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THIS chapter is, properly, a continuation of the argument in the previous chapter, and is designed to induce the Galatians to renounce their conformity to the Jewish law, arid to become entirely conformed to the gospel. In particular it seems to be designed to meet a charge that had been brought against him, that he had preached the necessity of circumcision, or that he had so practised it as to show that he believed that it was obligatory on others. Under his example, or pleading his authority, it seems the false teachers there had urged the necessity of its observance. Ga 5:11. The argument and the exhortation consist of the following parts:—

(1.) He exhorts them to stand firm in the liberty of Christianity, and not to be brought again under bondage, Ga 5:1.

(2.) He solemnly assures them, that if they depended on circumcision for salvation, they could derive no benefit from Christ. They put themselves into a perfect legal state, and must depend on that alone; and that was equivalent to renouncing Christ altogether, or to falling from grace, Ga 5:2-6.

(3.) He assures them that their present belief could not have come from him by whom they were originally brought to the knowledge of the truth; but must have been from some foreign influence, operating like leaven, Ga 5:7-9.

(4.) He says he had confidence in them, on the whole, that they would obey the truth, and that they would suffer him who had troubled them to bear his proper judgment, gently insinuating that he should be disowned or cut off, Ga 5:10,12.

(5.) He vindicates himself from the charge that he preached the necessity of circumcision. His vindication was, that if he had done that he would have escaped persecution, for then the offence of the cross would have ceased, Ga 5:11.

(6.) He assures them that they had been called unto liberty; that the gospel had made them free. Yet Paul felt how easy it was to abuse this doctrine, and to pretend that Christ had freed them from all restraint, and from the bondage of all law. Against this he cautions them. Their liberty was not licentiousness. It was not freedom from all the restraints of law. It was not that they might give indulgence to the passions of the flesh. It was designed that they should serve one another; and not fall into the indulgence of raging passions, producing strife and mutual hatred, Ga 5:13-15.

(7.) To illustrate this, and to show them the evils of giving indulgence to their appetites under the pretence that they were free, he proceeds to show what were the passions to which carnal indulgence would give rise, or what were the works of the flesh, Ga 5:16-21.

(8.) On the other hand, the Spirit produces a train of most lovely virtues, feelings, and affections, against which there could be no law, Ga 5:22,23.

(9.) They who were Christians had in fact crucified the flesh. They were bound to live after the teachings of the Spirit; and Paul, therefore, exhorts them to lay aside all vain-glory and envy, and to live in peace, Ga 5:24-26.

Verse 1. Stand fast therefore. Be firm and unwavering. This verse properly belongs to the previous chapter, and should not have been separated from it. The sense is, that they were to be firm and unyielding in maintaining the great principles of Christian liberty. They had been freed from the bondage of rites and ceremonies; and they should by no means, and in no form, yield to them again.

In the liberty, etc. Comp. Joh 8:32,36; Ro 6:18.

See Barnes "Ga 4:3".


And be not entangled again. Tindal renders this, "And wrap not yourselves again." The sense is, do not again allow such a yoke to be put on you; do not again become slaves to any rites, and customs, and habits.

The yoke of bondage. Of servitude to the Jewish laws. See Barnes "Ac 15:10".


{a} "Stand fast" Eph 6:14 {b} "the liberty" Joh 7:32,36; Ac 15:10; Ro 6:18

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