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From the book, THE WORKS OF THE FLESH: Understanding and Defeating the Works of the Devil.

Available in e-book and paperback formats on Amazon.

Galatians 5:19-21 “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”



This Chapter on the Works of the Flesh will deal with a puzzling Work that requires a fair amount of analysis to understand.

The Kings James Version translates this Work of the Flesh as “Emulations.”

The New King James Version, The American Standard Version and The New International Version translate it as “Jealousies.”

The Greek word used by Paul is “Parazeloo.”

To see the richness of the word we must go further into the original Greek meaning.

The word “Parazeloo” is made up of two words: Para and zeloo.

"Para" is a root word which may mean, “from, of, at, by, besides, near.”

Simply put, it means that which relates to or is connected to.

We have words in the English language that use the word “Para.”

Paramedics: medic means doctor: Paramedic means near, beside doctors. That is, in emergency situations they do the work of doctors, to the point where they can administer medical treatment and medications.

Paralegal: that which is related to or is near or beside lawyers. They in fact do much of the work that a lawyer would do.

The word "Zeloo," according to Strongs Concordance means: “To have warmth of feeling for and against. To covet earnestly, to have desire, to be moved with envy, to be moved with desire, to be jealous over, and to be zealous over.”

The primary meaning according to Thayer Lexicon is “Zeal, ardor in embracing, pursuing or defending anything.”

In other words the main essence of the word is to have intense zeal toward something.

In fact the word “Zeloo” derives from the other Greek word “Zelos” from which our English word “zeal” derives.

Of course we can have positive or negative zeal toward something. Because Paul mentions it as a work of the flesh, it must have a negative connotation.To understand the meaning intended by Paul we must see its use elsewhere in the New Testament.

“Again I ask: Did Israel not understand? First, Moses says, “I will make you envious by those who are not a nation; I will make you angry by a nation that has no understanding” (Romans 10:19).

It was prophesied by Moses that God would have finally called Gentiles, while temporarily putting on hold His involvement with Israel. One of the reasons God would focus on Gentiles was to provoke Israel to jealousy and to anger (To parazeloo them).

Why? This is explained in the next chapter:

“In the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them” (Romans 11:14).

This kind of provocation would have created jealousy and anger in some Jews (And it did) and conversion in others.

Thus, in this example, “Parazeloo” was to be something positive for some Israelites and something not so positive thing for most Jews who would simply stop at the anger level and not go any further.

The word is again used in 1 Corinthians 10. The context is eating foods.

Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar? 19 Do I mean then that food sacrificed to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons. 22 Are we trying to arouse (Parazeloo) the Lord’s jealousy? Are we stronger than he?(I Corinthians10:18-22).

Paul is saying that Christians should steer away from activities relating to idolatry so as not to “Parazeloo” God; that is, so as not to “provoke” him to negative zeal which would lead to negative consequences.

It should be clear therefore that parazeloo can refer to positive provocations, which can bring about positive results, or negative provocations, which can bring about negative results.

Clearly Paul did not have the positive in mind, when he used parazeloo as one of the Works of the Flesh. The meaning intended by Paul, therefore, has to be “provoking to negative zeal.”

When we, therefore, parazeloo others, we may provoke them negatively, or we may provoke them positively. We can also parazeloo God. That is, we can provoke God to act with zeal against us, which is something to steer away from, as the consequences can be quite negative.

How can we therefore simplify the meaning of the word?

Parazeloo, when used in a negative sense, means, essentially, to be a bad apple.

A bad apple “was” a good apple. In time it became a bad apple. Bad apples are innocuous, if they are kept away from good apples. If they are beside good apples, the good apples will be infected and become rotten.

The infection gets effectively and zealously passed on to the other apples, which in turn zealously pass their infection to other good apples. And they do so zealously. That becomes their new job: To infect as many other apples as possible.


How and when did Parazeloo start back in time? The first example, as you well know, is Lucifer and the angels he stirred to negative zeal.

It all began with him. He became unhappy with the status quo and decided to change things "violently." But to reach his aims he had to Parazeloo others—many others. And he did. He was able to provoke to negative zeal 1/3 of the angels, to the point of violence.

Of course that in turn led to Parazeloo from God who smashed the rebellion and humbled those involved.

Later on, we see Satan at work again with the first two humans. Satan provoked to negative zeal Eve, who then provoked to negative zeal Adam.

The same provocation to negative zeal is also seen later on with the 12 children of Israel provoking each other to negative zeal toward Joseph, which led to his being sold into slavery.

One very enlightening example of provoking to negative zeal, is described in great detail in Numbers 16.

Let’s read it carefully and let’s learn from it.

Korah son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and certain Reubenites—Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth—became insolent 2 and rose up against Moses. With them were 250 Israelite men, well-known community leaders who had been appointed members of the council. 3 They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is with them. Why then do you set yourselves above the Lord’s assembly?”

