Overview of Chapter Five:

In chapter 5 we will see more how to apply the doctrine that has been presented in the previous chapters. This includes how to properly utilize this freedom which we have in Christ along with practical doctrine concerning the battle the Christian has between his old and new nature. There is victory available if we choose to employ God's principles.

We will see at least four contrasts[1] in chapters 5 and 6:

1. Liberty, not bondage 5:1-15.

2. The Spirit, not the flesh 5:16-26.

3. Others, not ourselves 6:1-10.

4. God's glory, not man's approval 6:11-18.

Chapter Five Text

5:1.  Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

2.  Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.

3.  For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.

4.  Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

5.  For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.

6.  For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

7.  Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?

8.  This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you.

9.  A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.

10.  I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be.

11.  And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased.

12.  I would they were even cut off which trouble you.


Paul had aptly vindicated his authority as an apostle, he then authoritatively defended the doctrine of justification by faith. He now defends the life of Christian freedom and service. Would this teaching lead the Galatians into Godliness or into lawlessness? The Christian life is described as not being under the law, but certainly it is not with license to sin. It is meant to be a life of service in love under control of the Holy Spirit.

We have seen that the believer of this age has been set free from the Mosaic Law (Gal. 2:19); Rom. 6:14; Rom. 7:6; Rom. 10:4).[2] "Law" in the NT is νόμος (nom'-os) and could mean a prescribed regulation or simply a principle.[3] There are laws or principles that are in force for the believer today: "...The law of Christ" (Gal. 6:2); "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death." (Rom. 8:2); "...the perfect law of liberty," (James 1:25); and James 2:12 where it is mentioned that believers conduct themselves "as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty." Jesus said, "If ye love me, keep[4] my commandments. (John 14:15).

Chapter 5 later tells us that the fruit of the Spirit is love. Instead of "laws," our focus should be more on a life of faith in Jesus (Gal. 2:2; Heb. 12:2) and being yielded to the Holy Spirit so that our faith will work through love in His power (Gal. 5:7). "Love" is mentioned 4 times in Galatians and only in the 5th chapter. Only by walking by faith in Jesus can the believer live as a free person and thereby please God. (Gal. 2:20; Heb. 11:6; Rom. 14:25b). 

We are now going to see how to experience the true liberty of the Gospel; how love-service ends the law bondage (5:1-15) and how being yielded to the Holy Spirit ends the flesh bondage (5:16-26).

1.  Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

The NASB[5] translates this verse as, "It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery."[6] Christ has set the believer free to enjoy freedom. This verse opens the "practical" segment of the epistle. This verse also summarizes the previous chapter where the theme is the contrast between bondage and freedom.

"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free,"

  What do we know about this liberty or freedom? We see at least 5 features[7] from verse one:

1. It is a specific freedom, not freedom generally. The word "liberty" has the definite article "the" before it. This is the liberty which has just been discussed; liberty from the bondage of the law along with adult son-ship privileges in Christ. We are under grace and have great liberty to serve. Whenever we see the word "therefore," we should check to see what it is "there for." This verse is a summary of the previous context and an introduction into how to use this liberty.

2. This liberty is received only by Christ (wherewith Christ hath made us free). This liberty does not come from the works of the law, our religion, our church, etc. It is only by faith in Jesus Christ. Please see Galatians 2:16.

3. This liberty is obtained at the time of our eternal salvation or justification. "...Christ hath made us free." "Hath"[8] indicates the past tense. At the point in time in which they believed in Jesus their destination was changed from hell to heaven. They were set free at that moment.

4. It is a fact to be believed. The verb in the phrase, "hath made [us] free" is in the indicative mood; the mood of stated fact. This is not something "iffy" or that just might occur. It is not probable, it is actual. It did occur. We are to know this fact, believe it, and live our lives according to the fact.

5. This freedom is true of all believers. "...Christ hath made us free." This includes Paul, the Galatian believers and any who believe in Jesus.

"Stand fast therefore in the liberty..." This not a suggestion nor a recommendation. It is a command! How does this work out in real life? In reference to the message that we share with the unsaved, we hope that it has been made clear that if someone is adding man's works in any way to Christ's completed work in order to be eternally saved, that there is no compromise (Gal. 1:6-10). We are saved by grace through faith, not of works, period! (Eph. 2:8, 9). For this we "draw a line in the sand." This fundamental truth is worth living for and dying for.

But what about areas in my life in which the Bible grants me liberty, but in which some believer is being caused to stumble by my actions. Do I continue in this action around that person because I have liberty? Most would argue; "Absolutely not." If not, do I then go to the other extreme to change my doctrine and believe that this area of my liberty is inherent sin for me? Again, I say, "Absolutely not." That would be compromising God's truth. My opinion on this is no better than the next person's, so we need to seek more of what Scripture says on the subject. What would be the Biblical and loving alternative in this situation? Verse 13 presents the basic principle; In a nutshell, we are to stand fast in the liberty but also in our actions to be motivated by love and use this liberty to serve. We will go into more depth on this subject and attempt to answer the question in more detail from God's Word when we comment on verse 13.

" ...And be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage." Paul's appeal here is to stand firm in that liberty and the stern warning to not become re-entangled in the enslavement of legalism. This "entanglement" seems to be where most Christian leaders are today and, as a result, it is so easy to slip into this error. Standing for this liberty can become costly. We will approach this subject more when we comment on verse 11.

He further explains....

2.  Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.

"Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised,..." "Circumcision" here is not referring specifically to the physical Jewish rite on male children. Paul obviously is not saying that Christ is of no profit to every Jewish male. He is speaking of the entire Mosaic law system. People who put themselves under this system become debtors to the whole law. (cf. the next verse; 1 Cor. 7:19; Gal. 6:15; James 2:10).

"...Christ shall profit you nothing." Physical circumcision of itself is not wrong. God told Abraham to be circumcised as a token of the covenant (Gen. 17:11). Belief in circumcision as a saving or sanctifying object is wrong. If a person places himself under this law system, they are out of the grace system and Christ profits them nothing.  

Remember that Paul did not allow Titus, a Gentile, to be circumcised so that the truth of the Gospel would not be compromised with the Galatians (see comments on Gal. 2:3) But he did circumcise Timothy, whose mother was a Jew (Acts 16:1, 3), in order to better minister to the Jews. (cf. 1 Cor. 9:19-23).

3.  For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.

The legalistic teachers insisted that the Galatians, in order to be eternally saved, submit to the rite of circumcision. Paul vigorously opposes this doctrine and proclaims that if they submitted to circumcision (adopting the Mosaic law system) that they would become a debtor to do the whole law and would be under its curse and condemnation. To look to the law for justification is to miss the grace of God as we see in the next verse.

4.  Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

" Christ is become of no effect [9]unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law;..." This phrase relays a message similar to that of verse 2; the utter futility of trying to be justified by the law. If a person is seeking justification by the law, then Christ is become of no effect to them. Why would Christ become of no effect to that person? Because he would be rejecting Christ's efficacious payment for his sins and be required to keep the law completely (v3). This superhuman feat has been accomplished only by Jesus Himself (Matt. 5:17; 1 Pet. 2:21, 22). Romans 11:6 emphasizes the fact that grace and works are antithetical. It has to be by one or the other, not by a combination of both. If by works, then Christ's payment on the cross becomes of no effect to them. In addition, our works could never be perfect and serve as a satisfactory payment for our sin.

" ...Ye are fallen from grace." "Fallen"[10] means "to be driven off course." In the account in Acts 27 of Paul's shipwreck while on the way to Rome, this same Greek word is used twice: In verse 17, "...fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands," and verse 29, "...fearing lest we should have fallen upon rocks." In both cases "fall" is in reference to being driven off course.

If a person thinks that they can be justified by the works of the law, they have been driven out of course and have missed the grace of God. This is a serious and appropriate warning for us as justification by law/works is commonly taught by "Christian" teachers today and is generally accepted in our religious community as being God's way both of eternal salvation and of sanctification.

This verse, and specifically the phrase, "ye are fallen from grace," has often been misused to support the teaching that one could lose their salvation if they did not remain faithful in some sort of continued obedience to God.

First of all, "grace" is not salvation, it is the means of salvation. Eph. 2:8 states, "For by grace are ye saved through faith...." (Eph. 2:8). We cannot fall from eternal life.

Yeshua Himself said in John 6:47, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life." "Hath" is in the present tense. This means that the one who believes in Jesus right now has eternal life. If eternal life could be lost, then it is misnamed; it would not be eternal.

1 John 5:13 states, "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life,..." We can know right now that we have eternal life because it does not depend upon what we will do or not do in the future. It depends upon what Jesus has already done. It's a "done deal."

"Falling from grace is simply the result of choosing to adopt the law system of justification instead of the grace system. If a person chooses the law system (which could be called the endless treadmill of performance) instead of the grace system, then Christ will be of no profit or benefit to them (v.2), Christ has "become of no effect" to them, and they have "fallen from grace." (v. 5).

This is not a happy situation in which to be. I like God's way of grace much better. Eternal life is received by faith in Christ. The obedient Christian life is a walk of faith in the power of the Holy Spirit.

5.  For we through the Spirit[11] wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.

In contrast to those just mentioned who try to be justified by keeping the law, we, as believers, receive undeserved and  imputed righteousness by faith in Jesus. The Greek word translated, "wait for," (ἀπεκδέχομαι - ap-ek-dekh'-om-ahee) meaning "to expect fully," is used only 7 times in the NT and each time in reference to the return of Christ, the consummation of our salvation.

The noun "hope" in the NT is (ἐλπίς - el-pece') and means, "a joyful anticipation." The Greek word does not carry the element of doubt that we sometimes see in the English word; e.g. "I hope that it will rain tomorrow."

Paul was not waiting for justification by faith as believers already have this imputed righteousness (John 6:47). We are presently at this time are positionally righteous (2 Cor. 5:21). He may have been referring to the final culmination of righteousness when we see Jesus as mentioned in 1 John 3:2.

