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Galatians 5:19-21

19. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

19. Manifesta vero sunt opera carnis, quae sunt adulterium, scortatio, immunditia, lascivia,

20. Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

20. Idololatria, veneficium, inimicitiae, contentio, aemulationes, irae, concertationes, seditiones, haereses,

21. Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

21. Invidiae, homicidia, ebrietates, comissationes, et his similia; Deuteronomy quibus praedico vobis, quemadmodum et praedixi, quod qui talia agunt regnum Dei haereditate non possidebunt.

 

19. Now the works of the flesh are manifest. To obey the spirit and to oppose the flesh, are two great objects which have been set before Christians, and for the attainment of which they have been urged to make the most strenuous exertions. In accordance with these views, he now draws a picture both of the flesh and of the spirit. If men knew themselves, they would not need this inspired declaration, for they are nothing but flesh; but such is the hypocrisy belonging to our natural state, we never perceive our depravity till the tree has been fully made known by its fruits. (Matthew 7:16; Luke 6:44.)

The apostle therefore now points out to us those sins against which we must fight, in order that we may not live according to the flesh. He does not indeed enumerate them all, and so he himself states at the conclusion of the list; but from those brought forward, the character of the remainder may be easily ascertained. Adultery and fornication are placed first, and next follows uncleanness, which extends to every species of unchastity. Lasciviousness appears to be a subsidiary term, for the Greek word ασέλγεια, which is thus translated, is applied to those who lead wanton and dissolute lives. These four denote sins forbidden by the seventh commandment. The next mentioned is idolatry, which is here employed as a general term for services grossly superstitious and openly practiced.

Seven classes which immediately follow, are closely allied, and another two are afterwards added. Anger and hatred differ chiefly in this, that anger is short, and hatred is lasting. Emulations and envyings are the occasions of hatred; and the following distinction between them is stated by Aristotle, in his second book on Rhetoric: — He who emulates is grieved that another should excel him, not because the virtue or worth of that person, in itself considered, gives him uneasiness, but because he would wish to be superior. The envious man has no desire to excel, but is grieved at the excellence of other men. None, therefore, he tells us, but low and mean persons indulge in envy, while emulation dwells in lofty and heroic minds. Paul declares both to be diseases of the flesh. From anger and hatred arise variance, strife, seditions; and he even traces the consequences so far as to mention murders and witchcraft 9090     “The original word φαρμακεία sometimes denotes ‘poisonings,’ which were frequently practised among the heathens. Sometimes it signifies incantations or magic arts, or witchcraft, by which impostors and cheats endeavoured to impose on ignorant and credulous people, and which were carried on by poisonous intoxicating draughts and ointments, by which they did great mischief to the bodies of men. As it is here immediately placed after idolatry, I should imagine that the apostle intended those cursed arts of incantations and charms, those various methods of imposture and cheats, which were made use of by the heathen priests, to promote the idolatrous reverence and worship of their false gods. (See Revelation 18:23.)” — Chandler. By revellings, 9191     By κῶμοι are denoted those nocturnal revellings usually attendant on an evening of debauchery, consisting of licentious singing, dancing, and parading the streets with drunken riotings.” — Bloomfield. he means a dissolute life, and every kind of intemperance in the gratification of the palate. It deserves notice, that heresies are enumerated among the works of the flesh; for it shows clearly that the word flesh is not confined, as the sophists imagine, to sensuality. What produces heresies but ambition, which deals not with the lower senses, but with the highest faculties of the mind? He says that these works are manifest, so that no man may think that he will gain anything by evading the question; 9292     “En volant nier, et usant de tergiversation.” “By wishing to deny it, and by shuffling.” for what avails it to deny that the flesh reigns in us, if the fruit betrays the quality of the tree?

21. Of which I tell you before. By this awful threatening he intended not only to alarm the Galatians, but likewise to glance indirectly at the false apostles, who had laid aside the far more valuable instruction, and spent their time in disputing about ceremonies. He instructs us, by his example, to press those exhortations and threatenings, agreeably to the words of the prophet,

“Cry aloud, spare not; proclaim to my people their sins.”
(Isaiah 58:1)

What can be conceived more dreadful than that men should walk after the flesh, and shut themselves out from the kingdom of God? Who will dare to treat lightly the “abominable things which God hates?” (Jeremiah 44:4.)

But in this way, we shall be told, all are cut off from the hope of salvation; for who is there that is not chargeable with some of those sins? I reply, Paul does not threaten that all who have sinned, but that all who remain impenitent, shall be excluded from the kingdom of God. The saints themselves often fall into grievous sins, but they return to the path of righteousness, “that which they do they allow not,” (Romans 7:15,) and therefore they are not included in this catalogue. All threatenings of the judgments of God call us to repentance. They are accompanied by a promise that those who repent will obtain forgiveness; but if we continue obstinate, they remain as a testimony from heaven against us.

They who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. The word κληρονομεῖν signifies to possess by hereditary right; for by no right but that of adoption, as we have seen in other passages, do we obtain eternal life.


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