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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

Galatians 5



Other Authors
Verse 1

1. τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ κ.τ.λ. See notes on Textual Criticism.

I. In this verse St Paul clinches the argument of Galatians 4:21-31 with a summary statement of doctrine, and a practical application. For, whatever the precise reading may be, the repetition of the catchword “freedom,” and of ἡμᾶς (which carries on the idea of τέκνα τ. ἐλ.) determines the connexion of the thought of the verse with the preceding passage rather than the following.

II. Accepting the W.H. text the construction of τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ is not easy, (a) Lightfoot joins τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ ᾖἠλευθέρωσεν with Galatians 4:31, but the sentence becomes very clumsy. (b) It can hardly be the Hellenistic method of expressing the emphatic “infinitive absolute” of the Hebrew with a finite verb (Luke 22:15), i.e. “Christ completely freed us,” for both the position of the words and the presence of the article forbid this, (c) It is probably “For freedom,” dat. comm. This would express what Hort thinks was the original reading, ἐπʼ ἐλευθερίᾳ, cf. Galatians 5:13 (W.H. Notes, p. 122).

III. If ἦ ἐλευθερίᾳ be read we may join the clause (a) to Galatians 4:31, setting a full stop at ἠλευθέρωσεν, or (b) to στήκετε if οὖν be omitted after that word.

IV. Field (Notes on the Translation of the N.T.) still prefers the Received Text (τῇ ἐλ. οὖν ᾗ κ.τ.λ.) according to which τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ is taken with στήκετε, accounting for the absence of ἐν “by the noun τῇ ἑλευθερίᾳ standing at the head of a sentence, of which the writer had not forecasted the governing verb. Instead of στήκετε he might have used ἐπιμένετε.”

ἡμᾶς Χριστὸς ἠλευθέρωσεν So Romans 8:2. St Paul has not yet said in this Epistle that Christ set us free, though the thought is contained in Galatians 3:25, Galatians 4:2. Compare the prayer of Jonathan and the priests in 2 Maccabees 1:27 ἐπισυνάγαγε τὴν διασπορὰν ἡμῶν, ἐλευθἐρωσον τοὺς δουλεύοντας ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν. See the note on ἑξαγοράσῃ, Galatians 4:5.

στήκετε οὖν. On στήκω see W.H. Notes, p. 169. A much stranger form derived from a perfect is ἐπεποίθησα, Job 31:24 (cf. Judges 9:26 A Zephaniah 3:2 A). An example of the conative imperative (Moulton, Proleg., 1906, p. 125).

καὶ μὴ πάλιν. After your past experience (Galatians 4:9)!

ζυγῷ δουλείας. As ζυγῷ is defined by δουλείας the idiomatic English translation is doubtless “the yoke of bondage,” not “a yoke” etc. For both the words and the thought in physical bondage see 1 Timothy 6:1, the only other passage where ζυγός is found in St Paul’s writings. Compare too Acts 15:10. Luther, perhaps not unfairly, draws out the metaphor to a point beyond St Paul’s, “For like as oxen do draw in the yoke with great toil, receive nothing thereby but forage and pasture, and, when they be able to draw the yoke no more, are appointed to the slaughter: even so they that seek righteousness by the law, are captives and oppressed with the yoke of bondage, that is to say, with the law: and when they have tired themselves a long time in the works of the law with great and grievous toil, in the end this is their reward, that they are miserable and perpetual servants.”

ἐνέχεσθε, “entangled,” A.V. and R.V., but this is to introduce the notion of a net, or at least a cord tied several times, which is neither in this nor the preceding words. You are in danger of being held in, fastened and restrained, by the yoke. Contrast ἐμπλέκεται, 2 Timothy 2:4. St Paul employs ἐνέχειν here only, cf. however W. H. marg. in 2 Thessalonians 1:4. Compare 3 Maccabees 6:10 εἰ δὲ ἀσεβείαις κατὰ τὴν ἀποικίαν ὁ βίος ἡμῶν ἐνέσχηται. For examples in the papyri see Moulton and Milligan (Expositor, VII. 7, 1909, p. 283).

Verse 2

2. ἴδε. As interjection here only in St Paul’s writings. Contrast ἰδού, Galatians 1:20, also ἴδετε, Galatians 6:11. For ἴδε with even a plural see Matthew 26:65.

ἐγὼ Παῦλος., Colossians 1:23 note. Emphatic: I who, they say, preach circumcision (Galatians 5:11). There can hardly be any reference to his commission, Galatians 1:1.

ὅτι ἐὰν περιτέμνησθε, “if ye suffer yourselves to be circumcised” (Lightfoot). Circumcision is much worse than the isolated acts of Galatians 4:10. It is possible that the false teachers may have represented circumcision as desirable (see Galatians 3:3 note) though not essential (compare Ananias’ advice to Izates, king of Adiabene, Josephus, Antt. XX. 2. 4 [§§ 41 sq.]), but St Paul’s language and thought are in such precise opposition to Acts 15:1 that in all probability they insisted on circumcision as necessary. In the case of the later false teachers at Colossae it was otherwise.

Χριστὸς ὑμᾶς οὐδὲν ὠφελήσει, “will be of no advantage to you.” For the thought see Galatians 2:21; for the word, Romans 2:5. The future of result (Ell.), hardly referring to the Parousia, Galatians 5:5. St Paul means that Christ is of advantage only to him who trusts exclusively to Him; not to him who οὔτε Χριστῷ, οὔτε νόμῳ πιστεύει, ἀλλʼ ἐν μέσῳ ἔστηκε, κἀκεῖθεν καὶ ἔνθεν βουλόμενος κερδαίνειν (Chrys.).

Verses 2-6

2–6. The effect of circumcision and of faith contrasted

(Galatians 5:2) See! I, I Paul (accused of preaching circumcision, Galatians 5:11) say to you that, so far from circumcision being necessary, if you are circumcised Christ will not profit you at all. (Galatians 5:3) On the contrary I protest again to every man undergoing circumcision that he is then debtor to do the whole Law—circumcision is the very seal of his debt. (Galatians 5:4) You then and there became paralysed, losing all connexion with Christ, as many of you as wish to be justified in the Law; you then and there fell away from the grace of God. (Galatians 5:5) For, in contrast, we true believers, by the spirit, not the flesh, taking our start from faith wait for the hope set before us, full righteousness. (Galatians 5:6) For in Christ Jesus (as we are) externalities are powerless. Faith alone is effective, made operative by God by means of love to Him and men.