God's righteousness is required in order for us to enter a perfect heaven (Rev. 21:27). We could never achieve this righteousness by our efforts (Titus 3:5; Eph. 2:8, 9). This is why it was necessary for Jesus to have made the substitutionary payment for our sin in order for us to obtain this positional righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21).

6.  For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth[12] any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

The issue here is not whether or not a person submits to a religious ritual or whether he is Jew or Gentile, but in this context the dominant concern is "faith which worketh by love." Faith in Jesus alone will save us (John 3:16; Acts 16:31; et al) but we are progressing into the portion of Galatians which tells us how our faith should work, or express itself; by love.[13]


If a person keeps the law of the land, he fulfills his duty. If he loves his land, he will go way beyond the demands of the law. He will seek to promote its welfare, support worthy projects, etc.. He willingly sacrifices for the benefit of that which is loved.

2 Cor. 5:14 tells us that the "love of Christ constrains us...." Is this verse referring to Christ's love for us or of our love for Him? Expositors are divided on this. The Greek scholar, A.T. Robertson, claims that this is grammatically a subjective genitive, meaning Christ's love for Paul. Some claim that it probably means both. The genitive case in the Greek could be either and is usually clearly determined by the context. Verse 15 may indicate that both meanings are in view here. In any case, either interpretation seems to be in agreement with other Scripture.

"We love him, because he first loved us." (1 John 4:19).  Although not all believers are obedient to God, the love mentioned here leads to service. In my own personal life I have performed sacrificial acts for my wife and children for both motivations; because I love them and also because they love me. This should also be true in our service to our Savior.

In Matt. 22:35-40, when Jesus was asked by the Jewish leaders, "Master, which is the great commandment in the law? He answered by quoting OT Scripture. He first quoted part of Deut. 6:4, 5; a passage which was familiar to every Jew. This portion of Scripture is known as the Shemah (שׁמע),[14] which is the first word of Deut. 6:4.

He replied that the first and great commandment was, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind." He then includes, ”And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."[15] This is quoted from Lev. 19:18. In summation, he adds, "On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

This seems to coincide nicely with the message of Rom. 13:8-10, which is summed up by the phrase, "...love is the fulfilling of the law." We will soon see a similar claim in Gal. 5:14. I infer from all this that if I am truly yielded to the Holy Spirit Who produces the genuine fruit of love in our lives (Gal. 5:22), that I am not bound by legalistic constraints but have great freedom to serve out of love under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This principle will be approached in more detail later in the chapter (5:16-26).

In 2 Cor. 3:6-18, Paul presents a short discourse concerning the Mosaic law and Israel, then in summation states in verse 17, "...where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." Among other important points, I infer from this that in a church, Bible college, or any other "Christian" institution, that if legalism prevails, that the Holy Spirit is being quenched and/or grieved (1 Thess. 5:19; Eph. 4:30). We have seen many tragic examples of this practice in our ministry over the years. Mankind frequently seems to be more comfortable trying to obey a set of rules instead of following the Holy Spirit Who wants to lead us into His holiness.

7.  Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?

"Ye did run well;" This is one of the few commendations which Paul offers in the epistle (See also v. 10). He describes the Galatians' Christian experience by employing a metaphor that he uses elsewhere of being in a race (1 Cor. 9:24-26; 2 Tim. 4:7). They had begun well while heeding Paul's message but were being led astray or off course by the Judaizers (cf. Jer. 50:6).  He is encouraging them to get back on course immediately. We see examples both in Scripture and in our own experience of those who got off to a good start but then failed miserably as they progressed in their Christian journey.

There are added blessings for those who finish well (Gal. 6:9). Jesus promised His disciples in Luke 18:28, 29.  "...Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake, Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting."

There are blessings along with the trials in our service here and now, but there are many future and greater blessings for the believer who is faithful and finishes the course well (Gal. 6:9). One Bible teacher illustrates this concept by recounting that one of the fast food chains maintained a two-part advertising campaign. On each large drink cup was a tab that you could pull off in order to obtain a free small drink or small order of fries. This made you an "instant winner." It also had a number that was part of a periodical drawing for a grand prize of a larger amount of money. Our daily service for our Savior is replete with "instant winners" but there will be a "grand prize" for those who remain faithful through the trials when we hear "Well done, good and faithful servant;(Matt. 25:23).

I  was challenged by hearing a true account of a missionary who had faithfully served many years in a difficult foreign mission field and was returning to the USA. As he was arriving on a ship he was pleasantly surprised to see a large crowd awaiting at the dock, some holding up large "Welcome Home" banners.

As events progressed he was disheartened to realize that the gala celebration was for the benefit of some movie star who was also on the ship. As he was greeted by another faithful minister who was to meet him there, the missionary was encouraged by his appropriate statement, "Don't be disheartened. You aren't home yet." There are blessings here and now in our service but if we faithfully finish the course we cannot imagine the blessings that we will see when we finally arrive home. (1 Cor. 2:9; cf. 2 Tim. 4:7, 8).

"...Who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?

"Who" is singular in the Greek. There apparently was a leader of those who had been attempting to sidetrack the Galatians into legalism. The result of the Galatian believers not obeying the truth was that some were unsuccessfully trying to complete the race by legalistic self-effort rather than by faith.

8.  This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you.

This persuasion did not originate with God, Who called them into the truth of the grace Gospel (Gal. 1:6; cf. Gal. 5:13). Its ultimate source was from Satan, the deceiver (cf. Rev. 12:9; 1 Pet. 5:8; 2 Cor. 4:3, 4).

9.  A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.

Leaven in the Bible frequently symbolizes evil or evil doctrine along with its penetrating and diffusive power. (cf. Matt. 16:6, 12; Luke 12:1; 1 Cor. 5:8).

This is contextually speaking of adding a little bit of man's works to Jesus' perfect and complete payment for our sins which then corrupts the whole package. The slightest bit of works added to grace spoils it all (Rom. 11:6).

What does leaven do in the baking of bread when compared to a little bit of man's works being added to Christ's finished work?[16]

1. It puffs up the bread.(Engenders pride; I have a part in my imputed righteousness).

2. Sours the bread. (Makes message distasteful to God who will save us by faith alone).

3. It makes it full of holes. (Is a message that is ineffectual and does not save).

4. It raises the dough. (Is the way to make money because the message is popular).

In this illustration we see the parallel that just as leaven does all this to bread, adding law-works to grace does much the same to the grace message of salvation. Some form of this "faith-plus-works" message for eternal life is the teaching that is heard from most "Christian" churches and evangelists. Because it is a close counterfeit to the truth it is appealing to many. It therefore confuses many. No matter how great this erroneous teaching may sound nor how many influential people proclaim it, it is still contrary to God's Word and brings His judgment upon those who promote it. This we will see in the next verse.

10.  I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be.

"I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded:" Paul had confidence in them and believed they would yet return and embrace the truth; that is, what he had previously taught them in their presence and in this epistle.

"... But he that troubleth[17] you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be. The "trouble-maker" here is referring back to verse 7; the one who hindered them that they "should not obey the truth." There is serious judgment awaiting those who pollute the grace gospel that God gave to them through the Apostle Paul. Please see comments on Gal. 1:6-10.

11.  And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased.

" And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution?" Perhaps some of the Jews thought that Paul was teaching circumcision as a means of justification because he circumcised Timothy (Acts 16:3). He discounts this assumption by the logic that if he was teaching circumcision as a requirement for eternal salvation that he would not continue to be under persecution. He would then be in agreement with the Judaizers. The way to relieve persecution  from the enemy is to join them. This option was not to be considered by Paul and should not be considered by us.   

"...Then is the offence of the cross ceased." If he preached circumcision instead of Jesus crucified then the offense would cease. The doctrine of salvation by a crucified Christ, was an offence and a stumblingblock to the Jews. Paul says in 1 Cor. 1:23,  "But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock...."

For the most part, the Jews were looking for a king; a liberator from the yoke of Rome. They wanted "Rambo," not a suffering servant. They had missed the OT prophecies concerning two advents of their Messiah, not just one. He came to earth the first time to pay for our sins (Luke 19:10). He asked to be their King and was rejected. He will return again soon but this time He will not bother asking anyone if He can reign as King.

The plain case then is, that the apostle did not preach circumcision, but only a crucified Christ, as necessary to salvation. He received much persecution and endured many trials for his clear and bold stand for the truth of God's Word (2 Cor. 11:23-30).

What about persecution as it relates to our Christian walk? We as believers are in a battle. (2 Tim. 2:3, 4). Eph. 6:10-20[18] warns us that this is a spiritual battle and that we must be prepared with spiritual armor in order to be victorious. We are in Satan's territory (2 Cor. 4:3, 4) and we will get shot at, especially if we are posing a threat to the enemy. We can see from the Ephesians passage that the Christian warfare is not a life of  merrily "tip-toeing through the tulips" but can be likened more to running through a minefield with invisible snipers shooting at us. I thank God that this battle is not fought and won by our human wisdom and physical armament, but "...in the power of his might;" (Eph. 6:10) by heeding the exhortations of Ephesians 6.

The same man who gave us the 4 point leaven gem of verse 9 also encouraged me in this area with a true personal anecdote: He was a B-24 bomber pilot during World War Two and flew many life-threatening bombing missions in defense of our country. He relayed to me that he seldom experienced any problem during the earlier part of these flights, but later on he could tell from the tremendous amount of flak that he encountered that he was getting close to the target.  If you are encountering a large amount of flak in your Christian service, perhaps the enemy realizes that you are getting close to the target and are a threat to his satanic dominion.

On the other hand, many believers are sitting on the sidelines and some even choose to consort with the enemy. This causes damage to the cause of Christ and persecution for the faithful believers. Friendly fire is not friendly.

II Tim. 3:12. tells us, "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."

John 15:18,  "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you."

12.  I would they were even cut off[19] which trouble you.

Here Paul appears to be engaging in some "sanctimonious sarcasm." It is justified because of the seriousness of the warning about the Judaizers and the result of their doctrine.

