“Adultery” is the Greek word, moicheia; which means adultery, and includes the idea of having an illicit male lover. Figuratively, adultery refers to the act of “apostasy,” the act of breaking a covenant originally taken.
So, if the depth of meaning is applied to this word, it not only means someone who commits a sexual act outside of marriage (and the concordant inference is that it is a female who is the offender), it can also mean someone who abandons the worship of Yahweh Elohim to follow a more pleasurable, less strife-filled form of worship. By using the same allusion to gender, the word “adultery” may describe the Bride of Yahshua (that’s all of us, no matter what gender) wandering off from “home” (where we found our “first love”) to seek ever new and exciting ways to find relief from familiarity. Perhaps a better translation for the word, adultery, in a figurative or spiritual sense, is “apostasy.”
To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of Him who holds the seven stars in His right hand and walks among the seven golden menorahs: I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for My name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: you have forsaken your first love, Revelation 2:1-4 NIV.
“Fornicaion” is the Greek word, porneia; which means harlotry (including adultery and incest). The figurative sense is the practice of idolatry.
So, “fornication” does not only reference deviant sexual practices of all types, it implies the spiritual practice of devoting our lives to something, more so than we give our lives over to Yahweh. Let us not give way to the Devil or his legions.
“Uncleanness” is the Greek word, akatharsia; meaning ceremonially impure, morally lewd or especially demonic. It further derives from a Greek word meaning unpruned. Figuratively, it can mean unexpiated, meaning to refuse to apologize or recompense.
So, “uncleanness” here means to be impure due to moral lewdness, even demonically unpruned like a wild thorn-bush, unapologetic and un-recompensing. In other words, the word refers to individuals who are boastful, puffed up in their own pride, uncommunicative and who refuse to be broken in spirit, humble and contrite.
Lewdness (“lasciviousness” in the KJV)
“Lewdness” is the Greek word, aselgeia; meaning primarily continent; or, if you understand what it means to be “incontinent” then the opposite would be the unceasing, unrestrained discharge of such matter. It means licentiousness, which refers to immorality and shamelessness.
OK. Lewdness is not a pretty picture. Of course, spiritually, this word describes individuals who are offensive to everyone they approach, and who have no intent to restrain themselves.
“Idolatry” is the Greek word, eidololatreia, meaning image-worship, or the worship of a heathen deity or an idol. It also means to render religious homage or service.
When we worship in Spirit and in Truth, we picture our Heavenly Father and, especially, His Son, Yahshua. We idolize Yahshua – He walked on the very ground we walk on, and we want to BE like Him, to walk in His ways, to speak His words, to see with His eyes and hear with His ears. He is the image we hold in our minds to compare to OUR walk, our talk, our compassion and our vision, so that we may destroy anything that is not in His manner. To idolize Yahshua is not idolatry, as Shaul is describing here. Idolatry is the act of worshipping something material or someone made of flesh and bone. It is comparing ourselves to other persons in order to become like them; it is speaking as they speak, committing the same deeds and applying their principles to our lives. It is seeking power and prestige among men, more so than seeking strength from Yahweh and doing good works in His eyes. That, in my opinion, is what I believe Shaul is referring to in using the word “idolatry.”
“Sorcery” is the Greek word, pharmakeia, which means medication, and is the basis for the English word, pharmacy. It includes the idea of magic and witchcraft (the term used the KJV), also the idea of a poisoner.
Allow me to distinguish a "medication,” developed with the intent of assisting an individual cope with a very real, identifiable disease – and a “drug” or “substance” used to distort reality, mystify or render relief from one’s troubled life. Amphetamines, for example, can be used to stimulate the heart rate when one’s heart has stopped beating. It can also be obtained illegally to stimulate a sense of power and strength in individuals who have succumbed to the belief that they are powerless in their lives. Sorcery is an act of deception, designed to create false hope, false power, false significance, false satisfaction and false courage. It is a mental tool of the Devil to poison our minds as well as our bodies, in the hope that we might DIE without the Truth while trying to escape the hardships of this life. Our call is to endure suffering, not avoid it through seemingly magical means. Substance abuse is not a modern problem, and Shaul clearly identifies “Substance Abuse” in this letter to the Galatians.
