Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Galatians 5:13

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
New American Standard Version

Adam Clarke Commentary

Ye have been called unto liberty - A total freedom from all the burthensome rites and ceremonies of the Mosaic law. Only use not that liberty for an occasion to the flesh. By flesh, here, we may understand all the unrenewed desires and propensities of the mind; whatsoever is not under the influence and guidance of the Holy Spirit of God. Your liberty is from that which would oppress the spirit; not from that which would lay restraints on the flesh. The Gospel proclaims liberty from the ceremonial law: but binds you still faster under the moral law. To be freed from the ceremonial law is the Gospel liberty; to pretend freedom from the moral law is Antinomianism.

By love serve one another - Having that faith which worketh by love, serve each other to the uttermost of your power: δουλευετε, serve each other, when necessary, as slaves serve their masters. Several excellent MSS. and versions, instead of δια της αγαπης, by love, have τῃ αγαπῃ του Πνευματος, in the love of the Spirit serve one another.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Galatians 5:13". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/galatians-5.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty - Freedom from Jewish rites and ceremonies; see the notes at Galatians 3:28; Galatians 4:9, note, Galatians 4:21-31, note. The meaning here is, that Paul wished the false teachers removed because true Christians had been called unto liberty, and they were abridging and destroying that liberty. They were not in subjection to the Law of Moses, or to anything else that savored of bondage. They were free; free from the servitude of sin, and free from subjection to expensive and burdensome rites and customs. They were to remember this as a great and settled principle; and so vital a truth was this, and so important that it should be maintained, and so great the evil of forgetting it, that Paul says he earnestly wishes Galatians 5:12 that all who would reduce them to that state of servitude were cut off from the Christian church.

Only use not liberty … - The word use here introduced by our translators, obscures the sense. The idea is, “You are called to liberty, but it is not liberty for an occasion to the flesh. It is not freedom from virtuous restraints, and from the laws of God. It is liberty from the servitude of sin, and religious rites and ceremonies, not freedom from the necessary restraints of virtue.” It was necessary to give this caution, because:

(1) There was a strong tendency in all converts from paganism to relapse again into their former habits. Licentiousness abounded, and where they had been addicted to it before their conversion, and where they were surrounded by it on every hand, they were in constant danger of falling into it again. A bare and naked declaration, therefore, that they had been called to liberty, to freedom from restraint, might have been misunderstood, and some might have supposed that they were free from all restraints.

(2) it is needful to guard the doctrine from abuse at all times. There has been a strong tendency, as the history of the church has shown, to abuse the doctrine of grace. The doctrine that Christians are “free;” that there is liberty to them from restraint, has been perverted always by Antinomians, and been made the occasion of their indulging freely in sin. And the result has shown that nothing was more important than to guard the doctrine of Christian liberty, and to show exactly what Christians are freed from, and what laws are still binding on them. Paul is, therefore, at great pains to show that the doctrines which he had maintained did not lead to licentiousness, and did not allow the indulgence of sinful and corrupt passions.

An occasion - As allowing indulgence to the flesh, or as a furtherance or help to corrupt passions; see the word explained in the notes at Romans 7:8.

To the flesh - The word flesh is often used in the writings of Paul to denote corrupt and gross passions and affections; see the notes at Romans 7:18; Romans 8:1, note.

But by love serve one another - By the proper manifestation of love one to another strive to promote each other‘s welfare. To do this will not be inconsistent with the freedom of the gospel. When there is love there is no servitude. Duty is pleasant, and offices of kindness agreeable. Paul does not consider them as freed from all law and all restraint; but they are to be governed by the law of love. They were not to feel that they were so free that they might lawfully give indulgence to the desires of the flesh, but they were to regard themselves as under the law to love one another; and thus they would fulfil the law of Christian freedom.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Galatians 5:13". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/galatians-5.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Galatians 5:13

For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

Christian liberty

I. The nature of that liberty of which the apostle here speaks. There is a charm in the very sound of liberty; it awakens many grateful recollections. But the word is employed in various acceptations. Civil liberty is that freedom which is our birthright as men. Spiritual liberty is that freedom, which belongs to us, not as men, but as Christians.

II. The great value of that spiritual liberty to which all believers of gospel truth are called. Political freedom, important as it is, may be overrated. It is highly advantageous to a nation, but not essential to the happiness of individuals. Good men have been happy in exile or in prison, and bad men cannot be so under any circumstances however favourable; the cause of the difference is to be referred to the state of the mind.

1. The measure of spiritual liberty, which a Christian even now attains, removes or alleviates some of the keenest and heaviest sorrows to which man is subject.

2. The measure of spiritual liberty, which a Christian now possesses, greatly heightens and refines all his enjoyments. Countermanding the original curse, it brings back some of the productions of paradise. It opens the noblest faculties and animates the best feelings of the mind.

3. It is but the beginning and pledge of that complete deliverance from all sin and sorrow, to which he is looking with lively hope. The best state on earth bears the marks of imperfection. Even where grace reigns, sin, like a rebel dethroned but not destroyed, is too near to leave any long interval of peace. In that kingdom to which we are hastening, no tumults or temptations will rise; no sickness or sighing, death or danger, will be known. No law in the members will be found warring against the law of the mind, or bringing us into captivity to sin. Even creation itself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God (Romans 8:21).

III. The way in which the liberty to which the believer is called may be duly improved. All the principles of our holy religion have a practical bearing. We see a beautiful harmony in its doctrines and precepts. This is one of the great excellencies of Christianity. Paul was a wise master-builder, equally concerned to lay a good foundation, and to carry up the superstructure.

1. He gives a word of salutary warning--“Use not liberty,” etc. There is hardly any good but is liable to abuse. Every sacred privilege has been and may be perverted. We must be on our guard against this. To use Christian liberty for an occasion to indulge the flesh is the best thing in the world turned to the worst purpose.

2. The apostle, in our text, gives a suitable word of direction--“By love serve one another.” Love is the first and best of all the Christian graces. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, etc. Love finds out many means of serving our brethren. It prompts and animates the mind-it makes us cheerful, active, tender, kind, forbearing. (Essex Congregational Remembrancer.)

