7. The Spirit and the Flesh (Galatians 5:13-21)

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson

Paul has taken great pains to demonstrate that we are not under the law, that we are free from the bondage or slavery of the law. But this raises obvious questions:

  1. If we're not under the law, are Christians lawless?
  2. Without the law, how do Christians restrain the flesh, that is, the sinful nature?

We're Not Freed to Sin (5:13)

Paul points to the New Covenant alternative to the law.

"13 You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom[200] to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. 14 The entire law is summed up in a single command:[201] 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" (5:13-14)

Our freedom is not a license to do anything -- licentiousness -- but freedom to fulfill the law through the Spirit. And that fulfillment is found in love. While the Mosaic law spelled out every detail of men's obligations to one another, Paul refers to Jesus'own saying:

"So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 7:12)

 "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:37-40)

The command to love your neighbor "sums up"[202] the whole law in a single command. If you don't serve in love, literally, "act as a slave toward" others in love,[203] the other option is "to indulge the sinful nature" -- which we'll look at in a moment.

The Flesh as the Sinful Nature in Paul's Writings

Our problem is that we aren't just human and imperfect. There is something twisted about our nature that gives us what John Wesley called "a bent to sinning." To describe this, Paul uses the word "flesh" (sarx), variously translated as "the flesh" (KJV, NASB), "the sinful nature" (NIV), "self-indulgence" (NRSV, NJB), or "sinful self-interest" (The Message). The roots of Paul's usage come from the Hebrew word basar, "skin, flesh," which is used in much the same way as Paul uses the Greek word sarx.[204] It has five basic meanings, all of which Paul seems to use in Galatians, though they may overlap more than is suggested by the five meanings below:

  1. Flesh, the tissue, muscle that covers the bones of a human or animal body

    "... they want you to be circumcised so that they may boast about your flesh."[205] (6:14)

  2. Physical body

    "The life I now live in the flesh...." (2:20)

    "Through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel to you, and my trial which was in my flesh you despised not." (4:13-14)

  3. Living being

    "Flesh and blood." (1:6)

    "... By the works of the law shall no flesh be justified." (2:16)

  4. Human, mortal

    "The child of the slave was born according to the flesh...." (4:23, 29)

  5. Corrupt human nature, dominated by sin and rebellion against God. Paul weaves from one meaning to another, so some references are hard to classify exactly, but the most characteristic Pauline use of sarx is as corrupt human nature.

According to Ladd, for Paul, flesh represents, "... man as a whole, seen in his fallenness, opposed to God.... unregenerate, fallen, sinful man."[206] Bruce describes this use of "flesh" as "that self-regarding element in human nature which has been corrupted at the source, with its appetite and propensities...."[207] Ridderbos calls it "the description of man in his sin and depravity.... sin in the whole of its purport, as turned away from and averse to God."[208] Here is how Paul uses sarx as human corruption in Galatians:

"Having started with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh?" (3:3)

"You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another in love." (5:13)

"Live by the Spirit ... and do not gratify the desires of the flesh." (5:16)

"For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is
opposed to the flesh." (5:17)

"The works of the flesh are obvious...." (5:19)

"Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and
desires." (5:24)

"If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh." (6:8)

So I take sarx, "flesh," to mean here the unregenerate personality of man apart from God, controlled by his self-seeking whims and desires -- that character which influences man to live as a god to himself.

Using Freedom with Restraint (5:13-14)

Now, let's review again what Paul is saying in 5:13:

"13 You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature (sarx); rather, serve one another in love. 14 The entire law is summed up in a single command: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" (5:13-14)

We're free from the law, Paul says, but that doesn't mean we should just do as we please -- which is, in effect "indulging the flesh." "Indulge" (NIV), "opportunity" (NRSV), "occasion" (KJV) is aphormē, literally, "a base or circumstance from which other action becomes possible," such as the starting-point or base of operations for an expedition.[209] Mere freedom can provide a base of operations for sin. Paul calls for freedom from the law, but not licentiousness.

