Galatians 5:19-21 - Joseph Benson’s Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Bible Comments

Now the works of the flesh By which that inward corrupt principle is discovered; are manifest Are plain and undeniable. He says works, in the plural, because those of the flesh are distinct from, and often inconsistent with each other. But the fruit of the Spirit is mentioned in the singular, (Galatians 5:22,) the graces thereof being all consistent, and connected together. Which are these He enumerates those works of the flesh to which the Galatians were most inclined, and those parts of the fruit of the Spirit of which they stood in the greatest need; adultery A crime to be considered in the first rank of enormities, as being the most prejudicial to society, destroying conjugal happiness, introducing confusion and ruin into families, alienating the affection of parents from their children, causing them to neglect their education; fornication Which, how light soever heathen may make it, is in the sight of God a very grievous offence; uncleanness Of every kind and degree; lasciviousness All immodesty, as the indulging of wanton thoughts, and reading lascivious books. The Greek word means any thing, inward or outward, that is contrary to chastity; idolatry The worshipping of idols; this sin is justly reckoned among the works of the flesh, because the worship paid to many of the gods consisted in the most impure fleshly gratifications; witchcraft Or sorcery, as Macknight renders φαρμακεια, observing, that the expression “being placed immediately after idolatry, means those arts of incantation and charming, and all the pretended communications with invisible and malignant powers, whereby the heathen priests promoted the reverence and worship of their idol gods, and enriched themselves. In this sense the word is used concerning Babylon, (Revelation 18:23,) εν τη φαρμακεια σου, By thy sorcery were all nations deceived; that is, by a variety of wicked arts and cheats, the nations were deluded to support Babylon in her idolatries and corruptions. Hatred Or enmities, as εχθραι signifies; variance Ερεις, strifes; emulations Transports of ill-placed and ill-proportioned zeal; wrath Θυμοι, resentments; εριθειαι, contentions, as the word appears here to signify; seditions Or divisions, in domestic or civil matters; heresies Parties formed in religious communities; who, instead of maintaining true candor and benevolence, renounce and condemn each other. Envyings Frequently manifesting themselves against the prosperity and success of others; murders Which are often the effect of such evil dispositions and practices as those above mentioned; and, to complete the catalogue, all kinds of irregular self-indulgence, and particularly drunkenness Which renders a man worse than a beast; and those disorderly and gluttonous revellings Or luxurious entertainments, by which the rational powers are, in a great measure, extinguished, or, at least, rendered incapable of performing their offices in a proper manner. Some of the works here mentioned are wrought principally, if not entirely, in the mind, and yet they are called works of the flesh. Hence it is clear that the apostle does not, by the flesh, mean the body, or sensual appetites and inclinations only, but the corruption of human nature, as it spreads through all the powers of the soul, as well as the members of the body; of which I tell you before Before the event; I forewarn you; as I have told you also in time past When I was present with you; that they who do such things Who are guilty of such evil practices; shall not inherit the kingdom of God Whatever zeal they may pretend for the externals of religion, in any of the forms of it. Awful declaration!

Galatians 5:19-21

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

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

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.