CALLED TO LIVE IN FREEDOM

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NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R. Seyda

PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIAN CHURCHES

CHAPTER FIVE (Lesson XCVII)

In Paul’s letters to the Galatians, Ephesians, and Corinthian congregations we see one of the clearest examples of this process of Love transformed. First, let’s look at the list of fruit he shares in Galatians and Ephesians.

Galatians 5:22 Love transformed into:

•    Joy

•    Peace

•    Patience

•    Kindness

•    Goodness

•    Faithfulness

•    Gentleness

•    Self-Control

Ephesians 5:9 Love transformed Light into:

•    Goodness

•    Righteousness

•    Truth

When writing to the Corinthians, Paul does not expand the list; he expands Love by indicating how Love acts in various ways and circumstances to produce the other fruit already listed:

1Corinthians 13:1-7 Transformed – Love

•    is kind

•    does not envy

•    does not boast

•    is not proud

•    is not rude

•    is not self-seeking

•    keeps no record of wrongs

•    does not delight in evil

•    rejoices in the truth

•    always protects

•    always trusts

•    always hopes

•    always perseveres

•    never fails

While these are examples of what Love does or doesn’t do, they do not define what motivates Love to manifest itself this way. We need to see how the Spirit transmits Love through man’s new spiritual attitude to understand the transformation that takes place.

Joy •    Love that is excited
Peace •    Love that is secure
Patience •    Love that is consistent
Kindness •    Love that is cultured
Goodness •    Love that is mature
Faithfulness •    Love that is trustworthy
Gentleness •    Love that is humble
Self-Control •    Love that is disciplined

Finally, this concept allows each virtue to be different while sustaining unity with the essence of Love.  Furthermore, Love comes from one source – God, and brought into our lives at the new birth by the Holy Spirit. The result is selfless expressions of Love communicated when the Holy Spirit and the believer’s reborn spirit integrate to provide the right atmosphere for ripening and distributing. Without Love, none of it would be possible. No wonder Paul says that Jesus the Anointed loved us so much, He surrendered Himself to die on our behalf.[1]

Stanley L. Derickson, an ordained minister in the Berean Church, gives us a comparative chart on life with the fruit of the reborn spirit and living without such fruit. It certainly gives insight into how much the fruit of the reborn spirit can transform a life through Love.[2] I modified the line on “Faith” and changed it to “Faithfulness” to conform with our interpretation of the word. I also chose appropriate antonyms to reflect the opposite attitude.

WITH FRUIT WITHOUT FRUIT
LOVE Dislike/Hated
JOY Sadness/Could not careless
PEACE Turmoil/Confusion
LONG-SUFFERING Short temper/Sharp tongue
GENTLENESS Roughness/Abruptness
GOODNESS Badness/Nastiness
FAITHFULNESS Inconsistent/Untrustworthy
MEEKNESS Superficial/Know it all
SELF-CONTROL Succumbs to peer pressure/Irresponsible

After this listing of the fruit of the reborn spirit, beginning with Love, Augustine of Hippo shares his thoughts. Since Paul placed fornication at the head of the effects of sinful tendencies, and then love at the top of the spiritual virtues, what student of the Scripture would not be fascinated to compare the rest of the attributes? For if fornication is sexual infatuation unconnected to a lawful marriage and wandering in search of an opportunity to gratify its lust, what about Love lawfully married for the sake of spiritual fruitfulness to the glory and honor of God?

The more steadfast person keeps God’s teachings, that person will be less sustained by sinful tendencies. A person becomes attached to another by Love. It is right, then, for Love to be opposed to fornication, for morality is preserved only by Love.[3] In other words, in the actions of the sinful nature, fornication is love gone wrong, while in the spiritual nature, fidelity is love gone right.

Early church writer Haimo of Auxerre tells us that in Latin, the word used for “Love” here is dilectio.” He goes on to explain that dilectio binds two things together, whether God and a human being or two neighbors. It rightly takes its place as first among the virtues because it ties together the other attributes. Consequently, Love brought into our hearts by the Holy Spirit is not just directed back to God, but all those around us. Therefore, if we are to Love God with all our heart and our neighbor as ourselves, how much more should we be prone to Love our fellow believers, those who are one with us as we are one with the Anointed. To this, a later medieval church scholar, Bruno the Carthusian, adds that without this Love for God and our fellow believer, the rest of this fruit will not develop in our lives.

Catholic Theologian Thomas Aquinas sees a parallel between when John observed, “On both sides of the river stood the Tree of Life, bearing twelve fruits in their seasons.”[4] What Paul says here about the fruit of the reborn spirit being noticeably distinguished is because “this fruit perfects a believer inwardly and outwardly.”[5] We cannot see the reborn spirit’s fruit on the outside unless produced on the inside of a believer’s heart and mind.

Aquinas explains that the urge to do right or wrong things comes from within. Paul told the Corinthians that with God’s power working in us, we use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and in the left hand for defense.’[6] I like the way the Complete Jewish Bible renders it: “By God’s power, we commend ourselves through our use of righteous weapons, whether for pressing our cause or defending it.” Concerning good things, says Aquinas, a person is perfected, first of all, in their heart through Love. For just as in natural tendencies, there is first nature’s inclination of cravings to be satisfied. The same is true of our spiritual aspirations toward appetite to do good. And we satisfy that appetite by first showing Love to God and others.[7]

As Martin Luther expresses it: “It would have been enough to mention only the single fruit of love, for love embraces all the fruit of the reborn spirit. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul attributes to Love all the fruit of the reborn spirit: ‘Love suffers long, and is kind,’ etc. Here Paul lets Love stand by itself among other fruit of the reborn spirit to remind the Christians to love one another, ‘in honor preferring one another,’ to esteem others more than themselves because they have the Anointed and the Holy Spirit within them.”[8]

[1] Galatians 2:20

[2] Derickson, Stanley L., On Galatians, op. cit., p. 561

[3] Augustine of Hippo: Commentary on Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit.

[4] Revelation 22:2

[5] Aquinas, Thomas: Commentary on Galatians, loc cit.

[6] 2 Corinthians 6:7

[7] Aquinas, Thomas: op. cit.

[8] Luther, Martin: Commentary on Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit.

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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