Galatians 5:1
Stand fast therefore in the liberty with which Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
V.

(1) Stand fast therefore.—The external evidence is very strong in favour of a different reading: With (or, perhaps, For) liberty did Christ make us free. Stand fast, then, and be not entangled, &c. There seems to be no sufficient reason why this should not be adopted.

In the liberty.—The best grammarians seem agreed to take this rather in the sense, for liberty; otherwise it would be tempting to explain it as an instance of the Hebraising construction which we find in John 3:29 : “Rejoice with joy” (Authorised version “rejoice greatly”). It would then mean: “with a system, or state, of freedom Christ freed us;” in other words: “placed us in a state of freedom, so that we are free.”

The yoke of bondagei.e., the Judaising restraints and restrictions.

Galatians 5:1. Stand fast therefore in the liberty, &c. — The apostle (chap. 3.) having, from Abraham’s justification by faith, proved, 1st, That all who believe in Christ, and in the promises of God through him, are the seed of Abraham, whom God in the covenant promised to justify by faith: 2d, That the law of Moses, which was given long after the Abrahamic covenant, could neither annul nor alter that covenant, by introducing a method of justification different from that which was so solemnly established thereby: 3d, That men are heirs of the heavenly country, of which Canaan was the type, not meritoriously, by obedience to the law, but by the free gift of God: 4th, That the law was given to the Israelites, not to justify them, but to restrain them from transgressions, and by making them sensible of their sins, and of the demerit thereof, to lead them to Christ for justification: further, having (chap. 4.) observed that the method of justification by faith, established at the fall, was not universally published in the first ages, by immediately introducing the gospel, because the state of the world did not admit thereof; and because it was proper that mankind should remain a while under the tuition of the light of nature, and of the law of Moses: also, having declared that the supernatural procreation of Isaac, and his birth in a state of freedom, was intended to typify the supernatural generation of Abraham’s seed by faith, and their freedom from the bondage of the law of Moses, as a term of salvation: the apostle, in this 5th chapter, as the application of his whole doctrine, exhorts the Galatian believers to stand fast in that freedom from the Mosaic law which had been obtained for them by Christ, and was announced to them by the gospel; and not to be entangled again with, or held fast in, (as ενεχεσθε may be rendered,) the yoke of Jewish bondage, as if it were necessary to salvation. “The apostle, though writing to the Gentiles, might say, Be not again held fast in the yoke of bondage, because the law of Moses, which he was cautioning them to avoid, was a yoke of the same kind with that under which they had groaned while heathen. By this precept, the apostle likewise condemns the superstitious bodily services enjoined by the Church of Rome, which are really of the same nature with those prescribed by Moses, with this difference, that none of them are of divine appointment.” — Macknight.5:1-6 Christ will not be the Saviour of any who will not own and rely upon him as their only Saviour. Let us take heed to the warnings and persuasions of the apostle to stedfastness in the doctrine and liberty of the gospel. All true Christians, being taught by the Holy Spirit, wait for eternal life, the reward of righteousness, and the object of their hope, as the gift of God by faith in Christ; and not for the sake of their own works. The Jewish convert might observe the ceremonies or assert his liberty, the Gentile might disregard them or might attend to them, provided he did not depend upon them. No outward privileges or profession will avail to acceptance with God, without sincere faith in our Lord Jesus. True faith is a working grace; it works by love to God, and to our brethren. May we be of the number of those who, through the Spirit, wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. The danger of old was not in things of no consequence in themselves, as many forms and observances now are. But without faith working by love, all else is worthless, and compared with it other things are of small value.Stand fast, therefore - Be firm and unwavering. This verse properly belongs to the previous chapter, and should not have been separated from it. The sense is, that they were to be firm and unyielding in maintaining the great principles of Christian liberty. They had been freed from the bondage of rites and ceremonies; and they should by no means, and in no form, yield to them again.

In the liberty ... - Compare John 8:32, John 8:36; Romans 6:18; Notes, Galatians 4:3-5.

And be not entangled again - Tyndale renders this, "And wrap not yourselves again." The sense is, do not again allow such a yoke to be put on you; do not again become slaves to any rites, and customs, and habits.

The yoke of bondage - Of servitude to the Jewish laws; see the note at Acts 15:10.

CHAPTER 5

Ga 5:1-26. Peroration. Exhortation to Stand Fast in the Gospel Liberty, Just Set Forth, and Not to Be Led by Judaizers into Circumcision, or Law Justification: Yet though Free, to Serve One Another by Love: To Walk in the Spirit, Bearing the Fruit Thereof, Not in the Works of the Flesh.

