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Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
Galatians 5

 

 

Other Authors
Introduction

CHAPTER 5

Galatians 5:1. τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ, ἡμᾶς χριστὸς ἠλευθέρωσε, στήκετε] So Griesb. (reading, however, χριστὸς ἡμᾶς), Rück., Tisch., Wieseler. But Elz., Matth., Winer, Rinck, Reiche, read τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ οὖν, χριστὸς ἡμᾶς ἠλευθέρωσε, στήκετε. Lachm., followed by Usteri, reads τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ ἡμᾶς χριστὸς ἠλευθέρωσεν. στήκετε οὖν, which was also approved of by Mill, Bengel, Griesb.; and Winer does not reject it. Scholz gives τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ, χριστὸς ἡμᾶς ἠλευθέρωσε, στήκετε οὖν. Schott lastly, following Rinck, joins τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ, ἡμᾶς χριστὸς ἠλευθέρωσεν to Galatians 4:31, and begins the new sentence with στήκετε οὖν. So also Ewald. Lachmann’s reading, which is also followed by Hofmann, must be held to be the original one: (1) because amidst the numerous variations it has a decided preponderance of testimony in its favour, for is wanting in A B C D* א and 8 min., Dam., and οὖν after στήκετε is written in A B C D* (in the Greek) F G א and some 10 min., Copt. Goth. Aeth. Boern. Vulg. ms. Cyr. Bas, ms. Aug. Ambrosiast.; (2) because from it the origin of the rest of the readings can be explained easily, naturally, and without prejudice to the witnesses—namely, from the endeavour to connect τῇ ἐλευθ. ἡμ. χ. ἠλευθ. immediately with Galatians 4:31. Thus in some cases τῇ was merely changed into (F G, It. Vulg. Goth, and Fathers); in others , was inserted before ἡμᾶς (Griesb.), allowing τῇ to remain. The relative thus introduced led others, who had in view the right connection with στήκετε, either to omit the οὖν (after στήκετε), which the presence of the relative rendered awkward (E, Vulg. It. Syr. p. Fathers; Griesb., Rück., Tisch.), or to place it immediately after ἐλευθερίᾳ, (C*** K L, min., Fathers; Elz.). Lastly, the transposition χριστὸς ἡμᾶς was an involuntary expedient to place the subject first, but is condemned by the decisive counter-weight of the evidence. It is a dubious view which derives the different readings of our passage from the accidental omission in writing of H before ημας (Tisch., Wieseler), especially since very ancient witnesses, in which is wanting, read not ἡμᾶς χριστός, but χριστός ἡμᾶς (as C L א** Marcion, Chrys.).

Galatians 5:3. πάλιν] is wanting in D* F G, 73, 74, 76, It. Chrys. Theophyl. Victorin. Jerome, Aug. Ambrosiast. The omission is caused by the similarity of the παντί which follows.

Galatians 5:7. ἐνέκοψε] The Elz. reading ἀνέκοψε is opposed to all the uncials and most min., and is therefore rightly rejected by Grot., Mill., Bengel, Matth., Lachm., Tisch., Reiche, whereas Usteri sought very feebly to defend it.

The τῇ which follows is wanting in A B א*. But the article forms a necessary part of the idea (comp. Galatians 2:5; Galatians 2:14), and the omission must be looked upon as a mere error in copying. Without just ground, Semler and Koppe consider the whole τῇ ἀληθ. μὴ πείθεσθαι to be not genuine; and the latter is disposed, instead of it, to defend μηδενὶ πείθεσθε, which is found in F G, codd. Lat. in Jer. and some vss. and Fathers, after πείθεσθαι, but is manifestly a gloss annexed to the following πεισμονή κ. τ. λ. Still more arbitrarily, Schott holds the whole of Galatians 5:7 to be an inserted gloss.

Galatians 5:9. ζυμοῖ] D* E, Vulg. Clar. Germ. codd. Lat. in Jer. and Sedul., and several Fathers, read δολοῖ. Approved by Mill, and Valck. Schol. II. p. 178. An interpretation, because in this passage the leaven represents something corrupting (otherwise in Matthew 13:33). Comp. on 1 Corinthians 5:6.

Galatians 5:14. ἐν ἑνὶ λόγῳ] Marcion (in Epiph. and Tert.) read ὑμῖν, and D* E F G, It. Ambrosiast. have ἐν ὑμῖν ἐν ἑνὶ λόγῳ. Marcion’s reading is of antinomistic origin (hence he also omitted the following ἐν τῷ); but the ὑμῖν introduced by it became subsequently blended with the original text.

πληροῦται] Defended by Reiche; but A B C א, min., Marcion (in Epiph. and Tert.) Damasc. Aug. read πεπλήρωται. Justly; the meaning of the perfect (which is also adopted by Lachm., Rück., Schott, Tisch.) was not apprehended by mechanical transcribers.

σεαυτόν] Elz., Matth., Schott, read ἑαυτόν. Certainly in opposition to A B C D E K א, min., and Greek Fathers; but the pronoun of the second person was very likely to occur to the copyists (in the LXX. Leviticus 19:18, there is the same variety of readings), and indeed the final letter of the foregoing ὡς might easily lend support to the σεαυτόν: hence ἑαυτόν is to be restored, in opposition to Griesb., Scholz, Lachm., Tisch., and others. Comp. on Romans 13:9.

Galatians 5:17. ταῦτα δέ] Lachm. and Schott read ταῦτα γάρ, following B D* E F G *, 17, Copt. Vulg. It. and some Fathers. Looking at this preponderance of attestation, and seeing that the continuative δέ might easily appear more suitable, γάρ is to be preferred.

Galatians 5:19 f. μοιχεία] is wanting before πορν. in A B C א*, min., and many vss. and Fathers; 76, 115, Epiph. Chrys. Theophyl. have it after πορνεία. In opposition to Reiche, but with Griesb., Lachm., Scholz, Schott, Tisch., and others, it is to be deleted, since it has been introduced, although at a very early date (It. Or.), most probably by the juxtaposition of the two words in other passages (Matthew 15:19; Mark 7:21; comp. Hosea 2:2), well known to the transcribers.

ἔρεις, ζῆλοι] Lachm. and Tisch. have the singular, following weighty evidence; the plurals were introduced in conformity to the adjoining.

Galatians 5:21. φόνοι] is wanting in B א, 17, 33, 35, 57, 73, and several Fathers, but in no version. Rejected by Mill, Seml., and Koppe, bracketed by Lachm., deleted by Tisch. On account of the similarity of sound with the preceding word it might just as easily be omitted, as it might be added from Romans 1:29. Hence the preponderance of witnesses determines the point, and that in favour of the retention.

CONTENTS.

Exhortation to stedfastness in Christian freedom, and warning against the opposite course. If they allowed themselves to be circumcised, Christ would profit them nothing, and they would be bound to the law as a whole; by legal justification they would be severed from Christ and from grace, as is proved by the nature of Christian righteousness (Galatians 5:1-6). Complaint and warning on account of the apostasy of the readers, respecting whom, however, Paul cherishes good confidence; whereas he threatens judgment against the seducers, whose teaching as to circumcision is in no sense his (Galatians 5:7-12). A warning against the abuse, and an exhortation to the right use, of Christian freedom, which consists in a demeanour actuated by mutual love (Galatians 5:13-15); whereupon he then enters into a detailed explanation to the effect that the Holy Spirit, and not the flesh, must be the guiding power of their conduct (Galatians 5:16-25). After this, special moral exhortations begin (Galatians 5:26).


Verse 1

Galatians 5:1. τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ ἡμᾶς χριστὸς ἠλευθέρωσεν] On this reading, see the critical notes. The sentence forms, with Galatians 4:31, the basis of the exhortation which follows, στήκετε οὖν κ. τ. λ. See on Galatians 4:31. For freedom, in order that we should be free and should remain so, that we should not again become subject to bondage, Christ has set us free (Galatians 4:1-7), namely, from the bondage of the στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου (Galatians 4:3). The dative τῇ ἐλευθ. is therefore commodi, not instrumenti. Comp. also Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 155; Holsten, Hofmann, Reithmayr. By so taking it, and by attending to the emphasis, which lies not on χριστός, but on the τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ following immediately after τῆς ἐλευθέρας in Galatians 4:31, we obviate entirely the objection of Rückert (comp. Matthies and Olshausen) that Paul must have written: χ. ἡμᾶς ἐλευθερὶᾳ ἠλευθέρωσεν, or εἰς ἐλευθ., or τῇ ἐλευθ. ταύτῃ, or ἣν ἔχομεν, or some other addition of the kind.

στήκετε οὖν] stand fast therefore, namely, in the freedom, which is to be inferred from what goes before; hence the absence of connection with τῇ ἐλευθ. does not produce any obscurity or abruptness (in opposition to Reiche). On the absolute στήκετε, which obtains its reference from the context, comp. 2 Thessalonians 2:15.

καὶ μὴ πάλιν κ. τ. λ.] and be not again held in a yoke of bondage. Previously they had been (most of them) in the yoke of heathenism; now they were on the point of being held in the yoke of Mosaism (only another kind of the στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου). The yoke is conceived as laid on the neck: Acts 15:10; Sirach 51:26; Dem. 322. 12; Hom. H. Cer. 217. As to πάλιν, comp. on Galatians 4:9. δουλείας denotes the characteristic quality belonging to the yoke. Comp. Soph. Aj. 924: πρὸς οἷα δουλείας ζυγὰ χωροῦμεν. Eur. Or. 1330; Plat. Legg. vi. p. 770 E: δούλειον ζυγόν, Ep. 8, p. 354 D Dem. 322. 12; Herod. vii. 8.

ἐνέχεσθαι, with the dative (Dem. 1231. 15; 2 Maccabees 5:18; 3 Maccabees 6:10) or with ἐν (Dem. 1069. 9), is the proper expression for those who are held either in a physical (net or the like) or ethical (law, dogma, emotion, sin, or the like) restriction of liberty, so that they cannot get out. See Kypke in loc., and Markland ad Lys. V. p. 37, Reisk. Here, on account of the idea of a yoke, the reference is physical, but used as a figurative representation for that which is mental, which affects the conscience.

Note.

