Galatians 5:25

AKJV If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

ASV If we live by the Spirit, by the Spirit let us also walk.

If we follow the Greek, which of them is more accurate. "In" or "by" And does it change the meaning of the verse?

What then would the words "Walk in the Spirit " mean

  • Betho's answer is a good one. By Hebrew construction (since Paul thought in Hebrew) this verse has a parallelism and equates living with walking. Indeed walking is a symbol for living. You wear shoes in the world as a symbol that your walk is somewhat above the flesh (elevated into the air/spirit). The clean animal has a separated/holy foot/walk/life. You take off your shoes in the presence of God because he makes all things (including the ground) Holy, and you cannot be elevated above the holiness of God.
    – Bob Jones
    Commented Jan 14, 2020 at 5:13
  • “To walk in the Spirit” has to mean the frequent use of tongues, for the purpose of casting down unholy thoughts, to keep up with the Holy Spirit and holiness. (2 Cor 10:3-5; 1 Cor 14:4; Jude 1:20) Commented Jan 10, 2021 at 23:31

4 Answers 4


Answer: “in the Spirit.”

In Rom. 8:9, it is written,

But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. NKJV, ©1982

ὑμεῖς δὲ οὐκ ἐστὲ ἐν σαρκὶ ἀλλ᾽ ἐν πνεύματι εἴπερ πνεῦμα θεοῦ οἰκεῖ ἐν ὑμῖν TR, 1550

The apostle Paul clearly states that one is in the Spirit if the Spirit of God (Holy Spirit)1 dwells in them. Notice the repetition of ἐν—“in”—which would be nonsensical if it were to be translated as “by.”


        1 The “Spirit of God” is the “Holy Spirit”; 1 Cor. 6:19 cf. 1 Cor. 3:16

Again, for a person to be “in the Spirit” means the Holy Spirit dwells in the person, and the person has the Holy Spirit. But, doesn’t this seem backwards? If the Holy Spirit dwells in a person, shouldn’t it be said that the Holy Spirit is in the person rather than the person in the Holy Spirit?

The Lord Jesus Christ explained how this process operates.

John 14:10

“I am in the Father, and the Father is in me”...“but the Father who dwells2 in me”

ἐγὼ ἐν τῷ πατρὶ καὶ ὁ πατὴρ ἐν ἐμοί ἐστιν...ὁ δὲ πατὴρ ὁ ἐν ἐμοὶ μένων


        3 Some translations translate the verb μένω as “to abide.” This word is not commonly used in modern English, but in this context, it means “to dwell.” According to the Oxford English Dictionary on the verb “abide,” 9.: Of a person: to stay habitually in a place; to remain in residence; to reside, dwell. Now somewhat archaic.

In other words, when X dwells in Y, then Y is in X, and X is in Y. By analogy, if the Holy Spirit dwells in a person, the person is in the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is in the person.

John 14:23

...“If a man love me, he will keep my words, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and we will make our home with him.”

...Ἐάν τις ἀγαπᾷ με τὸν λόγον μου τηρήσει καὶ ὁ πατήρ μου ἀγαπήσει αὐτόν καὶ πρὸς αὐτὸν ἐλευσόμεθα καὶ μονὴν παρ᾽ αὐτῷ ποιησόμεν

John 17:21

“...just as You, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they may also be one in us...”

...καθὼς σύ πάτερ ἐν ἐμοὶ κἀγὼ ἐν σοί ἵνα καὶ αὐτοὶ ἐν ἡμῖν ἓν ὦσιν...

Christians are in the Father and in the Son, just as the Son and the Father are in Christians. This is accomplished by means of the Holy Spirit, “for he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit.”3


        3 1 Cor. 6:17

1 John 3:24

Now he who keeps His commandments dwells in Him, and He [dwells] in him. And by this we know that He dwells in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.

καὶ ὁ τηρῶν τὰς ἐντολὰς αὐτοῦ ἐν αὐτῷ μένει καὶ αὐτὸς ἐν αὐτῷ· καὶ ἐν τούτῳ γινώσκομεν ὅτι μένει ἐν ἡμῖν ἐκ τοῦ πνεύματος οὗ ἡμῖν ἔδωκεν

1 John 4:13

By this we know that we dwell in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.

Ἐν τούτῳ γινώσκομεν ὅτι ἐν αὐτῷ μένομεν καὶ αὐτὸς ἐν ἡμῖν ὅτι ἐκ τοῦ πνεύματος αὐτοῦ δέδωκεν ἡμῖν


In summary, to be “in the Spirit” means for the Holy Spirit to dwell in a Christian. When the Holy Spirit dwells in a Christian, the Father and Son also dwell in the Christian, and the Christian dwells in the Father and the Son (as well as in the Holy Spirit). The Christian has the Holy Spirit, as well as having the Father and the Son.4 The Christian is in the Father, the Son, and the [Holy] Spirit; likewise, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are in the Christian.

