Behold, I Paul say unto you (ἴδε, ἐγὼ Παῦλος λώγω ὑμῖν); lo, I Paul say unto you. The adverbial exclamation ἴδε, found in St. Paul's writings only here (in Romans 2:17 it should be εἰ δὲ), seems to be more abrupt than ἰδού, pointing to the immense importance and yet possibly unexpected character of what follows. The Galatians might be surprised to hear it; but that which they seemed disposed to take in hand was fraught with utter ruin. "I, Paul:" he thus puts forward his personality, as solemnly gaging his whole credit and responsibility upon the truth of that which he is about to affirm. The turn of thought is somewhat different in 2 Corinthians 10:1 and Ephesians 3:1. There is no reason to suppose that he is glancing at the use which might have already been made or might be made of the fact of his having himself circumcised Timothy. That if ye be circumcised (ὅτι ἐὰν περιτέμνησθε); that if ye set about having yourselves circumcised. The present tense is used also in the next verse and in Galatians 6:12, Galatians 6:13; 1 Corinthians 7:18. Compare the present tense, δικαιοῦσθε, in 1 Corinthians 7:4. In Acts 15:1 the πωειτέμνηαθε of the Textus Receptus is replaced by recent editors by περιτμηθῆτε, which is better suited to the posture of mind of those Pharisee Christians who had in view the abhorrent uncleanness attaching, as they considered, to those described as ἀκροβυστίαν ἔχοντες (Acts 11:3); upon whom themselves the Jews fastened the epithet of ἀκροβυστία, not as a mere colourless antitheton to περιτομή, but as a selected term of reproach as objects of offence and disgust. The apostle, on the other hand, is here not thinking of outward corporeal condition; for he presently (Acts 15:6) affirms that in Christ Jesus it mattered nothing whether a man were in περιτομὴ or in ἀκροβυστία, as indeed he proved to be his feeling by circumcising Timothy (Acts 16:3). It is the posture of mind that the apostle-is thinking of exclusively. What was this? The very warning of this verse shows, that, in wishing for circumcision, these Galatians did not intend to withdraw from Christ; and it appears from the next verse that they did not, either, contemplate the doing of the whole Law. But then, too, the fourth verse, in which apparently the apostle means to explain and justify the assertion of this second verse, indicates that they sought circumcision with the view of being justified by the Law; not, as has just been remarked, by obeying the whole Law, but by submitting themselves to the Law so far as undergoing this one rite prescribed by it. The conclusion to be drawn from these premisses is that what the apostle means is this: If ye have yourselves circumcised with the view of thereby obtaining righteousness before God, ye forfeit all hope of receiving benefit from Christ (see note on Galatians 4:10). In comparing the present passage with Galatians 6:12,Galatians 6:13, we observe that, while here he is dealing with those who sought circumcision with the view of assuring their righteousness before God, he is there referring to persons actuated by an altogether different set of motives. Christ shall profit you nothing (Χριστὸς ὑμᾶς οὐδὲν ὠφωλήσει). "The future tense marks the certain result of their being circumcised: 'Christ (as you will find) will never profit you anything'" (Bishop Ellicott). The future time is not, in particular, for example, the time of Christ's second coming; but that which follows upon their receiving circumcision—the hour in which their distrust in Christ eventuated in the overt act of having themselves circumcised for the purpose of gaining righteousness thereby, would decisively cut them off from Christ. Their circumcision would be for them the sacrament of excision from Christ. We may compare with this the awful passage referring to the consequences accruing to Jewish Christians from their relapsing to Judaism, in Hebrews 10:26-58. It is difficult to overestimate the importance of this passage, in determining the relation between trust in Christ's atonement and participation in the benefits of that atonement. It is at his extreme peril that a Christian allows himself in misgivings as to whether Christ's mediation is all-sufficient for the securing of his peace with God and his part in God's kingdom. It is by reliance upon Christ's work that his salvation through Christ is secured; by distrust in it his salvation is brought into peril; by definite unbelief his salvation is forfeited. This is in perfect accordance with the apostolic doctrine in general; but rarely is it so strongly and incisively asserted as it is here.
For I testify again (μαρτύρομαι δὲ πάλιν); I protest again. In using the word μαρτύρομαι, pro teste loquor, "I speak in the presence of a witness," the apostle intimates that he is making his affirmation with a definite sense of the Lord being his Witness (cf. Ephesians 4:17, "This I say and testify in the Lord"). The original construction and force of the verb are shown in Judith 7:28, Μαρτύρομαι ὑμῖν τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ τὴν γῆν. The apostle is wont to use it with a distinct sense of its emphatic import (see Acts 20:26; 1 Thessalonians 2:11). The word "again" points, not to the substance of the subsequent affirmation, as if it were a repetition of that mode in the preceding verse, which in fact it does not appear to be, but to the solemnity with which he makes this fresh affirmation. For the phrase, "I Paul say unto you," was one form of solemn affirmation which in effect gaged his personality as Christ's apostle and as acting in his name; and this "I protest" is another of equally solemn import. To every man that is circumcised (παντὶ ἀνθρώπῳ περιτεμνομένῳ); to every man that is having himself circumcised. St. Paul's statements elsewhere, and his own proceeding in circumcising Timothy, as well as the present context, make it certain that, however absolute and universal his affirmation at first sight seems to be, it is nevertheless meant to be taken as made with reference to certain understood conditions. Thus: "I protest to any one of you Gentiles, who, being already baptized into Christ, has himself circumcised with the view of winning righteousness and favour with God, by obeying this one prescription of the Law—that," etc. The conjunction δὲ is most probably the δὲ of transition (metabatic), introducing a fresh particular merely; and in this instance, as often, it needs not to be represented in translation at all. Certainly ,s for" is not its meaning. Possibly, as De Wette supposes, it points back, as an adversative, to the words," Christ shall profit you nothing," as if it were "but on the contrary." That he is a debtor to do the whole Law (ὅτι ὀφειλέτης ἐστὶν ὅλον τὸν νόμον ποιῆσαι); that he is under obligation (Greek, is a debtor) to do the whole Law. By having himself circumcised, he adopts the token of the Lord's covenant (Genesis 17:11, Genesis 17:13) made with those who were his people after the flesh; he enrolls himself with them to share with them their obligations. And to them the Lord had given the Law of Mount Sinai to be their appointed pedagogue till the Christ should come. "By being circumcised" (he means) "you of your own accord put yourself back afresh under this pedagogue, and just his bidding you must do. And for what? All the ordinances and ceremonies he puts you upon observing will leave you as far off as ever from remission of sins and justification with God! And this self-surrender to the pedagogue God has not asked for at your hands; while what he does require, that you withhold, even faith in him whom he hath sent: nay, not merely withhold your belief, but by open act and deed testify your disbelief in him." Under all that the apostle is here writing there appears to lie the principle, which, however, he has not distinctly stored, but which we see to be true, that circumcision was the peculiar badge of "Israel after the flesh," appertaining to them alone and not to be meddled with by any who did not mean to become naturalized as fellow-citizens with them. (For the use of ὀφειλέτης ἰστίν, comp. Romans 8:14.) The noun more commonly points to a debt incurred, or guiltiness; but here it simply denotes obligation.
Christ is become of no effect unto you (κατηργήθητε ἀπὸ τοῦ Χριστοῦ); or, ye have disconnected yourselves from Christ. The verb καταργεῖν is a favourite word with St. Paul, occurring twenty-seven times in his Epistles, including twice in the Hebrews, whilst in the rest of the New Testament it occurs only once, and that in the Pauline St. Luke (Luke 13:7). Its proper meaning is "to make inoperative," "make of no effect," as above (Galatians 3:17). The phrase, καταργεῖσθαι ἀπό, etc., occurs Romans 7:2, "If the husband die (κατήργηται ἀπό), she is discharged from the law of the husband;" it ceases to have any effect upon her; so ibid., Romans 7:6, "Now we have been discharged from the Law (κατηργήθημεν ἀπὸ τοῦ νόμον);" it has ceased to have any operation towards us. The phrase combines the two ideas—separation suggested by the ἀπό (comp. Romans 9:3), and the cessation of a work (ἔργον) or an effect till then wrought by one upon the other of the two parties: the two parties have nothing more to do with each other. The sense given in the Authorized Version is perfectly justifiable; only, perhaps, here the passive takes, as it sometimes does, the reflective sense of the middle verb; but it may be that the apostle means simply to express the result which has accrued. The aorist tense of κατηργήθητε, as well as of the ἐξεπέσατε, expresses the certainty and promptness with which the result followed upon the (supposed) act. Whosoever of you are justified by the Law (οἵτινες ἐν νόμῳ δικαιοῦσθε); such of you as go about to be justified by the Law. "By the Law;" literally, in the Law; seek to find in the Law the means of justification (cf. Galatians 3:11, and note). The present tense is the present of design or endeavour; the result in this case being, in fact, unattainable (Galatians 3:10, Galatians 3:21). Ye are fallen from grace (τῆς χάριτος ἐξεπέσατε); ye have fallen from the state of grace. "Grace" denotes the condition of acceptance with God into which faith in Christ brings us. Cf. Romans 5:2 : "Through whom we have had our access by faith into this grace wherein we stand." The verb ἐκπίπτω is used as in 2 Peter 3:17, "Lest—ye fall from (ἐκτέσητε) your own steadfastness." So πίπτω, Revelation 2:5, "Remember whence thou hast fallen [πέπτωκας: Receptus, ἐκπέπτωκας]." In classical Greek the verb was frequently used as a set term to describe those who, in the alternating success of adverse factions in the several independent cities of Greece, were compelled by a more powerful adverse party to submit to exile; its correlative verb being ἐκβάλλω. This fact leads Bishop Lightfoot, having an eye to the ἔκβαλε of Galatians 4:30, to render ἐξεπέσατε here, "are driven forth and banished with Hagar your mother." But this very idiomatic colour of meaning it seems very precarious to give to the word in the Greek of St. Paul. The more general signification of the term is amply sustained by its use in Plutarch as cited by Wetstein.
For we through the Spirit (ἡμεῖς γὰρ πνεύματι); for we for our parts by the Spirit. "We" who abide in Christ, and continue steadfast in the grace into which Christ has brought us; that is, we believers in Christ, as such. Not, "I and those who go along with me," as e.g. in Philippians 3:17. "By the Spirit." Πνεῦμα can hardly here mean, as in Galatians 3:3, the element of spiritual life; but much more probably the personal Spirit of God, referred to as inspiring and prompting the action of the believer's mind. The presence of this Spirit has been a]ready described as the distinguishing blessing of believers in Christ (Galatians 3:2-48, Galatians 3:14; Galatians 4:6); while presently after (Galatians 3:18, πνεύματι: 22-25) the apostle dwells on the work of the same Divine Agent in regulating the Christian's habits of feeling and action (the dative as in Galatians 3:16, Galatians 3:18; Romans 8:13). It is here referred to as evincing the Divine sanction which attaches to the particular action of faith and hope now to be described (comp. Romans 8:15-45; Ephesians 1:13). Wait for the hope of righteousness by faith (ἐκ πίστεως ἐλπίδα δικαιοσύνης ἐπεκδεχόμεθα); from the ground of faith do wait for the hope of righteousness. The term which has the principal accent in this clause is ἐκ πίστεως, "from the ground of faith." This appears, both from the preceding context, in which the opposed idea of "justification by the Law" holds the foremost place, requiring here the confronting mention of "faith," and also from the next verse, which substantiates the statement before us by affirming the all-importance of "faith." In point of construction, ἐκ πίστεως does not appear to qualify "righteousness," although, from the classical text Habakkuk 2:4, it is so often connected with δίκαιος and δικαιοῦσθαι: but rather the whole clause, "wait for the hope of righteousness." What the apostle is now concerned to say is that it is by virtue of our faith that we look forward to hereafter receiving the hope of righteousness. This, of course, includes our being by faith justified. The word "hope" here designates the object hoped for, and not the sentiment itself. So Romans 8:24, "hope that is seen;" Colossians 1:5, "the hope which is laid up for you in the heavens;" Titus 2:13, "looking for the blissful hope." The genitive, "of righteousness," may be
(1) the "genitive of apposition," the hope which is, or which consists of, righteousness, similar to the genitives in the phrases, "the earnest of the Spirit," "the sign of circumcision,' ' "the leaven of malice," "the recompense of the inheritance," "the peaceable fruit of righteousness" (2 Corinthians 5:5; Romans 4:11; 1 Corinthians 5:8; Colossians 3:24; Hebrews 12:11); or
(2) "the hope of righteousness" may mean the hope that appertains unto righteousness, which would be the "inheritance" spoken of in Galatians 3:18, Galatians 3:22, as accruing, not "from the Law," but to those who are justified by faith. The apostle is not wont to speak of justification as a blessing to be received at the day of final decision, to which he evidently here refers, but as a blessing received at once by those who believe in Christ as the fruit even here of their faith. Thus Romans 5:1, "Being justified (δικαιωθέντες) by faith, we have peace with God;" ibid., Romans 5:11, "We have now received the reconciliation." Thus also in this Epistle (Galatians 3:24-48) it is declared that, in consequence of being justified by faith, we are clothed with Christ and God's adopted sons (see also Galatians 4:6, Galatians 4:7). There can surely be no question of the already received justification of those in whom the Spirit testifies that they are sons. Nor does Philippians 3:9 speak a different language: he aspires (he there says) to be in that final judgment found in possession of a righteousness which he had received in this life through the faith which he had in this life exercised. As Bengel here observes, "Paul, in mentioning things beyond, includes and confirms things present." Of Judaical legalism it was true that it did not think itself already possessed of righteousness, but with an ever-unappeased conscience was always still striving after it; whereas it is the privilege and glory of faith that it can enjoy the assurance of being even now justified and at peace with, "at one" with, God. Most certainly, what the apostle here calls "hope" is not the sentiment which we so often thus name when we intend thereby an imperfectly assured expectation of some probably coming good. In the apostle's vocabulary it denotes a confident anticipation unclouded by doubt (comp. Romans 8:23-45; Hebrews 11:1). In fine, this is what the apostle means: We Christians, as led by the Spirit of adoption, do rest in the confident anticipation of receiving the inheritance which is the future award of the righteous, on the ground of our faith in the Lord Jesus. The verb ἀπεκδέχομαι, in all the six other passages in which it is found, is used with reference to objects or events pertaining to the close of the present dispensation: Romans 8:19, Romans 8:23, Romans 8:25; 1 Corinthians 1:7; Philippians 3:20; Hebrews 9:28. The proposition ἀπὸ in this compound verb is probably intensive, expressing thorough-goingness; an entirely assured, steadfast expectation, persistent to the end.
For in Jesus Christ (ἐν γὰρ Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ); for in Christ Jesus. "For;" to prove that it is from the ground of faith that we look for the final awards due to righteousness, and not from obedience to any ceremonial law. "In Christ Jesus" means more than in Christ's religion. We had the phrase above, Galatians 3:28, "All ye are one man in Christ Jesus." It occurs frequently in St. Paul's writings; remarkable instances are supplied in Romans 16:17, "who were in Christ before me;" ibid., 11, "which are in the Lord;" 1 Corinthians 1:30, "of him [i.e. of God] are ye in Christ Jesus." It is, perhaps, best illustrated by our Lord's own parable of the vine in John 15:1-43. The spiritual union with Christ therein portrayed is maintained and operative through the action of the soul habitually cleaving to and depending upon him, and constantly receiving from him responsive gifts of spiritual vitality and power. Neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which Worketh by love (οὔτε περιτομή τι ἰσχύει οὔτε ἀκροβυστία ἀλλὰ πίστις δἰ ἀγάπης ἐνεργουμένη); neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith operative through love. In two other passages the apostle makes a very similar statement. One is below, Galatians 6:15, "For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature." The other is 1 Corinthians 7:19, which with its context runs thus: "Was any one called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised (μὴ ἐπισπάσθω). Hath any been called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing; but the keeping of the commandments of God." The comparison of these three passages suggests:
(1) That the "availeth not anything" now before us is tantamount to the "neither is anything" and to the "is nothing" of the other two passages; and that the meaning in each case is that neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any effect for good; for since the anti-thetic affirmation in all three cases states what is effectual for good, it is obvious to infer that it was of a beneficial effect only that the apostle was thinking in the foregoing statement.
(2) This leads to the question why "uncircumcision" should be thus repeatedly affirmed, twice to the Galatians, to be of no beneficial effect. More must be meant than a mere completing of the sentence by adding to the mention of "circumcision" the mention of its opposite. It is clear that there were those who imagined that uncircumcision made a favourable difference in men's religious condition, just as there were others, like these Galatian reactionaries, who imagined that circumcision did. That there were persons to be found in the Church who held the former view is put beyond doubt by the exhortation," Let him not become uncircumcised," which immediately precedes 1 Corinthians 7:19, now under review with the passage immediately before us; with reference to which exhortation comp. 1 Macc. 1:15; Josephus, ' Ant,,' 12:5. I. It was in no such ways, the apostle tells them, that the Divine approval was to be either gained or secured; and only mischief would result from entering upon them.
(3) The antithetic affirmation of what really is effectual for our spiritual well-being varies in the three passages; but it is natural to infer that that which in all three is declared to be the thing of vital importance, either is at bottom one and the same thing, or at least necessarily involves it. "Faith operative through love" must be identical with, or involve, "the keeping of the commandments of God," and "a new creature." A close examination of the first of these three sentences will show that it is so. The participle ἐνεργουμένη cannot be a passive, as Estius maintained; who even asserted a passive sense for the verb ἐνεργεῖσθαι in all the eight other passages in which it is found (Romans 7:5; 2 Corinthians 1:6; 2 Corinthians 4:12; Ephesians 3:20; Colossians 1:29; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:7; James 5:16). In perhaps not one of these passages is a passive meaning probable; while in some of them, as Ephesians 3:20; Colossians 1:29; 1 Thessalonians 2:13, it is palpably inadmissible. In the case before us, if a passive sense were admitted, we should have the expression, "faith wrought in us by love;" an account of the genesis of faith which must be judged to be in the strictest sense of the word preposterous. Faith does indeed grow and become perfected through love; but it is not in the first instance wrought in us by love, except indeed it be God's love to us (Ephesians 2:4). In those passages of the New Testament in which the verb ' ἐνεργεῖν occurs in the active voice, the subject of the verb is a personal agent, or one which, as in Matthew 14:2 and Mark 6:4, is probably spoken of as such. It is most commonly followed by an accusative of the thing wrought, which, however, is sometimes left to the reader to supply. The middle voice appears in St. Paul always to have for its subject an impersonal agent (Winer, ' Gram. N. T.,' § 38, 6); and such an agent is said ἐνεργεῖσθαι in the sense always of "proving, acting out, its vitality and power," and never of simply "doing" such and such things. It is nowhere followed by an accusative. It is thus distinguished from ἐργάζομαι, which either is followed by an accusative of the work done or is used absolutely of "doing work," as in Matthew 21:28; Romans 4:4, Romans 4:5; 1 Corinthians 4:12. The apostle, therefore, by the words, πίστις δι ̓ ἀγάπης ἐνεργουμένη means not, "faith through love doing works of beneficence,' 'but "faith evincing its vitality and power through the love which it begets in us;" "faith by love operative and influential.' 'Love is not contemplated as a separate acting of the Spirit, added on to faith as it were by an extrinsic effort of the soul, but as a product of faith itself, by which faith exerts its own internal energy. The apostle's meaning becomes clearer if we consider the object on which the justifying faith of the Christian fastens. This the apostle describes in this Epistle as Christ, "who gave himself for our sins;" "who loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 1:4; Galatians 2:20). When this marvellous exhibition of Divine compassion and love is through faith in very deed caught sight of and realized, it naturally becomes a truth-power, exercising over the man an influence imperative and supreme. This was the apostle's own experience; so much so that he seems to struggle with language while compelling it to describe the intensity of self-devotion with which it animated him. In this Epistle we may cite the passages Galatians 2:20; Galatians 6:14. And in other Epistles he writes in a similar strain. Let it suffice to cite 2 Corinthians 5:14, 2 Corinthians 5:15 : "The love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that one died for all, therefore all died; and he died for all, that they which live should no longer live unto themselves, but unto him who for their sakes died and rose again;" adding, in 2 Corinthians 5:17, "Wherefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature;… all things are of God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ"—words which show what he meant by the "new creature" mentioned below, Galatians 6:15. Thus the apostle evinces how in his own case faith through love became operative and influential. Christ's love to himself, on being realized by him, awakened in his soul a sentiment of grateful affection to his Redeemer, which was so strong and influential as thenceforward to sway and regulate the whole of his life. To complete, however, our estimate of the apostle's view of this matter, we must not forget to take account of the words "by the Spirit" in the preceding verse. The Spirit alone can make even the love of Christ thus influential with our souls, which but for his quickening grace remain, even in sight of the cross, still numbed and cold. The accordance of the notion of "faith through love operative and influential" with that of a "new creature" has been already indicated; and no other principle than this can enable us for the "keeping of the commandments of God;" and this does, and even constrains the soul to keep them. "But," it may be asked, "does the ordinary experience of Christian men and women as we see them bear out this representation? Is faith in their case thus operative and influential?" It would be foolish to say that it is; with the average, even of those Christians who make a religious life their most serious concern, it is not. And the case was no doubt the same with the average of Christian believers in the apostle's own time. But this we can affirm: in proportion as our faith in Christ's being our reconciling Redeemer is vivid and real, in that proportion is it energizing and transforming. It is in its own nature essentially love-inspiring and consecrating. It argues a miserable defect in our faith when we have to supplement, as we so often must, its vitalizing power by injunctions and restraints of "the letter" and "the Law;" so far as it is so with us, so far we live as "bondmen" and not as "free." If "the Son makes us free, then are we free indeed;" and this is how he makes us free—he imparts to us the gift of love to himself; and that makes obedience to be no longer a constrained service, but a very instinct of our nature.
In these verses the language is remarkably curt and disjointed. Their style seems to betoken, either the mind of the writer musing in painful embarrassment, uncertain how best to grapple with the case before him through imperfect knowledge of the circumstances ("Who did hinder you?" ); or, possibly, the painful effort which it cost the apostle to "write with his own hand." In Galatians 5:13 he at length takes up a line of thought which he is able to follow on with fulness and fluency.
Ye did run well (ἐτρέχετε καλῶς); full well ye were running. "To run" is a favourite figure with St. Paul, drawn from the foot-races of the Isthmian Games or other public games common throughout the Roman empire, and applied above (Galatians 2:2) to his own course of apostolic service, but here, as in 1 Corinthians 9:24-46; 2 Timothy 4:17; and Philippians 3:14, in a wider reference to the course of general Christian obedience. In Philippians 3:5, Philippians 3:6 the apostle has indicated the proper character of a Christian believer's life, as one which is animated by a faith energizing through love, and by the anticipation of attaining hereafter the awards to be rendered to the justified. Compare the general strain of thought, strikingly similar to that in the present context, pursued in Philippians 3:12-50. Obviously, one Important element in the comparison is the Christian's forward advance in self-improvement, as well as his continuing prosecution of work for Christ's cause. These characteristics had, and not long before, marked the manner of life of the Galatian Christians. Upon the recurrence of this recollection, here again, as in Galatians 3:1-48; Galatians 4:13-48, the apostle bewails the change that had taken place. They had been so full of joy and of love in believing (Galatians 4:14, Galatians 4:15). But now an incipient relinquishment of their hope in Christ had left them cheerless, and, in consequence, ready to look abroad in quest of other grounds of assured confidence; while also the thence ensuing conflicts of controversy and faction had marred their once happy mutual concord (Galatians 4:15). The form of Christian life which the Galatian Churchmen had in those days presented to view was apparently similar to that which at an earlier date he had described as marking the Thessalonian Church (1 Thessalonians 1:3), and at a later time applauds in the Colossian (Colossians 1:4-51, Colossians 1:8). Who aid hinder you; or, who did drive you back (τίς ὑμᾶς ἐνέκοψε [Receptus, ἀνέκοψε]). The ἀνέκοψε of the Textus Receptus would mean, as in the margin of our English Bibles, "Who has driven [or, beaten, struck] you back," and would be illustrated by the use of the verb in Wis. 18:23, "Standing between, he beat back the wrath," as Aaron did. But ἐνέκοψε is the reading of all recent editors. The precise meaning of ἐγκόπτω does not seem to be, as some suppose, "to stop," but rather "to hamper, shackle, impede." It occurs Acts 24:4, "be tedious;" 1 Thessalonians 2:18, "Satan hindered;" Romans 15:22 and 1 Peter 3:7, "hindered." So the substantive ἐγκοπή, 1 Corinthians 9:12, "That we may cause no hindrance to [clog the success of] the gospel." Possibly this sense is derived from the hindrance caused to the traveller by the road being "cut into" or cut up before he goes over it. But it is more probably connected with the use of κόπτω in the sense of "worry," as in Demosthenes, 'Olynth.,' it. p. 22, "Worried from time to time by these expeditions up and down." So here, "Who was it that clogged your steps in running your race?" Not positively "arrested your steps:" this disastrous result, it was to be hoped, was not yet brought about; they were only as yet lagging in their course. This interrogation "who" does not so much demand that the evil worker shall be named and brought to light, as express the pity of it, that any one should have been able to work them so much mischief; as in Galatians 3:1. Nevertheless, the author of the mischief had cause to tremble (see Galatians 3:12, and note). That ye should not obey the truth? (τῇ ἀληθείᾳ [T. Tr., Lightfoot, omit the τῇ] μὴ πείθεσθαι;); that ye should not be hearkening unto the truth (or, unto truth)? "The truth" directly cites the gospel; that is, the gospel which proclaims righteousness as theirs who believe in Christ apart from works of the ceremonial law; comp. Galatians 3:5, "That the truth of the gospel might continue with you," the particular phase of the gospel there intended being clearly evinced from the circumstances referred to. "Truth," without the article, denoting "that which is true," cites the same by implication. The verb πείθομαι, frequently rendered in the Authorized Version by "obey," as Romans 2:8 and Hebrews 13:17, properly means to lend a compliant ear to advice or persuasion; "to hearken," as Acts 5:36, Acts 5:37, Acts 5:40; Acts 23:1-44. Acts 23:21; Acts 27:11. The apostle means that they were turning their ears away from the truth to listen to pernicious counsels or teaching. The verb is in the present tense with reference to the continued attention which they ought to be now giving to the gospel.
This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you (ἡ πεισμονὴ οὐκ ἐκ τοῦ καλοῦντος ὑμᾶς); this persuasion, or the mind to hearken to this doctrine, is not from him that calleth you. The exact force of the word πεισμονή, which so far as has been noted does not occur in any earlier writer, is disputed. We may group it with ἐπιλησμονή, forgetfulness; φεισμονή (sparinguess), clemency; πλησμονή, fulness, satiety; which are likewise verbal nouns formed from the perfect passive (ἐπιλέλησμαι, etc.). And the comparison favours the conclusion that πεισμονή denotes the disposition, state, or habit of mind evinced in being persuaded in the way now thought of. So the Greek commentators (Ecumenius and Theophylact understand it of their having been persuaded to Judaize. The explanation of the noun as an active verbal, as if it were the persuasion which was soliciting them from without, does not seem to be so well berne out by its etymological formation, but appears nevertheless to be that accepted by Chrysostom. This noun, seemingly not often used, appears to have been selected by the apostle to brand the belief in the truth of Judaizing views which the Galatians were imbibing as being in nature diverse from the positive faith, which realizes the truth of the gospel; it is the product of over-persuasion, of cozenage even, rather than an acceptance of the plain setting forth of the simple truth, while "faith" is "the gift of God" (Ephesians 1:19, Ephesians 1:20; Ephesians 2:5, Ephesians 2:8). As Chrysostom observes, " It was not men's persuasion (πεισμονὴ ἀνθρωπίνη), but the power of God, which persuaded the souls of these who believe." By "him that calleth you" is plainly meant God. "The present participle is preferred here to the aorist, because the stress is laid on the person rather than the act" (Bishop Lightfoot). That persuasibleness of the Galatians was not from God; at the best it was from the world (comp. Colossians 2:20); but was it not, rather, from Satan, whose emissaries those false teachers were? The apostle makes this assertion categorically, knowing it to be true. The gospel which he had brought to them had been sealed by the gifts of the Spirit accompanying its reception; while the doctrine they were now in danger of listening to was another thing altogether (Galatians 1:6)—a thing with an anathema upon it.