Verses 2-12

2–12. Another, but sharper, appeal and warning. The observance of the Law is inconsistent with faith in Christ

Verse 3

3. Galatians 5:3-4 are at once a solemn reiteration of the truth stated in Galatians 5:2, and an explanation of it.

μαρτύρομαι δὲ. The δέ suggests a contrast to ὠφελήσει. So far from receiving advantage from Christ you will fall under obligation to the Law. μαρτύρομαι, “I protest,” strengthening the preceding λέγω, very nearly as in Ephesians 4:17. On μαρτ. see Milligan, 1 Thessalonians 2:12.

πάλιν. Referring to Galatians 5:2, the ὑμῖν of which is expanded to παντὶ ἀνθρ. It can hardly refer to the last occasion when he was with them.

παντὶ ἀνθρώπῳ., Colossians 1:28. Perhaps suggesting the superior station etc. of some who were being led astray; cf. Galatians 5:10.

περιτεμνομένῳ, cf. Galatians 6:13. The present suggests a process in mind and act, still uncompleted. The Apostle will wean the man from it.

ὀφειλέτης. Elsewhere in St Paul’s Epp. only Romans 1:14; Romans 8:12; Romans 15:27. The circumcised man pledges himself to keep the whole Law; which, as we all know, he cannot do. He loses Christ and does not even gain the blessings of the Law. Further, if the Galatians had received teaching similar to that recorded for us in the First Gospel, ὀφειλέτης would have a very serious connotation for them, Matthew 6:12; Matthew 18:24.

ὅλον τὸν νόμον., James 2:10. No doubt the Gentile Galatian Christians did not realize all that circumcision would mean to them now.

Verse 4

4. St Paul’s object here is partly to explain Galatians 5:2 further, and partly to turn them from their mistaken purpose by the sharpness of his language.

κατηργήθητε,, Galatians 5:11, Galatians 3:17. St Paul could hardly have employed a stronger word. They would have existence, but existence that is useless, ἀπρακτός. On the difficulty of translating κατηργ. see Sauday-Headlam, Romans 7:6, where they paraphrase “we were struck with atrophy.”

ἀπὸ. For this pregnant use denoting complete separation as the result or cause of the state mentioned in the preceding verb see Romans 9:3, 2 Corinthians 11:3, besides the two passages κατηργ. ἀπὸ τοῦ νόμον, Romans 7:2; Romans 7:6.

ἐν νόμῳ (Galatians 2:16 note). δικαιοῦσθε, conative, “would be justified.” Blass, Gram. § 56. 3, who compares John 10:32; John 13:6.

τῆς χάριτος. The article is hardly generic, but rather the grace given by God (Galatians 1:15, Galatians 2:21), and received by you. Compare Romans 5:2.

ἐξεπέσατε. Figurative as in 2 Peter 3:17. Compare Sirach 31 [34]:7 πολλοὺς ἐπλάνησεν τὰ ἐνύπνια, καὶ ἐξέπεσον ἑλπίζοντες ἐπʼ αὐτοῖς, where unfortunately the Hebrew is not extant; also Plato, Repub. VI. 496 c ἐκπεσεῖν φιλοσοφίας.

Lightfoot suggests that it = were driven forth; as the correlative of ἐκβάλλω, Galatians 4:30, quoting Thuc. Galatians 6:4 αὐτοὶ μὲν ὑπὸ Σαμίωνἐκπίπτουσιντοὺς δὲ Σαμίους Ἀναξίλας Ῥηγίνων τύραννοςἐκβαλών. But the words are so far apart in our Epistle that the correlation is forced. On -ατε see Helbing, Gr. d. LXX. p. 62, Winer-Schm. § 13. 13. The tense of ἐξεπ. and κατηργήθητε was probably chosen for vividness, suggesting both the completeness and the immediateness of the effect of seeking to be justified elsewhere than in Christ.

Verse 5

5. The contrast of St Paul and those who acted as he.

ἡμεῖς γὰρ (true believers, Galatians 4:26; Galatians 4:28) πνεύματι. One of the difficult instances of anarthrous πνεῦμα (Galatians 5:16; Galatians 5:18; Galatians 5:25). We must translate it “by the spirit,” but the connotation is probably not the Holy Spirit as a Person but rather that higher mode of action which is “spirit” not “flesh.” See Appendix, Note F.

ἐκ πίστεως (Galatians 2:16) ἐλπίδα δικαιοσύνης. Gen. of apposition epexegetic of ἐλπ. Perfect and personal righteousness is regarded as the objective hope set before the Christian; cf. Colossians 1:5. The insertion of “hope” suggests the need of continuance in the service of Christ. There is a sense in which righteousness is given to the believer at once (Romans 9:30), but its complete possession will not take place until the Parousia. So we hope for υἱοθεσία, Romans 8:23, though in a sense already received (supra Galatians 3:26, Galatians 4:5). Compare ἐλπ. σωτηρίας, 1 Thessalonians 5:8.

ἀπεκδεχομεθα,, Romans 8:19; Romans 8:23.

Verse 6

6. ἐν γὰρ. Explaining St Paul’s reliance on πνεύματι and especially ἐκ πίστεως.

Χριστῷ [Ἰησοῦ]. Ἰησοῦ is omitted by B only. So Galatians 2:4; Galatians 3:26; Galatians 3:28, cf. Galatians 3:14. St Paul adds the dear personal name which recalls His life, death, and whole work of salvation. In Christ Jesus. Out of Christ they might avail something, but to a man who is in Christ they effect nothing. For the continuance and attainment of final righteousness the exercise of faith is necessary. Observe that St Paul is not speaking of how to become “in Christ,” but how to live when in Him. Thus the passage has no relation to the Roman Catholic doctrine of fides formata as necessary for justification in the forensic sense.

οὔτε κ.τ.λ., Galatians 6:15. Similarly it is not the colour of the soldier that makes the difference, but his skill in fighting (Theodoret after Chrysostom).

περιτομήἀκροβυστία. i.e. as such, Galatians 6:15 note. On the contrary, either may be of grievous hindrance if entered upon with a view to salvation thereby.

τι ἰσχύει. Cf. James 5:16; Matthew 5:13. If a man is in Christ the only thing that avails for Christian activity etc. is faith made operative by love. Moulton and Milligan understand it to mean “is valid,” as in Hebrews 9:17, comparing a passage in a papyrus of the 2nd cent. A.D. (Expositor, VII. 7, May 1909, p. 475).

ἀλλὰ πίστις διʼ ἀγάπης. Love, in its widest sense. St Paul is approaching the moral teaching of Galatians 5:13 sqq. (Beet). Observe “Cum. fide conjunxit spem Galatians 5:5, nunc amorem. In his stat novus Christianus” (Bengel). Chrysostom, perhaps rightly, sees here a hint to the Galatians that if their love to Christ had been right they would not have deserted Him for bondage.

ἐνεργουμένη, “being made operative.” Passive, and probably suggesting Divine action brought to bear upon faith (Colossians 1:29 notes). Thus in the true Christian life faith is wrought upon by God, who, using the means of our love to Himself and men, brings out our faith to its true productiveness.

