Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Galatians 5:15

But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.
New American Standard Version

Adam Clarke Commentary

If ye bite and devour one another - These Churches seem to have been in a state of great distraction; there were continual altercations among them. They had fallen from the grace of the Gospel; and, as Christ no longer dwelt in their hearts by faith, pride, anger, ill-will, and all unkind and uncharitable tempers, took possession of their souls, and they were in consequence alternately destroying each other. Nothing is so destructive to the peace of man, and to the peace of the soul, as religious disputes; where they prevail, religion in general has little place.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Galatians 5:15". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/galatians-5.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

But if ye bite - The word used here ( δάκνω daknō), means, properly, to bite, to sting; and here seems to be used in the sense of contending and striving - a metaphor not improbably taken from dogs and wild beasts.

And devour one another - As wild beasts do. The sense is, “if you contend with each other;” and the reference is, probably, to the strifes which would arise between the two parties in the churches - the Jewish and the Gentile converts.

Take heed that ye be not consumed … - As wild beasts contend sometimes until both are slain. Thus, the idea is, in their contentions they would destroy the spirituality and happiness of each other; their characters would be ruined; and the church be overthrown. The readiest way to destroy the spirituality of a church, and to annihilate the influence of religion, is to excite a spirit of contention.

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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Galatians 5:15". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/galatians-5.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Galatians 5:15

But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.

Uncharitable contentions in the Church of God

I. There ever were, are, and will be, differences among God’s own people in the matters of religion. Even amongst the Jews, who had such punctual rules prescribed before them, yet the school of Hillel went one way, and the school of Shammai went another; and their contentions sometimes were sprinkled with the blood one of another. And no sooner was the gospel planted, but the professors of it fell at variance about matters of religion: this is plain in the controversies about circumcision, for the quieting whereof that famous council met at Jerusalem (Acts 15:1-41.). And the causes hereof are evident:--

1. Our general imperfection in this life. As the best men are imperfect in their holiness, so are they in their knowledge; there will be defects in our understanding, as well as in our will. So that it is scarce possible to prevent all diversity of opinions in religion.

2. Men’s education contributes much hereunto. It is manifest how strong an influence this hath upon all people’s understandings.

3. Men’s capacities are different. Some have a greater sagacity to penetrate into things than others; some have a clearer judgment to weigh and determine of things than others; some have more solid learning by far than others; and these, doubtless, will attain to a higher form and class than others can.

4. Men’s natural tempers are different. Some more airy and mercurial, some more stiff and melancholy.

5. Men’s interests are different. Not that any good man doth wittingly calculate his profession for his baser ends; but yet they may secretly bias him, especially in more minute and dubious matters belonging to religion.

II. These differences may and should be managed with charity. “Better to have truth without public peace, than peace without saving truth:” so Dr. Gauden. “We must not sail for the commodity of peace beyond the line of truth; we must break the peace in truth’s quarrel:” so another learned man. But this is to be understood of necessary and essential truths; in which case, “that man little consults the will and honour of God, who will expose the truth, to obtain,” as saith Nazianzen, “the repute of an easy mildness.” But when, after all such endeavours have been used as are within the reach of a man’s parts and calling, still differences do remain in smaller matters, these ought to be managed with all charity; that is, with true love.

III. These dissensions are uncharitable, when persons bite and devour one another. The spring of all this poison is in the heart; for “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh,” and the hand acts. There is a defect of real and fervent love, and an excess of selfishness within; self-opinion, self-will, and self-interest: and this arrogance breeds insolence, and all the “biting and devouring” mentioned in this place. Now if these two expressions do bear a distinct signification, then--

1. Men do “bite” one another by keen and venomous words.

2. Men “devour” one another by actual endeavours to injure and hurt one another.

IV. These uncharitable contentions do prepare for utter destruction.

1. So saith Scripture (Hosea 10:2.; Matthew 12:25).

2. “Histories and experience do attest the same. For contentions in general: it is evident that the divisions which were among the Trojans made way for their overthrow by the Greeks; the like animosities among the Greeks brought them under the slavery of Philip. The feuds that were among the Assyrians, brought in the Persians; and the like among the Persians subjected them to the Macedonians; and the contentions among Alexander’s successors rendered them up to be swallowed by the Romans, one after another. Yea, the Roman Empire itself, near the tinge when the western and the eastern branches of it were hottest in contention about the supremacy of their bishops and about images,--behold, the Goths and Vandals destroyed the one, and the Saracens and Turks ruined the other. The scandalous discords among the Jews exposed Jerusalem at length to that dreadful desolation by Titus Vespasian. And for this island, it has been still accounted like some great animal, that can only be ruined by its own strength. The contentions of the Britons made the Romans conquerors. Afterwards the Saxons came in upon the divisions of the natives; and the contentions of the Saxons prepared the way for the Normans. And for religious differences: it is known how Julian the Apostate cherished those between the Catholics and the Donatists; saying, that no savage beasts were so cruel against one another as the Christians; so that he expected thereby to ruin them all. It is notorious what famous and numerous churches were once in Africa; but, by the contentions of the Manichees, then of the Donatists, they are now extinguished. The contentions among the Protestants in King Edward the Sixth’s reign ended in the persecution by Queen Mary: and if ever the Romans ruin us again, it will be procured by our contentions among ourselves.