A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump (μικρὰ ζύμη ὅλον τὸ φύραμα ζυμοῖ); a little leaven leaveneth the whole kneading. This proverb is cited again in precisely the same words in 1 Corinthians 5:6, with the words prefixed, "know ye not that." In both passages the leaven is an element of evil, and so also in Matthew 16:11; but our Lord applied it also to an element of good, which was to penetrate (apparently) the whole mass of humanity (Matthew 13:33). What has the apostle precisely in his view as the leaven in the present instance? In 1 Corinthians 5:6 it is unchastity, which, if once tolerated in a Church, especially amid so licentious a population as that of Corinth, would be but too likely to impregnate balefully the sentiment of the whole community. And here likewise, as there, the leaven does not appear to denote, as some have supposed, the individuals in whom some noxious element was conspicuous, but that noxious element itself; namely, to judge from the colouring of the immediate context, the "readiness to hearken" to" another gospel," which was promising comfort and sense of acceptance, more or less, in the practice of at least some of the outward ordinances of Judaism. This leaven had already begun to work, embodying itself in the observance, pedantically and ostentatiously, of the days and feasts of the Jewish calendar (Galatians 4:10). Now, a movement of mind manifesting itself in some form of external religionism, when once it begins to show itself in a Christian community, has a great tendency to spread. For always, in every Church, there are unstable souls, too often not a few, never able to come to the knowledge of the truth; which have never truly discerned Christ's all-sufficiency for their spiritual needs, or have lost any superficial persuasion of it once enjoyed; and which, consciously unsatisfied with what they as yet possess, and nevertheless only toying with spiritual things, are ready to adopt almost any novelty of religious behaviour offering itself for their acceptance. The particular form in which the external religionism of seekers after another gospel clothes itself varies according to varying tastes or circumstances. Among the Galatian Christians such persons were now beginning to feel attracted by that venerable kind of outward piety exhibited by devout or professedly devout Jews; but in their own practice committing the fatal blunder of mistaking the external shows of saintliness for the reality of saintliness, and but too willing to make the former serve in lieu of the latter. The danger of the leaven spreading was, in the present case, increased by the instability of character and the quick impulsiveness belonging to the Celtic temperament. The true antidote to this "leaven" is in every age the same; namely, that which the apostle in this Epistle strives to administer—the gospel of the righteousness and Spirit of Christ crucified.
I have confidence in you through the Lord (ἐγὼ τέποιθα εἰς ὑμᾶς ἐν Κυρίῳ); I for my own part have confidence with respect to you in the Lord. The pronoun ἐγὼ prefixed to the verb, perhaps, distinguishes the writer from some about him, particularly those who had just before brought that un-favourable report of the state of affairs in Galatia which had prompted the writing of this letter. The apostle has himself a vivid remembrance of their warm-hearted acceptance of his message (Galatians 4:13-48), and of their sufferings in the good cause (Galatians 3:4). "Have confidence with respect to you." The preposition εἰς is used as in 2 Colossians 8:22, equivalently with ἐπὶ in 2 Chronicles 2:3 2 Chronicles 2:3 and 2 Thessalonians 3:4; in which last passage ("We have confidence in the Lord touching you" ), as well as in Philippians 2:24 ("I have confidence in the Lord that I myself shall come shortly" ), the phrase, "in the Lord," expresses, not the object of trust, but the sphere of consciousness in which he is able to feel this confidence. So also here, in the realized presence of the Lord Jesus, the apostle feels that his care for his people, and his faithfulness towards these in whom "he has begun a good work" so conspicuously as in their case, warrant him in entertaining a strong assurance that, after all, they would not disappoint his hopes (comp. Philippians 1:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:24). This expression of confidence implies, of course, a measure of underlying apprehension; while it is also in effect an admonition, couched in an affectionate form, designed to rally them back to their true allegiance. The phrase, "with respect to you," separates their case from that of any who were "troubling them;" kindly implying that, in the main, they were still unperverted. That ye will be none otherwise minded (ὅτι οὐδὲν ἄλλο φρονήσετε); that is, that your sentiments will continue, or will be found to be, such as I have been setting forth as those inspired by the gospel, and such as you once manifestly entertained. The future tense of the verb seems to point forward to the time when his appeal should have reached them, and have led them to bethink themselves as to what, in spite of perhaps some momentary superficial wavering, their sentiments at bottom really were. (For the sense of the verb φρονεῖν, comp. Acts 28:22; Philippians 3:15.) But he that troubleth you (ὁ δὲ ταράσσων ὑμᾶς); but he that is troubling you. "But;" indicating that, even if such a person's machinations proved abortive, through their steady adherence to the gospel, that man should receive his deserts none the less. In Galatians 1:7 we had "There are some that trouble you," Comparing the two expressions, the one in the singular number, the other in the plural, we may conclude, either that the phrase ὁ ταράσσων designates any one who shall be found falling under the description of a παράσσων, i.e. any one of those referred to in the plural number; or that it points to one particular individual on whom the apostle had his eye as the prime ringleader of the rest. If we adopt the first view, the clause, "whosoever he be," appears to mark the absoluteness of the resolve expressed by the apostle, while leaving in indefiniteness the individual to whom it would apply. With the second view, the same clause would affirm that no circumstances attaching to the offender, such as (suppose) a mission from leading Churchmen in Jerusalem, or official eminence in a Galatian Church, or any other, should shield him, as he or others might suppose that it would, from the effect of the sentence to be pronounced upon him. The second seems the more probable view; and, in unison with it, it appears supposable that the hypothetical case stated in Galatians 1:7 ("if we or an angel from heaven" ) had an eye to the eminent position held by the person here alluded to. This individualization of the threatening would make it the more telling when the letter should arrive—a thunder-clap bursting forth upon the head of that arch-troubler. Shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be (βαστάσει τὸ κρίμα, ὕστις ἂν ᾖ). With the phrase, βαστάζειν κρίμα, compare λαμβάνειν κρίμα in Luke 20:47; Romans 13:2; James 3:1. "Shall bear," as a heavy burden (comp. Galatians 6:2, Galatians 6:5). The κρίμα a shall be laid upon him, and carry it he shall, whether he will or no. The κρίμα judgment, is the "sentence;" the decision of the judge upon his conduct, and the consequent punishment. The apostle threatens that he will bring into exercise the "power" which, as he says in 2 Corinthians 13:10, the Lord had given him for the edification of his people, and the use of which would be accompanied by consequences proving that "Christ was speaking in him" (ibid., 2, 3). Instances of its exercise are seen in 1 Corinthians 5:4, 1 Corinthians 5:5; 1 Timothy 1:20; Acts 13:11. How grievous was this offender's guilt has been strongly declared by the "anathema" of Galatians 1:7-48.
And I, brethren (ἐγὼ δέ ἀδελφοί); but in respect to myself, brethren. The personal pronoun is again accentuated. It seems that it had been affirmed by some one, most probably that individual "troubler" of the preceding verse (on which account the point is just here mentioned), that the apostle did himself "preach circumcision." The compellation "brethren" has a tone of pathos in it: it appeals, not merely to their knowledge of his experience of persecution, but to their sympathy with him under it, He is grappling to himself, as it were, the better-minded of those he is writing to. If I yet preach circumcision (εἰ περιτομὴν ἔτι κηρύσσω); if I am still preaching circumcision. The phrase, "preach circumcision," is like that of "preaching the baptism of repentance" in Mark 1:4; it denotes openly declaring that men should be circumcised The force of ἔτι is best explained by supposing that the apostle is quoting the assertion of this gainsayer—"Why, Paul himself up to this hour still preaches circumcision, just as he did when he followed Judaism." And taking it thus, we may discern a shade of irony in the apostle's repeating the ἔτι in his reply: "Why, then, am I still persecuted up to this hour?" He had begun to be the object of persecution as soon as he began to preach Christ, as he pathetically reminds the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 11:32; cf. Acts 9:24). In trying to imagine how this gainsayer could have given the least colour of probability to so audacious an assertion, we may suppose that he would point to St. Paul's behaviour at Jerusalem, and no doubt elsewhere, when he "to the Jews became as a Jew; to those under the Law as under the Law" (1 Corinthians 9:20); and in all probability, as Chrysostom and others have observed, cited the well-known fact of his circumcising Timothy; and there doubtless were other facts of a similar complexion, all which, with a little distortion, might enable an unscrupulous or a merely very eager opponent to dress up a statement like that before us with a certain amount of plausibleness. Why do I yet suffer persecution? (τί ἔτι διώκομαι;); why am I still persecuted? The apostle distinctly implies
(1) that his persecutions were mainly occasioned by the hostility of the Jews; and
(2) that the hostility of the Jews mainly originated in his teaching the doctrine that the cross of Christ put circumcision, together with the observance of the Law of Moses, aside as terms of acceptance with God. The first point is fully borne out by the history of the Acts and various allusions in the Epistles, showing that the fact was so, both before and after the time when this letter was written. The second is perfectly consistent with the history, and alone fully explains it. Then is the offence of the cross ceased (ἄρα κατήργηται τὸ σκάνδαλον τοῦ σταυροῦ); then the stumbling-block of the cross hath been done away. The stumbling-block of the cross is that which makes the cross a stumbling-block. In 1 Corinthians 1:23 "Christ crucified" is designated as "to the Jews a stumbling-block;" while to Gentiles it simply seemed "folly." "Then" follows up an argument ex absurdo, as in 1 Corinthians 15:14, 1 Corinthians 15:18. The apostle means that the cross would not be to Jews the stumbling-block that it was if it had been preached in conjunction with the obligatoriness of circumcision together with the observance of the ceremonial law, upon those who believed in Christ. If, then, he had preached Christ crucified thus, he could not have been so offensive to the Jews. But it was all otherwise. It has been supposed that the notion of a crucified Messiah was offensive to Jewish feeling, merely because it ran counter to their conception of the Christ as a secular king and conqueror. St. Paul's words show that this was not the case. That preconception of the Jews no doubt made it difficult to them to believe in the Jesus whose worldly career had been closed by an early violent death; even as before our Lord's passion it had made it difficult to the apostles to believe that he was thus to die. But after the question whether the Christ was predestined to be a suffering Christ (Acts 26:23) had been discussed, and it had been shown from the Old Testament that the Messiah was to suffer before he should reign, it had yet to be determined in what relation the particular form of Jesus' death stood with respect to the Mosaic Law. Gentiles would naturally think of the cress chiefly, indeed solely, as a sign of extremest ignominy; they thought scorn of the Christians who looked for life from "this Master of theirs, who was crucified" (Lucian). But to Jews, with the habits of feeling to which they had been trained in the school of Moses' Law, the cross was more than a sign of extremest ignominy—to them it was a sign also of extremest pollutedness. Now, to the Apostle Paul it had been given to see, with more distinctness than the general body of believers at Jerusalem appear to have seen it, the inference to which the finger of Divine providence pointed in the particular form of death which, in the counsels of God, had been selected for the Christ to suffer (cf. John 18:32). He had seen that faith in the crucified Saviour, by just consequence and in the Divine purpose, disconnected those, who embraced it as the supreme element of spiritual life, from all obligation to the ceremonial law as viewed in relation to their acceptance with God (Galatians 2:19, and note). And because he held forth this truth, and insisted upon its vital importance in determining the mutual relations of Jew and Gentile in the Christian Church, therefore it was that he drew upon himself the peculiar unrelenting enmity with which the Jews pursued him. They could manage to live on terms of peace with their fellow-Jews at Jerusalem who held that the Christ predicted in the Old Testament was to be, in the first instance, a suffering Christ, and trusted in Jesus as fulfilling those predictions; for they saw that they, while believing in Jesus, continued, as St. James told St. Paul all of them did, to Observe and to be zealous for the Law (Acts 21:20); they were able, therefore, in some degree to tolerate their "heresy." But St. Paul was led by the Saviour of all the world to adopt a different line. The truth, which lay wrapped up in the manner of Christ's death, and which at Jerusalem was left, so to speak, in its latency, it became necessary for the welfare of mankind that Paul should bring forth into view, and apply for the doing of the work which it was designed to accomplish. The cross annihilated the obligatoriness upon God's people of the Law of Moses. And, by teaching this, this apostle revived against himself the animosity which had flamed forth so fiercely upon St. Stephen, who was charged with saying that "Jesus the Nazarene was to change the customs which Moses had delivered unto them." It illustrates the economy which marks the Holy Spirit's development of revealed truth in the consciousness of the Church, that this consequence of the crucifixion of our Lord was for a while left so much in abeyance in the mother Church in Judaea. The fact stands on the same footing as the development of the doctrine of the essential Godhead of the Lord Jesus; for this too would seem to have been not at once and by an abrupt illumination brought distinctly home to the consciousness of the Hebrew Church, but to have been deposited like a seed in its bosom to unfold itself gradually. It seemed meet to the Divine Wisdom to cradle the infant faith tenderly, that it should not be exposed to too great risks through want of sympathy on the part of its first nursing mother towards these two of its most important elements. By-and-bye, when circumstances allowed, the same great apostle, who in his Epistle develops the doctrine of the cross in relation to Mosaism, could with advantage address the Hebrew Church, either himself or through another whom he inspired with his thoughts, that Epistle, in which the Godhead of Jesus is proclaimed with as much clearness and emphasis as the dissolution of the Mosaic institute in face of the new spiritual economy. The Epistle to the Hebrews, however, in proving that the new covenant was superseding the old, does not lay the chief stress of the argument upon the Crucifixion, but upon the utter unavailingness of the Mosaic priestly functions for the clearing of the conscience as compared with the efficacy of Christ's one offering. Nevertheless,the other point is not altogether neglected; at least, a kindred argument is suggested in Hebrews 13:10-58, in which passage contact with Christ as suffering without the camp is spoken of as inferring a pollution which was incompatible with "serving the tabernacle." The "Cross" is definitely named only once, and that with relation to extreme" shame" attaching to it (Hebrews 12:2). In other Epistles which are certainly of St. Paul's own composition, the "cross" ]s mentioned in connection with the abrogation of the ceremonial law, in Ephesians 2:16; Colossians 1:20; Colossians 2:14; but the manner in which it brought about this result is nowhere so plainly indicated as in this Epistle to the Galatians, in which "the cross" is the very key-note of the whole discussion. The flashing out of resentful feeling which we read in the next verse was probably in part evoked by the clear glimpse which the apostle this moment caught of the conscious insincerity of those seducers, shown in their making or adopting such an assertion respecting himself as he here rebuts, which facts proved to be so glaringly false.
I would they were even cut off which trouble you (ὄφελον καὶ ἀποκόψονται οἱ ἀναστατοῦντες ὑμᾶς); would to God they would make themselves even as the apocopi of Cybele (Greek, would even mutilate themselves), who are casting you out of country and home! The word ὄφελον, originally a verb, had got, thus stripped of its augment, to be a mere particle of wishing. Its sense with an indicative aorist is seen 1 Corinthians 4:8, Ὄφελόν γε ἐβασιλεύσατε, "Would to God ye had come to your kingship [which is far from being really the case yet!];" Exodus 16:3; Numbers 14:2; Numbers 20:3, Ὄφελον ἀπεθάνομεν, "Would to God we had died!" with an indicative imperfect, 2 Corinthians 11:1, Ὄφελον ἀνείχεσθέ μον μικρὸν ἀφροσύνης, "Would to God ye were [i.e. could be] tolerant of a little foolishness of mine! [might I hope for it?];" Revelation 3:15, Ὄφελον ψυχρὸς ἦς, etc., "Would that thou wert cold," etc. With an indicative future (an extremely rare combination), it may still be regarded as expressing a longing that something might be looked forward to, which in reality is not to be anticipated; different from a simple desire that a thing may be, unaccompanied by the feeling that it cannot be, which is its three with an optative, as in Psalms 119:5. The tone of especially fervid aspiration, the vivacity, which usually marks wishes introduced by ὄφελον, is perhaps unduly tamed down by the rendering "I would that." In respect to the verb ἀποκόψονται, Greek scholars are pretty well agreed that the passive rendering of our Authorized Version, "were cut off," cannot be defended. There is no certain instance (Bishop Ellicott remarks) of a similar interchange of the middle ,voice with the passive. The sense of the verb is shown by the Septuagint rendering of Deuteronomy 23:1-5. Deuteronomy 23:1, Οὐκ εἰσελεύσεται θλαδίας καὶ ἀποκεκομμένος εἰς ἐκκλησίαν Θεοῦ: where the word ' to the ἀποκεκομμένος answers Hebrew keruth shophkah, rightly rendered in the Vulgate and in our English Bible (cf. Gesenius's ' Thesaurus,' and Furst, under shophkah). "This meaning is assigned to ἀποκόψονται," observes Bishop Lightfoot, "by all the Greek commentators, I believe, without exception (the Latin Fathers, who read ' abseimtantur' in their text had more latitude), and seems alone tenable." (See Grotius, in Peele's ' Synopsis.' ) This interpretation gives its full force to καί ("not only circumcise, but even," etc.): it explains the form of the aspiration as one not likely to be realized; whereas the excision flora the Church of these extremely aberrant members, falling nearly if not quite under the anathema of the first chapter, was a thing quite within the apostle's own power: it harmonizes with the intense resentment which colours the phrase, οἱ ἀναστατοῦντες ἡμᾶς (see below). The sentiment, it is true, seems one which it would be impossible for a public speaker, or even a writer, amongst ourselves to give such open expression to. Nevertheless, when viewed as framed in amid the surroundings which environed it at the time, it wears none of that aspect of coarseness which would confessedly be felt to attach to it under the conditions of modern life. That the worship of Cybele at Pessinus, one of the principal cities of Galatia, was deformed by the practice of such self-mutilation on the part of some of its devotees, was a matter of universal notoriety, and we may confidently assume that the apostle, when in the neighbourhood, heard frequent mention of those apocopi as they were called, and thus was led now to allude to it as he seems to do in this malediction. For it is a malediction, as Chrysostom describes it; a malediction, however, which in severity falls far short of the anathema which has been previously pronounced. Good were it (he means) for the Church, and even perhaps themselves, if they would have the rashness to go a little further with what they call "circumcision," which in their case is mere concision (Philippians 3:2), and make it clear to all men how purely senseless and unchristian their action in this matter is. "Casting you out of country and home." The verb ἀναστατοῦν occurs besides only in Acts 17:6 ("turned upside down" ) and Acts 21:38 ("madest an uproar" ). It is not found in classical Greek, in which we have in its stead ἀναστάτους ποιεῖν or τιθέναι: the verbal adjective ἀνάστατος, when it is applied, as it frequently is, to populations, meaning, "made to rise up and depart," "driven from house and home;" applied to cities, "ruined," "laid waste" (Liddell and Scott). Chrysostom observes, "Well does he say, ἀναστατοῦντες ὑμᾶς: for they compelled them to abandon their own proper country and liberty and heavenly kindred, and to seek an alien and strange one; casting them out of ' Jerusalem which is above and free,' and forcing them to wander abroad as captives and perforce emigrants." The present tense of the participle points to the action of these perverters as one which. if successful, would have this result; which (Acts 21:10) the apostle hopes to defeat. The selection of this particular verb, which goes far beyond the ταράσσοντες before used, and which the word "unsettle" adopted here by the Revisers, does not, as commonly used, completely represent, betokens the apostle's intense feeling of the ruinous consequences of the proposed Judaizing reaction. It shows that he adds the words aetiologically, that is, to justify his strong words, ὄφελον ἀποκόψονται. The energy of both expressions suggests the feeling that probably the apostle would not have written as he has here done except for his burning resentment on behalf of Christ's people threatened with so great a hurt. In 1 Car. Acts 6:4 indignant feeling carries him away beyond himself to an utterance which in the next verse he virtually retracts, remarking, "I say it to move you to shame." Perhaps we have here something of the same kind.
For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty (ὑμεῖς γὰρ ἐπ ἐλευθερίᾳ ἐκλήθητε ἀδελφοί); for ye, brethren, were called unto (Greek, for) freedom. The "for" points back to the closing words of the preceding verse, which implied a settled state of well-being from which those troublers were driving his readers; that happy state (the apostle says) was the very glory and essence of their "calling." This, of course, was that condition of free men described at the end of the foregoing chapter, and summarized in the first verse of this chapter. This is again, even more briefly, recapitulated in the first clause of the present verse. As the summary in the first verse supplied a starting-point for the warnings against the Judaizers which have taken up the foregoing twelve verses, so this new summary furnishes the starting-point for exhortations designed to guard the evangelical doctrine against antinomian perversion, by insisting upon the moral behaviour required of those who enjoy the freedom which Christ gives. These exhortations occupy the remainder of this chapter and a part of the next. "Ye," being what ye are, believers baptized into Christ. The verb "were called" expresses a complete idea, meaning of itself without any adjunct, "called by God to be people of his own" (cf. "calleth," Galatians 5:8, and the passages there cited). The words, "unto," or "for, freedom," supply an adjunct notion; as in Ephesians 4:4, the clause, "in one hope of your calling," does to the same verb. So again 1 Thessalonians 4:7," For God called us, not unto [or, 'for' ] uncleanness, but in sanctification.' 'The preposition ἐπί, both in the passage last cited and in the present verse, denotes the condition or understanding upon which God had called them: they were "called" upon the understanding that they should be in a state of liberty. So Ephesians 2:10, "Created in Christ Jesus unto ['Greek,' for] good works." God calls us in Christ to be free in these three respects:
(1) free from condemnation and conscience of guiltiness;
(2) free from pupil-age to a ceremonial institute of positive, carnal ordinances, and from bondage to a letter-Law;
(3) free, as consciously his children, knit to him by his adopting Spirit, which makes us partakers of his nature. Only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh (μόνον μὴ τὴν ἐλευθερίαν εἰς ἀφορμὴν τῆς σαρκός); only, no freedom which shall be an occasion to the flesh! or, only, make not your freedom into an occasion for the flesh. The noun ἐλευθερίαν, being in the accusative, cannot be taken as simply a resumption of the ἐλευθερίᾳ immediately before. In his eagerness to at once bar the antinomian's abuse of the gospel, the apostle omits the verb which should account for this accusative; and the result is a sentence which may be taken as grouping with various passages in classical Greek authors, being in fact quite a natural way of speaking in any language; such as in Demosthenes, ' Philippians,' 1. p. 45, "No ten thousand mercenaries for me! (μή μοι μυριόυς... ξένους);" Sophocles, ' Ant.,' 573, "No more loiterings! but … (μὴ τριβὰς ἔτ ἀλλά…); "Aristophanes, ' Ach.,' 326," "No false pretences for me, but … (μή μοι πρόφασιν ἀλλα …)." In such cases it simply weakens the vivacity of the style, if we supply any verb. The alternative rendering supplies δῶτε, which is in fact found in two uncial manuscripts, F, G, or ἀποχρήσησθε, proposed by OEcumenius. In the former way of construing we have in thought to supply a second τὴν after ἐλευθερίαν, as in 1 Corinthians 10:18, Βλέπετε τὸν Ἰσραὴλ κατὰ σάρκα: 2 Corinthians 7:7; Colossians 1:8; Ephesians 2:15. The preposition εἰς is need as Romans 11:9; 1 Corinthians 14:22, etc. The sense of the noun ἀφορμή, starting-point, is well illustrated by its use, in the military language of Greece, for a "basis of operations" (cf. Romans 7:8, Romans 7:11; 2 Corinthians 5:12; 1 Timothy 5:14). Reflection at once shows us that a "freedom" which allows a man to obey the behests of his lower nature is only by a false use of the term capable of being grouped with that freedom wherewith Christ makes us free. It adopts out of the latter the single element of emancipation from ceremonial law and letter-Law, and lets go altogether the concomitant notions of spiritual emancipation which are of its very essence. Such an emancipation hands its victim clean over to the thraldom of sin (John 8:34; 2 Peter 2:18, 2 Peter 2:19). St. Peter, in his First Epistle, addressed to a large group of Churches founded by St. Paul, including those of Galatia, has a number of passages which apparently take up sentiments and even expressions found in St. Paul's writings (see 1 Peter 5:12), as it were, ratifying them; and possibly he has an eye to the present verse when he writes (1 Peter 2:16), "as free, and not using your freedom for a cloak of wickedness, but as bond-servants of God." "The flesh" is not to have its own way, but is to own the mastery of the Spirit. But by love serve one another (ἀλλὰ διὰ τῆς ἀγάπης δουλεύετε ἀλλήλοις); but through love be in bondage to one another; i.e. let love make you bondservants to one another. The verb δουλεύω also means "do acts of bond-service,' as Ephesians 6:7 and 1 Timothy 6:2. This sense is included in the "being in bondage ' here spoken of. In the present posture of affairs in these Churches, the apostle sees occasion for selecting just here one particular branch of Christian goodness to enforce upon their observance. Presently after (1 Timothy 6:16-54 he enlarges the field of view; though even there still giving much prominence to the vices of malignity and to the benignant virtues. Just now he has his eye especially on the evils of contentiousness (1 Timothy 6:15), and upon love as their corrective. We may suppose such evils were now especially rife amongst the Galatians, whose natural character, commonly described as quarrelsome, was apparently evincing itself in connection with the disputes which the teaching and yet more the outward action of the Judaizers were giving rise to. In fact, a loving temper of mind, along with other benefits, is recommended also by this, that it guards Churches from corrupting innovations in doctrine and Church practice; checking our self-will and our obtrusive vanity, it leads us to avoid giving uneasiness to others by thrusting upon them new notions or new modes of conduct, and makes it our ambition to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. The pattern set by our Lord (John 13:15), both in washing his disciples' feet and indeed in his whole incarnate life (Philippians 2:7), was grandly imitated by the apostle himself (1 Corinthians 9:19-46), who in outward things habitually sacrificed the pride of independence and self-assertion, and the pride of apparent self-consistency, in his devotion to the spiritual welfare of men. He here preaches just what he himself practised.
For all the Law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself (ὁ γὰρ πᾶς νόμος ἐν ἑνὶ λόγῳ πεπλήρωται [Receptus, πληροῦται], ἐν, τῷ Ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον σου ὡς σεαυτόν [Receptus, ἑαυτόν]); for the whole Law hath in one word been fulfilled, even in this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Thus is very briefly enunciated what in the Epistle to the Romans (Romans 13:8-45), written a short while after, the apostle more fully develops thus: "Owe no man anything, save to love one another: for he that loveth his neighbour hath fulfilled (πεπλήρωκε) the Law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not covet, and if there be any other commandment, it is summed up (ἀνακεφαλαιοῦται) in this word, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: love therefore is the fulfilment (πλήρωμα) of the Law." This passage of the Romans may be regarded as a lengthened paraphrase of the one now before us. From the comparison of the two, several things are made clear. We see from it what is meant by the πεπλήρωται, "hath been fulfilled." Some have been disposed to regard it as equivalent to ἀνακεφαλαιοῦται, "it is summed up." Not to urge that it is very doubtful whether the verb admits of this sense, it is enough to observe that in the parallel passage the verb πληροῦν, both in πεπλήρωκε, hath fulfilled, and the verbal πλήρωμα, fulfilment, means to fulfil in actual obedience; and that the perfect tense of the πεπλήρωται of this passage reappears in the πεπλήρωκε of the other. The sentence in Romans, "He that loveth his neighbour (τὸν ἕτερον) hath fulfilled the Law," that is, as the context shows, "the whole Law," makes it clear that, by the words before us, "the whole Law hath been fulfilled in one word," is meant that the whole Law hath been fulfilled in the fulfilling of the one word, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." The whole Law is regarded as couched in that "one word." In the larger passage the Law, so far as it is explained, is represented as regulating our behaviour to our neighbours, for the apostle cites exclusively commandments of the "second table;" in addition to which, we observe that the immediately preceding context (verses 1-7) is taken up with the discussion of duties to our fellow-men, sliding into what follows through the words, "Owe no man anything, save to love one another." This suggests the inference that when the apostle says, "He that loveth hath fulfilled the Law;" and at the close of the paragraph, "Love is the fulfilment of the Law," he has in view that part only of the Law which enforces the duties appertaining to human relationships, and not the whole Law as enforcing, together with these, the duties we owe to God; for "love," he says, "his the fulfilment of the Law, because it worketh no evil to his neighbour." And this might seem further to justify the like inference with reference to the passage before us; and here also the immediate context (verse 13) points only to relations between man and man, making no reference to our relations towards God. And this inference we seem warranted in accepting. Only, we have to bear in mind that the apostle has already taken account of our spiritual relations to God, in stating (verse 6) that in Christ Jesus the all-important and only thing is faith working through love. For the faith which he means is plainly the principle which unites the soul to Christ Jesus, and in him to God as our reconciled Father, through the vitalizing and actuating power of the Spirit of adoption. And precisely the same consideration presents itself with respect to the parallel passage in the Romans; for there, too, the apostle has been previously engaged in building up the gospel doctrine of Christ's redeeming us from the control of a condemning Law, which is also mere "letter," and can give no spiritual life; and of his handing us over to the law of the Spirit of life, whereby the requirement of the Law is fulfilled in them who walk, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit (Romans 8:1-45). The apostle takes it for granted that it is with these views in their minds that his readers will receive what he here writes. Further, account is to be taken of the spiritual sense in which the apostle uses the terms "law" and "love." Under the term "law" he no longer intends the Law of Moses, either as a ceremonial institute or as a letter-Law regulating moral behaviour; but that higher and spiritual law, of which the precepts of the letter-Law are only incomplete hints or adumbrations—the good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12:2). Likewise, by the term "love" he designates a very different thing from that principle of kindness, good nature, benevolence, which an Aristotle or Cicero, an Epictetus or Plutarch, could conceive and describe, and in their own practice exemplify; with St. Paul, as with St. John, it is a fruit of the Spirit, an emanation of Christ's life in the soul, organically and vitally ramifying out of filial love to God. They that were in the flesh could not please God. In order that we may fulfil the Law, the prime and indispensable requisite is that the Spirit of Christ be dwelling in us and leading us.
