Galatians 5




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

  1. Since you are the freeborn sons of God like Isaac, do not seek to go back under the yoke of bondage of the Law of Moses, which no generation of Jews could bear (Acts 15:10-11)!
  2. Being made a curse for us, Jesus Christ delivered us from any legal Law claims (3:13; 4:4-5).
  3. It is our duty to stand fast – fastened down in one place without any movement – in the one pure and apostolic gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ (I Cor 16:13; Phil 1:27; 4:1; I Thess 3:8; 5:21; II Thess 2:15; II Tim 1:13; Titus 1:9; Heb 2:1-4; 3:6; 4:14; 10:23; Jude 1:3)!
  4. False teachers or members promoting heresies must be rejected, no matter how good they sound or act (1:8-9; Acts 20:29-31; Rom 16:17-18; I Cor 11:19; II Thess 2:1-3; 3:6; I Tim 6:5; II Tim 3:5; Titus 3:10-11; I John 2:18-19; 4:1-6).
  5. The true doctrine of salvation by the free grace of God through the death of Jesus Christ is the primary focus here, but all doctrinal truth is included indirectly (Ps 119:128).

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

  1. Paul used his apostolic authority to give them a hard conclusion to their heretical theology.
  2. If you add circumcision (and keeping the Law) to the finished work of Christ for salvation, then the knowledge of Jesus Christ has no value, for His death precludes any works of men.
  3. This verse cannot mean the Galatians might lose eternal life, since Christ would not profit them, for Paul assumed their salvation (1:3-5; 3:1-9,26-29; 4:4-7,26,31; 5:5,25; 6:1,9-10,18).
  4. The sense of the last clause is no different than correcting their knowledge of Christ (4:19).
  5. He will explain this verse in the next one, because the Law could only bring condemnation.
  6. Any person requiring circumcision was bound to keep every single precept, which was impossible for the very best of the Jews and never the intent of God (2:16; 3:10,21-22).

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

  1. The word again is here because Paul had already made this point to the readers (3:10,12).
  2. The Law was a closed system; if you broke one point, you were guilty of all (Jas 2:10).
  3. The Law did not allow picking and choosing favorites. If you required circumcision for justification, then you were bound to keep the whole Law, which left you condemned.

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

  1. Simple verses like this easily confuse heretics like Campbellites and other strict Arminians, for they use this text to teach their damnable heresy that a child of God can lose eternal life.
  2. Paul was dealing only with doctrinal systems, not anyone’s regeneration or name in heaven.
  3. Christ is no more worthless literally, then there were Galatians justified by the Law literally!
  4. They were only justified by the Law in their minds and heretical doctrinal system, just as Jesus Christ’s death had only become of no effect in their minds and doctrinal system, and just as they had fallen from the truth of God’s grace in their minds and doctrinal system.
  5. They were fallen from the proper understanding of grace, the true knowledge of grace, the pure gospel of God’s grace, the doctrine of salvation by grace, not from God’s literal grace!
  6. It is impossible for a single recipient of God’s grace to fall in any eternal, legal, vital, or final way (John 6:38-39; 10:27-29; 17:2; Rom 8:38-39; II Tim 2:19; Heb 2:13). Glory! Amen!
  7. But it is very possible for God’s saints to fall from proper understanding of grace and truth (I Cor 15:12-19; I Tim 4:16; II Tim 2:17-18).

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

  1. Paul and the faithful in Galatia were filled with the Holy Spirit of God, which the Law could not supply, and one of the principal confirmations of Christianity (3:2-5; John 7:37-39).
  2. True saints wait for the hope of righteousness by faith, based on God’s promise to Abraham.
    1. Hope here is confidently expecting the realization of God’s promise of justification and righteousness (Romans 8:24-25).
    2. Righteousness here is the righteousness of Jesus Christ that will clothe us in the great day (I Cor 1:30; II Cor 5:21; Phil 3:8-11; II Tim 4:8; Rev 19:8).
    3. Faith here is confidence and trust that God’s saints have in His promises (5:6; Heb 11:6).
    4. We do not make this faith a metonym for Jesus Christ or His gospel due to the next verse.

