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Bible Commentaries

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament
Galatians 5

 

 

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Verse 1

Galatians 5:1. τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳστήκετε, stand fast—in the liberty) The short clause, wherewith Christ has made us free, has the force of aetiology, or assigning the reason. Liberty, and slavery (bondage), are antithetic. It is without any connecting particle, Galatians 3:13 : τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ, [by virtue of the] liberty, is emphatically put without ἐν, in: liberty itself confers the power of standing. ἠλευθέρωσε signifies has rendered free, and coheres with free [rather than with the rendered]: stand, erect, without a yoke.— πάλιν, again) ch. Galatians 4:9, note.— ζυγῷ δουλείας, with the yoke of bondage) This expression is applied, not merely to the circumcision which was given to Abraham as the sign of the promise, but to circumcision as connected with the whole law, given long after on Mount Sinai, ch. Galatians 4:24, Galatians 3:17. For the Jews had been accustomed to look upon circumcision rather as a part of the law received by Moses, than as the sign of the promise given to Abraham, John 7:22. Nor was circumcision so much a yoke in itself, as it was made a yoke by the law; and the law itself was much more a yoke. Therefore Paul, by a weighty metonymy, puts the consequent for the antecedent: Be not circumcised, for he who is circumcised, along with this part of it, comes under the whole law, and revolts from Christ, Galatians 5:2-4. Nor does the apostle oppose Christ so immediately to circumcision as he does to the law. He speaks according to their perverse custom, while he refutes their Galatism and Judaism; and yet he does not at all deviate from the truth. Peter also, Acts 15:10, calls it a yoke.— ἐνέχεσθε) ἐνέχομαι, in the middle voice, I hold fast by, obstinately. That passage in Xiphil. in Epit. Dion. concerning a pole fixed in the ground, and which cannot be pulled out, shows the import of the word: ἐν τῇ γῇ ἐνέσχετο, ὥσπερ ἐμπεφυκώς, “it held a fast hold in the earth, as if it had grown there.”


Verse 2

Galatians 5:2. ἐὰν περιτέμνησθε, if ye be circumcised) This should be pronounced with great force. They were being circumcised, as persons who were seeking righteousness in the law, Galatians 5:4.— οὐδὲν, nothing) ch. Galatians 2:21.


Verse 3

Galatians 5:3. ὀφειλέτης, a debtor) Endangering salvation.— ὅλον, the whole) A task which he will never be able to perform.


Verse 4

Galatians 5:4. κατηργήθητε ἀπὸ τοῦ χριστοῦ [Engl. Vers. Christ is become of no effect]) Your connection with Christ is made void: so the Vulgate.(45) One might be inclined to say in German, ohne werden, “to become without.” Comp. Galatians 5:2; Romans 7:2; Romans 7:6.— δικαιοῦσθε, are justified) Seek righteousness. In the middle voice.— τῆς χάριτος ἐξεπέσατε, ye have fallen from grace) Comp. Galatians 5:3. You have fallen from the New Testament, in all the wide comprehension of that expression. It is we that are and stand in grace, rather than grace is in us; comp. Romans 5:2.


Verse 5

Galatians 5:5. ἡμεῖς γὰρ, for we) I and all the brethren, and as many of us as are in Christ. Let those, who differ from us, keep their views to themselves.— πνεύματι, in the spirit of grace) Without circumcision, etc.— ἐκ πίστεως) from the faith of Christ; comp. the preceding verse.— ἐλπίδα δικαιοσύνης, hope of righteousness) Righteousness is now present; and that affords us hope, for the time to come. Romans 5:4-5.— ἀπεκδεχόμεθα) We wait for, and obtain by waiting for it. A double compound. Paul includes and confirms present things, while he mentions those that are future.


Verse 6

Galatians 5:6. ἰσχύει) prevails, avails. The same word occurs, Matthew 5:13; James 5:16.— οὔτε ἀκροβυστία, nor uncircumcision) This refers to those who, if they regard themselves as free from the law, think that they are Christians on that account alone.— πίστις διʼ ἀγάπης ἐνεργουμένη, faith working by love) This is the new creature; Galatians 6:15. He joined hope with faith; now he joins with it love. In these the whole of Christianity [the being in Christ] consists; ἐνεργουμένη is not passive, but middle, 1 Thessalonians 2:13; nor does Paul put love as a form of faith, but shows that, along with faith, nothing else than love remains, Galatians 5:13-14; in which very truth, however, he teaches the same thing as James 2:22. Faith is recommended to those who defend circumcision; love, to those who think that uncircumcision is [avails] something, [that they may be reminded that the law is not set aside by faith, but confirmed.—V. g.] Love is opposed to the enmities which prevailed so virulently among the Galatians: Galatians 5:13; Galatians 5:15; Galatians 5:20; Galatians 5:26. Those seeking justification by works are at a very great distance from love. The Spirit is a Spirit of faith and love.—V. g.]