But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another (εἰ δὲ ἀλλήλους δάκνετε καὶ κατεσθίετε βλέπετε μὴ ὑπὸ ἀλλήλων ἀναλωθῆτε); but if ye be biting and eating up one another, take heed that ye be not one of another utterly destroyed. "Biting" and "eating up" are images drawn from carnivorous animals furiously fighting with each other. The verb κατεσθίεν, eat up, which in 2 Corinthians 11:20 and Matthew 23:1-40. Matthew 23:14 is applied to the eating up of a neighbour's goods, is here employed in its more literal sense, in order to furnish a figure describing that intense desire to vex and damage an antagonist, which but too often disgraces the so-called religious controversialist or partisan. The verb ἀναλίσκω, utterly destroy, occurs besides only in Luke 9:54 and 2 Thessalonians 2:8, of destruction by fire or lightning; so the compound κατανάλισκον, Hebrews 12:29. It points to another sphere of hurt than that referred to in the two foregoing verbs; for while these latter describe the eager endeavour to sting and "run down" a theological opponent, the former describes the utter laying waste of the inward life of piety. The orthodox opinion may survive, and perhaps be even made clearer and more accurate; but the kernel of filial love and joy in God, and of love towards our brethren, may by the φιλονεικία, the bitter antagonism, of controversy have got to be altogether eaten out. A Christian disciple who has ceased to love, Christ teaches us, is salt which has lost its savour—utterly refuse and hopeless of recovery (Mark 9:50).
This I say then (λέγω δέ). Like τοῦτο δὲ λέγω in Galatians 3:17, and λέγω δὲ in Galatians 4:1, the phrase, λέγω δέ, here introduces a further illustration of a point already referred to. It points back to the line of remark commenced in Galatians 4:13 in the words, "No freedom to be an occasion to the flesh! but through love be in bondage one to another." The voluntary bondage of love is one most important part of the spiritual life; as indulgence in malignant passions is also a leading branch of the working of the flesh. The mention, therefore, of these two points in Galatians 4:14, Galatians 4:15 naturally leads up to the more general exhortation of the present passage. Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil (or, fulfil not) the lust of the flesh (Πνεύματι περιπατεῖτε καὶ ἐπιθυμίαν σαρκὸς ου) μὴ τελέσητε); walk by the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust (or, desire) of the flesh. The precise meaning of the several words and statements in this verse, as also in the two which follow it, have been much disputed. It must suffice here briefly to explain and justify what appears to the present writer the true view. The word "spirit," it seems most natural to understand in all three in the same sense. To take it in the first two verses as meaning that part of our composite being which has the nearest affinity to the higher moral and spiritual life (whether as in a state of nature or as informed by the Spirit of God), whilst in Galatians 4:18 its import is determined by comparison with other passages to be the Divine Spirit, appears to be an arbitrary variation of its sense, which there is no necessity for adopting. The "Spirit" is mentioned alongside with "the flesh," not because it belongs to the like category of being a part of our nature, but because he has been graciously sent forth by God to contravene in us that evil principle which else we should be unable to overcome. This evil principle is termed "the flesh;" not as being merely sensual corruption, though vices of that class are mentioned in Galatians 4:19 and Galatians 4:21 as leading instances of its working; for we see in Galatians 4:20 and Galatians 4:21 vicious works of the flesh specified, which are to be referred to malignity, or to a perversion of the religious element, rather than to sensuality. It appears, therefore, to denote the principle of corruption which taints our moral nature in general—that which in the ninth of the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England is deflated under the heading of "Original or Birth-Sin.' The word "flesh" may be supposed to have been selected to denote this, because the depravation of our sensuous beings into sensuality constituted the most prominent and noticeable form in which the general degradation of our state from its proper nobler life in God manifests itself. The dative case of Πνεύματι, marks—either the sphere, element, path, in which we are to walk, which is intended by the rendering in our Authorized Version, "in the Spirit," as the dative is used with πορεύεσθαι (Authorized Version, "walk" ) in Acts 9:31; Acts 14:16, and with περιπατεῖν, walk, in Acts 21:21; 2 Corinthians 12:18; or the rule according to which, together with the enabling power by which, our daily behaviour is to be regulated, so as to be synonymous with the phrase, "walking after (κατὰ) the Spirit," in Romans 8:4. The meaning at all events seems to be, Let the prompting of the Spirit be your guide, and the grace of the Spirit your strength, in the course of your life continually. This is afterwards expressed as being "led by the Spirit" (Romans 8:18), and as an "orderly walking by the Spirit' (Romans 8:25). The exhortation implies two things: first, that the Christians addressed, had had the gift of the Holy Spirit imparted to them (comp. Galatians 3:2; Galatians 4:6, where" our hearts" includes the persons addressed; 1 Corinthians 12:13); and next, that this gift would not avail for the actual sanctification of their life without diligent endeavours after self-improvement on their own part. Comp. Philippians 2:12, Philippians 2:13, "Work out your own salvation [i.e. by your own endeavours work out your salvation] with fear and trembling; for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to work, for his good pleasure." The generality of the form in which the exhortation is couched intimates that they were to endeavour to live in compliance with the Spirit's promptings in all the branches of spiritual activity proper to their Christian calling; not only in that of "love" already adverted to, but in those others also which the apostle presently after counts up in Philippians 2:22, Philippians 2:23. It inculcates, therefore, the cultivation of a joyous spirit of filial love towards God, as well as a high strain of virtuous conduct towards their fellow-men and in relation to their own selves. In the next clause, the words, οὐ μὴ τελέσητε, "ye shall not fulfil." are by many taken in an imperative sense; as if it were, walk by the Spirit, and by no means fulfil the desire of the flesh. It is, however, with much force objected to this view that, although the future with ου) is often used for an imperative, as οὐ κλοψεις οὐκ ἐπιορκήσεις, etc., there is no instance adduced of οὐ μὴ being used in the New Testament in this sense. We are led, therefore, to adopt the other view, that the passage belongs to that form of sentence in which an imperative clause is followed by a clause denoting the result which will ensue in case the direction before given has been complied with; as e.g. "Come unto me … and I will give you rest." In place of the simple ου) τελέσετε, we have the more emphatic form, οὐ μὴ τελέσητε, "Of a surety ye will not," etc. By writing thus the apostle strongly accentuates the statement that walking by the Spirit is absolutely incompatible with an indulgence in the inclinations prompted by the flesh. There is probably a twofold doctrinal inference couched under this emphatic statement; namely, Ye will of a surety not fall under the Law's condemnation (comp. Romans 8:1-45); and, Ye will not need the Law's restraints (1 Timothy 1:9). But it is pregnant also with a hint of rebuke and of practical direction, not unneeded by the Galatians (verse 15). The article is wanting before ἐπιθυμίαν, probably because it is wanting before σαρκός, as in καταβολῆς κόσμου, Luke 11:50; ἀρχῆς κτίσεως, Mark 10:6; ἔργων νόμου, Romans 3:20, etc.; so that ἐπιθυμίαν σαρκὸς is put for τὴν ἐπιθυμίαν τῆς σαρκός. The verb τελέσητε is selected in preference to ποιήσητε (of. Ephesians 2:2, ποιοῦντες) to express the idea that it is impossible for one walking by the Spirit to carry into full effect any desire of the flesh. For this is the proper force of the verb τελεῖν, of which the ever-memorable Τετέλεσται, "It is finished" (John 19:30), is a typical illustration. This meaning obtains even in Romans 2:28 and James 2:8. The apostle seems to concede that the desire of the flesh may be felt by one who is walking by the Spirit; nay, even in at least an inchoate degree, given way to; but this much he affirms, that it will be impossible for such a one to ear,' y it out into full accomplishment. This qualified representation of the Christian's holiness is intimated in the next verse more explicitly.
For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh (ἡ γὰρ σὰρξ ἐπιθυμεῖ κατὰ τοῦ Πνεύματος τὸ δὲ Πνεῦμα κατὰ τῆς σαρκός); for the flesh doth lust (or, hath desires) against the Spirit; but the Spirit likewise against the flesh. The first clause, "for the flesh hath desires against the Spirit," justifies the mention of "the desire of the flesh" in Galatians 5:16, as being an experience which Christians in general have still to deal with; as if it were, "For the flesh really is present still, originating within you desires contrary to those prompted by the Spirit." Then the apostle adds, "but the Spirit likewise [or, ' hath desires' ] against the flesh;" intimating that, although the flesh was still at work within, prompting desires tending away from holiness, that nevertheless was no reason for their giving way to such evil inclinations; for the Spirit was with them as well, originating desires after what was holy and good; and he would help them against those other inclinations towards evil, if only they would surrender themselves to his guidance. That this is the proper way of construing these two passages seems betokened by the δέ. If the apostle had just here meant to say, "There are two mutually opposing principles at work within you" for the purpose of justifying by explicit statement the tone of Galatians 5:16 which implies this fact, he would have written, ἥ τε γὰρ σὰρξ ἐπιθυμεῖ κατὰ τοῦ Πνεύματος καὶ τὸ Πσεῦμα κατὰ τῆς σαρκός: or, ἡ μὲν γὰρ σάρξ … τὸ δὲ Πνεῦμα etc.; "For both hath the flesh desires against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh; or, "for on the one hand the flesh hath desires … and on the other," etc. But the adversative δὲ standing alone tends to disjoin the two clauses rather than to conjoin them so closely together as the Authorized Version leads us to suppose. We need supply no ether verb than ἐπιθυμεῖ, "hath desires," with the words, "but the Spirit;" for this verb is used in a good sense as well as in a bad; as e.g. Luke 22:15, ἐπιθυμία ἐπίθυμησα, "with desire did I desire;" 1 Peter 1:12, "the angels desire (ἐπιθυμοῦσιν) to look into;" Philippians 1:23. "the desire (ἐπιθυμίαν) to depart." In fact, the verb properly implies a simply strong wish, not necessarily an ill-governed one. And these are contrary the one to the other (ταῦτα γὰρ ἀλλήλοις ἀντίκειτει [Receptus, ταῦτα δὲ ἀντίκειται ἀλλήλοις]; for these oppose themselves the one to the other. Taking the former two clauses as has been proposed above, we can discern the force of the "for" introducing this new clause. The apostle having been by two several turns of thought led to state, first that the flesh prompts desires or action in opposition to the Spirit, and then, as a distinct sentence, that the Spirit prompts desires or action in opposition to the flesh, he now conjoins the two several notions in the affirmation of the mutual antagonistic agency of these two principles; "For these oppose themselves the one to the other." The verb ἀντίκειμαι always denotes opposing action, and not mere contrariety of nature; being used as a participial noun for "adversaries" or "opponents' ' in Luke 13:17; Luke 21:15; 1 Corinthians 16:9; Philippians 1:28; 1 Timothy 5:1-54. i4; and as a verb in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 and 1 Timothy 1:10, to denote setting one's self in opposition to. This clause, therefore, describes the continual endeavour of the flesh and of the Spirit to thwart and defeat each other's action in the hearts of the persons spoken of. So that ye cannot do the things that ye would (ἵνα μὴ ᾂἂν θέλητε ταῦτα ποιῆτε); to the end that what things soever ye fain would do, those ye shall not do. This last clause describes the result aimed at by each of those conflicting principles, namely, to thwart each of them the volitions prompted by the other. The words remind us of Romans 7:15, Οὐ γὰρ ὂθίλω τοῦτο πράσσω, "For not, what thing I fain would,that do I practise;" ibid., 16, Ὁ ου) θέλω τοῦτο ποιῶ, "What thing I fain would not, that I do;" ibid., 19, Οὐ γὰρ ὃ θέλω ποιῶ ἀγαθόν ἀλλ ὂοὐ θέλω κακόν τοῦτο πράσσω, "For not what good thing I fain would, do I do; but what evil thing I fain would not, that I practise." The comparison of the indefinite relative, "what things soever ye fain would do (ἂἂν θέλητε)," in the present passage, with the more definite "what thing I fain would do," or "fain would not do (ὃ θέλω ὃ οὐ θέλω)," in the Romans, points to the conclusion that by the clause, "what things soever ye fain would do," is meant, "whichever be the kind of your volitions, whether they be those prompted by the flesh or those prompted by the Spirit." In comparing the two passages, it is important to notice that in the seventh chapter of the Romans the apostle is Concerned exclusively with the frustration of our good volitions, which, there, are not ascribed to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, but to the prompting of our own moral sense quickened by the voice of the Law's commandment. Such good volitions he represents as overpowered by the controlling influence ("law" ) of the evil principle, "the flesh;" a condition of miserable thraldom, out of which, the apostle (ibid., 25), with triumphant gratitude, alludes to believers in Christ being delivered—delivered by the coming in upon the scene of a new agent, "the Spirit of life:" whereas, in the passage before us, he is describing the condition of believers in Christ, to whom now has been imparted this new power for doing what is good. In these, "the mind" (Romans 7:25), powerless before to overcome the law of sin, is succoured by the presence of a mighty Ally, through whom, he intimates elsewhere, the believer has it within his power to do all things (Philippians 4:13). Many expositors, in-eluding Bishop Lightfoot, take ἵνα in the present clause us denoting simply the result actually brought about; thus the Authorized Version, "so that ye cannot do the things that ye would." Whether this sense, of result actually produced, can be shown ever to attach to ἵνα followed by the subjunctive, is a question which has been much debated. In 1 Thessalonians 5:4, "Ye are not in darkness that (ἵνα) that day should overtake you as a thief," the particle "that" points to the ordering of Divine providence spoken of in the two preceding verses, that they who are in darkness should be taken by surprise by the coming of the day of the Lord. It is certainly possible so to understand the particle here; the mutually thwarting agency of the flesh and the Spirit may be understood as latently attributed to Divine providence ordering that thus it should be. But this view would hardly seem to harmonize, either with the almightiness of the Divine Agent engaged in the conflict or with the triumphant language of Romans 8:1-45. In actual experience, it does indeed seem to be but too often almost a μαχὴ ἰσόρροπος a drawn battle; so greatly is the Spirit's agency dogged and hampered by the weakness of human faith and the inconstancy of human purpose. But it does not need to be so. In the case of St. Paul himself, as we may infer from all that he says of his own career subsequent to his conversion, and in perhaps not a few cases besides, the Spirit has been completely and persistently triumphant. It therefore appears inconvenient to suppose that the apostle means to ascribe such a result to the ordering of Divine providence making it inevitable. Certainly such a construction of the passage is not necessary. We escape from it altogether by ascribing the notion of purpose latent in this ἵνα, "to the end that," to the nisus severally of the two agents. Taken so, the passage affirms this: Will whatever you may, whether good or evil, you will be sure to meet with an adverse agency, striving to bar the complete accomplishment of your desire. There appears to be no good reason for limiting the application of this statement, as some propose our doing, to the case of immature Christians, in whom Christ is as yet imperfectly formed (Galatians 4:19). With every Christian, to the very last, the life of holiness can only be a fruit of conflict; a conflict on the whole, even perhaps persistently, successful; yet a conflict still, maintained by the help of the Spirit against an evil principle, which can never, as long as we live, cease to give occasion for care and watchfulness (see 1 Corinthians 9:24-46; 1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7). Why, it may be asked, is the apostle concerned to refer to this conflict here? Apparently because the Galatians showed by their behaviour that they needed to be stirred up and put upon their guard. They were, as the apostle (1 Corinthians 3:3) told the Corinthian believers they were, "carnal, walking as men." They had foregone the sense of their adoption; they were worrying one another with contentions. The flesh was in their case manifestly thwarting and defeating the desires of the Spirit. Therefore the apostle here reminds them of the conditions of the Christian life; it is to stimulate them to that earnest endeavour to walk by the Spirit, without which (verse 24) they could not be Christ' s.
But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the Law (εἰ δὲ Πνεύματι ἄγεσθε, οὐκ ἐστὲ ὑπὸ νόμον); but if ye are led by the Spirit, ye are not under the Law. The sense of Πνεύματι as denoting the Spirit of God is put beyond question by the parallel passage in Romans (Romans 8:14), "As many as are led by the Spirit of God (Πνεύματι Θεοῦ ἄγονται), these are sons of God." The dative case with ἄγομαι in both passages is illustrated by 2 Timothy 3:6, "silly women laden with sins, led away by divers lusts (ἀγόμενα ἐπιθομίαις ποικίλαις)." In all three cases the dative must be the dative of the agent, there being in 2 Timothy 3:6 a slight personification. This use of the dative is not in prose writers a common construction with passive verbs, though not altogether unknown (Winer, ' Gram. N.T.,' § 3l, 10). In the present case its harshness is perhaps relieved by the circumstance that the noun does not represent an agent whose personality is markedly conspicuous ab extra; but rather an internally swaying influence, whoso personality is a matter of faith. Hence in 2 Timothy 3:6 we render, "led away with divers lusts." This shade of sense might be represented by rendering, "led with the Spirit." In Luke 4:1, "led by the Spirit," we have ἤγετο ἐν τῷ Πνεύματι. In all these passages the passive, "being led," must, from the nature of the case, include the voluntary self-subjection of those led. In Romans," being led by the Spirit" stands instead of "walking after the Spirit" in verse 4; "being after the Spirit" in verse 5; "by the Spirit mortifying the deeds of the body" in verse 13. Similarly, here it is tantamount to the "walking by the Spirit" mentioned above in verse 16. The phrase cannot be fairly understood of merely having that presence of the Holy Spirit. which is predicated of the whole "body of Christ," even of those members thereof whose conduct is plainly not regulated by the sacred influence; it must be understood as describing the case of such as recognize its presence and yield themselves to its guidance. The sense of the phrase, "being under the Law," is illustrated by Galatians 3:23, "we were kept in ward under the Law;, Galatians 4:4, "made to be under the Law;" ibid., 5, "to redeem those which were under the Law;" ibid., 21, "ye who would fain be under the Law;" Romans 6:14, Romans 6:15, "not under the Law, but under grace;" 1 Corinthians 9:20, "to those which are under the Law as under the Law, that I might gain those who are under the Law." These are all the passages in which the expression occurs. The inference is clear that the apostle designates by it the condition of such as are subject to the Law of the old covenant, viewed as a whole, in its ceremonial aspect as well as its moral; his meaning would not be exhausted by the paraphrase, "subject to the condemnation of the Law." What he affirms here is this: If in the course of your lives you are habitually swayed by the inward motions of the Spirit of God, then you are not subject to the Law of the old covenant. The connection between the premiss and the conclusion has been clearly shown by the apostle above (Galatians 4:5-48), it is this, that the possession of the Spirit of adoption proves a man to be a "son"—one who has attained his majority and is no longer subject to a pedagogue. This aphorism of the apostle, that if they were led by the Spirit they were not under the Law, suggests the inquiry—But how was it with those Christians who were not led by the Spirit? Would the apostle teach, or would he allow us to say, that Gentile Christians (for it is to such that he is writing), and Jewish as well, if not guided by the Spirit, were bound to obey the Law of the old covenant? With reference to this point we are to consider that the apostle has elsewhere clearly stated, for example in Romans 11:1-45., that the Church of God forms, in solidarity with Israel of old, one "Israel of God," as he speaks in the sixth chapter of this Epistle (Romans 11:16); Gentiles, being "grafted in" upon the original stock, have thus become branches (σύμφυτοι) having one common life and nature therewith; or, in the language of another figure, "fellow-heirs, and fellow-members of the body, and fellow-partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus," with those who originally were heirs and forming the body and partners in the promised blessing (Ephesians 3:6). This leads us to the view that God's Law, the revelation of his will relative to his people's conduct, given in successive developments—patriarchal, Mosaical, prophetical—is, with such modifications as have been made by the crucifixion and the priesthood of Christ, and by the mission and work of the Holy Spirit, God's Law relative to his people's conduct still. The cross and priestly work of Christ, as we are taught by this Epistle and the Epistle to the Hebrews, do for all Christians eliminate from this Law its ceremonial prescriptions altogether; but its moral prescriptions, more fully perfected by the moral teaching of Jesus and his apostles, are still incumbent upon them. Those Christians who really give themselves up to the Spirit to be taught and animated by him, who are as St. Paul says (Galatians 6:1) "spiritual," these use this Law (as Calvin phrases it) as a doctrina liberalis; the Law of the Spirit of life within them leads and enables them to recognize, and so to speak assimilate, the kindred import of the Law embodied in the letter; which thus ministers to their instruction and consolation (Romans 15:4; 2 Timothy 3:16; 1 Corinthians 9:10). The letter of the Law is now their helper, no longer their absolute rigid rule; as a rule it is superseded by the law written in the heart (2 Corinthians 3:6-47; Hebrews 8:8-58). As Chrysostom writes in his note on the present passage, "They are raised to a height far above the Law's injunction." But in the degree in which they axe not spiritual, but natural (ψυχικοί, 1 Corinthians 2:14-46; Jude 1:19), in that degree must they use the letter of the Law, in the New Testament as well as the Old, as the rule of their conduct. We, those who have been sacramentally brought into covenant with God, cannot be left to ourselves; either we must be sweetly, persuasively, instinctively, swayed by the Spirit of God within, or else own the coercing dominion of the written Law. In fact, the same individual Christian may at different times be subject to alternation between these two diverse phases of experience, passing over from one to the other of them according to his fluctuating needs. Christians may, therefore, be broadly divided into three classes:
(2) those who are as yet in bondage to the letter;
(3) those who are living after the flesh—"carnal" (1 Corinthians 3:3).
The above statement of the case commends itself as in accordance with what the apostle writes in 1 Timothy 1:8-54, "We know that the Law is good [καλός: cf. Romans 7:12] if a man use it lawfully [νομίμως, according to the manner in which God has directed us to use it in his gospel (Romans 7:11)], knowing this [having his eye upon this], that the Law is not made (οὐ κεῖται) for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for,.., according to the gospel of the glory of the blessed God." In contrast with this Law, coercing impiety and immorality wherever it is found, whether in the world or in the Church, the apostle has before in Romans 7:5 declared that its function is superseded in the case of the spiritual believer: "The end of the commandment [see Alford] is charity, out of a pure heart and a good conscience, and faith unfeigned." The perpetual obligation of the Law given under the old covenant, subject to the qualifications noted above, appears to be emphatically affirmed by our Lord: "I came not to destroy the Law, but to fulfil: for verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass away from the Law, till all things be accomplished" (Matthew 5:17, Matthew 5:18). And the recognition of this principle underlies all his moral teaching; as, for example, in the sermon on the mount; in his controversies with the Jewish rabbins; in such passages as Mark 10:19; Matthew 22:37-40. The moral Law given in the Old Testament amalgamates itself with that given in the New, forming one whole.
Now the works of the flesh are manifest (φανερὰ δέ ἐστι τὰ ἔργα τῆς σαρκός). The apostle's purpose is here altogether one of practical exhortation. Having in Galatians 5:13 emphatically warned the Galatians against making their emancipation from the Mosaic Law an occasion for the flesh, and in verse 16 affirmed the incompatibility of a spiritual walk with the fulfilment of the desire of the flesh, he now specifies samples of the vices, whether in outward conduct or in inward feeling, in which the working of the flesh is apparent, as if cautioning them; adducing just those into which the Galatian converts would naturally be most in danger of falling. Both in the list which he gives them of ,ins, and in that of Christian graces, he is careful to note those relative to their Church life as well as those bearing upon their personal private life. Instances of enumeration of sins which may be compared with that here given, are found, with respect to the heathen world, in Romans 1:29-45; with reference to Christians, Romans 13:13; 1Co 6:9, 1 Corinthians 6:10; 2 Corinthians 12:20, 2 Corinthians 12:21; Ephesians 5:3-49, followed by a brief indication of fruits of the Spirit in Ephesians 5:9; Colossians 3:5-51; 1 Timothy 1:9, 1 Timothy 1:10; 2 Timothy 3:2-55. "Manifest;" namely, to our moral sense; we at once feel that these are the outcome of an evil nature, and are incompatible with the influence of the Spirit of God. "Works of the flesh" means works in which the prompting of the flesh is recognizable. The phrase is equivalent to "the deeds or doings of the body," which we are called to "mortify, put to death, by the Spirit" (Romans 8:13). In Romans 13:12 and Ephesians 5:13 they are styled "works of darkness," that is, works belonging properly to a state in which the moral sense has not been quickened by the Spirit, or in which the light of Christ's presence has not shone. Which are these (ἅτινά ἐτι); of which sort are. Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness (πορνεία [Receptus, μοιχεία πορνεία], ἀκαθαρσία ἀσέλγεια). This is the first group, consisting of offences against chastity—sins against which the Church has to contend in all ages and in all countries; but which idolatry, especially such idolatry as that of Cybele in Galatia, has generally much fostered. The first in our English Bible, "adultery," is rejected from the Greek text by the general consent of editors. But in fact, "fornication" (πορνεία) may be taken as including it (Matthew 5:32), though it may also stand at its side as a distinct species of unchastity. "uncleanness" covers a wider range of sensual sin ("all uncleanness," Ephesians 4:19); solitary impurity, whether in thought or deed; unnatural lust (Romans 1:24), though it can hardly be taken as meaning this lust alone. "Lasciviousness," or "wantonness," is scarcely an adequate rendering of ἀσέλγεια in this connection; it appears to point to reckless shamelessness in unclean indulgences. In classical Greek the adjective ἀσέλγης describes a man insolently and wantonly reckless in his treatment of others; but in the New Testament it generally appears to point more specifically to unabashed open indulgence in impurity. The noun is connected with "uncleanness" and "fornication' 'in 2 Corinthians 12:21; with "uncleanness' ' in Ephesians 4:19; is used of the men of Sodom in 2 Peter 2:7; comp. also 2 Peter 2:18; l Peter 4:3; Jude 1:4 (cf. 7). Only in Mark 7:22 can it from the grouping be naturally taken in its classical sense.