By love serve one another--Christianity a system of love

Look at the operations of charity, or the love of benevolence. It was this which existed in the mind of Deity from eternity, and in the exercise of which He so loved our guilty world as to give His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. It was on the wings of charity that the Son of God flew from heaven to earth, on an errand of mercy to our lost world; it was charity that moved in the minds and hearts of the apostles, and urged them with the glad tidings of salvation, from country to country. The whole missionary enterprise is founded, not of course on the basis of brotherly kindness, but on that of charity. All those splendid instances that have been presented to us of the exercise of philanthropy are the operations of this Divine charity. See Howard, leaving the seclusion of a country gentleman, giving up his elegant retreat and all its luxurious gratifications, pacing to and fro through Europe, plunging into dungeons, battling with pestilence, weighing the fetters of the prisoner, gauging the disease of the pest-house--all under the influence of heavenly charity. See Wilberforce, through twenty years of his eventful life, lifting up his unwearied voice, and employing his fascinating eloquence against the biggest outrage that ever trampled on the rights of humanity. What formed his character, sketched his plan, inspired his zeal, but charity? See that illustrious woman, lately departed, so ripe for glory and so richly invested with it, who interested herself amidst the prisoners of Newgate--to chain their passions, to reclaim their vices, and to render them more meet for society, which had condemned them as its outcasts. What was it that gave to Mrs. Fry her principle of action, what indeed was the principle itself, but charity? (J. Angell James.)

One another

I. What is a Christian Church?

1. Not a club, an association of persons belonging to the same rank in life, but a Divine society embracing all classes.

2. Not a republic where majorities rule, but a society where the will of the Divine Head is the governing power.

3. Two or three, met in Christ’s name, and loyal to His will, are sufficient to constitute a Christian Church.

II. What are the conditions of happy Church life?

1. The root of all is obedience to the law. “Love one another.”

2. Love gives rise to mutuality in everything.

3. Mutual feeling branches out in various ways.

4. From the whole proceeds the Christian law of courtesy and etiquette--“Be subject to one another,” “In honour prefering one another,” “In lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than himself.” (E. Johnson, M. A.)

Law and liberty

There is a great mistake about liberty from law. Some religious persons think it means free, so that though you sin, the law will not punish. This is the liberty of devils: free to do as much evil as you will, and yet not suffer. True Christian liberty is this, self-command; to have been brought to Christ; to do right and to love right without a law of compulsion to school you into doing it. If we have not got so far, the law has all its power hanging over us still. (F. W. Robertson.)

To preach justification by the law as a covenant is legal, and makes void the death and merits of Jesus Christ. But to preach obedience to the law as a rule is evangelical; and it savours as much of a New Testament spirit to urge the commands of the law as to display the promises of the gospel. (Bishop Hopkins.)

True liberty is only realized in obedience. The abuse of freedom is bondage, from which there is no self-deliverance. (T. T. Lynch.)

The joy of liberty

Dr. Fletcher was passing the Old Bailey one day, and saw a couple of boys turning somersaults, standing on their heads, making wheels of themselves, and all sorts of things; and he stopped, and said, “Why, boys, whatever are you at? You seem to be delighted;” to which one of them replied, “Ah! and you would be delighted, too, if you had been locked up in that jail three months. You would jump when you came out.” And the good old doctor said he thought it was very likely he should. And the man who has been called unto liberty by Christ, knows the sweets of freedom, because aforetime the iron had entered his soul. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Loving service

A train from the Far West of America was once passing through Saratoga, having among other passengers a man with an infant child. The man’s garments showed him to be poor, and the crape on his hat showed the child to be motherless. The infant was restless, and the father handled it clumsily; with all his efforts he could not quiet it. He wiped the tears from its eyes, and then from his own. All who saw him pitied him. At length a richly-dressed lady, whose infant lay in the arms of its nurse, said, with motherly tenderness in her tone, “Give me the child.” The poor man gave her his boy, whose coarse and soiled robes rested for once on costly silk; his head disappeared under her shawl, and all was still. She held him mile after mile, and did not relinquish him until her own child required attention. (Biblical Treasury.)

Liberty through love

I. The nature of this liberty.

1. This liberty is freedom from the burden of a religion of ordinances.

2. It is liberty from the moral law as the awakener of sin, and from the fear of its punishment, which is death.

II. To keep this liberty pure, we should know its dangers, and avoid them.

1. It may be so used as, to allow the lower nature to rule--as “an occasion to the flesh.”

2. Our liberty from coercive law is produced in us by a love which obeys the law. If we do not love to obey, we are not in Christian liberty at all. St. Paul calls such despisers of law the servants of sin.

3. The use of freedom must be in subordination to love. It is the habit of many to placard their freedom; to violate the scruples of others. What sort of Christianity is that which uses the freedom of Christ to do violence to the love of Christ? The rule is--Use your liberty, not for your own gratification, but for the good of others. Liberty is not a principle of action; it is a mode of action. Love is its principle, and love is the test which tells whether we are free or enslaved. (S. A. Brooke, M. A.)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Galatians 5:13". The Biblical Illustrator. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/galatians-5.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

For ye brethren, were called for freedom: only use not your freedom for an occasion to the flesh, but through love be servants one to another.

Freedom from Jewish observances did not mean freedom to indulge in things forbidden, which Paul would promptly enumerate. No relaxation of the commandments of Christ was for one moment intended by anything Paul had written about being "under grace" and not "under law." Here he cited the great motivator of Christian morality, namely love of the brethren.

