An Exegetical Paper On Galatians 5: 1-6

INTRODUCTION

In this exegetical study, the paper focuses on Gal 5:1-6 with the Historical-Grammatical method and it contains three sections. The first section presents the historical context of the Epistle which contains authorship, recipients/addressees, occasion, purpose, place and date of writing. The second section follows with the literary context which includes the genre, themes and sub themes, the outline of the book, and the immediate context of the passages. The third section is the literary study and it focuses on literary forms, syntactical-grammatical analysis and word studies which consist of logic/argument or flow of thought. And the paper is closed with implications. As doing exegetical paper is a very critical word, the strength to do this paper is from above and the writer of this paper relies on the help of the Holy Spirit. To find out the intended meaning of the text and its application for today, the important tools like dictionary, concordance and other commentaries would be carefully consulted throughout the paper. New International Version is used for diagramming, charting and study.

I. HISTORICAL CONTEXT

A. Authorship

The text itself claims that the author of this epistle is “Paul, an apostle-sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead” (1:1; 5:2), and “all the brothers who were with” him (1:2). This fact is “confirmed by the literary form and style, argumentative methods, and theological content, as well as by the tradition, which never doubted it.”[1] But, from the late 19th and early 20th centuries some scholars denied Pauline authorship, yet their argumentations are insufficient. “Since in the original the postscript was handwritten by Paul (6:11), the remainder of the letter must have been written by an amanuensis, a fact which complicates authorship technically but not substantially.”[2]

B. Recipients/Addressees

The recipients of Paul’s letter in the churches at Galatia were the fruits of Paul’s first missionary journey (cf. Acts 14). Since they were spiritually children of Paul “my dear children” (Gal 4:19), it is apparent that before they had a wonderful and strong relationship in the Lord but not now in this situation (Gal 4:12-16). That’s why when Paul heard about they were beginning to turn away from their faith and sound gospel into false teachers’ teaching on another gospel which is fake gospel. His concerned for them was so deep and painful. Therefore, he used strong words just like “ you foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? (Gal 3:1). If he had not had an intimate relationship with them before, he would not use such kind of rebuking or admonishing words as to children or brothers. Thus, Paul wanted them to turn back to him and the gospel of Christ. He wrote this epistle not only to one or two believers in Galatia rather to all the churches in Galatia (1:2). It is a letter for all members of Galatians’ churches.

C. Occasion

The Galatia churches were starting to turn away from the gospel of Christ which is justification by faith alone (Gal 2:16) into another gospel which is faith plus observing the Law of Moses particularly on circumcision (Gal 1:7; 2:3; cf II Cor 11:4). The false teachers said that faith in Christ alone is not enough, even if you believe in Christ you have to observe the Law of Moses in order to save (cf Acts 15:1. 14). That false teachings and teachers confused the churches in Galatia. Besides, those judaizers perhaps envied Paul and hated him for his success. As Paul mentioned in chapter 6:12 and 13 the reasons why they wanted Galatian Christians to circumcise is “to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ” and to be boast their flesh (cf Phi 3:3).

In fact, the churches of Galatians were the results and fruits of Paul’s first missionary journey (Gal 4:12-13; cf I Cor 2:3-5); Acts 18:1-18). When Paul preached the gospel to them for the first time, they welcomed him as if he was an angel of God, as if he was like Christ himself, they were full of joy for his visit and the gospel that he brought to them (Gal 4:14-15). But their situation changed because of the false teachers against Paul and the gospel of Jesus. The Galatians were wavering in their faith and even turned back to their old principles, “observing special days and months and seasons and years” (Gal 4:10). Therefore, he wrote this letter to them as “brothers, dear children” (4:12, 14) with deep concern, explaining that obeying Jewish law especially circumcision, was not necessary for the Gentiles. He taught them that believing in Christ is enough for justification nothing more and nothing less (Gal 2:15-16; 3:25). Paul also felt that he had to defend his apostleship against false brothers (judaizers) in order to protect the gospel of Christ (Gal 1:11-12; 2:7-10) and his ministry in the Lord. He also encouraged them that you are free in Christ from bondage of slavery (Gal 5:1; 2:4), not to do wrong but to do good for all (Gal 6:10), to live by the spirit against sinful nature (Gal 5:15) and to serve one another in love (Gal 5:13).

