The Meaning of Galatians 5:6 Explained

Galatians 5:6

KJV: For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

YLT: for in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith through love working.

Darby: For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision has any force, nor uncircumcision; but faith working through love.

ASV: For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith working through love.

What does Galatians 5:6 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 5:6

Availeth anything [ισχυει τι]
Old word to have strength See Matthew 5:13. Neither Jew nor Greek has any recommendation in his state. See Galatians 3:28. All stand on a level in Christ. [source]
Faith working through love [pistis di' agapēs energoumenē)]
Middle voice of energeō and “through love,” “the moral dynamic” (Burton) of Paul‘s conception of freedom from law. [source]
In Christ Jesus []
In the economy of life which he inaugurates and inspires. [source]
Availeth [ἰσχύει]
Has any significance or practical power. The verb in Paul only here and Philemon 4:13. See on 2 Thessalonians 1:9. [source]
Which worketh [ἐνεργουμένη]
See on 1 Thessalonians 2:13. Middle voice, comp. Romans 7:5; 2 Corinthians 1:6; 2 Corinthians 4:12; 2 Thessalonians 2:7; Ephesians 3:20. Not passive, as by many Roman Catholic expositors, faith which is wrought by love. [source]
By love [δἰ ἀγάπης]
Not that justification is through love; but the faith of the justified, which is their subjective principle of life, exhibits its living energy through love in which the whole law is fulfilled (Galatians 5:14). See 1 Timothy 1:5; 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 1 Corinthians 13:1-13. [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for Galatians 5:6

