Sermon Prep (Galatians 5:13-15) I welcome your thoughts, questions and perspectives concerning this passage.

Sermon Prep (Galatians 5:13-15) I welcome your thoughts, questions and perspectives concerning this passage.

Here is some of the process I go through during the week in my prep feel free to interact with it. I have provided some helps for you in red.
I am looking for constructive questions, opinions, insight etc, on any part or step of the process you do not need to contribute to every question at the end or read all the information that I have provided.


Galatians 5:13–15 (ESV)

13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

Galatians 5:13–15 (NLT)

13 For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. 14 For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another.

Galatians 5:13–15 (The Message)

13 It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. 14 For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. 15 If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?


  • What kind of writing are we studying ?
Letter, Community Letter, Body: Exhortation, Community Instruction. OT Quote + Exposition.
Redemptive history:

  • Where is it in relation to the Graeme Goldsworthy list below? 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16
  • How does this passage support this period in redemptive history?
The New Creation in Us Now As the gospel made inroads into pagan societies it encountered many philosophies and non–Christian ideas which challenged the apostolic message. The New Testament epistles shows that the kind of pressures to adopt pagan ideas that had existed for the people of God in Old Testament times were also a constant threat to the churches. The real danger to Christian teaching was not so much in direct attacks upon it, but rather in the subtle distortion of Christian ideas. Among the troublemakers were the Judaizers who added Jewish law–keeping to the gospel. The Gnostics also undermined the gospel with elements of Greek philosophy and religion.

  • What is the passage about? Look at its context and surrounding text.

“In 4:21–27 Paul returns to the scriptural argument of 3:6–4:7. By taking up the themes of Abraham, slavery, and freedom, he demonstrates by an analogy from Genesis that “doing the law” would mean slavery, while Christ and the Spirit mean freedom.

Note how this is followed by a threefold application and appeal. The Galatians are like Isaac, the free son of the “free woman” by “the power of the Spirit,” and like Isaac, they are being persecuted by the slave woman’s son, Ishmael—the Jewish Christian agitators (4:28–31). Again, note the personal nature of the appeals—(1) with a fervent call that the Galatians face up to the consequences of capitulating to circumcision, including their need to keep the whole law (5:1–6), and (2) with a scathing denunciation of the agitators, who have themselves abandoned faith in Christ and are acting like a runner who cuts off others to keep them from winning (5:7–12).

Paul concludes by taking up the third proposition from 2:15–21—the indwelling Spirit has replaced law observance, because the Spirit can do what the law could not, namely, effect true righteousness (5:13–14, 22–23) and effectively combat the desires of “the sinful nature [flesh]” (vv. 16–21). Be sure to catch that this is set in the context of community disharmony (vv. 15, 26; note that eight of the fifteen “acts of the sinful nature” are sins of discord!). They are thus urged to live by the Spirit, who has brought them to life following Christ’s death and resurrection (vv. 24–25). All of this is applied to very practical issues in 6:1–10.” G Fee


  • What are the ideas in the passage?
AnarchyAntinomianismBiblical Concept of LawBiblical Ethics

Call of God, The

Call, Personal

Calling, the Christian



Fruit of the Spirit


Golden Rule


Law of God, The

Liberty, Christian

Liberty, spiritual

Love to Man

Love, Of Person to Person


One Another

Service to God


Key Words:

  • Identify the natural divisions (paragraphs and sentences) of the text.
  • Original word meanings
  • Connecting Words of the text/ (how do they aid in understanding the authors progression of thought)
Adjective: πᾶς (pas) GK 4246 (S 3956), 1243x. pas generally means “each, every” in the singular, “all” in the plural. In Gal 5:14 the emphasis of pas in the singular lies on the sum total of the law (“the entire law”), in contrast to the smaller subdivisions within it; the summary of this law is the command to love one’s neighbor. This command ironically occurs in Lev 19:18b—in the heart of the law. This stress on love as a summary of the law derives from Jesus (Mt 22:37–40). Paul reinforces it later (Rom 13:8–10; cf. Jas 2:8).

Likewise, the emphasis in pas in the plural is not so much on each individual within the group as on the group as a whole. For example, in 1 Cor. 15:22 Paul writes, “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” His emphasis here is on two “all” groups: the “all” group that dies because of Adam’s sin (i.e., every single human being) and the “all” group that lives in Christ (i.e., those who believe in him). In a similar vein Paul writes in 2 Cor. 5:14–15 “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” Christ’s love extends to the entire human race, but not every individual accepts the Lord by faith and lives in and for him.

Paul uses pas to endorse the Jewish understanding of monotheism, i.e., just one God, who has no rivals and has total dominion over all creation (1 Cor. 8:6; also see Rom 11:36). The same concept is abundantly clear in what appears to be an early Christian hymn that is saturated with various forms of pas (Col 1:15–20). Jesus is the “firstborn of all creation” (1:15); “through him all things were created” (1:16ab); “he himself is before all things” (1:17a); “all things hold together in him” (1:17b); “he is the head of the body—the church, and the beginning, the firstborn from the dead so that in everything he might have supremacy” (1:18); “for God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him” (1:19); “and through him to reconcile to himself all things” (1:20). Paul delivers this poetic praise to Christ because many in Colosse were fearing the influence of astral hosts, terrestrial spirits, and underworld powers. At the heart of this false teaching was the idea that Jesus was just an insignificant subset of all God’s creation and thus no more powerful than the angels they used to call upon for protection. But to Paul Jesus is the exalted Lord, Creator, sustainer, and goal of the universe, preeminent in everything, and infinitely superior to all earthly authorities or heavenly angelic powers.