Verse 7

Galatians 5:7. ἐτρέχετε καλῶς, ye did run well) in the race of faith, as your calling required, Galatians 5:8; comp. Philippians 3:14. This implies greater activity than to walk. He again comes to arguments calculated to conciliate and move the feelings.— τίς, who) no one, to whom you ought to have listened. So, who, Galatians 3:1.— ἐνέκοψε, hindered) in running.


Verse 8

Galatians 5:8. πεισμονὴ) Most commentators interpret it persuasion, also with the addition of this, that, or your [hæc, ista, vestra], according to the testimony of Lubinus on this passage. Comp. Chrysost. This word very rarely occurs, and Eustathius alone, as I can find, has it at Odyss. χ., where he shows that “ πεῖσμα and πεισμονὴ are said respecting those that start difficulties and set themselves in the way [ ἐπὶ τῶν ἐνστατικῶν—stubborn, obstinate persons], and are figuratively taken from the cables [ πεισμάτων], that is, the hawsers used in ships.” But a pertinacious and obstinate man is given to starting difficulties [is ἐνστατικὸς]; and therefore that man has πεισμονὴν, self-confidence, who, having left off running, ἐνέχεται, holds fast to [the law] obstinately, and who persuades and trusts to himself alone, and does not obey [ πείθεται] another, Galatians 5:1; Galatians 5:7; and in this way μὴ πείθεσθαι, and πεισμονὴ, and πέποιθα, form an Antanaclasis,(46) a figure, which is frequently used both by Paul, as many constantly observe, and by the other sacred writers, as Glassius well demonstrates. Whether it be a metaphor or not, at least this verbal noun, like other nouns in- ονὴ, is intransitive(47) [not a persuading of others, but a persuasion in one’s self].— οὐκ, not) supply is; is not of (God), who called you, but from a power truly hostile; and there is subjoined a metonymy of the abstract for the concrete, as appears from the previous word, who, not what.— καλοῦντος) who called you; comp. Galatians 5:13, you have been called. So 1 Thessalonians 5:24; comp. Philippians 3:14. The calling is the rule of the whole race.


Verse 9

Galatians 5:9. ΄ικρὰ ζύμη, a little leaven) One turbulent person, Galatians 5:10. [One wicked man destroys much good, Ecclesiastes 9:18. The malice, cunning, or violence of a single person, often produces immense injury.—V. g.]


Verse 10

Galatians 5:10. ἄλλο, different) from what [“none otherwise minded” than as] I write.— φρονήσετε, you will think) when you read these things; comp. Philippians 3:15.— δὲ, but he who) A distinction is drawn hereby between the seducer, of whom there is less hope, and the seduced.— ταράσσωνκρίμα, ὅστις, troublethjudgment, whosoever) ch. Galatians 1:7-8.— βαστάσει, will bear) as a heavy burden.— τὸ κρίμα, the judgment) which certainly hangs over him for so great a crime. The article gives force to the meaning.— ὅστις ἂν , whosoever he may be) The disturber among the Galatians was a clandestine one. ὅστις, whosoever, of whatsoever character.


Verse 11

Galatians 5:11. (48) ἔτι) still [as yet], ch. Galatians 1:10.— κηρύσσω, I preach) Hence we gather what had been said by this turbulent person, “that Paul himself preached circumcision;” and perhaps he took as a pretext the circumcision of Timothy; and yet the reason for his having done so in the case of the latter, a long while back, was quite different [from the grounds on which it was advocated by the disturber].— διώκομαι, I suffer persecution) They persecuted Paul, because he did away with circumcision. It was now a useless rite, which, if Paul would have conceded to his opponents, there would have been immediate peace; but he did not yield. See how keenly the truth should be defended.— ἄρα, then) If I were to preach circumcision, he says, there would at present be no offence of the Cross; but the offence still burns hotly. Therefore it is a false assertion, that I am a preacher of circumcision.— σκάνδαλον, an offence) among carnal men.— τοῦ σταυροῦ, of the Cross) the power of which is inconsistent with circumcision; ch. Galatians 6:12; Galatians 6:14. The Cross of Christ itself is intended. There was a great blending together of Jews and Judaizers. Many more easily endured the preaching of the Cross of Christ, by mixing it up with circumcision and the preaching of circumcision. They thus still retained something.