Romans 7:5 Did work [ἐνηργεῖτο]
Rev., wrought. See 2 Corinthians 1:6; 2 Corinthians 4:12; Ephesians 3:20; Galatians 5:6; Philemon 2:13; Colossians 1:29. Compare Mark 6:14, and see on power, John 1:12. [source]
Romans 7:5 In the flesh [ἐν τῇ σαρκί]
Σάρξ fleshoccurs in the classics in the physical sense only. Homer commonly uses it in the plural as denoting all the flesh or muscles of the body. Later the singular occurs in the same sense. Paul's use of this and other psychological terms must be determined largely by the Old-Testament usage as it appears in the Septuagint. 1. In the physical sense. The literal flesh. In the Septuagint τὰ κρέα flesh(plural) is used where the reference is to the parts of animals slain, and αἱ σάρκες , flesh (plural) where the reference is to flesh as the covering of the living body. Hence Paul uses κρέα in Romans 14:21; 1 Corinthians 8:13, of the flesh of sacrificed animals. Compare also the adjective σάρκιμος fleshy 2 Corinthians 3:3; and Ezekiel 11:19; Ezekiel 36:26, Sept. -DIVIDER-
2. Kindred. Denoting natural or physical relationship, Romans 1:3; Romans 9:3-8; Romans 11:14; Galatians 4:23, Galatians 4:29; 1 Corinthians 10:18; Philemon 1:16. This usage forms a transition to the following sense: the whole human body. Flesh is the medium in and through which the natural relationship of man manifests itself. Kindred is conceived as based on community of bodily substance. Therefore:-DIVIDER-
3. The body itself. The whole being designated by the part, as being its main substance and characteristic, 1 Corinthians 6:16; 1 Corinthians 7:28; 2 Corinthians 4:11; 2 Corinthians 7:5; 2 Corinthians 10:3; 2 Corinthians 12:7. Romans 2:28; Galatians 6:13, etc. Paul follows the Septuagint in sometimes using σῶμα bodyand sometimes σάρξ fleshin this sense, so that the terms occasionally seem to be practically synonymous. Thus 1 Corinthians 6:16, 1 Corinthians 6:17, where the phrase one body is illustrated and confirmed by one flesh. See Genesis 2:24; Ephesians 5:28, Ephesians 5:31, where the two are apparently interchanged. Compare 2 Corinthians 4:10, 2 Corinthians 4:11; 1 Corinthians 5:3, and Colossians 2:5. Σάρξ , however, differs from σῶμα in that it can only signify the organism of an earthly, living being consisting of flesh and bones, and cannot denote “either an earthly organism that is not living, or a living organism that is not earthly” (Wendt, in Dickson). Σῶμα not thus limited. Thus it may denote the organism of the plant (1 Corinthians 15:37, 1 Corinthians 15:38) or the celestial bodies (1 Corinthians 15:40). Hence the two conceptions are related as general and special: σῶμα bodybeing the material organism apart from any definite matter (not from any sort of matter), σάρξ , flesh, the definite, earthly, animal organism. The two are synonymons when σῶμα is used, from the context, of an earthly, animal body. Compare Philemon 1:22; 2 Corinthians 5:1-8. -DIVIDER-
Σῶμα bodyand not σάρξ fleshis used when the reference is to a metaphorical organism, as the church, Romans 12:4sqq.; 1 Corinthians 10:16; 12:12-27; Ephesians 1:23; Ephesians 2:16; Colossians 1:18, etc. -DIVIDER-
The σάρξ is described as mortal (2 Corinthians 4:11); subject to infirmity (Galatians 4:13; 2 Corinthians 12:7); locally limited (Colossians 2:15); an object of fostering care (Ephesians 5:29). -DIVIDER-
4. Living beings generally, including their mental nature, and with a correlated notion of weakness and perishableness. Thus the phrase πᾶσα σάρξ allflesh (Genesis 6:12; Isaiah 49:26; Isaiah 49:23). This accessory notion of weakness stands in contrast with God. In Paul the phrase all flesh is cited from the Old Testament (Romans 3:20; Galatians 2:16) and is used independently (1 Corinthians 1:29). In all these instances before God is added. So in Galatians 1:16, flesh and blood implies a contrast of human with divine wisdom. Compare 1 Corinthians 15:50; Ephesians 6:12. This leads up to-DIVIDER-
5. Man “either as a creature in his natural state apart from Christ, or the creaturely side or aspect of the man in Christ.” Hence it is correlated with ἄνθρωπος man 1 Corinthians 3:3; Romans 6:19; 2 Corinthians 5:17. Compare Romans 6:6; Ephesians 4:22; Colossians 3:9; Galatians 5:24. Thus the flesh would seem to be interchangeable with the old man. -DIVIDER-
It has affections and lusts (Galatians 5:24); willings (Ephesians 2:3; Romans 8:6, Romans 8:7); a mind (Colossians 2:18); a body (Colossians 2:11). -DIVIDER-
It is in sharp contrast with πνεῦμα spirit(Galatians 3:3, Galatians 3:19; Galatians 5:16, Galatians 5:17, Galatians 5:19-24; Galatians 6:8; Romans 8:4). The flesh and the spirit are thus antagonistic. Σάρξ fleshbefore or in contrast with his reception of the divine element whereby he becomes a new creature in Christ: the whole being of man as it exists and acts apart from the influence of the Spirit. It properly characterizes, therefore, not merely the lower forms of sensual gratification, but all - the highest developments of the life estranged from God, whether physical, intellectual, or aesthetic. -DIVIDER-
It must be carefully noted:-DIVIDER-
1. That Paul does not identify flesh and sin. Compare, flesh of sin, Romans 8:3. See Romans 7:17, Romans 7:18; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Galatians 2:20. -DIVIDER-
2. That Paul does not identify σάρξ withthe material body nor associate sin exclusively and predominantly with the body. The flesh is the flesh of the living man animated by the soul ( ψυχή ) as its principle of life, and is distinctly used as coordinate with ἄνθρωπος manAs in the Old Testament, “it embraces in an emphatic manner the nature of man, mental and corporeal, with its internal distinctions.” The spirit as well as the flesh is capable of defilement (2 Corinthians 7:1; compare 1 Corinthians 7:34). Christian life is to be transformed by the renewing of the mind (Romans 12:2; compare Ephesians 4:23). -DIVIDER-
3. That Paul does not identify the material side of man with evil. The flesh is not the native seat and source of sin. It is only its organ, and the seat of sin's manifestation. Matter is not essentially evil. The logical consequence of this would be that no service of God is possible while the material organism remains. See Romans 12:1. The flesh is not necessarily sinful in itself; but as it has existed from the time of the introduction of sin through Adam, it is recognized by Paul as tainted with sin. Jesus appeared in the flesh, and yet was sinless (2 Corinthians 5:21).The motions of sins ( τὰ παθήματα τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν )Motions used in earlier English for emotions or impulses. Thus Bacon: “He that standeth at a stay where others rise, can hardly avoid motions of envy” (“Essay” xiv.). The word is nearly synonymous with πάθος passion(Romans 1:26, note). From πάθειν tosuffer; a feeling which the mind undergoes, a passion, desire. Rev., sinful passions: which led to sins.Did work ( ἐνηργεῖτο )Rev., wrought. See 2 Corinthians 1:6; 2 Corinthians 4:12; Ephesians 3:20; Galatians 5:6; Philemon 2:13; Colossians 1:29. Compare Mark 6:14, and see on power, John 1:12. [source]

