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Bible Commentaries

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Galatians 6

Verse 1

Galatians 6:1 . Ἀδελφοὶ , brethren ) An admonition peculiarly suited to the Galatians now follows. ἐὰν καὶ , if even ) He who provokes, often considers another as the person provoking; but if another has been really overtaken in a fault , still we ought not to consider ourselves provoked, but rather to consult [to have regard to] the benefit of the other: ἐὰν καὶ denotes a thing easy to occur, but not of too frequent occurrence with spiritual persons. προληφθῇ , has been overtaken ) The passive, as well as the appellation, man , refers to the procuring of pardon; but the preposition πρὸ , before [the over in overtaken ], is to be referred either to the offence , comp. Wis 17:17 , προληφθεὶς , or rather to the party injured, so that he is said to have been overtaken [ first taken, i.e. before we injured him without our injuring him] who, without receiving any injury, has injured us. As Herodian says, l. 5, τοὺς εὐεργεσίαις προειληφότας , those who have been formerly benefactors . ἐν τινὶ παραπτώματι , in some fault ) for example, vain-glory, Galatians 5:26 : or a return to legal bondage; comp. the ( τῷ αὐτῶν παραπτώματι ) through their fall [ i.e. the Jews’ fall into legal bondage , and consequent rejection of Jesus], Romans 11:11-12 . οἱ πνευματικοὶ ) you, who are strong in the Spirit , and watchfully observe that fall. So, the strong , Romans 15:1 . This agrees with in the Spirit , which immediately after occurs (comp. ch. Gal 5:25 ). καταρτίζετε ) restore him , as a member of the Church. All, who can, should assist. πρᾳότητος , of meekness ) In this is the power of curing: this is the pre-eminent characteristic of the spiritual man [comp. ch. Gal 5:22 ]. σκοπῶν , looking ) The singular after the plural. Every one ought to attend to himself. καὶ σὺ , thou also ) When one is tempted, another is easily tempted; especially if he wishes to cure another, and does not maintain meekness . πειρασθῇς , thou mayest be tempted ) in the same or in some other way.

Verse 2

Galatians 6:2 . Τὰ βάρη , burdens ) Every fault is indeed a burden: in Galatians 6:5 , φορτιον ; φορτιον is a burden proportioned to the strength of him who bears it; βάρη are burdens which exceed his strength. βαστάζετε , bear ) constantly and steadily: do not give your help once and no more. καὶ οὕτως ἀναπληρώσατε , and thus fulfil ) [adimplete]. The imperative, including the future of the indicative, as John 7:37 : ἀνὰ presupposes some defect to be made good [or, to be repaired ] by the Galatians. τὸν νόμον τοῦ Χριστοῦ , the law of Christ ) A rare appellation; comp. John 13:34 ; Romans 15:3 . The law of Christ is the law of love. Moses has many other precepts. These words, burdens and the law , involve a Mimesis [59] in reference to the Galatians, who were eagerly trying to come under the burden of the law .

[59] See App. An allusion to the opinions or words of him whom you wish to correct. ED.

Verse 3

Galatians 6:3 . Δοκεῖ εἶναί τι , seems to be something ) in the Spirit . Whoever does not think himself to be something, he and he alone bears the burdens of others.

Verse 4

Galatians 6:4 . Τὸ δὲ ἔργον , but his own work ) Again by anticipation another extreme is obviated, lest, whilst assisting others, we should forget ourselves. ἔργον ) a real work , not a mere opinion concerning one’s self. εἰς ἑαυτὸν μόνον , in regard to himself alone ) Many, while they compare themselves with others, who seem to be inferior to them, are apt to glory: therefore Paul dissuades them from this comparison. We should not even glory over our own good qualities and deeds; much less over the vices of others, from which we are free. While he excludes glory from the latter, he seems to concede glorying over the former; but the concession is not great, for the proving of a man’s own concerns will at once start many objections, by which glorying will necessarily be diminished: moreover, presently after he speaks not of glorying , but of φόρτιον , a burden . Nay, the very word glorying , used by Mimesis, [60] at the same time includes the contrary. τὸ καύχημα , glorying ) that, by which he says: I am something. ἕξει , shall have ) he himself being judge.

