarded as an abbreviated expression for; By conformity to the one word, precept (from Leviticus 19:18), immediately follows: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.—[Meyer: “Neighbor is for the Christian, who rightly (Matthew 5:17) applies this Mosaic command to himself, his fellow-Christian (comp. Galatians 5:13, ἀλλήλοις), as for the Jew it was fellow-Jew; but how little this is to be taken as excluding any one whatever, is shown by the whole spirit of Christianity, which finds its most beautiful expression in the case of the Samaritan (Luke 10:0); Paul himself was such a Samaritan toward Jew and Gentile.”—R.] But how far does Paul declare obedience to the one commandment of love to our neighbor, an obedience to the whole law? Not in the sense in which Love is styled πλήρωμα νόμου (Romans 13:8-10). Nearly related as the two passages appear to be, they must by no means be confounded. For in Romans 13:0 it is expressly stated what is to be understood by νόμος, namely, the individual commandments of the Decalogue which respect conduct towards our neighbor, and love is called the πλήρωμα of those, because, whoever has the dispositions of love, and in truth only such a one, will of course fulfil also the duties of love commanded by the law. But that “the whole law” in this passage is not to be arbitrarily turned into “second table of the Decalogue,” nor even interpreted generally = Moral law, is plain; on the contrary, it doubtless signifies nothing else than: the whole Mosaic law. But in the second place it is also clear, that Paul cannot mean to say, that in love to our neighbor is found the pledge of the fulfilment of the whole law. For this latter Paul has not at all in mind, it is precisely the opposite that he is aiming at; his meaning is, that on him who does this there is no future requirement made in respect to observance of the law, that from this he is free. The sense of πεπλήρωται can therefore only be: He is to be regarded as if he had fulfilled the law, and therefore the law can exact nothing further of him. By no means therefore is the commandment of love to our neighbor regarded by Paul as the summary of the whole law; this would be entirely incorrect. He will rather say this, that if any one fulfils this, all the rest comes no more into account; of course, with reference to his emphatic demonstration in what precedes, that the law has lost its binding force for the believer. If the believer now does not take this faith to be a dead one, but quickens it through love, he has done all; there can be of further claims of the law upon him no mention, but he ought on the other side to have and exercise love, for only then can he regard himself as free from the claims of the whole land besides, only then, in fact, is he a believer.—If it is asked how Paul could view the whole law as fulfilled in love to our neighbor, especially without even mentioning love to God, this question is mostly raised with the understanding that he means to designate the commandment of love to our neighbor as the summary, or the fulfilment of it as the condition and principle of the fulfilment of the whole law; and if he meant it so, his assertion must unquestionably be declared unwarranted.28 (Where the former is in question, Jesus in Matthew 21:34 sq. places the two commandments together; and where the latter, Paul, Romans 13:0., restricts the law to the second table.) But this understanding of his proposition has been already designated as incorrect. He doubtless means to say: Of him who has love to his neighbor the law can exact nothing more. The question, rightly stated, is therefore only this: How could Paul attribute to love towards our neighbor so eminent a position, that he designates him who should fulfil it as free from all else? Must he not also, nay, above all, demand of the believer a fulfilling of the commandment of love to God, and could he, except on condition that both were found in a man, esteem it equivalent to a fulfilment of the whole law? As to this it is simply to be remarked, that (1) he conceives Faith as essentially comprehending love to God, and (2) cannot conceive love to our neighbor without love to God, and therefore in demanding the former from Christians, he of course does not mean to release them from the latter. He does not, however, mention love to God, for his exhortation has not respect to a merely inward fulfilling of the law, belonging to the disposition, but to that fulfilling of the law which comes into manifestation, and shows itself forth in the walk, to the true ethical conduct of the life, and especially of the common life, and this rests upon love to our neighbor. Therefore this only is made the subject of discourse.—If now the Apostle uses this proposition to establish the preceding exhortation (γάρ), this is not in the sense that he means thereby to represent the “serving by love” (Galatians 5:13), as a divine duty because commanded by the law; after he has previously denied so decidedly that Christians are under the law, he cannot make the fact that it is commanded in the law a motive for the exercise of love. The principal emphasis lies rather upon πᾶς and πεπλήρ., on the circumstance that through serving love the whole law is fulfilled, in the sense given=enough has been done for the law, i. e., negatively, they are therewith absolved from the rest of the law. Therefore nearly=Love one another: for therewith the whole ground of controversy, respecting the observance of the law, whether this or that precept is to be observed, is taken away. The whole sentence, therefore, serves rather to strengthen his exhortation than to give, strictly speaking, a reason for it. The commandment of love to our neighbor, although expressed by a citation from the law (Leviticus): ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλ. κ. τ. λ, does not therefore come into consideration as a particular commandment of the law, as if Paul from the other commandments, as being abrogated, excepts this one as remaining in force; only the commandment to exercise love towards our neighbor remains in fact valid for the Christian (and if it is done, the law has no further claim upon him); but to him it is a commandment not on account of the law, but because he is a Christian, on account of his faith in Christ, or because (Galatians 5:6) “in Christ” alone “faith working through love” “availeth anything.” Into the question how far the faith in Christ obliges to love, Paul does not enter, but he then goes on to show that this love is the operation of the Spirit, which faith brings.—While the proposition serves primarily to commend the exhortation, and while such an argument must have had the more weight for this end with those zealous for the law, yet of course at the same time it deals a blow against this zeal for the law, and exhibits its emptiness; for all the rest, the many observances are, according to it, purely superfluous; with the one thing. Love to our neighbor, all is done. [Meyer “Paul looked down from a lofty spiritual level, and saw all other commands of the law subordinated to the law of love, that whoever had fulfilled this command, must be treated as having fulfilled the whole.” The fact that Paul chose this particular expression, “the whole law is fulfilled,” places his teaching in opposition to antinomian tendencies, just as the Sermon on the Mount shows Christ’s position to the law, viewed as a purely ethical rule of life. “The whole law,” i. e., the Mosaic law, regarded in this light, was fulfilled in the case of the believer by this love to his neighbor; for the whole law of Moses had an ethical purpose, which purpose is now fulfilled to its full extent only when the believer, because he as a believer, is living “by the Spirit.” has that temper of heart to God, which enables him to obey this “one word.”—Schmoller insists too strongly on the idea that “all the rest are superfluous.” It is doubtful whether this is implied even in Galatians 5:18. The Doctrinal Notes show his meaning more clearly.—R.]

Galatians 5:15. But if ye bite and devour one another.—This is = if ye intend of serving one another through love, do just the opposite: bear ill will towards and hate one another, and let this come into act, plot mischief against one another, yea, seek to destroy one another; something like this is the sense of these strong expressions borrowed from ravening beasts. Then take heed, adds Paul with incisive words, that the result be not the opposite of what you intend, that ye be not consumed of one another.—Each might be disposed to supplant the other, but in the end it will come to this, all will be wasted away. The sentence thus coöperates per contrarium to the establishment of Galatians 5:12. The explanation: “your Christian community will go to pieces,” I am inclined to regard as too special. It is not improbable, indeed, that this influence of the Judaizers occasioned divisions among the Galatians, and threw them into controversies upon the question of the law; yet I should not be disposed to refer this δάκνειν καὶ κατεσθίειν so definitely to that, as is commonly done. For this is at least intimated nowhere else in the Epistle.

Galatians 5:16. Now I say, walk by the Spirit.—With λέγω δέ Paul conducts his exhortation to serve one another by love (agreeably to the warning already given in the first half of Galatians 5:13.) back to a more general, fundamental exhortation to walk by the Spirit (for in the Spirit he sees the Agent that leads to love), and then designates Spirit and Flesh as the two ethical principles opposite to one another, expressing themselves in opposite workings.—Πνεύματιπεριπ. Dative of instrument; properly: walk through the Spirit, so that He is (not the path in which—Wieseler, but) the power, through which they walk=πνεύματι�, Galatians 5:18. [The dative may be instrumental, as in Galatians 5:18, but it is better, perhaps, with Meyer, Alford, Ellicott, to consider it a normal dative, that by which, according to which they are to walk (almost =κατὰ πνεῦμα), for the reason that “Spirit” is contrasted in this passage not merely with “flesh,” but also with “law,” and the double contrast is best brought out thus, since under the idea of the normal dative, that of rule or direction is included. Wieseler brings out the same meaning, but takes the dative as instrumental.—R.] Πνεῦμα is here also doubtless =The Holy Ghost; it is this, that overcomes the σάρξ. He enters, it is true, into the hearts of believers, and works only by impelling and determining the walk, as He who dwells in the believers. But yet πνεῦμα is not on this account=the new disposition of the believer himself, sanctified by the Spirit, but remains ever distinct from the individual human spirit as Divine, transcending it. [Meyer adopts this view, and remarks that the absence of the article is not against it. “The distinction affirmed by Harless, that τὸ πνεῦμα means the objective Holy Ghost, πνεῦμα without the article the subjective, cannot be justified, since πνεῦμα has the nature of a proper name, and always, even when it dwells and reigns in the human spirit, remains objective, as the Divine πνεῦμα specifically distinct from the human (Romans 7:16).”—R.]

And ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.—We are led to construe this clause, as one of result, both by grammatical considerations (καί with οὐ μή and the subjunctive or future after an imperative has this force commonly) and by the context. In “walk by the Spirit” he indicates the means of victory over “the lust of the flesh.” [On the grammatical point urged above, see the note of Ellicott in loco. He claims that the clause might be imperative, but “as there is no distinct instance of such a construction in the New Testament, and still more as the next verses seem more naturally to supply the reasons for the assertion than for the command, it seems best to adopt the future translation.” (So E. V., Meyer also in 4th ed., and above.) This future with οὐ μή is strong: “shall in no wise” (Lightfoot).—On the word “flesh,” see Doctrinal Note 4.—R.]

Galatians 5:17. For.—This introduces, in the first place, simply the proof of a “lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16)=of such an one I speak, for the flesh lusteth. Paul does not stop, however, but is led further to the antagonistic idea ἐπιθυμεῖν Πνεῦμα.—Against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.—Each principle combats the other, and seeks to wrest the dominion from it, and on the other hand to place itself in the possession of this. [It is scarcely proper to supply the verb ἐπιθυμεῖν with Πνεῦμα, but the Apostle’s meaning is obvious. Lightfoot suggests “strives,” “fights against.”—R.] This is explained by what follows: these are opposed the one to the other, that ἴνα=with the design, that ye may not do what things ye would, bring into effect precisely the desire which you have admitted into your will. Ἃἂνθέλητε is neither to be restricted to the good nor to the evil will. The inquiry whether the two powers in the cases in question, attain the object desired by them or not, is not proposed here, since the only purpose is to bring vividly to view the irreconcilable antagonism of their tendencies. Wieseler. Ἵνα is therefore not at all to be understood in an ecbatic sense. [Alford: “The necessity of supposing an ecbatic meaning for ἵνα in theology is obviated by remembering, that with God results are all purposed.—R.] The contest moreover is by no means to be conceived as an interminable one. The context shows that on the contrary there is expected of the Christian a complete surrendering of himself in order to be actuated by the one principle, the Spirit, and a refusal to give way to the lust of the flesh, whose motions, it is true, must still be experienced. The passage therefore, is entirely different from Romans 7:17 sq. [The reference is to “the free-will in its ordinary acceptation, subject only to this necessary and obvious limitation, that this conflict must be only predicated in its full extent, of the earlier and more imperfect stages of a Christian course. The state of the true believer is conflict, but with final victory.” Ellicott.—R.]

Galatians 5:18 then speaks of the victoy of this principle: But if ye be led by the Spirit=if the combat becomes a victory, and that on the right side; if the ἐπιθ. of the πν. becomes an ἄγειν. [Bengel: ubi vero spiritus vincit, acie res decernitur. The dative here is instrumental.—R.]—Ye are not under the law.—This is according to Galatians 5:14; there it was only stated specially of love, here generally of the “being led by the Spirit,” which correspondence makes evident, how Paul regards its relation to the exercise of love; the two are to him essentially one, that is, the former is the principle of the latter. What in Galatians 5:14 is called somewhat enigmatically a fulfilling of the whole law, is here simply and literally described as “a not being under the law.” The latter is essentially identical with the former; the sense is: The law then can exact nothing more of you; implying naturally: for you are then in the right ethical condition beseeming the Christian, even though not carrying out every detail prescribed in the law. But if you—is the thought implied—are not led by the Spirit, you are then still under obligation to the law; for you are then in fact not yet all in Christ. [Meyer: “Through the impelling power of the Spirit you find yourselves in such a moral condition of life (‘newness of life,’ Romans 6:4) that the law has no power to find fault with you, to condemn and punish you. This explanation is the only correct one according to Galatians 5:23 : and this freedom is the true moral freedom from the law.” So Ellicott, who remarks: “The more obvious conclusion might have seemed, ‘ye are not under the influence of the flesh,’ but as the law was confessedly the principle which was ordained the influences and works of the flesh, the Apostle (in accordance with the general direction of his argument) draws his conclusion relatively rather to the principle, than to the mere state and influences against which that principle was ordained.” It must be borne in mind that Paul’s use of the phrase “under the law” usually regards the law as a judge and pedagogue; here the Christian is viewed as one led by the Spirit, and thus taken from “under the law,” but so led according to the law, as a guide to our new life of gratitude, that of the fruit of the Spirit it is ever true “against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:23).—R.]

