Friday, January 15, 2010

Galatians Journal: Chapter 5, verse 25

Galatians 5:25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Paul appears to be summing things up, and ties this discussion back to its beginning in Galatians 5:16. But the word translated as “live” is different here.

In Galatians 5:16, Paul says “live by the Spirit.” In the Greek, the work “live” is peripateo, which literally means to walk, to make one’s way, as to make progress. We discussed that concept back in verse 16, and found that “walking” in the Spirit was a decidedly Hebrew concept. The Jewish culture connected the concept of walking with living, as a relationship, like two people walking together, so that to walk in the Spirit meant to regulate, conduct, and to pass one’s life in a close relationship with God.

Here, however, Paul uses a different word for “live.” The Greek word for “live” in verse 25 is zao. It literally means “to live” as in breathe, implying the physical aspects of life, such as respiration, pulse, being awake, being conscious, to be quick, alive, or lively. There is sense of vibrant athleticism about this word. It means to be among the living, as opposed to being dead.

This word has deep, multiple layers of meanings. It is derived from the Greek word zoe, which is root word and most common term in Greek for “life.” This term implies a life that is full of animation and vitality – the absolute fullness of life. In its verb form here, it means to pass life in the manner of living and acting as a mortal, or as a character in a drama. But even more, it implies the ENJOYMENT of life -- to have true life, a life worth living. It implies an active life, a full life, a blessed life. In the context of Christianity, it is a life that is endless in the Kingdom of God. It is used as a metaphor to show life in full vigor, to be fresh, strong, and efficient. As an adjective, it means “powerful” and “efficacious.” In Psalm 19:5, the sun is described as a “champion,” rejoicing to run his course. The word here for “life” fits in that – if we “live” using this word, we live a life like a champion, rejoicing as we win the victories in our lives laid out before us by God. Indeed, when Jesus speaks of “living water’ in John 4, this is the exact same word He uses – meaning water that has a vital power in itself, exerting the same kind of power over our souls and lives.

Thus, Paul is connecting our life in the Spirit with vitality, power, and the newness of life in Christ. When we connect this “life” with the concept of “life” back in verse 16, we have a vital, living relationship with God through the Holy Spirit as we proceed through our life, day by day.

“let us keep in step with the Spirit.” But there is still a connection with “walking” right here in verse 25. But once again, the word is different. The King James Version translates the word here as “walk,” while the NIV renders it “keeping in step.” The Living Bible says “walking in line.” The original Greek is a verb that is used to describe soldiers marching in a line, implying discipline, order , timeliness, and regularity.

Interestingly, it is also a metaphor for achievement. It envisions marching forward, but to do so prosperously, to turn out well, or to succeed. Victory! Thus, as Paul sums up this discussion of how to live and walk by the Spirit, he is saying that because we live a vibrant, powerful, exciting and enjoyable life in and through the Holy Spirit, we need to take on the discipline inherent in that concept, as a soldier would, and “march on” to success and prosperity in the Lord. The “walk” certainly won’t necessarily be easy, but the fruit discussed in the previous verses is well worth the “march.”

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