The Meaning of Galatians 5:13 Explained

Galatians 5:13

KJV: For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

YLT: For ye -- to freedom ye were called, brethren, only not the freedom for an occasion to the flesh, but through the love serve ye one another,

Darby: For ye have been called to liberty, brethren; only do not turn liberty into an opportunity to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

ASV: For ye, brethren, were called for freedom; only use not your freedom for an occasion to the flesh, but through love be servants one to another.

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What does Galatians 5:13 Mean?

Context Summary

Galatians 5:13-26 - Produce The Fruit Of The Spirit
That Christ has freed us from the Law as a means of salvation does not free us from moral restraint, but brings us under the constraint of a higher law, the law of love. We do not keep this law to be saved; but, being saved, we keep it out of love toward Christ. The power of the new life is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Unite yourself with His life that you find rising up within you. Live in the Spirit. A child was much disappointed because when she took a cupful of water out of the blue lake, it did not look blue in the cup; so her teacher told her to throw the cup into the midst of the lake and leave it there. As we live and walk in the Spirit, we are safe.
The Holy Spirit brings influences to bear which act upon the germs of sin, as a disinfectant upon the germs of disease. If we yield ourselves to these influences, and are filled with the Spirit of Jesus, we shall be delivered from the self-life, which the Apostle describes as the flesh. As Jesus is more and more formed in us, the new flower and fruitage of the risen life will appear, while the corrupt works of the flesh will shrink and drop away, [source]

Chapter Summary: Galatians 5

1  He wills them to stand in their liberty,
3  and not to observe circumcision;
13  but rather love, which is the sum of the law
19  He lists the works of the flesh,
22  and the fruits of the Spirit,
25  and exhorts to walk in the Spirit

Greek Commentary for Galatians 5:13

Ye were called for freedom [επ ελευτεριαι εκλητητε]
The same point as in Galatians 5:1 made plainer by the use of επ — ep' (on the basis of, for the purpose of). See note on 1 Thessalonians 4:7 for this use of επι — epi [source]
Only use not [μονον μη]
No word for “use” in the Greek. Probably supply τρεπετε — trepete or στρεπετε — strephete “turn not your liberty into an occasion for the flesh” (εις απορμην τηι σαρκι — eis aphormēn tēi sarki), as a spring board for license. On απορμη — aphormē see note on 2 Corinthians 5:12. Liberty so easily turns to license. [source]
For [γὰρ]
Well may I speak thus strongly of those who thus overthrow your whole polity and enslave you, for ye are called for freedom. [source]
Unto liberty [ἐπ ' ἐλευθερίᾳ]
Better, for freedom. See on unto uncleanness, 1 Thessalonians 4:7. Ἑπὶ marks the intention. [source]
Only [μόνον]
For a similar use of the word, qualifying or limiting a general statement, comp. 1 Corinthians 7:39; Galatians 2:10; Philemon 1:27; 2 Thessalonians 2:7. [source]
Use not liberty [τὴν ἐλευθερίαν]
Use is not in the Greek. We may supply hold or make or turn. [source]
Occasion [ἀφορμὴν]
See on Romans 7:8. Almost exclusively in Paul. [source]
To the flesh [τῃ σαρκί]
See on Romans 7:5. The flesh here represents lovelessness and selfishness. Christian freedom is not to be abused for selfish ends. Paul treats this subject at length in 1 Corinthians 8:1-13; 1 Corinthians 12:25, 1 Corinthians 12:26. Individual liberty is subject to the law of love and mutual service. Comp. 1 Peter 2:16. [source]
By love [διὰ τῆς ἀγάπης]
Or through love, through which faith works (Galatians 5:6). [source]

What do the individual words in Galatians 5:13 mean?

You for to freedom were called brothers but not the freedom for an opportunity to the flesh Rather through - love serve one another
Ὑμεῖς γὰρ ἐπ’ ἐλευθερίᾳ ἐκλήθητε ἀδελφοί μόνον μὴ τὴν ἐλευθερίαν εἰς ἀφορμὴν τῇ σαρκί ἀλλὰ διὰ τῆς ἀγάπης δουλεύετε ἀλλήλοις

ἐλευθερίᾳ  freedom 
Parse: Noun, Dative Feminine Singular
Root: ἐλευθερία  
Sense: liberty to do or to omit things having no relationship to salvation.
ἐκλήθητε  were  called 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Indicative Passive, 2nd Person Plural
Root: καλέω  
Sense: to call.
ἀδελφοί  brothers 
Parse: Noun, Vocative Masculine Plural
Root: ἀδελφός  
Sense: a brother, whether born of the same two parents or only of the same father or mother.
ἐλευθερίαν  freedom 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Feminine Singular
Root: ἐλευθερία  
Sense: liberty to do or to omit things having no relationship to salvation.
ἀφορμὴν  an  opportunity 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Feminine Singular
Root: ἀφορμή  
Sense: a place from which a movement or attack is made, a base of operations.
τῇ  to  the 
Parse: Article, Dative Feminine Singular
Root:  
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
σαρκί  flesh 
Parse: Noun, Dative Feminine Singular
Root: σάρξ  
Sense: flesh (the soft substance of the living body, which covers the bones and is permeated with blood) of both man and beasts.
ἀλλὰ  Rather 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: ἀλλά  
Sense: but.
διὰ  through 
Parse: Preposition
Root: διά  
Sense: through.
τῆς  - 
Parse: Article, Genitive Feminine Singular
Root:  
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
ἀγάπης  love 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Feminine Singular
Root: ἀγάπη  
Sense: brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence.
δουλεύετε  serve 
Parse: Verb, Present Imperative Active, 2nd Person Plural
Root: δουλεύω  
Sense: to be a slave, serve, do service.
ἀλλήλοις  one  another 
Parse: Personal / Reciprocal Pronoun, Dative Masculine Plural
Root: ἀλλήλων  
Sense: one another, reciprocally, mutually.

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