Galatians 5:19-21. Now the works of the flesh are manifest.—Φανερά, evident=plainly conspicuous and therefore of course undeniable. This φανερά is the main point, and therefore placed first. For Paul wishes to furnish the Galatians inducement for being “led by the Spirit,” and therefore he not only calls the works of the flesh “evident,” but moreover carefully enumerates them, portrays them before their eyes (puts them in the pillory); so that every one may know, what conversely belongs to being led by the Spirit, that one may not practice such things, if he will be one led by the Spirit and not under the law. The positive side is then given Galatians 5:22 sq.—That Paul does not mean to say that all of these things are found among the Galatians, is easily understood.—“Works of the flesh”=“that which is brought to pass when the flesh, i. e., the sinful human nature, and not the Holy Ghost, is the actuating principle.” Meyer. Therefore naturally many sins are here enumerated, which are by no means carnal sins in the common acceptation, but rather in a very special sense sins against love, agreeably to the context. There are four classes: 1. Lust (πορν.—ἀσελγ.) 2. Idolatry (εἰδωλολ., φαρμ.), 3. Contentiousness (ἔχθραι—φόνοι). 4. Intemperance (μέθαι—κῶμοι). The third class is treated the most in detail. [While we must not regard this specification as a charge against the Galatians in particular, it is extremely improbable that the Apostle would not choose such sins as most “easily beset” his readers. Lightfoot very properly observes: “From early habit and constant association a Gentile church would be exposed to sins of the first two classes. The third would be a probable consequence of their religious dissensions, inflaming the excitable temperament of a Celtic people. The fourth seems to be thrown in to give a sort of completeness to the list, though not unfitly addressed, to a nation whose Gallic descent perhaps disposed them too easily to these excesses.”—R.]—Uncleanliness, ἀκαθ., lustful impurity in general after the special fornication, πορνεία; wantonness, ἀσελγ., lustful wantonness. [Lightfoot: “The same three words occur together in a different order, 2 Corinthians 12:21. The order here is perhaps the more natural: πορνεία a special form of impurity;29 ἀκαθαρσία uncleanness in whatever guise, ἀσέλγεια an open reckless contempt of propriety. A man may be ἀκάθαρτος and hide his sin; he does not become ἀσελγής until he shocks public decency.” As the reference in the New Testament is usually to sensuality, “wantonness” is the best rendering, “standing as it does, by the double meaning which it has, in remarkable ethical connexion with this word” ἀσέλγεια. See Trench, Syn. New Testament § xvi.—R.]—The transition from the first class to the second is easily found in the fact that with idolatrous worship many forms of unchastity were connected; but idolatry is not on that account to be considered as a species of lustful indulgence. [Yet the two forms of sin are so frequently joined together in the New Testament and the latter is so common a metaphor for the former in the Old Testament, as to suggest a more intimate connection than the simple fact that sensual excesses usually accompanied idolatrous worship. This fact must be regarded as an indication of some underlying affinity.—R.]—Φαρμακεία, here apparently, in juxtaposition with idolatry=Sorcery, not poisoning, [Lightfoot: “ ‘Idolatry,’ the open recognition of false gods, ‘sorcery,’ the secret tampering with the powers of evil. It is a striking coincidence, if nothing more, that φαρμακεῖαι were condemned by a very stringent canon of the council held at Ancyra, the capital of Galatia, about A. D. 314.”—R.]—Third class: the substantives up to αἱρέσεις have reference to dissension, the first four as shown in individual conduct, among which however, jealousy, ζῆλος and wrath, θυμοί, refer to the inner aspect, the source. [The latter is rendered “displays of wrath” by Ellicott, and thus referred to outward manifestations, which seems preferable, since the plural is used, serving to denote the concrete form of the abstract sin (so too the plurals which follow); were the reference to the source the singular were more appropriate. See Trench, Syn. New Testament, § xxvii., on the precise meaning of the word.—R.] The three following, caballings, dissensions, factions refer to the dissension of bodies of men.—Envyings, murders follow these, evidently named together mainly on account of the paronomasia, since φθόνος would otherwise belong with ζῆλος; “murders,” however, fittingly closes the list as the culmination of discord. Besides, the two are perhaps put in juxtaposition with reference to the concurrence of envy and murder in the first murder, comp. 1 John 3:12. [Lightfoot: “A principle of order may be observed in the enumeration: 1. ἔχθραι, a general expression opposed to άγἀπη, breaches of charity in feeling or in act; from this point onward the terms are in an ascending scale: 2. ἔρις ‘strife,’ not necessarily implying self-interest; 3. ζῆλος ‘rivalry’ in which the idea of self-assertion is prominent: 4. θυμοὶ ‘wraths,’ a more passionate form of ἔρις; 5. ἐριθεῖαι30 ‘factious cabals,’ a stronger development of ζῆλος: 6, 7. hostility has reached the point where the contending parties separate; such separation is either temporary (διχοστασίαι ‘divisions’), or permanent (αἱρέσεις ‘sects, heresies’): 8. φθόνοι, a grosser breach of charity than any hitherto mentioned, the wish to deprive another of what he has; 9. φόνοι, the extreme form which hatred can take, the deprivation of life.”—On drunkenness, revellings, Ellicott remarks: “the latter is the more generic and inclusive, to which the former was the usual accompaniment.”—R.]—In order to brand still further “the works of the flesh,” and to restrain from them, he points moreover to the punishment decreed against them, in words which are meant to express: that however often one might come to speak of them, he would always have to render the same judgment, and to express moreover that this judgment might be rendered in advance with perfect distinctness.—Προ in προλέγω and προεῖπον=before it comes; the preterite in προεῖπον=during my presence among you.—Shall not inherit the kingdom of God.—Just as in 1 Corinthians 6:9 sq.; Ephesians 5:5, of course with the pre-supposition: If no conversion intervenes.

Galatians 5:22-23. After the negative exposition, Paul now states explicitly in what the being led by the Spirit consists, or, more particularly, reveals itself.—The fruit of the Spirit.—Καρπὸς τοῦ πνεύματος, essentially the same as ἔργα, “works,” Galatians 5:19 : That which comes to pass, which is brought into effect, when the Holy Ghost is the impelling principle. But in what follows it is only qualities that are mentioned, and not works, and so of course ἔργα was not appropriate. And certainly it is not unintentional, that Paul in the first place names only the inward “fruit of the Spirit,” consisting in the disposition of the soul, for the reason that the Spirit primarily and principally changes and must change the inward disposition. When this is done, there is a genuine leading by the Spirit, living by the Spirit, which then finds external manifestation also in a walking by the Spirit.—The singular καρπός also is significant, “proceeding from the conception of the inward unity and ethical continuity of all that the Spirit works.” As “Spirit” in this connection is conceived as the principle from which serving love proceeds, the enumeration of precisely these virtues is easily explicable. That many things besides are effected by the Spirit, does not need to be said. At the head stands Love, as the most general, and at the same time the chief virtue of Christians (comp. Galatians 5:13-14). Gal 10: Χαρά, one is inclined to take as Joy with the brethren, opposed to ζῆλοι, φθόυοι. It is no objection that this incidental idea is not contained in the word itself; the connection might easily indicate in what particular sense χαρά is here to be taken. Yet the explanation of it as the inward joyfulness of the Christian in the consciousness of the love of God may also be justified, as this too stands in close connection with his conduct towards his brethren, and is incompatible with an unloving behavior. At all events the following words from εἰρήνη to πραΰτης belong together, as designating the fruits of “love,” unselfish love; εἰρήνη therefore denotes peace with others, μακροθυμία patience under injuries, χρηστ. gracious, friendly character, ἀγαθ. is nearly related to this: Benevolence (Luther); not so generally as, good dispositions (the special meaning is quite frequent in the Septuagint): πίστις here of course not=justifying faith, but either trustfulness, as opposed to mistrust, or faithfulness.—Finally, temperance, ἐγκράτεια, is added in antithesis particularly to the sins of lust and intemperance (Galatians 5:19-21).—[Here again Lightfoot is excellent: “The difficulty of classification in this list is still greater than in the case of the works of the flesh. Nevertheless some sort of order may be observed. The catalogue falls into three groups of three each. The first of these comprises Christian habits of mind in their more general aspect, ‘love, joy, peace.’ (The fabric is built up story upon story. Love is the foundation, joy the superstructure, peace the crown of all.) The second gives special qualities affecting a man’s intercourse with his neighbor, ‘long-suffering, kindness, beneficence.’ (This triad is again arranged in an ascending scale; μακροθυμία is passive, ‘patient endurance under injuries inflicted by others;’ Χρηστότης, neutral, ‘a kindly disposition towards one’s neighbors’ not necessarily taking a practical form;31 ἀγαθωσύνη, active, ‘goodness, beneficence’ as an energetic principle.) The third, again general in character like the first, exhibits the principles which guide a Christian’s conduct.”—Ellicott: “Ἐγκράτεια, ‘temperance,’ is distinguished by Diog. Laert, from σωφροσύνη as implying a control over the stronger passions, whereas the latter implies a self-restraint in what is less vehement.”—R.]—Against such as these there Is no law.—Τοιούτων is neuter, as in Galatians 5:21, and the sense is: Such virtues the law condemns not. This, however, implies of course: Against those that possess such qualities the law is not, and this is the same thought, only more specially conceived, as in Galatians 5:14; Galatians 5:18. The law requires nothing more of them, and therefore also it can bring no accusations against them. [Or rather, because the law can find nothing to oppose or restrain in such things (which fulfil its ethical purpose), the law has no power over those who bring forth the fruit of the Spirit. Schmoller presses too strongly the implied thought. Beza and others make a meiosis here: these are pleasing to God, but as Meyer remarks: Paul wishes to explain only what he has said in Galatians 5:18 of those led by the Spirit. He sets forth the fruit of the Spirit and says: against virtues and states such as these the law is not, and he thus makes clear, how those led by the Spirit by virtue of their moral condition are not subject to the Mosaic law. For whoever is so circumstanced, that a law is not against him, over him it has no power.—R.]

Galatians 5:24. And they that are Christ’s.—Another proposition weighty in itself, and especially also in the connection. It joins on well to what precedes, with which it is probably better to connect it, although on the other hand what follows naturally connects itself with this. That is, as Paul went back from the exhortation to the exercise of love towards our neighbor to the exhortation to a walk in the Spirit, as the principle of love, so now he goes back beyond that again, and shows how this walk in the Spirit is itself grounded in fellowship with Christ. As thus, in the first place he spoke of the fruit of the Spirit, and then says: Now it is those that are Christ’s, who have crucified their flesh, etc.; who therefore have crucified the very disposition opposed to the aforesaid fruit of the Spirit, the disposition from which the works of the flesh proceed, so that the opposite disposition, the fruit of the Spirit, can find a place. [Ellicott: “The connection of the whole paragraph appears to be as follows:—‘The Spirit and the flesh are contrary to each other; if the flesh prevail, man is given over to all sin, and excluded from the kingdom of God: if the Spirit be the leading principle, man brings forth good fruits, and is free from the curse of the law. Now the distinguishing feature of the true Christian is the crucifixion of the flesh; consequently, it must be obvious from what has been said, the living in and being led by the Spirit’.”—R.]—Have crucified, ἐσταύρωσαν.—This is conceived as something accomplished, and is therefore apparently to be referred to an individual act, the act of becoming a Christian through faith and baptism. The meaning, to be sure, is not, that now the flesh, with its affections and lusts, is not any longer present at all with those that have become Christians. But yet at least a walk in the flesh should not any longer exist in the case of Christians; we may declare to these that such a walk is in contradiction to their essential character as Christians, and that a walk in the Spirit may rightly be expected of them; yet this is only possible because we may urge this upon them: You now have crucified the flesh. It is to be noted also, that the language is not: slain, but, crucified. The former could not so well be said, as it is conceived rather as a task of the Christian to be accomplished only by continual effort (Colossians 3:5). In “crucified,” however, the simple slaying is not the main idea, but the condemning, giving sentence, surrendering to infamous death; and this has necessarily taken place in becoming Christ’s. [Ellicott: “Though this ethical crucifixion is here designated as an act past, it really is and must be a continuing act as well. This however the aorist, with its usual and proper force, leaves unnoticed; it simply specifies, in the form of a general truth, the act as belonging to the past, without affirming or denying any reference to the present. In all such cases the regular reference of the tense to the past may be felt in the kind of summary way in which the action is stated,—the sort of implied dismissal of the subject, and procedure to something fresh.”—R.]—Ἐσταύρ. naturally alludes to the cross of Christ, and the fellowship with Christ involves a crucifixion of the flesh for the very reason that it is fellowship with Christ’s death on the cross; for through this the fact that men’s σάρξ deserves condemnation and is obnoxious to death, is demonstrated and set forth in a way of irresistible force; for Christ indeed has only suffered what men have deserved on account of their sinful “flesh,” and therefore what this itself has deserved. Whoever therefore appropriates to himself in faith Christ’s death upon the cross, regards the “flesh” in himself no longer; for him in Christ’s death this has been crucified. (Comp. Romans 6:6.) [Meyer: “ ‘Have crucified the flesh,’ expresses: to have divested themselves of all vital fellowship with sin, whose seat the σάρξ is, so that, as Christ was objectively crucified, we, by means of the entrance into the fellowship of this death on the cross, crucify the σάρξ subjectively, moral consciousness of faith, i.e., have made it entirely lifeless and inoperative through faith as the new vital element, to which we have passed over. To Christians considered ideally as here, this ethical slaying of the flesh is something which has taken place, in reality however, it is also something taking place and continuing.”—R.] Παθήματα are passions, aroused by the σάρξ in the sensibility; these then show themselves active in definite sinful lusts, ἐπιθυμίαι. In the παθ. the man is, as is implied in the word passive; but this passivity becomes activity in the ἐπιθυμίαι. [Comp. Colossians 3:5, and see Trench, Syn. New Testament, 2d series, § xxxvii.—R.]


