Jerome, Commentary on Galatians, [J.P. Migne, Editor]. Patrologiae Tomus XXVI. Paris: D’Ambroise, Pres La Barriere D’Enfer, ou Petit-Montrouge, 1845. pp. 307-438.
In Galatians 5:14 Paul sums up all the law in Christ’s ocmmand to love your neighbor. Jerome sees this as a way the Christian exercises freedom - by loving his neighbor and voluntarily being a servant to all (Jerome, Galatians, 408). He ties this concept to Paul’s description of Jesus’ humbling himself, seen in Philippians 2. Jerome then continues by speaking of the many civic good deeds which Christians do, as well as bad deeds they avoid, which serve to love the neighbor (Jerome, Galatians, 409). The life of good for the neighbor is noteworthy. Jerome sees it as a striking difference from the non-Christian society, and a way of bearing witness to the love of Christ (Jerome, Galatians, 410). This lifestyle, however, is not always natural to us. Paul warns against conflict with neighbors in verse 15. Jerome points out that the love of Christ goes beyond the provisions of the Law. He specifically cites Deuteronomy 19:21, saying that even though there is a rightful type of retribution, there is certainly no prohibition against not seeking retribution (Jerome, Galatians, 410).
Verse 16 changes the focus slightly, as Paul tells the Galatians to walk by the Spriit. The flesh, says Jerome, “titillates,” but the Spirit “reigns in” (Jerome, Galatians, 410). He goes on to draw numerous distinctions between the positive desires of the Spirit and the desires of the flesh, considering the spiritual walk more positive and fulfilling. In verse 17, it is further clarified that the spirit and flesh are at war with each other. Jerome plainly says, “The flesh delights in the present and brief things, the spirit in future and eternal things” (Jerome, Galatians, 411, personal translation). He continues to illustrate the difference between the temporal and eternal pleasures, showing them often in conflict with one another. Because of this battle, Jerome says it is important to persist in developing a desire for the things of the Spirit, particularly pursuit of good works, even when we don’t want to do them (Jerome, Galatians, 413). In sum, as verse 18 says, if you are led by the Spriit, you are not under the Law. Jerome points out that all the good gifts we can think of are from the Spirit. The challenge is that these gifts of the Spirit which we receive, free from the Law, play themselves out in obedience to the good commands of the Law. Jerome even points out that Crhist was born “under the Law, so that he could redeem those under the Law” (Jerome, Galatians, 414). The result is that we, rescued from the Law, are not subject to its demands but we voluntarily do what it commands.