If we take the reading of the Recepta, and of Griesbach and his followers (see the critical notes), we must explain it: “In respect of the freedom, [therefore], for which Christ has set us free, stand fast, and become not again, etc.!”—so that τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ is to be taken like τῇ πίστει in 2 Corinthians 1:24 and Romans 4:20, and as the dative commodi (Morus, Winer, Reiche). might also (with the Vulgate, Luther, Beza, Calvin, Piscator, Rückert, Schott, Hilgenfeld, Wieseler, and many others) be taken as ablative (instrumentally): “qua nos liberavit,” after the analogy of the classical expressions ζῆν βίῳ, ὗσαι ὕδατι κ. τ. λ. (Bernhardy, p. 107; Lobeck, Paral, p. 523 ff.), and of the frequent use both in the LXX. and the N.T. (Winer, p. 434 [E. T. 584]) of “cognate” nouns in the dative. But this mode of expression does not occur elsewhere with Paul, not even in 1 Thessalonians 3:9. According to Schott, Ewald, and Matthias, who join it to Galatians 4:31 (see the critical notes), we get the meaning: “We are not children of a bond-maid, but of the free woman through the freedom, with which Christ made us free; stand fast therefore.” Thus τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ ἡμᾶς χριστ. ἠλευθ. becomes a self-evident appendage; and χριστός receives an emphasis, just as in Galatians 3:13, which its position does not warrant.


Verse 2

Galatians 5:2. Paul now in a warning tone reveals to them the fearful danger to which they are exposed. This he does by the address ἴδε in the singular (comp. Soph. Trach. 824), exciting the special attention of every individual reader, and with the energetic, defiant interposition of his personal authority: ἐγὼ παῦλος, on which Theophylact well remarks: τὴν τοῦ οἰκείου προσώπου ἀξιοπιστίαν ἀντὶ πάσης ἀποδείξεως τίθησι. Comp. 2 Corinthians 10:1; Ephesians 3:1; Colossians 1:23

ἐὰν περιτέμνησθε] To be pronounced with special emphasis. The readers stood now on the very verge of obeying thus far—and therefore to the utmost—the suggestions of the false apostles in taking upon them the yoke of the law, after having already consented to preliminary isolated acts of legal observance (Galatians 4:10).

χριστὸς ὑμᾶς οὐδὲν ὠφελήσει] comp. Galatians 2:21. χριστὸς is emphatically placed first, and immediately after περιτ. Chrysostom, moreover, aptly remarks: περιτεμνόμενος ὡς νόμον δεδοικὼς περιτέμνεται, δὲ δεδοικὼς ἀπιστεῖ τῇ δυνάμει τῆς χάριτος, δὲ ἀπιστῶν οὐδὲν κερδαίνει παρὰ τῆς ἀπιστουμένης. On such a footing Christ cannot be Christ, the Mediator of salvation. Paul’s judgment presupposes that circumcision is adopted, not as a condition of a holy life (Holsten), but as a condition of salvation, which was the question raised among the Galatians 2:3; Galatians 2:5; Acts 15:1; Acts 16:3. Comp. Lechler, apost. Zeitalt. p. 248. The future, ὠφελήσει, which is explained by others (de Wette, Hofmann, and most) as referring to the consequence generally, points to the nearness of the Parousia and the decision of the judgment. Comp. Galatians 5:5 : ἐλπίδα δικαιοσύνης, just as previously the idea of the κληρονομία in Galatians 4:30.


Verse 3

Galatians 5:3. With regard to the judgment just expressed, χριστὸς οὐδὲν ὑμᾶς ὠφελήσει, Paul now, with increasing emotion ( μαρτύρομαι, παντὶ ἀνθρ. περιτ.), gives an explanation (Galatians 5:3-4) which clearly discloses the entire certainty of this negation.

The δέ is not potius (Schott), because it is not preceded by any antagonistic assertion, but is the autem which leads on to more detailed information (Herm. ad Viger. p. 845).

μαρτύρομαι] in the sense of μαρτυρῶ, as in Acts 20:26; Ephesians 4:17; Joseph. Bell. iii. 8. 3; and also Plat. Phil. p. 47 D, while in classical authors it usually means to summon as a witness and obtestor. Paul testifies that which with divine certainty he knows. The context does not warrant us to supply θεόν, with Bretschneider and Hilgenfeld.

πάλιν] not contra (Erasmus, Er. Schmid, Koppe, Wahl; comp. Usteri), which is never its meaning (see Fritzsche, ad Matth. p. 166 f.), but again, not however in the sense that Galatians 5:3 is described as a repetition of what was said in Galatians 5:2 (Calvin, Castalio, Calovius, Wolf, Zachariae, Paulus, and others), which it is not; nor in the sense that Paul is thinking merely of the testifying in itself, and not of its purport (Hofmann; comp. Fritzsche, Winer, de Wette),—an interpretation which cannot but be the less natural, the more necessarily that which is attested πάλιν stands in essential inner connection with the axiom which had been previously expressed (“probatio est proximae sententiae sumta ex loco repugnantium,” Calvin); but in the sense that Paul calls to the remembrance of his readers his last presence among them (the second), when he had already orally assured them of what he here expresses (Moldenhauer, Flatt, Rückert, Olshausen, Wieseler). Comp. on Galatians 1:9, Galatians 4:16.

παντὶ ἀνθρ. περιτ.] stands in a climactic relation to the foregoing ὑμῖν, remorselessly embracing all: to every one I testify, so that no one may fancy himself excluded from the bearing of the statement. According to Chrysostom and Theophylact, with whom Schott and others agree, Paul has wished to avoid the appearance κατʼ ἔχθραν ταῦτα λέγεσθαι; but in this view the whole climactic force of the address is misunderstood.

ὅλον] has the emphasis; comp. James 2:10. Circumcision binds the man who accepts it to obey the whole law, because it makes him a full member of the covenant of the law, a proselyte of righteousness, and the law requires from those who are bound to it its entire fulfilment (Galatians 3:10). Probably the pseudo-apostles had sought at least to conceal or to weaken this true and—since no one is able wholly to keep the law (Acts 13:38; Acts 15:10; Romans 8:3)—yet so fearful consequence of accepting circumcision, as if faith in Christ and acceptance of circumcision might be compatible with one another. On the contrary, Paul proclaims the decisive aut … aut. The state of the man who allows himself to be circumcised stands in a relation contradictory to the state of grace (comp. Romans 6:14 f., Romans 11:6).


Verse 4

Galatians 5:4. But whosoever is justified through the law—a way of justification which necessarily follows from the already mentioned obligation—is separated from Christ, etc. A complete explanation is thus given as to the χριστὸς ὑμᾶς οὐδὲν ὠφελήσει. Asyndetic (without δέ), and reverting to the second person, the language of Paul is the more emphatic and vivid.

κατηργήθητε] In the first clause the stress is laid upon the dread separation which has befallen them, in the second on the benefit thereby lost,—a striking alternation of emphasis. The pregnant expression, καταργεῖσθαι ἀπό τινος (comp. Romans 9:3; 2 Corinthians 11:3; see generally, Fritzsche ad Rom. II. p. 250), is to be resolved into καταργεῖσθαι καὶ χωρίζεσθαι ἀπό τινος, that is, to come to nothing in regard to the relation hitherto subsisting with any one, so that we are parted from him. Just the same in Romans 7:2; Romans 7:6. Hence the sense is: your connection with Christ is annulled, cancelled; ἀπεκόπητε, Oecumenius. Justification by the law and justification for Christ’s sake are in truth opposita (works—faith), so that the one excludes the other.

οἵτινες ἐν νόμῳ δικαιοῦσθε] ye who are being justified through the law. The directly assertive and present δικαιοῦσθε is said from the mental standpoint of the subjects concerned, in whose view of the matter the way of salvation is this: “through the law, with which our conduct agrees (comp. Galatians 3:11), we become just before God.” Hence the concrete statement is not to be weakened either by taking δικαιοῦσθαι in the sense of ζητεῖν δικαιοῦσθαι, Galatians 2:17 (Rückert, Baumgarten-Crusius, and earlier expositors), or by attributing a hypothetical sense to οἵτινες (Hofmann, who erroneously compares Thuc. v. 16. 1). Whomsoever Paul hits with his οἵτινες κ. τ. λ., he also means.

τῆς χάριτος ἐξεπέσατε] that is, ye have forfeited the relation of being objects of divine grace. The opposite: ὑπὸ χάριν εἶναι (Romans 6:14), to which divine grace faith has led (Romans 5:2). On the figurative ἐκπίπτειν, comp. 2 Peter 3:17; Plut. Gracch. 21: ἐκπεσεῖν καὶ στερεσθαι τῆς πρὸς τὸν δῆμον εὐνοίας, Polyb. xii. 14. 7; Lucian, Cont. 14; Sirach 31:4. Whoever becomes righteous by obedience to the law, becomes se no longer by the grace of God ( δωρεάν, Romans 3:24), but by works according to desert (Romans 4:11; Romans 4:16; Romans 11:6); so that thus his relation of grace towards God (which is capable of being lost) has ceased.


Verse 5

Galatians 5:5. Ground e contrario for the judgment passed in Galatians 5:4 on those becoming righteous by the law; derived, not generally from what makes up the essence of the Christian state (Hofmann), but specially from the specific way in which Paul and those like him expect to be justified. The reasoning presupposes the certainty, of which the apostle was conscious, that the ἡμεῖς are those who are not separated from Christ and have not fallen from grace.

ἡμεῖς] we, on our part: “qui a nobis dissentiunt, habeant sibi,” Bengel.

πνεύματι ἐκ πίστεως] is not (with Luther) to be considered as one idea (“Spiritu, qui ex fide est”), since there is no contrast with any other spirit, but rather as two points opposed to the ἐν νόμῳ in Galatians 5:4 : “by means of the Spirit, from faith, we expect,” etc.; so that the Holy Spirit is the divine agent, and faith in Christ is the subjective source of our expectation. On πνεύματι, comp. Romans 7:6; Romans 8:4; Romans 8:15 f., Ephesians 1:13 f., Ephesians 2:22, et al.; and on ἐκ πίστεως, comp. Galatians 2:16, Galatians 4:22, Romans 1:17; Romans 3:22; Romans 9:30; Romans 10:6, et al. We must not therefore explain πνεύματι either as the spirit of man simply (with Grotius, Borger, Fritzsche, and others), or (comp. on Romans 8:4) as the spiritual nature of man sanctified by the Holy Spirit (Winer, Paulus, Rückert, and others; comp. Baumgarten-Crusius, de Wette, Hofmann); but similarly to Galatians 5:16, as the objective πνεῦμα ἅγιον, which is the divine principle of spiritual life in Christians, and which they have received ἐξ ἀκοῆς πίστεως (Galatians 3:2; Galatians 3:5, Galatians 4:6). And the Holy Spirit is the divine mainspring of Christian hope, as being the potential source of all Christian sentiment and Christian life in general, and as the earnest and surety of eternal life in particular (2 Corinthians 1:22; 2 Corinthians 5:5; Ephesians 1:14; Romans 8:11; Romans 8:23).