1. Men are pointed away from the law and to faith, first and above all, because only faith in Christ and not the keeping of the precepts of the law, or the doing of works of the law, is the way to the attaining of justification and of the divine inheritance (subjectively: to the attaining of the comfort of the forgiveness of sins, of the adoption of children and the hope of the eternal inheritance). For him who has this faith, the law loses its importance, for the reason that a usus justificatorius it has not, while it has already fulfilled its usus pædagogicus, of impelling to faith, in the case of such a one.—But nevertheless the Apostle is the farthest possible from meaning that the believer on Christ is dispensed from giving a truly moral (ethico-religious) character to his inward disposition and his life (from the doing of “good works”), and is entitled to persevere in sin, that is, to indulge the “flesh.” So far is this from being true that this, despite his faith and despite the fact that faith is the condition of salvation, nevertheless excludes him from the kingdom of God and from eternal life (Galatians 5:21; Galatians 6:8). And, indeed, this cannot be the opinion of the Christian, for this his faith in Christ involves not merely an impulse and power to the avoidance of sin, to the willing and doing of good, but because it is a coming into fellowship with Christ’s death, it immediately involves also the arising of a hatred against sin, a condemning of the flesh (Galatians 5:21), and because it is a receiving of Christ, it involves also the beginning of a life for God (comp. Galatians 2:19 sq. and the Doctrinal Notes on that section). The latter fact, the new life, which arises or is given with faith on Christ, receives in this section its exact expression; there begins in man a working of the Spirit (πνεῦμα), who, overcoming the flesh (Galatians 5:16), brings forth fruit in an ethically good, God-pleasing disposition of heart and life (Galatians 5:22 sq.). Nay, it is only this faith in Christ which leads to this goal, as it is only this which leads to the other goal of justification. The law cannot effect this second, and quite as little can it effect the first. On the contrary, it arouses the σάρξ (and the ἁμαρτία dwelling therein), but does not assist to the receiving of the Spirit (comp. Galatians 2:2, and Romans 7:8). So little therefore does faith in Christ dispense from a disposition and course of action pleasing to God, that it is just this, nay more, only this which leads thereto. If any one is disposed to call this disposition and activity to the Christian, thus conformed to God’s will, a “fulfilling of the law,” he does not name it wrongly; only in doing it he is to keep in mind (1) that it is not to be understood in a formal, but only in a material relation: a doing of that which the law commands, yet not because the law commands it, but in the strength and on the impulse of faith, or more properly, of the Spirit, something therefore entirely different from what Paul calls “works of the law;” it is that which he so often names ἔργα�, works of the Spirit, rather than of the law; (2) that in this appellation law is taken in a quite restricted sense, of the properly ethical commandments (see Romans 13:8 sq., where it plainly appears what Paul means by the νόμος; when he speaks generally, he uses the expression ἐντολαὶ θεοῦ, 1 Corinthians 7:19). “Fulfilling of the law” will therefore always be an only partially adequate expression for a Christian life, a conformity of the life to God’s will. Entirely abandoning the Old Testament point of view therefore, Paul speaks directly of an ἀναπληροῦν τὸν νόμον Χριστοῦ (Galatians 6:2).32

2. But it is true that the “doing of good works” the making faith active in a walk and mind pleasing to God, does not come to pass, as it were, of itself (as might appear from what precedes), even with the believer (even though, as of course is pre-supposed, his faith is an actual one of inward persuasion, and not merely nominal, is actually equivalent to a τοῦ Χριστοῦ εἶναι, and therefore bears within it the energy perfectly adequate to a moral renewal of the life). Even with the believer the σάρξ has not disappeared. Therefore, although abstractly we must say: the believer cannot dispense himself from a genuine ethical renewal of his life, yet in concreto we are rather to say: He ought not. The “thou oughtest” comes back even to him who stands on the foundation of faith. This appears in the case of the believer, in a twofold manner. In the first place and chiefly on the side of the πνεὺμα, which he receives in faith; for this works not merely as it were physically, in the form of an energy of nature, converting the will of man into agreement with the mind of God (and the figure of the καρπός must be understood cum grano salis: a bare growing up it certainly is not); the result is brought about ethically and not physically; the πνεῦμα also approaches the will with requirements, which it is true are far more intensive, which have as it were a quite different power of bending the will from the requirements of the law or of the conscience (the law of the letter or of the conscience); for they are strengthened by the persuasion which is received along with faith into the heart, of the condemnation of sin as well as the forgiveness of it, of the holiness as well as the compassion inhering in the grace of God in Christ. But it is with an “ought,” however intensive, that the πνεῦμα in the believer approaches the will of man, and seeks to determine it to let itself be guided by him, to determine it to the ἄγεσθαι and then also to the πνεύματι περιπατεῖν: and in doing this he meets with many hindrances on the side of the σάρξ (Galatians 5:17).—This is the immediate, inward “ought” that has place and is needful even with the believer. But to this inward monition and impulse of the Spirit, there must be added, in order to keep it ever alive and guard it against all impure admixture, one coming from without. Of this we have in this very section the speaking proof. The Apostle sees occasion given him to admonish the Galatian Christians with earnest words to a disposition and course of life answerable to their faith; he approaches them with an “Ought:” “So ought it to be with Christians = because you believe in Christ!” And his admonition here and elsewhere holds good also for us; it is the testimony of the Spirit conveyed through the word—testimonium externum (in distinction from internum)—the comprehensive exposition of which is the function of New Testament ethics.

3. That even the believer is not and cannot be spared the earnestly admonishing and impelling “ought” because even with him there is not found a steady will (on account of the old Adam), is the meaning of the church doctrine of the tertius legis usus, the usus legis with the renatus (the us. didact. or normal.), and understood in this sense it is correct. But as it is expressed it is distorted and incorrect, and is in conflict with the indisputable Pauline doctrine, that the believer is not ὑπὸ νόμον, that he may not be placed nor place himself under it. He is indeed under a law of the Spirit, so far as the Spirit admonishes, requires, rebukes, yet the Spirit does by no means merely this, but far more; this is the very least that he does. But especially is the believer in no sense whatever under the law of the letter, the Old Testament law, the proper lex, and with all its generalizing of the conception of lex, the Formula Concordiæ, nevertheless, in the section touching this matter does not really go beyond the Mosaic law. It does not arrive at the conception of the law of the Spirit (the law of faith), whether this is entirely inward, or expressed also in the word of Scripture (in the New Testament word of Scripture, which for the fulfilment of the ethical requirement presupposes the faith in Christ with what it has and gives). The law of the letter (the proper lex), has, it is true, its great significance for the believer but it has its place not, so to speak, after Faith, but only before the same, as pædagogus (see above on Galatians 3:19 sq.); and in this sense it permanently retains its importance, and is indispensable for faith. That is, the sinfulness and imperfection of the new life even in the believer, make it needful that the law should not once only, but ever afresh, awaken in him the knowledge of sin and the impossibility of himself attaining salvation and eternal life, and by that very means drive him to assure himself of it in. faith in Christ; and so ever impel him anew to faith. So far, therefore, as a usus of the lex, strictly so called, can be predicated even as to the renatus, it falls under the usus pædagogicus, as usus secundus. But in this pedagogy its function is continually exhausting itself again; this function only does Paul ascribe to it, and another, the function docere, ut in vera pietate vivemus et ambu-lemus, we have no right to attribute to it, especially as we thereby come into conflict with the definite assurance that the law only stirs up sin and the σάρξ, and of itself continually hinders anew the Spirit’s gaining dominion and therewith the attainment of the vera pietas. The law contributes directly neither to justification nor to the new life, and cannot therefore be directly the means of maintaining the latter. What it can and should do, was and is, to open the way for that which does lead to justification and to the new life, namely, Faith. As this is its work at first, so is it ever after. The accomplishment of these two things it must then leave to faith, first as that which lays hold of God’s grace—for justification, then as that which has laid hold of it and therewith receives the Spirit. This Holy Ghost now, and not the νόμος, is alone in condition as the spirit of faith to assist to ever renewed victory over the σάρξ, partly through His teaching, partly through His monition, partly through His persuasion and drawing. For if the believer did right because admonished by the law, he would only attain again to ἔργα νόμου, but not to veritable ἔργα�.—Only so much is true, that in concreto very many a Christian, because faith has been with him from the beginning or has become only a name, allows himself to be guided merely by the law of the letter, at least if he has moral earnestness of temper, and thereby accomplishes nothing more than ἔργα νόμου, as to which he simply deceives himself, in accounting them perhaps for ἔργα τοῦ πνεύματος. More or less, moreover, does he seek in these ἔργα νόμου his justification also, and his hope; half-way at least, reckoning as the other half the merit of Christ, yet more in name than in reality. [It is only necessary to remark here, that Paul uses the word νόμος as covering the whole Mosaic law. That this whole Mosaic law has not the third use, of “teaching us how we may live and walk in true piety,” is very evident. So also, that the new life of the believer is only a new life, in so far as it is through the teaching, monition, persuasion and drawing of the Spirit, must be believed and felt by the Christian. Still what does that Spirit teach and admonish us to do? To “walk even as he walked,” all will agree. And how did He walk, that Master whom we follow?—He fulfilled all righteousness, He obeyed the law for us. Clearly then the Spirit, which receives of the things of Christ and shows them unto us, will show us as our duty, what Christ did, the complete obedience to God’s requirements, and this will include all of permanent ethical value in the Mosaic law.—That may be but a part, yet it is a part, for what was in itself right at Sinai’s foot is right at the foot of the cross. The Spirit is the Holy Spirit, Holiness is opposed to sin, Sin is opposition to God, it expresses itself in disobedience to His moral law,—the Holy Spirit must teach, admonish, persuade and draw us to the observance of whatever has been at any time an expression of God’s moral law. The law cannot have a usus pædagogicus still, did it not convict us of sin; it cannot convict us of sin, unless its requirements are holy, and just and good; and as such the Spirit of Holiness must teach us the moral law still.—The controversy about the third use of the law, between the Lutherans and Reformed, seems to be one of terms. The only practical question that can arise out of it, is one respecting the obligation to observe the Fourth Commandment.—R.]

4. Spirit and Flesh. Πνεῦμα and σάρξ are the two polar antithesis, as the Apostle most vividly shows in this section, Galatians 5:17. Πνεῦμα is the Holy Ghost, the Divine principle, that enters along with faith in Christ into the man, generating in him a divine temper and divine life, and that in conflict with the σάρξ and its παθήματα and ἐπιθυμίαι. Σάρξ is in itself simply (in antithesis to the Divine principle), human nature, of course the whole because the living nature, and embraces therefore body and soul. But it is not human nature on the side of its relation to God, but on the side of its alienation from God, on which side man with relation to God draws himself back upon himself, seeks himself and takes honor to himself, withdrawing it from God; in short human nature as sinful.—The use of “flesh” to denote human nature in general, is grounded in the Hebrew idiom, according to which בָשָׂר is used by synecdoche for the whole man, and this idiom itself is in its turn, without doubt, grounded in the experience and Scriptural doctrine of the frailty of man, which induced the sacred writers to derive the designation for man generally’, from that part of man in which his frailty is most conspicuous. As this frailty again has its ground, according to Biblical teaching, in man’s alienation from God, there became connected with σάρξ, the established designation of human nature, the accessory idea of alienation from God=sinfulness. This took place in the proportion in which this view into man’s alienation from God even from birth, as the deepest ground of his frailty, became clear, and in the New Testament, therefore, more than in the Old.—The expression σάρξ, therefore gives us no right whatever, to think of the bodily organism more than of the soul, and (with reference to the accessory notion of sinfulness,) to find intimated in the expression either the view of the derivation of sin from the body, or an especial reference to so-called fleshly sins more than others. (Comp. Wieseler’s thorough exposition of this conception.)—The essential element in the idea of the σάρξ is the turning away from God and referring ourselves to ourselves, the self-seeking, egoistic element. This is primarily in respect to God, but immediately connected with it is the fact that a man in reference to other men also seeks himself, his enjoyment or his gain. It is easily explicable therefore why love appears as the first effect of the πνεῦμα, being the temper and act opposed to selfishness. In this section the Apostle has, it is true, special occasion to exhort to the love of our neighbor, but his speaking of love is not on this account merely casual. [Comp. on σάρξ, J. Müller, Christian doctrine of sin.—R.]


Galatians 5:13. Luther:—The natural man understands nothing of the doctrine of grace; therefore comes it, when he hears this doctrine, that he straightway draws it down to his own lust and lewdness, and concludes on this wise; If the law concerns us not and has no right to us, then will we live as we list.—How we at this time have seen in all ranks that all will fain be evangelical and enjoy the Christian liberty, and yet nevertheless the great crowd goes its own way; this one follows his avarice, the other his lewdness, the third his pride and haughtiness, etc.—Rieger:—The liberty to which we are called by the gospel, is not so intended that we may tear ourselves loose from the law at our own will and please the flesh.—Into such a freedom the law can with honor dismiss man; for through Christ and the curse borne on the cross the law has its highest honor, and sin or the flesh wins thereby no advantage. For precisely that which was impossible to the law, namely, to bring to pass an inward enduring hatred against evil and an inward cleaving to good, from a willing heart, is accomplished by faith in Christ, and therefore the liberty of faith is not against the law.—Heubner:—By the side of the highest good stands the highest evil, by the side of freedom, lawlessness. No word has been so abused and desecrated, as Freedom.

Luther:—“By love serve one another.” We must diligently teach in religion both sorts of doctrine, of Faith and Works; yet so that we carry neither too far. Else, where one teaches Works alone, he loses Faith, but if one teaches concerning Faith alone, forthwith gross, carnal men begin to dream that works are not necessary. Yet must the doctrine of Faith be planted first, or it cannot be understood what good works really are.—Although we have been justified, yet have we still sin in us, which rhymes as ill with good works as with faith, but draws us away from both. Besides flesh and reason is so disposed that it has by nature all its delight and pleasure in Pharisaic and superstitious works, and does those works with far greater earnestness which itself has chosen, than those which God has commanded. Therefore have rightminded preachers as much to do, in admonishing the people to genuine love and really good works, as in teaching genuine faith.—Christians must consider thus, that in their conscience they are indeed free from the curse of the law, sin and death, but as to the body they are servants, for therein should one serve another by love.

Galatians 5:14. It is needless for any one to trouble you with circumcision and Moses’ ceremonies; see to this before all things, that you remain steadfast in the doctrine of faith. Will you after that do good works, as indeed you should, I will with a single word point out to you the noblest and greatest of all works, which ye should do, that ye may fulfil all laws: Love one another! Therefore the true, perfect doctrine and Christian theology of Faith and Love is in long and in short this: Believe on Christ, love thy neighbor as thyself! It is most short, to look upon the words, but if it is to be practical, it is broader, higher and deeper than heaven and earth.—The reason imagines it a very low thing, to say nothing of its being an act of God’s service, for one to help the other by love, i. e., for one to instruct and set aright a wanderer, comfort a mourner and afflicted, support the weak, for every one to help his neighbor, as he can, and make up for that which he lacks; item, for one to be obedient to government, hold his parents in honor, to have patience at home and bear with a whimsical, strange-tempered yoke-fellow, with ill-mannered servants, etc.; all which amounts to this: By love serve one another. But believe me, they are not contemptible and mean, but excellent and precious works, because God has commanded them and they please Him. It is of no concern therefore, whether the world looks upon them as mean and contemptible or not.—It is a short word, but excellently and powerfully spoken: Love thy neighbor as thyself! We cannot give any one a better, more certain and more exact example, how he should love his neighbor, than if we say to him that he should love him so as he loves himself. Nor can one have a better, nor nobler virtue than Love, and this high virtue can be directed towards nothing better than towards our neighbor.—If thou wouldst know how thou shouldst love thy neighbor, consider diligently how dear thou art to thyself, that thou wouldst gladly have help and counsel given thee, if thou wert in distress and necessity, as much as all creatures could. Therefore needest thou no book, out of which to learn how thou shouldst love thy neighbor.—Rieger:—The call of the gospel to Christ and the grace which has come by Him, the sense of being one Spirit with Christ, brings us under the law of Christ, where in love we have all at once, and assumes also the willingness to serve one another through love. The warding off the claims of faith in the gospel with the pretext of love to man, is a critical sign of our times.

