Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Galatians 5:1

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.
New American Standard Version
    Jump to:
  1. Adam Clarke Commentary
  2. Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible
  3. The Biblical Illustrator
  4. The Biblical Illustrator
  5. Coffman Commentaries on the Bible
  6. John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible
  7. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible
  8. Martin Luther's Commentary on Galatians
  9. People's New Testament
  10. Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
  11. Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary
  12. Vincent's Word Studies
  13. Wesley's Explanatory Notes
  14. Abbott's Illustrated New Testament
  15. Calvin's Commentary on the Bible
  16. James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary
  17. John Trapp Complete Commentary
  18. Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament
  19. Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary
  20. Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary
  21. Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae
  22. Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
  23. Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament
  24. Matthew Poole's English Annotations
    on the Holy Bible
  25. Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture
  26. Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament
  27. Expositor's Bible Commentary
  28. John Eadie's Commentary on Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians and Philippians
  29. Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable
  30. Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament
  31. The Expositor's Greek Testament
  32. Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments
  33. George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary
  34. E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes
  35. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
  36. Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
  37. Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
  38. Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
  39. Stanley Derickson - Notes on Selected Books
  40. Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
  41. The Bible Study New Testament
  42. Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

Adam Clarke Commentary

Stand fast therefore in the liberty - This is intimately connected with the preceding chapter: the apostle having said, just before, So then, brethren, we are not children of the bond woman, but of the free, immediately adds, Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free. Hold fast your Christian profession; it brings spiritual liberty: on the contrary, Judaism brings spiritual bondage. Among the Jews, the Messiah's reign was to be a reign of liberty, and hence the Targum, on Lamentations 2:22, says: "Liberty shall be publicly proclaimed to thy people of the house of Israel, משיחא יד על al yad Mashicha, by the hand of the Messiah, such as was granted to them by Moses and Aaron at the time of the passover."

The liberty mentioned by the apostle is freedom from Jewish rites and ceremonies, called properly here the yoke of bondage; and also liberty from the power and guilt of sin, which nothing but the grace of Christ can take away.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Galatians 5:1". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/galatians-5.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Stand fast, therefore - Be firm and unwavering. This verse properly belongs to the previous chapter, and should not have been separated from it. The sense is, that they were to be firm and unyielding in maintaining the great principles of Christian liberty. They had been freed from the bondage of rites and ceremonies; and they should by no means, and in no form, yield to them again.

In the liberty … - Compare John 8:32, John 8:36; Romans 6:18; Notes, Galatians 4:3-5.

And be not entangled again - Tyndale renders this, “And wrap not yourselves again.” The sense is, do not again allow such a yoke to be put on you; do not again become slaves to any rites, and customs, and habits.

The yoke of bondage - Of servitude to the Jewish laws; see the note at Acts 15:10.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Galatians 5:1". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/galatians-5.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Galatians 5:1

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us freer and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

The freedom of the Christian

It is necessary that we first see generally what that “liberty” is, “wherewith Christ maketh His people free.” I cannot hold any one “free,” so long as his own conscience locks him up into the fear of death and punishment. The mind which has places which it is afraid to touch, can never expatiate every where; and the mind which cannot go anywhere, never is “free.” It is the sense of pardon which is that man’s emancipation. Have we not all felt the difference.

to work that we may be loved, and to work because we are loved; to have a motive from without, or to have a motive from within; to be guided by a fear, or to be attracted by an affection? But, again, to obey any one isolated law, however good that law may be, and however we may admire and love the Lawgiver, may still carry with it a sense of confining and contraction. To do, not this or that command, but the whole will, because it is the will of one we love--to have caught His mind, to breathe His spirit, to be bound up with His glory--that has in it no littleness; there are no circumscribing confines there; and these are the goings out of the unshackled being in the ranges which match with his own infinity. And yet once more. Such is the soul of man, that all that in his horizon falls within the compass of time, however long--or of a present life however full--that man’s circle being small, compared to his own consciousness of his own capability, through that disproportion, he feels a limitation. But let a man once look, as he may, and as he must, on that great world which lies beyond him as his scope and his home, and all that is here as only the discipline and the school-work by which he is in training, and immediately everything contains in it eternity. And very “free” will that man be “among the dead,” because his faith is going out above the smallnesses which surround him, to the great, and to the absorbing, and to the satisfying things to come. It will not be difficult to carry out these principles, and apply them to the right performance of any of the obligations of life. It needs no words to show that whatever is done in this freedom will not only be itself better done, but it takes from that freedom a character which comports well with a member of the family of God; and which at once makes it edifying to Him, and acceptable and honouring to a heavenly Father. (J. Vaughan, M. A.)

Spiritual freedom

What is liberty? Obedience to one’s self; obedience to a law which is written in a man’s own heart. If I obey myself, and myself is not a right self, it is, indeed, “liberty,” but being a bad liberty, it becomes “licentiousness.” It is compulsion; it is bondage. Liberty is when the outer law and the inner law are the same; and both are good.

1. Every one has a past which fetters him. The moment a man really believes, and accepts his pardon, he is cut off from all his sinful past! He is at liberty--free from his own bitter history--free from himself!

2. Now look to the “liberty” from the present. If I have received. Christ into my heart, I am a pardoned man, I am a happy man, and I know and feel that I owe all my happiness to Him--therefore I love Him; I cannot choose but love Him; and my first desire is to please Him; to follow Him; to be like Him; to be with Him. My life is to become a life of love. In obeying God, I obey myself. The new life and the new heart are in accord.

3. And what of the future? A vista running up to glory! But are there no dark places? Chiefly in the anticipation. When they come, they will bring their own escapes and their own balances. He has undertaken for me in everything. He will never leave me. So I am quite free from all my future. To die will be a very little thing. The grave cannot hold me. He has been through, and opened the door the other side. (J. Vaughan, M. A.)

Christian liberty

I. The liberty of the subjects that are freed. Christian liberty stands--

1. In immunity from evil.

(a) in the fault,

(b) in the punishment--whether the inward slavery of an accusing conscience or outward wrath of God, death, and damnation.

(a) burdensome traditions,

(b) the law, either ceremonial or moral, as regards either the obligation or the curse.

2. Less than this is bondage, more than this is looseness.

II. The prerogative of the King of Glory that hath freed them.

1. They could not free themselves.

2. Angels could not free them.

3. Only Christ could, whose ransom was infinite.

4. Only Christ has, whose love is infinite. How?

5. Christ has freed us from seven Egyptian masters.

III. The maintenance of the liberty which the power of that great prerogative hath achieved.

1. How strange that such an exhortation should be necessary. In the case of a liberated bird or an emancipated slave it would be superfluous.

2. Yet facts prove it necessary in the case of Christ’s freemen. (Bishop Hall.)

Christian believers exhorted to the maintenance of their spiritual liberty

I. This exhortation implies--

1. That attempts will be made to deprive us of this liberty. This is discovered soon after its first enjoyment.

2. The awful possibility of losing this liberty, as testified

3. That there is no necessity to lose this liberty. When lost it is most frequently by

4. Yet while there is no necessity to forfeit their liberty, Christians are exposed to great and peculiar dangers

II. The duties in the observance of which spiritual freedom may be maintained.

1. The devotional reading of Scripture day by day in connection with religious biography and kindred works.

2. A regular and conscientious attention to private prayer.

3. A spirit of watchfulness.

4. Constant self-denial.

5. Unceasing cultivation of holiness. In conclusion:

Remember--

1. The price paid for your redemption.

2. The wretched state of the re-enslaved believer. (H. H. Chettle.)

Christian freedom

I. In the voluntary service of God (Luke 1:74; 1 Timothy 1:9).

II. In the free use of the creatures of God (Titus 1:15; Romans 14:14).

III. To come unto God through Christ in prayer. (Romans 5:2; Ephesians 3:12).

IV. To enter heaven (Hebrews 10:19). (W. Perkins.)

Liberty not lawlessness

Liberty is harmony between the law and the nature and inclinations of its subjects. Law is essential to freedom, but freedom requires that the law shall be such as comports with the best interests and highest reason of those who have to obey it; for then their best desires will concur with their obligations, and, wishing to do only what the law requires them to do, they will be conscious of no restraint. (Newman Hall.)

Spiritual and related freedoms

Let me remind you of the arrangement of the ancient temple. In the centre was the sanctuary, with the altar of sacrifice before it, and the altar of incense within; and beyond the veil, the Holy of Holies and the mercy seat. Here worship was offered, atonement made, the presence of God manifested. Let this represent liberty-spiritual--the union of the soul with its Maker. Beyond the sanctuary and enclosing it, was the Court of the Jews, through which access was obtained to the inner shrine. Let this represent liberty-doctrinal--that revealed truth by which the soul obtains admission into the liberty of God’s children. Beyond was the Court of the Gentiles--further from the Holy of Holies--but connected with it, surrounding and defending it. Let this represent liberty-ecclesiastical, by which doctrinal truth is best conserved and thus spiritual liberty best attained. Beyond all these were the outer walls and gates, and the lofty rock on which it was upreared. Let this represent liberty national, by which ecclesiastical freedom is guaranteed. (Newman Hall.)

Freedom and slavery

Know that to be free is the same thing as to be pious, to be wise, to be temperate and fast, to be frugal and abstinent, and, lastly, to be magnanimous and brave; so to be the opposite of all these is the same as to be a slave; and it usually happens that that people who cannot govern themselves, are delivered up to the sway of those whom they abhor, and made to submit to an involuntary servitude. (Milton.)

The soul’s rebellion against its thraldom

As the lark, imprisoned since it burst its shell, though it has never sprung upward to salute the rising sun, will often manifest how cruel is its captivity by instinctively spreading its wings and darting upward, as if to soar, but only beats its head against the wires and falls back on its narrow perch; so the soul of man, designed to soar and utter its raptures in the rays of the great central sun, will sometimes, even in its cage, attempt to rise and breathe a loftier atmosphere, but falls back vainly struggling against the bars which sin and death have framed around it. (Newman Hall.)

Standing fast in liberty

The phrase alludes to the duties of soldiers on military service. When marshalled in the ranks they must stand firm, without yielding their ground, without bending their knees; when placed as sentinels they must stand upon their guard and permit no enemy to surprise them. You are soldiers of Christ, and must stand fast--be valiant for the truth--and look to yourselves. (H. H. Chettle.)

Liberty from law unconscious obedience

No man has reached liberty until he has learned to obey with such facility and perfection that he does it without knowing it, If I step upon a little bit of plank in the street I walk along over it without thinking. Although it is only four inches wide I can walk on it as well as I can on the rest of the pavement. But put that plank between two towers one hundred feet high in the air and let me be called to walk over it. I begin to think, of course, of what I am called upon to do. And the moment I begin to think I cannot do it. When you try to do a thing you cannot do it as well as when you do it without trying. (H. W. Beecher.)

Christian liberty

The apostle now enters upon the more practical part of the Epistle. Freedom is the link which connects the two parts together.

I. Christian liberty is the liberty of faith. Faith receives the truth, the whole truth, concerning sin and redemption; and it is the truth, believed, that makes men free.

II. Christian liberty is the liberty of hope.

1. A hope which maketh not ashamed, for it is based on Christ’s accomplished work.

2. A hope which patiently waits for that which it knows it will assuredly possess.

III. Christian liberty is the liberty of love. The Saviour’s love to the sinner draws the sinner’s love to Himself.

IV. Christian liberty is the liberty of holiness. The safeguards of political liberty lie not in the laws which regulate, or the armies which defend it, but in the spirit which animates a people, in their respect for law, in their mutual toleration, in their recognition of others’ rights, and, above all, in their hearty devotion to the government under which they live. Where these prevail, a nation is already free, and a liberty so founded will never degenerate into license. So also Christian liberty is best secured from abuse, not by the threat of penalties, or by an appeal to fear, but by the operation of those principles which lie at the foundation of Christian character. The gospel sets man free from a bondage beneath which a loving obedience is impossible, in order that, being free, he may serve God in the spirit of Christian liberty. (Emilius Bayley, B. D.)

Spiritual liberty

Spiritual liberty consists in freedom from the curse of the moral law; from the servitude of the ritual; from the love, power, and guilt of sin; from the dominion of Satan; from the corruption of the world; from the fear of death and the wrath to come. (C. Buck.)

Christian liberty

The liberty wherewith Christ has made men free is a deliverance from a system of rules, positive and prohibitory--a temporary and provisional system which had an educational value, training men to the full privileges of religious manhood. It is an abdication of privilege, when men fall back upon the old standpoint of Judaism, and fence themselves in by rigid rules as if of primary importance. There is a perpetual tendency to make men subject to ordinances, whose language is, “Touch not, taste not, handle not,” after the commandments and ordinances of men; and not only to adopt these precepts as useful helps for their own moral progress, but to impose them upon others, almost as if they were of Divine origin; and to make them the standard of their judgment upon the spiritual condition of their fellow men. Every school of religious thought exhibits proofs of this temptation to represent as commandments of God, precepts of man’s own devising. This Judaising temper displays itself whenever men try to narrow down eternal principles of conduct into minute rules, which can prefer no higher claim than to be deemed useful to some, whilst they may be positively injurious to others In vindicating the freedom brought to us by the gospel, we throw ourselves back on the primary truths of Christianity--the Fatherhood of God, and the reconciliation wrought out by the atoning work of Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of God. Fully believing that God is a righteous Judge, we shall yet not feel towards Him as if He were a hard taskmaster or rigid lawgiver, but as the Infinite Being whose love first created us, and subsequently devised our redemption; we shall exercise an unreserved faith in the completeness of the sacrifice for sin which has been made by our Saviour, and the present forgiveness which has been obtained for us; and we shall rejoice in the glorious liberty of the children of God. But this sense of liberty will not degenerate into licentiousness and unrestrained self-indulgence. Because we are not under the law, but under grace, we shall see ourselves called to a higher and nobler type of holiness. We shall certainly not be without law to God. Our religion will be displayed, not in a punctilious attention to external rules, but in a life-giving spirit, which will penetrate into every department of action in relation to others. In daily society it will impart a kindliness, a charity, a justice, in cur estimate of the words and conduct of those around us; it will teach us a Divine tolerance and a modest humility. It will make the best of both worlds, not in the low commercial sense, which tries to strike a balance between the claims of secular expediency and devotion to the service of God, but in the spirit of the apostolic exhortation which bids men “use this world as not abusing it.” Spite of all the manifold temptations on the plea of piety, or on the plea of the necessary subordination of the individual to the society, it will firmly refuse to descend to a lower level of Christianity than that which Christ its Founder intended. It will uphold the banner of freedom by maintaining, alike in theory and in practice, that Christianity is not in its essence a system of doctrine or a code of precepts, but a life and a spirit, a communion with God in Christ, manifesting itself in the power of true godliness. (Canon Ince.)

Personal liberty of the Christian

The doctrine of St. Paul is not that a Christian man has a right to liberty in conduct, thought, and speech in and of himself, without regard to external circumstances, interests, organizations, and without reference to his own condition. Paul’s conception of the rights and liberties of men stands on the philosophical ground underneath all those things. Rights and liberties belong to stages or states of condition. The inferior has not the right of the superior. A stupid man has not the right of an educated or intelligent man. He may have the legal rights; but the higher ones, that spring out of the condition of the soul, must stand on the conditions to which they belong. A. refined man has rights and joys that an unrefined man has not and cannot have, because he cannot understand them, does not want them, could not use them. Rights increase as the man increases--increases, that is, not merely in physical stature, or in skill of manual employment or material strength, but in character. So, as men work up higher and higher towards the Divine standard of character, their rights and liberties increase. The direct influence of Christ is to bring the human mind into its highest elements:. The power of the Divine nature upon the human soul is to lift it steadily away from animalism or from the flesh--the under-man--up through the realm of mere material wisdom and accomplishment, in the direction of soul-power, reason, rectitude--such reason and such rectitude as grow up under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. When love has permeated the whole man, he then has perfect liberty--liberty of thought, liberty of speech, liberty of conduct. A perfect Christian is the one and only creature that has absolute liberty unchecked by law, by institution, by foregoing thoughts of men, by public sentiment. Because a perfect man is in unison with the Divine soul, he has the whole liberty of God in himself, according to the measure of his manhood. But he has liberty to do only what he wants to do, and he wants to do nothing that is not within the bounds and benefit of a pure and true love. He becomes a law to himself; that is, he carries in himself that inspiration of love which is the mother of all good law. He is higher than any law. His will is with God’s will. He thinks what is true; he does what is benevolent. (H. W. Beecher.)

Christian liberty a trust

When a man is in slavery he is not his own master; he acts and lives under the direction of others, and the responsibility of life is in a greater or less degree shifted from him on to some one else. When a man becomes free, he assumes the duties of life, and recognizes that it rests only with himself whether those duties are performed or not. And so man living under the Christian covenant stands in a direct personal relation to God, a relation of trust. Gifted with freewill, he is answerable for his conduct; subjected no longer to the ordinances of the Mosaic Law, he claims the liberty of the gospel; but he dares not forget that there still is a law limiting and controlling the freedom which he enjoys, and that every action of his carries responsibility with it. The soul of the old law is enshrined and quickened in the body of the new. The spirit, not the letter, of Sinai is met with again in the Sermon on the Mount. All Christian duties are summed up there and enforced with the authority of One who taught not as the scribes and Pharisees, and who spake as never man spake (Matthew 22:37-40). Our liberty is a limited one. No man can do as he likes. He has a Master in heaven whom he must serve. He is indeed set free by the death of Christ from the ordinances of the old covenant, and he is no longer a slave; but he has been placed in a society which is governed by laws eternal in their force, and the measure of the liberty he enjoys is the good of his own soul and the well-being of his brother’s, for none of us liveth to him-self, and no man dieth to himself As Christian members in the commonwealth of Christ we possess, indeed, in its highest and holiest sense, the triple right of liberty, fraternity, equality; but the religion to which we belong is neither reactionary nor revolutionary, and our liberty must be controlled, our equality sanctified, and our fraternity blessed, by the Holy Spirit of God. (C. W. H. Kenrick, M. A.)