Just before ascending to the Father after the resurrection, Jesus proclaimed, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Mt 28:18). Even though the power and evil of Rome and the Jewish authorities raised their ugly heads and struck Jesus down, and even though there exists uninterrupted flexing of evil muscle against his church even to this day, eventually “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow … and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:10–11). See NIDNTT-A, 441–42.


New Testament

Noun: σάρξ (sarx), GK 4922 (S 4561), 147x. sarx literally means “flesh.” However, the use of sarx within the NT is quite diverse. Of the 147x sarx occurs, Paul employs it the most (91x). The NIV reflects the diverse usage of sarx, by offering translations such as “flesh” (33x), “sinful nature,” (23x), “body” (20x), “human” (3x), and “people” (3x).

sarx has a number of basic usages.

(1) It can refer simply to the physical material that covers the bones of a human or animal body, such as in Paul’s famous phrase, “thorn in my flesh” (2 Cor. 12:7; cf. also Lk 24:39; 1 Cor. 15:39; Rev 19:18, 21).

(2) It may also refer to a person’s “body” (Acts 2:26, 31; 1 Cor. 6:16; 2 Cor. 12:7; Col 2:5). In Eph 5:29, Paul argues that a husband is to take care of his wife as he would take care of his own “body.” The writer of Hebrews applies this sense to Jesus, who opened up our way to God through his “body” and the blood he shed for our sins (Heb 10:20). This sense may also be observed in the “one flesh” marital union, where two bodies become one in sexual relations (Mt 19:5; Mk 10:8; cf. 1 Cor. 6:12–17).

(3) sarx may refer also “human nature” in general (Lk 3:6; 2 Cor. 4:11; Acts 2:31). The incarnation of the Son of God uses this sense of sarx when John declares that “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (Jn 1:14). This is to say, the Son of God became a man, or human person (cf. Phil 2:5–11). Jesus shared in our “humanity” in order that he might free us from power of sin and death (Heb 2:14).

(4) sarx may also indicate physical ancestry or human genealogy (Rom 9:3; Gal 4:23). For example, Paul declares that Jesus was a descendant of David according to “human lineage” (Rom 1:3; cf. Mt 1:1–16).

(5) Often, sarx reflects more than mere earthly existence and is conceptually conjoined with the principles of this world. Those who are “wise according to the flesh” (1 Cor. 1:26) are not in the sphere of God’s salvation but in the sphere of the principles of this world (Eph 2:11–12). It follows that Paul expressly pits life lived in the Spirit against a life lived in the flesh (Rom 8:4; see 1 Pet. 2:11).

Paul’s theological usage of sarx indicates that the flesh is a willing instrument of sin. This sense is observed especially in Rom. where sarx denotes humanity encompassed by the power of sin as demonstrated in self-sufficient independence of God (Rom 6:19; 7:5; 18, 25; 8:3–9). sarx, therefore, is a sphere of activity demarcated by sin over against the sphere of God’s Spirit (Rom 8:4–5). Thus, in some cases, sarx indicates the “sinful nature” (Gal 5:13; Col 2:11). See NIDNTT-A, 517–19.


The experience of freedom is not something we can bring to ourselves; rather, it is the work of the triune God. In order to possess freedom, Paul says, Christ has set us free (Gal 5:1). Freedom is not to be found in the absence of God or his commands; rather, it exists where the Spirit of God is (2 Cor. 3:17). Those who think freedom can be found apart from God are deceived, for anyone who promises such freedom not only cannot provide it to others, but they do not even have freedom themselves (2 Pet. 2:19). In fact, Paul says, those who are not in Christ would prefer that believers be enslaved than to have freedom (Gal 2:4). This is a result of the very purpose of freedom, which is not to be able to do “whatever one wants,” but is in reality the freedom from the incapacitating effects of sin. True freedom is not for oneself or for one’s own needs; rather, true freedom is the freedom to obey God and to serve others (1 Cor. 10:29; Gal 5:13; 1 Pet. 2:16). See NIDNTT-A, 180–82.*


New Testament

(1) Throughout the Gospels and Acts, the OT is portrayed as finding its fulfillment in Jesus (Mt 26:56; Lk 24:44; Acts 13:27; Jn 12:38). Similarly, Mark speaks of Jesus’ initiating the eschatological age of Israel’s kingdom expectations (Mk 1:15).

Significantly, plēroō should not always be equated with direct prophetic fulfillment. In Mt 3:15, for example, Jesus’ baptism fulfills “all righteousness,” but this is not to be understood in the context of prediction. Neither should Jesus’ claim that he fulfills the Law and the Prophets (5:17) be understood in the limited sense of prediction and fulfillment. Rather, in eschatological contexts like these, plēroō is best regarded as portraying Jesus as the one to whom the entire OT points and the one for whom Israel longs (cf. Lk 24:44).

(2) Paul considers love to be the fulfillment of the law (Gal 5:14; cf. Rom 13:8). He also speaks of fulfilling the preaching of Christ in the eastern part of the Roman empire (Rom 15:19), which suggests that the apostle’s mission was to help complete the work begun by Christ (cf. Col 4:17). Similar to John’s call to be filled with the joy of Jesus (Jn 15:11; 16:16; 17:13), Paul also exhorts his audience to be filled with the fruit of righteousness and the Spirit (Eph 5:18; Phil 1:11). This “filling” is tied to the displacement of competing traits or realities (e.g., sorrow) that rival the centrality of Christ and all the benefits of one’s union with him (e.g., joy, righteousness, the Spirit).

Old Testament

Verb: אָהַב (ʾahab), GK 170 (S 157), 217x. ʾahab is defined as “to love” or “to like.” This verb is used to describe a variety of relationships in the OT.

