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Bible Commentaries
Galatians 5

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Verse 1

Gal 5:1

Galatians 5:1

For freedom did Christ set us free:—Paul has shown that the services of the law were a system of bondage, of slavery, and that in and by Christ they were freed from that bondage. He therefore admonishes them to stand fast in the liberty or freedom from the Jewish law which Christ had fulfilled and taken out of the way. So they were freed from obligations to observe that law.

stand fast therefore, and be not entangled again in a yoke of bondage.—The Judaizers sought to induce them to turn to the law and observe its requirements. Paul exhorts them to stand fast in Christ, not to turn to the law, for it was a “yoke of bondage.” Peter on the occasion of the apostles’ deciding the question of requiring the Gentiles to be circumcised asked: “Now therefore why make ye trial of God, that ye should put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?” (Acts 15:10). It was against the danger of returning to this yoke of the law of Moses that Paul warned them to be firm and steadfast. Many misapply this language and warm against rigid obedience to the laws of the New Testament. Certainly Jesus did not die to release men from the laws that he sealed as laws at his death. The laws of Jesus are adapted to children, not slaves. A child ought to be more zealous of the observance of the laws of his father than a slave of the laws of his master. One acts from love, the other from fear. The service of love is a joyful service; the heart, the feelings are in it. The service of fear is a burdensome, unwilling service. The child that does not render faithful service to the father is more reprehensible than the slave that fails to render faithful service to the mas­ter. This passage is no wise releases from the implicit obedi­ence to the law of faith. It frees from the law of Moses that we may with a more undivided fealty obey “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.”

Verse 2

Gal 5:2

Galatians 5:2

Behold, I Paul say unto you, that, if ye receive circumci­sion, Christ will profit you nothing.—This does not mean that it was wrong for a Jew to circumcise his children. If circum­cision had been forbidden to the Jew when he became a Chris­tian, the question of circumcising the Gentiles could not have been raised. Had it been forbidden to the Jews, nobody could have believed it was required of the Gentiles. Then, too, Paul took Timothy and circumcised him. (Acts 16:3). But cir­cumcision was the sign between the Jewish people and God. It was the pledge of the Jews to observe the law of Moses. When the Jew was delivered from the law of Moses it might be perpetuated as a national mark; but for a Gentile to be cir­cumcised was a pledge that he would obey the law of Moses, and through that law look for divine blessings. To a man who did this, Christ could bring no blessing. He blessed by taking the law out of the way and putting them under the grace of God. (Titus 2:11-12).

Verse 3

Gal 5:3

Galatians 5:3

Yea, I testify again to every man that receiveth circumci­sion, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.—In being cir­cumcised they took upon themselves the obligation to observe the whole law of Moses. Circumcision was the seal or pledge that bound them to the whole law.

Verse 4

Gal 5:4

Galatians 5:4

Ye are severed from Christ, ye who would be justified by the law;—If they did the works of the law of Moses to be jus­tified thereby, they gave up Christ, who came to deliver from the law and give justification through faith.

ye are fallen away from grace.—To turn to the law is to give up Christ and all that came through him—is to give up justification through faith. Salvation through Christ is salva­tion by grace. The grace, the favor, the love of God caused Jesus to suffer and die for sinful men. The salvation that came through Christ is salvation by grace in contrast with the works they came through the Jewish law. Grace means the favor, mercy, love exemplified in the salvation brought to man through Jesus Christ. Christ is called the grace of God, as em­bodying his mercy to man. “For the grace of God hath ap­peared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us, to the in­tent that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly and righteously and godly in this present world.” (Titus 2:11-12). To turn from the gracious plan of redemp­tion brought to light through Christ, to the law of Moses, was to fall from grace.

Verse 5

Gal 5:5

Galatians 5:5

For we through the Spirit by faith wait for the hope of righteousness.—A Christian guided and led and strengthened by the Spirit waits for the things hoped for, or promised to the righteousness that comes by faith, not for that which comes through the works of the law of Moses. The righ­teousness that comes by faith is the righteousness to which faith in Jesus Christ leads. Faith in Christ works by love, and leads to trusting obedience to his will. In that trusting obedience we are in heart, life, and character made like unto Christ, so that the righteousness through faith becomes our righteousness.