I grew up watching TV evangelists performing magical healings, deceiving people into “believing” in the work of their ministry, while they accrued millions of dollars to support their empires. I later participated in a “works and wonders” church, allowing myself to believe in something I really couldn’t fathom. Yahweh called me out of that Babylon with the simple command, “Honor My Sabbath,” a call to abide in Him, not miracles of the flesh.
“Hatred” is the Greek word, echthra; meaning hostility; and by implication, a reason for opposition. It derives from a Greek word meaning to be hateful; on one hand, to be odious, that is, abhorrent, loathsome, revolting, detestable, repulsive or obnoxious; and on the other hand, it means to be hostile. It also denotes an adversary, enemy or foe, and especially Satan.
The intent of this word, “hatred,” seems to point to that behavior we most often find in unruly adolescents. Clinically, it’s called “Oppositional-Defiant Disorder,” the tendency to argue with everything an adult says. I can imagine the disdain that Shaul must have had when he was preaching the truth, and he would run into opposition from those who had their own agendas. My wife and I thought we were leaving that all behind when we moved from Fresno, California, to Kingdom City, Missouri, where we would find believers of like-mind, where we would not run into those who were deceptive, hiding their false beliefs until finding the “right moment” to strike out. I can empathize with Shaul. It is clear why the snake bite he suffered didn’t kill him. He’d been bitten too many times by more powerful snakes of other principalities!
“Contentions” is the Greek word, eris, meaning a quarrel, or wrangling. In the KJV, eris is translated contention, debate, strife and variance.
Again with the adolescents! I get the distinct idea that Shaul is describing those individuals who are constantly vying for their own wants, irrespective of others’ needs.
“Jealousies” is the Greek word, zelos, meaning heat, either "zeal" or “ardour,” meaning passion, enthusiasm, intense devotion or eagerness. It means jealousy, like that of a husband, or figuratively, like that of Yahshua for His Bride. It can also refer to the malice and indignation of an enemy.
It’s amazing to see the aspects of love and hate all rolled up into one word, but I can’t imagine any other word that describes the reality of close relationships more than jealousy. Primary relationships
evoke the strongest bonds and the most intense and bitter disputes, aside from out-and-out warring nations. We can go from being willing to die for the one we love in one moment, and in the next be willing to kill that person.
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living Elohim, Hebrews 10:31.
Outbursts of Wrath
“Outbursts of wrath” is the Greek word, thumos, meaning passion, as in breathing hard, to rush as in breathing hard, to blow or to smoke. Interestingly, it also can mean to sacrifice by fire, that is, to immolate, slaughter, kill, to do sacrifice, slay.
By “outbursts of wrath,” Shaul isn’t just describing someone blowing off steam. He’s talking about someone who is so mad they want to kill or do away with someone or some people. Have you ever been acquainted with a person or persons who would sacrifice their friendships, or even their marriage, out of anger, to accomplish their own purposes? If we truthfully answer that question, it may be the person with whom we are most familiar – the one we look at every day in the mirror – who has done those things. The only way I can understand this type of behavior is to imagine that those who reject others believe that they, themselves, have been rejected and feel ashamed, guilt-ridden and worthless. I firmly believe that people who command and demand are coming from a state of utter feelings of powerlessness in their own lives. People who blame come from extreme guilt over things they’ve done wrong. We are most likely to threaten others when we, ourselves, feel the greatest fear.
Selfish Ambitions (KJV – “strife”)
“Selfish ambitions” is the Greek word, eritheia, meaning intrigue or faction, denoting contention and strife, to stimulate to anger or to provoke. The English word “intrigue” denotes a conspiracy or a deceptive plot and even trickery. “Faction” means a “splinter group” or “division.”
Shaul, here, is saying that one of the criterions for “works of the flesh” is the creation of division, especially within the Assembly. People who form factions, or “cliques,” who plot to divide the Assembly by provoking members to anger; who steal, lie and condemn – these are those whom Shaul is pointing out as wolves in sheep’s clothing.
“Dissensions” is the Greek word, dichostasia; meaning disunion, dissension and sedition. It literally means “standing in two places at once.” It is a “popular uprising.”