(1) ʾahab can be used to describe the marital relationship between a man and a woman. Moses writes of the love of Isaac and Rebekah: “Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah. So she became his wife, and he loved her” (Gen 24:67). The culture of the OT was such that women were, at times, given to men in marriage. Love was not a prerequisite for such an event to take place (29:30). But true love could develop. The majority of uses of love in the Song of Songs have the female as subject, expressing love for a male.

Occasionally the word may be used to describe the act of making love, both within the law and outside of the law. The case of Isaac and Rebekah mentioned above probably involves intimate relations. The writer of 1 Kings, however, describes Solomon’s love, many of whom were concubines: “But King Solomon loved many foreign women” (1 Ki. 11:1). These relationships were essentially political in nature, not emotional, and they certainly violated the spirit of Gen 2:24.

(2) ʾahab can also describe the special love that exists between parents and their children. God recognizes the great love Abraham has for Isaac: “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah” (Gen 22:2). In the context of parental love, however, love can also be divided. Isaac and Rebekah have sons, Esau and Jacob: “Isaac … loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob” (25:28). Similarly regarding Jacob, when his ten sons come to Egypt and unwittingly stand before Joseph, he questions them about their father and brother. They tell him of their aged father and describe their brother as “the only one of his mother’s sons left, and his father loves him” (Gen 44:20). Note too that extended families can also experience such love, for in Ruth 4:15 we read about the love that a daughter-in-law expresses to her mother-in-law.

(3) ʾahab likewise describes the deep love that friends can have for each other. This is not sexual in nature, but attests to the deep abiding love that only God can provide. This is the love that Saul has for David (1 Sam. 16:21) and that David shares with Jonathan (18:1, 3). This can be called a familial or brotherly love.

(4) ʾahab is also used with nonpersonal objects, such as love for: Jerusalem (Ps 122:6; Isa 66:10), special food items (Gen 27:4, 9, 14), discipline and knowledge (Prov 12:1), a long life (Ps 34:12), sleep (Prov 20:13), sin (17:19), pleasure (21:17), wine and oil (21:17), money (Eccl 5:10), and even (indirectly) death (Prov 8:36). Prominent in Proverbs is the love of wisdom, personified as a woman (Prov 4:6; 8:17, 21).

(5) The most important uses of ʾahab, however, are in the religious sphere, being used 32x of God’s love. Of these, two are of God’s love for Jerusalem (Ps 78:68; 87:2). It is used 7x of God’s loving righteousness, judgment, etc., and 23x of his loving Israel or particular individuals. On the other hand, ʾaḥab is used 19x of human love for God, including loving his name, law, precepts, etc. Many of these occur in Deut. (e.g., 5:10; 6:5; 7:9; 10:12) or in contexts that appear to depend on this OT book (e.g., Jos 22:5; 23:11; 1 Ki. 3:3; Neh 1:5).

Chief among these human uses is, of course, what is called the Shema (Deut 6:4–5), which is equivalent to Israel’s confession of faith: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Even today this is cited regularly in Jewish synagogues. Jesus picks up this text as “the first and greatest commandment” of the law of Moses, and he adds to it a second commandment like the first, which contains another use of ʾahab (Lev 19:18), “Love your neighbor as yourself” (see Mt 22:37–40). These two commands summarize the entire law of God.

Why should Israel love the Lord their God? First and foremost is the fact that God is the only God there is, so any religious feelings must be directed to him alone. Moreover, this God has been active in the lives of his people, rescuing them from slavery in Egypt. Hence, love for God is a grateful response to his actions on their behalf (see especially Deut 11:1–12). Such love is expressed in obedience to his law (10:12–13; cf. Exod 20:6). Even that obedience requires the involvement of God in their lives (30:6); we cannot obey him in our own strength. It is for this reason that God’s people actually love his law (e.g., Ps 119:113, 119, 127).

As far as God’s own love itself is concerned, ʾahab and the figure of marriage point behind the covenant to its motive and origin in the innermost personal being of God. His love for a special people is astounding—something unique in the ancient world, where the notion of God’s love refers only to love of the gods for the king, not for the common people. In Hos 11:1 the OT comes close to saying that God is love. Note too that God’s love for Israel is not based on any attractive feature of the nation, for they were often rebellious; rather, that love lies deep within his own being. Nevertheless, Israel can lay claim to that love because of God’s faithfulness expressed by his oath (Deut 7:6–11).

In response to Israel’s sin, God’s love is expressed in judgment and forgiveness. Yet God’s punishment of sin does not contradict his love; rather, it was because he loves so much that he takes Israel’s sin seriously (cf., e.g., the “therefore” in Amos 3:2). As Prov 3:12 states, “the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in,” and note that God is Israel’s Father (see Isa 63:16; Jer 31:9). But God’s severe discipline is never separated from tenderness (cf. Hos 11:9). That God continues to love his stiff-necked people is almost beyond human comprehension. See NIDNTT, 1:277–99.

Noun: חֶסֶד (ḥesed) GK 2876 (S 2617), 249x. ḥesed is one of the richest, most theologically insightful terms in the OT. It denotes “kindness, love, loyalty, mercy,” most poignantly employed in the context of relationship between God and humans as well as between one human and another—the former relationship using the word three times as often as the latter.

ḥesed describes the special relationship God has with his covenantal people, and as such can be a difficult word to translate because it is so specific: “steadfast love” (ESV, RSV); “loyal love” or “covenant faithfulness” (NET); “unfailing love” (NLT); “loving-kindness” (KJV). In the context of human relationships, “kindness” characterizes familial relationships (Gen 20:13), friendships, and the relationship of a king to his subjects (1 Ki. 2:7). David and Jonathan’s covenant binds them together with the expectation of showing mutual kindness to one another, even at the expense of other relationships (1 Sam. 20:8).