Verse 6

Gal 5:6

Galatians 5:6

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any­thing, nor uncircumcision;—Neither being circumcised or un­circumcised helps those in Christ. A Jew that has that faith that works by love is blessed of God. The uncircumcised Gentile that has that faith that works by love is accepted equally with the circumcised Jew, neither was in Christ.

but faith working through love.—To work through love is to work from a principle of love. If we love God, we seek to please him, do his will. The faith in God leads to the love of God because he loved us. Love to man leads us to do good to man. A faith that works by love leads one to do the will of God, and to do good to his fellow men. These two principles are conjoined by God and must not be put asunder by man.

Verse 7

Gal 5:7

Galatians 5:7

Ye were running well;—They had made a good start, but suddenly had changed their course.

who hindered you that ye should not obey the truth?—They had received gifts of the Spirit, had miracles wrought among them; and gifts of the Spirit, enabling them to work miracles, were distributed among them. (Galatians 3:2-5). These were tangible manifestations of the divine approval.

Verse 8

Gal 5:8

Galatians 5:8

This persuasion came not of him that calleth you.—This refers to Paul as the one through whom God called them. (Galatians 1:6-11). He modestly reminds them that he, for whom they would have plucked out their eyes, had it been possible did not persuade them to turn from the begun pathway. Paul has vindicated his apostleship, reminds them of what he had done for them; how deep their gratitude had been to him, and now he reminds them that it was others who were endeavoring to get them to turn aside from the gospel to Judaism.

Verse 9

Gal 5:9

Galatians 5:9

A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.—An active working principle of God will leaven the whole lump and make all good. As Jesus taught, an active working principle of error and evil will work ruin to a church. This is the les­son here taught. A few evil persons in the churches of Gala­tia had wrought this evil in turning them away from Christ to the law of Moses. [Evil spreads surely and rapidly, and must be opposed in its beginning it if is to be opposed successfully. It is a serious mistake to despise the day of small things whether of good or evil. (Zechariah 4:11). Just as one plague- infected person may bring devastation upon a city, so may one teacher of doctrine subversive of the gospel corrupt a whole community of believers.]

Verse 10

Gal 5:10

Galatians 5:10

I have confidence to you-ward in the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded:—He affirms his confidence that these brethren will not be otherwise minded than he has here taught. They will accept these teachings and walk in them.

but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, who­soever he be.—But he who had introduced the discord, turned them from the truth, shall bear his judgment, no matter what he may claim for himself. These perverters claimed to be su­perior to Paul. It is singular, or would be if it were not uni­versally manifest, how easy it is to pervert men and churches from the truth. From the beginning, earnest and true men have preached the truth, built up churches, selfish place seek­ers have come and speedily perverted them from the truth. It is so easily done. They so soon forget their teachers and fa­thers in the gospel. But God intends that all men of every generation shall be tried. None but those who can withstand the influence to lead them away from God will be accepted. It is true that in every age many are called, but few are cho­sen.

Verse 11

Gal 5:11

Galatians 5:11

But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision,—The per­secutions which Paul endured were instigated by the Jews, greatly because he refused to require the Gentiles to be cir­cumcised. This is especially true of the persecutions which arose against him in the Gentile countries. There is some ob­scurity as to the bearing of this. Many think that these false teachers had accused Paul of inconsistency in circumcising Timothy and not forbidding the Jews to circumcise their chil­dren, so that he taught one way with the Jews, another with the Gentiles, seeking to please both.

why am I still persecuted? then hath the stumbling-block of the cross been done away.—If this be so—if Christ be preached and at the same time circumcision be taught—the preaching of the cross has ceased to be an offense; because, as said before, the chief ground of offense to the Jews was that Paul preached that the law was done away in Christ.

