The last of the specified works of the flesh is “revellings” (ASV and KJV), “revelries” (NKJ), “orgies” (NIV) or “carousing” (NASV and NRSV). These are all translations of the Greek word komos. In order to understand the definition and connotation of this word, it is good to consult several authorities regarding the meaning of New Testament words. The following references are included for that purpose:
- Arndt & Gingrich, in discussing the use of the word, stated, “originally a festal procession in honor of Dionysus, then a joyous meal of banquet, in the NT… only in the bad sense excessive feasting” (461).
- Thayer commented on the meaning and use of the word as referring to “a nocturnal and riotous procession of half-drunken and frolicsome fellows who after supper parade through the streets with torches and music in honor of Bacchus or some other deity, and sing and play before houses of their male and female friends; hence used generally, of feasts and drinking-parties that are protracted till late at night and indulge in revelry” (367).
- Vine said it had reference to “a revel, carousal, the concomitant and consequence of drunkenness” (Vol. 3, p. 293).
- Wuest said of the word that it at first referred to “a village merrymaking.” He further noted, “Then it came to mean ‘a carousal’ such as a party of revellers parading the streets, or revels held in religious ceremonies, wild, furious, and ecstatic” (Vol. 2, p. 112).
- R.C. Trench in Synonyms of the New Testament said that the Greek word komos combines the notions “of riot and of revelry.” He further commented, “At the same time komos is often used of the company of revellers themselves; always a festal company, but not of necessity riotous or drunken…. Still the word generally implies as much, being applied in a special sense to the troop of drunken revellers… who at the late close of a revel, with garlands on their heads, and torches in their hands, with shout and song, …pass to the harlots’ house, or otherwise wander through the streets, with insult and wanton outrage for every one whom they meet….” (226-227).
In modern terms, the above definitions bring to our mind the participants in modern Mardi Gras festivals or the party-goer with a lampshade on his head. It describes the person who has not lost control to the extent of methe (the previous word in Galatians 5:21) or oinophlugia (which komos follows in 1 Peter 4:3). Instead, komos is descriptive of the state of one who retains control, but is merrily intoxicated due to the effects of alcohol. In the vernacular of drinkers, this is the person that has “a buzz,” is “mellow” or “high.” The effects of inebriation are present with such a person, though he may feel he is still in full control. This is the person, when pulled over for drunken driving, claims to be unaffected by “just two or three drinks.” The komos man believes he is still in control, yet in reality alcohol has diminished his degree of alertness and has altered his mental state. Continue reading » Works of the Flesh: Revelries (Revellings)
If you were to look out your window and see your neighbor run full speed and smash his head against a tree, you probably would be shocked. If he knocked himself unconscious against the tree periodically, your shock would probably escalate to questioning the neighbor’s sanity. What is wrong with this guy? Why does he harm himself repeatedly? He is acting like a fool! This is the same reaction that God has when commenting on those who get drunk. “They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not hurt; They have beaten me, and I felt it not: When shall I awake? I will seek it yet again” (Proverbs 23:35). From the more serious spiritual viewpoint, God also reveals that becoming drunk will cause one to forfeit his or her inheritance in the Kingdom of God (Galatians 5:21).
The Greek noun, methe, is akin to methu– wine, and is translated “drunkenness” in the list of the works of the flesh. The Greek word ties together strong drink and its effect of intoxication. The noun, methe, occurs two other times in our New Testament, besides Galatians 5:21. Continue reading » Works of the Flesh: Drunkenness
The heart of man is a strange and wild place. We are told by Christ in his word that on one hand, “…those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man” Matthew 15:18. But on the other hand “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” Matthew 6:21-22. In seeking to understand the both the sin that is murder and the solution that can be offered, let us begin with a little history upon the subject.
