Galatians 5:1-26 NIV
Freedom in Christ
1It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
2 Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. 3Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. 4You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope.
6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
7You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? 8That kind of persuasion does not come from the One Who calls you. 9“A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” 10I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion, whoever that may be, will have to pay the penalty. 11Brothers and sisters, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. 12As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!
Life by the Spirit
13You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesha ; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”b 15If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whateverc you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
This chapter is properly a continuation of the argument in the previous chapter, and is designed to induce the Galatians to renounce their conformity to the Jewish law, and to become entirely conformed to the gospel. In particular, it seems to be designed to meet a charge that had been brought against him, that he had preached the necessity of circumcision, or that he had so practiced it as to show that he believed that it was obligatory on others. Under his example, or pleading his authority, it seems the false teachers there had urged the necessity of its observance; see Galatians 5:11. The argument and the exhortation consist of the following parts:
I. He exhorts them to stand firm in the liberty of Christianity, and not to be brought again under bondage; Galatians 5:1.
II. He solemnly assures them, that if they depended on circumcision for salvation, they could derive no benefit from Christ. They put themselves into a perfect legal state, and must depend on that alone; and that was equivalent to renouncing Christ altogether, or to falling from grace; Galatians 5:2-6.
III. He assures them that their present belief could not have come from him by whom they were originally brought to the knowledge of the truth; but must have been from some foreign influence, operating like leaven; Galatians 5:7-9.
IV. He says he had confidence in them, on the whole, that they would obey the truth, and that they would let him who had troubled them to bear his proper judgment, gently insinuating that he should be disowned or cut off; Galatians 5:10, Galatians 5:12.
V. He vindicates himself from the charge that he preached the necessity of circumcision. His vindication was, that if he had done that, he would have escaped persecution, for then the offence of the cross would have ceased; Galatians 5:11.
VI. He assures them that they had been called unto liberty; that the gospel had made them free. Yet Paul felt how easy it was to abuse this doctrine, and to pretend that Christ had freed them from all restraint, and from the bondage of all law. Against this he cautions them. Their liberty was not licentiousness. It was not freedom from all the restraints of the Law. It was not that they might give indulgence to the passions of the flesh. It was designed that they should serve one another; and not fall into the indulgence of raging passions, producing strife and mutual hatred; Galatians 5:3-15.
VII. To illustrate this, and to show them the evils of giving indulgence to their appetites under the pretence that they were free, he proceeds to show what were the passions to which carnal indulgence would give rise, or what were the works of the flesh; Galatians 5:16-21.
VIII. On the other hand, the Spirit produces a train of most lovely virtues, feelings, and affections, against which there could be no law;Galatians 5:22-23.
IX. They who were Christians had in fact crucified the flesh. They were bound to live after the teachings of the Spirit, and Paul, therefore, exhorts them to lay aside all vain-glory and envy, and to live in peace; Galatians 5:24-26.