Galatians 5:17
Parallel Verses
New International Version
For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.

New Living Translation
The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.

English Standard Version
For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

New American Standard Bible
For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.

King James Bible
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.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don't do what you want.

International Standard Version
For what the flesh wants is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit wants is opposed to the flesh. They are opposed to each other, and so you do not do what you want to do.

NET Bible
For the flesh has desires that are opposed to the Spirit, and the Spirit has desires that are opposed to the flesh, for these are in opposition to each other, so that you cannot do what you want.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
For the flesh craves anything that opposes The Spirit and The Spirit craves whatever opposes the flesh, and they both are contrary one to another, lest you would be doing whatever you want.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
What your corrupt nature wants is contrary to what your spiritual nature wants, and what your spiritual nature wants is contrary to what your corrupt nature wants. They are opposed to each other. As a result, you don't always do what you intend to do.

Jubilee Bible 2000
For the flesh lusts 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.

King James 2000 Bible
For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that you cannot do the things that you would.

American King James Version
For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that you cannot do the things that you would.

American Standard Version
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.

Douay-Rheims Bible
For the flesh lusteth against the spirit: and the spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary one to another: so that you do not the things that you would.

Darby Bible Translation
For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these things are opposed one to the other, that ye should not do those things which ye desire;

English Revised Version
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.

Webster's Bible Translation
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.

Weymouth New Testament
For the cravings of the lower nature are opposed to those of the Spirit, and the cravings of the Spirit are opposed to those of the lower nature; because these are antagonistic to each other, so that you cannot do everything to which you are inclined.

World English Bible
For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, that you may not do the things that you desire.

Young's Literal Translation
for the flesh doth desire contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit contrary to the flesh, and these are opposed one to another, that the things that ye may will -- these ye may not do;
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

