Galatians 5:23 (meekness, temperance)

Sunday Evening Bible Study

August 4, 1996


Paul is writing to a group of churches which have been infected with a doctrine of legalism.

But after having taught them why it's important not to be living under the Law, trying to please God on their own, they are now faced with another situation, the danger that happens when you take the Law away from people:

Galatians 5:13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

And so Paul has begun teaching on the issue of how to handle the the flesh, with the main key being:

Ga 5:16 [This] I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

We've looked at the "works of the flesh", and now we're looking at the "fruit of the Spirit, the natural results that God produces in our lives as we let the Holy Spirit take more control of our lives.

Now we are looking at the singular "fruit of the Spirit".

It's a single fruit that has nine different characteristics.

The more we grow in the Lord, the more we learn to "walk in the Spirit" (vs.16), the more these qualities will appear.

:22-23 the fruit of the Spirit is ...

:23 meekness

NAS, NIV - gentleness

praothV - gentleness, mildness, meekness

Barclay: praotes is the most untranslatable of words.

The NIV and NAS tends to translate the word 95% of the time as "gentle", and the other times as "humble" or "humility".

1. A quality of Jesus.

Jesus said:

Mt 21:5 Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. (AV)

Jesus didn't come into Jerusalem riding on a great big white steed.

He came in riding on a little baby donkey.

Meekness involves humility.


It's like when Jesus, the Creator of the Universe, took a towel, a basin of water, and washed the feet of the disciples.

2. It is a qualification for leaders.

Paul is telling Timothy how he is to act as the pastor of the church at Ephesus, and says:

2Timothy 2:24-26 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, 25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; 26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

It seems that actually the fruit of the Spirit make an excellent list of qualifications for leadership in the church.

It makes sense - we want Spirit-led leaders, and the only way to see if a person is a Spirit-led leader is whether or not they bear the fruit of the Spirit.

3. Strength under control

Aristotle defined praotes as the mean (average) between excessive anger and excessive angerlessness, as the quality of a man who is always angry at the right time and never at the wrong time.

It's having control over your anger, whereas one of the works of the flesh was "outbursts of anger".

Barclay: That which throws most light on its meaning is that the adjective praus is used of an animal who has been tamed and brought under control.

It's the idea of a powerful wild horse that has been broken and tamed, and now the animals brute force can be channeled correctly.

We think of "meekness" as "wimpiness".


Meekness is having the strength to respond, but choosing to hold back your hand.

It's saying "no" to controlling things with your own abilities.

I think of Jesus as our example.

Matthew 26:47-57 And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people. 48 Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast. 49 And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him. 50 And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him. 51 And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest's, and smote off his ear. 52 Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. 53 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be? 55 In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me. 56 But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled. 57 And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.

Jesus could have called for the angels to deliver Him, yet He yielded to the arrest, knowing that this was God's will.

This is meekness.


Known as the "Bishop of the South Pacific," John Selwyn had at one time been recognized for his boxing skill. Touched by the Holy Spirit's convicting power, however, he later became an outstanding missionary. The Southport Methodist magazine reports that one day this saintly leader reluctantly gave a stern but loving rebuke to a man who regularly attended the local church. The disorderly one resented the advice and angrily struck Brother Selwyn a violent blow in the face with his clenched fist. In return the missionary merely folded his arms and humbly looked into the man's blazing eyes. With his boxing skill and powerful rippling muscles, he could easily have knocked out his antagonist. Instead, he turned the other cheek and waited calmly to be hit a second time. This was too much for the assailant, who became greatly ashamed and fled into the jungle.

Years afterward, the man accepted the Lord as his Savior and gave his testimony before the church. It was customary at that time for a believer to choose a Christian name for himself after he was saved. When asked if he wished to follow this practice, he replied without hesitation, "Yes, call me John Selwyn! He's the one who taught me what Jesus Christ is really like!" This brought real joy to the missionary's heart, for he saw that heeding the Savior's admonition to suffer wrongfully for His sake had resulted in making his witness effective. (Luke 6:29)

4. Teachableness

James 1:19-25 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: 20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. 21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

Jas 1:21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. (NIVUS)

It seems that part of this humility and gentleness reflects in whether or not we are teachable.

