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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Galatians 6

 

 

Verse 1

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

Brethren - to conciliate kindly attention. Greek, 'If a man even be surprised' (i:e., caught in the very act before he could escape) [ kai (Greek #2532) proleemphthee (Greek #4301): the kai implies that the pro (Greek #4253) is an aggravation, not a palliation, of the offence] (Ellicott). Bengel, 'If a man (therefore one claiming the forbearing sympathy of his FELLOW-MEN) even be taken first in a fault before yourselves.' If another has really been the first to offend: for often he who is first to find fault is the one who has first transgressed. Be taken, the passive, reminds us of the enemy's power and our common infirmity.

A fault , [ paraptoomati (Greek #3900)] - 'a fall;' such as failing back into legal bondage [ hamartia (Greek #266) is 'sin' in general]. Here he warns those who have not so fallen-`the spiritual'-to be not 'vainglorious' (Galatians 5:26), but forbearing to such (Romans 15:1). The teachers are mainly addressed, Galatians 6:1-5; the hearers, Galatians 6:6-10 (Ellicott).

Restore , [ katartizete (Greek #2675)] is used of a dislocated limb, reduced to its place. Such is the tenderness with which we should treat a fallen member in restoring him to a better state.

The spirit of meekness - a spirit characterized prominently by meekness, the work of the Holy Spirit in our spirit (Galatians 5:23; Galatians 5:25). "Meekness " is that spirit toward God whereby we accept His dealings without disputing; then, toward men, whereby we endure meekly provocations, and do not withdraw from the burdens which their sins impose upon us (Trench).

Considering thyself - transition from the plural to the singular. When congregations are addressed, each should take home the monition to himself.

Thou also be tempted - as is likely to happen those who reprove others without meekness (cf. Matthew 7:2-5; 2 Timothy 2:25; James 2:13). The sense of our own weakness should make us indulgent to others.


Verse 2

Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

If ye, legalists, must 'bear burdens,' then (Matthew 23:4) 'bear, not legal (Matthew 23:4), but one another's burdens' (bare), 'weights.' Distinguished (Bengel) from "burden," Galatians 6:5 [ fortion (Greek #5413), 'load']. 'Weights' exceed the strength; "burden" is proportioned to the strength. Rather, Bare 'weights' is more general, referring to the community; phortion, 'a load,' refers to the particular sins of each. The weights of the infirm, afflicted, and erring are to be shared in by the communion of saints (Romans 15:1; 2 Cor. 2:29 ); the burden of each is to be borne by himself in respect to rendering his account to God (Ellicott from Augustine). 'Alleviate the soul weighed down by the consciousness of sin' (Theodore of Mopsuestia).

So fulfil. 'Aleph (') A C or, as B G f g, Vulgate, read 'so ye will fulfil' [ anapleeroosete (Greek #378)], 'fill up,' 'thoroughly fulfil.'

The law of Christ - namely, "love," which fulfils the whole law (Galatians 5:14). Since ye desire "the law," then fulfill Christ's law, not made up of various observances: its sole "burden" is "love" (John 13:34; John 15:12; 1 John 3:23). Romans 15:3 gives Christ as the example.


Verse 3

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

Self-conceit, the chief hindrance to forbearing sympathy toward our fellow-men, must be laid aside.

Something - possessed of some spiritual pre-eminence, and exempt from the frailty of other men.

When he is nothing - `being, after all, nothing' (Romans 12:3; 1 Corinthians 8:2).

Deceiveth himself , [ frenapata (Greek #5422)] - 'he mentally deceives himself.' To test his own work (his whole course, 1 Peter 1:17), and judge by it, not by his mental fancy, is the remedy (cf. James 1:26).


Verse 4

But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. His own work - not merely his own opinion of himself.