The Lord rebukes Israel because they have not shown faithfulness or “loyalty,” and there is no knowledge of God in the land (Hos 4:1). Micah recounts the requirements of the Lord, “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Mic 6:8). God requires such fidelity and kindness because he himself is kind and has shown kindness to his people.

Lot acknowledges the ḥesed shown to him by the two angelic beings who spared his life from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 19:19). The Psalms effusively proclaim the steadfast love of God (e.g., Ps 31:7, 32:10; 57:3; 59:10; 94:18; 143:12). God’s abiding love stabilizes (Ps 94:18, “When I thought, ‘my foot is slipping,’ your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up”) and sustains life (119:88, “In your steadfast love spare my life, so that I may keep the decrees of your mouth”).

God’s great self-disclosure, when allowing his glory to pass before Moses, includes ḥesed. “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, yet by no means clearing the guilty” (Exod 34:6–8). The defining characteristic of God in covenantal relationship with his people is that he shows “kindness” to them. His wrath is short in contrast to his love: “For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with great compassion I will gather you. In overflowing wrath for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you, says the Lord, your Redeemer” (Isa 54:7–8).

ḥesed defines God’s rule: “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you” (Ps 89:14). In light of all that Micah prophesies in judgment of Israel’s sin, he concludes in worshipful wonder, “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of your possession.… You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. You will show faithfulness to Jacob and unswerving loyalty to Abraham, as you have sworn to our ancestors from the days of old” (Mic 7:19–20). See NIDOTTE, 2:211–18.

New Testament

Verb: ἀγαπάω (agapaō), GK 26 (S 25), 143x. agapaō is one of four Gk. verbs meaning “to love.” In secular Greek especially before the time of Christ, it was a colorless word without any great depth of meaning, used frequently as a synonym of erōs (sexual love) and phileō (the general term for love). If it had any nuance, it was the idea of love for the sake of its object. Perhaps because of its neutrality of meaning and perhaps because of this slight nuance of meaning, the biblical writers picked agapaō to describe many forms of human love (e.g., husband and wife, Eph 5:25, 28, 33) and, most importantly, God’s undeserved love for the unlovely. In other words, its meaning comes not from the Greek but from the biblical understanding of God’s love.

A biblical definition of love starts with God, never with us (1 Jn. 4:9–10). God is love itself; it is his character that defines love. Because he is love (4:8, using the related noun agapē), he acts with love toward an undeserving world (Jn 3:16; 1 Jn. 3:1, 16), to save them from their sins and reconcile them to himself (Rom 5:8). The pure and perfect love of God is typified in the love relationship between God the Father and God the Son, which Jesus shows to his disciples (Jn 17:26).

In response, people are to love God. “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 Jn. 4:7–8). They are in fact to love God above everything else, which is the greatest commandment (Mk 12:30, 33), and then to love one another (Mt 19:19; 22:39; Mk 12:31; Rom 13:8; 1 Jn. 3:11, 23), especially their spiritual family (Gal 6:10; 1 Jn. 2:10).

If a person loves God, he or she will also love other people (Gal 5:6; 1 Thess. 3:6; 1 Jn. 4:20). Loving the other person is an outflow of God’s love for you (“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another,” Jn 13:34; cf. 15:12; 1 Jn. 4:11) and sums up the entire law (Rom 13:7; Gal 5:14) and is the “royal law” (Jas 2:8). “Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother” (1 Jn. 3:10). Our love toward Christ is demonstrated by our obedience to his teachings (Jn 14:21, 15, 21, 23; 15:10; 1 Jn. 2:5; 5:3; 2 Jn. 6). In return, this obedience invokes the blessing, of God’s love for us (Jn 14:21). No wonder that love stands at the head of the list of the fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:22) and is the greatest of all that will last for eternity (1 Cor. 13:13, both using the noun agapē).

But disciples are not only to love God and fellow believers; they are to love all people (1 Cor. 16:14; 1 Thess. 3:12; 2 Pet. 1:7) as especially their enemies. “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Mt 5:44; cf. Lk 6:35).

The very foundation of salvation is grounded in the realization that God’s unmerited love toward us is greater than any other power—including death (Rom 8:37–39; 1 Cor. 15:55–57). See NIDNTT-A, 5–7.

Verb: φιλέω (phileō), GK 5797 (S 5368), 25x. phileō is the common word in classical Gk. for showing love, affection, hospitality, etc. It comes into English in many words such as “Philadelphia” (the “city of brotherly love”). To make firm distinctions between phileō love and agapaō love is incorrect, for the meanings of the two words overlap. The word can also mean “kiss.”

phileō is used in the Bible to describe the tender affection that God the Father has toward his Son, Jesus Christ: “For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does” (Jn 5:20). But it is also used for our love for God. Jesus uses phileō to warn those who have more affection for family than for him: “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Mt 10:37). Paul warns the Corinthians, “If anyone does not love the Lord—a curse be on him” (1 Cor. 6:22).

phileō can also be used for relationships among human beings, whether in a positive or negative framework. Of Lazarus, Jesus was told, “Lord, the one you love is sick” (Jn 11:3; cf. v 36). Judas “kisses” as the sign of betrayal (Mt 26:48; Mk 14:44; Lk 22:47). Paul uses phileō to speak of the love that God’s people have toward one another: “Greet those who love us in the faith” (Tit 3:15). John uses the word to describe the framework in which God chastens his children: “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline” (Rev 3:19).

phileō can even be used of love for nonhuman things. John uses phileō to describe ungodly people who “love and practice falsehood” (Rev 22:15) Hypocrites “love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men” (Mt 6:5).

