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Friday, September 22nd, 2023
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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Bible Commentaries
Galatians 6

McGarvey's Commentaries on Selected BooksMcGarvey'S Commentaries

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Verse 1

Brethren, even if a man be overtaken [literally, caught] in any trespass, ye who are spiritual, restore [a surgical term] such a one in a spirit of gentleness; looking to thyself, lest thou also be tempted. [Brethren, if a man be surprised, or caught unaware by temptation, and so fall into sin, ye who have not so done, but have walked according to the guidance of the Spirit, deal gently with such a sinner. Do not amputate him, as a piece of gangrene flesh, from the church body, but so handle him as to restore him. Also do not do this in a proud, Pharisaical spirit, but in the spirit of gentleness, bearing in mind that thou thyself art not beyond the reach of temptation.]

Verse 2

Bear ye one another’s burdens [Greek, bara, burden, or distresses], and so fulfil the law of Christ.

Verse 3

For if a man thinketh himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.

Verse 4

But let each man prove his own work, and then shall he have his glorying in regard of himself alone, and not of his neighbor.

Verse 5

For each man shall bear his own burden. [Greek, phortion, burden or responsibility. Bear one another’s burden of trial and suffering, those burdens which come by reason of infirmity of the flesh, and so fulfill the law of Christ, which bids us love one another (John 13:34; John 15:12; 1 John 3:23). For if a man think himself to be something, etc., i. e., so good that he can not be tempted, or so strong that he can not fall, or so perfect that he will never need the patience and sympathy of his brethren, when in reality he is nothing, i. e., no better than other men, he deceives himself. But let each man prove his own work instead of criticizing and judging the work of others, and then shall he have glory in himself alone, and not because he seems superior to his neighbor by comparison of his work with that of his neighbor. And it behooves us to be concerned about our own work, and to thus test it, for each one of us shall bear his own load of duty and accountability, for which alone he shall be called to answer in the judgment.]

Verse 6

But let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. [Let the one taught remunerate his teacher, bringing him pecuniary aid, honor, reverence and all other good things. The financial support of teachers is elsewhere referred to (1 Timothy 5:17). Failure to contribute funds to this good end, no doubt, suggested what follows (compare 2 Corinthians 9:7-8); but the paragraph is by no means to be confined to such failure, for the language is too general.]

Verse 7

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

Verse 8

For he that soweth unto his own flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth unto the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap eternal life. [God is not to be deceived by false appearances, and whoever hopes to overreach him only deceives himself (2 Kings 5:15-27; Acts 5:4-5; Acts 5:9). It is a broad law of God’s (and he can not be deceived about it) that whatever a man sows he shall reap. As in the natural world he reaps grain for grain, so in the moral world, if he sows fleshly indulgence, he shall reap corruption, and so in the spiritual world, if he sows to the Spirit of God, he shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.]

Verse 9

And let us not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

Verse 10

So then, as we have opportunity, let us work that which is good toward all men, and especially toward them that are of the household of the faith. [And let us who are sowing in this latter manner not grow weary in the good work, for in due season we shall reap (James 5:7-8) if we do not grow disheartened and quit. And because we are then sure to reap, let us sow our harvest of good deeds as often as we have opportunity to sow, and let us do good toward all men, especially toward all our brethren in God’s household of believers.]

Verse 11

See with how large letters I write unto you with mine own hand. [There is no indication that Paul had ever before written to the Galatians, and they were probably not familiar with his handwriting. To call attention, therefore, to the fact that the amanuensis has now turned over the stylus, or pen, to him, and that he is putting his own closing lines as an autograph to the Epistle, he bids them note the difference in the letters. They were much larger than those of the amanuensis. This large lettering is taken by some as an additional evidence that Paul’s thorn in the flesh was defective eyesight.]

Verse 12

As many as desire to make a fair show in the flesh, they compel you to be circumcised; only that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.