Idolatry, witchcraft (εἰδωλολατρεία φαρμακεία); idolatry, sorcery. These two form a second group—sins of irreligion; and such as would be likely greatly to beset new converts from idolatry. We may compare, "in respect to the former, the temptations which the apostle recognizes the danger of in the case of the Corinthians (1 Corinthians rift. and 10.). "Sorcery." The word φαρμακεία, originally denoting the use of drugs merely, means, sometimes, their use for poisoning; but this sense would not be very suitable here. But the nouns φαρμακός, φαρμακεύς, and φαρμακεία, like veneficus and veneficium in Latin, are also often used with reference to the employment of drugs in charms and incantations; and thence of tie employment of black arts in general—magic, sorcery, witchcraft; cf. Revelation 9:21; Revelation 21:8; Revelation 22:15; where the Authorized Version gives "sorceries," "sorcerers;" and in the Septuagint, Exodus 7:11, Exodus 7:22; Exodus 8:18 (Authorized Version, "magicians" ); Isaiah 47:9, Isaiah 47:12 ("enchantments" ). See also μαγεύων μαγείας ("sorceries" ), Acts 8:9, Acts 8:11. The claim to the possession of such powers, common at Ephesus (Acts 19:19; 2 Timothy 3:13, γόντες), and rife, perhaps, universally among heathens, certainly so in the Roman empire round the Mediterranean, had no doubt been a snare also to the Galatians. Bishop Lightfoot adverts to a very stringent canon of the Council of Ancyra (the capital of Galatia), a.d. 314, condemning φαρμακεῖαι. It may be doubted whether the apostle himself would regard, or had reason to regard, pretensions to such supernatural arts as merely delusive or superstitious. Experiences such as that recorded in Acts 16:16-44, would hardly permit him to do so. Hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditious, heresies (ἔχθραι ἔρις [Receptus, ἔρεις], ζῆλοι θυμοί, ἐριθεῖαι διχοστασίαι αἱρέσεις); enmities, strife, jealousies, wraths, factions, divisions, heresies (or, parties). This third group, to which belongs also the envyings (φθόνοι), together with the probably not genuine murders (φόνοι) of the next verse, is bound together by the common characteristic of malignity. This vice of our nature, so inveterate in our fallen state—the antithesis to the love which is the essence of goodness—is, strangely enough as it at first sight seems, most readily stimulated into rancour by differences in religion. As at this very same time at Corinth, so here in Galatia likewise, the "flesh" displayed its malignity in "jealousy, strife, and divisions (ζῆλος καὶ ἔρις καὶ διχοστᾶσίαι)," originating from this cause (1 Corinthians 3:3). "Emnities;" manifestations of aversion openly displaying itself. "Strife;" the outward mutual conflict of persons animated with such sentiments. The plural number of ἔρεις, strifes, given by the Textus Receptus, as well as, perhaps, the plural of ζῆλοι, jealousies, which not improbably should also be read in the singular, ζῆλος, jealousy, may have owed its introduction by the copyists to the plural number of ἔχθραι, which is not questioned. The precise import of ζῆλος, rendered "jealousy," is not easily determined. It is spoken of as a virtue in John 2:17, "the zeal of thine house;" Romans 10:2, "zeal for God;" Philippians 3:6, "touching zeal, persecuting the Church;" 2 Corinthians 7:7, "your fervent mind [or, 'your zeal'] for me;" ibid., 2 Corinthians 7:11, "what zeal" But in perhaps all these cases, the ardent favouring of what is good is thought of as either ready to take, or actually taking, the aspect of boiling resentment against its assailants; thus also Hebrews 10:27 ("fiery indignation," Authorized Version), literally, "zeal of fire." So in Galatians 1:14, "zealous;" comp. Exodus 20:5, Θεὸς ζηλωτής, "jealous God" (Authorized Version); Hebrews el qanna To this line of meaning is to be referred Acts 5:17, "filled with indignation (ζήλου)." In another class of passages the word denotes a wrong state of feeling, where in the Authorized Version it is uniformly rendered "envy" or "envying.' ' These are Acts 13:45 (Revised Version, "jealousy" ), where it surely means the resentment which the Jews felt at the supposed invasion of their own theocratic prerogatives. In the remaining passages of the New Testament in which it occurs it is linked either with "strife," as it is here; namely, Romans 13:13; 1 Corinthians 3:3; 2 Corinthians 12:20; or with ἐριθεία, as James 3:14, James 3:16. In these passages there does not seem any reason on the face of them for supposing that it means "envy," that is, grudging to another some advantage; this in Greek is φθόνος. A more probable view is that ζῆλος denotes eagerness to find in another some ground for hot resentment against him. Perhaps we have no single equivalent word in our language, "jealousy" being the nearest approach. In the Epistle of Clement of Rome to the Corinthians, James 4:1-59 -6, we have a long list of instances given of persons who have suffered through being objects of ζῆλος: in many of them "envy," or "rivalry," would seem to be the more prominent notion in the word; but in others it appears to mean rather "jealousy;" in some the same as in Acts 5:17 or Acts 13:45. The next word θυμοί, wraths, denotes violent ebullitions of passionate anger; the plural pointing to different occasions prompting such. The following term, ἐριθεῖαι (rendered "factious" ), was formerly imagined to be etymologically connected with ἔρις, strife—a notion which is now generally abandoned. The verb from which it is derived, ἐριθεύω, is to act the part of an ἔριθος, day-labourer, the noun signifying "labour for hire;" then, scheming or intriguing for a post of employment; and next, "party-action," "the contentious spirit of faction., In the New Testament it occurs six times besides here. In Romans 2:8, τοῖς δὲ ἐξ ἐριθείας (Authorized Version, "them who are contentious" ), it appears to denote those who set themselves in factious opposition to the truth, the apostle having no doubt especially in his eye Jewish gainsayers of the gospel. In Philippians 1:16, "some preach Christ ἐξ ἐριθείας," it points to factious opposition to Christ's divinely appointed heralds. In Philippians 2:3, "let nothing be done κατ ἐριθείαν," the same sense of factious opposition to others is quite suitable. In the remaining passages, 2 Corinthians 12:20, where ζῆλοι θυμοί ἐριθεῖαι, come together as they do here, and James 3:14-59, where, as above noted, it is coujoined with ζῆλον, the notion of "factiousness," or "faction," perfectly satisfies the context. In the present passage the plural, ἐριθεῖαι, denotes factious feelings roused on behalf of this cause and that; such sentiments as are likely to eventuate in διχοστασίαι, divisions, that is, more distinctly formed parties "standing apart" from each other; whilst these again culminate in αἱρέσεις. The noun διχοστασίαι, occurs also in 1 Corinthians 3:3, where they are spoken of as indicative of a fleshly mind. and in Romans 16:17, "Mark them which cause divisions and (σκάνδαλα) occasions of stumbling." We may regard this word as standing in the same relation to αἱρέσεις as the σχίσματα, "divisions," or "schisms," do which are mentioned in 1 Corinthians 11:18," When ye come together in the Church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and I partly believe it; for there must be also heresies among you." In endeavouring to ascertain the exact import of this last word (αἱρέσεις), "heresies," we must first ascertain the sense in which αἵρεσις was currently used before it was employed to describe phenomena appearing in the Church. The proper sense of "choice" was in this word often limited to the specific sense of "choice of views," particularly in philosophy or religion; that is, it meant "ways of thinking;" and then, by an easy transition, "those who followed a particular way of thinking"—"a school of thought." Thus it occurs in Dionysius of Halicarnassus, 'De Dora. et Arist.,' 7, etc. (see Liddell and Scott). This sense was so current in Dionysius's time as to appear in Latin in the contemporary writings of Cicero; thus, in 'Protein. Parad.,' Cicero writes, "Care in ea est haeresi [sc. the Stoic], quae nullum sequitur florem orationis;" 'Ad Famil.,' 1 Corinthians 15:16; 'Ad Att.,' 1 Corinthians 14:14. Similarly Vitruvius writes, 'Prier.,' 5, "Pythagorae haeresin sequi." It is not always easy to discriminate whether the "school of thought" so designated means the way of thinking itself or the set of men who held it. In this sense the word is used in the New Testament. Thus Acts 5:17, "the high priest and all they that were with him, which is the heresy (αἵρεσις) of the Sadducees;" where it means the sect, and not their views. So again, Acts 15:5, "certain of those of the heresy of the Pharisees;" ibid., 24.5, "ringleader of the heresy of the Nazaraeans," where Tertullus plainly meant those who held the views of the Nazaraeans, and not the views themselves. But, on the other hand, in the same chapter St. Paul in his reply (Acts 15:14), when he says, "After the way which they call a heresy, so serve I the God of our fathers," evidently uses the term as applying to "the Way" itself (comp. Acts 9:2), and not to the people who followed it. In Acts 26:5, "after the straitest heresy of our religion (θρησκείας) I lived a Pharisee," the word may be taken either way. In Acts 28:22. "concerning this heresy, it is known to us that everywhere it is spoken against," it seems, of the two, to be rather the more obvious way to take it of "what Paul thought," than of the persons so thinking. If, however, it be taken of persons, it is of course to be taken of them as holding and representing such views. In 2 Peter 2:1, "false teachers, who shall privily bring in heresies of perdition," the qualifying genitive, "of perdition," would seem to favour our understanding the "heresies" of the doctrines of these false teachers, rather than of the parties following their teaching. On the whole review of these passages, it is of the utmost importance to note the manner in which, in Acts 24:14, etc., St. Paul treats Tertullus's application of the term to the Christian faith. "I confess," he says, "that after the way which they call αἵρεσις, so serve I the God of our fathers, believing all things which are according to the Law, and which are written in the prophets: having hope towards God, which these also themselves look for, that there shall be a resurrection, both of the just and unjust." In thus speaking, the apostle repudiates the application of the term αἵρεσις to the Christian faith; not, however, on the ground that the term denoted a flagrantly erroneous and vicious form of doctrine; for there is nothing to show that this was the idea which Tertullus meant to convey to Felix's mind, in so designating either Christians or their faith: what, indeed, should Felix care about the soundness or unsoundness of their doctrines? The apostle rather repudiates the term, because, as signifying" choice," it implied that the views referred to were adopted on the prompting of individual opinion or liking. That it was not this, he shows by referring partly to the broad basis of Divine revelation in general as propounding the doctrine of the resurrection, which lay at the foundation of the Christian faith; and partly to the fact that his accusers themselves admitted that doctrine. Christians believed that Jesus was raised from the dead, not because they "chose" to think so, but because God's Word taught them so to believe. We are thus landed at the conclusion that, antecedently to its introduction into the language of the Church, the term αἵρεσις denoted a school of thought or a set of opinions; sometimes the opinions them-solves; sometimes the people holding them; but that it was understood to do so with reference to points on which there did not appear to be any decisive authority to determine men's convictions, and respecting which, therefore, men might choose their own opinions as they thought themselves best able, This conclusion will help us to understand its import in 1 Corinthians 11:19, in the passage before us, and in 2 Peter 2:1, as well as the passage in Titus 3:10, Titus 3:11, in which the case of "a man that is an heretic (ἄνθρωπος αἱρετικός)" is dealt with. It is clear, from Galatians 1:6-48, that the apostle regarded the "gospel" which had been delivered to the world (Jude 1:3) by himself and his fellow-apostles, as being a revelation so certain and authoritative that any teacher introducing doctrine seriously infringing upon its substantial import would subject himself to the extreme malediction of God. The whole tenor of this Epistle shows that its author considered the Churches of Galatia as at this very time in danger of either producing from their own bosom, or else admitting from the teaching of others, doctrine which would be thus fatally subversive of the truth. Was it not, then, extremely probable that, when here enumerating, with an especial eye to the case of the Churches he was addressing, "the works of the flesh," which would cut off those who gave themselves up to their practice from the inheritance of the kingdom of God, he would specify this particular "work" of propounding, or embracing when propounded by others, doctrine which should vitally deprave the truth which God had revealed? Any doctrine which thus tampered with the gospel would, of course, be a αἵρεσις—views of men's own devising and "choosing." The term, as has been seen, might also describe a body of adherents to such false doctrine. But in the passage before us, in which the works of the flesh are recited, and not the doers of such works, the term must describe, not persons, but acts—acts, that is, of conceiving or propounding in the Church views subversive of the gospel, and gathering adherents to such views; such adherents would, among Christians, form a αἵρεσις antagonistic to the doctrine of Christ received in the Church. "Caballings" and "divisions,' ' ἐριθεῖαι and διχοστασίαι, might arise among Christians who still held fast to the substance of the gospel; fatal to the spiritual life, it might be, of those indulging in them; but yet essentially different from "heresies," because not involving departure from the faith once for all delivered to the saints, or conscious rebellion against the accredited organs of revelation. Here the apostle has in view the more hateful phenomena, of man-conceived dogmas taking the place of God's gospel—dogmas so alien to the gospel that adherents to them would be marked among Christians as forming "sects," which in their spiritual genesis were apart from the Church and incapable of being amalgamated with it. For the Church is the product of the truth, "the Word of God" (1 Peter 1:23-60; James 1:18); whilst these "sects" are products of merely human notions or even of "doctrines of devils" (1 Timothy 4:1; cf. Colossians 2:8, Colossians 2:19). That same Judaizing spirit which was now working among the Churches of Galatia proved, very early indeed, largely prolific of such "heresies," especially in Asia Minor; those "heresies" in particular which are known by the name of Gnostic. The apostle knew that such evils were coming, and it is certain that he anticipated their development with dread (see the later First Epistle to Timothy (4.); the eontemporaneous First Epistle to Corinth (1 Corinthians 11:18); the earlier Second Epistle to the Thessalonians (2.); also Acts 20:29, Acts 20:30); not without cause, as history shows; for in truth it was only after a terrible, indeed an internecine conflict, that the Church in the second and third centuries succeeded in treading this serpent-brood underfoot. By the time that St. Paul deputed Titus to take the oversight of the Churches of Crete, "heresies" were so far developed that he is careful to direct Titus (Titus 3:10, Titus 3:11) how to deal with any man who attached himself to them (ἄνθρωπον αἱρετικόν). He is to admonish him once and again; if the warning proved fruitless, he was thenceforward to decline having anything to do with him (παραιτοῦ); for that he might be sure that, being such, he was already completely wrenched off from vital union with the body of Christ (ἐξέστραπται), and was doing what was wrong, "self-condemned; either (that is) condemned by the very nature of his proceeding, or condemned in his own consciousness. It seems that the apostle regards the simple fact of his giving himself to a "heresy" as proving all this; for he makes no reference to any ether pravity shown by the offender; he has an eye, evidently, to the consideration that the man who forsakes the teaching of Christ, given through his accredited organs, to follow a αἵρεσις, knows that he does so; knows that he is no longer "holding the Head" (Colossians 2:19), but is following a mere "tradition of men" (ibid., S). With such a one Titus had no common ground. It is of prime importance in estimating the nature of this "work of the flesh," with a practical view to our present circumstances, that we bear in mind this feature of it—that it is a relinquishment, a conscious relinquishment of the teaching of Christ, a breaking off from "the Head." The above view is precisely that given by Tertullian, ' De Prsescriptionibus Haereticorum,' 6. Bishop Lightfoot, in his Introduction to his Commentary on this Epistle, pp. 30, 31, writes thus: "It is not idle, as it might seem at, first sight, to follow the stream of history beyond the horizon of the apostolic age. The fragmentary notices of its subsequent career reflect some light on the temper and disposition of the Galatian Church in St. Paul's day. To Catholic writers of a later date, indeed, the failings of its infancy seemed to be so faithfully reproduced in its mature age, that they invested the apostle's rebuke with a prophetic import. Asia Minor was the nursery of heresy: and of all the Asiatic Churches it was nowhere so rife as in Galatia. The Galatian capital [Ancyra] was the stronghold of the Montanist revival, which lingered on for more than two centuries, splitting into diverse sects, each distinguished by some fantastic or minute ritual observance. Here, too, were to be found Ophites, Manicheans, sectarians of all kinds."
Envyings, murders (φθόνοι, [Receptus adds φόνοι, rejected by most editors]). These belong properly to the third group, and should have been placed in the same verse with them. We have the like alliterative combination of the Greek words in Romans 1:29, φθόνου φόνου. Judging from the evidence of manuscripts, the genuineness of φόνοι, is extremely doubtful. Regard being had to the particular circumstances of the Galatian Churches, which the apostle no doubt had in his eye in this enumeration, "murders' seems too strong a word to be appropriate; and this consideration seems to prove the word here not authentic. Drunkenness, revellings (μέθαι κῶμοι); drunkennesses, revellings. We have the same two plural nouns in Romans 13:13, κώμοις καὶ μέθαις. This fourth group represents sins of excess. Here, too, the apostle touches a form of vice, to which abundant testimony shows the Galatians, as well as other branches of Celts, to have been especially prone. It was, perhaps, this marked feature of the Galatian nationality in particular that led St. Peter, in addressing the Churches of "Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia," to speak (1 Peter 4:3) of their having formerly walked in "lasciviousness, lusts, wine-bibbings, revellings, carousings (οἰνοφλυγίας κώμοις πότοις), and abominable idolatries." And such like (καὶ τὰ ὅμοια τούτοις); and those (works) which arc like to these. Of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past (ἅ προλέγω ὑμῖν καθὼς [Receptus, καθὼς καὶ] προεῖπον); of the which I forewarn you, even as I did forewarn you. The construction of the accusative ἅ is precisely similar to that of ὅν in John 8:54, Ὅν ὑμεῖς λέγετε ὅτι Θεὸς ὑμῶν ἐστι. The πρὸ in προλέγω), as also in the προεῖπον which follows, has reference to the time when it shall actually be proved who are to enter into the kingdom of God. "As I did forewarn you;" this previous warning was probably given at his very first preaching of the gospel to them he would no doubt at once speak plainly to people, very commonly sunk in vice and excess, of the awards of the "judgment to come." That they which do such things (ὅτι οἱ τὰ τοιαῦτα πράσσοντες): that they which practise such things. The present tense of πράσσοντες is more suitable than the aorist, as being the language of warning with reference to future conduct (cf. Romans 2:2, Romans 2:3, Romans 2:7-45). Shall not inherit the kingdom of God (βασιλείαν Θεοῦ οὐ κληρονομήσουσιν). The apostle uses the same words in writing to the Corinthians with reference to the sins to which they were the most prone (1 Corinthians 6:9, 1 Corinthians 6:10). So Ephesians 5:5, "No fornicator, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, which is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God." This "kingdom" is also referred to in 1 Thessalonians 2:12, "Walk worthily of God who calleth you into his own kingdom and glory" ("His own!" Astonishing prospect!); 2 Thessalonians 1:5, "That ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer;" 2 Timothy 4:18, "will save me unto his heavenly kingdom." The like designation of the future felicity is given by St. Peter (2 Peter 1:11), "entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ," and by St. James (it. 5), "heirs of the kingdom which he [God] promised to them that love him." It is derived from our Lord's own teaching, as, e.g. Matthew 25:34, "Inherit the kingdom prepared for you;" Luke 12:32, "It is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." It is the manifestation and consummation of "that kingdom of heaven," or "kingdom of God," heralded by Christ and his forerunner as "at hand," which the Prophet Daniel had pointed forward to (Daniel 2:44; Daniel 7:13, Daniel 7:14, Daniel 7:18). Bondage to "the flesh" in this life is constantly declared throughout the New Testament to form an insuperable bar to an entrance into that exalted state. And what is the alternative prospect? This the Apostle Paul does not here specify, though elsewhere he does so with awful emphasis; as e.g. Romans 2:8.
But the fruit of the Spirit (ὁ δὲ καρπὸς τοῦ Πνεύματος). As it was with a hortatory purpose, to warn, that the apostle has before enumerated the vices into which the Galatian Christians would be most in danger of falling, so now with an answering hortatory purpose, to point out the direction in which their endeavours should lie, he reckons up the dispositions and states of mind which it was the office of the Holy Spirit to produce in them. In the Epistle to the Colossians (Colossians 3:12-51), written several years after, most of the features here specified reappear in the form of direct exhortation ("kindness, meekness, long-suffering, love, peace, thankfulness")—"joy" being there implicitly represented by thankfulness. The word fruit here takes the place of "works" in verse 19, as being a more suitable designation of what are rather states of mind or habits of feeling than concrete actions like most of those previously enumerated "works." The word "fruit," moreover, describing in the vegetable world a matured product, is very commonly used in the New Testament with reference to such product as is not only of a pleasant but also of a useful kind; thus, "fruits meet for repentance;" the fruit of the True Vine in John 15:2-43 which glorifies God; the abundant fruit of wheat (John 12:24); the fruit of righteousness (Philippians 1:11; Hebrews 12:11); the fruit gathered by an evangelist (John 4:36; Romans 1:13); so that it was no doubt introduced here, as also in Ephesians 5:9, with the intended suggestion, that the graces here specified are results answering to the design of the great Giver of the Spirit's influences, and are in their own nature wholesome and grateful. The singular number of the noun is employed in preference to the plural, which is found e.g. Philippians 1:11 and James 3:17, in consequence probably of the feeling which the apostle had that the combination of graces described is in its entirety the proper outcome in each individual of the Spirit's agency; the character which he will fain evolve in every soul subject to his dominion, comprises all these features; so that the absence of any one mars in a degree the perfection of the product. The relation expressed by the genitive case of the noun, "of the Spirit," is probably much the same as is expressed by the corresponding genitive, "of the flesh;" in each case meaning "belonging to," or "due to the operation of;" for the agent who in the one case does the works is not the flesh, but the person acting under the influence of the flesh; so here, the fruit-bearer is not "the Spirit," but the person controlled by the Spirit. Comp. Romans 7:4, "that we might bring forth fruit unto God;" John 15:8, "that ye bear much fruit." These fruits do not appear upon us without strenuous endeavour on our own part. Accordingly the apostle exhorts the Philippians (Philippians 2:12, Philippians 2:13) to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling, because they have so august a co-Agent working with and in them. Indeed, it is for the very purpose of prompting and directing such endeavour that this list of gracious fruits is here given (comp. verse 25). The enumeration does not expressly mention such dispositions of mind as have God for their object. These, however, may be discerned as lying couched under the three first named, "love, joy, peace," and possibly under "faith;" certainly joy and peace are the proper products of our hearty acceptance of the gospel, and of that alone; they presuppose the establishment of a conscious state of reconciliation with God. But just here the apostle seems more especially concerned to show how blessed, under the Spirit's guidance, the Christian's state will be, and in what manner Christians as thus led will act towards one another. The Christian life is habitually regarded by the apostle much more as a corporate, fellow-Christian, life, than, owing to various causes, some of which we may hope are now in course of removal, we modern Christians, and especially English Church, men, are in the habit of regarding it. Is love (ἔστιν ἀγάπη). We cannot separate this branch of Christian character from those which follow, as in essence distinct from them; it is organically connected with them, and in fact, as stated above (verse 14), involves them all, being "the bond of perfectness" (Colossians 3:14). in the "dithyramb of love," chanted in 1 Corinthians 13:1-46., the apostle triumphantly proclaims this truth; as also on the other had in 1 Timothy 1:5 he affirms that true Christian love has its root in "a pure heart, a good conscience, and genuine faith." The soul cannot be free for the activity of genuine love, towards fellow-believers and towards fellow-creatures in general, as long as it is restrained in its emotions toward the supreme common Father of all; the inward vice of mind, whatever it may be, which darkens the spirit towards heaven must inevitably cramp and benumb benevolent action universally. In truth, ἀγάπη means a loving temper of mind which, like the love which God bears towards us, is in a degree irrespective of merit, welling forth towards all being, so far as circumstances permit; though with greatest intensity towards God and those in whom it can recognize the image of God. Hence St, John is able to reason as he does in 1 John 4:20, "He that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, cannot love God whom he hath not seen." Joy (χαρά). It is impossible to accept Calvin's notion, that this means a cheerful carriage towards fellow-Christians, though it includes it; it must mean the glad-heartedness produced by entire faith in God's love to us (comp. Romans 14:17; Romans 15:13). The exhortation which is here implied, that such sentiments should be carefully cherished, is elsewhere given explicitly and with reiteration; as e.g. 1 Thessalonians 5:16; Philippians 4:4. There is thus much ground for Calvin's view, that the inward feeling of satisfaction and joy, which is the proper fruit of a true Christian's faith in the gospel, cannot fail to manifest itself in his behavior towards his fellow-men by a sacred species of light-heartedness and hilarity which it is impossible for us to manifest or to feel, as long as we have within a consciousness of estrangement from God, or a suspicion that things are not well with us in relation to him. It is probable that the apostle, in writing down this word, did it with a consciousness of the contrast which is presented by the coldness and severity of feeling towards others which are begotten by the bondage of legality. Peace (εἰρήνη), This is conjoined with "joy" in the two passages of the Romans just before cited (Romans 14:17): "The kingdom of God [i.e. its great blessedness] is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit;" (Romans 14:13), "The God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, in the power of the Holy Spirit;" in both which passages the "peace" referred to is the serenity of soul arising from the consciousness of being brought home to the favour of God and to obedience to his will. On the other hand, the term as here introduced seems likewise intended to stand in contrast with those sins of strife and malignity noted before among the works of the flesh, and therefore to point to peacefulness in the Christian community. The two are vitally connected: the Spirit produces peaceful harmony among Christians by producing in their minds, individually, a peaceful sense of harmony with God and a compliancy in all things with his providential appointments. This resigned trustfulness towards God quells at their very fountain-head those disturbances of passion and that inward fretting and impatience in reference to outward things, including the behaviour of others, which are the main causes of strife. The interdependence between inward and outward peace is indicated in 2 Corinthians 13:11; Colossians 3:14, Colossians 3:15. If "the peace of God rules, is arbitrator (βραβεύει), in our hearts" individually, if it "holds guard over our hearts and our thoughts" (Philippians 4:7), it cannot fail to produce and maintain harmony amongst us towards one another. Long-suffering, gentleness, goodness (μακροθυμία χρηστότης ἀγαθωσύνη); long-sufferng, kindness, goodness. These are actings of the all-comprising grace of "love." For the two first, comp. 1 Corinthians 13:4, "Love suffereth long, is kind (μακροθυμεῖ χρηστεύεται);" while the third, "goodness," sums up the other actings of love enumerated in 1 Corinthians 13:5 and 1 Corinthians 13:6 or the same chapter. It is difficult to distinguish between χρηστότης and ἀγαθωσύνη, except so far as that the former, which etymologically means "usableness," seems to signify more distinctly "sweetness of disposition," "amiability," "a compliant willingness to be serviceable to others." It is, however, repeatedly used by St. Paul of God's benignity (Romans 2:4; Romans 11:22; Ephesians 2:7; Titus 3:4), as ἀαθωσύνη also is by many thought to be in 2 Thessalonians 1:11, which last point, however, is very questionable. This latter term, ἀγαθωσύνη, occurs besides in Romans 15:14 and Ephesians 5:9, as a very wide description of human goodness, apparently in the sense of active benevolence. Faith (πίστις); faith or faithfulness. It is disputed in what precise shade of meaning the apostle here uses this term. The sense of "fidelity," which beyond question it bears in Titus 2:10, seems out of place, when we consider the particular evils which are now in his eye as existing or in danger of arising in the Galatian Churches. Belief in the gospel suits this requirement perfectly, and presents us with the apparently needed contrast to the "heresies" of verse 20. If this sense seems not to be favoured by the immediate neighbourhood on one side of "kindness" and "goodness," it is, however, quite coherent with the "meekness" on the other, if we understand by this latter term a tractable spirit, compliant to the teaching of the Divine Word; comp. James 1:21, "receive with meekness the implanted word," and Psalms 25:9, "The meek [Septuagint, πρᾳεῖς] will he guide in judgment, the meek (πρᾳεῖς) will he teach his way." In Matthew 23:23, "judgment, mercy, and faith," the term seems (comp. Micah 6:8) to refer to faith towards God. In 1 Timothy 6:11, "righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness," there is no reason for interpreting it otherwise than as faith in God and his gospel; and if so, its collocation there with "love, patience, meekness," countenances us in taking it so here, where it stands in a very similar collocation. Comp. Ephesians 6:23, "Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."
Meekness (πρᾳότης). (On this, see last note.) The humble submissiveness to the teachings of Divine revelation, to which this term probably points, stands in contrast with that self-reliant, headstrong impetuosity which in the temperament of the Celt is apt to hurry him into the adoption of novel ideas which tie has not taken the trouble seriously to weigh. It may, however, stand in antithesis to self-reliant arrogance in general. Temperance (ἀγκράτεια); or, self-control. This stands opposed both to the "fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,' ' and to the "drunkenness and revellings "before mentioned. Against such there is no Law (κατὰ τῶν τοιούτων οὐκ ἔστι νόμος); against such things as these the Law is not; or, there is no Law. As the apostle does not write "against these things," it seems that he viewed the foregoing list of graces as one of samples only and not as exhaustive; which fact is likewise indicated by the absence of the copulative conjunction (cf. Matthew 15:19); so that κατὰ τῶν, ' τοιούτων represents "and things the like to these; against which," etc. If we render, with the Authorized Version, "there is no Law," we must suppose still that the apostle means that the Law which all along he has been speaking of is in particular "not against them." "Against;" as in Galatians 3:21. The Law finds nothing to condemn in these things, and therefore no ground for condemning those who live in the practice of them; the same idea as is more explicitly brought out in Romans 8:1-45. There is a tone of meiosis, of suppressed triumph in this sentence. "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's chosen ones?"
