You were running [the race] well; who has interfered and prevented you from obeying the truth? This [deceptive] persuasion is not from Him who called you [to freedom in Christ]. A little [a]leaven [a slight inclination to error, or a few false teachers] leavens the whole batch [it perverts the concept of faith and misleads the church]. I have confidence in you in the Lord that you will adopt no other view [contrary to mine on the matter]; but the one who is disturbing you, whoever he is, will have to bear the penalty. But as for me, [b]brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision [as I had done before I met Christ; and as [c]some accuse me of doing now, as necessary for salvation], why am I still being persecuted [by Jews]? In that case the stumbling block of the cross [to unbelieving Jews] has been abolished. I wish that those who are troubling you [by teaching that circumcision is necessary for salvation] would even [go all the way and] castrate themselves!
For you, my brothers, were called to freedom; only do not let your freedom become an opportunity for the [d]sinful nature (worldliness, selfishness), but through [e]love serve and seek the best for one another. For the whole Law [concerning human relationships] is fulfilled in one precept, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself [that is, you shall have an unselfish concern for others and do things for their benefit].” But if you bite and devour one another [in bickering and strife], watch out that you [along with your entire fellowship] are not consumed by one another.
But I say, walk habitually in the [Holy] Spirit [seek Him and be responsive to His guidance], and then you will certainly not carry out the desire of the [f]sinful nature [which responds impulsively without regard for God and His precepts]. For the sinful nature has its desire which is opposed to the Spirit, and the [desire of the] Spirit opposes the [g]sinful nature; for these [two, the sinful nature and the Spirit] are in direct opposition to each other [continually in conflict], so that you [as believers] do not [always] do whatever [good things] you want to do. But if you are guided and led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the Law. Now the practices of the [h]sinful nature are clearly evident: they are sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality (total irresponsibility, lack of self-control), [i]idolatry, [j]sorcery, hostility, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions [that promote heresies], envy, drunkenness, riotous behavior, and other things like these. I warn you beforehand, just as I did previously, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the [k]sinful nature together with its passions and appetites.
If we [claim to] live by the [Holy] Spirit, we must also walk by the Spirit [with personal integrity, godly character, and moral courage—our conduct empowered by the Holy Spirit]. We must not become conceited, challenging or provoking one another, envying one another.
- Galatians 5:9 Leaven (yeasty dough) represents the man-made tradition and false teachings that obscure the truth regarding salvation through personal belief and faith in Christ.
- Galatians 5:11 Lit brethren.
- Galatians 5:11 Paul’s opponents in Galatia were trying to support their own arguments for circumcision by claiming that Paul was actually in favor of it. They probably knew that he had circumcised Timothy (Acts 16:3) and were taking advantage of that fact.
- Galatians 5:13 Lit flesh.
- Galatians 5:13 The key to understanding this and other statements about love is to know that this love (the Greek word agape) is not so much a matter of emotion as it is of doing things for the benefit of another person, that is, having an unselfish concern for another and a willingness to seek the best for another.
- Galatians 5:16 Lit flesh.
- Galatians 5:17 Lit flesh.
- Galatians 5:19 Lit flesh.
- Galatians 5:20 Including prostitution, which was often part of pagan ritual.
- Galatians 5:20 Including such things as occult practices, witchcraft, worship of evil powers, drug-induced trances.
- Galatians 5:24 Lit flesh.