Though some commentators see this "cutting off" as meaning either to physically die or to be cut off from fellowship of the church, it appears that the preponderance of evidence indicates that he is saying that he wished for those endorsing circumcision for justification to castrate themselves![20] In other words, just keep on cutting. Perhaps their implied physical impotence also mirrored Paul's desire that the Judaizers not be able to reproduce themselves spiritually either. This was a dramatic way to get the point across about the seriousness of wrong doctrine. Perverting the Gospel is not a trivial matter with God (Gal. 1:6-10).



5:13   For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

14  For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

15  But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.

16  This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

17  For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

18  But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

19  Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

20  Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

21  Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

22  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

23  Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

24  And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

25  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

26  Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.


Verses 1-12 have shown us the need to "stand fast in the liberty" that we have through faith in Christ. Verses 13-26 will now demonstrate the need to "stand firm in liberty against license" and offers the means by which this can be accomplished.

13.   For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

This verse begins the second and last paragraph in this chapter. It also seems to me to be the other side of the balance for verse one; the command to, "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free...." In verse one Paul is warning the Galatian believers that they should not lapse from their liberty back into the bondage of the law. In this verse he warns them not to allow this liberty to deteriorate into license to sin.

Liberty, like so many neutral or even good things, can be abused or misused. Peter exhorts believers, "As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God." (1 Pet. 2:16). If we allow this freedom that we have to be misused, it can lead us into one of two wrong directions; either into legalism or into sin.[21] We can choose to walk selflessly in love or to walk selfishly in meeting our own desires (cf. Joshua 24:15). As believers we are not free to sin, but by the power of the Holy Spirit we have become free not to sin as we choose to yield to Him! The liberty of grace is true of every believer but that does not mean that every believer lives in this liberty.  

"For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty;" The Galatian believers had been freed from the bondage of sin but now they were not only in danger of unnecessarily being brought under bondage to the law of Moses, but if not that, of now misusing this liberty for sinful purposes.  "...Only use not liberty for an occasion[22] to the flesh, but by love serve one another;"[23] The negative and the positive: They were not to misuse this liberty to fulfill their fleshly desires, but they were to use it to serve one another by love. "Flesh"[24] here is referring to man's sinful nature with which he was born. Proper application of this liberty does not lead to sin but to loving service. "What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid." (Rom 6:15).  If you have liberty without love, it is license and you serve yourself. If you have liberty with love; you love God and others. This equals service to God and others.

"By love serve one another." "Serve" here is from the same word as in Gal. 4:8, where they did service to idols,  from the Greek word meaning "bondslave" (δοῦλος - doo'-los). This presents a paradox. They had been in bondage to sin and idols, set free, then some voluntarily went into bondage of the law (Gal. 2:4; 4:3; 4:9). Now Paul is exhorting them to forsake that kind of bondage and to adopt a beneficial kind of bondage, to by love, serve others. Paul often introduced himself as a servant or bondslave of Christ. (cf. Rom. 1:1, et al). "Service," "bondage," and "servant" are all from the same root word.

We will see later in this chapter that this love is not something that we can manufacture from our flesh (Rom. 7:18). It is the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). This is something that God produces in our life as we are yielded to Him.

The question was posited earlier about how we are to handle the situation if someone is offended due to the exercising of our liberty. Let us now examine some Biblical examples of liberty and love in action in order to glean some Biblical principles which we can apply in our lives.

In chapters 7 through 14 of 1 Corinthians Paul answers various questions that the church there had asked of him in a previous letter. These questions pertained to marriage and divorce, Christian liberty, church order, spiritual gifts, and more. In chapters 8 and 9[25] he discusses the area of Christian liberty.

Chapter 8 approaches a teaching about liberty that directly affects few today but relays principles that are applicable to all of us who who wish to honor our Lord, live a victorious life, and enjoy the fruit of the spirit mentioned later in chapter five. It concerns eating meat that has been offered to idols and how this affects both those who participate in this action and the believers who could be adversely influenced by this action.

In summary, the first few verses advise us that we have knowledge that an idol is nothing, there is only one true God, and that the act of eating or not eating meat offered to idols neither helps us nor hurts us. "Love," not knowledge, is that which edifies or builds up. (vs. 1-8).

The "caution" warning begins in verse 9, "But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak." This is due to the fact that, "Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled." (v. 7). In this case, our actions could injure a weaker brother (vs. 8-12). His conclusion to handling this dilemma is, "Wherefore, if meat[26] make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend." (v. 13).

This kind of sounds like a "catch-all" verse for a believer permanently giving up eating meat for the rest of his life. This verse, as is so with any other, needs to be interpreted in agreement with its context.

First of all, let us define some important terms which are used here and in other related passages. We will see these words again in our study on liberty.

"Stumblingblock" in verse 9.  (πρόσκομμα - pros'-kom-mah) is also translated "stumblingstone," "stumbling," and "offence," meaning "that which trips up," an occasion for sin or apostasy." 

Offend" in verse 13. (σκανδαλίζω - skan-dal-id'-zo). The noun form is σκάνδαλον - (skan'-dal-on), meaning to entrap, trip up. or entice to sin or apostasy.

The issue in this passage is whether our actions will be a factor in causing someone to sin. If we love, then we will not unnecessarily injure another person. We see from the definition of these words, which are key factors in determining our responsibilities, that our liberty should not necessarily be curtailed just because someone does not like either what we do nor the message that we proclaim. Paul just got through saying in verse 11 that he was being persecuted for a message that some did not like. If Jesus or the apostles had restricted their message or their ministry to others because they might be offended in that sense, then they rarely would have been obedient to God's Word. Whenever we teach God's Word in Satan's domain, there will be people who don't like it. Obedience to God brings persecution (2 Tim. 3:12).

Is Paul telling us in verse 13 that, if someone is offended when he eats meat, that he would never eat meat again? How does he handle his liberty here and in anticipated future encounters? Let us look now at the circumstances surrounding the situation.

We are not talking about someone who simply has a critical or legalistic spirit not liking some action of the strong believer. The meaning of the key deciding words have to do with entrapping or enticing someone into sin; i.e. injuring a brother in Christ.

Another important factor in determining how this applies to us is that the context is speaking about two believers of different persuasions concerning their liberty. One believer realizes that he has the freedom to eat meat offered to idols. The other believer does not believe that he has the freedom to partake of this meat. His conviction is not due to simply not eating meat in general as in vegetarianism[27] for health reasons or for his aversion to contributing to animals being killed. His religious beliefs are that he is displeasing to God if he does eat.

The believer who realizes his liberty, in this case, is not just eating meat offered to idols, but is actually going into the idol's temple to eat meat offered to idols (v. 10).  

I suggest that the implication here is that if Paul's actions of going into an idol's temple and eating meat that had been offered to idols caused someone at that time and in that locale to stumble, or be enticed to sin, then he would not in those same circumstances repeat those same actions. I infer that since this action is not inherently sin, that he may have freedom to handle a similar situation in a different manner while in a different location or with different observers.

Am I taking improper liberties with the text? If Paul was saying that this one situation dictates that he should lovingly relinquish his liberty the same way in every situation which he would encounter in the future, then it seems to be in conflict with his teaching and actions presented elsewhere. Let us look further in the text:

 In the first part of 1 Cor. 9, Paul gives examples of his freedom to do certain things, including being paid for his Bible teaching, but also how he voluntarily limits his freedom under certain circumstances for the furtherance of the Gospel. His "modus operandi" in these situations is as follows:

1 Cor.  9:19  For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.

20  And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;

21  To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.

22  To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

 In various audiences and different circumstances Paul did certain things and restrained from doing certain things for the ministry's sake. He displayed loving discernment and sacrifice. It should be apparent that, in his effort to minister to different types of people, that he could not go both ways at the same time nor do the same thing permanently in all situations (e.g. he could not in every circumstance be as a Jew[28] and in every situation be as a Gentile, especially at the same time. cf. v. 20). He did not compromise his stand for Christian liberty but he exercised it judiciously in love where it was appropriate. Without endorsing or participating in sin, he adapted his actions and methods to facilitate his ministry to various types of people.[29]  It is important to note, as with the theme of this epistle, that he did not change the content of his message in order to please others (Gal. 1:10; 1 Thess. 2:4).

Paul adds more on the same subject in the following chapter, chapter 10: The first part of the chapter speaks about Israel's failures in their wilderness wanderings, including idolatry. He then approaches how we are to apply this information:

1 Cor. 10:23. All things are lawful for me,[30] but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. 24. Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth.[31] 25. Whatsoever is sold in the shambles [meat market], that eat, asking no question for conscience sake:... 27. If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake. 28. But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof: 29. Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience?...  31. Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. 32 . Give none offence,[32] neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: 33. Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.

In summary, Paul seems to be telling us that all things are permissible to him (I believe that he is limiting "all" to the context, the areas of liberty discussed; certainly not to sin), but some things are not expedient (beneficial, profitable) nor do they edify (build up), (v. 23). If you are presented food that might have been offered to idols, go ahead and eat it unless someone mentions that fact and might be injured by your actions (vs. 25-29). Whatever we eat or drink, do all to the glory of God (v. 31). Seek to not let our actions, even those in which we have liberty, trip up another person. Our goal is that others will be saved[33] (vs. 32, 33).

It seems apparent that Paul is urging us to judge each situation with loving discernment, but not necessarily for us to be making all of our own future liberty restrictions based upon one particular situation. We are always to stand for our liberty (Gal. 5:1), but not to exercise that liberty indiscriminately. (Gal. 5:13).

Another passage in which this subject is discussed is Romans, chapter 14. I used to think that this chapter was a passage concerning "borderline" actions of the believer; the "gray areas"[34] in which only carnal believers tended to dabble. My further study has convinced me that it is an important treatise on areas of liberty in our Christian life; how to handle them and how not to mishandle them.

Each of us as believers are at different levels of maturity in various areas of our lives. We all come from different backgrounds and have experienced unique trials which have helped to mold and influence us. Each one of us is weaker or stronger in some area than the next believer. In spite of our differences we need to learn to live harmoniously with each other.[35] This passage emphasizes the necessity of not improperly judging each other. The principles presented in this chapter could go a long way toward achieving that goal of harmony if they were implemented.[36]

I urge all to further study the chapter but we will try to hit some highlights which pertain to this issue. Let us see some similar concepts evident in the chapter. The following is the Bible text with some added brief comments.