Destructive Behavior in the Church (5:15)

Paul can't resist observing an example of how unrestrained flesh in the Galatian churches was tearing them apart -- as it has many churches since then. He warns:

"If you keep on biting[210] and devouring[211] each other, watch out or you will be destroyed[212] by each other." (5:15)

The result of the out-of-control "flesh" is selfishness and destruction of the Christian community. Many of the "works of the flesh" below are being played out in the church community, including conceit, challenges, and envy (5:26).

To understand the Letter to the Galatians you must comprehend that the churches'problems were not just doctrinal, but there was a lot of disruption going on, a manifestation of the corrupt sinful nature. Paul exhorts them in 6:7-10 about the importance of sowing to the Spirit, not the flesh, thus "doing good" for the church community.

Q1. (Galatians 5:13-15) Have you ever seen Christians act as if they were lawless? How do Spirit-led Christians fulfill the spirit of the law? What does backbiting and rudeness in a congregation say about the spiritual climate of that congregation (5:15)?

Walking in the Spirit (5:16-18)

God's alternative to the law as a restraint for the corrupt human nature comes in the Holy Spirit.

"16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law." (5:16-18)

These verses teach a two-fold action of the Holy Spirit to keep the corrupt sinful nature ("the flesh," sarx) from controlling our lives.

  1. The Spirit Releases (5:16). The Holy Spirit frees us from bondage to the corrupt sinful nature.
  2. The Spirit Restrains (5:17-18). The Holy Spirit contends actively with the flesh to keep us from sinning like we otherwise would if the Spirit were not active in our lives.

Let's look carefully at these verses.

1. Released by the Spirit from Bondage to the Flesh (5:16)

"So I say, live by[213] the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature." (5:16)

This sentence has two parts. First, the command to live empowered by the Holy Spirit, translated variously, "live" (NIV, NRSV), "walk" (KJV), "be guided by" (NJB). The verb is peripateō, literally, "to walk around." Then the word takes on a figurative meaning: "to conduct one's life, comport oneself, behave, live as habit of conduct."[214] The word is in the present imperative, thus a command to the continuous action of walking in the Spirit. We'll look at what this means in practical terms in just a moment.

The second part of the sentence discusses fulfilling the desires of the flesh. Because we are human, we'll always have temptations, that is, the "desires of the sinful nature" or "flesh" (sarx). "Desires" (NIV, NRSV), "lusteth" (KJV) is epithymeō, "to have a strong desire to do or secure something, desire, long for"[215] (also found in verse 17). But to be tempted with a desire doesn't mean that we have to act on that temptation or desire. We are not animals.

The word "gratify" (NIV, NRSV), "fulfill" (KJV), "carry out" (NASB), "follow through on" (GW) is teleō, with the basic meaning, "to complete an activity or process, bring to an end, finish, complete something." Then there is a derived meaning: "to carry out an obligation or demand, carry out, accomplish, perform, fulfill, keep something."[216] We may feel a desire, but we don't have to carry out that temptation.

There's a grammatical question in interpreting verse 16 suggesting two possible translations:

  1. A conditional sentence, a condition (walking with the Spirit) and a result (not gratifying fleshly desires) -- as translated by the NIV, KJV, NASB, and NJB.[217] 
  2. A pair of commands calling for decision: (a) walk in the Spirit and (b) do not gratify fleshly desires (NRSV).[218]

Of the two, it seems to me that this should be understood as a conditional sentence. Then the force of this verse is quite powerful as a promise to believers:

IF you walk in the Spirit,
THEN the impulses of the flesh won't find fulfillment and thus they lose their power.

Notice that Paul doesn't appeal to will power to resist temptation -- though I'm sure that this is involved. He points to the dynamic power that the Holy Spirit has when we walk with Him. If we can learn to walk with the Spirit as a way of life, we can break the hold that the flesh has had over our lives up to this point. Praise God!

2. Restrained by the Spirit from the Flesh's Dominance (5:17-18)

"17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that[219] you do not do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law." (5:17-18)

If you've ever tried to push two magnets together, you know how difficult it is. Their magnetic fields repel each other. This war between the Holy Spirit and the flesh is expressed in two ways in verse 17.