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

  1. The controversial issue of circumcision was irrelevant to God’s promise of righteousness, for even Abraham was given the promises before he was circumcised (Romans 4:9-12).
  2. The Lord Jesus Christ purged our sins by Himself and His singular obedience, making it totally irrelevant whether a person was circumcised or not circumcised (Rom 5:19; Heb 1:3).
  3. Therefore Paul circumcised Timothy for practical reasons in light of the Jews, and he would not circumcise Titus for other practical reasons in light of the Jews (2:3-5; Acts 16:1-3).
  4. There is only one circumcision that counts, and that is spiritual circumcision (Rom 2:28-29).
  5. The circumcision that counts is made without hands, for it is spiritual in Christ (Col 2:10-12).
  6. The evidence of justification and eternal life is faith in God that works by love of brethren.
    1. Faith by itself is no evidence of salvation, for the devils tremble in faith (Jas 2:14-19).
    2. It is faith with things added to it that makes election sure (I Thess 1:2-4; II Pet 1:5-11).

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

  1. When you first heard the gospel, you believed it and obeyed it as faithful children of God.
  2. Remember, it is faithful continuing in His word that shows disciples indeed (John 8:30-31).
  3. What a question? Who is responsible for this turning from the truth, for it is not the Spirit of God, nor of Paul His apostle. The obvious implications are sober (II Cor 11:3-4,13-15).
  4. It is the devil that snatches away the word of God, if you do not tenaciously grasp and retain the truth (Luke 8:12; Eph 6:14; I Pet 5:8).

8 This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you.

  1. The arguments and influence that led away from gospel truth could not be from God (1:6).
  2. It had to be another Jesus and gospel (which is not another) by another spirit (II Cor 11:1-4)!

9 A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.

  1. Leaven is yeast, which by universal knowledge, is able to infect and affect a lump of dough.
  2. The general proverb is applied to doctrine – a little heresy corrupts the whole gospel scheme.
  3. In other places, the general proverb is applied to other influences (Matt 16:11; I Cor 5:6).

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.

  1. God gave Paul, who was inspired to write this epistle, assurance of the Galatians’ conversion.
  2. Having been severe with them, he showed a gentler side and condemned the false teachers.
  3. There were plural false teachers corrupting the Galatians (4:17; 5:12; 6:12-13), but Paul used the singular to attack them one by one as this epistle was read in their public assemblies!
  4. Observe Paul’s desire and expectation of full agreement – ye will be none otherwise minded.
  5. The warning is sober – God has no mercy for those who sow discord among brethren, especially with novel doctrines contrary to the received apostolic faith (Num 16:1-50; Pr 6:16-19; Acts 13:6-12; I Tim 1:19-20; II Tim 4:14; Rev 2:20-23).
  6. The comparison of 5:9-10 with I Corinthians 5:1-13 calls for the church to exclude such men.
  7. See 5:12 for the full wrath and imprecatory judgment of this great apostle of the Gentiles!

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

  1. It is apparent from this verse that a tool of the false teachers was to claim Paul as agreeing with them, possibly from the public knowledge of circumcising Timothy (Acts 16:1-3).
  2. Getting Paul on your side of a doctrinal controversy was very valuable, so there were some false teachers that were even forging epistles in his name (II Thess 2:2).
  3. Men without strong proof from revelation must depend on reputation or other vain criteria.
  4. But this claimed fact about Paul could not possibly be true, because he was still being persecuted by the Jews, for the opposite reason – he did not require circumcision or the Law!
  5. The offence of the cross by persecuting Jews in those days ceased, when Gentiles would get circumcised and keep the Law of Moses, giving the Judaizers glory in their flesh (6:12-13).

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

  1. Here is the full wrath and imprecatory judgment of this great apostle of Gentile converts.
  2. This does not mean he wanted them circumcised (cut off), but rather killed by God!
  3. Many church fathers say that these cutters (circumcisers) should excise the whole member!
  4. Paul had no personal hatred for these men, but great zeal for God, the gospel, and souls.
  5. Could this imprecatory desire refer only to exclusion from the communion of the churches, since he has already declared that to be the case (Gal 1:8-9)?
    1. The spiritual words “cut off” generally mean to put to death by comparison (I Cor 2:13).
    2. Death occurred in the early church for heresy (Acts 5:1-11; I Cor 11:30; Rev 2:23).
    3. David, the sweet psalmist of Israel, often spoke this way in imprecatory judgment against the enemies of God (Ps 35:1-28; 68:1-3; 83:1-18; 139:19-22; 144:7-8,11).

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.

  1. Returning to his original argument in this chapter (5:1) taken from the previous allegory (4:21-31), Paul began the practical section of this epistle by the proper use of gospel liberty.
  2. There would be a natural temptation at hearing about your liberty from the Law of Moses to think that you could live any old way while waiting for the hope of righteousness by faith.
  3. But Paul very clearly rejected the foolish notion that liberty is for the flesh, to affirm instead that liberty is to walk in the Spirit and righteousness (Rom 6:1-2,15; I Pet 2:16; II Pet 2:19).
  4. Here begins Paul’s N.T. application of the Law and liberty – the two great commands stand!
  5. Observe here, as in other places, that loving one another is of great importance and emphasis: it can hardly be overstated as the evidence of eternal life and building ingredient of churches.
  6. He had already introduced loving service with contrast of it to religious circumcision (5:6).