3. There is too much reason for it.

(a) They weaken that confidence that is necessary for the preservation of a people.

(b) They destroy that love which is the cement of all societies. As they proceed from a defect of love, so they quite ruin the remainders of it. Now, this love unites, and so strengthens: but when men’s hearts are once divided from each other, what care I what becomes of them whom I hate?

(c) They prepare for the most desperate actions. For when there is a dislike settled within, and that men’s spirits are exasperated by provoking words and actions, there wants nothing but opportunity to produce the most violent effects.

(a) They provoke the wrath of God.

(b) They consume the power and life of godliness. God’s grace never thrives in an unquiet spirit. Application:

1. Union is the true means of our preservation. Let us consider

2. If uncharitable contentions do prepare for utter destruction, then woe be to the instruments and bellows of our contentions!

These are many in number, and generally most conceited and contemptuous. Of such good old Mr. Greenham is to be understood, when, being asked by the lord-treasurer Cecil, where the blame of that great rent lay between the bishops of those times and others, “The fault,” said he, “is on both sides, and on neither side: for the godly-wise on both sides bear with each other, and concur in the main; but there be some selfish, peevish spirits on both sides, and these make the quarrel.”

3. If these prepare for destruction, then we in this sinful nation are in the ready way to misery. For,

4. Let us all, then, be entreated, conjured, and persuaded to forbear biting and devouring one another. Leave off this brutish behaviour toward one another. To which end consider--

(a) You break the great commandment of God’s law, which is love.

(b) You trample upon the great precept of the gospel, which is love.

(c) These contentions bring great dishonour to Jesus Christ.

(d) They grieve the Holy Spirit of God.

(e) They stir up much corruption, both in the aggressor and in the defendant.

(f) They greatly hinder the conversion of the ungodly, and the progress in holiness of the godly.

(g) These contentions in religion tempt men to be atheists.

(h) These biting and devouring contentions are uncivil, inhuman, and barbarous.

(a) It includes the ruin of our outward comforts.

(b) It threatens the ruin of our religion.

(c) This destruction infers the ruin of our posterity.

(a) Lament your own and others’ sin in this particular.

(b) Learn Christian wisdom.

(c) Endeavour for a catholic spirit.

(d) Be clothed with humility. It is pride that begins and maintains our quarrels.

(e) Apply yourselves to the practice of real piety.

(f) Follow after charity. This is the healing grace; and if this be not applied to our bleeding wounds, they will never be cured. It were better, as one says, that Caesar should break all Pollio’s curious glasses, than that they should break the bond of charity, or that the breach of them should be the occasion of so much inhumanity of brethren one against another.

(g) Avoid extremes. Do not labour to screw-up one another to the utmost.

(h) Mind every one his own business.

(i) Observe that good old rule, of doing to others as you would be done to. You would have others to bear with you; and why will not you bear with others?

(j) My last advice is, to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” This every one may do, and this every one ought to do: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces” (Psalms 122:6-7). (R. Steele, M. A.)

Dissensions in the Church

1. Are often due to trivial causes.

2. Are always unreasonable.

3. Are a hindrance to the progress of the gospel.

4. Enfeeble and imperil the Church.

5. Are a cause of rejoicing to the enemies of the truth.

6. Are offensive to God. (R. A. Bertram.)

Good results from cessation of party strife

A wall having become very feeble by age, a portion of it one day fell down. Great consequences followed the Falling of the piece of the old wall.

1. The sun was able to pour more light into the gardens on either side, which the height of the wall had obstructed, so that the flowers looked to greater advantage; and, owing to their having more air and sunshine, became really more beautiful.

2. The perfume was borne across the breach; so that the gardens were the, sweeter. “What a pity that piece of old wall had not fallen down before,” said the flowers.

3. The shrubs looked over to one another, and got into friendly talk; and so they said, “What a good thing that piece of old wall fell down; it is a pity it stood so high so long.”

4. The flowers and shrubs of each garden discovered that members of their own families had been living on the other side, and therefore really near to each other, though they had had no communion, owing to the wall between.

