The Pulpit Commentary

Galatians 5:22 (Galatians 5:22)

But the fruit of the Spirit ( ὁ δὲ καρπὸς τοῦ πνεύματος ) . As it was with a hortatory purpose, to warn, that the apostle has before enumerated the vices into which the Galatian Christians would be most in danger of falling, so now with an answering hortatory purpose, to point out the direction in which their endeavours should lie, he reckons up the dispositions and states of mind which it was the office of the Holy Spirit to produce in them. In the Epistle to the Colossians ( Colossians 3:12-15 ), written several years after, most of the features here specified reappear in the form of direct exhortation ("kindness, meekness, long-suffering, love, peace, thankfulness")—"joy" being there implicitly represented by thankfulness. The word fruit here takes the place of "works" in verse 19, as being a more suitable designation of what are rather states of mind or habits of feeling than concrete actions like most of those previously enumerated "works." The word "fruit," moreover, describing in the vegetable world a matured product, is very commonly used in the New Testament with reference to such product as is not only of a pleasant but also of a useful kind; thus, "fruits meet for repentance;" the fruit of the True Vine in John 15:2-16 which glorifies God; the abundant fruit of wheat ( John 12:24 ); the fruit of righteousness ( Philippians 1:11 ; Hebrews 12:11 ); the fruit gathered by an evangelist ( John 4:36 ; Romans 1:13 ); so that it was no doubt introduced here, as also in Ephesians 5:9 , with the intended suggestion, that the graces here specified are results answering to the design of the great Giver of the Spirit's influences, and are in their own nature wholesome and grateful. The singular number of the noun is employed in preference to the plural, which is found e.g. Philippians 1:11 and James 3:17 , in consequence probably of the feeling which the apostle had that the combination of graces described is in its entirety the proper outcome in each individual of the Spirit's agency; the character which he will fain evolve in every soul subject to his dominion, comprises all these features; so that the absence of any one mars in a degree the perfection of the product. The relation expressed by the genitive case of the noun, "of the Spirit," is probably much the same as is expressed by the corresponding genitive, "of the flesh;" in each case meaning "belonging to," or "due to the operation of;" for the agent who in the one case does the works is not the flesh, but the person acting under the influence of the flesh; so here, the fruit-bearer is not "the Spirit," but the person controlled by the Spirit. Comp. Romans 7:4 , "that we might bring forth fruit unto God;" John 15:8 , "that ye bear much fruit." These fruits do not appear upon us without strenuous endeavour on our own part. Accordingly the apostle exhorts the Philippians ( Philippians 2:12 , Philippians 2:13 ) to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling, because they have so august a co-Agent working with and in them. Indeed, it is for the very purpose of prompting and directing such endeavour that this list of gracious fruits is here given (comp. verse 25). The enumeration does not expressly mention such dispositions of mind as have God for their object. These, however, may be discerned as lying couched under the three first named, "love, joy, peace," and possibly under "faith;" certainly joy and peace are the proper products of our hearty acceptance of the gospel, and of that alone; they presuppose the establishment of a conscious state of reconciliation with God. But just here the apostle seems more especially concerned to show how blessed, under the Spirit's guidance, the Christian's state will be, and in what manner Christians as thus led will act towards one another. The Christian life is habitually regarded by the apostle much more as a corporate, fellow-Christian, life, than, owing to various causes, some of which we may hope are now in course of removal, we modern Christians, and especially English Church, men, are in the habit of regarding it. Is love ( ἔστιν ἀγάπη ). We cannot separate this branch of Christian character from those which follow, as in essence distinct from them; it is organically connected with them, and in fact, as stated above (verse 14), involves them all, being "the bond of perfectness" ( Colossians 3:14 ). in the "dithyramb of love," chanted in 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 ., the apostle triumphantly proclaims this truth; as also on the other had in 1 Timothy 1:5 he affirms that true Christian love has its root in "a pure heart, a good conscience, and genuine faith." The soul cannot be free for the activity of genuine love, towards fellow-believers and towards fellow-creatures in general, as long as it is restrained in its emotions toward the supreme common Father of all; the inward vice of mind, whatever it may be, which darkens the spirit towards heaven must inevitably cramp and benumb benevolent action universally. In truth, ἀγάπη means a loving temper of mind which, like the love which God bears towards us, is in a degree irrespective of merit, welling forth towards all being , so far as circumstances permit; though with greatest intensity towards God and those in whom it can recognize the image of God. Hence St, John is able to reason as he does