Galatians 5:26
Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
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(26) Let us not be.—Strictly, Let us not become. When he left the Galatian Church St. Paul was satisfied with their condition, but he fears that they will change. The warning that he addresses to them exactly hits the weak points in the national character—fickleness, vanity, and a quarrelsome disposition.

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.Let us not be desirous of vainglory - The word used here (κενόδοξοι kenodoxoi) means "proud" or "vain" of empty advantages, as of birth, property, eloquence, or learning. The reference here is probably to the paltry competitions which arose on account of these supposed advantages. It is possible that this might have been one cause of the difficulties existing in the churches of Galatia, and the apostle is anxious wholly to check and remove it. The Jews prided themselves on their birth, and people are everywhere prone to overvalue the supposed advantages of birth and blood. The doctrines of Paul are, that on great and most vital respects people are on a level; that these things contribute nothing to salvation (notes, Galatians 3:28); and that Christians should esteem them of little importance, and that they should not be suffered to interfere with their fellowship, or to mar their harmony and peace.

Provoking one another - The sense is, that they who are desirous of vainglory, do provoke one another. They provoke those whom they regard as inferiors by a haughty carriage and a contemptuous manner toward them. They look upon them often with contempt; pass them by with disdain; treat them as beneath their notice; and this provokes on the other hand hard feeling, and hatred. and a disposition to take revenge. When people regard themselves as equal in their great and vital interests; when they feel that they are fellow-heirs of the grace of life; when they feel that they belong to one great family, and are in their great interests on a level; deriving no advantage from birth and blood; on a level as descendants of the same apostate father; as being themselves sinners; on a level at the foot of the cross, at the communion table, on beds of sickness, in the grave, and at the bar of God; when they feel this, then the consequences here referred to will be avoided. There will be no haughty carriage such as to provoke opposition; and on the other hand there will be no envy on account of the superior rank of others.

Envying one another - On account of their superior wealth, rank, talent, learning. The true way to cure envy is to make people feel that in their great and important interests they are on a level. Their great interests are beyond the grave. The distinctions of this life are temporary, and are comparative trifles. Soon all will be on a level in the grave, and at the bar of God and in heaven. Wealth, and honor, and rank do not avail there. The poorest man will wear as bright a crown as the rich; the man of most humble birth will be admitted as near the throne as he who can boast the longest line of illustrious ancestors. Why should a man who is soon to wear a "crown incorruptible and undefiled and that fadeth not away," envy him who has a ducal coronet here, or a royal diadem - baubles that are soon to be laid aside forever? Why should he, though poor here, who is soon to inherit the treasures of heaven where "moth and rust do not corrupt," envy him who can walk over a few acres as his own, or who has accumulated a glittering pile of dust, soon to be left forever?

Why should he who is soon to wear the robes of salvation, made "white in the blood of the Lamb," envy him who is "clothed in purple and fine linen," or who can adorn himself and his family in the most gorgeous attire which art and skill can make, soon to give place to the winding-sheet; soon to be succeeded by the simple garb which the most humble wears in the grave? If men feel that their great interests are beyond the tomb: that in the important matter of salvation they are on a level; that soon they are to be undistinguished beneath the clods of the valley, how unimportant comparatively would it seem to adorn their bodies, to advance their name and rank and to improve their estates! The rich and the great would cease to look down with contempt on those of more humble rank, and the poor would cease to envy those above them, for they are soon to be their equals in the grave; their equals, perhaps their superiors in heaven!

26. Greek, "Let us not BECOME." While not asserting that the Galatians are "vainglorious" now, he says they are liable to become so.

provoking one another—an effect of "vaingloriousness" on the stronger: as "envying" is its effect on the weaker. A danger common both to the orthodox and Judaizing Galatians.

Let us not be desirous of vain-glory: ambition or vain-glory is a natural corruption, disposing us to boast and commend ourselves, and to seek the honour and applause of men.

Provoking one another; this is an effect of the former, disposing us, out of hope of victory, to challenge others to a contest with us. Or it may be understood of provoking others by injuries and wrongs done them; which is contrary to the duty of love.