Stand fast

Brethren, I cannot be of any other faith than that which I preached nearly twenty-nine years ago on this platform. I am to-day what I was then. That which I preached here then I preach here now. You know the story of the boy who stood on the burning deck because his father said, “Stand there,” and he could not come away. Other boys, much wiser than he was, had gone and got out of the mischief. I am standing where I stood then; I cannot help it, so help me God. I know no more to-day than I knew when first I believed in Jesus as to this matter. I know by grace. Are ye saved through faith and that not of yourself--“it is the gift of God?” You shall leave this :Rock if you like; you may be able to swim; I cannot, and so I stop here; and when the crack of doom shall come I shall be here, God helping me, believing this self-same doctrine. There is something in our very adhesiveness and pertinacity which represents the spirit of the gospel. I am sure that steadfastness in these particular times has its value, and I urge you,, to it that the gospel which you have received, the gospel of the grace of God, you stand fast to as long as you live. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

The secret of steadfastness

Standing on the shore of an estuary, one sees a boat riding in the tideway, when sea-weed and other things float by, over the self-same spot; and whether the tide ebbs or flows, whether it steals quietly in or comes on with the rush and roar of foaming billows, the boat always boldly shows its face to it; and turning its head to the current receives on its bows, to split them, the shock of waves. This, which to a child would seem strange, is due to the anchor that lies below the waters, and, grasping the solid ground with its iron arms, holds fast the boat. It seems no less wonderful to see a tree--no sturdy oak, but slender birch, or trembling aspen--standing erect away up on a mountain brow; where, exposed to the sweep of every storm, it has gallantly maintained its ground against the tempests that have laid in the dust the stateliest ornaments of the plain. But our wonder ceases so soon as we climb the height, and see wherein its great strength lies; how it has struck its roots down into the mountain, and wrapped them with many a strong twist and turn round and round the rock. (W. Arnot.)
.

Stand fast

1. In Christ to whom you have been brought.

2. In adherence to the doctrines which the gospel has set before you.

3. You will find your strength and dependence only in the grace of Christ.

4. In the service of your Master to the end. (J. Harding, M. A.)

The bounds of Christian freedom

When we speak of freedom, we are apt to think only of the removal of restraints. But though it is important to get rid of all needless restraints, it is much more important that we should possess and train the powers for which the absence of restraint is demanded. If there is no life, the removal of restraints will be of no use. If the life is feeble, and tied down by inward restraints like those of superstition or of fear, the removal of outward restraints will not set it free. But if there is vigorous life, it demands for its development a constantly expanding freedom: and this spiritual power has in itself both its proper energy and its proper bound. It is a tree which has an innate capacity of growth. Give it air and light; remove whatever confines and overshadows it. It may need pruning and guiding; but it can provide its own symmetry for itself. I do not propose to dwell verse by verse upon the passage (Galatians 4:1-16) which I have taken for a starting point, but to illustrate and enforce its central principle. Wherever there is a just demand for freedom, it is because there exists a living power to be liberated; and this living power, if it be kept pure, contains in itself the true limit of its exercise. First, take the revival of Christian liberty at the time of the Reformation. Luther’s first great treatise was Concerning Christian Liberty. The liberty he claims presupposes the establishment in the soul of the Divine life of faith. You do not work, he says again and again, so that you may live. Life comes first; works, afterwards. The fruit will never make the root or the sap, but the root and the sap ensure the fruit. But, since this Divine life of faith exists, he demands that it should be free from the fetters of the clerical system of the Middle Ages. But let us come to more commonplace examples of freedom; we shall still find that it is the growth of the inner life or capacity which determines and controls the external conditions. Take the familiar case of a boy who wants to leave school and go to sea. If his father is wise, he will watch carefully, and try to estimate the meaning of this wish. Is it mere unruliness or restlessness, or dislike of study? If so, he will give it no encouragement. But, if he finds the boy in his leisure moments reading about the sea, and haunting about the seashore, and studying intelligently the boats and sails and machinery, after a time he will begin to recognize in the boy such a bent as indicates a genuine call. And when this is so, he may assure himself that the freedom will not be abused. The boy will be free from the constraints of the shore life; but that very zest for seamanship which has won its freedom will be most likely to ensure the right use of that freedom. There is a fine expression in the speech in which Pericles contrasted the free system of Athenian life, “the trustful spirit of liberty,” with the narrower system of Sparta. It might be thought that, unless such constraints as those imposed at Sparta existed, each man would try to impose his own will or tastes upon others. But the contrary, Pericles declared, was the case at Athens; each man respected the feelings of his neighbour. The slavish system is that of mistrust. Mutual confidence is the offspring of freedom. We might illustrate this by the experience of two great English schools some sixty years ago. When Keate was head-master of Eton, his system of discipline was one of terrorism. He never took a boy’s word, and, on the suspicion of a fault, he flogged him. At the same period, Arnold was head-master at Rugby. He always believed a boy; and it was only on rare occasions, when the proof was indubitable, that he punished. It might have been supposed that, under the severer system, boys would be afraid to do wrong, and that they would take advantage of the more lenient system to deceive. The contrary was the case. At Eton, under Keate, it; was thought quite fair to deceive a master. At Rugby, boys said, “It is a shame to tell Arnold a lie, he always believes you.” Thus freedom and trustfulness beget the sense of responsibility. To conclude: We have spoken of freedom first as an inward and spiritual state, secondly as the removal of outward restraints. The first of these is the most important. To the attainment of this we must constantly attend, both for ourselves and for those on whom we have any influence. There are tyrannies which have nothing to do with physical restraints, and against these we must war incessantly. There is the tyranny of evil habits. How can he he thought free who is the slave of customs which he knows to be wrong? There is the tyranny of fashion and opinion, and again of prejudice and party spirit. How can he be free who acts only as others choose? There is the tyranny of ignorance. How can he be called free whose life is bounded by a narrow circle of ideas? Let us strive for the sublime liberty which belongs to those who fear God and hate evil. (Canon Fremantle.)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Galatians 5:1". The Biblical Illustrator. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/galatians-5.html. 1905-1909. New York.

The Biblical Illustrator

Galatians 5:1

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us freer and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

The freedom of the Christian

It is necessary that we first see generally what that “liberty” is, “wherewith Christ maketh His people free.” I cannot hold any one “free,” so long as his own conscience locks him up into the fear of death and punishment. The mind which has places which it is afraid to touch, can never expatiate every where; and the mind which cannot go anywhere, never is “free.” It is the sense of pardon which is that man’s emancipation. Have we not all felt the difference.

to work that we may be loved, and to work because we are loved; to have a motive from without, or to have a motive from within; to be guided by a fear, or to be attracted by an affection? But, again, to obey any one isolated law, however good that law may be, and however we may admire and love the Lawgiver, may still carry with it a sense of confining and contraction. To do, not this or that command, but the whole will, because it is the will of one we love--to have caught His mind, to breathe His spirit, to be bound up with His glory--that has in it no littleness; there are no circumscribing confines there; and these are the goings out of the unshackled being in the ranges which match with his own infinity. And yet once more. Such is the soul of man, that all that in his horizon falls within the compass of time, however long--or of a present life however full--that man’s circle being small, compared to his own consciousness of his own capability, through that disproportion, he feels a limitation. But let a man once look, as he may, and as he must, on that great world which lies beyond him as his scope and his home, and all that is here as only the discipline and the school-work by which he is in training, and immediately everything contains in it eternity. And very “free” will that man be “among the dead,” because his faith is going out above the smallnesses which surround him, to the great, and to the absorbing, and to the satisfying things to come. It will not be difficult to carry out these principles, and apply them to the right performance of any of the obligations of life. It needs no words to show that whatever is done in this freedom will not only be itself better done, but it takes from that freedom a character which comports well with a member of the family of God; and which at once makes it edifying to Him, and acceptable and honouring to a heavenly Father. (J. Vaughan, M. A.)

Spiritual freedom

What is liberty? Obedience to one’s self; obedience to a law which is written in a man’s own heart. If I obey myself, and myself is not a right self, it is, indeed, “liberty,” but being a bad liberty, it becomes “licentiousness.” It is compulsion; it is bondage. Liberty is when the outer law and the inner law are the same; and both are good.

1. Every one has a past which fetters him. The moment a man really believes, and accepts his pardon, he is cut off from all his sinful past! He is at liberty--free from his own bitter history--free from himself!

2. Now look to the “liberty” from the present. If I have received. Christ into my heart, I am a pardoned man, I am a happy man, and I know and feel that I owe all my happiness to Him--therefore I love Him; I cannot choose but love Him; and my first desire is to please Him; to follow Him; to be like Him; to be with Him. My life is to become a life of love. In obeying God, I obey myself. The new life and the new heart are in accord.

3. And what of the future? A vista running up to glory! But are there no dark places? Chiefly in the anticipation. When they come, they will bring their own escapes and their own balances. He has undertaken for me in everything. He will never leave me. So I am quite free from all my future. To die will be a very little thing. The grave cannot hold me. He has been through, and opened the door the other side. (J. Vaughan, M. A.)

Christian liberty

I. The liberty of the subjects that are freed. Christian liberty stands--

1. In immunity from evil.

(a) in the fault,

(b) in the punishment--whether the inward slavery of an accusing conscience or outward wrath of God, death, and damnation.

(a) burdensome traditions,

(b) the law, either ceremonial or moral, as regards either the obligation or the curse.

2. Less than this is bondage, more than this is looseness.

II. The prerogative of the King of Glory that hath freed them.

1. They could not free themselves.

2. Angels could not free them.

3. Only Christ could, whose ransom was infinite.

4. Only Christ has, whose love is infinite. How?

5. Christ has freed us from seven Egyptian masters.

III. The maintenance of the liberty which the power of that great prerogative hath achieved.

1. How strange that such an exhortation should be necessary. In the case of a liberated bird or an emancipated slave it would be superfluous.

2. Yet facts prove it necessary in the case of Christ’s freemen. (Bishop Hall.)

Christian believers exhorted to the maintenance of their spiritual liberty

I. This exhortation implies--

1. That attempts will be made to deprive us of this liberty. This is discovered soon after its first enjoyment.

2. The awful possibility of losing this liberty, as testified

3. That there is no necessity to lose this liberty. When lost it is most frequently by

4. Yet while there is no necessity to forfeit their liberty, Christians are exposed to great and peculiar dangers

II. The duties in the observance of which spiritual freedom may be maintained.

1. The devotional reading of Scripture day by day in connection with religious biography and kindred works.

2. A regular and conscientious attention to private prayer.

3. A spirit of watchfulness.

4. Constant self-denial.

5. Unceasing cultivation of holiness. In conclusion:

Remember--

1. The price paid for your redemption.

2. The wretched state of the re-enslaved believer. (H. H. Chettle.)

Christian freedom

I. In the voluntary service of God (Luke 1:74; 1 Timothy 1:9).

II. In the free use of the creatures of God (Titus 1:15; Romans 14:14).

III. To come unto God through Christ in prayer. (Romans 5:2; Ephesians 3:12).

IV. To enter heaven (Hebrews 10:19). (W. Perkins.)

Liberty not lawlessness

Liberty is harmony between the law and the nature and inclinations of its subjects. Law is essential to freedom, but freedom requires that the law shall be such as comports with the best interests and highest reason of those who have to obey it; for then their best desires will concur with their obligations, and, wishing to do only what the law requires them to do, they will be conscious of no restraint. (Newman Hall.)

Spiritual and related freedoms

Let me remind you of the arrangement of the ancient temple. In the centre was the sanctuary, with the altar of sacrifice before it, and the altar of incense within; and beyond the veil, the Holy of Holies and the mercy seat. Here worship was offered, atonement made, the presence of God manifested. Let this represent liberty-spiritual--the union of the soul with its Maker. Beyond the sanctuary and enclosing it, was the Court of the Jews, through which access was obtained to the inner shrine. Let this represent liberty-doctrinal--that revealed truth by which the soul obtains admission into the liberty of God’s children. Beyond was the Court of the Gentiles--further from the Holy of Holies--but connected with it, surrounding and defending it. Let this represent liberty-ecclesiastical, by which doctrinal truth is best conserved and thus spiritual liberty best attained. Beyond all these were the outer walls and gates, and the lofty rock on which it was upreared. Let this represent liberty national, by which ecclesiastical freedom is guaranteed. (Newman Hall.)

Freedom and slavery

Know that to be free is the same thing as to be pious, to be wise, to be temperate and fast, to be frugal and abstinent, and, lastly, to be magnanimous and brave; so to be the opposite of all these is the same as to be a slave; and it usually happens that that people who cannot govern themselves, are delivered up to the sway of those whom they abhor, and made to submit to an involuntary servitude. (Milton.)

The soul’s rebellion against its thraldom

As the lark, imprisoned since it burst its shell, though it has never sprung upward to salute the rising sun, will often manifest how cruel is its captivity by instinctively spreading its wings and darting upward, as if to soar, but only beats its head against the wires and falls back on its narrow perch; so the soul of man, designed to soar and utter its raptures in the rays of the great central sun, will sometimes, even in its cage, attempt to rise and breathe a loftier atmosphere, but falls back vainly struggling against the bars which sin and death have framed around it. (Newman Hall.)

Standing fast in liberty

The phrase alludes to the duties of soldiers on military service. When marshalled in the ranks they must stand firm, without yielding their ground, without bending their knees; when placed as sentinels they must stand upon their guard and permit no enemy to surprise them. You are soldiers of Christ, and must stand fast--be valiant for the truth--and look to yourselves. (H. H. Chettle.)

Liberty from law unconscious obedience

No man has reached liberty until he has learned to obey with such facility and perfection that he does it without knowing it, If I step upon a little bit of plank in the street I walk along over it without thinking. Although it is only four inches wide I can walk on it as well as I can on the rest of the pavement. But put that plank between two towers one hundred feet high in the air and let me be called to walk over it. I begin to think, of course, of what I am called upon to do. And the moment I begin to think I cannot do it. When you try to do a thing you cannot do it as well as when you do it without trying. (H. W. Beecher.)

Christian liberty

The apostle now enters upon the more practical part of the Epistle. Freedom is the link which connects the two parts together.

I. Christian liberty is the liberty of faith. Faith receives the truth, the whole truth, concerning sin and redemption; and it is the truth, believed, that makes men free.

II. Christian liberty is the liberty of hope.

1. A hope which maketh not ashamed, for it is based on Christ’s accomplished work.

2. A hope which patiently waits for that which it knows it will assuredly possess.

III. Christian liberty is the liberty of love. The Saviour’s love to the sinner draws the sinner’s love to Himself.

IV. Christian liberty is the liberty of holiness. The safeguards of political liberty lie not in the laws which regulate, or the armies which defend it, but in the spirit which animates a people, in their respect for law, in their mutual toleration, in their recognition of others’ rights, and, above all, in their hearty devotion to the government under which they live. Where these prevail, a nation is already free, and a liberty so founded will never degenerate into license. So also Christian liberty is best secured from abuse, not by the threat of penalties, or by an appeal to fear, but by the operation of those principles which lie at the foundation of Christian character. The gospel sets man free from a bondage beneath which a loving obedience is impossible, in order that, being free, he may serve God in the spirit of Christian liberty. (Emilius Bayley, B. D.)

Spiritual liberty

Spiritual liberty consists in freedom from the curse of the moral law; from the servitude of the ritual; from the love, power, and guilt of sin; from the dominion of Satan; from the corruption of the world; from the fear of death and the wrath to come. (C. Buck.)

Christian liberty

The liberty wherewith Christ has made men free is a deliverance from a system of rules, positive and prohibitory--a temporary and provisional system which had an educational value, training men to the full privileges of religious manhood. It is an abdication of privilege, when men fall back upon the old standpoint of Judaism, and fence themselves in by rigid rules as if of primary importance. There is a perpetual tendency to make men subject to ordinances, whose language is, “Touch not, taste not, handle not,” after the commandments and ordinances of men; and not only to adopt these precepts as useful helps for their own moral progress, but to impose them upon others, almost as if they were of Divine origin; and to make them the standard of their judgment upon the spiritual condition of their fellow men. Every school of religious thought exhibits proofs of this temptation to represent as commandments of God, precepts of man’s own devising. This Judaising temper displays itself whenever men try to narrow down eternal principles of conduct into minute rules, which can prefer no higher claim than to be deemed useful to some, whilst they may be positively injurious to others In vindicating the freedom brought to us by the gospel, we throw ourselves back on the primary truths of Christianity--the Fatherhood of God, and the reconciliation wrought out by the atoning work of Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of God. Fully believing that God is a righteous Judge, we shall yet not feel towards Him as if He were a hard taskmaster or rigid lawgiver, but as the Infinite Being whose love first created us, and subsequently devised our redemption; we shall exercise an unreserved faith in the completeness of the sacrifice for sin which has been made by our Saviour, and the present forgiveness which has been obtained for us; and we shall rejoice in the glorious liberty of the children of God. But this sense of liberty will not degenerate into licentiousness and unrestrained self-indulgence. Because we are not under the law, but under grace, we shall see ourselves called to a higher and nobler type of holiness. We shall certainly not be without law to God. Our religion will be displayed, not in a punctilious attention to external rules, but in a life-giving spirit, which will penetrate into every department of action in relation to others. In daily society it will impart a kindliness, a charity, a justice, in cur estimate of the words and conduct of those around us; it will teach us a Divine tolerance and a modest humility. It will make the best of both worlds, not in the low commercial sense, which tries to strike a balance between the claims of secular expediency and devotion to the service of God, but in the spirit of the apostolic exhortation which bids men “use this world as not abusing it.” Spite of all the manifold temptations on the plea of piety, or on the plea of the necessary subordination of the individual to the society, it will firmly refuse to descend to a lower level of Christianity than that which Christ its Founder intended. It will uphold the banner of freedom by maintaining, alike in theory and in practice, that Christianity is not in its essence a system of doctrine or a code of precepts, but a life and a spirit, a communion with God in Christ, manifesting itself in the power of true godliness. (Canon Ince.)

