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The New Oxford Annotated Bible New Revised Standard Study Bible that provides essential scholarship and guidance for Bible readers.

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Commentary on Galatians

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Commentary spanning earlier chapters

2.15–5.1 : Paul's gospel: faith in Christ frees us from law.

4.21–5.1 : The allegory of Hagar and Sarah.

21 :

The law in the Hebrew Bible comprises the first five books, the Pentateuch or Torah.

22–23 :

Gen 16.1–4,15; 21.1–7 .

24 :

Allegory, a method of reading a text that understands the characters, narrative, and other elements as speaking about another reality entirely. These women are two covenants, i.e., Hagar represents those descendants of Abraham who observe the law and Sarah those who through Christ are the true heirs to God's promise to Abraham.

25 :

Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, there are several variants of this text; see note a. Paul's identification of Hagar with Mount Sinai, where the law was given to Israel, is unparalleled.

26 :

The Jerusalem above … our mother, Paul draws on the prophets' vision of the pilgrimage of the nations to the restored Jerusalem (Isa 51.2–6; ch 60; 62.1–2; Zech 2.10–12). Ps 86.5 (Septuagint) (cf. Ps 87.5 ) has the phrase “mother Zion.”

27 :

Isa 54.1; see also Isa 51.2–3 .

29–30 :

Gen 21.9–10 . Genesis does not explicitly mention Ishmael persecuting Isaac, but the idea is found in interpretations of Gen 21.9 .

5.2–6.10 : Practical applications and exhortations.

5.2–12 : Paul's case against circumcision.

A Gentile, Paul argues, who accepts circumcision is seeking righteousness through the law, an act incompatible with faith in Christ.

4 :

See 2.16; 3.10–12 .

6 :

Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision, 6.15; 1 Cor 7.19 . The alternative faith made effective through love (note a) gives faith a passive sense. It is instigated through love, presumably God's love.

8 :

The one who calls you, God through Christ, see 1.6n.

9 :

Paul uses the same proverb in 1 Cor 5.6 . He is concerned that his opponents will win over the whole Galatian community.

11 :

Some of Paul's opponents may have alleged he was inconsistent in his position on Gentile circumcision, perhaps pointing out that he had Timothy circumcised (Acts 16.1–3 ).

12 :

A negative and bitterly sarcastic allusion to circumcision; see Phil 3.2 .

5.13–6.10 : The behavior of those called in freedom to live by the Spirit.

Paul presents a Christian ethic in reply to those demanding observance of the law from the Galatians.

5.13–26 : Christian liberty.

13 :

See vv. 1,6 . Slaves to one another, mutual submission is an important theme for Paul and his followers, see Eph 5.21; Phil 2.3 .

14 :

Lev 19.18; Mt 22.39; Rom 13.8–10 .

16 :

Desires of the flesh, the self‐indulgence (lit. “flesh”; note c) warned against in v. 13; see Eph 2.3 .

16–17 :

The opposition of the Spirit to the flesh ( 3.3; Rom 8.1–17 ) leads to inner conflict (Rom 7.14–24 ).

18 :

Rom 6.14 .

19–23 :

Catalogues of vices and virtues were a common form of ethical instruction in the Greco‐Roman world (see Mk 7.21–22; Mt 15.19; Rom 1.29–31; 1 Cor 6.9–10; 2 Cor 6.6–7; 12.20–21; Phil 4.8; Col 3.5–14; 1 Tim 1.9–10; 6.11; 2 Tim 3.2–5; 1 Pet 2.1; 4.3; 2 Pet 1.5–7; Rev 21.8; 22.15 ).

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