Envying one another; not repining at the good of others; either desiring their portion, or being troubled that they fare so well. Possibly this verse might more properly have been made the first of the next chapter, (as Luther maketh it), where the apostle goeth on, pressing further spiritual duties common to all Christians.

Let us not be desirous of vain glory,.... Ambitious of being thought wiser, and richer, and more valuable than others; of having the preeminence in the management of all affairs, and of having honour, esteem, and popular applause from men: this may well be called vain glory, since it is only in outward things, as wisdom, riches, strength, and honour, and not in God the giver of them, and who can easily take them away; and therefore is but for a time, and is quickly gone, and lies only in the opinion and breath of men.

Provoking one another; not to good works, which would be right, but to anger and wrath, which is contrary to Christian charity, or true love; which, as it is not easily provoked, so neither will it provoke others to evil things. The Syriac version renders it by

"slighting", or "despising one another"; and the Arabic version, "insulting one another"; vices to which men, and even Christian brethren in the same communion, are too prone.

Envying one another; their gifts and abilities, natural and spiritual; their rank and station in the world, or in the church. These were sins the Galatians very probably were subject to; and where they prevail, there is confusion, and every evil work, and are therefore to be watched and guarded against.

{18} Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

(18) He adds special exhortations according as he knew the Galatians to be subject to different vices: and first of all he warns them to take heed of ambition, which vice has two fellows, backbiting and envy. And out of these two many contentions necessarily arise.

Galatians 5:26. Special exhortations now begin, flowing from the general obligation mentioned above (Galatians 5:16; Galatians 5:25); first negative (Galatians 5:26), and then positive (Galatians 6:1 ff.). Hence Galatians 5:26 ought to begin a new chapter. The address, αδελφοί (Galatians 6:1), and the transition to the second person, which Rückert, Schott, Wieseler, make use of to defend the division of the chapters, and the consideration added by de Wette, that the vices mentioned in Galatians 5:26 belong to the works of the flesh in Galatians 5:20, and to the dissension in Galatians 5:15 (this would also admit of application to Galatians 6:1 ff.), cannot outweigh the connection which binds the special exhortations together.

κενόδόξοι] vanam gloriam captantes. Php 2:3; Polyb. xxvii. 6. 12, xxxix. 1. 1. Comp. κενοδοξεῖν, 4Ma 5:9, and κενοδοξία, Lucian. V. H. 4, M. D. 8. See Servius, ad Virg. Aen. xi. 854. In these warnings, Paul refers neither merely to those who had remained faithful to him (Olshausen), nor merely to those of Judaistic sentiments (Theophylact and many others), for these partial references are not grounded on the context; but to the circumstances of the Galatians generally at that time, when boasting and strife (comp. Galatians 5:15) were practised on both sides.

Both the γινώμεθα in itself,[246] and the use of the first person, imply a forbearing mildness of expression.

ἀλλήλους προκαλ., ἀλλήλοις φθονοῦντες] contains the modus of the κενοδοξία. challenging one another (to the conflict, in order to triumph over the challenged), envying one another (namely, those superior, with whom they do not venture to stand a contest). On προκαλεῖσθαι, to provoke, see Hom. Il. iii. 432, vii. 50. 218. 285; Od. viii. 142; Polyb. i. 46. 11; Bast. ep. crit. p. 56, and the passages in Wetstein.

φθονεῖν governs only the dative of the person (Kühner, II. p. 247), or the accusative with the infinitive (Hom. Od. i. 346, xviii. 16, xi. 381; Herod. viii. 109), not the mere accusative (not even in Soph. O. R. 310); hence the reading adopted by Lachmann, ἀλλήλους φθον. (following B G*, and several min., Chrysostom, Theodoret, ms., Oecumenius), must be considered as an error of transcription, caused by the mechanical repetition of the foregoing ἀλλήλους.

The fact that ἀλλήλ. in both cases precedes the verb, makes the contrariety to fellowship more apparent, Galatians 5:13.