Personal liberty of the Christian

The doctrine of St. Paul is not that a Christian man has a right to liberty in conduct, thought, and speech in and of himself, without regard to external circumstances, interests, organizations, and without reference to his own condition. Paul’s conception of the rights and liberties of men stands on the philosophical ground underneath all those things. Rights and liberties belong to stages or states of condition. The inferior has not the right of the superior. A stupid man has not the right of an educated or intelligent man. He may have the legal rights; but the higher ones, that spring out of the condition of the soul, must stand on the conditions to which they belong. A. refined man has rights and joys that an unrefined man has not and cannot have, because he cannot understand them, does not want them, could not use them. Rights increase as the man increases--increases, that is, not merely in physical stature, or in skill of manual employment or material strength, but in character. So, as men work up higher and higher towards the Divine standard of character, their rights and liberties increase. The direct influence of Christ is to bring the human mind into its highest elements:. The power of the Divine nature upon the human soul is to lift it steadily away from animalism or from the flesh--the under-man--up through the realm of mere material wisdom and accomplishment, in the direction of soul-power, reason, rectitude--such reason and such rectitude as grow up under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. When love has permeated the whole man, he then has perfect liberty--liberty of thought, liberty of speech, liberty of conduct. A perfect Christian is the one and only creature that has absolute liberty unchecked by law, by institution, by foregoing thoughts of men, by public sentiment. Because a perfect man is in unison with the Divine soul, he has the whole liberty of God in himself, according to the measure of his manhood. But he has liberty to do only what he wants to do, and he wants to do nothing that is not within the bounds and benefit of a pure and true love. He becomes a law to himself; that is, he carries in himself that inspiration of love which is the mother of all good law. He is higher than any law. His will is with God’s will. He thinks what is true; he does what is benevolent. (H. W. Beecher.)

Christian liberty a trust

When a man is in slavery he is not his own master; he acts and lives under the direction of others, and the responsibility of life is in a greater or less degree shifted from him on to some one else. When a man becomes free, he assumes the duties of life, and recognizes that it rests only with himself whether those duties are performed or not. And so man living under the Christian covenant stands in a direct personal relation to God, a relation of trust. Gifted with freewill, he is answerable for his conduct; subjected no longer to the ordinances of the Mosaic Law, he claims the liberty of the gospel; but he dares not forget that there still is a law limiting and controlling the freedom which he enjoys, and that every action of his carries responsibility with it. The soul of the old law is enshrined and quickened in the body of the new. The spirit, not the letter, of Sinai is met with again in the Sermon on the Mount. All Christian duties are summed up there and enforced with the authority of One who taught not as the scribes and Pharisees, and who spake as never man spake (Matthew 22:37-40). Our liberty is a limited one. No man can do as he likes. He has a Master in heaven whom he must serve. He is indeed set free by the death of Christ from the ordinances of the old covenant, and he is no longer a slave; but he has been placed in a society which is governed by laws eternal in their force, and the measure of the liberty he enjoys is the good of his own soul and the well-being of his brother’s, for none of us liveth to him-self, and no man dieth to himself As Christian members in the commonwealth of Christ we possess, indeed, in its highest and holiest sense, the triple right of liberty, fraternity, equality; but the religion to which we belong is neither reactionary nor revolutionary, and our liberty must be controlled, our equality sanctified, and our fraternity blessed, by the Holy Spirit of God. (C. W. H. Kenrick, M. A.)

Stand fast

Brethren, I cannot be of any other faith than that which I preached nearly twenty-nine years ago on this platform. I am to-day what I was then. That which I preached here then I preach here now. You know the story of the boy who stood on the burning deck because his father said, “Stand there,” and he could not come away. Other boys, much wiser than he was, had gone and got out of the mischief. I am standing where I stood then; I cannot help it, so help me God. I know no more to-day than I knew when first I believed in Jesus as to this matter. I know by grace. Are ye saved through faith and that not of yourself--“it is the gift of God?” You shall leave this :Rock if you like; you may be able to swim; I cannot, and so I stop here; and when the crack of doom shall come I shall be here, God helping me, believing this self-same doctrine. There is something in our very adhesiveness and pertinacity which represents the spirit of the gospel. I am sure that steadfastness in these particular times has its value, and I urge you,, to it that the gospel which you have received, the gospel of the grace of God, you stand fast to as long as you live. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

The secret of steadfastness

Standing on the shore of an estuary, one sees a boat riding in the tideway, when sea-weed and other things float by, over the self-same spot; and whether the tide ebbs or flows, whether it steals quietly in or comes on with the rush and roar of foaming billows, the boat always boldly shows its face to it; and turning its head to the current receives on its bows, to split them, the shock of waves. This, which to a child would seem strange, is due to the anchor that lies below the waters, and, grasping the solid ground with its iron arms, holds fast the boat. It seems no less wonderful to see a tree--no sturdy oak, but slender birch, or trembling aspen--standing erect away up on a mountain brow; where, exposed to the sweep of every storm, it has gallantly maintained its ground against the tempests that have laid in the dust the stateliest ornaments of the plain. But our wonder ceases so soon as we climb the height, and see wherein its great strength lies; how it has struck its roots down into the mountain, and wrapped them with many a strong twist and turn round and round the rock. (W. Arnot.)
.

Stand fast

1. In Christ to whom you have been brought.

2. In adherence to the doctrines which the gospel has set before you.

3. You will find your strength and dependence only in the grace of Christ.

4. In the service of your Master to the end. (J. Harding, M. A.)

The bounds of Christian freedom

When we speak of freedom, we are apt to think only of the removal of restraints. But though it is important to get rid of all needless restraints, it is much more important that we should possess and train the powers for which the absence of restraint is demanded. If there is no life, the removal of restraints will be of no use. If the life is feeble, and tied down by inward restraints like those of superstition or of fear, the removal of outward restraints will not set it free. But if there is vigorous life, it demands for its development a constantly expanding freedom: and this spiritual power has in itself both its proper energy and its proper bound. It is a tree which has an innate capacity of growth. Give it air and light; remove whatever confines and overshadows it. It may need pruning and guiding; but it can provide its own symmetry for itself. I do not propose to dwell verse by verse upon the passage (Galatians 4:1-16) which I have taken for a starting point, but to illustrate and enforce its central principle. Wherever there is a just demand for freedom, it is because there exists a living power to be liberated; and this living power, if it be kept pure, contains in itself the true limit of its exercise. First, take the revival of Christian liberty at the time of the Reformation. Luther’s first great treatise was Concerning Christian Liberty. The liberty he claims presupposes the establishment in the soul of the Divine life of faith. You do not work, he says again and again, so that you may live. Life comes first; works, afterwards. The fruit will never make the root or the sap, but the root and the sap ensure the fruit. But, since this Divine life of faith exists, he demands that it should be free from the fetters of the clerical system of the Middle Ages. But let us come to more commonplace examples of freedom; we shall still find that it is the growth of the inner life or capacity which determines and controls the external conditions. Take the familiar case of a boy who wants to leave school and go to sea. If his father is wise, he will watch carefully, and try to estimate the meaning of this wish. Is it mere unruliness or restlessness, or dislike of study? If so, he will give it no encouragement. But, if he finds the boy in his leisure moments reading about the sea, and haunting about the seashore, and studying intelligently the boats and sails and machinery, after a time he will begin to recognize in the boy such a bent as indicates a genuine call. And when this is so, he may assure himself that the freedom will not be abused. The boy will be free from the constraints of the shore life; but that very zest for seamanship which has won its freedom will be most likely to ensure the right use of that freedom. There is a fine expression in the speech in which Pericles contrasted the free system of Athenian life, “the trustful spirit of liberty,” with the narrower system of Sparta. It might be thought that, unless such constraints as those imposed at Sparta existed, each man would try to impose his own will or tastes upon others. But the contrary, Pericles declared, was the case at Athens; each man respected the feelings of his neighbour. The slavish system is that of mistrust. Mutual confidence is the offspring of freedom. We might illustrate this by the experience of two great English schools some sixty years ago. When Keate was head-master of Eton, his system of discipline was one of terrorism. He never took a boy’s word, and, on the suspicion of a fault, he flogged him. At the same period, Arnold was head-master at Rugby. He always believed a boy; and it was only on rare occasions, when the proof was indubitable, that he punished. It might have been supposed that, under the severer system, boys would be afraid to do wrong, and that they would take advantage of the more lenient system to deceive. The contrary was the case. At Eton, under Keate, it; was thought quite fair to deceive a master. At Rugby, boys said, “It is a shame to tell Arnold a lie, he always believes you.” Thus freedom and trustfulness beget the sense of responsibility. To conclude: We have spoken of freedom first as an inward and spiritual state, secondly as the removal of outward restraints. The first of these is the most important. To the attainment of this we must constantly attend, both for ourselves and for those on whom we have any influence. There are tyrannies which have nothing to do with physical restraints, and against these we must war incessantly. There is the tyranny of evil habits. How can he he thought free who is the slave of customs which he knows to be wrong? There is the tyranny of fashion and opinion, and again of prejudice and party spirit. How can he be free who acts only as others choose? There is the tyranny of ignorance. How can he be called free whose life is bounded by a narrow circle of ideas? Let us strive for the sublime liberty which belongs to those who fear God and hate evil. (Canon Fremantle.)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Galatians 5:1". The Biblical Illustrator. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/galatians-5.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

GAL. 5

Paul in this summarized his teaching of the last three chapters preceding this (Galatians 5:1-5), and then distinguished between the works of the flesh and the works of the Spirit, appealing to the Galatians to live by the Spirit (Galatians 5:6-26).

For freedom did Christ set us free: stand fast therefore, and be not entangled again in a yoke of bondage. (Galatians 5:1)

The second clause here makes the identity of the freedom in the first clause easy to ascertain. "There can be no doubt that it refers to freedom from the slavery of the Law of Moses."[1] As a summary statement, this also shows the meaning of "freedom from law" as taught in the previous chapters. That it never had any reference to Christian obligations, whether in the realm of obedience to the primary ordinances of God, or adherence to the ethical commandments of our holy faith, is absolutely certain.

Stand ... therefore ... Paul, by this admonished the Galatians to hold their ground, resist the Judaizers and reject the persuasions of those who would entangle them in such things as sabbath days, feast days, circumcision and all other Jewish regulations.

ENDNOTE:

[1] R. E. Howard, Beacon Bible Commentary, Galatians (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press, 1968), Vol. IX, p. 82.

Copyright Statement
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Galatians 5:1". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/galatians-5.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Stand fast therefore in the liberty,.... There is the liberty of grace, and the liberty of glory; the former of these is here meant, and lies in a freedom from sin; not from the indwelling of it, but from the dominion, guilt, and damning power of it; from the captivity and tyranny of Satan, though not from his temptations and insults; from the law, the ceremonial law, as an handwriting of ordinances, a rigid severe schoolmaster, and a middle wall of partition, and from all its burdensome rites and institutions; from the moral law as a covenant of works, and as administered by Moses; and from the curse and condemnation of it, its bondage and rigorous exaction, and from all expectation of life and righteousness by the deeds of it; but not from obedience to it, as held forth by Christ, and as a rule of walk and conversation; and from the judicial law, or those laws which concerned the Jews as Jews: moreover, this liberty lies in the free use of things indifferent, as eating any sort of food without distinction, so that it be done in faith, with thankfulness to God, in moderation, and with temperance, and so as that the peace and edification of fellow Christians are not hurt; also in the free use of Gospel ordinances, which they that are fellow citizens with the saints have a right unto, but not to lay aside or neglect at pleasure; which is not to use, but to abuse their liberty: again, another branch of it is access to God, with freedom and boldness at the throne of grace, through the Mediator, under the influences of the divine Spirit; to which may be added, a deliverance from the fears of death corporeal, who is a king of terrors to Christless sinners, and which kept Old Testament saints, all their lifetime subject to bondage and eternal, or the second death, by which Christ's freemen are assured they shall not be hurt: now, in this liberty, the children of the free woman, believers under the Gospel dispensation, are very pertinently exhorted to stand fast, in consequence and consideration of their character; that is, they should highly prize and esteem it, as men do their civil liberty; and maintain it and defend it, at all hazards; abide by the doctrine of it without wavering, and with intrepidity; not giving up anyone part of it, however, and by whomsoever, it may be opposed, maligned, and reproached; and keep up the practice of it, by obeying from the heart the doctrine of it, by becoming the servants of righteousness, by frequent attendance at the throne of grace, and continual observance of the ordinances of Christ; and then should take heed of everything that tends to break in upon it, as any doctrine or commandment of men; particularly the doctrine of justification by works, and all sorts of superstition and will worship: and the rather, because of the concern Christ has in this liberty, it is that

wherewith Christ hath made us free; we are not free born, but on the contrary homeborn slaves, as Ephraim was; nor could this liberty in any of its branches be obtained by us, by any merit, righteousness, act, or acts of ours, but is wholly of Christ's procuring for us, both by price and power; whereby he has ransomed and delivered us out of the hands of all our spiritual enemies, sin, Satan, the law, and death; and it is of his proclaiming in the Gospel, and of his applying by his Spirit, whom he sends down into our hearts as a free Spirit, to acquaint us with it, and lead us into it, who works faith in us to lay hold upon, and receive this blessing of grace as others:

and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. The metaphor is taken from oxen put under a yoke, and implicated with it, from which they cannot disengage themselves: some of the members of this church had been Jews, who had formerly been under the yoke of the law, and seemed desirous to return to their former state of bondage, from which the apostle dissuades, and therefore uses the word again: or else he may refer to the bondage of corruption and idolatry, which they as Gentiles were in, before their conversion; and intimates, that to give into the observance of; Jewish rites and ceremonies would be involving themselves in a state of bondage again; for by "the yoke of bandage" he means the law, which the Jews frequently call עול מצות "the yoke of the commandments"F12Misn. Beracot, c. 2. sect. 2. T. Hieros. Beracot, fol. 4. 2. ; particularly the ceremonial law, as circumcision; which Peter, Acts 15:10 represents as a yoke intolerable; the observation of days, months, times, and years; the multitude of sacrifices, and which could not take away sin; but proclaimed their guilt and obligation to punishment, and were an handwriting of ordinances against them, and thereby they were held and kept in bondage, and such a yoke is the moral law as delivered by Moses, requiring perfect obedience, but giving no strength to perform, nor pointing where any is to be had; showing a man his sin and misery, and so working wrath in his conscience, but giving not the least intimation of a Saviour, or of life and righteousness by another; accusing, pronouncing guilty, cursing, and condemning; hence such as seek for righteousness by it are in a miserable subjection to it, and are sadly implicated and entangled with the yoke of it: every doctrine and ordinance of men is a yoke of bondage which should not be submitted to; nay, any action whatever, performed in a religious way and in order for a man's acceptance with God, and to obtain his favour, and according to his observance of which he judges of his state, and speaks peace and comfort to himself, or the reverse, is a yoke of bondage: as, for instance prayer at such and so many times a day, reading such a number of chapters in the Bible every day, fasting so many times in the week, and the like; so that what are branches of Christian liberty, such as frequent prayer to God, reading the sacred writings for instruction and comfort, and the free use of the creatures, are turned into a yoke of bondage, which should be guarded against.

Copyright Statement
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Galatians 5:1". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/galatians-5.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Galatians 5:1-26. Peroration. Exhortation to stand fast in the Gospel liberty, just set forth, and not to be led by Judaizers into circumcision, or Law justification: Yet though free, to serve one another by love: To walk in the Spirit, bearing the fruit thereof, not in the works of the flesh.

The oldest manuscripts read, “in liberty (so Alford, Moberley, Humphry, and Ellicott. But as there is no Greek for ‹in,‘ as there is in translating in 1 Corinthians 16:13; Philemon 1:27; Philemon 4:1, I prefer ‹It is FOR freedom that‘) Christ hath made us free (not in, or for, a state of bondage). Stand fast, therefore, and be not entangled again in a yoke of bondage” (namely, the law, Galatians 4:24; Acts 15:10). On “again,” see on Galatians 4:9.

Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Galatians 5:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/galatians-5.html. 1871-8.

Martin Luther's Commentary on Galatians

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free.
"Be steadfast, not careless. Lie not down and sleep, but stand up. Be watchful. Hold fast the liberty wherewith Christ hath made you free." Those who loll cannot keep this liberty. Satan hates the light of the Gospel. When it begins to shine a little he fights against it with might and main.

What liberty does Paul mean? Not civil liberty (for which we have the government to thank), but the liberty which Christ has procured for us.

At one time the emperor was compelled to grant to the bishop of Rome certain immunities and privileges. This is civil liberty. That liberty exempts the clergy from certain public charges. Then there is also another kind of "liberty," when people obey neither the laws of God nor the laws of men, but do as they please. This carnal liberty the people want in our day. We are not now speaking of this liberty. Neither are we speaking of civil liberty.

Paul is speaking of a far better liberty, the liberty "wherewith Christ hath made us free," not from material bonds, not from the Babylonian captivity, not from the tyranny of the Turks, but from the eternal wrath of God.

Where is this liberty? In the conscience.