1 Corinthians 7:19 But the keeping of the commandments of God [αλλα τηρησις εντολων τεου]
Old word in sense of watching (Acts 4:3). Paul‘s view of the worthlessness of circumcision or of uncircumcision is stated again in Galatians 5:6; Galatians 6:15; Romans 2:25-29 (only the inward or spiritual Jew counts). [source]
Galatians 5:13 By love [διὰ τῆς ἀγάπης]
Or through love, through which faith works (Galatians 5:6). [source]
Ephesians 1:15 Unto all the saints [τὴν εἰς πάντας τοὺς ἁγίους]
Lit., that which is toward all, etc. Love being omitted, this refers to faith: faith which displays its work and fruits toward fellow Christians. See on Philemon 1:5, Philemon 1:6. Compare work of faith, 1 Thessalonians 1:3. Though love is not mentioned, yet faith works by love. Galatians 5:6. [source]
Ephesians 2:11 That aforetime ye [οτι ποτε υμεις]
No verb is expressed, but in Ephesians 2:12 Paul repeats οτι εν τωι καιρωι εκεινωι — hoti en tōi kairōi ekeinōi (for ποτε — pote) “that at that time” and inserts ητε — ēte (ye were). Uncircumcision (ακροβυστια — akrobustia), circumcision (περιτομης — peritomēs). The abstract words are used to describe Gentiles and Jews as in Galatians 5:6; Romans 2:27. Made by hands Agreeing with περιτομης — peritomēs Verbal (Mark 14:58) from χειροποιεω — cheiropoieō like αχειροποιητος — acheiropoiētos in Colossians 2:11. [source]
Ephesians 2:11 Uncircumcision [ακροβυστια]
The abstract words are used to describe Gentiles and Jews as in Galatians 5:6; Romans 2:27. [source]
Colossians 1:6 And bringeth forth fruit [καὶ ἔστι καρποφορούμενον]
Lit., and is bearing fruit. The text varies. The best texts omit and. Some join ἔστι iswith the previous clause, as it is in all the world, and take bearing fruit as a parallel participle. So Rev. Others, better, join is with the participle, “even as it is bearing fruit.” This would emphasize the continuous fruitfulness of the Gospel. The middle voice of the verb, of which this is the sole instance, marks the fruitfulness of the Gospel by its own inherent power. Compare the active voice in Colossians 1:10, and see Mark 4:28, “the earth bringeth forth fruit αὐτομάτη ofherself, self-acting. For a similar use of the middle, see show, Ephesians 2:7; worketh, Galatians 5:6. [source]
1 Thessalonians 1:3 Work - labor - patience [ἔπργου - κόπου - ὑπομονῆς]
Ἔργον workmay mean either the act, the simple transaction, or the process of dealing with anything, or the result of the dealing, - as a book or a picture is called a work. Κόπος laborfrom κόπτειν tostrike or hew; hence, laborious, painful exertion. Ὑπομονὴ patiencepatient endurance and faithful persistence in toil and suffering. See on 2 Peter 1:6; see on James 5:7. The genitives, of faith, love, hope, mark the generating principles of the work and labor and patience, which set their stamp upon each; thus, work which springs from faith, and is characteristic of faith. The phrase patience of hope is found only here; but see Romans 5:4; Romans 8:25; Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 8:7; Hebrews 7:11, Hebrews 7:12. ὑπομονὴ in lxx, see 1 Chronicles 29:15; Job 14:19; Psalm 9:18; Psalm 38:7; Jeremiah href="/desk/?q=jer+4:8&sr=1">Jeremiah 4:8. We have here the great triad of Christian graces, corresponding to 1 Corinthians 8:1-13. Hope is prominent throughout the two Epistles. The triad appears, 1 Thessalonians 5:8; Galatians 5:5, Galatians 5:6; 1 Corinthians 8:13; Ephesians 4:2-5; Colossians 1:4, Colossians 1:5; Hebrews 10:22-24; 1 Peter 1:21-22. Comp. 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:8; 2 Thessalonians 3:5, 2 Thessalonians 3:8; 1 Corinthians 15:10, 1 Corinthians 15:58; 2 Corinthians 11:27; Revelation 2:2. [source]
James 5:16 Pray for one another [προσευχεστε υπερ αλληλων]
Present middle imperative. Keep this up.That ye may be healed (οπως ιατητε — hopōs iathēte). Purpose clause with οπως — hopōs and the first aorist passive subjunctive of ιαομαι — iaomai Probably of bodily healing (James 5:14), though ιαομαι — iaomai is used also of healing of the soul (Matthew 13:15; 1 Peter 2:24; Hebrews 12:13) as Mayor takes it here.Availeth much “Has much force.” Present active indicative of ισχυω — ischuō (from ισχυς — ischus strength).In its working (ενεργουμενη — energoumenē). Probably the present middle participle of ενεργεω — energeō as Paul apparently uses it in Galatians 5:6; 2 Corinthians 4:12; 2 Thessalonians 2:7, meaning “when it works.” The passive is possible, as is the usual idiom elsewhere. Mayor argues strongly for the passive here, “when it is exercised” (Ropes). [source]
James 5:16 Availeth much [πολυ ισχυει]
“Has much force.” Present active indicative of ισχυω — ischuō (from ισχυς — ischus strength).In its working (ενεργουμενη — energoumenē). Probably the present middle participle of ενεργεω — energeō as Paul apparently uses it in Galatians 5:6; 2 Corinthians 4:12; 2 Thessalonians 2:7, meaning “when it works.” The passive is possible, as is the usual idiom elsewhere. Mayor argues strongly for the passive here, “when it is exercised” (Ropes). [source]
James 5:16 In its working [ενεργουμενη]
Probably the present middle participle of ενεργεω — energeō as Paul apparently uses it in Galatians 5:6; 2 Corinthians 4:12; 2 Thessalonians 2:7, meaning “when it works.” The passive is possible, as is the usual idiom elsewhere. Mayor argues strongly for the passive here, “when it is exercised” (Ropes). [source]