1. The oldest manuscripts read, "in liberty (so Alford, Moberley, Humphry, and Ellicott. But as there is no Greek for 'in,' as there is in translating in 1Co 16:13; Php 1:27; 4:1, I prefer 'It is FOR freedom that') Christ hath made us free (not in, or for, a state of bondage). Stand fast, therefore, and be not entangled again in a yoke of bondage" (namely, the law, Ga 4:24; Ac 15:10). On "again," see on [2354]Ga 4:9.Galatians 5:1 Paul exhorteth the Galatians to maintain their

Christian liberty,

Galatians 5:2-6 and showeth that by being circumcised they would

forfeit their hopes in Christ,

Galatians 5:7-12 he disclaimeth the preaching of circumcision himself,

and condemneth it in others.

Galatians 5:13-15 He adviseth them not to abuse their liberty, but to serve

one another in love, which comprehendeth the whole law.

Galatians 5:16-18 The opposition between the flesh and the Spirit,

Galatians 5:19-21 the works of the flesh,

Galatians 5:22-24 the fruits of the Spirit.

Galatians 5:25,26 Advice to walk in the Spirit, and not in vain glorious

emulation.

The

liberty here spoken of, is a right which a person hath to action, that he may do or forbear the doing of things at his pleasure, as he apprehends them suitable or not, without the let or hinderance of another. This is either in things of a civil nature, or of a spiritual nature. The former is not understood here, for it is none of

the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, for subjects to be free from the lawful commands of princes, or children to be free from the laws of their parents, or servants to be free from the commands of masters. There is hardly any book in the New Testament wherein obedience of this nature, in things that are lawful, is not either exemplified as our duty in Christ and the apostles, or urged by very strong arguments. The liberty here, is that freedom from the law, of which the apostle hath been speaking all along this Epistle: from the curse of the moral law, and from the co-action of it; and principally from the ceremonial law contained in ordinances. This is the liberty which Christ hath purchased for us, and in which the apostle willeth all believers to stand fast; not being again entangled with a yoke, which God had taken off from their necks. The apostles, in their synod, Acts 15:10, had called it a yoke, which neither they nor their fathers were able to bear.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty,.... There is the liberty of grace, and the liberty of glory; the former of these is here meant, and lies in a freedom from sin; not from the indwelling of it, but from the dominion, guilt, and damning power of it; from the captivity and tyranny of Satan, though not from his temptations and insults; from the law, the ceremonial law, as an handwriting of ordinances, a rigid severe schoolmaster, and a middle wall of partition, and from all its burdensome rites and institutions; from the moral law as a covenant of works, and as administered by Moses; and from the curse and condemnation of it, its bondage and rigorous exaction, and from all expectation of life and righteousness by the deeds of it; but not from obedience to it, as held forth by Christ, and as a rule of walk and conversation; and from the judicial law, or those laws which concerned the Jews as Jews: moreover, this liberty lies in the free use of things indifferent, as eating any sort of food without distinction, so that it be done in faith, with thankfulness to God, in moderation, and with temperance, and so as that the peace and edification of fellow Christians are not hurt; also in the free use of Gospel ordinances, which they that are fellow citizens with the saints have a right unto, but not to lay aside or neglect at pleasure; which is not to use, but to abuse their liberty: again, another branch of it is access to God, with freedom and boldness at the throne of grace, through the Mediator, under the influences of the divine Spirit; to which may be added, a deliverance from the fears of death corporeal, who is a king of terrors to Christless sinners, and which kept Old Testament saints, all their lifetime subject to bondage and eternal, or the second death, by which Christ's freemen are assured they shall not be hurt: now, in this liberty, the children of the free woman, believers under the Gospel dispensation, are very pertinently exhorted to stand fast, in consequence and consideration of their character; that is, they should highly prize and esteem it, as men do their civil liberty; and maintain it and defend it, at all hazards; abide by the doctrine of it without wavering, and with intrepidity; not giving up anyone part of it, however, and by whomsoever, it may be opposed, maligned, and reproached; and keep up the practice of it, by obeying from the heart the doctrine of it, by becoming the servants of righteousness, by frequent attendance at the throne of grace, and continual observance of the ordinances of Christ; and then should take heed of everything that tends to break in upon it, as any doctrine or commandment of men; particularly the doctrine of justification by works, and all sorts of superstition and will worship: and the rather, because of the concern Christ has in this liberty, it is that