Verse 7

7. ἐτρέχετε καλῶς (“Ye were running finely”). τίς, contemptuous. No one had the right to do so, Galatians 3:1; cf. Romans 14:4; James 4:12.

ὑμᾶς ἐνέκοψεν. See notes on Textual Criticism. The metaphor of the race is continued.

Who made your way impassable? ἐγκόπτω was used originally of cutting into a road, breaking it up (not, as it seems, of cutting obstacles down into it), but “it came to mean ‘hinder’ generally (Hesych. ἐμποδίζω, διακωλύω),” Milligan on 1 Thessalonians 2:18.

It always takes the accusative of the person in the N.T., but the dative which is more natural is sometimes found elsewhere.

ἀληθείᾳ: “truth” as such, 2 Thessalonians 2:13. St Paul here exchanges the figure of a race for the reality of his subject.

μὴ. On the negative with verbs of hindering see Burton, Tenses, § 402, “μὴ may be used or omitted with the infinitive without difference of meaning.” In Romans 15:22 the negative is omitted after ἐνεκοπτόμην.

πείθεσθαι,, Romans 2:8. G and a few Latin MSS. mentioned in Zahn add μηδενὶ πείθεσθε. Zahn strangely separates these three words from ἐνέκοψεν because of [1] the cessation of the metaphor, [2] the presence of μή, and reads ἀληθείᾳ μὴ πείθεσθαι μηδενὶ πείθεσθε “Listen to no one that ye should not listen to truth.” He refers to Blass’ Gram. Add. and Corr. p. xii., German 2nd edit. But is there any similar sentence in St Paul’s writings?

Verses 7-12

7–12. Against continuing in retrogression; with sharp words against the leader and the false teachers generally

(Galatians 5:7) You were running your race nobly; who hindered you, so that (to drop all metaphor) you should not obey truth? (Galatians 5:8) This persuasion of yours is not from Him whose voice you once heard and can still hear. (Galatians 5:9) Do not despise beginnings in evil. You know the proverb, A little leaven etc. (Galatians 5:10) I, for my part, still have confidence in you in the Lord that you will not set your heart on any other than the one way and truth, but the leader of those who trouble you shall bear the burden of his judgment, whatever his present position. (Galatians 5:11) I have spoken of myself, now I speak of myself again in contrast to him. I at any rate, my brothers, whatever may be said of me, am different from what I was before my conversion, and I have made no change since. The evidence that I do not now, as once, preach circumcision is that I am still persecuted. For the cross has not lost its effect of being a stumbling-block! (Galatians 5:12) I wish that those who so upset you would, while they are about it, make themselves altogether eunuchs!

Verse 8

8. ἡ πεισμονὴ[136], “This persuasion.” The word is rare, and in Ignat. Rom. iii., Justin Apol. I. 53.1 its meaning ambiguous. But in Iren. IV. 33. 7 (πίστις ὁλόκληρος καὶπεισμονὴ βεβαία) it is plainly passive. So the forms πλησμονή “satiety,” Colossians 2:23; ἐπιλησμονή, James 1:25; φλεγμονή “inflammation,” “passion,” 4 Maccabees 3:17. So probably here “This persuasion that you have.” The article is demonstrative.

οὐκ ἐκ τοῦ καλοῦντος ὑμᾶς, see notes on Textual Criticism. You have been over-persuaded, but this has been due to merely human art (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:4-5); it has not come from Him whose voice you heard at first, Galatians 1:6. Yet καλ. is not quite timeless; it rather suggests the continuous call of the living God. Yet see Milligan on 1 Thessalonians 2:12.

Verse 9

9. μικρὰ ζύμη κ.τ.λ. Despise not the beginning of evil. I grieve not only for what is but for what will be (cf. Theodore, Chrys.). The proverb is general, but to the Jewish mind ζύμη would suggest at once that which might not be offered to God on the altar (Leviticus 2:11), though permitted when the bread was to be eaten by the priests (Leviticus 7:13). The leaven here is the false doctrine which seemed so slight and harmless (cf. Galatians 5:2-3 notes), not the false teacher (τίς, Galatians 5:7) regarded as one in contrast to many. For this has no point here. In 1 Corinthians 5:6 it is otherwise; the sin of one individual spoils the whole body of Christians at Corinth.

Verse 10

10. ἐγὼ. The absence of a conjunction increases the emphasis on both the personality and the assurance. St Paul sets himself over against the τίς.

πέποιθα εἰς ὑμᾶς: still harping on πείθεσθαι, πεισμονή. With εἰς[137] contrast 2 Thessalonians 3:4.

ἐν κυρίῳ. In whom St Paul finds all his confidence for both his own actions (Philippians 2:24) and those of others (2 Thessalonians 3:4).

ὅτι οὐδὲν ἄλλο φρονήσετε· ὁ δὲ ταράσσων ὑμᾶς. The conjunction of ἄλλο and ταράσσειν makes it probable that St Paul’s thought is similar to that of Galatians 1:7. He does not mean, that is to say, that they will hold the truths expressed in Galatians 5:8-9, but the main truth of the Gospel, in which they once ran well (Galatians 5:7).

φρον. = the set purpose of your mind and heart, Colossians 3:2 note. Philippians 3:15 refers only to details, not the essence of the faith.

ὁ δὲ ταράσσων ὑμᾶς, Galatians 1:7 note. Even though you are not permanently injured. The singular is perhaps generic, “everyone who” etc.: cf. ὁ ἐρχόμενος, 2 Corinthians 11:4, but probably because St Paul had one man of the τινές (Galatians 1:7) specially in his mind.

βαστάσει. The first occurrence of a word which occurs no less than three times in the sixth chapter. St Paul employs it elsewhere only twice in Rom. The only biblical parallel to its connexion with κρίμα is in 2 Kings 18:14, δ ἐὰν ἐπιθῇς ἐπʼ ἐμὲ βαστάσω. The judgment is thought of as a load carried away from the judgment seat (cf. Meyer).

τὸ κρίμα. The article = that which suits his case.

ὅστις ἐὰν ᾗ. Otiose if St Paul was not thinking of some one person. He was a man of reputation, which was originally (doubtless) well deserved. On ἐάν for ἄν see Galatians 5:17, Galatians 6:7, Colossians 3:17 note, and 23; Allen on Matthew 11:27. In the papyri “ὃς ἄν was the usual form in the second and third centuries B.C. down to 133 B.C., when ὃς ἐάν begins to come to the front, and from the first century B.C. onwards the latter is always the predominant form” (Thackeray, Grammar of the O.T. in Greek, 1909, p. 68).