Galatians 5:15. Starke:—Hatred, envy and reviling are as the teeth of snakes and lions. What shame, that among Christians there is such an evil kind of people!—What mean these wearisome, and mischievous lawsuits?—Lange:—Each vice brings in time some punishment with it, as every virtue has in advance some recompense. For even as love does him good that cherishes it, so does hatred and contention bring nothing but disquiet and ill-content, and indeed injures the body also in health.—Rieger:—The biting begins on good pretexts; but men easily go further, to do mischief to the property, to disparage the merits, etc.—Roos:—To bite and devour one another, is not only the wont of the populace, but also the way of many learned men, whereof their learned journals, reviews, etc., bear witness. And so do they devour one another mutually, i. e., they destroy altogether one another’s credit and the usefulness which each yet had, perhaps also a part of their life. Their esprit is flesh, what may then the rest be?

Galatians 5:16-17. Luther:—Paul means by lust of the flesh not alone unchastity, but also all other sinful cravings, whereby the saints are tempted.—It is impossible that you can follow the Spirit in all things whatever and not also feel the flesh, and that you should remain unhindered by it; yea, it will hinder you and so hinder you that you will not be able to do what you gladly would do. In this all that you can do is to withstand the flesh, which quickly becomes inflamed with anger, impatience, etc.; murmurs, hates, bites, becomes angry against God, falls into doubting; and to follow the Spirit, which admonishes you to peace, patience, hope, faith. To know this is for believers most profitable and comforting. When I was yet a monk, I often thought that I must be lost, when I felt an evil temptation. Then undertook I many kinds of discipline, confessed every day, and yet it all helped me nothing. For the same temptations evermore recurred; therefore tormented I myself perpetually with such thoughts: See, there you have committed such and such a sin, etc., therefore there is no help for you, all your good works are come to nothing. Had I then rightly understood St. Paul’s words, I would not have tormented myself so severely, but would have considered with myself, as I am now wont to do: Dear Martin, it amounts to nothing, your leading an angelical life here on earth; so long as you live in the flesh, it will not give over its way. Yet do not therefore despond, but withstand it through the Spirit, that thou mayest not fulfil its lust, and it cannot hurt thee, because thou art in Jesus Christ.—Whoever thinks that a Christian must have no fault at all in him, and yet feels that in himself there are many and manifold shortcomings, such a one must at the last be consumed of melancholy. But whoever understands it, him must such temptation of the flesh, i. e., evil, serve for his best good. For when the flesh will tempt to sin, he is led with earnestness to pray, to seek forgiveness of sins through Christ, to lay hold of the righteousness of the law, after which perhaps he would never have so greatly longed.—It is to Christians profitable and good that they feel such troublesomeness of the flesh, that they may not become proud over the supposed righteousness of their works, as if they were in favor with God on account of the same.

Starke:—The contest of the flesh and the Spirit exists alone in the regenerate. The conflict which exists in an unregenerate man, so that he does not fulfil all evil lusts that stir in him, is only a conflict of the reason with its natural impulses and gross sensual desires. This is to be carefully distinguished from the former, that one may not, because he feels within himself a struggle against sin, immediately reckon himself regenerate.—The strife of the Spirit against the flesh is an infallible token of regeneration and a state of grace, and is distinguished from the strife which is waged by the mere powers of reason in this, that the former always wins the victory.—These words are misused by the children of the world to this effect, that it is vain to strive after a holy character, because we cannot, after all, do what we would. But mark, what the regenerate, who are spoken of here, will according to the Spirit, and what according to the flesh. They are not aiming first to obtain the dominion over sin, for this they have already, but they would fain quench and be rid of everything sinful; but this, on account of the flesh cleaving to them, they cannot do. According to the flesh they would fain let sin come to dominion again, but that they do not, because the Spirit strives against it and overcomes the flesh. Therefore it follows from this, that a believer can by all means live holy, but here can arrive at no perfection.

Rieger:—The flesh and the sin which cleaves to the same, lust and its allurements and enticements we indeed experience, nay more, there may also occur cases where it is not as plain as we could wish that the lust hats not been admitted and treacherously taken the will with it. But by renewal in the spirit of tile mind one may always count himself to be no debtor to the flesh, to fulfil its lusts, but may take the curse from Christ’s cross and hang it upon the flesh, and from Christ’s Spirit may gain the willingness to separate therefrom. Between the strivings of the Spirit and of the flesh against each other it must become evident, which way the man, after receiving sufficient strength, is bending his will, and on which side he takes his stand. If the Spirit’s impulses and leadings continue with a man and if he is honestly minded to obey the Spirit and its holy opposition to the flesh, he does not indeed deny the law the right to show him his imperfections, but he is not under it, and is not at the last judged by it. Christ has taken the believer under His atoning shield against the curse of the law, and has moreover bestowed on him His spirit, which impels him as to all other good, so also to combat for this faith, although there is many a conflict and many a doubt before he can without ceasing so believe and act.

Galatians 5:19. Luther:—It is a very different thing to be tempted by the flesh, and yet not to follow its lusts, but to Walk in the Spirit and strive against them, from what it is to consent to the lust of the flesh and abide therein and nevertheless to make great boast of the Spirit, and to make as though one lived Christianly. The former St. Paul comforts, in that he says: Because they are ruled by the Spirit they are not under the law; but the others he threatens with everlasting damnation, in that he declares: They that do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of heaven.—Spener:—By works of the flesh, Paul, it is true, understands principally actual outward, out-breaking deeds, but he does not thereby exclude inward vices, which are also rightly called works of the flesh. Nay, as respects the outward sins themselves, their sinfulness consists not merely in the outward deed itself, but in the evil and prevailing inclination thereto. Therefore is one guilty of adultery, fornication, gluttony, drunkenness, quarrelsomeness, etc., who allows such vices to gain the upper hand in his soul, even though from want of opportunity, or fear of infamy or trouble he restrains himself from the outward act; for God looks on the heart and its longings.

“Drunkenness, revellings.” In Starke:—The Apostle is not speaking merely of the habit and custom of drinking; therefore it is a false excuse if any one thinks that a debauch is no sin if only one does not make a business of it. The devil invented this excuse. When any one so overfills himself that he is unfit for prayer and the business of his calling, that is drunkenness; what then are we to think of the respectable world with its sinful and damnable Christian drinking bouts? and what too of this continual drinking of healths, than as of a temptation to swill down liquor?—“They which do such things.” It is not said: They that do such things daily; for even though one does any such thing only now and then, on certain occasions, yea even only once, but voluntarily, he forfeits the kingdom of God, so long as he remains under the dominion of this work of the flesh. Nor is it said: They that do all this. It is not needful for a man to do all these sins or many such, to fall under the penalty, but it is enough, if a man lets one single sin rule over him, let it be what it will. Now it rules over him, not only while he is committing it, but so long as the purpose never to commit it again, is not yet fully fixed.—They shall not only not procure eternal life by their works of the flesh (as may well be supposed), but, if they set their hopes, not upon earning eternal life by their works, but receiving it as a gift to be received by faith, they will not, leading a dissolute life, inherit it any more than earn it.—He inherits not the kingdom of grace, still less the kingdom of glory, even though his funeral sermon extols him as blessed, surely, very, or even most blessed.

Galatians 5:22. It is not enough to flee the manifest works of the flesh, but we must bring true virtues to take their place. The Spirit of Christ must water and warm the hearts of men with His heavenly consolation, if they are to be fruitful to good works.—“Works of the flesh,” said Paul, as being what comes into view and can be apprehended by reason alone, as to what they are, and that they are evil; but he does not use this term of the fruits of the Spirit as being for the most part internal, and although they express themselves in outward works, yet they cannot be comprehended and judged by the mere reason; nay, reason, should she pronounce a judgment, would be more apt to pronounce a judgment against them. Indeed, the fruits of the Spirit often exist in good measure in those, who yet in true poverty of Spirit complain of the lack of them.—Roos:—All these fruits are found in every spiritual man, although in one this, in another that fruit is more richly possessed.

Luther:—Joy. This means the loving discourse of the bridegroom and his bride, i. e., the joyful, loving thoughts, which a believing heart has concerning Christ, the wholesome admonitions, the joyful hymns, thanksgiving psalms and songs of praise, with which Christians admonish and cheer one another. The Scripture testifieth once and again, that God had no pleasure in the sadness of the spirit, but wills, that we be joyful in Him. Therefore also He sent His Son, not to make us perturbed and mournful, but joyful. Therefore do the Prophets, Apostles and Christ Himself admonish, yea, command us, that we be glad and joyful. Where this spiritual joy is, there does the heart inwardly rejoice through faith in Christ, and moreover shows forth such joy outwardly with words and gestures; yea, it can be joyful even in the midst of affliction and death. Such joy is to the world unknown.—Patience. This is a virtue of such sort, that one does not alone endure and suffer waywardness, ill-luck, wrong, etc., but also bears long with those that do him such evil, and waits if perchance they may at some time amend themselves. The devil has this way, that when he cannot in tempting us overcome by main force and might, he watches nevertheless with wearisome continuance, and worries us out if he can, for he knows well what weak, earthen vessels we are, that cannot at the last endure violence and repeated hard strokes; therefore he oft gains great advantage, in that he perseveres so long and diligently.—Gentleness.—This is: that one is so disposed, that every one gets on well with him and loves to deal with him. For Christians should not be unfriendly and cross-tempered people, but mild, courteous, friendly, such as every one loves to consort with, who bear with others’ faults, are easy to give way to others, and can put up with the whim of others. Such a courteous friendly man was our Lord Jesus Christ, as we see in the Gospel from beginning to end.

In Starke:—Goodness—All nature is to us a mirror of kindness. For where is there a creature that does not serve and do good to man? For us the sun shines, for us the earth bears fruit, us does the heaven cover, to us does the air minister breath, everything stands at our command; should we then be the only ones not to practice kindness?—Luther:—Faith.—He that has this faith, such an one suspects no evil of other people, but has a loving, simple heart towards every man; and although he be deceived, he yet remains long-suffering and kind, and forbears with him that hath deceived him. In summa, he believes every man and yet puts his confidence in no man but alone in God.—Roos:—Against spiritual men the law is not, for although they are not without fault yet they are wholly under grace (Romans 6:14), and are partakers of the blessing in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:13-14). There are people, who imagine themselves to have preached the gospel, when they encourage others, by a human persuasion, to let go the Jewish way of thinking, not anxiously to count this or that for a sin, and to entertain no scruple about permitted things. But although such persuasions, addressed to a natural man, may bring about a show of freedom, and such a man may then imagine that he is no longer under the law, though he really is, yet the great question remains, whether the law is not against him. The right of the law to curse him, is not an usurpation, but a well-founded, sacred right, to which there is nothing to oppose but Christ’s death on the cross. Has then every one who boasts of freedom become a believer in this crucified Saviour? And has he also, by means of this faith, become spiritual, so that he exhibits the fruit of the Spirit within him? It is only against such that the law is not.

Galatians 5:24. “Have crucified the flesh.”—Starke:—This word well expresses how sin must, little by little, be disabled and slain, for the crucified man did not die at once; he was first made fast with nails to the cross and then kept there, till through the loss of blood and through hunger and thirst he became weaker and weaker, and finally died. In the beginning of repentance the old man is nailed to the cross, and then in conversion he is fastened to it anew, when he gets a hand or a foot free; the soul carefully avoiding all occasions whereby evil lusts can be aroused, until indwelling sin is more and more disabled by all manner of acts of repentance and devotion, which are contrary to corrupt nature, which acts must extend through the whole life. But now all power to crucify the flesh is to be derived from Christ’s death on the cross.

Rieger:—They that have ceased from the law and all endeavors to obtain life and righteousness therefrom, and on the other hand belong to Christ and accept Him as the source of their life and holiness, such keep their flesh crucified. They are and live yet in the flesh, to be sure, and so experience how close sin cleaves and how heavy it weighs; they experience the enticements of inward lust, but they have learned from the gospel the meaning of God in the cross of Christ, and have believed it, and can believe the judgment executed on the body of their Redeemer as in God’s eyes in force also against their own flesh. And indeed they desire no rest for the flesh, but impose on it the curse, which through Christ’s cross is imposed thereon, and behold this wearisome and painful dying with a hope gathered out of the gospel.

On Galatians 5:13-15. Christianity and Freedom: (1) How little we have occasion, on behalf of freedom, to repent of being Christians and becoming Christians more and more; (2) how deeply we must rue that freedom which we do not establish and confirm by the power of Christ.—The Christian is free and yet a servant of all.—The right union of Freedom and Love (1) needful (2) difficult.—By love serve one another! (1) An actual (2) but also a blessed service.

On Galatians 5:16-24 : Walk in the Spirit, etc., ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh: (1) the lust of the flesh, (2) the resisting of it in the Spirit.—The walk in the Spirit; (1) is not accomplished without conflict (Galatians 5:17) (2) but saves from destruction (Galatians 5:19-21), (3) leads to a glorious goal (Galatians 5:22).—With his exhortations to walk in the Spirit (1) the Apostle places us upon a fearful battle-field (Galatians 5:17), (2) gives us the view into a frightful abyss (Galatians 5:19 sq.), (3) leads us into a lovely garden (Galatians 5:22 sq.). The conflict of the flesh and the Spirit: (1) in what does it consist? (2) to what should it impel?—Temptations through the flesh must come: despond not!—but must be combatted and overcome through the Spirit: be not careless!—There is no believer so holy or strong that he does not feel his flesh, but also none so weak that he cannot withstand it.—The motions of the flesh a damper to pride, a testimony against self-devised spiritualism.—Three times three fruits of the Spirit; a lovely garland.—To have crucified the flesh a token that one is Christ’s.—Who can crucify his flesh? Only he who is Christ’s.—The crucifying of the flesh (1) takes place indeed, when one is Christ’s, but (2) does not of itself make certain that one is Christ’s.