D corrected later, Gfg, omit ἔτι. But AB Vulg. and Rec. Text retain it. C has εἴ τι.—ED.


Verse 12

Galatians 5:12. ἀποκόψονται, shall be cut off) Immediately after the reproof concerning the past, Paul entertains [and expresses] good hope of the Galatians for the future; but he denounces punishment against the seducers in two sentences, which, by disjoining in the meantime the particle ὄφελον, are as follows:— δὲ ταράσσων ὑμᾶς βαστάσει τὸ κρίμα, κ. τ. λ., καὶ ἀποκόψονται οἱ ἀναστατοῦντες ὑμᾶς. That one concealed troubler, worse than the others, Galatians 5:10, who boasted that Paul himself agreed with him about circumcision, is here, cursorily in passing, refuted, Galatians 5:11; but the others also, who are disturbing the Galatians about the status of the Gospel [in relation to circumcision and the law], are threatened with being cut off. Thus the particle καὶ, and, retains its natural meaning, and these words cohere, βαστάσειδὲκαὶ ἀποκόψονται, as well as those, κρίνετεδὲκαὶ ἐξαρεῖτε, 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 : ἀποκόψονται is the future middle, which, as often happens, so here, has a passive signification: it corresponds to the Hebrew word כרת, and is a conjugate of the verb ἐγκόπτειν, Galatians 5:7. Either the whole, when a part is cut off [the whole has the part cut off], or a part cut off from the whole, is said respectively ἀποκόπτεσθαι. Some ascribe the former sense in this passage to the zeal of the apostle, so that the mutilation of the body of the circumcised [viz. by taking away not merely the foreskin, but the whole member] may be denoted; and, indeed, the LXX. often translate כרת by κόπτω, ἀπόκοπτω, etc., especially Deuteronomy 23:1) 2, where ἀποκεκομμένος is used for that, which the French here translate more than circumcised; but we can scarcely receive what is said by the apostle but by metonymy, i.e., that as persons cut off they may be debarred from the Church. Deut. as above. The second sense is more consistent with the gravity of the apostle, that he should speak thus: As the prepuce is cut off by circumcision, as a thing which it becomes an Israelite to want, so those shall be cut off, as a worthless prepuce, from the communion of the saints, and shall be accursed (anathema): ch. Galatians 1:7, and following verses. With a similar reference to circumcision, Paul, Philippians 3:2, speaks of κατατομὴν, concision; nor is it altogether foreign to the subject, what Apollon. in Philostr. Galatians 5:11, says of the Jews, already of old time, they not only cut themselves off from the Romans, but also from all men. Now, what is to be done with the particle ὄφελον? Most construe ὄφελον καὶ ἀποκόψονται; but ὄφελον, though it is a particle of sufficiently frequent occurrence, is nowhere to be found construed with the future of the indicative. The Complutensian Edition acknowledging this fact, to avoid this difficulty, have given ἀποκόψωνται; but it is unsupported by the copies.(49) There are many imprecations in the sacred writings, and this word ὄφελον is not used in any of their formulæ: nor would Paul in this passage, after a categorical (unconditional) denunciation, finally make war by a prayer against the disturbers of the peace. στιγμή, the point, is put after ὄφελον in the sixth Augustan. I think it will be found so in many MSS., if philologers would notice such things; for the comma is certainly in some ancient editions, especially in that of Basle, 1545. Nay, ὄφελον may be very conveniently connected with the preceding words: ἄρα κατήργηται τὸ σκάνδαλον τοῦ σταυροῦ; ὄφελον,—was then the offence of the Cross taken away? I wish it were. ὄφελον is subjoined in reference to a thing desirable (such as is also noticed 1 Corinthians 4:8), as μὴ γένοιτο, Galatians 3:21, is used in reference to a matter by no means pleasant; and as εἶεν among the Greeks in cases of concession, or esto among the Latins. And, as in ch. Galatians 2:17, after ἄρα is put μὴ γένοιτο, so here, after ἄρα is put ὄφελον. I wish that the Cross were a scandal to no one—I wish that all, along with Paul, may hereafter glory in the Cross, ch. Galatians 6:14-15.— οἱ ἀναστοῦντες ὑμᾶς) The same word as at Acts 17:6. It denotes, to remove a man entirely from the station which he occupies.