in 1 John 4:20 , "He that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, cannot love God whom he hath not seen." Joy ( χαρά ) . It is impossible to accept Calvin's notion, that this means a cheerful carriage towards fellow-Christians, though it includes it; it must mean the glad-heartedness produced by entire faith in God's love to us (comp. Romans 14:17 ; Romans 15:13 ). The exhortation which is here implied, that such sentiments should be carefully cherished, is elsewhere given explicitly and with reiteration; as e.g. 1 Thessalonians 5:16 ; Philippians 4:4 . There is thus much ground for Calvin's view, that the inward feeling of satisfaction and joy, which is the proper fruit of a true Christian's faith in the gospel, cannot fail to manifest itself in his behavior towards his fellow-men by a sacred species of light-heartedness and hilarity which it is impossible for us to manifest or to feel, as long as we have within a consciousness of estrangement from God, or a suspicion that things are not well with us in relation to him. It is probable that the apostle, in writing down this word, did it with a consciousness of the contrast which is presented by the coldness and severity of feeling towards others which are begotten by the bondage of legality. Peace ( εἰρήνη ), This is conjoined with "joy" in the two passages of the Romans just before cited ( Romans 14:17 ): "The kingdom of God [i.e. its great blessedness] is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit;" ( Romans 14:13 ), "The God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, in the power of the Holy Spirit;" in both which passages the "peace" referred to is the serenity of soul arising from the consciousness of being brought home to the favour of God and to obedience to his will. On the other hand, the term as here introduced seems likewise intended to stand in contrast with those sins of strife and malignity noted before among the works of the flesh, and therefore to point to peacefulness in the Christian community. The two are vitally connected: the Spirit produces peaceful harmony among Christians by producing in their minds, individually, a peaceful sense of harmony with God and a compliancy in all things with his providential appointments. This resigned trustfulness towards God quells at their very fountain-head those disturbances of passion and that inward fretting and impatience in reference to outward things, including the behaviour of others, which are the main causes of strife. The interdependence between inward and outward peace is indicated in 2 Corinthians 13:11 ; Colossians 3:14 , Colossians 3:15 . If "the peace of God rules, is arbitrator ( βραβεύει ), in our hearts" individually, if it "holds guard over our hearts and our thoughts" ( Philippians 4:7 ), it cannot fail to produce and maintain harmony amongst us towards one another. Long-suffering, gentleness , goodness ( μακροθυμία χρηστότης ἀγαθωσύνη ); long-sufferng , kindness , goodness. These are actings of the all-comprising grace of " love. " For the two first, comp. 1 Corinthians 13:4 , "Love suffereth long, is kind ( μακροθυμεῖ χρηστεύεται );" while the third, "goodness," sums up the other actings of love enumerated in 1 Corinthians 13:5 and 1 Corinthians 13:6 or the same chapter. It is difficult to distinguish between χρηστότης and ἀγαθωσύνη , except so far as that the former, which etymologically means "usableness," seems to signify more distinctly "sweetness of disposition," "amiability," "a compliant willingness to be serviceable to others." It is, however, repeatedly used by St. Paul of God's benignity ( Romans 2:4 ; Romans 11:22 ; Ephesians 2:7 ; Titus 3:4 ), as ἀαθωσύνη also is by many thought to be in 2 Thessalonians 1:11 , which last point, however, is very questionable. This latter term, ἀγαθωσύνη , occurs besides in Romans 15:14 and Ephesians 5:9 , as a very wide description of human goodness, apparently in the sense of active benevolence. Faith ( πίστις ); faith or faithfulness. It is disputed in what precise shade of meaning the apostle here uses this term. The sense of "fidelity," which beyond question it bears in Titus 2:10 , seems out of place, when we consider the particular evils which are now in his eye as existing or in danger of arising in the Galatian Churches. Belief in the gospel suits this requirement perfectly, and presents us with the apparently needed contrast to the "heresies" of verse 20. If this sense seems not to be favoured by the immediate neighbourhood on one side of "kindness" and "goodness," it is, however, quite coherent with the "meekness" on the other, if we understand by this latter term a tractable spirit, compliant to the teaching of the Divine Word; comp. James 1:21 , "receive with meekness the implanted word," and Psalms 25:9 , "The meek [Septuagint, πρᾳεῖς ] will he guide in judgment, the meek ( πρᾳεῖς ) will he teach his way." In Matthew 23:23 , "judgment, mercy, and faith," the term seems (comp. Micah 6:8 ) to refer to faith towards God. In 1 Timothy 6:11 , "righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness," there is no reason for interpreting it otherwise than as faith in God and his gospel; and if so, its collocation there with "love, patience, meekness," countenances us in taking it so here, where it stands in a very similar collocation. Comp. Ephesians 6:23 , "Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."