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

  1. The Law was until John Baptist, and then came the kingdom of God (Luke 16:16; John 1:17).
    1. The ceremonial laws of priests, sacrifices, diet, menstrual periods, child dedication, leprosy, and holy days are gone (3:24-25; Hebrews 7:12,18; 8:13; 9:10; 10:9).
    2. The covenantal laws of circumcision, the Sabbath Day, and such are gone (Col 2:16-17).
    3. The national laws of cities of refuge, extermination of Canaanites, restitution and slavery for thieves, and so forth are gone. We gather principles of wisdom, but not private laws.
    4. The hopeless shedding of animal blood as a schoolmaster of damnation is over (3:24-25).
  2. For the second great commandment teaches nothing about the Levitical priesthood, circumcision, the Sabbath Day, extermination of Canaanites, or avoiding pepperoni pizza!
  3. What remains is the love of God and love of neighbor, which Paul and James repeats in the New Testament as yet binding on Christians (Romans 13:8-10; James 2:8-11).
  4. Keep in mind that our Lord greatly expanded the commandments to include much more than our hypocritical minds and hearts want to allow them (Matt 5:17-48).
    1. The commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” includes anger without a cause (Matt 5:21-22).
    2. The commandment, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” includes fantasies (Matt 5:27-28).
    3. We should conclude, “Thou shalt not steal,” includes not paying for help (Jer 22:13-14)!
    4. “Thou shalt not bear false witness,” includes backbiting, talebearing, and whispering!
    5. “Honor thy father and mother,” includes supporting them in old age (I Timothy 5:4,8).
    6. “Thou shalt not covet,” includes contentment and generosity (Heb 13:5; II Cor 9:6-7).

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

  1. The opposite of loving one another is biting and devouring, which destroys relationships.
  2. A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand, and this applies to the church as well.
  3. Bitter envy and strife in your hearts is devilish wisdom from hell (5:26; James 3:14-18).
  4. Heresy in doctrine is often associated with fighting (I Cor 3:1-3; II Cor 12:20; I Jn 3:18-19).
  5. It is your solemn duty to severely warn those who speak against anyone or any aspect of this church, because we neither need them nor want them (Prov 25:23; I Thess 5:14).
  6. We cannot allow our children or youth to have grudges, offences, rivalries, or jealousies.
  7. It is your solemn duty to teach your children this rule and condemn sibling rivalry or cruelty.

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

  1. This is God the Holy Spirit, given to those who believe on Jesus Christ (3:2-5,14; 4:6; 5:5).
  2. Here is how we are to use the liberty of being delivered from the schoolmaster of the Law.
  3. What does it mean to walk in the Spirit? This question and its answer should be important.
    1. This walking in the Spirit is not some mysterious phenomenon that is hard to figure out.
    2. It is only possible for those born again and baptized (Jn 7:37-39; Acts 2:38; 5:32).
    3. It is a choice to walk in the Spirit, for Paul directed believers to do it (5:25; Eph 5:18).
    4. It is doing those things taught and required by the Holy Spirit of God, which can be added to faith (5:22-23; 6:8; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 5:8-10; II Pet 1:5-8).
    5. It is not doing sinful things that grieve and quench the Spirit (Eph 4:30; I Thess 5:19).
    6. The simple but stark contrast is obvious here – crucify the flesh and walk in the Spirit.
    7. It means to put off the old man and put on the new man (Eph 4:20-24; Col 3:5-15).
    8. There are two principles in every child of God, and we choose one and reject the other.
    9. We cannot do it perfectly, but we are certainly not at the whims of our flesh (5:17).

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.

  1. There are two natures, principles, forces in each regenerated child of God – the flesh and the Spirit – they are great enemies that fight and war against each other with different desires.
  2. The Holy Spirit of God operates in conjunction with our spiritual or new man against our flesh or old man, which we received by our first birth as the natural man depraved in sin.
  3. They are entirely opposed to one another, which makes the child of God schizophrenic, with conflicting attitudes, thoughts, words, and actions that he must rule to act like a Christian.
  4. It is not that we can never do good and right things at all, but rather that we can never do good and right things as we would like to do them, because of this internal opposition.
  5. Paul described this internal conflict and inability to always do what is right (Rom 7:7-25).
  6. Instead of applying ye cannot do the things that ye would to the flesh restraining the Spirit from good, the context of 5:16 indicates that the Spirit also restrains the flesh from evil!
  7. Compare this application to the words of John in describing the child of God (I John 3:4-10).