Within the text of the Bible willful murder has been distinguished from accidental homicide. The consequence under the law of Moses was capital punishment “And he that killeth any man shall surely be put to death” (Leviticus 24:17; cf. Numbers 35:16,18,21,31). This law in its principle is surely based upon that indelible fact of man’s having been made in the likeness of God, “And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man” (Genesis 9:5,6; cf. John 8:44; 1 John 3:12,15). Under the Law of Moses there was a prohibition for any compensation for murder or the delay in the punishment of the murderer “But if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbour, to slay him with guile; thou shalt take him from mine altar, that he may die” (Exodus 21:12,14 cf. Deuteronomy 19:11,13; 2 Samuel 17:25; 20:10). To ensure the protection of the innocent, two witnesses were required in any capital case, “At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death…” (Deuteronomy 17:6ff; Numbers 35:19-30) If the murderer could not be discovered, the city nearest the scene of the murder was required to make amends for the crime that had been committed (Deuteronomy 21:1-9). Continue reading » Works of the Flesh: Murders
In Galatians 5:19-21, the sin of envy is mentioned along with 16 others by the apostle Paul as one which, if practiced, will keep one from entering the kingdom of God. There may be some that just don’t place a great deal of emphasis on this particular sin. Yet it is listed in verse 21 just before murderers. Of all the sins that could have delivered our Lord and Savior to be delivered to the cross, it was the sin of envy that is mentioned in Matthew 27:18. There has been much writing and lessons presented on the sin of adultery which is mentioned in the same text (Galatians 5:19), but very little has been written on the subject of envy. It would do us all so much good to find out more about this word “envy” to know how serious a sin it really is.
The Word “Envy”
Envy is the Greek “phthonos.” “It is the feeling of displeasure produced by witnessing or hearing of the advantage or prosperity of others; this evil sense always attaches to this word (Vines Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, New Testament, p. 204). It is further defined as: “having hatred or ill will; to look askance at, in upon; a feeling of discontent and ill will because of another’s advantages, possessions, etc.; resentful dislike of another who has something that one desires; desire for some advantage, quality, etc. that another has” (Webster’s New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition). Continue reading » Works of the Flesh: Envy (Envyings)
In the time of the Judges in Israel, forty-two thousand Ephraimites fell to their enemies because they could not speak the language of the Gileadites. “And it was so, that when any of the fugitives of Ephraim said, ‘Let me go over,’ the men of Gilead said unto him, ‘Art thou an “Ephraimite?’ If he said, ‘Nay,’ then said they unto him, ‘Say now Shibboleth’ and he said ‘Sibboleth;’ for he could not frame to pronounce it right..” (Judges 12:5-6).
How convenient it would be if we could determine so easily today by sibilant sounds whether or not a brother was “orthodox” regarding the faith. Since an Ephraimite could not pronounce the “sh” sound, he was known immediately to be an alien. “Shibboleth” was orthodox; “Sibboleth” was unorthodox and suspicious. While “the faith” (Jude 3) is orthodox and true doctrine, departures into error require more than a sibilant slip to discover them. However, truth does have a “certain sound” that is identifiable, while error will be “unsound” (1 Cor. 14:7-11). Continue reading » Works of the Flesh: Heresies (Parties)
Numerous times people have written, prayed, and preached words of thanksgiving for the various denominations so abundant in America. Although there is nothing wrong with our love for the religious freedom enjoyed in this country, Paul condemned party spirits and religious division when he listed dissensions among the works of the flesh. It is just as much a work of the flesh as fornication, adultery, drunkenness, murder, etc. Galatians 5:21 warns against practicing any of these: “…of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Since our soul will be in jeopardy if we are guilty of this sin it makes good sense to understand what it is.
Definition of “Dissensions”
Dichostasia (dee-khos-tas-ee’-ah) is found three times in the Greek New Testament: Galatians 5:20; Romans 16:17; and 1 Corinthians 3:3. Some disagree with the inclusion of dichostasia in 1 Corinthians 3:3 due to the lack of support from ancient manuscripts. It means “lit., a standing apart (dicha, asunder, apart, stasis, a standing),…” (Vine, p. 1008). Thayer defines it as “to cut into two parts, cleave asunder, dissever” (p. 158). The prefix “di-” means “to divide” in many words in numerous languages. As can be seen in the words “dialogue” (two or more speakers); “diameter” (cutting a circle into two equal parts); “dissect” (dividing an organism into various parts); etc. Thus, dissension takes place whenever two or more parties are created by drawing a line between what one believes. Dissension also encourages others to choose sides. Continue reading » Works of the Flesh: Dissensions
“Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21, New King James).