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 5:13". "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

For brethren, ye have been called unto liberty,.... He calls them "brethren", to testify his affection to them, and to put them in mind of their relation to one another, which required mutual love, a thing he is about to press them to; he asserts that they were "called" not merely externally, but internally, by the effectual grace of God, out of bondage to sin, Satan, and the law, unto the liberty of the Gospel and of the grace of God; that liberty wherewith Christ had made them free, Galatians 5:1 this he said in a judgment of charity, hoping well of them:

only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh; corrupt nature, which in unregenerate men takes encouragement from, and makes an ill use of the best of things, as the mercy and patience of God; and not only takes an occasion by the law, forbidding sin to work and stir up all manner of concupiscence; but also by the Gospel, and the doctrines of it, such as eternal election, free justification, &c. which though the source and fountain, the barrier and security, of all true and real holiness, are improved and abused by wicked minds, under the influence and instigation of Satan, to vile purposes; and though regenerate persons are not in the flesh, and do not live after it, yet that is in them, and there is a proneness in them to sin; and Satan is watching all opportunities and advantages against them; so that there is need for such a caution as this, that they do not misuse their Christian liberty by indulging the flesh and the lusts of it, which is apt to take an occasion to cherish its lusts, and especially when given: Christ's free men should not do so, for that is to disgrace the doctrine of Christian liberty, to enthral themselves in, bondage instead of using their liberty aright, and to give the enemy occasion to blaspheme: the doctrine of Christian liberty may bc abused, or used as an occasion to the flesh, and to fulfil the lusts of it; when under a pretence thereof men think themselves exempt from obedience to the civil magistrate, which is using this liberty as a cloak of maliciousness; or that they are free from obedience to the law of God, as a rule of walk and conversation; or from subjection to the ordinances of the Gospel; or when they use the creatures God has given them the free use of without thankfulness, and in an immoderate manner; and when they make things indifferent which are not, or use indifferent things to the prejudice of others; and their liberty becomes a stumblingblock to weak Christians, which the apostle seems greatly to regard here; since he adds,

but by love serve one another: the Vulgate Latin version reads, "by the love of the Spirit": and so some copies; Gospel liberty and the service of the saints are not at all inconsistent; as it becomes them to love one another, as the new command of Christ, their profession of religion, and their relation to each other, require, so they should show their love by their service; as by praying one with and for another, by bearing each other's burdens, sympathizing with and communicating to each other in things temporal and spiritual; in forbearing with and forgiving one another; by admonishing each other when there is occasion for it, in a meek, tender, and brotherly way; by instructing and building up one another on their most holy faith, and by stirring up one another to all the duties of religion, private and public.

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 5:13". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/galatians-5.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; 12 only [use] not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

(12) The third part of this epistle, showing that the right use of Christian liberty consists of this, that being delivered and set at liberty from the slavery of sin and the flesh, and being obedient to the Spirit, we should through love help each other to mature in their salvation.
Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Galatians 5:13". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/galatians-5.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

The “ye” is emphatical, from its position in the Greek, “Ye brethren”; as opposed to those legalists “who trouble you.”

unto liberty — The Greek expresses, “on a footing of liberty.” The state or condition in which ye have been called to salvation, is one of liberty. Gospel liberty consists in three things, freedom from the Mosaic yoke, from sin, and from slavish fear.

only, etc. — Translate, “Only turn not your liberty into an occasion for the flesh.” Do not give the flesh the handle or pretext (Romans 7:8, “occasion”) for its indulgence which it eagerly seeks for; do not let it make Christian “liberty” its pretext for indulgence (Galatians 5:16, Galatians 5:17; 1 Peter 2:16; 2 Peter 2:19; Judges 1:4).

but by love serve one anotherGreek, “Be servants (be in bondage) to one another.” If ye must be servants, then be servants to one another in love. While free as to legalism, be bound by Love (the article in the Greek personifies love in the abstract) to serve one another (1 Corinthians 9:19). Here he hints at their unloving strifes springing out of lust of power. “For the lust of power is the mother of heresies” [Chrysostom].

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 5:13". "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

For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
In other words: "You have gained liberty through Christ, i.e., You are above all laws as far as conscience is concerned. You are saved. Christ is your liberty and life. Therefore law, sin, and death may not hurt you or drive you to despair. This is the constitution of your priceless liberty. Now take care that you do not use your wonderful liberty for an occasion of the flesh."

Satan likes to turn this liberty which Christ has gotten for us into licentiousness. Already the Apostle Jude complained in his day: "There are certain men crept in unawares. . .turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness." (Jude 4.) The flesh reasons: "If we are without the law, we may as well indulge ourselves. Why do good, why give alms, why suffer evil when there is no law to force us to do so?"

This attitude is common enough. People talk about Christian liberty and then go and cater to the desires of covetousness, pleasure, pride, envy, and other vices. Nobody wants to fulfill his duties. Nobody wants to help out a brother in distress. This sort of thing makes me so impatient at times that I wish the swine who trampled precious pearls under foot were back once again under the tyranny of the Pope. You cannot wake up the people of Gomorrah with the gospel of peace.

Even we creatures of the world do not perform our duties as zealously in the light of the Gospel as we did before in the darkness of ignorance, because the surer we are of the liberty purchased for us by Christ, the more we neglect the Word, prayer, well-doing, and suffering. If Satan were not continually molesting us with trials, with the persecution of our enemies, and the ingratitude of our brethren, we would become so careless and indifferent to all good works that in time we would lose our faith in Christ, resign the ministry of the Word, and look for an easier life. Many of our ministers are beginning to do that very thing. They complain about the ministry, they maintain they cannot live on their salaries, they whimper about the miserable treatment they receive at the hand of those whom they delivered from the servitude of the law by the preaching of the Gospel. These ministers desert our poor and maligned Christ, involve themselves in the affairs of the world, seek advantages for themselves and not for Christ. With what results they shall presently find out.

Since the devil lies in ambush for those in particular who hate the world, and seeks to deprive us of our liberty of the spirit or to brutalize it into the liberty of the flesh, we plead with our brethren after the manner of Paul, that they may never use this liberty of the spirit purchased for us by Christ as an excuse for carnal living, or as Peter expresses it, I Peter 2:16, "for a cloak of maliciousness."

In order that Christians may not abuse their liberty the Apostle encumbers them with the rule of mutual love that they should serve each other in love. Let everybody perform the duties of his station and vocation diligently and help his neighbor to the limit of his capacity.

Christians are glad to hear and obey this teaching of love. When others hear about this Christian liberty of ours they at once infer, "If I am free, I may do what I like. If salvation is not a matter of doing why should we do anything for the poor?" In this crude manner they turn the liberty of the spirit into wantonness and licentiousness. We want them to know, however, that if they use their lives and possessions after their own pleasure, if they do not help the poor, if they cheat their fellow-men in business and snatch and scrape by hook and by crook everything they can lay their hands on, we want to tell them that they are not free, no matter how much they think they are, but they are the dirty slaves of the devil, and are seven times worse than they ever were as the slaves of the Pope.