[246] Fiamus. The matter is conceived as already in course of taking place; hence the present, and not the aorist, as is read in G*, min., γενώμεθα. The Vulgate and Erasmus also correctly render it efficiamur. On the other hand, Castalio, Beza, Calvin, and most expositors, incorrectly give simus. Against efficiamur Beza brings forward the irrelevant dogmatic objection “atqui natura ipsa tales nos genuit,” which does not hold good, because Christians are regenerate (ver. 24). Hofmann dogmatically affirms that forbearing mildness is out of the question. It is, in fact, implied in the very expression. Comp. Romans 12:16; 2 Corinthians 6:14; Ephesians 5:17. And passages such as Galatians 4:12 are in no way opposed to this view, for they are without negation; comp. Ephesians 5:1, Php 3:17.

Galatians 5:26. The English version provoking introduces an idea of wanton provocation which does not belong to the Latin provocantes, nor to the Greek προκαλούμενοι, for this denotes challenges to combat, and so describes the spirit of defiance which animated rival parties amid the heated atmosphere of religious controversy. The verse denounces the vainglorious temper of party leaders which found vent in mutual defiance and ill-will.

26. To soften the rebuke, St Paul uses the 1st pers. plur., including himself with those by whom the warning is needed. A walk directed by the Spirit of God will not lead to the display of strife and vain-glory or the indulgence of envy, all which are works of the flesh. Compare Ephesians 4:1-2, ‘I beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye were called, with all lowliness and meekness, &c.’

Let us not be] Rather, ‘let us not become, or appear.’

vain-glory] The true Christian ought to regard all glory as vain and empty save that which cometh from Him who alone is God. John 4:44.

provoking … envying …] To provoke or challenge is the act of the stronger party. Where this is impossible, the heart-sin of envy may be indulged by those who lack power or opportunity of active aggression.

Galatians 5:26. Μὴ γινώμεθα, let us not become [Engl. Vers., not so well, be]) Those who do not carefully walk in the Spirit, fall in the next place into the desire of vain-glory, of which two effects are here mentioned.—κενόδοξοι) See Chrys. de Sacerd.[58] § 587.—προκαλούμενοι, provoking) to envy. The relative exists on the part of [has reference to] the stronger.—φθονοῦντες, envying) The correlative exists on the part of [has reference to] the weaker.

[58] What then, says he, is the food of those wild beasts? (he means the affections of the soul): the food of vain-glory (κενοδοξίας) is honour and praise; and of folly (ἀπονοίας), the greatness of power and authority; and of envy (βασκανίας), the celebrity of our neighbours; of avarice, the ambition of those who supply the occasions; of licentiousness, luxury, and the perpetual intercourse with women—and the one is the food of the other.—E. B.