- The Pulpit Commentary

Galatians 5:22-23 (Galatians 5:22-23)

"The fruit of the Spirit."

Here we have the picture of a lovely garden, with all the choicest growths of the Spirit.


1 . First group. "Love, joy, peace." They all spring out of the filial relation into which we are brought by faith in Christ. Love is the tie that binds our hearts to God as our Father; joy is the glad emotion that springs up after our reconciliation with God; peace is the summer calm that settles down upon the soul that has entered into its rest. Love has been called the foundation of the fabric; joy, the superstructure; peace, the crown of the work. Love has a primary place, for it is "shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost." Joy is dependent upon love, and may well be called "joy of the Holy Ghost." It is enshrined in the very heart of love. It rises and falls, with love itself, like the thin thread of mercury in the thermometer, by the action of the surrounding atmosphere. Peace is linked with joy "in believing." Peace and joy are the two ingredients of the kingdom of God ( Romans 14:17 ). It is "the peace to which we are called in one body" ( Colossians 3:15 ), which will keep our hearts and minds in the midst of all worldly agitations.

2 . Second group. "Long-suffering, gentleness, goodness." The first group blends naturally into the second, for there is a near relation between peace and long-suffering. The graces of this group begin with the passive and end with the active, for long-suffering is the patient endurance of injuries inflicted by others; goodness is an active principle, not a mere kindly disposition; while gentleness or kindness is something between the two—a principle, however, which tends largely to promote the usefulness and the comfort of life, lessening the friction that enters more or less into all our intercourse with our fellow-men.

3 . Third group. "Faith, meekness, temperance." These three graces refer to the regulation of Christian life. It is curious to find faith seventh, and not first, in this list of graces. Faith is the root-principle of all graces. It goes before love itself, for it "worketh by love," and it precedes joy and peace, which both spring from our believing ( Romans 15:13 ). It has, therefore, been suggested that faith is here taken for fidelity. There is no reason, however, for any departure from its usual meaning. Faith is here regarded, not as the means of salvation or as the instrument of our justification, but as the principle of Christian life, which controls and guides it. Thus faith supplies the strength of self-control that is implied in temperance, and is the secret spring of that meekness which is an ornament of great price. Temperance comes last in the list of graces, because self-control is the end of all Christian life. Like the governor in machinery, it adds nothing to the power at work, but it equalizes the power so as to produce a uniform type of work.