Rom. 14:1.  Him that is weak in the faith[37] receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.

2.  For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.

In this context, the weak brother is the one who believes that he cannot eat meat (possibly to avoid the possibility that it had been offered to idols) but permits himself to only eat vegetables. The strong believer is the one who realizes that he has liberty to eat both (cf. Rom. 15:1).

The NASB translates the last phrase of verse one as, "...but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions." He is not saying that these issues should not be discussed at times but that the discussion should not be for passing judgment on their personal convictions.

3.  Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.

What should be the response of the weak brother (14:2) and the strong brother (cf. 15:1) toward each other? In this verse we are told that the one who realizes that he has this liberty should not despise (hold at low esteem or see as contemptible) the one who chooses not to eat meat. The weaker brother is not to judge (or criticize) the one who realizes his liberty in this area. We would see more healthy spiritual growth in believers and the local church would be more effective for the cause of Christ if both of these principles were more frequently applied. God receives (welcomes) those of both persuasions, just as we are told to do in verse one. Please note also that the stronger brother is not told to change his doctrine due to the scruples of the weaker brother. He is told to stand for his own Christian liberty but also to maintain loving attitudes and actions toward the brother.

A reason given here for not improperly judging the brother is because "God hath received him." Another reason is given in verse 10; we will all "stand before the judgment seat of Christ."

4.  Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.

A servant needs to be subservient to his own master. Neither you nor I are another believer's master. When viewed in the light of harsh reality, the other believer has the same Master as do we. We have no right to judge him in these liberty issues. In contrast, we will soon be told in verse 13 what we are to judge. "Standeth," "be holden up," and "stand" in this verse are all from the same root Greek word.

5.  One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.

Paul now mentions a second area of differing opinions; the significance of special days. Some of this turmoil, as with the eating of certain foods, probably was related to the Jewish customs and commands about celebrating various special days. It is also conceivable that a Gentile who had been converted out of paganism could harbor a revulsion to anything remotely connected to his previous pagan practices whether it be food or celebrating special days. Please see footnote  241 for some thoughts concerning celebrating "Christian" holidays.

6.  He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.

7.  For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.

8.  For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's.

9.  For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.

Paul admonished the believers in Colossae: “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:” (Col. 2:16). He did not advise either the forsaking or the following of such customs, but rather reminded his readers of their relative unimportance. Those were "a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ."(Col. 2:17). Both parties were going by their own conscience and trying to honor the Lord. Both parties belong to the Lord. So therefore, verse 10:

10.  But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

The question about us judging our brother is related to these areas of liberty, not concerning obvious sin. Out of love for God and our brother we have some accountability to admonish those in sin (e.g. Matt. 18:15-17). The Judgment Seat[38] of Christ is not about sin. It is a judgment of our works for reward or loss of reward (2 Cor. 5:10, 11; 1 Cor. 3: 11-17). Our sin has already been judged at the cross. Sin in our life will reap  unpleasant results (Gal. 6:7; Heb. 12:6; et al), but the complete payment for sin has already been made by Jesus (Heb. 10:10-14).

11.  For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.

12.  So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

These two verses elaborate on the judgment of the works of every believer at the judgment seat of Christ mentioned in verse 10. It might also carry further ramifications for the unsaved also as in Phil. 2:10 and Rev. 20:12-15.

13.  Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way.

14 . I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.

We are not to be judging each other in our areas of liberty anymore but we are to judge not misusing our liberty to cause another brother to stumble into sin. "Stumblingblock" (pros'-kom-mah) and "occasion to fall," (skan'-dal-on) both have to do with tripping up or ensnaring a brother into sin.

15.  But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.

16.  Let not then your good be evil spoken of:[39]

When I first read verse 16, I wondered, "How can I control what others think about my actions?" The answer to that question is, "I can't." There have been times in my life when I lovingly sacrificed for someone else and they completely misinterpreted my motives. I can sometimes influence others but my responsibility is for me to be right before God, not to control others. Those whose goal is to control others will lead  a very frustrating life due to the fact that so many others maintain the very same goal. This produces constant and unnecessary conflict.

What is the verse saying? Again, we need to consider the context. See the previous verse. If I am improperly exercising my liberty by eating meat (or by flaunting other liberties) and causing injury to a brother in Christ, then I am not walking in love and am causing "my good to be evil spoken of." Paul is telling us not to do that.

17.  For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

18.  For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.

19.  Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

Our goal in using our liberty is to edify others. We need always to "stand fast in our liberty" (5:1) but that does not mean that we always need to exercise that liberty. In some instances we sin by harming the weaker brother.

20.  For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence.

21.  It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.

It is interesting to note in this passage concerning Christian liberty, that eating meat and drinking wine[40] are placed on the same level in regard to the potential for other believers to stumble. The issue here is not in defining an inherently "taboo" activity, but guarding against misusing our liberty and thereby injuring a weaker brother.

22.  Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.

23.  And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

In summary of Romans 14, a couple of paragraphs from MacArthur's commentary on Romans are helpful:

"In matters that are not specifically commanded or forbidden in Scripture, it is always wrong to go against conscience, because our conscience represents what we actually believe to be right. To go against our conscience, therefore, is to do that which we believe is wrong. And although an act or practice in itself may not be sinful, it is treated as sinful for those who are convinced in their own minds that it is wrong, and produces guilt.

It is also sinful, however, to try to impose our personal convictions on others, because, in doing so, we are tempting them to go against their own consciences. Paul is therefore giving a twofold command: Do not compromise your own conscience in order to conform to the conscience of another believer and do not attempt to lead another believer to compromise his conscience to conform to yours."

There are likely some who are uncomfortable with the general direction that we are going with the believer's liberty, i.e. that in some circumstances we should forsake our liberty out of love for the brother, but specifically, that we are free to openly practice this same liberty in other circumstances. These same objectors might offer 1 Thess. 5:22 to support their belief: "Abstain from all appearance of evil."

On the surface this verse seems kind of "cut and dried" to be an admonition that if someone might think of our action as possibly looking to be wrong (i.e. to have the appearance of evil), we simply should refrain from performing that action.

In favor of this interpretation is the fact that in many cases, that advice is prudent. Many examples could be given but one representative example which comes to mind is when a male pastor is counseling a female in his office without any other witnesses present in the same room, just leave the door open to avoid any basis for someone to create unnecessary suspicion of impropriety.

As wise as it might be to implement this advice in many situations, I do not believe that the verse is saying that. If this interpretation is to be taken as the one intended by the author, then we run into the same "roadblock" as was mentioned in our comments on not creating a stumblingblock to the weaker believer. Many times Jesus and the apostles did not adhere to the same admonition. In their obedient service to God they frequently performed actions which appeared to others to be wrong.

 The correct definition of significant words is crucial. The word "appearance" is εἶδος (i'-dos) and means "form," "fashion, or "shape." In the KJV it is translated, "shape," "fashion," "sight,' and "appearance." Based upon this definition it appears that the verse is warning us not necessarily to abstain from whatever might appear to be evil, but to abstain from every form or type of actual evil.

This interpretation also fits the context. The latter part of the chapter is replete with what I call "one-liners;" terse and varied exhortations for us as believers. Verse 21, just before the verse in question, exhorts us to, "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." "Prove" here is δοκιμάζω (dok-im-ad'-zo) and means to approve, discern, or allow by testing or examination.

We are told in verse 21 to discern all things and to hold fast to that which is good. After discerning that which is good, in verse 22 we are then, in contrast, told to abstain from every form of evil. Obedience to this command is dependent upon us discriminating between good and evil as is requested in verse 21. This makes more sense to me. If you see it differently, I am open to change if shown that I am wrong.

I am aware that most of the cults and much of "Christendom" differs with what has been presented in this study on salvation by grace through faith and not of works (Eph. 2:8, 9).[41] Many of those who claim the Bible to be their authority also differ with our stand on the liberty issue for  believers due to their assumption that it leads believers to loose living (cp. Titus 2:11-13). Perhaps even some readers of this study disagree with my interpretations which have been presented. Well, guess what? You have that liberty! Let's do it in love so that believers can be edified and our Savior glorified.

We are all accountable to be diligent in our own study of the Bible (2 Tim. 2:15). God's Word is the authority. We can all learn from each other if we are teachable. Show me in the Bible where I am wrong and I will change. I take God's Word seriously and I also take the responsibility of teaching it seriously (James 3:1).

In our comments on Gal. 5:1, we offered a practical question for consideration:

"But what about areas in my life in which the Bible grants me liberty, but in which some believer is being caused to stumble by my actions. Do I continue in this action around that person because I have liberty? Most would argue; "Absolutely not." If not, do I then go to the other extreme to change my doctrine and believe that this area of my liberty is inherent sin for me?"

If our interpretation of the preceding passages is correct, then we hope that this question has answered itself. In summary: Every believer of this age has liberty in Christ. Whatever God says is sin, is sin. This liberty is not freedom to sin but is to be used for the glory of God in loving service to Him and others. If the exercising of that liberty is harming another believer or hindering someone from believing and being eternally saved, then we are to forego the exercising of that liberty in that situation. We should continue to stand for the liberty that we have in Christ but not to flaunt it in front of the weaker brother nor despise the weaker brother for his adherence to his conscience. The criterion for our actions is not the Mosaic law, but should be love.

We have spent some time on the "liberty" aspect of verse 13 because it embodies important and often neglected and misunderstood doctrine that is essential to the balanced Christian life.

14.  For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Paul quotes here from Lev. 19:18 (see also Rom. 13:8, 10). This supplements the command of verse 13 that we are to "by love serve one another." If someone wishes to "fulfill" the law, then this verse is the answer.[42] Some have embraced an unhealthy imbalance from this principle. We have seen that love is the proper motive for our service to others but some believe that their version of love trumps sound doctrine. There is something seriously wrong when an ecumenical spirit prevails to the degree that people believe that it is loving, or even permissible, to compromise God's basic truth and just "get along with others" who are teaching heresy.