ἐλπίδα δικαιοσύνης ἀπεκδεχ.] ἀπεκδέχεσθαι (Romans 8:19; Romans 8:23; Romans 8:25; 1 Corinthians 1:7; Philippians 3:20; 1 Peter 3:20) does not indeed denote that he who waits is wholly spent in waiting (Hofmann), but rather (comp. generally Winer, de verb. compos. IV. p. 14) the persistent awaiting, which does not slacken until the time of realization (C. F. A. Fritzsche in Fritzschior. Opusc. p. 156). The genitive δικαιοσύνης is not appositionis (Wieseler), so that the sense would be: “the righteousness hoped for by us,” the genitive with ἐλπίς never being used in this way; but it is the genitive objecti: the hope of being justified, namely, in the judgment, where we shall be declared by Christ as righteous. At variance with the context, since justification itself is in question (see Galatians 5:4), others understand it as the genitive subjecti, as that which righteousness has to hope for,(224) that is, the hoped for reward of righteousness, namely, eternal life. So Pelagius, Beza, Piscator, Hunnius, Calovius, Bengel, Rambach, Baumgarten, Zachariae, Koppe, Borger, Paulus, Windischmann, Reithmayr, and others; comp. also Weiss, bibl. Theol. pp. 333, 341. The fact that the δικαιοσύνη itself—that is, the righteousness of faith, and not that of a holy life (Holsten)—is presented as something future, need not in itself surprise us, because during the temporal life it exists indeed through faith, but may nevertheless be lost (see Galatians 5:2; Galatians 5:4), and is not yet a definitive possession, which it only comes to be at the judgment (Romans 8:33 f.). In a corresponding way, the υἱοθεσία, although it has been already entered upon through faith (Galatians 3:26, Galatians 4:5), is also the object of hope (Romans 8:23). This at the same time explains why Paul here speaks in particular of an ἐλπὶς δικαιοσύνης; he thereby indicates the difference between the certainty of salvation in the consciousness (Romans 8:24) of the true Christians, and the confidence, dependent upon works, felt by the legally righteous, who say: ἐν νόμῳ δικαιούμεθα, because in their case the becoming righteous is something in a continuous course of growth by means of meritorious obedience to the law. Lastly, the expression ἀπεκδέχεσθαι ἐλπίδα is not to be explained by the supposition that Paul, when he wrote ἐλπίδα, had it in his mind to make ἔχομεν follow (Winer, Usteri, Schott),—an interpretation which is all the more arbitrary, because there is no intervening sentence which might divert his thought,—but the hope is treated objectively (comp. on Colossians 1:5; Romans 8:24; Hebrews 6:18), so that ἀπεκδέχεσθαι ἐλπίδα belongs to the category of the familiar expressions ζῆν βίον, πιστεύειν δόξαν (Lobeck, Paralip. p. 501 ff.). Comp. Acts 24:15 : ἐλπίδαἣν καὶ αὐτὸ οὗτοι προσδέχονται, Titus 2:13; Job 2:9; Isaiah 28:10; 2 Maccabees 7:14; Eur. Alc. 130: νῦν δέ τίνʼ ἔτι βίου ἐλπίδα προσδέχωμαι; Dem. 1468. 13: ἐλπίδαπροσδοκᾶσθαι. The Catholic doctrine of the gradual increase of righteousness (Trident. vi. 10. 24, Döllinger) is entirely un-Pauline, although favoured by Romang, Hengstenberg, and others. Justification does not, like sanctification, develope itself and increase; but it has, as its moral consequence (Galatians 4:6), sanctification through the Spirit, which is given to him who is justified by faith. Thus Christ is to us δικαιοσύνη τε καὶ ἁγιασμός, 1 Corinthians 1:30.


Verse 6

Galatians 5:6. Warrant for the ἐκ πίστεως: for in Christ Jesus, in fellowship with Christ (in the relation of the ἐν χριστῷ εἶναι), neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail; the fact of a man being or not being circumcised is of no influence, but faith, which is operative through love, sc. ἰσχύει τι. The τι ἰσχύει is to be left in the same general and unlimited form in which it stands. Circumcision and uncircumcision are circumstances of no effect or avail in Christianity. And yet they were in Galatia the points on which the disturbance turned! On the faith active in love, which is the effective saving element in the state of the Christian, comp. 1 Timothy 1:5; 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 1 Corinthians 13; also James 2:22. By means of this faith man is καινὴ κτίσις, Galatians 6:15. Bengel well says: “Cum fide conjunxit Galatians 5:5, spem, nunc amorem; in his stat totus Christianismus.” How very necessary it was for the Galatians that prominence should be given to the activity of faith in love, may be seen from Galatians 5:15; Galatians 5:20; Galatians 5:26. The passive view of ἐνεργουμ., which is given by the Fathers and many Catholics, such as Bellarmine, Estius, Reithmayr, in whom the interest of dogmatic controversy against the Protestants came to a great extent into play, is erroneous, because ἐνεργεῖσθαι in the N.T. is always middle (vim suam exserere). See on 2 Corinthians 1:6; Fritzsche, ad Rom. vii. 6, II. p. 18. It does not mean, “having been rendered energetic through love” (Reithmayr), but working through love, expressing thereby its vital power. Moreover, our passage is not at variance with justification solely by faith: “opera fieri dicit ex fide per caritatem, non justificari hominem per caritatem,” Luther. Comp. Calovius: “Formatam(225) etiam fidem apostolus refellit, cum non per caritatem formam suam accipere vel formari, sed per caritatem operosam vel efficacem esse docet. Caritatem ergo et opera non fidem constituere, sed consequi et ex eadem fluere certum est.” It must, however, be observed that love (the opposite of all selfishness) must be, from its nature, the continuous moral medium of the operation of faith in those who are thereby justified,(226), 1 Corinthians 13:1 ff. Comp. Lipsius, Rechtfert. p. 192; Romang, in Stud. u. Krit. 1867, p. 90 ff., who, however, concedes too much to the idea of fides formata.


Verses 7-9

Galatians 5:7-9. How naturally—and, in conformity with the apostle’s lively emotion, asyndetically—the utterance of this axiom of the Christian character and life, which the readers had formerly obeyed, is followed by disapproving surprise at the fact that they had not remained faithful to it (Galatians 5:7), and then by renewed warning against the false teachers, based on the ungodly nature (Galatians 5:8) and the destructive influence (Galatians 5:9) of their operations!

ἐτρέχετε καλῶς] that is, your Christian behaviour—your Christian life and effort—was in course of excellent development. A figurative mode of presenting the activity of spiritual life very frequently used by the apostle. Comp. Galatians 2:2; Philippians 3:11.

τίς ὑμᾶς ἐνέκοψε] A question of surprise (comp. Galatians 3:1): who hindered you? Comp. 1 Thessalonians 2:18; Romans 15:22; 1 Peter 3:7. In Polyb. xxi. 1. 12 it is used with the dative. So also Hippocr. pp. 28, 35; for it means properly: to make an incision.

τῇ ἀληθείᾳ μὴ πείθεσθαι] from obeying the truth, that is, the true gospel, according to which faith alone is that which justifies, μή is employed, as usual, after verbs of hindering. See Hermann, ad Viger. p. 810 f.; Pflugk, ad Eur. Hec. 867; Winer, p. 561 [E. T. 755]. The infinitive with μή denotes that which, so far as the will of the hinderer is concerned, shall not take place.

πεισμονὴ κ. τ. λ.] After the surprise comes the warning. πεισμονή occurs again only in Apoll. Synt. p. 195. 10, in Eustath. (Il. ι, p. 637. 5, a, pp. 21, 26, et al.; see Wetstein), and in the Fathers (Ignat. ad Romans 3 interpol.; Just. Mart. Ap. I. 53, p. 87; Epiph. Haer. xxx. 21; Chrysostom, ad 1 Thess. i. 4). Whether, however, the word is to be understood actively, as persuasion, or passively, as compliance, is a point which must be decided in the several passages by the context. In this passage it is understood as persuasion by MSS. of the Itala (suasio), Vulgate (persuasio), Erasmus, Castalio, Calvin, Beza, Cornelius a Lapide, Wolf, Michaelis, Zachariae, Koppe, Borger, Flatt, Paulus, Usteri, Schott, Hilgenfeld, Wieseler, Matthias, Holsten, and others; on the other hand, Chrysostom ( οὐκ ἐπὶ τούτοις ἐκάλεσεν ὑμᾶς καλῶν, ὥστε οὕτω σαλεύεσθαι), Oecumenius ( τὸ πεισθῆναι τοῖς λέγουσιν ὑμῖν περιτέμνεσθαι), Theophylact ( τὸ πείθεσθαι τοῖς ἀπατῶσιν), Luther (1519 and 1524; but in 1538, and in his translation: such persuasion), and others, including Morus, Winer, Rückert, Matthies, Olshausen, Reiche, Hofmann, Reithmayr, explain it as compliance,(227) which, however, does not fit the word used absolutely. The latter rather yields the thought: The persuasion is not of your caller, is not a thing proceeding from God (see, on the contrary, 2 Corinthians 11:15). Paul would have this applied to the mode of operation of the pseudo-apostles, who worked upon the Galatians by persuasion (talking over), so that they did not remain obedient to the truth, but turned ἀπὸ τοῦ καλέσαντος αὐτοὺς ἐν χάριτι χριστοῦ to an ἕτερον εὐαγγέλιον (Galatians 1:6). If it were to be taken as compliance, some more precise definition must have been appended;(228) because compliance is ungodly not in itself, but only according to the nature of the demand, the motive, and the moral circumstances generally. Some have made it to mean credulitas (Estius, Winer, Baumgarten-Crusius, and others), but the sense of the word is thus altered. The talking over, however, did not need anything added, since it is of itself, in matters of faith at any rate, objectionable; hence it was very superfluous in Luther, Grotius, and many others, to take the article as demonstrative. Moreover, the active sense is excellently adapted to the designation of God by καλῶν ὑμᾶς, inasmuch as the talking over is a mode of operating on men characteristically different from the divine calling: the former not befitting the divine dignity like the latter; the former bound up with human premeditation, art, and importunity, taking place ἐν πειθοῖς σαφίας λόγοις (1 Corinthians 2:4), counteracting free self-determination, and so forth. Comp. Soph. Fragm. 744, Dind.: δεῖνον τὸ τᾶς πειθοῦς πρόσωπον. Aesch. Agam. 385: βιᾶται δʼ τάλαινα πειθώ. Bengel, Morus, and de Wette understand it as obstinacy (the “clinging to prejudices,” de Wette), making it correspond with the foregoing τῇ ἀληθείᾳ μή πείθεσθαι. So also Ewald, although translating it as self-confidence, and comparing πίσυνος. But the passages cited above from Eustathius do not make good this signification; and, in particular, Od. x. p. 785. 22, is quite improperly adduced in its favour (see Reiche, p. 79 f.). Reiche, preferring the signification compliance, takes the sentence as asking indignantly: “Annon assensus, obsequium veritati praestandum e Deo est, qui vos vocavit?” But why should Paul have expressed this by the singular word πεισμονή not used by him elsewhere, and not by the current and unambiguous πίστις or ὑπακοὴ τῆς πίστεως? By employing the latter, he would, in fact, have also suited the foregoing πείθεσθαι.