Verse 12

Gal 5:12

Galatians 5:12

I would that they that unsettle you would even go be­yond circumcision.—It is something of a play on the idea. They insisted in cutting off the foreskin. He would that they, as the useless foreskin, were cut off from them. The punish­ment spoken of (verse 10) may refer to the action of the con­gregation in withdrawing fellowship from them, as well as the approval of this act of the church by God in punishing them for dwindling his people. No greater sin than this does God recognize. Paul desired that those who troubled the church in turning away from the truth should be cut off, turned over to Satan.

Verse 13

Gal 5:13

Galatians 5:13

For ye, brethren, were called for freedom;—He reminds them that they had been called from under the bondage of the law into the liberty of the children of God.

only use not your freedom for an occasion to the flesh,—Only do not so use that liberty for the purpose of exalting the fleshly relations of Judaism above the spiritual relations of Christians. Or do not so use this as to give rule to the pas­sions, lusts, and appetites of the flesh. The fleshly appetites and feelings involve men in bitterness, wrath, and strife. These had manifested their fruits among them in the course pursued on the question of circumcision. Instead of following these fleshly passions and desires, moved by love for each other, serve and help one another.

but through love be servants one to another.—Love as a principle seeks the good of others. In its workings it does good to them. Love practiced is doing the thing required in the law of God to be done. Because to do what God’s law re­quires of us to do to man is to do to him the greatest good possible. [The love that fulfills the law is that given by the Lord: “All things therefore whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, even so do ye also unto them: for this is the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 7:12). This is love’s law, to put oneself in another’s place and to act toward him as though he were oneself. Thus will the Christian not merely work no ill to his neighbor, he will, as need arises and as opportunity offers, spend himself in his neighbor’s service, for would not he have his neighbor do the like for him? This is what James calls “the perfect law, the law of liberty” (James 1:25), “the royal law” (James 2:8). By it is the Christian bound, and in it he finds that a life of self-renouncing love is a life of liberty.]

Verse 14

Gal 5:14

Galatians 5:14

For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, even in this:—They desired to be under the law; here then is the sum and substance of the law, and faithfulness to the gospel would not hinder them, but on the contrary would enable them to do what the law required to be done, that is, to live according to the will of God.

Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.—There are two classes of commands in the law of Moses—one embracing man’s duty to God, the other to his fellow men. Man cannot discharge the duties he owes to his fellow men unless he first discharge those he owes to God; they stand first. Discharging these fits him to perform those he owes to man. Hence, he who performs the duties he owes to man must have discharged those he owes to God. The performance of these implies the performance of those. Hence, he who loves his neighbor as himself has fulfilled the whole law—these laws regulating his duties to God as well as those to man.

Verse 15

Gal 5:15

Galatians 5:15

But if ye bite and devour one another,—The Galatians were of a warm temperament, quick to resent wrong and prone to imagine it. The dissension excited by the Judaizers had aroused their combative temper to a high degree, and ex­cited a spirit of commotion and recrimination among them. [Biting describes the wounding and exasperating effect in which their controversies were carried on; devour warns them of its destructiveness. Taunts were hurled at each other; vi­tuperation supplied the lack of argument. It bore fruit in per­sonal thrusts and quarrels, in an angry, vindictive spirit which spread through the churches and broke out in various forms of contention.]

take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.—This state of things was incompatible with the law of love, and if continued the Galatian churches would cease to exist.

Verse 16

Gal 5:16

Galatians 5:16

But I say, Walk by the Spirit,—The apostle here gives the general directions as to how to avoid the courses by tell­ing them to follow the teachings of the Spirit as revealed through inspired men; cultivate in the heart the temper, the feelings that are in accord with the Spirit.

and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.—There are two distinct elements recognized as existing in man—the spirit and the flesh. The inward or spiritual man and the outward or animal man. The former connects man with God above, the latter with the brute creation below. The question is, which shall rule or control in man? The Holy Spirit through Paul says: “I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see a different law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity under the law of sin which is in my members.” (Romans 7:22-23).

