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In Galatians 6:18, what does Paul mean by "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit"?

Gal 6:18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit [aka "breath"], brothers. Amen.

Westcott and Hort / [NA27 variants] Ἡ χάρις τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ μετὰ τοῦ πνεύματος ὑμῶν, ἀδελφοί· ἀμήν.

Might it not be parallel with this?:

1Jn 3:18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

In other words, might he be saying "may you be as characterized by the graciousness manifested in the Messiah as you are with talk"?

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According to Orthodox Christian tradition "grace" means the energy (ἐνεργεία) or operation of God. This energy/operation is uncreated and, as such, also God in His energetic/operational aspect. The fulness of this energy/activity belongs entirely to the Father, and likewise to the Son, in whom dwells the entirety of Divinity in a bodily way (cf. Col. 1:9). Now, this very same energy/operation belongs both to the Father and the Son likewise, and this same energy/operation is necessary for humans to overcome the drive of sin (Romans 7:15-20). The access to this sin-defeating energy is through faith, for God's salvific grace/operation does not work without human free co-action.

This taken into consideration, Paul's concrete saying means that the Apostle wishes human created souls to get saturated by divine uncreated operation in order to be cleansed through it from the infection of sin and sinful drives. But, even more, to be led to greater and greater saturation and more and more intense co-action with this salvific grace that eventually divinises man, making him a son-of-God by adoption by grace - a co-heir with the natural Son - Jesus Christ.

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I think a parallel verse to this is how Paul closed 2nd Timothy, "The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you." My favorite definition of grace is, "All that God has in Christ coming to us." And since the Last Adam (Jesus) is now the life-giving Spirit and is joined to our spirit (1st Cor 15:45 & 6:17), He is within us. Therefore grace is with us. Christ is grace and truth as per John 1:17 (and 14:6). Christ and grace cannot be separated!

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Earlier in Galatians (5:17), Paul contrasts the desires of the flesh with the desires of the spirit:

For the desires of the flesh are against the spirit, and the desires of the spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would.

Some versions capitalize spirit here, implying that spirit refers to the Holy Spirit, but I don't think that's what's exactly intended. I believe that spirit is that constituent part of man that Paul refers to in 1 Thessalonians 5:23:

May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

One Byzantine commentary on Galatians 5:17 explains:

By flesh he does not mean the body, but rather, earthly, negligent, and lax thoughts. And by spirit he does not mean the soul, but a spiritual attitude to the earthly. What he is describing is not a battle between soul and body, but the contest between good and evil thoughts.1

In this context, Paul can be understood to be addressing your spirit in Galatians 6:18 as the spirit in contrast to the flesh. The same commentator explains:

Note that Paul did not say "with you," but with your spirit. He did so to lead them away from carnal thoughts, which are opposed to the Spirit.2


1. Theophylact of Ohrid, Explanation of the Epistle to the Galatians (tr. from Greek, Chrysostom Press, 2011), p.72.
2. Ibid., p.81-82

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