Galatians 5:17
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.
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(17) For the flesh . . .—In this verse we have brought out most distinctly the antithesis between the flesh and the Spirit, which is one of the root ideas in the psychology of St. Paul. It does not amount to dualism, for the body, as such, is not regarded as evil. There is nothing to show that St. Paul considered matter in itself evil. But the body becomes the seat of evil; from it arise those carnal impulses which are the origin of sin. And it is the body, looked at in this light, which is designated as “the flesh.” The flesh is the body, as animated by an evil principle. It thus becomes opposed to the good principle: whether the good principle in itself—the Spirit of God, or that organ in which the good principle resides—the spirit in man.

So that ye cannot do the things that ye would.—The opposition between the flesh and the Spirit, each pulling a different way, prevents the will from acting freely. For a full comment on this, see Romans 7:15-23; Romans 7:25.

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.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.

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).

By the flesh and

the Spirit, we cannot so much understand the sensitive and rational appetite; for these two appetites are not so contrary, but that in many things they agree well enough; and we are enemies not only in our sensitive part, to spiritual things, but en th dianoia, in our mind and rational part also, Colossians 1:21. And some of the works of the flesh, which are afterward mentioned, Galatians 5:19-21, (such as idolatry, heresies, & c.), cannot be referred to the sensitive part. But by these terms are either to be understood the unregenerate part of man; or rather, that carnal concupiscence which we derived from Adam, and is seated in our rational as well as sensitive appetite; which opposeth itself to the Divine rule, and to the dictates and motions of the Spirit of God.

The flesh lusteth against the Spirit; this concupiscence moveth strongly against the directions of the Spirit.

And the Spirit against the flesh; and the Holy Spirit of God, dwelling in the saints, moveth us potently against the propensions and inclinations of the flesh.

And these are contrary the one to the other; for they are two contrary principles, and work contrarily in their motions and inclinations.

So that ye cannot do the things that ye would; so that even the best of God’s people cannot at all times do either what they should do, (according to the precept of the word), or what they would do, according to the bent of their regenerate part.

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.

For the {i} 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.

(i) For the flesh dwells even in the regenerated man, but the Spirit reigns, even though not without great strife, as is largely set forth in Ro 7:1-25.

Galatians 5:17. Ἡ γὰρ σὰρξ ἐπιθυμεῖ κατὰ τοῦ πνεύματος, τὸ δὲ πνεῦμα κατὰ τ. σάρκος] The foregoing exhortation, with its promise, is elucidated by the remark that the flesh and the Spirit are contrary to one another in their desires, so that the two cannot together influence the conduct.

As here also τὸ πνεῦμα is not the moral nature of man (see on Galatians 5:16), but the Holy Spirit,[238] a comparison has to some extent incorrectly been made with the variance between the νοῦς and the ΣΆΡΞ (Romans 7:18 ff.) in the still unregenerate man, in whom the moral will is subject to the flesh, along with its parallels in Greek and Roman authors (Xen. Cyr. vi. 1. 21; Arrian. Epict. ii. 26; Porphyr. de abst. i. 56; Cic. Tusc. ii. 21, et al.), and Rabbins (see Schoettgen, Hor. p. 1178 ff.). Here the subject spoken of is the conflict between the fleshly and the divine principle in the regenerate. The relation is therefore different, although the conflict in itself has some similarity. Bengel in the comparison cautiously adds, “quodammodo.”

ταῦτα γὰρ ἀλλήλοις ἀντίκειται] As to the reading ΓΆΡ, see the critical notes. It introduces a pertinent further illustration of what has just been said. In order to obviate an alleged tautology, Rückert and Schott have placed ταῦτα γ. ἀλλ. ἀντίκ. in a parenthesis (see also Grotius), and taken it in the sense: “for they are in their nature opposed to one another.” A gratuitous insertion; in that case Paul must have written: φύσει γὰρ ταῦτα ἀλλ. ἀντίκ., for the bare ἈΝΤΊΚΕΙΤΑΙ after what precedes can only be understood as referring to the actually existing conflict.