The καλῶν ὑμᾶς is neither Christ (Theophylact, Erasmus, Michaelis, and others) nor the apostle (Locke, Paulus), but God. See on Galatians 1:6. The present participle is not to be understood of a continuing call “ad resipiscentiam” (Beza),—a view at variance with the constant use of the absolute καλεῖν (Galatians 1:6, Galatians 5:13; Romans 8:30, et al.); nor does it represent the calling as lasting up to the time of their yielding compliance against the truth (Hofmann), which would be an idea foreign to the N.T. (Galatians 1:6; Weiss, bibl. Theol. p. 386 f.); but it is to be taken substantivally, your caller, the definition of the time being left out of view. Comp. 1 Thessalonians 5:24; Winer, p. 331 [E. T. 444]. God, the caller to everlasting salvation, has assigned to every one, by calling him at his conversion (Philippians 3:14), the “normam totius cursus” (Bengel).

μικρὰ ζύμη κ. τ. λ.] The meaning of this proverbial warning (see on 1 Corinthians 5:6) is: “If the false apostles have, by means of their persuasion, succeeded in making even but a small beginning in the work of imparting to you erroneous doctrines or false principles, this will develope itself to the corruption of your whole Christian faith and life.” So, taking the figure with reference to doctrine, in substance also Chrysostom, Theophylact (who, however, explain μικρὰ ζύμη too specially of circumcision), Luther, Calvin, Cornelius a Lapide, and many others, including Flatt and Matthies. It is true that the dogma of his opponents was in itself fundamentally subversive (as Wieseler objects); but its influence had not yet so far developed itself, that the ζύμη might not have been still designated relatively as μικρά. Others interpret it as referring to persons: “vel pauci homines perperam docentes possunt omnem coetum corrumpere,” Winer (comp. Theodoret, Jerome, Augustine, Erasmus, Grotius, Estius, Locke, Bengel, Borger, Paulus, Usteri, Schott, de Wette, Hilgenfeld, Wieseler, Hofmann, Windischmann, Reithmayr, and others); but against this it may be urged that the number of the false teachers, as it is in itself a matter of indifference, and does not acquire greater significance through their having intruded themselves from without, remains also unnoticed throughout the epistle, and the point in question was solely the influence of their teaching (comp. πεισμονή), which was the leaven threatening to spread destructively. Comp. Galatians 1:7 ff., Galatians 3:1.


Verse 10

Galatians 5:10. After the warning in Galatians 5:8-9, Paul now assures his readers how he cherishes confidence in them, that their sentiments would be in conformity with this warning; but those who led them astray would meet with punishment.

ἐγώ] with emphasis: I on my part, however much my opponents may think that they have won over your judgment to their side. Groundlessly and arbitrarily Rückert affirms that what Paul says is not altogether what he means, namely, “I indeed have done all that was possible, so that I may be allowed to hope,” etc.

εἰς ὑμᾶς] towards you. Comp. Wisdom of Solomon 16:24. Usually with the dative or ἐπί.

ἐν κυρίῳ] In Christ, in whom Paul lives and moves, he feels also that his confidence rests and is grounded. Comp. Philippians 2:24; 2 Thessalonians 3:4; Romans 14:14.

οὐδέν ἄλλο] is referred by most expositors, including Luther, Calvin, Winer, Rückert, Matthies, Schott, Olshausen, Baumgarten-Crusius, de Wette, Ewald, to the previous purport of the epistle generally as directed against Judaism. But what is there to warrant this vague reference? The warning which immediately precedes in Galatians 5:8-9 (not Galatians 5:7, to which Wieseler, Hofmann, and others arbitrarily go back) has the first claim to have οὐδέν ἄλλο referred to it, and is sufficiently important for the reference. The antithesis δὲ ταράσσων also suits very appropriately the subjects of that warning, πεισμονή and ζύμη, both of which terms characterize the action of the seducers. Usteri interprets: that ye will not allow any other than your hitherto subsisting sentiments.” No, a change, that is, a correction of the sentiments previously existing, is precisely what Paul hopes for.

φρονήσετε] ye will have no other sentiments (the practical determination of thought). The future (comp. Galatians 6:16) refers to the time when the letter would be received. Hitherto, by their submissiveness towards those who were troubling them, they seemed to have given themselves up to another mode of thinking, which was not the right one ( ἄλλο, comp. Lys. in Eratosth. 48; ἕτερος is more frequently thus used, see on Philippians 3:15).

δὲ ταράσσων ὑμᾶς] The singular denotes not, as in 2 Corinthians 11:4, the totum genus, but, as is more appropriate to the subsequent ὅστις ἄν , the individual who happened to be the troubler in each actual case. Comp. Bernhardy, p. 315. The idea that the apostle refers to the chief person among his opponents, who was well known to him (Erasmus, Luther, Pareus, Estius, Bengel, Rückert, Olshausen, Ewald, and others; comp. also Usteri),—formerly even guessed at by name, and identified with Peter himself (Jerome),—has no warrant in the epistle. See, on the contrary, even Galatians 5:12, and compare Galatians 1:7, Galatians 4:17.

ὅστις ἂν ] is to be left entirely general: without distinction of personal position, be he, when the case occurs, who he will. The reference to high repute (Theodoret, Theophylact, Luther, Estius, and many others; including Koppe, Flatt, Rückert, de Wette) would only be warranted, if ταράσσ. applied definitely to some particular person.

τὸ κρῖμα] the judicial sentence κατʼ ἐξοχήν, that is, the condemnatory sentence of the (impending) last judgment. Comp. Romans 2:3; Romans 3:8; 1 Corinthians 11:29. Of excommunication (Locke, Borger) the context contains nothing.(229)

βαστάσει] the judicial sentence is conceived as something heavily laid on (2 Kings 18:14), which the condemned one carries away as he leaves the judgment-seat. The idea of λαυβάνειν κρῖμα (Romans 13:2; James 3:1; Luke 20:47, et al.) is not altogether the same.


Verse 11

Galatians 5:11. But I, on my part. The Judaistic teachers, whom the apostle thus confronts, had (see Chrysostom), as is evident from our passage—with the view of weakening the hindrance, which among Pauline churches they could not but encounter in the authority of the apostle opposing them—alleged (perhaps making use of Timothy’s circumcision, Acts 16:3, for this purpose) that Paul himself still (in other churches) preached circumcision; that is, that, when Gentiles went over to Christianity, they should allow themselves to be circumcised. This calumny (comp. also Hilgenfeld in his Zeitschr. 1860, p. 216 ff.) was sufficiently absurd to admit of his dismissing it, as he does here, with all brevity, and with what a striking experimental proof! But if I am still preaching circumcision, wherefore am I still persecuted? For the persecution on the part of the Jews was based on the very fact of the antagonism to the law, which characterized his preaching of the Crucified One. See the sequel.

εἰ περιτομὴν ἔτι κηρύσσω] Paul might also have said, εἰ π. . ἐκήρυσσον, τ. . ἐ̓ διωκόμην ἄν, for he means what objectively is not a real matter of fact. But he transfers himself directly into the thought of his opponents, and just as directly shows its absurdity; he assumes the reality of what his opponents asserted, and then by the apodosis annuls it as preposterous: hence the sense cannot be, as it is defined by Holsten, that his persecution on account of no longer preaching circumcision had not, possibly, the alleged pretext of making the Gentiles complete members of the theocracy, but only the one motive of national vanity and selfishness, to annul the offence of the cross.(230)

The emphasis is laid on περιτομήν; but ἔτι, still (see Schneider, ad Plat. Rep. p. 449 C), does not convey the idea that Paul, as apostle, had formerly preached circumcision. For although the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit produced in none of the apostles at once and absolutely the laying aside of all religious error previously cherished, but led them forward by gradual and individual development into the whole truth (see Lücke’s apt remarks on John ii. 10, p. 501); yet in the case of Paul especially, just because he was converted in the midst of his zealotry for the law, the assumption that he had still preached the necessity of circumcision for salvation, and had thus done direct homage to the fundamental error opposed to the revelation of God in him (Galatians 1:15), and to His gospel which had been revealed to him (Galatians 1:11 f.), would be quite unpsychological. And in a historical point of view it would be at variance with the decidedly antinomistic character of his whole apostolic labours as known to us (comp. Acts 21:21), as well as with the circumstance that the requirement of circumcision in the case of the Gentile Christians, Acts 15, came upon the apostolical church as something quite new and unheard of, and therefore produced so much excitement, and in fact occasioned the apostolic conference. In a purely exegetical point of view, moreover, such an assumption is not compatible with τι ἔτι διώκομαι, because we should thereby be led to the inference that, so long as Paul preached circumcision, he had not been persecuted; and yet at the very beginning of his Christian labours he was persecuted by the Jews (Acts 9:24 f.; 2 Corinthians 11:32 f.). Rückert (comp. Baumgarten-Crusius and de Wette) is of opinion that in using ἔτι they only mean to say that Paul, although he preached Christ, required that, notwithstanding this, they should still allow themselves to he circumcised. Comp. Olshausen, who refers ἔτι to the inferiority of the tendency. But in Olshausen’s view, the reference to an earlier κηρύττειν περιτομήν still remains unremoved; and in that of Rückert, the ἔτι is unwarrantably withdrawn from the apostle and passed over to the side of those to whom he preached. Even if (with Hofmann(231)) we understand the ἔτι as in contradistinction to the earlier time, when the preaching of circumcision had been of general occurrence and had been in its due place, the reference of this ἔτι is transferred to a general practice of the earlier time, although, according to the words of the apostle, it clearly and distinctly assumes his own previous κήρυσσειν περιτ. The correct view is the usual one, adopted also by Winer, Usteri, Matthies, Schott, Hilgenfeld, Ewald, Wieseler, that ἔτι points back to the period before the conversion of the apostle. Certainly the objection is made (see Reithmayr and Hofmann), that Paul at that time, as a Jew among Jews, and coming in contact with Jewish Christians only, had no occasion at all to preach circumcision. But looking at our slight acquaintance with the circumstances of the apostle’s pre-Christian life, this conclusion is formed much too rashly. For, as ζηλωτής for God and the law (Acts 22:3; comp. Galatians 1:14; Philippians 3:5), Saul, who was an energetic and (comp. Acts 22:4-5) esteemed Pharisaic Rabbi, might often have had occasion enough to preach and to defend circumcision, partly in the interest of proselytizing, and partly also in polemic conflict with Christians in and beyond Judaea, who maintained that their faith, and not their circumcision, was the cause of salvation.

τί ἔτι διώκομαι;] This ἔτι also, which by most (including de Wette and Wieseler) is taken as logical, as in Romans 3:7; Romans 9:19, cannot without arbitrary procedure be understood otherwise than as temporal: “Why am I yet always persecuted?” Why have they not yet ceased to persecute me? They could not but in fact have seen how groundless this διώκειν was!

