Watch: Galatians 5 Explained | Dr. Peter Williamson | Bishop's Year of the Bible

Today Bishop Earl Boyea's Year of the Bible reaches Chapter 5 of Saint Paul's Letter to the Galatians. Here is the text:​

So what is God saying to us in this chapter? To help us prayerfully discern the answer to that, here's another great video reflection by Dr. Peter Williamson of Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit. Here is what he has to say:

Hello I am Dr. Peter Williamson from Sacred Heart Major Seminary. Thanks for joining me as we make our way, together, through Bishop Boyea’s Year of the Bible.

I am excited to introduce Galatians 5 to you since it teaches both the content of the Christian way of life, and more importantly, how we can overcome our sinful tendencies to live it successfully.

In the previous two chapters St. Paul presents arguments from Scripture and experience to support what he stated emphatically in chapter 2, namely, that Christians are made right with God, i.e., justified, not by keeping the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.

He begins chapter 5 by exhorting his readers to accept what he has been saying: For freedom Christ has set you free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. He especially warns Gentile Christians against being circumcised and taking on the law of Moses. He severely warns against the people teaching that false message.

But a question arises. If Christians are not called to live out the laws contained in the Old Testament, what should guide their conduct? In Galatians 5, especially the second half, Paul answers this question with two important teachings, the first of which is well known, and the second of which is hardly known at all, but is life-changing.

The first and better known teaching is the law of love. Paul writes, “For the whole law is contained in one word. ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” So in place of the law of Moses, Paul points us to love as our rule of conduct. He adds, “through love be servants of one another.”

The lesser known teaching is found in verse 16 and I quote it in the New American Bible which provides a more accurate translation of this verse than the RSV: “live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desires of the flesh.” By “the Spirit,” Paul means the Holy Spirit. By “flesh” Paul refers to the sinful tendencies of our fallen human nature.

Paul is saying that if we ask for and allow the Holy Spirit to guide and empower us we can and will overcome our sinful nature and live in love. This is what Christian freedom is all about—the freedom of the Holy Spirit! At the end of the chapter Paul describes what the Holy Spirit will produce in us if we let him: “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control” (vv 22-23).