“The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.” (vv. 22-23)

Galatians 5:13-26 Saturday 2 July 2016

Psalm: Psalm107:33-43


This passage comes at the end of along discourse in which Paul tells the Galatian Christians thatthey do not require to be circumcised. Paul was angry withJudaisers who were advocating circumcision for everyone. Almost thewhole of the letter to the Galatians contains various argumentsagainst such teaching. Paul says that requiring circumcision meantgoing back to the law, back to a life of bondage. And if one partof the law was followed, the whole law had to be obeyed and thiswas impossible. Following Christ means freedom from the law, a newlife in Christ, a life of grace, not dependent on human initiative,but on Christ's initiative.

Now Paul shifts gear from theologicaldiscourse to practical application. The freedom which followingChrist brings is not a blanket freedom that means 'anything goes'.Instead, it means freedom to live by the Spirit, not to satisfyhuman desires but to walk in the Spirit, to be free to be thepeople Christ wants us to be. Paul illustrates what he means bylisting two sets of behaviour: the desires of the flesh, and thefruit of the Spirit.

This fruit (not fruits) is not a setof rules; he does not call them "the rules of the spirit". And thisfruit is like an orange: several segments, one fruit. If a personlives by the Spirit, such person should be guided by the Spirit andthe segments of the fruit flow naturally. If one plants a peachtree, as a natural consequence, peaches will appear on the tree. Ifone lives by the Spirit, the fruit with its segments will appear asa natural consequence; they will manifest themselves in the livesof such people.

In chapter 6 Paul encourages the Galatians to bearone another's burdens. Human beings can easily give in to thedesires of the flesh. Thus mutual support is important for Christfollowers who live in community with other people.

To Ponder

  • How does freedom in Christ differ from a 'secular'understanding of freedom?
  • In verses 22-23 Paul lists nine segments of the fruit of theSpirit. Which of them do you find most difficult to apply andpractise? Why?
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