As for us, we are obliged to preach the Gospel which offers to all men liberty from the Law, sin, death, and God's wrath. We have no right to conceal or revoke this liberty proclaimed by the Gospel. And so we cannot do anything with the swine who dive headlong into the filth of licentiousness. We do what we can, we diligently admonish them to love and to help their fellow-men. If our admonitions bear no fruit, we leave them to God, who will in His own good time take care of these disrespecters of His goodness. In the meanwhile we comfort ourselves with the thought that our labors are not lost upon the true believers. They appreciate this spiritual liberty and stand ready to serve others in love and, though their number is small, the satisfaction they give us far outweighs the discouragement which we receive at the hands of the large number of those who misuse this liberty.

Paul cannot possibly be misunderstood for he says: "Brethren, ye have been called unto liberty." In order that nobody might mistake the liberty of which he speaks for the liberty of the flesh, the Apostle adds the explanatory note, "only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another." Paul now explains at the hand of the Ten Commandments what it means to serve one another in love.

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 5:13". "Martin Luther's Commentary on Galatians". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/mlg/galatians-5.html. Zondervan. Gand Rapids, MI. 1939.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Ye were called for freedom (επ ελευτεριαι εκλητητεep' eleutheriāi eklēthēte). The same point as in Galatians 5:1 made plainer by the use of επep' (on the basis of, for the purpose of). See note on 1 Thessalonians 4:7 for this use of επιepi

Only use not (μονον μηmonon mē). No word for “use” in the Greek. Probably supply τρεπετεtrepete or στρεπετεstrephete “turn not your liberty into an occasion for the flesh” (εις απορμην τηι σαρκιeis aphormēn tēi sarki), as a spring board for license. On απορμηaphormē see note on 2 Corinthians 5:12. Liberty so easily turns to license.

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 5:13". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/galatians-5.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

For ( γὰρ )

Well may I speak thus strongly of those who thus overthrow your whole polity and enslave you, for ye are called for freedom.

Unto liberty ( ἐπ ' ἐλευθερίᾳ )

Better, for freedom. See on unto uncleanness, 1 Thessalonians 4:7. Ἑπὶ marks the intention.

Only ( μόνον )

For a similar use of the word, qualifying or limiting a general statement, comp. 1 Corinthians 7:39; Galatians 2:10; Philemon 1:27; 2 Thessalonians 2:7.

Use not liberty ( τὴν ἐλευθερίαν )

Use is not in the Greek. We may supply hold or make or turn.

Occasion ( ἀφορμὴν )

See on Romans 7:8. Almost exclusively in Paul.

To the flesh ( τῃ σαρκί )

See on Romans 7:5. The flesh here represents lovelessness and selfishness. Christian freedom is not to be abused for selfish ends. Paul treats this subject at length in 1 Corinthians 8:1-13; 1 Corinthians 12:25, 1 Corinthians 12:26. Individual liberty is subject to the law of love and mutual service. Comp. 1 Peter 2:16.

By love ( διὰ τῆς ἀγάπης )

Or through love, through which faith works (Galatians 5:6).

Copyright Statement
The text of this work is public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Galatians 5:13". "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

For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

Ye have been called to liberty — From sin and misery, as well as from the ceremonial law.

Only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh — Take not occasion from hence to gratify corrupt nature.

But by love serve one another — And hereby show that Christ has made you free.

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 5:13". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/galatians-5.html. 1765.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

For an occasion to the flesh; for the indulgence of sinful propensities.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on Galatians 5:13". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/ain/galatians-5.html. 1878.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

К свободе. Теперь апостол учит галатов, как надобно пользоваться свободой. В Послании к Коринфянам мы узнали, что свобода – это одно, а ее использование – совсем другое. Ибо свобода находится в совести и взирает на Бога, а использование свободы относится ко внешним вещам и имеет дело не с Богом, а с людьми. Итак, прежде призвав галатов не терпеть какого-либо умаления их свободы, апостол повелевает им теперь быть умеренными в использовании этой свободы. Далее, он предписывает правило законного употребления свободы, дабы не обращать ее в повод для вседозволенности. Ибо свобода дается вовсе не плоти, которая, напротив, должна скорее оставаться под ярмом и в оковах, свобода – это духовное благо, воспринять которое могут лишь благочестивые души.

Но любовью. Апостол объясняет, как надобно обуздывать свободу, дабы она не перешла в повсеместное и похотливое злоупотребление. Свобода, по его словам, обуздывается тогда, когда управляется любовью. Будем же всегда помнить, что сейчас апостол обсуждает не то, каким образом мы свободны перед Богом, но то, каким образом нам позволено пользоваться этой свободой перед людьми. Ибо правая совесть не допускает никакого внутреннего рабства, однако же практика внешнего рабства и воздержания не несет с собой никакой опасности. Итог таков: если мы служим друг другу любовью, то всегда имеем основу для назидания. Поэтому мы не устаем в этом деле, но пользуемся благодатью Божией ради Его славы и спасения ближних.

