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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments
Galatians 6

 

 

Verse 1

Galatians 6:1. Brethren, if a man be overtaken in — Greek, προληφθη, surprised into; a fault — Through his ignorance, inattention, or the stress of temptation, not considering sufficiently what he is going to do; ye who are spiritual — Who have received the Spirit of truth, grace, and wisdom, and who continue to live and walk by and in the Spirit; restore such a one — By reproof, instruction, or exhortation. Every one who can, ought to help therein; only in the spirit of meekness — Gentleness, and love: qualities essential to a spiritual man, and on these lies the whole force of the cure. Considering thyself — The plural is beautifully changed into the singular. As if he had said, Let each take heed to himself; lest thou also be tempted — That is, fall by temptation; which, being still in the body, thou art liable to do, and therefore may stand in need of the same kind office from thy brother, which thou art now called to render to him. Temptation easily and swiftly passes from one to another, especially if a man endeavours to cure another without preserving his own meekness; and a consciousness of our own frailty should dispose us to be merciful toward those that fall.


Verses 2-5

Galatians 6:2-5. Bear ye one another’s burdens — Sympathize with and assist each other, in all your weaknesses, grievances, trials. The apostle alludes to the custom of travellers, who, when too heavily laden with their baggage, relieve one another by bearing the burdens of the weak or fatigued, and in that manner show their good disposition toward each other; and so fulfil the law of Christ — Even that law of love, which he particularly and especially enjoins, terming it his new commandment, and making it the distinguishing mark of his disciples; and surely we may willingly receive that law from one who was himself such an unequalled example of love, and who with so gracious a sympathy bore our burdens of sorrow, and carried away the load of our guilt. For if a man — If any one; think himself to be something — Above his brethren, and take up an overweening opinion of himself; when he is nothing — Like what he apprehends himself to be; and in particular if he be so conceited of his own sufficiency, as to imagine that he is able to resist temptation by his own strength, or by the strength of inherent grace, and thereupon insults over or despises his fallen brother, in comparison of himself, and is not compassionate and friendly to him; he deceiveth himself — Is entirely mistaken in the judgment he forms of his own state and character. But let every man — To prevent so great an evil; prove his own work — Narrowly examine all he is, all he has, and all he doth; and then — If his spirit and conduct be found agreeable to the rule God has given him, and so be approved by God; he shall have rejoicing in himself — In what God has done for him and in him, by pardoning and renewing him, and enabling him to walk before him in all well-pleasing; he will find matter of comfort in knowing that his heart is right with God, and that he has his conversation according to the gospel; and not in another — That is, not in the applause he receives from another, nor in glorying over others, as inferior to himself in gifts or graces, in holiness or usefulness. For every man — In the day of final judgment; shall bear his own burden — Shall give an account of himself to God; shall answer for his own actions only, and not for those of others.


Verse 6

Galatians 6:6. Let him that is taught in the word — Who is instructed in the doctrines and precepts of the gospel; communicate unto him that teacheth According to the ability that God hath given him; in all good things — All such temporal things as he stands in need of. If, says Macknight, “the teachers, who by spiritual gifts were supernaturally qualified to instruct others, deserved to be liberally maintained, how much more is a liberal maintenance due to those, who, not possessing the [extraordinary] spiritual gifts, are obliged to spend a great deal of time and money in fitting themselves for their office, and who employ themselves assiduously in discharging it!”


Verse 7-8

Galatians 6:7-8. Be not deceived — As if he had said, It is an easy thing for interested men to find excuses for the neglect of this and other liberalities, which are required for the support and propagation of the gospel of Christ; but do not delude yourselves in this or any other such matter, by the treachery of your own hearts, which may more fatally impose upon yourselves than upon any others. For God — Who searches all hearts, and observes all external circumstances; is not mocked — Or, to be mocked by such vain pretences, although they attempt to mock him, who think to reap otherwise than they sow. For — As in the natural, so in the moral world; whatsoever a man soweth — Whether it be good or bad, whether he be liberal or sparing in it; that shall he also reap — The return shall be answerable thereto, both with respect to the kind and degree of it. For he that soweth to his flesh — That yields to his unhallowed passions and appetites, and follows the desires of his corrupt nature; or that employs his substance, time, and thoughts, merely or chiefly in gratifying and indulging the flesh, or for the satisfaction of his own bodily necessities, conveniences, or pleasures; shall of the flesh — Out of this very seed; reap corruption — The utter destruction of his soul and body. But he that soweth to the Spirit — That follows the Spirit’s guidance in his dispositions, words, and actions, and, under the influences thereof, employs his abilities of body and mind, his time, talents, and possessions, to promote true religion in himself and in those about him; shall of the Spirit — By his continued assistance and grace, and as the fruit of what is thus sown; reap life everlasting — When he shall leave the world, his immortal spirit shall inherit eternal felicity; and whatsoever his portion may be now, he shall be fully recompensed at the resurrection of the just, (Luke 14:14,) when all the hope of the sinner is perished.


