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Book chapters «The Epistle of Paul to the Galatians»
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  • Freedom from the slavery of the law. Christ has set us free through His redeeming death and life-imparting resurrection that we may enjoy this freedom in grace.

  • I.e., stand fast in the freedom from the slavery of the law, not deviating from Christ, not falling from grace.

  • Or, held in a snare. To deviate from Christ to the law is to be entangled or held in a snare.

  • The yoke of slavery is the bondage of the law, which makes the law keepers slaves under a binding yoke.

  • The Judaizers, the false brothers, made circumcision a condition of salvation (Gal. 2:3-5; Acts 15:1). See note Gal. 2:32a.

  • If the Galatian believers had received circumcision, making it a condition of salvation, Christ would have profited them nothing, because by going back to the law they would have spontaneously relinquished Christ.

  • I.e., reduced to nothing, separated from Christ; deprived of all profit from Christ and so separated from Him (Darby's New Translation), making Him of no effect. To go back to the law is to be severed from Christ, to be brought to nought, separated from Christ.

  • To be brought to nought, separated from Christ, is to fall from grace. This implies that the grace in which we believers are is just Christ.

  • In contrast to by the flesh (Gal. 3:3).

  • In contrast to out of the works of law (Gal. 3:2).

  • The righteousness we hope for, which is Christ Himself (1 Cor. 1:30). It is not in the flesh out of the works of law but in the Spirit out of faith.

  • I.e., has any force, any practical power.

  • Living faith is active. It operates through love to work out the fulfillment of the law (v. 14). Circumcision is simply an outward ordinance, having no power of life. Hence, it avails nothing. Faith receives the Spirit of life (Gal. 3:2); thus, it is full of power. It operates through love to fulfill not only the law but also God's purpose, that is, to complete the sonship of God for His corporate expression — the Body of Christ.

  • Love is related to our appreciation of Christ. Without such an appreciation, faith cannot operate. The hearing of faith awakens our loving appreciation, and the more we love the Lord, the more faith operates to bring us into the riches, the profit, of the all-inclusive Spirit.

  • Not the doctrine but the reality in Christ, as preached to the Galatians by the apostle.

  • The Judaizers' persuasive teaching, which distracted the Galatians away from Christ to the observances of the law.

  • Leaven refers to the false teachings of the Judaizers (cf. Matt. 16:12), and the whole lump, to all the believers collectively, the church.

  • Circumcision foreshadowed the dealing with man's flesh; the cross is the reality of that dealing (Col. 2:11-12). The Judaizers endeavored to bring the Galatians back to the shadow; the apostle Paul struggled to keep them in the reality.

  • The apostle Paul wished that the Judaizers who upset the Galatians by insisting on circumcision would cut off not only their own foreskin but even themselves. Their upsetting, disturbing self needed to be amputated.

  • Freedom without limitation always results in the indulgence of the flesh. Freedom with limitation leads us to love others and, through love, to serve them as slaves (cf. v. 14).

  • Lit., serve as a slave.

  • The Greek word here means to tread all around, to walk at large; hence, to deport oneself, move, and act in ordinary daily life, implying a common, habitual daily walk (cf. Rom. 6:4; 8:4; Phil. 3:17-18).

  • According to the context of the chapter, the Spirit here must be the Holy Spirit, who dwells in and mingles with our regenerated spirit. To walk by the Spirit is to have our walk regulated by the Holy Spirit from within our spirit. This is in contrast to having our walk regulated by the law in the realm of our flesh. See note Gal. 3:32.

    The flesh is the uttermost expression of the fallen tripartite man (Gen. 6:3), and the Spirit is the ultimate realization of the processed Triune God (John 7:39). Because of Christ's redemption and the Spirit's work of regeneration, we who have received God's dispensing can walk by the Spirit, by the processed Triune God, instead of by the flesh, by our fallen being. Paul wrote this book not only to rescue the distracted Galatian believers from the law, on the negative side, but also, on the positive side, to bring them into the realization that the believers have the all-inclusive life-giving Spirit in their spirit that they may live, walk, and have their being in this Spirit.

  • For the flesh and the Spirit, see note Gal. 3:32a and note Gal. 5:191 and note Gal. 5:221a.

  • The law is related to our flesh (Rom. 7:5), and our flesh is against the Spirit (v. 17). Hence, the Spirit is in contrast to the law. When we walk by the Spirit, who is in our regenerated spirit, we will not fulfill the lusts of our flesh (v. 16); when we are led by the Spirit, we are not under the law. The Spirit of life, not the law of letters, is our guiding principle, regulating our Christian walk in our regenerated spirit.

  • The flesh is the expression of the old Adam. The fallen life of the old Adam is expressed practically in the flesh, and the works of the flesh, such as those listed in vv. 19-21, are different aspects of such a fleshly expression. Fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, bouts of drunkenness, and carousings are related to the lust of the corrupted body. Enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, divisions, sects, and envyings are related to the fallen soul, which is very closely related to the corrupted body. Idolatry and sorcery are related to the deadened spirit. This proves that the three parts of our fallen being — body, soul, and spirit — are all involved with the corrupted, evil flesh.