ἄρα κατήργηται κ. τ. λ.] ἄρα is, as always, igitur, rebus sic se habentibus (if, namely, I still preach circumcision). Paul gives information concerning the foregoing question,—how far, namely, there no longer existed any cause, etc.: thus therefore is the offence of the cross done away, that is, the occasion for the rejection of the gospel, which is afforded by the circumstance that the death of Christ on the cross is preached as the only ground of salvation (1 Corinthians 1:23; Philippians 3:18). If Paul had at the same time preached circumcision also as necessary to salvation, then would the Jew have seen his law upheld, and the cross would have been inoffensive to him; but when, according to his decisive principle, Galatians 2:21, he preached the death of the cross as the end of the law (Galatians 3:13; Romans 10:3, et al.), and rejected all legal righteousness—then the Jew took offence at the cross, and rejected the faith. Comp. Chrysostom and Theophylact. To take it as an interrogation (Syr., Bengel on Galatians 5:12, Usteri, Ewald, and others)—with which the accentuation might have been ἆρα (comp. on Galatians 2:17)—appears logically not inappropriate after τί ἔτι διώκομαι, but yields a less striking continuation of the discourse.


Verse 12

Galatians 5:12. The vivid realization of the doings of his opponents, who were not ashamed to resort even to such falsehood (Galatians 5:11), now wrings from his soul a strong and bitterly sarcastic wish(232) of holy indignation: Would that they, who set you in commotion, might mutilate themselves! that they who attach so much importance to circumcision, and thereby create commotion among you, might not content themselves with being circumcised, but might even have themselves emasculated! On ὄφελον as a particle, see on 1 Corinthians 4:8. “Omnino autem observandum est, ὤφελον (as to the form ὄφελον, see Interpr. ad Moer. p. 285 f.) non nisi tum adhiberi, quum quis optat, ut fuerit aliquid, vel sit, vel futurum sit, quod non fuit aut est aut futurum est,” Hermann, ad Viger. p. 756. It is but very seldom used with the future, as Lucian, Soloec. 1. See Hermann l.c.; Graev. ad Luc. Sol. II. p. 730.

καί] the climactic “even,” not that of the corresponding relation of retribution (Wieseler), in which sense it would be only superfluous and cumbrous.

ἀποκόψονται] denotes castration (Arrian, Epict. ii. 20. 19), either by incision of the vena seminalis (Deuteronomy 23:1) or otherwise. See the passages in Wetstein. Comp. ἀπόκοπος, castrated, Strabo, xiii. p. 630; ἀποκεκομμένος, Deuteronomy 23:1. Owing to καί, which, after Galatians 5:11, points to something more than the circumcision therein indicated, this interpretation is the only one suited to the context: it is followed by Chrysostom and his successors, Jerome, Ambrose, Augustine, Cajetanus, Grotius, Estius, Wetstein, Semler, Koppe, and many others; also Winer, Rückert, Usteri, Matthies, Schott, Olshausen, de Wette, Hilgenfeld, Hofmann, Reithmayr, Holsten; comp. Ewald, who explains it of a still more complete mutilation, as does Pelagius, Theodore of Mopsuestia, and others. In opposition to the context, others, partly influenced by an incorrect aesthetical standard (comp. Calovius: “glossa impura”), and sacrificing the middle signification,—which is always reflexive in Greek prose writers (Kühner, II. p. 19), and is also to be maintained throughout in the N.T. (Winer, p. 239, [E. T. 316]),—have found in it the sense: “exitium imprecatur impostoribus” (Calvin, acknowledging, however, the word as an allusion to circumcision; Calovius, and others); or have explained it of the divine extirpation (Wieseler); or: “may they be excommunicated” (Erasmus, Beza, Piscator, Cornelius a Lapide, Bengel, Michaelis, Zachariae, Morus, Baumgarten-Crusius, Windischmann, and others);(233) or: “may all opportunity of perverting you be taken from them” (Elsner, Wolf, Baumgarten); or: “may they cut themselves off from you” (Ellicott).

ἀναστατοῦν] stronger than ταράσσειν, means here to stir up (against true Christianity), to alarm. Comp. Acts 17:6; Acts 21:38. The word, used instead of the classic ἀνάστατον ποιεῖν, belongs to the later Greek; Sturz, dial. Mac. p. 146.


Verse 13

Galatians 5:13. “It is with justice that I speak so indignantly against those men; for ye, who are being worked upon by them to bring you under the bondage of the law, have received God’s call to the Messianic kingdom for an object entirely different,—in order that ye may be free.” Thus the apostle again reminds his readers of the great benefit already indicated in Galatians 5:1, but now with the view of inculcating its single necessary moral limitation.

ἐπʼ ἐλευθερίᾳ] that ye should be free; ἐπί used of the ethical aim of the καλεῖν. Comp. 1 Thessalonians 4:7; Ephesians 2:10; Soph. Oed. C. 1459: τἀξίωμʼ ἐφʼ καλεῖς.

μόνον μὴ κ. τ. λ.] Limiting exhortation. But the verb, which is obvious of itself ( τρέπετε, perhaps, or even ἔχετε), is omitted, the omission rendering the address more compact and precise. Comp. Matthew 26:5; Buttmann, neut. Gr. 338. This also corresponds (in opposition to Hofmann’s groundless doubt) to the usage of the Greeks after the prohibitory μή. See Heindorf, ad Plat. Prot. p. 315 B Hartung, Partikell. II. p. 153; Klotz ad Devar. p. 669; Winer, p. 554 f. [E. T. 745].

εἰς ἀφορμὴν τῇ σαρκί] for an occasion to the flesh; do not use your liberty so that it may serve as an occasion for the nonspiritual, psychico-corporeal part of your nature to assert its desires which are contrary to God. Comp. Romans 7:8. As to σάρξ in the ethical sense, see Romans 4:1; Romans 6:19; Romans 7:14; John 3:6.

ἀλλὰ διὰ τῆς ἀγάπης δουλ. ἀλλήλ.] but let love (through which your faith must work, Galatians 5:6) be that by means of which ye stand in a relation of mutually rendered service. An ingenious juxtaposition of freedom and brotherly serviceableness in that freedom. Comp. Romans 6:18; Romans 6:22; 1 Corinthians 9:19; 1 Peter 2:16; 2 Peter 2:19. The special contrast, however, which is here opposed to the general category of the σάρξ, has its ground in the circumstances of the Galatians, and its warrant in what is about to be said of love in Galatians 5:14.


Verse 14

Galatians 5:14.(234) Reason assigned for the διὰ τῆς ἀγάπης κ. τ. λ. just said: for the whole law is fulfilled in one utterance; that is, compliance with the whole Mosaic law has taken place and exists, if one single commandment of it is complied with, namely, the commandment, “Love thy neighbour as thyself.” If, therefore, ye through love serve one another, the whole point in dispute is thereby solved; there can no longer be any discussion whether ye are bound to fulfil this or that precept of the law,—ye have fulfilled the whole law. “Theologia brevissima et longissima; brevissima quod ad verba et sententias attinet, sed usu et re ipsa latior, longior, profundior et sublimior toto mundo,” Luther, πᾶς νό΄ος (comp. 1 Timothy 1:16; Acts 19:7; Acts 20:18; Soph. El. 1244; Phil. 13; Thuc. ii. 7. 2, viii. 93. 3; Krüger, § 50. 11. 12) places the totality of the law in contradistinction to its single utterance. The view of Hofmann, that it denotes the law collectively as an unity, the fulfilment of which existing in the readers they have in the love which they are to show, falls to the ground with the erroneous reading, to which it is with arbitrary artifice adapted; and in particular, πᾶς νόμος means not at all the law as unity, but the whole law:(235) comp. also 2 Maccabees 6:5; 3 Maccabees 6:2 et al.; Herod. i. 111. In point of fact, the phrase does not differ from ὅλος νόμος, Matthew 22:40. Without alteration in the sense, the apostle might also have written πᾶς γὰρ νόμος, which would only have made the emphasis fall still more strongly on πᾶς.

πεπλήρωται] As to the reading, see the critical notes. The perfect denotes the fulfilment as complete and ready to hand, as in Romans 13:8. Chrysostom, Theodoret, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Estius, Baumgarten, Semler, Morus, Rückert, Matthies, Schott, Baumgarten-Crusius, de Wette, Wieseler, and others, have correctly explained πληροῦσθαι of compliance with the law; for the explanation comprehenditur (Erasmus, Castalio, Luther, Calvin, Rambach, Michaelis, Zachariae, Koppe, Rosenmüller, Winer, Usteri, Olshausen, Reiche, and others), that is, ἀνακεφαλαιοῦται (which, however, in Romans 13:9 is distinguished from πληροῦσθαι), is at variance with the universal usage of πληροῦν τὸν νόμον in the N.T. (comp. ἐκπιμπλάναι τ. νόμον, Herod. i. 199; so also Philo, de Abrah. I. p. 36). See Galatians 6:2; Matthew 3:15; Romans 8:4; Romans 13:8; Colossians 4:17. The thought is the same as in Romans 13:8, ἀγαπῶν τὸν ἕτερον νόμον πεπλήρωκε, and Romans 13:10, πλήρωμα νόμου ἀγάπη. Grotius interprets πληρ. in the same way as in Matthew 5:17 : “sicuti rudimenta implentur per doctrinam perfectiorem.” This interpretation is incorrect on account of πᾶς, and because a commandment of the Mosaic law itself is adduced.

ἐν τῷ] that is, in the saying of the law; see Winer, p. 103 [E. T. 135].

ἀγάπησεις] Leviticus 19:18. Respecting the imperative future, see on Matthew 1:21; and as to ἑαυτόν used of the second person, see on Romans 13:9; Jacobs, ad Anthol. IX. p. 447. On the idea of the ὡς ἑαυτ., see on Matthew 22:39. Comp. Cic. de Legg. i. 12: “Nihilo sese plus quam alterum homo diligat.” The neighbour is, for the Christian who justly (Matthew 5:17) applies to himself this Mosaic commandment, his fellow-Christian (comp. Galatians 5:13, ἀλλήλοις, and see Galatians 5:14), just as for the Jew it is his fellow-Jew. But how little this is to be taken as excluding any other at all, is shown not only by distinct intimations, such as Galatians 6:10, 1 Thessalonians 3:12, 2 Peter 1:7, but also by the whole spirit of Christianity, which, as to this point, finds its most beautiful expression in the example of the Samaritan (Luke 10); and Paul himself was a Samaritan of this kind towards Jews and Gentiles.

