Galatians 5:21
Contentions, murders, drunkenness, revelings, 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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(21) Murders.—There is considerable doubt as to whether this word ought to stand in the text. It is wanting in the two oldest MSS. and in some other good authorities. Internal considerations may be made to tell either for its omission or for its retention.

I tell you before.I foretell (or, forewarn) you; I tell you before the event proves my words to be true—i.e., before the day of judgment.

As I have also told you in time past.As I also told you before. The idea is the same as that in the last phrase. In the Greek all that corresponds to “in time past” is the use of the past tense. The occasion appears to have been on St. Paul’s last or second visit to Galatia.

The kingdom of God.—The Messianic kingdom; so called frequently in the Gospels (especially the second and third), and also by St. Paul in 1Corinthians 6:9-10; 1Corinthians 15:50.

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.Envyings - see the note at 2 Corinthians 12:20.

Revellings - 2 Corinthians 12:20, note; Romans 13:13, note.

And such like - This class of evils, without attempting to specify all.

Of which I tell you before - In regard to which I forewarn you.

As I have also told you in time past - When he was with them.

Shall not inherit the kingdom of God - Cannot possibly be saved; see the notes at 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. In regard to this passage, we may remark:

(1) That it furnishes the most striking and unanswerable proof of human depravity. Paul represents these things as "the works of the flesh," the works of the unrenewed nature of man. They are such as human nature, when left to itself, everywhere produces. The world shows that such is the fact; and we cannot but ask, is a nature producing this to be regarded as pure? Is man an unfallen being? Can he save himself? Does he need no Saviour?

(2) this passage is full of fearful admonition to those who indulge in any or all of these vices. Paul, inspired of God, has solemnly declared, that such cannot be saved. They cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven as they are. Nor is it desirable that they should. What would heaven be if filled up with adulterers, and fornicators, and idolaters, with the proud and envious, and with murderers, and drunkards? To call such a place heaven, would be an abuse of the word. No one could wish to dwell there; and such people cannot enter into heaven.

(3) the human heart must be changed, or man cannot be saved. This follows of course. If such is its tendency, then there is a necessity for such a change as that in regeneration, in order that man may be happy and be saved.

(4) we should rejoice that such people cannot, with their present characters, be admitted to heaven. We should rejoice that there is one world where these vices are unknown, a world of perfect and eternal purity. When we look at the earth; when we see how these vices prevail; when we reflect that every land is polluted, and that we cannot traverse a continent or an island, visit a nook or corner of the earth, dwell in any city or town, where these vices do not exist, O how refreshing and invigorating is it to look forward to a pure heaven! How cheering the thought that there is one world where these vices are unknown; one world, all whose ample plains may be traversed, and the note of blasphemy shall never fall on the ear; one world, where virtue shall be safe from the arts of the seducer; one world where we may forever dwell, and not one reeling and staggering drunkard shall ever be seen; where there shall be not one family in want and tears from the vice of its unfaithful head! With what joy should we look forward to that world! With what ardor should we pant that it may be our own!

21. tell … before—namely, before the event.

I … told you in time past—when I was with you.

you—who, though maintaining justification by the law, are careless about keeping the law (Ro 2:21-23).

not inherit … kingdom of God—(1Co 6:9, 10; Eph 5:5).

Envyings; repinings at that good which is enjoyed by our brethren:

murders; unjust taking away the lives of others, with any actions tending or subservient thereunto: drunkenness; immoderate drinkings:

revellings, and such like; immoderate eatings; all abuses of the creatures of God beyond necessity, or a moderate delight.

Of the which I tell you before; I tell you of it before the day of judgment comes, when you will find that which I tell you to be truth.

As I have also told you in time past; as you know I have in my preaching to you in times past told you.