Verse 11

11. ἐλὼ δὲ. Primarily in contrast to the change, probably made and certainly taught, by the false leader. I, in contrast to him, and also to what is said of me by him and others like him, am different from what I was as a Jew before my conversion, and remain different. I at any rate have made no change since my conversion. The causes of such an accusation may have been (a) his circumcision of Timothy, Acts 16:3; (b) his permission, or instruction, to Jewish parents to circumcise their children, for the accusation in Acts 21:21 is evidently false; (c) his indifference to circumcision as such in the case of Jews, 1 Corinthians 7:18; (d) perhaps also his recent dissemination of the decree of the Council of Jerusalem.

ἀδελφοί (Galatians 4:28 note), εἰ περιτομὴν ἔτι (Galatians 1:10) κηρύσσω (Galatians 2:2).

τί ἔτι διὠκομαι; The first ἔτι is continuous from before his conversion; the second from after his conversion, i.e. temporal not logical.

ἄρα. The conclusion is logical (Galatians 2:21) if the premisses are granted. But the supposition that he still preaches circumcision is so plainly false, and it is so evident that he is still persecuted, that the sentence becomes satirical. The accentuation ἇρα (Galatians 2:17) gives a weaker sense.

κατήργηται (Galatians 5:4 note) τὸ σκάνδαλον. The figure is suggested by Isaiah 8:14 (cf. Isaiah 28:16) where the full revelation of God (which is Christ), is termed a stone of stumbling, for the revelation culminates in the Cross; see Romans 9:33; 1 Peter 2:8 (where see Hort); 1 Corinthians 1:23.

τοῦ σταυροῦ:, Galatians 6:12; Galatians 6:14; Colossians 1:20; cf. Colossians 3:1; Philippians 3:18.

Verse 12

12. ὄφελον. This shortened form of ὤφελον has become virtually a particle, utinam, both in the LXX. (Exodus 16:3) and in the N.T., with a past tense (1 Corinthians 4:8; 2 Corinthians 11:1; Revelation 3:15[138]) of an impracticable wish. Only here with the future, of a practicable wish. See Burton, Tenses, § 27; Blass, Gr. § 63. 5 and § 66. 1.

καὶ ἀποκόψονται, “would that they would even make themselves eunuchs.” So Deuteronomy 23:1 [2]. Cf. Hesychius, ὁ ἀπόκοπος ἤτοι ὁ εὐνοῦχος. St Paul vividly, if somewhat coarsely, contrasts partial with complete mutilation, the latter being “a recognized form of heathen self-devotion” (Lightfoot). The metaphorical meaning of excision from the Church (cf. ἀποκοπή of divorce, Deuteronomy 24:3 [1] in Aquila, or according to another reading κοπή, and in Symmachus διακοπή), though more in accordance with our modern notions of delicacy of expression, is contrary to the unanimous opinion of the Greek commentators. It also does not suit the middle voice so well.

οἱ ἀναστατοῦντες ὑμᾶς, “who throw you into confusion.” Dan. (LXX.) Daniel 7:23; Acts 17:6; Acts 21:38[139]; also some six times in the Hexapla. See especially Symm. Isaiah 22:3, ἀνεστατώθησαν (LXX. πεφεύγασι, Theod. μετεκινήθησαν); an unknown Greek translator of Habakkuk 3:16, ἀνεστατώθη τὰ σπλάγχνα μου (LXX. ἐπτοήθη ἡ κοιλία μου). In the well known naughty boy’s letter to his father (ii.—iii. cents. A.D.) he writes “My mother said to Archelaus ‘He quite upsets me! off with him,’ ” ἀναστατοῖ με· ἄρρον αὐτόν (see e.g. Deissmann, Licht vom Osten, p. 133, or Moulton and Milligan, Expositor, VII. 5, p. 269, 1908).

Verse 13

13. ὑμεῖς γὰρ. St Paul takes up the ὑμᾶς of Galatians 5:12 and defends his wish that the false teachers would so act that their real character would be seen. For you (emphatic) were not meant to do as they desire. You were called on the footing of freedom. He thus returns to Galatians 5:1, but, in accordance with his custom, finds his point d’appui in the immediately preceding verse.

It is probable that in this and the succeeding verses, besides St Paul’s primary desire to remind his readers of their practical duty, he intended also to enter a caveat against the hostile interpretation of his teaching of grace, that it meant freedom from the restrictions of the Law and therefore license to sin (Romans 6:1 sqq.).

ἐπʼ ἐλευθερίᾳ ἐκλήθητε (Galatians 1:6; Galatians 1:15, Galatians 5:8), καλ. with ἐπί[140]. For ἐπʼ ἐλευθερίᾳ compare the note on ἐξαγοράσῃ, Galatians 4:5. Ramsay (Gal., pp. 442 sqq.) calls attention to the numerical preponderance of ἐλεύθερ-ος-ἱα-ὁω in this Epistle, and suggests that this is due to St Paul’s desire to stir up the idea of individual freedom, which was weak in South Galatia (Phrygia) though strong in Asia and Achaia. Yet if St Paul was writing to the N. Galatians, with whom the idea of political and personal freedom was, presumably, strong, he might well appeal to this feeling, from the sense that liberty in Christ is at once the germ and the crowning fruit of all.

μόνον μὴ τὴν ἐλευθερίαν. The accusative is due to a verb being understood after μή, e.g. τρέπετε or, better, ἔχετε. Cf. Matthew 26:5. For the thought compare Aristides quoted by Wetstein, λυσιτελέστερον μὲν εἶναι δουλεύειν, ἤ κακῶν ἐφόδιον τὴν ἐλευθερίαν ἔχειν. The article may be generic, but is probably personal, “your liberty.” Similarly in διὰ τῆς ἀγάπης, infra.

εἰς ἀφορμήν (1 Timothy 5:14), properly a base of operations in war, thence a pretext, occasion. διὰ τῆς ἀγάπης δουλεύετε,, Colossians 3:24; cf. 1 Peter 2:16. Here not without reference to its usage already in this Epistle: you had experience of wrong service (Galatians 4:8) to which you are wishing to go back (Galatians 4:9), although Jerusalem (your would-be standard in religion) is in bondage (Galatians 4:25); now be in what is true service, to one another and thus (Galatians 5:14) to the Law.

ἀλλήλοις. After touching on this here and in the two following verses he returns to it at greater length in Galatians 5:26 to Galatians 6:6.

Verses 13-15

13–15. I say, you were called for freedom. But do not forget that true freedom implies service to others

(Galatians 5:13) I speak so strongly about those that are confounding you, for you were called on the basis of freedom, my brothers. Only do not hold your freedom for an occasion to the flesh, but by your love be slaves to one another. (Galatians 5:14) For the whole Law (which you desire to be under) has found its completion in one saying, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Galatians 5:15) But if you forget this and fight each other like wild beasts, beware lest the whole community of you perish.