Our conscience is free and quiet because it no longer has to fear the wrath of God. This is real liberty, compared with which every other kind of liberty is not worth mentioning. Who can adequately express the boon that comes to a person when he has the heart-assurance that God will nevermore be angry with him, but will forever be merciful to him for Christ's sake? This is indeed a marvelous liberty, to have the sovereign God for our Friend and Father who will defend, maintain, and save us in this life and in the life to come.

As an outgrowth of this liberty, we are at the same time free from the Law, sin, death, the power of the devil, hell, etc. Since the wrath of God has been assuaged by Christ no Law, sin, or death may now accuse and condemn us. These foes of ours will continue to frighten us, but not too much. The worth of our Christian liberty cannot be exaggerated.

Our conscience must he trained to fall back on the freedom purchased for us by Christ. Though the fears of the Law, the terrors of sin, the horror of death assail us occasionally, we know that these feelings shall not endure, because the prophet quotes God as saying: "In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment: but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee." (Isaiah 54:8.)

We shall appreciate this liberty all the more when we bear in mind that it was Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who purchased it with His own blood. Hence, Christ's liberty is given us not by the Law, or for our own righteousness, but freely for Christ's sake. In the eighth chapter of the Gospel of St. John, Jesus declares: "If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." He only stands between us and the evils which trouble and afflict us and which He has overcome for us.

Reason cannot properly evaluate this gift. Who can fully appreciate the blessing of the forgiveness of sins and of everlasting life? Our opponents claim that they also possess this liberty. But they do not. When they are put to the test all their self-confidence slips from them. What else can they expect when they trust in works and not in the Word of God?

Our liberty is founded on Christ Himself, who sits at the right hand of God and intercedes for us. Therefore our liberty is sure and valid as long as we believe in Christ. As long as we cling to Him with a steadfast faith we possess His priceless gifts. But if we are careless and indifferent we shall lose them. It is not without good reason that Paul urges us to watch and to stand fast. He knew that the devil delights in taking this liberty away from us.

And be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
Because reason prefers the righteousness of the Law to the righteousness of faith, Paul calls the Law a yoke, a yoke of bondage. Peter also calls it a yoke. "Why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?" (Acts 15:10.)

In this passage Paul again disparages the pernicious notion that the Law is able to make men righteous before God, a notion deeply rooted in man's reason. All mankind is so wrapped up in this idea that it is hard to drag it out of people. Paul compares those who seek to be justified by the Law to oxen that are hitched to the yoke. Like oxen that toil in the yoke all day, and in the evening are turned out to graze along the dusty road, and at last are marked for slaughter when they no longer can draw the burden, so those who seek to be justified by the Law are "entangled with the yoke of bondage," and when they have grown old and broken-down in the service of the Law they have earned for their perpetual reward God's wrath and everlasting torment.

We are not now treating of an unimportant matter. It is a matter that involves everlasting liberty or everlasting slavery. For as a liberation from God's wrath through the kind office of Christ is not a passing boon, but a permanent blessing, so also the yoke of the Law is not a temporary but an everlasting affliction.

Rightly are the doors of the Law called devil's martyrs. They take more pains to earn hell than the martyrs of Christ to obtain heaven. Theirs is a double misfortune. First they torture themselves on earth with self- inflicted penances and finally when they die they gain the reward of eternal damnation.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website
Bibliographical Information
Luther, Martin. "Commentary on Galatians 5:1". "Martin Luther's Commentary on Galatians". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/mlg/galatians-5.html. Zondervan. Gand Rapids, MI. 1939.

People's New Testament

Stand fast therefore. Compare Ephesians 6:14; 2 Thessalonians 2:15. This verse is connected in meaning with the last chapter, where it is shown that the gospel is freedom, but the Mosaic law is the covenant of bondage. Hence Paul bids them to cling to their freedom in Christ, and not to be brought again under the yoke by being drawn under the Jewish law.

Again. Once they had been under bondage to a heathen yoke (Galatians 4:8); to accept the Jewish yoke would be a second bondage.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Original work done by Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
Bibliographical Information
Johnson, Barton W. "Commentary on Galatians 5:1". "People's New Testament". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/pnt/galatians-5.html. 1891.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

With freedom (τηι ελευτεριαιtēi eleutheriāi). Rather dative case instead of instrumental, “for freedom,” “for the (article) freedom that belongs to us children of the freewoman” (Galatians 4:31).

Did Christ set us free (ημας Χριστος ηλευτερωσενhēmas Christos ēleutherōsen). Effective aorist active indicative of ελευτεροωeleutheroō (from ερχομαιerchomai to go, go free).

Stand fast therefore (στηκετε ουνstēkete oun). See Mark 3:31; 1 Corinthians 16:13 for this late word from perfect stem of ιστημιhistēmi “keep on standing therefore,” “stay free since Christ set you free.”

Be not entangled again (μη παλιν ενεχεστεmē palin enechesthe). “Stop being held in by a yoke of bondage.” Common word for ensnare by trap. The Judaizers were trying to lasso the Galatians for the old yoke of Judaism.

Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Galatians 5:1". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/galatians-5.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary

CRITICAL AND EXPLANATORY NOTES

Gal . Stand fast in.—Stand up to, make your stand for. The liberty wherewith Christ has made as free.—As Christ has given you this liberty you are bound to stand fast in it. Be not entangled.—Implicated in a way which involves violence to true spontaneous life. The yoke of bondage.—Contrasted with the yoke of Christ, which is compatible with the fullest spiritual freedom.

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Gal

Christian Liberty—

I. Should be valued considering how it was obtained.—"The liberty where, with Christ hath made us free." It is a liberty purchased at a great cost. Christ, the Son of God, became incarnated, suffered in a degree unparalleled and incomprehensible, and died the shameful and ignoble death of the crucified to win back the liberty man had forfeited by voluntary sin. The redemption of man was hopeless from himself, and but for the intervention of a competent Redeemer he was involved in utter and irretrievable bondage. Civil liberty, though the inalienable right of every man, has been secured as the result of great struggle and suffering. "With a great sum," said the Roman captain to Paul, "obtained I this freedom;" and many since his day have had to pay dearly for the common rights of citizenship. But Christian liberty should be valued as the choicest privilege, remembering it was purchased by the suffering Christ, and that it has been defended through the ages by a noble army of martyrs.

II. Should remind us of the oppression from which it delivers.—"And be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage." The Galatians had been bondmen, enslaved by the worship of false and vile deities. If they rush into the snare of the legalists, they will be bondmen again, and their bondage will be the more oppressive now they have tasted the joys of freedom. Disobedience involves us in many entanglements. It is among the most potent of the energies of sin that it leads astray by blinding and blinds by leading astray; that the soul, like the strong champion of Israel, must have its eyes put out, when it would be bound with fetters of brass and condemned to grind in the prison-house (Jud ). Redemption from the slavery of sin should fill the heart with gratitude. A wealthy and kind Englishman once bought a poor negro for twenty pieces of gold. He presented him with a sum of money that he might buy a piece of land and furnish himself a home. "Am I really free? May I go whither I will?" cried the negro in the joy of his heart. "Well, let me be your slave, massa; you have redeemed me, and I owe all to you." The gentleman took him into his service, and he never had a more faithful servant. How much more eagerly should we do homage and service to the divine Master, who Himself has made us free!

III. Should be rigorously maintained.—"Stand fast therefore." The price of freedom is incessant vigilance; once gained it is a prize never to be lost, and no effort or sacrifice should be grudged in its defence. "As far as I am a Christian," said Channing, "I am free. My religion lays on me not one chain. It does not hem me round with a mechanical ritual, does not enjoin forms, attitudes, and hours of prayer, does not descend to details of dress and food, does not put on me one outward badge. It teaches us to do good, but leaves us to devise for ourselves the means by which we may best serve mankind." The spirit of Christian liberty is eternal. Jerusalem and Rome may strive to imprison it. They might as well seek to bind the winds of heaven. Its seat is the throne of Christ. It lives by the breath of His Spirit. Not to be courageous and faithful in its defence is disloyalty to Christ and treachery to our fellow-men.

Lessons.—

1. Christ is the true Emancipator of men.

2. Christian liberty does not violate but honours the law of love.

3. Liberty is best preserved by being consistently exercised.

GERM NOTES ON THE VERSE

Gal . Freedom from Bondage.—

1. Every man by nature is a bondslave, being under the bondage of sin. The Jews were under bondage to the ceremonial law, involving great trouble, pain in the flesh, and great expense.

2. Jesus Christ by His obedience and death has purchased freedom and liberty to His Church—liberty not to do evil, nor from the yoke of new obedience, nor from the cross, nor from that obedience and reverence which inferiors owe to superiors; but from the dominion of sin, the tyranny of Satan, the curse and irritating power of the law, and from subjecting our consciences to the rites, doctrines, ceremonies, and laws of men in the matter of worship.

3. Though civil liberty be much desired, so ignorant are we of the worth of freedom from spiritual bondage that we can hardly be excited to seek after it, or made to stand to it when attained, but are in daily hazard of preferring our former bondage to our present liberty.—Fergusson.

Bondage and Liberty.

I. We are in bondage under sin.

II. We are subject to punishment.—Implying:

1. Bondage under Satan, who keeps unrepentant sinners in his snare.

2. Bondage under an evil conscience, which sits in the heart as accuser and judge, and lies like a wild beast at a man's door ready to pluck out his throat.

3. Bondage under the wrath of God and fear of eternal death.

III. We are in bondage to the ceremonial law.—To feel this bondage is a step out of it; not to feel it is to be plunged into it.

IV. We have spiritual liberty by the grace of God.—

1. Christian liberty is a deliverance from misery.

(1) From the curse of the law for the breach thereof.

(2) From the obligation of the law whereby it binds us to perfect righteousness in our own persons.

(3) From the observance of the ceremonial law of Moses.

(4) From the tyranny and dominion of sin.

2. Christian liberty is freedom in good things.

(1) In the voluntary service of God.

(2) In the free use of all the creatures of God.

(3) Liberty to come to God and in prayer to be heard.

(4) To enter heaven.

V. Christ is the great Liberator.—He procured this liberty:

1. By the merit of His death. The price paid—His precious blood—shows the excellence of the blessing, and that it should be esteemed.

2. By the efficacy of His Spirit—assuring us of our adoption, and abating the strength and power of sin.

VI. We are to hold fast our liberty in the day of trial.—

1. We must labour that religion be not only in mind and memory, but rooted in the heart.

2. We must join with our religion the soundness of a good conscience.

3. We must pray for all things needful.—Perkins.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Galatians 5:1". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/galatians-5.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Vincent's Word Studies

d In the liberty wherewith. This is according to the reading τῆ ἐλευθερίᾳ ᾗ . Different connections are proposed, as with stand fast, as A.V.: or with the close of chapter 4, as, “we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free with the freedom with which Christ freed us”: or, “of her who is free with the freedom with which,” etc. But ᾗ wherewithmust be omitted. A new clause begins with τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ . Rend. for freedom did Christ set us free. For, not with freedom. It is the dative of advantage; that we might be really free and remain free. Comp. Galatians 5:13, and John 8:36.

Made (us) free ( ἠλευθέρωσεν )

With the exception of John 8:32, John 8:36, only in Paul.

Stand fast ( στήκετε )

Used absolutely, as 2 Thessalonians 2:15. Mostly in Paul. See on 1 Thessalonians 3:8.

Be not entangled ( μὴ ἐνέχεσθε )

Or, held ensnared. By Paul only here and 2 Thessalonians 1:4. Lit. to be held within. For an elliptical usage see on Mark 6:19.

Yoke ( ζυγῷ )

Metaphorical, of a burden or bondage. Comp. Matthew 11:29, Matthew 11:30; Acts 15:10; 1 Timothy 6:1. Similarly lxx, Genesis 27:40; Leviticus 26:13; 2 Chronicles 10:4, 2 Chronicles 10:9, 2 Chronicles 10:10, 2 Chronicles 10:11, 2 Chronicles 10:14. So always in N.T. except Revelation 6:5, where it means a pair of scales. See note, and comp. Leviticus 19:35, Leviticus 19:36; Proverbs 11:1; Proverbs 16:11; Hosea 12:7.

Copyright Statement
The text of this work is public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Galatians 5:1". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/galatians-5.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty — From the ceremonial law.

Wherewith Christ hath made us — And all believers, free; and be not entangled again with the yoke of legal bondage.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Galatians 5:1". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/galatians-5.html. 1765.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

Be not entangled again; do not return again to the bondage of Jewish rites from which you have been delivered.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on Galatians 5:1". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/ain/galatians-5.html. 1878.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

Итак стойте в свободе. Сказав прежде, что сыны рождены от свободной, апостол увещевает их теперь, сколь сильно надобно ценить эту свободу, дабы галаты не презрели ее как нечто никчемное. Конечно, свобода эта – бесценное сокровище, сражаясь за которое мы не должны жалеть собственной жизни. Ибо здесь идет речь не только о внешней видимости, но о самой сути дела. Сегодня многие, не принимая это во внимание, осуждают нас в склочности, видя, что мы столь подчеркнуто и с таким упорством даже во внешних вещах утверждаем свободу веры вопреки папской тирании. Под этим предлогом противники внушают неопытным ненависть к нашему делу, словно мы стремимся к одной только вседозволенности и к ниспровержению всякой дисциплины. Но разумные и опытные люди знают: этот отрывок занимает одно из главных мест в спасительном учении. Ибо здесь говорится не о поедании той или иной пищи, не о праздновании или непраздновании того или иного дня (как считают многие глупцы, а некоторые даже сознательно клевещут), но о том, что позволено тебе перед лицом Божиим, о том, что необходимо для спасения, и чего нельзя опускать. Поэтому рассуждение ведется здесь о состоянии совести, когда та приходит на судилище Божие.

Далее, под свободой Павел здесь разумеет свободу от обрядов закона, соблюдение которых лжеапостолы требовали как чего-то необходимого. Однако пусть читатели помнят: подобная свобода является лишь частью той свободы, которую приобрел для нас Христос. Ведь какая была бы нам польза, если бы Христос освободил нас только от обрядов? Итак, мысль апостола проистекает из более возвышенного источника. Христос подпал под проклятие, чтобы искупить нас от проклятия закона. Ведь Он упразднил силу закона, державшего нас в состоянии вины и угрожавшего божественным судом. Кроме того, Он избавил нас от тирании греха, дьявола и смерти. Поэтому здесь один вид заключает в себе целый род, о чем мы еще скажем в толковании на Послание к Колоссянам. Далее, Христос, распявшись на кресте, приобрел для нас свободу, а плод и обладание сей свободой Он дает нам через Евангелие. Поэтому Павел хорошо поступил, увещевая галатов не подвергаться вновь игу рабства. То есть, не позволять вновь набрасывать петлю на свою совесть. Ибо ежели неправедные люди возлагают бремя на наши плечи, это еще можно стерпеть, но ежели они хотят поработить совесть, следует сопротивляться яростно, не жалея собственной жизни. Ибо, позволяя людям связывать совесть, мы лишим себя бесценного блага. Одновременно будет нанесен вред Христу, автору нашей свободы. Но что означает здесь слово «опять»? Ведь галаты никогда не жили под законом. Проще всего понять так: галаты в таком случае как бы утратили искупление Христово. Хотя закон был дан иудеям, а не язычникам, вне Христа ни для тех, ни для других не остается свободы, но одно только рабство.

 

 

 

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Galatians 5:1". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/galatians-5.html. 1840-57.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

LIBERTY, EQUALITY, FRATERNITY

‘Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free.’

Galatians 5:1

We are bound to assert for the Church of Jesus Christ her true and rightful place in the affairs of men.

I. The Church is the great witness to liberty in this world.—It was to set men free that her Master lived and died. He is the great emancipator of the spirit, and the conscience, and the intellect, and the heart of man. His Church exists to proclaim that truth which he declared should make men free. His Bible tells of human freedom from first to last; from God’s emancipation of Israel out of Egyptian bondage to the glory of that Jerusalem which is above, which is free. His service is described by our Prayer Book as ‘perfect freedom.’ Freedom is the very charter of the Church of Christ. She has often forgotten it; her highest princes have often worn the robes and rivetted the fetters of human tyranny, and allied themselves with crushing despotisms, to their own everlasting shame. But in spite of them, the Church is the witness to human liberty; and in England, at least, there has almost never been a great movement in the direction of the people’s freedom in which priests of the Church have not borne worthy part. But as there is a true and righteous liberty, so there is a false and degrading one. There is a liberty which claims that man shall be free to do what he likes, not what he ought; that he is independent of all law and above all self-restraint. Let us be careful, in our contest for the true, not to use the words and uphold the actions which lead to the false. Let us remember that no Church can be without law; no man, priest or layman, independent of rule. Just as every man has his own liberty of righteous conduct, but no right to do wrong, so neither Church nor community has any freedom to do that which is unlawful in God’s sight.

II. Is not baptism the most constant and ceaseless witness to equality?—Every child brought to the font, be it the child of prince or peasant, is treated exactly alike. The same words are spoken; the same water poured; the same dedication to the warfare of righteousness pronounced. And we, who as Churchmen maintain the baptism of infants, do not wait for conversion, or for years of discretion, before consecrating every human creature in the laver of the new birth. All alike, be they who they may, are claimed as equal members of Christ, admitted as equal soldiers in the army of the Most High. Every time the Baptismal Service is celebrated, the Gospel of Equality is preached, in action and in words. Yet is there a counterfeit equality, which loudly declares that a man has no ‘betters,’ refusing to recognise God’s hierarchy of goodness and genius, and reducing all characters to the same dead level. Take we heed that it find no place among us; that while we bless our Father for the equality to which our baptism bears witness, we give no place to that insolent self-assertion which has neither dignity nor reverence.