Kapff:—Under what law is the believer? (1) Not under that of the flesh, (2) not under that of Moses, but (3) under that of the Spirit.—Rautenberg:—The crucifixion of the flesh: a token of true Christianity, a work of the Holy Ghost, a victory of Christian freedom, a progress to inward peace.—In Lisco:—The conflict of the Spirit with the flesh: (1) Where does it arise? Only where a life in the Spirit is begun. (2) Why is it necessary? a) On account of the inward incompatibility of flesh and Spirit, b) on account of the consequences, which proceed therefrom, good or evil fruits. (3) How should it end? By the Spirit’s overcoming the flesh.—The walk in the Spirit: (1) It kills the works of the flesh, (2) it brings in its place the fruits of the Spirit.—Flesh or Spirit? Choose! (1) The flesh is thy destruction; (2) the Spirit creates divine life; (3) as Christians we are bound to the life of the Spirit.—(Fast-day Sermon): The call on Fast-day: the works of the flesh are manifest. (1) What works are works of the flesh: (2) what those have to expect, who do such works.—(Whit-Sunday Sermon): We are partakers of the Holy Spirit only when we do the works of the Spirit.—Genzken:—What do we yet lack of a walk in the Spirit? (1) The beginning is, that the flesh lusteth against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh, and many have not even advanced so far; (2) the next step is, that we no more fulfil the lusts of the flesh, and many are not even ashamed of the manifest works of the flesh; (3) the consummation is, that we bring forth the fruits of the Spirit, and from that we are all yet far distant.—Greiner:—Flesh and Spirit: (1) they are contrary one to the other; (2) their ways lead asunder in time and eternity.—Engelhard:—The life of that man, who is ruled by the Spirit of God: (1) He breaks with sin and mortifies daily the old man; (2) he is filled with the fruits of righteousness, which do not conflict with the law, but which can never be accomplished under the dominion of the law; (3) and receives accordingly the most excellent of all rewards, the inheritance of the kingdom of God.

Galatians 5:13-24. Frantz:—Beware that ye do not, through freedom, give a handle to the flesh, for (1) freedom in Christ is not without law; it has its law, only not in the members, but in Christ, which law is love. (2) It is not without control; but its control is exercised not by the flesh, but by the Spirit.


Galatians 5:13; Galatians 5:13.—[It seems better to retain the Greek order, which places ἀδελφοί at the end of the clause. The aorist ἐκλήθητε may be rendered by the English perfect, but Ellicott gives the simple past tense as above.—R.]

Galatians 5:14; Galatians 5:14.—Rec: πληροῦται. The correct reading is that of Lachmann,Tischendorf: πεπλήρωται. So א. [A.B.C. and modern editors.—R.]

Galatians 5:14; Galatians 5:14.—Ἐν ὑμῖν before ἐν ἐνὶ λόγω is not sufficiently supported.

Galatians 5:14; Galatians 5:14.—[Lightfoot: “The received text has ἑαυτόν which some would retain against the authority of the best MSS., on the ground that it was altered by scribes ignorant of this usage of ἑαυτοῦ for the first and second persons. The case however with respect to the New Testament seems to stand thus; that whereas (1) in the plural we always find ἑαυτῶν. etc., never ἡμῶν αὐτῶν, ὑμῶν αὐτῶν etc., as mere reflexives, yet (2) in the singular there is not one decisive instance of ἑαυτοῦ in the first or second persons; the authority of the best MSS. being mostly against it. See A. Buttmann, p. 99.”—R.]

Galatians 5:16; Galatians 5:16.—[Πνεύματι. The normal dative (Meyer); the instrumental dative (Schmoller). In either case “by” not “in.”—R.]

Galatians 5:17; Galatians 5:17.—Ταῦτα γά ρ is to be preferred to ταῦτα δέ, as better attested. [The latter which is the reading of the Rec., and Lachmann is probably a correction, to avoid the repetition of γάρ. The Rec. and Lachmann also read ἀντίκ. ἀλλήλους, on insufficient authority; א. K. L.: the order is reversed in most MSS. and by the best modern editors.—R.]

Galatians 5:17; Galatians 5:17.—[Ἴνα is considered telic here as usually, by the best commentators. “So that” must be rejected. See Exeg. Notes.—R.]

Galatians 5:19; Galatians 5:19.—[Ἄτινα has here a classifying force (Ellicott).—R.]

Galatians 5:19; Galatians 5:19.—Μοιχεία of the Rec. is to be rejected with Iachmann, Tischendorf. [So א. A.B.C. Meyer, Alford, Ellicott, Wordsworth, Lightfoot.—R.]

Galatians 5:20; Galatians 5:20.—Rec: ἔρεις, ζήλοι; the singular changed into the plural, apparently on account of the neighboring plurals. א. has ἔρις, ζήλοι. [The variations are great; the best editors now adopt the singular in both these cases. On the meaning of the words in these lists ot vices and virtues, see Exeg. Notes.—R.]

Galatians 5:21; Galatians 5:21.—Φόνοι is to be retained, the preponderance of authority is in its favor. [Omitted in א. B. by Tischendorf, bracketted by Lachmann, Alford and Lightfoot. Retained by Meyer and Ellicott, on the authority of A. C. D. E. F. G. K., most cursives and versions. The similarity in souud to the preceding word is quite as much an argument for retaining as for rejecting it.—R.]

Galatians 5:21; Galatians 5:21.—[Τὰ τοιαῦτα. “Such things as these,” “all such things.” “The article with τοιοῦτος denotes a known person or thing, or the whole class of such, but not an undefined individual out of the class; as in that case τοιοῦτος is anarthrous” (Ellicott). So in Galatians 5:23.—R.

Galatians 5:21; Galatians 5:21.—[Δέ must be rendered “now” or “but”, not “and.” The two classes of deeds have been set forth, and this verse is a practical application.—R.]

[27][On the division of the Epistle, see Introd. § 4. While we must guard agaunst too formal division of the Epistle, we may distinguish it into parts without separating them or breaking the current of thought. The memory is much assisted by the convenlent division of Lightfoot: personal, doctrinal and practical. Whether the last named part begins with Galatians 5:1, or here, is perhaps immaterial, since such distinction into parts involves neither the supposition that the Apostle made such formal distinction, nor an arbitrary view of the Epistle as a whole. We may mar the unity quite as much by insisting on too strict sub-division into sections.—R.]

[28][Schmoller probably means to make an argument ab impossibili here, but the form of it is not pleasing. Certainly it were better to say: Paul could not mean this, for it is contrary to the teachings of his Master and inconsistent with his own statements elsewhere. Meyer remarks: “That, by citing only the command of love to our neighbour, Paul does not exclude the command of love to God, is self-evident to the Christian consciousness from the necessary connection of love to God and to our neighbor (comp. 1 John 4:20; 1 Corinthians 8:1-3); the context (Galatians 5:13-15) led Paul to speak of the latter only.”—R.]

[29][“Observe the prominence always given to condemnations of this deadly sin, it being one of the things which the old pagen world deemed as merely ἀδιάφορα.”—Ellicott.—R.]

[30][Wordsworth:—“The word ἐρίθεια is from ἔριθος, a laborer for hire, 1. a mercenary; and 2. one who hires him self to a cabal for party purpose; and therefore signifies 3. a venal partisan; such as the factions of gladiators, and other ruffians hired by rival candidates at elections to intimidate the voters in the Roman forum. Hence ἐρίθεια signifies venal partisanship.”—R.]

[31][Hence well expressed by “benignity.” So Jerome, who renders this and the following word respectively: benignitas, bonitas. See Trench, Synon. 2d series.—The remarks of Lightfoot are collated; the parts included in parenthesis are taken from his comments on the separate triads.—R.]

[32][Whether theologians agree about terms or not, they all must recognize the fact that in so far as any law of God has a directly ethical purpose, it must continue to be binding on those who are Christ’s, not binding as a law, with condemnatory power, so as to bring us again into bondage, after Christ has made us free, nor even binding on the conscience, so far as its punitive functions are concerned, but binding us with the cords of love, the bands of a man, a rule for the loving children of a Father, a guide for the glad gratitude of those whom Christ has made free. Thus far all that was of those whom Christ has made free. Thus far all that was of permanent ethical purpose in the Old Testament law must remain “the law of Christ;” to admit a change in God’s ethics is repugnant to our souls. How much this includes is the practical questions, which the New Testament itself answers in the life of Christ and the teachings of His Apostles. That it includes the Decalogue, that each and all of those Commandments are still in force, as a law, in the sense indicated above, there can be no reasonable doubt.—R.]

Verses 25-26

2. More special Admonition to the Walk in the Spirit (to serving Love), or warning against excessive self-valuation and envious selfishness

(Galatians 5:25 to Galatians 6:10.)

(Epistle for the fifteenth Sunday after Trinity.)

25If we live in [by]33 the Spirit, let us also walk in [by]34 the Spirit. 26Let us not be desirous of vain-glory [become vain-glorious], provoking one another, envying one another.

a. Warning against unloving self-exaltation above others (Galatians 6:1-5)

6 1Brethren‚ if [even if]1 a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which [who] are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also [shouldst] be tempted. 2Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so [or thus shall ye] fulfil2 the law of Christ. 3For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. 4But let every [each] man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another [his ground of boasting only in what concerneth himself, and not in what concerneth the other].3 5For every [each] man shall bear his own load.4

b. Warning against envious selfishness.—Admonition to unweariedness in doing good, especially to teachers of the word (Galatians 6:6-10).

6Let [But let] him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. 7Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8For he that soweth to his [own] flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. 9And [But] let us not be weary5 in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. 10As we have therefore [Accordingly then as we have]6 opportunity, let us do good7 unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.


Paul, after the exhortation, Galatians 5:13 (and the more general one, Galatians 5:16), had passed on to a more didactic exposition. But from Galatians 5:25 on, he returns to the general exhortation to “walk by the Spirit” (which, as he means it, is essentially equivalent to exercising serving love) immediately specifying it more particularly, Galatians 5:26; Galatians 6:1 sq.

Galatians 5:25. If we live by the Spirit.—Ζῇν πνεύματι means of course not the outward life, the realization in walk of this life in the Spirit, for the words “let us also walk,” etc., are the first in which the Apostle exhorts them to stamp the life by the Spirit upon the outward walk. Ζῇν therefore means the inner life, and the spiritual life is here referred to, as one at first entirely internal. It is not improbable that “live” is to be taken here in a pregnant sense (Meyer)=if we are living through the Spirit, i. e., death occurs to the man, who is Christ’s, with respect to the “flesh;” but in another respect precisely thus does Life come in; the death of the old man introduces the life of the new (comp. Galatians 2:19-20), and this latter is grounded upon the “Spirit.” [There is some doubt as to the force of the dative πνεύματι here. Schmoller renders it durch den Geist; Meyer calls it ablatival, and Ellicott says it is “here adopted rather than διά with the accusative as thus forming a sharper antithesis to the dative which follows.” Alford follows the E. V., but, while objecting to the ablatival dative, gives the same sense to the word. Lightfoot renders “to the Spirit,” after the parallel passage, Romans 6:2; Romans 6:10 : “die unto sin,” etc. But the first view is preferable.—R.]—Let us also walk by the Spirit.=περιπ. πν. Galatians 5:16. [Schmoller thus makes the second πνεύματι an instrumental dative, but it seems better to take it as a normal dative (so Galatians 5:16) with Meyer, Ellicott, et al. The verb στοιχεῖν seems to imply a more studied following of a prescribed course.—The Greek order is striking: “If we live by the Spirit, by the Spirit also let us walk.” “By” has both the instrumental and normal force in English.—R.] In what this walk should consist is then shown.

Galatians 5:26. Let us not become vain-glorious.—The walking by the Spirit (or walking in love) should show itself thus. Κενόδοξον εἶναι=vanam gloriam capture, to affect vain-glory. [Γινώμεθα, “become” vain-glorious, there being in the verb as well as in the use of the first person an intentional mildness as though the sin had not yet taken root (Ellicott).—R.] The sense appears to be: we should not seek glory by provoking one another and envying one another, for such glory is “vain,” worthless.—Provoking one another.—Ἀλλήλους προκαλούμδνοι, by vaunting in the presence of those to whom we feel ourselves superior, by pressing our superiority.—Envying one another.—’Ἀλλήλοις φθονοῦντες, not favoring one another, enviously refusing to acknowledge the good qualities that a man possesses. (Φθουεῖν is to be taken in this sense here, see below on Galatians 5:6; Galatians 5:10.)—The seeking of vain-glory naturally goes hand in hand with provoking and envious behavior. Where the former is abandoned, the latter also disappears. The warning of this verse is nothing else than the admonition to serve one another by means of love (Galatians 5:13), somewhat more particularly defined. The Apostle now reverts to this, in order to give it a more precise application. The remark on Galatians 5:16, that the exhortation of the Apostle may have had a direct connection with the main theme of the Epistle, since the intrusion of the false teachers might very naturally have provoked a bitter party strife in the churches, applies also to the more special application of that admonition (Galatians 5:13) in this section. Especially is it not improbable that through the intrusion of the false teachers the relation of the individual members to their teachers had been disturbed, thus giving occasion to the earnest admonition, Galatians 6:6 sq. Yet this conjecture is not absolutely necessary; we need only suppose that some circumstances in the churches gave him particular occasion to direct his exhortation to this point.—[The context seems to justify the close connection of what follows with this verse. It is urged, however, that “brethren” indicates a change of topic (comp. Galatians 4:12), and also that the change from the first to the second person favors the opinion that a new paragraph begins with Galatians 6:1. But the thoughts are too closely linked, to allow these arguments from mere forms of expression to be conclusive against the close connection which Meyer and others defend.—R.]

VI. Galatians 6:1-5. These verses extend the warning of Galatians 5:26, against “provoking one another.” The Christian instead of using any advantage he may possess over another, or any defect he may observe in him, to exalt himself above him (and thereby to provoke him), should, as walking by the Spirit, do just the reverse, should set his neighbor right, when he sees him at fault (Galatians 6:1) and then help him bear the burdens which oppress him (Galatians 6:2). Galatians 6:3 justifies these admonitions by the remark that a man’s thinking himself to be something, when he is nothing, is self-cheatery; for it is such a vain imagining that underlies the refusal to set others right (in the spirit of meekness) and to carry their burdens. As the right means to be saved from this self-deception, Paul proceeds to commend self-examination. (On this, see below, Galatians 6:4-5.) [Ellicott thinks it probable “that the teachers are mainly addressed in Galatians 6:1-6, and the hearers and laity in Galatians 6:6-10.” But while there are points in the exhortation specially applicable to classes thus distinguished, it seems best not to discriminate thus, for it limits the force of some parts of the exhortation, and might lead to an incorrect interpretation of Galatians 6:1.—R.]