That they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God; that they who ordinarily do these things, and do not only live in such practices, but die without repentance for them, shall never be saved: see 1 Corinthians 6:9,10 Re 21:7,8. Envyings..... Uneasy distressing tortures of the mind, grieving at the good of others, that any should be in an equal, or in a better condition than themselves:

murders, destroying of men's lives, which is often the consequence of the above evils:

drunkenness; excess in drinking of wine or strong drink, whereby the stomach is overcharged, the mind is intoxicated, and the body enfeebled and unable to perform its office; this is often the source of many, or all of the works of the flesh before mentioned:

revellings; excess in feed, nocturnal riotings in eating, drinking, dancing, singing, chambering and wantonness. The Syriac version renders it, "lascivious singing"; and the Arabic version, "songs" which are a part of the nightly revels: and such like which are of the same nature and kind; so the apostle shuts up the account, it being too tedious to give an enumeration of all the works of the flesh; nor was it necessary, judgment may be made of the rest by these; nor might it be so proper, since the carnal heart is but the more pleased with, and irritated by, the mention of evil things:

of the which I tell you before: before the judge comes and the awful judgment proceeds, when these will all be made manifest, and every man will be judged according to his works: this the apostle did, as putting them in mind of the evil nature of these things, and assuring them of the bad consequences that would follow, if grace prevented not:

as I have also told you in time past; when he first preached among them, and warned them to flee from the wrath to come; he then laid before them the evil nature of these things, the dreadful effects of them, and showed that there was no salvation from them, but by Christ:

and that they which do such things, shall not inherit the kingdom of God; by which is meant the heavenly glory, called a "kingdom", because of the grandeur and magnificence of that state; and "of God", because it is of his preparing and giving, what he calls his own to by his grace, and puts them into the possession of and where he reigns and will reign for ever, and show forth the glory of his majesty: this is possessed in way of inheritance, which shows it to be a bequest of our heavenly Father's, a free grace gift of his, and not to be obtained by the works of the law, or merits of men; but what belongs, and is peculiar to the children of God, who are so by adopting grace: now they that do such works of the flesh as before enumerated; that is, that live in the commission of these things, whose whole lives are employed in such work, living and dying in such a state, without repentance towards God and faith in Christ, shall never enjoy eternal life and happiness; though such who have done these things, being brought to a sense of them, and to the blood and righteousness of Christ for pardon and justification, for life and salvation; such, notwithstanding the works of the flesh done by them, shall, through the free grace of God, and the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ, inherit the kingdom and glory of God.

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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Galatians 5:21. Φθόνοι, φόνοι] paronomasia, as in Romans 1:29; Eur. Troad. 736.

κῶμοι] revellings, comissationes, especially at night; Herm. Privatalterth. § 17. 29. Comp. Romans 13:13; 1 Peter 4:3; Plat. Theaet. p. 173 D: δεῖπνα καὶ σὺν αὐλητρίσι κῶμοι. Symp. p. 212 C; Isaeus, p. 39. 21: κῶμοι καὶ ἀσέλγεια. Herod. i. 21: πίνειν κ. κώμῳ χρέεσθαι ἐς ἀλλήλους. Jacobs, Del. epigr. iv. 43: κώμου κ. πάσης κοίρανε παννυχίδος.

καὶ τὰ ὅμοια τούτοις] and the things which are similar to these (the whole matters mentioned in Galatians 5:20-21). “Addit et iis similia, quia quis omnem lernam carnalis vitae recenseat?” Luther, 1519.

The προ in προλέγω and προεῖπον is the beforehand in reference to the future realization (Herod. i. 53, vii. 116; Lucian. Jov. Trag. 30; Polyb. vi. 3. 2) at the παρουσία; and the past προεῖπον reminds the readers of the instructions and warnings orally given to them, the tenor of which justifies us in thinking that he is referring to the first and second sojourn in Galatia.

πράσσοντες] those who practise such things; but in Galatians 5:17 ποιῆτε: ye do. See on Romans 1:32; John 3:20.

βασιλείαν Θεοῦ οὐ κληρονομ.] Comp. 1 Corinthians 6:9 f., 1 Corinthians 15:50; Ephesians 5:5; Jam 2:5; and generally, Romans 6:8 ff. Sins of this kind, therefore, exclude the Christian from the kingdom of the Messiah, and cause him to incur condemnation, unless by μετάνοια he again enters into the life of faith, and so by renewed faith appropriates forgiveness (2 Corinthians 7:9-10; Romans 8:34; 1 John 2:1 f.; observe the present participle). For the having been reconciled by faith is the preliminary condition of the new holy life (Romans 6), and therefore does not cancel responsibility in the judgment (2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 14:10).Galatians 5:21. προεῖπον. No particular admonition is here specified: warnings against these sins had, of course, formed the staple of many former discourses.

