Galatians 5:19
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
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(19) Now the works of the flesh are manifest.—It needs no elaborate disquisition to show what is meant by fulfilling the lust of the flesh. The effects which the flesh produces are plain and obvious enough. The catalogue which follows is not drawn up on any exact scientific principle, but divides itself roughly under four heads: (1) sins of sensuality; (2) sins of superstition; (3) sins of temper; (4) excesses.

It has been said that all our sinfulness may be resolved “into two elementary instincts: the instinct of self-preservation and the reproductive instinct.” The third class of sins—sins of temper—would be referred to the first of the heads; sins of sensuality and excess—the one immediately, the other more remotely—to the second. The sins of superstition mentioned are of a more secondary character, and arise out of intellectual errors.

Adultery.—This word is omitted in the best MSS.

Uncleanness, lasciviousness.—The first of these words signifies any kind of impurity, secret or open; the second flagrant breaches of public decency.

Galatians 5:19-21. Now the works of the flesh — By which that inward corrupt principle is discovered; are manifest — Are plain and undeniable. He says works, in the plural, because those of the flesh are distinct from, and often inconsistent with each other. But the fruit of the Spirit is mentioned in the singular, (Galatians 5:22,) the graces thereof being all consistent, and connected together. Which are these — He enumerates those works of the flesh to which the Galatians were most inclined, and those parts of the fruit of the Spirit of which they stood in the greatest need; adultery — A crime to be considered in the first rank of enormities, as being the most prejudicial to society, destroying conjugal happiness, introducing confusion and ruin into families, alienating the affection of parents from their children, causing them to neglect their education; fornication — Which, how light soever heathen may make it, is in the sight of God a very grievous offence; uncleanness — Of every kind and degree; lasciviousness — All immodesty, as the indulging of wanton thoughts, and reading lascivious books. The Greek word means any thing, inward or outward, that is contrary to chastity; idolatry — The worshipping of idols; this sin is justly reckoned among the works of the flesh, because the worship paid to many of the gods consisted in the most impure fleshly gratifications; witchcraft — Or sorcery, as Macknight renders φαρμακεια, observing, that the expression “being placed immediately after idolatry, means those arts of incantation and charming, and all the pretended communications with invisible and malignant powers, whereby the heathen priests promoted the reverence and worship of their idol gods, and enriched themselves. In this sense the word is used concerning Babylon, (Revelation 18:23,) εν τη φαρμακεια σου, By thy sorcery were all nations deceived; that is, by a variety of wicked arts and cheats, the nations were deluded to support Babylon in her idolatries and corruptions. Hatred — Or enmities, as εχθραι signifies; variance Ερεις, strifes; emulations — Transports of ill-placed and ill-proportioned zeal; wrath Θυμοι, resentments; εριθειαι, contentions, as the word appears here to signify; seditions — Or divisions, in domestic or civil matters; heresies — Parties formed in religious communities; who, instead of maintaining true candor and benevolence, renounce and condemn each other. Envyings — Frequently manifesting themselves against the prosperity and success of others; murders — Which are often the effect of such evil dispositions and practices as those above mentioned; and, to complete the catalogue, all kinds of irregular self-indulgence, and particularly drunkenness — Which renders a man worse than a beast; and those disorderly and gluttonous revellings — Or luxurious entertainments, by which the rational powers are, in a great measure, extinguished, or, at least, rendered incapable of performing their offices in a proper manner. Some of the works here mentioned are wrought principally, if not entirely, in the mind, and yet they are called works of the flesh. Hence it is clear that the apostle does not, by the flesh, mean the body, or sensual appetites and inclinations only, but the corruption of human nature, as it spreads through all the powers of the soul, as well as the members of the body; of which I tell you before — Before the event; I forewarn you; as I have told you also in time past — When I was present with you; that they who do such things — Who are guilty of such evil practices; shall not inherit the kingdom of God — Whatever zeal they may pretend for the externals of religion, in any of the forms of it. Awful declaration!5:16-26 If it be our care to act under the guidance and power of the blessed Spirit, though we may not be freed from the stirrings and oppositions of the corrupt nature which remains in us, it shall not have dominion over us. Believers are engaged in a conflict, in which they earnestly desire that grace may obtain full and speedy victory. And those who desire thus to give themselves up to be led by the Holy Spirit, are not under the law as a covenant of works, nor exposed to its awful curse. Their hatred of sin, and desires after holiness, show that they have a part in the salvation of the gospel. The works of the flesh are many and manifest. And these sins will shut men out of heaven. Yet what numbers, calling themselves Christians, live in these, and say they hope for heaven! The fruits of the Spirit, or of the renewed nature, which we are to do, are named. And as the apostle had chiefly named works of the flesh, not only hurtful to men themselves, but tending to make them so to one another, so here he chiefly notices the fruits of the Spirit, which tend to make Christians agreeable one to another, as well as to make them happy. The fruits of the Spirit plainly show, that such are led by the Spirit. By describing the works of the flesh and fruits of the Spirit, we are told what to avoid and oppose, and what we are to cherish and cultivate; and this is the sincere care and endeavour of all real Christians. Sin does not now reign in their mortal bodies, so that they obey it, Ro 6:12, for they seek to destroy it. Christ never will own those who yield themselves up to be the servants of sin. And it is not enough that we cease to do evil, but we must learn to do well. Our conversation will always be answerable to the principle which guides and governs us, Ro 8:5. We must set ourselves in earnest to mortify the deeds of the body, and to walk in newness of life. Not being desirous of vain-glory, or unduly wishing for the esteem and applause of men, not provoking or envying one another, but seeking to bring forth more abundantly those good fruits, which are, through Jesus Christ, to the praise and glory of God.Now the works of the flesh - What the flesh, or what corrupt and unrenewed human nature produces.