Galatians 6:1. [Brethren.—Beza: a whole argument lies hidden under this one word.—R.]—Even if a man be overtaken. Προλημφθῇ: πρό expresses undoubtedly the unexpectedness of the being taken=before a man is aware, or is able to offer resistance. The ἐν shows that the verb is here to be understood as=to entangle, so that in a fault, according to the frequent Biblical image, is used of the snare in which any one is caught (Wieseler). Luther gives the sense quite correctly: “ubereilt,” overtaken. [The strictly temporal reference (before the arrival of the Epistle, or a recurrence of the offence) is unsatisfactory. Ellicott, Alford and Lightfoot join καί with the verb: “if a man be even surprised,” i. e., caught before he can escape, flagrante delicto; thus implying an aggravation of the offence. But it is not necessary to connect καί thus, and such a meaning of the verb is rare, while the interpretation does not accord with the context so well as the common view given above. Meyer: The Apostle charitably regards the sins, which may occur among the Galatians, as peccata precipitantiæ.—R.]

Ye who are spiritual.—This refers back to Gal 6:25=ye who have the Holy Ghost, show your possession of it, your living by the Spirit, by such action. He thus describes “provoking one another,” as something repugnant to their very character. In view of this exalted predicate, which he ascribes to them, they should now reflect, what demeanor is the becoming one for them as “spiritual.” This implies that they are not now conducting themselves agreeably to this designation, or such admonitions would be unnecessary. [The general character of the exhortation forbids our finding in this phrase a reference to a party of more liberal views, who had taken his side against the Judaizers, and were not paying sufficient regard to the weaker brethren. Hence there is no irony, but he is giving a test for their spirituality. It is true those who would stand the test, who were really led by the Spirit, would necessarily be the adherents of Paul, as the representative of the freedom of the gospel, but there is no evidence that there was such a party when he wrote.—R.]—But to the validity of this claim to be “spiritual,” it is necessary that, when a brother is overtaken in a fault, the πνευματικός should restore such a one, should bring him into his normal state, instead of turning this fall into an occasion of self-exaltation against him. [Καταρτίζετε: the verb is properly a surgical term, applied to the setting of a joint, here used in an ethical sense, the idea of amendment being more prominent than that of punishment. The figurative meaning would perhaps imply some official act of restoration, but this is forbidden by the context.—R.] This “restoring” (or the wish for it) is the main idea, and not strictly speaking, as is commonly assumed, the spirit of meekness; or at least not this alone. This latter phrase only states the manner in which the setting right should be performed. This spirit must attend the act, or there is no real restoration, only a seeming one, in which the irritating lust of praise still seeks its gratification. It is forced, to understand “spirit” of the Holy Spirit, whose character is meekness, or rather who bestows meekness; it signifies the human spirit disposed to meekness. The foregoing “spiritual” does not require us to understand the Holy Spirit here, comp. 1 Corinthians 4:21. [It does not mean merely “a meek spirit,” but a spirit whose characterizing quality is “meekness,” with an ultimate reference to the Holy Spirit. (See Ellicott.) As “spiritual,” possessing the Holy Spirit, their spirit toward offenders should be characterized by “meekness.”—R.]—Considering thyself.—An individualizing transition to the singular. The added clause contains a motive to “restore” (not merely to “meekness”).—Lest thou also should be tempted—and it happen to thee to be overtaken in a fault.

Galatians 6:2 makes the admonition of Galatians 6:1 more general. It is not always by setting our neighbor right, that we may do him good; another exhibition of love is to bear his burdens.—Burdens.—Βάρη is undoubtedly in itself quite general: whatever presses our neighbor, lies heavy upon him, so that occasion is given to the vain-glorious man to provoke him. Moral delinquencies, such as are named in Galatians 6:1, are included; but also more grievous things, such as outward distress.—Bear.—Βαστάζετε, of course, does not mean: endure (for I do not endure what oppresses my neighbor, but only that, for example, with which he oppresses me), but simply: bear=to take upon our shoulders as our own burdens, and thereby help him to bear; this includes, in some circumstances, the lightening of them; in others, their entire removal (Wieseler).—We see that the restoring of a neighbor who has been overtaken in a fault falls under this general idea of bearing his burden.—The Apostle adds to this admonition a powerful motive for its fulfilment: and thus shall ye fulfil the law of Christ.—The expression “fulfil the law of Christ” is significant, and designedly chosen with reference to the zealots for the law. You will forsooth have a law, now see here is a law but “of Christ;” fulfil that! At the same time it refers back to Galatians 6:14, where the duty of love to our neighbor has been designated as the commandment equivalent to the whole Mosaic law, but a “law of Christ,” not of Moses. [Yet this “law of Christ” must necessarily include that “law.” which He not only came to fulfil, but so fully illustrated and enforced in His teachings. The use of the future indicative instead of the imperative seems to imply, that the Christian needs “the law of Christ” only as a guide to grateful duty. “Thus shall ye fulfil” what your hearts would fulfil, “the law of Christ,” “who died for us and rose again.”—R.]

Galatians 6:3. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing.—“When he is nothing” belongs to the protasis. Being nothing: not precisely in the ethical sense alone, but one, who can in truth make no claim to consideration above others, yet ambitiously assumes this. This of course involves the admission that one may be something, but such a one is least likely to assume this; it is the one that is nothing, who is most likely to lay claim to consideration above his merits.—He deceiveth himself, his “glory” shows itself to be “vain,” [Lightfoot: “φρεναπατᾷ, ‘deceives by his fancies.’ Comp. Titus 1:10. More is implied by this word than by ἀπατᾷν, for it brings out the idea of subjective fancies and thus enforces the previous δοκεῖ. It was possibly coined by St. Paul, for it seems not to be found in any earlier writer, and at a later date occurs chiefly, if not solely in ecclesiastical authors.”—R.]

Galatians 6:4. Paul therefore immediately after enjoins: let each man prove his own work.—Τὸἔργον: not collective=the aggregate of his actions; for it is not particularly an ethical self-examination that is referred to, but general, about equivalent to: His case, the way matters stand with him. [The view of Meyer, Alford, Ellicott, et al., that τὸ ἔργον is emphatic and collective, seems on the whole preferable.—R.]—The reason why he enjoins this, is then stated with: then shall he have his ground of boasting only in what concerneth himself and not in what concerneth the other.—“He will then have matter of self-gratulation only it will be in reference to himself, and not to another.” [See the excellent note of Ellicott, the results of whose exegesis are given in the above rendering. The preposition εὶς must be translated by a paraphrasis, in order to preserve the same force in both cases. Τὸν ἔτερον, “the other”—the man with whom he was comparing himself; general in its meaning, but particular in each case of comparison. (Alford.)—R.] Every one, in that case, directing his look as he does in self-examination only upon himself, will refer his self-praise only to himself; will only boast of such excellences as he may discover in himself; but he will not vaunt himself on the ground of the deficiencies which he finds in others. And if this results from the very nature of self-examination, as directing the look of the man upon himself alone, it will also be sure to come to pass from the result, which every one will find from self-examination, as this is stated in Galatians 6:5, with which Paul gives special weight to the οὐκ εἰς τὸν ἕτερον. Of course not to the εἰς ἑαυτόν. In order to have εὶς τὸν ἔτερον καύχημα, i. e., in order to be able to make what another lacks a ground for boasting over him, one must not only have many good qualities but a preeminence above the other, of which he is conscious.

Galatians 6:5. But this is not the case. On the contrary ἔκαστος τὸἴδιον φορτίον βαστάσει, each man: I as well as the other, I cannot therefore make his φορτίον, a ground of vaunting myself against him.—Shall bear.—Future, expressing the result of the self-examination, because it succeeds it (not referring to the last judgment) = it will turn out, that every one has a burden of his own to bear, [i. e., now in actual life, he is appointed to bear, must bear.—R.]—His own load.—Φορτίον: although principally meaning moral imperfection, yet here it is not to be limited to this; it means imperfection of every kind, every defect which one discovers in himself. Φορτίον is in itself a vox media, it may be either heavy or light; βάρος can only be heavy. To this general declaration the more general word exactly suits; respecting the degree of burdensomeness Paul does not in the first instance mean to make a statement, but only to say that each one has his own φορτίον. It is otherwise in Galatians 6:2 : there the idea of heaviness is the main one. [Conybeare finds here an allusion to Æsop’s fable (πῆραι δύο), but Ellicott thinks this not very plausible. Lightfoot says: “βάρη suggests the idea of an adventitious and oppressive burden, which is not implied in φορτίον. The latter is the common term for a man’s pack. Each Christian soldier bears his own kit.” Still this does not sufficiently imply the idea of imperfection and consequent grievousness, which the context, with its injunctions to self-examination, seems to demand.—R.]—The difficulty in Galatians 6:4-5 is, that the Apostle condenses together two thoughts: 1. “in what concerneth himself alone,” 2. “not in what concerneth the other;” which to be sure are in one aspect identical, and yet must be distinguished, because the second is strengthened by the subsequent declaration, “for each man,” etc., which gives it a somewhat different sense from what it has when disjoined from this and taken with what precedes. De Wette takes it differently: And then will he have his joy (if he has any, which is manifestly put as doubtful) for himself alone (for his own joy) and not for others (to irritate and provoke them therewith).—Self-examination is therefore the antidote to “provoking one another;” it is to oppose this that the Apostle has enjoined it.

Galatians 6:6-10. This division also is a specifying of the admonition Galatians 5:26; it must, although more remotely related, still have reference to it, because it is undeniably a carrying out of the admonition to “serve one another by means of love,” (Galatians 5:13) of which, as we have seen, Galatians 5:26, only gives the negative expression. More accurately considered this division opposes the second vice named in Galatians 5:26, “envying one another.” It contains admonitions to an abounding, unwearied “communication in good things,” and this is the direct opposite of “envying one another”=grudgingly withholding. Only he who is unenvious will do good to all.

Galatians 6:6. The exhortation in this verse does not therefore come in so abruptly, as at first sight appears. Paul first opposes envious grudging in that relation in which it looks particularly ill, and yet must have occurred, in the relation of him that is taught in the word of God to him that teacheth, and in contrast with this, admonishes to communicate and that in all good things. This is of course not= in all that is morally good (Meyer), but = in all good things [i.e., temporal possessions of every kind.—R.]. It is expressed with the utmost generalness, and is therefore to be understood in its broadest sense; care for temporal support is included in it, but not exclusively intended; there is to be, according to the words, a sharing of all good things, that is, in a certain sense a community of benefits; he “that is taught” is to give “him that teacheth” a share in all his advantages. This is the very strongest antithesis to “envying.” [The verb means literally “go shares with.” It is intransitive here, followed by the dative of the person, and the thing (“in all good things”) governed by a preposition. There is no lexical or grammatical difficulty. Almost all commentators refer the verse to the temporal support of ministers. Meyer gives it an ethical meaning mainly to preserve the connection, and Schmoller, for the same reason, makes the meaning general, as above. But δέ arrests the former topic before it passes out of sight (Lightfoot), and serves here to indicate the contrast between the temporal and spiritual application (Ellicott). As if he had said: “I spoke of bearing one another’s burdens. There is one special application I would make of this rule. Provide for the temporal wants of your teachers in Christ.” Κατηχούμενος here means simply “instructed,” and is followed by an accusative of reference (λόγον), “in the word,” i. e., the gospel.—R.]

Galatians 6:7-10. To give weight to this admonition to him that is taught in the word that he should show a generous liberality in all things to his teacher, Paul points to the last judgment, to the law of Divine retribution as one of immutable validity. This is primarily meant to strengthen only the special admonition, Galatians 6:6, and shows how earnestly he means it, that he attributes to it an importance which we may not in any way lessen; but still this confirmatory reference to Divine retribution is expressed with such generalness, that Paul is able immediately to deduce from it an entirely general exhortation to unwearied “well doing,” which he then again specializes somewhat in Galatians 6:10. But the main matter is still the “communicating in all good things” in opposition to “envying one another.”

Galatians 6:7. Be not deceived.—Do not entertain the erroneous thought, even should it occur, or be presented to you, that God can be mocked (lit., to turn up the nose at), that is, with success. (All glory sought therein is vain.) This mocking would occur, if man might do what he would, if he could with impunity neglect a communication of good things to his teacher, who himself imparts that which is best to him. The declaration that this cannot occur, is established by for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.8—[Τοῦτο καί; “this and nothing else than this” (Ellicott).—R.] The essential correspondence between the seed sown and the fruit reaped, which takes place according to a law of nature and is therefore subject to no mutation, is a current image in other writings also (even in profane writers, e. g. Cicero, de Orat. II. 65, ut sementem faceris, ita metes, and others), for the exact correspondence between the retribution of God in the judgment and the moral acts of man in his earthly life.

Galatians 6:8. The general proposition of Galatians 6:7 is established in this verse. For never will it fail of coming to pass, that he that soweth to his own flesh shall therefrom reap corruption; and even so he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.—“Corruption” is therefore conceived as that which corresponds to sowing to the flesh, as the harvest to the seed, or “corruption” is essentially the crop into which the flesh when sown develops, and in like manner “life everlasting” is nothing else than the ripened fruit sown to the Spirit.—Ὁ σπείρων, it may be remarked, does not alter the figure in Galatians 6:7 b, making it the soil instead of the seed, but, as Paul has to speak of two different sorts of seeds, he only designates this difference according to the difference of the soil, on which it is sown; for seed is always chosen according to the soil that is to be sown; that which is sown upon the flesh is even thereby a different seed from that which is sown upon the Spirit. Perhaps it would be better to say: ὄ in Galatians 6:7 is not merely to be understood of the seed itself, but of the whole manner and method of the sowing, and so to be taken as equivalent to this: According as any one sows, even so shall he also reap; and in view of this “according as” we should have in Galatians 6:8 to understand especially the soil which is sown, inasmuch as it is especially on this that the character of the harvest depends, as good or bad. For it is this that is treated of here. Flesh and Spirit, moreover, are figuratively represented as the soil, because they are conditioning, quickening factors, and therefore to sow upon the flesh or Spirit generically = to let one’s self be determined in the act by the flesh or Spirit. Πνεῦμα of course, as in Galatians 6:16 sq. = the Holy Ghost, and therefore lacks ἑαυτοῦ, which stands with σάρξ.9 Φθορά, agreeably to the contrast with ξωὴ�=Destruction, Ruin, and that eternal ruin=ἀπώλεια, θάνατος, not=Transitoriness.

