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Galatians 5:18

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.
New American Standard Version
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Adam Clarke Commentary

But, if ye be led of the Spirit - If ye receive again the Gospel and the grace of Christ, and permit yourselves to be influenced by the Holy Spirit whom you are now grieving, ye are not under the law - ye will not feel those evil propensities which now disgrace and torment you; but they must prevail while you are not under the influence of the grace and Spirit of Christ.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Galatians 5:18". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/galatians-5.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

But if ye be led of the Spirit - If you submit to the teachings and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Ye are not under the law - You are under a different dispensation - the dispensation of the Spirit. You are free from the restraints and control of the Mosaic law, and are under the control of the Spirit of God.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Galatians 5:18". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/galatians-5.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Galatians 5:18

But if ye be led of the Spirit ye are not under the law.

The guidance of the Spirit

1. The Spirit is a person. The personality of the Spirit is a doctrine freely confessed by us in our creed, but often denied by us in thought, converse, prayers. He comes to have with us only the indefiniteness of an impulse and the impersonalness of an influence, with none of that substantive being, intelligence, and will that constitutes the Holy Spirit a true and complete personality.

2. The Spirit is in some way the continuance to us, under altered conditions, of that same Jesus, who once walked among men in visible form, and in the utterance of tones that were audible. In a way He is the Son’s messenger; and so, in letting ourselves be actuated by the Spirit, we are living still under the same personal regime as did the disciples who walked in the companionship of Jesus. (Chas. H. Parkhurst, D. D.)

Christian freedom

The text has its affirmative and also its negative element. In neglecting the latter, and addressing ourselves (as is more satisfactory) only to its affirmative and constructive aspect, it needs to be accepted as our basal principle, that through whatever stages God’s government passes, God’s government never ceases, and that changes of dispensation are not breaks in Divine authority, but alterations simply in God’s method of administering His authority. This principle is distinctly implied in the text. The Jew as such is under the law, amenable to God’s authority as exercised through Moses: the Christian as a Christian is also under a kind of law, amenable to God’s authority as exercised through the Son, the Holy Spirit--sovereignty, Divine sovereignty, carrying its exercise through both dispensations in one uninterrupted continuity without hint of break or interregnum. Now the conception we are likely to have of Christianity is of a system under which there is larger liberty enjoyed than under the system of Moses; and this conception, provided only we associate with the word “liberty” its true notion, is justified, and justified by the Scripture (John 8:32-33; John 8:36; 1 Corinthians 7:22; 2 Corinthians 3:17). But I question if we are all of us, or even most of us, quite careful or accurate in the notion we have of the thing called “freedom.” Freedom is not exemption from government; rather is freedom a form of government. Anarchy, lawlessness, is the opposite of government; freedom is a special variety of government. Political freedom is civil authority vested in a particular way. Christian freedom is Divine authority vested in a particular way; so that in coming out from the bondage of a Jew into the freedom of a Christian, there is no inquiry to be had respecting the abatement of authority, but only respecting the new point at which authority is vested and the new manner in which it is exercised. (Chas. H. Parkhurst, D. D.)

Freedom only for the spiritual

If”… A man may live in an age of gospel, but it does not follow from that that he lives under the administration of the gospel. Christ has come into the world, but it does not follow that He has come into my heart and set up His throne there. The Holy Spirit is abroad in society, and there are thousands and hundreds of thousands that are being led by that Spirit. It does not follow from that, that I am being led by it. If I am led by it, I am not under the law; if I am not led by it, of course I am under the law. I have not escaped the pressure of Divine authority at one point until I have first put myself under the pressure of Divine authority at another point. We read in the Book of Numbers that a man gathered sticks on the Sabbath, and he was stoned at the Lord’s command; and our thought perhaps is that God used to be very particular. We read in the book of Joshua that Achan, the son of Zerah, was guilty of embezzlement, and that at the Lord’s command he and his sons and his daughters were stoned with stones and burned with fire; and our thought perhaps is that the Lord used to be very particular. He used to be particular to be obeyed. There is so much in the New Testament respecting love, liberty, and the abolition of old ordinances, that we allow ourselves sometimes to be betrayed into supposing that the old dispensation was the dispensation of man’s submission to God, and that the new dispensation is the dispensation of God’s submission to man; that the gospel is a kind of giving up on God’s part, a sort of confession that He is not disposed to be particular about little things any more, and that it hardly avails Him to attempt to be particular about little things. Now, this conception of the gospel as an economy of Divine “relaxation,” Divine “letting down,” Divine “giving up,” is one that yields bitter fruit; it makes the gospel contemptible by making it irresolute … Calvary proves that the truth is exactly the opposite of such a notion as this--that God thinks so much of His own sovereignty that He would rather have Divine blood shed than not have you and me respect that sovereignty and come into terms of gentle allegiance to it …. The man who discards the punctilious observance of God’s outward statutes because he lives in an age of gospel, without having first submitted himself to the governance of an inward Christ, and to the laws written by the Spirit upon the fleshly tables of the heart, has detached himself from God at one point, without having first attached himself to God at another point. (Chas. H. Parkhurst, D. D.)

Superiority of spiritual to legal guidance

The old administration was an administration of exterior lines that men could see: the new administration is an administration of interior personal impulses that men can feel. God drew the lines: God gives the impulses. Moses was the agency then: Christ is the agency now; one government underlying both, one sovereign administrative in both. In one case it was government by communicated statute; in the other it is government by immanent leadings. In one the law was a thing distinct from us, and laid down for us to run upon, like railroad-irons spiked and bedded before a locomotive; in the other the impulse is a thing inwardly contained and inseparable from us, in a certain way like the instinct of a bird guiding it southward at the approach of winter. In various ways might this distinction between government by applied constraint and government by contained motive be illustrated to us. Any bar of wood or metal you can balance upon a pivot and constrain into a north and south direction; a magnetic needle delicately suspended in the same way will constantly constrain itself into a north and south direction. An applied constraint in one instance, an immanent tendency in the other. Although it will occur to you, I hope, that even this immanent tendency of the magnetized needle becomes operative only as celestial polarity makes itself in a delicate way inwardly felt. The needle would not move only as the heavens move in it. Or again--one pupil solves a problem according to the rule stated in his arithmetic; another pupil solves the same problem purely at the direction of his own mathematical insight. The result may be the same--the steps by which the result is reached may be the same; but in the latter instance the process will be purely intellectual, and in the former to a considerable degree mechanical; for between such constrained operations of mind and the operations of a Babbage’s calculating machine the points of resemblance are obvious and striking. This contrast, however, must not betray us into supposing that our gifted problem-worker is not as amenable, quite as amenable, to authority, as the boy who ciphers with his finger on the rule. When a man becomes a genius, a mathematical genius if you please, he passes out from under the constraints of his book, but not from under the supremacy of his science. There is no caprice about genius. Genius does not care much for a set of explicit regulations, but that does not mean that genius is lawless; in fact no mind comes so close to, and into such loyal intimacy with, the very substance of mathematical law as the free and the gifted mathematician. So far from genius discarding law, rather is it the supreme joy of genius to re-enact the eternal and unwritten law in the chamber of its own intellect. And however the Christian, the moral genius, may discard systems of detailed ordainment suited to a slow-paced Hebrew, so far from a Christian’s denying the great supremacy beneath which he stands, rather is it his sovereign joy to re-enact in the senate-chamber of his own conscience the unwritten law that abides eternal in the bosom of his Lord. (Chas. H. Parkhurst, D. D.)