4 When Moses heard this, he fell facedown. 5 Then he said to Korah and all his followers: “In the morning the Lord will show who belongs to him and who is holy, and he will have that person come near him. The man he chooses he will cause to come near him. 6 You, Korah, and all your followers are to do this: Take censers 7 and tomorrow put burning coals and incense in them before the Lord. The man the Lord chooses will be the one who is holy. You Levites have gone too far!”

8 Moses also said to Korah, “Now listen, you Levites! 9 Isn’t it enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the rest of the Israelite community and brought you near himself to do the work at the Lord’s tabernacle and to stand before the community and minister to them? 10 He has brought you and all your fellow Levites near himself, but now you are trying to get the priesthood too. 11 It is against the Lord that you and all your followers have banded together. Who is Aaron that you should grumble against him?”

12 Then Moses summoned Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab. But they said, “We will not come! 13 Isn’t it enough that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey to kill us in the wilderness? And now you also want to lord it over us! 14 Moreover, you haven’t brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey or given us an inheritance of fields and vineyards. Do you want to treat these men like slaves ? No, we will not come!”

15 Then Moses became very angry and said to the Lord, “Do not accept their offering. I have not taken so much as a donkey from them, nor have I wronged any of them.”

16 Moses said to Korah, “You and all your followers are to appear before the Lord tomorrow—you and they and Aaron. 17 Each man is to take his censer and put incense in it—250 censers in all—and present it before the Lord. You and Aaron are to present your censers also.” 18 So each of them took his censer, put burning coals and incense in it, and stood with Moses and Aaron at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 19 When Korah had gathered all his followers in opposition to them at the entrance to the tent of meeting, the glory of the Lord appeared to the entire assembly. 20 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 21 “Separate yourselves from this assembly so I can put an end to them at once.”

22 But Moses and Aaron fell facedown and cried out, “O God, the God who gives breath to all living things, will you be angry with the entire assembly when only one man sins?”

23 Then the Lord said to Moses, 24 “Say to the assembly, ‘Move away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram.’”

25 Moses got up and went to Dathan and Abiram, and the elders of Israel followed him. 26 He warned the assembly, “Move back from the tents of these wicked men! Do not touch anything belonging to them, or you will be swept away because of all their sins.” 27 So they moved away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram. Dathan and Abiram had come out and were standing with their wives, children and little ones at the entrances to their tents.

28 Then Moses said, “This is how you will know that the Lord has sent me to do all these things and that it was not my idea: 29 If these men die a natural death and suffer the fate of all mankind, then the Lord has not sent me. 30 But if the Lord brings about something totally new, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them, with everything that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the realm of the dead, then you will know that these men have treated the Lord with contempt.”

31 As soon as he finished saying all this, the ground under them split apart 32 and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their households, and all those associated with Korah, together with their possessions. 33 They went down alive into the realm of the dead, with everything they owned; the earth closed over them, and they perished and were gone from the community. 34 At their cries, all the Israelites around them fled, shouting, “The earth is going to swallow us too!”

35 And fire came out from the Lord and consumed the 250 men who were offering the incense.

36 The Lord said to Moses, 37 “Tell Eleazar son of Aaron, the priest, to remove the censers from the charred remains and scatter the coals some distance away, for the censers are holy— 38 the censers of the men who sinned at the cost of their lives. Hammer the censers into sheets to overlay the altar, for they were presented before the Lord and have become holy. Let them be a sign to the Israelites.”

39 So Eleazar the priest collected the bronze censers brought by those who had been burned to death, and he had them hammered out to overlay the altar, 40 as the Lord directed him through Moses. This was to remind the Israelites that no one except a descendant of Aaron should come to burn incense before the Lord, or he would become like Korah and his followers.

41 The next day the whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. “You have killed the Lord’s people,” they said.

42 But when the assembly gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron and turned toward the tent of meeting, suddenly the cloud covered it and the glory of the Lord appeared. 43 Then Moses and Aaron went to the front of the tent of meeting, 44 and the Lord said to Moses, 45 “Get away from this assembly so I can put an end to them at once.” And they fell facedown.

46 Then Moses said to Aaron, “Take your censer and put incense in it, along with burning coals from the altar, and hurry to the assembly to make atonement for them. Wrath has come out from the Lord; the plague has started.” 47 So Aaron did as Moses said, and ran into the midst of the assembly. The plague had already started among the people, but Aaron offered the incense and made atonement for them. 48 He stood between the living and the dead, and the plague stopped. 49 But 14,700 people died from the plague, in addition to those who had died because of Korah. 50 Then Aaron returned to Moses at the entrance to the tent of meeting, for the plague had stopped (Number 16: 1-50).

Korah and company, like Lucifer, provoked to negative zeal at first a few, then dozens, then hundreds, then thousands, then tens of thousands, then the whole congregation. And it was the work of just a few people, a few bad apples.

