Galatians 5:20b-21

Sunday Evening Bible Study

May 12, 1996


Paul is writing to a group of churches which have been infected with a doctrine of legalism.

But after having taught them why it's important not to be living under the Law, trying to please God on their own, they are now faced with another situation, the danger that happens when you take the Law away from people:

Galatians 5:13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

And so Paul has begun teaching on the issue of how to handle the the flesh, with the main key being:

Ga 5:16  [This] I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

We've now been looking at the "works of the flesh", identifying when that sinful nature of ours it at work by looking at the things it produces in our lives.

We've looked at adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness; idolatry, and witchcraft.

:20-21  Sins of personal relationships

Then Paul lists 9 sins involving interpersonal relationships.

A.T.Robertson says after describing these:  "Surely a lively list".


echthra - enmity; personal animosities; internal hatred of any man's person, even of our very enemies

It's the person who is characteristically hostile to his fellow men.

Here it's actually in the plural, "hatreds" or "enmities".

Every one of these qualities are listed in the plural, not the singular.

It's not just a single hatred that you then deal with that you have to be concerned over, but continuing, multiple hatreds that is going to cause you trouble, even eternal trouble.

It's the exact opposite of the main Christian characteristic, love.

Matthew 5:43-44  Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.  44  But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

love - agapao

enemies - echthros

Some people have a hatred for no good reason, as in anti-Semitism, hating Jews:


This was written by the late Sam Levenson:

"It's a free world; you don't have to like Jews, but if you don't, I suggest that you boycott certain Jewish products, like the Wasserman test for syphilis; digitalis, discovered by a Dr. Nuslin; chlorohydrate for convulsions, discovered by Dr. Lifreich; the Schick test for diphtheria; vitamins, discovered by Dr. Funk; steptomycin, discovered by Dr. S. Abraham Waksman; the polio pill by Dr. A. Sabin and the polio vaccine by Dr. Jonas Salk."

-- Dear Abby, 9-23-92

Is "hatred" all that bad?


Dr. S. I. McMillen illustrates in a chapter entitled "The High Cost of Getting Even," from his book, None of These Diseases, how physical maladies including ulcers, high blood pressure, and strokes are connected to harboring resentment and hatred toward others. He says, "It might be written on many thousands of death certificates that the victim died of 'grudgitis.'" Dr. McMillen describes how hating a person enslaves the one who hates:

The moment I start hating a man I become his slave. I cannot enjoy my  work anymore    because he even controls my thoughts. My resentments produce too many stress hormones in my body; I become fatigued after only a few hours of work.  The man I hate may be miles from my bedroom, but more cruel than any slave driver he whips my thoughts into such a frenzy that my inner-spring mattress becomes a rack of torture. I really must acknowledge that I am a slave to every man on whom I pour out my wrath.


eris - contention, strife, wrangling; rivalry, discord

Barclay:  Originally this word had mainly to do with the rivalry for prizes.  It can even be used in a good sense in that connection, but much more commonly it means the rivalry which has found its outcome in contentions and quarrelings and wrangling.

It's the idea of always trying to prove which person is best, who's ahead, and stuff like that.

I think that competition in the right places can be just fine.

Sometimes it's easy to motivate our boys to get their bedtime showers by saying, "Who wants to be the first one in the shower?"

But it can get out of hand too.

Friendly competition can become ugly, and the boys can start whining and fighting with each other.

The word is found in:

1Corinthians 1:10-13  Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11  For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. 12  Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. 13  Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?

It can appear in the church as people split into groups, trying to decide which group is better than the other.

But Paul says that this is nothing more than carnality, fleshliness:

1Co 3:3  For ye are yet carnal: for whereas [there is] among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?


In her book The Key to a Loving Heart, Karen Mains includes a parable about the church titled "The Brawling Bride".  It tells about the most climactic moment in a wedding ceremony.  The families have been seated.  The groom and his attendants are in their places.  The minister is waiting, Bible in hand.  The bridesmaids have come down the aisle.  The organ begins the bridal march, and everyone rises.  A gasp bursts from the guests. The bride is limping. Her gown is ripped and covered with mud. One eye is purple and swollen.  Her hair is mussed.  In the parable, the groom is Christ.  "Doesn't He deserve better than this?" the author asks.  His bride, the church has been fighting again.

Ridiculous?  Not when we hear of churches with factions that sit on opposite sides of the aisle.  Not when one part of the congregation meets upstairs at the same time the rest meet in the basement.


zelos - excitement of mind, ardour, fervour of spirit; zeal; but here it is used as "an envious and contentious rivalry", jealousy

Barclay:  This originally was a good word.  It meant emulation, the fine desire to share nobility and to attain to it when we see it.  But it degenerated, and it came to mean the desire to have what someone else has; the wrong desire for that which is not for us.

It's used in:

James 3:13-18  Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. 14  But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. 15  This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. 16  For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. 17  But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. 18  And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.