wherewith Christ hath made us free; we are not free born, but on the contrary homeborn slaves, as Ephraim was; nor could this liberty in any of its branches be obtained by us, by any merit, righteousness, act, or acts of ours, but is wholly of Christ's procuring for us, both by price and power; whereby he has ransomed and delivered us out of the hands of all our spiritual enemies, sin, Satan, the law, and death; and it is of his proclaiming in the Gospel, and of his applying by his Spirit, whom he sends down into our hearts as a free Spirit, to acquaint us with it, and lead us into it, who works faith in us to lay hold upon, and receive this blessing of grace as others:

and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. The metaphor is taken from oxen put under a yoke, and implicated with it, from which they cannot disengage themselves: some of the members of this church had been Jews, who had formerly been under the yoke of the law, and seemed desirous to return to their former state of bondage, from which the apostle dissuades, and therefore uses the word again: or else he may refer to the bondage of corruption and idolatry, which they as Gentiles were in, before their conversion; and intimates, that to give into the observance of; Jewish rites and ceremonies would be involving themselves in a state of bondage again; for by "the yoke of bandage" he means the law, which the Jews frequently call "the yoke of the commandments" (l); particularly the ceremonial law, as circumcision; which Peter, Acts 15:10 represents as a yoke intolerable; the observation of days, months, times, and years; the multitude of sacrifices, and which could not take away sin; but proclaimed their guilt and obligation to punishment, and were an handwriting of ordinances against them, and thereby they were held and kept in bondage, and such a yoke is the moral law as delivered by Moses, requiring perfect obedience, but giving no strength to perform, nor pointing where any is to be had; showing a man his sin and misery, and so working wrath in his conscience, but giving not the least intimation of a Saviour, or of life and righteousness by another; accusing, pronouncing guilty, cursing, and condemning; hence such as seek for righteousness by it are in a miserable subjection to it, and are sadly implicated and entangled with the yoke of it: every doctrine and ordinance of men is a yoke of bondage which should not be submitted to; nay, any action whatever, performed in a religious way and in order for a man's acceptance with God, and to obtain his favour, and according to his observance of which he judges of his state, and speaks peace and comfort to himself, or the reverse, is a yoke of bondage: as, for instance prayer at such and so many times a day, reading such a number of chapters in the Bible every day, fasting so many times in the week, and the like; so that what are branches of Christian liberty, such as frequent prayer to God, reading the sacred writings for instruction and comfort, and the free use of the creatures, are turned into a yoke of bondage, which should be guarded against.

(l) Misn. Beracot, c. 2. sect. 2. T. Hieros. Beracot, fol. 4. 2.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Galatians 5:1. Τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ ἡμᾶς Χριστὸς ἠλευθέρωσεν] On this reading, see the critical notes. The sentence forms, with Galatians 4:31, the basis of the exhortation which follows, στήκετε οὖν κ.τ.λ. See on Galatians 4:31. For freedom, in order that we should be free and should remain so, that we should not again become subject to bondage, Christ has set us free (Galatians 4:1-7), namely, from the bondage of the στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου (Galatians 4:3). The dative τῇ ἐλευθ. is therefore commodi, not instrumenti. Comp. also Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 155; Holsten, Hofmann, Reithmayr. By so taking it, and by attending to the emphasis, which lies not on Χριστός, but on the τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ following immediately after τῆς ἐλευθέρας in Galatians 4:31, we obviate entirely the objection of Rückert (comp. Matthies and Olshausen) that Paul must have written: Χ. ἡμᾶς ἐλευθερὶᾳ ἠλευθέρωσεν, or εἰς ἐλευθ., or τῇ ἐλευθ. ταύτῃ, or ἣν ἔχομεν, or some other addition of the kind.

στήκετε οὖν] stand fast therefore, namely, in the freedom, which is to be inferred from what goes before; hence the absence of connection with τῇ ἐλευθ. does not produce any obscurity or abruptness (in opposition to Reiche). On the absolute στήκετε, which obtains its reference from the context, comp. 2 Thessalonians 2:15.

καὶ μὴ πάλιν κ.τ.λ.] and be not again held in a yoke of bondage. Previously they had been (most of them) in the yoke of heathenism; now they were on the point of being held in the yoke of Mosaism (only another kind of the στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου). The yoke is conceived as laid on the neck: Acts 15:10; Sir 51:26; Dem. 322. 12; Hom. H. Cer. 217. As to πάλιν, comp. on Galatians 4:9. δουλείας denotes the characteristic quality belonging to the yoke. Comp. Soph. Aj. 924: πρὸς οἷα δουλείας ζυγὰ χωροῦμεν. Eur. Or. 1330; Plat. Legg. vi. p. 770 E: δούλειον ζυγόν, Ep. 8, p. 354 D; Dem. 322. 12; Herod. vii. 8.

