Galatians 5:20
Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
Jump to: AlfordBarnesBengelBensonBICalvinCambridgeChrysostomClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctExp GrkGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsICCJFBKellyKingLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWMeyerParkerPNTPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBVWSWESTSK
(20) Idolatry.—When the Christian is warned against idolatry, it is not, of course, systematic idolatry that is meant, but that occasional compliance with idolatrous customs—taking part in the idol feasts, or eating of things offered to idols—which he might easily be led into by his intercourse with his heathen neighbours.

Witchcraft.Sorcery, or magic. It would seem that practices of this kind were especially common in Asia Minor. In Acts 19:19 we read that at Ephesus, “many of them which used curious arts brought their books together and burned them before all men;” and there is other evidence to the same effect.

Variance.Strife, or contention.

Emulations.—Singular and plural are somewhat strangely mixed throughout the list. There is a division of authorities as to the reading in the case of this word. It seems probable, upon the whole, that the singular is right—emulation, or jealousy. “Wrath,” on the other hand, should be wrathsi.e., ebullitions or outbreaks of wrath. (See the Note on Romans 2:8.)

Strife.—This appears to be a mistake in the Authorised version. The word was supposed to be connected with that translated “variance” above, and the two words received the same translation indifferently. The word ereis, which is here translated “variance,” is rendered by “strife” in Romans 13:13, 1Corinthians 3:3, Philippians 1:15, 1Timothy 6:4; on the other hand, the word eritheia is rendered by “strife” here and in 2Corinthians 12:20, Philippians 2:3, James 3:14-16. It is rendered by “contention” in Romans 2:8 (“them that are contentious”) and Philippians 1:16. The true derivation of this latter word is, however, something quite different: it is to be sought in a word meaning “a day-labourer.” Hence we get the senses—(1) labour for hire; (2) interested canvassing for office; (3) a spirit of factious partisanship; factiousness. (This word, too, is really in the plural.)

Seditions, heresies.—Rather, divisions, parties. The Authorised version has too special and technical a sound, as if the first related to factions in the State, and the second in the Church. This is not really so. The two words are distinguished from each other, as the lighter and more aggravated forms of division: the first. divisions; the second, divisions organised into parties.

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.Witchcraft - Pretending to witchcraft. The apostle does not vouch for the actual existence of witchcraft; but he says that what was known as such was a proof of the corrupt nature of man, and was one of the fruits of it. No one can doubt it. It was a system of imposture and falsehood throughout; and nothing is a better demonstration of the depravity of the human heart than an extended and systematized attempt to impose on mankind. The word which is used here (φαρμακεία pharmakeia, whence our word "pharmacy," from φάρμακον pharmakon, a medicine, poison, magic potion) means, properly, the preparing and giving of medicine. Then it means also poisoning, and also magic art, or enchantment; because in savage nations pharmacy or medicine consisted much in magical incantations. Thence it means sorcery or enchantment, and it is so used uniformly in the New Testament. It is used only in Galatians 5:20; Revelation 9:21; Revelation 18:23; Revelation 21:8. Some have supposed that it means poisoning here, a crime often practiced; but the more correct interpretation is, to refer it to the black art, or to pretensions to witchcraft, and the numerous delusions which have grown out of it, as a striking illustration of the corrupt and depraved nature of man.

Hatred - Greek: "hatreds," in the plural. Antipathies, and lack of love, producing contentions and strifes.

Variance - Contentions; see the note at Romans 1:29.

Emulations - (ζήλοι zēloi). In a bad sense, meaning heart-burning, or jealousy, or perhaps inordinate ambition. The sense is ardor or zeal in a bad cause, leading to strife, etc.

Wrath - This also is plural in the Greek (θυμοὶ thumoi), meaning passions, "bursts of anger;" see the note at 2 Corinthians 12:20.

Strife - Also plural in the Greek; see the note at 2 Corinthians 12:20

Seditions - See the note at Romans 16:17.

Heresies - See the note at Acts 5:17; 1 Corinthians 11:19.