Verse 26. - Let us not be desirous of vain glory (μὴ γινώμεθα κενόδοξοι); let us not be vain-glorious. The communicative form of exhortation in which the speaker conjoins himself with those whom he addresses in order to soften the tone of superiority implied in exhorting them, connects this verse closely with the preceding one, in which also it is employed. Indeed, as in outward term of expression this verse coheres with ver. 25, so also in substance it coheres strictly with the whole passage beginning with ver. 13; for this is throughout levelled against a spirit of contentiousness then rife in the Galatian Churches. One cause to which the apostle thinks this ill state of things to be especially due was the spirit of vainglory or self-vaunting - a weakness to which the Celtic race has ever been markedly prone (see Lightfoot's 'Introduction,' p. 14). The softened form of exhortation visible in the use of the first person plural has been traced also by many critics in the use of the verb γινώμεθα as if the writer meant to imply that they were not as yet really vainglorious, but were in danger of becoming so. This, however, is not so clear. This verb is often used when there is no reference at all intended to passing out of a former state into a new one, but simply as meaning" show one's self," "be in act, so and so." Thus Romans 16:2, "she hath been (ἐγένετο) a succourer of many;" Philippians 3:6, "found (γενόμενος) blameless;" 1 Thessalonians 1:5, "what manner of men we showed ourselves (ἐγένηθημεν);" ibid., 1 Thessalonians 2:7; James 1:25. Very often is this verb so used in exhortations, and especially in the present tense; as Romans 12:16, "Be not (μὴ γίνεσθε) wise in your own conceits;" 1 Corinthians 4:16, "Be (γίνεσθε) imitators of me;" (so ibid., 1 Corinthians 11:1; Philippians 3:17); 1 Corinthians 10:32, "Be giving no occasion for stumbling (ἀπρόσκοποι γίνεσθε);" 14:20, "Be (γίνεσθε) not babes in understanding, but in understanding be (γίνεσθε) full-grown men;" and so often. In many of such cases there can be no reference to preceding conduct, whether in the way of approval or disapproval, but simply an exhortation to be or not to be so and so. The Authorized Version, therefore, is quite right in here rendering, "Let us not be," etc. The adjective κενόδοξος occurs only here in the New Testament, as the substantive κενοδοξία is only found in Philippians 2:3. The δόξα from which it is derived may be either "notion," "opinion," or "glory." Accordingly in Wisd. 14:14, and Ignatius, 'Ad Magnes,' 11, κενοδοξία appears to mean the following of vain, idle notions with which we may compare the words ὀρθόδοξος ἑτερόδοξος. But here κενόδοξοι is considered by most critics to mean "affecting, desirous of, empty glory;" so the Authorized Version, "desirous of vain glory," where "vain glory" are two words, not one. Such empty glory would mean glory founded on distinctive qualities, which either are merely imaginary, not existing at all, or which, if there, give no real title to honour. Perhaps, however, the δόξα of this compound is always "notion," "opinion," only varying so far in meaning as sometimes to denote opinions respecting ourselves; as Suidas says, "κενοδοξία, a vain thinking respecting one's self;" at other times, notions about ether matters. The best interpretation of the word as here used is suggested by the apostle's own words in the next chapter (ver. 3), "if a man thinketh himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself." As again in Philippians 2:3," Doing nothing through faction or through vain glory;" the sense of the second noun is illustrated by the converse, "But in lowliness of mind each counting other better than himself," suggesting its meaning to be the disposition to claim a superiority over others which we are not entitled to. "Wise in our own conceits" (Romans 12:16) is one form of this vicious quality; but there are others, all, however, fundamentally and intensely inimical to a spirit of loving sympathy with other men. Provoking one another, envying one another (ἀλλήλους προκαλούμενοι ἀλλήλοις φθονοῦντες); challenging one another, envying one another. Here again are two Greek words found nowhere else in the New Testament - προκαλοῦμαι and φθονῶ. The rendering of the first in the Authorized Version, "provoking," is perhaps not meant in the sense in which this English verb is now commonly used, and in which it also frequently occurs in our English Bible, of "making angry," but in the proper sense of the Latin verb prorocantes, "challenging,' ' e.g., to legal controversy, or to battle, or to mutual comparative estimation in any way. Any superiority, real or imaginary, in gifts spiritual (as eharisms) or natural, in eloquence, in theological acquirements, in qualification for office, in public estimation, even in moral consistency (for what follows in Galatians 6:1 seems to point in this last direction), might be among the Galatians either an occasion for self-vaunting or a subject of envy on the part of those who felt themselves cast in the shade. What it was in actual facts which gave the apostle Occasion for administering this implied reproof, it is impossible to conjecture Therein an evident correlation between the "challenging: on the part of those who felt themselves strong, and the "envying" on the part of those who found themselves weak; both faults being, however, traceable to one and the same root - the excessive wish to be thought much of.

Galatians 5:26

Desirous of vainglory (κενόδοξοι)

N.T.o. Better, vainglorious. The noun κενοδοξία vainglory only Philippians 2:3. In lxx see Wisd. 14:14; 4 Macc. 2:15; 8:18. Originally, vain opinion, error. Ignatius, Magn. xi., speaks of falling into ἄγκιστρα τῆς κενοδοξίας the hooks or clutches of error. Δόξα has not the sense of opinion in N.T., but that of reputation, glory. This compound means having a vain conceit of possessing a rightful claim to honor. Suidas defines any vain thinking about one's self. It implies a contrast with the state of mind which seeks the glory of God. The modes in which vainglory may show itself are pointed out in the two following participles, provoking and envying.

Provoking (προκαλούμενοι)

N.T.o. lxx, only 2 Macc. 8:11. Lit. calling forth, challenging, and so stirring up strife. Very common in Class.

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