And they that are Christ's (οἱ δὲ τοῦ Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ [Receptus omits Ἰησοῦ]; now they that are of the Christ Jesus. The expression, ὁ Χριστὸς Ἰησοῦς is not a common one. It occurs besides in Ephesians 3:1, τοῦ Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ, where, however, as indeed here, editors are not quite unanimous in retaining Ἱησοῦ: and Colossians 2:6, τὸν Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν τὸν Κύριον. Χριστὸς Ἰησοῦς without the article is continually met with. The presence of the article seems to betoken that the word "Christ" is introduced as an official description rather than as a proper name, "the Christ Jesus" being thus a phrase similar to "the Lord Jesus." Not being so familiar to us as this latter, it appears at first more uncouth than it really is. To understand the precise force of the conjunction δέ, we must review the foregoing context. In Colossians 2:16, Colossians 2:17 the apostle puts in contrast with each other, "walking by the Spirit" and "fulfilling the desire of the flesh." In the three following verses (19-21) he points out what kind of life the flesh prompts men to pursue, and its fatal consequences; in Colossians 2:22, Colossians 2:23 the character formed by the Spirit's influence, and its blessed immunity from the censure of the Law. He is now concerned to show how these considerations apply to Christians. A Christian (he says) by becoming such puts away the flesh; is alive, therefore, if at all, by or to the Spirit; this being so, he must in all reason by the Spirit's direction rule his conduct. It results from this review that the δὲ turns the course of remark upon a new topic, namely, the essential character of a Christian's profession as a premiss to introduce the practical conclusion stated in verse 25. The use of the possessive, "of the Christ Jesus," is similar to that in 1 Corinthians 3:23, "ye are Christ's;" Romans 8:9, "he is not his;" RomansRom 14:8, "we are the Lord's." Comp. also 2 Timothy 2:19; Titus 2:14, "a people for his own possession;" Ephesians 1:14. We are made Christ's people, outwardly and in covenant, by baptism; but we cannot be his very own, really and vitally (Romans 8:9), unless through faith we recognize him as our Lord and of our own free will and deed attach ourselves heartily to his discipleship. In that hour of renunciation of sin we in truth "fasten the flesh to the cross." Have crucified the flesh (τὴν σάρκα ἐσταύρωσαν). That is, have put it away from them, as a thing to be abhorred, that it might die the death. These three several particulars of thought appear combined in the mixt mode embodied in the word "crucified." The verb, denoting simply affixing to the cross, and not putting to death by crucifixion, intimates the lingering character of the death which the flesh was to undergo. It was, indeed, put away at once, by a final decisive act of the will; but it would still for a while continue to live. Viewed thus, the notion represented by the image harmonizes with the statement in Ephesians 1:17 of the continued conflict which is being waged within us between the flesh and the Spirit. The time when the Christian did thus affix the flesh to the cross is indicated by the form of expression, of being "of Christ;" there can have been no time since he has been Christ's at which this thing had not been already done. It is, alas, but too possible to take the flesh still living down from the cross and clasp it afresh to our bosom; but cherishing that as our friend, we are Christ's no longer. Above (Galatians 2:20) the apostle wrote, "I am hanging on the cross with Christ: but I live;" but with a different application of the image. There he was thinking of the relation into which his union with the crucified Jesus brought him with respect to the Mosaical Law. Here he has in view the renunciation of sin which accompanies the addiction of ourselves to Christ's service. There he himself is crucified; here, the flesh. The cross once more recurs in Galatians 6:9, with yet another reference. The description hero given by the apostle of Christian conversion tallies well with that given by him in Romans 6:3-45. There, however, the change through which a man becomes a Christian is couched under a different image—that of a death and resurrection, analogous to and founded upon the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which, in baptism, administered according to the original primitive mode, are represented by the immersion in and the emerging from the water. While illustrating this image, the apostle further says (Romans 6:6), "Our old man was crucified with him (συνεσταυρώθη), that the body of sin might be done away, that we should no longer be in bondage to sin;" where the Greek word rendered "was crucified with (him)" again denotes being affixed to the cross, in sympathy with him "who was made sin for us," with the view of bringing to nought "the body of sin "—which phrase, "body of sin," is nearly equivalent to "flesh," being the sum total of the vicious activities in which the flesh manifests itself; this bringing to nought or doing away (κατάργησις) of the body of sin, being the result ultimately to follow from the crucifixion, and not identical with it. In the passage in the Romans now referred to, the apostle brings to view, not only the just now cited description of the negative side of our regeneration, but also its positive side, of a passing into a new sphere of activities "walking in newness of life," and "living unto God in Christ Jesus." In our present passage the negative phrase is alone definitely stated. The difference is probably due to the fact that the figure of crucifying the flesh supplies the illustration of only the negative aspect; whereas baptism, with its watery burial and resurrection, represents the positive aspect as well. With the affections and lusts (σὺν τοῖς παθήμασι καὶ ταῖς ἐπιθυμίαις); with its affections and its lusts. The difference between "affections" and "lusts" may be probably assumed to be this—that the former denotes disordered states of the soul viewed as in a condition of disease, well represented in the Authorized Version by "affections;" whine the latter points to the goings forth of the soul towards objects which it is wrong to pursue. In Philippians 3:10; 1 Peter 1:11, and a number of other passages the noun παθήματα means "sufferings." Only once besides is it used in an ethical sense; in Romans 7:5 we read, "The παθήματα of sins which were through the Law wrought in our members to bring forth fruit unto death;" and in Romans 7:7, Romans 7:8 the apostle instances "coveting" (ἐπιθυμία) as wrought by sin in his soul, by occasion of the commandment, "Thou shalt not covet." We seem led to conjecture that he meant that a sinful condition of the soul (πάθημα ἁμαρτίας) was by the commandment stimulated into a mere aggressive action. We have πάθος in Colossians 3:5 and 1 Thessalonians 4:5, and the plural πάθη in Romans 1:26; in each case of exorbitant sexual desire. But in the apostle's use of παθήματα in its ethical sense we seem to have neither the notion of extreme intensity nor the limitation to one particular class of desire, which are both of them apparent in his use of πάθος. This clause, "with its affections and its lusts," adds nothing to the substantial sense of "the flesh." The apostle seems led to subjoin the words by a pathetic remembrance o the moral miseries appertaining to "the flesh"—"those affections and those desires thereof which are so hard to control, and which are at the same time so fatal to our welfare."
If we live in the Spirit (εἰ ζῶμεν Πνεύματι); if we live by, or to, the Spirit. Exact critics have commonly recognized the difficulty of precisely determining either the sense in which the dative case of Πνεύματι, is used, or the meaning of the verb "live." This verb is here distinguished from the verb of the next clause (στοιχῶμεν) in much the same way as it is distinguished from the verb "walk" (περιπατεῖν) in Colossians 3:7, "In the which ye also walked aforetime when ye lived in these things." In both passages it denotes the moral sphere of existence in which it is our ruling choice to live. In Colossians 3:7 the apostle says that their chosen sphere of existence was once worldliness and vice; and, when it was so, then they had followed in detail those different forms of degrading sin which he has specified in Colossians 3:5. The verb "live" is used in the same sense of the general setting of our moral habits viewed as a whole in Colossians 2:20. "If ye died with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, do ye subject yourselves to ordinances, Handle not, etc.?" So, likewise Romans 6:2, "We who died to sin, how shall we any longer live therein?" also Romans 8:13, "If ye live after the flesh, ye must die; but if by the Spirit ye make to die the deeds of the body, ye shall live;" in which last passage the changed sense of the verb in the second sentence is noticeable. In the passage before us, the "we" of the verb ζῶμεν are of course the same persons as are recited by the phrase, "they who are of the Christ," in Romans 8:21. These persons have fastened the flesh to the cross; by a final, professedly irrevocable resolve, they have renounced sin. The purpose that was the proper, necessary concomitant of this, was to make the domain of the Spirit thenceforward their sphere of existence; their life was now to be in the Spirit; as the apostle writes (Romans 8:9)," Ye are not in (ἐν) the flesh, but in (ἐν) the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you;" for in this last passage the phrase, "in the Spirit," is contrasted with "in the flesh," each denoting the sphere of moral habits; in which sense "the flesh" is often used, as well as at other times of the vitiated nature itself, the indulgence in which characterizes that sphere. So probably "according, to the Spirit of holiness, in contrast to according to the flesh," in Romans 1:3, Romans 1:4. Now, as in Romans 8:9 the apostle uses the word "Spirit" in two senses, first of the sphere of moral habits determined by the Spirit's influence, and then of the Holy Spirit itself, so he would appear to do here. In respect to the relation expressed by the dative case, although the ἐν of Romans 8:9 is here wanting, it admits of being taken of the sphere of being in which Christians as such live; for so we find the dative used in 1 Peter 3:18, "put to death (σαρκί) in the flesh, but quickened (Πνεύματ) in the Spirit," as also the dative σαρκὶ is constructed in Galatians 4:1 of the same Epistle. The relation expressed by the case, however, may be that which it denotes in Romans 6:2, Romans 6:10, "die (ἁμαρτίᾳ) unto sin;" ibid., 11, "dead unto sin, alive unto God;" Romans 14:6, "live unto the Lord, die unto the Lord;" 2 Corinthians 5:15, "live unto him that died for them:" thus Bishop Lightfoot takes it. The "if" is logical rather than conditional; they who are Christ's have no life but in the Spirit, and are thus bound in the details of their conduct to act accordingly. Let us also walk in the Spirit (Πνεύματι καὶ στοιχῶμεν); by (or, unto) the Spirit let us also walk. The dative is here most naturally understood of the rule according to which we should walk. If the relation intended by the dative in the preceding clause is expressed by "to," it might be most convenient to render it similarly here; but even so, it must mean with reference to the Spirit as our rule and guide. The verb στοιχεῖν, "to move iv a (στοῖχος i.e. ) line or row with others" (see Liddell and Scott), is no doubt chosen in place of περιπατεῖν, the more usual word for "walk," as denoting an orderly, well-regulated way of behaviour. This tinge of meaning is discernible in the other instances of its use in the New Testament, as Galatians 6:16; Romans 4:12; Philippians 3:16.
Let us not be desirous of vain glory (μὴ γινώμεθα κενόδοξοι); let us not be vain-glorious. The communicative form of exhortation in which the speaker conjoins himself with those whom he addresses in order to soften the tone of superiority implied in exhorting them, connects this verse closely with the preceding one, in which also it is employed. Indeed, as in outward term of expression this verse coheres with Galatians 5:25, so also in substance it coheres strictly with the whole passage beginning with Galatians 5:13; for this is throughout levelled against a spirit of contentiousness then rife in the Galatian Churches. One cause to which the apostle thinks this ill state of things to be especially due was the spirit of vainglory or self-vaunting—a weakness to which the Celtic race has ever been markedly prone. The softened form of exhortation visible in the use of the first person plural has been traced also by many critics in the use of the verb γινώμεθα as if the writer meant to imply that they were not as yet really vainglorious, but were in danger of becoming so. This, however, is not so clear. This verb is often used when there is no reference at all intended to passing out of a former state into a new one, but simply as meaning" show one's self," "be in act, so and so." Thus Romans 16:2, "she hath been (ἐγένετο) a succourer of many;" Philippians 3:6, "found (γενόμενος) blameless;" 1 Thessalonians 1:5, "what manner of men we showed ourselves (ἐγένηθημεν);" ibid., 1 Thessalonians 2:7; James 1:25. Very often is this verb so used in exhortations, and especially in the present tense; as Romans 12:16, "Be not (μὴ γίνεσθε) wise in your own conceits;" 1 Corinthians 4:16, "Be (γίνεσθε) imitators of me;" (so ibid., 1 Corinthians 11:1; Philippians 3:17); 1 Corinthians 10:32, "Be giving no occasion for stumbling (ἀπρόσκοποι γίνεσθε);" 1 Corinthians 14:20, "Be (γίνεσθε) not babes in understanding, but in understanding be (γίνεσθε) full-grown men;" and so often. In many of such cases there can be no reference to preceding conduct, whether in the way of approval or disapproval, but simply an exhortation to be or not to be so and so. The Authorized Version, therefore, is quite right in here rendering, "Let us not be," etc. The adjective κενόδοξος occurs only here in the New Testament, as the substantive κενοδοξία is only found in Philippians 2:3. The δόξα from which it is derived may be either "notion," "opinion," or "glory." Accordingly in Wis. 14:14, and Ignatius, 'Ad Magnes,' 11, κενοδοξία appears to mean the following of vain, idle notions with which we may compare the words ὀρθόδοξος ἑτερόδοξος. But here κενόδοξοι is considered by most critics to mean "affecting, desirous of, empty glory;" so the Authorized Version, "desirous of vain glory," where "vain glory" are two words, not one. Such empty glory would mean glory founded on distinctive qualities, which either are merely imaginary, not existing at all, or which, if there, give no real title to honour. Perhaps, however, the δόξα of this compound is always "notion," "opinion," only varying so far in meaning as sometimes to denote opinions respecting ourselves; as Suidas says, "κενοδοξία, a vain thinking respecting one's self;" at other times, notions about ether matters. The best interpretation of the word as here used is suggested by the apostle's own words in the next chapter (verse 3), "if a man thinketh himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself." As again in Philippians 2:3," Doing nothing through faction or through vain glory;" the sense of the second noun is illustrated by the converse, "But in lowliness of mind each counting other better than himself," suggesting its meaning to be the disposition to claim a superiority over others which we are not entitled to. "Wise in our own conceits" (Romans 12:16) is one form of this vicious quality; but there are others, all, however, fundamentally and intensely inimical to a spirit of loving sympathy with other men. Provoking one another, envying one another (ἀλλήλους προκαλούμενοι ἀλλήλοις φθονοῦντες); challenging one another, envying one another. Here again are two Greek words found nowhere else in the New Testament—προκαλοῦμαι and φθονῶ. The rendering of the first in the Authorized Version, "provoking," is perhaps not meant in the sense in which this English verb is now commonly used, and in which it also frequently occurs in our English Bible, of "making angry," but in the proper sense of the Latin verb prorocantes, "challenging,' ' e.g., to legal controversy, or to battle, or to mutual comparative estimation in any way. Any superiority, real or imaginary, in gifts spiritual (as charisms) or natural, in eloquence, in theological acquirements, in qualification for office, in public estimation, even in moral consistency (for what follows in Galatians 6:1 seems to point in this last direction), might be among the Galatians either an occasion for self-vaunting or a subject of envy on the part of those who felt themselves cast in the shade. What it was in actual facts which gave the apostle Occasion for administering this implied reproof, it is impossible to conjecture Therein an evident correlation between the "challenging: on the part of those who felt themselves strong, and the "envying" on the part of those who found themselves weak; both faults being, however, traceable to one and the same root—the excessive wish to be thought much of.
The importance of standing by Christian liberty.
"Stand firm, therefore, in the liberty for which Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage." The apostle hopefully assumes that the Galatians had not yet surrendered their liberty.
I. JUDIASM WAS A YOKE OF BONDAGE. It might well be described in such terms by the Apostle Peter at an earlier period (Acts 15:10). The bondage consisted in the number, complexity, and variety of its rites and ceremonies, associated with days, and weeks, and months, and years; in the burdensome repetition of sacrifices; in the expensiveness of the old ritual; in the time and labour consumed in purifications and washings; and in the place which every trivial or important transaction of life, such as marriage, burial, ploughing, sowing, reaping, held in the religious economy of a theocratic people. The Gentiles in Galatia had had experience of the degrading yoke of heathen bondage. Were they to be "entangled again" with a yoke, even that of Judaism?
II. THE LIBERTY WON BY CHRIST. The liberty here referred to is exemption from the rites and requirements of the ceremonial Law, including circumcision itself. But that liberty implies a great enlargement in Christian blessing.
1. It sets the believer free from the terrors of the old economy. "We have received, not the spirit of bondage again to fear, but the spirit of adoption." Christ has freed us from many fears that must have marred the peace of Old Testament saints.
2. He destroys the physical drudgery of religion. His yoke is easy as his burden is light.
3. His liberty lifts us out of the state of spiritual childhood in which the Jews dwelt, that we may have a larger comprehension of the mysteries of the kingdom (Hebrews 6:2).
III. THE IMPORTANCE OF STANDING BY OUR NEWLY ACQUIRED LIBERTY.
1. It would be an insult to Christ, who bought it, if his followers were to surrender it.
2. A man may bear an unjust burden, but not a burden upon conscience.
3. It is our interest to stand in the full liberty of the gospel. "As free, yet not using our liberty as a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God" (1 Peter 2:16).
4. Our firmness will encourage others to a resolute assertion of Christian liberty against all sorts of ritualistic priesthoods.
A solemn and emphatic warning.
The apostle assumes a severer and a more authoritative tone—"I Paul"—and shows that there is something worse than folly in turning aside to the Law, for it is to take an absolutely destructive course. It is absolutely impossible to reconcile circumcision with Christ. "If ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing."
I THIS DOES NOT WARRANT THE CONDEMNATION OF CIRCUMCISION IN ITSELF. For it was a Divine appointment, not only a national rite to distinguish Jews from Gentiles, but "a seal of the righteousness of faith" (Romans 4:11). Nor does it condemn circumcision as a past act on the part of a Jew born under the ancient economy, nor as a mere prudential act as giving a more ready access to the Jews, for the apostle himself circumcised Timothy (Acts 16:3).
II. HE CONDEMNS CIRCUMCISION REGARDED AS A RITE NECESSARY TO SALVATION.
1. This position involves the rejection of Christ, as if he had not wrought out a complete salvation. Those who support it imply that they have entered upon another mode of justification.
2. As circumcision was one of the types or shadows that was to pass away with the death of Christ, its continuance seemed a constructive denial that he had come at all.
3. Circumcision was utterly meaningless to Gentiles, who were not of Abraham's race. If, therefore, they were circumcised, it meant that they found the rite necessary to their salvation.
4. The declaration of the apostle, "Christ shall profit you nothing," emphatically applies to the rites and ceremonies of the Romish Church, which are not even of Divine appointment like circumcision. Trapp says, "Pharisaical and popish justiciaries are entangled in the fond conceits of their own righteousness." But Christ will profit none but those who, "not having their own righteousness," desire to be found in Christ, having the righteousness of God by faith.
The obligations involved in circumcision.
The Judaizing teachers did not, perhaps, allow their converts to realize the full extent of the obligation involved in circumcision.
I. THE APOSTLE REITERATES THE EXTENT OF THIS OBLIGATION IN THE CASE OF THE CIRCUMCISED. They are "debtors to do the whole Law." Circumcision was not a mere badge of Judaism, as baptism is of Christianity, but it involved a profession of obedience to the whole Jewish Law. It was not competent to select a few precepts for obedience; for the circumcised was a debtor to do "the whole Law." The false teachers did not observe it themselves (Galatians 6:13), yet it was their duty, on their own principles, to observe it unremittingly, completely, and without external help, in every department of it.
II. THE DANGER OF THIS OBLIGATION. Circumcision could only profit on one supposition. "It verily profiteth if thou keep the Law" (Romans 2:25). But, in case of failure, it had no power to save from the curse. Circumcision in that case becomes uncircumcision—that is, it will not save you from being treated as a transgressor or treated as if you had never been circumcised.
The logical results of the Judaistic position.
Christ profits only those united to him, and a soul departed from him is undone for ever. This would be the exact risk of such Galatians as, following Judaistic guidance, sought to be "justified by the Law." Consider—
I. THEIR DOCTRINE INVOLVED SEPARATION FROM CHRIST. "Christ is become of no effect unto you;" rather, "you are done away from Christ." Representing circumcision as the bond of connection with the Law, the apostle declares circumcision to be a de jure separation from Christ, in whom all legal engagements were fully met. Justification by grace and justification by Law are mutually exclusive. If we can be saved in any other way than by Christ, we do not need him, and the adoption of that other way is a renunciation of him. To be "without Christ" is the most miserable as well as the most fatal position in life.
II. THEIR DOCTRINE INVOLVED A DEPARTURE FROM THE SYSTEM OF SALVATION BY GRACE. "Ye are fallen from grace." The clause has no bearing upon the doctrine of the perseverance of saints, for the grace here spoken of is not personal religion, but the system of salvation by grace. Law and grace are opposites; that is, the dispensation of Law and the dispensation of grace. The justified person in the one case works out salvation by his own obedience; in the other he simply receives it. The apostle declares the mode of justification by personal obedience as involving the rejection of the mode of justification by Christ.
The blessed prospects involved in the true doctrine of grace.
"For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith." This passage is not to be understood as saying merely that believers have no other hope of justification but by faith in Christ, or that believers wait for the hope of being justified by faith. The righteousness was, in fact, already theirs, and therefore not an object of hope at all. The apostle means that we are enabled by faith, in the power of the Spirit, to wait for the hope that is lodged in the heart of the righteousness that "is of God by faith in Christ Jesus."
I. THE CENTRAL POINT IS THE RIGHTEOUSNESS TO WHICH FAITH AND HOPE ALIKE CLING. They have, in fact, no fulcrum, or point of support, apart from this righteousness, which is itself independent of all our graces, and therefore in no way affected by our varying frames or feelings. The Judaistic heart would cling to a righteousness by works, because it seemed to think it could understand a bargain between God and man, but it saw no absolute security in mere grace. Yet "it is of faith, that it might be of grace; to the end the promise may be sure" (Romans 4:16).
II. CONSIDER THE HOPE THAT IS WRAPPED UP IN THIS RIGHTEOUSNESS. We "wait for the hope of righteousness;" that is, not the hope of being righteous or attaining righteousness, but the hope that belongs to the righteousness already described. In possession of this righteousness, what may you not hope for? All the blessings of the new and better covenant which Christ sealed with his precious blood; all things necessary to our present well-being and our future blessedness.
III. FAITH ENABLES US TO WAIT FOR THIS HOPE. It is itself" the substance of things hoped for." The hope leans upon the faith, Hope is the eldest-born daughter of faith (Romans 5:1-45). Apart from faith there can be no hope. The necessity of faith is evident. The believer finds that when he becomes righteous by faith he becomes a stranger and a pilgrim on earth, his path through the wilderness one of tears and toils and conflict, and he is disappointed to find that difficulties with the world arise from the moment his difficulties with God are ended. It is a great perplexity. He forgets, however, that he has to walk by faith, not by sight. Faith is not fruition. It is not heaven. It is, after all, "but the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
IV. CONSIDER HOW THE SPIRIT ENABLES US TO WAIT FOR THE HOPE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS BY FAITH.
1. He strengthens faith. As it was the Spirit who first imparted faith, in the act of regeneration, so it is the Spirit who sustains it in exercise through all the stages of Christian destiny.
2. He gives a glorious view of the hopes wrapped up in the righteousness.
3. He acts upon our power of waiting as being the Spirit of prayer (Romans 8:26).
The essential principle of Bible Christianity.
After condemning circumcision he qualifies his statement to the extent of making it neither better nor worse than uncircumcision. But then he reduces them both to the one level of religious ineptness. Consider—
I. THE POWER OF CHRISTIANITY CONSISTS NOT IN DISTINCTIONS LIKE THOSE WHICH SEPARATE JEW AND GENTILE. "In Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision." A man is not saved because he is circumcised, nor lost because he is not. Circumcision does not introduce a man into union with Christ, and the mere absence of it does not lead to a deeper fellowship with the Saviour. It is, therefore, a mistake to have the form of godliness without the power.
II. THE TRUE POWER OF CHRISTIANITY LIES IN FAITH WORKING BY LOVE.
1. Faith is fundamental in Christian life, at least on man's side, as regeneration is fundamental on God's side. This fact is not inconsistent with the fact that Christ himself is the only Foundation, for he is the Foundation absolutely, whether we believe in him or not; but faith is the foundation which we lay when we are enabled through the Divine Spirit to place ourselves on the true Foundation laid in Zion.
2. It is not a mere historical faith, nor a speculative belief in doctrines, which may be allied with a cold and unloving heart; for" it worketh by love." It is not, therefore, a "dead faith."
3. It is justifying faith, for it is the instrument of our justification; and it is perfect in itself so far as it apprehends the righteousness of Christ. The Romish idea, that it is "faith made perfect by love," is founded on a mistranslation, for the verb is not the passive, but the middle, as always in the New Testament, and is opposed to the doctrine of the apostle, which is that faith is not a work and has no merit, and by its very relation to justification protests against the merit of all human works.
4. It is at the same time an operative faith; for "it worketh by love." It is, indeed, a mighty power. "It overcomes the world." Love is the channel in which faith flows forth to bless the world.
(1) It is evident that love does not work of itself; it works in the strength of faith. No man loves a Saviour whom he cannot trust. All who are united to Christ by faith become partakers of his Spirit, one of whose fruits is love (Galatians 5:22); and this love is the principle of all obedience (Romans 13:10).
(2) Love is faith's metal, for into the mould of love does faith pour love itself.
(3) Love flourishes exactly as faith flourishes. If, through distress, you begin to doubt the Lord's goodness and wisdom, there is a fear that the heart will become cold toward him. The faith and the love will increase or diminish together.
(4) Though faith worketh by love, the love reacts upon faith and adds to its power. Love leads to admiration, for it sees Christ's love, faithfulness, and power; and faith says at once, "I can trust him more than ever." But love likewise forbids unbelief. Was there ever true love in man or woman that it did not forbid distrust? The want of mutual confidence in the marriage relation is the death of love.
(5) Faith and love are the great allied principles of Christian life. A Puritan divine says, "Faith and love are the two arms and the two eyes without which Christ can neither be seen nor embraced." Another says, "Faith and love are the two conduits lain from the Christian soul to the Fountain of living waters, fetching in from thence a daily supply of such grace as will certainly end in a fulness of glory."
(6) The pregnant statement of the apostle condemns alike all hypocrites and legalists, as well as all who are careless or slothful in the Lord's service.
The sudden swerve of the Galatians from the truth.
They had been making a hopeful progress in the truth, when they suddenly started aside through the influence of the Judaists, to the deep sorrow and unfeigned astonishment of the apostle. Mark—
I. THE CHRISTIAN LIFE IS A GOOD RACE. "Ye did run well." An old divine says, "To run in religion is well, to run well is better, and to accomplish the race is the best of all." It is well in its beginning; so it was emphatically in Galatia: it is well in its progress, and the apostle gives us a fine example of running in his own case—"he pressed to the mark, for the prize" (Philippians 3:14)' and it is well in its end (Hebrews 12:1). There are three things here to be considered.
1. The course. "To obey the truth." This the Galatians were ceasing to do under alien influence. The truth of the gospel already hinted at (Galatians 2:5, Galatians 2:14), as opposed to every perversion or modification, was the clearly marked course for the believer's race; and it was truth, not merely apprehended with the intellect or admired by the imagination, but obeyed from the heart, realizing, in fact, "the obedience of faith."
2. The condition. "Looking to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2), for guidance, strength, acceptance, comfort, and eternal life (Jude 1:20, Jude 1:21). To use a phrase of old Berridge, "Galatian anvils might be used to hammer the doctrines of grace as thin as possible," so as eventually to check the progress of the gospel altogether; for salvation is entirely of grace, and that grace through Jesus Christ.
II. HINDRANCES IN THE CHRISTIAN RACE. "Who did hinder you?" The fact is instructive that such hindrances arise; but they ought to teach us the lesson of our entire dependence on Christ for strength and protection (John 15:4), and the necessity of constant watchfulness (Mark 13:37). The apostle's mode of asking the question, "Who did hinder you?"
1. Implies astonishment at the sudden perversion of the Galatians.
2. It asserts that it did not spring from any Divine call: "It cometh not from him that calleth you" (Romans 9:11, Rom 9:24; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 Corinthians 7:15); it is, indeed, inconsistent with all the purposes included in the effectual call of God.
3. The question has a conciliatory aspect; for he does not, at least primarily, charge the perversion upon themselves, but upon their Judaistic seducers.
4. Its answer pointed to these seducers, concerning whom we may infer that:
(1) They were few. He does not ask the question to ascertain the name of the individual who had led them astray; but it is significant that twice over he speaks of him as an individual person, "Who (τίς) did hinder you?" "He that humbleth you." It is true that the seducers are also spoken of in the plural number: "I would they were even cut off which trouble you." The two forms of phraseology imply that they were few, but that there may have been some one man of commanding influence among them.
(2) Their influence was not grounded in argument, but in "persuasion;' for they dexterously flattered the pride of the Galatians and worked upon their devotional feelings. Religious seducers have a wonderful art of "beguiling" unwary souls "with enticing words" (Colossians 2:4). Christians ought, therefore, to beware of credulousness in spiritual things.
(3) Their influence, as well as their doctrine, was essentially evil, though at present it might be but "a little leaven." "Leaven" is here used in a bad sense for the principle of corruption. "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees." But the apostle here refers to persons, not to doctrines, for he could never speak of the Judaistic heresy as "a little leaven" since it superseded Christ.
(4) Their influence threatened to grow. Leaven was infectious. "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump." The Judaists, by their arts and their flatteries, might yet debase the entire Christianity of Galatia,
III. THE NECESSITY FOR INQUIRING INTO THE CAUSES OF RELIGIOUS BACKSLIDING.
1. The question of the apostle implies this necessity.
2. There is danger in neglecting the inquiry. The "little leaven" would thus have time to work unhindered.
3. Our inquiry ought to bear practical fruit. If we have been hindered from running well, let us seek the cause, and apply for restoring grace by prayer, repentance, and faith Hosea 14:1, 13, Hosea 14:8). If we have been restored from falls or preserved from hindrances, let us caution others of their danger (Hebrews 4:1) and concern ourselves about their welfare (Luke 22:32) and restore the fallen in a spirit of meekness (Galatians 6:1). Thus it will be manifest that to run well must be conducive to our present comfort, to our abiding usefulness, and to our future happiness.
The apostle's sanguine hopes of Galatian recovery.
The swerve toward ritualism was in its mere incipiency. Therefore he assumes a hopeful tone in dealing with the Galatians as a Church. "He fears the worst, but hopes the best."
I. THE GROUND OF HIS HOPEFUL CONFIDENCE. "In the Lord." It is good to be of a hopeful temperament, and good to have good men to think well of our state, as their judgment will be according to truth and charity, The ground of the apostle's confidence was not
(1) that there would be any change in the temper or arts of the seducers; for "they always wax worse and worse" (2 Timothy 3:13);
(2) nor in the force of his own argumentative expostulations, nor in a mere return of that affection for him which was once so ardent and so self-sacrificing; but
(3) "in the Lord" himself, who had power to recover them out of their error. "Paul may plant, and Apollos water; but it is God who giveth the increase' (1 Corinthians 3:7), It is he, and he only, who can make the Galatians "like-minded" with the apostle, by blessing his reproofs, his arguments, his tender urgencies of appeal.
II. THE UNSETTLING TENDENCY OF FALSE TEACHERS, The Greek word is very expressive—"he who excites tumults among you," or who "disturbs you." Perhaps the apostle had in view a particular teacher who was specially dangerous. Such teachers
(1) shake old principles from their firm foundations;
(2) shake the hearts of men by unsettling doubts and distracting conflicts;
(3) and shake the stability of Churches, often scattering the flock as sheep without a shepherd.
III. THERE IS A JUDGMENT FOR RELIGIOUS SEDUCERS. He "shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be."
1. It will be a just judgment. It will be according to his works. His end will be, as the apostle implies, a sure condemnation.
2. The judgment will not be averted by the high opinion seducers entertain of themselves, nor by their high position in the Church, nor by the high esteem in which they may be held by man.