20. witchcraft—sorcery; prevalent in Asia (Ac 19:19; compare Re 21).

hatred—Greek, "hatreds."

variance—Greek, "strife"; singular in the oldest manuscripts.

emulations—in the oldest manuscripts, singular—"emulation," or rather, "jealousy"; for the sake of one's own advantage. "Envyings" (Ga 5:21) are even without advantage to the person himself [Bengel].

wrath—Greek, plural, "passionate outbreaks" [Alford].

strife—rather as Greek, "factions," "cabals"; derived from a Greek root, meaning "a worker for hire": hence, unworthy means for compassing ends, factious practices.

seditions—"dissensions," as to secular matters.

heresies—as to sacred things (see on [2355]1Co 11:19). Self-constituted parties; from a Greek root, to choose. A schism is a more recent split in a congregation from a difference of opinion. Heresy is a schism become inveterate [Augustine, Con. Crescon. Don., 2,7].

Idolatry; either the worshipping of the creature for God, or the worshipping of God in and by the creature, as by images, &c.

Witchcraft; the product of compacts with the devil; by virtue of which, the persons so contracting are assisted by the power of evil spirits to produce effects beside the ordinary course and order of nature, and for the most part mischievous to others. And not these gross crimes only are the fruits of the flesh, but also abiding

hatred of our brethren in our hearts, enmities to others, as the word signifieth. The result of which are,

variance; men’s quarrellings and contendings one with another for little or no cause:

emulations; people’s endeavouring to hinder others of such good things as they see them desirous of:

wrath; heats and immoderate passions of men one against another:

strife; a continual readiness and proneness to quarrelling:

seditions; dividing into parties, which in the state is called sedition, in the church, schism:

heresies; that is, differing and false opinions in the grand doctrine of religion.

Idolatry,.... Which some understand of covetousness, which is so called; but rather it means the worshipping of other gods, or of graven images:

witchcraft; any real or pretended league and association with the devil, seeking to converse with familiar spirits, to gain unlawful knowledge, or to do hurt to fellow creatures; which, as it is doing honour to Satan, detracts from the glory of God, and rightly follows idolatry; conjuration, soothsaying, necromancy, and all kind of magic are included and condemned hereby:

hatred: internal hatred of any man's person, even of our very enemies, is forbidden; in the original text it is "enmities": as the carnal mind is nothing else but enmity against God and Christ, against law and Gospel, and all good men, and everything that is good:

variance, or "contentions"; fighting and quarrelling, by words scandalous and reproachful, what we commonly call scolding:

emulations or "zeals"; not good, but bad: a boiling and rising up of the spirits and passions, at the honour and happiness of another:

wrath or "wraths" violent emotions of the mind, moving to revenge, and seeking the hurt and mischief of others:

strife or "strifes"; perpetual contradictions and cavilings, either expressed by words, or working in the mind; for this strife may be in a man's heart, according to James 3:14

seditions or "divisions": schisms and factions, dissensions in things domestic, civil, and religious:

heresies; bad principles and tenets, relating to doctrine, which are subversive of the fundamentals of the Gospel and the Christian religion; and are the produce of a man's own invention, and the matter of his choice, without any foundation in the word of God; and these are works of the flesh, for they spring from a corrupt and carnal mind, and are propagated with carnal views, as popular applause, worldly advantage, and indulging the lusts of the flesh.

Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
Galatians 5:20. Εἰδωλολατρεία] is not to be considered as a species of the sins of lust (Olshausen); a view against which may be urged the literal sense of the word, and also the circumstance that unchastity was only practised in the case of some of the heathen rites. It is to be taken in its proper sense as idolatry. Living among Gentiles, Gentile Christians were not unfrequently seduced to idolatry, to which the sacrificial feasts readily gave occasion. Comp. on 1 Corinthians 5:11.

φαρμακεία] may here mean either poison-mingling (Plat. Legg. viii. p. 845 E; Polyb. vi. 13. 4, xl. 3. 7; comp. φαρμακός, Dem. 794. 4) or sorcery (Exodus 7:11; Exodus 7:22; Exodus 8:3; Isaiah 47:9; Isaiah 47:12; Revelation 9:21; Revelation 18:23; Revelation 21:8; Wis 12:4; Wis 18:13; comp. φάρμακα, Herod. iii. 85; φαρμακεύειν, Herod. vii. 114). The latter interpretation is to be preferred (with Luther, Grotius, Estius, Koppe, Winer, Usteri, Schott, de Wette, Ewald, Wieseler, Hofmann, and others), partly on account of the combination with εἰδωλολατρεία (comp. Deuteronomy 18:10 ff.; Exodus 22:18), partly because φόνοι occurs subsequently. Sorcery was very prevalent, especially in Asia (Acts 19:19). To understand it, with Olshausen, specially of love-incantations, is arbitrary and groundless, since the series of sins of lust is closed with ἀσέλγεια.

