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Galatians 5 – Skeptic's Annotated Bible answered

A response and reply to the notes on Galatians 5 in the Skeptic's Annotated Bible (SAB).

King James Version

SAB comment

My comment

1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

2 Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.

"If ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing."
Is circumcision required?
One of the major points in the New Testament is that males are no longer required to be circumcised. It's a question that pops up again and again, see for example Acts 15:1 and the Apostle Convent that is described following that in the same chapter. And the answer is clearly no. Yes, in Old Testament times circumcision was the sign of the covenant. It was not required for salvation. In New Testament times baptism is the sign of the covenant, and also is not required for salvation. You can be saved, and not having been baptised due to untimely death.

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

4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

"Ye are fallen from grace."
Is it possible to fall from grace?
Saints cannot fall from grace, see Rom. 8:38. But here Paul does not discuss the state of the saints after they have sinned. He addresses those men who have circumcised themselves, as if that was necessary: they have fallen from grace says the apostle Paul. The meaning is that they professed salvation by grace before, but now no longer. That is meant with “fallen from grace.” To make this text address the topic that one who is saved, can become unsaved, you would have to establish first that the persons who circumcised themselves, were saved. And there is simply no basis in the text for such a belief.

5 For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.

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

7 Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?

8 This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you.

9 A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.

10 I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be.

11 And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased.

12 I would they were even cut off which trouble you.

"I would they were even cut off which trouble you."
Gosh, that doesn't sound very nice. But I wonder what Paul meant by "cut off". The New Revised Standard Version translates this verse as: "I wish those who unsettle you would castrate themselves!"
"By love serve one another."
"Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."
How should nonbelievers be treated?
The NRSV translation is very fanciful. Perhaps it's based on one of those “oldest and best manuscripts.” But John Gill explains:

that they might be cut off out of the land of the living by the immediate hand of God, that they might do no more mischief to the churches of Christ: this he said not out of hatred to their persons, but from a concern for the glory of God, and the good of his people.

So “cut off” means die. And it is said of those persons who told the Galatians that salvation is by works, by following the law, and not by believing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
And this verse does not address how we should treat unbelievers, as this is not said to unbelievers, but to false preachers, who profess they are believers. The apostle Paul wishes that the mouth of those false teaches were stopped.

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

14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.

16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

17 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.

18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

"If ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law."
Must Christians follow the OT laws?
It depends on what law were are talking about see, see Old Testament laws.

19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

"Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; ... lasciviousness."
Is dancing a sin?
The author of the SAB asks if dancing is a sin. And quotes several occassions where people are said to have danced, such as David. But dancing and dancing isn't the same. Dancing in Israel had a vastly different meaning than the dances in Roman and our times. Dancing in Old Testament Israel was to celebrate victory and joy. But in Roman times dancing was done for very different reasons. Cicero wrote (Oration in defence of L. Murena):

no man, one may almost say, ever dances when sober, unless perhaps he be a madman; nor in solitude, nor in a moderate and sober party; dancing is the last companion of prolonged feasting, of luxurious situation, and of many refinements.

See Is dancing a sin on a Christian evaluation of dancing in our times.

20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

(5:20-21) "Idolatry, witchcraft ... heresies ... drunkenness, revellings, and such like. They which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."
Is it OK to drink alcohol?
In moderation, yes. We should not become drunk or close to drunk. See also Num. 6:3.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

(5:22-23) "Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, ... meekness, temperance: against such there is no law."
The emphasis here is on fruits of the Spirit, no mere human emotions and feelings are meant. As John Gill comments:

Not of nature or man's free will, as corrupted by sin, for no good fruit springs from thence; but ... or rather of the Holy Spirit...; the graces of which are called "fruit", and not "works", as the actions of the flesh are; because they are owing to divine influence efficacy, and bounty, as the fruits of the earth are, to which the allusion is; and not to a man's self, to the power and principles of nature

23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

Don't be conceited or envious of others.