They succeeded in provoking many Israelites to negative zeal, but they also succeeded in provoking God to negative zeal and the result was disastrous.

Provocation to rebellion is therefore a major way to commit this dangerous sin of  Parazeloo, but not the only way, and we can be guilty of doing so as well.


Remember Parazeloo provokes, stirs up a negative reaction in others. How can we do that?

OFFENSES: Offenses can and have moved to negative zeal many members over the years, especially if they are new or weak. Jesus warned about this possibility with very intimidating words.

If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 7 Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! (Matthew 18:6-7).

Why is Christ so adamant about not making new Christians stumble? Because stumbling can kill, not temporarily, but eternally.

Over the years, offenses have taken place in many and various ways. When people teach that God’s laws are done away and provoke Christians to zealously embrace the way of freedom and sin, they are leading the little ones to sin. The offenders are in grave danger, as are the little ones.

The false leaders have and still are provoking the little ones to negative Zeal and, in so doing, in the future they may provoke God to respond with a harsh correction. Parazeloo in both counts.

INSENSITIVE WORDS: Sometimes we are not in tune with our brothers and sisters’ sensitivities. Some among us are very frail. Are we careful with what we say? Do we talk first and think later. Are we too hasty to speak and slow to listen as opposed to doing the opposite?

Most of all are we persisting in our approach, though we have offended others before. Do we learn from our errors? If we do not, then we end up using Parazeloo. We provoke others negatively. We offend others and thus create a negative reaction in them, which could lead to temporary friction or prolonged anger, or bitterness and then quitting the way.

2. IINSENSITIVE HUMOUR: What often will make many laugh might make someone hurt. We all have sensitive areas. We all carry psychological hurts. Something humorous said unintentionally may “Parazeloo” (provoke to negative zeal or reaction) someone who is very frail. In which case, it is not wise to blame the person but to apologize to the person and be more careful next time.

If our “kidding” which has hurt someone continues, it reveals insensitivity and even callousness on our part. If we have created a hurt reaction in a person, why do it again? And yet at times some people have done it. The result may be a provocation to negative zeal, that is a provocation to friction and anger.

SETTING THE WRONG EXAMPLE: Another way we can offend is, of course, by setting the wrong example. In other words, by doing that which can influence others to spiritual deterioration.

Paul corrects some Corinthians for emboldening others to do things that went against their conscience in Corinthians 8:7.

But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. 8 But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.

9 Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? 11 So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge (I Corinthians 8:7-11).

Unfortunately such insensitive people have always been among us. Some started well and over time became bad apples. Some, at times, get planted among us by Satan to provoke to negative zeal and infect good apples.

“To the angel of the church in Thyatira write:

These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. 19 I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.

20 Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads (PROVOKES TO NEGATIVE ZEAL) my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. (AND THEN GOD’S RESPONSE) 21 I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. 22 So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. 23 I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds (Revelation 2:18-23).


As opposed to negative zeal we are encouraged by the New Testament to stir up the brethren in a positive manner.

“For I know your eagerness to help, and I have been boasting about it to the Macedonians, telling them that since last year you in Achaia were ready to give; and your enthusiasm has stirred most of them to action” (2 Corinthians 9: 2). 

The word used here is not Parazeloo but a synonim, “Erethizo” which means, "To provoke and to stimulate in a positive way."  The principle remains.

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24). The word used is “Paraxusmos,” another Synonim which means "To provoke or incite."

How can we provoke to Love and to good works, therefore? First of all, by example; Rather than being an example of compromise we can be an example of zeal and obedience.

New Christians watch the older members for an example, and they do follow their example. We are being watched, and this will multiply as God brings more and more members into His church.

We can stir others to positive zeal by encouragement. By being supportive when they get weak and become frail and discouraged.

Also by reminding others of what God expects from us.

“And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone” (1 Thessalonians 5:14).

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” (Hebrews 3:13). 


What we need to do, therefore, is to make sure that we do not to stir up to "negative zeal," but to exhort and encourage and to pray for one another; that is, to help produce "positive zeal."

What we need to do is to totally clean our lives of negative Parazeloo and to strive every day to be a source of positive Parazeloo, so as to encourage, support and energize one another as the day of Christ’s return approaches.

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The next section will address the next work of the flesh: Wrath

The Works of the Flesh:  Adultery, Fornication, Uncleanness, Lasciviousness, Idolatry, Witchcraft, Hatred, Variance, Emulations, Wrath, Strife, Seditions, Heresy, Envy, Murders, Drunkenness, Revelings.

The Fruits of the Spirit:

  1. Love
  2. Joy
  3. Peace
  4. Longsuffering
  5. Kindness
  6. Goodness
  7. Faithfulness / Faith
  8. Gentleness/ Meekness
  9. Self-control


© Copyright, Michael Caputo, 2009.


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