The particulars which follow as far as φόνοι stand related as special manifestations to the more general ἔχθραι. On the plural, comp. Herod. vii. 145; Xen. Mem. i. 2. 10.

ζῆλος, Romans 13:13; jealousy, 1 Corinthians 3:3, 2 Corinthians 12:20, Jam 3:16.

The distinction between θυμός and ὀργή is, that ὀργή denotes the wrath in itself, and θυμός, the effervescence of it, exasperation. Hence in Revelation 16:19; Revelation 19:15, we have. θυμὸς τῆς ὀργῆς. See on Romans 2:8.

ἐριθεῖαι] self-seeking party-cabals. See on Romans 2:8; 2 Corinthians 12:20.

διχοστασίαι, αἱρέσεις] divisions, factions (comp. 1 Corinthians 11:18 f.). On αἵρεσις in this signification, which occurs only in later writers (1 Corinthians 11:19; Acts 24:5; Acts 24:14), see Wetstein, II. p. 147 f. Comp. αἱρετιστής, partisan, Polyb. i. 79. 9, ii. 38. 7. Observe how Paul, having the circumstances of the Galatians in view, has multiplied especially the designations of dispeace. Comp. Soph. O. C. 1234 f. According to 1 Corinthians 3:3 also, these phenomena are works of the flesh.

Galatians 5:20. ζῆλος. See note on Galatians 4:17.—ἐριθίαι. The apparent derivation of this word from ἔριθος (a hireling) points to mercenary motives. The Apostle elsewhere associates it with jealousy, envy and vainglory, and contrasts it with sincerity, union and love. It denotes, probably, selfish intrigues.—αἱρέσεις. This term is used in the N.T. to designate any religious sect or party, e.g., the Pharisees, Sadducees, Nazarenes (as the Jews designated Christians).

20, 21. The second class of sins are those which concern religion—idolatry and sorcery, or witchcraft. The word ‘idolatry’ is probably to be understood here in its literal sense, the worship of false deities, and not in the metaphorical and wider sense in which it is employed by St Paul, e.g. Ephesians 5:5, a passage which is, however, strikingly parallel to this. Comp. Colossians 3:5; 1 Corinthians 5:11. The connexion with ‘sorceries’, as in Revelation 21:8, seems to limit the meaning to the superstitious worship of the heathen.

The word rendered ‘witchcraft’ originally meant ‘the use of drugs’, then, in a bad sense, ‘poisoning’. Those who ‘used curious arts’ (Acts 19:19) combined demonology or witchcraft with the use of drugs as philtres, &c. For an illustration of this compare the well-known 5th Epode of Horace.

The next eight ‘works of the flesh’ are those which are directly opposed to love of our neighbour or Christian charity. Translate, ‘enmities, strife, rivalry, angers, factions, divisions, sects, envyings’. The first four of these are enumerated in the same order, 2 Corinthians 12:20.

heresies] Rendered rightly ‘sects’ by Wiclif, Tyndale, and Cranmer, and also in the Rhemish N. T. The Vulgate has ‘sectæ’. It means the formation of ‘distinct and organized parties’—a further development of ‘divisions’; see 1 Corinthians 11:18. It is applied to the Sadducees, Acts 5:17; to the Pharisees, Acts 15:5; to the Nazarenes, Acts 24:5.

murders] Possibly this should be omitted with R.V. There is an alliteration between the Greek words rendered ‘envyings, murders’, which is lost in a translation. They occur together Romans 1:29. See the reference to Jerome in note on Galatians 5:19-21.

drunkenness, revellings] Probably no better rendering can be found for the latter of these words. In Classical Greek it is used of those nightly revellings in which the wealthier young men indulged, when after an evening spent in debauchery they disturbed the quiet of the streets by ribald songs and noisy violence. Readers of the Spectator will remember that such ‘revellings’ were common enough in London at the beginning of the last century to provoke the rebuke of the moralist: Spectator, No. 324; Macaulay, Hist. c. 111. p. 360. Drunkenness may be secret, or it may result in orgies or riot. Ephesians 5:18.

and such like] = ‘such things’ in the following clause. The catalogue, terribly large as it is, does not specify every form of working under which the flesh manifests itself. ‘Man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the Spirit’. Art. ix.