Verse 13

Galatians 5:13. ὑμεῖς, ye) So far am I from preaching circumcision, that I would rather show you liberty.— ἐπʼ ἐλευθερίᾳ, [unto] concerning(50) liberty) that you might rejoice in liberty. Your calling is not to πεισμονὴν, self-imposed restraints, but to liberty.— μόνον μὴ) An ellipsis of the imperative, having the εὐλὰβειαν, pious precaution, subjoined, μόνον μὴ ἐλεύθεροι ἦτε τὴν ἐλευθερίαν, κ. τ. λ., only ye were not made free with this freedom, etc. [for an occasion to the flesh]: or else the accusative, τὴν ἐλευθερίαν, is put absolutely.— ἀφορμὴν, an occasion) for which the flesh is eager.— τῇ σαρκὶ, to the flesh) Galatians 5:16-17.— διὰ τῆς ἀγάπης, by love) Galatians 5:14; Galatians 5:22.— δουλεύετε, serve) A beautiful antithesis.(51)


Verse 14

Galatians 5:14. πληροῦται, is fulfilled) Romans 13:9, note.


Verse 15

Galatians 5:15. δὲ, but) The opposite of the service to be rendered by love.— δάκνετε, ye bite) [backbite] in reference to character.— κατεσθίετε, devour) in regard to possessions [resources].— ἀναλωθῆτε, be consumed) strength of soul, health of body, character, and resources, are consumed by broils and sorrows. [Ah! how lamentable the extraordinary number of those, of whom the one cuts off the life of the other. Men of harsher disposition, careless and unthinking, consume others—those of softer disposition, silently swallow down (suppress the expression of) their anxiety, and die prematurely.—V. g.]


Verse 16

Galatians 5:16. λέγω δὲ, but I say) He goes on to explain what he proposed at Galatians 5:13.— πνεὑματι, in the Spirit) See [Galatians 5:18; Galatians 5:22; Galatians 5:25, ch. Galatians 6:1-8] Romans 8:4, note.— οὐ μὴ τελέσητε) ye shall not fulfil.


Verse 17

Galatians 5:17. τὸ δὲ πνεῦμα) and, on the other hand, the Spirit against the flesh. The word ἐπιθυμεῖ itself, or, inasmuch as that word is taken in a bad sense, another analogous to it [not lusteth, but desireth, tendeth] is to be supplied. There is certainly an elegance in the ellipsis or zeugma [use of ἐπιθυμεῖ in the double sense].— ἀντίκειται, are contrary) ἀντιπραγίᾳ, in a mutual serious contest.— ἂν, whatsoever) Carnal men do whatsoever they will; although sometimes the flesh wars with the flesh. In regard to those who repent, their condition is different, and that too a wonderful condition; for the Spirit strives against the flesh, and its bad course of action: the flesh against the Spirit, and its good course of action; so that ( ἵνα) neither the one nor the other can be fully carried out. In such a state, as being doubtful, many bad and many good actions are prevented; but where the Spirit conquers, Galatians 5:18, the issue of the conflict is decided. This more summary statement in some measure corresponds to those things, which are fully explained, Romans 7:14, etc.; although, in the present case, the state presupposed is rather one already spiritual.


Verse 18

Galatians 5:18. πνεύματι, by the Spirit) of God, Romans 8:14, and of liberty.— ἄγεσθε, ye be led) The middle voice;(52) see Rom., as above, with the annot.— ὑπὸ νό΄ον, under the law) Romans 6:14-15.


Verse 19

Galatians 5:19. φανερὰ δὲ now manifest) The flesh concealed betrays itself by its own works, so that its discovery is easy.— τὰ ἔργα, the works) unfruitful [as opposed to “the fruit of the Spirit,” Galatians 5:22]. The works, in the plural, because they are divided and are often at variance with one another, and even severally [taken each one by itself] betray the flesh. But the fruit, being good, Galatians 5:22, is in the singular, because it is united and harmonious. Comp. Ephesians 5:11; Ephesians 5:9.— ἅτινα, which) He enumerates those works of the flesh, to which the Galatians were most prone; on the other hand, also those parts of the fruit of the Spirit, which needed to be most recommended to them; comp. Galatians 5:15. He maintains this order, that he may enumerate the sins committed with our neighbour, those against God, those against our neighbour, and those in regard to ourselves; and to this order the enumeration of the fruit of the Spirit corresponds.— ἀκαθαρσία, ἀσέλγεια, uncleanness, lasciviousness) 2 Corinthians 12:21, note.