Galatians 6:8 was only a proof of Galatians 6:7 b, according to its two contrasted sides; 7b itself again was in proof of θεὸς οὐ μυκτηρίζεται. The sense of this is: One cannot neglect doing good, without being punished of God. But the thought is not expressed.

Galatians 6:9. Here, however, it is expressed affirmatively, agreeably to 8b, as an admonition (because it is true, as said in Galatians 6:7-8, that what a man sows, he reaps) to do “well,” in a certain sense to sow τὸ κάλον. That the admonition rests immediately upon what precedes, is shown by the continuance of the image, which we find at least in the second clause.—Well doing is to be taken in its greatest possible extension; agreeably to the signification of καλόν, about=to do what is praiseworthy, only it must not be taken so generally as no longer to fall within the sphere of unenvious exhibition of love towards our neighbor. This is the frame, within which this “well doing” also falls.—Let us not be weary.—[“Behave cowardly, lose heart.”—R.] It is possible to grow weary, because “well doing” is at first a sowing, which, according to the laws of nature, is not immediately, perhaps not till long after, followed by the harvest. It comes in due season, καιρῷ ἰδίῳ, not just when we wish it: at the precise time, when it can appear according to its inward law, as ordained by God. Agreeably to the eschatological expectations of the Apostle we have here to understand particularly the Parusia.—If we faint not.—Μὴ ἑκλυόμενοι, to be taken as conditional and to be refesrred to the sowing: if we do not become weary in that. This is no “languid repetition of the warning against ἐγκακεῖν” (Usteri); for it is just this not becoming weary in good which Paul wishes to emphasize, as the condition of reaping the harvest (Wieseler). [Bengel: ἐγκακεἶν est in velle, ἐκλύεσθαι est in posse. The latter is a consequence of the former (Lightfoot). The verse is one of mingled warning and encouragement, and the latter element appears from the promise to those who do not “faint,” for one may be “weary,” and not yet have fainted.—R.]

Galatians 6:10. [Accordingly then as we have.—Ἄρα οὖν, “so then,” “accordingly then;” ὡς, not “while,” nor “according as,” nor since, but “in proportion as” (Alford).—R.] The mention of the “season” of the harvest reminds him to warn against wasting the καιρός, season, opportunity, of the sowing, because when the former is come, it will be too late for the latter. And in conclusion Paul deduces from the more general admonition (Galatians 6:9) the more special exhortation let us do good, which is also to be taken in the widest possible extent, but still retaining the special idea of doing good. The generic interpretation of ἐργαζώμεθα τὸ�=to do what is morally good (Meyer, as in Galatians 6:6), is inconsistent especially with the distinction, which Paul makes with especially, etc. For to the doing of what is morally good, one is of course equally obliged towards all men, members of the household of faith or strangers to it (Wieseler).—To them who are of the household of faith.—Οἰκεῖοι τῆς πίστεως, doubtless not merely=those belonging to faith, as an amplification of the simple term: Believers (Meyer,) but kindred in faith, fellow-Christians, as constituting together one οἶκος τῆς πίστεως, one family of faith.10 The emphasis rests upon the fact that believers are of one family; for this is the reason why love should be especially shown to them (Wieseler).—The expression is of course general and comprehends their fellow-Christians as a body, but yet it refers back to Galatians 6:6; because their fellow-Christians should be so especially the objects of the “doing good,” it follows from this, that those who teach should least of all be excluded therefrom. Paul in 1 Corinthians 16:1-2, refers to a more specific instruction concerning beneficence which he had given to the Galatians.


1. Self-exaltation and self-seeking. In respect to the right conduct of Christians towards each other, Paul designates two vices as especially incompatible therewith: Self-exaltation and self-seeking. And indeed there is nothing which more undermines society in general than these two vices; while self-exaltation rends the inner bond of unity with our fellow-men, self-seeking rends besides this the outer bond. But now the maintaining of fellowship is the specific character of the relation of Christians to each other; they are meant to form an undivided whole. These two vices therefore stand in diametrical opposition to the very nature of the Christian life. And of course they must, for they are the immediate offspring of the “flesh,” whose essence is self-seeking. But Christians should walk by the Spirit, and should prove this to each other especially by serving love.—Certain as it is therefore, that both self-exaltation and self-seeking stand opposed to the essence of Christian fellowship, and must therefore be most vigorously contended against, it is nevertheless equally certain, that they may, and do in fact, appear within the circle of Christian fellowship. For this is by no means as yet pure and free from such manifestations of the “flesh,” though not thereby necessarily losing the name of Christian fellowship. On the contrary an individual or a community may really “have the Spirit,” be possessed of a spiritual life, while yet in their walk the sarcical element still manifests itself in various ways, against which we must protest. Things must be rebuked which, looking at the ideal, and not at the concrete fact, might appear impossible to occur; admonitions must be given, which might from the ideal point of view appear superfluous. The admonitions given in this section are the simple proof of what was remarked on the former section, respecting the indispensableness of continual admonition, respecting the “shall” which the Spirit inwardly, as also the Word of Scripture from without, must continually present to the Christian. While therefore we must not be lax, as if every thing in the Christian life, including the fruits of the Spirit, came of itself, and while we must earnestly represent to the Christian the incongruity of every thing sarcical with his faith, we must on the other hand be very careful not to make rigoristic requirements of him, not to expect that no manifestation of the flesh should ever appear in him; we must not, in particular, imagine that among Christians every thing must, as it were, of itself, be serving love. And therefore, even when many virtues of the Christian life are yet very defective, we must not be quick to deny that one is “spiritual,” to dispute the sincerity of his faith and declare him to be a hypocrite.

2. Admonitions especially necessary for those busy about the law. “But was it then necessary, one might here ask, that Paul should write such admonitions to people, who were already anxious about works of the law and out of conscience were submitting themselves to the Jewish ordinances? Was there not then in their case an exaggerated piety, that needed rather to be tempered? Alas, no! The world lies in wickedness and yet is busy about works of the law. It lives in contention and envy, in turbulence and lewdness, and yet forsooth will be saved by its virtue. By what sort of virtue? By a magnanimity, which from time to time, amid many evil deeds, a man may practice toward his neighbor, by wit and lively discourse, by a decent gravity, the offspring of age and function, of interest and love of honor, by the observance of political and ecclesiastical laws, yet with many exceptions. Let no one go into raptures over this virtue.—At a distance it appears great, but near by it is mean and in God’s eyes naught. Do not such people need to have some one proclaim to them: Be not deceived, God is not mocked? The Galatians gave themselves up to the Jewish law, which did in fact, contain the strictest moral teaching. They sought salvation earnestly, and sought it, not by vices, but by virtue and religious works; yet notwithstanding this Paul was constrained to warn them against all manner of gross sins, especially against hatred and envy, and to proclaim to them: Be not deceived, God is not mocked! How certain it is therefore, that he who does not live in faith on the Son of God, will be overmastered by sin, and in spite of his endeavors to be virtuous, will become ever more vicious! If then one does not come into the right way, he at last mocks God. And how does one mock Him? In this way, that one desperately imagines that He will at last take black for white, that He will let him reap wheat who has sown tares, and will reward the sin, to which men have given the name of a virtue. By such principles, which to be sure, when we read them on paper, contradict the first principles of human intelligence, the whole world is ruled, and therefore is there occasion to say it: God is not mocked; what a man sows in this world, that, and nothing else, shall he reap in the next.” Roos.

3. What a man sows, that shall he also reap. An utterance as simple, as it is true and deep. According to it, all the actions of men are a sowing, which shall have a harvest, the actions of men shall bear a fruit. This image, taken from the processes of nature, declares in the first place in general terms, that actions never stop with themselves, but that with inexorable certainty a retribution will one day follow, as certainly as the sowing is only a beginning, which according to a settled law leads at last to the harvest. This it is true does not follow at once, and therefore there is need of patience, but afterwards, when the time has come, and then without fail. And, more definitely, the seed bears a harvest, and such a harvest as corresponds exactly with itself. The actions of men therefore find a retribution fully adequate. On this account it is not so indifferent what kind of seed we sow, for the seed, that is, our acts, will bear their proper fruit, and no other. If we want then a fruit to please us, we must sow a seed that will bring it; we shall never succeed in getting a harvest that is independent of the seed; and on the contrary no one can deprive us of the harvest that answers to the seed. The harvest of our actions is nothing casual, it is that which they must produce. It rests with us, then to determine the harvest, by determining the seed. If “corruption” is the harvest of sowing to the flesh, and “life everlasting” the harvest of sowing to the Spirit, each result follows by an inward necessity. The former is only the carnal sowing come to ripeness, the latter is only the ripened seed sown to the Spirit. Thereby the character of arbitrariness and externality is removed from the Divine retribution, and objections from this side obviated. But on the other hand it must not be thought, that we can in this way set aside the positive Divine activity, and therewith retribution in a definite sense, and change it into a kind of natural process. As in the natural process of the springing of the harvest from the seed, the inner law of nature, according to which this takes place, is no other than the law of God, as it is He who gives it effect, so is it also in this spiritual harvest. His ordinance is it, that “corruption” grows up from the sowing to the flesh and the reverse. And especially is this so, in that corruption is really what it is, only as decreed by Him, as consisting in being rejected by Him, and even so, on the contrary, life everlasting; this is His gift for the sowing to the spirit, only because He gives it and gives Himself also therein. Moreover the time of harvest is in itself simply a future one for the time of sowing; when the sowing, therefore, is over, every moment may be a “due season” for the harvest, even in this world, and there are indeed many such harvests. But these are only anticipations. The proper, due season for the harvest first comes with the time appointed by God for general retribution at the consummation of the kingdom of God. Not till then will the sowing to the flesh have ripened into corruption, and the sowing of the spirit into life everlasting. Before that, the time of the sowing still continues, and it is still possible to change the character of the harvest by changing the one sort of seed for the other.

4. Care for spiritual teachers. The emphasis and earnestness, with which Paul admonishes against a selfish behavior of the church towards her teachers, are remarkable. This very estimate of spiritual good, as above all others, makes him the more impatient of selfishness concealing itself behind a pretended spiritual mind. “The support of teachers by their hearers is grounded on a divine institution, not only in the Old Testament (comp. Priests and Levites), but also in the New. Although now in the New Testament there is no definite prescription how much of their property hearers shall contribute to their teachers, yet it is certain from the New Testament that God requires an adequate and liberal support. This admonition was the more necessary in the Apostle’s time, because there were not then, as now, yearly incomes definitely appointed. But now that there are such settled incomes the admonition to hearers has not lost its force, especially when they know that the regular income is insufficient. Christ’s commandment binds them then to a subsidy. Men act to-day, as if their forefathers alone had been bound to care for the support of their teachers, and the hearers of to-day had nothing to add to this.” Starke.—Luther expresses himself very definitely and strongly respecting this duty towards teachers, e.g.: “It is indeed impossible that true Christians should endure to have their pastors pinched and in want. But because they do not only suffer this, but laugh in their sleeve at it, it is certain, that they are worse than Turks and Heathen.”


Galatians 5:25. Heubner:—The internal and the external must harmonize, must be one. The outer life is the reflection and thereby the sign of the inward life.—Rieger:—To keep the flesh crucified is the only way to give room for the spirit, whose life appears in growing strength in a spiritual walk. Although walking is a consequence inseparable from life, yet the Apostle exhorts thereto, as to a duty, on account of the danger of slothfulness creeping on, as indeed one cannot walk without taking some special thought about it.—[Brown:—If we are spiritually alive, let us show that we are so by being spiritually active.—R.]

Galatians 5:26. Luther:—Love of vain glory is a common vice the whole world through, in all conditions. No village so small but there be one or two peasants therein, that will fain be taken for wiser and better than the rest. It is so pleasant to be pointed at with the finger and hear it said: See there is a man that is fit for anything! This vice is common, yet nowhere does it such harm, as to those who fulfil a spiritual function and service in the church.—[Calvin:—It is not lawful for us to glory but in God alone. Every other kind of glorying is pure vanity. Mutual provocations and envyings are the daughters of ambition.—R.]—Starke:—To seek honor with a proud spirit, is a token of a carnal man and an abomination to God. Lust of praise leads many sins together, held in one leash, as the huntsman leads hounds. Nothing is more opposite to the love of our neighbor, than high-minded self-love; wherefore it is of no use to commend the latter where the former is not eradicated.—Heubner:—The stoic pride of virtue also is the worst kind of vain-gloriousness.

Chap. 6 Galatians 6:1. Luther:—The forgiveness of sins belongs to those who are weak and frail in faith and life, and yet acknowledge their sins and pray for forgiveness; but to those who pervert the doctrine, it does not belong.—Rieger:—The very words, in which the Apostle describes what behavior beseems us in regard to others’ faults, are so chosen, that they insensibly incline us to the more merciful side. A man (how easy for a man to fall) is overtaken by the suddenness of temptation, by the concurrence of many circumstances, that have beclouded his vision. In such circumstances admonition, rebuke, persuasion, consolation, etc., may do the work of restoration, even as a dislocated limb may be again set in place. But for this there is needed the Spirit, and therefore on the one hand not blind love, not a careless disparagement of the fault, and on the other hand not severity, but insight into the gospel, to draw from thence motives for forbearing admonition, such as shall advance the crucifixion of the flesh and the strengthening of the inward man.—Hedinger:—Are we ourselves pure and blameless as angels, that our neighbor’s fault drives us so quickly to arms? Was it Christ’s way to break the bruised reed? Let us do as He did! The Lord is in the still small voice, although mighty winds sometimes herald his coming.—Augustine:—Rebuke administered in bitterness, profits not. Quidquid lacerato animo dicetis, punientis est impetus, non caritas corrigentis; dilige et dic, quod voles.—[Calvin:—Nothing is more difficult than to bring us to examine or acknowledge our own weakness. Whatever may be our acuteness in detecting the faults of others, we do not see “the wallet that hangs behind our own back.”—Whenever we have occasion to pronounce censure, let us begin with ourselves, and, remembering our own weakness, let us be indulgent to others.—R.]