II. MARK THE SPECIAL PRIVILEGE THAT ATTACHES TO THESE NINE GRACES . "Against such there is no Law." There is Law against the seventeen works of the flesh—to condemn them; but there is no Law to condemn the nine graces of the Spirit. There is Law to restrain the sinner—it exists for the purposes of this restraint—but in the graces of the Spirit there is nothing to restrain. They all chime in with the requirements of the Law, because they radiate from that love which is the very fulfilling of the Law. Thus those who are led by the Spirit are not under Law.

- The Pulpit Commentary

Galatians 5:16-26 (Galatians 5:16-26)

Christian progress realized through antagonism.

We must not suppose, however, that the love which God gives us as our liberty can work out its will without experiencing opposition. Opposition we know it will meet in the world of selfish men; but Paul here points out the antagonism it meets within our own personalities. The flesh antagonizes the Spirit. Love does not get its own sweet way as often as we would. Self becomes a battle-ground, and God contends with the flesh for the supremacy of the soul. So violent is the contention that the flesh is actually "crucified with its affections and lusts." We are introduced, therefore, to the law of Christian progress which, because of our sinful nature, has to be through antagonizing the sinful tendencies in the interest of love. Observe—

I. SIN LEADS MAN TO FALL OUT WITH HIMSELF . ( Galatians 5:17 .) As Ullmann has beautifully said, "Man forms a unity, which is, however, only the foundation of that higher unity which is to be brought about in him, as a being made in the Divine image, by means of communion with God. Now, sin does not merely obstruct this unity, but sets up in its place that which is its direct opposite. He who has fallen away from God by sin, does, as a necessary consequence, fall out both with himself and with all mankind. True unity in man is possible only when that which is Godlike in him—that is, the mind—acquiesces in the Divine order of life, and governs the whole being in conformity therewith. But when he has once severed himself from the true centre of his being, that is, from God, then also does that element of his being, his mind, which is akin to God, and which was intended to be the connecting and all-deciding centre of his personal life, lose its central and dominant position; he ceases to be lord of himself and of his own nature; the various powers which make up his complex nature begin to carry on, each for itself, an independent existence; the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit wages a fruitless war with the flesh ( Galatians 5:17 ); sinful desire becomes dominant, and while the man seems to be in the enjoyment of all imaginable liberty, he has lost the only true liberty and has become a slave to himself; for ' whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin' ( John 8:34 ; Romans 6:16-23 ). He is the dependent of self; and being thus the slave of self, he is also the slave of pleasure, and of all those objects which it requires for its satisfaction." Man becomes thus a distracted manifold, instead of a God-centred unity.

II. THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST ANTAGONIZES THE DISTRACTING TENDENCIES AND REDUCES MAN TO A UNITY AGAIN . The way in which we are united in heart and being is by having Jesus Christ pressed resistlessly upon our attention. Faith realizes in Christ not only a perfect personal Ideal, but also a Saviour on whom man may evermore depend. "The Christ of Christendom is not simply a Master to be loved and revered; he is a Saviour to be leaned upon. His followers are to have that profound sense of their own weakness and sinfulness which renders them sensitive to the purifying and reforming influences that radiate from the personality of Jesus. Without this, their love for the ideal would lead to no practical results; it would be merely an aesthetic sentiment, expending itself in a vague and fruitless admiration. But combine the two and you have the most effective reforming influence that the world has ever known." Christ is not only the unifying element in Church life, but in the individual life as well. He fuses all the distracted faculties into a glorious unity, and makes man his own master instead of his own slave. Hence, to quote the writer last referred to, "Christianity alone among all religions maintains a constant antagonism to the special tendency which controls the nature of its followers."

