Email Author
Return to this issue
Return to Current Issue

The works of the flesh are evident, which are..."
Samuel Csonka

"Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 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" (Galatians 5:19-21). The works of the flesh, listed in Galatians 5:19-21, are those actions and deeds which spring forth from within those who have not "crucified the flesh with it's passions and desires" (vs. 24). Not only are these done by the children of darkness who are under the power of Satan (Acts 26:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:4-5), but unfortunately they also are sometimes performed by those who are supposed to be children of light. This is the very admonition of the apostle Paul to these Christians in the region of Galatia. He warns them that "they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God".

This is serious business.

Among these particular works mentioned in verses 19-21, there is one which we shall turn our attention to in this study -- it is 'hatred'. Hatred comes from the Greek term 'echthra' (Strong's, 2189) which means enmity. It is used 6 times in the KJV version of the New Testament. It is translated as 'enmity' five times (Luke 23:12; Romans 8:7; Ephesians 2:15, 16; James 4:4), and as 'hatred' once (Galatians 5:20).

  • W. E. Vine says that "it is the opposite of 'agape', love".
  • Webster's New World Dictionary defines enmity as "the bitter attitude or feelings of an enemy or of mutual enemies; hostility; antagonism". Also, in defining synonyms of this word, Webster says that "enmity denotes a strong settled feeling of hatred, whether concealed, displayed, or latent; hostility usually suggests enmity expressed in active opposition, attacks, etc.; animosity suggests bitterness of feeling that tends to break out in open hostility; antagonism stresses the mutual hostility or enmity of persons, forces, etc." (Webster's New World Dictionary, Second College Edition, Prentice Hall Press, 1986, pg. 465).
  • Strong tells us that 'echthra' comes from 'echthros' (Strong's, 2190) which is translated 30 out of 32 times as "enemy". He also says that it is "from a primary echtho (to hate), hateful (passively, odious, or actively, hostile)".

This makes perfect sense, as enmity is the hateful attitude of enemies.

'Echthra' in the New Testament

Let us focus next on the six passages in the New Testament containing 'echthra':

    First, we have Luke 23:12 which reports "And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves." In keeping with our definitions, we see that the hostile feeling towards each other, which when turned upside-down, turns into friendship. This is just as Vine pointed out -- that enmity is the opposite of love (or friendly treatment).

    Second, Romans 8:7 states "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." This passage is a relative to Galatians 5:20 in that it expresses the complete oppositeness of the flesh and Spirit. Romans 8:5-6 says "For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." As death is opposite to life, and carnal is opposite to spiritual, so then the carnal man can have neither a friendly relationship nor fellowship with God. Good and evil are diametrically opposed.

    Third and fourth we have Ephesians 2:15-16 which read: "Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby". These two passages are used by Paul with reference to the state of the Jews and Gentiles. They were at enmity with each other before the removing of the Old Law. But, upon it's removal by Christ and His sacrifice, the animosity both between the Jews and Gentiles, and between these sinners and God was put to death; and as Paul says "thus making peace". Here again, we see that the antonyms of enmity are peace, friendship, and love.

    Fifth, we come to James 4:4. James admonishes: "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." Continued in the instruction of this verse is the contrast between enmity and friendship. This time, the contradistinction of friendship with the one versus friendship with the other is brought out. With this the words of our Lord ring clear: "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." (Matthew 6:24). And since our God is a jealous God (Exodus 20:5), He expects not only our complete devotion, but also our dedication to forsake the world.

    And of course, the sixth passage which contains the focus of our study is Galatians 5:20. And in it, we find our term 'enmity' surrounded by its closest friends, even children -- for from enmity and hatred come other of these heinous works of the flesh: contentions, outbursts of wrath, murders, etc. Evil gives birth to more evil.

From these six passages we ought to have gotten a good biblical definition of the word 'hatred'.

