- Locate the Passage
5:13-26 is the second preaching unit in Galatians 5. 5:13 repeats the emphasis upon freedom found in 5:1.
- Identify the Genre
The macro level is epistolary. The micro level is expository/hortatory
- Determine the Structure of the Passage
The structure of this passage may be developed through an awareness of four commands with imperatival force. The first structural division is verses 13-14. Verse 13 contains the key command for believers to serve one another through love.
The second division is verse 15. Here the key command is to watch out for the consequence of destructive behavior.
The third division includes verses 16-25. Verse 16 contains the key command for believers to
keep on walking in the Spirit. The following verses present the striking contrast between the outcome/fruit of the flesh and the outcome/fruit of the Spirit.
The final division comes with verse 26. Here, Paul uses a hortatory subjunctive form which has command force. The command is for believers to avoid conceit.
- Exegete the Passage
Returning to the theme of freedom (see 5:1) in verse 13, Paul reminds his readers that they were called (eklethete-aorist passive indicative) to freedom. The next portion of the verse contains no verbal form (the “use” in most translations is supplied). The text here may be read literally: only not the freedom as an opportunity for the flesh. The point is that freedom is not to be used as an opportunity (aphormen) for the flesh. Thus, our freedom in Christ should not become a launching pad or base of operations for the indulgence of the flesh. The last part of verse 13 includes the key command for believers to serve (douleuete-present active imperative) one another through love. To reinforce the command, Paul declares that the whole law is fulfilled (peplerotai-perfect passive indicative) in the command: “You shall love (agapeseis- future active indicative) your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18).
Verse 15 begins with a condition of the first class (ei de-“If you”). It addresses activity that is likely occurring among the Galatians. Paul writes that, if you bite (daknete-present active indicative) and devour (katesthiete-present active indicative) one another, watch out (blepete-present active imperative-“See” or “Take heed”) lest by one another you might be consumed (analothete-aorist passive subjunctive).
In verse 16, Paul exhorts the believers to walk continually (peripateite-present active imperative) in the Spirit. This command is followed by the promise that those so walking will under no circumstances gratify (telesete-aorist active subjunctive) the desires (epithumian) of the flesh. Verse 17 addresses the antithetical relationship between the desires of the flesh and the desires of the Spirit. These desires are opposed (antikeitai-present middle indicative) to one another with the result that the believer might not do (poiete-present active subjunctive) the things he wishes to do. Verse 18 conveys the principle that those led (agesthe-present passive indicative) by the Spirit are not under the law.
In verses 19-21a, Paul offers a detailed description of the evident (phanera) works of the flesh. These works include the sexual, religious and relational realms. Verse 21b includes the repeated warning that those doing (prassontes-present participle-“practicing”) such things will not inherit (kleronomesousin-future active indicative) the kingdom of God.
Verses 22-23 present the reader with the nine-fold fruit of the Spirit. Note that the word “fruit” (karpos) is a singular noun. The fruit of the Spirit is a portrait of what the Holy Spirit produces in the life of the believer. In the last part of verse 23, Paul observes that there is no law against the the fruit/outcome of the Spirit. Society needs no protection from what the Spirit produces in believers. Verse 24 is an assertion that those belonging to Christ have crucified (estaurosan-aorist active indicative) the flesh with its passions (pathemasin) and desires. In verse 25, Paul stresses that, if we live (zomen-present active indicative) by the Spirit, we should walk (stoichomen-present active subjunctive-“let us keep in step with”) in the Spirit.
In verse 26, Paul issues a final command. He writes, “Let us not become ( ginometha-present middle subjunctive) conceited (kenodoxo-“boastful), provoking (prokaloumenoi-present middle participle-“challenging”) one another, envying (phthonountes-present active participle) one another.”
- Let the Structure of the Text Drive the Sermon
- Serve one another through love (13-14)
- Watch out for the consequence of destructive behavior (15)
- Walk in the Spirit continually (16-25)
works of the flesh and warning (19-22)
fruit of the Spirit (22-23)
- Avoid conceit (26)