|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
5:13-15 The gospel is a doctrine according to godliness, 1Ti 6:3, and is so far from giving the least countenance to sin, that it lays us under the strongest obligation to avoid and subdue it. The apostle urges that all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. If Christians, who should help one another, and rejoice one another, quarrel, what can be expected but that the God of love should deny his grace, that the Spirit of love should depart, and the evil spirit, who seeks their destruction, should prevail? Happy would it be, if Christians, instead of biting and devouring one another on account of different opinions, would set themselves against sin in themselves, and in the places where they live.
Verse 15. - But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another (εἰ δὲ ἀλλήλους δάκνετε καὶ κατεσθίετε βλέπετε μὴ ὑπὸ ἀλλήλων ἀναλωθῆτε); but if ye be biting and eating up one another, take heed that ye be not one of another utterly destroyed. "Biting" and "eating up" are images drawn from carnivorous animals furiously fighting with each other. The verb κατεσθίεν, eat up, which in 2 Corinthians 11:20 and Matthew 23:14 is applied to the eating up of a neighbour's goods, is here employed in its more literal sense, in order to furnish a figure describing that intense desire to vex and damage an antagonist, which but too often disgraces the so-called religious controversialist or partisan. The verb ἀναλίσκω, utterly destroy, occurs besides only in Luke 9:54 and 2 Thessalonians 2:8, of destruction by fire or lightning; so the compound κατανάλισκον, Hebrews 12:29. It points to another sphere of hurt than that referred to in the two foregoing verbs; for while these latter describe the eager endeavour to sting and "run down" a theological opponent, the former describes the utter laying waste of the inward life of piety. The orthodox opinion may survive, and perhaps be even made clearer and more accurate; but the kernel of filial love and joy in God, and of love towards our brethren, may by the φιλονεικία, the bitter antagonism, of controversy have got to be altogether eaten out. A Christian disciple who has ceased to love, Christ teaches us, is salt which has lost its savour - utterly refuse and hopeless of recovery (Mark 9:50).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
But if ye bite and devour one another,.... Another reason inducing to love is taken from the pernicious consequences of a contrary spirit and conduct. The allusion is to beasts of prey falling upon and devouring one another: for wolves or dogs to worry sheep is not strange; but for sheep to distress one another is unnatural. The apostle does not say, if grievous wolves should enter in among you and not spare the flock; but suggests if they themselves should act the part of wolves to one another; having reference to their controversies about the law and circumcision, and the necessity thereof to justification and salvation; which were managed with great heat and bitterness, occasioned great contentions, and threatened them with divisions, parties, and factions; and were attended with envy and malice, with reproachful words, biting sarcasms, scandalous invectives, and injurious actions, which must be of bad consequence: hence he adds,
take heed that ye be not consumed one of another; that is, either beware lest each other's particular peace and comfort be destroyed, which is oftentimes done this way, though a person's state and condition God-ward may be safe; or lest their church state should be destroyed and come to nothing, since love is the cement of it, which being loosened, threatens a dissolution; for as no civil community, either public or private, divided against itself, can stand long, so no religious one; and for want of love the Lord threatens to remove, and sometimes does remove, the candlestick out of its place.
Wesley's Notes on the Bible
5:15 But if - On the contrary, in consequence of the divisions which those troublers have occasioned among you, ye bite one another by evil speaking. And devour one another - By railing and clamour. Take heed ye be not consumed one of another - By bitterness, strife, and contention, our health and strength, both of body and soul, are consumed, as well as our substance and reputation.
Galatians 5:15 Parallel Commentaries
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