III. What witness to the brotherhood of men so expressive, so touching, as that other Sacrament, the Holy Communion, whose very name speaks of the uniting of men together in God? We rejoice to repeat St. Paul’s saying, which shows how keenly the great human-hearted Apostle felt that the Eucharist was the bond of brotherhood: ‘We being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one Bread.’ Beware of a brotherhood which assumes and mocks the sacred name. This is the spirit that makes much parade and show of fraternity, but chooses who shall be called its brothers, and who shall be treated as such. Take heed lest you grow unawares to think that only those within your own circle are brethren, and those who hold aloof are not; that those who do not think as you do, or that men like myself, who cannot always follow you, are outside the pale.

—Rev. Professor H. C. Shuttleworth.

(SECOND OUTLINE)

SPIRITUAL FREEDOM

Let us see how Christ gives ‘liberty,’ and what that ‘liberty’ is. We will look at it from three points of view.

I. Liberty from the past.—Every one has a past which fetters him. There are things in your life which you can scarcely dare to look back upon, and when you do they shackle you. You feel that so long as those things are there it is of little or no use to set about and try to live a better life. No future can undo them. Now, just to meet all this—the Cross of Christ having cancelled all the guilt and paid all the penalty—the moment a man really believes and accepts his pardon he is cut off from all his sinful past! It is placed ‘behind God’s back.’ It is ‘cast into the depths of the sea.’ It is as though it had never been. He may start quite afresh. No shadow, no fear, need come up from the years that are gone. He stands a liberated man! Now he can go—as Christ’s freedman—with a spring—to better things to come. The God of his fear has been turned into the God of his love! And that is ‘liberty’ from the past ‘wherewith Christ hath made us free’—the purchase of His cross, the gift of His throne.

II. Liberty from the present.—Now look to the ‘liberty’ from the present. If I have received Christ into my heart I am a pardoned man, I am a happy man, and I know and feel that I owe all my happiness to Him—therefore I love Him; I cannot choose but love Him; and my first desire is to please Him, to follow Him, to be like Him, to be with Him. And all the while there is a power working in me which is a great Liberator. He breaks chains for me. He open doors for me. He emancipates me from the thraldom of the world—its habits, its opinions, its sneers, its judgments. He gives me an independence and a manliness which is my strength. And I know no other bond but His, which is the dearest to me in all the world, and that is liberty! And then see to what I am admitted. I can go into the presence of God. I can consult Him in every difficulty and confess to Him every thought, and know it is forgiven then and there. I am free to His mercy-seat. I am free to His court. All the promises are mine. Oh, what a ‘liberty’ is this! What is all this earth can give by the side of that blessed feeling? This is the present liberty wherewith Christ has made His people free.

III. Liberty from the future.—And what of the future? A vista running up to glory! But are there no dark places? Chiefly in the anticipation. When they come they will bring their own escapes and their own balances. But my future—be it what it may—is all covenanted. Christ has told me not to be anxious about it. And I can never doubt Him. He has undertaken for me in everything. He will never leave me. He will be at my side all the way, and my path and my heart are both quite free! I am quite free from all my future. To die will be a very little thing. The grave cannot hold me. He has been through and opened the door the other side. It is only a very short passage! quite light! all safe!

What a ‘liberty’ is here! The past—gone; the present—safety, peace, love; the future—sure!

—Rev. James Vaughan.

Illustration

‘What is “liberty”? Obedience to oneself; obedience to a law which is written in a man’s own heart. If I obey myself, and myself is not a right self, it is, indeed, “liberty,” but, being a bad liberty, it becomes “licentiousness.” If I obey a law outside me and the law within me is opposed to that outer law which I obey, the act I do may be quite right, and the only right one, but my obedience is not “liberty,” it is compulsion; it is bondage. Liberty is when the outer law and the inner law are the same, and both are good. Christ made that agreement possible by His Cross. The Holy Ghost makes that agreement a fact by his operation in the heart. Self is never liberty, because self and God are two principles which must unite before a person can be free; and a sinful life never combines the two.’

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Galatians 5:1". Church Pulpit Commentary. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/galatians-5.html. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

Ver. 1. Be not again entangled] ενεχεσθε. As oxen tied to the yoke. Those that followed Judas Galileus, Acts 5:37, chose rather to undergo any death than to be in subjection to any mortal. (Joseph. xviii. 2.) If civil servitude be so grievous, what ought spiritual to be? Those poor misled and muzzled souls that are held captive in the pope’s dark dungeon, have an ill time of it. Ever since, being reconciled to the Roman Church, I subjected myself and my kingdoms (said King John of England) to the pope’s authority, never anything went well with me, but all against me, Nulla mihi prospera, sed omnia adversa evenerunt.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Galatians 5:1". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/galatians-5.html. 1865-1868.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

As if he had said "Since Christ by his death had purchased our freedom from the yoke and bondage of the ceremonial law, let us resolutely stand fast in this our Christian liberty, without subjecting ourselves again to circumcision, and the observation of the Mosaic rites."

Here note, 1. The servile condition of the Jewish church: they were under bondage, under a yoke of bondage. This servitude of theirs consisted in the vast number of their religious rites and observances, as to days and weeks, months, and years; in the multitude of their sacrifices of all sorts, which they were obliged every day to offer: in their frequent purifications and washings; in the strict distinctions they were obliged to make between clean and unclean meats; in the numerous rites and ceremonies they are required to observe at their marriages and burials, at bed and board, at home and abroad, nay, even in plowing, sowing, and reaping; so numerous were these observances, that they took up half their time, and were as burdensome as they were numerous.

Well might the apostle here call it a yoke of bondage, and elsewhere, a yoke which neither they nor their fathers were able to bear. Acts 15:10

Note, 2. The happy liberty and freedom from this intolerable yoke, purchased by Christ for the Christian church: Christ hath made us free. He by his obedience and death, has purchased this happy freedom for us, a freedom from ceremonial bondage, from sinful servitude and slavery; not from civil subjection, not from the yoke of new obedience, but from the obliging force of the ceremonial law, and the curse and irritating power of the moral law.

Note, 3. The Christians' duty with reference to this privilege, namely, to stand fast in the liberty which Christ has purchased for them, without obliging themselves to observe any part of the ceremonial law, which was now a servility perfectly unprofitable, and nothing else: stand fast in it; that is, maintain and defend it both in judgment and practice.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Burkitt, William. "Commentary on Galatians 5:1". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/wbc/galatians-5.html. 1700-1703.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

1.] It is almost impossible to determine satisfactorily the reading (see var. readd.). In the fourth Edition I adopted that in the text, as being best attested by the most ancient authorities. With liberty did Christ make you free (i.e. ἐλεύθεροι is your rightful name and ought to be your estimation of yourselves, seeing that ἐλευθερία is your inheritance by virtue of Christ’s redemption of you).

Stand fast, therefore (reff. στήκω is unknown in classical Greek), and be not again (see note on ch. Galatians 4:9; in fact, the whole world was under the law in the sense of its being God’s only revelation to them) involved (reff.) in the yoke of bondage (better than ‘a yoke;’ an anarthrous noun or personal pronoun following another noun in the genitive often deprives that other noun of its article: e.g., τίς ἔγνω νοῦν κυρίου; 1 Corinthians 2:16; see numerous instances in Song of Solomon 5:1. Cf. Winer, § 19. 2, most of whose examples however are after prepositions. [See also Moulton, p. 155, note 6.] Wetst. quotes from Soph. Aj. 944, πρὸς οἷα δουλείας ζυγὰ χωροῦμεν).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Galatians 5:1". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/galatians-5.html. 1863-1878.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

CONTENTS

The Apostle makes some very sweet Conclusions in this Chapter, from the Doctrine he had established, in the former. Towards the Conclusion, he draws a striking Contrast, between the Works of the Flesh, and the Fruits of the Spirit.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Galatians 5:1". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/galatians-5.html. 1828.

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

DISCOURSE: 2077

LIBERTY OF THE CHRISTIAN

Galatians 5:1. Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

THE doctrine of justification by faith is inculcated throughout all the Holy Scriptures, even in parts where we should never have thought of looking for it. Not only was it fully and explicitly declared to Abraham; but it was allegorically set forth by his putting away of Hagar and her son Ishmael, and his constituting of Isaac his sole heir. This was intended by God to shadow forth to us that we cannot be saved by the legal covenant, the covenant of works; but that we must embrace, and be saved by, the new covenant, the covenant of grace [Note: Gal. 21–31.]. By the covenant of grace we are liberated from the bondage of the covenant of works; and “in this liberty it becomes us all to stand fast.”

We shall be led from these words to notice,

I. The Christian’s privilege—

The Christian is a believer in Christ: and by his faith he is made a partaker of all that Christ has procured for him. He was formerly under the law; and by that law was condemned. As long as he continued under that law, he continued under the curse. But “Christ has freed him from that law [Note: Romans 8:2.]” and brought him to a state of perfect liberty.

1. By suffering the penalty due to his transgressions, he has released us from it—

[Christ became the Surety and Substitute of sinful man. Did we owe a debt which it was impossible for us to pay? He discharged it for us, even to the uttermost farthing. Were we under the curse of the broken law? “He became a curse for us [Note: Romans 3:13.],” and endured all that was due to our sins. Hence there remains “now no condemnation to us [Note: Romans 8:1.].” “If only we believe in Christ, we are justified from all things [Note: Acts 13:39.],” and “our sins are blotted out as a morning cloud.”]

2. By giving us faith, he has brought us into a better covenant—

[There is a new covenant, which is a perfect contrast with the old covenant. The old covenant cursed us for one transgression, and provided no remedy for us whatever: the new covenant provides for us all that our necessities can require—pardon, and peace, and holiness, and glory. Into this covenant all are brought, who believe in Jesus. He therefore, by imparting faith to our souls, translates us from the one to the other; and both liberates from all the evils of the former, and conveys to us all the blessings of the latter. From the very instant of our believing in Christ, we cease to have any thing either to hope or fear from the covenant of works; we are dead to it, and it is dead to us: it is abrogated and annulled: and, like a woman released from her nuptial bonds by the death of her husband, we are at liberty to “unite ourselves to Christ, that through him we may bring forth fruit unto God [Note: Romans 7:4.].” Thus, “being made free by Christ, we are made free indeed [Note: John 8:36.].”]

We may easily conceive, from hence, what is,

II. The Christian’s duty—

Privilege and duty comprehend all that constitutes religion. In themselves they are widely different; but they are never to be separated from each other. Possessing this high privilege of freedom from the law, we are to “stand fast in it;”

1. Against the influence of false teachers—

[There were such among the Jews, who were extremely zealous in propagating their sentiments, and in endeavouring to subvert the faith of Christ. And such there are at this day. What is the whole system of popery, but an establishment of the covenant of works? It inculcates, in all its ordinances, the merit of good works, and teaches men to expect salvation by their works. And what do they who teach that we are justified by the act of baptism; and they who administer the Lord’s supper to dying persons as a passport to heaven? I deny not the use or efficacy of the sacraments, when duly received: but, to teach men to rely on the mere administration of them, irrespective of the manner, and mind, and spirit in which they are received, is as fatal an error as ever was broached: it is nothing but popery revived amongst us. Against all such errors, by whomsoever they are inculcated, you must be on your guard. If Peter himself make such an use of a sacrament, he must be reproved, as a traitor to the cause of Christ [Note: Galatians 2:11-16.]: and “if an angel from heaven were to bring such a doctrine as that, he must be held accursed [Note: Galatians 1:8-9.].”]

2. Against the devices of Satan—

[That great adversary is ever fighting against Christ; and endeavouring to “blind men, lest the light of Christ’s glory should shine unto them [Note: 2 Corinthians 4:4.].” But you must “resist him, steadfast in the faith [Note: 1 Peter 5:8-9.].” It is impossible for you to be too much on your guard against his temptations. As he beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so will he, if possible, turn you from the simplicity that is in Christ [Note: 2 Corinthians 11:3.].” He will, both by his emissaries and by his suggestions, pervert the Scriptures themselves, just as he did when he tempted Christ: but you must “take the sword of the Spirit, and the shield of faith,” and, “in the strength of Christ, resist him” to the uttermost [Note: Ephesians 6:10-17.]; that you “may never be moved away from the hope of the Gospel [Note: Colossians 1:23.],” or be induced to “make shipwreck of your faith in Christ [Note: 1 Timothy 1:19.].”]

3. Against the treachery of your own hearts—

[There is no evil whatever more deeply rooted in the heart of man than self-righteousness. It will assume in you ten thousand shapes. Sometimes it will put on the garb of holiness; and make you fearful of exalting Christ too much, lest you should depreciate and discourage morality. Sometimes it will assume the form of humility; and make you stand aloof from Christ because of your own unworthiness: ‘You are not good enough to come to him: he will never receive so vile a sinner as you.’ There is no end to the delusions which your own deceitful hearts will suggest, to sanction, in some degree or other, a dependence on your own works. But you must put away every thought that may interfere with the honour of Christ, to whom the glory of your salvation must be given, whole and entire, from first to last. It is altogether the purchase of his blood, and the gift of God for his sake: and it must be received, by every creature under heaven, “without money, and without price.” St. Paul tells you, that if you do the best act in the world with a view to augment your interest in Him, “he shall profit you nothing [Note: ver. 2.].” The least attempt of this kind will invalidate the whole Gospel [Note: ver. 3, 4.]: and therefore look well to yourselves, that ye “receive not the grace of God in vain.”]

Address—

1. Those who are yet cleaving to the covenant of works—

[What works will ye ever do, that shall be effectual for your salvation? or what single act have ye ever done, that will bear the test of God’s law? O, think of your folly and your wickedness! your folly, in preferring bondage to liberty; and your wickedness, in so requiting the grace of Christ — — —]

2. Those who are enjoying the liberty wherewith Christ hath made them free—

[Enjoy it, and be thankful for it — — — but “turn it not to licentiousness.” Shew, by your lives, that the Gospel is “a doctrine according to godliness:” and let the world see that, whilst you “contend earnestly for the faith delivered to the saints,” you are “careful to maintain good works.”]

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Galatians 5:1". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/galatians-5.html. 1832.

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

Galatians 5:1. τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ ἡμᾶς χριστὸς ἠλευθέρωσεν] On this reading, see the critical notes. The sentence forms, with Galatians 4:31, the basis of the exhortation which follows, στήκετε οὖν κ. τ. λ. See on Galatians 4:31. For freedom, in order that we should be free and should remain so, that we should not again become subject to bondage, Christ has set us free (Galatians 4:1-7), namely, from the bondage of the στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου (Galatians 4:3). The dative τῇ ἐλευθ. is therefore commodi, not instrumenti. Comp. also Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 155; Holsten, Hofmann, Reithmayr. By so taking it, and by attending to the emphasis, which lies not on χριστός, but on the τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ following immediately after τῆς ἐλευθέρας in Galatians 4:31, we obviate entirely the objection of Rückert (comp. Matthies and Olshausen) that Paul must have written: χ. ἡμᾶς ἐλευθερὶᾳ ἠλευθέρωσεν, or εἰς ἐλευθ., or τῇ ἐλευθ. ταύτῃ, or ἣν ἔχομεν, or some other addition of the kind.

στήκετε οὖν] stand fast therefore, namely, in the freedom, which is to be inferred from what goes before; hence the absence of connection with τῇ ἐλευθ. does not produce any obscurity or abruptness (in opposition to Reiche). On the absolute στήκετε, which obtains its reference from the context, comp. 2 Thessalonians 2:15.

καὶ μὴ πάλιν κ. τ. λ.] and be not again held in a yoke of bondage. Previously they had been (most of them) in the yoke of heathenism; now they were on the point of being held in the yoke of Mosaism (only another kind of the στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου). The yoke is conceived as laid on the neck: Acts 15:10; Sirach 51:26; Dem. 322. 12; Hom. H. Cer. 217. As to πάλιν, comp. on Galatians 4:9. δουλείας denotes the characteristic quality belonging to the yoke. Comp. Soph. Aj. 924: πρὸς οἷα δουλείας ζυγὰ χωροῦμεν. Eur. Or. 1330; Plat. Legg. vi. p. 770 E: δούλειον ζυγόν, Ep. 8, p. 354 D Dem. 322. 12; Herod. vii. 8.

ἐνέχεσθαι, with the dative (Dem. 1231. 15; 2 Maccabees 5:18; 3 Maccabees 6:10) or with ἐν (Dem. 1069. 9), is the proper expression for those who are held either in a physical (net or the like) or ethical (law, dogma, emotion, sin, or the like) restriction of liberty, so that they cannot get out. See Kypke in loc., and Markland ad Lys. V. p. 37, Reisk. Here, on account of the idea of a yoke, the reference is physical, but used as a figurative representation for that which is mental, which affects the conscience.

Note.