 

 

 

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Galatians 5:13". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/galatians-5.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

Ver. 13. Only use not your liberty] In maxima libertate, minima licentia. In the greatest freedom is the least amount of licence. Therefore αναστατουντες, are men the worse, because they should be better. Christ came to call sinners, not to licentiousness, but to repentance, Mark 2:17, to take his yoke upon them, Matthew 11:29, to hire out their members servants to righteousness, Romans 6:16. Hence it is, that as St Paul’s Epistles largely prove free election and justification by Christ; so the Epistles of James, Peter, and John, press to love and new obedience, lest any should argue from mercy to liberty. Nemo sit liber in fraudem fisci, Let no one be free in mishandling the treasury, saith the civil law. (Valer. Max. ii. 1.) It was enacted among the Athenians, that whosoever, having been a bondman, was convicted of ingratitude for his manumission, should lose his liberty: the Romans made such slaves again; which punishment they term Maximam capitis diminutionem, The greatest demotion of a person. (Justin Instit. i. 16.)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Galatians 5:13". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/galatians-5.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Galatians 5:13. Only use not liberty From the mention of liberty, to which St. Paul tells them they are called under the gospel, he takes occasion to caution them respecting the use of it, and so exhorts them to a spiritual or true Christian life; shewing the difference and contrariety between that and a carnal life, or a life after the flesh, Galatians 5:13-26. The word δουλευετε, rendered serve, has a greater force in the Greek than our English word serve expresses, in the common acceptation; for it signifies the opposite to ελευθερια, liberty; and so the Apostle elegantly informs them, that, though by the gospel they are called to a state of liberty from the law, yet they were still as much bound and subjected to their brethren, in all the offices and duties of love and good-will, as if in that respect they were their vassals and bondmen.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Galatians 5:13". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/galatians-5.html. 1801-1803.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

Our apostle having finished the former part of the chapter, which contains an exhortation to stand fast in that liberty which Christ had purchased for them; he now enters upon the second part of it, namely, to caution them against abusing of their Christian liberty, and by no means to apprehend or suppose as if they were thereby freed from all obligation to serve God or man, in the duties particularly required of them.

"Brethren, says he, ye are called unto liberty, that is, to the enjoyment of evangelical liberty, which consists in a freedom from the obligation of the ceremonial law, and the curse of the moral law: use it then so as not to abuse it; use it neither to sin nor scandal; not to sin, to allow yourselves the least liberty in indulging any carnal lust, or sinful affection, nor yet to scandalize the weak, who at present scruple the forsaking of circumcision, and the rest of the ceremonial rites; Use not your liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but in love serve one another."

Learn hence, 1. That our liberty and freedom, purchased for us by Christ, doth not dissolve any tie or obligation which we lie under either to God or man; the yoke of duty is very consistent with our Christian liberty.

Learn, 2. That one of the great occasions of the sins we commit in the course of our lives, is the too free use of our Christian liberty: the using our liberty to the utmost pitch and extent of that which we call lawful, is the occasion of our running into that which is certainly sinful. Religion most certainly allows us all reasonable liberty in the gratification of our natural appetites and passions; but all excesses and immoderate liberties are forbidden by religion. And accordingly one good rule for securing ourselves from falling into sin, in the using our Christian liberty, is this, namely, that in matters of duty, we should rather take too little of our liberty than too much.

For instance, prayer and almsgiving are indispensible duties; but how oft we should pray, and how much we should give, is not positively declared; in this case to pray very frequently, and to give alms very liberally and largely, is our wisdom and duty; no damage will come by doing too much, but both damage and danger will accrue by doing too little.

Learn, 3. That it is not sufficient, in order to the right use of our Christian liberty, that we do not from thence take occasion to sin ourselves;: but we ought to take care, lest by any indiscreet use of our own liberty, we give offence, and minister occasion of sin and stumbling unto others. This truth is implied in the second injunction, By love serve one another.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Burkitt, William. "Commentary on Galatians 5:13". 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

13–CH. Galatians 6:5.] THE THIRD or HORTATORY PORTION OF THE EPISTLE, not however separated from the former, but united to it by the current of thought:—and, 13–15.] Though free, be one another’s servants in love.

γάρ gives the reason why the Apostle was so fervent in his denunciation of these disturbers; because they were striking at the very root of their Christian calling, which was for (on condition of; hardly, for the purpose of; see reff.) freedom. Only (make not) (so μή with the verb omitted and an accusative in μή ʼ μοιγε μύθους, Aristoph. Vesp. 1179; μὴ τριβὰς ἔτι, Soph. Antig. 577; μή μοι μυρίους μηδὲ δισμυρίους ξένους, Demosth. Philippians 1. § 19. See more examples in Hartung, ii. 153) your liberty into (or, use it not for) an occasion (opportunity) for the flesh (for giving way to carnal passions), but by means of (your) love, be in bondage (opposition to ἐλευθερία) to one another. Chrys. remarks, πάλιν ἐνταῦθα αἰνίττεται, ὅτι φιλονεικία κ. στάσις κ. φιλαρχία κ. ἀπόνοια ταύτης αἰτία τῆς πλάνης αὐτοῖς ἐγένετο· ἡ γὰρ τῶν αἱρέσεων μήτηρ ἡ τῆς φιλαρχίας ἐστὶν ἐπιθυμία.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Galatians 5:13". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/galatians-5.html. 1863-1878.

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

Galatians 5:13. “It is with justice that I speak so indignantly against those men; for ye, who are being worked upon by them to bring you under the bondage of the law, have received God’s call to the Messianic kingdom for an object entirely different,—in order that ye may be free.” Thus the apostle again reminds his readers of the great benefit already indicated in Galatians 5:1, but now with the view of inculcating its single necessary moral limitation.

ἐπʼ ἐλευθερίᾳ] that ye should be free; ἐπί used of the ethical aim of the καλεῖν. Comp. 1 Thessalonians 4:7; Ephesians 2:10; Soph. Oed. C. 1459: τἀξίωμʼ ἐφʼ καλεῖς.

μόνον μὴ κ. τ. λ.] Limiting exhortation. But the verb, which is obvious of itself ( τρέπετε, perhaps, or even ἔχετε), is omitted, the omission rendering the address more compact and precise. Comp. Matthew 26:5; Buttmann, neut. Gr. 338. This also corresponds (in opposition to Hofmann’s groundless doubt) to the usage of the Greeks after the prohibitory μή. See Heindorf, ad Plat. Prot. p. 315 B Hartung, Partikell. II. p. 153; Klotz ad Devar. p. 669; Winer, p. 554 f. [E. T. 745].

εἰς ἀφορμὴν τῇ σαρκί] for an occasion to the flesh; do not use your liberty so that it may serve as an occasion for the nonspiritual, psychico-corporeal part of your nature to assert its desires which are contrary to God. Comp. Romans 7:8. As to σάρξ in the ethical sense, see Romans 4:1; Romans 6:19; Romans 7:14; John 3:6.