Love is one of the characteristics that separate disciples from the world. If a disciple loves his life in the sense of desperately hanging on to it, he will ironically lose that which he loves; but if a disciple hates his life (i.e., gives it up for Christ), then he will keep his life for all eternity (Jn 12:25). If disciples were still of this world, the world “would love” them; but because Jesus chose them out of the world, they are hated (15:19). But the wonderful news is that God the Father himself loves those who love Jesus and believe that he came from God (16:27).

In Jn 21:15–27, some people make a distinction between the two words for love, agapaō and phileō. But these words do not have distinctly separate meanings, and John is famous for using virtual synonyms without any difference in meaning; he often switches between words merely for the sake of variety. Also, it makes no sense for Jesus to switch meanings from agapaō to phileō in the third question since Peter has been answering with phileō. Jesus’ threefold question is meant to balance Peter’s threefold denial at the time of Jesus’ trial. The fluctuation of synonyms is also seen in the words for “feed”/“tend” and “lambs”/“sheep.” See NIDNTT-A, 590–91.

Noun: ἀγάπη (agapē), GK 27 (S 26), 116x. agapē signifies the true and pure love of God to his dear Son (Jn 17:26), to his people (Gal 6:10), and to a depraved humanity that is in rebellion against him (Jn 3:16; Rom 5:8). In fact, the Bible declares that the very nature of God can be defined as love (1 Jn. 4:8, 16). We can see that God is love, regardless of our situation in life; Heb 12:6 explains that even though we may be under the correction of God, the correction is always guided by love. It is the love of God that prompts our obedience to him. Jesus told his disciples, “Whoever has my commandments and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him” (Jn 14:21, using the related verb agapaō).

agapē encompasses the mind, emotions, and will of the individual because it comes from God. As such, we are to live the life of love as demonstrated by the Lord Jesus Christ himself (Eph 5:2). Paul tells us, “The fruit of the Spirit is love” (Gal 5:22); it is only by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit of God that we can internalize and realize the love that God has for us. This type of godly love compels us to look for unmet needs among our fellow human beings. It is godly compulsion (2 Cor. 5:14), which brings us to a point where the world no longer sees us, but rather Christ in us. This idea prompted the translators of the KJV to translate agapē as “charity” (see, e.g., 1 Cor. 13). Derived from the Latin word caritas, charity is characterized in the KJV as an out-showing of God’s love and benevolence toward humanity. Further examination of 1 Cor. 13 reveals an inseparable relationship between faith, hope, and love (1 Cor. 13:13), yet the apostle affirms the supremacy of love. John explains that as the love of the church increases, God will strengthen the hearts of those in the church so that they “will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones” (1 Thess. 3:13).

God’s people are exhorted to be cautious where they place their love. “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world” (1 Jn. 2:15). Paul warns young Timothy that “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils,” and as a result “some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs” (1 Tim. 6:10).

agapē is also used to describe an early Christian “love feast” or fellowship meal. Paul links this meal with the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11), but eventually it become a celebration all its own (Jude 12; 2 Pet. 2:13). The meal was significant to the life of the church insofar as it typified what the church represented. It was the church’s direct response to the command of the Lord Jesus Christ to love one another. This agapē served to undergird the koinōnia (see fellowship) that the church experienced.

Lastly, agapē is a beautiful word picture of sacrificial love. It is expressed in the fact that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). As such, agapē can be defined as unmerited and unwavering love. God is the originator of this love, and it can only be experienced by one who truly knows God and has received his Son as Lord and Savior. The ultimate expression of God’s unmitigated love is the Lord Jesus Christ on Calvary’s cross. See NIDNTT-A, 5–7.


New Testament

Adverb: πλησίον (plēsion), GK 4446 (S 4139), 17x. plēsion is used to describe “neighbors,” individuals who live in close proximity to one another. The first appearance of this word is in Lev 19:18: “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” While this OT Scripture appears to be limited to “one of your people,” the LXX established much broader interpretive boundaries to include those individuals outside of one’s own people.

Jesus restates the spirit of this verse several times when he says disciples should love their neighbor (Mt 5:43) as they love themselves (19:19). This in fact is the second half of the greatest commandment. We are to love God, but if we love God we will of necessity love our neighbor (22:39; Mk 12:31, 33; Lk 10:27). As such, it is the fulfillment of the OT law (Rom 13:9–10; Gal 5:14; Jas 2:8). In an attempt to justify himself, a lawyer asks Jesus “Who is my neighbor?” (Lk 10:29), to which Jesus responds with the parable of the Good Samaritan. The point is that your neighbor is anyone in need whom you can help (Lk 10:36).

In modern Western culture the translation “neighbor” may be too restrictive as it suggests the people living in the house on either side of your home. The biblical “neighbor” is anyone with whom you come in contact, with whom you can speak truth (Eph 4:25) and build up (Rom 15:2), but not judge (Jas 4:12) or mistreat (cf. Acts 7:27). See NIDNTT-A, 471–72.*


New Testament

Adjective: εἷς (heis), GK 1651 (S 1520, 3391), 343x. heis is the cardinal number “one.” It can be used simply to count items, like one talent (Mt 25:15). It may also be used as the last part of a complex number, like the “forty lashes minus one” that Paul received (2 Cor. 11:24). heis is occasionally also used like an ordinal number, as in “the first woe” (Rev 9:12) and the common NT phrase “on the first day of the week” (Lk 24:1; Jn 20:1; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2).

heis is also used to indicate the singularity of something, thus emphasizing that there is but one only. Paul explains that only one runner receives a prize (1 Cor. 9:24) and that the law can be summed up with only one statement (Gal 5:14). Jesus criticizes the Pharisees for going to great lengths to gain one single convert (Mt 23:15). He condemns a person who breaks even one of the smallest commandments (Mt 5:19). It was through only one man (Rom 5:12, 16, 17) and because of only one sin (5:18) that condemnation befell humanity. Yet Christ was the one—and the only one—who died for all (2 Cor. 5:14); he was the one man through whom many become righteous (Rom 5:15, 19). According to Paul, a qualification of an elder is that he must be “the husband of one wife” (Tit 1:6). John uses heis symbolically to depict the rapidity of Babylon’s fall: “in only one day” she is overtaken with plagues (Rev 18:8), and “in only one hour” she faces judgment and ruin (18:10, 19).