  1. Preposition: "Contrary to" (NIV), "opposed to" (NRSV), "against" (KJV) is the preposition kata, "down upon, toward, against someone or something," here in a hostile sense.[220]
  2. Verb: "In conflict with" (NIV), opposed to" (NRSV), "contrary to" (KJV) is the verb antikeimai, "be opposed to someone, be in opposition to something."[221] Its basic meaning is "to be set over against, lie opposite to,"[222] from anti, "opposite, over against" + keimai, "to lie."

According to verse 17, both the flesh and the Spirit have desires (epithymeō, see 5:16 above) which drive and motivate them. The flesh desires us to act like a god to ourselves; the Spirit points us to serve the true God in love and faithfulness.

Previously, the law was our restraint from letting the flesh get out of control -- though it was weak. Now the Holy Spirit is present to keep us from doing what the flesh wants.[223]

The hopelessness and frustration of the "wretched man" of Romans 7 gives way to the joy and freedom of Romans 8, brought about by the Holy Spirit:

"Through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death." (Romans 8:2)

Whether it was the Mosaic Law or the voice of our mother in our head that educated our conscience, the law had been our restraint. But now the restraint is the presence of the Holy Spirit himself within us, to whom we are called to yield as our guide. As a result, we see in verse 18:

"But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law." (5:18)

The law was a "schoolmaster" to lead us to Christ (3:24, KJV), but now the law is obsolete. Since we have the Holy Spirit to lead us now, we are no longer under the tutelage of the law. The verb "led" is agō, with the basic sense of "to drive, to lead." Here it carries the figurative idea, "to lead/guide morally or spiritually, lead, encourage (in the direction of)."[224]  It is in the present indicative, indicating continuous action of being led as a pattern of life. We see the leadership of the Holy Spirit in two other New Testament passages:

"Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert." (Luke 4:1)

 "Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God." (Romans 8:14)

Q2. (Galatians 5:16-18) We are told that it's impossible for a Christian to live a sinless life. What do these verses teach about that? In what way does yielding to the Spirit suppress the power of the old nature (the flesh)? If Spirit-led living is possible, why do people claim that it's impossible not to sin?

The Works of the Flesh, the Sinful Nature (5:19-21)

The Galatian church -- for all its emphasis on law -- appears to have serious internal problems.

"If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other." (5:15)

The antidote is to recognize this as a manifestation of the flesh that the law cannot contain. Now he gives us a list of some of the results of yielding to the flesh.

"19 The acts[225] of the sinful nature are obvious:[226] sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God." (5:19-21)

It's a depressing list, but let's look at each of its elements carefully.

"Adultery" appears only in the Textus Receptus that underlies the KJV, but is not found in the earliest manuscripts.

"Sexual immorality" (NIV), "fornication" (NRSV, KJV) is porneia, "unlawful sexual intercourse, prostitution, unchastity, fornication."[227] This is a broad word, and covers all types of sexual deviancy, including homosexuality. The word is common in Paul's writings, but Jesus used it too.

"For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery...." (Mark 7:21)

"Impurity" (NIV, NRSV), "uncleanness" (KJV) is akatharsia, "any substance that is filthy or dirty, refuse," then figuratively, "a state of moral corruption, immorality, vileness," used especially of sexual sins.[228] 

"Debauchery" (NIV), "licentiousness" (NRSV), "lasciviousness" (KJV) is aselgeia, "lack of self-constraint which involves one in conduct that violates all bounds of what is socially acceptable, self-abandonment."[229] The word appears in Ephesians 4:19 concerning the pagan world. Sexual excess is probably meant here -- and certainly so in Romans 13:13; 2 Corinthians 12:21; and 2 Peter 2:2, 18. Paul writes to the Ephesians:

"But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people." (Ephesians 5:3)

Paul leaves the list of sexual sins and now turns to some other sins that were common in the pagan world.

"Idolatry," of course, refers to the common practice of worship of gods using physical objects to represent them. Idolatry was an affront to the invisible God (Romans 1:20; Colossians 1:15; 1 Timothy 1:17; Hebrews 11:27), who is Spirit, not material (John 4:24), who had commanded,

"You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God...." (Exodus 20:4-5)

"Witchcraft" (NIV, KJV), "sorcery" (NRSV) is pharmakeia, "sorcery, magic,"[230] generally, "the use of any kind of drugs, potions, or spells."[231]

Now Paul moves to a group of sins that derive from a failure to love one's neighbor.