A false imputation repelled.
Perhaps one of the false teachers might say that the apostle was himself one of the subverters of the gospel, for he had circumcised Timothy. "And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased."
I. IT IS RIGHT FOR GOOD MEN TO REPEL FALSE ACCUSATIONS AGAINST THEIR CHARACTER. There are ultra-spiritual people in our day who decline to notice attacks upon themselves, because, as they say, the Lord will preserve their character; and yet they are often found to do unlovely and uncharitable things condemned both by the Church and the world. The apostle could well say, at one time, that for him it was but a small matter that he should be judged by man's judgment; but he as pointedly says, "Let not your good be evil spoken of;" "Let your moderation be known to all men;" and he counsels Timothy that deacons "must have a good report from them that are without." He himself always resolutely defended his moral consistency.
II. CONSIDER THE SOUNDNESS AND RELEVANCY OF HIS ANSWER.
1. He makes no allusion to the case of Timothy, because that could not justify the Judaistic doctrine of circumcision. It was not because he deemed the rite necessary for Timothy's salvation, but to meet the scruples of weak Christian Jews, that he became for the time "as a Jew to the Jews."
2. He asks, "If I preach circumcision still, why do you persecute me?" If I preached circumcision, I should not be persecuted. I should be exactly where you are.
3. But that position would imply that "the offence of the cross had ceased." The cross was a stumbling-block to the Jews, because their Saviour was presented to them in circumstances of humiliation, as a crucified Man. But it was doubly so when it appeared as the very means of atonement, so that a Jew, by simply believing in Christ, might, without legal observances, be saved. The cross is still an offence to more than Jews or Greeks, for it humbles the pride of man, it dethrones all priesthoods, and makes the sinner directly dependent for salvation upon the Lord himself. It humbles man's pride; yet, "whosoever believeth in him shall not be ashamed." The gospel is throughout the religion of a crucified Saviour and of a ruined sinner; not a mere system of morals, nor a mere revelation of truth, but a scheme of remedial mercy. We cannot alter it or shape it in accordance with the false philosophizings of the world. "Blessed is the man whosoever shall not be offended in me."
A fierce stroke of apostolic irony.
The apostle had been so profoundly stirred by the false accusations of the Judaizers and their fanatical zeal for circumcision, which was, after all, a mere "glorying in the flesh," that he throws out a wish that those who were trying to unhinge Galatian Christianity would themselves exemplify this "glorying" to the extent that was so familiar among the worshippers of Cybele at Pessinus, one of the towns of Galatia. His readers would have no difficulty in understanding the allusion. If circumcision was good, the priests of Cybele had something better to offer. It was a piece of contemptuous sarcasm, which exhibits the passionate feeling of the apostle caused by their unceasing efforts to undermine the gospel for the sake of a mere mark in the flesh,
The meaning of Christian liberty.
The false teachers deserve this severity of treatment, for they would deprive you of your liberty.
I. THE CHRISTIAN CALLING IS TO LIBERTY. He had already counselled them to stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ had made them free (Galatians 5:1)—a liberty which lifted them out of legal bondage, and, above all, destroyed the yoke of ancient ceremonialism; and now these Judaizers were attempting to strike at the root of their calling.
II. THE DEEP AND UNCHANGEABLE DISTINCTION BETWEEN LIBERTY AND LICENTIOUSNESS. "Only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh." This counsel was specially needed for a Celtic people emerging out of the old immoral paganism, It shows:
1. That duty is not destroyed by liberty. Their escape from legal bondage did not involve the annihilation of all moral restraints or the abrogation of the moral Law. In fact, the gospel brings believers under a weightier obligation to duty than the Law possibly can do, for it brings upon the believer the mighty constraint of Divine love (2 Corinthians 5:14). They were no longer justified by the Law, but the Law was still a rule of life. The Antinomians of Germany and England held that believers were under Law in no sense; that they were under no obligations to obedience; and therefore were ready enough to use their liberty under the gospel "for an occasion to the flesh." It is still very necessary to emphasize the obligations of Christian people under the gospel, for gross immoralities have been committed by men with an extravagant view of gospel liberty. Christ came to call sinners to repentance, not to licentiousness; to take his yoke upon them, and yield their members instruments of righteousness unto holiness.
2. Christian people ought to use their liberty wisely. There is a margin left for human discretion in the application of gospel principles. Perhaps a too free use of our Christian liberty has often become an occasion of sin. Therefore a Christian divine suggests that in matters of duty we ought to do too much rather than too little, but in matters of indifference we should rather take too little of our liberty than too much.
III. THE ONLY BONDAGE ALLOWABLE IN CHRISTIANITY IS MUTUAL LOVE. "But by love serve one another." There is an antithetic force in the original, which is not so obvious in the translation: If you must have bondage, let it be the bondage of mutual love. Love is to be the means by which the mutual bondage is to be manifested.
1. This bondage is not degrading. Though they were servants of each other, they were not masters of each other. "All ye are brethren." Christ himself is our example in this service: "1 am among you as one that serveth." This one tact lifts this duty to an incomparable height of dignity and impressiveness.
2. It is this which will keep your liberty from degenerating into licentiousness. Their love for one another, grounded in their love for God, would set them upon all opportune ways of benefiting each other. Thus love is the one debt always to be discharged and always due. "Owe no man anything, but to love one another" (Romans 13:8). The counsel of the apostle seems to suggest the existence in Galatia of factious quarrels and unchristian isolations.
The spirit of the Law.
Mutual service was only possible through mutual love, and this love was expressly commanded in the Law, which says," Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."
I. WHAT IS THE LAW WHICH FINDS ITS FULFILMENT IN LOVE? It is not the law of Christ, nor the law of liberty, nor the law of the Spirit of life, but the very Law of which the apostle has been speaking all through the Epistle. His readers could not have understood him if he had used the term "Law" in a different sense. It follows, therefore, that the Law must still be in force, because its essential commandment, love, remains for perpetual fulfilment. Love was always, even in Old Testament times, the fulfilment of the Law. The sum of the Decalogue is love (Matthew 22:40). The apostle says, "He that loveth another hath fulfilled the Law" (Romans 13:8, Romans 13:9); but this does not imply, as Antinomians say, that if we have love we have nothing to do with the Law. Believers are exhorted, in the passage quoted, to love one another on the ground of its being a requirement of the Law. It is absurd, then, for the Antinomians to talk of love as being higher than Law, for love is just the fulfilling of the Law, and nothing more. A perfect love would keep the whole Law. It is, therefore, absurd for Roman Catholics to affirm that love justifies as well as faith, because love fulfils the Law. Sin hinders the perfection of our obedience, and therefore love cannot perfectly fulfil the Law.
II. HOW LOVING OUR NEIGHBOUR FULFILS THE Law. It is the want of love that leads men to commit murder, adultery, theft, false witness. If we rightly loved our neighbour, these sins would be impossible. But we cannot rightly love our neighbour till we have loved God. "He that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?" "This is the love of God, that (ἴνα) we may keep his commandments." There is a necessary connection between love to God and love to our neighbour (1 Corinthians 8:1-46).
III. THERE IS NOTHING HIGHER IN THE SPHERE OF DUTY THAN THIS LOVE, The Positivists assume that they have discovered in "altruism" a principle higher than either Law or gospel ever taught. Whereas we are commanded in Scripture to love our neighbour as ourselves, the Positivists say that we ought to love him better than ourselves. We are to deny ourselves for the sake of others. This is Christ's idea; but, if there be no future life, it would be the mark of a fool, and not of a hero, to deny myself for anybody. The idea of altruism, however, fails to realize itself in the lives of Positivists. Besides, if one's own happiness ought not to be a good to himself, there is no reason why he should secure happiness for another. In a few years it will make no difference to me what I have been, whether I have practised altruism or not. The world has not yet discovered a principle for regulating human relationship that can supersede Christianity.
The evil effects of heresy.
"But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another."
I. HERESY GENDERS BITTER DISPUTES. The presence of the Judaists would naturally cause constant strife, whether they succeeded or whether they failed, for the Galatians would take sides, and be thus launched into endless debate. The strifes, of which Church history is so full, are not due to the truth, but to the efforts of errorists to debase it or to destroy it. Believers are bound to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints.
II. THE INJURIOUS EFFECT OF DISSENSIONS UPON THE CHURCH.
1. They put an end to Christian peace. Spiritual life is impoverished and all but killed.
2. They injure the credit, character, and usefulness of Christian people. "Hatred, envy, reviling, are as the teeth of snakes and lions" (Starke). If Christians appear to bite and devour one another, the world will receive an impression of extreme cruelty in the character of the followers of the gentle Jesus.
III. THEY TEND TO SCATTER AND DESTROY THE CHURCH. "Ye will be consumed one of another." The contest will not end in a victory to either party, but will end in the common extinction of both. The idea is taken from wild beasts which tear their victims to pieces till nothing is left. "Dissolution is the daughter of dissension" (Naziauzen). The Gentiles, seeing Christians quarrelling, would be repelled from Christianity, converts would go back to their old heathenism or their old Judaism, and the Christian community might be entirely broken up.
The life and warfare of the Spirit in the soul.
This important passage suggests a comprehensive view of the Spirit's work in the believer's life.
I. THE WORK Or THE SPIRIT IN THE BELIEVER.
1. "Walk in the Spirit." Nothing could be more descriptive of the natural effect of the spiritual change produced in regeneration. The new-born child soon discovers symptoms of activity. The language of the passage reminds us:
(1) Of our dependence on the Spirit. It is not enough that we begin the Divine life; we must maintain it through all its stages and experiences. The exercises of a believer are only effectual by the Spirit,
(2) It implies consistency. Our life must be in harmony with the mind of the Spirit. His will must be our constant guide. "Therefore grieve not the Holy Spirit." "The fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth." Only thus can we walk in the Spirit.
(3) It implies progress. If we walk, we make progress in our journey. "Enoch walked with God."
2. Led by the Spirit. This implies an entire surrender of ourselves to the authority and guidance of the Spirit. The traveller in a strange land must follow his guide. So the believer is led by the Spirit with the Word, which is the chart of his journey through life. The term implies, not an isolated act of the Spirit, but a continuous help provided through all parts of a believer's life.
II. THE REASONS BY WHICH WE ARE HERE URGED TO MAINTAIN OUR DEPENDENCE UPON THE SPIRIT.
1. There wilt be no fulfilling the lusts of the flesh. This is self-evident. The Spirit's guidance will keep us apart from all sinful indulgences, from all earthliness, from all the sins and purposes of the merely natural man. The Spirit and the flesh exclude one another. We shall not trust in our own strength, and so we shall be kept; we shall consult his will supremely, and he will deliver us from the perversities and delusions of our own will.
2. The warfare between the flesh and the Spirit demands extreme care on our part to be always in the Spirit's complete disposal.
(1) The conflict in question is inevitable. Indwelling sin is the calamity of all the people of God. Two powers are at work within one and the same person. If there were no such strife, with the irreconcilable antagonism involved in it, there could be no grace. "The flesh lusteth against the Spirit." It uses the senses to mar the Spirit's power. It presents to the eyes what will inflame evil passions; it appeals through the ear to appetite; it finds the tongue often too ready to serve its purposes. "The Spirit lusteth against the flesh." He is there entrenched within the soul and will not be dislodged. He uses the senses—the eye, the ear, the tongue, the hand, the foot—for the purposes of edification. He conveys thoughts, suggests impressions, and imparts motives, which restrain, guide, and influence the soul.
(2) The effects of the conflict. "So that ye cannot do the things that ye would." This implies that the believer would be free from temptation, but he cannot; he would uninterruptedly serve God, but he cannot; he would be perfect as God is perfect, but he cannot. It is a comfort, after all, to think that on account of the Spirit's operation a believer cannot get doing all the evil he would.
(3) This conflict is not without its spiritual advantages. It humbles the believer, by giving him a better knowledge of his sin; it makes him mere watchful; it endears the Saviour to him; it commends the riches of Divine grace; it calls into exercise all the graces of the Spirit and all the faculties of his nature. It makes him long all the more for the rest of heaven.
3. The Spirit's guidance exempts us from the Law. "If ye be led by the Spirit, ye are not under the Law." The Galatians were for putting themselves again in subjection to Law and forgetting the free rule of the Spirit. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." It was necessary to remind them that they were now "dead to that in which they were held" (Romans 7:4). It was no longer to them "a Law of sin and death." "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus ' made them free from it. How, then, does the Spirit's guidance set them apart from the Law?
(1) The Spirit discovers the hopelessness of acceptance with God through Law.
(2) He enables the believer to acquiesce in the blessed discovery that "Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to every one that believeth."
(3) He enables the believer to regard the Law in a new light. It is now a rule of life. The believer does not tremble before it, because Christ fulfilled it. He delights in it after the inward man. It is to him a Law of liberty, now that he is not really under it as a way of justification.
Classification of the works of the flesh.
The picture here exhibited by the apostle is a frightful abyss into which he asks us to look down. We have sin in its many varieties pictured in many parts of Scripture (Romans 1:18-45; 2 Corinthians 13:2), but here we have a most complete account of the works of the flesh.
I. THE WORKS OF THE FLESH. The flesh and the body are not synonymous. The apostle usually speaks of the body in terms of respect—unlike ascetics, who regard it as an enemy, load it with abusive epithets, and try to weaken it with fasts and vigils and penances. He always depreciates and condemns the flesh as a constantly evil tendency in our actual nature. There are sins in this catalogue of an intellectual nature, which cannot be properly ascribed to the body, though they are true works of the flesh. The flesh represents, then, the whole system of corrupt nature, as it breaks forth into seventeen different forms of transgression. They fall naturally under four heads.
1. Sins of sensual passion. "Fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness:" the first hardly reckoned a sin in pagan countries; the second including unnatural sins, which had a fearful import in the East; the third, the impure propensity indulged without check of reason or shame. All three are grouped together elsewhere (2 Corinthians 12:21).
2. Sins of superstition. "Idolatry, sorcery:" the first referring to the worship of false gods and of images, which was familiar to the Galatians in connection with idol-feasts; the second to the occult dealings with the world of spirits, so common in Asia Minor.
3. Sins of social disorder. "Hatred, strife, envy, outbursts of anger, cavillings, divisions, factions, envyings, murders." It has been remarked that there is a climax in this catalogue of nine evils, for what begins in hatred ends in murder, after it has passed through a whole succession of disturbing and distracting experiences. They are all violations of brotherly love, representing the selfish, unyielding, bitter spirit, which too often enters into reactionary agitations both in Church and state.
4. Individual excesses. Drunkenness, revellings: having exclusive relation to ourselves, not to others. The two terms refer to scenes of gay and wanton dissipation.
II. THE WORKS OF THE FLESH HAVE AN OVERT CHARACTER. They are "manifest." The flesh, as the sinful principle, breaks out into open acts of transgression, which are manifest alike to God and man, manifest by the light of nature and by the Law of God. We see the history of the flesh in the whole record of man's moral degradation and his resulting misery. These seventeen sins may not all be equally manifest, for some are gross and others more refined; they may not all be equally heinous in the sight either of God or of man; and many of them, hateful in God's sight, carry no brand of social reprobation with man. Yet they are all manifest, open, tangible proofs of a life at enmity with God.
III. THE APOSTOLIC WARNING. "They who practise such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."
1. The kingdom of God, founded by Christ, is a holy kingdom, and consists of those who have entered it by regeneration, who are led by the Spirit, who are heirs of the promise, who are "made meet for the inheritance of the saints in light."
2. Transgressors prove their want of meetness for it; they find no enjoyment in it; it has no attraction for them; for these works of the flesh are altogether inconsistent with the character of the kingdom of God.
IV. THE NECESSITY THAT EXISTS FOR REPEATED WARNINGS AGAINST SIN. "I tell you before, as I have already told you in time past." We need "line upon line, precept upon precept," to deepen the impression of the hatefulness of sin. It is well to convince sinners of their individual sins, that they may be shut up to fly to the Refuge.
"The fruit of the Spirit."
Here we have the picture of a lovely garden, with all the choicest growths of the Spirit.
I. THE NINE GRACES OF THE SPIRIT.
(1) The apostle speaks of the nine as constituting the knit of the Spirit, as if to imply that it takes all the nine, and no mere selection of graces out of them, to form the one fruit of the Holy Spirit. Christian character must be fully and harmoniously developed.
(2) Mark the difference between the works of the flesh and the knit of the Spirit. Sin is our work; the graces are the Spirit's growth in us.
(3) The nine graces throw themselves naturally into three groups, each group consisting of three—the first group, "love, joy, peace," touching our relations to God; the second group, "long-suffering, gentleness, goodness," touching our relations to our fellow-men; the third group, "faith, meekness, temperance," touching the regulation and conduct of our own individual Christian life.
1. First group. "Love, joy, peace." They all spring out of the filial relation into which we are brought by faith in Christ. Love is the tie that binds our hearts to God as our Father; joy is the glad emotion that springs up after our reconciliation with God; peace is the summer calm that settles down upon the soul that has entered into its rest. Love has been called the foundation of the fabric; joy, the superstructure; peace, the crown of the work. Love has a primary place, for it is "shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost." Joy is dependent upon love, and may well be called "joy of the Holy Ghost." It is enshrined in the very heart of love. It rises and falls, with love itself, like the thin thread of mercury in the thermometer, by the action of the surrounding atmosphere. Peace is linked with joy "in believing." Peace and joy are the two ingredients of the kingdom of God (Romans 14:17). It is "the peace to which we are called in one body" (Colossians 3:15), which will keep our hearts and minds in the midst of all worldly agitations.
2. Second group. "Long-suffering, gentleness, goodness." The first group blends naturally into the second, for there is a near relation between peace and long-suffering. The graces of this group begin with the passive and end with the active, for long-suffering is the patient endurance of injuries inflicted by others; goodness is an active principle, not a mere kindly disposition; while gentleness or kindness is something between the two—a principle, however, which tends largely to promote the usefulness and the comfort of life, lessening the friction that enters more or less into all our intercourse with our fellow-men.
3. Third group. "Faith, meekness, temperance." These three graces refer to the regulation of Christian life. It is curious to find faith seventh, and not first, in this list of graces. Faith is the root-principle of all graces. It goes before love itself, for it "worketh by love," and it precedes joy and peace, which both spring from our believing (Romans 15:13). It has, therefore, been suggested that faith is here taken for fidelity. There is no reason, however, for any departure from its usual meaning. Faith is here regarded, not as the means of salvation or as the instrument of our justification, but as the principle of Christian life, which controls and guides it. Thus faith supplies the strength of self-control that is implied in temperance, and is the secret spring of that meekness which is an ornament of great price. Temperance comes last in the list of graces, because self-control is the end of all Christian life. Like the governor in machinery, it adds nothing to the power at work, but it equalizes the power so as to produce a uniform type of work.
II. MARK THE SPECIAL PRIVILEGE THAT ATTACHES TO THESE NINE GRACES. "Against such there is no Law." There is Law against the seventeen works of the flesh—to condemn them; but there is no Law to condemn the nine graces of the Spirit. There is Law to restrain the sinner—it exists for the purposes of this restraint—but in the graces of the Spirit there is nothing to restrain. They all chime in with the requirements of the Law, because they radiate from that love which is the very fulfilling of the Law. Thus those who are led by the Spirit are not under Law.
The distinguishing feature of Christianity.
It is manifest in the very nature of the case that a Christian has crucified the flesh by virtue of his union with Christ. Mark here—
I. THE MOST CHARACTERISTIC DESIGNATION OF TRUE BELIEVERS. "They that are Christ' s." The expression implies
(1) that they are Christ's by purchase,
(2) by deliverance,
(3) by possession,
(4) by dominion.
They are not his merely by external profession. It is natural, therefore, that they should manifest the fruit of the Spirit.
II. THE MOST CHARACTERISTIC PART OF CHRISTIAN LIFE. "They crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts." This points to a past act, to their conversion, in which, by virtue of their union with Christ, they were baptized into his death (Romans 6:4). The believer is "crucified with Christ" (Galatians 2:19), but here the flesh, with its seventeen categories of evil, is crucified likewise: "Our old man has been crucified with him" (Romans 6:6). Thus the flesh is robbed of its supremacy. Thus unison with Christ secures alike our salvation from the guilt and the power of sin. "When Christ came in the flesh, we crucified him; when he comes into our hearts, he crucifies us." The flesh, with its passions and lusts, represents vice on its passive and active sides.
The consistency of the Christian life.
If the flesh has thus been crucified, we live by the efficacy of the Spirit. "Crucified:… nevertheless I live" (Galatians 2:20).
I. OUR CHRISTIAN LIFE IS BY THE SPIRIT. "If we live by the Spirit." This life consists in the knowledge of God, in his love, in his favour, in his image.
2. It is maintained by the Spirit. "We live by the Spirit." "He abideth with us."
II. OUR CHRISTIAN WALK IS BY THE SPIRIT. "Let us also walk by the Spirit." There must be a principle of life before it can become manifest in the outward conversation. There must be a correspondence between the outward walk and the inner standard. The walk here referred to points to something very orderly and deliberate, like the walk of soldiers marching in rank. This walk includes
(1) the guidance of the Spirit (Romans 8:14);
(2) the support of the Spirit (Ephesians 3:16);
(4) the growth of the character in all the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).
No departure allowed from the spiritual standard.
If the Spirit is our Guide and Upholder, there ought to be no room for the indulgence of a proud or contentious or envious disposition.
I. VAIN-GLORY. "Let us not become vain-glorious." A mild and suggestive warning against an evil only in its incipiency. It is vain because it rests on no basis of reality; because, like a bubble, it bursts in a moment and is seen no more; because it leads to strife and envy.
II. "PROVOKING ONE ANOTHER." This applies to the habit of challenging others to combat, as if Galatian Christianity had not been already sufficiently spoiled by controversies.
III." ENVYING ONE ANOTHER." The challenges of the strong might excite the envy of the weak. How beautifully the gospel calls the saints to peace, not to doubtful disputations!
HOMILIES BY R.M. EDGAR
Falling from grace.
Paul in the present section exposes the legal and ceremonial spirit as a tall from the moral magnificence of grace. It has been well said that "it is harder to abolish forms than to change opinions. Ceremonies stand long after the thought which they express has fled, as a dead king may sit on his throne stiff and stark in his golden mantle, and no one come near enough to see that the light is gone out of his eyes and the will departed from the hand that still clutches the sceptre." Circumcision was such a form, and against its improper use Paul has all through this Epistle to protest. The thought of the present section is elevating and sublime. Let us follow the outline.
I. PAUL HERE IMPLIES THE MORAL MAGNIFICENCE OF SALVATION BY GRACE, (Galatians 5:4, Galatians 5:5.) For when we consider how this plan of salvation turns our minds away from self to God in Christ, giving all the glory to the Saviour and taking all the blame to self, we see that it is morally magnificent. Self-confidence is destroyed, and confidence in Christ becomes all in all. The whole sphere of activity is illumined by devotedness to him who has lived and died for our redemption. Gratitude thus is the foundation of morality, and all idea of merit is put out of sight. The more the gospel is studied as a moral system, the more marvellous and magnificent will it appear. This will further exhibit itself if we consider what the working principle of the gospel is. It is, as Paul here shows, "faith working through love" (Galatians 5:6, Revised Version). And faith is the mightiest factor in the world's progress. Suppose that faith were supplanted by suspicion, and men, instead of trusting one another, lived lives of mutual suspicion, the world's progress would come speedily to an end. The gospel, then, takes this mighty principle of faith and, turning it towards Christ, it secures love as its practical outcome. Love to God and consequent love to men becomes the law of our lives. All that is lovely is thus evoked, and the system proves its moral magnificence and practical power.
II. IT IS THE CHARACTERISTIC OF LEGALISM TO DEPRECIATE THE CROSS. (Galatians 5:11.) In a scheme of free grace the cross of Jesus Christ is central and all-important. How could selfish hearts be emancipated from their selfishness, had not the Holy Spirit the cross of Christ to move them? The cross is the self-sacrifice of incarnate love, and the grandest appeal of all history for self-sacrifice in return. It is, moreover, a fact and not a ceremony; a fact which bears no repetition, and which stands in its moral grandeur alone. But legalism conies in to depreciate if possible its moral value, The insinuation is thrown out that circumcision is essential to the efficacy of the cross. The cross is made out to be a mere adjunct to the Jewish ceremonial. Its offence ceases. It is no such instrument of self-sacrifice as it was intended to be. The brave apostle who preaches "Christ crucified" as the only hope of salvation is persecuted for doing so, and the whole legal band arrays itself against him. It is thus that the legal spirit depreciates and dishonours the Crucified One.
III. ALL THIS IMPLIES IN THE LEGAL SPIRIT A FALL FROM GRACE. (Galatians 5:4.) This is the key of the present passage. The soul, which so depreciates the cross as to go away and to try to save itself by ceremonies, has fallen from a moral grandeur into deepest selfishness. Christ profits in nothing the soul who is bent on saving himself. The righteousness of Christ, which is unto all and upon all them that believe, cannot consist with the self-seeking and self-confidence which self-righteousness implies. We must choose our saviour and adhere to him. If our saviour is to be ceremony, which is only another way of saying that our saviour is ourselves, then we may as well renounce all hope of salvation by Christ. We sever ourselves from Christ when we seek to be justified by the Law (Revised Version). We have descended in the scale of motive; we have taken up the selfish plan; we have "fallen away from grace."
IV. PAUL ANTICIPATES THAT HIS EXPOSURE OF LEGALISM WILL CURE THE GALATIANS OF IT. (Galatians 5:10.) He believes that legalism will be destroyed and rooted up by laying bare its real meaning. The leaven will not be allowed to spread. It is most important in the same way to be meditating constantly upon the magnificence of the gospel system as a moral system. Thus shall we prize it more and more, and never think of surrendering it for any rival and selfish system.—R.M.E.
The liberty of love.
Having shown the magnificence of the gospel system, Paul now proceeds to define that freedom which it secures. It is not licence, but love, which it induces; and love not only fulfils the Law, as legalism does not, but also prevents the bitter strife which legalism ensures. We have the following points suggested:—
I. THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN LICENCE AND LIBERTY. (Galatians 5:13.) The grace which has freed us from the legal spirit has not endowed us with a liberty to live licentiously. The liberty it gives is totally distinct from licence. Licence is liberty to please ourselves, to humour the flesh, to regard liberty as an end and not a means. But God in his gospel gives no such liberty. His liberty is a means and not an end; it is liberty to live as he pleases, liberty to love him and love men, liberty to serve one another by love. We must guard ourselves, then, from the confusion of mistaking licence for liberty.
II. LOVE IS THE REAL LIBERTY. (Galatians 5:13.) As a matter of experience we never feel free until we have learned to love. When our hearts are going out to God in Christ, when we have at his cross learned the lesson of philanthropy, when we have felt our obligation to God above and to man below, then we are free as air and rejoice in freedom. Then we refuse licence as only freedom's counterfeit, for we have learned a more excellent way. We cannot imagine a loveless spirit to be free. He may achieve an outlawry, but he is not, cannot be, free.
III. LOVE IS THE REAL FULFILMENT OF THE LAW. (Galatians 5:14.) The legalists in their little system of self-righteousness spent their strength upon the mint, the anise, and the cummin; while the weightier matters of the Law—righteousness, judgment, and faith—were neglected. Ceremonies and not morality became their concern. The tithing of pot-herbs would entitle them to Paradise. In contrast to all this, Paul shows that Christian love, which is another name for liberty, fulfils the demands of Law. The meaning of the commandments published from Sinai was love. Their essence is love to God and love to our neighbour, as well as to our "better self." Hence the gospel throws no slight on Law, but really secures its observance, The whole system turns on love as the duty and the privilege of existence. While the Law is, therefore, rejected as a way of life, it is accepted as a rule. Saved through the merits and grace of Christ, we betake ourselves to Law-keeping con amore. We recognize in God the supreme object of grateful love; we recognize in our neighbour the object of our love for God's sake and for his own sake; and we honour the Law of God as "holy and just and good." The whole difference between the legal spirit and the gospel spirit is that in the one case Law is kept in hope of establishing a claim; in the other it is kept in token of our gratitude. The motive in the one case, being selfish, destroys the high standard of Law. It fancies it can be kept with considerable completeness, whereas it is kept by the best with constant and manifold shortcoming. The motive in the other case, being disinterested, secures such attachment to the Law, because it has been translated into love, that it is kept with increasing ardour and success. Slaves will never honour Law so much as freemen.
IV. LOVE IS THE TRUE ANTIDOTE TO STRIFE AND DIVISION. (Galatians 5:15.) The ritualistic or legal spirit into which the Galatians had temporally fallen manifested itself in strife and bickerings. This is, in fact, its natural outcome. For if men arc straining every nerve to save themselves by punctilious observance of ceremonies, they will come of necessity into collision. It is an emulation of a selfish character. It cannot be conducted with mutual consideration. As a matter of fact, organizations pervaded by the legal spirit are but the battle-ground of conflicting parties. But love comes to set all right again. Its genial breath makes summer in society and takes wintry isolation and self-seeking all away. Mutual consideration secures harmony and social progress. Instead of religious people becoming then the butt of the world's scorn by reason of their strife and divisions, they become the world's wonder by reason of their unity and peace. It is, love, therefore, we are bound to cultivate. Then shall concord and all its myriad blessings come into the Church of God and the world be subdued before it.—R.M.E.
