Home First
Covenant
Second
Covenant
Topical
Studies
Table of
Contents

GALATIANS

CHAPTER  FIVE

5:1 - 6     JUSTIFICATION

A.    (1)    Justification by Faith.  Exhortation based on 2:15-21
          B.       ( 2,  3)    Circumcision destructive to Faith.

A.    (4)    Justification by Law makes Christ of no effect.
          B.       (5, 6)    Circumcision of no avail.

 

5:1 - STAND FAST IN THE LIBERTY      [NIV: Stand firm]

The teaching is that Christ died on the Cross to give us the advantage of having this liberty or freedom. This liberty consists of the believer’s freedom from the law.

Under the Law:

The person has no more liberty than a child in its minority under a guardian.
The child has no freedom of action nor right of self-determination.
The child must move within a set of rules prescribed by his guardian, even thought that guardian is a slave.
The child is not mature enough to act alone.

Here were these Galatian believers, free from the law, having been placed in the family of God as adult sons, indwelt by the Holy Spirit Who would enable them to act out in their experience that maturity of Christian life in which they were placed, now putting on the straight-jacket of the law, and depriving themselves of the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Galatians, having escaped from the Slavery of Heathenism, were in danger of becoming entangled in the meshes of the Legalistic Judaism - and after Calvary, a "turn" to Judaism was counted as a "return" to Heathenism!

 

Law
=
Heathenism

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

5:3 -  HE IS A DEBTOR           [NIV: He is obligated]

Not only would the Galatians lose the aid of the Holy Spirit in the living of their Christian lives, but they would be assuming the burden of the entire legalistic system.

The obligation is as the context shows, one which the believer ought not to assume. We, the believers, are free from the law in three respects:

We are free from the Condemnation it imposes upon the one who would disobey it.
We are free from the law as a Means of Justification.
We are free from the Obligation to render obedience to its statutes.

The believer in this Age of Grace is obligated to obey either all of the law or none of it.

THE LAW WAS A LEGAL LEDGER
It showed our obligations of debt to God
But it was unable to help us pay it.

 

The
Obligation

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

5:6 - AVAILETH       [NIV: Has any value]

Literally "to have power, to exert or wield power." In the case of the one who is joined to Christ Jesus, the fact that he is circumcised or is not circumcised, has no power for anything in his life. The thing that is of power to effect a transformation in the life of the believer is Faith - the faith produced by the Holy Spirit.

 

Faith
=
Power

.

.

5:7 - 6:10

A. (5:7-10) Exhortation as to Past Failure.
B. (5:11, 12) Paul’s Teaching.    Appeal.
C. (5:13-15) Walking in the Flesh.
D. (5:16-18) Walking in the Spirit.
C. (5:19-21) Works of the Flesh.
D. (5:22-26) Fruit of the spirit.
A. (6:1-5) Exhortation as to Future Conduct.
B. (6:6-10) Paul’s Hearers.     Appeal.
VS. 5:7 -

DID RUN = (etrechete) = The Greek word here is in the imperfect tense, referring to a continuous action going on in past time. Here, as in 4:12, Paul breaks off his argument to make an appeal to his readers on the basis of their past experience. He uses the figure of a Greek runner: "you were running well."

WELL = (kalos), suggesting the translation: "You were conducting yourselves bravely, honorably, becomingly."

HINDER = (anakiphen), from  (anakopto) = "to beat back, to cut, make an incision, to hinder." When using the figure of a race, this word suggests a breaking into the race course, a cutting in on a runner by another runner, thus slowing up his progress.

The Galatian believers were running the Christian race well - beautifully - but the Judaizers cut in on them and now were slowing up their progress in their growth in the Christian life. They had deprived the Galatians of the ministry of the Holy spirit, and were thrown back by self effort in an attempt to obey a set of legal restrictions, with the result that their lives had lost the fragrance of the Lord Jesus and the enabling power for service which the Spirit formerly gave them.