Many of the NT uses of heis refer to the singularity of God—“one God” (Rom 3:30; 1 Cor. 8:4, 6; Gal 3:20; Eph 4:6; 1 Tim. 2:5). Many other uses explain the unity of the body of Christ. Paul reminds his readers that they, as participants of the Christian church, are members of “one body” (Rom 12:4, 5; 1 Cor. 10:17; 12:12–20; Gal 3:28; Col 3:5; cf. Jn 17:21–23), and he thus encourages them to be “one in spirit” (Phil 1:27; 2:2). In the church there is only “one” hope, Lord, faith, and baptism” (Eph 4:4–6). A similar unity results when a man and woman join in marriage to become “one flesh” (1 Cor. 6:16; Eph 5:31).

heis can be used less like a numerical indicator and more like an indefinite pronoun or indefinite article. For example, Matthew uses heis to describe “a [certain] scribe” (Mt 8:19) and “a man” (19:16 [NIV]). heis may also describe “each person” (Col 4:6), “each one of you” (Eph. 5:33), “each of them” (Acts 21:26), or “anything” (Jn 1:3 [KJV]). See NIDNTT-A, 167–69.


New Testament

Pronoun: ἀλλήλων (allēlōn), GK 253 (S 240), 100x. ἀλλήλων is a reciprocal pronoun that means “each other, one another.” In many occurrences it bears no theologically special meaning. The disciples are filled with fear when Jesus calms the storm, and they say “to one another, ‘Who then is this? The wind and the sea obey him” (Mk 4:41). They argue “with one another” who is the greatest (9:34). The shepherds say “to one another” that they should look for the infant Jesus, just as the angels instructed (Lk 2:15).

However, in Paul’s ethics especially, this word represents the significant fact that Christians must not live in isolation but are called to interact with one another. To not interact with fellow believers is to live in defiance of the clear teaching of Scripture.

Paul seeks to be mutually encouraged by the Roman church (Rom 1:12). We are one body and individually members “of one another” (12:5; Eph 4:25). We should outdo “one another” in showing honor (Rom 12:10), live in harmony “with one another” (12:16; 15:5), not pass judgment “on one another” (14:13), not provoke “one another,” envy “one another” (Gal 5:26), lie “to one another” (Col 3:9), speak evil “of one another” (Jas 4:11), or grumble “against one another” (Jas 5:9). Rather, we should: build up “one another” (Rom 14:19), welcome “one another” (15:7), instruct “one another” (15:14), have the same care “for one another” (1 Cor. 12:25), serve “one another” (Gal 5:13), bear “one another’s” burdens (6:2; Col 3:13) in love (Eph 4:2) submit “to one another” (5:21), in humility count “one another” more significant than ourselves (Phil 2:3), encourage “one another” (1 Thess. 4:18; 5:11), do good “to one another” (1 Thess. 5:15), confess our sins to and pray “for one another” (Jas 5:16), show hospitality “to one another” (1 Pet. 4:9), and most important, love “one another” (Rom 13:8; 1 Thess. 3:12; 4:18; 2 Thess. 1:3; 1 Pet. 1:22; 1 Jn. 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11, 12; 2 Jn. 5).

As believers walk in the light of Christ, they have fellowship “with one another” (1 Jn. 1:7). “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other just as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph 4:23; cf. Col 3:13). What a difference from our preconversion life when we hated “one another” (Tit 3:3); now we consider how to stir up “one another” to love and do good works (Heb 10:24).

Paul frequently calls on a church to greet “one another” (Rom 16:16, 20; 2 Cor. 13:12; also 1 Pet. 5:14).


New Testament

Verb: βλέπω (blepō), GK 1063 (S 991), 133x. blepō is a general word meaning “to see.” It commonly refers to seeing physical objects (Mt 15:31; Lk 7:21; Jn 9:7). It can also mean “to look at, watch” such as watching a woman with lustful intent (Mt 5:28) or looking at the “speck” in someone else’s eye (Mt 7:3). In Rev 5:3–4, no one is able “to looking into” the scroll (Rev 5:3–4) except the Lamb.

blepō also can refer to the related ideas such as paying attention, being careful, or perceiving such as keeping alert or on guard (Mk 13:33; also 1 Cor. 1:26; 2 Cor. 10:7; Rom 7:23; Heb 2:9)—e.g., “see to it that …” (Mk 8:15; Gal 5:15). blepō refers to perceiving spiritual truths In Paul’s statement that “[I] see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members” (Rom 7:23; cf. Heb 2:9; Rev 3:18).

blepō and horaō (GK 3972) can be used interchangeably. “Many prophets and righteous men longed to see [horaō] what you see [blepō] but did not see it [horaō]” (Mt 13:17). It is doubtful there is any significant difference in meaning when Isa 28:26 is cited, “Seeing [blepō] you will see ]blepō] but never see [horaō, i.e., perceive]” (Mt 13:14; Mk 4:12; Acts 28:26). See NIDNTT-A, 96.

