A Study of the Phrase 'Walk by the Spirit' in Galatians 5

--By Joseph Wang

Two different Greek words for the English word 'walk' are used in Galatians 5 -peripateo in verse 16 refers to a common, habitual daily walk, while stoicheo in verse 25 means to walk according to rules. In other words, the former is an individual matter; the latter, a corporate walk - a military term.

Walk' generally implies conduct, behavior, act, deed, manner, daily living, or way of life, and may also refer to the spiritual character of a person. (Ezek.11:20, Rom. 8:4) "Walk by the Spirit" in both Gal. 5:16 and 5:25 may also be considered as a type of proper, decent, and even a divine action. We may link this kind of walk to a walk with God.

No history of the first man, Adam, experiencing a "walk with God" is recorded in the Bible, even before man's fall. Rather, the first person who walked with God was Enoch (Gen. 5:22, 24), and the second was Noah. Noah was a righteous man and perfect in his generations (Gen. 6:9). Although Enoch seemed to be a rather common person, yet he walked with God three hundred years.

Enoch means 'initiated', 'consecrated', 'disciplined', or 'orderly'. Hebrews 11:5 indicates that Enoch believed God, His words and His acts. Enoch obtained the testimony that he was well pleasing to God. Jude verses 14 and 15 record Enoch's prophesy about the ungodly - this word was mentioned three times in verse 15 - sinners and the coming judgment. We may conclude that Enoch was a disciplined, well-trained, well-behaved and godly person. Furthermore, he was a man of faith who feared God, did things pleasing to God, and took the initiative to pursue God during the first sixty-five years of his life. With this kind of disciplined living, he was surely qualified to walk with God. Enoch walked with God. At last, God took him away; in other words, he was raptured.

As for the meaning of 'walk by the Spirit' we may illustrate as follows:
(1) 'Walk by the Spirit' may be considered as 'walk with God' as mentioned above, namely in Gen. 5:22, 24, and 6:9.
(2) 'Walk by the Spirit' is to walk with Him (Rev. 3:4), in Him (Col. 2:6), with His presence (Acts 2:38), even as He walked (1 John 2:6).
(3) 'Walk by the Spirit' is to follow Him, thus not in the darkness but having the light of life (John 8:12).
(4) 'Walk by the Spirit' is to please God in all things (Col 1:10; 1Thess. 4:1; Heb. 11:5).
(5) 'Walk by the Spirit' is to be led by the Spirit (Gal. 5:18).
(6) 'Walk by the Spirit' is to walk according to our spirit (Rom. 8:4, 6), and in the spirit (2 Cor. 12:18).
(7) 'Walk by the Spirit' is to walk in truth (2 Cor. 4:2; Gal. 2:14; 2 John 4; 3 John 3, 4), and in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord (Luke 1: 6; 2 John 6).
(8) 'Walk by the Spirit' is to walk in faith (Rom. 4:12), and by faith (2 Cor. 5: 7).
(9) 'Walk by the Spirit' is to walk in the light (1 John 1: 7), and in the day (John 11: 9; Rom. 13:13).
(10) 'Walk by the Spirit' is to walk in the newness of life (Rom. 6: 4), and as children of life (Eph. 5: 8).
(11) 'Walk by the Spirit' is to walk in love (Eph. 5: 2; 2 John 6).
(12) 'Walk by the Spirit' is to walk in wisdom (Col. 4: 5), and as wise (Eph. 5: 15).
(13) 'Walk by the Spirit' is to walk by the rule (Gal. 6:16; Phil. 3:16), and to walk orderly (Acts 21:24).
(14) 'Walk by the Spirit' is to walk worthily of the calling with which we were called (Eph. 4: 1; 1 Thess. 2:12).

Above all, we should do everything according to the Scriptures. In other words, whatever words God shows us, we should receive, obey and follow. Everything contrary to the above points we should keep our hands off. We do have the spirit, even the mingled spirit. Let us exercise and use it.

Conclusion: We should be trained, disciplined, and perfected, and listen to the Spirit, obey Him, trust and depend on Him and return to the tree of life. Let Him lead, regulate, adjust, direct, and correct us in our daily life. Eventually this will become our way of life. Hallelujah!

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