III. BUT POSITIVE FRUIT IS PRODUCED BY THE ANTAGONIZING SPIRIT AS A GLORIOUS SET - OFF TO THE WORKS OF THE FLESH WHICH HE DESTROYS . ( Galatians 5:19-24 .) Religion is not to be regarded as a negative thing, contenting itself with antagonisms, but has positive and most important fruits. It is not a system of severe repressions, but a system full of stimulus towards a better and fuller life. It does not merely forbid "fornication, uncleanness," etc., under the penalty of exclusion from the kingdom of God, but it produces "love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control. What a catalogue of virtues! What a contrast to the works of the flesh! Thus is man restored to something like his true and better self. The gospel of Christ is not a weary round of prohibitions, but is a glorious system of positive attainment, in a Divine life, which is loving, joyful, peaceful, and humane to its deepest depths.

IV. AGAINST SUCH SPIRITUALLY MINDED ONES THERE CAN BE NO LAW OF CONDEMNATION . ( Galatians 5:18-23 .) Law, when translated into love, becomes light. God's commandments are not grievous to the loving soul. In the keeping of them there is a great reward. Hence the Law presses heavily and hardly upon no loving spirit. "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" ( Romans 8:1 ). It is to such a blissful experience we arc asked to come.—R.M.E.

- The Pulpit Commentary

Galatians 5:13-26 (Galatians 5:13-26)

Freedom sustained by the Spirit.

I. USE OF CHRISTIAN FREEDOM . "For ye, brethren, were called for freedom." Paul, having wished the Judaizing teachers off Galatian soil, justifies the strength of his wish. They would have led the Galatians into bondage, but God had called them for freedom. He makes a distinction between the possession of freedom and the use of freedom. He had been under the necessity of making prominent their possession of freedom in contending against the Judaists; he would, however, remind them, as brethren, that there was responsibility connected with t heir use of freedom. It is thus that he slides into the more practical part of the Epistle.

1. Dangers of freedom. "Only use not your freedom for an occasion to the flesh." By the flesh, which here becomes a leading word with the apostle, we are not to understand our corporeal nature. Nor are we to understand by it depraved tendency in connection with our corporeal nature. But we are to understand by it depraved tendency as a whole, extending to our higher nature as well as to our lower nature. It is true that in this depraved tendency our lower nature has the preponderance. And that is the reason why the whole goes by the name of flesh. But the constant element in depravity is not sense, but it is self as opposed to God and to the good of others. The admonition of the apostle, then, is, not that we abstain from all bodily gratification, as though sin were seated in the body, nor simply that we abstain from all fleshly sin, but that we abstain from all selfish gratification. The Galatians had been called for freedom, i.e. for ultimate and complete freedom; they were not, with their first experiences of freed-m, or with their strong realization of it as against Judaistic error, to imagine that they were free to indulge the flesh. That is what, as free, we must be on our guard against, if we would not fall back into bondage, if we would come to the goal of our freedom in Christ. Let us not turn our liberty into licentiousness.

2 . The binding of freedom.


1 . The Christian rule is walking by the Spirit. "But I say, Walk by the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh." The apostle calls attention to a point to which he advances in the subject he has in hand. This is laying down the Christian rule as between the flesh and the Spirit. In the flesh, or our depraved nature, there is lust or desire for sinful gratification in some form or another. How are we to be delivered from this, so that it shall not be fulfilled? The way is positively to follow the leading of the Spirit. The idea is not that we are to follow the tendencies of our renewed nature. That is missing the personal aspect of the leading. The Spirit, indeed, renews the nature, and excites within it holy desires which seek for gratification. But the Spirit gives personal guiding, especially in and by the reason and conscience in connection with the Word. And as a Guide he is all-sufficient. He is an internal Guide. He throws all the light that we need upon the character of desires and actions, upon the path of duty. And he affords timeous guidance. For whenever we are disposed to turn from the straight path to the right hand or to the left, it is then that we hear his voice behind us, saying," This is the way, walk ye in it."