5:16-26 If it be our care to act under the guidance and power of the blessed Spirit, though we may not be freed from the stirrings and oppositions of the corrupt nature which remains in us, it shall not have dominion over us. Believers are engaged in a conflict, in which they earnestly desire that grace may obtain full and speedy victory. And those who desire thus to give themselves up to be led by the Holy Spirit, are not under the law as a covenant of works, nor exposed to its awful curse. Their hatred of sin, and desires after holiness, show that they have a part in the salvation of the gospel. The works of the flesh are many and manifest. And these sins will shut men out of heaven. Yet what numbers, calling themselves Christians, live in these, and say they hope for heaven! The fruits of the Spirit, or of the renewed nature, which we are to do, are named. And as the apostle had chiefly named works of the flesh, not only hurtful to men themselves, but tending to make them so to one another, so here he chiefly notices the fruits of the Spirit, which tend to make Christians agreeable one to another, as well as to make them happy. The fruits of the Spirit plainly show, that such are led by the Spirit. By describing the works of the flesh and fruits of the Spirit, we are told what to avoid and oppose, and what we are to cherish and cultivate; and this is the sincere care and endeavour of all real Christians. Sin does not now reign in their mortal bodies, so that they obey it, Ro 6:12, for they seek to destroy it. Christ never will own those who yield themselves up to be the servants of sin. And it is not enough that we cease to do evil, but we must learn to do well. Our conversation will always be answerable to the principle which guides and governs us, Ro 8:5. We must set ourselves in earnest to mortify the deeds of the body, and to walk in newness of life. Not being desirous of vain-glory, or unduly wishing for the esteem and applause of men, not provoking or envying one another, but seeking to bring forth more abundantly those good fruits, which are, through Jesus Christ, to the praise and glory of God.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 17. - For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh (ἡ γὰρ σὰρξ ἐπιθυμεῖ κατὰ τοῦ Πνεύματος τὸ δὲ Πνεῦμα κατὰ τῆς σαρκός); for the flesh doth lust (or, hath desires) against the Spirit; but the Spirit likewise against the flesh. The first clause, "for the flesh hath desires against the Spirit," justifies the mention of "the desire of the flesh" in ver. 16, as being an experience which Christians in general have still to deal with; as if it were, "For the flesh really is present still, originating within you desires contrary to those prompted by the Spirit." Then the apostle adds, "but the Spirit likewise [or, ' hath desires ] against the flesh;" intimating that, although the flesh was still at work within, prompting desires tending away from holiness, that nevertheless was no reason for their giving way to such evil inclinations; for the Spirit was with them as well, originating desires after what was holy and good; and he would help them against those other inclinations towards evil, if only they would surrender themselves to his guidance. That this is the proper way of construing these two passages seems betokened by the δέ. If the apostle had just here meant to say, "There are two mutually opposing principles at work within you" for the purpose of justifying by explicit statement the tone of ver. 16 which implies this fact, he would have written, ἥ τε γὰρ σὰρξ ἐπιθυμεῖ κατὰ τοῦ Πνεύματος καὶ τὸ Πςεῦμα κατὰ τῆς σαρκός: or, ἡ μὲν γὰρ σάρξ... τὸ δὲ Πνεῦμα etc.; "For both hath the flesh desires against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh; or, "for on the one hand the flesh hath desires... and on the other," etc. But the adversative δὲ standing alone tends to disjoin the two clauses rather than to conjoin them so closely together as the Authorized Version leads us to suppose. We need supply no ether verb than ἐπιθυμεῖ, "hath desires," with the words, "but the Spirit;" for this verb is used in a good sense as well as in a bad; as e.g. Luke 22:15, ἐπιθυμία ἐπίθυμησα, "with desire did I desire;" 1 Peter 1:12, "the angels desire (ἐπιθυμοῦσιν) to look into;" Philippians 1:23. "the desire (ἐπιθυμίαν) to depart." In fact, the verb properly implies a simply strong wish, not necessarily an ill-governed one. And these are contrary the one to the other (ταῦτα γὰρ ἀλλήλοις ἀντίκειτει [Receptus, ταῦτα δὲ ἀντίκειται ἀλλήλοις; for these oppose themselves the one to the other. Taking the former two clauses as has been proposed above, we can discern the force of the "for" introducing this new clause. The apostle having been by two several turns of thought led to state, first that the flesh prompts desires or action in opposition to the Spirit, and then, as a distinct sentence, that the Spirit prompts desires or action in opposition to the flesh, he now conjoins the two several notions in the affirmation of the mutual antagonistic agency of these two principles; "For these oppose themselves the one to the other." The verb ἀντίκειμαι always denotes opposing action, and not mere contrariety of nature; being used as a participial noun for "adversaries" or "opponents' ' in Luke 13:17; Luke 21:15; 1 Corinthians 16:9; Philippians 1:28; 1 Timothy 5. i4; and as a verb in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 and 1 Timothy 1:10, to denote setting one's self in opposition to. This clause, therefore, describes the continual endeavour of the flesh and of the Spirit to thwart and defeat each other's action in the hearts of the persons spoken cf. So that ye cannot do the things that ye would (ἵνα μὴ ᾳ} α}ν θέλητε ταῦτα ποιῆτε); to the end that what things soever ye fain would do, those ye shall not do. This last clause describes the result aimed at by each of those conflicting principles, namely, to thwart each of them the volitions prompted by the other. The words remind us of Romans 7:15, Οὐ γὰρ ο} θίλω τοῦτο πράσσω, "For not, what thing I fain would,that do I practise;" ibid., 16, Ὁ οὐ θέλω τοῦτο ποιῶ, "What thing I fain would not, that I do;" ibid., 19, Οὐ γὰρ ο{ θέλω ποιῶ ἀγαθόν ἀλλ ο} οὐ θέλω κακόν τοῦτο πράσσω, "For not what good thing I fain would, do I do; but what evil thing I fain would not, that I practise." The comparison of the indefinite relative, "what things soever ye fain would do (α} α}ν θέλητε)," in the present passage, with the more definite "what thing I fain would do," or "fain would not do (ο{ θέλω ο{ οὐ θέλω)," in the Romans, points to the conclusion that by the clause, "what things soever ye fain would do," is meant, "whichever be the kind of your volitions, whether they be those prompted by the flesh or those prompted by the Spirit." In comparing the two passages, it is important to notice that in the seventh chapter of the Romans the apostle is Concerned exclusively with the frustration of our good volitions, which, there, are not ascribed to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, but to the prompting of our own moral sense quickened by the voice of the Law's commandment. Such good volitions he represents as overpowered by the controlling influence ("law" ) of the evil principle, "the flesh;" a condition of miserable thraldom, out of which, the apostle (ibid., 25), with triumphant gratitude, alludes to believers in Christ being delivered - delivered by the coming in upon the scene of a new agent, "the Spirit of life:" whereas, in the passage before us, he is describing the condition of believers in Christ, to whom now has been imparted this new power for doing what is good. In these, "the mind" (Romans 7:25), powerless before to overcome the law of sin, is succoured by the presence of a mighty Ally, through whom, he intimates elsewhere, the believer has it within his power to do all things (Philippians 4:13). Many expositors, in-eluding Bishop Lightfoot, take ἵνα in the present clause us denoting simply the result actually brought about; thus the Authorized Version, "so that ye cannot do the things that ye would." Whether this sense, of result actually produced, can be shown ever to attach to ἵνα followed by the subjunctive, is a question which has been much debated. In 1 Thessalonians 5:4, "Ye are not in darkness that (ἵνα) that day should overtake you as a thief," the particle "that" points to the ordering of Divine providence spoken of in the two preceding verses, that they who are in darkness should be taken by surprise by the coming of the day of the Lord. It is certainly possible so to understand the particle here; the mutually thwarting agency of the flesh and the Spirit may be understood as latently attributed to Divine providence ordering that thus it should be. But this view would hardly seem to harmonize, either with the almightiness of the Divine Agent engaged in the conflict or with the triumphant language of Romans 8:1-4. In actual experience, it does indeed seem to be but too often almost a μαχὴ ἰσόρροπος a drawn battle; so greatly is the Spirit's agency dogged and hampered by the weakness of human faith and the inconstancy of human purpose. But it does not need to be so. In the case of St. Paul himself, as we may infer from all that he says of his own career subsequent to his conversion, and in perhaps not a few cases besides, the Spirit has been completely and persistently triumphant. It therefore appears inconvenient to suppose that the apostle means to ascribe such a result to the ordering of Divine providence making it inevitable. Certainly such a construction of the passage is not necessary. We escape from it altogether by ascribing the notion of purpose latent in this ἵνα, "to the end that," to the nisus severally of the two agents. Taken so, the passage affirms this: Will whatever you may, whether good or evil, you will be sure to meet with an adverse agency, striving to bar the complete accomplishment of your desire. There appears to be no good reason for limiting the application of this statement, as some propose our doing, to the case of immature Christians, in whom Christ is as yet imperfectly formed (Galatians 4:19). With every Christian, to the very last, the life of holiness can only be a fruit of conflict; a conflict on the whole, even perhaps persistently, successful; yet a conflict still, maintained by the help of the Spirit against an evil principle, which can never, as long as we live, cease to give occasion for care and watchfulness (see 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; 1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7). Why, it may be asked, is the apostle concerned to refer to this conflict here? Apparently because the Galatians showed by their behaviour that they needed to be stirred up and put upon their guard. They were, as the apostle (1 Corinthians 3:3) told the Corinthian believers they were, "carnal, walking as men." They had foregone the sense of their adoption; they were worrying one another with contentions. The flesh was in their case manifestly thwarting and defeating the desires of the Spirit. Therefore the apostle here reminds them of the conditions of the Christian life; it is to stimulate them to that earnest endeavour to walk by the Spirit, without which (ver. 24) they could not be Christ' s.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit,.... By "flesh" is meant, not the carnal or literal sense of the Scripture, which is Origen's gloss, as militating against the spiritual sense of it; nor the sensual part of man rebelling against his rational powers; but the corruption of nature, which still is in regenerate persons: and is so called because it is propagated by carnal generation; has for its object carnal things; its lusts and works are fleshly; and though it has its seat in the heart, it shows itself in the flesh or members of the body, which are yielded as instruments of unrighteousness; and it makes and denominates men carnal, even believers themselves so far as it prevails: by "the Spirit" is meant the internal principle of grace in a regenerate man, and is so called from the author of it, the Spirit of God, whose name it bears, because it is his workmanship; and from the seat and subject of it, the soul or spirit of man; and from the nature of it, it is spiritual, a new heart and a new Spirit; its objects are spiritual, and it minds, savours, and delights in spiritual things: and the meaning of the lusting of the one against the other, for it is reciprocal, hence it follows,