What do the individual words in Galatians 5:6 mean?

In for Christ Jesus neither circumcision any has power nor uncircumcision but only faith through love working
ἐν γὰρ Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ οὔτε περιτομή τι ἰσχύει οὔτε ἀκροβυστία ἀλλὰ πίστις δι’ ἀγάπης ἐνεργουμένη

Χριστῷ  Christ 
Parse: Noun, Dative Masculine Singular
Root: Χριστός  
Sense: Christ was the Messiah, the Son of God.
Ἰησοῦ  Jesus 
Parse: Noun, Dative Masculine Singular
Root: Ἰησοῦς  
Sense: Joshua was the famous captain of the Israelites, Moses’ successor.
οὔτε  neither 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: οὔτε  
Sense: neither, and not.
περιτομή  circumcision 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Feminine Singular
Root: περιτομή  
Sense: circumcised.
τι  any 
Parse: Interrogative / Indefinite Pronoun, Accusative Neuter Singular
Root: τὶς  
Sense: a certain, a certain one.
ἰσχύει  has  power 
Parse: Verb, Present Indicative Active, 3rd Person Singular
Root: ἰσχύω  
Sense: to be strong.
οὔτε  nor 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: οὔτε  
Sense: neither, and not.
ἀκροβυστία  uncircumcision 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Feminine Singular
Root: ἀκροβυστία  
Sense: having the foreskin, uncircumcised.
ἀλλὰ  but  only 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: ἀλλά  
Sense: but.
πίστις  faith 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Feminine Singular
Root: πίστις  
Sense: conviction of the truth of anything, belief; in the NT of a conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust and holy fervour born of faith and joined with it.
δι’  through 
Parse: Preposition
Root: διά  
Sense: through.
ἀγάπης  love 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Feminine Singular
Root: ἀγάπη  
Sense: brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence.
ἐνεργουμένη  working 
Parse: Verb, Present Participle Middle, Nominative Feminine Singular
Root: ἐνεργέω  
Sense: to be operative, be at work, put forth power.