D. Purpose

The purpose of this epistle is to scold the Galatians for abandoning their faith which Paul had preached to them by later accepting circumcision, and convince back their confusing heart regarding the gospel that Paul preached against other people preached (Gal 1:6). It is Paul’s intention to make them sure that there is no other gospel apart from what he had taught them (Gal 1:7, 9). The second reason is to defend his apostleship (Gal 1:11-23; 2:1-3, 7-10; 6:17) due to the attack of false brothers-judaizers (Gal 2:4). In such kind of situation, if Paul didn’t defend his apostolic authority, he might be doubted not only by Gentile believers but also by the agitator (Gal 5:12), and even might affect the true gospel that he brought to them in vain. Therefore, he established his apostolic authority by long explanation (Gal 1:11-14; 2:7-10; 6:17; cf Acts 9:15) so that he might sustain the gospel that he preached is the only gospel and his apostleship also might be accepted to them as well. In other words, if they have doubt on his apostleship, they would also not believe on the gospel that he preached. Thus, Paul wrote this letter to them by referring as “brothers or my dear children” (Gal 4:12, 19; 6:1) Indeed, the churches in Galatia were the results of Paul’s first missionary journey (Gal 4:12-13; cf I Cor 2:3-5; Acts 18:1-18) and when he addressed them as his children that expressed what kind of warm relationship that they had before and how much he concerned about their lives.

The third reason is to explain clearer about how a man is justified by grace through faith in Christ for Gentile Christians (Gal 3:6, 8), contrary to observing the Law of Moses for justification as others preached. The fourth reason is to let them know that they are sons of God by faith in Christ. They are special and heirs of God so that they might be able to live out their unity in Christ regardless of their status (Gal 3:26-4:7). Finally, Paul also would like to challenge and encourage them to live out their freedom in Christ as a new creation by doing good things to others, serving others with love, living by the spirit of God against the sinful natures (Gal 5:1, 6; 6:10, 15).

E. Date and Place of Writing

The date of Galatians is one of the most controversial issues in Pauline epistles. “Scholars have argued in favor of both early and late dates in relation to the other Pauline letters.”[3] For those who favor North Galatianist view, the letter was written on Paul’s third missionary journey, sometimes around 53-58 A.D. And for those who favor South Galatianist view, the epistle would be written earlier during the early part of Paul’s second missionary journey sometimes around 49-50 A.D. or Paul’s first missionary journey but before the Jerusalem council 49 A.D. [4] because Churches in Galatia were the fruits of Paul’s ministry (Gal 4:12-16), including churches at Iconium, Lystra and Derbe (Acts 14).

In modern days, Galatia is called Turkey. It was situated in central Asia Minor, extending in the north from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean in the south.[5] Regarding the place of writing, there is no specific indication from which the letter was sent. Some scholars have various proposals such as Ephesus, Macedonia, and Corinth, however those are just proposals and there is “no indication of place of origin.”[6]

II. LITERARY CONTEXT

A. Genre

The epistle of Galatians is well arranged by means of the traditional Greco-Roman format of letter writing of the first century. The letter is opened with greetings which both identified the author and the recipients (1:1-5), however, unlike other Pauline letters the author immediately moves to the main body of the letter (1: 6-6:15) without giving words of thanks to the recipients. Then, the letter is closed with final exhortation and greetings (6:16-18). The sub genres or structures of this letter include autobiography (1:10-2:21), Liturgical formulas (3:28; 4: 6), and virtue/vice lists (5:19-23).

From the way how Paul defended himself in the passages, it is obvious that Galatians has apologetic elements, but “Paul is not concentrating on the kind of rhetoric used in law courts. Rather, Galatians is predominantly “deliberative rhetoric,” the kind of argumentation ancient speakers and writers used to persuade people to change their behavior. The argument itself is very rational, and the emotional language of the letter was standard rhetoric characteristic of stern letters (Galatians includes elements of ancient “letters of rebuke”).”[7] Besides, this epistle is also a real personal letter of exhortation and admonishment.

B. Themes and sub-themes

Throughout the letters, Paul mentioned various themes and sub-themes. The first one is the gospel. It appears 12 times and sometimes it is used for comparison of the gospel of Christ which is justification by grace through faith in Christ against another gospel which is faith plus good works or obeying the law particularly on circumcision. Therefore, Paul is defending the gospel of Christ which he preached from another gospel which is not gospel at all (Gal 1:7).

