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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
Galatians 6

 

 

Verses 1-18

Galatians 6:1. If a man, a brother, be overtaken in a fault, by wine, or passion, or some indiscretion, through surprise, or when off his guard. The offender is a brother, who when so overtaken confesses his fault, and avows his sorrow. Now, to rebuke him with anger, and treat him with rigour, is not doing as we would wish to be dealt by; and if we so treat him, how keen and how just would his reproaches be, if we ourselves should fall into the same sin. Truly this is an eloquent and paternal plea for brotherly tenderness and compassion. But the apostle does not mean to extend it to habitual offenders. On the contrary, he directs that we should withdraw from such characters, and by consequence, deny them the sacramental bread. The whole church is more worthy than those who habitually reproach it.

Galatians 6:2. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil, or as many copies read, and so complete the law of Christ. Sin is a burden, and we should bear the infirmities of the weak. But the injunction applies to the sick and the aged poor, who may be in want of bread. We should love one another, as Christ hath loved us, and went about doing good.

Galatians 6:6-7. Let him that is taught in the word, communicate to him that teacheth. In the patriarchal age, when lands were often of uncertain tenure, the Lord provided for the altar by tithes of cattle and corn. Labour merits the reward of labour. This minister rises at an early hour; he spends the morning in his study, that he may the more edify and delight his auditory in preaching. He instructs the children, he rebukes vice, he heals breaches, and is the common father of all his flock. He needs and requires bread for his family, books for his study, and alms for the sick and aged poor. His labours merit remuneration. What a pity that human nature should need the injunction to communicate to him in all good things. — If the infidel lord, the wicked, the covetous deny or withhold from him his just and ancient rights, let them take heed. God is not mocked; sooner or later he will display his high displeasure. 1 Corinthians 9:14. See also on Amos 4:4. Malachi 3:10.

Galatians 6:8-10. He that soweth to his flesh, shall reap corruption. He who wastes the superfluities of his earnings, or his fortune, to gratify his concupiscence in alehouses, on dogs and pleasures, shall reap disease, and an early death. On the contrary, he who sows to the Spirit, in every form of benevolence to the poor, shall amalgamate his soul with a charity that never dies. He who imitates God, in doing good according to his means, shall reap the fruits of peace here, and life eternal in the world to come. Charity asks not the name or nation of a fellow-creature in distress; suffering has the first claim on the judgment and the heart. Love never faileth, though it may meet with ungrateful returns. The good man, like the Giver of harvests, is never weary in welldoing.

Galatians 6:11. Ye see how large a letter I have written to you with mine own hand. I have opened all my soul, and uttered all my heart. I have written, not by dictation to others, but with mine own hand. In writing to the Romans he employed Tertius to transcribe his words: Romans 16:22. In the epistle to the Colossians he seems to have written the salutation only: Colossians 4:18. Be that as it might, Tertullian affirms in his apology, that the churches to whom St. Paul wrote, had preserved his original manuscripts down to his time, which was about one hundred and fifty years after they were written.

Galatians 6:12. As many as desire to make a fair show in the flesh, the false apostles and judaizing teachers, who magnify the Leviticum, constrain you to be circumcised, that they may glory and boast of the proselytes they have made, and receive their stipends and applause from Jerusalem. They affect to be utterly ashamed of a crucified Redeemer.

Galatians 6:14-15. But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. God spared not his own Son, but freely delivered him up for us all. The cross is the high altar from whence the blood flows that washes away the guilt of the nations. The cross confers truth, honour, and glory on all the tragic altars of the patriarchs, and on the whole Hebrew ritual. A crucified Messiah is the true brazen serpent, exalted on the pole to heal the wounded camp. The cross is the weeping theme of all the prophets, which loses all its obloquy in the rising glory of the Son of God, putting death beneath his feet, and opening the gates of immortality. With Christ the believer is crucified to the world, and the world is crucified to him. In his resurrection we become new creatures, having, as is designated by the outward sign of baptism, put off the body of the sins of the flesh. The cross is the theatre of unexampled love, and the grand scene of triumph over all our foes.

Galatians 6:17. Henceforth let no man trouble me. The seals of my apostleship you have attested, by miracles, by spiritual endowments, and gifts of the Holy Ghost. I have seen the Lord. Acts 9:4; Acts 22:14. I have lived in conformity to my vocation. I have suffered for the sake of Christ, being stoned, scourged by the Roman lictors, and also in the synagogues. Yea, I have been in deaths often. Let your troublers, who affect some love to Christ, the better to deceive you, come forward with credentials like these.

I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. My scars would demonstrate my love to his name, and my courage and warfare in the various fields of battle.

Galatians 6:18. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. He closes as he began the epistle. He also varies the last words, and adds amen, to show that he did it in the fulness of his soul, and blessed them in the God of truth, as the Lord required. Isaiah 65:16.

REFLECTIONS.

The religion of Christ is all compassion, and gracious like its author. If the incestuous Corinthian was restored to communion after one year, surely a brother, overtaken in a fault by surprise, and not by the habit of sin, may receive an earlier pardon. A new wound, and a wound inflicted in some sort by surprise, requires the healing balm, and not a deeper injury by rigorous treatment. Thus we should bear one another’s burdens in sympathy, in charity, and comfort. Let us, being often reminded, cheerfully support the gospel of Christ, and do it handsomely, in the true faith of his coming and kingdom.

St. Paul closes this most excellent preservative of the churches with a contrast between himself and the false apostles. They wished to return, boasting and glorying to Jerusalem, in the multitude of names who had submitted to the law by the grand ritual of circumcision. Our apostle, on the contrary, was altogether a christian. He would glory only in the cross, so revolting to the infidel jew. Learning, eloquence, riches and honours, are not to be named in presence of redeeming love.

Without the cross, all is darkness on the ritual code; without the cross, all is gloom on the prophets; without the cross, the whole of revelation is devoid of seals. But by the cross, the love of God is confirmed, and the whole church is filled with songs of glory and everlasting joy. Here all our enemies were vanquished, and the gates of paradise opened to a rebellious world. The purchased possession of the everlasting inheritance is secured to us by the ransom of our near kinsman. Here we have a pattern of patient suffering, which it is the christian’s glory to follow. The infamy of the cross is therefore made glorious by the dignity of the sufferer.

The cross is energetic in reforming the lives, and renovating the hearts of sinners beyond example. Romans 1:16. It reveals the righteousness of God from faith to faith; it prepares the soul, when contemplated, by faith, and borne to the end, for the brightest degrees of glory. In a word, the cross is the grand subject of glory and of song in the heavens above, and of its glory there is no end.

Contemplating this cross,, and bearing it in part, St. Paul was happy in the gaol, and bold before Felix: and where is there a subject so glorious, or consolations equal to those which they have who suffer with the Saviour? While the christian glories only in the cross, he astonishes the world, and rises in hope, while others droop with desponding gloom.

Peace and mercy then be to all that walk according to this rule, says the great apostle, who bore in his own body a hundred illustrious scars of the dying of the Lord Jesus. Christian, remember this is the faith, the patience, and piety which conquered the world.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Galatians 6:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/galatians-6.html. 1835.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, November 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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