Have rejoicing in himself alone. Translate, 'have his matter for glorying [to kaucheema (Greek #2745); distinct from kaucheesis (Greek #2746), the act of glorying] in regard to himself [ eis (Greek #1519) heauton (Greek #1438)] alone, and not in regard to the other'-namely, his neighbour-by comparing himself with whom he fancied he has matter for boasting as superior (1 Corinthians 4:5). Not that really a man by looking to "himself alone" is likely to find cause for glorying. Nay, in Galatians 6:5 he speaks of a "burden," not of matter for glorying, as what really belongs to each. But he refers to the idea those whom he censures had of themselves: they thought they had cause for 'glorying' in themselves; but it arose from self-conceited comparison of themselves with others, instead of looking at home. The only true glorying is in the Lord, the Giver of a good conscience, through the cross of Christ; and in our weaknesses, which enlist for us His omnipotence (2 Corinthians 10:17; 2 Corinthians 11:30; 2 Corinthians 12:9).


Verse 5

For every man shall bear his own burden.

Reason why a man has no ground for claiming superiority in regard to his neighbour (Galatians 6:4, end). FOR each has his own "burden" ('load') - namely, of infirmity: phortion is different from bare, Galatians 6:2. This verse does not contradict Galatians 6:2. There he tells them to bear with others' "burdens" in forbearing sympathy; here, that self examination will make a man to feel he has enough to do to render an account for 'his own load' of sin, without comparing himself boastfully with his neighbour (cf. Galatians 6:3). Instead of 'thinking himself to be something,' he shall feel his own 'load' of sin: this will lead him to bear sympathetically with his neighbour's weights of infirmity. AEsop says a man carries two bags over his shoulder; the one with his own sins hanging behind, that with his neighbour's sins in front.


Verse 6

Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.

One way of bearing others' burdens (Galatians 6:2), by ministering of earthly goods to spiritual teachers. The 'but' in the Greek, beginning this verse, expresses, I said, Each shall bear his own burden; BUT I do not intend that he should not think of others, especially of the wants of his ministers.

Communicate unto him - `impart a share unto his teacher' [ kateechounti (Greek #2727)]; him that teacheth catechetically.

In all good things - in all the good things of this life, according as the case may require (Romans 15:27; 1 Corinthians 9:11; 1 Corinthians 9:14).


Verse 7

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

God is not mocked. The Greek [ mukteerizetai (Greek #3456)] is to draw up the nostrils in contempt. God does not suffer Himself to be imposed on by empty words: He will judge according to works, which are seeds sown for an eternity of either joy or woe. Excuses for illiberality in God's cause (Galatians 6:6) seem valid before men, but are not so before God (Ps. 1:21 ).

Soweth - especially of his resources (2 Corinthians 9:6).

That - Greek, 'this,' and nothing else.

Reap - at the harvest, the end of the world (Matthew 13:39).


Verse 8

For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

'He that soweth unto his own flesh' [ eis (Greek #1519) teen (Greek #3588) sarka (Greek #4561) heautou (Greek #1438)], with a view to fulfilling its desires. He does not say, 'his own spirit,' as he does, 'his own flesh.' For in ourselves we are not spiritual, but carnal. The flesh is essentially selfish.

Corruption , [ fthoran (Greek #5356)] - i:e., destruction (Philippians 3:19). Compare as to the believer's deliverance from "corruption," Romans 8:21. The use of "corruption" implies that destruction is not an arbitrary punishment of fleshly-mindedness, but its natural fruit: the corrupt flesh producing corruption, another word for destruction: corruption is the fault, and corruption the punishment (note, Romans 6:21-22; 1 Corinthians 3:17; 2 Peter 2:12). The future life only expands the seed sown here. Men cannot mock God because they can deceive themselves. They who sow tares cannot reap wheat. They alone reap life eternal who sow to the Spirit (Psalms 126:6; Proverbs 11:18; Proverbs 22:8; Hosea 8:7; Hosea 10:12; Luke 16:25; Romans 8:11; James 5:7).


Verse 9

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. And - Greek, 'But.' It is "life everlasting" to sow unto the Spirit; BUT it must be a continuous sowing-we must not "weary" (2 Thessalonians 3:13).

In due season - in its proper season, God's own time (1 Timothy 6:15).