Verse 17

Gal 5:17

Galatians 5:17

For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary the one to the other;—These two principles war against each other and without external help, the flesh overcomes the spirit, and brings it into subjection to the rule of the flesh, its lusts and passions. The law of Moses failed to give the needed help to enable the spirit to overcome the flesh. The first tabernacle could not, “as touching the conscience, make the worshipper perfect” (Hebrews 9:9), but “what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh,” so as to enable man to overcome it, through Christ Jesus. In Christ the spirit of man is so helped by the Spirit of God as to enable the spirit to overcome the flesh. “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death.” (Romans 8:2).

that ye may not do the things that ye would.—So the flesh hinders the spirit of man from doing what it would, save as it is helped by the Spirit of God. There is no help for deliver­ance from sin save in the guidance and help of the Spirit of God. The constant appeals of the flesh for gratification cool the spiritual ardor and render men lukewarm in the service of God. This cooled ardor leads to neglect of the service of God and indifference to the salvation of souls, both of our own and those of others; destroys our love for God and his institution and makes us willing to substitute the institutions of men, which we persuade ourselves are more conformable to human wisdom, for the works of God. The tendency to grow luke­warm is universal. It was so in the apostolic age and has been in every age and country since, and is now the besetting sin of Christians. It is fatal in its influence in the Christian life.

Verse 18

Gal 5:18

Galatians 5:18

But if ye are led by the Spirit,—This implies an entire surrender of the believer to the authority and guidance of the Spirit. He is led by the Spirit through the word of truth, which is the chart of his journey through life.

ye are not under the law.—[Not, on the one hand, because there is now no need of its beneficial influences, nor on the other, because it is now become an alien principle, because it finds nothing, in the one led by the Spirit, to forbid or con­demn. (Verse 23). Legalism and carnality go together. The Spirit makes free from the law of sin and death. The law was made for the fleshly man, and fleshly works (1 Timothy 1:9); not for the righteous man (Romans 6:14-15).]

Verse 19

Gal 5:19

Galatians 5:19

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these:—They are plainly seen and may be easily recognized so that all may know when they are following the flesh.

fornication,—Strictly speaking, fornication is illicit sexual intercourse of unmarried persons. Adultery is a violation of the marriage bed, or unlawful sexual intercourse with another, whether married or unmarried. Fornication often signifies adultery. (Matthew 19:9). [Fornication among the Gentiles was practically universal in Paul’s day. Sins of impurity found a place in every picture of Gentile morals in heathen literature. On this subject, even today, it is difficult to speak faithfully and yet directly. Newspapers, novels, and the movies which reek of the divorce court and trade in garbage of human life, in things of which it is a shame to speak, are no more fit for ordinary consumption than the air of the pesthouse is for breathing. They are the sheer poison of the imagina­tion, which should be fed on whatsoever things are hon­orable and pure and lovely and of good report. Wherever and in whatever form, the offense exists which violates the sexual relationship, the interdict of every Christian should be launched upon it. The anger of Jesus Christ burned against this sin. In the wanton look he discerned the crime of adul­tery. (Matthew 5:27-28). The Lord is an avenger in every­thing that touches the honor of the human person and violates the sanctity of the marriage relationship. (1 Thessalonians 4:1-8). The church of Christ should wage such a relentless warfare against all such wickedness that all such characters would either come to repentance, or find that the church has no fellowship for them.]

uncleanness,—Unnatural practice—self-abuse, bestiality, and sodomy. This was common among the heathen. (Romans 1:24; 2 Corinthians 12:21).

lasciviousness,—Any kind of unchastity. There may be las­civious eyes and lascivious desires. Jesus said: “For out of the heart come forth evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, forni­cations, thefts, false witness, railings: these are the things which defile the man.” (Matthew 15:19-20). From this we should learn the great importance of heeding the command: “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23). He thinks no evil and indulges no im­pure and unholy feelings and keeps his life clean and pure, righteous and holy.

