Galatians 5

Freedom of the Believer

1For freedom
Translating the dative as “For freedom” shows the purpose for Christ setting us free; however, it is also possible to take the phrase in the sense of means or instrument (“with [or by] freedom”), referring to the freedom mentioned in 4:31 and implied throughout the letter.
Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not be subject again to the yoke
Here the yoke figuratively represents the burdensome nature of slavery.
of slavery.
2Listen! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you at all! 3And I testify again to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey
Or “keep”; or “carry out”; Grk “do.”
the whole law.
4You who are trying to be declared righteous
Or “trying to be justified.” The verb δικαιοῦσθε (dikaiousqe) has been translated as a conative present (see ExSyn 534).
by the law have been alienated
Or “estranged”; BDAG 526 s.v. καταργέω 4 states, “Of those who aspire to righteousness through the law κ. ἀπὸ Χριστοῦ be estranged from Christ Gal 5:4.”
from Christ; you have fallen away from grace!
5For through the Spirit, by faith, we wait expectantly for the hope of righteousness. 6For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision carries any weight – the only thing that matters is faith working through love.
Grk “but faith working through love.”

7 You were running well; who prevented you from obeying
Or “following.” BDAG 792 s.v. πείθω 3.b states, “obey, follow w. dat. of the pers. or thing…Gal 3:1 v.l.; 5:7.”
the truth?
8This persuasion
Grk “The persuasion,” referring to their being led away from the truth (v. 7). There is a play on words here that is not easily reproducible in the English translation: The words translated “obey” (πείθεσθαι, peithesthai) in v. 7 and “persuasion” (πεισμονή, peismonē) in v. 8 come from the same root in Greek.
does not come from the one who calls you!
9A little yeast makes the whole batch of dough rise!
Grk “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.”
10I am confident
The verb translated “I am confident” (πέποιθα, pepoitha) comes from the same root in Greek as the words translated “obey” (πείθεσθαι, peithesthai) in v. 7 and “persuasion” (πεισμονή, peismonē) in v. 8.
in the Lord that you will accept no other view.
Grk “that you will think nothing otherwise.”
But the one who is confusing
Or “is stirring you up”; Grk “is troubling you.” In context Paul is referring to the confusion and turmoil caused by those who insist that Gentile converts to Christianity must observe the Mosaic law.
you will pay the penalty,
Or “will suffer condemnation” (L&N 90.80); Grk “will bear his judgment.” The translation “must pay the penalty” is given as an explanatory gloss on the phrase by BDAG 171 s.v. βαστάζω 2.b.β.
whoever he may be.
11Now, brothers and sisters,
Grk “brothers.” See note on the phrase “brothers and sisters” in 1:11.
if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted?
That is, if Paul still teaches observance of the Mosaic law (preaches circumcision), why is he still being persecuted by his opponents, who insist that Gentile converts to Christianity must observe the Mosaic law?
In that case the offense of the cross
The offense of the cross refers to the offense to Jews caused by preaching Christ crucified.
has been removed.
Or “nullified.”
12I wish those agitators
Grk “the ones who are upsetting you.” The same verb is used in Acts 21:38 to refer to a person who incited a revolt. Paul could be alluding indirectly to the fact that his opponents are inciting the Galatians to rebel against his teaching with regard to circumcision and the law.
would go so far as to
Grk “would even.”
castrate themselves!
Or “make eunuchs of themselves”; Grk “cut themselves off.” This statement is rhetorical hyperbole on Paul’s part. It does strongly suggest, however, that Paul’s adversaries in this case (“those agitators”) were men. Some interpreters (notably Erasmus and the Reformers) have attempted to soften the meaning to a figurative “separate themselves” (meaning the opponents would withdraw from fellowship) but such an understanding dramatically weakens the rhetorical force of Paul’s argument. Although it has been argued that such an act of emasculation would be unthinkable for Paul, it must be noted that Paul’s statement is one of biting sarcasm, obviously not meant to be taken literally. See further G. Stählin, TDNT 3:853–55.