ἀλλὰ διὰ τῆς ἀγάπης δουλ. ἀλλήλ.] but let love (through which your faith must work, Galatians 5:6) be that by means of which ye stand in a relation of mutually rendered service. An ingenious juxtaposition of freedom and brotherly serviceableness in that freedom. Comp. Romans 6:18; Romans 6:22; 1 Corinthians 9:19; 1 Peter 2:16; 2 Peter 2:19. The special contrast, however, which is here opposed to the general category of the σάρξ, has its ground in the circumstances of the Galatians, and its warrant in what is about to be said of love in Galatians 5:14.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Galatians 5:13". 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 5:13. ὑμεῖς, ye) So far am I from preaching circumcision, that I would rather show you liberty.— ἐπʼ ἐλευθερίᾳ, [unto] concerning(50) liberty) that you might rejoice in liberty. Your calling is not to πεισμονὴν, self-imposed restraints, but to liberty.— μόνον μὴ) An ellipsis of the imperative, having the εὐλὰβειαν, pious precaution, subjoined, μόνον μὴ ἐλεύθεροι ἦτε τὴν ἐλευθερίαν, κ. τ. λ., only ye were not made free with this freedom, etc. [for an occasion to the flesh]: or else the accusative, τὴν ἐλευθερίαν, is put absolutely.— ἀφορμὴν, an occasion) for which the flesh is eager.— τῇ σαρκὶ, to the flesh) Galatians 5:16-17.— διὰ τῆς ἀγάπης, by love) Galatians 5:14; Galatians 5:22.— δουλεύετε, serve) A beautiful antithesis.(51)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Galatians 5:13". 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

Ye have been called unto liberty; a liberty from the covenant of the law, and the curse of the law, as Galatians 3:13; from servile fear, as Luke 1:74; and from sin, Romans 6:7.

Only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh; but you must take heed that you do not abuse this liberty by making it an occasion for sin, so as from thence to conclude, that you may give your flesh more liberty in obeying the lusts of it: you must not think, that the gospel hath set you at liberty from the obedience of the law; the gospel liberty to which you are called, doth not set you free from the duty of love, either to God or men. Therefore

by love serve one another. Our Christian liberty neither freeth us from the serving of God, nor from our mutual serving each other by love, according to Romans 8:8: Owe no man any thing, but to love one another.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Galatians 5:13". 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

свободе См. пояснение к 2:4.

поводом к угождению плоти Греч. эквивалент слова, переведенного как «повод», часто употреблялся в значении центральной базы для военных операций (ср. Рим. 7:8). В данном контексте «плоть» означает греховные склонности падшего человека (см. пояснение к Рим. 7:5). Свобода, которую имеют христиане, не является основанием (базой), имея которую они могут грешить свободно и без последствий.

служите друг другу Христианская свобода служит не для своей корысти, а для блага других. Ср. Рим. 14:1-15.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Galatians 5:13". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/galatians-5.html.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Liberty; freedom for Jewish ceremonies, and from the condemning power of the law.

For an occasion to the flesh; as a pretext for the indulgence of fleshly lusts. The apostle is careful to distinguish between true Christian liberty from the bondage of Judaism and Antinomian licentiousness.

Serve; do good to one another. Freedom from the ceremonial law, and through faith in Christ, from the condemning power of the moral law, and from the necessity of perfectly obeying it in order to salvation, do not lessen but increase a man’s obligation to keep it; and such freedom will secure a hearty obedience.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Galatians 5:13". "Family Bible New Testament". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/galatians-5.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

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

Galatians 5:13. ῾υμεῖς γὰρ ἐπ᾿ ἐλευθερίᾳ ἐκλήθητε, ἀδελφοί—“For ye for your part were called to liberty, brethren”- ὑμεῖς being emphatic from its position. γάρ is “not merely a particle of transition” (Brown); nor is it to be referred to a more remote sentiment—“Let them not revolutionize you, for ye were called to freedom” (Webster and Wilkinson); nor is it connected with ὄφελον—“Would that the offence of the cross were done away; would that the Jews no longer rejected the doctrine that the law cannot justify, for ye were called” (Bagge). Gwynne needlessly throws the connection back to the last verse of the previous chapter. But γάρ refers back to the immediately preceding statement, and is a justification of the strong and indignant feeling expressed against the Judaizers, since they were fighting against the very freedom into which they had been called. Some difficulty about the meaning and reference of γάρ seems to have suggested the alteration into δέ, as in F, G, and in Chrysostom. The ἐπί expresses the object or design of the verb-called that you might be free. 1 Thessalonians 4:7; Ephesians 2:10; Xenophon, Anab. 7.6, 3; Winer, § 48, c; Jelf, 634, 3. It is the state for which, or for the permanent enjoyment of which, they had been called. To a state of liberty, permanent and unvarying, had they been summoned-freedom from that legal yoke under which the reactionists would bind them, and from which they had been delivered so wholly that they were under no obligation to conform either occasionally or partially, for such conformity impaired the breadth and fulness of their liberty. Law and its bondage were in direct antagonism to faith and its freedom. For κλῆσις, see under Galatians 1:6, Ephesians 4:1. And he names them “brethren,” in affectionate counsel. Possibly ἐκλήθητε here was suggested by the previous phrase, ἐκ τοῦ καλοῦντος: the persuasion to bow to the servitude of the law did not come from Him who called them to freedom. But he adds the salutary caution-