5. Finally, so many benefits were seen to be the result of the occurrence that, instead of rebuilding the fallen part, the remainder was pulled down to a low level, that air and sunshine might have freer course, and the gardens a free communication. And not a few afterwards acknowledged that a real good and blessing was the consequence to all parties, by the opportunely falling down of that old dividing wall Party spirit is a wall of separation which the coming and the work of Christ was intended to remove. “For He is our peace, who hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us.” Let none now seek to divide Christians by building up a wall of party spirit between them; for, “behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.” (G. Bowden.)

Satanic origin of quarrels among Christians

You all profess to have been baptized into the spirit of the gospel; but you do not show it when you bite and snarl at one another. The gospel, which makes wolves and lambs agree, does not teach the lambs to turn wolves and devour each the other. The gospel will not allow us to pay our enemies in their own coin, and give them wrath for wrath; much less will it suffer brethren to spit fire at one another’s face. No, when any such embers of contention begin to smoke among Christians, we may know who left the spark; no other but Satan, he is the great kindle-coal of all their contentions. If there be tempest (not in the air) in the spirits of Christians, and the wind of their passions be high and loud, it is easy to tell who is the conjuror; it is the devil that is practising his black art upon their lusts, which yet are so much unmortified, as gives him too great an advantage of raising many times sad storms of division and strife amongst them. There is nothing (next Christ and heaven) that the devil grudges believers more than their peace and mutual love; if he cannot rend them from Christ, or stop them from getting heaven, yet he takes some pleasure to see them go thither in a storm; like a shattered fleet severed one from another, that they may have no assistance from, nor comfort of, each other’s company all the way; though, where he can divide, he hopes to ruin also, well knowing this to be the most probable means to effect it; one ship is easier taken than a squadron. A town, if it can be but set on fire, the enemy may hope to take it with more ease. Let it, therefore, be your great care to keep the devil’s spark from your powder. (W. Gurnall.)

Consumed one of another: Strife in the fold

Two friends met the other day. One inquired of the other how his Church was prospering. “Not at roll, I am sorry to say,” was the answer; “our numbers are diminishing weekly.” “Why, how is that? Has the wolf got into the fold?” “Worse than that, I fear. If it was only the wolf that was worrying the flock, we might cherish the hope that we could get him driven out. The fact is, the sheep have taken to worrying each other, and our condition, therefore, could not be worse.”

The ideal brotherhood

A little boy, seeing two nestling birds pecking at each other, inquired of his elder brother what they were doing. “They are quarrelling,” was the answer. “No,” replied the child, “that cannot be, for they are brothers.” Would that this true and simple and natural logic were always borne in mind; then might the Christian nest be more peaceful, more like a family Divine!

Unity among Christians to be sought after

Melancthon mourned in his day the divisions among Christians, and sought to bring them together by the parable of the war between the wolves and the dogs. The wolves were somewhat afraid, for the dogs were many and strong, and therefore they sent out a spy to observe them. On his return the scout said, “It is true the dogs are many, but there are not many mastiffs among them. There are dogs of so many sorts one can hardly count, them; and as for the worst of them,” said he, “they are little dogs, which bark loudly, but cannot bite. However, this did not cheer me so much,” continued the wolf, “as this, that as they came marching on, I observed they were all snapping right and left at one another, and I could see clearly that though they all hate the wolf, yet each dog hates every other dog with all his heart.” Is not this still true--that many professed Christians snap right and left at their own brethren, when they had better save their teeth for the wolves?

Evils of strife

They say of bees, that, when they strive among themselves, it is a sign that the queen is about to leave the hive. When the sheep of Christ are malignant one against another, it is a fearful presage of ensuing ruin; when there are tumults in the Church, it may justly be feared that God is about to remove from us. (Spencer.)

Wranglings destroy Churches

Jars and divisions, wranglings and prejudices, eat out the growth, if not the life, of religion. These are those waters of Marah that embitter our spirits, and quench the Spirit of God. Unity and peace are said to be like the dew of Hermon, that descended upon Sion, where the Lord promised His blessing. Divisions run religions into briars and thorns, contention and parties. Divisions are to Churches like wars in countries; where war is, the ground lieth waste and untilled; none takes care of it. It is love that edifieth, but division pulleth down. Divisions are as the north-east wind to the fruits, which causeth them to dwindle away to nothing; but when the storms are over, everything begins to grow. When men are divided, they seldom speak the truth in love; and then, no marvel, they grow not up to Him in all things which is the Head. It is a sad presage of an approaching famine (as one well observes)--not of bread, nor of water, but of hearing the Word of God--when the thin ears of corn devour the plump full ones; when our controversies about doubtful things, and things of less moment, eat up our zeal for the more indisputable and practical things in religion. (American.)