The second theme is Law. It appears 31 times and it is the major discussion in this letter. As mentioned earlier, some false brothers (Judaizers) preached that Gentile Christians should obey the Law of Moses in order to save, saying that if you don’t observe the Law of Moses, you can’t belong to the family of God. That kind of false teaching rapidly influenced churches at Galatia. Therefore, Paul wrote this letter not in sweet words but in a rebuke word and questions like “you foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you…” (Gal 3:1-5) and explained more about the Law of Moses in away that the people of Galatians might understand a man is not justified by observing the law. Besides, Paul said that “ all who rely on observing the law are under a curse”… because Christ had already redeemed us from the curse of the law when he was hung on a tree on behalf of our sins (Gal 3:6, 13). He also said that “ if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all…have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace” (5:2-5). Paul did not say that Law is sinful or wrong, rather he said that “ the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith” (3:24). In other words, law is the pointer for Christian toward Christ because when the law condemns us the grace of God by faith in Christ accepts as righteous.

The third major theme is faith. It occurs 16 times. Paul is saying that a man is justified by grace through faith in Christ alone nothing more and nothing less against the teaching of false teachers. He also mentioned how Abraham was credited as righteous before God due to his faith (Gal 3:6) for confirmation of his points. Therefore, he is saying that faith in Jesus Christ is enough for a man’s justification and he does not need to observe the law in order to save. At the moment a person places his faith in Jesus, he is declared as righteous before God and becoming son of God and co-hers of Christ (3:26-4:7). The fourth is freedom. This freedom is the result of our faith in Christ and it is the major theme of the epistle. When we put our in Christ, he sets us free from the yoke of slavery, the yoke of the law (Gal 5:1), Indeed, faith in Christ has given us freedom from the law that “we are no longer under the supervision of the law” (Gal 3:25). Our faith in Christ gives us true freedom from sins, sinful natures and even from any kind of earthly law (Gal 5:1-5). Yet, our freedom in Christ should not be taken for granted or we should not use to do wrong rather our freedom in Christ should be used for serving our Savior, serving one another with love and doing good things to all people (Gal 5:13; 6:10).

The last theme is living by the Spirit. It is not enough that we are saved yet still under the control of law or sinful nature rather we are to live by the Spirit so that we “will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature” (Gal 5:16). Though we are already set free from any bondage, if we don’t live by the Spirit, our sinful natures easily can lead us into temptation such as “sexual immorality, impurity…” (Gal 5:19). Besides, we can become “conceited, provoking and envying each other” (Gal 5:26). But if we live by the Spirit, he will produce his fruits in us “love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Gal 5:22-23). As already mentioned in the fourth theme, the most important theme of the book is freedom in Christ (Gal 5:1).

C. The outlines of the Galatians

An apostle Paul starts this epistle with a salutation (1:1-5), and he moves immediately to the defense of true gospel against another gospel (1:6-10) and the defense of his apostleship against judaizers or false teachers (1:11-24). Paul talks about his visit to Jerusalem with Barnabas and Titus (2:1-6), and mentions about the confirmation of his apostleship (2:7-10). Next is Paul’s rebuke to Peter for his inappropriate manner because though Peter is a Jew, he lives like Gentile and not like a Jew (2:11-21). Paul rebukes and questions the Galatians for their confusion of belief (3:1-5), and he moves for further explanation of faith and observing the law (3:6-14), and tells that laws informs our need of faith in Christ (3:15-25).Then, Paul is moving toward belonging to Christ as one (unity) (3:26-29) and becoming sons and heirs of God (4:1-7). From the following verses 4:8-11, Paul mentions his deep concern for Galatians and talks about his previous visit account to Galatians and late concern for them including his urge to become like him (4:12-20), and he also talks about the explanation of law and promise through the account of Hagar and Sarah (4:21-31).