If we place any value on the emphasis of the first four chapters of Galatians we should realize that fundamental Bible doctrine is important. It is not loving to compromise the truth of the Gospel message and tacitly endorse people going to hell for the sake of religious "unity." How can we claim to be loving and promote a "salvation" message of faith-plus-works that will not save? Christian love entails much more than all of us holding hands and singing Kum Ba Yah.

15.  But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.

"But" in contrast to those who love their neighbor as themselves. "...If ye bite and devour one another." This phrase is first class conditional in the Greek, meaning that the statement is assumed to be true from the standpoint of the speaker. Even if Paul did not have first-hand knowledge of the situation, it is reasonable to assume that this type of action existed in the churches there. This was far from the biblical ideal of believers dwelling together in loving unity and it hindered their testimony and effectiveness.

It is almost axiomatic that where legalism prevails, there also prevails a judgmental and critical spirit along with its corresponding lack of love. "...Take heed that ye be not consumed one of another." The result of this type of action is destructive. The Christian army seems to be the only one who shoots its own troops.

Some have called this Christian cannibalism. What an indictment. This is not the answer. What then shall we do? See the following verses for God's remedy. It is to be found by walking in alignment with the Holy Spirit.

16.  This I say then, Walk[43]  in the Spirit,[44] and ye shall not fulfil the lust[45] of the flesh.

We have seen in the first 15 verses of chapter 5, the contrast between liberty and bondage. We now embark on the balance of the chapter which illustrates the contrast between the Spirit and the flesh. The principles presented here are essential to victorious Christian living. As per Paul's pattern in his epistles, he first spends some preliminary time presenting sound doctrine, he then explains how to apply it in our lives. We cannot have right living without right doctrine.

" Walk" here is present active imperative, meaning that it is a command for us. In this context, the term, "Walk in the Spirit" here appears to be functionally equivalent to being "led of the Spirit" in verse 16 and the command to "walk in the Spirit" in verse 25. The Greek word for "walk" is different in verse 25 than in verse 16.

To "walk in the Spirit" also seems to be synonymous with being "filled with the Spirit," as in Eph. 5:18, "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled[46] with the Spirit;"

Along the same line, Chafer aptly comments,

"By various terms the Bible teaches that there are two classes of Christians: those who “abide in Christ,” and those who “abide not”; those who are “walking in the light,” and those who “walk in darkness”; those who “walk by the Spirit,” and those who “walk as men”; those who “walk in newness of life,” and those who “walk after the flesh”; those who have the Spirit “in” and “upon” them, and those who have the Spirit “in” them, but not “upon” them; those who are “spiritual” and those who are “carnal”; those who are “filled with the Spirit,” and those who are not."[47] 

Wilkin also appropriately observes in his commentary on Galatians: "To walk in the Spirit means to “live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (2:20). It is the opposite of living “under the law.”

It seems safe to assume that "walk" in the Spirit is just one way of saying to be yielded to, responsive to, or obedient to God's Holy Spirit. It is important to remember that He will never lead you contrary to His Word.

"What is the result of walking in the Spirit? Ye shall not[48] fulfil the lust of the flesh." The desires of the flesh are the natural results of the nature with which we were born (See Gal. 5:19-21). The believer has the provision for victory but this victory is not necessarily guaranteed.

Some Bible teachers teach that the believer is not capable of "really bad" sins and if a person who claims to be a believer does not maintain some uncertain pattern of faithfulness, that this would indicate that he was never saved in the first place (i.e. a false professor) or that he had lost his eternal salvation; an event which is a Biblical impossibility (1 John 5:13; John 10:28).  Does not this passage imply that the works of the flesh could be manifested in the believer if he does not "Walk in the Spirit?" What about the Corinthian believers spoken to in 1 Corinthians? They were involved in more sin and carnality than much of the heathen world. (e.g. 1 Cor. 5:2b).

Paul never expressed any doubt that the Corinthian believers were eternally saved.[49] He warned them that their carnality would result in them suffering great loss at the judgment seat of Christ (1 Cor. 3:11-17) and experiencing God's loving chastening for His children (1 Cor. 11:30-32).

Being filled with the Spirit is not to be confused with being baptized in/by/with the Spirit.[50] We are nowhere told in the Bible to be baptized in/by/with the Spirit.[51] The reason for this is that all  believers of this dispensation are already baptized by the spirit into the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13). Spirit baptism occurs only once in a believer's life; when he believes in Jesus. Filling of the Spirit occurs or does not occur many times as the believer chooses to obey the Holy Spirit.

Three verses which have to do with our responsibilities concerning the Holy Spirit:

Eph. 4:30, And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye were sealed until the day of redemption.

Eph. 5:18, And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

I Thess. 5:19. Quench not the Spirit.

These are all forms of obedience or faithfulness for the believer. Our hope of victory lies not in the law, nor our good resolutions and intentions, but in complete submission and yielding to the Spirit's word of grace.

Please note that verse 16 says, "...walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust." It does not say, "Don't fulfill the lusts of the flesh and you will be spiritual." This is a case of our choice to be yielded to Him and His power working through us. This parallels the command in the Eph. 6:10-20 passage about putting on our spiritual armor where the command is given; you "be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might." The focus is not primarily to stay away from the desires of the flesh, which is wise to do, but to stay close to walking in the Spirit. Therein is the power to overcome the desires of the flesh.

Don't be discouraged if you honestly realize that you as a believer still sin. You are in good company. The Apostle John, who also had a flesh nature just as we have, had been saved about 60 years when he penned the following verse:

"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." (1 John 1:7).

 If this is so, and it is, what should be the proper response to this predicament? The answer is found in the next verse:

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:8).

In spite of the fact that some Bible teachers falsely claim that we must confess our sins to God in order to receive eternal life, this verse is speaking about those who are already saved and the context is speaking about fellowship with God, not receiving eternal life. Please read the context.

When a believer sins he cannot lose his salvation but he loses joy, peace, opportunities for rewards, etc. and he is out of fellowship with God. We are told to "confess our sins" to God. Confess does not mean to beg and plead. The word "confess" here (ὁμολογέω - hom-ol-og-eh'-o) simply and literally means to "speak the same" or in other words, call sin as God does; sin.

When we sin, we should judge the sin (1 Cor. 11:31, 32) and confess the sin in order to get back in fellowship with God. Then what? If we then choose to not obey God further, we would immediately be out of fellowship with Him again. We should judge the sin, confess it, then get back into the spiritual battle along with all of our armament (Eph. 6:10-20). Please see more on the subject of confession of sin and the believer's chastisement in the helpful study entitled. "A Godly View of Sin" found at http://www.freegraceresources.org/sinindex.html, especially pages 7ff.

17.  For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

There is a constant battle going on within us here between the Spirit and the flesh. When we have a decision to make, there are always two opposing votes. Paul did not teach that the old man was eradicated at the time of salvation but that the new man could have victory over the old in this life. Paul said that he had "no confidence in the flesh," (Phil. 3:3). When an unsaved person believes in Jesus, his old nature is not annihilated[52] nor even renovated. He is born again (1 Pet. 1:23) and he now also has a new nature. This is not a rebirth of the old but a new birth from above (John 3:3).[53]

Moral determination on the part of the believer will not control the flesh nor produce the fruit of the Spirit (cf. Gal. 5:22). The believer's efforts to please God in his own strength are destined to fail. Paul amplifies this principle in Romans 7:15-25. Part of this portion of Scripture is as follows:

”For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not." (Rom. 7:18).

In view of this ongoing conflict between the two natures within us, does it not make sense that if we want one of them to prevail, that we should feed and exercise that one and starve the other? We can choose to spend our time in activities that will feed and strengthen our new nature and starve the old, or we can choose to feed and exercise our old nature and quench the Spirit. This is in direct disobedience to the command of I Thess. 5:19: "Quench not the Spirit" and other similar exhortations.

We see this general principle in practice in the secular arena. In the boxing profession boxers are matched in weight class divisions in order to have a somewhat equal boxing match. If they created an unequal match between a 250 pound behemoth and a 150 pound wimp, there would not be much of a battle.

Can we apply this in our Christian life? If we choose to diligently and daily study God's Word (2 Tim. 2:15), pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17), fellowship with other believers (Heb. 10:25), share the good news of salvation with others (Acts. 1:8), etc., we would be feeding the "nature" whom we wish to win the battle. This is also likely to work to our detriment if we choose to feed our old nature. It is natural to be under the control of our flesh nature but it is supernatural to be under control of the Spirit.

The lukewarm believer[54] sometimes lives with more present conflict than the one who has walked away from the battle. Perhaps he is feeding both the old and new nature which is within and therefore creating fertile ground with two strong combatants for a spectacular ongoing battle.

18.  But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

"But if ye be led of the Spirit," Contrary to what our emotions and selfish will tells us, and as noted before, the Holy Spirit will never lead us contrary to His Word. (2 Tim. 2:15); God's Word is our guide, not consensus opinion. (2:Tim. 3:16, 17; John 16:13, 14).

"...Ye are not under the law." We see the same phrase, "for ye are not under the law, but under grace." in Romans 6:14, referring to believers in general, not just to those who are "led of the Spirit." Paul is carrying the thought even further here. He is speaking of how our Christian life should be controlled; by the Holy Spirit and not by the Mosaic law. He has already established the failure of the Law to accomplish what some people had expected but which God never intended it to do. God's Word through His Holy Spirit should be our guide, not the law.

If we "be led of the Spirit," then love, the fruit of the Spirit will reign (v. 22) . Love is the fulfilling of the law (Rom. 13:10).  For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself (Gal. 5:14).

19.  Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

20.  Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

21.  Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

"Now the works of the flesh are manifest," i.e. evident or apparent. We are now presented with a list of not so pretty works of the flesh. These are works that can become apparent in any unsaved person because he is easily guided by the flesh, and in any believer who also can become controlled by the flesh as he chooses not to walk in the Spirit.

This list of 17 works or sins seems to fall into 4 categories:[55] Sexual sins, Religious sins, Personal or social relational sins, and Drunkenness sins.