When a Christian is “in the [Holy] Spirit,” the Holy Spirit is in the Christian. The Holy Spirit guides the Christian into all truth,5 and thus, the Christian is “led by the Spirit”6 as they “walk in the Spirit”7 and “live in the Spirit.”8


        4 2 John 1:9
        5 John 16:13
        6 Rom. 8:14; Gal. 5:18
        7 Gal. 5:16, 5:25
        8 Gal. 5:25

On the meaning of “walking in the Spirit,” note the words of Rev. Lewis O. Thompson,9

Life and walk are not synonyms, as some have taught, although both proceed from the same source. Life relates to what is inward; walk, to what is outward.

II. To live in the Spirit. 1. The Spirit begins the life of God in the soul. You hath He quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins. 2. The Spirit gives new desires, and changes all the motives of life. What He desires we desire; what He loves we love; what He hates we hate. 3. The Spirit lives in us. He fills the soul with a heavenly atmosphere. He sheds abroad a holy influence.

III. To walk in the Spirit. 1. The walk will follow from the life, for every kind of life is after its own kind and development. Spiritual life manifests itself by a spiritual walk. 2. Every outward manifestation will correspond to the inward principle of life, and will be marked by love to God and love to man. What is true, just, honest, pure and lovely, will characterize this walk. 3. Reputation will correspond to character, and conduct to life; for he that lives [in] the Spirit will mortify the deeds of the body, and avoid whatsoever are base, false, selfish and sinful.

IV. To bed led by the Spirit. 1. The Christian is not perfect. His life is a growth, his walk a progress; but he is led and guided by the Holy Spirit.


        9 p. 42-43


Thompson, Lewis O. “Life and Walk in the Spirit. (Gal. v:25.).” The Preacher and Homiletic Monthly. Vol. 6. Ed. Funk, I. K. New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1882.


In linguistics, ellipsis (from the Greek: ἔλλειψις, élleipsis, "omission") or an elliptical construction is the omission from a clause of one or more words that are nevertheless understood in the context of the remaining elements

Εἰ ζῶμεν "Prepositions" (Ellipsis) + Dative Case [Πνεύματι Spirit N-DNS]

conclusion: "IN"

Interlinear Gal 5:25

  • GRK: τοιοῦτον ἐν πνεύματι πραΰτητος σκοπῶν - ; Galatians 6:1 - I believe that the proper interpretation of the question follows a similar pattern. Please correct me if I am wrong. Betho
    – Betho's
    Commented Oct 24, 2019 at 0:49

In the Greek, Gal 5:25 is just 5 words:

Εἰ ζῶμεν Πνεύματι, Πνεύματι καὶ στοιχῶμεν.

The phrase (in English) occurring twice, "in/by the Spirit" is a single noun, "Πνεύματι" which is Dative Neuter Singular.

In theory, this could be legitimately translated:

  • "in the Spirit" ESV)
  • "by the Spirit" (NET)
  • "according to the Spirit" (NET)
  • "with the Spirit" (NIV)
  • "for the Spirit"

etc. The best background to this is Gal 5:16 and Rom 8:1-11. Here Paul is teaching that Christians must "behave in accordance with the Spirit". Therefore, I do not believe the choice of English preposition (which is always supplied) is relatively unimportant.

  • Did you mean "important" in your last sentence, rather than "unimportant"?
    – Walter S
    Commented Jun 10, 2020 at 23:07
  • @WalterSmetana - To quote Pilate: Ὃ γέγραφα, γέγραφα. (= What I have written I have written)
    – Dottard
    Commented Jun 11, 2020 at 7:35

*"In the Spirit or by the Spirit" -Gal 5:25

Galatians 5:25

AKJV If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

ASV If we live by the Spirit, by the Spirit let us also walk.

If we follow the Greek, which of them is more accurate. "In" or "by" And does it change the meaning of the verse?

My observation & comments,

"By" is more correct and improves the syntax and change the "word picture" of the role of "παράκλητος":

  1. Dative (with/without prep.ἐν) indicates "by (with, through)" what (agents, person, instrument), thus, identify the party "living, walking" is being assisted or led by a person.

  2. "in" gives a picture more of a "state" in which "living, walking" being done, i.e. Peter is walking in or under the influence of a substance,

    Whereas, "by" gives a vivid picture of the personal role of παράκλητος (the article is latent), God the Holy Spirit, our Comforter (παράκλητος).**

  3. The use of two datives of same πνεῦμα next to each other in a short sentence is "a way of speech" and "by" fit in better in both place and is consistent.

With that, the picture of the Verse would be:

If we say we are living by the leading of the Holy Spirit, "let us also go on walking by the Spirit, making our steps by the help and guidance of the Spirit."(Robertson)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.