"Hatred" (NIV, KJV), "enmities" (NRSV) is echthra, "enmity."[232] The adjective form of this word is used in the Septuagint of hatred towards enemies in war or daily life, towards enemy nations, towards the enemies of the righteous, and even towards enemies of God.[233] If we let our hurts fester without being flushed by forgiveness, all the bitterness can become hatred within us. We become bitter, angry people.

"Discord" (NIV), "strife" (NRSV), "variance" (KJV) is eris, "engagement in rivalry, especially with reference to positions taken in a matter, strife, discord, contention."[234]

"Jealousy" (NIV, NRSV), "emulations" (KJV) is zēlos, "intense negative feelings over another's achievements or success, jealousy, envy."[235]

"Fits of rage" (NIV), "anger" (NRSV), "wrath" (KJV) is thymos, "a state of intense displeasure, anger, wrath, rage, indignation," here "outbursts of anger."[236]

"Selfish ambition" (NIV), "quarrels" (NRSV), "strife" (KJV) is eritheia. The word is found before New Testament times only in Aristotle's Politics, where it denotes a self-seeking pursuit of political office by unfair means. Its meaning in Paul is a matter of conjecture. Danker writes, "for Paul and his followers, the meaning 'strife, contentiousness'cannot be excluded. But 'selfishness, selfish ambition'in all cases gives a sense that is just as probable." Here it is used in the plural, "disputes or outbreaks of selfishness."[237]

"Dissensions" (NIV, NRSV), "seditions" (KJV) is dichostasia, "the state of being in factious opposition, dissension"[238] from dichastateō, "to stand apart."

"Factions" (NIV, NRSV), "heresies" (KJV) is hairesis (from which we get our English word "heresy"), "a group that holds tenets distinctive to it, sect, party, school, faction (of schools of philosophies), here, with a negative connotation, "dissension, a faction" (also found in 1 Corinthians 11:19).[239]

"Envy, envying" is phthonos, found in papyri and inscriptions, frequently associated with the 'evil eye,'"envy, jealousy."[240] 

"Murders" appears only in KJV. It isn't found in the earliest Greek manuscripts.

Finally, Paul mentions two vices related to unrestrained partying.

"Drunkenness" is methē, "drunkenness." Here, in connection with the next word, it may refer to a "drinking bout."[241]

"Orgies" (NIV), "carousing" (NRSV), "revellings" (KJV) is kōmos. Originally, it referred to a festal procession in honor of Dionysus (such as our festival of Mardi Gras), then a joyous meal or banquet. In the New Testament, it has a negative sense, "excessive feasting." Here, in the plural, it means, "carousing, revelry"[242] or "unrestrained revelry."[243]

Q3. (Galatians 5:19-21) If you were to divide the works of the flesh into several groups, what would those groups be?

Failing to Inherit the Kingdom (5:21b)

Now Paul says something startling to twenty-first century ears who have over-emphasized grace and under-emphasized holiness:

"I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God." (5:21b)

"Inherit" is klēronomeō, which means, "acquire, obtain, come into possession of something."[244] Paul is saying that if we choose to live in the flesh -- as characterized by the above list of vices -- then we won't "inherit the Kingdom of God." Surely, God will overlook our persistent sins if we say we're sorry, we say. But Paul says essentially the same thing to other Christian churches.

"Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

"For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person -- such a man is an idolater -- has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God." (Ephesians 5:5)

"5 Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7 the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. 8 Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God." (Romans 8:5-8)

We see it later in Galatians:

"7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life." (Galatians 6:7-8)

These are troubling statements. Actually, many so-called Christians are quite happy mocking God, that is, sinning like hell while expecting heaven. Paul says no. James agrees.