Starting from chapter 5:1-12, Paul is mentioning freedom in Christ from the yoke of Slavery, and moves to freedom in Christ to serve one another in love (5:13-15), and freedom in Christ to live life by the Spirit (5:16-26). Then, Paul encourages the Galatians to do good things to all by carrying each other’s burden humbly (6:1-6), and explains that a man receives as whatever he shows for exhortation about the importance of doing good things (6:7-10). Besides, he also talks about the needs of new creation in Christ not a circumcision (6:11-16), and mentions the approval of his ministry as bearing the marks of Christ in his body (6:17). Then, the epistle is closed with the benediction (6:18).

D. The immediate context of the passages

In Chapter 4:8-19, Paul talks about his concern for the Galatians because the Galatians were turning away from the truth and observing again “special days and months and seasons and years” (4:10) which were “weak and miserable principles” (4: 9) Since, those things happened after they knew the truth, Paul was so worry about them and even afraid that his effort for them would be in vain. Thus, Paul mentioned again his first visit to them and how the believers of Galatians treated him nicely despite his illness that bothered them. He recalled how joyful they were and welcomed him as “an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself” (4:14). And he questioned them what happened to their lives now and separated their relationship with him who tells the truth. Paul felt as if becoming by this time like their enemy because of their obedience to the false teachers. Therefore, he told them that the false teacher’s zealous was “to alienate you from us, so that you may zealous for them” (4.17).

As spiritual father, he felt pain and wished that they would grow and mature in their faith. He even wished that if possible he would like to change his tone and be with them “because I (Paul) am perplexed about you!” (4:20) Then, Paul took the Old Testament picture for contrasting that those who are enslaved to the law (represented by Hagar, the slave women) with those who are free from the law (represented by Sarah, the free women). Hagar’s abuse of Sarah (Gen 16:4) was like the persecution that the Gentile Christians were getting from the Judaizers who insisted on keeping the law in order to be saved. Eventually Sarah triumphed because God kept his promise to give her a son, just as those who worship Christ in faith will also triumph. Here, Paul explained that what happened to Sarah and Hagar is an allegory or picture of the relationships between God and mankind. Then Paul moves to our main passages 5:1-6 about freedom in Christ not by obeying the law, but by faith in Christ. Besides, from the following verses, Paul exhorted them not to use their freedom to “indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love” (5:13).

III. LITERARY STUDIES

1It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. 2Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. 3Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. 4You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. 6For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. ( 5:1-6) [NIV]

Verse 1 is a ringing exhortation to maintain Christian freedom[8]. The sentence “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” is a dative statement which indicates the purpose of Christ’s death for our freedom. And this is another way of saying what Paul earlier said that “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us…” (3:13)[9]. Yet, here, “the stress is not on what he had done but rather on our response to it, not on what he has given but on our acceptance of the gift.”[10] In other words, since Christ has already set us free, we are to live like the free man. His use of the word freedom springs from the statement and vocabulary of 4:31 that deals the Hagar-Sarah allegory interpretation which clarifies “the freedom of believers in Christ”[11] “Freedom from bondage in Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac would be impossible without the work of Christ. Christ is the great liberator; He freed us from bondage unto a life of Christian Liberty.”[12]

Verse 1an introduces freedom as the outcome of Christ’s works specifically as the basis for an appeal in verse 1b asking the Galatians to cherish their new-found freedom by choosing to abide in it[13]. Thus, the focus of verse 1a is not on the fact that “Christ has set us free” but rather on the fact that he did so “for freedom” as the emphatic position of “for freedom” demonstrates.[14] In fact, while we cannot set ourselves free from bandage of law, or the curse of the law, the principles of this world, sins, and self- righteousness and the wrath of God, “Christ did act on his own initiative to free us”[15], and offered a free gift of freedom by faith through his grace, not by obeying the law. However, as receivers of liberty, “we have a responsibility to dearly preserve this gift at all costs and we must maintain our freedom by living accordingly (5:18, 22).”[16] We should “have, maintain, exercise and enjoy this freedom”[17] escaping from the law of circumcision. And when we do that “this freedom became a reality in our experience through the power of the Spirit, who had invested us with the liberty of sons by applying the all-sufficient merit of that redemptive accomplishment to our hearts”[18] (3:2; 4:6). Therefore, to live out our freedom it is crucial that “we must remain exclusively “in Christ.”[19]

Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. The word “Stand firm ” here is the imperative and it is a command and a call to stand firm “for freedom that Christ has set us free ”. Paul is saying that since Christ has already set you free, you are to stand firm in that freedom. There are some equivalent passages in Pauline epistles about “stand firm” such as I Cor 16:13, “stand firm in the faith”; Phi 1:27, “stand firm in one spirit” and Phi 4:1, “stand firm in the Lord ”. For them “a great price has been paid to bring about their freedom: let them then live in the freedom into which Christ has brought them. It is perverse for free people to seek bondage.” [20] Paul gives them a warning that they should not create burden for themselves after they had been set free rather to continuously live on their way of living as freedom.