How to defeat strife

A young fox asked his father if he could not teach him some trick to defeat the dogs, if he should fall in with them. The father had grown grey in a long life of depredation and danger, and his scars bore witness to his narrow escapes in the chase, or his less honourable encounters with the faithful guardians of the hen roost. He replied with a sigh, “After all my experience, I am forced to confess that the best trick is, to keep out of their way.” The safest mode of dealing with a quarrelsome person is to keep out of his way. (Persian Fables.)

How to end bickerings

The following incident, respecting two philosophers of old, may well put to the blush Christians who are unwilling to be reconciled, and who consequently have their intercourse with heaven hindered (Matthew 5:24). We are told that, Aristippus and AEschines having differed, the former came to the latter and said--“AEschines, shall we be friends?” “Yes,” he replied, “with all my heart.” “But, remember,” said Aristippus, “that I, being older than you, do make the first motion.” “Yes,” replied AEschines, “and therefore I conclude that you are the worthiest man: for I began the strife, and you began the peace.” (C. Neil.)

The evil of dissensions

The English ambassador, some years since, prevailed so far with the Turkish emperor as to persuade him to hear some of our English music, from which (as from other liberal sciences) both he and his nation were naturally averse. But it happened that the musicians were so long in tuning their instruments that the great Turk, distasting their tediousness, went away in discontent before the music began. I am afraid that the dissensions betwixt Christian Churches (being so long in reconciling their discords) will breed in pagans such a disrelish of our religion, as they will not be invited to attend thereunto. (T. Fuller, D. D.)

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Galatians 5:15". The Biblical Illustrator. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/galatians-5.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.

Christian faith and behavior are never more frustrated and disgraced than by spiteful criticisms, derogatory remarks, snide observations and poison-tongue fulminations of Christians against each other. The fate of any group permitting such a development issues inevitably in that of "The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat":

The truth about the cat and the pup Is this: They ate each other up!

The apostle said as much in this very passage.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
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Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Galatians 5:15". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/galatians-5.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

But if ye bite and devour one another,.... Another reason inducing to love is taken from the pernicious consequences of a contrary spirit and conduct. The allusion is to beasts of prey falling upon and devouring one another: for wolves or dogs to worry sheep is not strange; but for sheep to distress one another is unnatural. The apostle does not say, if grievous wolves should enter in among you and not spare the flock; but suggests if they themselves should act the part of wolves to one another; having reference to their controversies about the law and circumcision, and the necessity thereof to justification and salvation; which were managed with great heat and bitterness, occasioned great contentions, and threatened them with divisions, parties, and factions; and were attended with envy and malice, with reproachful words, biting sarcasms, scandalous invectives, and injurious actions, which must be of bad consequence: hence he adds,

take heed that ye be not consumed one of another; that is, either beware lest each other's particular peace and comfort be destroyed, which is oftentimes done this way, though a person's state and condition God-ward may be safe; or lest their church state should be destroyed and come to nothing, since love is the cement of it, which being loosened, threatens a dissolution; for as no civil community, either public or private, divided against itself, can stand long, so no religious one; and for want of love the Lord threatens to remove, and sometimes does remove, the candlestick out of its place.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Galatians 5:15". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/galatians-5.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

14 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.

(14) An exhortation to the duties of charity, by the profit that follows from it, because no men proved worse for themselves than they that hate one another.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Galatians 5:15". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/galatians-5.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

bitebackbite the character.

devour — the substance by injuring, extortion, etc. (Habakkuk 1:13; Matthew 23:14; 2 Corinthians 11:20).

consumed, etc. — Strength of soul, health of body, character, and resources, are all consumed by broils [Bengel].

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Galatians 5:15". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/galatians-5.html. 1871-8.

Martin Luther's Commentary on Galatians

But if ye bite and devour one another take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.
When faith in Christ is overthrown peace and unity come to an end in the church. Diverse opinions and dissensions about doctrine and life spring up, and one member bites and devours the other, i.e., they condemn each other until they are consumed. To this the Scriptures and the experience of all times bear witness. The many sects at present have come into being because one sect condemns the other. When the unity of the spirit has been lost there can be no agreement in doctrine or life. New errors must appear without measure and without end.

For the avoidance of discord Paul lays down the principle: "Let every person do his duty in the station of life into which God has called him. No person is to vaunt himself above others or find fault with the efforts of others while lauding his own. Let everybody serve in love."

It is not an easy matter to teach faith without works, and still to require works. Unless the ministers of Christ are wise in handling the mysteries of God and rightly divide the word, faith and good works may easily be confused. Both the doctrine of faith and the doctrine of good works must be diligently taught, and yet in such a way that both the doctrines stay within their God-given sphere. If we only teach words, as our opponents do, we shall lose the faith. If we only teach faith people will come to think that good works are superfluous.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website
Bibliographical Information
Luther, Martin. "Commentary on Galatians 5:15". "Martin Luther's Commentary on Galatians". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/mlg/galatians-5.html. Zondervan. Gand Rapids, MI. 1939.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

If ye bite and devour one another (ει αλληλους δακνετε και κατεστιετεei allēlous daknete kai katesthiete). Condition of first class assumed as true. Two common and old verbs often used together of wild animals, or like cats and dogs.