Examples of Hatred

There are many examples of hatred found within the pages of the Holy Writ. Here are a few:

  • Genesis 4:6-8 — Cain's jealousy of his brother led to his hatred of him, and ultimately a murderous act.
  • Genesis 37:4-8 — Joseph's brothers were jealous of him and this led to the extreme hatred that they had for him. This eventually led to their selling him into slavery and deceiving their Jacob.
  • 1 Samuel 18:8-12 — Saul became jealous over David's victories and fame, then became angry and tried several times to murder him. Saul's subsequent hatred of David led him to hunt David, and even destroy those who helped David (1 Samuel 22:18-19).
  • 1 Kings 22:8 — Prophets were hated because they told the truth. Most were eventually murdered.
  • Matthew 23:29-37 — Because of their hatred of the prophets, the Jewish nation in general persecuted and killed most of them.
  • Mathew 24:9 — Jesus told his apostles that they would be hated, persecuted, and even killed for standing with Him and preaching the gospel of Truth.
  • John 15:24 — The Jews hated Jesus and ultimately crucified Him.
  • Acts 7:54-60 — Great men like Stephen were rushed upon and killed for exposing sin and wickedness. In their hatred of the truth, the priests and elders of the Jews cast him out of the city and stoned him to death.

From all of these examples, we can see that nothing good comes from a hatred of others. It is sinful, an evil work of the flesh, a fruit of darkness, and the mother of many other acts of wickedness. Our passions must be controlled, our desires must be curbed (Ephesians 2:3), and our affections must be set on high (Colossians 3:1-2) knowing that we are children of God. Being His children, we must emulate Him.

The Scriptures Address Hatred

Notice the plain implication of the following scriptures which address hatred in the heart of a Christian: 1 John 2:11 says "But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes." We cannot walk in the light, and have hatred in our hearts. 1 John 3:15 warns that "Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him." This coincides with what our Lord said in Mathew 5:21-22. 1 John 4:20 states that "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?"

From these passages we can see the seriousness of the Christian having hatred in his heart.

Hatred should never be in the thoughts of a child of God. It is a work of the flesh, and it is a part of the old man that we should have done away with: "For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another." (Titus 3:3); but, we should be this way no more. Also as Galatians 5:19-21 and other passages suggest, close cousins to hatred should be put away also: "Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby" (1 Peter 2:1-2). We should put these away, and add unto us the items which Peter refers to in 2 Peter 1:5-11. Here Peter refers to two forms of love, which again oppose the sentiments of hatred.

Treatment of Those Who Hate Us

Not only must the child of God exterminate hatred from his life, he must also know how to properly treat those who, for whatever reason, have a hatred for him. Christ prayed for those who hated Him (Luke 23:34). The goods of those who hate us are to be taken care of (Exodus 23:4-5), rather than be ignored or even destroyed. We should not return hatred for hatred. Those who hate us should be loved (Matthew 5:44); prayed for (Matthew 5:43-44; Acts 7:60); and overcome by kindness (1 Samuel 26:10-11, 18-20; Romans 12:20).

We should not rejoice at their failings or death (Proverbs 24:17; 1 Kings 3:11). Job manifests the proper attitude towards and proper treatment of the one who hates us: "...If I rejoiced at the destruction of him that hated me, or lifted up myself when evil found him: Neither have I suffered my mouth to sin by wishing a curse to his soul." (Job 31:29-30).

Even our own brethren who leave the Lord are not to be counted as an enemy (2 Thessalonians 3:15). We must love them enough to win them back from destruction.

Hatred in a Good Sense

There is one last thing that we should notice before closing our study. Though it is apparent from the context of Galatians 5:19-21 that hatred of others is an evil thing, there are some things that we can and should abhor.

The scriptures teach us that God hates the wicked and violent (Psalms 11:5; 26:5). He also hates "A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren." (Proverbs 6:16-19). In Revelation 2:6,15 the Lord said that He hated the deeds and doctrine of the Nicolaitans, and commended the brethren of Ephesus for hating the very thing. Notice also that David hated every false way (Psalm 119:104); vain thoughts (Psalm 119:113); and lying (Psalm 119:163). Solomon said "The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate." (Proverbs 8:13).

In all this we are taught by God's inspired Word that a hatred of sin and evil is a must. If we hate darkness, we will love the light and hopefully continue our walk in the light as dear children of God.

In Closing

Hatred towards anything but sin and evil is wrong; it is certainly a work of the flesh and a manifestation of spiritual heart disease. But, God's word contains the cure. It teaches us that if we would rid our lives of this and other sins, then we must repent of them, resolve to forsake them, and diligently seek to bear the fruits of the spirit. Usually sin won't easily leave us. For many it is a constant struggle to keep the old man crucified; but the task is well worth the effort. The rewards and blessings both in this life and in the next far outweigh any hardships which we might incur as we are about our Father's business.