The Meaning of Galatians 5:3 Explained

Galatians 5:3

KJV: For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.

YLT: and I testify again to every man circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law;

Darby: And I witness again to every man who is circumcised, that he is debtor to do the whole law.

ASV: Yea, I testify again to every man that receiveth circumcision, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.

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What does Galatians 5:3 Mean?

Context Summary

Galatians 5:1-12 - Hold Fast Your Freedom
We are free. The Son has made us free, and we are free indeed, though not free to disobey the dictates and promptings of our new nature. We are set free from minute prescriptions, from priestly rules and requisitions, from all that would cramp and hinder our spiritual development; but we are still under the law of Christ, who will see to it that the essential righteousness of the Mosaic law is fulfilled in us, "who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit," Romans 8:1.
If the Mosaic law is kept as a means of salvation, we must fulfill it all, Galatians 5:3. For himself, as "we" suggests, Galatians 5:5, Paul had an assured confidence that his hope could not be disappointed. Christ is ever calling us upward, Galatians 5:8. Be on guard against the ferment of false teaching, Galatians 5:9. The Apostle shows the absurdity of supposing that he was in favor of circumcision, since, if that were the case, the long persecution of his life would cease, Galatians 5:11. These verses were in Bunyan's mind when he depicted Mr. Worldly Wiseman, of the town of Carnal Policy, as endeavoring to turn Christian out of the Way of the Cross to the house of Mr. Legality. [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 5:3

A debtor [οπειλετης]
Common word from οπειλω — opheilō to owe for one who has assumed an obligation. See note on Matthew 6:12. See note on Galatians 3:10. He takes the curse on himself. [source]
Again [πάλιν]
Probably with reference to what he had said at his last visit. [source]
Every man []
Emphasizing and particularising the general to you, you, in Galatians 5:2. [source]
A debtor [ὀφειλέτης]
In N.T. mostly of one under moral obligation. So in the sense of sinner, Matthew 6:12; Luke 13:4. Comp. Romans 1:14; Romans 8:12. Similarly the verb ὀφείλειν toowe, as Luke 11:4; Luke 17:10; Romans 15:1, etc., though it is frequent in the literal sense. [source]
To do the law [ποιῆσαι]
Rare in N.T. See John 7:19; Romans 2:13, Romans 2:25( πράσσῃς ). Τηρεῖν toobserve the law, the tradition, the commandment, Matthew 19:17; Mark 7:9; John 14:15; Acts 15:5James 2:10: πληροῦν tofulfill the law, Romans 13:8; Galatians 5:14; comp. ἀναπληροῦν Galatians 6:2: φυλάσσειν tokeep or guard the law, Acts 7:53; Acts 21:24; Galatians 6:13: also with commandments, word of God or of Christ, ordinances of the law, Matthew 19:20; Mark 10:20; Luke 11:28; John 12:47; Romans 2:26. Τελεῖν tocarry out the law, Romans 2:27; James 2:8. Ποιῆσαι is to perform what the law commands: τηρεῖν toobserve, keep an eye on with the result of performing: φυλάσσειν toguard against violation: τελεῖν tobring to fulfillment in action. [source]
The whole law [ὅλον]
Comp. James 2:10. Submission to circumcision commits one to the whole law. It makes him a party to the covenant of the law, and the law requires of every one thus committed a perfect fulfillment, Galatians 3:10. [source]

What do the individual words in Galatians 5:3 mean?

I testify now again to every man being circumcised that a debtor he is all the Law to keep
μαρτύρομαι δὲ πάλιν παντὶ ἀνθρώπῳ περιτεμνομένῳ ὅτι ὀφειλέτης ἐστὶν ὅλον τὸν νόμον ποιῆσαι

μαρτύρομαι  I  testify 
Parse: Verb, Present Indicative Middle or Passive, 1st Person Singular
Root: μαρτύρομαι  
Sense: to cite a witness, bring forward a witness, call to witness.
δὲ  now 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: δέ  
Sense: but, moreover, and, etc.
πάλιν  again 
Parse: Adverb
Root: πάλιν  
Sense: anew, again.
παντὶ  to  every 
Parse: Adjective, Dative Masculine Singular
Root: πᾶς  
Sense: individually.
ἀνθρώπῳ  man 
Parse: Noun, Dative Masculine Singular
Root: ἄνθρωπος  
Sense: a human being, whether male or female.
περιτεμνομένῳ  being  circumcised 
Parse: Verb, Present Participle Middle or Passive, Dative Masculine Singular
Root: περιτέμνω  
Sense: to cut around.
ὅτι  that 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: ὅτι  
Sense: that, because, since.
ὀφειλέτης  a  debtor 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: ὀφειλέτης  
Sense: one who owes another, a debtor.
ἐστὶν  he  is 
Parse: Verb, Present Indicative Active, 3rd Person Singular
Root: εἰμί  
Sense: to be, to exist, to happen, to be present.
νόμον  Law 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Masculine Singular
Root: νόμος  
Sense: anything established, anything received by usage, a custom, a law, a command.
ποιῆσαι  to  keep 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Infinitive Active
Root: ποιέω  
Sense: to make.

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