Galatians 5:1-15

This passage talks about Freedom. Freedom is one of the key elements of the whole book.

McKnight:

Freedom is:

  • Theologically, a relationship with God, a result of Jesus’ death, and life in the Spirit of God.
  • Humanly speaking, it has a polemical dimension (Christians know it and Judaizers don’t), it is persona and existential (fancy!) (we can be what God wants us to be; we can do what God wants us to do), and it has social implications (we live out this freedom by loving others).

We are free from both sin and the law. We are free to serve each other in love.

“Christ will be of no value”: 

  1. If the Galatians fail to believe Christ and submit to circumcision + Christ, then Paul states that they will be under the whole law. Those who are under the law are in bondage, under a curse, are under a pedagogue, are under elementary principles and are spiritual Ishmaels.
  2. To opt into law is to opt out of grace
  3. They will miss the important thing: faith.

Freedom comes on three levels:

  1. Individual: We are who God wants us to be as we trust, love, and obey God through the Spirit. This will involve personal freedom from sin, our past, and emotional hang-ups as well.
  2. Social: We love and serve others. This results in social barriers begin broken down.
  3. Psychological: We relate to God and others authentically and clearly. We are not psychologically free in order to be alone. We are free in order to be healthy and to bring health to others.

Freedom is the thing. We are free from and free to. We are free from law, sin, and our past. We are free to serve each other in love. (This smells suspiciously like Jesus’ Creed: Love God with our whole heart, love our neighbor as we love ourselves.)

Longnecker:

<running out of time! this will be too short>

v1 Both paganism and the law represented bondage to Paul. Christ came to give us freedom.

v6 This may be the most important sentence in Galatians: For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncirumcision has any value – only faith expressing itself through love.

Christian freedom in Galatia faced two dangers. First was acceptance of Jewish nomism, which replaced faith in Christ (Spirit) by works of the law (flesh). Second was libertinism, which threatened to replace the fruit of the Spirit with fruit of the Flesh.

Our study guide (Stott) takes the passage as 5:1-15. This makes it a little difficult to blend with the two commentaries I am following as they both group 5:1-12, and then deal with vv13-15 in a later chunk.

In vv13-15, Longnecker address the possibility that Paul is inconsistent. Paul has thrown the law out the front door but then claims that Christians fulfill the law by loving each other. Is Paul bringing the law in through the back door? The answer is that we need to distinguish between “doing” and “fulfilling.” Those under the law focus on doing. Those who live in love by the Spirit realize certain results: the thrust of the law has been satisfied.

Summary

Freedom! This passage stresses our freedom. Freedom from the law, and freedom from our sinful cravings. We are free to serve each other in love. The thing that counts in the believers life: faith expressing itself in love.

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