Christian progress realized through antagonism.
We must not suppose, however, that the love which God gives us as our liberty can work out its will without experiencing opposition. Opposition we know it will meet in the world of selfish men; but Paul here points out the antagonism it meets within our own personalities. The flesh antagonizes the Spirit. Love does not get its own sweet way as often as we would. Self becomes a battle-ground, and God contends with the flesh for the supremacy of the soul. So violent is the contention that the flesh is actually "crucified with its affections and lusts." We are introduced, therefore, to the law of Christian progress which, because of our sinful nature, has to be through antagonizing the sinful tendencies in the interest of love. Observe—
I. SIN LEADS MAN TO FALL OUT WITH HIMSELF. (Galatians 5:17.) As Ullmann has beautifully said, "Man forms a unity, which is, however, only the foundation of that higher unity which is to be brought about in him, as a being made in the Divine image, by means of communion with God. Now, sin does not merely obstruct this unity, but sets up in its place that which is its direct opposite. He who has fallen away from God by sin, does, as a necessary consequence, fall out both with himself and with all mankind. True unity in man is possible only when that which is Godlike in him—that is, the mind—acquiesces in the Divine order of life, and governs the whole being in conformity therewith. But when he has once severed himself from the true centre of his being, that is, from God, then also does that element of his being, his mind, which is akin to God, and which was intended to be the connecting and all-deciding centre of his personal life, lose its central and dominant position; he ceases to be lord of himself and of his own nature; the various powers which make up his complex nature begin to carry on, each for itself, an independent existence; the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit wages a fruitless war with the flesh (Galatians 5:17); sinful desire becomes dominant, and while the man seems to be in the enjoyment of all imaginable liberty, he has lost the only true liberty and has become a slave to himself; for ' whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin' (John 8:34; Romans 6:16-45). He is the dependent of self; and being thus the slave of self, he is also the slave of pleasure, and of all those objects which it requires for its satisfaction." Man becomes thus a distracted manifold, instead of a God-centred unity.
II. THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST ANTAGONIZES THE DISTRACTING TENDENCIES AND REDUCES MAN TO A UNITY AGAIN. The way in which we are united in heart and being is by having Jesus Christ pressed resistlessly upon our attention. Faith realizes in Christ not only a perfect personal Ideal, but also a Saviour on whom man may evermore depend. "The Christ of Christendom is not simply a Master to be loved and revered; he is a Saviour to be leaned upon. His followers are to have that profound sense of their own weakness and sinfulness which renders them sensitive to the purifying and reforming influences that radiate from the personality of Jesus. Without this, their love for the ideal would lead to no practical results; it would be merely an aesthetic sentiment, expending itself in a vague and fruitless admiration. But combine the two and you have the most effective reforming influence that the world has ever known." Christ is not only the unifying element in Church life, but in the individual life as well. He fuses all the distracted faculties into a glorious unity, and makes man his own master instead of his own slave. Hence, to quote the writer last referred to, "Christianity alone among all religions maintains a constant antagonism to the special tendency which controls the nature of its followers."
III. BUT POSITIVE FRUIT IS PRODUCED BY THE ANTAGONIZING SPIRIT AS A GLORIOUS SET-OFF TO THE WORKS OF THE FLESH WHICH HE DESTROYS. (Galatians 5:19-48.) Religion is not to be regarded as a negative thing, contenting itself with antagonisms, but has positive and most important fruits. It is not a system of severe repressions, but a system full of stimulus towards a better and fuller life. It does not merely forbid "fornication, uncleanness," etc., under the penalty of exclusion from the kingdom of God, but it produces "love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control. What a catalogue of virtues! What a contrast to the works of the flesh! Thus is man restored to something like his true and better self. The gospel of Christ is not a weary round of prohibitions, but is a glorious system of positive attainment, in a Divine life, which is loving, joyful, peaceful, and humane to its deepest depths.
IV. AGAINST SUCH SPIRITUALLY MINDED ONES THERE CAN BE NO LAW OF CONDEMNATION. (Galatians 5:18-48.) Law, when translated into love, becomes light. God's commandments are not grievous to the loving soul. In the keeping of them there is a great reward. Hence the Law presses heavily and hardly upon no loving spirit. "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (Romans 8:1). It is to such a blissful experience we arc asked to come.—R.M.E.
HOMILIES BY R. FINLAYSON
I. PAUL SOLEMNLY PUTS BEFORE THE GALATIANS THE TRUE STATE OF THE CASE. "Behold, I Paul say unto you, that, if ye receive circumcision, Christ will profit you nothing." Commencing with an arresting word, he introduces his own name with all the solemnity of oath-taking, witness-bearing. "Behold, I Paul say unto you." What the weight of his testimony is directed against, is their submitting to circumcision. This was what the Judaizing teachers were aiming at, and, seeing that they were making false representations, he declares to the Galatians, as if their destinies were at stake, the real state of the case. For them, Gentiles, and at the instigation of the Judaizers, to submit to circumcision would be excluding themselves from all advantage by Christ. It was either circumcision or Christ with them. There was no middle ground for them to take up. There was no submitting to circumcision and clinging to Christ at the same time. If they submitted to circumcision, they must make up their minds to forego all that they had hoped for from Christ.
1. How he makes it out that circumcision excluded them from Christ.
(1) Circumcision implies an obligation to do the whole Law. "Yea, I testify again to every man that receiveth circumcision, that he is a debtor to do the whole Law." Again does he clear his conscience by emitting his solemn testimony. This testimony was more particularly directed to every man among them that, under the influence of the Judaizers, had any thought of submitting to circumcision. The apostle, as it were, takes him aside, and earnestly and affectionately warns him. Let him consider what he is doing. He is bringing himself under obligation to do the whole Law, and that personally, with this risk attached, that, if he fails to do the whole Law, he comes under its curse.
(2) Doing the whole Law excludes from Christ and grace. "Ye are severed flora Christ, ye who would be justified by the Law; ye are fallen away from grace." The apostle takes the doing of the whole Law to be equivalent to the working out of the whole of their justification. That was necessarily to the entire exclusion of Christ. There was nothing left for him to do. His work was made of none effect. They were severed from Christ and all the benefit of his work. They were thus fallen away from grace. Formerly they stood upon the merits of Christ, they had their Surety to answer for them; now they had themselves, immediately and fully, to answer to God for their Law-keeping.
2. The case of Christians stated.
(1) The expectancy of faith. "For we through the Spirit by faith wait for the hope of righteousness." The thought in its simplicity is that we hope for righteousness. This can only be the righteousness on the ground of which we are justified. There is a difficulty in this being presented as future, when it can be immediately and fully enjoyed. Some attempt to get over the difficulty by supposing the meaning to be the hope that belongs to righteousness, i.e. the hope of eternal life. But that is attaching a not very obvious meaning to the language. If we think of justifying righteousness as future, the reference can only be to the vindication of its sufficiency on the day of judgment, and further to the establishing of our personal interest in it on that day. The latter reference especially seems borne oat by the associated language. We are represented as in the attitude of expectancy. We wait for the hope, i.e. now the realization of the hope of righteousness. This expectancy being based, so far as God is concerned, in the work of the Spirit on our hearts, and so far as we are concerned, in the exercise of faith, is based in reality. But being based at the same time in that which is not completed, it partakes of imperfection. We are not so sure as those Judaists were who rested on the fact of their being circumcised. We are not so absolutely sure as we shall be when judgment has been pronounced in our favour. We are confident that the righteousness of Christ will be shown to be all-sufficient as the ground of justification. And we hope, more or less confidently, according to the operation of the Spirit in our hearts and the working of faith, that it will be shown that we are possessors of that righteousness.
(2) The energy of faith. "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith working through love." The apostle here does not take so high ground with regard to circumcision. He had forbidden the Galatians to submit to circumcision, on the ground that it would exclude them from Christ. Here he puts circumcision on a level with uncircumcision, as availing nothing within the Christian sphere. Neither is what avails baptism, which has taken the place of circumcision. The outward form is a matter of indifference, unless as it is connected with the inward reality. What must ever be demanded is, as the representation is here-faith, and not a dead faith, but, according to the conception of Paul as well as according to the conception of James, a faith that is operative. And the energy of faith goes out in love. There is, as we are taught here, a blessed harmony between these two graces. If we believe that not only God is, but that he is inexhaustible Goodness, we must be drawn out in love towards him. And if we believe that the Son of God condescended to become man and devoted himself for us, we must be impelled out beyond ourselves towards the good of others.
II. CERTAIN BEARINGS OF THE CASE ON THE GALATIANS.
1. They were hindered in a good career. "Ye were running well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?"
(1) Points in a good career.
(a) That it be directed to a right end. This is brought out in connection with their obeying the truth. Their career in heathenism was vitiated by their being involved in error. The true idea of life had not been revealed to them. But when they obeyed the truth they took Christ to be their end and undertook to shape their career according to the rules of Christ. And that is necessary to the commencement of a good career.
(b) That it be commenced early. If the Galatians did not commence in early life, yet they commenced as sore as an opportunity in providence was presented to them, and so far they can be cited as an example of commencing early. It would have been a great advantage to them to have been taught and moulded as Christians in youth. There would not have been their heathen education to unlearn and undo. The laws of association and habit would have been working all along in their favour. And there would have been more time in which to advance to excellence and usefulness.
(c) That it be pursued with enthusiasm. In the Galatians the warm Celtic temperament was warmed under the influences of the cross. It was this especially that called forth the admiration of the apostle. They did run well; among his converts none had displayed greater enthusiasm in the Christian race.
(d) That it be pursued with steadiness. It was with regard to this that there was danger to the Galatians. Would they continue in their ardent attachment to the gospel? Would time cool their ardour, or would it be transferred to some other doctrine? Especially would they continue steadfast in the face of hindrances that made trial of them? It was that which was now being tested.
(2) Hindrances. There are rocks and weeds which are put as hindrances in the way of the farmer cultivating the soil. There are difficulties to be overcome in connection with every worldly calling. We need not wonder, therefore, at there being difficulties in connection with the Christian calling. It is only by conquering difficulty after difficulty that we gain the heights of excellence. The greatest difficulties are those which arise from ourselves, from our own weak and treacherous hearts. But we are referred more here to hindrances which arise from others. "Ye were running well; who did hinder you?" In the word which is used there is an allusion to breaking up roads, by destroying bridges, raising barriers. There is suggested, by opposition, a representation of what our duty is to our fellow-men. We arc to act as pioneers, clearing the way before others by levelling high places, filling up hollows, throwing bridges across rivers. We are to act towards them so that they shall have not only no temptation to fall, but every help to well-doing. And when there are those who throw obstacles across our path we are not to feel annoyed, as though we had only to deal with them. But we are to feel that God is making trial of us through them. And therefore we are not to succumb, but to persevere in the face of obstacles. Thus out cf the eater shall come forth meat; out of our hindrances shall come forth the manly virtues.
2. It was not God who was seeking to persuade them to be circumcised. "This persuasion came not of him that calleth you." Persuasion may mean either the state of being persuaded or the act of persuading. The latter seems more in keeping with the context. The course to which the Judaizers would have persuaded the Galatians would have been, in its consequences, disobedience to the truth. They would not attempt, we may suppose, to get them to set aside the cross. Their policy was rather to get them to add circumcision to the cross. This persuasion came not of him that called them. It was not in accordance, either with the idea that was in the Divine mind in calling them, or with the idea that was in their own minds in choosing the calling, which was in both cases making Christ everything in the road to everlasting happiness. It did not come from above, from the God who saved them and called them to everlasting glory, but it came from beneath—from the enemy of mankind.
3. He was afraid of the spread of error among them. "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump." On the one hand, the Judaists, in order to gain their point, would be inclined to minimize its importance. On the other hand, the Galatians might think the Judaistic teaching had made very little way among them. The apostle puts them on their guard by telling them that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. This saying also occurs in i Corinthians Galatians 5:6. The reference there is to a case of gross immorality in the Corinthian Church. By tolerating such immorality, there would be danger of the whole Corinthian Church being lowered in its moral tone and practice. So by the introduction of a little Judaistic leaven, such as the toleration of the circumcision of a single Gentile convert, there would be danger of the Christian communities of Galatia becoming Judaistic, i.e. communities upon which the blessing of God would not rest, from which the Spirit of God would depart. And so a little leaven of carelessness in the household, in companionship, leavens the whole lump.
4. He had confidence in them that they would remain unchanged. "I have confidence to you-ward in the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded." He had confidence that they would not change from a Christian to a Judaistic way of thinking. His confidence was not founded on reports received regarding them. For these, as we have seen, threw him into a state of perplexity. But he had confidence to them-ward in the Lord. He had confidence in the use of appointed means. He had confidence in the rower of prayer. He had prayed to God on their behalf, that they might be none otherwise minded. He had confidence in bringing proper representations before their minds, as he had endeavoured to do. He had confidence especially in the great Head of the Church making use of the means in the interests of the Galatian Churches and of the whole Church.
5. The troubler would bear his judgment. "But he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be." One is separated here, not as ringleader, but for the sake of individualization. He is represented as a troubler. He acts over the part of Satan who, seeing the happiness of Eden, envied our first parents its possession. So he, spying the peace and prosperity of the Galatian communities, cannot let them alone; he must introduce his Judaistic leaven. But this troubler, whosoever he be (thus searched out and held up before them), shall bear his judgment. God, indeed, makes use of him in making trial of them. And they shall be judged for the manner in which they have dealt with his representations—testing them or not testing them. But let him know that he shall have the sentence, and the burdensome sentence, of a troubler passed and carried out upon him.
6. It was evident that he was no preacher of circumcision. "But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? then hath the stumbling-block of the cross been done away." We are not under any danger of attaching a materialistic meaning to the cross. Whilst the wood to which were nailed Christ's hands and feet has now long ago mouldered away, and has no existence unless in the imagination of the superstitious, the spiritual associations of it remain. It is the greatest tact that was ever accomplished on earth or ever brought to the knowledge of earth's inhabitants, and which will not decay in time or in eternity—that the adorable Son of God, coming down to our human condition, once became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. It is this which is set forth in Scripture as the Divine and only instrument of salvation. It was this which Paul made the great burden of his preaching. Whatever remedies or methods were proposed or advocated by others, "We," says he, who was himself a wonderful trophy of the cross—"we preach Christ crucified." But it was said in Galatia for a purpose that he preached circumcision, i.e. in addition to the cross. He could easily have given an explanation of the circumstance on which this charge was founded, viz. his having circumcised Timothy; but taking the representation as it was—that he was actually a preacher of circumcision—he puts a question and draws a conclusion.
(1) He puts a question. The very pertinent question he puts is—Why was he persecuted? Was it not the fact that it was the Judaizers who led to his being a prisoner for the gospel in Rome? Did that not show that they knew very well that there was a real and deep antagonism between their preaching and his?
(2) He draws a conclusion. If this course, falsely attributed to him, were followed, to add circumcision to the cross to please the Judaists, and some ether point to please some other party; if all parties were thus to be suited, then it strikes the apostle that this result would follow, the offence of the cross would cease, and that seems to him a meat undesirable result, entirely to be deprecated. If the cross gives such satisfaction all round, and does not offend, as well, he thinks, stamp it a failure and proclaim abroad its utter inefficiency as a means of conversion. Wherein lies the offence, the scandalizing property, of the cross? It does not lie in its offending any true feeling or principle of our nature. In Christianity there is nothing that is wantonly harsh or rude. Its language is, "Giving none offence." "Woe unto him by whom the offence cometh!" But the offence of the cross lies in its running counter to the inclinations of the unrenewed heart. It can be seen, then, how it could not be true, but must be a proved lie, if it did not offend; it would be giving in to the natural heart, which it is the purpose of God not to flatter, but to subdue.
(a) The cross is an offence because it does not merely please the imagination. Men are fond of ritualism in religion. Now, the cross is singularly simple and unadorned. In this respect it stands markedly in contrast with what preceded it. This is not pleasing to many. They would put ornaments upon the cross to take away its offensive simplicity. But that is a wrong tendency. The most beautiful rites and gorgeous shows, instead of drawing to the cross, as the meaning sometimes is, are more likely to usurp its place. The worshipper, instead of having his heart reached, is likely to have only his imagination pleased. Let the cross be left to its own simple power, though the imagination should be offended. It can do without ornaments on it in our day as well as it did in Paul's day.
(b) The cross is an offence because it is humbling to pride of reason. It was to the Greeks foolishness, and so it is apt to be to intellectual people still—to the Greeks of the present day, to literary men, to the reading portion of the community. That is at least what all such have to surmount. The cross seems foolishness to them. They would like a difficult problem on which to exercise their intellects. Now, in one sense, the cross is above reason, inasmuch as reason could never have found it out. But in another sense it is below human reason; it is a revelation, a doctrine all found out for man, and a doctrine which is level to the meanest understanding. The result of the philosophic craving was, at a very early period of the Church, the rise of Gnosticism. It was very much a blending of the Greek philosophy with Christianity. It was the religion of mind, those embracing it professing to have a deeper insight into Christian facts than the common people, who took them in their obvious sense. And since the disappearance of Gnosticism, there has been, again and again, and is at present in some quarters, an effort to consider the literary and reading class so as to give the cross a philosophic cast, with the view of attracting them. Now, there are some ways of speaking to intellectual people better than others, and nothing is to be hoped for from irrational or dry discourse, yet, if the cross is turned into a philosophy, it may attract some, but it is not likely to benefit them. Let the cross be presented as level to the lowest intellect; let it be presented as a simple, divinely revealed fact, speaking to the heart more than to the intellect; let there be no fear to offend pride of intellect, which must be humbled before the soul can be saved.
(c) The cross is an offence because it is humbling to self-righteousness. It is a strange infatuation of the natural heart that, with no righteousness to lay claim to, it is yet so natural to it to flatter itself with having a righteousness. The cross, going upon the supposition that we have no righteousness of our own, and that all the praise of our salvation is due to God, is an offence. In the Roman Catholic system there is a place given to works alongside of the merits of Christ, which is very pleasing to the feeling of self-righteousness. We are all apt to construct a theory of salvation in which there is a place left for self. Now, the cross must never be presented to please self-righteous people; that would be a fatal compromise. Let the cross be proclaimed as the impossibility of our own righteousness, as the grace of God in a righteousness freely provided for us. That is a doctrine which must offend, but it is the only doctrine that can satisfy the conscience.
(d) The cross is an offence because of its large demands. It demands that we forsake cherished sins. And that cuts into natural liking, that is painful like a crucifying, and therefore an offence. But the cross must be presented as giving no quarter to sin, as the most tremendous proof that sin is not to be permitted, as showing how sin is utterly abhorred and condemned of God. And to be acknowledging the cross, while tolerating sin in ourselves, is crucifying the Son of God afresh and putting him to an open shame. It demands self-sacrifice. The cross-life is characteristically a life of self-sacrifice. Christ was sacrificing all along, and when he came to the cross he sacrificed his all—sacrificed his life in the most awful circumstances. And those who would take up the cross must be prepared to follow Christ in his course of self-denial. And there, again, is where the offence of the cross arises. Its requirements are too high. But as the cross of Christ can never be blotted out, so its requirements can never be lowered. It is the standard up to which our life must be brought if we are to attain to our perfection. There is one blessed way in which the offence of the cross ceases, and that is, when we have been humbled by it as sinners, and have been led to own its power. Then we admire it for the light it throws on the Divine perfections, and for the power there is in it over human hearts. And we say, "Far be it from me to glory, save in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ."
7. He wishes the Galatians deliverance from the unsettling teachers. "I would that they which unsettle you would even cut themselves off." In the case of the offender against morality in the Corinthian Church, the apostle issued a decree that he should be cut off by the Church. That could not be done in this case, because these teachers were not under the jurisdiction of the Galatian Churches. They came to teach them as they were free to do; and all that the Galatians could do was to refuse them a hearing. That this was the apostle's mind may be gathered from the wish he expresses that they would cut themselves off. As they could not be cut off by the Church, let them cut themselves off. As they were only unsettling the Galatian order, let them leave Galatian soil. But he does no more than wish. It was certainly by itself desirable; but it might be the purpose of God that these unsettling teachers should be left there to make trial of the Galatians, and, it might be, thereby to purify and to strengthen them.—R.F.
Freedom sustained by the Spirit.
I. USE OF CHRISTIAN FREEDOM. "For ye, brethren, were called for freedom." Paul, having wished the Judaizing teachers off Galatian soil, justifies the strength of his wish. They would have led the Galatians into bondage, but God had called them for freedom. He makes a distinction between the possession of freedom and the use of freedom. He had been under the necessity of making prominent their possession of freedom in contending against the Judaists; he would, however, remind them, as brethren, that there was responsibility connected with t heir use of freedom. It is thus that he slides into the more practical part of the Epistle.
1. Dangers of freedom. "Only use not your freedom for an occasion to the flesh." By the flesh, which here becomes a leading word with the apostle, we are not to understand our corporeal nature. Nor are we to understand by it depraved tendency in connection with our corporeal nature. But we are to understand by it depraved tendency as a whole, extending to our higher nature as well as to our lower nature. It is true that in this depraved tendency our lower nature has the preponderance. And that is the reason why the whole goes by the name of flesh. But the constant element in depravity is not sense, but it is self as opposed to God and to the good of others. The admonition of the apostle, then, is, not that we abstain from all bodily gratification, as though sin were seated in the body, nor simply that we abstain from all fleshly sin, but that we abstain from all selfish gratification. The Galatians had been called for freedom, i.e. for ultimate and complete freedom; they were not, with their first experiences of freed-m, or with their strong realization of it as against Judaistic error, to imagine that they were free to indulge the flesh. That is what, as free, we must be on our guard against, if we would not fall back into bondage, if we would come to the goal of our freedom in Christ. Let us not turn our liberty into licentiousness.
2. The binding of freedom.
(1) Love binds the free. "But through love be servants one to another." As it is self in the flesh that leads to abuse el freedom, so it is love that determines the right use of freedom. Love is going out beyond self. It is that which binds us in service to another. The Galatians were free from Jewish bonds only to put on the bonds of Christian love. So it is true that we are free from the bonds of guilt only to bind ourselves in service one to another. Thus to balance our freedom—there is the bondage of love.
(2) The whole Law is fulfilled in love to our neighbour. "For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." The one word here is the summary of the second table of the Law. The quotation is from Leveticus 19:18. It appears, from "neighbour" there following upon "children of thy people," that the neighbour of the Jew was his fellow-Jew. Christ has taught us to regard as our neighbour every one who is in need, temporal or spiritual. When we are commanded to love our neighbour as ourselves, it is implied that it is a right thing to love ourselves. There is a true self-love. We are to love ourselves intensely. It does not appear that we can be too much in earnest about our own well-being. We are to love ourselves rationally. We are not to seek only a section of our interest, but we are to seek our true interest as a whole. In these respects our love to our neighbour is to resemble our love to ourselves. We are to love our neighbour in the same intense manner. His good is as much to God as is our own good. And in all ways in which we can advance his good we are to be as much in earnest about it as though we were advancing our own. We are to love our neighbour in the same rational manner. We may love intensely and yet be guided by reason. We are not to seek only part of our neighbour's good. To give as much time and attention to our neighbour's business as to our own would not ordinarily be for his good, nor would it be fair to one in comparison with another. Circumstances may arise in which duty may point to sacrifice for another, even to the extent of life. Let us, then, love our neighbour as we love ourselves, both intensely and rationally. The teaching of the apostle is that he who has observed the second table of the Law (as summarized) has fulfilled the whole Law. Surprise has been expressed why there should be no reference to the first table of the Law. But the reason is obvious. He who has only gone the length of the first table has not fulfilled the whole Law. Our love to God must be carried to completion, in our loving our neighbour as ourselves. According to the thought of the Apostle John, we only properly love our Father-God, whom we do not see, when we love our brother-man whom we see.
(3) There is disaster at the opposite pole from love. "But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another." The language is taken from wild beasts. The fact of the Galatians being thus warned may be explained partly by their excitable Celtic temperament. They are warned of what they might expect the consequences to be. None would come off victors, but they would be consumed one of another. In such biting and devouring there is a large consumption of time. There is distraction from useful work. There is sometimes the consumption of means in litigation. There may be the consumption of life in brawls. There is always the consumption of good feeling, and, along with that, there is the consumption of the richer elements of the spiritual life.
II. THE FLESH AND THE SPIRIT.
1. The Christian rule is walking by the Spirit. "But I say, Walk by the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh." The apostle calls attention to a point to which he advances in the subject he has in hand. This is laying down the Christian rule as between the flesh and the Spirit. In the flesh, or our depraved nature, there is lust or desire for sinful gratification in some form or another. How are we to be delivered from this, so that it shall not be fulfilled? The way is positively to follow the leading of the Spirit. The idea is not that we are to follow the tendencies of our renewed nature. That is missing the personal aspect of the leading. The Spirit, indeed, renews the nature, and excites within it holy desires which seek for gratification. But the Spirit gives personal guiding, especially in and by the reason and conscience in connection with the Word. And as a Guide he is all-sufficient. He is an internal Guide. He throws all the light that we need upon the character of desires and actions, upon the path of duty. And he affords timeous guidance. For whenever we are disposed to turn from the straight path to the right hand or to the left, it is then that we hear his voice behind us, saying," This is the way, walk ye in it."
2. The Christian rule is founded on a contrariety between the flesh and the Spirit. "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary the one to the other; that ye may not do the things that ye would." The lust excited within the flesh is against the desire excited by the Spirit; the desire excited by the Spirit is against the lust excited within the flesh. This conflict of desires is necessary. For the flesh and the Spirit are contraries. They represent depraved self and God. They are as far apart as light and darkness. What is true of the one, then, cannot be true of the other. What the one moves toward in desire, the other necessarily moves against. Of this conflict of desires we are conscious in our own experience. When the Spirit impels to good, the flesh opposes; when the flesh impels to evil, the Spirit opposes. Thus in two ways we cannot do the things that we would. And we have in this conflict of desires, as free beings, to determine whether the Spirit or the flesh shall have the dominion of our hearts.
3. The Christian rule excludes regulation by the Law. "But if ye are led by the Spirit, ye are not under the Law." The Spirit is an nil-sufficient Guide. His regulation renders unnecessary all other regulation. He regulates within, and that is better than outward regulation. He regulates in connection with all circumstances that arise, and that is better than having the rule to apply for ourselves. He is a timeous monitor, warning when the danger arises, and that is better than being dependent on memory.
4. There is contrast in the manifestations of the flesh and the Spirit.
(1) The works of the flesh. We are to understand manifestations of depravity, and concrete manifestations as distinguished from abstract qualities. Even when the abstract word is used, it is in the plural, with the effect of giving it a concrete character; not the feeling of wrath, but separate exhibitions of wrath; not the feeling of jealousy, but acts or workings of jealousy.
(a) What they are. "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these." Before enumerating them the apostle describes them as manifest, i.e. easily distinguishable or glaring. It may be pointed to as a proof of depravity that vocabularies have more words descriptive of forms of sin than words descriptive of forms of holiness. Under the fruit of the Spirit he gives a list of nine. But under the works of the flesh his list extends to fifteen, properly sixteen. And the word translated "which" implies that he did not profess to give an exhaustive list—it would have been easy for him to have added other instances. This comparison is confirmed by the relative number of words for sins and graces employed in Scripture.
(α) Sins of uncleanness. "Fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness." The second is the generic word; the first describes a special form; the third describes a special aggravation, namely, open disregard of propriety. There is a sad prevalence of these sins still; it can only be said that they have been made more to hide their head.
(β) Illicit intercourse with the unseen world. "Idolatry, sorcery." What is illicit in idolatry is the use of images to represent the unseen powers. What is illicit in sorcery (literally, "pharmacy" ) is the use of drugs, potions, and other things, with the idea that they can influence the unseen powers to produce love or hatred, prosperity or adversity. It can be said that this class of sins has almost disappeared with the diffusion of Christianity.
(γ) Breaches of charity. "Enmities." This is the generic word; including not only the graver, but all breaches of charity. "Strife, jealousies." In strife the variance may be slight; in acts of jealousy there is more deep-seated variance. "Wraths, factions." The former describes outbursts of anger. The latter describes deliberate and concerted compassings of selfish ends, especially by means of intrigue. "Caballings" some translate it, "cabal" being made up of the initials of an English ministry in the reign of Charles II., who were credited with sacrificing principle to place. "Divisions, heresies." The former may only be of a temporary nature. Heresies, by which we are to understand not heretical opinions, but rather their embodiments in heretical sects, are divisions of a decisive nature. There is conveyed the idea of complete separation from the Church of Christ. Hence what is said of the heretic that he is condemned of himself, i.e. in cutting himself off he has carried out the extreme sentence on himself. "Envyings, murders." The latter is omitted in the Revised translation, against the manuscripts, and against the form of classification followed by the apostle under this head. The former is want of love to our neighbour in his property; the latter is want of love in that which is most precious to him.
