on Galatians 5 :20
Idolatry - Worshipping of idols; frequenting idol festivals; all the rites of Bacchus, Venus, Priapus, etc., which were common among the Gentiles.
Witchcraft - Φαρμακεια, from φαρμακον a drug or poison; because in all spells and enchantments, whether true or false, drugs were employed. As a drug, φαρμακον, might either be the means of removing an evil, or inflicting one, etymologists have derived it from φερον ακος, bringing ease, or φερον αχος, bringing pain. So spells and incantations were used sometimes for the restoration of the health; at others, for the destruction of an enemy. Sometimes, these φαρμακα were used to procure love; at other times, to produce hatred.
Hatred - Εχθραι· Aversions and antipathies, when opposed to brotherly love and kindness.
Variance - Ερεις· Contentions, where the principle of hatred proceeds to open acts; hence contests, altercations, lawsuits, and disputes in general.
Emulations - Ζηλοι· Envies or emulations; that is strife to excel at the expense of another; lowering others to set up one's self; unholy zeal, fervently adopting a bad cause, or supporting a good one by cruel means. Inquisitions, pretending to support true religion by torturing and burning alive those who both profess and practice it.
Wrath - Θυμοι· Turbulent passions, disturbing the harmony of the mind, and producing domestic and civil broils and disquietudes.
Strife - Επιθειαι· Disputations, janglings, logomachics, or strife about words.
Seditions - Διχοστασιαι· Divisions into separate factions; parties, whether in the Church or state.
Heresies - Αἱρεσεις· Factions; parties in the Church separating from communion with each other, and setting up altar against altar. The word, which is harmless in itself, is here used in a bad sense. In stead of αἱρεσεις the Slavonic has σκανδαλα, scandals, offenses or stumbling-blocks.
on Galatians 5 :20
Witchcraft - Pretending to witchcraft. The apostle does not vouch for the actual existence of witchcraft; but he says that what was known as such was a proof of the corrupt nature of man, and was one of the fruits of it. No one can doubt it. It was a system of imposture and falsehood throughout; and nothing is a better demonstration of the depravity of the human heart than an extended and systematized attempt to impose on mankind. The word which is used here (φαρμακεία pharmakeia, whence our word "pharmacy," from φάρμακον pharmakon, a medicine, poison, magic potion) means, properly, the preparing and giving of medicine. Then it means also poisoning, and also magic art, or enchantment; because in savage nations pharmacy or medicine consisted much in magical incantations. Thence it means sorcery or enchantment, and it is so used uniformly in the New Testament. It is used only in Galatians 5:20; Revelation 9:21; Revelation 18:23; Revelation 21:8. Some have supposed that it means poisoning here, a crime often practiced; but the more correct interpretation is, to refer it to the black art, or to pretensions to witchcraft, and the numerous delusions which have grown out of it, as a striking illustration of the corrupt and depraved nature of man.
Hatred - Greek: "hatreds," in the plural. Antipathies, and lack of love, producing contentions and strifes.
Variance - Contentions; see the note at Romans 1:29.
Emulations - (ζήλοι zēloi). In a bad sense, meaning heart-burning, or jealousy, or perhaps inordinate ambition. The sense is ardor or zeal in a bad cause, leading to strife, etc.
Wrath - This also is plural in the Greek (θυμοὶ thumoi), meaning passions, "bursts of anger;" see the note at 2 Corinthians 12:20.
Strife - Also plural in the Greek; see the note at 2 Corinthians 12:20
Seditions - See the note at Romans 16:17.
Heresies - See the note at Acts 5:17; 1 Corinthians 11:19.
on Galatians 5 :20
5:20 Idolatry, witchcraft - That this means witchcraft, strictly speaking, (not poisoning,) appears from its being joined with the worship of devil - gods, and not with murder. This is frequently and solemnly forbidden in the Old Testament. To deny therefore that there is, or ever was, any such thing, is, by plain consequence, to deny the authority both of the Old and New Testament. Divisions - In domestic or civil matters. Heresies are divisions in religious communities.