The Epistle has already claimed for Christians the inheritance of sons. That this inheritance included a kingdom needed no proof; for the conception of a Messianic kingdom ran through Hebrew prophecy and covered the whole range of Gospel teaching.Verse 21. - Envyings, murders (φθόνοι, [Receptus adds φόνοι, rejected by most editors]). These belong properly to the third group, and should have been placed in the same verse with them. We have the like alliterative combination of the Greek words in Romans 1:29, φθόνου φόνου. Judging from the evidence of manuscripts, the genuineness of φόνοι, is extremely doubtful. Regard being had to the particular circumstances of the Galatian Churches, which the apostle no doubt had in his eye in this enumeration, "murders' seems too strong a word to be appropriate; and this consideration seems to prove the word here not authentic. Drunkenness, revellings (μέθαι κῶμοι); drunkennesses, revellings. We have the same two plural nouns in Romans 13:13, κώμοις καὶ μέθαις. This fourth group represents sins of excess. Here, too, the apostle touches a form of vice, to which abundant testimony shows the Galatians, as well as other branches of Celts, to have been especially prone. It was, perhaps, this marked feature of the Galatian nationality in particular that led St. Peter, in addressing the Churches of "Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia," to speak (1 Peter 4:3) of their having formerly walked in "lasciviousness, lusts, wine-bibbings, revellings, carousings (οἰνοφλυγίας κώμοις πότοις), and abominable idolatries." And such like (καὶ τὰ ὅμοια τούτοις); and those (works) which arc like to these. Of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past (ἅ προλέγω ὑμῖν καθὼς [Receptus, καθὼς καὶ] προεῖπον); of the which I forewarn you, even as I did forewarn you. The construction of the accusative is precisely similar to that of ὅν in John 8:54, Ὅν ὑμεῖς λέγετε ὅτι Θεὸς ὑμῶν ἐστι. The πρὸ in προλέγω), as also in the προεῖπον which follows, has reference to the time when it shall actually be proved who are to enter into the kingdom of God. "As I did forewarn you;" this previous warning was probably given at his very first preaching of the gospel to them he would no doubt at once speak plainly to people, very commonly sunk in vice and excess, of the awards of the "judgment to come." That they which do such things (ὅτι οἱ τὰ τοιαῦτα πράσσοντες): that they which practise such things. The present tense of πράσσοντες is more suitable than the aorist, as being the language of warning with reference to future conduct (cf. Romans 2:2, 3, 7-10). Shall not inherit the kingdom of God (βασιλείαν Θεοῦ οὐ κληρονομήσουσιν). The apostle uses the same words in writing to the Corinthians with reference to the sins to which they were the most prone (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10). So Ephesians 5:5, "No fornicator, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, which is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God." This "kingdom" is also referred to in 1 Thessalonians 2:12, "Walk worthily of God who calleth you into his own kingdom and glory" ("His own!" Astonishing prospect!); 2 Thessalonians 1:5, "That ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer;" 2 Timothy 4:18, "will save me unto his heavenly kingdom." The like designation of the future felicity is given by St. Peter (2 Peter 1:11), "entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ," and by St. James (it. 5), "heirs of the kingdom which he [God] promised to them that love him." It is derived from our Lord's own teaching, as, e.g. Matthew 25:34, "Inherit the kingdom prepared for you;" Luke 12:32, "It is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." It is the manifestation and consummation of "that kingdom of heaven," or "kingdom of God," heralded by Christ and his forerunner as "at hand," which the Prophet Daniel had pointed forward to (Daniel 2:44; Daniel 7:13, 14, 18). Bondage to "the flesh" in this life is constantly declared throughout the New Testament to form an insuperable bar to an entrance into that exalted state. And what is the alternative prospect? This the Apostle Paul does not here specify, though elsewhere he does so with awful emphasis; as e.g. Romans 2:8. Murders

Omit from the text.

Revelings (κῶμοι)

Comp. Romans 13:13; 1 Peter 4:3. In both passages coupled with drunkenness as here. See on 1 Peter 4:3.

I tell you before (προλέγω)

Better beforehand, or as Rev. I forewarn you. Po. Comp. 2 Corinthians 13:2; 1 Thessalonians 3:4.

The kingdom of God

See on Luke 6:20.

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