Verses 13-26


Verse 14

14. ὁ γὰρ πᾶς νόμος. γάρ justifies service to one another. This is the real fulfilment of the Law, which you have been wanting to serve. ὁ πᾶς νόμος (cf. Galatians 1:2) stands to πᾶς ὁ νόμος in the same relation as “the whole Law” to “all the Law,” i.e. it places somewhat more emphasis on the unity of the Law. Cf. Winer-Schm., § 20. 11 e.

ἐν ἑνὶ λόγῳ. See notes on Textual Criticism, “in one saying,” not “in the performance of one saying.” See next note.

πεπλήρωται. Not [1] “is summed up,” “comprehended” (cf. ἀνακεφαλαιοῦται, Romans 13:9), for which there is no parallel in St Paul’s writings, or, strictly, anywhere in the N.T.; but [2] “has been brought to perfection, has found its completion, in one saying.” So πληρόω frequently in the Gospels; cf. Colossians 1:25 note. Observe the high ethical purpose that St Paul attributes to the whole Law, ceremonial as well as moral (for he was dealing with the question of circumcision); it finds its truest utterance, its fullest statement, in Thou shalt love etc.

[3] Possibly, however, St Paul means “is summarily fulfilled (i.e. performed) in the observance of one saying.” If so, then in Romans 13:8, written very soon after our Epistle, he makes his meaning clearer by altering the form of his sentence to “he that loveth his neighbour hath fulfilled the Law.” But in our Epistle the perfect passive will then rhetorically represent the future perfect, and it is doubtful if there are any satisfactory parallels to this usage of the perfect passive absolutely (Romans 4:14; Romans 14:23, are the nearest) without an hypothesis (εἰ) preceding. See Winer, § XL. 4 b (p. 341): cf. Gildersleeve, Greek Syntax, § 234.

ἐν τῷ Ἀγαπήσεις κ.τ.λ. Leviticus 19:18 b. Quoted also in the similar context of Romans 13:9. So also James 2:8; cf. Matthew 7:12. A Rabbi quoted in Biesenthal’s Hebrew Commentary on Romans 13:9 calls this text “the foot on which the whole Law (the 613 commandments) stands,” referring to the story of Hillel teaching the enquirer while he stood on one foot. Observe that though St Paul quotes only these words, he expects more Rabbinico that his readers will bear in mind the context. For Leviticus 19:17-18 a warn against cherishing evil in one’s heart, and taking vengeance against one’s neighbour. Originally the passage referred to the treatment of Israelites only; Christian teaching enlarges it to the true Israel and to all men.

Verse 15

15. εἰ δὲ ἀλλήλους δάκνετε[141] καὶ κατεσθίετε. A glimpse of the strife engendered through the false teaching. You are like beasts or. dogs when being fed.

βλέπετε (Colossians 2:8 note) μὴ ὑπʼ ἀλλήλων ἀναλωθῆτε., Luke 9:54[142] (2 Thessalonians 2:8 var. lect.). “Lest ye be consumed,” and your organic life as a community perish.

Verse 16

16. λέγω δὲ., Galatians 4:1 note. The δέ primarily, after St Paul’s manner, expresses a contrast to the immediately preceding description of disputes, but the chief motive of the following passage is to explain what is meant by liberty (Galatians 5:13) in daily life, and how it is to be attained.

πνεύματι, dat. of norm, Galatians 5:25, Galatians 6:16. Spirit as such with no immediate reference to the Third Person of the Holy Trinity. See Appendix, Note F.

περιπατεῖτε. περιπατεῖν in this metaphorical sense seems not to be found outside Greek affected by Semitic thought, see Colossians 1:10 note. καὶ ἐπιθυμίαν., Colossians 3:5 note; cf. Galatians 5:24. Defined by the following substantive, therefore translate “the lust.”

σαρκὸς (Galatians 3:3). οὐ μὴ τελέσητε, “ye shall not accomplish.” Result, not command. For οὐ μή see Moulton, Proleg., 1906, pp. 187–192. Milligan on 1 Thessalonians 4:15, who quotes the naughty boy’s letter in the Papyri (ii.—iii. cents, A.D.), ἂμ μὴ πέμψῃς οὐ μὴ φάλγω, οὐ μὴ πεινῶ. ταῦτα, “If you don‘t send, I won‘t eat, I won’t drink, there now!” τελέσητε, bring to its legitimate end, 2 Timothy 4:7; cf. James 1:15.

Verses 16-24

16–24. The nature, outcome, and means of Liberty in daily life

(Galatians 5:16) In contrast to such disputes, which are the visible signs of lives lived by the flesh, walk by the spirit and you will not finish the lust of the flesh. (Galatians 5:17) For though the flesh lusts against the spirit, the spirit also lusts against the flesh (for they are mutually antagonistic) in order that ye may not do your evil desires. (Galatians 5:18) So far is it from this that if you are led by the spirit you are not under even the Law, in which the flesh and sin have found their strength. (Galatians 5:19) In contrast to such a holy life, you can see round you the many works of the flesh, such as first, those of immorality, (Galatians 5:20) and the worship of false gods and traffic in magic arts; secondly, those which are connected with personal ambition and party spirit, (Galatians 5:21) and envyings; thirdly, with those of social, or perhaps religious, festivities; and such like things; with respect to which I warn you now before any commit them, as I said when I was with you, that they who practise such things will not inherit God’s kingdom. (Galatians 5:22) But the spirit produces by, as I may say, a natural growth, graces all connected, affecting the heart, character, and outward behaviour. (Galatians 5:23) No Law can prevent virtues of this kind. (Galatians 5:24) So far from it being able to do so, they who belong to Christ Jesus have put to death on His cross the flesh with its passions and its lusts.

Verse 17

17. ἡ γὰρ σὰρξ. γάρ introduces the reason for the triumph over the flesh (Galatians 5:16): the flesh lusts against the spirit, but, thank God, the reverse is also true! The verse is a very brief summary of the experience described in Romans 7:17-25. By “the flesh” St Paul here means the propensity to evil, which makes itself felt through the physical nature.

ἐπιθυμεῖ. In this clause with a bad connotation, but in the next it is not only understood but understood in a good sense. Cf. of Christ, Luke 22:15; of angels, 1 Peter 1:12. The opposition between flesh and spirit lies not only in act but primarily in aim and desire.

κατὰ τοῦ πνεύματος. The article is generic as with ἡ σάρξ. There is no more thought of the Holy Ghost than in Galatians 5:16.

τὸ δὲ πνεῦμα κατὰ τῆς σαρκός. In glad contrast to the preceding clause.