The works of the flesh in this passage can be categorized as follows:
- Sins of fleshly lust: Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, and lasciviousness.
- Sins of irreligion: Idolatry, witchcraft, seditions (divisions, Marshall), heresies (sects. Marshall).
- Sins of personal disposition: variance, emulations, wrath, strife, Envyings, murders, (not found here in the better manuscripts and later versions. JPN), drunkenness, revellings and such like.
This article will discuss a sin of personal disposition, namely, strife (Greek, erithia). Continue reading » Works of the Flesh: Selfish Ambitions
There are many sins of which men may be guilty. As you know, some of these are listed in Galatians 5:19-21. Among the sins listed, there are ones people view as “major” and others as “minor.” Some believe “uncleanness” and “lewdness” to be minor, while “idolatry” and “sorcery” are major. Yet, God lists them in the same category of works of the flesh. Another sin that is viewed as minor is “outbursts of wrath,” though it is listed with “hatred,” “envy,” and “drunkenness.” Nothing could be further from the truth, as we shall see.
The “outbursts of wrath,” of Galatians 5:20, is defined as “passion, angry heat….anger forthwith boiling up and soon subsiding again” (Thayer). Vine states that the Greek word “thumos,” the root of “outbursts of wrath,” means “Hot anger, passion.” E. Huxtable, in The Pulpit Commentary, states “wrath” in Galatians 5:20 “denotes violent ebullitions [boilings] of passionate anger.” An examination of various uses of this word in the New Testament will further “define” this work of the flesh. Continue reading » Works of the Flesh: Outbursts of Wrath
A tree is known by its fruits, and in this passage (Galatians 5:19-23) Paul lists the works of the flesh contrasted to the fruits of the Spirit. Paul here lists sins of sensuality, idolatry and of personal relations. Of the later, he names eight sins, of which our word “jealousy” or “emulation” (KJV) is a part.
Jealousy is from the Greek word zelos, which literally means “to boil.” It should be noted that each of the works of the flesh has a proper and improper usage in the Christian life. So it is with our word. One can be jealous in a legitimate way or illegitimate way. The word has good uses as in Exodus 20:5 (God is a jealous God), and 2 Corinthians 11:2-3, while negative uses such as in our passage, and in 2 Corinthians 12:20, “For I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and [that] I shall be found by you such as you do not wish; lest [there] [be] contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults.” Notice that this is a listing of sins similar to that of Galatians 5. Continue reading » Works of the Flesh: Jealousies (Emulations)
Among the works of the flesh listed in Galatians 5:19-21, sandwiched between “hatred” and “jealousy,” is a little word, “contentions.” A little word, but a great sin. A child I know once asked his mother to tell him what an “image” was so that he would never bow down before one. In like manner, it behooves us to define—or rather, to allow the Holy Spirit to define—this “contention” so that we may not fall prey to it, “for we are not ignorant of [Satan’s] devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11).
We should note that the word translated “contentions” (and also “strife” ) in the NKJV is the greek word eris, and the dictionary definition is:
Strife, quarrel, contention
1.Battle-strife 2.Quarrel, strife, discord; wordy wrangling or disputation 3.Eris, a goddess who excites to war (sister of Ares) 4.Contention, rivalry (Liddell & Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon)
Specifically, we should note that the word has a military origin, indicating a spirit of war or rivalry—even infighting. This much secular input is useful, but we must go to the New Testament to get a true understanding of the meaning and application the Holy Spirit intended. Continue reading » Works of the Flesh: Contentions (Variance, Strife)
“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 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” (Galatians 5:19-21). The works of the flesh, listed in Galatians 5:19-21, are those actions and deeds which spring forth from within those who have not “crucified the flesh with it’s passions and desires” (vs. 24). Not only are these done by the children of darkness who are under the power of Satan (Acts 26:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:4-5), but unfortunately they also are sometimes performed by those who are supposed to be children of light. This is the very admonition of the apostle Paul to these Christians in the region of Galatia. He warns them that “they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God”.
This is serious business.