Verse 20

Gal 5:20

Galatians 5:20

idolatry,—The worship of idols, embracing the idola­trous feasts and rites of different gods and goddesses. Paul says: covetousness is idolatry. (Colossians 3:5). Jesus says: “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6:24).

sorcery,—The use of magical enchantment, divination by supposed assistance of evil spirits, witchcraft. The practice of sorcery was extensive and its powers great in many places visited by Paul. (Acts 19:19).

enmities,—The qualities which make enemies—hatred, ill will. [These are private hatreds or family feuds, which break out openly in strife.]

strife,—Acts of contention to which enmities lead. [This is seen in church troubles, when men take opposite sides, not so much from different convictions, as from personal dislike and the disposition to thwart an opponent.]

jealousies,—Painful feelings, anxious fear, and unfounded suspicions aroused in the heart over the excellences of oth­ers; unholy desires and strife to excel one another, rivalries. Jealousies never allow one to “rejoice with them that rejoice” (Romans 12:15); but, on the other hand, make one miserable. Zeal and jealousy come from the same word, and may be used in a good sense. “For I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy.” (2 Corinthians 11:2).

wraths,—Wraths are the open eruption of anger, which, when powerless to inflict injury, will find vent in furious lan­guage and menacing gestures. [There are persons in which these tempests of wrath take a demoniac form. “The face grows livid, the limbs move convulsively, the nervous organ­ism is seized by a storm of frenzy, and until it is passed, the individual is completely beside himself.”]

factions,—This implies self-interest and policy in those con­cerned. [It is sometimes associated with jealousy. “Where jealousy and faction are, there is confusion and every vile deed.” (James 3:16).]

divisions,—A state in which a community is thrown by the working of the spirit of strife. [Not only is the believer to beware of causing divisions himself, he is to be on the guard against those who manifest this disposition, and to “turn away from them.” (Romans 16:17). ]

parties,—These are due to self-will and devotion to opin­ions. [It does not imply of necessity any doctrinal difference as the ground of the party distinctions in question. At the same time, this expression is an advance on those foregoing, pointing to such divisions and have grown, or threaten to grow, into distinct and organized parties.]

Verse 21

Gal 5:21

Galatians 5:21

envyings,—The rankling anger, the persistent ill will caused by party feuds. [Quarrels leave behind them grudges and resentments which become inveterate. Envyings, the fruit of old contentions, are in turn the seed of strife. Settled ran­cor is the last and worst form of contentiousness. It is so much more culpable than jealousy or wrath, as it has not the excuse of personal conflict, and it does not subside, as the fier­cest of passions may, leaving room for forgiveness. It nurses its revenge, waiting for the time to come when it shall find the opportunity to give expression to its pent-up grudge.]

drunkenness,—The practice in seeking pleasure in intoxica­tion is a remnant of savagery, which exists to a shameful ex­tent, and is growing at an alarming rate in this country. It appears to have been prevalent among the Galatians. [A man drinks and forgets his poverty, and remembers his misery no more. For the hour, while the spell is upon him, he has untold wealth—the world’s wealth is his! He awakes to find that he is wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. With fornication at the head of this dark list, and drunkenness at its close, the description of the works of the flesh is far from being out of date. The horrible processions of sins march on before our eyes. Races of men and temperaments vary, but the ruling appetites and passions, of perverted human nature, are un­changed, and its blighting vices are with us today.]

revellings,—Revellings are excessive and boisterous festivi­ties; carousals; taking part in or enjoying something without restraint; acting conspicuously and wantonly; giving reins to one’s inclinations, propensities, or passions.

and such like;—This includes not only the things enumer­ated, but all of that kind. None included in this list can be omitted, and all others of the same kind are included. It is sometimes contended by worldly-minded church members that revelry does not include dancing; if not, such like cer­tainly does.

of which I forewarn you, even as I did forewarn you,—He warns them now of the judgment impending over those who are guilty of such sins, and reminds them that his teaching on this subject had been the same when he was with them.

that they who practise such things shall not inherit the king­dom of God.—He acted on the principle given to the prophet of old: “Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thy hand. Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast deliv­ered thy soul.” (Ezekiel 3:17-19). Whatever may be the rela­tion of men to the church, however their profession of faith in Christ, they shall not, if their works are such as he has just enumerated, be admitted into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:11). Their very characters unfit them for that kingdom. Moreover they are rebels against the government of God.