The Spirit’s leading

We cannot put one foot before another in religion, except as we are led; and if there be difficulty of a more than common order, it is that which encounters the man who takes upon himself to be his own guide in seeking salvation. We are not, indeed, machines; we are not to be the subjects of an uncontrollable impulse, or a rigid compulsion, destroying free will, and forcing us into righteousness; but if we be not, drawn, we must be led; if there be no bending of the will which would destroy our moral responsibility, there must be a bending of the will which would incline us to godliness. Helpless and hopeless is man’s natural estate: born in sin, cradled in sorrow. The Spirit of the living God enters into this alienated creature, lifts him from the dust, urges him with vigour, and introduces him into the circle of the celestial family, leading him to the knowledge of all that is most blessed and to the love of all that is most beautiful, leading him from ruin to triumph, from the wreck of all that Adam was to the fulness of all that Christ Jesus is. Whom else, then, shall I take as my guide? Shall I be led by reason? Meteor of a day, I cannot trust thee. Shall I be led by philosophy? Device of man, thou canst not bring me to God. Oh, Spirit of light, Spirit of truth, enter Thou into our souls, and go Thou before us, as went the fiery cloudy pillar before Israel of old; and we will follow Thee, and we will obey Thee; making it our confidence, that, if we are led of Thee, we are sons of God and heirs of immortality. (H. Melvill, B. D.)

A disposition to follow the guide needed

The case is not merely that the man has lost his way. The traveller who is conscious that he has wandered from the road is uneasy at advancing, so that he will climb every little eminence as that from which he may hope to catch some landmark; and if none be around him, he will look up to the stars, and seek to learn from the constellations the direction he should take; and all his actions will betray his anxiety. If he hear but the barking of a shepherd’s dog, or discern a glimmering light amongst distant trees, there will be an eagerness in endeavouring to procure intelligence, and to seek guidance. But there is nothing of all this in the moral traveller. He will follow with obstinate determination the path upon which he has entered. And though there be much to assure him of his error--the rugged rocks, and deep mountains, and tangled forests--he will nevertheless push desperately on, pausing now and then for a moment, as though half conscious that all is not right, and then with a more dogged resolution hurrying forward in the same hopeless course. Thus he requires something more than a guide; he must be furnished with a disposition to follow. And when we say that the Spirit of God leads the true Christian, we do not mean that it merely goes before him as a guide and a director to the city of refuge. Nay, but that it takes hold on him, as did the angel when he brought Lot out of Sodom. We rather mean that the Spirit literally leads him by dwelling in him, residing in him as a quickening and actuating principle. (Chas. H. Parkhurst, D. D.)

The leading of the Spirit

These words have before now been must mischievously mistaken by ignorant persons who were glad enough to suppose that by Christian privilege they were put out of the reach of the law. The meaning is as follows:--The Holy Spirit of God puts into the heart of man the Spirit of Christ, and this is the Spirit to think and do “whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report.” Now if a man have in himself the spirit for a thing, what needs he any outward ordinance to compel him to it? To the man who is led by the Spirit the works of the law of God are the natural outward, working of his spirit, as natural to him as the very motion of his limbs; he does not want them to be written down, any more than he requires to be told that he must move his arms and legs, and they can neither condemn him nor justify him; he is what he is without them, before he comes to them; and, as St. Paul says, he, “through the Spirit, waits for the hope of righteousness by faith;” so independent is he of them. Is it not manifest, then, that he who is led by the Spirit is not, under the law? Let us go on, then, to know more concerning this Spirit, in which we are called into such glorious liberty. It is, as I have said, the Spirit of Christ within a man, formed there by the renewing power of the Holy Spirit; it is the new, the inner, the spiritual man, and the walk of this man is, of course, a following of Christ, a continual working out of that which he believes; for instance, he believes that Christ was crucified, therefore he crucifies the flesh with the affections and lusts; he believes that Christ died, therefore he reckons himself dead unto sin; he believes that Christ rose again, therefore he reckons himself alive unto God through Him; he believes that Christ ascended into heaven, therefore he sets his affections on things above; he believes that Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, administering His kingdom and interceding for His people, therefore he does all that His kingdom may come and His will be done, and is instant in prayer; he believes that Christ will come again to judge the quick and the dead, therefore he does the part of a faithful servant in watching and waiting for his Lord. Our notion of perfect liberty in the flesh is to do everything that we like; but experience soon tells us that the notion is impossible. But the true Christian does everything that he likes, for he does everything from the heart, because of the spirit which is within him. This it is to be led by the Spirit; this is the liberty wherewith Christ hath made His people free. Shall we not desire to stand fast in it? Shall we surrender ourselves to the bondage of the law? Let us only consider a little farther the difference of these two states.

1. To be under the bondage of the law, is either to take merit to ourselves for obeying it, or to bring its vengeance upon us by disobeying it; in either ease it is a hard master indeed.

2. Surely, then, there is no real liberty but that wherewith the gospel of Christ makes us free. Let me state a few particulars of this also. The man of God, continuing in the word of Christ, and led by the Spirit, uses the law as he does a road; he is not guided by it, any more than a man perfectly acquainted with a country is guided by it, but he uses it to travel along through this world, and he delights in it, as in a road to a better place, and as in the exercise of his spirit. As for the commandments of God, he loves them, and in His statutes he meditates. The word of God is a lamp unto his feet and a light unto his path. He feels no unwillingness; he has no mind for pleading excuses and making delays; but he deplores the weakness of the flesh, which in this body of sin cannot follow up the willingness of the spirit, and he strives to put to full account all the means which God hath so graciously given in Jesus Christ our Lord for enabling him to keep the precepts and testimonies of the Lord. He takes to himself no merit for keeping them, any more than for eating or drinking, or satisfying any craving of his nature; the leading of the Spirit makes the will of God his will, and therefore doing the will of God is doing his own will, so that while he keeps the law he is not subject to it. (R. W. Evans, B. D.)

Beside the spirit of our mind (Ephesians 4:23) every man is led by some spirit or other.

1. One is led by the spirit of error (1 Timothy 4:1).

2. Another by the spirit of giddiness (Isaiah 19:14).

3. Another by the spirit of bondage (verse 1; Romans 8:15).

4. Another by the spirit of the world (1 Corinthians 2:12).

5. The regenerate by the Spirit of God.

I. How may a man know that he is truly led by the Spirit? The Spirit leads--

1. In a right way: the way of God’s commandment.

2. By a just rule: the word of truth.

3. Sweetly and justly.

4. In a constant way of progression, from grace to grace.

5. In a way opposed to the flesh.

II. Who are those who are not led by the Spirit?

1. Those who go in a known evil way.

2. Those who are led by their own imaginations without any warrant from the Word of God.

3. Those who are carried by passions and distempers even in a good way.

4. Those who make no progress.

5. Those who fulfil the lust of the flesh. (Bishop Hall.)

I. The need of guidance and help.

1. We are ignorant of the road.

2. Have defective vision and cannot see our way.

3. Are lame and impotent.

II. We should seek for this guidance and help. This is what a lost, benighted, or disabled traveller does. Man, however, does the opposite, and pursues his journey perversely, blindly, helplessly.

III. We must be provided spiritually with what an ordinary traveller has mentally,

1. A disposition to seek the right way.

2. A willingness to receive every help in the pursuit of it.

IV. This is supplied by the Spirit of God.

1. He leads by dwelling in the believer as a quickening and actuating principle ever aspiring after knowledge and holiness.