ἽΝΑ ΜΉ Κ.Τ.Λ.] is not (with Grotius, Semler, Moldenhauer, Rückert, and Schott) to be joined to the first half of the verse,—a connection which is forbidden by the right view of the ΤΑῦΤΑ ΓᾺΡ ἈΛΛ. ἈΝΤΊΚ. as not parenthetical—but to the latter. ἽΝΑ expresses the purpose, and that not the purpose of God in the conflict mentioned—which, when the will is directed towards that which is good, would amount to an ungodly (immoral) purpose—but the purpose of those powers contending with one another in this conflict, in their mutual relation to the moral attitude of man’s will, which even in the regenerate may receive a twofold determination (comp. Weiss, bibl. Theol. p. 361 f.). In this conflict both have the purpose that the man should not do that very thing (ταῦτα with emphasis) which in the respective cases (ἌΝ) he would. If he would do what is good, the flesh, striving against the Spirit, is opposed to this; if he would do what is evil, the Spirit, striving against the flesh, is opposed to that. All the one-sided explanations of ἃ ἂν θέλητε, whether the words be referred to the moral will which is hindered by the flesh (Luther, Erasmus, Calvin, Estius, Morus, Rosenmüller, Flatt, Usteri, Rückert, Schott, de Wette; also Baumgarten-Crusius, Holsten, and others), or to the sensual will, which is hindered by the Spirit (Chrysostom, Theodoret, Beza, Grotius, Neander),[239] are set aside by the fact that ἵνα μή κ.τ.λ. is connected with the preceding ΤΑῦΤΑ ΓᾺΡ ἈΛΛ. ἈΝΤΊΚ., and this comprehends the mutual conflict of two powers.[240] Winer has what is, on the whole, the correct interpretation: “τὸ πνεῦμα impedit vos (rather impedire vos cupit), quo minus perficiatis τὰ τῆς σαρκός (ea, quae Ἡ ΣᾺΡΞ perficere cupit), contra Ἡ ΣᾺΡΞ adversatur vobis, ubi ΤᾺ ΤΟῦ ΠΝΕΎΜΑΤΟς peragere studetis;” and so in substance Ambrose, Oecumenius, Bengel, Zachariae, Koppe, Matthies, Reithmayr, and others; Wieseler most accurately. This more precise statement of the conflict (ΤΑῦΤΑΤΑῦΤΑ ΠΟΙῆΤΕ) might indeed in itself be dispensed with, since it was in substance already contained in the first half of the verse; but it bears the stamp of an emphatic and indeed solemn exposition, that it might be more carefully considered and laid to heart. In Hofmann’s view, ἽΝΑ ΜῊ Κ.Τ.Λ. is intended to express, as the aim of the conflict, that the action of the Christian is not to be self-willed (“springing from himself in virtue of his own self-determination”); and this, because he cannot attain to rest otherwise than by allowing his conduct to be determined by the Spirit. But setting aside the fact that the latter idea is not to be found in the text, the conception of, and emphasis upon, the self-willed, which with the whole stress laid on the being self-determined would form the point of the thought, are arbitrarily introduced, just as if Paul had written: ἵνα μὴ ἃ ἂν αὐτοὶ (or ΑὐΤΟῚ ὙΜΕῖς, Romans 7:25, or ΑὐΘΑΊΡΕΤΟΙ, or ΑὐΤΟΓΝΏΜΟΝΕς, ΑὐΤΌΝΟΜΟΙ, ΑὐΤΌΒΟΥΛΟΙ, or the like).

[238] De Wette wrongly makes the objection, that in the state of the regenerate this relation of conflict does not find a place, seeing that the Spirit has the preponderance (vv. 18, 24). Certainly so, if the regeneration were complete, and not such as it was in the case of the Galatians (Galatians 4:19), and if the concupiscentia carnis did not remain at all in the regenerate. That πνεῦμα here denotes the Holy Spirit, is confirmed by ver. 22. The difference of the conflict in the unconverted and in the regenerate consists in this,—that in the case of the former the σάρξ strives with the better moral will (νοῦς), and the σάρξ is victorious (Romans 7:7 ff.); but in the case of the regenerate, the σάρξ strives with the Holy Spirit, and man may obey the latter (ver. 18). In the former case, the creaturely power of the σάρξ is in conflict with the likewise creaturely νοῦς, but in the latter with the divine uncreated πνεῦμα. De Wette was erroneously of opinion that here Paul says briefly and indistinctly what in Romans 7:15 ff. he sets forth clearly; the view of Delitzsch, Psychol. p. 389, is similar.

[239] Comp. also Ewald, “in order that ye, according to the divine will expressed on the point, may not do that which ye possibly might wish, but that of which ye may know that God desires and approves it.”

[240] Comp. Ernesti Urspr. der Sünde, I. p. 89.