If we faint not , [ mee (Greek #3361) ekluomenoi (Greek #1590)] - 'be not relaxed.' Weary [ekkakoomen, C, 'let us not go OUT OF duty's path through fear.' But 'Aleph (') A B Delta, engkakoomen (Greek #1573), 'let us not lose heart IN it'] refers to the will; faint, to relaxation of the power (Bengel).


Verse 10

As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

So then [ ara (Greek #686) oun (Greek #3767)], according (i:e., in proportion) as we have season (i:e., opportunity), let us work [ ergazoometha (Greek #2038): distinct from poiountes (Greek #4160), 'do,' Galatians 6:9] that which is (in each case) good' [ to (Greek #3588) agathon (Greek #18)]. As thou art able, while thou art able, when thou art able (Ecclesiastes 9:10). We have now the "season" for sowing, as there will be hereafter the "due season" (Galatians 6:9) for reaping. The whole life is the 'seasonable opportunity;' in a narrower sense, there occur in it especially convenient seasons. These are lost in looking for still more convenient seasons (Acts 24:25). We shall not always have the opportunity "we have" now. Satan is sharpened to the greater zeal in evil-doing by the shortness of his time (Revelation 12:12). Let us be sharpened to the greater zeal in well-doing by the shortness of ours.

Them who are of the household , [who peculiarly belong to: tous (Greek #3588) oikeious (Greek #3609) tees (Greek #3588) pisteoos (Greek #4102)]

Of faith. Every right-minded man does well to his own family (1 Timothy 5:8); so believers are to do to the household of faith - i:e., those whom faith has made members of "the household of God" (Ephesians 2:19; 1 Timothy 3:15; 1 Peter 4:17).


Verse 11

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

[ Peelikois (Greek #4080) grammasin (Greek #1121)] 'See in how large letters I have written.' The Greek is translated "how great," Hebrews 7:4, the only other New Testament passage where it occurs. Owing to his weakness of eyes (Galatians 4:15), he wrote in large letters. So Jerome All the oldest manuscripts are written in uncial - i:e., capital letters; the cursive, or small letters, being of recent date. Paul seems to have had a difficulty in writing, which led him to make the uncial letters larger than ordinary. By these they would know that he WROTE the whole letter with his own hand; as he did also the pastoral letters, which this letter resembles in style [ egrapsa (Greek #1125): contrast graphoo (Greek #1125), 2 Thessalonians 3:17, present, where he refers only to the closing salutation]. He usually dictated his letters to an amanuensis, excepting the concluding salutation, which he wrote himself (Romans 16:22; 1 Corinthians 16:21). This letter he wrote with his own hand, in order that the Galatians may see what a regard he has for them, in contrast to the Judaizing teachers (Galatians 6:12), who sought only their own ease. If the English version be retained, the words, "how large a letter," will not refer to the length of the letter absolutely, but large for him to have written with his own hand. Neander explains so, as more appropriate to the earnestness of the apostle and the tone of the letter: "how large" will thus be for 'how many.' [But grammata (Greek #1121) nowhere else with Paul means "a letter," epistolee (Greek #1992). Grammasin (Greek #1121) egrapsa (Greek #1125) is nowhere so used by him (cf. Luke 23:38; 2 Corinthians 3:7).]


Verse 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.

Contrast between his zeal in their behalf (Galatians 6:11) and the zeal for self on the part of the Judaizers.

Make a fair show (2 Corinthians 5:12) in the flesh - in outward things.

They - it is 'these who,' etc.

Constrain you - by example (Galatians 6:13) and importuning.

Only lest - `only that they may not,' etc. (cf. Galatians 5:11.)

Suffer persecution. They escaped the Jews' bitterness against Christianity, and the offence of Christ's cross, by making the Mosaic law a necessary preliminary; in fact, making Christian converts into Jewish proselytes.

For the cross - for preaching the doctrine of the cross.