2. Under His guidance the believer advances--

(a) of the person and work of Christ;

(b) of the issues of obedience and suffering;

(c) of Christ’s spiritual kingdom.

(a) In inward graces;

(b) in outward deportment.

V. This leading is not driving.

1. The free will is not destroyed by uncontrollable impulses or rigid compulsion.

2. The will is so influenced as to be inclined to holiness. (H. Melvill, B. D.)

The spiritually guided not under the law

I. Negatively. I am not under the law--of picking pockets. If the law were abolished to-morrow, I would not pick anybody’s pocket. I am not under the law of murder; for if there were no gallows, nor officer, nor judge, nor court, I would not murder. I am not under the law to drunkenness. I can go by a whole regiment of shops and never think of turning in. I am above it. I have the law within me. I do not abstain from gambling because gambling is disreputable, and I fear losses. I do not gamble because I do not want to. I do not avoid bad company because I should lose respectability; but for the same reason that musicians do not sit down and work out discords, and who keep to harmony because harmony is so sweet, and discord so painful. And so in regard to spiritual things, we are led by the Divine Spirit into such a state of approbation and satisfaction in the higher things, that we do not want the inferior, the antagonistic, the antithetic.

II. Positively. There is not in all the statute books in the world one single word saying to the mother, “Thou shalt love thy babe.” There is not a Church or creed which says, “Thou shalt feed thy babe.” But see the mother as the twilight darkens, sitting with her child as it draws sustenance from her own bosom, and singing sweet carols, and counting it the proudest of all the hours of the day. She has the love of the mother in her, and does the things that ought to be done, because she loves to do them--it is automatic. So if ye be led of the Spirit ye do the things by the law that is in you, and by your spiritual preferences and loves and likes, which otherwise are commandments. (H. W. Beecher.)

From bondage to liberty by obedience

Consider how many laws there are which affect a man’s body--the laws of light, of heat, of gravitation, of sleep, of digestion, of exercise, dec., etc. When men are young and inexperienced, and have no one to teach them they get into trouble by violating these laws. They have no mind to keep them, and they suffer in consequence. They are in bondage respecting these laws. But as they learn more perfectly, so that they use their eyes according to the law of light, and their ears according to the law of sound, and their mouth according to the law of health; selecting this thing because the law requires, rejecting that because the law forbids it--then they are set free from these trials, and pass out of a state of bondage into a state of liberty. The little child when it begins to walk has to think where it shall put this foot and where it shall put that, and has to poise itself carefully, and use its mind as well as its body. But a man walks without thinking. What is the difference? One is under the law--has not learned it--is yet subject to it; the other has learned it so perfectly that he is emancipated from it. The man does automatically, what it requires an effort on the part of the child to do. The child is in bondage and the man is free, because the child does not keep the law, and the man does. (H. W. Beecher.)

The Holy Spirit our light

A man has lost his way in a dark and dreary mine. By the light of one candle, which he carries in his hand, he is groping for the road to sunshine and to home. That light is essential to his safety. The mine has many winding passages, in which he may be hopelessly bewildered. Here and there marks have been made on the rocks to point out the true path, but he cannot see them without that light. There are many deep pits into which, if unwary, he may suddenly fall; but he cannot avoid the danger without that. Should it go out, that mine will be his tomb. How carefully he carries it! How anxiously he shields it from sudden gusts of air, from water dropping on it, from everything that might quench it! The case described is our own. (Newman Hall.)

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Galatians 5:18". The Biblical Illustrator. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/galatians-5.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

But if ye are led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

Judaism was almost totally concerned with external, liturgical, spectacular, material and physical things; and the filling of people's minds with that type of observances would add nothing at all, and even detract from the energies needed in the true spiritual warfare. Paul did not hate Judaism, as such; but it simply could not do any good in the kind of warfare that must be won by the soul if people are to please God. The moral commandments of the Mosaic Law are to be fulfilled by Christians, no less than under the law of Christ (see under Galatians 5:14); and Paul's stress here is laid not upon the relaxation of such obligations, but upon the only manner of their fulfillment.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
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Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Galatians 5:18". "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

But if ye be led by the Spirit,.... That is, of God, who is the guide and leader of his people. It is a metaphor taken from the leading of persons that are blind; as such are before conversion, and whom the Spirit of God leads in ways they knew not, and in paths they had not known: or from the leading of children, and teaching them to go; so the Spirit leads regenerate persons, and teaches them to walk by faith in Christ. This act of leading supposes life in the persons led, for dead men cannot be led; the Spirit is first a Spirit of life from Christ before he is a leader; and also it supposes some strength, though a good deal of weakness; were there no spiritual strength derived from Christ, they could not be led; and if there was no weakness, there would be no need of leading; it is an instance of powerful and efficacious grace upon them, yet not contrary to their wills, though they are led, they are not forced; they go freely, being led, as there is good reason for it; for the Spirit of God always leads for their profit and advantage, and for the spiritual delight, pleasure, and comfort of their souls; he leads out of the ways of sin, and so of ruin and destruction, and from Mount Sinai, and all dependence on a legal and moral righteousness; he leads to Christ, to his person, for shelter, safety, and salvation, to his blood, for pardon and cleansing, to his righteousness, for justification, and to his fulness, for every supply of grace; he leads into the presence of God, and to his house and ordinances; he leads into the covenant of grace, to the blessings, promises, and Mediator of it; he leads into all truth as it is in Jesus, in the ways of faith and truth, and in the paths of righteousness and holiness, and always in a right way, though sometimes in a rough one, to the city of their habitation; he leads from one degree of grace to another, and at last to glory: all which he does gradually; he leads by little and little into a man's sinfulness, and to see his interest in Christ, and by degrees into the doctrines of the Gospel, and the everlasting love of the three Persons; and proportionally to the strength he gives, and as they are able to bear: now such persons as these have nothing to fear from the law of God:

ye are not under the law; such are not only delivered from the law in fact, but in their own apprehensions; they have the comfortable knowledge and experience of it; the law is no terrifying law to them; it works no wrath in them; they are delivered from the spirit of bondage to fear, by the Spirit of God, by whom they are led; nor are they under it, nor do they need it as a pressing forcing law to duty; they delight in it, and cheerfully serve it, being constrained by love, and not awed by fear; nor are its accusations and charges regarded, or to be regarded, by such who are led by the Spirit to Christ, the end of the law for righteousness; and they are entirely freed from its curse and condemnation, though they are under it, and desire to be under it, as held forth by Christ the King of saints; and, under the Spirit's influence and guidance, yield a cheerful and evangelical obedience to it.

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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.
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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Galatians 5:18". "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

“If ye are led (give yourselves up to be led) by (Greek) the Spirit, ye are not under the law.” For ye are not working the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:16, Galatians 5:19-21) which bring one “under the law” (Romans 8:2, Romans 8:14). The “Spirit makes free from the law of sin and death” (Galatians 5:23). The law is made for a fleshly man, and for the works of the flesh (1 Timothy 1:9), “not for a righteous man” (Romans 6:14, Romans 6:15).

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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Galatians 5:18". "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

But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
Here someone may object: "How come we are not under the law? You yourself say, Paul, that we have the flesh which wars against the Spirit, and brings us into subjection."

But Paul says not to let it trouble us. As long as we are led by the Spirit, and are willing to obey the Spirit who resists the flesh, we are not under the Law. True believers are not under the Law. The Law cannot condemn them although they feel sin and confess it.

