“Called Into Liberty Only” ( Galatians 5: 13, WYC ) by Carley Evans

King James Bible
King James Bible (Photo credit: freefotouk)

One of my all-time favorite movie titles is “LOST IN TRANSLATION” written and directed by Sofia Coppola and starring Bill Murray and Scarlet Johannson. This title — and the film — say so much about communicating meaning from one language to another. Take Paul’s statement here in his letter to the Galatians:

“[Forsooth, brethren, ye be called into liberty only; give ye not liberty into occasion of flesh], but by charity of [the] Spirit serve ye together.”

The Wycliffe translation — as it often does — provides two different meanings of the same verse. The big difference is the location of the word “only.” In one version, “only” is placed after the semi-colon; in the one I’ve chosen to quote, the “only” is placed before the semi-colon, indicating that Christians are called to freedom only. We are not called to any sort of bondage! We are not in bondage to the law, nor are we to be in bondage to “the flesh.” Rather, we are called to liberty in Christ. In this freedom, we are called to “serve together” “by charity of the Spirit” according to Paul.

Look at the King James Version of the same verse:

“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.”

Here the “only” is placed after the semi-colon, rendering it as emphasis not to use freedom “for an occasion to the flesh.” Additionally, the Spirit is missing completely from Paul’s statement. Rather than the power of God, love is emphasized. And instead of serving together, we are called to serve one another.

No wonder we sometimes get a little lost; a little defensive of our views; a little wary of a different viewpoint. Yet, God calls us to unity. He also calls us to love. And, He calls us to freedom.

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. lambskinny says:

    Thank you Susie!

  2. lambskinny says:

    Thanks Meeting in the Clouds!

  3. Jeff says:

    That was very interesting. Completely changes the meaning of the verse, too! Wow.

    1. lambskinny says:

      Indeed, Jeff. Thanks! Carley

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