ἐνέχεσθαι, with the dative (Dem. 1231. 15; 2Ma 5:18; 3Ma 6:10) or with ἐν (Dem. 1069. 9), is the proper expression for those who are held either in a physical (net or the like) or ethical (law, dogma, emotion, sin, or the like) restriction of liberty, so that they cannot get out. See Kypke in loc., and Markland ad Lys. V. p. 37, Reisk. Here, on account of the idea of a yoke, the reference is physical, but used as a figurative representation for that which is mental, which affects the conscience.

Note.

If we take the reading of the Recepta, and of Griesbach and his followers (see the critical notes), we must explain it: “In respect of the freedom, [therefore], for which Christ has set us free, stand fast, and become not again, etc.!”—so that τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ is to be taken like τῇ πίστει in 2 Corinthians 1:24 and Romans 4:20, and as the dative commodi (Morus, Winer, Reiche). might also (with the Vulgate, Luther, Beza, Calvin, Piscator, Rückert, Schott, Hilgenfeld, Wieseler, and many others) be taken as ablative (instrumentally): “qua nos liberavit,” after the analogy of the classical expressions ζῆν βίῳ, ὗσαι ὕδατι κ.τ.λ. (Bernhardy, p. 107; Lobeck, Paral, p. 523 ff.), and of the frequent use both in the LXX. and the N.T. (Winer, p. 434 [E. T. 584]) of “cognate” nouns in the dative. But this mode of expression does not occur elsewhere with Paul, not even in 1 Thessalonians 3:9. According to Schott, Ewald, and Matthias, who join it to Galatians 4:31 (see the critical notes), we get the meaning: “We are not children of a bond-maid, but of the free woman through the freedom, with which Christ made us free; stand fast therefore.” Thus τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ ἧ ἡμᾶς Χριστ. ἠλευθ. becomes a self-evident appendage; and Χριστός receives an emphasis, just as in Galatians 3:13, which its position does not warrant.Galatians 5:1. In the original text, which I have adopted in accordance with the best MS. authority, the first clause of this verse is clearly detached from the second στήκετε οὖν, and attached to the preceding ἀλλὰ τῆς ἐλευθέρας without any connecting particle. But this primary connection with the preceding verse was apparently obscured at an early period of Church history, owing probably to the frequent use of the important section Galatians 5:1 ff. as a Church lesson by itself apart from the preceding allegory. It is difficult otherwise to account for the great variety of connecting particles employed in MS. versions and quotations to transform the fragment τῇ ἐλευθ. ἡμᾶς Χριστὸς ἠλευθ. into a complete sentence, e.g., the addition of , οὖν, or γάρ, and the omission of οὖν after στήκετε, all evidently corrections made with one object. The division of chapters has unfortunately perpetuated this error. But the removal of the full stop after ἐλευθέρας at once restores the full force of the original passage: Wherefore, brethren, we are not children of a handmaid, but Christ set us free with the freedom of the freewoman. The threefold iteration, free, freedom, freewoman, marks with expressive emphasis the importance of this Christian birthright.—ἡμᾶς Χριστὸς. The best MSS. place the object ἡμᾶς before the subject Χριστός, inverting the usual order of words. This inversion throws an emphasis on ἡμᾶς, as the previous context demands; for the whole passage forcibly contrasts the freedom granted to us Christians with the bondage which the Jews inherit.—μὴ πάλιν … Converts had all alike, whether Jews or Greeks, been under bondage to some law, human or divine: all had been set free by Christ, but might now, by the voluntary adoption of circumcision, forfeit this freedom and rivet the yoke of Law about their own necks.Galatians 5:1-12. Exhortation to stand fast in the Liberty of the Gospel

1. Many editors place this verse at the end of ch. 4, connecting it immediately with Galatians 4:31 of that chapter; ‘we are not children of a bondwoman, but of her who is free with that freedom wherewith Christ hath emancipated us. Stand fast therefore and be not again entangled with a yoke of bondage’.

But the received arrangement of the chapters is better. Chapter 4 is didactic; chapter 5 is hortatory, and therefore properly begins with the injunction ‘stand fast’.

It is however interesting to note that in the original the last word of ch. 4 is ‘free’, and ‘the freedom’ are the opening words of ch. 5. We have a similar instance of the repetition of a word in juxtaposition in Romans 15:12-13, ‘In Him shall the Gentiles hope. Now the God of hope fill you … that ye may abound in hope’.

