Galatians 5:15
But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.
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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.But if ye bite - The word used here (δάκνω daknō), means, properly, to bite, to sting; and here seems to be used in the sense of contending and striving - a metaphor not improbably taken from dogs and wild beasts.

And devour one another - As wild beasts do. The sense is, "if you contend with each other;" and the reference is, probably, to the strifes which would arise between the two parties in the churches - the Jewish and the Gentile converts.

Take heed that ye be not consumed ... - As wild beasts contend sometimes until both are slain. Thus, the idea is, in their contentions they would destroy the spirituality and happiness of each other; their characters would be ruined; and the church be overthrown. The readiest way to destroy the spirituality of a church, and to annihilate the influence of religion, is to excite a spirit of contention.

15. bite—backbite the character.

devour—the substance by injuring, extortion, &c. (Hab 1:13; Mt 23:14; 2Co 11:20).

consumed, &c.—Strength of soul, health of body, character, and resources, are all consumed by broils [Bengel].

This lets us know, that there were great contentions and divisions amongst the members of this church, whether (which is probable) occasioned by their differences in and about the doctrine of justification, or upon other accounts, we are not told; but upon whatever account they were raised, they were contrary to that serving one another in love, to which the apostle had exhorted them. Nor did they terminate in a mere dislike of and displacency to each other, but broke out into overt acts, more becoming dogs than Christians, and therefore it is expressed under the notion of biting and devouring. The issue of which, the apostle prophesieth would be a consuming one another; they being actions that had a natural tendency to this end.

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.

{14} But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.

(14) An exhortation to the duties of charity, by the profit that follows from it, because no men proved worse for themselves than they that hate one another.

Galatians 5:15. Δάκνετε καὶ κατεσθίετε] A climactic figurative designation of the hateful working of party enmity, in which they endeavoured mutually to hurt and destroy one another. Figurative expressions of this nature, derived from ravenous wild beasts, are elsewhere in use. See Maji Obss. II. p. 86; Jacobs, ad Anthol. VIII. p. 230; Wetstein, in loc. κατεσθίειν is not, however, to be understood (with Schott) as to gnaw, but must retain the meaning which it always has, to eat up, to devour. See on 2 Corinthians 11:20; Hom. Il. ii. 314, xxi. 24, Od. i. 8, et al.; LXX. Genesis 40:17; Isaiah 1:7; Add. ad Esther 1:11. Observe the climax of the three verbs, to which the passive turn of the final result to be dreaded also contributes: μὴ ὑπὸ ἀλλήλων ἀναλωθῆτε] lest ye be consumed one of another—consumamini; that is (for Paul keeps by his figure), lest through these mutual party hostilities your life of Christian fellowship be utterly ruined and destroyed. What is meant is not the ceasing of their status as Christians (Hofmann), in other words, their apostasy; but, by means of such hostile behaviour in the very bosom of the churches, there is at length an utter end to what constitutes the Christian community, the organic life of which is mutually destroyed by its own members.

Galatians 5:15. If the spirit of mutual love does not prevent Christian brethren from preying on one another, they are in danger of utter destruction.

15. To bite and to devour is to act like wild beasts. The words are of course used figuratively to denote attacks made under the influence of evil passions, and especially through the rancour of party spirit. These attacks would consist of abuse or slander, invective or innuendo, followed up perhaps by fraud or violence.

The result can only be mutual destruction—the ruin of both parties in the conflict.

Galatians 5:15. Δὲ, but) The opposite of the service to be rendered by love.—δάκνετε, ye bite) [backbite] in reference to character.—κατεσθίετε, devour) in regard to possessions [resources].—ἀναλωθῆτε, be consumed) strength of soul, health of body, character, and resources, are consumed by broils and sorrows. [Ah! how lamentable the extraordinary number of those, of whom the one cuts off the life of the other. Men of harsher disposition, careless and unthinking, consume others—those of softer disposition, silently swallow down (suppress the expression of) their anxiety, and die prematurely.—V. g.]

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). Galatians 5:15Bite and devour (δάκνετε καὶ κατεσθίετε)

Strong expressions of partisan hatred exerting itself for mutual injury. Δάκνειν to bite, N.T.o. In lxx metaphorically, Micah 3:5; Habakkuk 2:7. For κατεσθίειν devour, comp. Matthew 23:13; 2 Corinthians 11:20; Revelation 11:5.

Be consumed (ἀναλωθῆτε)

Rare in N.T. See Luke 9:54. Partisan strife will be fatal to the Christian community as a whole. The organic life of the body will be destroyed by its own members.

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