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Bible Commentaries

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Galatians 6

Verses 1-10

Exhortation to Walk in Liberty After writing at length about his divine calling and the relationship of the Mosaic Law within the new covenant in Christ Jesus Paul then exhorts the Galatians to stand fast in their freedom and not to be entangled again with the yoke of bondage. In order to walk in this freedom in Christ Jesus, Paul gives them some guidelines to follow regarding the mental, spiritual and physical aspects of their lifestyle (Galatians 5:1 to Galatians 6:10).

Outline Here is a proposed outline:

1. Mental: Understanding Our Liberties Galatians 5:1-15

2. Spiritual: Walking in Our Liberties Galatians 5:16-26

Verses 1-10

Exhortation to Walk in Liberty After writing at length about his divine calling and the relationship of the Mosaic Law within the new covenant in Christ Jesus Paul then exhorts the Galatians to stand fast in their freedom and not to be entangled again with the yoke of bondage. In order to walk in this freedom in Christ Jesus, Paul gives them some guidelines to follow regarding the mental, spiritual and physical aspects of their lifestyle (Galatians 5:1 to Galatians 6:10).

Outline Here is a proposed outline:

1. Mental: Understanding Our Liberties Galatians 5:1-15

2. Spiritual: Walking in Our Liberties Galatians 5:16-26

Verses 11-18

Conclusion - Paul closes his letter to the Galatians with a final reminder of his apostleship over them (Galatians 6:11-18). He reveals to them the selfish motive of his adversaries (Galatians 6:12-13) and compares it to his selfless motive (Galatians 6:14). He then gives a one sentence summary of his epistle by telling them that the important issue is not whether one is circumcised or not, but whether he is being molded and transformed into the image of Christ as a new creature (Galatians 6:15). He gives a final blessing to those who adhere to his doctrine (Galatians 6:16) and a final witness of his apostolic authority over them (Galatians 6:17) before his benediction prayer (Galatians 6:18).

Galatians 6:11 Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand.

Galatians 6:11 Comments - Paul wrote his salutations with his own hand as a signature of authenticity just like we place our signature today at the end of a document (1 Corinthians 16:21, Colossians 4:18, 2 Thessalonians 3:17).

1 Corinthians 16:21, “The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand.”

Colossians 4:18, “The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen.”

2 Thessalonians 3:17, “The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write.”

He may have written entire epistles as indicated in Philemon 1:19. When he did take the pen in his hand and add a few words, Goodspeed notes that they must have “looked large and awkward beside the swift, regular hand of the professional letter-writer,” as implied in Galatians 6:11. [117]

[117] Edgar J. Goodspeed, An Introduction to the New Testament (Chicago, Illinois: University Press, 1937) [on-line]; accessed 25 July 2003; available from http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/goodspeed; Internet, 5.

Philemon 1:19, “I Paul have written it with mine own hand, I will repay it: albeit I do not say to thee how thou owest unto me even thine own self besides.”

Galatians 6:11, “Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand.”

Regarding Paul’s phrase “how large a letter” in Galatians 6:11, he may not be referring to the size of the letters, but rather to the fact that he wrote most or all of this epistle himself. However, there are indications in six of his epistles that Paul used an amanuensis to write most of his letters.

Romans 16:22, “I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord.”

Galatians 6:12 As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.

Galatians 6:12 Comments - Galatians 6:12 summarizes the fact that Paul was dealing with those claimed to be Jewish “Christians” and who were compelling the Gentile Christians to become circumcised. He explains to the Galatians that they were attempting to display themselves in fleshly terms, but were not willing to bear persecution for the sake of the cross of Christ.

Galatians 6:13 For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh.

Galatians 6:13 Comments - Paul is saying in Galatians 6:13 that those who are compelling the Galatians to be circumcised are not doing it in order to keep the Law; for they themselves do not keep it. Rather, their motive is fleshly, hoping to become preeminent among the brethren.

Galatians 6:14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.