Are manifest - Plain, well-known. The world is full of illustrations of what corrupt human nature produces, and as to the existence and nature of those works, no one can be ignorant. It is evident here that the word σὰρξ sarx, "flesh," is used to denote corrupt human nature, and not merely the body; since many of the vices here enumerated are the passions of the mind or the soul, rather than of the body. Such are "wrath," "strife," "heresies," "envyings," etc., which cannot be said to have their seat in the body. If the word, therefore, is used to denote human nature, the passage furnishes a sad commentary on its tendency, and on the character of man. It is closely parallel to the declaration of the Saviour in Matthew 15:19. Of the nature of most of these sins, or works of the flesh, it is unnecessary to offer any comment. They are not so rare as not to be well known, and the meaning of the words requires little exposition. In regard to the existence of these vices as the result of human nature, the notes at Romans 1 may be examined; or a single glance at the history of the past, or at the present condition of the pagan and a large part of the Christian world, would furnish an ample and a painful demonstration.

19-23. Confirming Ga 5:18, by showing the contrariety between the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit.

manifest—The hidden fleshly principle betrays itself palpably by its works, so that these are not hard to discover, and leave no doubt that they come not from the Spirit.

which are these—Greek, "such as," for instance.

Adultery—omitted in the oldest manuscripts.

lasciviousness—rather, "wantonness" petulance, capricious insolence; it may display itself in "lasciviousness," but not necessarily or constantly so (Mr 7:21, 22, where it is not associated with fleshly lusts) [Trench]. "Works" (in the plural) are attributed to the "flesh," because they are divided, and often at variance with one another, and even when taken each one by itself, betray their fleshly origin. But the "fruit of the Spirit" (Ga 5:23) is singular, because, however manifold the results, they form one harmonious whole. The results of the flesh are not dignified by the name "fruit"; they are but works (Eph 5:9, 11). He enumerates those fleshly "works" (committed against our neighbor, against God, and against ourselves) to which the Galatians were most prone (the Celts have always been prone to disputations and internal strifes): and those manifestations of the fruit of the Spirit most needed by them (Ga 5:13, 15). This passage shows that "the flesh" does not mean merely sensuality, as opposed to spirituality: for "divisions" in the catalogue here do not flow from sensuality. The identification of "the natural (Greek, 'animal-souled') man," with the "carnal" or fleshly man (1Co 2:14), shows that "the flesh" expresses human nature as estranged from God. Trench observes, as a proof of our fallen state, how much richer is every vocabulary in words for sins, than in those for graces. Paul enumerates seventeen "works of the flesh," only nine manifestations of "the fruit of the Spirit" (compare Eph 4:31).