The question Paul asks is rhetorical, not for information. He knew well enough who had slowed up the Christian growth of the Galatians, and so did they.

 

The Law
Is A
Hindrance

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

5:8 - NOT FROM HIM THAT CALLETH YOU

This activity of the Judaizers does not come from the One who called them into salvation - namely, God. This negative statement indicates that the influence which was turning them away from Grace was actually hostile to God. He definitely expresses this in the next verse where he speaks of the teachings of the Judaizers as leaven.

5:9 - LEAVEN   =  a symbol of evil in the Bible.

1. The Jews, before the days of unleavened bread each year, would remove every particle of leaven from their homes. Leaven, which operates on the principle of fermentation, is an apt symbol of moral and spiritual corruption. A very small lump readily permeates the entire bread dough.

2. Jesus used it as a symbol of the false doctrines of the scribes and Pharisees (Matt. 16:6-12).

3. In I Cor. 5:6, Paul uses the symbol to describe the immoral conduct of a few in the church which was endangering the life of the entire church, and which unrebuked, would spread through-out the local assembly.

The verb ( zumoi) is in the present tense - "A little leaven is leavening the whole" - indicating that the process of doctrinal fermentation was going on, but that it had not yet corrupted the entire church structure. It had made but a little progress.

Paul was more alarmed over its INSIDIOUS NATURE than over the extent to which it had already permeated the churches.

 

Law
=
Hostility

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

5:11 - THE OFFENSE OF THE CROSS
The Question: Why was the Cross an offense to the Jew?
The Answer: If I yet preach circumcision, then is the offense of the cross ceased.

In other words, if circumcision is preached as one of the prerequisites of salvation, the the cross of Christ would cease to be an offense. The offensiveness of the Cross to the Jew lay in the teaching that believers in the Lord, whether Jew or gentile, are free from the Mosaic Law. It was offensive to the Jew therefore, because it set aside the entire Mosaic economy, and offered salvation by Grace through Faith alone, without the added factor of Works in an effort to merit the salvation offered. The Cross did, in fact, fulfill the promise God made to Abraham so that the need for the sign of that promise was no longer necessary.

Promise to Abraham
(Circumcision a sign of that promise: Cut away the Flesh)
Mosaic Law
Cross of Christ
(Death of the man - Flesh cut off: Promise fulfilled)

 

The
Stumblingblock

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

5:12 - CUT OFF

The word here referring to bodily mutilation. Paul expresses the wish that the Judaizers would not stop with circumcision, but would go on to total castration.

The town of Pessinus was the home of the worship of Cybele in honor of whom bodily mutilation was practiced. The priests of Cybele castrated themselves. This was a recognized form of heathen self-devotion to the god and would not be shunned in ordinary conversation. This explains the freedom with which Paul speaks of it to his Galatian converts.

In Philippians 3:2, he speaks of the Judaizers as the "concision," or, "those who mutilate themselves."

The whole expression shows that circumcision had become a purely physical act without religious significance, and performed as a religious rite, it became a bodily mutilation not different in character to the mutilations of the heathen religions. By glorying in the flesh, the Galatians would be returning to the bondage of their former heathenism.

Clark offers this interpretation of verse 12: "Let those who are unsettling the Church of Christ in your district be excommunicated; this is my wish, that they should no longer have any place among you."

 

A
Mutilation

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

5:13 - YE HAVE BEEN CALLED

The sentence, "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty," is transitional -

Reaching back to all that has preceded it -
Summing up the whole preceding argument for Christian liberty -
Looking ahead to what follows -

in that it introduces a wholly new aspect of the matter of Christian liberty - the danger of abusing it.

To The Jew - To those who have been accustomed to regard the law as the only controlling factor that stands in the way of self-indulgence and a free rein in sin -

To The Gentile - To those who have not been accustomed to a high standard of ethics -

The teaching of Christian liberty might easily mean that there is nothing to stand in the way of the unrestrained indulgence of one’s own impulses.