The word, “again ” here does not mean that before becoming believers in Christ the Galatians had been under the “yoke” of the Jewish law. Rather, in Paul’s usage of word, they had been under “the basic principles of the world”, referring paganism. Yet in Paul’s view, from the perspective of being “in Christ,” Judaism and paganism could be lumped together under the rubric “the basic principles of the world” and so a leaving of Christian principle for either Jewish law or principles of the world was a renunciation of freedom and a return “again” to slavery[21]. Probably, when Paul used the word “yoke” he was thinking of a beast of burden with its yoke that fastens the burden to the animal so that it cannot shake it free. And a “yoke” here is “used figuratively in antiquity for any disagreeable burden that was unwillingly tolerated, like slavery”[22]. For the Galatians, “the multitude of regulations (the Jews found 613 commandments in the Law, the books Genesis to Deuteronomy) was such that even to remember them all was a burden, and to keep them all bordered on the impossible. Thus, Paul referred to subjecting oneself to them all as entering into slavery”[23]. And this passage is a call to stand firm in their freedom and a warning for the yoke of slavery.

2Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. With the exclamation “Mark my words! , Paul draws “his reader’s attention to the seriousness and importance of the matter and then backs up his admonition in verse 1b with a warning issued on the basis of his apostolic authority”[24]with the word, “I, Paul” for stress. He wanted the Galatians to pay attention on the matters that he was going to say in the following passages. And he proved by stressing his apostleship that he was Paul, an apostle (1:1, 15) indicating that his admonition is valid.

The form of the conditional clause “if you let yourselves be circumcised ” suggests that Paul is not thinking of just the future act of being circumcised but of his converts’ present decision to become circumcised[25]. And from his expression “Christ will be of no value to you at all”, he informs them that if they “accept circumcision they will benefit “nothing whatsoever” from Christ. They will not gain the sonship, not the inheritance, not the promise, not the freedom-nothing”[26] There is nothing wrong with circumcision for Jewish Christians, and Paul didn’t oppose that, but what Paul opposed is “the imposition of circumcision and a monistic lifestyle on Gentile believers as being necessary for living out their Christian faith in a proper fashion, for that takes us right back to the basic issue of righteousness (both forensic and ethical) as being based on either “works of the law” or faith in “the faithfulness of Jesus Christ” ( 2:15–16)[27]. As Jack Hunter says:

“In the Galatian situation, circumcision to Paul was not a surgical operation, nor merely a religious observance. It represented a system of salvation by good works. It declared a gospel of human effort apart from divine grace. It was law supplanting grace; Moses supplanting Christ; for to add to Christ was to take from Christ. Christ supplemented was Christ supplanted; Christ is the only Savior—solitary and exclusive. Circumcision would mean excision from Christ.”[28]

To depend on circumcision is the same with to make Christ of no benefit. Therefore, “for Gentiles, to revert to the prescriptions of the Jewish law as a necessary form of Christian lifestyle is, in effect, to make Christianity legalistic rather than Christo centric, and so not to have Christ’s guidance in one’s life.”[29]

3Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. The word, “be circumcised” here has to do with the obligation of keeping the Mosaic Law. The Galatians were urged to accept circumcision so as to be more fully related to Abraham, the Abrahamic promise, and the Jewish nation, and they were persuaded to adopt the Jewish cycle of Sabbaths, festivals, and high holy days (cf. 4:10). In effect, then, Christians in Galatia had accepted the Judaizers’ counsel to signal their separation from the Gentile world by keeping the Jewish cultic calendar, and they were seriously contemplating signaling their union with the Jewish world by accepting circumcision. Before they do, however, Paul wants to make it plain that with circumcision comes obligation “to obey the whole law.”[30]

