Galatians 5:13-21

Galatians 5:13-21
A Women’s Lectionary 40


13 For you were calledA to freedom,B brothersC and sisters, onlyD do not use your freedom

Notes on verse 13a

A “called” = kaleo. Related to keleuo (to command, order, direct); from kelomai (to urge on). This is to call by name, invite, to name, bid, summon, call aloud.
B “freedom” = eleutheria. 11x in NT. From eleutheros (a free person, at liberty, not a slave; properly, unshackled – figuratively, it is one who has the freedom to choose their destiny. Also, it is one who does not have obligation or liability); probably from erchomai (to come or go). This is liberty or freedom. Particularly, it would be release from slavery. It can also refer to moral freedom.
C “brothers” = adelphos. From a (with, community, fellowship) + delphus (womb). This is a brother in a literal or figurative sense. It is also used of another member of the Church.
D “only” = monon. From monos (alone, single, remaining, mere, desolate); from meno (to stay, abide, wait, endure). This is merely, only, simply, sole. It can also imply alone.

as an opportunityE for self-indulgence,F but through loveG become enslavedH to one another. 

Notes on verse 13b

E “opportunity” = aphorme. 7x in NT. From apo (from, away from) + hormao (to rush, run, start, or spur on); {from horme (onrush, quick motion forward, attempt, inclination, attempt)}. This is occasion, launching point, opportunity.
F “self-indulgence” = sarx. May be from saroo (to sweep, cleanse by sweeping); from sairo (to brush off). This is flesh, the body, human nature, materiality, kindred. Flesh is not always evil in scripture (as when it refers to Jesus taking on a human body). However, it is generally used in a negative way for actions made selfishly and not through faith. This can mean animal flesh, i.e. meat, or refer to body in contrast to soul/spirit. Flesh can be a way of talking about how things or people are related or talking about human frailty (physical or moral).
G “love” = agape. From agapao (to love, take pleasure in, esteem; to prefer). This is love, goodwill, benevolence. It is God’s divine love or human love that mirrors God’s love.
H “become enslaved” = douleuo. From doulos (a servant or for a slave, enslaved; someone who belongs to someone else, but could be voluntary to pay off debt or involuntary – captured in war and enslaved; a metaphor for serving Christ); perhaps from deo (to tie, bind, fasten, impel, compel; to declare something against the law or prohibited). This is to be a slave, serve, do service, obey, be devoted.

14 For the wholeI lawJ is summed upK

Notes on verse 14a

I “whole” = pas. This is all or every.
J “law” = nomos. From nemo (to parcel out). Literally, this is that which is assigned. It can be usage, custom, or law. This word can be used for human or divine law. It can be used specifically for the law of Moses or as a name for the Torah (the first five books of the Bible). Sometimes it is used for scripture as a whole, used of the Gospel, or of any theology. It is also used for the “tradition of the elders,” which would be the oral Torah – the tradition of the laws plus their interpretations as they were passed down over time. We must carefully consider which meaning of “law” is meant when we interpret passages the word is found in.
K “summed up” = pleroo. From pleres (to be full, complete, abounding in, occupied with). This is to fill, make full or complete. Properly, this is filling something up to the maximum extent that it can be filled – an appropriate amount for its individual capacity. So, this is used figuratively for furnish, influence, satisfy, finish, preach, perfect, and fulfill.

in a singleL commandment,M “You shall loveN your neighborO as yourself.” 

Notes on verse 14b

L “single” = heis. This is one, a person, only, some.
M “commandment” = logos. From lego (to speak, tell, mention). This is word, statement, speech, analogy. It is a word that carries an idea or expresses a thought, a saying. It could refer to a person with a message or reasoning laid out in words. By implication, this could be a topic, line of reasoning, or a motive. It can be used for a divine utterance or as Word – Christ.
N “love” = agapao. Related to “love” in v13. See note G above.
O “neighbor” = plesion. 17x in NT. From pelas (near). This is near, nearby, or neighboring. As one nearby, it can also refer to a neighbor, a member of one’s country, a Christian, or a friend.

15 If, however, you biteP and devourQ one another, take careR that you are not consumedS by one another.

Notes on verse 15

P “bite” = dakno. 1x in NT. This is to bite, backbite, hurt, or thwart.
Q “devour” = katesthio. 15x in NT. From kata (down, against, throughout, among) + esthio (to eat or figuratively to devour or consume like rust). This is to eat up, to consume totally so that there is nothing left. It can also be to annoy, injure, or squander.
R “take care” = blepo. This is literally to see – it is primarily used in the physical sense. However, figuratively it can be seeing, which includes attention and so to watchfulness, being observant, perceiving, and acting on the visual information. It can also mean beware.
S “consumed” = analisko. 2x in NT. From ana (up, again, back, among, anew) + halisko (to conquer) OR from ana (see above) + haireomai (to take, choose, or prefer) {probably related to airo (raise, take up, lift, remove)}. This is to consume, destroy, or use up.