I tell you before … in time past] In respect of which I forewarn you, even as I forewarned you, when I was present with you.

they which do] R.V. who practise. Exclusion from the Kingdom of Heaven is denounced not against all who have at any time committed any of these sins (for who then can be saved?) but against all who remain impenitent, and who do not ‘through the Spirit mortify the deeds of the body’. In two other Epistles (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Ephesians 5:5), St Paul uses nearly the same terms as to the sins which disinherit a man from ‘the Kingdom of God’. The Kingdom is not the visible Church, in which the tares and the wheat grow together: neither is it the Gospel dispensation—a sense in which it is sometimes used, e.g. Matthew 3:2; Luke 7:28—but that Kingdom for whose Advent we pray in the Lord’s Prayer, which has been the hope of loyal hearts from early days, the theme of Psalmist and Prophet, the vision of the beloved disciple in Patmos—not heaven, though ‘of heaven’, not earth, though ‘on the earth’—the Kingdom prepared from the foundation of the world for the beloved of the Father, the adopted ‘sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty’.

Galatians 5:20. Φαρμακεία) See LXX., Exodus 7:11, and in many other passages. That Paul is not speaking here of natural poisoning by potions, but of magic, is evident from this, that he joins it not with murder, but with idolatry. Comp. Revelation 21:8, note.—διχοστασίαι, seditions) respecting civil affairs.—αἱρέσεις, heresies) respecting sacred things: 1 Corinthians 11:19.