Paul’s saying is that if a person attempts to please God by being circumcised, then he is under obligation to keep the whole law. And if the man is entirely under the law, Christ is valueless to him[31] because he tries to justify himself by obeying the law. In fact, this passage is parallel with James 2:10: “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it” . Thus, “Paul was strongly opposed to the Judaistic theology which insisted that circumcision was necessary for salvation. Anyone who was circumcised for that reason added works to faith and demonstrated that he had not exercised saving faith in Christ.”[32] “Paul is not referring in this verse to any who might have been circumcised in the past, but only to those who might undergo this rite as a necessity for complete justification, to those who assert the obligations of law-keeping for their acceptance with God.” [33] He is making sure that no one can be justified by circumcision, works of law or any human effort because no one can completely follow the whole law. Therefore, Paul is declaring that we are not justified by any mean but only by faith in Christ for freedom and salvation.

4You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. Paul is warning here for those who had accepted Judaizer’s teaching about justification by law particularly on circumcision. In fact, those teachers taught that justification by faith alone is not enough; you have to add good works or law. They insisted the Gentile Christians to obey the law in order for belonging to God’s family or have salvation. In contrast to their teaching, Paul said that to seek justification by law was really to “have been alienated from Christ ” because “justification can come about only because of what Christ has done.” [34] According to Paul, to seek justification by law is “to reject God’s way of justification”[35] and ignore Christ “as the provider of righteousness, and a non-reliance upon God’s grace as the source for our salvation”[36] Thus, “a rejection of God’s way of justification necessarily means alienation.”[37] It is “being removed from Christ’s sphere of operation and completely cut off from relations with him.”[38]

In mentioning the word “grace” (Gr. Charis), Paul is thinking of “the grace of God, favor of God, gracious gift of God” [39] through Christ which is the subject of this epistle. And when Paul says, “you have fallen away from grace” he means that “you are no longer in the Kingdom of grace,”[40] because when some one tries to justify himself by keeping all the laws, he does not rely on God’s provision of grace and that separates him from God. For he has fallen from grace, he utterly loses “the atonement, the forgiveness of sins, the righteousness, liberty, and life that Jesus has merited for us by his death and resurrection; instead, he purchases to himself the wrath and judgment of God, sin, death, the bondage of the devil, and damnation.”[41]

5But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. Paul uses the pronoun “we” in this verse, referring to true Christians, whereas in verse 4 he uses the pronoun “you” when speaking to those who seek justification by works of law.[42] Thus, Paul is saying that the Christian’s hope of righteousness before God only come to us through the Spirit and the Christian receives that righteousness by faith in Christ. In other words, “salvation is by faith. It is not a human merit, as though we are rewarded for faith by being granted salvation. Rather, faith is the means by which we receive the gift.”[43] Besides, Paul is saying that salvation is “the sphere of the divine Spirit, and, of course, by an activity of the divine Spirit.”[44] And the Christian “waits for the hope of righteousness. He hopes for the time when the Lord will come, when he will receive a glorified body, and when he will sin no more. Notice that it does not say that the Christian hopes for righteousness; he already has a right standing before God through the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:21). But he waits for the moment when he will be completely righteous in himself.”[45]

The believer or Christian does not hope to achieve this by anything that he can do, but rather through the Spirit and by faith. The Holy Spirit is going to do it all, and the believer simply looks to God in faith to bring it to pass. On the other hand, the legalist hopes to earn righteousness by his own works, law-keeping, or religious observances. However, it is a vain hope because righteousness cannot be achieved in this way. [46]

6For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. The words “for in Christ Jesus” indicates “being a real Christian; the essential things about the state of the believer is that of being in Christ Jesus.”[47] Paul is stating that for the Christian who believes in Jesus Christ “neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value ” but “faith is the key, the heart, the soul, the life and the essence of salvation”[48]. Here, Paul emphasizes “the importance of vital fellowship with the Savior. The Christian is wholly committed to Christ, so wholly that he or she does not merely stand ‘for’ him or ‘by’ him, but is really ‘in’ him, surrounded by him.”[49] Therefore, in the community of believers, “the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love ”.

What God looks for in the believer or Christian is faith working through love. Though, faith is complete dependence on God. It is not idle; it manifests itself in unselfish service to God and man. The motive of all such service is love. Thus faith “works through love; it is prompted by love, not by law.”[50] Our faith in Christ Jesus should be manifested in our action of love for God and others because our freedom in Christ is not a license to do evil, but to express our love for God and others.

