Introduction

\\INTRODUCTION TO GALATIANS 5\\

In this chapter the apostle exhorts to stand fast in Christian
liberty, and warns against the abuse of it; and directs to shun
various vices, and encourages, to the exercise of several graces, and
the observance of several duties; and concludes with a caution against
vain glory, provocation to wrath, and envy: and whereas, in the latter
part of the preceding chapter, he had made it appear that the
believers under the Gospel dispensation were free from the bondage of
the law, he begins this with an exhortation to continue steadfastly in
the liberty of the Gospel; and the rather, since it was what Christ
obtained for them, and bestowed on them; and to take care, that they
were not again brought under the bondage of the ceremonial law,
particularly the yoke of Circumcision, \\#Ga 5:1\\, and dissuades from
submitting to it, by observing, that it tended to make Christ
unprofitable to them, \\#Ga 5:2\\, and that it laid them under an
obligation to keep the whole law, \\#Ga 5:3\\, and that it made Christ
wholly useless to them; and that such who sought for justification by
obedience to the ceremonial law were apostates from the Gospel of the
grace of God, \\#Ga 5:4\\, as also by showing, that it was contrary to
the general faith and expectation of the saints, who were looking for
and expecting eternal glory and happiness, not by the works of the
law, but by faith in Christ, under the influence of the Holy Spirit,
\\#Ga 5:5\\, nor were circumcision or uncircumcision of any avail, but
the true faith in Christ, which shows itself by love to him and to his
people, \\#Ga 5:6\\, and likewise by reminding them how well they set
out at their first conversion, and proceeded; nor had they any to
hinder them from obeying the truth, and therefore it was shameful in
them to go back to the beggarly elements they had first relinquished,
\\#Ga 5:7\\, nor was the present opinion they had imbibed, of God that
called them, or what they received when first effectually called by
grace, but what had been since taken up, \\#Ga 5:8\\, and whereas it
might be objected, that it was only in a single article concerning the
ceremonial law, and which was, embraced only by a few persons, and
therefore not to be regarded, the apostle puts them in mind of a
proverb, that a little leaven leavens the whole lump, and therefore
not to be connived at, \\#Ga 5:9\\, however, a little to mitigate the
sharpness of his reproof, he expresses his good opinion and confidence
of them, that upon a mature consideration of things, they would not be
otherwise minded than they formerly had been, or he now was; and lays
the blame of all upon the false teacher, or teachers, that troubled
them, and who should bear their own judgment or condemnation,
\\#Ga 5:10\\, and whereas it was insinuated, that the apostle himself
had preached up circumcision as necessary to salvation, he removes
this calumny by observing, that were it true, he would not suffer
persecution as he did, nor would the Jews be offended at his preaching
as they were, \\#Ga 5:11\\, and then out of zeal for the glory of God,
and hearty affection to the Galatians, he wishes those false teachers
that troubled them with their pernicious doctrines were cut off either
by the Lord, or from the church, \\#Ga 5:12\\, and next he directs to
the right use of Christian liberty, to which they were called; and
cautions against the abuse of it; that they should not use it as an
occasion to the flesh, but, on the contrary, serve one another in
love, \\#Ga 5:13\\ giving this as a reason, because love is the
fulfilling of the law, \\#Ga 5:14\\, whereas a contrary spirit and
conduct are attended with pernicious consequences, even the
destruction of each other, \\#Ga 5:15\\, and therefore advises them to
walk in the Spirit, whose fruit is love, and then they would not
fulfil the lust of the flesh, \\#Ga 5:16\\, for these two, flesh and
Spirit, are contrary the one to the other, and the Spirit hinders the
performance of the lusts of the flesh, \\#Ga 5:17\\, besides, such who
give up themselves to the conduct of the Spirit, and are led thereby,
are not under the law, the bondage of it, nor liable to its curse,
\\#Ga 5:18\\, and having made mention both of flesh and Spirit, he
takes notice of the works and fruits of the one, and of the other, by
which they are known; and as for the works of the flesh he observes,
that they are manifest, and gives an enumeration of them in
"seventeen" particulars; and to deter from them declares, that whoever
lives in the commission of them, shall not inherit the kingdom of God,
\\#Ga 5:19-21\\, and as for the fruits of the Spirit, these are also
well known by spiritual men, "nine" of which are particularly
mentioned, and against which there is no law, \\#Ga 5:22,23\\, and
from the whole concludes, that such as are true believers in Christ,
and are led by his Spirit, and have the fruits of it, have the flesh
with its affections and lusts crucified, \\#Ga 5:24\\, and ends the
chapter with some exhortations to walk in the Spirit, and not be
ambitious of worldly honour, nor provoke one another to wrath, nor
envy each other's happiness, \\#Ga 5:25\\.