The word is used in the New Testament both in a bad and a good sense. For the latter, see Joh 2:17; Rom 10:2; 2Co 9:2. From it is our word zeal, which may be either good or bad, wise or foolish. The bad sense is predominant in the New Testament. See Act 5:17; Rom 13:13; Gal 5:20, and here, where the bad sense is defined and emphasized by the epithet bitter. It is often joined with ἔρις strife, as here with ἐρίθεια, intriguing or faction. The rendering envying, as A. V., more properly belongs to φθόνος, which is never used in a good sense. Emulation is the better general rendering, which does not necessarily include envy, but may be full of the spirit of self-devotion. Rev. renders jealousy.
A wrong rendering, founded on the mistaken derivation from ἔρις, strife. It is derived from ἔριθος, a hired servant, and means, primarily, labor for hire. Compare Tobit 2:11: My wife did take women's work to do (ἠριθεύετο). Thus it comes to be applied to those who serve in official positions for their own selfish interest, and who, to that end, promote party spirit and faction. So Rom 2:8 : them that are contentious (ἐξ ἐριθείας), lit., of faction. Rev., factious. Also, 2Co 12:20. Rev., here, rightly, faction.