16 LiveT by the Spirit,U I say,V

Notes on verse 16a

T “live” = peripateo. From peri (about, concerning, around, encompassing) + pateo (to read, trample on; to trample literally or figuratively); {from patos (trodden) OR from paio (to strike, smite, sting; a hit like a single blow)}. This is to walk. Going from Hebrew figurative language, to walk referred to how you conducted your life, how you chose to live. This word is most literally walking around. Figuratively, it is living, behaving, following, how you occupy yourself. This is where “peripatetic” comes from.
U “Spirit” = Pneuma. From pneo (to blow, breathe, breathe hard). This is wind, breath, or ghost. A breeze or a blast or air, a breath. Figuratively used for a spirit, the human soul or part of us that is rational. It is also used supernaturally for angels, demons, God, and the Holy Spirit. This is where pneumonia comes from.
V “say” = lego. Related to “commandment” in v14. See note M above.

and do not gratifyW the desiresX of the flesh.Y 

Notes on verse 16b

W “gratify” = teleo. From telos (an end, aim, purpose, completion, end goal, consummation, tax; going through the steps to complete a stage or phase and then moving on to the next one). This is to complete, fulfill, accomplish, end.
X “desires” = epithumia. From epithmueo (long for, set one’s heart on, yearn, desire); {from epi (on, upon, at, what is fitting) + thumos (passion, wrath; actions emerging from passion or impulse) {from thuo (to rush along, breathe violently, offer sacrifice)}}. This is desire, a longing built on passionate emotion or urges. This can be a positive or a negative passion (lust or eagerness).
Y “flesh” = sarx. Same as “self-indulgence” = in v13. See note F above.

17 For what the flesh desiresZ is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh, for these are opposedAA to each other, to prevent you from doingBB what you want.CC 

Notes on verse 17

Z “desires” = epithumeo. Related to “desires” in v16. 16x in NT. See note X above.
AA “opposed” = antikeimai. 8x in NT. From anti (opposite, instead of, against) + keimai (to lie, recline, set, be appointed, be destined). This is to resist, oppose, or withstand. It can also be opposition, adversary, or enemy. This is to lie opposite or place against – being in irreconcilable opposition. Figuratively, it can be repugnant.
BB “doing” = poieo. This is to make, do, act, construct, abide, or cause.
CC “want” = thelo. This is to wish, desire, will, or intend. It is to choose or prefer in a literal or figurative sense. It can also mean inclined toward or take delight in. It can have a sense of being ready to act on the impulse in question.

18 But if you are ledDD by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. 19 Now the worksEE of the flesh are obvious:FF

Notes on verses 18-19a

DD “led” = ago. This is lead, bring, carry, guide, drive, go.
EE “works” = ergon. From ergo (to work, accomplish, do). This is work, task, deed, labor, effort.
FF “obvious” = phaneros. 18x in NT. From phos (light, a source of light, fire, or radiance; light with specific reference to what it reveals; luminousness whether natural or artificial, abstract or concrete, literal or figurative); from phao (to shine or make visible, especially with rays of light); from the same as phaino (to bring light, cause to appear, shine, become visible or clear). This is visible, apparent, clear, shining.

sexual immorality,GG impurity,HH debauchery,II 

Notes on verse 19b

GG “sexual immorality” = porneia. From porneuo (to fornicate – used figuratively for practicing idolatry or doing immoral things); from porne (prostitute, whore); from pornos (fornicator or immoral person); perhaps from pernemi (to sell off or export); related to piprasko (to sell with travel involved; to sell into slavery; to be devoted to); from perao (to travel); from peran (over, beyond). This is sexual immorality or unchastity. It could include adultery or incest.
HH “impurity” = akatharsia. 10x in NT. From akathartos (unclean or impure, whether a thing or a person; something that is not mixed with something that would taint; unclean in a ritual or moral sense; also demonic or foul); {from a (not, without) + kathairo (to cleanse or purify by purging out unwanted elements); {from katharos (clean, clear, pure, unstained; clean in a literal, ritual, or spiritual sense; so, also guiltless, innocent or upright; something that is pure because it has been separated from the negative substance or aspect; spiritually clean because of God’s act of purifying)}. This is uncleanness or impurity. It can be physical, ritual, or moral.
II “debauchery” = aselgeia. 10x in NT. From aselges (brutal) OR from a (not) + selges (temperate). This is wantonness, shocking behavior, wanton violence, acting in an unrestrained and capricious way.