- HOWEVER -

Verse 13 goes on to say: "...only NOT liberty for an occasion to the flesh ..."

WE ARE TO STAND FAST IN LIBERTY
BUT DON’T ABUSE IT

Jesus taught, in Matthew 5, that our righteousness should exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees. They were scrupulous in their observance of the law. Jesus said, however: "Ye have heard it said, Thou shalt not ... BUT I SAY ... "

NOW WE MUST DEAL WITH MOTIVES!

The only way our righteousness will exceed that of the Pharisees is if we partake (by Faith) of the righteousness of Christ. He is the only One Who was able to satisfy both the Letter and the Spirit of the law.

 

The Danger
of
Abuse

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

LOVE -(agape) = not human affection which is swayed by changes of emotions, mood or circumstances.
This is Divine love - love that is above the realm of human emotion -
love that is constant regardless of circumstances -
love that is beyond the merit of the one loved.

This love is produced in the heart of the yielded believer by the Holy spirit; the love with which the believer would love his fellow-believers.

The chief essence of this love is Self-Sacrifice for the benefit of the one who is loved.

SERVE - (douloo)   =    quite literally, "slave".

The word Paul used when he spoke of the slavery that is imposed by the law upon the one who is under law.

The Galatian believers were rescued from the slavery which legalism imposed, and brought into a new servitude - that of a loving, glad, and willing service to God and man which annihilates self and subordinates all selfish desires to love.

This is the antidote against using their liberty from the law as a pretext for sinning.
This is the secret of victory over the totally depraved nature that would attempt to induce the believer to use liberty as a pretext to sin.

5:14 - ALL THE LAW IS FULFILLED IN LOVE

This statement becomes intelligible and consistent when we recognize the following points:

Believers, through their new relation to the Lord Jesus, are released from the whole law as statutes, and from the obligation to obey its statutes.
All which God’s law requires as an expression of His will is included in love.
When the believer acts on the principle of love, he is fulfilling in his actions toward God, his fellow-man, and himself, all that the Mosaic law would require of him in his position in life if that law were in force.

 

Love
=
Victory

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

5:15 - BITE - DEVOUR - CONSUMED

This was common usage in connection with wild animals in deadly struggle. That condition was existing in the Galatian churches. Neither the passage itself nor the context tells us in so many words to what this condition of strife was due, but most probably it was strife over matters on which the Judaizers were unsettling them. The words constitute a strong partisan antagonism resulting in the actions that lead to mutual injury.

 

Law
=
Destruction

.

 

.

5:16 - YE SHALL NOT FULFILL      [NIV: You will not gratify]

The word "not" in this passage is formed by two Greek negatives (a double negative in Greek does not make a positive assertion as in English, but actually strengthens the negation). It could be translated: "Walk in (yield to) the Spirit, and it will be impossible for you to fulfill the lust of the flesh!"

Notice the ability of the believer to: choose to walk "in Spirit"
as opposed to "in Law".

The will of the believer has been liberated from the enslavement to sin and is now free to choose the right and refuse the wrong. The Holy Spirit has been given as the Agent to counteract the evil nature, but He only does that for the believer when that believer gives control to the Holy Spirit, and by an act of free will, says a point-blank positive NO to sin. In other words, there must be a cooperation of the believer with the Holy Spirit in His work of sanctifying the life.

Up until 5:13, Paul was dealing with "Believing Faith" -
Now he turns his subject matter to "YIELDING FAITH".

 

Yielding
Faith

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

The spirit and the flesh mutually exclude one another. It is promised, not that we should HAVE no evil lusts, but that we should not FULFIL them. If the spirit that is in us can be at ease under or around sin, it is not a spirit that comes from the HOLY Spirit.