Great then is the power of the Spirit. Led by the Spirit, the Law cannot condemn the believer though he commits real sin. For Christ in whom we believe is our righteousness. He is without sin, and the Law cannot accuse Him. As long as we cling to Him we are led by the Spirit and are free from the Law. Even as he teaches good works, the Apostle does not lose sight of the doctrine of justification, but shows at every turn that it is impossible for us to be justified by works.

The words, "If ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law," are replete with comfort. It happens at times that anger, hatred, impatience, carnal desire, fear, sorrow, or some other lust of the flesh so overwhelms a man that he cannot shake them off, though he try ever so hard. What should he do? Should he despair? God forbid. Let him say to himself: "My flesh seems to be on a warpath against the Spirit again. Go to it, flesh, and rage all you want to. But you are not going to have your way. I follow the leading of the Spirit."

When the flesh begins to cut up the only remedy is to take the sword of the Spirit, the word of salvation, and fight against the flesh. If you set the Word out of sight, you are helpless against the flesh. I know this to be a fact. I have been assailed by many violent passions, but as soon as I took hold of some Scripture passage, my temptations left me. Without the Word I could not have helped myself against the flesh.

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Luther, Martin. "Commentary on Galatians 5:18". "Martin Luther's Commentary on Galatians". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/mlg/galatians-5.html. Zondervan. Gand Rapids, MI. 1939.

Martin Luther's Commentary on Galatians

But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
Here someone may object: "How come we are not under the law? You yourself say, Paul, that we have the flesh which wars against the Spirit, and brings us into subjection."

But Paul says not to let it trouble us. As long as we are led by the Spirit, and are willing to obey the Spirit who resists the flesh, we are not under the Law. True believers are not under the Law. The Law cannot condemn them although they feel sin and confess it.

Great then is the power of the Spirit. Led by the Spirit, the Law cannot condemn the believer though he commits real sin. For Christ in whom we believe is our righteousness. He is without sin, and the Law cannot accuse Him. As long as we cling to Him we are led by the Spirit and are free from the Law. Even as he teaches good works, the Apostle does not lose sight of the doctrine of justification, but shows at every turn that it is impossible for us to be justified by works.

The words, "If ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law," are replete with comfort. It happens at times that anger, hatred, impatience, carnal desire, fear, sorrow, or some other lust of the flesh so overwhelms a man that he cannot shake them off, though he try ever so hard. What should he do? Should he despair? God forbid. Let him say to himself: "My flesh seems to be on a warpath against the Spirit again. Go to it, flesh, and rage all you want to. But you are not going to have your way. I follow the leading of the Spirit."

When the flesh begins to cut up the only remedy is to take the sword of the Spirit, the word of salvation, and fight against the flesh. If you set the Word out of sight, you are helpless against the flesh. I know this to be a fact. I have been assailed by many violent passions, but as soon as I took hold of some Scripture passage, my temptations left me. Without the Word I could not have helped myself against the flesh.

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Bibliographical Information
Luther, Martin. "Commentary on Galatians 5:18". "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

Under the law (υπο νομονhupo nomon). Instead of “under the flesh” as one might expect. See Galatians 3:2-6 for contrast between law and spirit. The flesh made the law weak (Romans 8:3; Hebrews 9:10, Hebrews 9:13). They are one and the same in result. See same idea in Romans 8:14. Note present tense of αγεστεagesthe (if you are continually led by the Spirit). See Galatians 5:23.

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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)
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Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Galatians 5:18". "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

d The question is, which of these two powers shall prevail. If the Spirit, then you are free men, no longer under the law. Comp. Romans 6:11, Romans 6:14.

Under the law ( ὑπὸ νόμον )

The Mosaic law. We might have expected, from what precedes, under the flesh. But the law and the flesh are in the same category. Circumcision was a requirement of the law, and was a work of the flesh. The ordinances of the law were ordinances of the flesh (Hebrews 9:10, Hebrews 9:13); the law was weak through the flesh (Romans 8:3). See especially, Galatians 3:2-6. In Philemon 3:3ff. Paul explains his grounds for confidence in the flesh as his legal righteousness. The whole legal economy was an economy of the flesh as distinguished from the Spirit.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Galatians 5:18". "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

But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

But if ye are led by the Spirit — Of liberty and love, into all holiness.

Ye are not under the law — Not under the curse or bondage of it; not under the guilt or the power of sin.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Galatians 5:18". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/galatians-5.html. 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

Если же вы духом водитесь. Поелику верные хромают, ходя путем Господним, то, дабы не пали они духом, зная, что не могут удовлетворить закону, Павел и дает нужное им утешение. Он говорит, что они уже не под законом. О чем идет речь также в Послании к Римлянам, 6:14. Откуда следует: им не ставится в вину то, чего они еще лишены. Бог принимает их служение так, как если бы оно было совершенным и безупречным. Впрочем, здесь также продолжается рассуждение о свободе. Ибо Дух, Которого Павел прежде назвал Духом усыновления, освобождая людей, одновременно избавляет их от ярма закона. Апостол как бы говорит: Хотите раз и навсегда прекратить мучающие вас споры? Тогда ходите по духу. Ибо тогда вы будете избавлены от власти закона. Закон будет для вас лишь добрым наставляющим учением, и не будет больше держать в цепях вашу совесть. Далее, за снятием налагаемой законом вины следует свобода от соблюдения обрядов, служивших символами рабского положения.

 

 

 

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Galatians 5:18". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/galatians-5.html. 1840-57.

Scofield's Reference Notes

under the law

i.e. not under bondage of effort to please God by law-works. 2 Corinthians 3:17.

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Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on Galatians 5:18". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/srn/galatians-5.html. 1917.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

Ver. 18. Ye are not under the law] For where the Spirit is, there is liberty from the rigour, irritation, and malediction of the law.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Galatians 5:18". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/galatians-5.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Galatians 5:18. But if ye be led by the Spirit, "But if ye give yourselves up to the conduct of the Spirit of God, by faith in Christ, ye are not under the law." For they who are led by the Spirit of God, are the sons of God; and so heirs, and free. This is plainly the sense of the Apostle, who teaches all along, in the former part of this Epistle, as well as of that to theRomans, that those who put themselves under the gospel, are not under the law of Moses, or under the Adamic law. The reason of the Apostle's thus using the word Spirit, is, indeed, very apparent in the doctrine of the New Testament; which teaches that those who receive Christ, by faith, with him receive his Spirit, and its sacred and powerful influences against the flesh. See Romans 8:9-11. Accordingly, for the obtaining of salvation, St. Paul joins together belief of the truth, and sanctification of the Spirit, 2 Thessalonians 2:13. See also Ephesians 3:16.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Galatians 5:18". 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

That is, if ye be under the guidance and government of the Holy Spirit of God, and that renewing principle of grace which he had produced in you, you are no longer under the law; that is, not under the moral law as a covenant of life for our justification, though under it as an eternal role of living; not under the vindictive, though under the directive power of the law. So that the force of the apostle's argument seems to lie thus: "You are by the Spirit, by the spiritual dispensation of the gospel, free from the curse and terror of the moral law; how unreasonable then is it to suppose, that you should be still subject to the ceremonial law? No; if you be led by the Spirit, neither the moral law shall condemn you, nor the cermonial law oblige and bind you."