20 idolatry,JJ sorcery,KK enmities,LL

Notes on verse 20a

JJ “idolatry” = eidolatria. 4x in NT. From eidolon (image, idol, worship or an idol); {from eidos (form, shape, sight, appearance); from eido (to be aware, see, know, remember, appreciate)} + latreia (service, divine worship, ministering to God); {from latreuo (giving good, technical service because qualified or equipped to do so; to serve, minister, worship, or give homage); from latris (a hired servant; someone who is qualified to perform a technical task)}. This is worship of an image or idol in a literal or figurative sense. This is where the word “idolatry” comes from.
KK “sorcery” = pharmakeia. 2x in NT. From pharmakeuo (to give drugs) OR from pharmakeus (sorcerer; one who gives drugs, plants, potions, or poisons – sometimes accompanied by an incantation; also, a sorcerer or magician); {from pharmakos (someone who gives drugs or medicines to people – a poisoner or magician); from pharmakon (a drug)}. This is magic, enchantment – using drugs or spells to do magic in a literal or figurative sense. It shares a root with “pharmacy.”
LL “enmities” = echthra. 6x in NT. From echthros (hated, an enemy; someone at enmity – deep, personal hatred that cannot be reconciled because it is determined to cause harm; often refers to Satan); from echthos (hatred). This is enmity, hostility, or alienation.

strife,MM jealousy,NN anger,OO

Notes on verse 20b

MM “strife” = eris. 9x in NT. This is strife, quarreling, wrangling. Figuratively, it is debate or one who likes to dispute.
NN “jealousy” = zelos. 16x in NT– 6x in a positive sense (zeal for God) & 10x in a negative sense (jealousy/strife). Perhaps from zeo (to boil, be hot, ferment, bubble, boil, or glow; used figuratively for being fervent or earnest). This is eagerness or zeal on the one hand or rivalry and jealousy on the other. The verb is meant to echo the sound of boiling water and so it depicts burning emotion that bubbles over. So, burning anger or burning love.
OO “anger” = thumos. Related to “desires” in v16 & “desires” in v17. 18x in NT. See note X above.

quarrels,PP dissensions,QQ factions,RR 

Notes on verse 20c

PP “quarrels” = eritheia. Related to “strife” in v20. 7x in NT. From erithos (day-laborer); from eritheuo (work for hire) OR perhaps from the same as erethizo (to provoke, irritate, exasperate; to stir to anger); from eretho (to provoke to anger) or from eris (see note MM above). This is ambition, dispute, selfishness, self-seeking, strife. It is work done for selfish or self-serving motivations. It can imply intrigue or a faction.
QQ “dissensions” = dichostasia. 2x in NT. From dichostateo (to stand apart) OR from dis (twice, utterly, again); {from duo (two, both)} + stasis (standing – the act of standing, a place, an uprising, insurrection, dissension, or controversy); {from the base of histemi (to make to stand, place, set up, establish, appoint, stand by, stand still, stand ready, stand firm, be steadfast)}. This is standing apart, division, creating meaningless factions.
RR “factions” = hairesis. Related to “consumed” in v15. 9x in NT. From haireo (see note S above). This is a choice, contention, heresy, or sect. It is making a person choice so, by implication, choice of a separate party or faction. It is where the word “heresy” comes from.

21 envy,SS drunkenness,TT carousing,UU and things like these. I am warningVV you, as I warned you before:

Notes on verse 21a

SS “envy” = phthonos. 9x in NT. Perhaps from phtheiro (to destroy, corrupt, ruin, deteriorate, wither; also used of moral corruption); from phthio (perish, waste away). This is jealousy, spite, or ill-will. It can also be feeling glad when misfortune befalls another (akin to Schadenfreude).
TT “drunkenness” = methe. 3x in NT. This is heavy drinking – to the point of drunkenness. Always referenced as a negative.
UU “carousing” = komos. Related to “are opposed” in v17. 3x in NT. From kome (a village as contrasted with a city that has a wall); perhaps from keimai (see note AA above). This was originally a festival in a village that involved drinking, carousing, and letting loose.
VV “warning” = prolego. Related to “commandment” in v14 & “say” in v16. 14x in NT. From pro (before, earlier than, ahead, prior) + lego (see note M above). This is to forewarn, state clearly, predict. It is saying ahead of time.

those who doWW such things will not inheritXX the kingdomYY of God.ZZ

Notes on verse 21b

WW “do” = prasso. This is to do or practice – something done on an on-going basis or by habit. It can also mean to accomplish, attend, or commit.
XX “inherit” = kleronomeo. Related to “law” in v14. 18x in NT. From kleronomos (heir); {from kleros (lot, portion, heritage; that share assigned to you; also a lot used to determine something by fate, chance, or divine will); {perhaps from klero (casting a lot) or from klao (to break in pieces as one breaks bread)} + the same as nomos (see note J above)}. This is to acquire or get by inheriting.
YY “kingdom” = basileia. From basileus (king, emperor, sovereign); probably from basis (step, hence foot; a pace); from baino (to walk, to go). This is kingdom, rule, authority, sovereignty, royalty, a realm.
ZZ “God” = Theos. From Proto-Indo-European origins, meaning do, put, place. This is God or a god in general.

Image credit: War Memorial at the Reconciliation Church in Dresden, Germany. Photo by Z thomas, 2020.

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