Among these particular works mentioned in verses 19-21, there is one which we shall turn our attention to in this study — it is ‘hatred’. Hatred comes from the Greek term ‘echthra’ (Strong’s, 2189) which means enmity. It is used 6 times in the KJV version of the New Testament. It is translated as ‘enmity’ five times (Luke 23:12; Romans 8:7; Ephesians 2:15, 16; James 4:4), and as ‘hatred’ once (Galatians 5:20). Continue reading » Works of the Flesh: Hatred (Enmities)
As the inspired writer lists the works of the flesh, he places after idolatry the word, “sorcery,” or “witchcraft” (KJV).
This new century is much like the one in which Paul wrote, fascinated with the mysterious and bizarre. As the Athenians gathered at the Areopagus to seek some new thing – some new religious oddity – millions today kneel before the gentle glow of the television or Internet in search of something similar. Thus we find Wiccans worshiping at Fort Hood with the approval of the United States Army and many more searching the stars for astrological direction or consulting charlatans masquerading as psychics.
The occult holds a place of fascination, curiosity and tolerance in an era in which men have become dissatisfied with the predictability and familiarity of Christianity. Neither can it be overlooked that this faith of ours disallows so much of the immorality that modern men crave and are unwilling to abandon; the occult not only allows such immorality, but often demands it. Continue reading » Works of the Flesh: Sorcery (Witchcraft)
The responses of two of my friends when I asked them the question, “What is idolatry?” are both typical and indicative of how Christians view this subject. They both replied in like fashion, “Easy, it is the worship of false gods.” Though we’ve been warned against “contemporary idolatry” from the pulpit all of our lives and give a hearty amen, do we not then sit back and smugly say to ourselves, “Forget about it, there isn’t any real idolatry to worry about today.”?
Idolatry in the Old Testament
Pagan practices pervading the period prior to the New Testament encompassed Israel in a fiery ring of heathen worship. Peoples surrounding the holy nation included the following: Syrians, Sidonians and Hittites from the North; Egyptians, Moabites, Edomites and Amalakites from the South; Assyrians, Ammonites and Babylonians from the East; the Philistines along the Mediterranean coast just to the west; and other scattered groups living within Canaan not driven out during the conquest (Judges 1:21, 27-36). All were idolatrous and all posed an eminent threat to the spiritual purity of God’s people by means of introducing the spiritual harlotry of idolatry. Those idols esteemed veneration were mountains, springs, trees, blocks of stone, carved, painted and molded images and wooden poles of Asherah such as the one destroyed by Gideon in Judges 6:25-32. Other idols embraced were the sun, moon, sacred animals and the basest of barbarous “gods” demanding infanticide and prostitution as tokens of service. Let the reader take note — the resurgence of idolatry in today’s new age movement is just as much a threat now as it was 4,000 years ago. Continue reading » Works of the Flesh: Idolatry
In this lesson, let us consider “lasciviousness” (KJV) and “sensuality” (NASU), identified by Paul as a soul-condemning work of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21). The particular Greek word that Paul uses in this context is aselgeia.