"17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 18 But someone will say, 'You have faith; I have deeds.'Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do." (James 2:17-18)

Our doctrinal problem is that we have confused "justification by works of the law" to mean that we can sin on and on and still be saved. It is very true that we cannot be saved by being good -- because there's no way we can be good enough to reach God's high standard. But if we have a cavalier attitude towards sinning, what does that say about our so-called faith and allegiance to Jesus?

Paul's concern "is to warn believers that they must therefore not live as others who are destined to experience the wrath of God" (Colossians 3:6).[245]

If we're serious about following Christ, we need to repent of our sins and begin a pattern and practice of yielding to the Holy Spirit. Yes, we'll slip now and then. But that doesn't mean that we can't walk consistently in the Spirit. You can't credibly say you're a follower of Jesus when you sin with impunity -- that's hypocrisy!

Q4. (5:21) Why do some Christians resist accepting Paul's warning in 5:21 and
1 Corinthians 6:9-11? What statement might these Christians desire to substitute for Paul's warning if they could reword the Scripture?

Paul has anticipated the Judaizers'contention that if the Gentiles aren't under the law that they will become licentious, lawless. Paul insists that people are unable to really keep the law because of the weakness of their corrupt sinful nature, the flesh. The law is inadequate. Only the power of the Holy Spirit can tame the flesh -- and replace the law.

Galatians: Discipleship Lessons, by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
Available in paperback and e-book formats

Though we've covered only a few verses in this lesson, the struggle between the flesh and the Spirit is the crux of the Christian life. It's important we understand this well. But the work of the Spirit is not just negative, to help us resist our corrupt sinful nature; it is also positive, growing in us the character of Christ. We'll consider that blessing of the Spirit in Lesson 8.


Father, without Your powerful Spirit we're no match for the flesh. But Your Spirit is more powerful than the flesh. Show us how to walk in the Spirit, to be led by Your Spirit, so you can lift us above our lower nature to your heavenly plans for us. Keep us from the works of the flesh. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

Key Verses

"You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love." (Galatians 5:13, NIV)

"The entire law is summed up in a single command: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" (Galatians 5:14, NIV)

"Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature." (Galatians 5:16, NIV)

"If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law." (Galatians 5:18, NIV)

End Notes

[200] "Freedom" (NIV, NRSV), "liberty" (KJV) is eleutheria, "the state of being free, freedom, liberty," especially of freedom which stands in contrast to the constraint of the Mosaic law, looked upon as slavery (BDAG 316).

[201] "Commandment" (NIV, NRSV), "word" (KJV) is logos, "word." A specialized meaning is of a formal accounting, especially of one's actions, and frequently with figurative extension of commercial terminology "account, accounts, reckoning." Here the idea probably refers to "a ledger heading" -- "All moral obligations come under one 'entry': 'you shall love your neighbor as yourself.'" (BDAG 600, 2b).

[202] "Summed up" (NIV, NRSV), "fulfilled" (KJV) is plēroō, "to make full," here, "to bring to completion that which was already begun, complete, finish." "Gal 5:14 because of its past tense is probably to be translated 'the whole law has found its full expression in a single word or is summed up under one entry.'" (BDAG 828, 3). Or, "to bring to a designed end, fulfill" a prophecy, an obligation, a promise, a law, a request, a purpose, a desire, a hope, a duty, a fate, a destiny, etc. (BDAG 828, 4b).

[203] "Serve" (NIV, KJV), "become slaves to" (NRSV) is douleuō, "be a slave," then more generally, "to act or conduct oneself as one in total service to another, perform the duties of a slave, serve, obey" (BDAG 259, 2aα).

[204] Friedrich Baumgärtel, sarx, ktl., TDNT 7:107, B1f(c). Eduard Schweizer (sarx, ktl., TDNT 7:132) notes, "the typical Pauline conjunction of flesh and sin is the same as that already found in the Old Testament." See also R.J. Erickson, "Flesh," DPL 303-306.

[205] Here sarx refers to the foreskin, "the flesh that is circumcised" (BDAG 914, 1).

[206] George Eldon Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament (Eerdmans, 1974), pp. 466-476.

[207] Bruce, Galatians, p. 240.