Verse 22

Gal 5:22

Galatians 5:22

But the fruit of the Spirit—The Spirit produces fruit by so ruling in and controlling man that it subdues and holds in restraint all the evil passions and lusts that dwell in the flesh, and develops into activity and life the germs of the spiritual life in man. There are in every human spirit the germs and capabilities of all these virtues and excellences here enumer­ated. They are overrun and smothered out by the gross and sensual desires of the flesh and find no development until, through Christ, the Spirit of God trains them into life and ac­tivity; restrains the passions and appetites of the flesh, and they grow and bear fruit in life and fit the character for companionship with God.

is love,—The leading principle that he puts into the heart is love, and love is, in the first instance and above all, love to God. This springs from the knowledge of God’s love to man. “God is love,” and “love is of God;" and “every one that lov­eth is begotten of God, and knoweth God.” (1 John 4:7-8). The man who knows this love, whose heart responds to the manifestations of God in Christ, is ready to become the abode of pure affections, and his life the exhibition of Christian vir­tues. For the love of the Father is revealed to him; and the love of the Son is enkindled in his soul. Love thus educated and directed by God fulfills its mission in doing what God re­quires to be done.

joy,—Joy lifts us above all the trials, troubles, and disap­pointments of time. [Love makes us capable of pain and shame; but equally of triumph and joy. Therefore the Lord Jesus, the lover of mankind, was the “man of sorrows," whose love bared his bosom to the thrusts of scorn and hate; and yet “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despis­ing shame.” (Hebrews 12:2). There was no sorrow like that of Christ rejected and crucified; no joy like the joy of Christ risen from the dead and reigning. This joy, the delight of love satisfied in those it loves, is that whose fulfillment he promises to his disciples. (John 15:8-11). Such joys the self­ish heart never knows; heaven’s highest favors fail to bring it joy. But of all the joys love gives to life, that is the deepest which is ours when “the love of God hath been shed abroad in our hearts.”]

peace,—Thus walking brings peace with God that passes all understanding. This peace we have or enjoy through Christ, because through him we obtain justification which induces it. But it is not peace in the sense of exemption from the troubles of this world; it is peace of conscience, peace of soul.

longsuffering,—Love leads the Christian to bear with the mistakes and wrongs that grow out of weaknesses, infirmities, and evil designs of others. Jesus taught that this is the path­way to happiness and true good.

kindness,—To be gentle toward all, and return good for evil. [Kindness looks to the benefits conferred, seeking to make it as full and large as possible.]

goodness,—Goodness shows a kindly activity for the true good of others. [It may be, however, that this includes the sterner qualities of doing good to others, but not by gentle means. As an illustration of this we find in the Lord Jesus when he drove the buyers and sellers out of the temple (Matthew 21:12-13), and his pronouncing woes upon the scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 23:13).] faithfulness,—Trustfulness, the habit of mind which does not doubt that God is working all things together for the good of those who love and trust him (Romans 8:28), that seeks to real­ize the truth of Paul’s word concerning love that it “believeth all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7). Trustfulness in our dealings with others, in opposition to suspicion and distrust. Suspicion of God, whether of his love or of his wisdom, is a work of the flesh, and so is suspicion of those around us; it darkens and embitters the soul, hinders efficiency in service, and makes fel­lowship impossible.]

Verse 23

Gal 5:23

Galatians 5:23

meekness,—Meekness is a quiet and forbearing spirit, that suffers wrong without resentfulness; but firmness and unyielding devotion to right. From this we see that true meekness goes far deeper down than any attitude towards man. It lays hold on the sovereign will of God as our su­preme good, and delights in absolutely and perfectly conform­ing itself thereto. Blessings and good are frequently prom­ised to the meek in the Old Testament. Noah, Daniel, and Job are models of a meek and quiet patience and forbearance with true fidelity to God. Jesus was a perfect model of meek­ness, submissiveness, and forbearance yet firm for right and truth under the most trying difficulties and bitter persecutions. (Matthew 11:29). It is commanded as a virtue to be cherished. (Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:12; 1 Peter 3:4; 1 Peter 3:15). [Those who learn to control their spirits, and be meek and quiet under trial and persecutions, become like Jesus, and have the prom­ise both of the blessings in this world and in that to come. That quiet perseverance brings success in our undertakings on earth, and fits the soul for companionship with the re­deemed in heaven.]