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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on Galatians 5:18". 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

18.] By this verse, the locus respecting the flesh and the Spirit is interwoven into the general argument, thus (cf. Galatians 5:23): the law is made for the flesh, and the works of the flesh: the Spirit and flesh ἀντίκεινται: if ( δέ bringing out the contrast between the treatment of both in Galatians 5:17, and the selection of one side in this verse) then ye are led by (see Rom. ref., ὅσοιπνεύματι θεοῦ ἄγονται, οὗτοι υἱοί εἰσιν θεοῦ) the Spirit, ye are not under the law. This he proceeds to substantiate, by specifying the works of the flesh and of the Spirit. This interpretation is better than the merely practical one of Chrys., al., ὁ γὰρ πνεῦμα ἔχων ὡς χρή, σβέννυσι διὰ τούτου πονηρὰν ἐπιθυμίαν ἅπασαν· ὁ δὲ τούτων ἀπαλλαγεὶς οὐ δεῖται τῆς ἀπὸ τοῦ νόμου βοηθείας, ὑψηλότερος πολλῷ τῆς ἐκείνου παραγγελίας γενόμενος,—for it is a very different thing οὐ δεῖσθαι νόμου, from οὐκ εἶναι ὑπὸ νόμον.

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Galatians 5:18". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/galatians-5.html. 1863-1878.

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

DISCOURSE: 2084

THE CHRISTIAN FREED FROM THE LAW

Galatians 5:18. If ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

TO understand these words aright, we must notice, first the general scope of the whole epistle, and then, the particular scope of the more immediate context. The epistle itself was written to establish the doctrine of justification by faith alone, without the deeds of the law; in opposition to the Judaizing teachers, who insisted on the necessity of observing the Jewish ritual, in order to form a justifying righteousness, or, at all events, to increase and confirm their interest in Christ. In support of his argument, the Apostle shews, that though the Law was, as a preparatory dispensation, subservient to the Gospel, it was, as a ground of hope before God, directly opposed to the Gospel; so that they could not consist together, either in whole or in part; and any attempt to blend the Law with the Gospel would invalidate the Gospel altogether, and render “Christ himself of no effect [Note: ver. 2, 4.].” But, as this controversy had been carried on with great vehemence, and had produced a very grievous irritation in the minds of the contending parties, St. Paul, after establishing the truth on a basis that could not be shaken, and enjoining his converts to “stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ had made them free, and on no account to suffer themselves to be entangled any more with the yoke of bondage,” goes on to say, “Brethren, ye have been called unto liberty: only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another: for all the law is fulfilled in one word, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But, if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. This I say, then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would; but, if ye be led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law.” This, you perceive, is the immediate context, wherein the Apostle cautions the Galatians against either abusing their liberty, or maintaining it with an unchristian spirit; since, if they acted as became their holy profession, they would exercise nothing but love, either towards their friends or their enemies. And this he trusted they would do; because they had within themselves a spiritual principle, which, though strongly and perseveringly opposed by the carnal principle yet remaining in them, would ultimately prevail: and the effectual operation of that better principle would be sufficient of itself to prove that they were not under the law; since the law could never accomplish so blessed a work; whereas the very design of the Gospel, and its invariable effect, was to produce it. The dominance of the better principle was a proof that they were “not under the law, but under grace [Note: Romans 6:14.].”

This I apprehend to be the precise import of the passage before us: wherein we see a state presumed; namely, that the true Christian is “led by the Spirit:” and a privilege inseparably connected with that state; namely, that the person so living is not under the law.

To these points I will now address myself, in their order.

Let us first notice,

I. The state presumed—

It is here taken for granted, that every child of God “is led by the Spirit.” But, whether we are to understand this expression as referring to the Holy Ghost, or to that spiritual principle which is infused into us by the Spirit of God, it is not easy to determine. I rather prefer the latter sense, as more immediately suggested by the context: and it is certain that our Lord speaks of that divine principle under the very term which is here used; “That which is born of the Spirit, is spirit [Note: John 3:6.].” By being “led by the Spirit,” then, I understand the being under the influence of a spiritual principle, in opposition to that carnal principle which directs and governs the natural man. And this really characterizes every true Christian. Not only does he possess a new and spiritual nature; but in him,

1. It gains the ascendant—

[We acknowledge, that in him the old man still remains; and that the law of sin still works in his members, to bring forth fruit unto death. But there is in him a new man, a law in his mind, which counteracts his evil propensities, and enables him finally to overcome them. True, indeed, the conflict is often severe; and the saint will at all times be constrained to say, “The good which I would, I do not; and the evil which I would not, that I do.” Still, however, through grace he gains the victory over his corruptions, and is daily renewed in the spirit of his mind after the Divine image. Though tempted by the world, the flesh, and the devil, “he triumphs over them all in Christ Jesus [Note: 2 Corinthians 2:14.];” and with his groans for more entire deliverance mingles this song of praise, “Thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ [Note: Romans 7:21; Romans 7:25.]!”]

2. It forms his taste—

[Outward victory may be gained to a great extent, whilst yet the heart remains unchanged. But where this new principle really exists, the man will hate the things which once he loved, and love the things which once he hated. Though he may still be tempted in a variety of ways, he will feel, in a measure, as our Lord himself did under the temptations of Satan. There will be less of the inflammable matter in his soul for the fiery darts of Satan to fix upon; and a greater plenty of water at hand, even of the Spirit of God, to counteract the first action of the fire upon his soul. There will also be a greater delight in heavenly things; so that he will engage in them with greater ease, and find himself more in his element, when employed in holy exercises. We may conceive what would be the taste of an angel, if sent down to sojourn for a time on earth; with what indifference he would behold the things of time and sense; and with what a zest he would perform the will of God: and thus the true Christian, though far, alas! from any thing like angelic attainments, will lose his relish for the things which he once affected, and will savour those things only which are suited to the spiritual mind. And this will serve him as a criterion whereby to judge of his state before God. He may for a time be driven, by the force of temptation, from that which his soul supremely affects, even as the needle may be forced from its wonted rest: but let the opportunity once return for the discovery of his real feelings, and he will turn to his God, even as the needle to the pole: and by that he will shew whose attractions he delights in, and whose motions he obeys.]

3. It regulates his life—

[The aberrations of the more advanced Christian will be comparatively small and transient. Though in the world, he will not be of the world. Whether he move amongst the higher classes, or in. the humblest walk of life, there will be a consistency about him: he will be “the man of God” in all places, and in. all situations: “he will shine as a light in a dark world;” and “his light will shine more and more unto the perfect day.” The spiritual principle within him is compared by our Lord to a fountain of water; which pours not out its streams like an engine wrought upon from without; but sends them forth by a power from within, and “springs up, as it were, unto everlasting life.” Behold him day or night, and he is still the same; a blessing to the world, an ornament to his profession, an honour to his God.]

Let not any one suppose that this is an imaginary character, drawn only to serve a purpose: it is a real character; and, though doubtless it exists in different degrees, it really distinguishes every child of God: and In my text we see,

II. The privilege inseparably connected with it—

He is not under the law—

[He has nothing to fear from its curses; because the Saviour, in whom he has believed, and from whom he has received the gift of the Holy Ghost, has borne them for him. He has no dependence on its promises; seeing that he has a better righteousness than that can ever afford to fallen man; even the righteousness of Christ himself imputed to him, and made his by faith. Not even its commands have the same terrific influence on his mind which they had in his unconverted state. For though he still feels bound to obey them, he does not obey them with the same slavish fear which once oppressed his mind: they are no longer to him the terms of salvation, on a perfect compliance with which his everlasting happiness depends: they are to him rather the expressions of his Father’s will, which it is the joy of his soul to fulfil and execute. His real state in relation to the law, is like that of a woman to her deceased husband. He was once altogether under its authority, whilst in his unconverted state; but when he embraced the Gospel, the Law became dead with respect to him, and he dead with respect to it: and, though he still makes it the rule of his life, he obeys it through grace communicated to him by the Lord Jesus; to whom, as a woman on her second marriage, he now bears fruit unto holiness [Note: Romans 7:1-4.].]

