16But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17For 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. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21envy,d drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (ESV)
With this article I am challenging the standard interpretation of Galatians, which is essentially “the fruit of being filled with the Holy Spirit in your life is…”
Most evangelical Christians claim this verse, and use it to measure the effectiveness of someone’s walk with the Lord. The various groups have differing views as to the work of the Holy Spirit and how that is accomplished; but that is not the focus of this article.
The focus here is on the context of the letter written by Paul to believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The letter itself is written to combat the idea that one must perform certain things in order to be right with God. In this particular case, it is specifically about a requirement that Christians should follow certain Jewish traditions, especially circumcision. Paul writes that not only are they not necessary, but they are also detrimental to the believer’s walk with God. The issue becomes one of works vs faith, and Paul is totally on the side of faith for righteousness.
In the section under consideration, Paul is bringing his discourse to a close with a summary of the results one can expect in life. Living by the dictates of the flesh produces one kind of life and living by the dictates of the spirit produce another.
QUESTION: Where is the Holy Spirit mentioned in this letter, or in this passage?
The New Living Translation follows the implication of the other versions and translates it “Holy Spirit.” King James capitalizes the word “Spirit” as do most of the other translations.
First of all, the word “holy” does not show up in the manuscripts in this passage. So, to say “Holy Spirit” is an interpretation. Secondly, since the word “holy” does not appear, then capitalizing the word “spirit” to make it seem to be God’s Spirit is also an interpretation. Thirdly, most of the manuscript evidence available for larger portions of the New Testament were written in the uncial style, which is all capital letters. This is especially true for the evidence that was available for the King James translators. In other words, there is no evidence for the use of special capitalization to denote Deity (or a proper pronoun) as we do in modern English.
Therefore, this begs the question: was the writer talking of the Holy Spirit, or man’s spirit? Or, was he writing about the outcome of a particular kind of focus in life?
Plainly, Paul was speaking of a life devoted to the spiritual aspects rather than the physical appetites.
When fully comprehended, this will change not only your understanding of the passage, but also your focus in life and how you judge others. (Please don’t comment about how we are not supposed to judge. You will only reveal that you missed the point entirely.)
So… what does a life focused on the spirit look like?
Please post your comments below.
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