Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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GALATIANS - Chapter 5

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Galatians 5

Supplemental Commentary:

III.  MORAL  5, 1 -- 6, 10

1.  General Counsels  5, 1-26

5, 1-6:  Circumcision Now Voidance of Christ.  If the Galatians regarded the Law as necessary for salvation, then they must renounce Christ.

1.  This may be said to be the key-note of the Epistle.    2.  Paul speaks with the authority of an Apostle against those who think of circumcision as a complement to Baptism.  Christ will be of no advantage to them, since they do not regard Him as the source of salvation.    3.  If circumcision is obligatory, so must the entire Mosaic Law be.    4.  You have put yourselves outside the pale of Christianity; you are incapable of receiving the grace of Christ.    5.  We in the spirit: i.e., in the grace of the New Law, wait for, or "look forward with  intense longing" to the hope of justice.  The latter is the hoped for crown of justice (2 Tim. 4, 8).  In virtue of faith: not by the works of the Old Law.    6.  The Greek Fathers consider "working through" to be passive, i.e., "actuated by" charity.

5, 7-12:  Judgment on Seducers.    7.  You were running well: i.e., you were doing well as Christians.  The metaphor is taken from the races among the Greeks.  The truth means the gospel.    8.  To believe that circumcision is necessary for salvation is not from the eternal Father.    9.  Leaven: here signifies a bad influence, generally in Scripture it is a symbol of evil.  A little: i.e., though the Judaizers be few, they can do great harm.    10.  I have confidence, that when you have fully considered the question, you will retain no opinion which is not part of the doctrine I taught you.  The author of all your confusion will pay the penalty for his guilt by the justice of God.    11.  This falsehood regarding the practice of Paul must have been circulated by his enemies, probably because he induced Timothy to receive circumcision (Acts 16, 3).  As he observes, his persecution by the Jews was a sufficient proof that his doctrine on this point did not suit their views.  Then is the stumbling-block of the cross removed: i.e., if Paul still preaches the necessity of circumcision, then the cross of Christ as a means of salvation, so scandalous to the Jews, is removed.  Such a supposition is clearly absurd.    12.  St. Paul ironically wishes that the Judaizers would go further, and insist even upon castration.

5, 13-26:  How Christians Should Live.    13.  To liberty: freedom from the ceremonial observances of the Mosaic Law.  They are not, however, free of the moral precepts, so as to indulge the lower tendencies of the flesh.    14.  The whole law: as it regards our relation to others.  Cf. Lev. 19, 18.    15.  If they act like wild beasts, they will ruin their Christian community entirely.    16.  Paul now explains what is meant by the liberty spoken of in 13.  The Spirit: the life of grace in man.  Lusts: the evil inclinations of our lower nature.    17.  The reference is to the struggle of man against the weakness of his nature.  The second part of the verse recalls that the flesh desires what is carnal, pleasant, and temporal, but the Spirit, what is spiritual, holy, and eternal.  These are so opposed that frequently we cannot without the Spirit's help do all we would.    19-21.  Paul does not enumerate all the works of the flesh but some specimens which he reduces to four classes: sins of luxury, of false worship, against charity and against temperance.    22 f.  The Apostle now opposes the fruit of the Spirit to the works of the flesh.  He uses the singular fruit to show that they are all united in charity.  They are the effect of the grace of the Holy Spirit acting on the powers and faculties of human nature.  Patience, modesty, and continency are wanting in the Greek.  Faith does not mean the theological virtue, but fidelity.  Those who practice the above-mentioned virtues are not under the Mosaic Law.    25.  It is not enough to have received grace, but we must lead a holy life.    26.  Paul saw in vainglory a special danger to the Galatians, leading to challenges (provoking one another), and rivalries (envying one another).

Confraternity Bible:

Circumcision Now Voidance of Christ  1 Stand fast, and do not be caught again under the yoke of slavery.  2 Behold, I, Paul, tell you that if you be circumcised, Christ will be of no advantage to you.  3 And I testify again to every man who has himself circumcised, that he is bound to observe the whole Law.  4 You who would be justified in the Law are estranged from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.  5 For we in the Spirit wait for the hope of justice in virtue of faith.  6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision is of any avail, nor uncircumcision, but faith which works through charity.

Judgment on Seducers  7 You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth?  8 This persuasion is not from him who calls you.  9 A little leaven ferments the whole mass. 10 I have confidence in you in the Lord, that you will not think otherwise; but he who disturbs you will bear the penalty, whoever he may be.  11 But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted?  Then the stumbling-block of the cross is removed!  12 Would that those who are unsettling you would mutilate themselves!

How Christians Should Live  13 For you have been called to liberty, brethren; only do not use liberty as an occasion for sensuality, but by charity serve one another.  14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.  15 But if you bite and devour one another, take heed or you will be consumed by one another.

16 But I say: Walk in the Spirit, and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.  17 For the flesh lusts against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, so that you do not do what you would.  18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.  19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are immorality, uncleanness, licentiousness, 20 idolatry, witchcrafts, enmities, contentions, jealousies, anger, quarrels, factions, parties, 21 envies, murders, drunkenness, carousings, and suchlike.  And concerning these I warn you, as I have warned you, that they who do such things will not attain the kingdom of God.  22 But the fruit of the Spirit is: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, 23 faith, modesty, continency.  Against such things there is no law.  24 And they who belong to Christ have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires.  25 If we live by the Spirit, by the Spirit let us also walk.  26 Let us not become desirous of vainglory, provoking one another, envying one another.