Galatians v.Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. Be not held again under the yoke of bondage, of the old law. (Witham) — This verse must be understood in the same manner as the 9th verse of the preceding chapter. See the annotations upon it.

Ver. 2. If you converted from heathenism be circumcised, it must be by believing and professing it necessary, which is false doctrine, and then Christ will profit you nothing: not that the practice of those ceremonies was at the time sinful, especially for those that had been Jews, but it was an error to judge them necessary for converted Gentiles. Besides, he that judges circumcision necessary, must also judge himself bound to keep all the other ceremonies and precepts of the law. (Witham)

Ver. 3. The false teachers had insisted on the observance of circumcision and a few other rites only, as necessary for salvation; but St. Paul assures them, that the receiving of circumcision is an open profession of Judaism, and that he that makes this profession, binds himself to the observance of every part of the law, since a curse is pronounced against those that do not keep it in all its parts. If then circumcision be necessary for salvation, the whole law is necessary also. (Calmet)

Ver. 4. If you think that justice cannot be obtained but under the law, you make a renunciation of the justice of Christ: his mediation becomes of no avail to you. (Calmet)

Ver. 5-6. We in spirit hope for true justice by faith in Christ; yet not by faith only, but by faith working by charity. (Witham) — Here note with St. Augustine, that faith is not to be idle, but working or doing good works in charity: wherefore not faith alone. (De opere et fide. chap. xiv.)

Ver. 8, &c. This persuasion of yours is not from him who calleth you; is not from God: and I hope you will be shortly again of no other mind than what I taught you. (Witham) — This was a Jewish proverb, and alluded to the time of the Pasch, when it was not permitted to eat of any but unleavened bread; during which time the least leaven made the whole mass unclean to a Jew….Some Greek copies read, mikra zume olon to phurama zumoi, when the sense will be, “a little leaven causes the whole mass to rise.” (Calmet) — Hence the introduction of any, however small, share of the ceremonial and Jewish rites, will greatly disfigure the purity and simplicity of the Christian institute. — As for me, my adversaries misrepresent me, when they say I preach circumcision; which if I did, I should not be persecuted as I am by the Jews. I never preach it necessary for Gentiles converted, though I have not condemned the use of it in the Jewish converts, provided they do not oblige other converts to it. — The scandal of the cross is therefore made void. The sense is, according to St. Jerome, that the Jews’ greatest objection against St. Paul used to be, because he preached that circumcision and the law of Moses need not be observed: another objection against him was, that he preached Jesus, who was crucified on an infamous cross, to be their great Messias. He reasons then in this manner, that if the Jews think he again preacheth the necessity of circumcision and the precepts of the old law, they will no longer be offended that he preacheth Christ crucified, because they were not so much offended with the latter as with the first. Thus also St. Chrysostom on this verse. Others expound it thus: If I preach circumcision and the ceremonies of the law, therefore according to my doctrine, the cross of Christ, and justification by the merits of Christ crucified, is abolished, because justification is still to be sought for by the works of the law. — I would they were even cut off: separated from your communion by excommunication. This seems the true sense; so that I need not mention any other exposition. See Cornelius a Lapide. (Witham)

Ver. 13. An occasion to the flesh; i.e. that you abuse not, by a vicious life, that Christian liberty which Christ hath purchased for you, but be united in the spirit of charity. (Witham)

Ver. 14. All the law, as far as it regards our duty to our neighbour, is contained in this text of the apostle; he says the same in his epistle to the Romans, Chap. xiii. He that loves his neighbour has fulfilled the law.

Ver. 17. So that you[1] do not the things that you would. He does not say, so that you cannot do, as others falsely translate; as if men were under an absolute necessity of sinning, or doing ill; which is also contradictory to the foregoing words, walk by the spirit, and you will not accomplish the works of the flesh. (Witham) — Here some suppose, says St. Augustine, that the apostle denieth that we have free liberty of will: not understanding that this is said to them, if they will not hold fast the grace of faith conceived, by which only they can walk in the spirit, and not accomplish the lusts of the flesh. (St. Augustine, in chap. v. Gal.)

Ver 19-21. Uncleanness, immodesty, luxury. In the Greek there are but two vices named; luxury is not mentioned; and, perhaps, the Latin interpreter put two words to explain one Greek word. (Witham) — St. Augustine here sheweth that there are other damnable sins besides infidelity.

Ver. 22. The fruit of the Spirit is charity, &c. There are numbered twelve of these fruits in the Latin, though but nine in the Greek text, in St. Chrysostom; St. Jerome; St. Augustine, tract. lxxxvii. in Joan. p. 756. The difference may again happen by the Latin interpreter using two words to express one Greek word. It is observed, that longanimity and patience are in a manner the same; so are benignity and goodness; and so may be here continency and chastity. (Witham)


[1] Ver. 17. Ita ut non quæcunque vultis, illa faciatis; ina me a an thelete tauta poiete. Dr. Wells, in his correction to the Protestant translation, leaves out cannot.

Bible Text & Cross-references:

He exhorts them to stand to their Christian liberty. Of the fruits of the flesh, and of the spirit.

1 Stand firm, and be not held again under the yoke of bondage.

2 *Behold, I, Paul, tell you, that if you be circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing.

3 And I testify again to every man that circumciseth himself, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.

4 Christ is become of no effect to you; whosoever of you are justified by the law, you are fallen from grace.

5 For we in spirit, by faith, wait for the hope of justice.

6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith, which worketh by charity.

7 You did run well: who hath hindered you, that you should not obey the truth?

8 This persuasion is not from him that calleth you.

9 *A little leaven corrupteth the whole mass.

10 I have confidence in you in the Lord; that you will not be of another mind: but he that troubleth you, shall bear the judgment, whosoever he be.

11 And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? The scandal of the cross is therefore made void.

12 I would they were even cut off, who trouble you.

13 For you, brethren, have been called unto liberty: only give not the liberty an occasion to the flesh, but by charity of the spirit serve one another.

14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word: *Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

15 But if you bite and devour one another; take heed that you be not consumed one by another.

16 I say then, *Walk in the spirit, and you shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh.

17 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.

18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest: which are, fornication, uncleanness, immodesty, luxury,

20 Idolatry, witchcraft, enmities, contentions, emulations, wrath, quarrels, dissensions, sects,

21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like; of the which I foretell you, as I have foretold to you, that they who do such things, shall not obtain the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the spirit is, charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, longanimity,

23 Mildness, faith, modesty, continency, chastity. Against such there is no law.

24 And they that are Christ’s, have crucified their flesh with the vices and concupiscences.

25 If we live in the spirit, let us also walk in the spirit.

26 Let us not become desirous of vain-glory, provoking one another, envying one another.



2: Acts xv. 1.

9: 1 Corinthians v. 6.

14: Leviticus xix. 18.; Matthew xxii. 39.; Romans xiii. 8.

16: 1 Peter ii. 12.