Having introduced the conflict that exists between the flesh and the Spirit, Paul in Galatians 5:18–26 elaborates on the nature of this contrast by means of a list of ethical vices and virtues. The catalog of vices or virtues was a well-established literary feature present in both Jewish and Greco-Roman literature. These lists identified behavior to be avoided and virtues to be emulated. 1
Carefully examine the vice and virtue lists in the passages below. In what ways are Paul’s lists [...]
“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” (Gal. 5:17; see also Rom. 7:14–24). How have you, in your own life as a believer, experienced the harsh and painful reality of these words? 1
The struggle that Paul describes is not the struggle of every human being; it refers specifically to the inward tug-of-war that exists in [...]
Read Galatians 5:16. What does the concept of “walking” have to do with a life of faith? Deut. 13:4, 5; Rom. 13:13; Eph. 4:1, 17; Col. 1:10.
“Walking” is a metaphor drawn from the Old Testament that refers to the way a person should behave. Paul, himself a Jew, makes use of this metaphor often in his letters to describe the type of conduct that should characterize the Christian life. His use of this metaphor is also likely connected to [...]
Read for This Week’s Study:
Gal. 5:16–25; Deut. 13:4, 5; Rom. 7:14–24; Jer. 7:9; Hos. 4:2; Matt. 22:35–40.
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16)
One of the most beloved Christian hymns is Robert Robinson’s “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” Robinson, however, was not always a man of faith. The death of his father left him angry, and he fell into debauchery and drunkenness. After hearing the famous preacher [...]
“Genuine faith always works by love. When you look to Calvary it is not to quiet your soul in the nonperformance of duty, not to compose yourself to sleep, but to create faith in Jesus, faith that will work, purifying the soul from the slime of selfishness. When we lay hold of Christ by faith, our work has just begun. Every man has corrupt and sinful habits that must be overcome by vigorous warfare. Every soul is required to fight [...]
Jordy is 12 years old and lives in Ecuador. Although his family has suffered much, he feels that he is blessed, for his parents have shown him how to live for God alone.
His mother has a painful disease that has left her unable to walk. In spite of her pain, her love for Jesus shines through everything she does. And last year his father lost his job, so the family had no income. But they don’t blame God for their [...]
How do you reconcile Paul’s negative comments about “do[ing] the whole law” (Gal. 5:3) with his positive statement about “fulfill[ing] all the law” (Gal. 5:14)? Compare Rom. 10:5; Gal. 3:10, 12; 5:3 with Rom. 8:4; 13:8; Gal. 5:14. 1
Many have seen the contrast between Paul’s negative comments about “doing the whole law” and his positive assertions about “fulfilling the whole law” as paradoxical. They really aren’t. The solution lies in the fact that Paul intentionally uses each phrase to [...]
Galatians 5:13 marks an important turning point in the book of Galatians. Whereas up to this point Paul has focused entirely on the theological content of his message, he now turns to the issue of Christian behavior. How should a person who is not saved by works of law live? 1
What potential misuse of freedom did Paul want to keep the Galatians from committing? Gal. 5:13.
Paul was well aware of the potential misunderstanding that accompanied his emphasis on the grace [...]
The way in which Paul introduces Galatians 5:2–12 indicates the importance of what he is about to say. “Look” (ESV), “Listen!” (NRSV), “Mark my words!” (NIV), “I, Paul, say to you” (ESV). Paul is not fooling around. By his forceful use of the word look, he not only calls for his readers’ full attention, but he even evokes his apostolic authority. He wants them to understand that if the Gentiles are going to submit to circumcision to be saved, then [...]
Paul’s command to stand firm in freedom is not made in isolation. An important statement of fact precedes it: “Christ has set us free.” Why should Christians stand firmly in their freedom? Because Christ has already set them free. In other words, our freedom is a result of what Christ has already done for us. 1
This pattern of a statement of fact followed by an exhortation is typical in Paul’s letters (1 Cor. 6:20; 10:13, 14; Col. 2:6). For example, [...]