Is God able to instruct us?

Are there only very limited ways that God can get through to us?

Does it have to be from only certain people that we learn from?

Or is it possible that God could use anybody to teach us?

How about your kids?

Can you admit you're sorry to your kids?

Can you thank them for teaching you?

How about the people that "tick you off"?

What if the thing they say is actually true about you?

Do you blow it off just because it was a jerk who said it?

Or are you willing to admit it's true?

Even if we find ourselves in the position of being a teacher to others, we still need to stay teachable ourselves.


Howard Hendricks shares this insight about the value of learning: When I was a college student -- I worked in the college dining hall, and on my way to work at 5:30 every morning I walked past the home of one of my professors. Through a window I could see the light on at his desk, morning after morning.

At night I stayed late at the library to take advantage of evening study hours, and returning home at 10:30 or 11 o'clock I would again see his desk light on. He was always pouring over his books.

One day he invited me home for lunch, and after the meal I said to him, "Would you mind if I asked you a question?"

"Of course not."

"What keeps you studying? You never seem to stop."

His answer, "Son, I would rather have my students drink from a running stream than a stagnant pool."

5. The quality best suited for helping others.

Meekness is what allows people to come close to you for help.

When we come off as rough, tough, and mean, who wants to get close to us?


We have a monthly pastors' prayer meeting.

One of the churches involved is New Wine Church, where Bob Nixon is the pastor.

They are a church of bikers.

One of his assistants shared how the other day he was out in his truck, and had all his biker gear on, when his truck broke down.

Nobody stopped to help him out, even when he motioned to them.

He is kind of a big, frightening guy, with a big beard, long hair, etc.

He regretted that he didn't have a Christian shirt on or something to let people know he wasn't going to kill them.

When we have a rough external appearance, who wants to get close?

Look at Jesus' example:

Mt 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. (AV)

Because Jesus is meek and humble, it makes Him more "approachable".

We too need to be meek if we are to help others:

Ga 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. (AV)


Here's what one man writes about Moody:

D.L. Moody was one of the greatest Christian evangelists who ever lived. He could hold a crowd in the palm of his hand, won thousands of converts to the faith, and established several religious institutions. Yet he never displayed the pompous air of self- importance that so many famous evangelists did in that era. He was a tolerant, understanding man who rarely criticized. One of his famous sayings was, "Right now I'm having so much trouble with D.L. Moody that I don't have time to find fault with the other fellow."

On the basis of that single quotation, I have always wished that I could have had D.L. Moody for a friend. It would have been relaxing to be around him, for he would have understood that I'm working on my shortcomings. And by that very acceptance, he would have helped me to grow. "People have a way of becoming what you encourage them to be -- not what you nag them to be," someone said, and D.L. Moody was a great encourager.

Ladies, do you want to teach your husband a thing or two?

1Peter 3:1-4 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; 2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. 3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; 4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

You can come on like gang-busters and totally alienate him.

Or you can back off with humility and meekness, and draw him in.

Meekness in witnessing:

1Pe 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and [be] ready always to [give] an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: (AV)



:23 temperance

NAS, NIV - self-control

egkrateia - self-control (the virtue of one who masters his desires and passions, esp. his sensual appetites)

comes from: egkrates - strong, robust; having power over, possessed of (a thing); mastering, controlling, curbing, restraining; controlling one's self, temperate, continent

kratos - force, strength

en - in, by, with etc.


egkrateuomai - to be self-controlled; in a figure drawn from athletes, who in preparing themselves for the games abstained from unwholesome food, wine, and sexual indulgence


Barclay: It is the spirit which has mastered its desires and its love of pleasure. It is used of the athlete's discipline of his body (1Cor.9:25) and of the Christian's mastery of sex (1Cor.7:9). Secular Greek uses it of the virtue of an Emperor who never lets his private interest influence the government of his people. It is the virtue which makes a man so master of himself that he is fit to be the servant of others.


1Co 7:9 But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.

1Co 9:25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.





Ac 24:25 And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.

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

Tit 1:8 But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;



2Peter 1:5-8 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.



:23 against such there is no law