Verse 9-10

Galatians 6:9-10. And — Having then such a prospect of felicity before us; let us not be weary — Greek, μη εκκακωμεν, let us not be discouraged, or flag; in well-doing — Or in sowing to the Spirit, whatever labour and fatigue, whatever expense and difficulty, it may be attended with; for in due season — When the harvest is come, or in that proper time which the wisdom and goodness of God hath appointed, and for which it is our duty and interest patiently to wait; we shall reap — Abundant and ample fruit; if we faint not — If we do not suffer our hands to hang down, either through lukewarmness and sloth, or through timidity and fear. As we have, therefore, opportunity — That is, while God continues life to us, and the season of sowing lasts; let us — According to our ability, at whatever time or place, and in whatever manner we can; do good — Of every possible kind, and in every possible degree; unto all men — Neighbours or strangers, good or evil, friends or enemies; but especially unto them who are of the household of faith — Who, being united to us in the bonds of Christian faith and love, are on that account of the family of God, and our brethren and sisters in Christ; and therefore have a peculiar claim to our regard. Observe, reader, the opportunity here spoken of for doing good, generally speaking, is our life-time; but there are also many particular opportunities frequently occurring from time to time. Let us remember Satan is quickened in doing hurt by the shortness of the time; (Revelation 12:12;) by the same consideration let us be quickened in doing good.


Verse 11

Galatians 6:11. Ye see how large a letter — St. Paul had not yet written a larger to any church; I have written with my own hand — In testimony of my great affection for you, and concern for your spiritual welfare. He generally wrote by an amanuensis. The original expression here used, πηλικοις γραμμασιν, which we render how large a letter, is, by Whitby, Doddridge, and some others, following Jerome, Chrysostom, and Theophylact, translated, with what kind of, or with what large letters I have written unto you, supposing it to be an apology for the in elegance of the writing. For from the apostle’s making use of an amanuensis in his other letters, they infer that he was not accustomed to write Greek. “The inference, however,” says Macknight, “does not follow. Eminent men, much engaged in affairs, commonly employ others to write for them, notwithstanding they are able to write very well themselves. I therefore prefer the translation in our Bibles, which represents the apostle as informing the Galatians that he wrote this large epistle with his own hand, to show how anxious he was to reclaim them from their errors, and to give them the fullest assurance of the truth of the doctrines contained in it; and that he uniformly preached the same doctrines everywhere.”


Verse 12-13

Galatians 6:12-13. The sum of all is this: As many as desire to make a fair show — Or appearance; that is, to preserve a fair character; in the flesh — In external things, or with respect to their observing the Jewish rites and ceremonies; these would constrain you — Gentile converts, both by their example and importunity; to be circumcised — And subject, with them, to the carnal ordinances of the law. The apostle’s meaning is, that the false teachers wished to appear well in the eyes of the Jews, on account of their attachment to the law of Moses, which in other passages he terms the flesh, in opposition to the spiritual dispensation of the gospel. Only lest, &c. — As if he had said, They do not act thus with a single eye to the glory of God, or from a principle of conscience, but only lest they should suffer persecution — From the unbelieving Jews; for the cross of Christ — For maintaining that faith in a crucified Saviour is alone sufficient for justification. It is well known that the Jewish chief priests and elders were great persecutors of the disciples of Christ, and began their persecution very early. See John 9:22; John 12:22; John 19:38. Now it seems the mandates of their council were received with implicit submission, even by the synagogues in the Gentile countries, Acts 9:2. The false teachers, therefore, of whom the apostle speaks, to recommend themselves to these rulers at Jerusalem, who stirred up the unbelieving Jews every where against the Christians, fell upon the scheme of blending Judaism with the gospel; and, as the apostle informs us, urged the Gentiles to receive circumcision, merely that they themselves might not be persecuted for the gospel doctrine of salvation through a crucified Messiah. For neither they themselves — Who are circumcised, and so are solemnly obliged to observe the whole of it; keep the law — Namely, in other points of greater importance; so far are they from a real zeal for it, or from acting uprightly and conscientiously in this matter; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh — May boast of you as their proselytes, and make a merit of this with the other Jews.