Galatians 6:14 “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” We have all been guilty of boasting in our fleshly achievements. We have wanted others to look at us with acceptance, so we have tried to please them with our words. We have talked about our achievements in areas of society. We have exalted ourselves above the intelligence of others. As preachers, we have boasted in the mighty things that Christ has done through us. Rarely do we hear someone boasting in the Cross and the sacrifices that must be endured because of it. It is just such a testimony of the Cross in someone’s life of their great sacrifice and suffering that leave us speechless and humbled before God. We read of Paul’s boastings in his second epistle to the Corinthians of how he has endured hardships for Christ’s sake. It is this type of boasting that penetrates the hearts of those we so desperately want to impress. All of our accomplishments are not to be compared to the times in which we have made great sacrifices for our Saviour. For when we boast in these, the world stands speechless.

Illustration - Shortly after the news media exposed his sin and after he repented, Jimmy Swaggart wrote his supporters and said that the Lord told him, “The cross is not for trophies, or victories, or winners, or success. The cross is for losers, for the sick, the suffering, the hurting, the sinful, the wicked. I will accept the wreckage, and I will put it back together, and I will mold it and make it in the image I desire.” [118]

[118] Jimmy Swaggart, “Monthly Partner Newsletter,” February 1988 (Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Jimmy Swaggart Ministries).

Let me hear the testimony of Corrie ten Boom, who lost her family in the Jewish Holocaust and learned to forgive those same German officers who killed them; [119] or, tell me about Mother Teresa who sacrificed a life of marriage to minister to dying children for decades in a poor country. [120] When Dave Roever stands up to speak and I see his war-ravaged face which was partially destroyed when a phosphorus grenade blew up in his hand, I want to listen to his testimony of how he overcame this tragedy. [121] When a man called Terry Waites speaks, people listen, not because of the humanitarian projects he has accomplished, but rather, because he spent five years (1987-1991) as a hostage in Lebanon because of his commitment to his cause. [122] These are the testimonies that move us to listen.

[119] Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place (New York: Random House, Inc., 1982).

[120] Kathryn Spink, Mother Teresa: A Complete Authorized Biography (New York: HarperCollins, 1997).

[121] Dave Roever, Roever and Associates, Fort Worth, Texas [on-line]; accessed 25 June 2010; available from http://www.daveroever.org; Internet.

[122] Trevor Barnes, Terry Waite: Man with a Mission (London: Collins Fontana, 1987).

Galatians 6:14 “by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” Comments Note the translation of BBE, “But far be it from me to have glory in anything, but only in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which this world has come to an end on the cross for me, and I for

it .”

Galatians 6:14 Comments - Listen to a poem about the cross written by Flossie Peterson Everett, [123]

[123] Flossie Peterson Everett, How Do We Let Our Light Shine? (Wausau, Florida: unpublished poem, given to Gary Everett on 24 December 1982).

“And how do we let our light shine that others may see the way?

It’s only through the reflection of the Cross that we carry.

And yet, we pray, ‘Oh Lord, take away this burden from me,

And give me my this and my that.’

But it all belongs to You, the whole earth and the fullness thereof.

And what we have is only lent to us.

For naked we came into this world and naked we shall return.

And so if anyone has this world’s goods and sees his brother have need,

There is a woe passed upon him.

The whole world is looking to see the Cross, let it be seen in me.”

Note these insightful words from Sadhu Sundar Singh regarding the Cross.

“The cross is like a walnut whose outer rind is bitter, but the inner kernel is pleasant and invigorating. So the cross does not offer any charm of outward appearance, but to the cross-bearer its true character is revealed, and he finds in it the choicest sweets of spiritual peace.” [124]

[124] Sadhu Sundar Singh, At the Master’s Feet, translated by Arthur Parker (London: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1922) [on-line], accessed 26 October 2008, available from http://www.ccel.org/ccel/singh/feet.html; Internet, “V The Cross and the Mystery of Suffering,” section 1, part 6.

Galatians 6:15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.