Of his liberation. from the law he has within himself a clear and decisive evidence—

[This I conceive to be the true meaning of my text. He is under the prevailing influence of the Holy Spirit, and of a new nature implanted by him: but “whence did he receive the Holy Spirit? Was it under the law, or by the hearing of faith [Note: Galatians 3:2.]?” It was by the hearing of faith, no doubt; that is, by the Gospel of Christ, who purchased for his people the gift of the Holy Spirit, and who sends forth his Spirit upon all who believe in him [Note: Galatians 3:14.]. “What the law could not do for him, in that it was weak through the flesh, the Gospel has done: “it has destroyed the power of sin” within him; and enabled him to “walk, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit [Note: Romans 8:3-4.].” Hence he is assured that “there is no condemnation to him:” for if “the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus have made him free from the law of sin,” it has also freed him from “death,” which is the consequence of sin [Note: Romans 8:1-2.]. Behold, then, the liberty into which he is introduced: “Being delivered from the power of darkness, he is translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son [Note: Colossians 1:13.];” and, “being made free by him, he is become free indeed [Note: John 8:36.].”]

From this subject, I cannot but urge upon you two words of advice:

1. Take care that your principles are pure and evangelical—

[It is thought by many, that if our outward conduct be correct, we need not he under any anxiety resecting the principles which we profess. But, is it of no consequence whether we continue under the law, or whether we embrace the Gospel? Are we not expressly told, that “as many as are of the works of the law, are under the curse [Note: Galatians 3:10.]?” Are we not also told, that “God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons [Note: Galatians 4:4-5.]?” Is it of no importance, then, whether we lie under this curse, or be redeemed from it? Would God have used such means for our redemption, if it had been a matter of indifference whether we were redeemed or not? Take the Apostle Paul in his unconverted state: “he was, as touching the righteousness which was in the law blameless [Note: Philippians 3:6.]:” but yet he found afterwards, that, had he died in his unconverted state, he must have perished for ever [Note: Romans 7:9-10.]. So, indeed, must all of you, who cleave to the law as a covenant of works, instead of laying hold of the covenant of grace. Nothing can be more clearly declared than this: Be your advantages or attainments what they may, if you go about to establish your own righteousness, instead of submitting to the righteousness of God, you must perish [Note: Romans 9:30-33; Romans 10:3.]. The very law itself is intended to “lead you to Christ [Note: Galatians 3:24.];” and “He is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth [Note: Romans 10:4.].” I call you, then, to believe in Christ for salvation, and, like the Apostle, to renounce your own righteousness altogether, that you may be found in Christ, and be accepted through “the righteousness which is by faith in him [Note: Philippians 3:9.].”]

2. Take care that your conduct be such as becometh the Gospel of Christ—

[You clearly see, in my text, that principles and conduct must go together: neither will stand without the other. Without faith in Christ, you can never hope to receive the Holy Spirit, or to be renewed in the spirit of your mind: nor, on the other hand, will any change whatever avail you, if you rely not entirely on the Lord Jesus Christ for righteousness and salvation. It is in vain to build a superstructure, if it be not founded on Him; and it is in vain to think you are founded on him, if your faith do not manifest itself by a superstructure of good works. You must never forget, that “faith without works is dead.” You must “be led by the Spirit of God, if ever you would approve yourselves sons of God [Note: Romans 8:14.].” The world, as I have before shewn you, must be put under your feet: sin, in all its actings, must be mortified and subdued: the whole soul must be given up to God; and holiness become the very element in which you breathe and live. Indeed, it is not a mere formal observance of duties that will suffice: we must “have the very mind that was in Christ,” and “walk in all things as Christ himself walked.” This will be our evidence, that we are really his: for then only can it be known that “we are not under the law, but under grace, when Christ himself lives in us, and no sin whatever is permitted to have dominion over us [Note: Romans 6:14. with Galatians 2:19-20.].”]

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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Galatians 5:18". 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 5:18. If, however, of these two conflicting powers, the Spirit is that which rules you, in what blessed freedom ye are then! Comp. 2 Corinthians 3:17; Romans 8:2 ff.

πνεύματι ἄγεσθε] See on Romans 8:14. Comp. also 2 Timothy 3:6.

οὐκ ἐστὲ ὑπὸ νόμον] namely, because then the law can have no power over you; through the ruling power of the Spirit ye find yourselves in such a condition of moral life (in such a καινότης ζωῆς, Romans 6:4, and πνεύματος, Romans 7:6), that the law has no power to censure, to condemn, or to punish anything in you. Comp. on Romans 8:4. In accordance with Galatians 5:23, this explanation is the only correct one; and this freedom is the true moral freedom from the law, to which the apostle here, in accordance with Galatians 5:13, attaches importance. Comp. 1 Timothy 1:9. There is less accuracy in the usual interpretation (adopted by Winer, Rückert, Matthies, Schott, Baumgarten-Crusius; comp. de Wette): ye no longer need the law; as Chrysostom: τίς χρεία νόμου; τῷ γὰρ οἴκοθεν κατορθοῦντι τὰ μείζω ποῦ χρεία παιδαγωγοῦ; or: you are free from the outward constraint of the law (Usteri, Ewald); comp. also Hofmann, who, in connection with his mistaken interpretation of Galatians 5:14, understands a subjection to the law as a requirement coming from without, which does not exist in the case of the Christian, because in him the law collectively as an unity is fulfilled.

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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Galatians 5:18". 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 5:18. πνεύματι, by the Spirit) of God, Romans 8:14, and of liberty.— ἄγεσθε, ye be led) The middle voice;(52) see Rom., as above, with the annot.— ὑπὸ νό΄ον, under the law) Romans 6:14-15.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Galatians 5:18". 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

To be led of the Spirit, and to walk in the Spirit, are the same thing; and differ only as the cause and the effect. To be

under the law, is to be under the curse of it, or coaction of it, and an obligation to the performance of the ceremonial law. The reason is, because the Spirit is a Spirit of adoption and liberty; and where it is, it teacheth to serve the Lord without fear from a principle of freedom and ingenuity.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Galatians 5:18". 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

духом водитесьне под законом Нужно сделать выбор, так как эти два понятия взаимно исключают друг друга. Либо вы живете силой Святого Духа, Который ведет к праведному поведению и духовным плодам (ст. 22-29), либо законом, который может породить только нечестивое поведение (ст. 19-21). Ср. 1Кор. 15:56.

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Galatians 5:18". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/galatians-5.html.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Led of the Spirit; follow his guidance.

Not under the law; as a covenant of works, but are delivered from its condemning power. No one is delivered from the condemning power of the law, or overcomes the corruptions of his heart, except under the influence of the Holy Spirit.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Galatians 5:18". "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 5:18. εἰ δὲ πνεύματι ἄγεσθε, οὐκ ἐστὲ ὑπὸ νόμον—“But if ye be led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law.” δέ introducing a new and contrasted thought: in opposition to this fluctuation of purpose and impotence of will—“but.” The dative πνεύματι is that of instrument. Winer, § 31, 7; Krüger, § 48, 6, p. 286; Romans 8:14; in another aspect, 2 Timothy 3:6. To be led by the Spirit, in the full sense of it, is to be under His benign and powerful influence in all thoughts, aspirations, and acts,-to be yielded up to His government without reserve,-to have no will without His prompting it, no purpose without His shaping it,-is to be everywhere and in all things in willing submission to His control, and always guarding against any insubordination which may “grieve the Holy Spirit of God.” When men are in this condition, it is true of them—“Ye are not under the law;” not, ye will not be as a result, but “ye are”-a parallel condition. To be led by the Spirit is much the same as to walk by the Spirit, Galatians 5:16. In what sense are those led by the Spirit not under the law?