If we take the reading of the Recepta, and of Griesbach and his followers (see the critical notes), we must explain it: “In respect of the freedom, [therefore], for which Christ has set us free, stand fast, and become not again, etc.!”—so that τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ is to be taken like τῇ πίστει in 2 Corinthians 1:24 and Romans 4:20, and as the dative commodi (Morus, Winer, Reiche). might also (with the Vulgate, Luther, Beza, Calvin, Piscator, Rückert, Schott, Hilgenfeld, Wieseler, and many others) be taken as ablative (instrumentally): “qua nos liberavit,” after the analogy of the classical expressions ζῆν βίῳ, ὗσαι ὕδατι κ. τ. λ. (Bernhardy, p. 107; Lobeck, Paral, p. 523 ff.), and of the frequent use both in the LXX. and the N.T. (Winer, p. 434 [E. T. 584]) of “cognate” nouns in the dative. But this mode of expression does not occur elsewhere with Paul, not even in 1 Thessalonians 3:9. According to Schott, Ewald, and Matthias, who join it to Galatians 4:31 (see the critical notes), we get the meaning: “We are not children of a bond-maid, but of the free woman through the freedom, with which Christ made us free; stand fast therefore.” Thus τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ ἡμᾶς χριστ. ἠλευθ. becomes a self-evident appendage; and χριστός receives an emphasis, just as in Galatians 3:13, which its position does not warrant.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Galatians 5:1". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/galatians-5.html. 1832.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Galatians 5:1. τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳστήκετε, stand fast—in the liberty) The short clause, wherewith Christ has made us free, has the force of aetiology, or assigning the reason. Liberty, and slavery (bondage), are antithetic. It is without any connecting particle, Galatians 3:13 : τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ, [by virtue of the] liberty, is emphatically put without ἐν, in: liberty itself confers the power of standing. ἠλευθέρωσε signifies has rendered free, and coheres with free [rather than with the rendered]: stand, erect, without a yoke.— πάλιν, again) ch. Galatians 4:9, note.— ζυγῷ δουλείας, with the yoke of bondage) This expression is applied, not merely to the circumcision which was given to Abraham as the sign of the promise, but to circumcision as connected with the whole law, given long after on Mount Sinai, ch. Galatians 4:24, Galatians 3:17. For the Jews had been accustomed to look upon circumcision rather as a part of the law received by Moses, than as the sign of the promise given to Abraham, John 7:22. Nor was circumcision so much a yoke in itself, as it was made a yoke by the law; and the law itself was much more a yoke. Therefore Paul, by a weighty metonymy, puts the consequent for the antecedent: Be not circumcised, for he who is circumcised, along with this part of it, comes under the whole law, and revolts from Christ, Galatians 5:2-4. Nor does the apostle oppose Christ so immediately to circumcision as he does to the law. He speaks according to their perverse custom, while he refutes their Galatism and Judaism; and yet he does not at all deviate from the truth. Peter also, Acts 15:10, calls it a yoke.— ἐνέχεσθε) ἐνέχομαι, in the middle voice, I hold fast by, obstinately. That passage in Xiphil. in Epit. Dion. concerning a pole fixed in the ground, and which cannot be pulled out, shows the import of the word: ἐν τῇ γῇ ἐνέσχετο, ὥσπερ ἐμπεφυκώς, “it held a fast hold in the earth, as if it had grown there.”

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Galatians 5:1". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/galatians-5.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations
on the Holy Bible

GALATIANS CHAPTER 5

Galatians 5:1 Paul exhorteth the Galatians to maintain their

Christian liberty,

Galatians 5:2-6 and showeth that by being circumcised they would

forfeit their hopes in Christ,

Galatians 5:7-12 he disclaimeth the preaching of circumcision himself,

and condemneth it in others.

Galatians 5:13-15 He adviseth them not to abuse their liberty, but to serve

one another in love, which comprehendeth the whole law.

Galatians 5:16-18 The opposition between the flesh and the Spirit,

Galatians 5:19-21 the works of the flesh,

Galatians 5:22-24 the fruits of the Spirit.

Galatians 5:25,26 Advice to walk in the Spirit, and not in vain glorious

emulation.

The

liberty here spoken of, is a right which a person hath to action, that he may do or forbear the doing of things at his pleasure, as he apprehends them suitable or not, without the let or hinderance of another. This is either in things of a civil nature, or of a spiritual nature. The former is not understood here, for it is none of

the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, for subjects to be free from the lawful commands of princes, or children to be free from the laws of their parents, or servants to be free from the commands of masters. There is hardly any book in the New Testament wherein obedience of this nature, in things that are lawful, is not either exemplified as our duty in Christ and the apostles, or urged by very strong arguments. The liberty here, is that freedom from the law, of which the apostle hath been speaking all along this Epistle: from the curse of the moral law, and from the co-action of it; and principally from the ceremonial law contained in ordinances. This is the liberty which Christ hath purchased for us, and in which the apostle willeth all believers to stand fast; not being again entangled with a yoke, which God had taken off from their necks. The apostles, in their synod, Acts 15:10, had called it a yoke, which neither they nor their fathers were able to bear.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Galatians 5:1". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/galatians-5.html. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

стойте Павел утверждает, чтобы галаты стояли в том, в чем находятся, пользуясь тем, что они свободы от закона как пути спасения и имеют полноту благословения.

в свободе Здесь говорится об освобождении от проклятия, которое закон выносит грешнику, бесполезно пытающемуся достичь праведности своими усилиями (3:13, 22-26; 4:1-7), а теперь принявшему Христа и получившему спасение через благодать (см. пояснения к 2:4; 4:26; ср. Рим. 7:3; 8:2).

не подвергайтесь опять Лучше перевести «не отягчайтесь», «не попадайте под гнет», «не будьте подвержены», ибо речь идет об иге.

игу рабства. «Иго» – то же самое, что и ярмо, т.е. предмет упряжи, делающий домашнее животное более послушным. Под «игом закона» иудеи понимали нечто хорошее, сущность настоящей религии. Павел, напротив, утверждает, что для сторонников ига как средства спасения закон является игом рабства. См. пояснения к Мф. 11:29, 30.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Galatians 5:1". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/galatians-5.html.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Stand fast; be firm, steadfast, and persevering.

Yoke of bondage; to Jewish ceremonies.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Galatians 5:1". "Family Bible New Testament". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/galatians-5.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Expositor's Bible Commentary

1-31

Chapter 19

THE STORY OF HAGAR.

Galatians 4:21-31 - Galatians 5:1

THE Apostle wishes that he could "change his voice" (Galatians 4:20). Indeed he has changed it more than once. "Any one who looks closely may see that there is much change and alteration of feeling in what the Apostle has previously written" (Theodorus). Now he will try another tone; he proceeds in fact to address his readers in a style which we find nowhere else in his Epistles. He will tell his "children" a story! Perhaps he may thus succeed better than by graver argument. Their quick fancy will readily apprehend the bearing of the illustration; it may bring home to them the force of his doctrinal contention, and the peril of their own position, as he fears they have not seen them yet. And so, after the pathetic appeal of the last paragraph, and before he delivers his decisive, official protest to the Galatians against their circumcision, he interjects this "allegory" of the two sons of Abraham.

Paul cites the history of the sons of Abraham. No other example would have served his purpose. The controversy between himself and the Judaisers turned on the question, Who are the true heirs of Abraham? [Galatians 3:7; Galatians 3:16; Galatians 3:29] He made faith in Christ, they circumcision and law-keeping, the ground of sonship. So the inheritance was claimed in a double sense. But now, if it should appear that this antithesis existed in principle in the bosom of the patriarchal family, if we should find that there was an elder son of Abraham’s flesh opposed to the child of promise, how powerfully will this analogy sustain the Apostle’s position. Judaism will then be seen to be playing over again the part of Ishmael; and "the Jerusalem that now is" takes the place of Hagar, the slave-mother. The moral situation created by the Judaic controversy had been rehearsed in the family life of Abraham.

"Tell me," the Apostle asks, "you that would fain be subject to the law, do you not know what it relates concerning Abraham? He had two sons, one of free, and the other of servile birth. Do you wish to belong to the line of Ishmael, or Isaac?" In this way Paul resumes the thread of his discourse dropped in Galatians 4:7. Faith, he had told his readers, had made them sons of God. They were, in Christ, of Abraham’s spiritual seed, heirs of his promise. God had sent His Son to redeem them, and the Spirit of His Son to attest their adoption. But they were not content. They were ambitious of Jewish privileges. The Legalists persuaded them that they must be circumcised and conform to Moses, in order to be Abraham’s children in full title. "Very well," the Apostle says, "you may become Abraham’s sons in this fashion. Only you must observe that Abraham had two sons. And the Law will make you his sons by Hagar, whose home is Sinai-not Israelites, but Ishmaelites!"

Paul’s Galatian allegory has greatly exercised the minds of his critics. The word is one of ill repute in exegesis. Allegory was the instrument of Rabbinical and Alexandrine Scripturists, an infallible device for extracting the predetermined sense from the letter of the sacred text. The "spiritualising" of Christian interpreters has been carried, in many instances, to equal excess of riot. For the honest meaning of the word of God anything and everything has been substituted that lawless fancy and verbal ingenuity could read into it. The most arbitrary and grotesque distortions of the facts of Scripture have passed current under cover of the clause, "which things are an allegory." But Paul’s allegory, and that of Philo and the Allegorical school, are very different things, as widely removed as the "words of truth and soberness" from the intoxications of mystical idealism.

With Paul the spiritual sense of Scripture is based on the historical, is in fact the moral content and import thereof; for he sees in history a continuous manifestation of God’s will. With the Allegorists the spiritual sense, arrived at by a priori means, replaces the historical, destroyed to make room for it. The Apostle points out in the story of Hagar a spiritual intent, such as exists in every scene of human life if we had eyes to see it, something other than the literal relation of the facts, but nowise alien from it. Here lies the difference between legitimate and illegitimate allegory. The utmost freedom may be given to this employment of the imagination, so long as it is true to the moral of the narrative which it applies. In principle the Pauline allegory does not differ from the type. In the type the correspondence of the sign and thing signified centres in a single figure or event; in such an allegory as this it is extended to a group of figures and a series of events. But the force of the application depends on the actuality of the original story, which in the illicit allegory is matter of indifference.

"Which things are allegorized"-so the Apostle literally writes in Galatians 4:24 -made matters of allegory. The phrase intimates, as Bishop Lightfoot suggests, that the Hagarene episode in Genesis [Genesis 16:1-16; Genesis 21:1-21] was commonly interpreted in a figurative way. The Galatians had heard from their Jewish teachers specimens of this popular mode of exposition. Paul will employ it too; and will give his own reading of the famous story of Ishmael and Isaac. Philo of Alexandria, the greatest allegorist of the day, has expounded the same history. These eminent interpreters both make Sarah the mother of the spiritual, Hagar of the worldly offspring; both point out how the barren is exalted over the fruitful wife. So far, we may imagine, Paul is moving on the accepted lines of Jewish exegesis. But Philo knows nothing of the correspondence between Isaac and Christ, which lies at the back of the Apostle’s allegory. And there is this vital difference of method between the two divines, that whereas Paul’s comparison is the illustration of a doctrine proved on other grounds-the painting which decorates the house already built (Luther)-with the Alexandrine idealist it forms the substance and staple of his teaching.

Under this allegorical dress the Apostle expounds once more his doctrine, already inculcated, of the difference between the Legal and Christian state. The former constitutes, as he now puts the matter, a bastard sonship like that of Ishmael, conferring only an external and provisional tenure in the Abrahamic inheritance. It is contrasted with the spiritual sonship of the true Israel in the following respects:-It is a state of nature as opposed to grace; of bondage as opposed to freedom; and further, it is temporary and soon to be ended by the Divine decree.

I. "He who is of the maid-servant is after the flesh; but he that is of the free-woman is through promise…Just as then he that was after the flesh persecuted him that was after the Spirit, So now" (Galatians 4:23; Galatians 4:29). The Apostle sees in the different parentage of Abraham’s sons the ground of a radical divergence of character. One was the child of nature, the other was the son of a spiritual faith.

Ishmael was in truth the fruit of unbelief; his birth was due to a natural but impatient misreading of the promise. The patriarch’s union with Hagar was ill-assorted and ill-advised. It brought its natural penalty by introducing an alien element into his family, life. The low-bred insolence which the serving-woman, in the prospect of becoming a mother, showed toward the mistress to whom she owed her preferment, gave a foretaste of the unhappy consequences. The promise of posterity made to Abraham with a childless wife, was expressly designed to try his faith; and he had allowed it to be overborne by the reasonings of nature. It was no wonder that the son of the Egyptian slave, born under such conditions, proved to be of a lower type, and had to be finally excluded from the house.

In Ishmael’s relation to his father there was nothing but the ordinary play of human motives. "The son of the handmaid was born after the flesh." He was a natural son. But Ishmael was not on that account cut off from the Divine mercies. Nor did his father’s prayer, "O that Ishmael might live before Thee," [Genesis 17:18] remain unanswered. A great career was reserved by Divine Providence for his race. The Arabs, the fiery sons of the desert, through him claim descent from Abraham. They have carved their name deeply upon the history and the faith of the world. But sensuousness and lawlessness are everywhere the stamp of the Ishmaelite. With high gifts and some generous qualities, such as attracted to his eldest boy the love of Abraham, their fierce animal passion has been the curse of the sons of Hagar. Mohammedanism is a bastard Judaism; it is the religion of Abraham sensualised. Ishmael stands forth as the type of the carnal man. On outward grounds of flesh and blood he seeks inheritance in the kingdom of God; and with fleshly weapons passionately fights its battles.

To a similar position Judaism, in the Apostle’s view, had now reduced itself. And to this footing the Galatian Churches would be brought if they yielded to the Judaistic solicitations. To be circumcised would be for them to be born again after the flesh, to link themselves to Abraham in the unspiritual fashion of Hagar’s son. Ishmael was the first to be circumcised. [Genesis 17:23; Genesis 17:26] It was to renounce salvation by faith and the renewing of the Holy Spirit. This course could only have one result. The Judaic ritualism they were adopting would bear fruit after its kind, in a worldly, sensuous life. Like Ishmael they would claim kinship with the Church of God on fleshly grounds; and their claims must prove as futile as did his.

The persecution of the Church by Judaism gave proof of the Ishmaelite spirit, the carnal animus by which it was possessed. A religion of externalism naturally becomes repressive. It knows not "the demonstration of the Spirit"; it has "confidence in the flesh." It relies on outward means for the propagation of its faith; and naturally resorts to the secular arm. The Inquisition and the Auto-da-fe are a not unfitting accompaniment of the gorgeous ceremonial of the Mass. Ritualism and priestly autocracy go hand in hand. "So now," says Paul, pointing to Ishmael’s "persecution" of the infant Isaac, hinted at in Genesis 21:8-10.

The laughter of Hagar’s boy at Sarah’s weaning-feast seems but a slight offence to be visited with the punishment of expulsion; and the incident one beneath the dignity of theological argument. But the principle for which Paul contends is there; and it is the more easily apprehended when exhibited on this homely scale. The family is the germ and the mirror of society. In it are first called into play the motives which determine the course of history, the rise and fall of empires or churches. The gravamen of the charge against Ishmael lies in the last word of Genesis 21:9, rendered in the Authorised Version mocking, and by the Revisers playing, after the Septaguint and the Vulgate. This word in the Hebrew is evidently a play on the name Isaac, i.e., laughter, given by Sarah to her boy with genial motherly delight (Galatians 4:6-7). Ishmael, now a youth of fourteen, takes up the child’s name and turns it, on this public and festive occasion, into ridicule. Such an act was not only an insult to the mistress of the house and the young heir at a most untimely moment, it betrayed a jealousy and contempt on the part of Hagar’s son towards his half-brother which gravely compromised Isaac’s future. "The wild, ungovernable and pugnacious character ascribed to his descendants began to display itself in Ishmael, and to appear in language of provoking insolence; offended at the comparative indifference with which he was treated, he indulged in mockery, especially against Isaac, whose very name furnished him with satirical sneers." Ishmael’s jest cost him dear. The indignation of Sarah was reasonable; and Abraham was compelled to recognise in her demand the voice of God (Galatians 4:10-12). The two boys, like Esau and Jacob in the next generation, represented opposite principles and ways of life, whose counter-working was to run through the course of future history. Their incompatibility was already manifest.

The Apostle’s comparison must have been mortifying in the extreme to the Judaists. They are told in plain terms that they are in the position of outcast Ishmael; while uncircumcised Gentiles, without a drop of Abraham’s blood in their veins, have received the promise forfeited by their unbelief. Paul could not have put his conclusion in a form more unwelcome to Jewish pride. But without this radical exposure of the legalist position it was impossible for him adequately to vindicate his gospel and defend his Gentile children in the faith.

II. From this contrast of birth "according to flesh" and "through promise" is deduced the opposition between the slave-born and free-born sons. "For these (the slave-mother and the free-woman) are two covenants, one indeed bearing children unto bondage-which is Hagar" (Galatians 4:24). The other side of the antithesis is not formally expressed; it is obvious. Sarah the princess, Abraham’s true wife, has her counterpart in the original covenant of promise renewed in Christ, and in "the Jerusalem above, which is our mother" (Galatians 4:26). Sarah is the typical mother, {Comp. Hebrews 11:11-12; 1 Peter 3:6} as Abraham is the father of the children of faith. In the systoichia, or tabular comparison, which the Apostle draws up after the manner of the schools, Hagar and the Mosaic covenant, Sinai and the Jerusalem that now is stand in one file and "answer to" each other; Sarah and the Abrahamic covenant, Zion and the heavenly Jerusalem succeed in the same order, opposite to them. "Zion" is wanting in the second file; but "Sinai and Zion" form a standing antithesis; [Hebrews 12:18-22] the second is implied in the first. It was to Zion that the words of Isaiah cited in Galatians 4:27 were addressed.

The first clause of Galatians 4:25 is best understood in the shorter, marginal reading of the R. V, also preferred by Bishop Lightfoot ( το γαρ σινα ορος εστιν k.t.l.). It is a parenthesis-"for mount Sinai is in Arabia"-covenant running on in the mind from Galatians 4:24 as the continued subject of ver. 25b: "and it answereth to the present Jerusalem." This is the simplest and most consistent construction of the passage. The interjected geographical reference serves to support the identification of the Sinaitic covenant with Hagar, Arabia being the well-known abode of the Hagarenes. Paul had met them in his wanderings there. Some scholars have attempted to establish a verbal agreement between the name of the slave-mother and that locally given to the Sinaitic range; but this explanation is precarious, and after all unnecessary. There was a real correspondence between place and people on the one hand, as between place and covenant on the other. Sinai formed a visible and imposing link between the race of Ishmael and the Mosaic law-giving. That awful, desolate mountain, whose aspect, as we can imagine, had vividly impressed itself on Paul’s memory, [Galatians 1:17] spoke to him of bondage and terror. It was a true symbol of the working of the law of Moses, exhibited in the present condition of Judaism. And round the base of Sinai Hagar’s wild sons had found their dwelling.