That ye be not consumed one of another (μη υπ αλληλων αναλωτητεmē hup' allēlōn analōthēte). Negative final clause with first aorist passive subjunctive of αναλισκωanaliskō old word to consume or spend. In N.T. only here and Luke 9:54. There is a famous story of two snakes that grabbed each other by the tail and each swallowed the other.

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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Galatians 5:15". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/galatians-5.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

Bite and devour ( δάκνετε καὶ κατεσθίετε )

Strong expressions of partisan hatred exerting itself for mutual injury. Δάκνειν tobite, N.T.oIn lxx metaphorically, Micah 3:5; Habakkuk 2:7. For κατεσθίειν devourcomp. Matthew 23:13; 2 Corinthians 11:20; Revelation 11:5.

Be consumed ( ἀναλωθῆτε )

Rare in N.T. See Luke 9:54. Partisan strife will be fatal to the Christian community as a whole. The organic life of the body will be destroyed by its own members.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Galatians 5:15". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/galatians-5.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.

But if — On the contrary, in consequence of the divisions which those troublers have occasioned among you, ye bite one another by evil speaking.

And devour one another — By railing and clamour.

Take heed ye be not consumed one of another — By bitterness, strife, and contention, our health and strength, both of body and soul, are consumed, as well as our substance and reputation.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Galatians 5:15". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/galatians-5.html. 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

Если же друг друга угрызаете. Из внешних обстоятельств, а также из слов самого Павла можно сделать вывод, что среди галатов, разногласящих в учении, процветали распри и споры. Апостол показывает, сколь гибельно это зло для Церкви; показывает, указывая на следствие этого зла. Вполне вероятно, что Господь через лжеучение отомстил за самомнение, надменность и другие пороки галатов. Ведь Он имеет привычку так поступать и свидетельствует об этом у Моисея, Втор.13:2. Под «угрызением» и «съеданием» апостол, на мой взгляд, имеет в виду враждебные наветы, злые замыслы, заговоры и прочие словесные пререкательства, а также вред, причиняемый обманом и насилием. И каков же конец всего этого? Истребление, говорит апостол. Но любви свойственны взаимная забота и поддержка. О, если бы мы вспоминали об этом всякий раз, когда дьявол побуждает нас к распрям, о том, что из разногласия между членами одного тела происходит только полная погибель и истребление всего тела! Сколь позорно и безумно, если мы, будучи членами одного и того же тела, стремимся к взаимной погибели!

 

 

 

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Galatians 5:15". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/galatians-5.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.

Ver. 15. But if ye bite, &c.] Si collidimnr, frangimur, If we clash, we break. Dissolution is the daughter of dissension, saith Nazienzen. The Turks pray to God to keep the Christians at variance. Israelites in Egypt vexed one another; and Christians, as if they lacked enemies, fly in one another’s faces. This is a sad foretoken of a deadly consumption. {a} When the Eastern Churches were all to pieces among themselves, in came the Goths and Vandals, and afterward the Turks and Tartars. {b} When the French Churches began to jangle and jar about discipline, God suffered the Parisian massacre. Our present hideous dissensions (like those civil wars of Rome- nullos habitura triumphos, not any will hold a triumph. Lucan), do as plainly foretell the removing of our candlestick, in case we repent not, as if we had received letters from heaven to that purpose. We read in our chronicles, that those who were born in England in the year after the great mortality, A. D. 1349, wanted some of their cheek teeth. Men seem to have more now than usual; there was never such biting and snarling. England is a mighty animal (saith a great politician), which can never die except it kill itself. And to the same purpose the Lord Rich in a speech to the justices in King Edward VI’s days, "Never foreign power (saith he) could yet hurt, or in any part prevail in this realm, but by disobedience and misorder among themselves. That is the way wherewith God will plague us if he mind to punish us. And so long as we do agree among ourselves, we may be sure that God is with us, and that foreign power shall not prevail against us."

{a} Camer. Med. Hist. cent. 2.