5:17 - THE FLESH AND THE SPIRIT ARE CONTRARY

When the flesh presses hard upon the believer the Holy Spirit is there to oppose the flesh and give the believer victory over it. Romans, chapter 7, shows the constant battle between the flesh and the Spirit that goes on within the believer. Before Christ, there was no choice.

We were slaves to walk only in the realm of the flesh.

Now we are able to exercise our right to choose: to walk in the flesh,
        OR
to walk in the Spirit.

 

The
Conflict

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

Vs. 18 - BUT IF YE BE LED OF THE SPIRIT

Paul here presents to them a third way of life, distinct from that of a person under law, and also from that of a person who, because he is no longer under the restraining influences of law, thinks that he is now without restraint of any kind, and continues to yield to the impulses of the evil nature.

That third way is not a middle road between the two -
That third way is not a compromise between slavery to law or slavery to flesh -
IT IS A HIGHWAY ABOVE THEM

It is a highway of freedom both from statutes and from the sinful nature.

It is a highway which is a FAITH way - a dependence upon the Spirit.

 

A Higher
Path

.

 

 

 

 

5:22, 23 - THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT

The word "FRUIT" is in the singular in the Greek  - all of the elements of character spoken of in these verses are a unity, making a well-rounded and complete Christian life. 
Leave out any one ingredient, and the fruit is incomplete  =  not brought to maturity.

LOVE - (agape)" = The love that God is (I Jn. 4:16).

Produced in the heart of the yielded believer by the Holy spirit (Rom. 5:5)
Its chief ingredient is self-sacrifice for the benefit of the one loved (John 3:16)
Its constituent elements are listed in I Corinthians 13.

JOY - (chara)

Used most frequently in the New Testament of joy that has a spiritual basis, for instance, "joy of the Holy Ghost   (I Thess. 1:6).  As with agape, this joy rises above the plain of human emotions, and is constant as God is constant.

PEACE - (eirene)  =  To bind together.

It has two aspects in Scripture: The Peace WITH God =  appropriated by Believing Faith
The Peace OF God =  appropriated by Yielding Faith
Both are provided by the blood of Christ.
Both are appropriated by the believer through Faith.

LONGSUFFERING - (makrothumia) = Steadfastness of the soul under provocation.

It includes the idea of forbearance and patient endurance of wrong under ill treatment,
without anger or thought of revenge.

GENTLENESS - (chrestotes) = Kindness

The total opposite of all that is harsh and austere.
A constant kindness which should pervade and penetrate the entire nature.

GOODNESS(agathosune) = Morality

That quality that aims at and is ruled by what is good -
The quality of moral worth (Eph. 5:9; II Thess. 1:11; Rom. 15:14).

FAITH (pistis) = a word with very deep meaning.

As to Yielding Faith,    it carries the meaning of that which CAUSES trust and faith - faithfulness and reliability. We find this on the part of God to always be true - however, He desires to find this on our part also.
As to Believing Faith - it is faith, trust, and confidence that God is Who He says He is, what He says He is, that He can do what He says He can do, that He wished to do what He says He wishes to do, and that He WILL do what He says He will do.

MEEKNESS -    (praotes)  =  Mild and gentleness.

Not demanding one’s rights.

TEMPERANCE(egkrateia)  =  Self-control.

It refers to the mastery of one’s own fleshly desires and impulses.
This comes by "reckoning ourselves dead unto sin"

-

as in Romans
and "walking in (or choosing) the Spirit"

-

as in Galatians.

NOTE:

1. If only one ingredient of this fruit is missing, then the fruit is not perfect, and loses flavor.

2.  We are the field   -   God is the owner of the field.

3. THE  FRUIT  IS  FOR  THE  BENEFIT  AND  ENJOYMENT   OF  THE  OWNER  OF  THE  FIELD.

 

Good Fruit
Satisfies
God

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

Back to Chapter 4          Forward to Chapter 6

 


Home First
Covenant
Second
Covenant
Topical
Studies
Table of
Contents
Top