Jerusalem was no longer the mother of freemen. The boast, "we are Abraham’s sons; we were never in bondage," [John 8:33] was anunconscious irony. Her sons chafed under the Roman yoke. They were loaded with self-inflicted legal burdens. Above all, they were, notwithstanding their professed law-keeping, enslaved to sin, in servitude to their pride and evil lusts. The spirit of the nation was that of rebellious, discontented slaves. They were Ishmaelite sons of Abraham, with none of the nobleness, the reverence, the calm and elevated faith of their father. In the Judaism of the Apostle’s day the Sinaitic dispensation, uncontrolled by the higher patriarchal and prophetic faith, had worked out its natural result. It "gendered to bondage." A system of repression and routine, it had produced men punctual in tithes of mint and anise, but without justice, mercy, or faith; vaunting their liberty while they were "servants of corruption." The law of Moses could not form a "new creature." It left the Ishmael of nature unchanged at heart, a child of the flesh, with whatever robes of outward decorum his nakedness was covered. The Pharisee was the typical product of law apart from grace. Under the garb of a freeman he carried the soul of a slave.

But Galatians 4:26 sounds the note of deliverance: "The Jerusalem above is free; and she is our mother!" Paul has escaped from the prison of Legalism, from the confines of Sinai; he has left behind the perishing, earthly Jerusalem, and with it the bitterness and gloom of his Pharisaic days. He is a citizen of the heavenly Zion, breathing the air of a Divine freedom. The yoke is broken from the neck of the Church of God; the desolation is gone from her heart. There come to the Apostle’s lips the words of the great prophet of the Exile, depicting the deliverance of the spiritual Zion, despised and counted barren, but now to be the mother of a numberless offspring. In Isaiah’s song, "Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not" (54.), the laughter of the childless Sarah bursts forth again, to be gloriously renewed in the persecuted Church of Jesus. Robbed of all outward means, mocked and thrust out as she is by Israel after the flesh, her rejection is a release, an emancipation. Conscious of the spirit of sonship and freedom, looking out on the boundless conquests lying before her in the Gentile world, the Church of the New Covenant glories in her tribulations. In Paul is fulfilled the joy of prophet and psalmist, who sang in former days of gloom concerning Israel’s enlargement and world-wide victories. No legalist could understand words like these. "The veil" was upon his heart "in the reading of the Old Testament." But with "the Spirit of the Lord" comes "liberty." The prophetic inspiration has returned. The voice of rejoicing is heard again in the dwellings of Israel. "If the Son make you free," said Jesus, "ye shall be free indeed." This Epistle proves it.

III. "And the bondman abideth not in the house for ever; the Son abideth for ever". [John 8:35] This also the Lord had testified: the Apostle repeats His warning in the terms of this allegory.

Sooner or later the slave-boy was bound to go. He has no proper birthright, no permanent footing in the house. One day he exceeds his license, he makes himself intolerable; he must begone. "What saith the Scripture? Cast out the maidservant and her son; for the son of the maidservant shall not inherit with the son of the freewoman" (Galatians 4:30). Paul has pronounced the doom of Judaism. His words echo those of Christ: "Behold your house is left unto you desolate"; [Matthew 23:38] they are taken up again in the language of Hebrews 13:13-14, uttered on the eve of the fall of Jerusalem: "Let us go forth unto Jesus without the camp, bearing His reproach. We have here no continuing city, but we seek that which is to come." On the walls of Jerusalem ichabod was plainly written. Since it "crucified our Lord" it was no longer the Holy City; it was "spiritually Sodom and Egypt", - Egypt, {Revelation 11:8} the country of Hagar. Condemning Him, the Jewish nation passed sentence on itself. They were slaves who in blind rage slew their Master when He came to free them.

The Israelitish people showed more than Ishmael’s jealousy toward the infant Church of the Spirit. No weapon of violence or calumny was too base to be used against it. The cup of their iniquity was filling fast. They were ripening for the judgment which Christ predicted. [1 Thessalonians 2:16] Year by year they became more hardened against spiritual truth, more malignant towards Christianity, and more furious and fanatical in their hatred towards their civil rulers. The cause of Judaism was hopelessly lost. In Romans 9:1-33; Romans 10:1-21; Romans 11:1-36, written shortly after this Epistle, Paul assumes this as a settled thing, which he has to account for and to reconcile with Scripture. In the demand of Sarah for the expulsion of her rival, complied with by Abraham against his will, the Apostle reads the secret judgment of the Almighty on the proud city which he himself so ardently loved, but which had crucified his Lord and repented not. "Cut it down," Jesus cried, "why cumbereth it the ground?". [Luke 13:7] The voice of Scripture speaks again: "Cast her out; she and her sons are slaves. They have no place amongst the sons of God." Ishmael was in the way of Isaac’s safety and prosperity. And the Judaic ascendency was no less a danger to the Church. The blow which shattered Judaism at once cleared the ground for the outward progress of the gospel and arrested the legalistic reaction which hindered its internal development. The two systems were irreconcilable. It was Paul’s merit to have first apprehended this contradiction in its full import. The time had come to apply in all its rigour Christ’s principle of combat, "He that is not with Me is against Me." It is the same rule of exclusion which Paul announces: "If any man hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His". [Romans 8:9] Out of Christ is no salvation. When the day of judgment comes, whether for men or nations, this is the touchstone: Have we, or have we not "the Spirit of God’s Son"? Is our character that of sons of God, or slaves of sin? On the latter falls inevitably the sentence of expulsion. "He will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them that do iniquity". [Matthew 13:41]

This passage signalises the definite breach of Christianity with Judaism. The elder Apostles lingered in the porch of the Temple; the primitive Church clung to the ancient worship. Paul does not blame them for doing so. In their case this was but the survival of a past order, in principle acknowledged to be obsolete. But the Church of the future, the spiritual seed of Abraham gathered out of all nations, had no part in Legalism. The Apostle bends all his efforts to convince his readers of this, to make them sensible of the impassable gulf lying between them and outworn Mosaism. Again he repeats, "We are not children of a maidservant, but of her that is free" (Galatians 4:31). The Church of Christ can no more hold fellowship with Judaism than could Isaac with the spiteful, mocking Ishmael. Paul leads the Church across the Rubicon. There is no turning back.

Ver. 1 of chap. 5 (Galatians 5:1), is the application of the allegory. It is a triumphant assertion of liberty, a ringing summons to its defence. Its separation from chap. 4 is ill-judged, and runs counter to the ancient divisions of the Epistle. "Christ set us free," Paul declares; "and it was for freedom-not that we might fall under a new servitude. Stand fast therefore; do not let yourselves be made bondmen over again." Bondmen the Galatians had been before, [Galatians 4:8] bowing down to false and vile gods. Bondmen they will be again, if they are beguiled by the Legalists to accept the yoke of circumcision, if they take "the Jerusalem that now is" for their mother. They have tasted the joys of freedom; they know what it is to be sons of God, heirs of His kingdom and partakers of His Spirit; why do they stoop from their high estate? Why should Christ’s freemen put a yoke upon their own neck? Let them only know their happiness and security in Christ, and refuse to be cheated out of the substance of their spiritual blessings by the illusive shadows which the Judaists offer them. Freedom once gained is a prize never to be lost. No care, no vigilance in its preservation can be too great. Such liberty inspires courage and good hope in its defence. "Stand fast therefore. Quit yourselves like men."

How the Galatians responded to the Apostle’s challenge, we do not know. But it has found an echo in many a heart since. The Lutheran Reformation was an answer to it; so was the Scottish Covenant. The spirit of Christian liberty is eternal. Jerusalem or Rome may strive to imprison it. They might as well seek to bind the winds of heaven. Its home is with God. Its seat is the throne of Christ. It lives by the breath of His Spirit. The earthly powers mock at it, and drive it into the wilderness. They do but assure their own ruin. It leaves the house of the oppressor desolate. Whosoever he be, Judaist or Papist, priest, or king, or demagogue-that makes himself lord of God’s heritage and would despoil His children of the liberties of faith, let him beware lest of him also it be spoken, "Cast out the bondwoman and her son."

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Galatians 5:1". "Expositor's Bible Commentary". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/teb/galatians-5.html.

John Eadie's Commentary on Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians and Philippians

Galatians 5:1. This verse is closely connected with the immediately preceding one (Galatians 4:31), and is, as we have just said, the prime inferential and practical lesson. But it is difficult, if not impossible, to fix on the correct reading, there being so many variations affecting both the sense and the connection.

The Stephanic text reads: τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ οὖν ᾗ χριστὸς ἡμᾶς ἠλευθέρωσε, στήκετε. The οὖν, the , and the ἡμᾶς are matter of doubt and of various reading. οὖν is omitted in D, in the Latin and Syriac, and in Theodore Mops. Theodoret, Jerome, Ambros., Pelagius, C3, K, L, many cursives, Damascenus, Theophylact, OEcumenius, place οὖν after ἐλευθερίᾳ; while it is put after στήκετε in A, B, C1, F, א, the Coptic version, and in Origen, Cyril, and Augustine. The best authority places the particle after στήκετε. Then is omitted in A, B, C, D1, א; but it ( τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ ᾗ) is found in D3, E, K, L, in the majority of cursives, and in the most of the Greek fathers, and is adopted by Tischendorf, Scholz, Rinck, Reiche, Ellicott; while the reading ᾗ ἐλευθερίᾳ is found in F, G,-the Claromontane Latin and Vulgate reading also quâ libertate, followed by the Gothic, Victorinus, Augustine, and Jerome. The authority for this peculiar reading is chiefly Latin, and it may have been a re-translation of the Latin idiom qua libertate. But the omission of makes the clause and the connection difficult, though the omission is really well supported. The omission is adopted by Alford—“with liberty did Christ make you free,” beginning thus the new statement. It may be said that was omitted from its closeness to the same letter beginning ἡμᾶς (Wieseler), and it may be replied that it got in from an unwitting repetition of the same first letter (Meyer). The ἡμᾶς stands before χριστός in A, B, D, F, א; but after it in C, K, L, א3, and in several of the versions, in some of the Greek fathers, and many of the Latin ones, the Vulgate having Christus nos, and Ulphilas uns Christus. The first order is therefore the better sustained, and χριστὸς ἡμᾶς may have been written to avoid ᾗ ἡμᾶς, found in the codices referred to. According, then, to diplomatic evidence, the best supported reading is-

τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ ἡμᾶς χριστὸς ἠλευθέρωσε· στήκετε οὖν—“For freedom did Christ free us: stand therefore.” This is adopted by Lachmann, Meyer, Usteri, Hofmann, and Alford. Prof. Lightfoot does not set it aside altogether, but retains it as an alternative reading. See Mill, Griesbach, Winer.

1. Retaining the , some join the first clause to the previous verse—“We are children not of the bond-woman, but of the free woman, in that freedom with which Christ made us free.” So Schott, and Prof. Lightfoot who puts the alternative: “Ye are sons by virtue of the freedom which Christ has given, or children of her who is free with that freedom which Christ has given us.” So Wycliffe, the Genevan and the Rheims versions. But the connection is loose and pointless, and στήκετε becomes in that case abrupt and unsupported.

2. Some connect it with στήκετε, and give the dative the sense of quod attinet ad-stand fast in respect to, or rather in, the liberty for which Christ did make us free (Ellicott, Winer). The may be by attraction, or it may be ablatival—“with which.” Piscator, Rückert, Hilgenfeld, Wieseler, and the Vulgate-quâ libertate.

3. Adopting the reading which we prefer, the sense will be: “with liberty did Christ make us free (the dative instrumental): stand therefore;” or, “for liberty Christ freed us; make a stand,”-it being the dativus commodi, and the stress being on ἐλευθερίᾳ. A. Buttmann, p. 155. We are children of the free woman-beyond doubt it is; for liberty Christ did free us:5:13; John 8:36. The verb στήκετε, unknown in classical Greek, derives its specialty of sense from the context. 2 Thessalonians 2:15. See under Philippians 1:27. Chrysostom says by the word “stand fast” he indicates their vacillation- τὸν σάλον.

The verb ἐνέχομαι is “to be held in” or “by,” either physically, as τῇ πάγῃ, Herod. 2.121, or ethically, as δόγμασιν, Plutarch, Symp. 2.3. See Kypke in loc. It means to be held fast in, or so held that there is difficulty or impossibility of escape. Mark 6:19; Luke 11:53; Sept. Genesis 49:23; Ezekiel 14:4. The phrase ζυγῷ δουλείας is the “yoke of bondage,” though both nouns want the article. Winer, § 19, 1; Soph. Ajax, 944; Sept. Song of Solomon 5:1. The genitive δουλείας, which deprives its governing noun of its article, denotes the characterizing quality or element of the yoke. The πάλιν is explained by a reference to Galatians 4:9, if the allusion be definite-once under a yoke of heathenism, they would be involved again in a yoke of heathenism; or if the genitive be indefinite, the meaning would be-once in bondage, and again to be held fast in it, without formally specifying its nature.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Eadie, John. "Commentary on Galatians 5:1". John Eadie's Commentary on Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/jec/galatians-5.html.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Paul"s mainly Gentile readers were in danger of returning to slavery, not to the slavery of their heathen sins as before but to the slavery of the Mosaic Law. The false teachers were evidently telling them that they needed to submit to circumcision to be truly acceptable to God.

"Before plunging into this third section of his letter, Paul interjects a verse that is at once a summary of all that has gone before and a transition to what follows. It Isaiah, in fact, the key verse of the entire Epistle. Because of the nature of the true gospel and of the work of Christ on his behalf, the believer is now to turn away from anything that smacks of legalism and instead rest in Christ"s triumphant work for him and live in the power of Christ"s Spirit.... The appeal is for an obstinate perseverance in freedom as the only proper response to an attempt to bring Christians once more under legalism." [Note: Boice, p486.]

In the quotation above, Boice used the term "legalism" as it is commonly used to describe both legalism and nomism.

In what sense has God liberated Christians from the "yoke of slavery" ( Galatians 5:1) that is the Mosaic Law (cf. Romans 10:4; 2 Corinthians 3:7-11; Hebrews 7:12; Galatians 3:24)?

Calvin and many reformed theologians have answered this question this way. They have said the ceremonial laws (e.g, animal sacrifices, dietary restrictions, feast days, etc.) are no longer binding on Christians because of the death of Christ. Nevertheless the moral laws (the Ten Commandments) are still binding. God has done away with the moral laws only in the sense that they no longer condemn us ( Romans 8:11). [Note: John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1:2:11:4.] The problem with this explanation is that it makes a distinction between two parts of the Law that the text does not make. The text simply states that Christ is the end of "the Law" ( Romans 10:4), not the ceremonial part of the Law. Furthermore if the Ten Commandments are all still binding on us, why have Christians throughout history ( Acts 20:7; cf. 1 Corinthians 16:2) met to worship on Sunday rather than on the Sabbath? Some reformed theologians, following Calvin, believe that God abolished Sabbath worship along with the ceremonial laws. [Note: Ibid, 1:2:8:33, 34.] This seems somewhat inconsistent. Others, following the Westminster Confession, regard Sunday worship as a continuation of Sabbath worship. [Note: The Confession of Faith; the Larger and Shorter Catechisms, with the Scripture Proofs at Large, 21:7.] Nevertheless it Isaiah, of course, very different.

Dispensational theologians have suggested another answer to this question that to me seems more consistent with what Scripture says. They say that God did away with the Mosaic Law completely, both the ceremonial and the moral parts. He terminated it as a code and has replaced it with a new code, "the Law of Christ" ( Galatians 6:2). Some commandments in the Law of Christ are the same as those in the Law of Moses (e.g, nine of the Ten Commandments, excluding the command to observe the Sabbath day). God-given codes of laws that governed people"s behavior existed before God gave the Law of Moses (e.g, Genesis 1:28-30; Genesis 2:16-17; Genesis 3:14-19; Genesis 9:1-17). God incorporated some specific commands from these former codes into the Law of Christ even though they were not part of the Law of Moses (e.g, 1 Timothy 4:3; cf. Genesis 9:3). He also incorporated nine of the Ten Commandments from the Mosaic Code.

"May this procedure not be likened to the various codes in a household with growing children? At different stages of maturity new codes are instituted, but some of the same commandments appear often. To say that the former code is done away and all its commandments is no contradiction. It is as natural as growing up. So it is with the Mosaic Law and the law of Christ." [Note: Charles C. Ryrie, "The End of the Law," Bibliotheca Sacra124:495 (July-September1967):247.]

"The "yoke" was used in current Jewish parlance in an honorable sense for the obligation to keep the law of Moses, and the Judaizers may well have urged the Galatians to "take the yoke of the law" upon themselves. But Paul bluntly points out that the ordinances of the law as demanded by the Judaizers constitute a slave"s yoke, so that he uses the word in the bad sense of an imposed burden, like slavery (cf. Acts 15:10; 1 Timothy 6:1)." [Note: Fung, pp216-17.]

