Galatians 5:23 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Galatians 5:23, NIV: gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:23, ESV: gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:23, KJV: Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Galatians 5:23, NASB: gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:23, NLT: gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

Galatians 5:23, CSB: gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things.

What does Galatians 5:23 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

To compare a life devoted to serving self with a life lived in the power of God's Spirit, Paul has made two lists. The first list (Galatians 5:19–21) showed the sinful lifestyles resulting from a worldly "me first" attitude. Such lifestyles are completely natural for human beings, but they are not beneficial. Paul's second is what grows naturally from those supernaturally led by the Spirit of God. Only those who are God's, by faith in Christ, have the opportunity to live this way. Those who do are marked by the characteristics of the "fruit of the Spirit," as listed beginning in the previous verse. Paul concludes his list of those characteristics here with two more: gentleness and self-control.

Gentleness is not to be misunderstood as weakness or a willingness to let others always have their way. Instead, this is the supernatural ability in the Spirit's power not to demand control or be extreme in our responses. Rather, we can submit to God's control over whatever situation we are in. The Greek word used here is prautēs, which implies someone humble and tranquil, not frail or fragile.

The final characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit is self-control, from the original word enkrateia. This is an important inclusion, since it helps prove that God does not intend His Spirit to overcome our will and possess us, turning us into robotic servants. In the context of our relationship with Christ, self-control is the supernatural ability to submit our will to His leading in our lives. A Spirit-controlled person is always in full control of his or her own mind, body, and words. This contrasts with Paul's condemnation of sins such as sensuality and impurity, from verses 19 and 20.