This post follows the Bible reading plan available at oaktreechurch.com/soap. You can read all my New Testament notes in my book New Testament: Chapter by Chapter.
Chapter five begins the third, and final, section of the letter, in which Paul gave practical application of how we should live out our freedom in Christ. He insisted that it was “FOR FREEDOM [THAT] CHRIST HAS SET US FREE” (Galatians 5:1). He could not emphasize enough how foolish (Galatians 3:1) they were for placing themselves into slavery by adding circumcision to faith (Galatians 5:1-6). They had become so deluded by the Jewish legalists that they had forgotten that physical circumcision (or lack thereof) had no spiritual value in Christ – “THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS IS FAITH WORKING THROUGH LOVE.” Paul became so agitated at the thought of his friends falling for the legalists’ false teaching he opined, “If these legalists like circumcision so much, why don’t they just finish the job!” (Galatians 5:12)
The key is to use our freedom in Christ for Christ and his purposes, namely, serving one another like Christ (Galatians 5:13). We do this by lining up behind the Holy Spirit and keeping in step with him (Galatians 5:16-26). 1 Paul thought it important to remind them that every believer has two natures that are mutually opposed to one another, that these are in constant warfare with one another, that we can “feed” only one of them, and that each one bears fruit in keeping with its source. “THE WORKS OF THE FLESH ARE OBVIOUS,” producing all kinds of sinful behavior. “THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT,” on the other hand, is less conspicuous but still in line with its source. Notice that this fruit comes from the Spirit, not from ourselves (we cannot manufacture it or force it to grow) and that its purpose is for serving one another.
- The word translated “BEHAVE IN ACCORDANCE” in Galatians 5:25 is a military term referring to how soldiers march in line behind the leader. Paul’s point was that, if the Spirit has given us life, we should line up behind him and stay in step with him like a soldier marching in formation. ↩