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

  1. The best commentary on this verse is Romans 8:1,4,14; where the Spirit is evidence of life!
  2. If a man knows the presence and strength of the Spirit, he is no longer bound by the bondage and servitude of the law of condemnation, but rather by the gospel of freedom and liberty!
  3. The presence of the Holy Spirit is proof that you are an adopted son, not a condemned slave!

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

  1. Here is a list of 17 obvious sins that flow from our sin nature, all of which God hates, and all of which are evidence that a person shall not inherit the kingdom of God (Rev 21:8,27).
  2. Those doing these things easily, consistently, and without godly repentance are going to hell.
  3. Adultery is sexual violation of one or two marriages by intercourse with a married person, which includes mental fantasy of such activity or use of divorce laws to get it (Matt 5:27-32).
  4. Fornication is a category including intercourse of unmarried persons also (Ex 22:16-17; Deut 22:28-29; Ezek 16:15; 23:3; I Cor 5:1; 6:12-20; 7:1-2; 10:8; I Thess 4:1-8; Jude 1:7).
  5. Uncleanness is an even broader category of sexual sins including those outside the first two, including everything from sex acts short of intercourse to bestiality (Num 5:19; Lev 20:21).
  6. Lasciviousness is lust-filled things of mind, word, and deed leading to sex sins, such as partying, pornography, romance novels, etc. (Eph 4:17-19).
  7. Note that the first four in this list have to do with sexual sins, which is an indictment of our nation, our generation, and most Christians. We must take extreme precautions against them.
  8. This impacts many magazines, most movies, many books, much music, nightclubs, mixed swimming, coed gyms, dancing, unchaperoned dating, most television, work situations, chat rooms, flirting with the opposite sex, sports venues, modest clothing and makeup, sober and clean language, late marriages, long engagements, email, etc., etc.
  9. See the link below to the outline, “Forgotten Sins,” for detailed definitions and descriptions.

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

  1. Here is a list of 17 obvious sins that flow from our sin nature, all of which God hates, and all of which are evidence that a person shall not inherit the kingdom of God (Rev 21:8,27).
  2. Idolatry is anything to do with false gods and their worship, including Eastern martial arts, graven images like “The Passion” movie, Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, etc.
  3. Witchcraft is anything to do with the occult, devils, spirits, horoscopes, Ouija boards, fairies, Harry Potter, ghosts, Halloween, Merlin the magician, etc.
  4. Hatred is harboring ill-will toward anyone and not treating them kindly with Christian love.
  5. Variance is changing and causing differences, discord, divisions, and disagreement (Pr 6:19).
  6. Emulation is arrogant and extreme competitiveness to match or exceed another in anything.
  7. Wrath is hot anger that cannot be justified in the pages of Scripture, which God considers to be a violation of the Sixth Commandment, Thou shalt not kill (Matt 5:21-26).
  8. Strife is bitterness, conflict, debate, division, or grudges at others without God’s approval.
  9. Sedition seeks to undermine or overthrow an authority or government by talking or acting against it in pride or rebellion, which includes fathers, husbands, masters, rulers, and pastors.
  10. Heresy is any doctrine or practice that is contrary to the word of God or the received and established position, which generally results from pride, little study, false teachers, etc.
  11. Note that the sins in this verse are more popular and not hated so much as the previous verse.
  12. See the link below to the outline, “Forgotten Sins,” for detailed definitions and descriptions.

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.

  1. Here is a list of 17 obvious sins that flow from our sin nature, all of which God hates, and all of which are evidence that a person shall not inherit the kingdom of God (Rev 21:8,27).
  2. Envy is the resentment of others for their advantages over you or better blessings from God.
  3. Murder is taking the life of others and also the unjustified anger that could lead in that direction. Do not forget abortion.
  4. Drunkenness is drinking to the point of intoxication to where your judgment of right and wrong is impaired.
  5. Revelling is excessive and foolish amusement, bantering, carousing, foolishness, partying, extreme sporting events, etc.
  6. The such like means that any other sin that compares to these is included, such as backbiting, disobedience to parents, lying, gluttony, purloining, prognostication, jesting, heady, answering again, talebearing, foolish talking, etc.
  7. See the link below to the outline, “Forgotten Sins,” for detailed definitions and descriptions.
  8. Paul had taught them, when among them, that such living was evidence of eternal damnation.
  9. He was now telling them before the Day of Judgment to avoid all these evidences of hellfire.
  10. The wicked engage in various combinations of these sins as a lifelong pursuit without fear or repentance to God, thus showing the total depravity of their hearts and rebellion against God.
  11. The righteous may commit these sins from time to time, but they hate the events, they are vexed by those who commit them, and/or they repent quickly through the blood of Christ.
  12. This has nothing to do with church membership as some teach by gross misunderstanding of “inherit the kingdom of God.” This is the inheritance of our adoption – heaven (3:29; 4:1-7).