Sexual sins:

Adultery,[56] Generally referring to sexual relations in which at least one of the participating parties is married to a third party.

Fornication, From πορνεία (por-ni'-ah). Any illicit sexual activity including adultery. Lev. 18 is attributed to containing a list of various forms of fornication along with their legal penalties. In this context and others, adultery and fornication are listed as separate actions although one act could also be both.

Uncleanness, Moral or physical impurity or uncleanness in thought, word, or deed.

Lasciviousness, Licentiousness, filthiness, wantonness, or unbridled lust.

Religious sins:

Idolatry, Anything that is worshiped instead of the one true God.

Witchcraft, Sorcery, magic, from φαρμακεία (far-mak-i'-ah). Having to do with medication or drugs. We see drugs frequently involved with witchcraft today.

Personal or social relational sins:

Hatred, In the plural form, primarily enmity, hostility or ill will between groups. We often see this hostility manifested toward, classes of people, races of people, and also against individuals. Along this line, I once heard a black Bible teacher wisely state that, "racial prejudice is not a social problem; it's a sin problem."  

Variance, Strife, discord or quarreling.

Emulations, Jealousy, indignation, selfish ambition.

Wrath, Passion, fierceness, rage, indignation. Realize that anger is not necessarily wrong. Jesus was angry about the moneychangers in the temple. He handled his anger in a righteous manner. (See Eph. 4:26).

Strife,  Intrigue, contention, strife.

Seditions, Disunion, division, sedition,

Heresies, Party spirit or sect, disunion, division.

Envyings, Ill will, jealousy, spite,  envy.

Murders, Slaughter, murder.

Drunkenness sins:

Drunkenness, Alcohol intoxication

Revellings. Carousing, reveling, rioting, uncontrolled passions.

"...And such like:" In other words, this is a representative and not exhaustive list. "...Of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past,..." Paul had forewarned them of these things while he was with them.

"...That they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." Wow! Does this contradict all that we have seen thus far about justification by faith? If our life shows evidence of some of these works did we lose our salvation or were we never really saved even though we believed in Jesus as per John 3:16? Of course this is not so. The brief answer to this dilemma is the fact that entering the kingdom is not the same as inheriting the kingdom.[57] Inheriting has to do with ownership and ruling there, not entrance into the kingdom. The Galatian believers were already saved and heaven-bound. We are simply talking rewards or loss of rewards, not how to be justified.[58]

We have seen the ugly results of our sinful nature, now let us see the fruit of the Spirit. This is in contrast to the works of the flesh which we saw in the previous verses.

22.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

23.  Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Verses 19-21 22 shows us the works of the flesh. In these two verses we see the fruit of the Spirit. "Works" speaks of effort, toil, and labor. In contrast, fruit does not involve work,[59] it is a natural production of the source.[60] The fruit of the Spirit is the result of faith and yielding to the Holy Spirit. Works are plural, the fruit of the Spirit is singular and constitutes a unity; all of which should be found in a believer who lives under control of the Holy Spirit. This fruit is not produced by the believer but by the Holy Spirit through the believer who is walking in the Spirit.

This fruit seems to consist of three triads of virtues:

1. Personal fruit - love, joy, peace. These have to do with our own subjective personal life.

2. Outreaching fruit to others - longsuffering, gentleness, goodness. This is our attitude in grace toward others.

3. Up-reaching fruit - toward God. They are faith, meekness, temperance.

In summary, we have duty toward self, others, and God.

1. Personal fruit

"Love," ἀγάπη (ag-ah'-pay). Sometimes referred to as divine love because it is sacrificial and works for the benefit of the one who is loved. See 1 Cor. 13.

Joy, a deep and abiding inner rejoicing which was promised to those who abide in Christ. This is not to be confused with happiness which depend much upon happenings. Our joy does not depend upon circumstances. It rests in our confidence in God's control of all things. Joy and rejoicing are the themes of the Philippians epistle. Paul was in jail at the time but still had joy.  

Peace, an inner repose and quietness even in the face of adverse circumstances. It defies human understanding. Philippians 4 expands on how we can have the peace of God.

2. Outreaching fruit to others

Longsuffering, patience, forbears under provocation, contains no thoughts of retaliation even when wrongfully treated.

Gentleness, kindness, a benevolence of action such as God demonstrated to us.

Goodness, virtue, uprightness of soul. action reaching out to others even when it is not deserved.

3. Up-reaching fruit - toward God

Faith, πίστις (pis'-tis), noun form of the verb "believe," πιστεύω (pist-yoo'-o). The adjectival form is πιστός (pis-tos') and is usually translated "faithful." This is not referring to God giving a person faith in order to be saved.[61] The recipients of this message were already saved by grace through faith and had the indwelling Holy Spirit. How could an unsaved person manifest the fruit of the Spirit if they did not even have the Spirit? The Galatian believers needed sanctification, i.e. the Holy Spirit's control in their lives.

A number of commentaries maintain that this faith really means "faithfulness" or "trustworthiness." Even though faithfulness (acting on our faith) is acutely involved in the obedient believer's life (1 Cor. 4:2), that does not seem to be the primary emphasis of this word in this verse. Faithfulness might be the result of  exercising this faith. God certainly could have used the word for "faithful" if He chose.

I suggest that the "fruit of the Spirit" faith is more like that expounded upon in Heb. 11, which is frequently called the "faith" chapter. Those mentioned in this "faith hall of fame" list were already believers before they accomplished their recorded acts of faith. The faith discussed was not to believe in Jesus for eternal life, but that of those who were already believers[62] and were assured of eternal life. They exercised their faith in doing great things for God against great odds and sacrifice. This is faith in action and in that sense, they then became faithful. This is the same admonition that is given to believers today: "Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful." (1 Cor. 4:2).

Meekness, kindness, humility, strength under control.

Temperance: self-control.

And for the summary statement, "...Against such there is no law." This comment concerning the nine-fold fruit of the Spirit is a rebuke to the legalists. The law can neither prohibit these qualities nor can it produce them.  

24.  And they that are Christ’s[63] have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

"And they that are Christ’s..." We as believers belong to Christ. He has bought and paid for us (1 Cor. 6:19, 20). "...Have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts." This statement is neither a question nor a command. It is a declaration of fact. Paul is saying that those who have believed in Jesus as their Savior already have crucified or put to death the flesh with its passions and desires.

This is saying the same thing that we see in Romans 6 and 7.[64] The moment that we believe in Jesus, we have died and rose again with Christ to a new life and we no longer from this point on have to listen to the flesh. We do not have to be controlled by the flesh because we have died to the flesh and it has been crucified to us. That does not mean that it is not active. It just means that it does not have the authority over us that it did before. Before we were saved the only power that we had was the flesh.

We are now a new creation in Christ. We were spiritually dead and now we are alive (Eph. 2:1). We now have the indwelling Holy Spirit. Those who belong to Christ have put to death the flesh with its affections and lusts. That does not mean that they are not there. It means that we do not have to obey them.

An example of this principle is that when I was employed in a large corporation I had a department manager who had authority over me. If he told me that he wanted me to complete a certain project, I would then go ahead and work on that project.

Suppose that I am now employed in a different company sitting at my desk and this same manager calls me and requests that I work on another project for him. I could reply that I would get right on it, but a more appropriate response would be to advise him that I don't work for him anymore and that he no longer has any authority over me.

We as believers no longer have to listen to the flesh. We can respond the same way and realize that we no longer work for that manager who has no authority over us. We can choose to "Walk  in the Spirit," so that we do not "fulfil the lust of the flesh" (v. 16). We then will not display the works of the flesh (vs. 19-21),  but will see the "fruit of the Spirit" produced in our lives (vs. 22, 23).

When we hear of believers who "have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts" we tend to think of Gal. 2:20, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."

Wilkin's comments[65] on this verse are helpful:

"In 2:20 Paul used the passive voice to say, “I have been crucified with Christ.” Here he uses the active voice: those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Why the change?

The former spoke of having been crucified with Christ, but did not mention the flesh and its passions and desires. The former is true of all believers. This latter may or may not be, depending on how one understands the words those who are Christ’s. Does this refer to all believers? Or only to believers who are living by faith?

In light of the use of the same expression in 3:29 (the only difference being the absence of the definite article before Christou), it is probable that all believers are in view. Even legalistic believers have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. That, of course, looks at believers in terms of their position, not their experience.

When a person comes to faith in Christ, God crucifies his flesh with Christ. Yet in a sense the person can be said to have crucified the flesh since the act of believing in Christ is something he did and it is that act that results in co-crucifixion with Christ.

Paul knows nothing of a believer who is unable to escape the "passions and desires" of the flesh. That is the birthright of every believer. Yet what is true of all believers in their position is not necessarily true of all in their experience. Believers should live in light of their position. Yet as the next two verses make clear, they often do not."

25.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

"If we live in the Spirit," This phrase is first class conditional in the Greek, meaning that the statement is assumed to be true from the standpoint of the speaker. It could be translated "since we live in the Spirit...." We are born again by the Spirit (John 3:3-8). He is the source of our spiritual life. "...Let us also walk[66] in the Spirit.[67] Since we live by means of the Spirit we are also commanded to live our life by means of the Spirit, i.e. keeping in step with Him. This echoes the thought of Gal. 3:3, "Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?" Our life should mirror what we are.

26.  Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

Paul now warns us about three sins which apparently plagued the Galatian church. " Let us not be desirous of vain glory," (lit. self-conceited, eager for empty glory), such as those mentioned in 6:13 who wanted the Galatian believers to be circumcised for their own glory (cf. Php. 2:3). Paul sought glory for the message of what Jesus had done for the world (Gal.6:14). "...provoking one another (Eph. 4:31, 32), envying one another (Rom. 13:13; 1 Cor. 3:3; 2 Cor. 12:20: 1 Tim. 6:4)." This important request embodies the results of legalism in the church.

Let me finish out the comments on this chapter with some personal experiences (for whatever they might be worth) which tie in to the message of the chapter. Over many years of varied types of ministry we have worked with many Christian leaders and in or with many churches; all who claim to be Bible believing and teaching.