Galatians 6:2. Luther:—A Christian must have strong shoulders and stout legs, in order to bear the flesh, i. e., the weakness of his brethren; for they have vices that are troublesome and annoying. Therefore must love pass by and overlook, and endure much. We must learn, since we can so easily endure and overlook our own sins and faults, many of which we daily commit, to bear also other people’s sin.—In Starke:—What is our whole religion, but a burden-bearing? We have our own and also others’ burden to bear. We are all on a journey; if one is like to give way, the other must refresh him; if one is likely to fall, the other must help him up.—If it is not to be answered for, that we should not help another bear his burden, how unchristian must it be, to double his burdens for him.—[Wordsworth:—Poverty is the load of some, and wealth is the load of others, perhaps the greater load of the two. It may weigh thee down to perdition. Bear the load of thy neighbor’s poverty, and let him bear with thee the load of thy wealth. Thou lightenest thy load by lightening his.—R.]—[The law of Christ is the law of mutual love.—R.]

Galatians 6:3. Starke:—Self-conceit and haughtiness have cheated many a man. Pride is the harbinger of a heavy fall. It is often a grace, when God allows the presumptuous one to fall, that he may come to a knowledge of his own nothingness.—[Brown:—Those who in their own estimation have little to learn, have in truth learned but little.—The greater advances a man makes in true Christianity, the more humble he becomes.—R.]

Galatians 6:4. Luther:—He that faithfully discharges his function, does not inquire much what men say of him, it is all one to him, whether the world praises or reviles him, but he has his honor within himself, that is, the testimony of his conscience, and the honor before God. It will doubtless in time come to pass, that your honor, which you have within yourselves, will be acknowledged also by other people. But if you have your honor only from others, it will surely come to pass, that the shame and ignominy, which you have now inwardly concealed in your heart, will in time become manifest to other people also.—Starke:—Daily self-examination is one of the most important of all the duties of a Christian. A Christian must always look more at himself than at others, and examine his own life more than another’s; for God will judge each man according as He finds him to be in himself and before his own conscience.—Rieger:—To seek one’s glory by self-comparison with others, or even, it may be, by disparagement of others, by divulging their faults, is a perilous course, and will avail nothing, when hereafter each one shall have to give account of himself before God.

Galatians 6:5. Heubner:—Every genuine self-examination will certainly always have humiliation as its result.—[Wordsworth:—We cannot make the burdens of our own sins lighter by imputing a heavier burden of sins to others. Praise of ourselves, whether it proceeds from our own lips or those of others, cannot lighten our burdens. Because we are heavy laden, Christ exhorts us to take His light burden. Thus he converts our heavy burdens into light wings. The wings of birds are their weights, which they bear and which bear them. Let thy soul have the weight of Christ’s burden; it has the pinions of peace and the wings of charity, and will bear thee to heaven, Thus bear thy own weight and it will bear thee.—R.]

Galatians 6:6-10. The more carefully one avoids judicial severity and other unwarranted assumptions in regard to others, the more room there is to make our intercourse with one another profitable for love and good works.

Galatians 6:6. Luther:—I do not love to expound such sentences, which speak for us, that are ministers of the Word; moreover, it may look, if one is zealous to treat such texts before the people, as if he did it on account of avarice. But one must nevertheless instruct the people thereabout, that they may know what degree of honor and support they owe to their teachers. This is also good for us, that are in the ministry, to know, that we may not take our deserved recompense with uneasy conscience, and as if we had no right thereto.—Rieger:—The Scripture has not accounted it superfluous, to put into His Word, that remains good for all time, the admonition to communicate in all good things with him who teaches. But it is to be left wholly to this same Spirit and His prompting, when he will bring the observance of this admonition so into effect, that it exercises faith and strengthens faith.—Starke:—Between teachers and hearers there should be a lovely exchange and joyful barter. A hearer needs not to complain as though he suffered disadvantage in this exchange. Whoever will not give our Lord God a penny, gets his due, when he is forced to give the devil a dollar.—In general the world requites the very greatest benefits bestowed upon it with the very basest unthankfulness.—[Calvin:—It is one of the tricks of Satan to defraud godly ministers of support‚ that the church may be deprived of their services. Paul’s recommendation arose from a desire to preserve a gospel ministry.—Brown:—It had been well for the church and for the world‚ had Christianity been sustained and extended solely by the voluntary exertions and the voluntary contributions of those who themselves had experienced its invaluable blessings‚ and who felt the obligations under which both duty and gratitude laid them to supply the temporal wants of those who ministered to their spiritual necessities. Here‚ as in every other case‚ the foolishness of God is wiser than men.11—R.]

Galatians 6:7. In Starke:—Mock on: God will endure it for awhile‚ and will not send a thunderbolt at once; yet will He not always be silent‚ but early enough will hold discourse with thee in wrath.—Whoever under any manner of apparent excuses seeks to deceive his neighbor‚ such an one mocks the omniscient God and does himself the greatest conceivable injury.—Heubner:—Besotted man would fain persuade himself that God’s severity‚ His threatenings and judgments are not to be taken so very much in earnest. God is directly mocked when He is blasphemed‚ indirectly‚ when His commandments are presumptuously neglected.

Galatians 6:7‚ 8. In Starke:—The realm of nature has many vestiges of Divine wisdom‚ goodness‚ righteousness in it‚ which show forth and reveal themselves yet more gloriously in the realm of grace.—It is undoubtedly agreeable to the Divine order‚ as in the realm of grace so in that of nature‚ that every one should enjoy what he himself sows or does‚ whether good or evil. But whoever does evil and yet hopes for good‚ opposes himself to God’s order in vain‚ and his hope is lost.—The sowing to the flesh cannot possibly be followed by anything but an evil harvest‚ unless such a harvest before it ripen‚ be uprooted by true repentance.—Our whole life is nothing but a seed-time‚ with which the future harvest in eternity is inevitably connected. Ah! let every one take heed that he scatter not tares and yonder be compelled to reap the curse.—Corruption does not really come from God, either directly or indirectly, but from the flesh.—Rieger:—How slight and insignificant good and evil often appear when first sown! But how steadily they grow day and night, unnoticed by man. How late, but how infallibly do they reappear at the harvest! How irrevocable is the neglected seed time! Who can force it into being an unsown harvest?—Heubner:—Future and present stand in the strictest connection. Our future state will not only follow our present, but will be in the very strictest sense its product; the two will stand in as real a nexus as the seed sown and the harvest.—There is a double seed-time and harvest! Sowing to the flesh does not consist merely in a gross carnality of life, such as is followed by the most wretched want and pain, but in all living and working, even that which, materially considered, is the most beneficent and laudable, when it proceeds from an impure motive. Sowing to the Spirit is not merely the spiritual vocation, but every sowing, which is done at the leading of the Spirit.—[Calvin:—Our liberality is restrained by the supposition that whatever passes into the hands of another is lost to ourselves, and by the alarm we feel about our own prospects in life. These views Paul meets here.—Burkitt:—The Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead, will also raise us up at the great day, and reward our present parting with the things of this life which we cannot keep, with eternal life which we shall never lose.—R.]

Galatians 6:9. Starke:—This admonition is uttered as an encouragement, as a way which has the least appearance of authority assumed over others. It is a way therefore which preachers should incline to use.—Christians may become weary in the race, for they find many an assault and many a hindrance. Happy are they who encourage themselves with this word: Let us not be weary in well doing! The more laborious the seedtime has been, the richer shall the harvest be. The harvest comes hereafter; the first fruits of the present time are a small matter compared with what is to come.—Christians are not greedy for reward, and do not demand it from God on the ground of merit, but they do suffer their work to be sweetened, and themselves spurred up to activity and faithfulness by the prospect of the reward.—[Fatigue is not weariness.—In well doing we are more apt to be weary than fatigued.—Weariness may come from habits of slothfulness.—The due season is God’s season.—If we work on, feeling weary, yet not fainting, we shall reap.—R.]

Galatians 6:10. Heubner:—The incalculable value of the present life consists in this, that we have opportunity to do good. The fleshly minded cannot hereafter make up the good which he had the vocation and opportunity to do, e. g., the hard hearted rich man, the negligent father or pastor, etc.—Starke:—One should not put off remembering the poor till death. Quod moriens das, ideo das, quod tecum ferre non poles; da igitur, dum vivis, et mercedem habebis.—[Brown:—The Christian knows no limits in doing good, except those which are fixed by his power and opportunity of doing good.—For a Christian to be unkind to a Christian is not only wrong, it is monstrous.—R.]—Rieger:—As the house of God, the church, is of two kinds, the visible and the invisible, so are also those of the household of two kinds, namely, those who belong to the visible church, and then the true believers, whose faith and sincerity of heart are invisible. From this it follows, that one owes more love to his fellow-believers, even such as are so but in profession, than to those of another religion; but most to really believing fellow-members, to whom the appellation: they of the household of faith, especially applies. In the present day it is our business to seek out those who have pressed through from the service of the letter into the life of religion, into the service of the Spirit, and to count them for the members of the household of faith chiefly commended to us.—Spener:—The more closely one, besides the general bond, is connected with any one by a special bond also, the more is he under obligation towards such a one. Thus a man is bound to his wife, parents to their children, brothers and sisters and blood relatives to one another, masters to their servants, citizens of one town or dwellers in one house to each other, in respect to works of love, more than they are to others; yet always without prejudice to the general love of our neighbor.

On the whole Section:—Wherein Christians’ walk in the Spirit should especially show itself in their conduct towards one another: (1) In this, that no one exalts himself above others, but that one helps another up when he falls and assists him to bear his burdens: (2) in this, that no one grudgingly withholds what is his from another, but willingly lets him share in all and is unwearied in doing good (especially towards those who impart to one the bread of life in the word of God).—Sarwey:—If ye live in the Spirit, then walk in the Spirit; if ye walk in the Spirit, then walk in humility and forbearance, and in thankfulness towards your teacher and in liberality towards your brethren; and if ye walk therein ye walk in blessing.—Glöckler:—Concerning the spirituality of the children of God: (1) What people are in the word of God called spiritual; (2) what their duties are towards others and those of others towards them; (3) whether it is necessary for all that wish to be saved, to be be spiritual men; (4) how and when then one is to set about becoming a spiritual man.—Hengstenberg:—Christian love of neighbors as a chief part of a walk in the Spirit: it shows itself: (1) in loving converse with our neighbor, and that (a) in unambitious humility; (b) in helpful long-suffering; (c) in enduring patience; (2) in loving activity for our neighbor’s good: (a) in willing advancement of church and school in our own dwelling place, see Galatians 6:6; (b) in ready zeal for giving and helping for the sowing of the gospel in still wider circles (Galatians 6:7-8); (c) in general, in untiring doing of good of all kinds, especially to those of the household of faith (Galatians 6:9-10).

On Galatians 6:1-5 : Self-exaltation. (1) Wherein it shows itself. In this, that it docs not do, what is mentioned in Galatians 6:1-2. (2) What secures against it: Self-examination.

The single verses of the whole section almost all afford a theme at once, especially as several have the character of apothegms.

Galatians 5:25. Text and theme of a Whitsunday sermon in Nitzsch (Auswahl I. p. 177):—(1) The grounds of this Whitsuntide declaration. (a) The spiritual life requires to be demonstrated and revealed in the walk, or it does not exist; (b) it requires to be maintained and augmented by the walk or it is lost. (2) The substance of this requirement: not=abandon the world and kill the body; nor yet=no longer esteem the word and violate the law; but=in the power of the atonement pursue after holiness.

Galatians 6:2. Suitable text for a wedding discourse; Galatians 6:7-8, Fast-day, or New Year’s eve, or harvest text; Galatians 6:9, also a harvest text.


Galatians 5:25; Galatians 5:25.—[The dative Πνεύματι has perhaps a slightly different force in each member of this verse, but “by” will express the meaning in each case, better than “in.”—R.]

Galatians 5:26; Galatians 5:26.—[“Become vain-glorious” is both a more literal and a more correct rendering of γινώμεθα κενόδοξοι.—R.]

Galatians 6:1; Galatians 6:1.—[“Even if” preserves the force of καί.—R.]

Galatians 6:2; Galatians 6:2.—Ἀναπληρώσετε is strongly supported; and is to be preferred (with Lachmann and Schott) to the reading σατε; the latter was perhaps occasioned by the preceding imperatives. It is found however in א., where, singularly enough, we have the moods reversed, βαστάσετε occuring in the preceding clause. א3. however reads βαστάζετε. [The future, ἀναπληρώσ ετε, is the reading of א3. B. F. G., most versions; it is adopted by Meyer, De Wette, Mill, Ellicott, Light-foot. The aorist imperative, σατε, is found in A. c. D. E. K., most cursives, Tischendorf (later eds.), Alford, Wordsworth. The aorist imperative is rare, and this is an argument in favor of retaining it. If it be retained, the E. V. is correct, with the other reading, it must be emended as above. The question is not easily settled, since the external authority is so nearly balanced.—R.]

Galatians 6:4; Galatians 6:4.—[Ellicott paraphrases as above. The E. V. is not satisfactory. See Exeg. Notes.—R.]

Galatians 6:5; Galatians 6:5.—[“Load” is a good rendering. “Burden” is open to this great objection, that it does not discriminate between φορτίον and βάρη (Galatians 6:2).—R.]

Galatians 6:9; Galatians 6:9.—[Ἐγκακῶμεν is the correct reading. א. A. B. Lachmann, Tischendorf, Alford, Ellicott, Wordsworth, Lightfoot. It is doubtful whether ἐκκακεῖν (Rec. ἐκκακῶμεν) is a genuine word.—R.]

Galatians 6:10; Galatians 6:10.—[Ἄραοὖν “accordingly then,” see Exeg. Notes.—R.]

Galatians 6:10; Galatians 6:10.—[Ἐργαζώμεθα. The reading ἐργαζόμεθα is too weakly supported. [So all modern Editors. Lachmann at first adopted the latter reading, but soon discarded it.—R.]

[8][Lightfoot calls attention to the fact that this proverb occurs in 2 Corinthians 9:6, in reference to the collection for the poor saints at Jerusalem, to which object the Galatians had been asked to contribute (1 Corinthians 16:1); he therefore conjectures that this implies a general censure of their habitual niggardliness.—R.]

[9][Perhaps as Lightfoot suggests to bring out the idea of selfishness. It need not be made emphatic, but is best retained in English by “to his own flesh.”—R.]

[10][Alford and Ellicott deny this reference, but any other meaning seems insipid, and might have been better expressed in some other way.—R.]

[11][The principle of voluntaryism so plainly implied in the verse has found its happiest exemplification in our own country. Dr. Brown represents one of the few European churches (United Presbyterian Church of Scotland), that has not only acted upon, but stoutly contended for this principle.—R.]

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Galatians 5". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/galatians-5.html. 1857-84.
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