ταῦτα γὰρ ἀλλήλοις ἀντίκειται. Probably a parenthesis; vide infra. γάρ (see notes on Textual Criticism) gives the reason for the activity of the contradictory desires of the flesh and the spirit. It lies in the fundamental enmity that they have to each other. ἀντίκειται “are adversaries.” In usage stronger than “are contrary.” Cf. the participle 1 Corinthians 16:9; Philippians 1:28; 2 Thessalonians 2:4; 1 Timothy 5:14; cf. Job 13:25; Zechariah 3:1. See Augustine’s fine remarks in his Confessions VIII. 5 and 9.

ἵνα μὴ, “in order that ye may not” etc. To be taken closely with τὸ δὲ πνεῦμα κατὰ τῆς σαρκός. See below for the interpretation of ἵν α here as ecbatic, “so that,” 1 Thessalonians 5:4 and elsewhere, and on ecbatic ἵν α generally see Moulton, Proleg., 1906, pp. 206 sqq. Theodoret takes the clause as purely imperative, μή τοῖς ἀτόποις ἔπεσθε λογισμοῖς, ἀντὶ τοῦ, περιγίνεσθε τούτων ἔχοντες συνεργὸν τὴν χάριν τοῦ πνεύματος. This use of ἵνα though found elsewhere and especially in later Greek (see Moulton, Proleg., 1906, pp. 176 sqq.), is very doubtful in the N.T. at all, and is extremely unnatural in this passage.

ἃ ἐὰν θἑλητε ταῦτα ποιῆτε. ἐάν for ἄν, Galatians 5:10 note. θέλητε in accordance with the evil promptings of the flesh.

There are, however, two other ways of understanding this verse which are worthy of mention.

[1] Taking ταῦταἀντίκειται not as a parenthesis, but closely with the following clause, and giving θέλητε the widest possible meaning: “For these are adversaries to each other in order that ye may not do what ye wish, whether good or ill,” with no doubt special thought of ill. But the Apostle would not take much interest in the fact that the flesh hinders the wish for good things without saying more about it. We should expect, if this interpretation were right, to see a further remark about the difficulty of doing right.

Deissmann (Licht vom Osten, p. 235) illustrates this passage from words frequently found in the manumission of slaves “doing what he will” (ποιῶν ὅ κα θέλῃ), and thinks that St Paul here has such a clause in mind when he warns us against returning to slavery under the Law (cf. Galatians 5:18).

[2] Taking ἵνα not as telic but as ecbatic “so that ye cannot do the things that ye would,” A.V. So Theodore τὸ γὰρ ἵ ν α οὐκ ἐπὶ αἰτίας εἶπεν, ἀλλʼ ὡς ἀκόλουθον (non ut in causando illud dixit, sed quasi consequens). In this case it may be

(a) Still a summons to holiness, so Theodore, οὐδὲ ἡμῖν ἔξεστιν ποιεῖν ἅπερ βουλόμεθα, ἐπεὶ μηδὲ δυνατὸν ἐν ἐκείνοις ὄντας τὰ τῆς θνητότητος πράττειν. Compare also his words on Galatians 5:25 “ita ut neque passio neque concupiscentia locum in nobis ullum possit habere. migravimus enim in futuram illam vitam per regenerationem Spiritus.”

(b) A palliative against despair at failure, “the things that ye would “being good things. But this, perhaps the usual interpretation among English readers, is quite out of accord with the confident note of the whole passage. Luther feels this and has to add a summons to courage: “When I was a monk, I thought by and by that I was utterly cast away, if at any time I felt the lust of the flesh: I should not have so miserably tormented myself, but should have thought and said to myself as now commonly I do: Martin, thou shalt not utterly be without sin, for thou hast flesh: thou shalt therefore feel the battle thereof: according to that saying of Paul: The flesh resisteth the Spirit. Despair not therefore, but resist it strongly, and fulfil not the lust thereof. Thus doing thou art not under the law” (p. 262 ab).

Verse 18

18. εἰ δὲ πνεύματι ἄγεσθε, οὐκ ἐστὲ ὑπὸ νόμον. The contrast is to the possibility implied in Galatians 5:16-17 of listening to and carrying out the lust of the flesh. If you are led by the spirit you are not under (shall I say the flesh? nay, I will say that which calls out the power of the flesh) the Law. St Paul thus arrives by a practical argument at the same result to which he had come by his earlier proof from the nature of God’s promises, Galatians 4:1-7. Compare Romans 8:1-5; Romans 8:14.

Verse 19

19. φανερά δέ ἐστιν. In Galatians 5:19-23 St Paul contrasts the signs that mark the nature of each kind of life.

δέ either explicativum, when the contrast always underlying δέ is to the summary statement that precedes—I have spoken of two sets of desires; I now unfold my meaning—or primarily in direct contrast to the life led by the Spirit. This perhaps is more in accordance with St Paul’s method of conducting his argument (cf. Galatians 5:16 note).

φανερά. Open to all to see. In contrast to the ἐπιθυμία of Galatians 5:16. Its position is emphatic; everywhere, especially in heathen lands, it is not necessary to look for these things.

τὰ ἔργα τῆς σαρκός. When ἡ ἐπιθυμία τῆς σαρκὸς is τελεία (see Galatians 5:16 and cf. also James 1:15). The phrase is unique. Compare τὰ ἔργα τοῦ σκότους, Romans 13:12; Ephesians 5:11; and, τά ἔργα τοῦ διαβόλου, 1 John 3:8. The contrast between τά ἔργα and ὁ καρπός, Galatians 5:22, is pithily expressed by Bengel, “Opera, infructuosa. Opera, in plurali; quia divisa sunt, et saepe inter se pugnantia, et vel singula carnem produnt. At fructus, bonus, Galatians 5:22, in singulari quia conjunctus et concors. Cf. Ephesians 5:11; Ephesians 5:9.”

ἅτινά ἐστιν. ἄτινα said by Win.-Schm., § 24.14 d, to be equivalent to , but it seems rather to mean that the following items fall under the class of τὰ ἔργα. Cf. Galatians 4:24 note.

πορνεία κ.τ.λ. Ramsay, Gal., pp. 446 sqq., pleading for the South Galatian theory, gives a very ingenious division of the fifteen faults mentioned into “three groups, corresponding to three different kinds of influence likely to affect recent South Galatian converts from paganism.” [1] Faults fostered by the old Anatolian religion: “fornication, impurity, wantonness, idolatry, sorcery or magic.” [2] Faults connected with the municipal life in the cities of Asia Minor: “enmities, strife, rivalry, outbursts of wrath, caballings, factions, parties, jealousies,” whether due to the rivalry of city against city or the result of personal or national jealousy within the cities. [3] Faults connected with the society and manners of the Graeco-Asiatic cities: “drinkings, revellings.” The division is perhaps the best that has been suggested, but the value of it as evidence for the South Galatian theory may be doubted. He shows without much difficulty that all these faults were in South Galatia, but is not so successful in his argument that they were not the faults of North Galatia also. For the first group describes sins hardly thought to be sins by any heathen; the second, sins at least as distinctive of clans and chieftains as of municipalities[143]; and the third, sins not really peculiar to Greek life.