Verse 20. - Idolatry, witchcraft (εἰδωλολατρεία φαρμακεία); idolatry, sorcery. These two form a second group - sins of irreligion; and such as would be likely greatly to beset new converts from idolatry. We may compare, "in respect to the former, the temptations which the apostle recognizes the danger of in the case of the Corinthians (1 Corinthians rift. and 10.). "Sorcery." The word φαρμακεία, originally denoting the use of drugs merely, means, sometimes, their use for poisoning; but this sense would not be very suitable here. But the nouns φαρμακός, φαρμακεύς, and φαρμακεία, like veneficus and veneficium in Latin, are also often used with reference to the employment of drugs in charms and incantations; and thence of the employment of black arts in general - magic, sorcery, witchcraft; cf. Revelation 9:21; Revelation 21:8; Revelation 22:15; where the Authorized Version gives "sorceries," "sorcerers;" and in the Septuagint, Exodus 7:11, 22; Exodus 8:18 (Authorized Version, "magicians" ); Isaiah 47:9, 12 ("enchantments" ). See also μαγεύων μαγείας ("sorceries" ), Acts 8:9, 11. The claim to the possession of such powers, common at Ephesus (Acts 19:19; 2 Timothy 3:13, γόντες), and rife, perhaps, universally among heathens, certainly so in the Roman empire round the Mediterranean, had no doubt been a snare also to the Galatians. Bishop Lightfoot adverts to a very stringent canon of the Council of Ancyra (the capital of Galatia), A.D. 314, condemning φαρμακεῖαι. It may be doubted whether the apostle himself would regard, or had reason to regard, pretensions to such supernatural arts as merely delusive or superstitious. Experiences such as that recorded in Acts 16:16-18, would hardly permit him to do so. Hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditious, heresies (ἔχθραι ἔρις [Receptus, ἔρεις], ζῆλοι θυμοί, ἐριθεῖαι διχοστασίαι αἱρέσεις); enmities, strife, jealousies, wraths, factions, divisions, heresies (or, parties). This third group, to which belongs also the envyings (φθόνοι), together with the probably not genuine murders (φόνοι) of the next verse, is bound together by the common characteristic of malignity. This vice of our nature, so inveterate in our fallen state - the antithesis to the love which is the essence of goodness - is, strangely enough as it at first sight seems, most readily stimulated into rancour by differences in religion. As at this very same time at Corinth, so here in Galatia likewise, the "flesh" displayed its malignity in "jealousy, strife, and divisions (ζῆλος καὶ ἔρις καὶ διχοστᾶσίαι)," originating from this cause (1 Corinthians 3:3). "Emnities;" manifestations of aversion openly displaying itself. "Strife;" the outward mutual conflict of persons animated with such sentiments. The plural number of ἔρεις, strifes, given by the Textus Receptus, as well as, perhaps, the plural of ζῆλοι, jealousies, which not improbably should also be read in the singular, ζῆλος, jealousy, may have owed its introduction by the copyists to the plural number of ἔχθραι, which is not questioned. The precise import of ζῆλος, rendered "jealousy," is not easily determined. It is spoken of as a virtue in John 2:17, "the zeal of thine house;" Romans 10:2, "zeal for God;" Philippians 3:6, "touching zeal, persecuting the Church;" 2 Corinthians 7:7, "your fervent mind [or, 'your zeal'] for me;" ibid., ver. 11, "what zeal" But in perhaps all these cases, the ardent favouring of what is good is thought of as either ready to take, or actually taking, the aspect of boiling resentment against its assailants; thus also Hebrews 10:27 ("fiery indignation," Authorized Version), literally, "zeal of fire." So in Galatians 1:14, "zealous;" comp. Exodus 20:5, Θεὸς ζηλωτής, "jealous God" (Authorized Version); Hebrews el qanna To this line of meaning is to be referred Acts 5:17, "filled with indignation (ζήλου)." In another class of passages the word denotes a wrong state of feeling, where in the Authorized Version it is uniformly rendered "envy" or "envying.' ' These are Acts 13:45 (Revised Version, "jealousy" ), where it surely means the resentment which the Jews felt at the supposed invasion of their own theocratic prerogatives. In the remaining passages of the New Testament in which it occurs it is linked either with "strife," as it is here; namely, Romans 13:13; 1 Corinthians 3:3; 2 Corinthians 12:20; or with ἐριθεία, as James 3:14, 16. In these passages there does not seem any reason on the face of them for supposing that it means "envy," that is, grudging to another some advantage; this in Greek is φθόνος. A more probable view is that ζῆλος denotes eagerness to find in another some ground for hot resentment against him. Perhaps we have no single equivalent word in our language, "jealousy" being the nearest approach. In the Epistle of Clement of Rome to the Corinthians, ch. 4-6, we have a long list of instances given of persons who have suffered through being objects of ζῆλος: in many of them "envy," or "rivalry," would seem to be the more prominent notion in the word; but in others it appears to mean rather "jealousy;" in some the same as in Acts 5:17 or Acts 13:45. The next word θυμοί, wraths, denotes violent ebullitions of passionate anger; the plural pointing to different occasions prompting such. The following term, ἐριθεῖαι (rendered "factious" ), was formerly imagined to be etymologically connected with ἔρις, strife - a notion which is now generally abandoned. The verb from which it is derived, ἐριθεύω, is to act the part of an ἔριθος, day-labourer, the noun signifying "labour for hire;" then, scheming or intriguing for a post of employment; and next, "party-action," "the contentious spirit of faction., In the New Testament it occurs six times besides here. In Romans 2:8, τοῖς δὲ ἐξ ἐριθείας (Authorized Version, "them who are contentious" ), it appears to denote those who set themselves in factious opposition to the truth, the apostle having no doubt especially in his eye Jewish gainsayers of the gospel. In Philippians 1:16, "some preach Christ ἐξ ἐριθείας," it points to factious opposition to Christ's divinely appointed heralds. In Philippians 2:3, "let nothing be done κατ ἐριθείαν," the same sense of factious opposition to others is quite suitable. In the remaining passages, 2 Corinthians 12:20, where ζῆλοι θυμοί ἐριθεῖαι, come together as they do here, and James 3:14-16, where, as above noted, it is coujoined with ζῆλον, the notion of "factiousness," or "faction," perfectly satisfies the context. In the present passage the plural, ἐριθεῖαι, denotes factious feelings roused on behalf of this cause and that; such sentiments as are likely to eventuate in διχοστασίαι, divisions, that is, more distinctly formed parties "standing apart" from each other; whilst these again culminate in αἱρέσεις. The noun διχοστασίαι, occurs also in 1 Corinthians 3:3, where they are spoken of as indicative of a fleshly mind. and in Romans 16:17, "Mark them which cause divisions and (σκάνδαλα) occasions of stumbling." We may regard this word as standing in the same relation to αἱρέσεις as the σχίσματα, "divisions," or "schisms," do which are mentioned in 1 Corinthians 11:18," When ye come together in the Church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and I partly believe it; for there must be also heresies among you." In endeavouring to ascertain the exact import of this last word (αἱρέσεις), "heresies," we must first ascertain the sense in which αἵρεσις was currently used before it was employed to describe phenomena appearing in the Church. The proper sense of "choice" was in this word often limited to the specific sense of "choice of views," particularly in philosophy or religion; that is, it meant "ways of thinking;" and then, by an easy transition, "those who followed a particular way of thinking"- "a