΄όνον μὴ τὴν ἐλευθερίαν εἰς ἀφορμὴν τῇ σαρκί—“only turn not your liberty into an occasion for the flesh.” The ellipse is emphatic in its conciseness. F, G supply δῶτε after σαρκί; and so Jerome and the Vulgate, detis. Meyer proposes τρέπετε, De Wette τρέψητε, and Hofmann ἔχετε. The want of a verb in similar cases with μή is not uncommon. Winer, § 64, 6; Matthew 26:5; Sophocles, Antig. 577; Klotz-Devarius, 2.669; Hartung, 2.153. Some versions get out of the difficulty by recurring to the nominative. Thus the Syriac—“Only let not your liberty be for an occasion to the flesh;” and similarly Tyndale and the Genevan. The noun ἀφορμή signifies in martial phrase, a base of operations, as in Thucydides, 1:90; then a starting-point, an occasion or opportunity-with λαμβάνειν to take it, or with διδόναι to afford it. The dative σαρκί is that of dativus commodi-the flesh taking advantage of the occasion. Romans 7:8; Romans 7:11; 2 Corinthians 5:12; 2 Corinthians 11:12; 1 Timothy 5:14. The σάρξ is man's unrenewed nature,-not simply his corporeal organism with its passions and appetites, but his whole nature ethically viewed as under the dominion of sin-sense and selfishness. See under Galatians 5:19, and under Ephesians 2:3. See also Wieseler's long note. They had been exhorted to stand fast in the liberty, but they are specially cautioned not to abuse it. They were to be on their guard against antinomian licentiousness; for, though they were not under the law as a means of justification, they were still under it as their rule of life. The probable reference, as the succeeding context hints, is to whatever is opposed to the mutual service of love enjoined in the next clause,-perhaps that selfishness and self-importance which some among them seem to have cherished,-and to their contemptuous disregard for such as had not arrived at their cherished independence. The making freedom an occasion for the flesh is an extravagance which has been often witnessed; as with the German Anabaptists in the peasant wars of the days of Luther, and among the Fifth Monarchy men of the English Puritans. In the quaint words of a recent Irish theologian, “If the devil cannot stop the coach, he mounts the box and drives.” Compare Romans 6, Judges 1:4.

᾿αλλὰ διὰ τῆς ἀγάπης δουλεύετε ἀλλήλοις—“but by love be in bondage to,” or “be serving, one another.” A different reading, τῇ ἀγάπῃ τοῦ πνεύματος, is found in D, F, 31, in the Claromontane, Vulgate, Gothic, and Coptic versions; but it is evidently an emendation, or an attempt to express a contrast to σαρκί. The article τῆς emphasizes the love as possessed and manifested by them, and διά points it out as the instrument of this mutual service. While there was ἐλευθερία, there was also to be δουλεία; not that of fear, as under the law, but that which springs from a faith working by love. Mutual service in their spiritual freedom was to be the result of mutual love, each serving and being served in turn,-a result which could not be obtained if they remained apart in cold and haughty isolation. Comp. Romans 16:8; Romans 16:22; 1 Corinthians 9:19; 1 Peter 2:16; 2 Peter 2:19. The law had occasioned no little disputation among them, was the source out of which had sprung those factious alienations; and yet what is the spirit of that very law? Is it not as follows?

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Eadie, John. "Commentary on Galatians 5:13". John Eadie's Commentary on Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/jec/galatians-5.html.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Galatians 5:13. For ye were called unto freedom, brethren. The word ‘for’ justifies the indignant scorn of the preceding verse. ‘Unto’ denotes the object of the Christian calling.

Only (turn) not your freedom into in occasion (or, opportunity) for the flesh. A sudden check: freedom, but not license. True freedom is self-government and inseparable from law; it is a law to itself. How often has the word freedom been abused and perverted into its diabolical caricature! So also the truly Christian ideas of equality and fraternity. Gentile churches, like that of Corinth, were especially liable to the abuse of freedom and sensual excesses. The verb turn or make or use must be supplied (as often in animated passages of the classical writers). ‘An occasion,’ a starting-point, an Opportunity (comp. Romans 8:8; Romans 8:11; 2 Corinthians 5:12; 2 Corinthians 11:12; 1 Timothy 5:14).

But by love serve one another. By faith we are lords, by love we are servants of all. Show your freedom by love, and your love by service. This kind of bondage is honorable and delightful. ‘To serve God is true freedom’ (Augustine).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Galatians 5:13". "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 5:13. . Our versions render this unto (for R.V.) freedom, as though it were the design of the Gospel to lead to freedom. But the Greek text affirms rather that God’s call was based upon freedom, and so makes it an essential element in spiritual life and the inalienable right of every true Christian.— . A warning is added that freedom, essential as it is to spiritual life, is open to abuse by carnal men, and that it is subject to the demands of the higher Law of mutual love. “Only do not treat it as an opening for carnal self-indulgence, but for loving service to each other.” is used in the same elliptical way in Galatians 2:10 and 2 Thessalonians 2:7; and the ellipsis of the verb after is common in rhetorical passages.— . This term was applied in military language to a base of operations, and generally to any starting-point for action. In Romans 7:8; Romans 7:11, 2 Corinthians 11:12 it denotes an opening for sin, as it does here.— . This injunction contains an instructive paradox. Christians are freed from the trammels of outward Law, not that they may please themselves, but that they may become slaves to the Law of mutual love. The true ideal of the Christian is not freedom, but unfettered service to the love of God and man, which annihilates self, and subordinates all selfish desires to perfect love. A similar paradox is found in 1 Corinthians 7:22, he that was called, being free, is the bondservant of Christ.

 

 

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 5:13". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/galatians-5.html. 1897-1910.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

An occasion to the flesh; i.e. that you abuse not, by a vicious life, that Christian liberty which Christ hath purchased for you, but be united in the spirit of charity. (Witham)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Galatians 5:13". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/galatians-5.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

unto = upon. Greek. epi. App-104. Liberty is the foundation.

for. Greek. eis. App-104.

occasion. Greek. aphorme. See Romans 7:8.

serve. he, douleuo. App-190.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Galatians 5:13". "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

For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

Natural transition to the hortatory part.

For - I wish their excision (Galatians 5:12): not that I would emancipate you from law; FOR your "liberty" from legalism is quite distinct from fleshly license. YE is emphatic, from its position in the Greek, 'Ye brethren,' etc.; as opposed to those legalists. Unto liberty, [ ep' (Greek #1909) eleutheria (Greek #1657)] - 'for liberty.' The object for which ye were called is liberty. Gospel liberty consists in three things-freedom from the Mosaic yoke, from sin (1 Thessalonians 4:7; John 8:34-36), and from slavish fear.

Only ... Translate, 'only turn not your [ teen (Greek #3588)] liberty into an occasion for the flesh.' Do not give the flesh the handle (Romans 7:8, "occasion") for indulgence, which it eagerly seeks: do not let it make Christian "liberty" its pretext for indulgence (Galatians 5:16-17; 1 Peter 2:16; 2 Peter 2:19; Jude 1:4).