(δ) Sins of intemperance. "Drunkenness, revellings." The first is the generic word; the second brings in a special association, viz. joviality. The special point of view is to be noticed here. There are some who lay the blame of intemperance on the manufacture of drink, on facilities for its sale, on the customs of society. And it does bear a relation to these things. But the apostle goes to the root of the matter, in tracing it to the depravity of the human heart. Drunkenness and revellings are works of the flesh, manifestations of alienation from God. The advantage of this point of view is that it points to what can be the only effective remedy, viz. a change of heart through the operation of the Spirit. "And such like." He could have mentioned others. We may suppose that those are named which it was important for the Galatians to note. We can see that some of them would be connected with their temperament, which was neither melancholic nor phlegmatic, and also with their surroundings. We are not all inclined to sin in the same form or forms. That has a dependence on idiosyncrasies and surroundings. But we have all the same depraved heart for which to be humbled before God, and against which to pray.
(b) What they entail. "Of the which I forewarn you, even as I did forewarn you, that they which practise such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." He is very emphatic in his warning of the Galatians. He had forewarned them when with them. Again he forewarns them. He acted on the principles enunciated in Ezekiel: "Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore, hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. When I say to the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life: the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity, but thou hast delivered thy soul." What the apostle, in the spirit of these words, says, is that they which are in the habit of doing such things shall certainly be punished. Their very characters unfit them for the kingdom of God. Moreover, they are rebels against the government of God; and as such they must be dealt with. Their punishment is represented as exclusion from the inheritance which otherwise they would have gained.
(2) The fruit of the Spirit. We are to understand the result of the workings of the Spirit. Fruit is applied here not to concrete manifestations or works, but to abstract qualities from which works proceed. It is not said that the fruit of the Spirit is manifest. Qualities are not so conspicuous as works, and especially spiritual qualities. The apostle refers us to qualities in the spiritual, not because he regards works as unimportant, but because qualities must so much be taken into account in estimating their works, Fruit paints to organic unity. The works of the flesh are confused and conflicting. One lust contends with another for the mastery. But the fruit of the Spirit is like well-formed fruit. All is consistent. And one grace by its growth does not take from another grace, but contributes to the richness and beauty of the whole.
(a) What it is. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love." This stands at the head of the list as comprehending or carrying with it all the rest. This is a characteristic result of the Spirit's working. The apostle beseeches by the love of the Spirit. And we are told of the love of God, i.e. apparently the love which constitutes the very essence of God, being shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Ghost given unto us. Therefore we need not be surprised at the apostle connecting the Spirit, first, with the imbuing, dyeing deep of our nature with love. "Joy, peace." These two go together, not as good dispositions, but as feelings which always accompany good dispositions. With the former we associate movements, thrills; with the latter we associate repose. God is infinite Love, and therefore he is infinite Joy and Peace. And our being, through the Spirit, pulsating with his, now he sends a thrill of joy through us, and now he introduces his own calm. Oh what a joy in what God is! What a height of ecstasy does it admit of! And what a calm too in what God is! It takes away all the feverishness of sins and quiets us to the very depths of our being. And ever, as love animates us as it animates God, does the thrill pass through us, and the calm come into us, expelling doubt and fear and all restlessness of spirit. "Long-suffering, kindness, goodness." These three go together. The first is bearing with others for their good. It is that which marks the outgoing of the Divine love toward us as sinners. And therefore it is fitting that it should be reflected in us. Love (not only in God, but in all beings) , suffereth long," and, it is added, "is kind." The word translated "kindness" seems to point to delight in men as our fellow-beings. God delights in us as beings whom he has made. He feels kindly disposed toward us, as a father does toward his children. And so are we to delight in others for what they are, especially as having come from God, wearing a noble nature. And we are to feel kindly disposed toward them, wishing especially that, as they have a noble nature, they may not fail of having a noble character. The word translated "goodness" seems to point to a disposition to benefit others, extending to all forms in which they can be benefited. The highest form of goodness is when we are impelled to help others to live well. "Faithfulness, meekness, temperance." The first is having such a love for our neighbour that we would not injure him by breaking our promise to him. God is a Rock, while infinite tenderness, and there should be something of the rock in us, that dependence may be placed on us in the various relations of life. Meekness is required when wrong has been inflicted on us. It especially points to us having the command of our feelings under wrong. Temperance is self-command. It has come to have a special reference to our having the command of our appetites. When temperance is born of worldly prudence or of self-reliance it is not what it should be. It is only real and beautiful and everlasting when it is produced by the Spirit, when it is the outcome of a changed heart.
(b) What it does not entail. "Against such there is no Law." The apostle might have extended his list. He would have us think not of these only, but of all such, and think this regarding all such, that against them there is no Law. If these things are in us, then the Law can never be adverse to us. We shall be removed beyond the condemnation of all Law. That is his way of saying that we shall be blessed. We shall be blessed in the very possession of these dispositions and feelings. We shall be blessed in our enjoying the smile of God.
5. Christians are being delivered from the flesh. "And they that are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with the passions and the lusts thereof." At a past period, in idea, they crucified the flesh. That idea is now being carried out into fact. There is a deadening, a slow and painful crucifying going on in the flesh. Its passions are being depleted of their heat; its lusts are being depleted of their force. The conflict is still going on; but the Spirit is gaining triumphs over the flesh, and there is promise of the Spirit gaining a complete triumph, of the flesh with all its inclinations to sin being annihilated.
6. The Christian rule re-enforced. "If we live by the Spirit, by the Spirit let us also walk." If the life of the Galatians had depended on the Law, then their first and imperative duty would have been to have submitted to circumcision; and their duty after that would have been to have subjected themselves to the whole discipline of the Mosaic ordinances. But, as they were in the better position of depending entirely for their life on the Spirit, it was their duty to take the rule of their life simply from him.
7. The Christian rule is applied to vain-glory. "Let us not be vainglorious, provoking one another, envying one another." Vain-glory is glorying in what we do not have, or in what we have in a way that is not real or according to a false standard. The spirit of the practice is sufficiently brought out in the language hero. There is a provoking, literally a calling forth, to the field of contest. As the result of the trial, some are filled with a sense of their importance as superior in strength or in agility, in birth or in wealth, in culture or in honour. And others are filled with envy of those who are thus superior. ]Jut as we are not to glory in fancied possessions, so we are not to glory in possessions as though we had bestowed them on ourselves, or with an exaggerated idea of their importance. That would be glorying in what had not foundation in reality. "But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord." Let us glory in what God is, and let us glory also in what God has bestowed upon us. Let us glory especially in having a covenant standing before God, and in covenant grace which has passed into our characters. That is having a foundation of reality for our glorying.—R.F.
HOMILIES BY W.F. ADENEY
St. Paul concludes the arguments and expostulations of the two previous chapters with a vigorous exhortation. This has, of course, its special application to the condition of the Galatian Churches, and the liberty to which it directly applies is deliverance from the bondage of Law. But it admits of wider application to the circumstances of our own day. We have here brought before us a privilege, a danger, and a duty.
I. A PRIVILEGE. Christ confers freedom (see John 8:36).
1. Religious freedom.
(1) From servile terrors of superstition;
(2) from priestly tyranny;
(3) from mechanical ritual;
(4) from external constraints in moral and religious life; and
(5) from the rule of the flesh over the spirit.
2. Intellectual freedom. Unbelievers sometimes arrogate to themselves the proud title of free-thinkers; yet it would seem too often that the only freedom they allow is freedom for expressing ideas with which they sympathize. The bigotry of Roman Catholic intolerance seems likely to be equalled by the bigotry that many leading opponents of Christianity show towards those who decline to abandon their faith. It is Christ who breaks the fetters of the mind. The Christian dares to think. The grounds of this liberty are
(1) loyalty to truth, and faith in its ultimate triumph;
(2) light and power to attain truth.
3. Political freedom. This is the outgrowth of Christianity
(1) through the spread of the spirit of universal brotherhood, and
(2) through the cultivation of conscience which makes the gift of liberty safe.
II. A DANGER. Christian freedom is in danger.
1. It is attacked from without. It has to face the assaults of the ambitious. There are always those who desire to exercise undue influence over others. There is danger in officialism. The official appointed as a servant of the general body usurps the place of the master. The fable of the horse who invited a man to ride him is thus often exemplified.
2. It is undermined from within. The force of habit wears grooves that become deep ruts out of which we cannot stir. The dead hand lies heavy upon us. Creeds which were the expression of free thought contending in open controversy in one age become the bonds and fetters of a later age. Ritual, which palpitated with living emotion when it first joined itself naturally as the body to clothe the soul of worship, becomes fossilized, and yet it is cherished and venerated though it hangs about men's necks as a dead weight. The very atmosphere of liberty is too bracing for some of us. It will not allow us to sleep. Therefore love of indolence is opposed to it.
III. A DUTY. We are called to take a stand against all encroachments on our Christian freedom. Here is a call to Christian manliness. The freedom is given by Christ; but we are exhorted to maintain it. He fought to win it; we must fight to hold it. This is not a mere question of choice—a matter only of our own inclination or interest; it is a solemn duty. We must stand firm for liberty on several accounts.
1. That we may not be degraded to servitude. It is a man's duty not to become a slave because slavery produces moral deterioration.
2. That we may have scope for the unhampered service of God and man.
3. That we may hand down to generations following the heritage of liberty. Once lost it cannot be easily recovered. We owe to our descendants the duty of maintaining intact the entail of a grand possession which we received from our forefathers, and which was secured to them at great cost.—W.F.A.
The hope of righteousness.
I. WHAT IT IS. The hope of righteousness appears to be the hope of realizing righteousness, the hope of becoming righteous. In St. Paul's language a hope is not our subjective anticipation, but the thing for which we hope. Such a possession we as Christians anticipate.
1. Righteousness is a great treasure. It is a worthy object of desire. It is better than any rewards it may entail. To hunger and thirst after righteousness is to feel the deepest and purest appetite for the best of all spiritual possessions.
2. Righteousness is not yet enjoyed. It is a hope. Even the Christian who has the faith that admits to it has not yet the full heritage. The longer we live the higher does the magnificent ideal tower above us until it is seen reaching up to heaven. Some righteousness we enter into with the first effort of faith, but the foretaste is only enough to make us yearn for more;
3. We may confidently hope for righteousness. It is a hope, not a mere surmise, that urges us forward. We are encouraged by the promises of the gospel. It is a grand inspiring thought that every Christian has the prospect of ultimate victory over all sin and ultimate attainment of pure and spotless goodness.
II. HOW WE ARE TO REGARD IT. We are to wait for it.
1. We must exercise patience. Sudden perfect holiness is impossible. The idea that it has been attained is one of the most awful delusions that have ever ensnared the minds of good men. Physically, of course, it is possible for us never to sin, and to be perfectly holy, as physically there is nothing to prevent us from drawing a mathematically straight line; but in experience the one is no more realized than the other, and morally both are equally impossible. The law of life is progress by gradual development.
2. Nevertheless, we must earnestly anticipate the future righteousness, We must wait for it as those who wait for the morning, i.e. we must watch. To be indifferent about it is not to wait for it. Indifference will disinherit us from the hope.
III. WITH WHAT GRACE WE CAN THUS REGARD IT.
1. Through the Spirit. Here as often elsewhere we cannot be certain whether the apostle is referring to the Spirit of God or to our spirit. The two work together. Human spirituality is the fruit of the inspiration of the Divine Spirit. It is in this spiritual state of mind that we hate sin and long for righteousness, and have glimpses of the future that cheer us with the prospect of the great hope. Our desires and anticipations are always fashioned and coloured by the state of our hearts. Waiting for the hope of righteousness is a habit of soul only possible to those who are spiritually minded.
2. By faith. Here we come to the key and secret of the whole experience. Faith
(1) makes us heirs of righteousness;
(2) is the present assurance of things hoped for, and therefore of.this great hope; and
(3) leads us into that spiritual atmosphere where waiting tot the hope of righteousness becomes natural to us.—W.F.A.
Faith working through love.
St. Paul has just been writing of the relation of faith to hope (Galatians 5:5). He now shows how it is connected with love. We can only separate the Christian graces in thought. In experience they blend and interact one with another.
I. FAITH IS AN ACTIVE POWER. It works. Christ tells us that it can move mountains. Through lack of faith the disciples had not strength to cure a lunatic boy (Matthew 17:19, Matthew 17:20). This faith of St. Paul is very different from the "dead" faith which St. James scouted with so much scorn. It is not a cold intellectual conviction of the truth of certain propositions called collectively a creed. Nor is it a mere passive reliance upon the efficacy of the "finished work of Christ," or upon the grace of God which is to do everything for us while we slumber in indifference, or upon Christ himself solely as a Saviour. it is active trust rousing all the energies of our soul to loyal service.
II. FAITH SHOWS ITS ENERGY IS LOVE. We do not read of love working through faith as some would prefer to regard the mutual operation of the two graces. We are familiar with the idea of love as a motive, and we can well understand how faith might give it a ground and channel of definite action. But the converse is here. Faith begins to operate in its own energy and discovers a field of enterprise in love.
1. Faith inspires love, as love also in turn inspires faith. We believe in and trust the goodness of Christ, and so we are moved to love him. If we did not believe in his love we should never return it.
2. Faith having once roused love exercises itself in promoting the objects of love. We trust in the unseen God, we also love him; then we try to please him, to enjoy his favour, and to live in his presence—objects of love; but objects we should never seek if we were not supported and urged on by our belief in and trust to what is beyond our sight and experience.
III. FAITH WORKING THROUGH LOVE IS THE ONE ESSENTIAL CONDITION OF SUCCESS IN THE CHRISTIAN LIFE. Circumcision is of no use. Uncircumcision and the liberty that boasts of it by themselves are useless. Mere barren liberty is nothing. Freedom is conferred that in it we may have a field and range for noble enterprises. Mere rites, baptism, etc., mere observance of religious services, will not advance us in the spiritual life, neither will resistance to the bondage of such things. The negative side of Protestantism is no gospel if we rest only in that. Spiritual, active life is the great thing. Faith alone would not suffice, because our supreme duties are love of God and love of man, and faith is only valuable as it leads up to these. But love alone would not suffice, for without faith, even if it came into being, it would languish and perish in despair. "Faith working through love "—this is the motto for the healthy Christian life. He who relinquishes this will turn not only to a lower method, but to a worthless and fatal one. Nothing else will avail, and nothing more is needed for growth up to the attainment of the most perfect saintliness and the most fruitful service.—W.F.A.
I. PAST ATTAINMENTS DO NOT DISPENSE WITH THE NECESSITY OF PRESENT PROGRESS. "Ye did run well." So far, so good. That was a matter el thankfulness. But it would count for nothing sgainst the unworthiness of a slackened pace. Old laurels wither. Every day has its new duties. We must not waste to-day in congratulating ourselves on the success of yesterday. The tide is against us; to rest on the oars is to be swept back. No nation can prosper on its past history if the spirit of heroism has forsaken its citizens. As Christians, we never reach the goal till we have crossed the river of death. Till then we must be ever "pressing on and bearing up," or we shall assuredly make shipwreck even after earnestly running over the longest, steepest, roughest course.
II. PAST ATTAINMENTS CONDEMN US FOR NEGLECTING PRESENT PROGRESS. We are judged by our own past selves. Our history is witness against us. The past proves that we could run well. It shows that we admitted the obligation to do so. Those who have never known Christ may plead ignorance. But they who have tasted of his grace and experienced the blessings of it and used it for some work in the Christian life, are without excuse if they turn aside at last.
III. PAST ATTAINMENTS MAKE THE NEGLECT OF PRESENT PROGRESS PECULIARLY SAD. It is melancholy to see a life rendered abortive from the first, but it is much more mournful to witness the failure of a life that began in promise and made good way towards success. All the hopes and toils and sacrifices of the past are wasted. How painful to be so near the goal and yet to give up the race; to sink within sight of the haven! Such a broken life, like a day opening in a cheerful dawn and passing through a bright noon to a dark and stormy night, is of all lives most deplorable. "Ye did run well; who did binder you"—what pathos there is in these words! Christ weft over Jerusalem sadder tears than the ruin of Sodom could call forth.
IV. WE MUST BEWARE OF THE DANGER OF NEGLECTING PRESENT PROGRESS AFTER SUCCEEDING WITH PAST ATTAINMENTS. "Who did hinder you?" There must have been new hindrances and possibly surprises and unexpected checks.
1. We must not rest satisfied with the establishment of good habits. Habits may be broken.
2. We must be prepared for new difficulties. The way that is now so smooth may become suddenly rough and stony.
"We know the anxious strife, the eternal laws,
To which the triumph of all good is given—
High sacrifice, and labour without pause,
Even to the death; else wherefore should the eye
Of man converse with immortality?"
But let us not forget that if some may hinder us there is One more mighty than all to help us.—W.F.A.
A familiar proverb applied in the present instance to doctrinal errors, introduced by a small party of Judaizers, but tending to spread through the whole community of Galatian Christians. The proverb is useful, however, as a caution against the spreading of evil generally.
I. THE PRINCIPLE. Evil is like leaven.
1. It has a life of its own. Leaven is the yeast-plant. We must not neglect evil with contempt as an inert dead thing. A low and horrible kind of life infests the remains of death. The lower in the order of life the organism is the more persistent will its vitality be. Yeast may be preserved dry for months and yet retain its power of fermentation. The most degraded forms of evil are the most difficult to destroy.
2. Evil, like leaven, spreads rapidly, Leaven is the chosen emblem of evil, just on account of its extraordinary rate of growth. While the Church slumbers her enemy is sleepless. If we are not actively resisting evil it will be constantly encroaching upon the domain of goodness. It is folly to neglect a small evil. A child may stamp out a flame which, neglected, would burn a city. Scotch the young vipers while they are yet in the nest, or the brood will crawl far and wide beyond our reach.
3. Evil, like leaven, assimilates what it touches. The best men are injured by contact with it. All the powers and faculties of the individual, all the resources and institutions of the community, are brought under its fatal spell and turned to its vile uses. 4 Evil, like leaven, is associated with corruption. Fermentation is the first stage of decomposition. The leaven of evil is the leaven of moral rottenness and death.
II. APPLICATIONS OF THE PRINCIPLE.
1. Doctrinal. A small error unchecked grows into a great perversion of truth. A lie once admitted spreads deceit and confusion in all directions.
2. Ecclesiastical. The Jewish custom advocated by a few of the Galatian Christians seemed to some, perhaps, an insignificant matter. But if it had been permitted to spread, undoubtedly it would have broken up the whole Church.
3. Moral. (See 1 Corinthians 5:6.) The taint of immorality spreads like a noxious contagion,
(1) in the nation—for the whole country's sake we must not allow "the residuum" to sink into corruption;
(2) in the Church—hence the necessity of reviving Church discipline;
(3) in the individual—small faults breed great sins. Beware of "the little foxes that spoil the grapes."—W.F.A.
Liberty and not licence.
I. THE DANGER. St. Paul was no antinomian. No Hebrew prophet ever insisted more strenuously on the necessity of righteousness than did the champion of justification by faith. With him freedom from the bondage of Law is not release from the obligations of duty. If tedious ceremonial observances are discarded, eternal principles of morality are only exalted into the higher supremacy. If we are not required to shape our conduct according to rigid rules, we are thrown back on principles of wider bearing and more absolute necessity. But there was danger that this should not be fully recognized. New-fledged liberty is tempted to take strange flights. This is an inevitable peril accompanying an undoubted boon. For fear of it many have dreaded to grant the liberty. But such policy is shortsighted and cowardly. The danger is itself the condemnation of the old bondage. The worst indictment against slavery is that it makes men servile. Unwise parents, who impose needlessly irksome home restraints, are preparing for their children a terrible peril when the coveted liberty is at length necessarily attained. The compressed spring is sure to open with violent energy.
II. THE CAUTION. How shall the danger be avoided? St. Paul points out the means.
1. Admonition. Let men see clearly the two sides of life. While some dwell exclusively on Law, others confine themselves too much to the mere fact of liberty. Much gospel preaching is dangerous from its one-sidedness. In preaching "liberty to the captives," let us not forget to preach also that" the kingdom of heaven is at hand;" in offering the blessings conferred by Christ as the Saviour, let us not neglect to set forth claims made by him as the King.
2. Instruction. Liberty requires light. The captive may be led in darkness; the freeman must see where to turn his footsteps. Ignorance may be the mother of the devotion of spiritual slaves, but knowledge is necessary for the devotion of free men.
3. High principle. It is only the spiritually minded who are fit for spiritual liberty. We are only able safely to use our release from the servitude of Law when we willingly put on the yoke of service one towards another. The unselfish man is the one man who can use without abusing the privilege of the free man. He who has Christian charity joined to his Christian liberty will fulfil the essential principles of the Law while exulting in deliverance from its crushing constraints.—W.F.A.
Walking by the Spirit.
I. THE TRUE CHRISTIAN WILL AIM AT NOT FULFILLING THE LUST OF THE FLESH. It is the fashion of the age to decry asceticism. St. Paul was not an advocate of the monkish ideal according to which there was a virtue in restraining desires and activities which are harmless in themselves. But this revulsion of our own day with its "fleshly school" of poets goes much further in the opposite direction and honours as "natural," what St. Paul would repress as "carnal." It ignores two most important facts.
1. We have a higher and a lower nature. A man is as much an animal as a dog is. But he is also something more. In his right state the spiritual controls the animal in him. To be truly natural is not to reverse this relative position. To permit the lower self to dominate the upper self is to allow a most unnatural rebellion against right order to take place within us. As it is natural for a man to walk with his head erect, and as he is in an unnatural posture when he has fallen with his head downwards, so, as Bishop Butler has taught us, it is truly natural for conscience to be supreme, and it is going against nature to let the lower powers have unbridled liberty.
2. Our lower nature is unduly powerful. It has been indulged. It has broken through its proper restraints. It has grown too strong, while the higher spiritual nature has been starved and checked and weakened. As fallen creatures, we have lost the right balance of our powers. Our present nature is a corrupt nature. To reverence the unrestrained exercise of all our nature, as it now is, is to treat corruption and confusion with the honour that belongs only to order and perfection. The evil of the unrestrained sway of the lower nature is seen in its fruits Poetry hides them, but conscientious truthfulness declares them, and a more hideous collection of horrors cannot be imagined (Galatians 5:19-48). Such fruits are certain proofs that the root is evil. Hence the aim of all fight-minded men must be to check the "lust of the flesh."
II. THE SECRET OF SUCCESS IN' THIS AIM IS WALKING BY THE SPIRIT. It cannot be accomplished by mere resistance and repression. This is why the method of Law failed. No laws will make a nation moral. Positive influences only can counteract the furious passions of the lower nature. We must walk by the Spirit.
1. Spiritual things must be the chief concerns of our lives. We must draw off our thoughts from the lower things by engaging them with the higher. Our own spiritual nature will thus grow stronger to resist the impulses of" the flesh."
2. God's Holy Spirit must be sought as the guide and strength of our highest activities. Our spirituality can only flourish as the outcome of the indwelling Spirit of God. A real, direct influence will thus strengthen our better selves against the evil powers within.
3. Spirituality growing out of the indwelling of God's Spirit must become a habit of daily life. It is not enough that we have brief moments of devout elevation above earthly things, if, when we return to the world, our hearts and minds are as much occupied with the lower interests of life as if we knew no others. We must "pray without ceasing." The tone and temper of our mind in the world must be above the world.
4. This condition is realized through union with Christ. The Spirit we need is "the Spirit of Christ." When we are Christ's we crucify "the flesh with the passions and lusts thereof," and learn to walk by the Spirit.—W.F.A.
The two selves.
I. EVERY MAN HAS TWO SELVES—A HIGHER SELF AND A LOWER SELF.
1. A bad man has his better self. When temptation is away, in calm thoughtful moments, or when he is stricken by mortal illness or bowed with a great sorrow, or perhaps when the beauty of a sunset or the strains of sweet music call up memories of childhood, the true self will rise in the heart of a wicked man with pain and unutterable regrets.
2. A good man has his lower self. The human saint is far removed from the heavenly angel. The body and its appetites are with him; the soul has its meaner powers, its earthly passions, its self-regarding interests. There are times when the spiritual life is dull and feeble; then some sudden temptation, or even without that the depressing atmosphere of the world, will reveal to a man his worse side.
II. THE TWO SELVES ARE IN CONFLICT. They are not content to lie at peace each in its own domain. Both are ambitious to rule the whole man. While the flesh brooks any restraint, the Spirit strives to bring the body into subjection. Thus it comes to pass that life is a warfare and the Christian a soldier. The battle of life is not mainly a fighting against adverse circumstances and external concrete evils of the world. "A man's foes are they of his own household," nay, of his own heart. The great conflict is internal. It is civil war—rebellion and the effort to quell it; of all wars the most fierce.
III. THE CONFLICT BETWEEN THE TWO SELVES IS SUCH THAT EACH IS HELD IN CHECK BY THE OTHER. "Ye cannot do the things that ye would." There is a dead-lock. Each army holds itself safe in its own entrenchments. Neither can turn the enemy's position. Not that there is perfect balance of power. In most of us one or other force gives a temporary advantage. In many the lower self has the upper hand; in many, let us thank God, the better self maintains the supremacy. But neither has the victory that will enable it to drive the other off the field. Bad men, now and again, see yawning before them deep, black pits of wickedness, from the brink of which they start back in horror, arrested by the invisible hand of conscience. No man is wholly bad, or he would cease to be a man—he would be a devil. On the other hand, it is clear to all of us that no good man is wholly good.
IV. IN THE STRENGTH OF THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST THE BETTER SELF OF THE CHRISTIAN WILL ULTIMATELY OBTAIN COMPLETE VICTORY. The stress and strain of the war is but for a time. In the end all enemies shall be subdued. Meanwhile the secret of success is with those who "walk by the Spirit." So great a hope should lighten "the burden of the mystery."
"The heavy and the weary weight
Of all this unintelligible world."
Now life is broken, confused, inconsistent, discordant. But this is but the time of passing conflict. With victory there will come true harmony of being and growth to the full stature of the soul.—W.F.A.
The fruit of the Spirit.
I. THE GRACES OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE GROW OUT OF THE INDWELLING OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD. Neither of the two rival theories of Greek philosophers—that virtue comes by practice and that it is taught by instruction—would commend itself to St. Paul. Nor would he agree with Plato that it arises in the intuitive recollection of innate ideas, nor with Aristotle that it is the result of habits. Neither would he permit the modern separation of religion from morals. Morals need the inspiration of religion. Religion when truly alive must control conduct. The first great essential is for our spirit to be possessed by the Spirit of Christ through faith in him. Then Christian graces will appear as fruits of the Spirit. We must begin within. We cannot produce fruits by manipulating the outside of a dead stump. Life is the one essential, and from life within grows fruit without. Only internal spiritual life can produce external Christian graces.
II. NEVERTHELESS, THE CHRISTIAN GRACES NEED TO BE DIRECTLY CULTIVATED. Although the tree produces the fruit from its own life, the branches must be pruned and trained and the fruit sheltered from cold and protected from vermin and wild birds. It is not enough to think only of the inmost sources of a holy life. We must watch the course of it and guide it aright throughout. Christian ethic is an important branch of religious instruction, and is not to be ignored as unimportant because it is only serviceable in subordination to the cultivation of the inner spiritual life.
III. THE CHRISTIAN GRACES HAVE SPECIAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THEIR OWN. Such a list as is here given by St. Paul has a character of its own. Some of its constituent parts might be found in a heathen moralist; perhaps all of them; for there is a common conscience in all mankind. But the selection as a whole and the form and character of it are foreign to the atmosphere of paganism. The one significant fact about it is that it is a portrait of Christ. Christianity is putting on Christ. He is our great Exemplar. Our true life is walking in his footsteps. In particular note:
1. Attention is directed to internal principles rather than to external rules of conduct. St. Paul cared little for casuistry.
2. Emphasis is laid on the gentler graces. Pagan ethics treat chiefly of masculine virtues. Christian ethics add what are commonly called the feminine. Yet there is nothing unmanly in the gentleness of true nobility of character thus revealed.
3. Charity and its fruits receive the principal place in the list.
IV. THE PARTICULAR GRACES IN THE LIST GIVEN BY ST. PAUL ARE WORTHY OF SEPARATE CONSIDERATION,
1. Three graces of general disposition:
(1) love, the root of all joy;
(2) the special joy of self-sacrificing love; and
(3) peace, attained later, but more constant when attained.
2. Three graces in our conduct with others:
(1) passive long-suffering;
(2) kindness, which wishes well to others; and
(3) beneficence, which does it.
3. three more general graces:
(1) fidelity, not made necessary by general kindness;
(2) meekness when opposed by the evil in other men;
(3) self-control in keeping under the evil in ourselves. "Against such." says St. Paul, with a touch of humor, "There is no law."—W.F.A.