[208] Herman Ridderbos, Paul: An Outline of His Theology (Eerdmans, 1975, translated from the 1966 Dutch original), pp. 94, 103.

[209] Aphormē, BDAG 158. Here, "a set of convenient circumstances for carrying out some purpose, occasion, opportunity for something."

[210] "Bite/biting" is daknō, "to cause harm by biting, bite," used of snakes in Number 18:7. Here, figuratively, "to cause discomfort to, harm" (BDAG 217, 2).

[211] "Devour/devouring" is katesthiō, literally, "to eat up ravenously, eat up, consume, devour, swallow." Here it is used figuratively, "tear to pieces" (BDAG 532, 2d).

[212] "Destroyed" (NIV), "consumed" (NRSV, KJV) is analiskō, "to do away with something completely by using up, destroy, consume." Danker sees a commercial metaphor here: "See to it that you are not squandered by one another," considering the words logos and plēroō in this sentence.

[213] Fee (Presence, p. 431) sees this as a combination of the instrumental dative or locative dative of sphere.

[214] Peripateō, BDAG 803, 2aβ.

[215] Epithymeō, BDAG 373, 1.

[216] Teleō, BDAG 997, 2.

[217] The first part of the sentence is present imperative, the second part is Aorist subjunctive. Greek expert Burton sees the negative ou mē with the Aorist subjunctive as an "emphatically predictive subjunctive [which] is of frequent occurrence in Hellenistic Greek" (Ernest De Witt Burton, Syntax of the Moods and Tenses in New Testament Greek (fourth edition, University of Chicago Press, 1900), §167).

[218] This takes the second part of the sentence as a subjunctive of prohibition. From a grammatical standpoint, however, this isn't as likely based on the usage of the period. However, it fits Paul's other teachings that we must choose between these two opposing principles.

[219] The grammatical issue is whether to take hina in verse 17 as telic (denoting intention or purpose) or ecbatic (denoting a mere result or consequence; hina, BDAG 472, 3). While the telic sense is much more common, probably, we should see this as ecbatic on logical grounds, otherwise both flesh and spirit must be personified as dual conscious agents of purpose.

[220] Kata, BDAG 517, 2bγ.

[221] Antikeimai, BDAG 88.

[222] Antikeimai, Thayer 343, 1.

[223] "Want" (NIV, NRSV), "would" (KJV) is thelō, "to have something in mind for oneself, of purpose, resolve, will, wish, want, be ready" (BDAG 448, 2). In this context, I think that Paul is talking about the desires of the flesh that the Spirit counters. However, it is true that the "wretched man" that Paul portrays in Romans 7 wants to do good, but his flesh is so strong that he ends up doing the opposite (Romans 7:15-16).

[224] Agō, BDAG 16, 3.

[225] "Acts" (NIV), "works" (NRSV, KJV) is ergon, "work," here, "that which displays itself in activity of any kind, deed, action," of the deeds of humans, exhibiting a consistent moral character, referred to collectively as ta erga. Here, "deeds that originate in the flesh," that is, sin (BDAG 390, 1cβ).

[226] "Obvious" (NIV, NRSV), "manifest" (KJV) is the adjective phaneros, "pertaining to being evident so as to be readily known, visible, clear, plainly to be seen, open, plain, evident, known" (BDAG 1047, 1).

[227] Porneia, BDAG 854, 1.

[228] Akatharsia, BDAG 34, 2.

[229] Aselgeia, BDAG 142.

[230] Pharmakeia, BDAG 1049.

[231] Liddell-Scott.

[232] Echthra, BDAG 419.

[233] Werner Foerster, echthros, echthra, TDNT 2:811-814.

[234] Eris, BDAG 392.

[235] Zēlos, BDAG 472, 2.

[236] Thymos, BDAG 462, 2.

[237] Eritheia, BDAG 392.

[238] Dichostasia, BDAG 252.

[239] Hairesis, BDAG 28, 1c.

[240] Phthonos, BDAG 1054.

[241] Methē, BDAG 625.

[242] Kōmos, BDAG 580.

[243] Methē, BDAG 625.

[244] Klēronomeō, BDAG 547, 2.

[245] Fee, Presence, p. 443.

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