In summary, the main intention of our passages is to let Galatians know the purpose why Christ has set us free and that is for freedom. He exhorts them to live as freeman and not to turn back on “a yoke of slavery ”. He is telling that Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross for our behalf is enough and we don’t need to observe the Mosaic Law or any earthly yoke. And it is an exhortation to stand firm in their freedom and a warning for them not to turn back on ‘a yoke of slavery’ which can imply the law of Circumcision (good works) and the principles of this world for justification. Because, Paul says that after being set free from the bondage of slavery through the death of Christ, yet if anyone tries to be justified by the law, he has been alienated from Christ and he has fallen away from grace. He reminds the Galatians that we are justified by faith in Christ; not by obeying the law therefore you should live out your freedom with love for the glory of the Lord. You should express your faith in good works which edifies others. And you should use your freedom to serve others in love.

IV. APPLICATION

It is a privilege for me to write this paper and I thank God for the strength that he has given to work on this paper. From this paper, I come to realize and appreciate deeper and deeper about the love of Jesus Christ who has set me free from any bondage of sin. I also learn that Christ doesn’t allow us to turn back to our old ways of life after receiving his rescue from any bondage that we had gone through before we believed in Him. Besides, these passages remind us that Christ wants us to live out our freedom not to cover our sins, not to take his gift of salvation for granted, not to use our freedom for license to do wrong, but to live out our freedom in Him for the edification of others with Love. I learn that our freedom in Christ is a free gift and a privilege. And this is my conviction from the lessons I learn that we are not free to disobey Christ or practice immorality, but we are free to serve the risen Christ who is the Lord of our lives. We must use our freedom to love and to serve, not to do wrong and to have inappropriate manner. Our freedom in Christ should reflect the love of Christ to our neighbors and people around us. We are called to do good words not because we want to be justified by our works, but since we are already justified by faith in Christ Jesus, we are to live out our freedom in Christ for serving God and others.

ENDNOTES

[1] David Noel Freedman, The Anchor Bible Dictionary , Vol. 2, D-G (New York: Doubleday, 1992), 872.II.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid, 872.II.

[4] Richard N. Longenecker, Word Biblical Commentary: Galatians, Vol 41(Dallas, Texas: Word books, Publisher, 1990), lxxiii.

[5] L. Ann Jervis, New International Biblical Commentary: Galatians (Peabody, Massachusetts, 1999), 13.

[6] Gordon D. Fee & Douglas Stuart, How to Read the Bible Book by Book: A Guided Tour (Manila, Philippines: OMF Literature Inc, 2002), 340.

[7] Graig S. Keener, IVP Bible Background Commentary New Testament (Downers Grove, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 1993),

[8] Howard F. Vos, Galatians: A Call to Christian Liberty (Chicago: Moody Press, 1971), 90

[9] Jervis, New International Biblical Commentary: Galatians , 126.

[10] Paul Nadim Tarazi, Galatians: A Commentary (Crestwood: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1994), 265.

[11] Longenecker, Word Biblical Commentary: Galatians, 233.

[12] F.Vos, Galatians: A Call to Christian Liberty , 90.

[13] Paul Nadim, Galatians: A Commentary, 265.

[14] Ibid, 265.

[15] Ibid, 265.

[16] Ibid, 265.

[17] Leon Morris, Galatians: Paul’s Character of Christian Freedom (Downers Grove: Illinois, 1996), 153.

[18] Geoffrey B. Wilson, Galatians: A Digest of Reformed Comment (3 Murray field Road, Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1973), 93.

[19] Paul Nadim , Galatians: A Commentary, 265.

[20] Leon Morris, Galatians: Paul’s Character of Christian, 153.

[21] Longenecker, Word Biblical Commentary: Galatians, 225.

[22] Ibid, 225.

[23] Leon Morris, Galatians: Paul’s Character of Christian, 154.

[24] Wilson, Galatians: A Digest of Reformed Comment , 267.

[25] Longenecker, Word Biblical Commentary: Galatians, 226.

[26] F.Vos, Galatians: A Call to Christian Liberty , 267.

[27] Longenecker, Word Biblical Commentary: Galatians, 266.

[28]MacDonald, Believer's Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments (electronic ed.) (Gal 5:2)(Thomas Nelson: Nashville, 1997).

