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Read Introduction to Galatians


“But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!”


The Galatian church entered a stage of conflict because of legalistic thinking. Paul now warns them about the consequences of this. All doctrine, whether false or true, has practical implications.

But if you bite

Secular Greek used the verbs “bite,” “devour,” and “consume” in this verse for wild animals that bite with their teeth in lethal battle. Legalists lacerate those who believe in grace with reproach.

and devour one another,

The word “devour” means to gulp down. It comes from two words: to consume by eating and down. The idea is to consume something completely. Evidently, there is such a thing as Christian cannibalism! The Galatians did not nibble on one another!


The idea of “beware” is to keep our spiritual vision sharp. The word comes from a word for to see. If Christians do not stay alert, they will fall into divisions that result from legalistic beliefs. Legalism is always divisive and censorious.

lest you be consumed by one another!

Christians can destroy one another by legalism.


Legalism produces a censorious spirit.


Paul never fuses legalism and grace because they are opposites. We cannot harmonize them into some sentimental doctrinal glob. If we live the Christian life as it should be lived, we should set legalism and grace in stark contrast. If we do not separate these two ideas, we will experience rivalry in the church.

Legalists are contemptuous and severely critical people who show little mercy. However, true Christian love makes allowances for others and takes account of their frailties. Genuine love compensates for people.

“And above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins‘” (1 Peter 4:8).

Christians cannot afford to play god and become the judge of other believers. When we take the role of a critic, we put ourselves in the position of a god. If we find fault with one another and tear each other’s reputations apart, we will destroy the Christian community. All we see from some churches God has used mightily is smoke billowing from the ruins of wrath. The people of God could not get along. There is a great difference between the fruit of love and the ruins of wrath.

People who pray for one another rarely prey on one another.