2 . The Christian rule is founded on a contrariety between the flesh and the Spirit. "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary the one to the other; that ye may not do the things that ye would." The lust excited within the flesh is against the desire excited by the Spirit; the desire excited by the Spirit is against the lust excited within the flesh. This conflict of desires is necessary. For the flesh and the Spirit are contraries. They represent depraved self and God. They are as far apart as light and darkness. What is true of the one, then, cannot be true of the other. What the one moves toward in desire, the other necessarily moves against. Of this conflict of desires we are conscious in our own experience. When the Spirit impels to good, the flesh opposes; when the flesh impels to evil, the Spirit opposes. Thus in two ways we cannot do the things that we would. And we have in this conflict of desires, as free beings, to determine whether the Spirit or the flesh shall have the dominion of our hearts.

3 . The Christian rule excludes regulation by the Law. "But if ye are led by the Spirit, ye are not under the Law." The Spirit is an nil-sufficient Guide. His regulation renders unnecessary all other regulation. He regulates within, and that is better than outward regulation. He regulates in connection with all circumstances that arise, and that is better than having the rule to apply for ourselves. He is a timeous monitor, warning when the danger arises, and that is better than being dependent on memory.

4 . There is contrast in the manifestations of the flesh and the Spirit.

(a) What they are. " Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these." Before enumerating them the apostle describes them as manifest , i.e. easily distinguishable or glaring. It may be pointed to as a proof of depravity that vocabularies have more words descriptive of forms of sin than words descriptive of forms of holiness. Under the fruit of the Spirit he gives a list of nine. But under the works of the flesh his list extends to fifteen, properly sixteen. And the word translated "which" implies that he did not profess to give an exhaustive list—it would have been easy for him to have added other instances. This comparison is confirmed by the relative number of words for sins and graces employed in Scripture.

( α ) Sins of uncleanness. "Fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness." The second is the generic word; the first describes a special form; the third describes a special aggravation, namely, open disregard of propriety. There is a sad prevalence of these sins still; it can only be said that they have been made more to hide their head.

( β ) Illicit intercourse with the unseen world. "Idolatry, sorcery." What is illicit in idolatry is the use of images to represent the unseen powers. What is illicit in sorcery (literally, "pharmacy" ) is the use of drugs, potions, and other things, with the idea that they can influence the unseen powers to produce love or hatred, prosperity or adversity. It can be said that this class of sins has almost disappeared with the diffusion of Christianity.

( γ ) Breaches of charity. "Enmities." This is the generic word; including not only the graver, but all breaches of charity. "Strife, jealousies." In strife the variance may be slight; in acts of jealousy there is more deep-seated variance. "Wraths, factions." The former describes outbursts of anger. The latter describes deliberate and concerted compassings of selfish ends, especially by means of intrigue. "Caballings" some translate it, "cabal" being made up of the initials of an English ministry in the reign of Charles II ., who were credited with sacrificing principle to place. "Divisions, heresies." The former may only be of a temporary nature. Heresies, by which we are to understand not heretical opinions, but rather their embodiments in heretical sects, are divisions of a decisive nature. There is conveyed the idea of complete separation from the Church of Christ. Hence what is said of the heretic that he is condemned of himself, i.e. in cutting himself off he has carried out the extreme sentence on himself. "Envyings, murders." The latter is omitted in the Revised translation, against the manuscripts, and against the form of classification followed by the apostle under this head. The former is want of love to our neighbour in his property; the latter is want of love in that which is most precious to him.

( δ ) Sins of intemperance. "Drunkenness, revellings." The first is the generic word; the second brings in a special association, viz. joviality. The special point of view is to be noticed here. There are some who lay the blame of intemperance on the manufacture of drink, on facilities for its sale, on the customs of society. And it does bear a relation to these things. But the apostle goes to the root of the matter, in tracing it to the depravity of the human heart. Drunkenness and revellings are works of the flesh, manifestations of alienation from God. The advantage of this point of view is that it points to what can be the only effective remedy, viz. a change of heart through the operation of the Spirit. "And such like." He could have mentioned others. We may suppose that those are named which it was important for the Galatians to note. We can see that some of them would be connected with their temperament, which was neither melancholic nor phlegmatic, and also with their surroundings. We are not all inclined to sin in the same form or forms. That has a dependence on idiosyncrasies and surroundings. But we have all the same depraved heart for which to be humbled before God, and against which to pray.