{b} Melch. Adam. in Vita Bulling.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Galatians 5:15". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/galatians-5.html. 1865-1868.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

The apostle, to enforce the foregoing exhortation to mutual love, urges here the dangerous effects which their animosities and strifes, with their controversies and contentions, would most certainly produce. By biting one another, says he, you will destroy and consume one another; where it deserves a serious remark, that St. Paul compares the enmities and animosities which were amongst them, upon the score of their differences in religion, to the bitings, rendings, and devourings of wild beasts, If ye bite and devour one another; and gives them timely notice of the fatal mischiefs and consequences that will follow thereupon, namely, a total devastation and inevitable consumption of the whole church. Take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. It is a true saying, Odia religionum sunt Acerbissima, There is no such bitter hatred amongst men, as upon the score of religion. As the zeal of the Jews would not suffer an uncircumcised person to live amongst them, so probably these zealous judaizers in Galatia would not suffer those who had cast off legal observances to live quietly and peacably by them; which might give occasion to these words of the apostle, If ye bite and devour one another, take heed ye be not consumed one of another.

Learn hence, 1. That there ever have been, are, and will be, differences about matters of religion, in the best and purest churches here on earth.

Learn, 2. That these differences may and ought to be managed with great temper and charity.

Learn, 3. That then contentions are highly uncharitable, and I very sinful, when men bite and devour one another.

Learn, 4. That such uncharitable contentions are do prepare and make ready a people for utter destruction; If ye bite, &c.

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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on Galatians 5:15". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/wbc/galatians-5.html. 1700-1703.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

15.] ἀλλήλους has both times the emphasis. The form of the sentence is very like Matthew 26:52,— πάντες οἱ λαβόντες μάχαιραν, ἐν μαχαίρᾳ ἀπολοῦνται, except that there λαβόντες, as having the stress, precedes. Chrys. says, ταῖς λέξεσιν ἐμφαντικῶς ἐχρήσατο. οὐ γὰρ εἶπε δάκνετε μόνον, ὅπερ ἐστὶ θυμουμένου, ἀλλὰ καὶ κατεσθίετε, ὅπερ ἐστὶν ἐμμένοντος τῇ πονηρίᾳ. ὁ μὲν γὰρ δάκνων, ὀργῆς ἐπλήρωσε πάθος· ὁ δὲ κατεσθίων, θηριωδίας ἐσχάτης παρέσχεν ἀπόδειξιν, δήγματα δὲ κ. βρώσεις οὐ τὰς σωματικάς φησιν, ἀλλὰ τὰς πολὺ χαλεπωτέρας. οὐ γὰρ οὕτως ὁ ἀνθρωπίνης ἀπογευσάμενος σαρκὸς ἔβλαψεν, ὡς ὁ δήγματα εἰς τὴν ψυχὴν πηγνύς· ὅσον γὰρ ψυχὴ τιμιωτέρα σώματος, τοσούτῳ χαλεπωτέρα ἡ ταύτης βλάβη.

ἀναλωθ.] The literal sense must be kept,—consumed (by one another),—your spiritual life altogether annihilated: ἡ γὰρ διάστασις κ. ἡ μάχη φθοροποιὸν κ. ἀναλωτικὸν καὶ τῶν δεχομένων αὐτὴν κ. τῶν εἰσαγόντων, καὶ σητὸς μᾶλλον ἅπαντα ἀνατρώγει. Chrys.

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Galatians 5:15". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/galatians-5.html. 1863-1878.

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

Galatians 5:15. δάκνετε καὶ κατεσθίετε] A climactic figurative designation of the hateful working of party enmity, in which they endeavoured mutually to hurt and destroy one another. Figurative expressions of this nature, derived from ravenous wild beasts, are elsewhere in use. See Maji Obss. II. p. 86; Jacobs, ad Anthol. VIII. p. 230; Wetstein, in loc. κατεσθίειν is not, however, to be understood (with Schott) as to gnaw, but must retain the meaning which it always has, to eat up, to devour. See on 2 Corinthians 11:20; Hom. Il. ii. 314, xxi. 24, Od. i. 8, et al.; LXX. Genesis 40:17; Isaiah 1:7; Add. ad Esther 1:11. Observe the climax of the three verbs, to which the passive turn of the final result to be dreaded also contributes: μὴ ὑπὸ ἀλλήλων ἀναλωθῆτε] lest ye be consumed one of another—consumamini; that is (for Paul keeps by his figure), lest through these mutual party hostilities your life of Christian fellowship be utterly ruined and destroyed. What is meant is not the ceasing of their status as Christians (Hofmann), in other words, their apostasy; but, by means of such hostile behaviour in the very bosom of the churches, there is at length an utter end to what constitutes the Christian community, the organic life of which is mutually destroyed by its own members.

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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Galatians 5:15". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/galatians-5.html. 1832.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Galatians 5:15. δὲ, but) The opposite of the service to be rendered by love.— δάκνετε, ye bite) [backbite] in reference to character.— κατεσθίετε, devour) in regard to possessions [resources].— ἀναλωθῆτε, be consumed) strength of soul, health of body, character, and resources, are consumed by broils and sorrows. [Ah! how lamentable the extraordinary number of those, of whom the one cuts off the life of the other. Men of harsher disposition, careless and unthinking, consume others—those of softer disposition, silently swallow down (suppress the expression of) their anxiety, and die prematurely.—V. g.]