But by love serve one another - `be servants [be in bondage: douleuete (Greek #1398)] to one another.' If ye must be servants, then be servants to one another in love. While free as to legalism, be bound by love [in the abstract, tees (Greek #3588) agapees (Greek #26): else 'your love'] to serve one another (1 Corinthians 9:19). He hints at their unloving strifes springing out of lust of power, which 'is the mother of heresies' (Chrysostom).

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 5:13". "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

(13) For.—This connecting particle supplies the reason for the Apostle’s severe treatment of the Judaisers.

An occasion to the flesh.—Do not, under the name “liberty,” give way to sensual excesses. This was the especial danger of the Gentile churches, such as Corinth, from which, as we have seen, the Apostle may have been writing. Galatia, too, was a Gentile church; and though it was for the present subject rather to Judaising influences, the character of the people was fickle, and St. Paul may have thought it well to hint a caution in this direction.

Serve.—There is a stress upon this word. The Apostle had been dissuading the Galatians from submitting to other forms of servitude. This one he will permit them.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Galatians 5:13". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/galatians-5.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
ye
1; 4:5-7,22-31; Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:18; John 8:32-36; Romans 6:18-22
only
1 Corinthians 8:9; 1 Peter 2:16; 2 Peter 2:19; Jude 1:4,10-12
but
14,22; 6:2; Mark 10:43-45; John 13:14,15; Acts 20:35; Romans 15:1,2; 1 Corinthians 9:19; 1 Corinthians 13:4-7; 2 Corinthians 4:5; 12:15; 1 Thessalonians 1:3; James 2:15-17; 1 John 3:16-19
Reciprocal: Genesis 18:6 - three;  Genesis 18:8 - stood;  Leviticus 25:10 - proclaim;  Leviticus 25:55 - my servants;  Joshua 1:15 - Until;  Isaiah 14:2 - and the house;  Daniel 4:27 - by showing;  Malachi 4:4 - the law;  Matthew 5:43 - Thou;  Matthew 7:12 - for;  Matthew 23:11 - GeneralMatthew 25:40 - Inasmuch;  Luke 10:27 - and thy;  John 13:34 - That ye love;  Acts 16:33 - washed;  Romans 6:22 - But now;  Romans 12:10 - kindly;  Romans 13:9 - love;  Romans 14:15 - now;  1 Corinthians 7:22 - is the;  1 Corinthians 9:21 - not;  1 Corinthians 13:5 - seeketh;  1 Corinthians 13:13 - the greatest;  1 Corinthians 16:14 - General2 Corinthians 2:8 - that;  Galatians 2:4 - liberty;  Galatians 4:31 - we;  Galatians 5:19 - the works;  Ephesians 1:4 - love;  Ephesians 4:16 - edifying;  Philippians 3:2 - evil;  1 Thessalonians 3:12 - love;  1 Timothy 1:5 - the end;  Hebrews 6:10 - work;  Hebrews 10:24 - love;  Hebrews 13:1 - GeneralJames 2:14 - though;  2 Peter 1:9 - lacketh;  1 John 2:7 - but;  1 John 3:18 - let;  2 John 1:6 - this is love

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Galatians 5:13". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/galatians-5.html.

Stanley Derickson - Notes on Selected Books

For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only [use] not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

There are three items of truth here. We are free, but we are not to use the freedom to sin; rather we should serve one another.

Now, that "serve one another" is a phrase that is a study of its own. If you want an introduction to the thought look for "one another" in my writings (In the book Notes On Lots of Other Things). Or better yet, just study it yourself, the New Testament speaks of many things that we are to do for one another - take time to study this important topic.

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 5:13". "Stanley Derickson - Notes on Selected Books". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/sdn/galatians-5.html.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

13.Called unto liberty—From the burdensome artificialities of the old system ye are emancipated into a pure and simple heart-deep religion.

Use not liberty’ to the flesh—St. Paul’s liberty offers no man an exemption from the law of right. Let no man say, that under Paul’s gospel I am lawless, and nothing I do is sin. Such make their liberty an occasion, that is, means, or chance, or pretext, for indulging the flesh. By flesh here is meant, all opposed to the spirit; all that is unholy in man, whether of mind or body. It does not imply that all evil lies in matter or in the body. But as flesh is the transitory element of man, so the word is used for all that is low, earthly, or unholy.

By love serve—As faith works by love, so actions produced by love have a true freedom in them. If we serve another from love we feel that in that service we are free.

 

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Galatians 5:13". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/galatians-5.html. 1874-1909.

The Bible Study New Testament

13. You were called to be free. “The Good News of Christ has called you out from slavery into the freedom which Christ gives!” But do not let. “Your freedom does not mean you are free to sin as you please!” Instead. “Let love be the motivation of your life to such a degree that you will serve one another, in a spirit of community!”

 

 

 

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Galatians 5:13". "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

13.Ye have been called to liberty. He now proceeds to show in what way liberty must be used. In the course of expounding the First Epistle to the Corinthians, we have pointed out that liberty is one thing, and that the use of it is another thing. Liberty lies in the conscience, and looks to God; the use of it lies in outward matters, and deals not with God only, but with men. Having exhorted the Galatians to suffer no diminution of their liberty, he now enjoins them to be moderate in the use of it, and lays down as a rule for the lawful use, that it shall not be turned into pretext or occasion for licentiousness. Liberty is not granted to the flesh, which ought rather to be held captive under the yoke, but is a spiritual benefit, which none but pious minds are capable of enjoying.

But by love. The method here explained of restraining liberty from breaking out into wide and licentious abuse is, to have it regulated by love. Let us always remember that the present question is not, in what manner we are free before God, but in what manner we may use our liberty in our intercourse with men. A good conscience submits to no slavery; but to practice outward slavery, or to abstain from the use of liberty, is attended by no danger. In a word, if “by love we serve one another,” we shall always have regard to edification, so that we shall not grow wanton, but use the grace of God for his honor and the salvation of our neighbors.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Galatians 5:13". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/galatians-5.html. 1840-57.