There's an old legend about a greedy man and an envious man who were walking along when they were overtaken by a stranger who got to know them.  And after a bit he said, as he departed from them, that he would give each of them a gift.  Whoever made a wish first would get what he wanted, and the other would get a double portion of what the first had asked for.  The greedy man knew what he wanted, but he was afraid to make his wish because he wanted the double portion for himself and didn't want the other to get it.  And the envious man felt the same way, and he was also unwilling to wish first.  After a while the stronger of the two grabbed the other by the throat and said he would choke him to death unless he made his wish.  And at that the other man said, "Very well.  I make my wish -- I wish to be made blind in one eye."  Immediately he lost the sight of one eye, and his companion went blind in both.


F. B. Meyer was pastor of Christ's Church in London at the same time that G. Campbell Morgan was pastor of Westminister Chapel and Charles H. Spurgeon was pastor of the Metropolitan Chapel.  Both Morgan and Spurgeon often had much larger audiences than did Meyer. Troubled by envy, Meyer confessed that not until he began praying for his colleagues did he have peace of heart. "When I prayed for their success," said Meyer, "the result was that God filled their churches so full that the overflow filled mine, and it has been full since."


thumos (from thuo, to sacrifice or kill) - passion, angry, heat, anger forthwith boiling up and soon subsiding again;

NAS - outbursts of anger

Gill:  violent emotions of the mind, moving to revenge, and seeking the hurt and mischief of others

Barclay - Uncontrolled temper; the word Paul uses means bursts and blazes of temper.  It does not describe an anger which lasts but the anger which flames out and then dies.

To me, it sounds an awful like what can happen in the home, when a husband gets angry and beats his wife, or vice versa.


In his autobiography, Number 1, Billy Martin told about hunting in Texas with Mickey Mantle. Mickey had a friend who would let them hunt on his ranch. When they reached the ranch, Mickey told Billy to wait in the car while he checked in with his friend.

Mantle's friend quickly gave them permission to hunt, but he asked Mickey a favor. He had a pet mule in the barn who was going blind, and he didn't have the heart to put him out of his misery. He asked Mickey to shoot the mule for him.

When Mickey came back to the car, he pretended to be angry. He scowled and slammed the door. Billy asked him what was wrong, and Mickey said his friend wouldn't let them hunt. "I'm so mad at that guy," Mantle said, "I'm going out to his barn and shoot one of his mules!"

Mantle drove like a maniac to the barn. Martin protested, "We can't do that!"

But Mickey was adamant. "Just watch me," he shouted.

When they got to the barn, Mantle jumped out of the car with his rifle, ran inside, and shot the mule. As he was leaving, though, he heard two shots, and he ran back to the car. He saw that Martin had taken out his rifle, too.

"What are you doing, Martin?" he yelled.

Martin yelled back, face red with anger, "We'll show that son of a gun! I just killed two of his cows!"

It's opposite, in the "fruit of the Spirit" might be "longsuffering", which is "patience with people", having a "long fuse" when it comes to getting angry.

We need to be careful to see the actual work of the Spirit in dealing with these things.

When we read about "outbursts of anger", we should not react by trying to stuff our anger inside and cork it up.

That's like putting a cork on a boiling pot of water.

The pressure is just going to build and build until something explodes.

The answer is in taking the kettle off of the heat.

There should be no inclination towards anger left, no pressure building up inside.

When we learn to walk in the Spirit, the anger is replaced with kindness and forgiveness:

Ephesians 4:30-32  30  And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.  31  Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32  And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.



factions (|eritheiai|, from |erithos|, day labourer for hire, worker in wool, party spirit)



divisions (|dichostasiai|, splits in two, |dicha| and |stasis|)



heresies (|haireseis|, the very word, but really choosings from |haireomai|, preferences)



envyings (|phthonoi|, feelings of ill-will)



(not in modern translations, textual variance)


:21  Sins of drunkenness

drunkenness -

revellings -


Final Summary:

These are "works of the flesh".

All these things we've looked at are things that come from the fertile soil of our flesh.

We need to fight the disease with the proper medicine.

We need to fight fleshliness with the weapons designed for the flesh.

1)  Crucify the flesh.

We are to learn to "reckon" our sin nature as being dead, as being crucified with Christ on the cross.

Romans 6:10-11  For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. 11  Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

When you reckon something dead, you know longer respond to it.

When the flesh whispers "lust!", we should respond with ..... nothing

 Crucifying the flesh involves taking away the things that feed the flesh.

It's interesting to note that when you feed the flesh in one area, the whole flesh is strengthened.

If you feed your mind with pornography, do you ever catch yourself having "outbursts of anger"?

It's a natural conclusion.

2)  Walk in the Spirit.

Ga 5:16  [This] I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. (AV)

Stop putting your focus on the flesh, and start focusing on the things of the Spirit.

Feed that Spirit-influenced part of you.

What would happen if you started to remove the things that feed your flesh, and replace them with things like:



Bible Study



What if you start to memorize Scripture, and everytime you see something that starts to feed your flesh, you counter it by working on your Scripture memorization?

Ps 119:11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

That's not to say that it's okay to look at dirty movies, as long as you balance it with Bible reading.

But there are times when you see things that you can't avoid, and you need to wash out your heart!

3)  Stay in Fellowship

That means having other brothers and sisters who know you and can encourage you.

And when times come that you start slipping away from the Lord, they can reach out and help bring you back.

Heb 3:12-13  Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.  13  But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.