Galatians 5:17. σὰρξπνεῦμα. All the various motives which operate on the mind and will to prompt intention and action are comprehended under one of the two categories, spirit and flesh. The line of division between them corresponds to that drawn in 1 Corinthians 2:14 between the natural man (ψυχικός) and the spiritual. The spirit of man owes its original existence to the quickening inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and depends for its continued life on the constant supply of his life-giving power: its impulses are therefore purely spiritual. In the term flesh are included all other desires of the natural man, not only the appetites and passions which he inherits in common with the animal creation, but all the desires that he conceives for the satisfaction of heart or mind.—ἐπιθυμεῖ. This is a neutral term equally applicable to the good desires of the spirit and the evil lusts of the flesh. ἀντίκειται ἀλλ. ἴνα. After the coexistence of two conflicting forces, spirit and flesh, in the heart of man has been definitely affirmed, it is here added that these are set (sc. by divine appointment) in mutual antagonism to each other for the express purpose of due control over the human will. Both alike derive their being from the same Creator, though one belongs to the natural, the other to the spiritual, creation: both alike continue by His will to fulfil their several parts in the scheme of Christian life. It is beside the purpose of the Epistle to analyse the functions of the flesh in the economy of nature, or to affirm the absolute dependence of the human will on the spontaneous action of its desires for vital force and energy: enough that by the will of God they too form an essential element in Christian life: the Epistle deals not with their beneficial action, but with their liability to perversion. For their indiscriminate craving for indulgence renders them constantly liable to become ministers of sin. The mind of the flesh, if left without a check, issues in enmity to God and death (cf. Romans 8:6-7). Wholesome restraint is therefore a condition essential to their healthy action. In every community this is to a certain extent provided by the discipline of education, by social order and law. But in true Christians a far more effective control is maintained by the spirit, since it is capable of combating every wrong desire within the heart before it issues in sinful action, and so by constantly checking any wrong indulgence it gradually neutralises the power of selfish appetites, and establishes an habitual supremacy over the whole mind and will, until in the ideal Christian it brings them into perfect harmony with the mind of Christ.

17, 18. I say ‘fulfil’—for I well know that the spiritual life is, and must be, one of conflict—you must fight manfully under Christ’s banner and continue His faithful soldiers unto your life’s end. The flesh, ‘the old man which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts’, is in deadly antagonism to the Spirit—to the new and Divine nature, and to the Holy Ghost its Author. These stand eternally opposed to one another; and as both exist in you, ye cannot always do such things as ye would; comp. Romans 7:15-25. But if ye are led by the Spirit, this conflict implies not bondage but freedom—the freedom of sons; “for as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” Romans 8:14.

Galatians 5:17. Τὸ δὲ πνεῦμα) and, on the other hand, the Spirit against the flesh. The word ἐπιθυμεῖ itself, or, inasmuch as that word is taken in a bad sense, another analogous to it [not lusteth, but desireth, tendeth] is to be supplied. There is certainly an elegance in the ellipsis or zeugma [use of ἐπιθυμεῖ in the double sense].—ἀντίκειται, are contrary) ἀντιπραγίᾳ, in a mutual serious contest.—ἃ ἂν, whatsoever) Carnal men do whatsoever they will; although sometimes the flesh wars with the flesh. In regard to those who repent, their condition is different, and that too a wonderful condition; for the Spirit strives against the flesh, and its bad course of action: the flesh against the Spirit, and its good course of action; so that (ἵνα) neither the one nor the other can be fully carried out. In such a state, as being doubtful, many bad and many good actions are prevented; but where the Spirit conquers, Galatians 5:18, the issue of the conflict is decided. This more summary statement in some measure corresponds to those things, which are fully explained, Romans 7:14, etc.; although, in the present case, the state presupposed is rather one already spiritual.

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. Galatians 5:17Are contrary (ἀντίκειται)

The verb means to lie opposite to; hence to oppose, withstand. The sentence these - to the other is not parenthetical.

So that (ἵνα)

Connect with these are contrary, etc. Ἵνα does not express result, but purpose, to the end that, - the purpose of the two contending desires. The intent of each principle in opposing the other is to prevent man's doing what the other principle moves him to do.

Cannot do (μὴ ποιῆτε)

A mistake, growing out of the misinterpretation of ἵνα noted above. Rather, each works to the end that ye may not do, etc.

The things that ye would (ἃ ἐὰν θέλητε)

The things which you will to do under the influence of either of the two contending principles. There is a mutual conflict of two powers. If one wills to do good, he is opposed by the flesh: if to do evil, by the Spirit.

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