Not, 1. Because you have no need of it-the opinion of Rückert, Matthies, Schott;- οὐ δεῖται τῆς ἀπὸ τοῦ νόμου βοηθείας, τίς χρεία νόμου; (Chrysostom). This idea is not in the full extent of it warranted by anything in the context.

Nor, 2. Because the law is something foreign-an alien principle; for the law of the Spirit is engraven in his heart (Usteri). This is not fully found in the context. Nor is it,

3. Because the law finds in you nothing to forbid or condemn (Meyer, Wieseler, Ellicott). This is a strong statement, and one that actual experience does not verify. If the apostle be supposed to describe an ideal state, in which no element of the flesh had any power, and in which the whole man was under the willing, unresisted government of the Spirit, the statement would be true; for in a perfect saint the law would “have nothing to forbid, because nothing forbidden is desired, and nothing to be condemned, because nothing condemnable is done” (Windischmann). So far, indeed, as a man is guided by the Spirit, so far the law has nothing to condemn in him,-the law cannot be against the fruits of the Spirit. But the apostle is not describing what might be, or what ought to be, but what is. But,

4. As to be under law is to be under its authority, to be in bondage to it, so not to be under it is to be freed from its yoke-terrente, premente, vindicante (Estius, Lightfoot, Hofmann). The Galatians were putting themselves again in subjection to law, and ignoring the free government of the Spirit. To be led by the Spirit is incompatible with being under the law. See the beginning of chap. iii. To be under the law is thus to acknowledge its claim, and to seek to obey it in hope of meriting eternal life; but the believer dies to the law, and rises into “newness of life,”-is influenced by the Spirit of God as a guiding power within him; and “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” According to Rückert and Schott, one might expect the apostle to say, If ye are led by the Spirit, perficietis quod tanquam πνευματικοί volueritis. It serves no purpose to make the verse a parenthesis (Koppe, Flatt). The σάρξ and νόμος are placed under the same category. In the former verse it was flesh and spirit, here it is spirit and law. For the flesh is in subjection to the law, and the law condemns it. All about it is under the law, which at the same time, so far from checking or subduing, only irritates it, and helps it to develop its worst manifestations. See under Galatians 3:19. The law is helpless for its deliverance. In this special case believers in Christ entered into a new dispensation, the special characteristic of which was the Spirit, according to Christ's promise; and all who possessed His gracious influences were no longer under the law-a ministration of death, but had come into the possession of spiritual power and freedom,-their will, moved by a higher will, was growing able to realize its own purposes. Or, more generally, believers pass out of the dominion of law-mere law, having died to it; their hearts filled by the Spirit of God are under the government of a new principle. In this sense the law does not condemn them, as they are forgiven, and obedience to it is not the condition of their forgiveness; for there is “no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.” Nor are they under the law in regard to their sanctification: as long as they were under it, they were disobeying it, and were slavishly struggling to escape its penalty. Not that they allow themselves to act contrary to it, but a higher power legislates within them, able at the same time to ensure obedience to its edicts,-that obedience being not a servile submission to law, but a willing conformity to the example of Him who loved us and gave Himself for us. They are not under the law to command them sternly; they are guided and influenced by the Spirit of God-a divine law, an enshrined authority within them. There is in these statements no antinomianism, or “going on in sin that grace may abound.” The Spirit by whom we are led is the Spirit of holiness, and the flesh is crucified. The difference is as between formal law in outer statute, cold and dead as the tables of stone on which it was engraved, and a law within, a living power, fulfilling itself in love, and gradually working out a universal compliance; for “sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under law, but under grace,” and Christ is Sanctification as well as Righteousness. οὐ νόμῳ ἀπειλοῦντι δούλοις, πνεύματι δὲ τῷ ἄγοντι τέκνα θεοῦ. Cramer's Catena in loc. Luther writes, “When I was a monk, I thought by and by that I was utterly cast away, if at any time I felt the lust of the flesh, if I felt any evil emotion. If at that time I had rightly understood those sentences of Paul, I should not have so miserably tormented myself, but should have thought and said to myself, as I commonly now do-Martin, thou shalt not utterly be without sin, for thou hast flesh; thou shalt therefore feel the battle thereof. Despair not, therefore, but resist it strongly.”

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Eadie, John. "Commentary on Galatians 5:18". John Eadie's Commentary on Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/jec/galatians-5.html.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘But if you are being led by the Spirit you are not under the Law’.

This is the crux of the matter. Those who submit to the Spirit’s prompting, with the help of the Spirit’s power, will live positive lives of Christian love, for they are ‘being led by the Spirit’, a continual process which includes His empowering. They do not constantly check a list to see whether they have attained the standard. They do not struggle to keep the Law so as to be acceptable to God, and live in dread of breaking it. They are not tied down by rules and regulations. They rather recognise that they are acceptable to God through the crucified One and so they gladly seek to keep His commandments as led and empowered by the Spirit. They constantly continue submitting themselves to the control of the Spirit. They constantly allow Christ to live through them. And this is something that in their inner hearts they want to do. And the more that they come to know Christ, the more they will want to be like Him.

It is true that the flesh may sometimes pull them down, but in the end they rise again and finally overcome, because they want to please their Father. Such people are ‘not under the Law’, for they have died to the Law and live to God, and the life that they now live in the flesh they live by faith in the Son of God Who loved them and gave Himself for them (Galatians 2:20). They are aware of sorrow for sin, but not of condemnation from the Law, because that has been borne by Christ, and they rather use the Law as a guide to the mind of God.

And it this leading which is evidence that they are sons of God. ‘For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God (Romans 8:14).’

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Galatians 5:18". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/galatians-5.html. 2013.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

If we are led by the Spirit, we are not under the Law. This statement is a first class condition in the Greek text indicating that the writer assumed the statement was true for the sake of his argument. Other information about what he said determines whether it is really true. In this case Paul seems to have believed that the Holy Spirit does indeed lead every Christian (cf. Galatians 5:24-26; Romans 8:14). The question Isaiah, will we follow His leading and walk after the Spirit ( Galatians 5:16) or will we walk after the flesh? The "if" in this sentence has the force of "since." However, we should not conclude that the Spirit forces us to do God"s will. He does not lead us that strongly.

The Holy Spirit leads us to do the moral will of God. He does this primarily through Scripture by helping us understand the will of God as He has revealed it there. Furthermore He motivates us to do what we know to be right, and He provides the power for us to obey God ( Philippians 2:13). We can overcome the flesh by siding with the Spirit.

"Walking by the Spirit, the antidote to nomism [living by the law] of every kind, calls for resolution and staying power, as is made plain by Paul"s frequent use of athletic metaphor for the Christian life." [Note: Bruce, p246.]

"Being led by the Spirit does not imply passivity but rather the need to allow oneself to be led. Responding to the Spirit is described by three mutually interpreting words in Galatians 5:16; Galatians 5:18; Galatians 5:25 -"walk" (RSV), "led," and "live."" [Note: Boice, p495.]