Verse 13

For not even they who receive circumcision do themselves keep the law; but they desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. [In taking the pen in his own hand it was natural that he should show his earnestness in what he had dictated about circumcision and the Judaizers, tracing with his own fingers a line or two more on that subject. This, therefore, he does, telling them that all those who desire to make a fair show in the flesh, i. e., to please men by complying with worldly demand, seek to compel them (the Galatians) to be circumcised. They did this for no zeal for circumcision, but in order to escape the persecution of their Jewish brethren for adherence to the doctrine of the cross. Moreover, these Judaizers who were thus urging circumcision did not do so from any zeal for the law, for they made no effort themselves to keep it, but they did it that they might boast to other strict and unconverted Jews how they were making Jews out of Gentile Christians. Thus their motives were not religious and holy, but base and selfish.]

Verse 14

But far be it from me to glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world hath been crucified unto me, and I unto the world. [Let these glory if they will, in their wicked activity against the cross, but God forbid that I should glory save in that very cross against which they lift their hands, the cross by which the world has died to me, so that it no longer allures me with its false glories, or terrifies me with its frowns and threats; and by which I, in my turn, have died with Christ as to the world, so that I no longer enjoy or take part in its sinful lusts, and no longer rest under its sentence of condemnation.]

Verse 15

For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. [I glory in this cross of death from which I have been born again, a new creature in Christ, because, in this new dispensation of Christ’s, former things have lost their value. As a Jew I once held myself superior to Gentiles, and despised them ; and had I been of the Gentiles I would, no doubt, have looked at things from their standpoint, and so I should have looked with contempt upon the Jews; but in Christ I have died to all this worldly pride, for in his dispensation there is no advantage or profit in the circumcision which makes a Jew, or the lack of it which makes a Gentile. The whole profit lies in being born again from either of these states (John 3:3) so as to become a child of grace, a recipient of justification, an heir of God.]

Verse 16

And as many as shall walk by this rule, peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. [Upon all who walk by the rule which I have just stated--the rule which rejects carnal ordinances, and accepts a regenerated life--upon them, even upon the Israel of God, be peace and mercy. The word translated "and" often means "even," and it has that force here, for it was Paul’s constant contention that Christians were the true Israel of God, the bona-fide sons of Abraham.]

Verse 17

Henceforth let no man trouble me; for I bear branded on my body the marks of Jesus. [We have here a figure taken from the life of a slave, who, in that day, was often branded with his master’s name, so as to insure his recovery should he attempt to escape. Now, Paul had been troubled by the Judaizers, who asserted that he was teaching their doctrine, and was as they were (Galatians 5:10-11). But this, in Paul’s eyes, was an assertion that he was free from Christ (Galatians 5:4). Now, it troubled him to be thus accused of being no longer the servant of Christ, and, to silence such calumny, he appeals to the scars on his body, which showed that he was indeed the branded servant of Christ, and not a time-pleasing, persecution-evading (Galatians 6:12) servant of the world.]

Verse 18

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen. [The Epistle closes with a fraternal benediction, but the word of grace rests on the spirit of the Galatians, and not on their bodies. Blessing was to be found in rectitude of spirit, and not in fleshly righteousness ceremonially obtained through ordinances. We have no word of history which reveals to us the immediate effect of Paul’s Epistle; but the fact that it was preserved argues that it was well received. Considering the vigor and power of it, it could not have been otherwise than effective. We may say, then, that it, with 2 Corinthians and Romans, were three blows which staggered Judaism, and restrained it, till smitten by the hand of God himself at the destruction of Jerusalem, A. D. 70, it ceased to trouble the church till its forms were again revived in the days of the great apostasy.]

Bibliographical Information
McGarvey, J. W. "Commentary on Galatians 6". "J. W. McGarvey's Original Commentary on Acts". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/oca/galatians-6.html. Transylvania Printing and Publishing Co. Lexington, KY. 1872.
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