The works of the flesh; the products of the natural inclinations and propensions in the heart of man.

Are manifest, which are these; he saith, these are manifest, the filthiness of them appears by the light of nature, by the checks of conscience men meet with for them; or else, it is manifest that these actions are not from the Spirit of God, (because of their contrariety to the Divine rule), but are from the corrupt part of man. These (he saith) are adultery, or the defiling of our neighbour’s bed; fornication, which is the uncleanness of single persons each with other; and all other species of uncleanness, or unclean conjunctions: lasciviousness; whatsoever wanton carriage, gestures, or behaviour lead to these acts. Now the works of the flesh are manifest,.... By "flesh" is meant corrupt nature, as before, and by the works of it, not only external acts of sin, but inward lusts; for such are here mentioned among its works, as "hatred", "wrath", "envyings", &c. and both external and internal acts are so called, because they spring from the flesh, or corrupt nature, and are what that urges and solicits to, and are wrought thereby, and are what denominate and show men to be carnal: these are said to be "manifest"; not that they are all, and always publicly done, and are open to the sight of men; for they are works of darkness, and often done in secret, though they are always manifest to God the searcher of hearts, and will be brought to light in the day of judgment; but they are known to be sins in some measure by the light of nature, and especially by the law of God; and a clear case it is, that they are contrary to the Spirit, both to the Spirit of God, and to the principle of grace he forms in the heart; and that such who live in the commission of them are not led by him, nor are under the influence of his grace:

which are these; though all are not mentioned, only some of the chief, by which judgment may be made of the rest:

adultery; this is left out in the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Ethiopic versions, and in the Alexandrian copy; it is a defilement of the marriage bed, and is the sin of uncleanness committed by two persons, one of which at least is in a married state, is condemned by the law of God and light of nature:

fornication; which though by many of the Gentiles was reckoned no sin, or a very small one, stands here among the works of the flesh, that are manifest and to be avoided; it is the sin of uncleanness committed by persons in a single state;

uncleanness, it is a general name for all unchastity, in thought, word, or action; and may here design more especially all unnatural lusts, as

sodomy, self-pollution, &c.

lasciviousness; or wantonness, all lustful dalliance, everything that leads on to acts of uncleanness, or attends them, as impure words, filthy gestures, and the like.

{16} Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

(16) He sets out that particularly of which he spoke generally, reckoning up some principal effects of the flesh, and opposing them to the fruits of the Spirit, that no man may pretend ignorance.

Galatians 5:19. Φανερὰ δὲ κ.τ.λ.] Manifest, however (now to explain myself more precisely as to this οὐκ ἐστὲ ὑπὸ νόμον), open to the eyes of all, evidently recognisable as such by every one, are the works of the flesh, that is, those concrete actual phenomena which are produced when the flesh, the sinful nature of man (and not the Holy Spirit), is the active principle. The δέ (in opposition to Hofmann’s objection) is the δέ explicativum, frequently used by Greek authors and in the N.T. (Winer, p. 421 [E. T. 553]; Kühner, ad Xen. Mem. ii. 1. 1). That one who is led by the Spirit will abstain from the ἔργα which follow, is obvious of itself; but Paul does not state this, and therefore does not by δέ make the transition to it, as Hofmann thinks, who gratuitously defines the sense of φανερά as: “well known to the Christian without law.” On φανερός, lying open to cognition, manifestus, see van Hengel, ad Rom. I. p. 111. The list which follows of the ἔργα τῆς σαρκός contains four approximate divisions: (1) lust: πορνεία, ἀκαθαρσ., ἀσέλγ.; (2) idolatry: εἰδωλολατρ., φαρμακ.; (3) enmity: ἔχθραιφόνοι; (4) intemperance: μέθαι, κῶμοι.