Most that we have seen adhere to some sort of legalism in reference to receiving eternal life. This is usually in the form of "believe in Jesus but you must also (fill in the blank or blanks)." This "faith-plus-works" requirement for salvation frequently presents itself in one of two ways: what we call "front-loading" the Gospel, i.e. you must do something more than believe to be saved, or in "back-loading" the Gospel, i.e. if you fail in some important area after you believe, either you lose your salvation or you did not really believe. Both of these doctrines conflict with God's Word.

Of the few that we have seen whom we believe understand and teach the truth and clarity of the eternal salvation Gospel, a large percentage of even these seem to be legalistic in their teaching of sanctification or how a believer should live and grow in grace (2 Pet. 3:18). They would wholeheartedly agree with the Galatians message that justification is by faith alone in Jesus alone as per Gal. 2:16, but they tend to run amuck in the rules that they impose on the believer.

Much of this is well-intended as they lament the sad state of many believers today. The truth of the matter is that it does not do much good to try to combat error with more error. In these legalistic churches we have experienced a distinct dampening of the freedom to serve by love and a resulting hindrance to the unsaved getting saved and believers growing in grace. The resulting critical spirit betrays the lack of love for the brethren and the truth of God's Word.


Overview of Chapter Six:

In chapter five we saw two contrasts:

1. Liberty, not bondage 5:1-15.

2. The Spirit, not the flesh 5:16-26.

In this chapter we will see two more:

3. Others, not ourselves 6:1-10.

4. God's glory, not man's approval 6:11-18.

[1] This brief outline was gleaned from the excellent audio Galatians study by Dr. Chuck Missler, http://www.khouse.org/6640_cat/biblestudy/galatians.

[2] Gal. 2:19  "For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God."

Rom. 6:14  "For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace."

Rom. 7:6 "But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter."

Rom. 10:4  "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth."

[3] "Law" in the OT isתּרה  (to-raw') A precept, statute, or instruction. Please see footnote 3 for its usage in the Bible.

[4] "Keep." There is a textual variation here; τηρήσετε (indicative mood) or τηρήσατε (imperative mood). In other words, Jesus could be saying, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments." or exhorting them that if they love Him to keep His commandments. We favor the latter, which is the KJV/Majority Text rendering. It seems from other scripture that both statements are biblical concepts.

[5] The New American Standard Bible. Among the modern translations which used the Critical text for its NT basis, we believe the NASB to be one of the more literal and accurate. We also believe, for reasons to complex to offer here, the Majority text family of manuscripts (the basis of the KJV NT) to be more accurate than the Critical text in some places. This is not the conviction of all Bible scholars.

[6] A quite literal translation for any who might be interested is, "For the freedom (dative case) us Christ has freed you stand fast (or persevere) (imperative mood) therefore and not again yoke of slavery you be enslaved (imperative)." Wilkin in "Grace NT Commentary" notes, "The word order here is significant. The last word is eleutheras (free).It is placed last for emphasis [in Gal. 4:31]. It is also the first word in the next sentence [in Gal. 5:1]. This back-to-back arrangement is a powerful way of emphasizing words, especially in a letter that was to be read publicly."

[7] This general 5  point outline was derived from the audio Galatians study, by Pastor Dennis Rokser, http://www.DuluthBible.org .

[8] The specific word "hath" is not in the original. The past tense is in verb which contains both the action and the tense, or the time of the action. The verb ἠλευθέρωσε (translated "hath made [us] free") is in the aorist tense which means that the action occurred at point in time in the past.

[9] "Become of no effect" is the passive form of one word, καταργέω (kat-arg-eh'-o) and means, "to be rendered ineffectual or inoperative." This is the same Greek word which is translated "of none effect" in 3:17, and "ceased" in 5:11.

[10] "Fallen" (ἐκπίπτω - ek-pip'-to) to drop away; specifically be driven out of one’s course; figuratively to lose, become inefficient: - be cast, fail, fall (away, off), take none effect. The KNJV translates the phrase, "You have become estranged from Christ....” This same Greek word is translated as "hath taken none effect" in Rom. 9:6.

[11] "...Through the Spirit" or "by the Spirit" (dative case). In contrast to "by the flesh."

[12] "Availeth," (ἰσχύω - is-khoo'-o) to have or exercise force, from a Greek root word meaning, "strength," "power," or "might."

[13] "Love" ἀγάπη (ag-ah'-pay). Sometimes referred to as divine love because it is sacrificial and works for the benefit of the one who is loved. This is the same love that God shows the world (John 3:16), that a husband is commanded to show to his wife (Eph. 5:25), and that we are to show others when we speak God's truth in love (Eph. 4:15).

"Love" is mentioned 4 times in Galatians and only in this chapter: Here in 5:6; 5:13, 14; and 5:22.

[14] Deut. 6:4, 5, "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might." The word "Hear" (Shemah - שׁמע) means more than just to hear the words, but also carries with it the implication to heed or obey them.  

[15] Have you ever wondered about the exhortation that Jesus gave His disciples on the night before His crucifixion in John 13:34?  "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another." What is so new about this when compared to Lev. 19:18? I think that the difference is that under the law we were to love others as we love ourselves. Jesus amplified this concept by commanding that we love others as He loves us.

[16] This 4 point list is from the teaching of Dr. A. Ray Stanford who finished the race well as discussed in comments on 5:7. I am indebted to this man and his faithfulness as he was the first to present the plan of salvation to me in a clear and accurate manner that I could understand. He was a faithful witness to many thousands and also discipled me and many others to service to our Savior. Indirectly he contributed much to this Galatians study. His website, http://www.Eph289.com is still being maintained by some who loved him and whom he had blessed.

[17] The verbs here referring to the trouble-maker are 3rd person singular. Apparently one person was the leader of the dissension.

[18] Please download and read a helpful study on this passage and the important topic of the believer's armor from  http://www.freegraceresources.org/armor.html

[19] "Cut off," (ἀποκόπτω - ap-ok-op'-to) From 2 Greek words that literally mean "chop off" or amputate.

[20] As did the pagan priests of the cult of Cybele in Asia Minor.

[21] Another example is found in Jude 1:3, 4 where we are exhorted that we, "...should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." We are warned of "...ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ." This is the same "lasciviousness" as mentioned in the list of "the works of the flesh" in 5:19.

[22] "Occasion" (ἀφορμή - af-or-may') "opportunity," Lit. "a starting point."

[23] "One another." We encourage diligent Bible students to look up all the "one anothers" in the NT. Most of the 43 examples are exhortations for us and most are directly related to loving one another. There are also some other important applications to be found in this study.

We again recommend an excellent free Bible study computer program to any who have access to a computer. Please see footnote 166 for more information. This tool makes many types of Biblical research not only possible, but efficient, easy, and even fun.

[24] "Flesh" (σάρξ - sarx) is found 18 times in Galatians. It can refer to "mankind," "humanity" or the "body;" "meat as opposed to bones of man or animal;" or "our carnal human nature," "the old man," "our bent to sin." This is determined by the context. Most of the time in Galatians it refers to the latter as it does here. Interestingly enough, Paul uses the word 118 times (add 5 if you count Hebrews), and it is found only 31 times in the rest of the NT. (It is translated "carnal" in Rom 8:6, 7).

This old nature is not renovated upon believing in Jesus. There is a new birth of God from above. (John 3:3-7, 1 Pet. 1:23). This new birth of God is completely righteous and cannot sin (1 John 3:9). There will be conflict between these two natures until we leave this sinful body. (Gal. 5:17). "Turning over a new leaf" will not save anyone. Both sides of the leaf are rotten. We will see more on this subject in Gal. 5:16 and following.

[25] We suggest that the serious student read the whole context of the passages mentioned that we summarize on this topic.

[26] "Meat" here and in 8:8 is βρῶμα (bro'-mah), i.e. meat or solid food in contrast to drink (cf. 1 Cor. 3:2). "Flesh," used later in this verse is not the usual word translated as "flesh (σάρξ - sarx)," but is κρέας (kreh'-as), meaning "flesh" from a sacrificed animal or as in a butchers meat." It is used only here and in Rom. 14:21.



[27] It has been humorously said by someone who was opposed to being a vegetarian, "If God wanted me to be a vegetarian, then why did he make animals out of meat?  In addition, I saw a sign advertising a restaurant which also served some local wild animal meat. It showed a picture of a full plate of food and the caption, "There is a place for every animal; right next to the mashed potatoes."

[28] An example of this concept may be how handled circumcision with Timothy and with Titus. He circumcised Timothy (Acts 16:1-3) but did not allow the circumcision of Titus (Gal. 2:3). In different circumstances at different locations he handled his liberty in different manners, but in both circumstances in love for the ministry's sake. 

[29] One practical example of this which we have encountered is the time that we ministered in a church which we saw as being somewhat legalistic. It was taught there that it was wrong for a woman to wear slacks. This was not just a voluntary personal conviction for some individuals, but supposedly a Biblical mandate for all women. My wife and I do not see this as a Biblical requirement but out of love and good judgment my wife wore dresses to the church-related functions, but not necessarily at other times and places. As a result of this and other actions we were able to minister to some there.

My wife always dresses modestly per Biblical admonition even if wearing slacks. It was noteworthy that, in spite of these man-made rules for spirituality, while attending this church I encountered more than a few instances of women wearing what I would consider as not very modest dresses.

If any who are reading this are of the same persuasion that this church was, I suggest that it might be right for you but, per the verses that we are studying, that you should not impose a man-made rule or personal conviction upon another believer.

[30] "Lawful." (ἔξεστι - ex'-es-tee) Though this word is usually translated "lawful," it is not a form of the word "law (νόμος - nom'-os). Another good translation is "permissible."

[31] "Wealth," In the KJV, italicized words are added for the purpose of clarity and sometimes not actually in the original but are implied. There is no word resembling "wealth" in the original text. The verse probably implies that we should not seek primarily our own "welfare" but that of others. Other Bible versions translate it similar to that.