school of thought." Thus it occurs in Dionysius of Halicarnassus, 'De Dora. et Arist.,' 7, etc. (see Liddell and Scott). This sense was so current in Dionysius's time as to appear in Latin in the contemporary writings of Cicero; thus, in 'Protein. Parad.,' Cicero writes, "Care in ea est haeresi [sc. the Stoic], quae nullum sequitur florem orationis;" 'Ad Famil.,' 15:16; 'Ad Att.,' 14:14. Similarly Vitruvius writes, 'Prier.,' 5, "Pythagorae haeresin sequi." It is not always easy to discriminate whether the "school of thought" so designated means the way of thinking itself or the set of men who held it. In this sense the word is used in the New Testament. Thus Acts 5:17, "the high priest and all they that were with him, which is the heresy (αἵρεσις) of the Sadducees;" where it means the sect, and not their views. So again, Acts 15:5, "certain of those of the heresy of the Pharisees;" ibid., 24.5, "ringleader of the heresy of the Nazaraeans," where Tertullus plainly meant those who held the views of the Nazaraeans, and not the views themselves. But, on the other hand, in the same chapter St. Paul in his reply (ver. 14), when he says, "After the way which they call a heresy, so serve I the God of our fathers," evidently uses the term as applying to "the Way" itself (comp. Acts 9:2), and not to the people who followed it. In Acts 26:5, "after the straitest heresy of our religion (θρησκείας) I lived a Pharisee," the word may be taken either way. In Acts 28:22. "concerning this heresy, it is known to us that everywhere it is spoken against," it seems, of the two, to be rather the more obvious way to take it of "what Paul thought," than of the persons so thinking. If, however, it be taken of persons, it is of course to be taken of them as holding and representing such views. In 2 Peter 2:1, "false teachers, who shall privily bring in heresies of perdition," the qualifying genitive, "of perdition," would seem to favour our understanding the "heresies" of the doctrines of these false teachers, rather than of the parties following their teaching. On the whole review of these passages, it is of the utmost importance to note the manner in which, in Acts 24:14, etc., St. Paul treats Tertullus's application of the term to the Christian faith. "I confess," he says, "that after the way which they call αἵρεσις, so serve I the God of our fathers, believing all things which are according to the Law, and which are written in the prophets: having hope towards God, which these also themselves look for, that there shall be a resurrection, both of the just and unjust." In thus speaking, the apostle repudiates the application of the term αἵρεσις to the Christian faith; not, however, on the ground that the term denoted a flagrantly erroneous and vicious form of doctrine; for there is nothing to show that this was the idea which Tertullus meant to convey to Felix's mind, in so designating either Christians or their faith: what, indeed, should Felix care about the soundness or unsoundness of their doctrines? The apostle rather repudiates the term, because, as signifying" choice," it implied that the views referred to were adopted on the prompting of individual opinion or liking. That it was not this, he shows by referring partly to the broad basis of Divine revelation in general as propounding the doctrine of the resurrection, which lay at the foundation of the Christian faith; and partly to the fact that his accusers themselves admitted that doctrine. Christians believed that Jesus was raised from the dead, not because they "chose" to think so, but because God's Word taught them so to believe. We are thus landed at the conclusion that, antecedently to its introduction into the language of the Church, the term αἵρεσις denoted a school of thought or a set of opinions; sometimes the opinions them-solves; sometimes the people holding them; but that it was understood to do so with reference to points on which there did not appear to be any decisive authority to determine men's convictions, and respecting which, therefore, men might choose their own opinions as they thought themselves best able, This conclusion will help us to understand its import in 1 Corinthians 11:19, in the passage before us, and in 2 Peter 2:1, as well as the passage in Titus 3:10, 11, in which the case of "a man that is an heretic (ἄνθρωπος αἱρετικός)" is dealt with. It is clear, from Galatians 1:6-9, that the apostle regarded the "gospel" which had been delivered to the world (Jude 1:3) by himself and his fellow-apostles, as being a revelation so certain and authoritative that any teacher introducing doctrine seriously infringing upon its substantial import would subject himself to the extreme malediction of God. The whole tenor of this Epistle shows that its author considered the Churches of Galatia as at this very time in danger of either producing from their own bosom, or else admitting from the teaching of others, doctrine which would be thus fatally subversive of the truth. Was it not, then, extremely probable that, when here enumerating, with an especial eye to the case of the Churches he was addressing, "the works of the flesh," which would cut off those who gave themselves up to their practice from the inheritance of the kingdom of God, he would specify this particular "work" of propounding, or embracing when propounded by others, doctrine which should vitally deprave the truth which God had revealed? Any doctrine which thus tampered with the gospel would, of course, be a αἵρεσις - views of men's own devising and "choosing." The term, as has been seen, might also describe a body of adherents to such false doctrine. But in the passage before us, in which the works of the flesh are recited, and not the doers of such works, the term must describe, not persons, but acts - acts, that is, of conceiving or propounding in the Church views subversive of the gospel, and gathering adherents to such views; such adherents would, among Christians, form a αἵρεσις antagonistic to the doctrine of Christ received in the Church. "Caballings" and "divisions,' ' ἐριθεῖαι and διχοστασίαι, might arise among Christians who still held fast to the substance of the gospel; fatal to the spiritual life, it might be, of those indulging in them; but yet essentially different from "heresies," because not involving departure from the faith once for all delivered to the saints, or conscious rebellion against the accredited organ d. It is of prime importance in estimating the nature of this "work of the flesh," with a practical view to our present circumstances, that we bear in mind this feature of it - that it is a relinquishment, a conscious relinquishment of the teaching of Christ, a breaking off from "the Head." The above view is precisely that given by Tertullian, ' De Prsescriptionibus Haereticorum,' 6. Bishop Lightfoot, in his Introduction to his Commentary on this Epistle, pp. 30, 31, writes thus: "It is not idle, as it might seem at, first sight, to follow the stream of history beyond the horizon of the apostolic age. The fragmentary notices of its subsequent career reflect some light on the temper and disposition of the Galatian Church in St. Paul's day. To Catholic writers of a later date, indeed, the failings of its infancy seemed to be so faithfully reproduced in its mature age, that they invested the apostle's rebuke with a prophetic import. Asia Minor was the nursery of heresy: and of all the Asiatic Churches it was nowhere so rife as in Galatia. The Galatian capital [Ancyra] was the stronghold of the Montanist revival, which lingered on for more than two centuries, splitting into diverse sects, each distinguished by some fantastic or minute ritual observance. Here, too, were to be found Ophites, Manicheans, sectarians of all kinds." Galatians 5:20Witchcraft (φαρμακία)

