Archive for Galatians

Galatians 6:1-10

6:1 Brothers, even if a man is caught in some fault, you who are spiritual must restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; looking to yourself so that you also aren’t tempted. 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 6:3 For if a man thinks himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 6:4 But let each man test his own work, and then he will take pride in himself and not in his neighbor. 6:5 For each man will bear his own burden. 6:6 But let him who is taught in the word share all good things with him who teaches. 6:7 Don’t be deceived. God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 6:8 For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption. But he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 6:9 Let us not be weary in doing good, for we will reap in due season, if we don’t give up. 6:10 So then, as we have opportunity, let’s do what is good toward all men, and especially toward those who are of the household of the faith.


There’s a lot in here, and I should probably make several posts out of it, but I want to get it up here. What’s he saying?

  • Help each other, especially there’s a sense of community between student and teacher;
  • There’s a strong echo of Matthew’s motes and beams admonition (of course the sense of echo is anachronistic as this letter was written before Matthew);
  • Sow to the spirit;
  • Don’t be impatient for your reward;

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Galatians 5:25-26

5:25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 5:26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.


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Galatians 5:22-23

5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 5:23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.


Personally I think Paul goes overboard excoriating the pleasures of the flesh: I’m sure enjoying our physical humanity does not entail turning away from the Spirit (John 2:1 after all). So, I’ve omitted a bit of context here.

However, I can’t fault Paul’s celebration of the Spirit. What I like especially about the above is the ambiguity of the last sentence:

  • (a) there happens to be no law against these things; or
  • (b) there can be no law against these things: the fruit of the Spirit is the highest law, and conquers all.

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Galatians 5:1

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.


From the immediate context (i.e., the next few verses) it seems clear to me that the “yoke of slavery” Paul is talking about is the Mosaic Law. However, the issue about whether to follow the Mosaic Law isn’t really relevant any more (not to me anyway: I certainly don’t intend to follow it). I think this verse can fittingly be interpreted more generally, along the lines of Galatians 4:8-9: when you have Jesus, why submit yourself to lesser ideals?

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Galatians 4:8-9

4:8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. 4:9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?


Well, quite, but the pull is always there. Hence the need to stay awake — or at least to have frequent and regular moments of wakefulness.

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Galatians 4:4-7

4:4 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent out his Son, born to a woman, born under the law, 4:5 that he might redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of children. 4:6 And because you are children, God sent out the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, “Abba, Father!” 4:7 So you are no longer a bondservant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.


Each one of us is a son of God (obviously “son” here should be understood as gender neutral).

Not only is Jesus one of us, but each one of us is one of Him.

If I am a son of God I should act like it. I should live in accordance with my true nature.

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Galatians 3:23-29

3:23 But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, confined for the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 3:24 So that the law has become our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 3:25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. 3:26 For you are all children of God, through faith in Christ Jesus. 3:27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 3:29 If you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to promise.


So nice to be back. I’d like to develop a habit to post a verse here every morning on arriving at work. Let’s see.

These bits of Scripture that appeal to me: I want to stay with them, look into the Greek or the Hebrew, learn them and carry them with me, have them sink into me properly. All in time.

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Galatians 3:13

Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree


The reference is to Deuteronomy 21:22-23:

21:22 And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: 21:23 His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.


I think this is very interesting: that Jesus did not only die for us, He was cursed for us — cursed by God.

Slightly related is a blog post I came across recently — Jesus, Chesterton, Zizek — some comments by G. K. Chesterton and Slavoj Žižek on Christ’s last words on the cross.

Mark 15:34

And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

G. K. Chesterton

When the world shook and the sun was wiped out of heaven, it was not at the crucifixion, but at the cry from the cross: the cry which confessed that God was forsaken of God.

Slavoj Žižek

In the standard form of atheism, God dies for men who stop believing in Him; in Christianity, God dies for Himself.

(The full Chesterton and Žižek quotes are definitely worth reading on the blog referenced above.)

When we think about the reduction and humiliation visited upon Jesus — by people, but especially by His Father — the Bible itself is clear that the depths should not be underestimated.

Why? Why was such humiliation necessary? Because life will throw us every challenge and humiliation we can take, and more; because death is never convenient or polite or nice; because dying is part of living; because we are Him and He is one of us.

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Galatians 3:11-12

3:11 So it is clear that no one can be made right with God by trying to keep the law. For the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.” 3:12 This way of faith is very different from the way of law, which says, “It is through obeying the law that a person has life.”


The New Living Translation is not poetry, but I had a hard time understanding the other translations.

The World English Bible says the quote in 3:11 is to Habakkuk 2:4:

Look at the proud! They trust in themselves, and their lives are crooked. But the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God.


… and that in 3:12 to Leviticus 18:5:

If you obey my decrees and my regulations, you will find life through them. I am the LORD.


Paul is pretty explicit that the time of the Mosaic law has been and gone, but I’m more interested in the positive side of these verses, and the Habakkuk. I understand the message to be that faith is paramount. Following rules in and of itself cannot bring you to God. Only faith in God can lift you up.

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Galatians 2:21

I don’t make void the grace of God. For if righteousness is through the law, then Christ died for nothing!”


One day I’ll gather together all these bits I like into sets clustering around themes. One will be the Holy Spirit; another will be Grace, or rather the absence of law, what replaces it, and what that means.

Christ died so that we could live — through Him — without the law. I presume Paul meant the Mosaic law. I’m quite happy to live without the Mosaic law, but that’s not especially interesting. I wonder how far one can replace laws (i.e., behavioural prescriptions, etc.) in general with God’s grace, and with passion for the Holy Spirit (if that’s the right way of putting it).

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