But, it is more serious than the words “popular uprising” implies. The English word “sedition” means incitement to rebellion, agitation, treason, subversion, rabble-rousing and troublemaking. These are serious charges that Shaul is describing here, and I’m convinced that Shaul is not railing against people who are trying to undue his “Assemblies.” He is concerned, here, about those who are rebelling against Yahweh, His Laws, and His Anointed, Yahshua the Messiah. He stands against those who incite riot against the Word of Yahweh.
“Heresies” is the Greek word, hairesis, meaning a choice, especially a party or disunion. It also means “sect” and to take for one-self, to prefer or to choose.
Don’t we want choices in our lives? Isn’t it “empowering” to be able to choose? Yes, in a worldly sense. But, does Yahweh offer us the opportunity to choose our OWN truths? He forbids it. He does offer choice, though. “It’s either My way, or the highway to destruction.”
See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love Yahweh your Elohim, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and Yahweh your Elohim will bless you in the land which you go to possess. But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other [mighty ones] and serve them, I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess. I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love Yahweh your Elohim, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which Yahweh swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them, Deuteronomy 30:15-20 NKJV.
“Envy” is the Greek word, phthonos, meaning ill-will, jealousy and spite. It comes from a word meaning to shrivel, wither, spoil and ruin by moral influences (The term, moral, doesn’t mean “good,” it must mean “by influencing one’s morals.”). It means to deprave, corrupt, defile and destroy.
So, the English word, “envy,” in no way elicits the depth of meaning Shaul is trying to convey here. He is clearly identifying behavior which makes good into evil and evil into good.
Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20 NKJV).
“Murders” is the Greek word, phonos, meaning to slay or murder. In this particular verse, it is omitted from some of the Greek manuscripts. Apparently, there is no figurative use of this word; it simply means to kill someone with malice aforethought.
“Drunkenness” is the Greek word, methe, meaning intoxication, with no other figurative uses in the New Testament. It’s interesting that “Meth” is a current slang word for Methamphetamines, an extremely abused substance in these days and times.
“Revelries” is the Greek, word komos, meaning carousal, as if letting loose; or rioting. It comes from a word meaning to lie outstretched. The English definition of “carousal” is “a noisy or drunken feast or social gathering.”
Now, if I may summarize Shaul’s description of the “Works of the Flesh” which preclude one’s entry into the Kingdom of Yahweh. They include:
1. Adultery - Abandoning the worship of Yahweh to follow a more pleasurable, less strife-filled form of worship;
2. Fornication - Devoting our lives to something more so than we dedicate our lives to Yahweh;
3. Uncleanness - Being demonically unpruned – like a wild thornbush, unapologetic and un-recompensing;
4. Lewdness - Unrestrained licentiousness, immorality and shamelessness;
5. Idolatry - Rendering religious homage or service to an image, idea or an idol [including a person];
6. Sorcery - Submitting to acts of deception, like magic, Tarot card
reading, palm reading, astrology, channelling or illicit drugs for the purpose of creating false hope, false power, false significance, false satisfaction and false courage – all of which are tools of the Devil which he uses to poison our minds as well as our bodies;
7. Hatred - Being hostile, resentful, bitter, vengeful, adversarial or just plain odious, that is, abhorrent, loathsome, revolting, detestable, repulsive or obnoxious;
8. Contentions - Quarrelling or wrangling;
9. Jealousies - Being both jealous to kill and zealous to protect what one “owns”;
10. Outbursts of Wrath - Out of anger, abandoning or sacrificing close relationships in order to accomplish one’s own purposes;
11. Selfish Ambitions - Conspiring to steal, lie and condemn in order to create factions or cliques, and plotting to divide a congregation by provoking members to anger;
12. Dissensions - Inciting believers to subvert Yahweh’s Laws and to rebel against His Messiah, Yahshua;
13. Heresies - Taking for oneself, preferring or choosing that which is pleasing to the individual;
14. Envy - Spoiling and ruining others’ morals through depravity, corruption, defilement and destruction;
15. Murders - Killing with malice aforethought;
16. Drunkenness - Drinking and substance abuse; and
17. Revelries - Carousing in noisy, drunken social gatherings, or to use a modern term, “partying.”
We have examined the harsh spiritual nature of the “Works of the Flesh” as Shaul describes in verses 19 through 21 of the Book of Galatians chapter 5.
Let us now turn our attention to the Set-apart spiritual nature of the Fruit of the Spirit.