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Galatians 5:15". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/galatians-5.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations
on the Holy Bible

This lets us know, that there were great contentions and divisions amongst the members of this church, whether (which is probable) occasioned by their differences in and about the doctrine of justification, or upon other accounts, we are not told; but upon whatever account they were raised, they were contrary to that serving one another in love, to which the apostle had exhorted them. Nor did they terminate in a mere dislike of and displacency to each other, but broke out into overt acts, more becoming dogs than Christians, and therefore it is expressed under the notion of biting and devouring. The issue of which, the apostle prophesieth would be a consuming one another; they being actions that had a natural tendency to this end.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Galatians 5:15". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/galatians-5.html. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

друг друга угрызаете и съедаете Этот образ из животного мира, где хищники нападают друг на друга и сильнейший убивает слабейшего, является иллюстрацией того, что происходит в духовном мире, если там нет любви и верующие не служат друг другу.

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Galatians 5:15". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/galatians-5.html.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

If ye bite and devour; contend with and injure one another.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Galatians 5:15". "Family Bible New Testament". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/galatians-5.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

John Eadie's Commentary on Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians and Philippians

Galatians 5:15. The apostle enforces these thoughts by the emphatic warning-

εἰ δὲ ἀλλήλους δάκνετε καὶ κατεσθίετε—“But if one another ye bite and devour.” The image is taken from the preying of wild beasts. The first verb δάκνω-used literally, Xen. Anab. 3.2-is employed in this tropical sense in Arrian's Epict. 2.22. It means more than to vex or thwart (Robinson); it is to inflict deep piercing spiritual wounds-to lacerate character and feeling. A similar figure occurs in Psalms 27:2; and Horace has dente mordeor invido: Carmina, 4.3. The second verb denotes an action consequent upon the first. The animal bites, and then devours. The idiom is different in Greek and English: the first is, “to eat down,” “to eat up.” The verb-used literally of animals, Matthew 13:4, etc.; and of the action of fire, Revelation 11:5 -signifies here the utter spiritual waste which animosity creates and hurries on. Not content with wounding others, it would trample them and spoil them in its voracity and rage. 2 Corinthians 11:20. Both Cyprian and Marian. Victor have for the second verb, accusatis. Chrysostom says: “To bite is to satisfy a feeling of anger, but to devour is a proof of extreme savagism- θηριωδίας ἐσχάτης.” And the caution is added-

βλέπετε μὴ ὑπὸ ἀλλήλων ἀναλωθῆτε—“see that by one another ye be not consumed;” the emphasis lying on ἀλλήλων-a reciprocal pronoun, realizing vividly the scene or object of the action, and in contrast to the previous clause—“serving one another in love.” βλέπετε is followed as often by μή and the subjunctive aorist. Winer, § 56; Gayler, 323. ᾿αναλίσκω, which appears to be climactic after δάκνετε and κατεσθίετε, is often used of killing or destroying. 2 Maccabees 2:10; AEschylus, Agam. 570, τί τοὺς ἀναλωθέντας ἐν ψήφῳ λέγειν; Thucydides, 8:65. It is also employed in the sense of spending or squandering money, and thereby exhausting it. Here it pictures spiritual devastation and wreck, when, in consequence of brawling and contention, the spiritual life should go out, and the community itself be broken up and ended. Mutual destruction is the natural result of fierce mutual quarrel. Neither gains the victory-both perish. Koppe refers the result cautioned against to the interference of the Roman magistrates, who might interdict their religion; and Grotius points to it as a divine judgment. Both opinions are contrary to the verse and context.

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Eadie, John. "Commentary on Galatians 5:15". John Eadie's Commentary on Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/jec/galatians-5.html.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘But if you bite and devour one another, be careful that you are not consumed one by another.’

On the other hand, if we bite and devour each other by what we say and do, and there appears to be a hint that possibly some Galatian Christians were doing this, then we need to beware that we do not consume each other, destroying each other’s faith and obedience to God. That is the opposite of Christian love. It is the opposite of Christian service. And by it they will simply destroy themselves and any harmony that is among them.