(b) What they entail. "Of the which I forewarn you, even as I did forewarn you, that they which practise such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." He is very emphatic in his warning of the Galatians. He had forewarned them when with them. Again he forewarns them. He acted on the principles enunciated in Ezekiel: "Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore, hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. When I say to the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life: the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity, but thou hast delivered thy soul." What the apostle, in the spirit of these words, says, is that they which are in the habit of doing such things shall certainly be punished. Their very characters unfit them for the kingdom of God. Moreover, they are rebels against the government of God; and as such they must be dealt with. Their punishment is represented as exclusion from the inheritance which otherwise they would have gained.

(a) What it is. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love." This stands at the head of the list as comprehending or carrying with it all the rest. This is a characteristic result of the Spirit's working. The apostle beseeches by the love of the Spirit. And we are told of the love of God, i.e. apparently the love which constitutes the very essence of God, being shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Ghost given unto us. Therefore we need not be surprised at the apostle connecting the Spirit, first, with the imbuing, dyeing deep of our nature with love. "Joy, peace." These two go together, not as good dispositions, but as feelings which always accompany good dispositions. With the former we associate movements, thrills; with the latter we associate repose. God is infinite Love, and therefore he is infinite Joy and Peace. And our being, through the Spirit, pulsating with his, now he sends a thrill of joy through us, and now he introduces his own calm. Oh what a joy in what God is! What a height of ecstasy does it admit of! And what a calm too in what God is! It takes away all the feverishness of sins and quiets us to the very depths of our being. And ever, as love animates us as it animates God, does the thrill pass through us, and the calm come into us, expelling doubt and fear and all restlessness of spirit. "Long-suffering, kindness, goodness." These three go together. The first is bearing with others for their good. It is that which marks the outgoing of the Divine love toward us as sinners. And therefore it is fitting that it should be reflected in us. Love (not only in God, but in all beings) , suffereth long," and, it is added, "is kind." The word translated "kindness" seems to point to delight in men as our fellow-beings. God delights in us as beings whom he has made. He feels kindly disposed toward us, as a father does toward his children. And so are we to delight in others for what they are, especially as having come from God, wearing a noble nature. And we are to feel kindly disposed toward them, wishing especially that, as they have a noble nature, they may not fail of having a noble character. The word translated "goodness" seems to point to a disposition to benefit others, extending to all forms in which they can be benefited. The highest form of goodness is when we are impelled to help others to live well. "Faithfulness, meekness, temperance." The first is having such a love for our neighbour that we would not injure him by breaking our promise to him. God is a Rock, while infinite tenderness, and there should be something of the rock in us, that dependence may be placed on us in the various relations of life. Meekness is required when wrong has been inflicted on us. It especially points to us having the command of our feelings under wrong. Temperance is self-command. It has come to have a special reference to our having the command of our appetites. When temperance is born of worldly prudence or of self-reliance it is not what it should be. It is only real and beautiful and everlasting when it is produced by the Spirit, when it is the outcome of a changed heart.

(b) What it does not entail. "Against such there is no Law." The apostle might have extended his list. He would have us think not of these only, but of all such, and think this regarding all such, that against them there is no Law. If these things are in us, then the Law can never be adverse to us. We shall be removed beyond the condemnation of all Law. That is his way of saying that we shall be blessed. We shall be blessed in the very possession of these dispositions and feelings. We shall be blessed in our enjoying the smile of God.