The question, how Paul could with justice say of the whole law that it was fulfilled by love towards one’s neighbour, is not to be answered, either by making νόμος signify the Christian law (Koppe), or by understanding it only of the moral law (Estius and many others), or of the second table of the Decalogue (Beza and others; also Wieseler; comp. Ewald), or of every divinely revealed law in general (Schott); for, according to the connection of the whole epistle, πᾶς νόμος cannot mean anything else than the whole Mosaic law. But it is to be answered by placing ourselves at the lofty spiritual standpoint of the apostle, from which he regarded all other commandments of the law as so thoroughly subordinate to the commandment of love, that whosoever has fulfilled this commandment stands in the moral scale and the moral estimation just as if he had fulfilled the whole law. From this lofty and bold standpoint everything, which was not connected with the commandment of love (Romans 13:8-10), fell so completely into the background,(236) that it was no longer considered as aught to be separately and independently fulfilled; on the contrary, the whole law appeared already accomplished in love, that is, in the state of feeling and action produced by the Spirit of God (Galatians 5:22 f.; Romans 15:30), in which is contained the culminating point, goal, and consummation of all parts of the law.(237) The idea thus amounts to an impletio totius legis dilectione formata, by which the claim of the law is satisfied (Galatians 5:23). The view of Hofmann, that here the law comes into consideration only so far as it is not already fulfilled in faith; that for the believer its requirement consists in the commandment of love, and even the realization of this is already existing in him, so that he has only to show the love wrought in him by God—simply emanates from the erroneous form of the text and the wrong interpretation of Galatians 5:14 adopted by him. That the apostle, moreover, while adducing only the commandment of love towards one’s neighbour, does not exclude the commandment of love towards God (comp. Matthew 22:37 f.), was obvious of itself to the Christian consciousness from the necessary connection between the love of God and the love of our neighbour (comp. 1 John 4:20; 1 Corinthians 8:1; 1 Corinthians 8:3). Paul was induced by the scope of the context to bring forward the latter only (Galatians 5:13; Galatians 5:15).


Verse 15

Galatians 5:15. δάκνετε καὶ κατεσθίετε] A climactic figurative designation of the hateful working of party enmity, in which they endeavoured mutually to hurt and destroy one another. Figurative expressions of this nature, derived from ravenous wild beasts, are elsewhere in use. See Maji Obss. II. p. 86; Jacobs, ad Anthol. VIII. p. 230; Wetstein, in loc. κατεσθίειν is not, however, to be understood (with Schott) as to gnaw, but must retain the meaning which it always has, to eat up, to devour. See on 2 Corinthians 11:20; Hom. Il. ii. 314, xxi. 24, Od. i. 8, et al.; LXX. Genesis 40:17; Isaiah 1:7; Add. ad Esther 1:11. Observe the climax of the three verbs, to which the passive turn of the final result to be dreaded also contributes: μὴ ὑπὸ ἀλλήλων ἀναλωθῆτε] lest ye be consumed one of another—consumamini; that is (for Paul keeps by his figure), lest through these mutual party hostilities your life of Christian fellowship be utterly ruined and destroyed. What is meant is not the ceasing of their status as Christians (Hofmann), in other words, their apostasy; but, by means of such hostile behaviour in the very bosom of the churches, there is at length an utter end to what constitutes the Christian community, the organic life of which is mutually destroyed by its own members.


Verse 16

Galatians 5:16. With the words “But I mean” (Galatians 3:17, Galatians 4:1) the apostle introduces, not something new, but a deeper and more comprehensive exhibition and discussion of that which, in Galatians 5:13-15, he had brought home to his readers by way of admonition and of warning—down to Galatians 5:26. Hofmann is wrong in restricting the illustration merely to what follows after ἀλλά,—a view which is in itself arbitrary, and is opposed to the manifest correlation existing between the contrast of flesh and spirit and the ἀφορμή, which the free Christian is not to afford to the flesh (Galatians 5:13).

πνεύματι περιπατεῖτε] dative of the norma ( κατὰ πνεῦμα, Romans 8:4). Comp. Galatians 6:16; Philippians 3:16; Romans 4:12; Hom. Il. xv. 194: οὔτι διὸς βέομαι φρέσιν. The subsequent πνεύματι ἄγεσθε in Galatians 5:18 is more favourable to this view than to that of Fritzsche, ad Rom. I. p. 225, who makes it the dative commodi (spiritui divino vitam consecrare), or to that of Wieseler, who makes it instrumental, so that the Spirit is conceived as path (the idea is different in the case of διά in 2 Corinthians 5:7), or of Hofmann, who renders: “by virtue of the Spirit.” Calovius well remarks: “juxta instinctum et impulsum.” The spirit is not, however, the moral nature of man (that is, ἔσω ἄνθρωπος, νοῦς, Romans 7:22-23), which is sanctified by the Divine Spirit (Beza, Gomarus, Rückert, de Wette, and others; comp. Michaelis, Morus, Flatt, Schott, Olshausen, Windischmann, Delitzsch, Psychol, p. 389), in behalf of which appeal is erroneously (see also Romans 8:9) made to the contrast of σάρξ, since the divine πνεῦμα is in fact the power which overcomes the σάρξ (Romans 7:23 ff., Romans 8:1 ff.); but it is the Holy Spirit. This Spirit is given to believers as the divine principle of the Christian life (Galatians 3:2; Galatians 3:5, Galatians 4:6), and they are to obey it, and not the ungodly desires of their σάρξ. Comp. Neander, and Müller, v. d. Sünde, I. p. 453, ed. 5. The absence of the article is not (in opposition to Harless on Eph. p. 268) at variance with this view, but it is not to be explained in a qualitative sense (Hofmann), any more than in the case of θεός, κύριος, and the like; on the contrary, πνεῦμα has the nature of a proper noun, and, even when dwelling and ruling in the human spirit, remains always objective, as the Divine Spirit, specifically different from the human (Romans 8:16). Comp. on Galatians 5:3; Galatians 5:5, and on Romans 8:4; also Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 78.

καὶ ἐπιθυμίαν σαρκὸς οὐ μὴ τελέσητε] is taken as consequence by the Vulgate, Jerome, Theodoret, Erasmus, Luther, Calvin, Grotius, Estius, Bengel, and most expositors, including Winer, Paulus, Rückert, Matthies, Schott, de Wette, Hilgenfeld, Wieseler, Hofmann, Reithmayr; but by others, as Castalio, Beza, Koppe, Usteri, Baumgarten-Crusius, Ewald, in the sense of the imperative. Either view is well adapted to the context, since afterwards, for the illustration of what is said in Galatians 5:16, the relation between σάρξ and πνεῦμα is set forth. But the view which takes it as consequence is the only one which corresponds with the usage in other passages of the N.T., in which οὐ μή. with the aorist subjunctive is always used in the sense of confident assurance, and not imperatively, like οὐ with the future, although in classical authors οὐ μή is so employed. “Ye will certainly not fulfil the lust of the flesh,—this is the moral blessed consequence, which is promised to them, if they walk according to the Spirit.” On τελεῖν, used of the actual carrying out of a desire, passion, or the like, comp. Soph. O. R. 1330, El. 769; Hesiod, Scut. 36.


Verse 17

Galatians 5:17. γὰρ σὰρξ ἐπιθυμεῖ κατὰ τοῦ πνεύματος, τὸ δὲ πνεῦμα κατὰ τ. σάρκος] The foregoing exhortation, with its promise, is elucidated by the remark that the flesh and the Spirit are contrary to one another in their desires, so that the two cannot together influence the conduct.

As here also τὸ πνεῦμα is not the moral nature of man (see on Galatians 5:16), but the Holy Spirit,(238) a comparison has to some extent incorrectly been made with the variance between the νοῦς and the σάρξ (Romans 7:18 ff.) in the still unregenerate man, in whom the moral will is subject to the flesh, along with its parallels in Greek and Roman authors (Xen. Cyr. vi. 1. 21; Arrian. Epict. ii. 26; Porphyr. de abst. i. 56; Cic. Tusc. ii. 21, et al.), and Rabbins (see Schoettgen, Hor. p. 1178 ff.). Here the subject spoken of is the conflict between the fleshly and the divine principle in the regenerate. The relation is therefore different, although the conflict in itself has some similarity. Bengel in the comparison cautiously adds, “quodammodo.”

ταῦτα γὰρ ἀλλήλοις ἀντίκειται] As to the reading γάρ, see the critical notes. It introduces a pertinent further illustration of what has just been said. In order to obviate an alleged tautology, Rückert and Schott have placed ταῦτα γ. ἀλλ. ἀντίκ. in a parenthesis (see also Grotius), and taken it in the sense: “for they are in their nature opposed to one another.” A gratuitous insertion; in that case Paul must have written: φύσει γὰρ ταῦτα ἀλλ. ἀντίκ., for the bare ἀντίκειται after what precedes can only be understood as referring to the actually existing conflict.

ἵνα ΄ή κ. τ. λ.] is not (with Grotius, Semler, Moldenhauer, Rückert, and Schott) to be joined to the first half of the verse,—a connection which is forbidden by the right view of the ταῦτα γὰρ ἀλλ. ἀντίκ. as not parenthetical—but to the latter. ἵνα expresses the purpose, and that not the purpose of God in the conflict mentioned—which, when the will is directed towards that which is good, would amount to an ungodly (immoral) purpose—but the purpose of those powers contending with one another in this conflict, in their mutual relation to the moral attitude of man’s will, which even in the regenerate may receive a twofold determination (comp. Weiss, bibl. Theol. p. 361 f.). In this conflict both have the purpose that the man should not do that very thing ( ταῦτα with emphasis) which in the respective cases ( ἄν) he would. If he would do what is good, the flesh, striving against the Spirit, is opposed to this; if he would do what is evil, the Spirit, striving against the flesh, is opposed to that. All the one-sided explanations of ἂν θέλητε, whether the words be referred to the moral will which is hindered by the flesh (Luther, Erasmus, Calvin, Estius, Morus, Rosenmüller, Flatt, Usteri, Rückert, Schott, de Wette; also Baumgarten-Crusius, Holsten, and others), or to the sensual will, which is hindered by the Spirit (Chrysostom, Theodoret, Beza, Grotius, Neander),(239) are set aside by the fact that ἵνα μή κ. τ. λ. is connected with the preceding ταῦτα γὰρ ἀλλ. ἀντίκ., and this comprehends the mutual conflict of two powers.(240) Winer has what is, on the whole, the correct interpretation: “ τὸ πνεῦμα impedit vos (rather impedire vos cupit), quo minus perficiatis τὰ τῆς σαρκός (ea, quae σὰρξ perficere cupit), contra σὰρξ adversatur vobis, ubi τὰ τοῦ πνεύ΄ατος peragere studetis;” and so in substance Ambrose, Oecumenius, Bengel, Zachariae, Koppe, Matthies, Reithmayr, and others; Wieseler most accurately. This more precise statement of the conflict ( ταῦτα ταῦτα ποιῆτε) might indeed in itself be dispensed with, since it was in substance already contained in the first half of the verse; but it bears the stamp of an emphatic and indeed solemn exposition, that it might be more carefully considered and laid to heart. In Hofmann’s view, ἵνα ΄ὴ κ. τ. λ. is intended to express, as the aim of the conflict, that the action of the Christian is not to be self-willed (“springing from himself in virtue of his own self-determination”); and this, because he cannot attain to rest otherwise than by allowing his conduct to be determined by the Spirit. But setting aside the fact that the latter idea is not to be found in the text, the conception of, and emphasis upon, the self-willed, which with the whole stress laid on the being self-determined would form the point of the thought, are arbitrarily introduced, just as if Paul had written: ἵνα μὴ ἂν αὐτοὶ (or αὐτοὶ ὑ΄εῖς, Romans 7:25, or αὐθαίρετοι, or αὐτογνώ΄ονες, αὐτόνο΄οι, αὐτόβουλοι, or the like).


