Today’s “one another” is the final verse in Paul’s explanation of the difference between the “deeds of the flesh” and the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16-26). “Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.” (Galatians 5:26). This verse has three key words that I chose to investigate: boastful, challenging, and envying.
The Greek word translated as “boastful” is a compound word like bath-tub or sun-flower. The two words making up kenodoxos are kenos meaning empty or hollow and doxos meaning praise. This word has at its core the idea of foolish conceitedness, self-glorification, and a wanting to be admired by others. Paul says here, let us not do this! According to Zodhiates’ Complete Word Study Dictionary, the hollow aspect of this word also implies “meaningless, aimlessness, and when used of persons it predicates not merely an absence of goods, but also, since a vacuum does not exist in man’s moral nature, the presence of evil.” Interestingly, the only antonym (opposite) given here by Zodhiates is “humble”.
The next word Paul warns us about is “challenging”, the Greek word he uses here means to irritate, to provoke, deliberately inciting anger in someone. A biblical example of such provocation and challenging is found in I Kings 14:22-24, which teaches that we “provoke God” when we practice idolatry by giving the glory to people or things that rightfully belongs to God alone. By contrast, rather than be anger-makers, Jesus has said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” (Matthew 5:9).
Finally, Paul says to not become “envying of one another”. Synonyms for envy are covet and jealous. God has given us the 10th Commandment which speaks against covetousness, therefore, this is no slight thing in His eyes (Exodus 20:17). Furthermore, Scriptures teach that such envying led directly to our Lord’s crucifixion. “So when the people gathered together, Pilate said to them, ‘Whom do you want me to release for you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?’ For he knew that because of envy they had handed Him over.” (Matthew 27:17-18). With regards to envy, Zodhiates says it is “malignity conceived at the sign of excellence or happiness” and the word envy “is incapable of good and is always used with an evil meaning. The antonyms he lists are to rejoice with and to congratulate.
When we look at these three words together, we see quite a list of sinful behaviors and attitudes. It is no wonder that Paul would say, “Let us not become…” However, in conclusion I want to turn these negatives into positives using the antonyms discovered in today’s study. Let us become humble, peacemakers, rejoicing with one another!
Galatians 5:24-25 “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”