self-control;—Self-control is the restraining of all the pas­sions and desires within the limits that will promote the high­est activity of all the faculties of body, mind, and heart.

against such there is no law.—Neither God nor man makes laws against such qualities and virtues as these, because they work good to all, and ill to none. Even wicked men make laws only against such things as work evil to them or their interests. These virtues do neither. So the qualities of the Christian are such as to lead men to be at peace, and not to oppress. Through this harmless character is brought about much of the protection from the wicked that God promises to those who love him.

Verse 24

Gal 5:24

Galatians 5:24

And they that are of Christ Jesus—They that belong to Christ in contrast with those who are under the law of Moses. They are Christ’s property, the gift of the Father (John 17:6), and redeemed by his blood (1 Peter 1:18-19); they are under the law of Christ (1 Corinthians 9:21); they call him Master and Lord (Judges 1:4).

have crucified the flesh with the passions and the lusts thereof.—[The term crucifixion here is used figuratively and not to be taken literally, as either the flesh or its passions had been so dealt with either by God or the believer himself that they had ceased to exist. On the other hand, they are still with him and in him, and ready to spring into activity again should the restraint of faith in the will and power of Christ to overcome them be removed; the believer in Christ is to make the corresponding realities good in his own life. But just as obedience which controls the body is the only evidence of faith, so the state of the believer, as manifested by his walk before men, is the only competent evidence of his standing before God.]

Verse 25

Gal 5:25

Galatians 5:25

If we live by the Spirit, by the Spirit let us also walk.—Those who claim to live in the Spirit should walk in or ac­cording to the directions of the Spirit. [The walk mentioned in verse 16 is the general manner of life of the individual be­liever considered in itself; here it is the manner of life in its relation with others. That is an exhortation to walk boldly and firmly as guided and enabled by the Holy Spirit through the word of truth; this is an exhortation to keep step with one another in the same strength and guidance. Submission of heart to the guidance of the Holy Spirit alone secures peace to the individual and harmony in the church. He who walks by the Spirit in his everyday life is the man who, by the same Spirit, keeps step with his brethren. The obvious way of uni­formity of step is that each should keep step with Jesus Christ, the leader of all. To be in step with him is to be in step with all who walk with him. Hence, in order to attain to the unity among believers in Christ each is to watch, not his brother, but his Lord and Master.]

Verse 26

Gal 5:26

Galatians 5:26

Let us not become vainglorious,—Do not become proud or vain of empty advantages, as of birth, property, social standing, learning, or such like things. It is likely that the reference here is to some supposed advantages gained thereby. The teaching of the gospel is that in great and most vital re­spects men are on a level; that such things constitute nothing in the way of salvation, and that Christians should esteem them of little importance, and that they should not be allowed to interfere with their fellowship, or to mar their harmony and peace.

provoking one another,—Those who are vainglorious pro­voke those whom they regard as inferior by a haughty car­riage and a contemptuous manner toward them. They look upon them with contempt; treat them as beneath their notice, and thus provoke them; on the other hand, there is produced resentment, hatred, and a disposition to take revenge. If men realized, as all Christians should, that the great interests cen­ter in Jesus Christ, where all such distinctions vanish and all stand on a level, vain-glorying would cease.

envying one another.—[These words describe character in its active manifestations. Vain-glorying challenges competi­tion to which the stronger natured respond in kind, while those who are weaker are moved to envy. Not to be sound in the faith merely, but character counts, therefore, let those who are “sound in the faith” (Titus 1:13) be sound “in love” also (Galatians 2:2). Of what profit to hold a form of godliness if the power thereof be not experienced in the inner man and be not evident in the daily walk and conversation?]

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Galatians 5". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/galatians-5.html.
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