ἀκαθαρσία] lustful impurity (lewdness) generally, after the special πορνεία. Comp. Romans 1:24; 2 Corinthians 12:21.

ἀσέλγεια] lustful immodesty and wantonness. See on Romans 13:13. Comp. 2 Corinthians 12:21; Ephesians 4:19; 1 Peter 4:3; 2 Peter 2:7.

Galatians 5:19-23. The assertion just made by Paul, that the readers as led by the Spirit would not be under the law, he now illustrates more particularly (δέ), by setting forth the entirely opposite moral states, which are produced by the flesh and by the Spirit respectively (Galatians 5:22 f.): the former exclude from the Messiah’s kingdom (are therefore abandoned to the curse of the law), while against the latter there is no law.Galatians 5:19. Though this verse enumerates only evil works of the flesh, it is not thereby suggested that its action is wholly evil; for the flesh has been shown to have its appointed function from God, and to be essential to the human will. The opening ἅτινα puts the following catalogue of crimes and vices in its true light as samples, produced by way of specimen of the evil effects wrought by excessive indulgence of natural appetites without due control, and not an exhaustive list of the works of the flesh, as the rendering which, in our versions, rather suggests. The list begins and ends with sensual vices due to the lower animal nature; it couples idolatry with its habitual ally sorcery: in specifying the various quarrels between man and man it adds two διχοστασίαι and αἱρέσεις to the corresponding list in 2 Corinthians 12:20, perhaps owing to the prevalence of religious dissensions in the Galatian churches.—ἀσέλγεια. This term, which in classical Greek expresses insolent contempt for public opinion, denotes in the N.T. shameless outrages on public decency—a fit climax to fornication and uncleanness.19–23. St Paul supplies a test whereby men may ascertain whether they are under the curse of the law or heirs of the promise.

First, the Apostle gives a list of the works of the flesh—not complete but comprehensive—the commission of which excludes men from the inheritance. They cannot plead the promise. It is not for such as they. They shall not inherit the Kingdom of God. Then follows, not an enumeration of the works of the Spirit, but a statement of its fruit. Vital Christianity is not a set of acts—a list of good deeds—it is a disposition of the heart—a character. If the tree is good, the fruit will be good; and by its effects ‘a lively faith may be as evidently known as a tree discerned by the fruit’, Art. XII.

19 … 21. A fourfold classification of the sins here mentioned has been suggested; (1) sins of sensuality; (2) sins connected with heathenism as a religion (idolatry and sorcery); (3) violations of the law of love, in feeling and in act; (4) sins of intemperance.

which are these] ‘such as, for example.’ The catalogue does not pretend to be complete.

adultery] Omitted in the best MSS. Jerome, after observing that in the Latin copies ‘adulteries’ and ‘murders’ are contained in St Paul’s catalogue, adds, ‘but it should be known that only fifteen works of the flesh are specified’. It is included in the general term ‘fornication’, which here denotes all improper relations between the sexes, married or single. (Matthew 5:32.)

uncleanness] Impurity generally, but with special reference to those unnnatural vices to which many heathen were addicted.