[60] Alluding to the opinion of the Galatians, not to his own opinions. ED.

Verse 5

Galatians 6:5 . Φορτίον , a burden ) either heavy or light. Comp. βάρη , Galatians 6:2 . βαστάσει , shall bear ) in the Divine judgment. The future, the antithesis to which is in the present [ Bear ye] in Galatians 6:2 . There is however a “semiduplex oratio” in these words, so that the one is simultaneously indicated by the other. [61] Glorying is used as an “ad hominem” argument, because the other exhibits [shows on his part] false glorying: this is taken away from him, and the peculiar testimony of a good conscience is also in the meantime called glorying , in the way of paraphrase.

[61] See App. The present is understood in Galatians 6:4 , where the future is used; and the future is understood in verse 2, where the present is used.

Verse 6

Galatians 6:6 . Κοινωνείτω δὲ , but let him communicate ) [The connection is this:] Paul means to say, When I said [Every man shall bear] his own burden, that should not be turned to an argument for the diminution of your liberality. κοινωνέω , just in the same way as the Latin participo , includes the idea both of receiving and giving a share; here, the idea is of giving, as in Philippians 4:15 , very elegantly. ἐν πᾶσιν ἀγαθοῖς , in all good things ) in every kind of resources, as the occasion may require [as the case may be].

Verse 7

Galatians 6:7 . Θεὸς οὐ μυκτηρίζεται ) The verb is in the middle voice. God does not permit empty promises to be made to Him [empty words to be imposed on Him: lit. smoke to be sold to Him , “Sibi fumos vendi”]. The expression, which is by no means common, [62] seems to allude to the LXX., and indeed to Proverbs 12:8 , νωθροκάρδιος μυκτηρίζεται , so that the meaning is: God is not ΝΩΘΡΟΚΆΡΔΙΟς , slow of understanding [like the man in Proverbs], but judges truly, and does not keep silence without a purpose, or for ever; Psalms 50:21 . They endeavour to mock Him, who think thus: I will sow to the flesh, and yet I will persuade God to give me the harvest of life. ὁ ἐὰν , whatsoever ) whether bad or good. σπείρῃ , a man soweth ) especially of his resources; 2 Corinthians 9:6 . ἄνθρωπος , a man ) any man. τοῦτο , that very thing ). θερίσει , he shall reap ) The epistle seems to have been written in the time of harvest. Proverbs 22:8 , ὁ σπείρων φαῦλα θερίσει κακά , he that soweth worthless things shall reap evil [“iniquity vanity,” Engl. Vers. from Hebr.]

[62] Th. μυκτήρ , the nostrils: properly, to sneer at one with the nostrils drawn up in an expression of contempt. Wahl here takes it “patior illudi mihi.” ED.

Verse 8

Galatians 6:8 . Εἰς , into ) as into [upon] the ground. τὸ πνεῦμα , the Spirit ) Here his is not added [as in “ his flesh”]. In ourselves we are carnal, not spiritual. The flesh is devoted to selfishness . ζωὴν αἰώνιον , eternal life ) The article is not added, for the question here is not about faith, but about the fruit of faith.

Verse 9

Galatians 6:9 . Τὸ ) When we do good, perseverance ought to be added. τὸ καλὸν ποιοῦντες , doing good, well-doing ) The expression is different in Galatians 6:10 , ἐργαζώμεθα τὸ ἀγαθὸν , let us work what is good: comp. in all good things , Galatians 6:6 . ἰδίῳ , at the proper season) after the sowing. We must wait in the meantime. Add the note to 1 Timothy 6:15 . Then sowing will be beyond our power. μὴ ἐκλυόμενοι ) Ἐκκακεῖν , to be weary of , is in the will (velle): ἐκλύεσθαι , in the power (posse). μὴ ἐκλύεσθαι , to faint , is something more than ἐκκακεῖν . Both are to be referred to the sowing; for ἐκλύεσθαι arises from an internal relaxation of the powers. So the LXX., ἴσθι μὴ ἐκλυόμενος , be not faint , Proverbs 6:3 . Chrysostom therefore interprets it, that no one should be fatigued in it, as in a worldly harvest.