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Galatians 5:1". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/galatians-5.html. 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Galatians 5:1. For freedom did Christ make (or set) us free: stand firm, therefore, and be not entangled again in a yoke of bondage.(1) This exhortation is the inferential close of the argumentative, and a suitable beginning of the hortative, part of the Epistle. Some editors and commentators put the verse, either in whole or in part, at the end of chap. 4. Paul contrasts Christian freedom with Jewish bondage, and urges the Galatians to hold fast to the former, and not to relapse into the latter, or to exchange one form of slavery (their native heathenism) with another (Judaism). Hence ‘again.’ ‘Freedom’ is the outcome of the preceding discussion, and is emphatically put first ‘For, or ‘unto freedom’ (better than ‘with freedom,’ although the Greek admits both), i.e., in order that we might be and remain free. It is, of course, not carnal but spiritual freedom, freedom from the curse and bondage of the law, secured to the believer as a permanent condition by the vicarious death of Christ, which satisfied the demands of Divine justice and saved us from wrath. This freedom implies the consciousness of the full pardon of our sins, a ready and direct access to the throne of grace, and all the privileges and responsibilities of a son in his father’s house. A Christian freeman is a grateful and cheerful servant of God, and a lord and king, though in chains, like Paul in Rome, who was a true freeman, while Nero on the throne was a miserable slave of his lusts.—‘Stand firm,’ in this liberty of an evangelical Christian.—‘Yoke of bondage,’ which bears down the neck and prevents free motion. Legalism is a burdensome slavery of the mind and conscience. Peter, in his speech at the Council of Jerusalem, likewise calls the law of Moses a ‘yoke,’ which ‘neither our fathers nor we could bear,’ Acts 15:10. Luther remarks on this verse: ‘Let us learn to count this our freedom most noble, exalted, and precious, which no emperor, no prophet, nor patriarch, no angel from heaven, but Christ, God’s Son, hath obtained for us; not for this that He might relieve us from a bodily and temporal subjection, but from a spiritual and eternal imprisonment of the cruelest tyrants, namely, the law, sin, death, devil.’ Calvin: ‘Paul reminds them that they ought not to despise a freedom so precious. And certainly it is an invaluable blessing, in defence of which it is our duty to fight even to death. If men lay upon our shoulders an unjust burden, it may be borne; but if they endeavor to bring our conscience into bondage, we must resist valiantly, even to death.’

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Galatians 5:1". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/galatians-5.html. 1879-90.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Galatians 5:1. In the original text, which I have adopted in accordance with the best MS. authority, the first clause of this verse is clearly detached from the second , and attached to the preceding without any connecting particle. But this primary connection with the preceding verse was apparently obscured at an early period of Church history, owing probably to the frequent use of the important section Galatians 5:1 ff. as a Church lesson by itself apart from the preceding allegory. It is difficult otherwise to account for the great variety of connecting particles employed in MS. versions and quotations to transform the fragment . . into a complete sentence, e.g., the addition of , , or , and the omission of after , all evidently corrections made with one object. The division of chapters has unfortunately perpetuated this error. But the removal of the full stop after at once restores the full force of the original passage: Wherefore, brethren, we are not children of a handmaid, but Christ set us free with the freedom of the freewoman. The threefold iteration, free, freedom, freewoman, marks with expressive emphasis the importance of this Christian birthright.— . The best MSS. place the object before the subject , inverting the usual order of words. This inversion throws an emphasis on , as the previous context demands; for the whole passage forcibly contrasts the freedom granted to us Christians with the bondage which the Jews inherit.— ’ Converts had all alike, whether Jews or Greeks, been under bondage to some law, human or divine: all had been set free by Christ, but might now, by the voluntary adoption of circumcision, forfeit this freedom and rivet the yoke of Law about their own necks.

 

 

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Galatians 5:1". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/galatians-5.html. 1897-1910.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Galatians 5:1. Stand fast therefore in the liberty, &c. — The apostle (chap. 3.) having, from Abraham’s justification by faith, proved, 1st, That all who believe in Christ, and in the promises of God through him, are the seed of Abraham, whom God in the covenant promised to justify by faith: 2d, That the law of Moses, which was given long after the Abrahamic covenant, could neither annul nor alter that covenant, by introducing a method of justification different from that which was so solemnly established thereby: 3d, That men are heirs of the heavenly country, of which Canaan was the type, not meritoriously, by obedience to the law, but by the free gift of God: 4th, That the law was given to the Israelites, not to justify them, but to restrain them from transgressions, and by making them sensible of their sins, and of the demerit thereof, to lead them to Christ for justification: further, having (chap. 4.) observed that the method of justification by faith, established at the fall, was not universally published in the first ages, by immediately introducing the gospel, because the state of the world did not admit thereof; and because it was proper that mankind should remain a while under the tuition of the light of nature, and of the law of Moses: also, having declared that the supernatural procreation of Isaac, and his birth in a state of freedom, was intended to typify the supernatural generation of Abraham’s seed by faith, and their freedom from the bondage of the law of Moses, as a term of salvation: the apostle, in this 5th chapter, as the application of his whole doctrine, exhorts the Galatian believers to stand fast in that freedom from the Mosaic law which had been obtained for them by Christ, and was announced to them by the gospel; and not to be entangled again with, or held fast in, (as ενεχεσθε may be rendered,) the yoke of Jewish bondage, as if it were necessary to salvation. “The apostle, though writing to the Gentiles, might say, Be not again held fast in the yoke of bondage, because the law of Moses, which he was cautioning them to avoid, was a yoke of the same kind with that under which they had groaned while heathen. By this precept, the apostle likewise condemns the superstitious bodily services enjoined by the Church of Rome, which are really of the same nature with those prescribed by Moses, with this difference, that none of them are of divine appointment.” — Macknight.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Galatians 5:1". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/galatians-5.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Be not held again under the yoke of bondage, of the old law. (Witham) --- This verse must be understood in the same manner as the 9th verse of the preceding chapter. See the annotations upon it.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Galatians 5:1". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/galatians-5.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Stand fast. See 1 Corinthians 16:13.

liberty, See Galatians 2:4.

Christ. App-98.

hath. Omit.

not. Greek. me. App-105.

entangled. Greek. enecho.

Here,, Mark 6:19 (quarrel against). Luke 11:53 (urge).

bondage. See Galatians 4:24,

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Galatians 5:1". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/galatians-5.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

A B Delta C read no "wherewith." [G, Vulgate, have ee (Greek #2228) in the beginning; but the position of stekete oun below is against it]. There is no Greek for "in" or "the," as there is in 1 Corinthians 16:13; Philippians 1:27; Philippians 4:1. '(It is) FOR freedom (that) Christ made us free' (not for bondage). 'Stand fast, therefore (this is the order of "therefore" in 'Aleph (') A B C Delta G steekete (Greek #4739) oun) (Greek #3767), and be not entangled (implying the difficulty of getting free again) again (as when ye were pagan: note Galatians 4:9) in a yoke of bondage' (namely, the law, Galatians 4:24; Acts 15:10). Compare Galatians 5:13.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Galatians 5:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/galatians-5.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

V.

(1) Stand fast therefore.—The external evidence is very strong in favour of a different reading: With (or, perhaps, For) liberty did Christ make us free. Stand fast, then, and be not entangled, &c. There seems to be no sufficient reason why this should not be adopted.

In the liberty.—The best grammarians seem agreed to take this rather in the sense, for liberty; otherwise it would be tempting to explain it as an instance of the Hebraising construction which we find in John 3:29 : “Rejoice with joy” (Authorised version “rejoice greatly”). It would then mean: “with a system, or state, of freedom Christ freed us;” in other words: “placed us in a state of freedom, so that we are free.”

The yoke of bondage—i.e., the Judaising restraints and restrictions.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Galatians 5:1". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/galatians-5.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
Stand
Proverbs 23:23; 1 Corinthians 15:58; 16:13; Ephesians 6:14; Philippians 1:27; 1 Thessalonians 3:8; 2 Thessalonians 2:15; Hebrews 3:6,14; 4:14; 10:23,35-39; Jude 1:3,20,21; Revelation 2:25; 3:3
the liberty
13; 2:4; 3:25; 4:26,31; Psalms 51:12; Isaiah 61:1; Matthew 11:28-30; John 8:32-36; Romans 6:14,18; 7:3,6; 8:2; 1 Corinthians 7:22; 2 Corinthians 3:17; 1 Peter 2:16; 2 Peter 2:19
entangled
2:4; 4:9; Matthew 23:4; Acts 15:10; Colossians 2:16-22; Hebrews 9:8-11
Reciprocal: Genesis 24:6 - GeneralLeviticus 25:10 - proclaim;  Matthew 11:30 - my yoke;  Luke 5:38 - GeneralJohn 8:36 - GeneralActs 13:43 - persuaded;  Acts 15:5 - That it;  Acts 15:31 - they rejoiced;  Acts 16:3 - and took;  Acts 16:5 - so;  Acts 21:21 - that thou;  1 Corinthians 7:18 - being;  1 Corinthians 9:1 - am I not free;  1 Corinthians 9:19 - I be;  2 Corinthians 11:20 - if a man bring;  Galatians 4:7 - thou;  Galatians 4:24 - which;  Philippians 3:2 - the;  Philippians 4:1 - so;  1 Timothy 6:1 - servants;  Titus 1:10 - specially;  James 1:25 - liberty

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Galatians 5:1". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/galatians-5.html.

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Galatians 4:21 to Galatians 5:1. The new thing he tries is an allegorising spiritualising application of an OT story. Slave-born Ishmael mocked (Genesis 21:10*) free-born Isaac, and the son of the slave was righteously cast out. God means us to learn from this! Once more it is claimed that the OT supports Paul. A second quasi-allegory is intertwined with the first. According to later Jewish theology, the real Jerusalem, like all other sacred things, existed originally in heaven. And according to Paul the material or earthly Jerusalem, which rejects Jesus and clings to Law, is in hopeless bondage. Isaiah 54:1 must refer to the heavenly Jerusalem, partially manifested in the NT Church. Once more then, choose—between Christ and Law; Ishmael and Isaac; the true Jerusalem and the sham. Nay, they have chosen. Let them stand by their good choice! Let them not frustrate Christ's design (Galatians 5:1 mg.).

[Galatians 4:25. The meaning is apparently that the word "Hagar" is in Arabia used for Mt. Sinai. That this is philologically uncertain is no proof that Paul did not mean this. It gives an excellent sense, for it justifies the equation of Hagar with the Sinaitic covenant. Paul may say "in Arabia" rather than in the Arabian language, because he is referring to a local usage. If mg. gives the correct text, it is probably a gloss. An interesting suggestion has been made to the effect that the verb rendered "answereth to" means "has the same numerical value as." The Gr. words rendered "Hagar Sinai" = 1365, "the Jerusalem that now is" = 1364. But the Alpha in the former equation has to mean both 1 and 1000, there is a difference between the totals, and there is no indication of this sense in the passage. The verb means "is in the same category with."—A. S. P.]

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Galatians 5:1". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/galatians-5.html. 1919.

Stanley Derickson - Notes on Selected Books

Week Ten: 5:1-15 Circumcision Is Of No Value, We Are Free

5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

This is probably the key verse if you would want one; it sums up the book fairly well.

The Galatians were called to "stand fast" or persevere, or stand firm in their liberty. The tense is a present, so keep standing would be the thought of the verse. Don"t take that stand and leave it, don"t let down liberty and take on bondage - stand and keep standing firm.

So many fail to stand firm in what they believe today. Many are the times when I stood firm and suffered the consequences and costs, but the knowledge of standing firm was a great comfort. When doctrinal position is questioned, we must stand firm, when life position is questioned, we must stand firm, and when moral position is questioned, we must stand firm for what is right, honorable and Biblical.

Some will quake at this next comment, but the word liberty has the thought of what we call license today. It is the freedom to do whatever we please, whether it is right or wrong. It is freedom to follow Christ and it is freedom to follow Satan - we are free in Christ to do whatever we want, whenever we want, and for as long as we want.

Now, before the tar is warmed for the feathers, let me say, we are free to do so, but our love for Christ, our desire to serve Christ, and our devotion to following Christ will not allow us to live outside the constraints placed for our voluntary acceptance as believers. We can live against God, but we ought not.

Too many today in the church take this liberty very seriously and live as they like rather than placing themselves under the constraints of Christian living. Sad. Many a pastor has been told to mind their own business when confronting a believer with sin.

"Make free" is the verb form of the word translated liberty. The liberty is that freedom given us, and the "make free" is that which makes us at liberty. It is the singular act of Christ which gives us the liberty in which we do and should stand firm.

"And be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage." relates to the belief of the Galatians that they had to go back under the law. "Entangled" is just what it describes in our language and culture. It is to be ensnared in, tangled up in, and not able to escape from. The law followed is an ensnarement to the believer.

Now, lest anyone get the wrong picture of the law, be sure to understand that it is an ensnarement to the believer and the believer only. To the lost person it is not an ensnarement, but a guide toward the Gospel which can free them.

This is a simple and inadequate illustration, but it will give you a little feel for this idea. Consider the many smokers that have left this addiction, left its health inhibiting clutches, and left its pocket book robbing character, for the freedom of not being tied to such a habit, THEN returning to that habit and all its consequences, having been free of all that and then going back to smoking and becoming ensnared again.

I have observed this several times, and still wonder at how the person can do that, how they can understand the danger, the addiction, and the hurt of the habit, then to enjoy the freedom, the good health, and the added finance only to turn again to the dark days of being tied to a habit that leads only to the grave for so many.

And here we have people leaving that freedom in Christ for the confines of the legal system than binds them in such a complete and stifling way.

Copyright Statement
Copyright 2008. Used by Permission. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the author, except as provided by U.S.A. copyright laws. Do feel free to make copies for friends that might be interested as long as you do not make profit from the copies. This is God's work and I don't want anyone to profit from it in a material way.
Bibliographical Information
Derickson, Stanley. "Commentary on Galatians 5:1". "Stanley Derickson - Notes on Selected Books". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/sdn/galatians-5.html.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

1.Therefore—The separation of this verse from the last chapter is unfortunate, as this therefore closely connects it therewith. Ye are free sons of the free, stand fast therefore in freedom.

Liberty—From the old ritualism. It is not the high freedom from sin, guilt, and depravity, wrought by Christ, which is here specified; but the emancipation from old Judaism. This verse is perplexed with various readings, yielding slightly different meanings. With liberty Christ has made us free, stand fast therefore. Or, unto or for freedom Christ has made us free. Neither of these is to be preferred to the received translation. Stand fast.—Opposed both to being moved and to bowing down. Keep both a firm position and an erect attitude; firm, as not being displaced by the onset of your assailants; erect, as not bowing to their yoke.

Yoke—Like bondwoman in Galatians 4:30, is without the definite article. The Galatians had been mostly Gentiles; yet St. Paul’s again implies that their fall into a Judaism is simply a relapse into a ritualism now null, and essentially to be identified with the heathen ritualism they had left. Note, Galatians 4:31. Dead Judaism and ethnicism are equally Christless. And that—the conclusion and seal of the whole argument—is the basis of the following closing exhortation.

 

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Galatians 5:1". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/galatians-5.html. 1874-1909.

The Bible Study New Testament

1. Freedom is what we have! “Because Christians are the children of the free woman, you Gentiles must not allow yourselves to be made slaves again by believing that the Law of Moses is necessary to your salvation!!!”

 

 

 

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Galatians 5:1". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/galatians-5.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

1.Stand fast therefore. After having told them that they are the children of the free woman, he now reminds them that they ought not lightly to despise a freedom so precious. And certainly it is an invaluable blessing, in defense of which it is our duty to fight, even to death; since not only the highest temporal considerations, but our eternal interests also, animate us to the contest. (81) Many persons, having never viewed the subject in this light, charge us with excessive zeal, when they see us so warmly and earnestly contending for freedom of faith as to outward matters, in opposition to the tyranny of the Pope. Under this cloak, our adversaries raise a prejudice against us among ignorant people, as if the whole object of our pursuit were licentiousness, which is the relaxation of all discipline. But wise and skillful persons are aware that this is one of the most important doctrines connected with salvation. This is not a question whether you shall eat this or that food, — whether you shall observe or neglect a particular day, (which is the foolish notion entertained by many, and the slander uttered by some,) but what is your positive duty before God, what is necessary to salvation, and what cannot be omitted without sin. In short, the controversy relates to the liberty of conscience, when placed before the tribunal of God.

The liberty of which Paul speaks is exemption from the ceremonies of the law, the observance of which was demanded by the false apostles as necessary. But let the reader, at the same time, remember, that such liberty is only a part of that which Christ has procured for us: for how small a matter would it be, if he had only freed us from ceremonies? This is but a stream, which must be traced to a higher source. It is because

“Christ was made a curse, that he might redeem us
from the curse of the law,” (
Galatians 3:13;)

because he has revolted the power of the law” so far as it held us liable to the judgment of God under the penalty of eternal death; because, in a word, he has rescued us from the tyranny of sin, Satan, and death. Thus, under one department is included the whole class; but on this subject we shall speak more fully on the Epistle to the Colossians.

This liberty was procured for us by Christ on the cross: the fruit and possession of it are bestowed upon us through the Gospel. Well does Paul, then, warn the Galatians, not to be entangled again with the yoke of bondage, — that is, not to allow a snare to be laid for their consciences. For if men lay upon our shoulders an unjust burden, it may be borne; but if they endeavor to bring our consciences into bondage, we must resist valiantly, even to death. If men be permitted to bind our consciences, we shall be deprived of an invaluable blessing, and an insult will be, at the same time, offered to Christ, the Author of our freedom. But what is the force of the word again, in the exhortation, “and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage?” for the Galatians had never lived under the law. It simply means that they were not to be entangled, as if they had not been redeemed by the grace of Christ. Although the law was given to Jews, not to Gentiles, yet, apart from Christ, neither the one nor the other enjoys any freedom, but absolute bondage.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Galatians 5:1". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/galatians-5.html. 1840-57.