πορνεία, ἀκαθαρσία, ἀσέλγεια. Three forms of imparity, inclusive of but not limited to the public adoption of immorality in the temples. πορνεία is the specific sin of fornication; ἀκαθαρσία, is general; ἀσέλγεια is open shamelessness, probably sensuality, but possibly, as Ramsay suggests, the self-mutilation of the devotees in the Phrygian Mysteries (cf. Galatians 5:12), which seems to have been as prevalent in North as in South Galatia.

Verse 20

20. εἰδωλολατρία. The connexion of immorality with heathen worship readily leads St Paul to mention idolatry.

φαρμακία, “sorcery.” The use of drugs not as medicines but as media in magic; veneficia Vulg. So in Exodus 7:11 al. of the “enchantments” whereby the Egyptian magicians performed their wonders. Cf. Revelation 9:21; Revelation 18:23. Lightfoot points out the “striking coincidence, if nothing more,” that sorcery was condemned at the Council of Ancyra, the capital of North Galatia, about A.D. 314. For the connexion of such magic with idolatry see Revelation 21:8.

ἔχθραι. Even if St Paul had the threefold grouping of these various faults in his mind (vide supra) “sorcery,” as often directed against persons, would readily suggest ἔχθραι. The plural occurs here only in the New Testament. On the ascending scale of the faults as far as φθόνοι see Lightfoot.

ἔρις, “dissension.” See notes on Textual Criticism. On the var. lect. ἔρεις, not ἔριδες, 1 Corinthians 1:11, see Win.-Schm. § 9. 8.

ζῆλος, “rivalry.” With ἔρις in Romans 13:13 and, also with θυμοί, in 2 Corinthians 12:20.

θυμοί, “ ‘wraths,’ a more passionate form of ἔρις,” Lightfoot.

ἐριθίαι, not “factions,” with the connotation of the vice of the followers of a party, but “ambitions,” “rivalries,” the vice of a leader of a party created for his own pride. Derived from ἔριθος, “hireling,” it acquired the meaning of bribery and winning over followers, and so of seeking followers (cf. Philippians 1:17). See Hort’s important note on James 3:14.

διχοστασίαι, “divisions.” Romans 16:17; 1 Maccabees 3:29[144]. Not so permanent as αἱρέσεις. In the parallel passage, 2 Corinthians 12:20, ἀκαταστασίαι (“tumults”).

αἱρέσεις. So too stronger than σχίσματα in 1 Corinthians 11:18-19. The word seems to denote not only external separation, but internal in aim and purpose, mind and heart. It thus readily suggests φθόνοι. A still stronger use of αἵρεσις is found in 2 Peter 2:1, where see Bigg’s note. See also Moulton and Milligan in Expositor, VII. 5, 1908, p. 171.

Verse 21

21. φθόνοι, “envyings.” See notes on Textual Criticism. The plural, 1 Peter 2:1[145]. Wetstein quotes Soph. Oed. Col. 1234 sq. φόνοι, στάσεις, ἔρις, μάχαι, καὶ φθόνος,

μέθαι. The plural also in Romans 13:13; the singular in Luke 21:34[146].

κῶμοι,, Romans 13:13; 1 Peter 4:3[147]. “Carousals,” whether private, or, more probably, public revels connected with the worship of the gods, in particular of Bacchus. “Even the excellent Plutarch thought that it was absurd to be squeamish over wine, and that it was not only excusable, but a religious duty, to let tongues go; the gods required this compliment to their mythological characters” (Bigg on 1 Peter 4:3).

καὶ τὰ ὅμοια τούτοις. Thus preventing his readers supposing that they might go beyond the list with safety.

, “with respect to which things.”

προλέγω ὑμῖν,, 2 Corinthians 13:2; 1 Thessalonians 3:4[148], “I tell you before any commit them.”

καθὼς προεῖπον. See notes on Textual Criticism. Such a warning belonged to the elementary instruction of converts (1 Thessalonians 4:1 sqq.; 1 Corinthians 6:9 sq.; Romans 6:17) and may have been given on the first or the second visit. Contrast Galatians 1:9.

ὅτι οἱ τὰ τοιαῦτα πράσσοντες cf. 2 Corinthians 12:21.

βασιλείαν θεοῦ. On the absence of the article in the phrase βας. θ. κληρ. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Corinthians 15:50) see Win.-Schm. § 19. 14. Perhaps in silent contrast to the kingdom of Caesar, as probably νόμος βασιλικός in James 2:8 to the same phrase used of imperial decrees: see Deissmann, Licht vom Osten, p. 265.

οὐ κληρονομήσουσιν, cf. Ephesians 5:5.

Verse 22

22. ὁ δὲ καρπὸς. In contrast to τὰ ἔργα, Galatians 5:19, where see note. Cf. Ephesians 5:9; Philippians 1:11; James 3:18; Revelation 22:2. The following virtues are introduced as one καρπός, for they stand in necessary connexion with each other. If one were to perish all would. In Proverbs 10:16 (ἕργα δικαίων ζωὴν ποιεῖ, καρποὶ δὲ ἀσεβῶν ἁμαρτίας) the writer regards the effect of each work of the righteous from a legal standpoint, and rightly attributes no unifying principle to the fruits of the ungodly.

τοῦ πνεύματός. In spite of the strong direct contrast to σάρξ the Holy Ghost in His personality, as well as His activity, seems to be meant. See Appendix, Note F.

ἐστιν. The following nine words are best divided into three groups describing first, the soul in relation to God; secondly, the attitude of the character towards others; thirdly, the principles of conduct in daily life.

ἀγάπη. It does not seem that this fairly common Septuagint word has been found in the papyri even yet. It occurs once in Philo, see Colossians 1:4 note. It occurs however in an inscription found at Tefeny in Pisidia belonging to “the Imperial Period,” in what is only too plainly a heathen context (see W. H. P. Hatch, Journal of Biblical Literature, 1908, vol. XXVII pp. 133 sqq.). Placed first, because Augustine says rightly of sanctification: Charitas inchoata, inchoata justitia est; charitas provecta, provecta justitia est; charitas magna, magna justitia est; charitas perfecta, perfecta justitia est (De Nat. et Gr. § 84).

μακροθυμία (evenness of temper, Colossians 1:11 note). χρηστότης (kindliness, Colossians 3:12 note). ἀγαθωσύνη, beneficence, χρηστότης showing itself in kind actions, Romans 15:14; Ephesians 5:9; 2 Thessalonians 1:11[149].