Verse 10

Galatians 6:10 . Ὡς ) as , as far as, at whatsoever time, in whatever manner and place. Comp. Ecclesiastes 9:10 , בכהך , LXX. ὡςδύναμίς σου , as thou art able, whilst thou art able. καιρὸν ) time, viz. that of the whole life, and in it the more convenient part of that time. So καιρὸν ἔχοντες , 1Ma 15:34 . ἔχομεν , we have) For we shall not always have it. Satan is sharpened to greater zeal in injuring us by the shortness of the time; Revelation 12:12 . Let us be sharpened to zeal in well-doing. τοὺς οἰκείους τῆς πίστεως , the household of faith) Every man does good to his relatives; believers do good to their relations in the faith, especially to those, who are entirely devoted to the propagation of the faith, Galatians 6:6 . So the apostle commends faith itself in this passage, which forms the end of the discussion.

Verse 11

Galatians 6:11 . Ἴδετε , see ) The conclusion. πηλίκοις γράμμασιν ) in how large letters, i.e. how large a letter; just as long letters [longæ literæ] is the expression used for a long epistle; the quantity is not to be referred to the single letters, but to them when joined together. The Epistle to the Hebrews is longer, which however is said to be short, Hebrews 13:22 ; but this is said to be long, because it was on one subject, by the hand of Paul himself, and on a point regarding which the Galatians ought to have been long ago well established. Also the former is compared to hortatory, the latter to polemic theology. [63] He had not heretofore written a longer epistle.

[63] And as compared respectively with their subjects, the Epistle to the Hebrews was short, that to the Galatians long. ED.

Verse 12

Galatians 6:12 . Ὅσοι ) as many as . εὐπροσωπῆσαι ) to make a fair show before you: comp. 2 Corinthians 5:12 . ἀναγκάζουσιν , constrain ) by their example, Galatians 6:13 , and importunity. The same word occurs, ch. Galatians 2:3 ; Galatians 2:14 . μόνον , only ) Such persons therefore wished to be considered in other respects as Christians. διώκωνται , they should suffer persecution ) from the Jews, or even from the Gentiles, who now bore more easily with the antiquity [antiquated usages] of the Jews, than with the supernatural novelty [new doctrine and rule] of the Christian faith.

Verse 13

Galatians 6:13 . Αὐτοὶ , they themselves ) So far from it being their interest, that the law should be observed by you. σαρκὶ , in your flesh ) if it be circumcised.

Verse 14

Galatians 6:14 . Ἐμοὶ δὲ , but as for me ) I should be sorry to be a partaker of such things as those. μὴ γένοιτο καυχᾶσθαι ) Joshua 24:16 , חלילה , μὴ γένοιτο ἡμῖν καταλιπεῖν Κυριον , God forbid, that we should forsake the Lord. καυχᾶσθαι , to glory) We have a specimen of this sort of glorying, 2 Corinthians 5:15-19 ; Philippians 3:8 , etc. ἐν τῷ σταυρῷ , in the cross) which has nothing to do with circumcision of the flesh. To glory in the cross [64] is an Oxymoron. ΔΙᾺ ΟὟ , by which ) the cross: for the apostle is speaking here chiefly of the cross; and if the διʼ οὗ should even be referred to Christ, still the cross must be regarded as the ground on which this reference would be made. That, by which anything whatever is such as it is, possesses the same nature in a higher degree. κόσμος ἐσταύρωται , the world has been crucified ) The world, with its ‘elements,’ has no longer dominion over me; ch. Galatians 4:3 . There is a gradation from the flesh [ Gal 6:13 ] to the world [in this 14th verse]. κᾀγὼ τῷ κόσμῳ , and I to the world ) The world is at variance with me: I could not, though I were willing, henceforth gain any favour from the world. This cross includes death, Colossians 2:20 .

[64] The cross, and to glory, being contraries. ED.

