The Fruits of the Flesh and of the Spirit.
SUMMARY.--To Fall Under the Law is to Lose Christ.
Circumcision Avails Nothing, but Faith Working by Love.
Love the Fulfilling of the Law.
The Warfare Between the Flesh and the Spirit.
The Works of the Flesh.
The Fruits of the Spirit.
1. Stand fast therefore. Compare
Eph. 6:14; 2 Thess. 2:15.
This verse is connected in meaning with the last chapter, where it is
shown that the gospel is freedom, but the Mosaic law is the covenant of
bondage. Hence Paul bids them to cling to their freedom in Christ, and
not to be brought again under the yoke by being drawn under the Jewish
Again. Once they had been under bondage to a heathen yoke
to accept the Jewish yoke would be a second bondage.
2-6. Behold, I Paul. He makes emphatic what he is about to say,
by repeating his name, so familiar to his own converts.
If ye be circumcised. Their circumcision, under the
circumstances, would be the sign of their submission to the law of
Moses. They, Gentile Christians, could not thus become Jews and remain
Christians. It would be proof of trust in Moses rather than Christ, in
the law rather than in the gospel.
3. I testify again. He shows them that if one becomes
circumcised to keep the law of Moses, that he is placed under
obligation to keep the whole law, since other commandments are equally
4. Christ is become of no effect unto you. If you be
circumcised in order to keep the Mosaic law
Ye are fallen from grace. By resorting to the law for
5. For we. We Christians, who trust in the gospel.
Through the Spirit. Not through carnal ordinances, but
strengthened by the Spirit
we wait For the fulfillment of the hope which righteousness by
faith instead of the law insures to us.
6. For in Christ Jesus, etc. It made no difference in the sight
of God whether a Christian was a circumcised Jew or an uncircumcised
Gentile. Both stood on the same footing. It did make a great
difference, though, if the Gentile Christian became circumcised in
order to keep the law
It is true Paul circumcised Timothy, but it was not to keep the law.
See notes on
But faith availeth--the faith in Christ; the faith which uses
love as its medium and method of working. There is first faith in
Christ; then the love of Christ.
7-10. Ye did run well. A figure from the Grecian games. Compare
2:2; 1 Cor. 9:24; Heb. 12:1.
Who did hinder? So as to stop your running. They had ceased to
run by turning from the truth.
8. This persuasion. To obey not the truth. It was not of him
that called them, God, that they should turn from it.
9. A little leaven, etc. A proverb which condenses a sermon.
Probably only one or two Judaizers had done all this evil work in
Galatia. A very little thing in the beginning will sometimes work a
10. I have confidence. That they will be none otherwise minded
He that troubleth you. All these false teachers shall be brought
to condemnation, whoever they may be.
11, 12. And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision. Perhaps the
Judaizers, in order to promote their doctrine, urged that Paul also
taught circumcision in some places. They might even quote the case of
Timothy (see notes on
If this charge was true, why did the Jews everywhere persecute him?
Then is the offense of the cross ceased. The great offense of
the cross to the Jews was that Christ is the atonement for sin, and
that the whole Jewish system of ordinances perished at the cross. Of
course, if Paul taught obedience to the law, he rejected the doctrine
of the cross.
12. I would they were even cut off. These men are seeking to
make the mark of bondage by cutting your flesh. I would that they would
cut themselves off (see Revision). I take it that he means "Cut
themselves off from the church so as to have nothing more to do with
13-15. Ye have been called to liberty. The liberty of children of
Use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh. Do not think that
because you are free, you are free to do evil. Let not liberty becomes
But by love serve, etc. But love each other so well that there
will be mutual service and helpfulness.
14. For all the law is fulfilled. The essence of the law is
comprehended in a single command--that of loving your neighbor. See
Matt. 22:39, and Lev. 19:18.
15. But if ye bite and devour. Bite in sudden anger, and devour
in continued hatred.
Take heed. Mutual anger and hate must result in mutual
16-18. Walk in the Spirit. Under its guidance, as it directs. We
have its directions in the words of Christ and the apostles. He who is
guided by the Spirit will not obey
the lusts of the flesh.
17. The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, etc. The desires of
the flesh and the Spirit are in conflict. They war within us. One would
lead in one direction, and the other in another.
So that ye cannot. The Greek is not so strong as this. It implies
that the two wills within us hinder us from doing as we would by their
18. But if ye be led by the Spirit. If the desire of the Spirit
prevails. Those "led of the Spirit are the sons of God"
and are free from the law. The law with its carnal ordinances in Paul's
view was adapted to a fleshly condition.
19-21. Now the works of the flesh . . . are these. The
tree is known by its fruits. We show our fruits whether we are of the
flesh or Spirit. The works of the flesh are first given. Paul names (1)
Three sins of sensuality; (2) two spiritual sins of false religion; (3)
sins against our fellow men, of which nine are specified; (4) sins of
intemperance, of which two are named. The sins of sensuality were
sanctioned by the heathen religion in the worship of Venus, and
sanctioned by the purest heathen moralists. Christianity had to breast
the current of the whole world. It differs from heathen morality as day
20. Witchcraft. Sorcery or magic, whether a superstition or
deception, was prevalent in all the ancient world. See notes on
21. Drunkenness. A common sin of all ages.
Revellings. Any kind of riotous or unseemly conduct; carousals.
As I have also told you in time past. As before, when in Galatia,
so now he tells them again that none who do these things can expect to
22, 23. But the fruits of the Spirit. The fruits named are not
our fruits, but of the Spirit in us. If we bear these fruits we show
that we have the Spirit. There are four groups: (1) Love, the Christian
grace which works out the whole law. (2) Joy and peace, which are the
normal state of the Christian. (3) The graces which relate to others,
long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, fidelity (faith), meekness. (4)
The last fruit looks to oneself, temperance, or self-control. It
implies not only abstinence from injurious drinks and food, but control
of the temper, the tongue, the desires, the passion for money or
23. Against such there is no law. Those who bear these fruits
find no law interfering with them.
24-26. They that are Christ's. They cannot walk after the flesh
because they have crucified their lusts. Have died with Christ, been
buried, and risen, not to live their own lives, but Christ's. See
Baptism is supposed to mark a complete separation between the old life
of sin and the Christian life.
25. Walk in the Spirit. If we are born again, and have a
spiritual life, let us show it by walking in obedience to the
26. Let us not be desirous of vain glory. This was probably a
well-known fault of the Galatians.