5 . Christians are being delivered from the flesh. "And they that are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with the passions and the lusts thereof." At a past period, in idea, they crucified the flesh. That idea is now being carried out into fact. There is a deadening, a slow and painful crucifying going on in the flesh. Its passions are being depleted of their heat; its lusts are being depleted of their force. The conflict is still going on; but the Spirit is gaining triumphs over the flesh, and there is promise of the Spirit gaining a complete triumph, of the flesh with all its inclinations to sin being annihilated.

6 . The Christian rule re-enforced. "If we live by the Spirit, by the Spirit let us also walk." If the life of the Galatians had depended on the Law, then their first and imperative duty would have been to have submitted to circumcision; and their duty after that would have been to have subjected themselves to the whole discipline of the Mosaic ordinances. But, as they were in the better position of depending entirely for their life on the Spirit, it was their duty to take the rule of their life simply from him.

7 . The Christian rule is applied to vain-glory. "Let us not be vainglorious, provoking one another, envying one another." Vain-glory is glorying in what we do not have, or in what we have in a way that is not real or according to a false standard. The spirit of the practice is sufficiently brought out in the language hero. There is a provoking, literally a calling forth, to the field of contest. As the result of the trial, some are filled with a sense of their importance as superior in strength or in agility, in birth or in wealth, in culture or in honour. And others are filled with envy of those who are thus superior. ]Jut as we are not to glory in fancied possessions, so we are not to glory in possessions as though we had bestowed them on ourselves, or with an exaggerated idea of their importance. That would be glorying in what had not foundation in reality. "But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord." Let us glory in what God is, and let us glory also in what God has bestowed upon us. Let us glory especially in having a covenant standing before God, and in covenant grace which has passed into our characters. That is having a foundation of reality for our glorying.—R.F.

- The Pulpit Commentary

Galatians 5:22-23 (Galatians 5:22-23)

The fruit of the Spirit.

I. THE GRACES OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE GROW OUT OF THE INDWELLING OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD . Neither of the two rival theories of Greek philosophers—that virtue comes by practice and that it is taught by instruction—would commend itself to St. Paul. Nor would he agree with Plato that it arises in the intuitive recollection of innate ideas, nor with Aristotle that it is the result of habits. Neither would he permit the modern separation of religion from morals. Morals need the inspiration of religion. Religion when truly alive must control conduct. The first great essential is for our spirit to be possessed by the Spirit of Christ through faith in him. Then Christian graces will appear as fruits of the Spirit. We must begin within. We cannot produce fruits by manipulating the outside of a dead stump. Life is the one essential, and from life within grows fruit without. Only internal spiritual life can produce external Christian graces.

II. NEVERTHELESS , THE CHRISTIAN GRACES NEED TO BE DIRECTLY CULTIVATED . Although the tree produces the fruit from its own life, the branches must be pruned and trained and the fruit sheltered from cold and protected from vermin and wild birds. It is not enough to think only of the inmost sources of a holy life. We must watch the course of it and guide it aright throughout. Christian ethic is an important branch of religious instruction, and is not to be ignored as unimportant because it is only serviceable in subordination to the cultivation of the inner spiritual life.

III. THE CHRISTIAN GRACES HAVE SPECIAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THEIR OWN . Such a list as is here given by St. Paul has a character of its own. Some of its constituent parts might be found in a heathen moralist; perhaps all of them; for there is a common conscience in all mankind. But the selection as a whole and the form and character of it are foreign to the atmosphere of paganism. The one significant fact about it is that it is a portrait of Christ. Christianity is putting on Christ. He is our great Exemplar. Our true life is walking in his footsteps. In particular note:

1 . Attention is directed to internal principles rather than to external rules of conduct. St. Paul cared little for casuistry.

2 . Emphasis is laid on the gentler graces. Pagan ethics treat chiefly of masculine virtues. Christian ethics add what are commonly called the feminine. Yet there is nothing unmanly in the gentleness of true nobility of character thus revealed.

3 . Charity and its fruits receive the principal place in the list.


1 . Three graces of general disposition :

2. Three graces in our conduct with others :

3 . three more general graces :

- The Pulpit Commentary