Verse 15

Galatians 6:15 . Οὔτε γὰρ περιτομή τι ἐστὶν οὔτε ἀκροβυστία [65] ) So it is according to a very old reading. The more recent reading is in conformity with ch. Galatians 5:6 . [66] Both circumcision and uncircumcision are not merely of no avail [ ἰσχύει ], but they are [ ἔστιν ] nothing: but there is truly [something, nay, everything in] the new creature and glorying in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. καινὴ κτίσις ) the new creation arising from the cross of Christ, Ephesians 2:15-16 . This is opposed to “old things,” 2 Corinthians 5:17 .

[65] Tischend. reads οὔτε γὰρ , omitting ἐν γὰρ Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ , with B Syr. and Theb. But Lachm. and Rec. Text read the latter words, with ACD( Δ )G fg Vulg. Rec. Text has ἰσχύει with Vulg.; but ABCDG fg Origen have ἔστιν . ED.

[66] The Germ. Vers. agrees with the Gnomon here, although the larger Ed. has reckoned the shorter reading among those less sure . The margin of the 2d Ed., by the mark β , agrees with the Gnomon and the Vers. There is the same reason for the word ἐστιν , to which, by a more recent decision, ἰσχύει ought to yield . E. B.

Verse 16

Galatians 6:16 . Κανόνι , rule ) This refers chiefly to teachers. εἰρήνη , peace ) May it be, and it shall be. On peace, comp. Ephesians 2:14-17 . ἐπʼ αὐτοὺς , on them ) In antithesis to the uncircumcision [those uncircumcised, viz. the unbelieving Gentiles]. καὶ ἔλεος , and mercy ) Romans 15:9 . καὶ ἐπὶ τὸν Ἰσραὴλ τοῦ Θεοῦ , and on the Israel of God ) In antithesis to the circumcision [the Jews]. The Israel of God are believers of the circumcision, or Jewish nation [ Php 3:3 ]. The meaning of the apostle, which is by no means Jewish, has beautifully seized on an expression inconsistent with the idiom of the people; for the Hebrews do not say, Israel of God; nor do they even use the proper name in the construct state. [67]

[67] i.e . They do not put two proper names together in such a construction as “the Israel of God.” ED.

Verse 17

Galatians 6:17 . Τοῦ λοιποῦ , from henceforth ) The mode of breaking off the discourse. κόπουζ , labours [trouble]) Polemic theology, seriously discussed, is a laborious task to godly men; Galatians 6:11 , note; and Galatians 4:20 . See the second Antisturmius of L. Osiander , p. 87, 107: κόποι , labour and anxiety of mind, Matthew 26:10 [Why trouble ( κόπους παρέχετε ) ye the woman?]. μηδεὶς παρεχέτω , let no man cause me) Herein there is Ἀποτομία , severity , by virtue of his authority as an apostle. ἐγὼ γὰρ , for I ) Affliction should not be added to the afflicted. τὰ στίγματα , the marks ) from the lash, Acts 16:23 . These marks of stripes rendered Paul infamous in the eyes of the world, but in reality conferred on him great dignity, for by these he was known to be a servant of Christ. Marks in the body are opposed to the mark of circumcision, the body of Paul [himself] to the flesh of others, Galatians 6:13 [the false teachers “glorying in the flesh” of their followers when circumcised]. τοῦ Κυριοῦ , of the Lord ) Colossians 1:24 , “of the afflictions of Christ.” βαστάζω , I bear ) so that I consider it an honour to me, Galatians 6:14 . Therefore they will be disagreeable to me, who please themselves in any other way. [68]

[68] Who seek occasion for glorying in anything but the Cross of Christ. ED.

Verse 18

Galatians 6:18 . Ἡ χάριζ , grace ) This is in consonance with the whole epistle. μετὰ τοῦ πνεύματος ὑμῶν , with your spirit ) having vanquished the flesh, Galatians 6:1 ; comp. 1Th 5:23 ; 2 Timothy 4:22 ; Philemon 1:25 . ἀδελφοὶ , brethren ) The severity of the whole epistle is thus softened; comp. Galatians 1:6 , note. [69]

[69] Bengel, J. A. (1860). Vol. 4 : Gnomon of the New Testament (M. E. Bengel & J. C. F. Steudel, Ed.) (J. Bryce, Trans.) (1 59). Edinburgh: T&T Clark.

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Bibliographical Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Galatians 6". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jab/galatians-6.html. 1897.