Verse 13

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

'For not even do they who are having themselves circumcised [ hoi (Greek #3588) peritemnomenoi (Greek #4059), 'Aleph (') A C Delta, Vulgate] keep the law themselves (Romans 2:17-23), but they wish YOU to be circumcised,' etc. (Matthew 23:4.) They arbitrarily selected circumcision out of the whole law, as though observing it would make up for their non-observance of the rest. That they may glory in your flesh - namely, in the outward change (opposed to the inward, wrought by the SPIRIT) which they effect in bringing you over to their own Jewish-Christian party.


Verse 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.

'But as for me (in opposition to those gloriers "in your flesh," Galatians 6:13), God forbid [ mee (Greek #3361) genoito (Greek #1096), far be it] that I,' etc.

In the cross - the atoning death on the cross; making us dead to self. Compare Philippians 3:3; Philippians 3:7-8 as a specimen of his glorying. The "cross," the object of shame to them and all carnal men, is the great object of glorying to me; for by it, the worst of deaths, Christ has destroyed all kinds of death (Augustine). We are to testify the power of Christ's death working in us after the manner of crucifixion (Romans 6:5-6; Galatians 5:24).

Our. He reminds them by this pronoun that they had a share in the "Lord Jesus Christ" (the full name gives greater solemnity), and therefore ought to glory in Christ's cross as he did.

The world - `the aim of the old man' (Calvin) - inseparably allied to the "flesh" (Galatians 6:13). Legal and fleshly ordinances are merely outward, and "elements of the world" (Galatians 4:3).

Is - Greek, 'has been crucified to me' (Galatians 2:20). He used "crucified" for "dead with Christ" (Colossians 2:20}, to imply his oneness with Christ crucified (Philippians 3:10).


Verse 15

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

For - confirming his crucifixion to the world (Galatians 6:14) by the instance of circumcision, which now is become a mere worldly, outward rite.

Availeth. Borrowed from Galatians 5:6, Vulgate. But 'Aleph (') A B C Delta G f g read 'is.' Not only are they of no avail, but they are nothing. So far are they from being matter for, 'glorying,', that they are 'nothing.' But Christ's cross is 'all in all,' as a subject for glorying, in the "new creature" (Ephesians 2:10; Ephesians 2:15-16).

New creature (2 Corinthians 5:17) - a transformation by the renewal of the mind (Romans 12:2).


Verse 16

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

As many - contrasting with the "as many," Galatians 6:12. rule [canon] - a straight rule, to detect crookedness; the rule of faith.

Peace - from God (Ephesians 2:14-17; Ephesians 6:23), the effect.

Mercy (Romans 15:9) - the cause.

Israel of God - not the Israel after the flesh (1 Corinthians 10:18), among whom those teachers wish to enroll you, but the spiritual seed of Abraham by faith (Romans 2:28-29; Galatians 3:9; Galatians 3:29; Philippians 3:3). The "and" may imply that as the former clause, "as many," etc., refers to Gentile believers, so "the Israel of God" to Jewish believers. But "and" may be explanatory: even.


Verse 17

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

Let no man trouble me - by opposing, through legalism or licentiousness, my apostolic authority, seeing it is stamped by a sure seal-namely, "I (in contrast to the Judaizing teacher) bear" [ bastazoo (Greek #941), Acts 9:15; as a badge of honour from the King of kings].

The marks - properly, marks branded on slaves to indicate their owners. So Paul's scars, received for Christ, indicate to whom he belongs, and in whose free service he is (2 Corinthians 11:23-25). The Judaizing teachers gloried in the circumcision-mark in the flesh of their followers; Paul glories in the marks of suffering for Christ on his own body (cf. Galatians 6:14; Colossians 1:24).

The Lord. So 'Aleph (') Delta G. Omitted in A B C.


Verse 18

Brethren. Place it, as the Greek, last, before the "Amen." After much rebuke, he bids them farewell with the loving expression of brotherhood as his parting word (note, Galatians 1:6).

Be with your spirit - the spiritual nature, which, I trust, will keep down the flesh (1 Thessalonians 5:23; 2 Timothy 4:22; Philem 25).

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Galatians 6:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/galatians-6.html. 1871-8.

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