Galatians 6:14-15 Comments - The Secondary Theme of Galatians Reflecting in Paul’s Closing Statements - Galatians 6:14-15 reflects the secondary theme of this epistle. Under the foundational theme of the doctrine of justification by faith in Jesus Christ, Galatians teaches us how Jesus Christ has delivered us from the bondages of this world (Galatians 1:4). Man’s role is to walk as “a new creature” in Christ in order to partake of his liberties in Christ (Galatians 6:15). The epistle of Galatians teaches us how to walk in the freedom that Christ Jesus has provided for us being led by the Spirit as new creatures in Christ. This epistle leads us into a lifestyle of freedom as we serve the Lord.

Galatians 6:16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.

Galatians 6:16 Comments - What Old Testament verses and concepts gave Paul this unique New Testament phrase, “the Israel of God”? Perhaps Romans 9:6-9 refers to this concept, which explains that from Isaac comes the children of promise.

Romans 9:6-9, “Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed . For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sara shall have a son.”

Earlier in this epistle to the Galatians, Paul compares Isaac’s child of promise to Hagar’s child of the flesh (Galatians 4:28-31).

Galatians 4:23, “But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.”

Note the Old Testament reference that refers to the promise and the bondwoman:

Genesis 21:12, “And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman ; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called .”

Galatians 6:17 From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.

Galatians 6:17 “for I bear in my body the marks to the Lord Jesus” Comments - Note Colossians 1:24. Some scholars believe Galatians 6:17 is a reference to Paul’s scars of persecutions. The AmpBible adds, “the wounds, scars and other outward evidence of persecutions.” Paul makes a similar reference in Colossians 1:24, “Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church:”

Paul discusses some of the occasions of receiving these scars in his second epistle to the Corinthians.

2 Corinthians 11:23-27, “Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.”

In his book The Final Quest, Rick Joyner is told that in heaven we will be able to see the wounds of Jesus, and not only His wounds, but the scars that all of His chosen ones have taken for His sake. These are the medals of honor in heaven. He is told that we will carry these glorious scars forever, as Jesus does. It shows that all who carry them love God and His truth more than their own lives. He goes on to say that true leaders of God’s people, who carry genuine spiritual authority, will first prove their devotion in this way, through suffering for His name sake. [125]

[125] Rick Joyner, The Final Quest (Charlotte, North Carolina: Morning Star Publications, 1977), 80.

It is also interesting to note that under the Mosaic Law, a slave bore the marks inflicted by his master as an outward sign of an inward commitment to that master (Exodus 21:5-6, Deuteronomy 15:16-17).

Exodus 21:5-6, “And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever.”

Deuteronomy 15:16-17, “And it shall be, if he say unto thee, I will not go away from thee; because he loveth thee and thine house, because he is well with thee; Then thou shalt take an aul, and thrust it through his ear unto the door, and he shall be thy servant for ever. And also unto thy maidservant thou shalt do likewise.”

Galatians 6:18 Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

Galatians 6:18 “Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit” - Comments (1) - In a similar way that the early apostles were instructed by Jesus to let their peace come upon the home of their host (Matthew 10:13), so did Paul the apostle open every one of his thirteen New Testament epistles with a blessing of God’s peace and grace upon his readers. Matthew 10:13 shows that you can bless a house by speaking God's peace upon it.

Matthew 10:13, “And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.”

This practice of speaking blessings upon God’s children may have its roots in the Priestly blessing of Numbers 6:22-27, where God instructed Moses to have the priests speak a blessing upon the children of Israel. Now Paul closes his epistle to the Galatians by restating the blessing that he opened his epistle with in Galatians 1:3.

Comments (2) - In Galatians 6:18 Paul basically commends them into the hands of the Lord Jesus Christ, in much the same way that he did in the book of Acts. We find this statement at the end of all of Paul’s epistles.

Acts 14:23, “And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.”

Acts 20:32, “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.”

Galatians 6:18 “Amen” Comments - In the Textus Receptus the word “Amen” is attached to the end of all thirteen of Paul’s epistles, as well as to the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, and to the General Epistles of Hebrews , 1 and 2 Peter , 1 and 2 John, and to the book of Revelation. However, because “Amen” is not supported in more ancient manuscripts many scholars believe that this word is a later liturgical addition. For example, these Pauline benedictions could have been used by the early churches with the added “Amen.”

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Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Galatians 6". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/galatians-6.html. 2013.