Practice Love

13 For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters;
Grk “brothers.” See note on the phrase “brothers and sisters” in 1:11.
only do not use your freedom as an opportunity to indulge your flesh,
Grk “as an opportunity for the flesh”; BDAG 915 s.v. σάρξ 2.c.α states: “In Paul’s thought esp., all parts of the body constitute a totality known as σ. or flesh, which is dominated by sin to such a degree that wherever flesh is, all forms of sin are likew. present, and no good thing can live in the σάρξ…Gal 5:13, 24; …Opp. τὸ πνεῦμα…Gal 3:3; 5:16, 17ab; 6:8ab.”
but through love serve one another.
It is possible that the verb δουλεύετε (douleuete) should be translated “serve one another in a humble manner” here, referring to the way in which slaves serve their masters (see L&N 35.27).
14For the whole law can be summed up in a single commandment,
Or “can be fulfilled in one commandment.”
namely, “ You must love your neighbor as yourself .”
A quotation from Lev 19:18.
15However, if you continually bite and devour one another,
That is, “if you are harming and exploiting one another.” Paul’s metaphors are retained in most modern translations, but it is possible to see the meanings of δάκνω and κατεσθίω (daknō and katesqiō, L&N 20.26 and 88.145) as figurative extensions of the literal meanings of these terms and to translate them accordingly. The present tenses here are translated as customary presents (“continually…”).
beware that you are not consumed
Or “destroyed.”
by one another.
16But I say, live
Grk “walk” (a common NT idiom for how one conducts one’s life or how one behaves).
by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh.
On the term “flesh” (once in this verse and twice in v. 17) see the note on the same word in Gal 5:13.
17For the flesh has desires that are opposed to the Spirit, and the Spirit has desires
The words “has desires” do not occur in the Greek text a second time, but are repeated in the translation for clarity.
that are opposed to the flesh, for these are in opposition to
Or “are hostile toward” (L&N 39.1).
each other, so that you cannot do what you want.
18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19Now the works of the flesh
See the note on the word “flesh” in Gal 5:13.
are obvious:
Or “clear,” “evident.”
sexual immorality, impurity, depravity,
20idolatry, sorcery,
Or “witchcraft.”
Or “enmities,” “[acts of] hatred.”
Or “discord” (L&N 39.22).
jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish rivalries, dissensions,
Or “discord(s)” (L&N 39.13).
This term is plural in Greek (as is “murder” and “carousing”), but for clarity these abstract nouns have been translated as singular.
‡ φόνοι (fonoi, “murders”) is absent in such important mss as Ƥ46 א B 33 81 323 945 pc sa, while the majority of mss (A C D F G Ψ 0122 0278 1739 1881 Maj. lat) have the word. Although the pedigree of the mss which lack the term is of the highest degree, homoioteleuton may well explain the shorter reading. The preceding word has merely one letter difference, making it quite possible to overlook this term (φθόνοι φόνοι, fthonoi fonoi).
drunkenness, carousing,
Or “revelings,” “orgies” (L&N 88.287).
and similar things. I am warning you, as I had warned you before: Those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God!

22 But the fruit of the Spirit
That is, the fruit the Spirit produces.
is love,
Another way to punctuate this is “love” followed by a colon (love: joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control). It is thus possible to read the eight characteristics following “love” as defining love.
joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
Or “reliability”; see BDAG 818 s.v. πίστις 1.a.
23gentleness, and
“And” is supplied here as a matter of English style, which normally inserts “and” between the last two elements of a list or series.
self-control. Against such things there is no law.
24Now those who belong to Christ
‡ Some mss (א A B C P Ψ 01221 0278 33 1175 1739 pc co) read “Christ Jesus” here, while many significant ones (Ƥ46 D F G 0122*,2 latt sy), as well as the Byzantine text, lack “Jesus.” The Byzantine text is especially not prone to omit the name “Jesus”; that it does so here argues for the authenticity of the shorter reading (for similar instances of probably authentic Byzantine shorter readings, see Matt 24:36 and Phil 1:14; cf. also W.-H. J. Wu, “A Systematic Analysis of the Shorter Readings in the Byzantine Text of the Synoptic Gospels” [Ph.D. diss., Dallas Theological Seminary, 2002]). On the strength of the alignment of Ƥ46 with the Western and Byzantine texttypes, the shorter reading is preferred. NA27 includes the word in brackets, indicating doubts as to its authenticity.
have crucified the flesh
See the note on the word “flesh” in Gal 5:13.
with its passions
The Greek term παθήμασιν (paqēmasin, translated “passions”) refers to strong physical desires, especially of a sexual nature (L&N 25.30).
and desires.
25If we live by the Spirit, let us also behave in accordance with
Or “let us also follow,” “let us also walk by.”
the Spirit.
26Let us not become conceited,
Or “falsely proud.”
Or “irritating.” BDAG 871 s.v. προκαλέω has “provoke, challenge τινά someone.
one another, being jealous
Or “another, envying one another.”
of one another.

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