Here we may render, In the freedom then wherewith Christ made us free stand fast &c. The freedom thus bestowed is spiritual liberty which is quite independent of outward circumstances. St Paul in chains, a prisoner in Rome, exulted in it. Nero on his throne, the master of the world, with thirty legions at his back, was the miserable slave of his lusts. Luther beautifully remarks: ‘Let us learn to count this our freedom most noble, exalted, and precious, which no emperor, no prophet nor patriarch, no angel from heaven, but Christ, God’s Son, hath obtained for us; not that He might relieve us from a bodily and temporal subjection, but from a spiritual and eternal imprisonment of the cruelest tyrants, namely the law, sin, death, the Devil’.

Stand fast] perhaps, ‘stand upright’, not bowing your neck to the yoke of legal observances.

again] They who had escaped from the thraldom of heathenism were not to submit to the slavery of Judaism. They who had once tasted freedom in Christ were not to be again entangled in the bondage of the law.Galatians 5:1. Τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳστήκετε, stand fast—in the liberty) The short clause, wherewith Christ has made us free, has the force of aetiology, or assigning the reason. Liberty, and slavery (bondage), are antithetic. It is without any connecting particle, Galatians 3:13 : τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ, [by virtue of the] liberty, is emphatically put without ἐν, in: liberty itself confers the power of standing. Ἠλευθέρωσε signifies has rendered free, and coheres with free [rather than with the rendered]: stand, erect, without a yoke.—πάλιν, again) ch. Galatians 4:9, note.—ζυγῷ δουλείας, with the yoke of bondage) This expression is applied, not merely to the circumcision which was given to Abraham as the sign of the promise, but to circumcision as connected with the whole law, given long after on Mount Sinai, ch. Galatians 4:24, Galatians 3:17. For the Jews had been accustomed to look upon circumcision rather as a part of the law received by Moses, than as the sign of the promise given to Abraham, John 7:22. Nor was circumcision so much a yoke in itself, as it was made a yoke by the law; and the law itself was much more a yoke. Therefore Paul, by a weighty metonymy, puts the consequent for the antecedent: Be not circumcised, for he who is circumcised, along with this part of it, comes under the whole law, and revolts from Christ, Galatians 5:2-4. Nor does the apostle oppose Christ so immediately to circumcision as he does to the law. He speaks according to their perverse custom, while he refutes their Galatism and Judaism; and yet he does not at all deviate from the truth. Peter also, Acts 15:10, calls it a yoke.—ἐνέχεσθε) ἐνέχομαι, in the middle voice, I hold fast by, obstinately. That passage in Xiphil. in Epit. Dion. concerning a pole fixed in the ground, and which cannot be pulled out, shows the import of the word: ἐν τῇ γῇ ἐνέσχετο, ὥσπερ ἐμπεφυκώς, “it held a fast hold in the earth, as if it had grown there.”Verse 1. - (See p. 209.) In the liberty wherewith. This is according to the reading τῆ ἐλευθερίᾳ ᾗ. Different connections are proposed, as with stand fast, as A.V.: or with the close of chapter 4, as, "we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free with the freedom with which Christ freed us": or, "of her who is free with the freedom with which," etc. But ᾗ wherewith must be omitted. A new clause begins with τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ. Rend. for freedom did Christ set us free. For, not with freedom. It is the dative of advantage; that we might be really free and remain free. Comp. Galatians 5:13, and John 8:36.

Made (us) free (ἠλευθέρωσεν)

With the exception of John 8:32, John 8:36, only in Paul.

Stand fast (στήκετε)

Used absolutely, as 2 Thessalonians 2:15. Mostly in Paul. See on 1 Thessalonians 3:8.

Be not entangled (μὴ ἐνέχεσθε)

Or, held ensnared. By Paul only here and 2 Thessalonians 1:4. Lit. to be held within. For an elliptical usage see on Mark 6:19.

Yoke (ζυγῷ)

Metaphorical, of a burden or bondage. Comp. Matthew 11:29, Matthew 11:30; Acts 15:10; 1 Timothy 6:1. Similarly lxx, Genesis 27:40; Leviticus 26:13; 2 Chronicles 10:4, 2 Chronicles 10:9, 2 Chronicles 10:10, 2 Chronicles 10:11, 2 Chronicles 10:14. So always in N.T. except Revelation 6:5, where it means a pair of scales. See note, and comp. Leviticus 19:35, Leviticus 19:36; Proverbs 11:1; Proverbs 16:11; Hosea 12:7.

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