We might have expected Paul to write that since we are led by the Spirit we are not "under the flesh," but instead we read "under the law." His point was that the Christian cannot overcome the desires of the flesh by remaining under the law. The Judaizers were advocating submission to the law as the way to overcome the flesh, but Paul advocated submission to the Spirit.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Galatians 5:18". "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 5:18. But if ye are led by the Spirit, ye are not under (the) law. Comp. Romans 8:14 : ‘As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.’ The Spirit ‘leads’ and guides men as moral and responsible beings, but does not drive or force them; hence it is possible to resist and to quench the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19), to grieve Him (Ephesians 4:30), and even to blaspheme Him and thus to commit the unpardonable sin (Matthew 12:32). Paul’s conversion was sudden and radical, out not forced; he might have ‘kicked against the goads’ (Acts 26:14), although it was ‘hard’ (not impossible) for Him to do so. ‘Ye are not under the law,’ under the dominion of the law which threatens death and keeps the conscience in constant terror. The law is a restraint of the flesh; to be free from the flesh is to be free from the restraint and curse of the law. The Spirit leads us into the fulfilment of the law of love (Galatians 5:14), and the law ceases to be a yoke for trembling slaves, and becomes a rule for loving and grateful children and freemen. Luther: ‘So great is the power and dominion of the Spirit that the law cannot accuse the godly. For Christ is our righteousness whom we apprehend by faith. He is without sin, and therefore the law cannot accuse Him. As long as we cleave fast unto Him, we are led by the Spirit and are free from the law.’

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Galatians 5:18". "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 5:18. Law finds no just occasion against men who are led by the spirit, for they themselves check every wrong desire within them, and so fulfil the whole Law. The identity of Law with justice and right is, of course, assumed.

 

 

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Galatians 5:18". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/galatians-5.html. 1897-1910.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

of = by. No preposition.

under. Greek. hupo. App-104.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Galatians 5:18". "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

But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

'But if ye are led (give yourselves up to be led; in contrast to the previous struggle, Galatians 5:17, the Spirit now prevailing) by the Spirit, ye are not under the law,' because it finds in you no ground of condemnation. For ye are then not working the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:16; Galatians 5:19-21), which bring one "under the law" (Romans 7:7-8; Romans 8:2; Romans 8:14). Legalism and carnality go together. The 'Spirit makes free from the law of sin and death' (Galatians 5:23). The law is made for a fleshly man, and fleshly works (1 Timothy 1:9); not for a righteous man (Romans 6:14-15).

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Galatians 5:18". "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

(18) Ye are not under the law.—Strictly, Ye are not under law—law in the abstract. The flesh and law are correlative terms: to be free from the one is to be free from the other. The flesh represents unaided human nature, and law is the standard which this unaided human nature strives, but strives in vain, to fulfil. By the intervention of the Spirit, the law is fulfilled at the same time that its domination is abolished and human nature ceases to be unaided. In its highest part it is brought into direct contact with the divine nature, and the whole tenor of its actions changes accordingly.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Galatians 5:18". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/galatians-5.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
if
16,25; 4:6; Psalms 25:4,5,8,9; 143:8-10; Proverbs 8:20; Isaiah 48:16-18; Ezekiel 36:27; John 16:13; Romans 8:12,14; 2 Timothy 1:7; 1 John 2:20-27
ye are
4:5; Romans 6:14,15
Reciprocal: Matthew 11:30 - my yoke;  Romans 3:19 - what things;  Romans 3:31 - yea;  Romans 7:4 - ye also;  1 Corinthians 9:20 - are under;  Galatians 3:23 - under

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Galatians 5:18". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/galatians-5.html.

Commentary by J.C.Philpot on select texts of the Bible

Galatians 5:18

"But if you are led of the Spirit, you are not under the law." Galatians 5:18

If we are led of the Spirit by walking in him; if he be our Guide and Teacher; if he be continually operating upon our heart, and bringing near the influences of his grace; if he be in us and with us, guiding us into all truth, making and keeping us believing, loving, prayerful, tender, watchful, humble, contrite, and sincere; if we are thus led by the Spirit, we are not then under the law. Now while the conflict is going on in your bosom, you are often in your feelings under the law. The law"s curse is ringing in your ears, the law"s condemnation piercing your conscience. The flesh in some unguarded moment, it may be, prevails—you are entangled in some evil; you slip and fall into something which brings guilt upon your conscience. Now the law thunders; inward condemnation Revelation -echoes its peals; and the soul falls into bondage, doubt, and fear.

But if you are led by the Spirit—if that blessed Guide is pleased to lead you out of yourself into Christ"s blood and righteousness; if you are experimentally favored with his blessed teachings and sweet influences, bringing with them light, life, liberty, and love, the law has no more curse for you; it cannot condemn you to hell, nor send your soul to lie forever under the curse of God. For being led by the Spirit you are delivered from the curse of the law into the blessing of the gospel; from the bondage of the law into the liberty of truth; from law charges into gospel mercies; from the accusations of a guilty conscience into the witness of a good conscience, because a purged and sprinkled conscience, and to sum it all up in one sentence, are thus translated from the power of darkness into the kingdom of God"s dear Son. Oh the blessedness of walking in the Spirit, and being led by the Spirit!

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Philpot, Joseph Charles. "Commentary on Galatians 5:18". Commentary by J.C.Philpot on select texts of the Bible. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/jcp/galatians-5.html.

Stanley Derickson - Notes on Selected Books

But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

Ah, here we are back at the thrust of things - if we are led of the Spirit we are not under the law - simple facts again. The one cannot go with the other. If you are led of the law, then you cannot be led of the Spirit.

"If" is a big word. In this usage it is to be understood as "If and assumed so" rather than "maybe yes, maybe no" - it is assumed fact that they are led of the Spirit.

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Derickson, Stanley. "Commentary on Galatians 5:18". "Stanley Derickson - Notes on Selected Books". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/sdn/galatians-5.html.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

18.Led—By your submission and following of his drawings.

Not under the law—Not that the obligations of the moral law cease to rest upon you, but that by the full accordance of your heart with the law you feel not the presence of the law.

Galatians 5:19-21 present the summation of the works of the flesh, in contrast with Galatians 5:21-26, which present the fruits of the Spirit.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Galatians 5:18". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/galatians-5.html. 1874-1909.

The Bible Study New Testament

18. If the Spirit leads you. “If you listen to the Spirit speak through the teaching of the Good News (see note on Romans 3:31), as sons and daughters of God (Romans 8:14)you have escaped from the curse of The Law!!! You have no need to be circumcised and follow its ritual!!!”

 

 

 

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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Galatians 5:18". "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

18.But if ye be led by the Spirit. In the way of the Lord believers are apt to stumble. But let them not be discouraged, because they are unable to satisfy the demands of the law. Let them listen to the consolatory declaration of the apostle, which is also found in other parts of his writings, (Romans 6:14,) ye are not under the law. Hence it follows, that the performance of their duties is not rejected on account of their present defects, but is accepted in the sight of God, as if it had been in every respect perfect and complete. Paul is still pursuing the controversy about freedom. The Spirit is elsewhere (Romans 8:15) denominated by him, “the Spirit of adoption;” and when the Spirit makes men free, he emancipates them from the yoke of the law. As if he had said, “Is it your desire instantly to terminate the controversies in which you are now engaged? Walk according to the Spirit. You will then be free from the dominion of the law, which will act only in the capacity of a kind adviser, and will no longer lay a restraint upon your consciences.” Besides, when the condemnation of the law is removed, freedom from ceremonies follows as a necessary consequence; for ceremonies mark the condition of a slave.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Galatians 5:18". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/galatians-5.html. 1840-57.