and the Spirit against the flesh, is that the one wills, chooses, desires, and affects what is contrary to the other; so the flesh, or the old man, the carnal I, in regenerate persons, wills, chooses, desires, and loves carnal things, which are contrary to the Spirit or principle of grace in the soul; and on the other hand, the Spirit or the new man, the spiritual I, wills, chooses, desire, approves, and loves spiritual things, such as are contrary to corrupt nature; and this sense is strengthened by the Oriental versions. The Syriac version reads, "for the flesh desires that" "which hurts", or is contrary to "the Spirit"; and "the Spirit desires that which hurts", or is contrary to the "flesh"; and much in the same way the Arabic version renders it, "for the flesh desires that which militates against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires that which militates against the flesh"; to which the Ethiopic version agrees, reading it thus, "for the flesh desires what the Spirit would not, and the Spirit desires what the flesh would not"; the reason whereof is suggested in the next clause:

and these are contrary the one to the other; as light and darkness, fire and water, or any two opposites can be thought to be; they are contrary in their nature, actings, and effects; there is not only a repugnancy to each other, but a continued war, conflict, and combat, is maintained between them; the flesh is the law in the members or force of sin, which wars against the spirit, the law in the mind, or the force and power of the principle of grace; these are the company of two armies, to be seen in the Shulamite, fighting one against the other. So the Jews say (w) of the good imagination, and of the evil one, by which they mean the same as here, that they are like Abraham and Lot; and that