  • Fornication, uncleanness, and lasciviousness are of one group, concerning evil passions.

  • Idolatry and sorcery are of one group, concerning demonic worship.

  • Enmities, strife, jealousy, and outbursts of anger are of one group, concerning evil moods.

  • Factions, divisions, sects, and envyings are of one group, concerning parties.

  • The same Greek word as for heresies in 2 Pet. 2:1. Here it refers to schools of opinion (Darby's New Translation), or sects.

  • Bouts of drunkenness and carousings are of one group, concerning dissipation.

  • The inheritance of the kingdom of God refers to the enjoyment of the coming kingdom as a reward to the overcoming believers. It is not the same as a believer's salvation; rather, it is a reward in addition to the believer's salvation. See note Eph. 5:53a and note Heb. 12:281a.

  • What the flesh does is works without life (v. 19); what the Spirit brings forth is fruit full of life. Only nine items of the fruit of the Spirit, as different expressions of the Spirit, who is life within us, are listed as illustrations here. The fruit of the Spirit includes additional items, such as lowliness (Eph. 4:2; Phil. 2:3), compassion (Phil. 2:1), godliness (2 Pet. 1:6), righteousness (Rom. 14:17; Eph. 5:9), holiness (Eph. 1:4; Col. 1:22), and purity (Matt. 5:8). In both Eph. 4:2 and Col. 3:12, lowliness is mentioned as a virtue in addition to meekness, which is listed here. In Rom. 14:17 righteousness, peace, and joy are all aspects of the kingdom of God today. But only peace and joy, not righteousness, are listed here. In 2 Pet. 1:5-7 godliness and endurance are counted with self-control and love as characteristics of spiritual growth, but they are not listed here. In Matt. 5:5-9 righteousness, mercy, and purity are reckoned with meekness and peace as the requirement of the reality of the kingdom today. However, none of the three virtues is named here.

    As the flesh is the expression of the old Adam, so the Spirit is the realization of Christ. Christ is actually lived out as the Spirit. The items of the fruit of the Spirit listed here are the very characteristics of Christ.

  • But in v. 22 introduces a contrast between the fruit of the Spirit in that verse and the works of the flesh in v. 19, whereas but in this verse introduces a contrast between the crucifying of the flesh here and the works of the flesh in v. 19.

  • The crucifixion of the old man in Rom. 6:6 and the crucifixion of the "I" in Gal. 2:20 were not accomplished by us. But here it says that we have crucified the flesh with its passions and its lusts. The old man and the "I" are our being; the flesh is the expression of our being in our practical living. The crucifixion of our old man and the "I" is a fact accomplished by Christ on the cross, whereas the crucifying of our flesh with its passions and its lusts is our practical experience of the fact. This practical experience must be carried out through the Spirit by our executing of the crucifixion that Christ accomplished. This is to put to death by the Spirit the practices of our lustful body with its evil members (Rom. 8:13b; Col. 3:5).

    There are three aspects of the experience of the cross:
    1) the fact accomplished by Christ (Rom. 6:6; Gal. 2:20);
    2) our application of the accomplished fact (v. 24);
    3) our experience of what we have applied, by bearing the cross daily (Matt. 16:24; Luke 9:23).

  • This book unveils that the law misused is in opposition to Christ (Gal. 2:16) and that the flesh lusts against the Spirit (v. 17). The cross has nullified the "I," which inclines to keep the law (Gal. 2:20), and the flesh, which lusts against the Spirit, that Christ may replace the law and the Spirit may replace the flesh. God does not want us to keep the law by the flesh; He wants us to live Christ by the Spirit.

  • To live by the Spirit is to have our life dependent on and regulated by the Spirit, not by the law. This equals the walk by the Spirit in v. 16 but differs from the walk by the Spirit in this verse (see note Gal. 5:252a).

  • Lit., walk according to rules. The Greek word means to observe the elements, to walk according to the elements, e.g., to walk in line, to march in military rank, to keep in step; and, derivatively, to walk in an orderly, regulated manner (cf. Gal. 6:16; Acts 21:24; Rom. 4:12 and note Rom. 4:121a; Phil. 3:16 and note Phil. 3:164a).

    Both the walk in v. 16 and the walk in this verse are by the Spirit and are regulated by the Spirit. The former refers to a general, daily walk; the latter, to a walk that takes God's unique goal as the direction and purpose of life, and a walk that follows the Spirit as the elementary rule, the basic principle. Such a walk is cultivated by living in the new creation (Gal. 6:16 and note Gal. 6:162a), by pursuing Christ in order to gain Him (Phil. 3:12 and notes), and by practicing the church life (Rom. 12:1-5; Eph. 4:1-16), thus fulfilling God's intention in Christ for the church.

  • This is the result of the walk by the Spirit in v. 25. Vainglory, provoking, and envying are all of the flesh (cf. v. 24). Vainglory gives rise to provoking and envying. If we by the Spirit slay vainglory, provoking and envying will be terminated automatically, resulting in peace. These three matters test in a very practical way whether we are walking by the Spirit.

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