Essay: Interpretive Practice Worksheet: Galatians 5:19–23

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  • Interpretive Practice Worksheet: Galatians 5:19–23
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1. Author’s Purpose Tool*: What is the overall purpose of Paul’s letter to the Galatian church?

Paul wrote this letter to the Galatian people for many reasons, but his overall purpose of writing this letter was to correct the improper way that the Galatian people were living the Christian life. The Galatians were treating the Jewish law as requirements to enter in salvation, so Paul was writing to tell them that the Jewish law should be treated as an effect of receiving the Gospel (Fee). Essentially, Paul was correcting the Galatians and urging them to rely on God’s grace for salvation, not their completion or adherence to the laws of the Jewish Torah. Paul explains in Galatians that the Jewish law was no longer the path to salvation.

2. Context Tool*:

a. How are Paul’s statements in Gal. 5: 16–18 and Gal. 5:24–26 related to his statements in Gal. 5:19–23?

Paul’s statements in Galatians 5:16-18 and 5:24-26 are related to what he said in Galatians 5:19-23 because the all three passages talk about the Spirit in some way. 5:16-18 and 5:24-26 talk about or even command the Galatian believers to walk in the Spirit. Walking in the Spirit can be defined as living life under the continual control and guidance of the Holy Spirit, which God gives to Christians as a counselor. 5:19-23 is about the Christian life when the Spirit isn’t in control, and the sinful nature that all humans are susceptible too is on the throne of a Christian’s life. These verses demonstrate the discrepancy between the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit (Gromacki,).

b. How are his statements in Gal. 5:19–23 related to the book’s overall purpose?

The statements that Paul makes in Galatians 5:19-23 are related to the book’s purpose because Paul was reminding the Galatian people about the correct way to live the Christian life, which is to avoid the sinful nature that Galatians 5:19-23 talks about. Paul focused on the sins that Christians struggle with in 5:19-23, and the purpose of the book is to teach the Galatians about the Christian life.

3. Structure Tool*: How does Paul organize his statements in Gal. 5:19–23?

This passage is mainly about the marks of the flesh and the Spirit. 5:19-21b is a list of the sins that constitute the fleshly works. 5:19 outlines the sexual sins that Paul was concerned about. A rejection of the Christian command to worship God is contained in 5:20a. 5:20b-21a outlines sins that are social in nature. 5:21b mentions the sins of revelry. A warning about judgement is the main element of 5:21c. Finally, the fruit of the Spirit are explained in 5:22-23 (Schreiner,).

4. Linking Words Tool: Identify the Linking Words in Gal. 5:19–23 (ESV) and explain their significance.

The first linking word found in this passage is the word “and”, which is used to attach the various works of the flesh and the fruits of the spirit together. Another linking word that I found is the word “as”, which is used to refer to Paul’s previous warning to the Galatians. The word “but” signifies the switch from the works of the flesh to the fruit of the Spirit. When Paul uses “but” in verse 22, he demonstrates the difference between the sins that are directly against God, and the product of the Spirit in the lives of Christians.

5. Parallelism Tool: Identify any parallel relationships in Gal. 5:19–23.

The parallel relationship that I found in this passage is the relationship between the acts of the sinful nature and the fruit of the Spirit. Paul compares these two polar opposites by listing both and mentioning the consequences of the sinful nature.

6. Vocabulary Tool:

a. What is the Greek word Paul uses in Gal. 5:22 that is translated “fruit” in the ESV?


b. According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, what is this word’s range of meaning (see or

The word “karpos” can mean literal fruit from trees, an effect or result, praises, or a harvest of eternal

c. What is the contextual meaning of this word in Gal. 5:22?

The contextual meaning of “karpos” in Galatians 5:22 is work, act, or deed, which refers the fruit of the Spirit.

7. Translations Tool: Read the translations of Gal. 5:19–23 in the NASB, HCSB, and NLT. Identify the differences between these translations of this text.

There’s several differences between all three translations in the words used to describe the works of the flesh. Another difference is the warning in verse 21b, in which the NLT says that “anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God”, but the NASB is says that “those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God”. This is an important difference because living a lifestyle can have a completely different meaning than practicing a sin.

8. Repetition Tool: Identify any important instances of repetition in Gal. 5:19–23 and explain their significance?

The first instance of repetition in this passage is the usage of two different lists. The first list concerning the works of the flesh is repeated or mirrored in the list about the fruit of the Spirit. Another instance of repetition is the consequences that come with each of these contrasting lifestyles.

9. Genre Tool*:

a. What is the genre of Galatians?

Galatians is a book of the genre known as an epistle (George). Customarily, Galatians is thought of as an epistle, but it is technically not an epistle due to the writing style. Paul was not a scholarly man, and Galatians reflects his personality and abilities. The informality of Galatians is one of the main components of the writing which makes it theoretically not an epistle.

b. How does this affect the way that you read and interpret Gal. 5:19–23?

The fact that Galatians is a letter written from Paul to a group of people changes the way that Christians in this day and age should study Galatians. Galatians 5:19-23 could be interpreted as a list for all Christians to abide by, or it could be interpreted as instructions solely for the Galatian churches. The argument could be made that this Scripture is applicable to all Christians because it is God-breathed. However, even though all Scripture is ordained by God, not all applications that are drawn from it are. I think that these verses can be applied to the modern-day Christian’s life because they are in accordance with other passages of Scripture that deal with these issues.

10. Bible Time Line Tool:

a. How is Gal. 5:19–23 related to the Bible’s time-line?

Galatians 5:19-23 is found after redemption and before the new creation.

b. How is Gal 5:19–23 related to the work of Christ and the gospel?

The work of Christ and the gospel relates to Galatians 5:19-23 because this verse speaks about the fruit that is produced with Christ is working in believers through the Holy Spirit.

c. Which biblical covenant(s) provides the backdrop for Gal. 5:19–23?*

The New Covenant gives the backdrop for Galatians 5:19-23 because receiving the grace of Jesus Christ was the only way of salvation by the time this book was written (Gromacki).

11. “So What?” Tool: How can the truths in Gal. 5:19–23 be lived out by you as Christ-follower? What kind of situations would the truths in Gal. 5:19–23 effectively address when ministering to: 1) fellow Christ-followers; and 2) un-believers?

These truths can be lived out by Christ-followers by allowing the Holy Spirit to lead, guide and protect throughout the daily life of the Christian. The truths in this verse would address situations of habitual sin and the day-to-day application of Biblical truths as a Christian. Un-believers could be ministered to by this verse because it provides a clear explanation of the inherent sin nature that all humans, believers and non-believers alike struggle with.

Works Cited

Fee, Gordon. Galatians: Pentecostal Commentary. Deo Publishing, 2007.
Gromacki, Robert Glenn. Stand Fast in Liberty: An Exposition of Galatians. Kress Christian Press, 2002.
George, Timothy. Galatians. B & H, 1994.
Schreiner, Thomas R. Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: Galatians. Zondervan, 2008.

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