Galatians 5:17
Parallel Verses
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.

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;

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;

Galatians 5:17 Parallel
Commentary
Barnes' Notes on the Bible

For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit - The inclinations and desires of the flesh are contrary to those of the Spirit. They draw us away in an opposite direction, and while the Spirit of God would lead us one way, our carnal nature would lead us another, and thus produce the painful controversy which exists in our minds. The word "Spirit" here refers to the Spirit of God, and to his influences on the heart.

And these are contrary ... - They are opposite in their nature. They never can harmonize; see Romans 8:6-7; compare below Galatians 5:19-23. The contrariety Paul has illustrated by showing what each produces; and they are as opposite as adultery, wrath, strife, murders, drunkenness, etc., are to love, joy, goodness, gentleness, and temperance.

So that ye cannot do the things that ye would - See this sentiment illustrated in the notes at Romans 7:15-19. The expression "cannot do" is stronger by far than the original, and it is doubted whether the original will bear this interpretation. The literal translation would be, "Lest what ye will, those things ye should do" (ἵνα μὴ ὥ ἄν θέλητε, ταῦτα ποιῆτε hina mē hō an thelēte, tauta poiēte). It is rendered by Doddridge, "So that ye do not the things that ye would." By Locke, "You do not the things that you propose to yourselves;" and Locke remarks on the passage, "Ours is the only translation that I knew which renders it cannot." The Vulgate and the Syriac give a literal translation of the Greek, "So that you do not what you would." This is undoubtedly the true rendering; and, in the original, there is no declaration about the possibility or the impossibility, the ability or the inability to do these things.

It is simply a statement of a fact, as it is in Romans 7:15, Romans 7:19. That statement is, that in the mind of a renewed man there is a contrariety in the two influences which bear on his soul - the Spirit of God inclining him in one direction, and the lusts of the flesh in another; that one of these influences is so great as in fact to restrain and control the mind, and prevent its doing what it would otherwise do; that when there is an inclination in one direction, there is a controlling and overpowering influence in another, producing a conflict, which prevents it, and which finally checks and restrains the mind. There is no reason for interpreting this, moreover, as seems always to be the case, of the overpowering tendency in the mind to evil, as if it taught that the Christian was desirous of doing good, but could not, on account of his indwelling corruption. So far as the language of Paul or the fact is concerned, it may be understood of just the opposite, and may mean, that such are the restraints and influences of the Holy Spirit on the heart, that the Christian does not the evil which he otherwise would, and to which his corrupt nature inclines him.

He (Paul) is exhorting them Galatians 5:16 to walk in the Spirit, and assures them that thus they would not fulfil the lusts of the flesh. To encourage them to this, he reminds them that there were contrary principles in their minds, the influences of the Spirit of God, and a carnal and downward tendency of the flesh. These are contrary one to the other; and such are, in fact, the influences of the Spirit on the mind, that the Christian does not do the things which he otherwise would. So understood, or understood in any fair interpretation of the original, it makes no assertion about the ability or inability of man to do right or wrong. It affirms as a fact, that where these opposite principles exist, a man does not do the things which otherwise he would do. If a man could not do otherwise than he actually does, he would not be to blame. Whether a Christian could not resist the influences of the Holy Spirit, and yield to the corrupt desires of the flesh; or whether he could not overcome these evil propensities and do right always, are points on which the apostle here makes no affirmation. His is the statement of a mere fact, that where these counteracting propensities exist in the mind, there is a conflict, and that the man does not do what he otherwise would do.

Galatians 5:17 Parallel Commentaries

Library
Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity Works of the Flesh and Fruits of the Spirit.
Text: Galatians 5, 16-24. 16 But I say, Walk by the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 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. 18 But if ye are led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousies, wraths,
Martin Luther—Epistle Sermons, Vol. III

What Makes a Christian: Circumcision or Faith?
'In Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but faith which worketh by love.'--GAL. v. 6. It is a very singular instance of imaginative misreading of plain facts that the primitive Church should be held up as a pattern Church. The early communities had apostolic teaching; but beyond that, they seem to have been in no respect above, and in many respects below, the level of subsequent ages. If we may judge of their morality by the exhortations and dehortations which
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Conflicts with Giant Mistake
CONFLICTS WITH GIANT MISTAKE I make so many mistakes, it seems I am just a bundle of contradictions. I try to do good; but at times my efforts are so crude that I seem to do more harm than good. What shall I do? And though all the time I try hard not to make mistakes, yet I still make them. It seems to me that surely I am not sanctified, or else I should be more perfect. Do not the Scriptures command us to be perfect even as our Father in heaven is perfect? I am not perfect; far from it. Really I
Robert Lee Berry—Adventures in the Land of Canaan

I have Said This, Lest Haply Married Fruitfulness Dare to vie with virgin Chastity...
7. I have said this, lest haply married fruitfulness dare to vie with virgin chastity, and to set forth Mary herself, and to say unto the virgins of God, She had in her flesh two things worthy of honor, virginity and fruitfulness; inasmuch as she both continued a virgin, and bore: this happiness, since we could not both have the whole, we have divided, that ye be virgins, we be mothers: for what is wanting to you in children, let your virginity, that hath been preserved, be a consolation: for us,
St. Augustine—Of Holy Virginity.

Cross References
Genesis 6:3
Then the LORD said, "My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years."

Romans 7:15
For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.

Romans 7:18
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.

Romans 7:23
but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.

Romans 8:5
For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.

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