New Testament
Verb: δουλεύω (douleuō), GK 1526 (S 1398), 25x. douleuō means “to serve, be enslaved,” especially in the capacity of a slave or of one in bondage, who acts or conducts himself in total service to another. Jesus instructs us that no one “can serve two masters” (Mt 6:24). One who is a slave is in complete devotion to his or her master. Outside of the sphere of grace, all human beings are “enslaved” to sin (Rom 6:6; Tit 3:3; Gal 4:8–9). Christ redeems his people from the bondage of sin so that we may lead lives of service and abandonment to that one who is worthy of slave-like devotion (Rom 12:1–11; 1 Thess. 1:9). As we serve Christ, we must take every opportunity to “serve one another in love” (Gal 5:13). And even those who are officially slaves in the ancient world are to “serve” their masters wholeheartedly, as if they are “serving the Lord” (Eph 6:7; 1 Tim. 6:2). See NIDNTT-A, 151–53.
NET Bible…


  • Notes for  5:13

21 tn Grk “brothers.” See note on the phrase “brothers and sisters” in 1:11.

22 tn Grk “as an opportunity for the flesh”; BDAG 915 s.v. σάρξ 2.c.α states: “In Paul’s thought esp., all parts of the body constitute a totality known as ς. or flesh, which is dominated by sin to such a degree that wherever flesh is, all forms of sin are likew. present, and no good thing can live in the σάρξ…Gal 5:13, 24; …Opp. τὸ πνεῦμα…Gal 3:3; 5:16, 17ab; 6:8ab.”

23 tn It is possible that the verb δουλεύετε (douleuete) should be translated “serve one another in a humble manner” here, referring to the way in which slaves serve their masters (see L&N 35.27).

  • Notes for  5:14

24 tn Or “can be fulfilled in one commandment.”

25 sn A quotation from Lev 19:18.

  • Notes for  5:15

26 tn That is, “if you are harming and exploiting one another.” Paul’s metaphors are retained in most modern translations, but it is possible to see the meanings of δάκνω and κατεσθίω (daknō and katesthiō, L&N 20.26 and 88.145) as figurative extensions of the literal meanings of these terms and to translate them accordingly. The present tenses here are translated as customary presents (“continually…”).

27 tn Or “destroyed.”

Cultural / historic Context of passage: IVP…5:13–14. Other Jewish teachers also summarized the humanward commandments of the law in terms of this quotation from Leviticus 19:18; Paul prefers this summary to all others, however, because this was the summary Jesus offered (Mk 12:31).5:15. The ancients (especially in the Old Testament and Jewish sources, e.g., Prov 30:14) used the metaphor of being eaten by others as a grotesque description of a horrible fate or inconceivable wickedness (literal cannibalism horrified ancient sensitivities even more than it does modern ones).Zondervan… You … were called to be free … do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature (5:13). This statement reconnects to the earlier statement in 5:1 on Christian freedom. Paul began with an encouragement to stand firm (5:1); now he voices a warning against indulgence. “Sinful nature” translates the Greek word sarx, which may simply refer to a person’s physical body, just like the Hebrew word basar. Paul, however, also uses it in an ethical sense, referring to a person’s “desires and passions” (Gal. 5:16–17, 24; cf. 1 Cor. 3:3) that is essentially self-centered.The entire law is summed up in … “Love your neighbor as yourself” (5:14). Being well aware of the Judaizers’ emphasis on the law, Paul also makes a reference to the Mosaic law in Leviticus 19:18b (a command to love one’s neighbor) as the background of his call to serve one another in love (Gal. 5:13). The emphasis on love as the summary of all law was first introduced by Jesus himself. It was later reinforced by Paul75 as well as the three pillars of the Jerusalem church as a primary Christian virtue and a hallmark of Christian identity.

If you keep on biting and devouring each other (5:15). The two verbs “to bite” (daknō) and “to eat up” (katesthiō) usually refer to fighting among wild animals. Coupled with the warning given in 5:26, “let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other,” we have a glimpse of the internal situation within the Galatian churches. Ramsay has observed that there was a close connection between the lifestyle of the South Galatian cities and the new converts. He points out, owing to (1) the national religion, (2) their position in a municipality, and (3) the customs of society in Hellenistic cities, these new converts are liable to be led astray by habits and ways of thought known to them. Therefore, this unpleasant picture of “biting” and “eating up” may indeed explain Paul’s choice of conduct listed as the acts of the sinful nature in 5:19–21.

Persons: Who is mentioned here? “Gentile believers in Galatia, either ethnic Galatians (whose territory in central Asia Minor had been earlier settled by people from Gaul [modern France]) or those in the Roman province of Galatia, which also included peoples of Pisidia, Lycaonia, and Phrygia (Acts 13–14; 16)”
Action: Who is doing what?  What is happening?


Purpose: What was the writer / speaker trying to achieve  “a heated argument with the (Gentile) Galatian believers against some Jewish Christian “missionaries” who insist that Gentiles be circumcised if they are to be included in the people of God” G Fee
Reasons: Are any reasons suggested? “the churches of Galatia have been invaded by some agitators (5:12) who have questioned Paul’s gospel and his apostleship; apparently some Galatians are on the verge of capitulating to them, which sparks a vigorous defense by Paul of his gospel and his calling” G Fee


Arena: Is there any indication where something happens Ancient Galatia“Galatia” was originally a Celtic region in north central Asia Minor (modern Turkey). It became a client kingdom of Rome under Pompey (mid-1st century b.c.). With the death of the client king Amyntas (d. 25 b.c.) an expanded Galatia came under a Roman governor. In Paul’s day the province of Galatia included parts of Pontus and Paphlagonia to the east and north and encompassed portions of Phrygia, Pisidia, Isauria, Lycaonia, and Cilicia to the south. Thus many of the cities of Paul’s first missionary journey (Acts 13–14) were considered part of the province of Galatia (or at least near its sphere of influence). Starting with territorial alterations under the emperor Vespasian (end of the 1st century a.d.), the province changed shape; thus the other ethnic territories were gradually drawn off, back to their earlier affiliations, and the province of Galatia returned to its more ethnically defined northern boundaries. Some contend that these subsequent reductions to the province of Galatia influenced the later church fathers to assume that Paul wrote his epistle to residents of northern Galatia. Archaeological evidence indicates a combination of Hellenistic, Celtic, and Roman influences in the province of Paul’s time.The Setting of Galatians(c. a.d. 48)

Paul’s letter to the Galatians was likely written to the churches he had established during his first missionary journey (Acts 13:1–14:28). He probably wrote the letter from his home church in Antioch in Syria, sometime before the Jerusalem council (Acts 15:1–31). ESV Study Bible


Events: …or when something happened?