‘Bite and devour one another.’ Paul likens them to wild animals, possibly to the wild dogs that roamed the streets, wild beasts and scavengers who regularly attacked each other and consumed other animals.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Galatians 5:15". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/galatians-5.html. 2013.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Apparently the believers who advocated grace and the believers who advocated law bitterly opposed one another in the Galatian churches. Paul cautioned both sides to love one another or they would consume each other. That would not be a good example of Christian love. This is the only sin Paul warned the Galatians to avoid. They were better off spiritually than some other congregations to which he wrote, or possibly he did not want to deal with other needs of theirs in this letter.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Galatians 5:15". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/galatians-5.html. 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Galatians 5:15. But if ye bite and devour one another, like wild beasts. How applicable this to all sectarian and partisan strifes which turn the church into a battle-field and impair its force against the common enemy!

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Galatians 5:15". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/galatians-5.html. 1879-90.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Galatians 5:15. If the spirit of mutual love does not prevent Christian brethren from preying on one another, they are in danger of utter destruction.

 

 

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Galatians 5:15". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/galatians-5.html. 1897-1910.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

bite. Greek. dakno. Only here.

devour. Greek. katesthio. See 2 Corinthians 11:20.

take heed. Greek. blepo. App-133.

that . . . not = lest. Greek. me. App-105.

consumed. Greek. analisko, Only here, Luke 9:54. 2 Thessalonians 2:8.

of. = by. Greek. hupo. App-104.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Galatians 5:15". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/galatians-5.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.

Bite - backbite the character.

Devour - the substance, by extortion, etc. (Habakkuk 1:13; Matthew 23:14; 2 Corinthians 11:20.) Bite, the act of one enraged: devour, of one persevering in malice (Chrysostom).

Consumed ... Strength of soul, health, character, and resources, are all consumed by broils.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Galatians 5:15". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/galatians-5.html. 1871-8.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.
26; 2 Samuel 2:26,27; Isaiah 9:20,21; 11:5-9,13; 1 Corinthians 3:3; 6:6-8; 2 Corinthians 11:20; 2 Corinthians 12:20; James 3:14-18; 4:1-3
Reciprocal: Judges 8:2 - What;  Judges 9:44 - rushed forward;  Judges 9:49 - put them;  Judges 12:6 - there fell;  2 Samuel 19:43 - the words;  Psalm 14:4 - eat up;  Zechariah 11:14 - I cut;  Matthew 12:25 - Every kingdom;  Mark 3:25 - GeneralMark 9:50 - have peace;  Romans 13:13 - strife;  1 Corinthians 1:11 - that there;  Philippians 2:3 - nothing;  Philippians 2:14 - disputings;  Philippians 3:2 - of dogs;  Colossians 3:8 - anger;  1 Timothy 6:4 - words

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Galatians 5:15". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/galatians-5.html.

Stanley Derickson - Notes on Selected Books

But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.

I think these final thoughts relate to how they cut off the false teachers. Be careful in your cutting, so to speak. The usual church life is one of serving one another, not cutting others off. Get rid of the leaven, but don"t slice the whole loaf into stuffing makins.

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Derickson, Stanley. "Commentary on Galatians 5:15". "Stanley Derickson - Notes on Selected Books". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/sdn/galatians-5.html.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

15.But—The contrast to the love of Galatians 5:13-14.

Bite’ devour’ consumed—Terms drawn from the habits of wild beasts in the order of climax. Bite designates the momentary outbursts; devour, the steady purpose of injury; consume, the final result probable to both parties. For all these the true remedy is a revival of love, powerful enough to purge away angers, hates, and strifes. These strifes are the results, not of religion, but of the want of it.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Galatians 5:15". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/galatians-5.html. 1874-1909.

The Bible Study New Testament

15. But if you act like animals. “But if, in your frantic action either for or against The Law, you begin to act like animals, hurting and harming one another as you bite and devour each other, watch out!!! You may condemn each other to hell!!!” Compare Acts 26:9-11; James 4:1-5.

 

 

 

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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Galatians 5:15". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/galatians-5.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

15.But if ye bite and devour one another. From the nature of the subject, as well as from the language employed, we may conjecture that the Galatians had disputes among themselves; for they differed about doctrine. The apostle now demonstrates, from the result, how destructive such proceedings in the church must ultimately prove to be. False doctrine was probably a judgment from heaven upon their ambition, pride, and other offenses. This may be concluded from what frequently happens in the divine dispensations, as well as from an express declaration by the hand of Moses.

“Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul.” (Deuteronomy 13:3.)

By biting and devouring (89) he means, I think, slanders, accusations, reproaches, and every other kind of offensive language, as well as acts of injustice arising either from fraud or violence. And what is the end of them? To be consumed, while the tendency of brotherly love is to produce mutual protection and kindness. I wish we could always remember, when the devil tempts us to disputes, that the disagreement of members within the church can lead to nothing else than the ruin and consumption of the whole body. How distressing, how mad is it, that we, who are members of the same body, should be leagued together, of our own accord, for mutual destruction!

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Galatians 5:15". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://beta.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/galatians-5.html. 1840-57.