[32] "Non offense" The negative form of προσκόπτω (pros-kop'-to) meaning to "stumble" or "trip up."

[33] "Save" or "salvation" in the NT frequently is not speaking of "eternal life" as many assume, but of some sort of temporal salvation such as saving from death (e.g. Acts 27:20, 31,43) or saving from an unfruitful Christian life (e.g. 1 Tim. 4:16 - i.e. sanctification). I would not be surprised if in this context that it is speaking of both eternal life and how a Christian should live.

In the OT, "Save" or "salvation" is almost always speaking of some sort of physical salvation such as from destruction by enemies, famine, and the like.

[34] How do we respond to so-called "grey areas" of our Christian liberty? First of all, if God's Word says it is sin, it is sin. This is true no matter what our culture or the majority of people think. There are also areas of our lives which some would judge as sin but the Bible does not state them necessarily as such.

Several principles that are helpful in making decisions in these areas (not a complete list):

1. Be discerning, (1 Thess. 5:21, 22; 1 Cor. 10:23; 6:12).

2. Not cause the weaker brother to stumble. (1 Cor. 8:9; Rom. 14:21).

3. Don't judge others for exercising their liberties. (Rom. 14:10). This does not mean that we should not admonish a brother who is in sin.(2 Thess. 3:15; et al).

4. Glorify God (1 Cor. 10:31).

There should be no debate about whether or not a believer has liberty in Christ. The real concern should be about how we exercise this freedom.

[35] Some thoughts about unity: Union is not unity. You can tie two cats' tails together and throw them over a clothesline. You have union, but certainly not unity. Uniformity is not unity. Some churches try to fit everyone into one mold (usually the pastor's). This is not God's plan. He made each of us differently in order to serve Him in various ways (1 Cor. 12). Unity is diversity in harmony. This requires the love that is the fruit of the Holy Spirit (v. 22).

[36] "If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men." (Rom 12:18). Sometimes this goal of harmony is not possible for only one of two parties to achieve. We each are individually accountable to be faithful (1 Cor. 4:2). The results are up to God.

[37] "Weak in the faith." This does not mean that this believer is not believing strongly enough or has an "inferior" faith. Frequently in the NT when the definite article "the" is describing faith, it is speaking of the body of doctrine (e.g. 1 Tim. 4:1; Jude 1:3) and not the quality of one's faith. In other words, this person needs to grow more in knowledge of the truth. Don't get a big head over this. We all need to grow in our Biblical knowledge (1 Cor. 8:2). In this context being “weak” is not necessarily synonymous with being carnal and being “strong” is not necessarily synonymous with being spiritual. We will see more about the spiritual believer in Gal. 6:1.

[38] "Judgment seat," βῆμα (bay'-ma). Literally "a step." By implication "a rostrum, tribunal, or official seat of a judge (cf. John 19:13; Acts 12:21).

[39] "...Be evil spoken of," βλασφημέω (blas-fay-meh'-o). Be blasphemed or reviled.

[40] For any who wish to see more of what the Bible says about a believer drinking wine, please see the Bible study article entitled, "Choosing a Pastor" at http://www.freegraceresources.org/pastorindex.html. See specifically comments and footnotes on 1 Tim. 3:3, "The bishop is to be "not given to wine." Should it  be a surprise to see that wine-drinking is included in areas of liberty that should be regulated by love?

[41] For whatever it is worth, our experience with people not accepting basic and fundamental Bible truths such as salvation by grace through faith, has frequently not been a problem of Bible interpretation, but that of willful unbelief and a lack of basic honesty.

[42] In contrast to the Bible, we are told that the Quran is the holy book for Islam and that Islam is a "peaceful" religion. The Quran has no commands in its pages to love anything. In it I have seen many commands to mutilate or kill the infidel, i.e. the non-Muslim; the Christians and Jews. I am told that there are over one hundred such examples. The Biblical posture is 180 degrees from the Quran concerning loving others. Yahweh (יהוה) gave His Son to die for us. Allah requires his followers' sons to die for him.

[43] "Walk" περιπατέω (per-ee-pat-eh'-o). Literally "to walk about." In some cases, as is here, how one lives or deports himself. (e.g. Rom. 6:4; 8:1; 8:4: 13:13; 14:15; et al).    

[44] "Spirit" πνεῦμα (pnyoo'-mah) used 18 times in Galatians; 8 times in chapter 5. Can refer to "wind or breath, but usually to the spirit of man or to the Holy Spirit.

[45] "Lust," noun in verse 16 (ἐπιθυμία - ep-ee-thoo-mee'-ah) and verb in verse 17 (ἐπιθυμέω - ep-ee-thoo-meh'-o) in verse 17. Means "lust," "covet," but is usually translated "desire." The desire could be for good or for evil depending upon the context. (e.g. Luke 22:15 contra. Matt. 5:28). 

[46] "Fill" πληρόω (play-ro'-o) meaning to imbue or influence. There are other words translated "fill" in the KJV that have a slightly different meaning such as being filled with food or filling a basket, etc..

[47] Excerpt from "He That Is Spiritual," by Lewis Sperry Chafer, "Chapter 3, The filling of the Spirit or True Spirituality." This book is an extremely helpful and well balanced Bible study on the subject. We recommend any believer who wishes to honor God to read and apply its principles. It can be obtained from Bible book stores or downloaded and/or read from several websites including http://www.freegraceresources.org/hethatisspiritual.doc.

[48] "Not" (οὐ μή - ou may) here is from two words in the original. It is a double negative intended for emphasis. This is the same grammatical construction that we see in John 10:28, where we are told that those who believe in Jesus have eternal life and will never (οὐ μή) perish.

[49] In contrast, Paul repeatedly affirmed that the recipients of his epistle were saved: 1 Cor. 1:2; 8; 3:1, 16; 4:10, 15; 6:11, 19, 20; 12:13:15:51-57: et al.

[50] Some may disagree with this statement due to the fact that shortly before His ascension Jesus told the apostles that they would soon be "baptized with the Holy Ghost" (Acts 1:5), and shortly after at Pentecost we are told that they were all "filled with the Holy Ghost" (Acts 2:4). It appears from the context this was not two titles for the same event but that both separate events occurred at Pentecost. Some of these same disciples were later repeatedly "filled" with the Holy Ghost" (Acts 4:8; 4:31), but they were never re-baptized with the Holy Ghost.

[51] There are only 6 verses that use this terminology. They are all in the indicative mood, not in the imperative mood. In other words, they all state something that has happened or will happen, but are not commands to do something:

Matt. 3:11. “...he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.”

Mark 1:8. “I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost."

Luke 3:16. “...he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.”

John 1:33. “...upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.”

Acts 1:5. “...but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence”

Acts 11:16. “Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.”

[52] I have jokingly said that I know that I still have my old nature because my wife has told me so.

[53] This is the text where Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be "born again" in order to see the kingdom of God. "Again" (ἄνωθεν - an'-o-then) means both "from above" and "again." It is translated as both in the KJV.

[54] Please download and read a helpful Bible study about the lukewarm believer of Rev. 3, from http://www.freegraceresources.org/lukewarm.html.

[55] Ron Merryman in his excellent commentary on Galatians labels these groups: Those that "proceed from 1. Sensual passions, 2. Religious passions, 3. Destructive passions, 4. Hedonistic passions." See footnote 266.

[56] Adultery is not always sexual in nature. It seems to carry a nuance of meaning also as the breaking of a covenant, obligation, or a trust. In Jer. 3:9 we see that Israel "committed adultery with stones and with stocks." That is, they were worshiping idols.



[57] This could be compared to the prodigal (wasteful) son who lived in the spiritual foreign country. He forfeited his inheritance but did not lose his sonship (Luke 15:11–32). Please see article "Lost Son, Not Lost Sonship" at http://www.faithalone.org/magazine/y1998/98F1.html

[58] For a more detailed study on this verse please see "Christians Who Lose Their Legacy; Galatians 5:21" http://www.faithalone.org/journal/1991b/Wilkin.html For more on inheritance, see footnote 223 and comments.

[59] This statement is not meant to portray that the obedient Christian life is not involved with obedient works; just that the fruit of the Spirit is just that; the fruit of the Spirit. "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matt. 5:16); "This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men." (Titus 3:5).

[60] I have never seen an orange tree nor an apple tree straining and struggling to produce fruit. It is a natural process of the tree.

[61] This is one of the tenets of Reformed Theology; that God gives the unbeliever the faith to believe in Him for eternal life. The logic progresses then that since God gave the faith, then it must be righteous. Therefore the believer must live a faithful and obedient life or he was never really saved. If all this is so, then good works are a requirement for receiving eternal life. This error conflicts with the major theme of Galatians and also with much of Scripture. Eph. 2:8 is often given to substantiate the claim that faith is the gift of God. For more on this, please see "Is Faith a Gift of God? Ephesians 2:8 Reconsidered" at www.faithalone.org/magazine/y1989/89july1.html

[62] One OT saint mentioned in Heb. 11 is also used as an example of faith in Romans 4, both for justification (vs. 1-3) and in everyday living as mentioned in the balance of the chapter. Abraham was promised a son against impossible human odds but "...being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara's womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform." (Rom. 4:19-21). This is faith in action.

[63] "Christ's" is genitive  case indicating "possession of, belonging to."  

[64] E.g. Rom. 6:6, "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin." The word "destroyed" here is καταργέω (kat-arg-eh'-o) and means "to render inactive or ineffective," not "to annihilate."


[65] From the "Grace New Testament Commentary," "Galatians" by Robert N. Wilkin. Available for purchase from http://www.faithalone.org/bookstore/ntc.html.  If I could only have one NT Commentary, this is the one that I would choose.

[66] "Walk" here is a different Greek word than is found in Gal. 5:16. This word is στοιχέω (stoy-kheh'-o) and is defined as "to march in (military) rank (keep step), that is, (figuratively) to conform to virtue and piety: - walk (orderly)." It seems to be functionally similar to other commands to simply obey or be responsive to God's Holy Spirit.

[67] "Spirit" in both instances in this verse is in the dative case, i.e. instrumental, by means of.