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Life-Study of Galatiansby Witness Lee

ISBN: 0-7363-0961-6
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry

Currently in: Chapter 38 of 46 Section 1 of 3

LIFE STUDY OF GALATIANS

MESSAGE THIRTY-EIGHT

TWO KINDS OF WALK BY THE SPIRIT

Scripture Reading: Gal. 5:16, 22-23, 25; 6:15-16; 3:2-3, 5, 14; 4:6, 29; Rom. 6:4; 8:4; 4:12; Phil. 3:16-18

In this message we shall begin to consider the matter of two kinds of walk by the Spirit. In 5:16 Paul says, “But I say, walk by the Spirit and you shall by no means fulfill the lust of the flesh.” Galatians 5:25 says, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” As we shall see, in these two verses Paul uses two different Greek words for walk.

LIVING BY THE SPIRIT

For years I have tried to understand 5:25, where Paul speaks, on the one hand, of living by the Spirit and, on the other, of walking by the Spirit. I did not know the difference between living and walking. It seemed to me that walking included living. Eventually I came to see that to live by the Spirit involves first to have life and then to live. To be born is a once-for-all matter, but to have life and to live is not once for all. On the contrary, it is a lifelong matter, for we are constantly receiving life in order to live. For example, to stay alive we must breathe moment by moment. It is not sufficient to breathe only at the moment we are born. In like manner, we need to receive life moment by moment in order to live. To live by the Spirit is, therefore, to have life and then to live. Once we have life and live, we are able to walk, to have our being in a particular way.

WALKING ABOUT AND WALKING IN LINE

As we consider the two kinds of walk by the Spirit, we shall refer to the walk in 5:16 as the first kind and to that in 5:25 as the second. The Greek word for walk in verse 16, peripateo, means to have our being, to deport ourselves, to order our manner of life, to walk about. It is used with respect to ordinary daily life. It denotes a common, habitual daily walk. This understanding of walking by the Spirit is confirmed by verses 22 and 23, where Paul speaks of the fruit of the Spirit. The various aspects of the fruit of the Spirit mentioned in these verses are not unusual things; they are aspects of our ordinary daily life. Therefore, the walk in verse 16 is our habitual and common daily walk.

The Greek word for walk in verse 25, stoicheo, has a very different meaning. It is derived from a root which means to arrange in a line. This may be illustrated by the movement of traffic in designated lanes on a highway. Thus, the Greek word for walk here means to walk in line. It also means to march in military rank. Walking in this way, like soldiers marching in rank, requires that we keep in step.

As we compare these two kinds of walk, we see that the second is more regulated than the first. In the second walk we need to walk like an army and keep in step, whereas in the first kind of walk we are free to walk about. However, both kinds of walk, the common, ordinary walk and the walking in line or in rank, are by the Spirit.

The same Greek word used for walk in 5:25 is also used elsewhere in the New Testament. In Romans 4:12 Paul speaks of those “who walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham which he had in uncircumcision.” Here the walk is not the ordinary walk, but the walk that is regulated, a walk in a definite line. In this case, the walk is in the steps of the “faith of our father Abraham.” Hence, the walk in Romans 4:12 is not a common, ordinary walk; it is a definite, particular walk, the walk in the steps of Abraham’s faith. Paul’s concept was that Abraham’s faith was a lane in which we should walk and follow Abraham’s steps.

Elsewhere in the book of Romans Paul used the Greek word for the first kind of walk. This word is used in Romans 6:4, where Paul says that “we also should walk in newness of life.” It is also found in Romans 8:4, where Paul speaks of walking not according to flesh, but according to spirit. The walk in these verses is the common, ordinary walk of believers.

In Philippians 3:16 Paul also speaks of the second kind of walk: “Only this, whereunto we have attained, by the same rule let us walk.” Here Paul uses the Greek word stoicheo to denote an orderly walk in line or military rank. However, in Philippians 3:17 and 18 he uses the Greek word for the first kind of walk to refer to the common, ordinary walk: “Be imitators together of me, brothers, and observe attentively those who thus walk as you have us for an example. For many walk, of whom I have told you often and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ.” Paul’s use of two different Greek words for walk indicates clearly that there are two kinds of walk by the Spirit in the New Testament.


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