Verse 20

Galatians 5:20. φαρμακεία) See LXX., Exodus 7:11, and in many other passages. That Paul is not speaking here of natural poisoning by potions, but of magic, is evident from this, that he joins it not with murder, but with idolatry. Comp. Revelation 21:8, note.— διχοστασίαι, seditions) respecting civil affairs.— αἱρέσεις, heresies) respecting sacred things: 1 Corinthians 11:19.


Verse 20-21

Galatians 5:20-21. ζῆλοιφθόνοι, emulations [jealousies]—envyings) Both emulation [jealousy] and envy are dissatisfied with the advantages enjoyed by another;—emulation [jealousy], for the sake of the man’s own advantage; envy, even without any advantage to the person himself.— ἐριθεῖαι) This differs from ἔρεις: ἔρις, Hader, quarrel, dispute; ἐριθεία, Triitz, brawling, defiance. ἐριθεία implies a wish to be greater, ἔρις wishes at least not to be less.(53)πρόλεγω, I tell you before) before the event.— ὑμῖν, to you) The maintainers of justification by works are often careless.(54)


Verse 22

Galatians 5:22.(55) ἀγάπη, love) It is this grace, as the leader, that(56) introduces the family. Fewer words are used with respect to what is good, because good is more simple, and one virtue often has many things contrary to it; comp. Ephesians 4:31.— χαρὰ, joy) concerning things that are good.— χρηστότης, ἀγαθωσύνη) differ.(57) χρηστότης is rather to be referred to another, ἀγαθωσύνη, goodness, as it were pouring out, viz. spontaneously.— πίστις) אמונה, consistency [steadiness], fidelity, to which are opposed seditions and heresies. Weigh well also the order of the words.


Verse 23

Galatians 5:23. τῶν τοιούτων, against such [persons]) This is the same, as if he had added, after temperance, the expression, and things similar to these; although the very want of the copulative conjunction [the asyndeton] has this force, Matthew 15:19, note: τῶν τοιούτων is in the masculine; with which comp. Galatians 5:18; Galatians 5:21, at the end; where πράσσοντες is added, which is now as it were compensated for by τοιούτων [such persons]: 1 Timothy 1:9-10, at the beginning.— οὐκ ἔστι νόμος, there is no law) The law itself commands love. [And therefore the kingdom of God is judged not to be unworthy of such persons.—V. g.]


Verse 24

Galatians 5:24. οἱ δὲ τοῦ χριστοῦ, Moreover they who are Christ’s) He resumes the proposition laid down at Galatians 5:18.— τὴν σάρκα, the flesh) of which Galatians 5:19-20.— ἐσταύρωσαν, have crucified) They do so with Christ, Romans 6:6, by having received baptism and faith. They have it crucified at present [they have the flesh now in a state of crucifixion]. Supply, and the Spirit is strong within them. This is included in Galatians 5:24 from Galatians 5:22.— παθήμασι, with the passions) The lusts spring from the passions, and are nourished by them. The affections and appetites both deserve the same punishment as the flesh. [The passions are those that are violent, boisterous, and outrageous. The lusts, on the contrary, calmly seek after what is calculated to minister food to the senses.—V. g.]


Verse 25

Galatians 5:25. εἰ, if) He returns to exhortation; Walk, he said at Galatians 5:16, now, στοιχῶμεν, let us walk. From the beginning of the spiritual life, the walk which is κατὰ στοῖχον, i.e. κατὰ τάξιν, a walk in due order or regularity (says Eustathius), ought to be maintained. Comp. concerning the wicked, Colossians 3:7.— στοιχῶμεν, let us walk) The same word occurs, Galatians 6:16. [They live in the Spirit, are moved (by the Spirit), and are spiritual.—V. g.]


Verse 26

Galatians 5:26. ΄ὴ γινώμεθα, let us not become [Engl. Vers., not so well, be]) Those who do not carefully walk in the Spirit, fall in the next place into the desire of vain-glory, of which two effects are here mentioned.— κενόδοξοι) See Chrys. de Sacerd.(58) § 587.— προκαλούμενοι, provoking) to envy. The relative exists on the part of [has reference to] the stronger.— φθονοῦντες, envying) The correlative exists on the part of [has reference to] the weaker.

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Bibliography Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Galatians 5:4". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/galatians-5.html. 1897.

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