SUMMARY.--To Fall Under the Law is to Lose Christ. Circumcision Avails Nothing, but Faith Working by Love. Love the Fulfilling of the Law. The Warfare Between the Flesh and the Spirit. The Works of the Flesh. The Fruits of the Spirit.
13-15. Ye have been called to liberty. The liberty of children of God. Use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh. Do not think that because you are free, you are free to do evil. Let not liberty becomes license. But by love serve, etc. But love each other so well that there will be mutual service and helpfulness. 14. For all the law is fulfilled. The essence of the law is comprehended in a single command--that of loving your neighbor. See notes on Rom. 13:8; also compare Matt. 22:39 and Lev. 19:18 . 15. But if ye bite and devour. Bite in sudden anger, and devour in continued hatred. Take heed. Mutual anger and hate must result in mutual destruction.
16-18. Walk in the Spirit. Under its guidance, as it directs. We have its directions in the words of Christ and the apostles. He who is guided by the Spirit will not obey the lusts of the flesh. 17. The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, etc. The desires of the flesh and the Spirit are in conflict. They war within us. One would lead in one direction, and the other in another. So that ye cannot. The Greek is not so strong as this. It implies that the two wills within us hinder us from doing as we would by their conflict. 18. But if ye be led by the Spirit. If the desire of the Spirit prevails. Those "led of the Spirit are the sons of God" ( Rom. 8:14 ), and are free from the law. The law with its carnal ordinances in Paul's view was adapted to a fleshly condition.
19-21. Now the works of the flesh . . . are these. The tree is known by its fruits. We show our fruits whether we are of the flesh or Spirit. The works of the flesh are first given. Paul names (1) Three sins of sensuality; (2) two spiritual sins of false religion; (3) sins against our fellow men, of which nine are specified; (4) sins of intemperance, of which two are named. The sins of sensuality were sanctioned by the heathen religion in the worship of Venus, and sanctioned by the purest heathen moralists. Christianity had to breast the current of the whole world. It differs from heathen morality as day from night. 20. Witchcraft. Sorcery or magic, whether a superstition or deception, was prevalent in all the ancient world. See notes on Acts 19:19. 21. Drunkenness. A common sin of all ages. Revellings. Any kind of riotous or unseemly conduct; carousals. As I have also told you in time past. As before, when in Galatia, so now he tells them again that none who do these things can expect to be saved.
22, 23. But the fruits of the Spirit. The fruits named are not our fruits, but of the Spirit in us. If we bear these fruits we show that we have the Spirit. There are four groups: (1) Love, the Christian grace which works out the whole law. (2) Joy and peace, which are the normal state of the Christian. (3) The graces which relate to others, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, fidelity (faith), meekness. (4) The last fruit looks to oneself, temperance, or self-control. It implies not only abstinence from injurious drinks and food, but control of the temper, the tongue, the desires, the passion for money or power. 23. Against such there is no law. Those who bear these fruits find no law interfering with them.
24-26. They that are Christ's. They cannot walk after the flesh because they have crucified their lusts. Have died with Christ, been buried, and risen, not to live their own lives, but Christ's. See Rom. 6:2-6 . Baptism is supposed to mark a complete separation between the old life of sin and the Christian life. 25. Walk in the Spirit. If we are born again, and have a spiritual life, let us show it by walking in obedience to the Spirit. 26. Let us not be desirous of vain glory. This was probably a well-known fault of the Galatians.