[29]Longenecker, Word Biblical Commentary: Galatians, 266

[30]Ibid, 227.

[31] MacDonald, Believer's Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments (electronic ed.) (Gal. 5:3).

[32] John F. Walvoord & Roy B. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament (USA: Victor books, 1983), 604.

[33] MacDonald, Believer's Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments (electronic ed)(Gal. 5:3).

[34] Morris, Galatians: Paul’s Character of Christian, 156.

[35] Ibid, 156.

[36] Geoffrey B. Wilson, Galatians: A Digest of Reformed Comment . 96.

[37] Morris, Galatians: Paul’s Character of Christian, 156.

[38] Ronald Y.K. Fung, The Epistle to the Galatians (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1988), 223.

[39] Edward W. Goodrich & John R.Kohlenberger III, The NIV Exhaustive Concordance (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1990), 1806.

[40] Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 1979), 308.

[41] Ibid, 308.

[42]MacDonald, Believer's Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments (electronic ed.) (Gal 5:5).

[43] Morris, Galatians: Paul’s Character of Christian, 156.

[44] Ibid, 156.

[45]MacDonald, Believer's Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments (electronic ed.) (Gal 5:5)

[46] Ibid.

[47] Morris, Galatians: Paul’s Character of Christian, 156.

[48] Oliver B. Greene, The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Galatians (Greenville, South Carolina: The Gospel Hour, Inc, 1962), 150.

[49] Morris, Galatians: Paul’s Character of Christian, 157.

[50]MacDonald, Believer's Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments (electronic ed.) (Gal 5:6).

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Freedman, David Noel. The Anchor Bible Dictionary. Vol. 2, D-G. New York: Doubleday, 1992.

Fung, Ronald Y.K. The Epistle to the Galatians. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1988.

Greene, Oliver B. The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Galatians . Greenville, South Carolina: The Gospel Hour, Inc. 1962.

Goodrich, Edward W. & Kohlenberger III, John R. The NIV Exhaustive Concordance (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1990), 1806.

Jervis, L. Ann. New International Biblical Commentary: Galatians . Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999.

Keener, Graig S. IVP Bible Background Commentary New Testament . Downers Grove, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 1993.

Longenecker, Richard N. Word Biblical Commentary: Galatians. Vol. 41. Dallas, Texas: Word books Publisher, 1990.

Luther, Martin. Commentary on Galatians . Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 1979

MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments . Thomas Nelson: Nashville, 1997.

Morris, Leon. Galatians: Paul’s Character of Christian Freedom. Downers Grove: Illinois, 1996.

Tarazi, Paul Nadim. Galatians: A Commentary . Crestwood: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1994.

Vos, Howard F. Galatians: A Call to Christian Liberty . Chicago: Moody Press, 1971.

Walvoord, John F & Zuck, Roy B. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament . USA: Victor books, 1983.

Wilson, Geoffrey B. Galatians: A Digest of Reformed Comment. 3 Murray field Road, Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1973.


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Comments 3 comments

GrowingDeeper profile image

GrowingDeeper 5 years ago

Great work and what an undertaking from a scholarly perspective. Well done and soundly executed. Just to lay out the exegesis of a very small portion of Scripture must have taken many hours. God bless your efforts.


Van Lal Hmangaih profile image

Van Lal Hmangaih 5 years ago from Myanmar Author

GrowingDeeper, Thank you for taking your time and read my work on this portion. May God richly bless you


Angele Parris profile image

Angele Parris 8 months ago

Wow!

I wanted to comment of the article, but it is very long. Maybe, I will try reading it for a week, a few paragraphs a day. (I know it was written four years ago).

However, the Galatians were not turning away to false teachings. One of the requirements that the Jews must follow is the practice of circumcision. So the newly -converted Galatians were told that they had to be circumcised too. This left them confused.

Paul is letting them know in this letter, that the practice of circumcision does not apply to them. Paul is introducing a people who had no part of the Jewish religion, as chance to enter into the Jewish faith. He is telling them that he was called to preach the message to the Gentiles, and thus the message he preached might be slightly different from the message preached by the Peter-led team.

This letter to the Galatians is not about exegesis, it is about the Galatians obtaining a chance for eternal salvation along with the Jews.

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