lasciviousness] Rather, ‘open, shameless profligacy’.Galatians 5:19. Φανερὰ δὲ now manifest) The flesh concealed betrays itself by its own works, so that its discovery is easy.—τὰ ἔργα, the works) unfruitful [as opposed to “the fruit of the Spirit,” Galatians 5:22]. The works, in the plural, because they are divided and are often at variance with one another, and even severally [taken each one by itself] betray the flesh. But the fruit, being good, Galatians 5:22, is in the singular, because it is united and harmonious. Comp. Ephesians 5:11; Ephesians 5:9.—ἅτινα, which) He enumerates those works of the flesh, to which the Galatians were most prone; on the other hand, also those parts of the fruit of the Spirit, which needed to be most recommended to them; comp. Galatians 5:15. He maintains this order, that he may enumerate the sins committed with our neighbour, those against God, those against our neighbour, and those in regard to ourselves; and to this order the enumeration of the fruit of the Spirit corresponds.—ἀκαθαρσία, ἀσέλγεια, uncleanness, lasciviousness) 2 Corinthians 12:21, note.Verse 19. - Now the works of the flesh are manifest (φανερὰ δέ ἐστι τὰ ἔργα τῆς σαρκός). The apostle's purpose is here altogether one of practical exhortation. Having in ver. 13 emphatically warned the Galatians against making their emancipation from the Mosaic Law an occasion for the flesh, and in ver. 16 affirmed the incompatibility of a spiritual walk with the fulfilment of the desire of the flesh, he now specifies samples of the vices, whether in outward conduct or in inward feeling, in which the working of the flesh is apparent, as if cautioning them; adducing just those into which the Galatian converts would naturally be most in danger of falling. Both in the list which he gives them of .,ins, and in that of Christian graces, he is careful to note those relative to their Church life as well as those bearing upon their personal private life. Instances of enumeration of sins which may be compared with that here given, are found, with respect to the heathen world, in Romans 1:29-31; with reference to Christians, Romans 13:13; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; 2 Corinthians 12:20, 21; Ephesians 5:3-5, followed by a brief indication of fruits of the Spirit in ver. 9; Colossians 3:5-9; 1 Timothy 1:9, 10; 2 Timothy 3:2-4. "Manifest;" namely, to our moral sense; we at once feel that these are the outcome of an evil nature, and are incompatible with the influence of the Spirit of God. "Works of the flesh" means works in which the prompting of the flesh is recognizable. The phrase is equivalent to "the deeds or doings of the body," which we are called to "mortify, put to death, by the Spirit" (Romans 8:13). In Romans 13:12 and Ephesians 5:13 they are styled "works of darkness," that is, works belonging properly to a state in which the moral sense has not been quickened by the Spirit, or in which the light of Christ's presence has not shone. Which are these (ἅτινά ἐτι); of which sort are. Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness (πορνεία [Receptus, μοιχεία πορνεία], ἀκαθαρσία ἀσέλγεια). This is the first group, consisting of offences against chastity - sins against which the Church has to contend in all ages and in all countries; but which idolatry, especially such idolatry as that of Cybele in Galatia, has generally much fostered. The first in our English Bible, "adultery," is rejected from the Greek text by the general consent of editors. But in fact, "fornication" (πορνεία) may be taken as including it (Matthew 5:32), though it may also stand at its side as a distinct species of unchastity. "uncleanness" covers a wider range of sensual sin ("all uncleanness," Ephesians 4:19); solitary impurity, whether in thought or deed; unnatural lust (Romans 1:24), though it can hardly be taken as meaning this lust alone. "Lasciviousness," or "wantonness," is scarcely an adequate rendering of ἀσέλγεια in this connection; it appears to point to reckless shamelessness in unclean indulgences. In classical Greek the adjective ἀσέλγης describes a man insolently and wantonly reckless in his treatment of others; but in the New Testament it generally appears to point more specifically to unabashed open indulgence in impurity. The noun is connected with "uncleanness" and "fornication' 'in 2 Corinthians 12:21; with "uncleanness' ' in Ephesians 4:19; is used of the men of Sodom in 2 Peter 2:7; comp. also 2 Peter 2:18; l Peter 4:3; Jude 1:4 (cf. 7). Only in Mark 7:22 can it from the grouping be naturally taken in its classical sense. Manifest

You have a clearly defined standard by which to decide whether you are led by the Spirit or by the flesh. Each exhibits its peculiar works or fruits.

Adultery (μοιχεία)

To be dropped from the text.

Uncleanness (ἀκαθαρσία)

See on 1 Thessalonians 2:3.

Lasciviousness (ἀσελγεια)

See on Mark 7:22.

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