Galatians 5:17
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.

Berean Study Bible
For the flesh craves what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are opposed to each other, so that you do not do what you want.

Berean Literal Bible
For the flesh desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh. For these are opposed to one another in order that you should not do those things you might wish.

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.

New King James Version
For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.

New American Standard Bible
For the desire of the flesh is against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, in order to keep you from doing whatever you want.

NASB 1995
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.

NASB 1977
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.

Amplified Bible
For the sinful nature has its desire which is opposed to the Spirit, and the [desire of the] Spirit opposes the sinful nature; for these [two, the sinful nature and the Spirit] are in direct opposition to each other [continually in conflict], so that you [as believers] do not [always] do whatever [good things] you want to do.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Contemporary English Version
The Spirit and your desires are enemies of each other. They are always fighting each other and keeping you from doing what you feel you should.

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.

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.

Good News Translation
For what our human nature wants is opposed to what the Spirit wants, and what the Spirit wants is opposed to what our human nature wants. These two are enemies, and this means that you cannot do what you want to do.

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.

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.

Literal Standard Version
for the flesh desires contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit contrary to the flesh, and these are opposed to one another, that the things that you may will—these you may not 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.

New Heart 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.

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;

Additional Translations ...
Context
Living by the Spirit
16So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17For the flesh craves what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are opposed to each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.…

Cross References
Genesis 6:3
So the LORD said, "My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days shall be 120 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
I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh; 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 my body, warring against the law of my mind and holding me captive to the law of sin that dwells within me.

Romans 8:5
Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh; but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.


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 thou me from secret faults

Psalm 51:1-5,10-12
To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba. Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions…

Psalm 65:3
Iniquities prevail against me: as for our transgressions, thou shalt purge them away.

and these.

Galatians 3:21
Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.

Matthew 12:30
He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.

Romans 7:7,8,10-14
What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet…

so.

Psalm 119:4-6
Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently…

Psalm 130:3
If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?

Matthew 5:6
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.









(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.

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.

Parallel Commentaries ...


Greek
For
γὰρ (gar)
Conjunction
Strong's 1063: For. A primary particle; properly, assigning a reason.

the
(hē)
Article - Nominative Feminine Singular
Strong's 3588: The, the definite article. Including the feminine he, and the neuter to in all their inflections; the definite article; the.

flesh
σὰρξ (sarx)
Noun - Nominative Feminine Singular
Strong's 4561: Flesh, body, human nature, materiality; kindred.

craves
ἐπιθυμεῖ (epithymei)
Verb - Present Indicative Active - 3rd Person Singular
Strong's 1937: To long for, covet, lust after, set the heart upon. From epi and thumos; to set the heart upon, i.e. Long for.

what is contrary
κατὰ (kata)
Preposition
Strong's 2596: A primary particle; down, in varied relations (genitive, dative or accusative) with which it is joined).

to the
τοῦ (tou)
Article - Genitive Neuter Singular
Strong's 3588: The, the definite article. Including the feminine he, and the neuter to in all their inflections; the definite article; the.

Spirit,
Πνεύματος (Pneumatos)
Noun - Genitive Neuter Singular
Strong's 4151: Wind, breath, spirit.

and
δὲ (de)
Conjunction
Strong's 1161: A primary particle; but, and, etc.

the
τὸ (to)
Article - Nominative Neuter Singular
Strong's 3588: The, the definite article. Including the feminine he, and the neuter to in all their inflections; the definite article; the.

Spirit
Πνεῦμα (Pneuma)
Noun - Nominative Neuter Singular
Strong's 4151: Wind, breath, spirit.

what is contrary
κατὰ (kata)
Preposition
Strong's 2596: A primary particle; down, in varied relations (genitive, dative or accusative) with which it is joined).

to the
τῆς (tēs)
Article - Genitive Feminine Singular
Strong's 3588: The, the definite article. Including the feminine he, and the neuter to in all their inflections; the definite article; the.

flesh.
σαρκός (sarkos)
Noun - Genitive Feminine Singular
Strong's 4561: Flesh, body, human nature, materiality; kindred.

[They]
ταῦτα (tauta)
Demonstrative Pronoun - Nominative Neuter Plural
Strong's 3778: This; he, she, it.

are opposed
ἀντίκειται (antikeitai)
Verb - Present Indicative Middle or Passive - 3rd Person Singular
Strong's 480: To resist, oppose, withstand, lie opposite to. From anti and keimai; to lie opposite, i.e. Be adverse to.

to one another,
ἀλλήλοις (allēlois)
Personal / Reciprocal Pronoun - Dative Neuter Plural
Strong's 240: One another, each other. Genitive plural from allos reduplicated; one another.

so that
ἵνα (hina)
Conjunction
Strong's 2443: In order that, so that. Probably from the same as the former part of heautou; in order that.

you do not do
ποιῆτε (poiēte)
Verb - Present Subjunctive Active - 2nd Person Plural
Strong's 4160: (a) I make, manufacture, construct, (b) I do, act, cause. Apparently a prolonged form of an obsolete primary; to make or do.

what
ταῦτα (tauta)
Demonstrative Pronoun - Accusative Neuter Plural
Strong's 3778: This; he, she, it.

you want.
θέλητε (thelēte)
Verb - Present Subjunctive Active - 2nd Person Plural
Strong's 2309: To will, wish, desire, be willing, intend, design.


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NT Letters: Galatians 5:17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit (Gal. Ga)
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