Verse 14

Galatians 6:14. But God forbid that I should be actuated by any such selfish or worldly views, or should glory — Should boast of any thing I have, or am, or do, or rely on any thing for my acceptance with God; save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ — In what Christ hath done and suffered for me; by whom — Or, as the words may be understood, by which cross; the world is crucified to me — All the things and persons in it are to me as dead things, and therefore as nothing; and I unto the world — I am dead to all worldly pursuits, cares, desires, and enjoyments. Or, as Dr. Doddridge paraphrases the clause, By the reliance which I have for justification on Christ’s sufferings and death, and by the believing views I have thereof, I am made indifferent to all things here below; “so that I view the world, as little impressed by all its charms, as a spectator would be by any thing which had been graceful in the countenance of a crucified person, when he beholds it blackened in the agonies of death; and am no more affected by the objects round me, than one who is expiring would be struck with any of those prospects which his dying eyes might view from the cross on which he was suspended.” Or, more concisely, the world is crucified to believers, in that, by the firm expectation of eternal life, grounded on Christ’s cross, that is, on his death and resurrection, the world, like the dead carcass of a crucified malefactor, is stripped to them of all its vain allurements. And they are crucified to the world by Christ’s cross, in that “it inspires them with such principles, and leads them to such a course of life, as renders them, in the eyes of the world, as contemptible, and as unfit for their purposes, as if they were dead carcasses. All believers, therefore, after the apostle’s example, justly glory in the crucifixion of their Master, not only as it is the foundation of that assured hope of pardon which they entertain, but as it is an effectual principle of their sanctification.” — Macknight.


Verse 15-16

Galatians 6:15-16. For in Christ Jesus — (See on Galatians 5:6,) neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision — To prove that we are accepted of God, and possessed of genuine religion; but a new creature — Or, a new creation, described 2 Corinthians 5:17, where see the note, as also on Galatians 5:6; where the same true and vital religion is termed, faith which worketh by love, implying the renovation of the whole man, by the power of the Divine Spirit, and producing universal, constant, and persevering obedience to God, or the keeping his commandments; which (1 Corinthians 7:19) is opposed to circumcision and uncircumcision, as here a new creation, and Galatians 5:6, faith working by love, is opposed to these things. Compare these passages, and the notes on them, with each other. As many as walk according to this rule — 1st, Glorying only in the cross of Christ; 2d, Being crucified to the world; 3d, Created anew; peace be on them — That peace, which is the fruit of justification and a new creation, Romans 5:1. And mercy

The source of that peace, and of every blessing enjoyed by fallen and sinful man, temporal or spiritual; and upon the Israel of God — That is, the church of God, which consists of those, and only those, of every nation and kindred, tongue and people, who walk by this rule.


Verse 17-18

Galatians 6:17-18. Henceforth let no man trouble me — By calling my commission, my doctrine, or my faithfulness in question; or with contentions against my office, quarrels and disputes on account of my renouncing circumcision and the ceremonies of the Mosaic law; for I bear (and affliction ought not to be added to the afflicted!) in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus — That is, of my being his persecuted servant; marks of far more importance, and which I think much more honourable, than circumcision; even the scars which I have received by stripes, blows, bruises, and chains, endured in his service, which ought to endear me to all who have a due regard to him. Because the word στιγματα denotes marks made by burning, some suppose that the apostle had in his eye those servants in the heathen temples on whose foreheads the name of the god to whom they belonged was in that way imprinted, and under the immediate protection of which god such servants were supposed to be. Hence the worshippers of the beast (Revelation 13:16) are represented as having a mark on their right hands, or on their foreheads, whereby they were known to be its worshippers. In like manner the servants of God are said to have his name on their foreheads, Revelation 22:4. In allusion to these customs, it is thought that the apostle calls the scars of the wounds which he received in Christ’s service, the marks of the Lord Jesus. For besides his having been stoned and left for dead in the streets of Lystra, as he was five times scourged by the Jews, and thrice beaten with rods by the Romans, (2 Corinthians 11:24-25,) it is probable he had suffered some of these punishments before this epistle was written, and that they had left scars in his body, by which he was distinguished as the servant of the Lord Jesus. Brethren, the grace — The unmerited favour, and the enlightening, quickening, sanctifying, and comforting influences of his Spirit; be with your spirit — To guide, animate, renew, purify, and comfort you in the ways of truth and peace, of wisdom, piety, and virtue. Thus, although the apostle’s rebukes in the former part of this epistle were sharp and cutting, and although he seems to have treated the Galatians with some severity; yet having expressed his persuasion, that after reading what he had written they would not think differently from him in the principal articles of the Christian doctrine, (chap. Galatians 5:10,) he here shows his love

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Galatians 6:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/galatians-6.html. 1857.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, December 14th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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