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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
Galatians 6

 

 

Verses 1-18


Practical Exhortations. The Apostle's Glorying

1-5. The nature and requirements of the law of love.

Paraphrase. '(1) If sin overcome one of your number, try to correct the fault in a temper of gentleness, remembering that you yourselves may some time need a similar forgiveness. (2) Share each other's cares and sorrows, and so fulfil Christ's law of love. (3) Shun. the self-deception which springs from pride; (4, 5) let each man test his actions on their own merits and not by comparison with other men, for each must bear his own load of responsibility.'

1. Overtaken] as if pursued and caught.

Fault] RV 'trespass,' or transgression, such as the error into which the readers had been beguiled. Spiritual] as opposed to 'natural' or 'carnal': cp. 1 Corinthians 2:14; 1 Corinthians 3:1-4.

Spirit] i.e. temper. Lest thou, etc.] in similar circumstances need a similar sympathy.

2. Cp. Romans 15:1. Bear] in sympathy. Law of Christ] cp. Matthew 8:17. St. Paul has warned them against law; but there is a law to which they owe obedience and devotion—the new commandment of Christ—the royal law of love: cp. James 2:8.

3. The real greatness of the Christian is found in service: cp. Matthew 20:26.

4. Prove] test, to see whether it is morally real and genuine. Work] life and conduct.

Rejoicing] a ground of satisfaction.

5. Burden] of accountability. The word is different from that used in Galatians 6:2.

6-10. The principle of the spiritual harvest.

Paraphrase. '(6) Share with your teachers. (7, 8) If you refuse to obey the law of love, the result will be a debased moral life; its observance conducts to a blessed existence. (9, 10) Our reward is sure if we discharge the obligations of love to all men, especially to our Christian brethren.'

6. Communicate] i.e. share, either in general sympathy and friendship, or, more specifically, in contributions to the support of the teacher.

7. None can escape the application of God's law of the spiritual harvest.

8. He who tills the field of the carnal life or that of the spiritual life reaps, in each case, his appropriate fruitage. Corruption] 'a harvest doomed to perish' (Conybeare and Howson). Life everlasting] the harvest of which the Spirit gives us the pledge in this life, and of which we shall receive the fruition in the life to come.

9. An encouragement to persistent spiritual sowing and cultivation.

10. A conclusion from the certainty of reaping if we faint not. Of the household of faith] members of the Christian family whose bond of union is faith.

11-18. The true ground of glorying.

Paraphrase. '(11) Look at my own bold handwriting in which I have written this letter as the proof of my longing for your salvation. (12) To sum up: Those who are insisting on your circumcision are doing so in order to curry favour with the Jews, for (13) as Christians they do not themselves consistently observe the Law, but are making a show of zeal for it by inducing you to assume its burdens. (14) But the only true ground of glorying is the cross by which I have been put to death to the sinful world. (15) The question of circumcision is indifferent; new life in Christ is the one important thing. (16) God's favour be upon all such as test their lives by this principle, thereby proving themselves true Israelites. (17, 18) Let me hear no more accusations! The proof that I am Christ's Apostle is found in the scars which I have received in His service. May blessings from Him fill your heart!'

11. Ye see how large a letter] RV 'See with how large letters.' Have written] probably an allusion to the writing of the foregoing letter. St. Paul usually dictated his letter, adding only the closing salutation in his own hand: cp. Romans 16:22; 1 Corinthians 16:21; 2 Thessalonians 3:17.

12. In the flesh] the sphere to which circumcision belongs. Lest they should suffer, etc.] RV 'that they may not,' etc.—a prudential motive underlies their zeal. It must be borne in mind that St. Paul is writing to a Church composed chiefly of Gentiles. They were Christians, having been converted by the Apostle, but they had been influenced by teachers who had strong Jewish sympathies and maintained that the Law was obligatory on all Christians.

14. St. Paul, on the contrary, will glory only in salvation through sacrifice and self-giving. By whom] RV 'through which,' etc.; because he died to sin with Christ on His cross: cp. Romans 6:2, Romans 6:8; Colossians 2:20.

15. A new creature] RM 'a new creation.' Salvation is newness of life in Christ, and is in no way dependent upon the question of circumcision.

16. This rule] the test of acceptance with God mentioned in the previous v. Israel] the true spiritual Israel: cp. Galatians 3:9; Romans 4:13-16.

17. Let no man, etc.] Let these annoying insinuations concerning my apostleship cease. I bear in my body, etc.] RV 'I bear branded on my body the marks of Jesus': cp. 2 Corinthians 11:23-28, evidences of the genuineness of his consecration to Christ.

18. The absence of commendation and the severe tone of the letter are noticeable; yet, quite exceptionally, he adds to the benediction an appellation of personal affection (brethren).

 


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Galatians 6:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/galatians-6.html. 1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, November 13th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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