Verse 18

Galatians 5:18. If, however, of these two conflicting powers, the Spirit is that which rules you, in what blessed freedom ye are then! Comp. 2 Corinthians 3:17; Romans 8:2 ff.

πνεύματι ἄγεσθε] See on Romans 8:14. Comp. also 2 Timothy 3:6.

οὐκ ἐστὲ ὑπὸ νόμον] namely, because then the law can have no power over you; through the ruling power of the Spirit ye find yourselves in such a condition of moral life (in such a καινότης ζωῆς, Romans 6:4, and πνεύματος, Romans 7:6), that the law has no power to censure, to condemn, or to punish anything in you. Comp. on Romans 8:4. In accordance with Galatians 5:23, this explanation is the only correct one; and this freedom is the true moral freedom from the law, to which the apostle here, in accordance with Galatians 5:13, attaches importance. Comp. 1 Timothy 1:9. There is less accuracy in the usual interpretation (adopted by Winer, Rückert, Matthies, Schott, Baumgarten-Crusius; comp. de Wette): ye no longer need the law; as Chrysostom: τίς χρεία νόμου; τῷ γὰρ οἴκοθεν κατορθοῦντι τὰ μείζω ποῦ χρεία παιδαγωγοῦ; or: you are free from the outward constraint of the law (Usteri, Ewald); comp. also Hofmann, who, in connection with his mistaken interpretation of Galatians 5:14, understands a subjection to the law as a requirement coming from without, which does not exist in the case of the Christian, because in him the law collectively as an unity is fulfilled.


Verse 19

Galatians 5:19. φανερὰ δὲ κ. τ. λ.] Manifest, however (now to explain myself more precisely as to this οὐκ ἐστὲ ὑπὸ νόμον), open to the eyes of all, evidently recognisable as such by every one, are the works of the flesh, that is, those concrete actual phenomena which are produced when the flesh, the sinful nature of man (and not the Holy Spirit), is the active principle. The δέ (in opposition to Hofmann’s objection) is the δέ explicativum, frequently used by Greek authors and in the N.T. (Winer, p. 421 [E. T. 553]; Kühner, ad Xen. Mem. ii. 1. 1). That one who is led by the Spirit will abstain from the ἔργα which follow, is obvious of itself; but Paul does not state this, and therefore does not by δέ make the transition to it, as Hofmann thinks, who gratuitously defines the sense of φανερά as: “well known to the Christian without law.” On φανερός, lying open to cognition, manifestus, see van Hengel, ad Rom. I. p. 111. The list which follows of the ἔργα τῆς σαρκός contains four approximate divisions: (1) lust: πορνεία, ἀκαθαρσ., ἀσέλγ.; (2) idolatry: εἰδωλολατρ., φαρμακ.; (3) enmity: ἔχθραιφόνοι; (4) intemperance: μέθαι, κῶμοι.

ἀκαθαρσία] lustful impurity (lewdness) generally, after the special πορνεία. Comp. Romans 1:24; 2 Corinthians 12:21.

ἀσέλγεια] lustful immodesty and wantonness. See on Romans 13:13. Comp. 2 Corinthians 12:21; Ephesians 4:19; 1 Peter 4:3; 2 Peter 2:7.


Verses 19-23

Galatians 5:19-23. The assertion just made by Paul, that the readers as led by the Spirit would not be under the law, he now illustrates more particularly ( δέ), by setting forth the entirely opposite moral states, which are produced by the flesh and by the Spirit respectively (Galatians 5:22 f.): the former exclude from the Messiah’s kingdom (are therefore abandoned to the curse of the law), while against the latter there is no law.


Verse 20

Galatians 5:20. εἰδωλολατρεία] is not to be considered as a species of the sins of lust (Olshausen); a view against which may be urged the literal sense of the word, and also the circumstance that unchastity was only practised in the case of some of the heathen rites. It is to be taken in its proper sense as idolatry. Living among Gentiles, Gentile Christians were not unfrequently seduced to idolatry, to which the sacrificial feasts readily gave occasion. Comp. on 1 Corinthians 5:11.

φαρμακεία] may here mean either poison-mingling (Plat. Legg. viii. p. 845 E Polyb. vi. 13. 4, xl. 3. 7; comp. φαρμακός, Dem. 794. 4) or sorcery (Exodus 7:11; Exodus 7:22; Exodus 8:3; Isaiah 47:9; Isaiah 47:12; Revelation 9:21; Revelation 18:23; Revelation 21:8; Wisdom of Solomon 12:4; Wisdom of Solomon 18:13; comp. φάρμακα, Herod. iii. 85; φαρμακεύειν, Herod. vii. 114). The latter interpretation is to be preferred (with Luther, Grotius, Estius, Koppe, Winer, Usteri, Schott, de Wette, Ewald, Wieseler, Hofmann, and others), partly on account of the combination with εἰδωλολατρεία (comp. Deuteronomy 18:10 ff.; Exodus 22:18), partly because φόνοι occurs subsequently. Sorcery was very prevalent, especially in Asia (Acts 19:19). To understand it, with Olshausen, specially of love-incantations, is arbitrary and groundless, since the series of sins of lust is closed with ἀσέλγεια.

The particulars which follow as far as φόνοι stand related as special manifestations to the more general ἔχθραι. On the plural, comp. Herod. vii. 145; Xen. Mem. i. 2. 10.

ζῆλος, Romans 13:13; jealousy, 1 Corinthians 3:3, 2 Corinthians 12:20, James 3:16.

The distinction between θυμός and ὀργή is, that ὀργή denotes the wrath in itself, and θυμός, the effervescence of it, exasperation. Hence in Revelation 16:19; Revelation 19:15, we have. θυμὸς τῆς ὀργῆς. See on Romans 2:8.

ἐριθεῖαι] self-seeking party-cabals. See on Romans 2:8; 2 Corinthians 12:20.

διχοστασίαι, αἱρέσεις] divisions, factions (comp. 1 Corinthians 11:18 f.). On αἵρεσις in this signification, which occurs only in later writers (1 Corinthians 11:19; Acts 24:5; Acts 24:14), see Wetstein, II. p. 147 f. Comp. αἱρετιστής, partisan, Polyb. i. 79. 9, ii. 38. 7. Observe how Paul, having the circumstances of the Galatians in view, has multiplied especially the designations of dispeace. Comp. Soph. O. C. 1234 f. According to 1 Corinthians 3:3 also, these phenomena are works of the flesh.


Verse 21

Galatians 5:21. φθόνοι, φόνοι] paronomasia, as in Romans 1:29; Eur. Troad. 736.

κῶμοι] revellings, comissationes, especially at night; Herm. Privatalterth. § 17. 29. Comp. Romans 13:13; 1 Peter 4:3; Plat. Theaet. p. 173 D: δεῖπνα καὶ σὺν αὐλητρίσι κῶμοι. Symp. p. 212 C Isaeus, p. 39. 21: κῶμοι καὶ ἀσέλγεια. Herod. i. 21: πίνειν κ. κώμῳ χρέεσθαι ἐς ἀλλήλους. Jacobs, Del. epigr. iv. 43: κώμου κ. πάσης κοίρανε παννυχίδος.

καὶ τὰ ὅμοια τούτοις] and the things which are similar to these (the whole matters mentioned in Galatians 5:20-21). “Addit et iis similia, quia quis omnem lernam carnalis vitae recenseat?” Luther, 1519.

The προ in προλέγω and προεῖπον is the beforehand in reference to the future realization (Herod. i. 53, vii. 116; Lucian. Jov. Trag. 30; Polyb. vi. 3. 2) at the παρουσία; and the past προεῖπον reminds the readers of the instructions and warnings orally given to them, the tenor of which justifies us in thinking that he is referring to the first and second sojourn in Galatia.

πράσσοντες] those who practise such things; but in Galatians 5:17 ποιῆτε: ye do. See on Romans 1:32; John 3:20.

βασιλείαν θεοῦ οὐ κληρονομ.] Comp. 1 Corinthians 6:9 f., 1 Corinthians 15:50; Ephesians 5:5; James 2:5; and generally, Romans 6:8 ff. Sins of this kind, therefore, exclude the Christian from the kingdom of the Messiah, and cause him to incur condemnation, unless by μετάνοια he again enters into the life of faith, and so by renewed faith appropriates forgiveness (2 Corinthians 7:9-10; Romans 8:34; 1 John 2:1 f.; observe the present participle). For the having been reconciled by faith is the preliminary condition of the new holy life (Romans 6), and therefore does not cancel responsibility in the judgment (2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 14:10).


Verse 22

Galatians 5:22. δὲ καρπὸς τοῦ πνεύματος] essentially the same idea, as would be expressed by τὰ δὲ ἔργα τοῦ πνεύματος—the moral result which the Holy Spirit brings about as its fruit. Comp. Pind. Ol. vii. 8: καρπὸς φρενός, Nem. x. 12, Pyth. ii. 74; Wisdom of Solomon 3:13; Wisdom of Solomon 3:15. But Paul is fond of variety of expression. Comp. Ephesians 2:9; Ephesians 2:11. A special intention(241) in the choice cannot be made good, since both ἔργα and καρπός(242) are in themselves voces mediae (see on καρπός especially, Romans 6:21 f.; Matthew 7:20; Plat. Ep. 7, p. 336 B), and according to the context, nothing at all hinged on the indication of organic development (to which Olshausen refers καρπός),—a meaning which, moreover, would have been conveyed even by ἔργα, and without a figure,—or of the proceeding from an inner impulse (de Wette). The collective (Hom. Od. i. 156, and frequently) singular καρπός has sprung, as in Ephesians 5:9, from the idea of internal unity and moral homogeneity; for which, however, the singular ἔργον (see on Galatians 6:4) would also have been suitable (in opposition to the view of Wieseler).

That φῶς and πνεῦ΄α are not to be considered as identical on account of Ephesians 5:9, see on Eph. l.c.