Or sorcery. Elsewhere only Revelation 18:23. From φάρμακον a drug. In lxx, see Exodus 7:11; Wisd. 12:4; Isaiah 47:9. Comp. Acts 19:19, περίεργα curious arts, note.

Wrath (θυμοί)

Lit. wraths. See on John 3:36.

Strife (ἐριθίαι)

More correctly, factions. From ἔριθος a hired servant. Ἑριθία is, primarily, labor for hire (see Tob. 2:11), and is applied to those who serve in official positions for hire or for other selfish purposes, and, in order to gain their ends, promote party spirit or faction.

Seditions (διχοστασίαι)

Better, divisions. Only here and Romans 16:17. Once in lxx, 1 Macc. 3:29.

Heresies (αἱρέσεις)

In Paul only here and 1 Corinthians 11:19. See on 2 Peter 2:1. Parties, into which divisions crystallize.

Galatians 5:20 Interlinear
Galatians 5:20 Parallel Texts

Galatians 5:20 NIV
Galatians 5:20 NLT
Galatians 5:20 ESV
Galatians 5:20 NASB
Galatians 5:20 KJV

Galatians 5:20 Bible Apps
Galatians 5:20 Parallel
Galatians 5:20 Biblia Paralela
Galatians 5:20 Chinese Bible
Galatians 5:20 French Bible
Galatians 5:20 German Bible

Bible Hub

Galatians 5:19
Top of Page
Top of Page