Method: …or how something happens?

Check for CONSISTENCY with the rest of scripture and theologians.

Refer to commentaries, Study Bibles, Bible Dictionaries, etc ESV Study Bible:
The Law of Love. Serving one another in love fulfills the law.
5:13–14 Far from the Christian life being enslaving, it is the only way to resist the various slaveries offered by the world. But this does not mean that Christians can do whatever they feel like doing (which itself is just another form of slavery). Rather, serving and loving others is the route to escaping bondage and fulfilling the ultimate content of the law.5:13 freedom. From Mosaic laws, as represented by circumcision. Opportunity for the flesh means “opportunity to follow your fallen, sinful desires and act contrary to God’s moral laws.”5:14 When Paul says the whole law is fulfilled in the commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself,” and when he uses that command as the reason why the Galatians are to “serve one another” (v. 13), he implies that Christians still have a moral obligation to follow the moral standards found in God’s “law” in Scripture. Obedience is not a means of justification, but it is a crucial component of the Christian life.

Expositors Bible Commentary:
Like v.1, this verse is transitional and marks a new beginning. “You” is emphatic, showing that Paul is building on the confidence expressed earlier as to what side the Galatians are on (v.10). He echoes here the original challenge of v.1, but follows it up this time with a warning not to allow this freedom to become an excuse for sinful self-indulgence. Here the contrast is between indulgence and the serving of one another in love.

Christians must not allow their freedom in Christ to become a beachhead for the armies of indulgence to gain a foothold (“indulge,” GK 929; cf. 2Co 11:12) in their lives. Paul’s reference to “the sinful nature” (sarx; GK 4922) means all that a person is and is capable of doing as a sinful human being apart from the unmerited intervention of God’s Spirit (see comment on v.16).

It is ironical that, having urged the Galatians not to become slaves to law, Paul should now encourage them to become slaves of one another, for that is what “serve” (GK 1526) means. It is a paradox, but the paradox is instructive. The Galatians are to be slaves of one another, though this slavery is not at all like the first. In fact—this is the paradox—it is the Christian form of being free. Slavery to sin is involuntary and terrible; a person is born into sin (Ps 51:5) and cannot escape it (Ro 7:18). Slavery to law, which comes by choice, is foolish and burdensome. On the other hand, slavery to one another is voluntary and a source of deep joy. It is possible only because Christians are delivered through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit from the necessity of serving sin in their lives.

14 Throughout his letter Paul has been arguing against law and in defense of the Gospel of pure grace. Now, in a most striking fashion, he returns to law and seems to speak favorably of it, stressing that when Christians love and serve others, the law is fulfilled. There is a play on two meanings of the Greek word translated “summed up” (GK 4444). On the one hand, it refers to the fact that the law can aptly be summarized by Lev 19:18 (a common rabbinic opinion, also endorsed by Jesus in Mt 22:39; Lk 10:25–28). On the other hand, the word can mean “fulfilled” (cf. Ro 13:8); in this sense Paul is suggesting that it is actually out of the new life of love made possible within the Christian community through the Spirit that the law finds fulfillment.

This use of the word “law” (GK 3795) is most instructive, because it shows that in spite of all Paul has said, there remains a sense in which the requirements of the law are a proper concern for Christians. This does not mean that the Christian is to make progress in holiness by once again setting up a system of rules and regulations. But the essential ends of the law will be met in those who, being called by God and being filled with the Spirit, allow God to produce the Spirit’s fruit within them. Faith in Christ is the bond that forms the basis for the fulfillment of God’s holy will in one’s life.

15 It is not hard to imagine the kind of strife that may have been present in the Galatian churches, either strife parallel to that of the Corinthians (1Co 1:10–12; 3:1–4) or strife arising directly out of the conflict with the legalizers. Paul does not say precisely what it was, but intense strife was definitely going on among the Galatians.

What is the MELODIC line of the passage?
What is the core message that sums up this teaching? Express it in contemporary wording….
Melodic Line of the text? In one sentence. Compile some applications to daily personal life & society. How would you encourage listeners to respond to this message from God? How does it interact with the questions below?
How does it relate to us in regards to redemptive history?
What does this point mean for the non Christian?     
What does it mean for us as citizens, as employees, and so forth?     
What does it teach us about Christ?     
What does it mean for us as individual Christians?     
What does it mean for our church as a whole?     
Hidden Worldviews that Gospel application needs to counter. How does the text counter one or more of these false worldviews. Can I shed light on any of these hidden worldviews with this passage?
• Individualism — the story that “I” am the center of the universe
• Consumerism — the story that I am what I own
• Nationalism — the story that my nation is God’s nation
• Moral relativism — the story that we can’t know what is universally good
• Scientific naturalism — the story that all that matters is matter
• New Age — the story that we are gods
• Postmodern tribalism — the story that all that matters is what my small group thinks
• Salvation by therapy — the story that I can come to my full human potential through inner exploration
• Moralism— the belief that the Gospel can be reduced to improvements in behavior
• Traditionalism —  Adherence to tradition, especially in cultural or religious practice. Or a system holding that all knowledge is derived from original divine revelation and is transmitted by tradition.

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