According to Thayer, the Greek word aselgeia as “unbridled lust, excess, licentiousness, lasciviousness, wantonness, outrageousness, shamelessness, insolence&ldots; wanton (acts or) manners, as filthy words, indecent bodily movements, unchaste handling of males and females, etc.” (1)
Kittel says that aselgeia [licentiousness] is defined as “‘License,’ mostly physical, figuratively spiritual. ‘Debauchery’ or ‘licentiousness’ is the sense in 2 Peter 2:7 (Sodom and Gomorrah) and Ephesians 4:19 (the pagan world). Sexual excess is probably meant in Galatians 5:19 and certainly so in Romans 13:13; 2 Corinthians 12:21; 2 Peter 2:2, 18).” (2)
Vine says that aselgeia denotes “excess, licentiousness, absence of restraint, indecency, wantonness.” (3) Continue reading » Works of the Flesh: Lewdness (Lasciviousness)
Included in the apostle’s list of “works of the flesh” in Galatians 5:19-21 is uncleanness, which is translated from the greek word akatharsia. Two things are worthy of mention regarding the passage, which will be helpful in our understanding of the nature of this sin. First, in the list given, the apostle notes that these things are “evident”-ly works of the flesh. That is, they are obviously sins. Second, those who practice these sins “will not inherit the kingdom of God.” So, uncleanness is evidently sin, and the practice of such sin will condemn our souls. It is obvious that Christians should avoid uncleanness. This article will attempt to identify the sin under consideration, that Christians will know what it is they must avoid. Continue reading » Works of the Flesh: Uncleanness
In studying Galatians 5:19-21, the second sin, or “work of the flesh” mentioned by Paul is that of fornication. Galatians 5:19-21 closely parallels 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. There, Paul told those brethren that some “shall not inherit the kingdom of God”; and the very first ones on the list were “fornicators”! A note of interest to me concerning Galatians 5:19-21 is that in J.N. Darby’s translation (1871), he omits listing “adultery” and has “fornication” mentioned first. This is also true of the Common English Version, printed in 1865. The New American Standard Bible simply lumps both adultery and fornication together, calling it “immorality.” Nevertheless, to discuss the subject of fornication is certainly a Bible topic, and one which merits our study. We read the word “fornication” no less than 36 times in the Bible. “Whoredom” is found 22 times, and “whoring” is found 19 times. I mention “fornication,” “whoredom,” and “whoring” together because these three words come from the same Hebrew word (zanah) in the Old Testament, and the same Greek word (porneia/pornos) in the New Testament. Fornication is something that is consistently called a sin from Old to New Testament times, and should be treated as such today. Fornication is called a “work of the flesh” by Paul for a reason. Therefore, let us learn why we must avoid such sins. Continue reading » Works of the Flesh: Fornication
“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness…” (Gal 5:19). The word adultery, according to Vines Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words is defined as one “who has unlawful intercourse with the spouse of another.”
The Bible warns us of this insidious sin throughout its pages in both Old and New Testaments. Exodus 20:14, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Note the severity of punishment of those who committed this sin under the Law of Moses, Leviticus 20:10, “And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.” Though this is not required of us under NT Law, we have to be impressed with the level of seriousness that God has placed in this matter. Continue reading » Works of the Flesh: Adultery
Think of an animal in the wild. What is it doing? Whatever it wants to do is the answer. What does it want to do? Whatever comes natural to that particular animal is the only thing that it can do. What does it need to do? It needs to do whatever it takes to satisfy its life sustaining needs, to gratify its fleshly desires, and to protect itself from harm and attack from some other force which may be out to do it harm. If an animal is hungry, what would you expect that animal to do? The natural course of action is to find food. What if it required the killing of another animal in order to provide that food? Would we find it strange for an animal to kill another animal in order to survive? Of course not. Such is the nature of flesh. Flesh lives to continue living. Flesh seeks its own gratification by nature. If it is hungry, it seeks out food. If it is thirsty, it seeks out water. If it is cold, it seeks shelter. If there is a sexual arousal, it does whatever is necessary to satisfy that lust. Flesh is flesh. “All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds” (1 Corinthians 15:39). Man is not an animal, even though we are of flesh. Continue reading » Associate Editorial: The Nature of Man’s Flesh
With this May 2001 issue on the “Works of the Flesh” we begin again a monthly publication schedule for Watchman Magazine. We wish to thank our readers for their patience as we have retooled, redesigned, and hopefully improved the look and quality of the magazine.
This issue constitutes an extensive word study of the list of “works of the flesh” that is found in Galatians 5. I want to express my appreciation to all of the men who have contributed to the study. You will find the writing to be uniformly excellent. Please make note of this issue, as it will be useful resource material in the future. Continue reading » Theme Editorial: The Works of the Flesh
In Romans 7, the apostle Paul allows himself to be representative of the human experience in discussing sinful impulses and the difficulty that one has in fighting them. The chapter concludes with his representative experience in overcoming such lusts through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 7 deals with the concept of indwelling sin, not as Calvinists would attribute to a “sinful nature,” but to the free moral agency of man, who is able to choose evil if he desires. This passage shows us how the devil takes advantage of the fleshly penchant for rebelling against authority in self-service. Romans 8 will bring this discussion to a happier conclusion, but the present chapter serves to identify the problem and suggest a few solutions. Continue reading » Solid Food: Indwelling Sin