ἀγάπη] as the main element (1 Corinthians 13; Romans 12:9), and at the same time the practical principle of the rest, is placed at the head, corresponding to the contrast in Galatians 5:13. The selection of these virtues, and the order in which they are placed, are such as necessarily to unfold and to present to the readers the specific character of the life of Christian fellowship (which had been so sadly disturbed among the Galatians, Galatians 5:15). Love itself, because it is a fruit of the Spirit, is called in Romans 15:30, ἀγάπη τοῦ πνεύματος.

χαρά] is the holy joy of the soul, which is produced by the Spirit (see on Romans 14:17; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; comp. also 2 Corinthians 6:10), through whom we carry in our hearts the consciousness of the divine love (Romans 5:5), and thereby the certainty of blessedness, the triumph over all sufferings, etc. The interpretations: participation in the joy of others (Grotius, Zachariae, Koppe, Borger, Winer, Usteri), and a cheerful nature towards others (Calvin, Michaelis), introduce ideas which are not in the text (Romans 12:15).

εἰρήνη] Peace with others. Romans 14:17; Ephesians 4:3. The word has been understood to mean also peace with God (Romans 5:1), and peace with oneself (de Wette and others); but against this interpretation it may be urged, that this peace (the peace of reconciliation) is antecedent to the further fruits of the Spirit, and that εἰρήνη κ. τ. λ. is evidently correlative with ἔχθρα κ. τ. λ. in Galatians 5:20, so that the εἰρήνη θεοῦ (see on Philippians 4:7) does not belong to this connection.

΄ακροθυ΄ία] long-suffering, by which, withholding the assertion of our own rights, we are patient under injuries ( βραδὺς εἰς ὀργήν, James 1:19), in order to bring him who injures us to reflection and amendment. Comp. Romans 2:4; 2 Corinthians 6:6. The opposite: ὀξυθυ΄ία, Eur. Andr. 728.

χρηστότης] benignity. 2 Corinthians 6:6; Colossians 3:12. See Tittmann, Synon. p. 140 ff.

ἀγαθωσύνη] goodness, probity of disposition and of action. It thus admirably suits the πίστις which follows. Usually interpreted (also by Ewald and Wieseler): kindness; but see on Romans 15:14.

πίστις] fidelity.(243), Matthew 23:23; Romans 3:3; and see on Philemon 1:5.

πραΰτης (see on 1 Corinthians 4:21): meekness. The opposite: ἀγριότης, Plat. Conv. p. 197 D, in Greek authors often combined with φιλανθρωπία.

ἐγκράτεια] self-control, that is, here continence, as opposed to sins of lust and intemperance. Sirach 18:30; Acts 24:25; 2 Peter 1:6; Xen. Mem. i. 2. Galatians 1 : ἀφροδισίων κ. γαστρὸς ἐγκρατέστατος.


Verse 23

Galatians 5:23. Just as τὰ τοιαῦτα in Galatians 5:21 (haec talia: see Engelhardt, ad Plat. Lach. p. 14; Kühner, ad Xen. Mem. i. 5. 2), τῶν τοιούτων in this passage is also neuter, applying to the virtues previously mentioned among the fruits of the Spirit (Irenaeus, Jerome, Augustine, Pelagius, Calvin, Beza, yet doubtfully, Castalio, Cornelius a Lapide, and most expositors), and not masculine, as it is understood by Chrysostom, Theodoret, Theophylact, Oecumenius, Erasmus, Luther, Grotius, Bengel, and many of the older expositors; also by Koppe, Rosenmüller, Rückert, Hofmann.(244) It is, moreover, quite unsuitable to assume (with Beza, Estius, Rosenmüller, Flatt, and others) a μείωσις (non adversatur, sed commendat, and the like; so also de Wette); for Paul wishes only to illustrate the οὐκ εἶναι ὑπὸ νό΄ον, which he has said in Galatians 5:18 respecting those who are led by the Spirit. This he does by first exhibiting, for the sake of the contrast, the works of the flesh, and expressing a judgment upon the doers of them; and then by exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit, and saying: “against virtues and states of this kind there is no law.” Saying this, however, is by no means “more than superfluous” (Hofmann), but is intended to make evident how it is that, by virtue of this their moral frame, those who are led by the Spirit are not subject to the Mosaic law.(245) For whosoever is so constituted that a law is not against him, over such a one the law has no power. Comp. 1 Timothy 1:9 f.


Verse 24

Galatians 5:24. After Paul has in Galatians 5:17 explained his exhortation given in Galatians 5:16, and recommended compliance with it on account of its blessed results (Galatians 5:18-23), he now shows (continuing his discourse by the transitional δέ) how this compliance—the walking in the Spirit—has its ground and motive in the specific nature of the Christian; if the Christian has crucified his flesh, and consequently lives through the Spirit, his walk also must follow the Spirit.

τὴν σάρκα ἐσταύρωσαν] not: they crucify their flesh (Luther and others; also Matthies); but: they have crucified it, namely, when they became believers and received baptism, whereby they entered into moral fellowship with the death of Jesus (see on Galatians 2:19, Galatians 6:14; Romans 6:3; Romans 7:4) by becoming νεκροὶ τῇ ἁμαρτίᾳ (Romans 6:11). The symbolical idea: “to have crucified the flesh,” expresses, therefore, the having renounced all fellowship of life with sin, the seat of which is the flesh ( σάρξ); so that, just as Christ has been objectively crucified, by means of entering into the fellowship of this death on the cross the Christian has subjectively—in the moral consciousness of faith—crucified the σάρξ, that is, has rendered it entirely void of life and efficacy, by means of faith as the new element of life to which he has been transferred. To the Christians ideally viewed, as here, this ethical crucifixion of the flesh is something which has taken place (comp. Romans 6:2 ff.), but in reality it is also something now taking place and continuous (Romans 8:13; Colossians 3:5). The latter circumstance, however, in this passage, where Paul looks upon the matter as completed at conversion and the life thenceforth led as ζῆν πνεύματι (Galatians 5:25; comp. Galatians 2:20), is not to be conceived (with Bengel and Schott) as standing alongside of that ideal relation,—an interpretation which the historical aorist unconditionally forbids.

σὺν τοῖς παθήμ. κ. ταῖς ἐπιθυμ.] together with the affections (see on Romans 7:5) and lusts, which, brought about by the power of sin instigated by the prohibitions of the law (Romans 7:8), have their seat in and take their rise from the σάρξ, the corporeo-psychical nature of man, which is antagonistic to God; hence they must, if the σάρξ is crucified through fellowship with the death of the Lord, be necessarily crucified with it, and could not remain alive. Comp. on Galatians 5:17; Romans 7:14 ff. The ἐπιθυμίαι are the more special sinful lusts and desires, in which the παθήματα display their activity and take their definite shapes. Romans 7:5; Romans 7:8. The affections excite the feelings, and hence arise ἐπιθυμίαι, in which their definite expressions manifest themselves; τῇ γὰρ ἐπὶ τὸν θυμὸν ἰούσῃ δυνάμει δῆλον ὅτι τοῦτο ἐκλήθη τὸ ὄνομα, Plat. Crat. p. 419 D. Comp. 1 Thessalonians 4:5.


Verse 25

Galatians 5:25. If the Christian has crucified his flesh, it is no longer the ruling power of his life, which, on the contrary, proceeds now from the Holy Spirit, the power opposed to the flesh; and the obligation thence arising is, that the conduct also of the Christian should correspond to this principle of life (for otherwise what a self-contradiction would he exhibit!)

εἰ ζῶμεν πνεύματι] introduced asyndetically (without οὖν), so as to be more vivid. The emphasis is on πνεύματι, as the contrast to the σάρξ: If after the crucifying of the flesh we owe our life to the Holy Spirit, by which is meant the life which sets in with conversion, through the παλιγγενεσία (Titus 3:5)—the life of the new creature, Galatians 6:15. Comp. Romans 6:4 ff; Romans 7:5 f., Romans 8:9; 2 Corinthians 3:6; Galatians 2:20.

The first πνεύματι is ablative; the second, emphatically placed at the commencement of the apodosis, is the expression of the norma (Galatians 5:16). Comp. Galatians 6:16; Philippians 3:16; Romans 4:12. στοιχεῖν (comp. also Acts 21:24) is distinguished from περιπατεῖν in Galatians 5:16 only as to the figure; the latter is ambulare, the former is ordine procedere (to march). But both represent the same idea, the moral conduct of life, the firm regulation of which is symbolized in στοιχεῖν.


Verse 26

Galatians 5:26. Special exhortations now begin, flowing from the general obligation mentioned above (Galatians 5:16; Galatians 5:25); first negative (Galatians 5:26), and then positive (Galatians 6:1 ff.). Hence Galatians 5:26 ought to begin a new chapter. The address, αδελφοί (Galatians 6:1), and the transition to the second person, which Rückert, Schott, Wieseler, make use of to defend the division of the chapters, and the consideration added by de Wette, that the vices mentioned in Galatians 5:26 belong to the works of the flesh in Galatians 5:20, and to the dissension in Galatians 5:15 (this would also admit of application to Galatians 6:1 ff.), cannot outweigh the connection which binds the special exhortations together.

κενόδόξοι] vanam gloriam captantes. Philippians 2:3; Polyb. xxvii. 6. 12, xxxix. 1. 1. Comp. κενοδοξεῖν, 4 Maccabees 5:9, and κενοδοξία, Lucian. V. H. 4, M. D. 8. See Servius, ad Virg. Aen. xi. 854. In these warnings, Paul refers neither merely to those who had remained faithful to him (Olshausen), nor merely to those of Judaistic sentiments (Theophylact and many others), for these partial references are not grounded on the context; but to the circumstances of the Galatians generally at that time, when boasting and strife (comp. Galatians 5:15) were practised on both sides.

Both the γινώμεθα in itself,(246) and the use of the first person, imply a forbearing mildness of expression.

ἀλλήλους προκαλ., ἀλλήλοις φθονοῦντες] contains the modus of the κενοδοξία. challenging one another (to the conflict, in order to triumph over the challenged), envying one another (namely, those superior, with whom they do not venture to stand a contest). On προκαλεῖσθαι, to provoke, see Hom. Il. iii. 432, vii. 50. 218. 285; Od. viii. 142; Polyb. i. 46. 11; Bast. ep. crit. p. 56, and the passages in Wetstein.

φθονεῖν governs only the dative of the person (Kühner, II. p. 247), or the accusative with the infinitive (Hom. Od. i. 346, xviii. 16, xi. 381; Herod. viii. 109), not the mere accusative (not even in Soph. O. R. 310); hence the reading adopted by Lachmann, ἀλλήλους φθον. (following B G*, and several min., Chrysostom, Theodoret, ms., Oecumenius), must be considered as an error of transcription, caused by the mechanical repetition of the foregoing ἀλλήλους.

The fact that ἀλλήλ. in both cases precedes the verb, makes the contrariety to fellowship more apparent, Galatians 5:13.

 


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Bibliography Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Galatians 5:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/galatians-5.html. 1832.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, November 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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