"though they are brethren, joined in one body, , "they are enemies to one another";''

hence it follows,

so that ye cannot do the good that ye would which may be understood both of evil things and of good things. The former seems to be chiefly the apostle's sense; since the whole of this text is a reason given why those who walk spiritually shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh, because they have a powerful governing principle in them, the Spirit, or grace; which though the flesh lusts against, and opposes itself unto, yet that also rises up against the flesh, and often hinders it from doing the works and lusts of it. There is in regenerate men a propensity and inclination to sin, a carnal I, that wills and desires sin, and wishes for an opportunity to do it, which when it offers, the flesh strongly solicits to it; but the Spirit, or the internal principle of grace, opposes the motion; and like another Joseph says, how can I commit this great wickedness and sin against a God of so much love and grace? it is a voice behind and even in a believer, which, when he is tempted to turn to the right hand or the left, says, this is the way, walk in it, and will not suffer him to go into crooked paths with the workers of iniquity; and so sin cannot have the dominion over him, because he is under grace as a reigning principle; and the old man cannot do the evil things he would, being under the restraints of mighty grace. This is the apostle's principal sense, and best suits with his reasoning in the context; but inasmuch as the lusting and opposition of these two principles are mutual and reciprocal, the other sense may also be taken in; as that oftentimes, by reason of the prevalence of corrupt nature, and power of indwelling sin, a regenerate man does the evil he would not, and cannot do the good he would; for he would always do good and nothing else, and even as the angels do it in heaven; but he cannot, because of this opposite principle, the flesh.

(w) Tzeror, Hammor, fol. 15. 3.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

17. For—the reason why walking by the Spirit will exclude fulfilling the lusts of the flesh, namely, their mutual contrariety.

the Spirit—not "lusteth," but "tendeth (or some such word is to be supplied) against the flesh."

so that ye cannot do the things that ye would—The Spirit strives against the flesh and its evil influence; the flesh against the Spirit and His good influence, so that neither the one nor the other can be fully carried out into action. "But" (Ga 5:18) where "the Spirit" prevails, the issue of the struggle no longer continues doubtful (Ro 7:15-20) [Bengel]. The Greek is, "that ye may not do the things that ye would." "The flesh and Spirit are contrary one to the other," so that you must distinguish what proceeds from the Spirit, and what from the flesh; and you must not fulfil what you desire according to the carnal self, but what the Spirit within you desires [Neander]. But the antithesis of Ga 5:18 ("But," &c.), where the conflict is decided, shows, I think, that here Ga 5:17 contemplates the inability both for fully accomplishing the good we "would," owing to the opposition of the flesh, and for doing the evil our flesh would desire, owing to the opposition of the Spirit in the awakened man (such as the Galatians are assumed to be), until we yield ourselves wholly by the Spirit to "walk by the Spirit" (Ga 5:16, 18).

Galatians 5:17 Additional Commentaries
Context
Living by the Spirit
16But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.…
Cross References
Genesis 6:3
Then the LORD said, "My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years."

Romans 7:15
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.

Romans 7:18
For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.

Romans 7:23
but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.

Romans 8:5
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.
Treasury of Scripture

For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that you cannot do the things that you would.

the flesh.

Psalm 19:12,13 Who can understand his errors? cleanse you me from secret faults…

Psalm 51:1-5,10-12 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your loving kindness…

Psalm 65:3 Iniquities prevail against me: as for our transgressions, you shall …

Psalm 119:5,20,24,25,32,35,40,133,159 O that my ways were directed to keep your statutes!…

Psalm 119:176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant; for I do …

Ecclesiastes 7:20 For there is not a just man on earth, that does good, and sins not.

Isaiah 6:5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean …

Matthew 16:17,23 And Jesus answered and said to him, Blessed are you, Simon Barjona: …

Matthew 26:41 Watch and pray, that you enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed …

John 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born …

Romans 7:18,21-25 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing: …

Romans 8:5,6,13 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; …

James 4:5,6 Do you think that the scripture said in vain, The spirit that dwells …

and these.

Galatians 3:21 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there …

Matthew 12:30 He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathers not with …

Romans 7:7,8,10-14 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. No, I had not …

Romans 8:5-8 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; …

so.

Psalm 119:4-6 You have commanded us to keep your precepts diligently…

Psalm 130:3 If you, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?

Matthew 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: …

Luke 22:33,46,54-61 And he said to him, Lord, I am ready to go with you, both into prison, …

Romans 7:15-23 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; …

Philippians 3:12-16 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: …

James 3:2 For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, …

1 John 1:8-10 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth …

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