πίστις. The position excludes the ordinary meaning of πίστις, faith on God upon which St Paul lays so much stress in this Epistle. It may mean “fidelity,” Titus 2:10, and perhaps Matthew 23:23. Jerome explains it as trust in persons due to love: Qui diligit, nunquam se laedi aestimat: nunquam aliud nisi quod diligit et diligitur, suspicatur. Quum autem dilectio procul abfuerit, et fides pariter abscedit, and this alone satisfies the context, which speaks of active, not passive virtues. See also Philemon 1:5.

Verse 23

23. πραΰτης, “meekness,” here towards men, Colossians 3:12 note.

ἐγκράτεια,, Acts 24:25; 2 Peter 1:6 bis[150]; cf. ἐγκρατεύομαι, 1 Corinthians 7:9; 1 Corinthians 9:25[151]; ἐγκρατής, Titus 1:8[152]; “self-mastery,” especially against sensual pleasures. It is the opposite of ἀκρασία, 1 Corinthians 7:5. See notes on Textual Criticism.

The last clause of this verse is difficult. It is frequently interpreted as a platitude, that the Law is not against the good qualities named in Galatians 5:22 : cf. 1 Timothy 1:9. But St Paul must mean more than this, and is in fact recalling Galatians 5:18.

κατὰ τῶν τοιούτων. [1] Hardly masc. in contrast to πράσσοντες, Galatians 5:21, cf. also Galatians 5:24, as though Law, or the Law, loses its power, or claim, over the godly: cf. Romans 8:31-34; Colossians 2:14. [2] But neuter in contrast to τὰ τοιαῦτα, Galatians 5:21. Law, or the Law, has no power to prevent the development of these qualities, as it did by “causing the offence to abound,” Romans 5:20; cf. Romans 7:9-12, for they are produced by the Spirit.

οὐκ ἔστιν νόμος. That νόμος may in certain cases mean “the Law” has been shown at Galatians 2:16, but it is questionable whether this is so here. It is on the whole safer to be content with the translation “there is no law,” i.e. there is nothing having the force of law (even in its highest example the Law of Moses).

St Paul, that is to say, having in earlier parts of the Epistle shown the powerlessness of the Law to produce good, and even the hindrance that it was in attaining righteousness (Galatians 2:21), now says that the preceding good qualities are produced in us as the fruit of the Spirit in spite of all the hindrances that the Law, or any other law, can make.

Verse 24

24. οἱ δὲ. The verse is to be taken closely with the preceding clause. So far from Law prevailing against the production of such virtues, union with Christ has brought to an end the power of the flesh.

τοῦ χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ. They who belong to the Messiah—I mean Jesus, who Himself lived superior to the power of the Law and the flesh.

τὴν σάρκα ἐσταύρωσαν. σταυρόω metaphorically only here and Galatians 6:14. The time is apparently the moment of their first union with Christ, symbolized and consummated at baptism: cf. Colossians 2:12. The article is generic, hardly possessive.

σὺν τοῖς παθήμασιν καὶ ταῖς ἐπιθυμίαις, “with its passions and its lusts.” The flesh together with what it implied. πάθημα is wider and less technical than πάθος and may be used in its more common sense of “suffering” or “experience,” but the context and the presence of ἑπιθυμία seem to give it a bad connotation, as in Romans 7:5. For ἐπιθ. see Galatians 5:16 note. The plural in both cases denotes the many forms and varieties (cf. Ephesians 2:3; Romans 1:24; Romans 6:12) issuing, for example, in the sins of Galatians 5:19-21.

Verse 25

25. εἰ ζῶμεν πνεύματι κ.τ.λ. St Paul returns to the thought of Galatians 5:16 a, but by the way of contrast to Galatians 5:23 and of development of Galatians 5:24. It is not the Law but the spirit by which we must regulate our life, as I said in Galatians 5:16 a.

Yet St Paul, as usual, recule pour mieux sauter. As Galatians 5:16 a served as an introduction to the true means of holy living, so here he shows how life by the spirit will lead them to right relations to others. This, it will be noticed, had been slightly touched upon in Galatians 5:13-15, and indirectly in Galatians 5:20; Galatians 5:22.

πνεύματι is probably to be translated ‘by the spirit,” as in Galatians 5:16 Lightfoot translates it “to the spirit,” referring to “the parallel passage” Romans 6:2; Romans 6:10-11, and comparing Romans 14:6; Romans 14:8; 2 Corinthians 5:15. But in all these places the meaning is clear from the context. Here nothing suggests so sudden a change. On πνεῦμα see Appendix, Note F.

πνεύματι καὶ στοιχῶμεν ατοιχεῖν, Galatians 6:16; Romans 4:12; Philippians 3:16; Acts 21:24[153]. See note on συνστοιΧεῖν, Galatians 4:25. It is more than περιπατεῖν (Galatians 5:16), for it regards the walk in relation to others, who are also walking. It suggests unity, and perhaps discipline.

Verse 25-26

25–6:6. Life by the spirit brings unselfish care for others, e.g. for one’s teachers

(Galatians 5:25) Life by the spirit leads to a life in right relation to others. (Galatians 5:26) We must all beware of conceit, self-assertion, envy. (Galatians 6:1) For example, my brethren; take even the case of a man overcome in any transgression; you who live and walk by the spirit must amend him, in your spiritual life marked by meekness, each of you considering his own liability to temptation. (Galatians 5:2) So generally: carry each other’s burdens, thus filling up the measure proposed for you by the true law, that which is seen in and brought by Christ. (Galatians 5:3) For refusal to do this, due to an overhigh estimate of one’s self, means self-deception. (Galatians 5:4) Let each test, not his heart, but his work, and so find satisfaction about himself, not in his superiority to others. (Galatians 5:5) This is important, for hereafter each shall carry his own load. (Galatians 5:6) An example of carrying each other’s burdens; let the taught share in temporal things with his teacher.

Verse 26

26. μὴ γινώμεθα, in contrast to the preceding suggestion of harmony. Observe the humility and tact whereby St Paul writes as though he himself was exposed to this temptation. Perhaps he was; certainly they were, by the very fact of their disputes. Controversy easily engenders self-conceit.

κενόδοξοι[154]. Cf. κενοδοξία, Philippians 2:3[155], which is coupled in 4 Maccabees 2:15 with φιλαρχία, ἀλαζονία, μεγαλαυχία and βασκανία. For the thought cf. Galatians 6:3.

ἀλλήλους προκαλούμενοι,, 2 Maccabees 8:11[156]. “Ex parte potentiorum” as φθονοῦντες “ex parte infirmiorum” (Bengel).

ἀλλήλοις φθονοῦντες,, Tobit 4:7; Tobit 4:16 [17][157], cf. Galatians 5:21. See notes on Textual Criticism.


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"Commentary on Galatians 5:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.

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