Search the Bible
* powered by Bible Study Tools

Galatians 5:17

    Galatians 5:17 Translations

    King James Version (KJV)

    For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

    American King James Version (AKJV)

    For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that you cannot do the things that you would.

    American Standard Version (ASV)

    For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary the one to the other; that ye may not do the things that ye would.

    Basic English Translation (BBE)

    For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; because these are opposite the one to the other; so that you may not do the things which you have a mind to do.

    Webster's Revision

    For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary the one to the other; that ye may not do the things that ye would.

    World English Bible

    For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, that you may not do the things that you desire.

    English Revised Version (ERV)

    For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary the one to the other; that ye may not do the things that ye would.

    Clarke's Commentary on Galatians 5:17

    For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit - God still continues to strive with you, notwithstanding your apostasy, showing you whence you have fallen, and exciting you to return to him; but your own obstinacy renders all ineffectual; and through the influence of these different principles, you are kept in a state of self-opposition and self-distraction, so that you cannot do the things that ye would. You are convinced of what is right, and ye wish to do it; but, having abandoned the Gospel and the grace of Christ, the law and its ordinances which ye have chosen in their place afford you no power to conquer your evil propensities. It was on this ground that the apostle exhorted them, Galatians 5:16, to walk in the Spirit, that they might not fulfill the lust of the flesh; as without the grace of God they could do nothing. Who can suppose that he speaks this of adult Christians?

    Barnes' Notes on Galatians 5:17

    For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit - The inclinations and desires of the flesh are contrary to those of the Spirit. They draw us away in an opposite direction, and while the Spirit of God would lead us one way, our carnal nature would lead us another, and thus produce the painful controversy which exists in our minds. The word "Spirit" here refers to the Spirit of God, and to his influences on the heart.

    And these are contrary ... - They are opposite in their nature. They never can harmonize; see Romans 8:6-7; compare below Galatians 5:19-23. The contrariety Paul has illustrated by showing what each produces; and they are as opposite as adultery, wrath, strife, murders, drunkenness, etc., are to love, joy, goodness, gentleness, and temperance.

    So that ye cannot do the things that ye would - See this sentiment illustrated in the notes at Romans 7:15-19. The expression "cannot do" is stronger by far than the original, and it is doubted whether the original will bear this interpretation. The literal translation would be, "Lest what ye will, those things ye should do" (ἵνα μὴ ὥ ἄν θέλητε, ταῦτα ποιῆτε hina mē hō an thelēte, tauta poiēte). It is rendered by Doddridge, "So that ye do not the things that ye would." By Locke, "You do not the things that you propose to yourselves;" and Locke remarks on the passage, "Ours is the only translation that I knew which renders it cannot." The Vulgate and the Syriac give a literal translation of the Greek, "So that you do not what you would." This is undoubtedly the true rendering; and, in the original, there is no declaration about the possibility or the impossibility, the ability or the inability to do these things.

    It is simply a statement of a fact, as it is in Romans 7:15, Romans 7:19. That statement is, that in the mind of a renewed man there is a contrariety in the two influences which bear on his soul - the Spirit of God inclining him in one direction, and the lusts of the flesh in another; that one of these influences is so great as in fact to restrain and control the mind, and prevent its doing what it would otherwise do; that when there is an inclination in one direction, there is a controlling and overpowering influence in another, producing a conflict, which prevents it, and which finally checks and restrains the mind. There is no reason for interpreting this, moreover, as seems always to be the case, of the overpowering tendency in the mind to evil, as if it taught that the Christian was desirous of doing good, but could not, on account of his indwelling corruption. So far as the language of Paul or the fact is concerned, it may be understood of just the opposite, and may mean, that such are the restraints and influences of the Holy Spirit on the heart, that the Christian does not the evil which he otherwise would, and to which his corrupt nature inclines him.

    He (Paul) is exhorting them Galatians 5:16 to walk in the Spirit, and assures them that thus they would not fulfil the lusts of the flesh. To encourage them to this, he reminds them that there were contrary principles in their minds, the influences of the Spirit of God, and a carnal and downward tendency of the flesh. These are contrary one to the other; and such are, in fact, the influences of the Spirit on the mind, that the Christian does not do the things which he otherwise would. So understood, or understood in any fair interpretation of the original, it makes no assertion about the ability or inability of man to do right or wrong. It affirms as a fact, that where these opposite principles exist, a man does not do the things which otherwise he would do. If a man could not do otherwise than he actually does, he would not be to blame. Whether a Christian could not resist the influences of the Holy Spirit, and yield to the corrupt desires of the flesh; or whether he could not overcome these evil propensities and do right always, are points on which the apostle here makes no affirmation. His is the statement of a mere fact, that where these counteracting propensities exist in the mind, there is a conflict, and that the man does not do what he otherwise would do.

    Wesley's Notes on Galatians 5:17

    5:17 For the flesh desireth against the Spirit - Nature desires what is quite contrary to the Spirit of God. But the Spirit against the flesh - - But the Holy Spirit on his part opposes your evil nature. These are contrary to each other - The flesh and the Spirit; there can be no agreement between them. That ye may not do the things which ye would - - That, being thus strengthened by the Spirit, ye may not fulfil the desire of the flesh, as otherwise ye would do.