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

  1. These are things the Spirit bears in the lives of those who resist the flesh and seek the Spirit, and the word fruit should be understood as evidence produced by our choice to follow Him.
  2. Love is selflessness to serve others, forgive them, and help them in godliness (I Cor 13:4-7).
  3. Joy is contented gladness in the Lord and any circumstances (Heb 13:5; I Pet 1:8; I John 1:4).
  4. Peace is a contented spirit, forgiving others, and ignoring offences (Matt 5:9; Jas 3:17-18).
  5. Longsuffering is overlooking faults and offences of others without anger (Eph 4:2; Col 1:11).
  6. Gentleness is dealing with all others in a kind, tenderhearted, and patient way (Titus 3:2).
  7. Goodness is moral purity and benevolence – opposite of bad or evil (II Tim 3:3; Titus 1:8).
  8. Faith is confidence and trust in God regardless of any difficulty or opposition (Heb 11:6).
  9. See the link below to the sermon outline, “Fruit of the Spirit,” which provides more detail.

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

  1. These are things that God’s elect should choose to bear in their lives by walking in the Spirit.
  2. These are things the Spirit bears in the lives of those who resist the flesh and seek the Spirit.
  3. Meekness avoids personal glory or esteem; it is vulnerable and lowly (6:1; Eph 4:2).
  4. Temperance is self-discipline or moderation avoiding excess or compromise (I Cor 9:24-27).
  5. See the link below to the sermon outline, “Fruit of the Spirit,” which provides more detail.
  6. Since Paul has been dealing with “law” so much, he proposes things that can be done to excess, for these meet with the full approval of God, and He greatly delights in them!
  7. There is another thought that such men bearing this fruit have no law of God against them!

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

  1. Those who have truly put on Jesus Christ obediently will put their flesh to death, which is what is intended by speaking of crucifying it and the affections and lusts (6:14; Col 3:5-7).
  2. If a man is sincerely in Jesus Christ, he is a new creature with a changed life (II Cor 5:17).
  3. Since Jesus Christ has legally put our flesh and its sins to death, we should do the same practically by no longer being servants to sin (Rom 8:13)
  4. We are in a spiritual war for our souls, so we must abstain from fleshly lusts (I Peter 2:11).

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

  1. We live in the Spirit from the moment of regeneration through His sealing work at baptism, for it is by the Spirit that we are given life to begin with and the Spirit strengthens us for life (John 3:6; 6:63; Rom 8:2,10; I Cor 15:45; II Cor 3:6; Titus 3:5).
  2. If God has regenerated us by His Spirit, let us use that Spirit to obey His commandments and walk with God, choosing an active life of obedience by conforming our lives to God’s will.
  3. God’s elect can live foolishly and grieve and quench the Spirit, but Paul exhorts against such!

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

  1. After contrasting the flesh and the Spirit, Paul returned to the specific duty of love (5:13-15).
  2. Paul’s great concerns shown here in this epistle were pride, strife, and envy among the saints.
    1. By the weight of Bible evidence, these are the greatest practical enemies to pure religion.
    2. Therefore, we must make great efforts to maintain church love and unity (Eph 4:1-3).
  3. We avoid desiring vain glory by consciously choosing to be a servant in the background, without thoughts for public attention, praise, or service from others. We seek to exalt others.
  4. We avoid provoking one another by altering our conduct to always please all other members.
  5. We avoid envying one another by sincerely rejoicing at the blessings and success of others.
  6. For example, young ladies should not desire to be popular or have the most “dates,” they should avoid irritating, offending, or hurting other girls; and they should never be jealous.

For Further Study:

  1. Sermon Outline: “They Promise Them Liberty,” which condemns a lascivious application of gospel liberty.
  2. Sermon Outline: “Love Is the Greatest,” shows the importance and emphasis of brotherly love in the N.T.
  3. Sermon Outline: “Fruit of the Spirit,” deals in detail with the specific evidence of the Spirit’s presence.
  4. Sermon Outline: “Forgotten Sins,” which details many of the 17 works of the flesh that are now unknown.