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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Galatians 6:2

Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.

Adam Clarke Commentary

Bear ye one another's burdens - Have sympathy; feel for each other; and consider the case of a distressed brother as your own.

And so fulfill the law of Christ - That law or commandment, Ye shall love one another; or that, Do unto all men as ye would they should do unto you. We should be as indulgent to the infirmities of others, as we can be consistently with truth and righteousness: our brother's infirmity may be his burden; and if we do not choose to help him to bear it, let us not reproach him because he is obliged to carry the load.

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These files are public domain.

Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Galatians 6:2". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https: 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Bear ye one another‘s burdens - See the note at Romans 15:1. Bear with each other; help each other in the divine life. The sense is, that every man has special temptations and easily besetting sins, which constitute a heavy burden. We should aid each other in regard to these, and help one another to overcome them.

And so fulfil the law of Christ - The special law of Christ, requiring us to love one another; see the note at John 13:34. This was the distinguishing law of the Redeemer; and they could in no way better fulfil it than by aiding each other in the divine life. The law of Christ would not allow us to reproach the offender, or to taunt him, or to rejoice in his fall. We should help him to take up his load of infirmities, and sustain him by our counsels, our exhortations, and our prayers. Christians, conscious of their infirmities, have a right to the sympathy and the prayers of their brethren. They should not be cast off to a cold and heartless world; a world rejoicing over their fall, and ready to brand them as hypocrites. They should be pressed to the warm bosom of brotherly kindness; and prayer should be made to ascend without ceasing around an erring and a fallen brother. Is this the case in regard to all who bear the Christian name?

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Galatians 6:2". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https: 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Galatians 6:2

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


These two principles are:--

I. The brotherhood of souls--“Bear ye one another’s burdens.”

II. The responsibility of the individual soul--“Every man shall bear his own burden.” Now these two principles are not really opposed to each other, and neither are the precepts of the text. For if you think of it, you will find it is impossible to obey one part of this law without obeying the other; that it is impossible to bear one, your own burden, without at the same time bearing the burden of others; that it is impossible to realize the awful responsibilities of your being without at the same time realizing the claims of your brothers; impossible to find your own true life without giving up your individual will, without “merging your personal interests in those of the human brotherhood, and those of the human brotherhood in the light of the life of God.” Take one side of the idea first. “Every man shall bear his own burden.” There is certainly a very real sense in which this is true, and perhaps no truth has impressed itself more deeply upon the mind of man. Strangest of all things in this wondrous universe is the loneliness of man. Lonely in his birth, lonely in all the great movements of his life, lonely in his death, he comes, he passes, he disappears. Enthroned on the citadel of being, each soul is like a star, and dwells apart. There, in the solitary circuit of its own being, it must patiently revolve, for no star can move in the orbit of another star; it cannot pass the silent deep that lies between; it is alone, and shines in solitary beauty. How then, you ask, is it possible to obey the command of the apostle: “Bear ye one another’s burdens”? My only answer is that which is implied in the words of the text, that it is only by bearing one another’s burdens that we can really bear our own. Does that seem to be a paradox? If you consider deeply you will not think so, you will see that it is really the law of Christ--the highest phase of that law which rules the rhythmic harmony of the universe--that the true life of man is something higher than a life of individual isolation or of personal interest, and that to attain this you must give up your individual will, you must rise into a life which is your own, and yet not your own, and of which the highest expression must always be, “I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.”

1. Take first the illustration which Christ Himself gave in the simplest phase of growing life, the living unity of the tree: “I am the Vine, ye are the branches.” In the economy of a tree you know there is a function which every member must perform, and without which the vigour of life cannot be maintained. If any part should, so to speak, refuse to exercise its function and to bear the burden of the others, itself must pass away. Give it a separate existence, give it the individuality to which it aspires, and what is the result? When it formed a part of the tree joyfully bearing its own burden, and so also bearing the burden of the others, it shared the glory and the freshness of its life, and all its bloom and beauty.

2. The same principle which is thus exemplified in the tree is seen also in the phenomena of sentient life. It is true that the same law holds throughout the realm of our inorganic life, and even in the subtler relations of organisms as collections of modified cells, with unity of origin and coordination of function, it is clearly shown that life cannot be sustained without that mutual burden-bearing which is part of the very law of God. While each individual member has its part to play, its burden to bear, there is a life of the organism to which it must contribute. The members are not independent of each other, but linked together and mutually helpful. “The eye cannot say to the hand I have no need of thee; nor again the head to the feet, I have need of you.” Each member must bear its own burden, and in so doing it will bear the burdens of the others.

3. You have seen the principle illustrated in the life of the body. In the structure as it rises from base to summit each stone bears its own burden, and from foundation to cope stone there is none which is useless, all alike sustaining and sustained, rising in gradual ascent according to the plan in the mind of the architect, and growing up into that ideal of beauty and of serviceableness after which he strove, exemplifying in the simplest as well as in the most elaborate form the same principle, and showing that the law which gives its nameless grace to the tiny arch gives also its imposing grandeur to the great cathedral, rising as it does, in ever ascending glory, from its pillars of over-vaulted gloom, with architraves and arches of majestic beauty, “like a primeval forest,” till all the building fitly framed together grows into a holy temple, meet for the worship of God.

4. And if we pass from these suggestive illustrations we shall also find in the life of man and in the arrangement of society equally forcible illustrations of the same principle; a principle which is indeed the very law of society, and without which society could not cohere. Take, for instance, the very common principle of the division of labour, a principle which was slowly adopted, but which is now one of the axioms of economic science. It is not only of direct utility in increasing the power of labour, justifying the saying of the preacher, “Two are better than one,” because they have a good reward for their labours. But there is also a higher principle involved. For it is thus by their lower necessities that men are led to see that they have need of each other, and that each and all have their place. I might go on to speak of the basis that has been laid for the law of mutual burden-bearing in the natural constitution of man, in the power of sympathy and natural affection, in the love that binds parent to child, and friend to friend in the sweet charities of human life. There is a similar illustration which may be given in what is called the body politic. What is a State? The true idea of a State is not that of an unconnected collection of individuals, but rather that of an organism, with an organic life and an economy of members, each of which has its own part to play, its own burden to bear, and if it honestly bears that burden, it is also bearing the burdens of the others. For you cannot say that in making the demand Christ makes a demand which is contrary to the nature of things. He merely demands that you should submit yourself to a law which is the expression of God’s will, and which is the very law of life. He shows that which is the very glory of the Christian faith, that it does not stand in antagonism with any true principle of our nature. We are, as it were, a great army under marching orders. Day by day we are marching onwards. Each of us has his own burden to bear. Each of us must carry his own knapsack, and shoulder his own musket. And as our comrades fall beside us shall we not pause, and carry them to the rear? Would you call that man a true soldier who could see his fellow soldier fall and not seek to relieve him, who would quail before the shot of the enemy and run to save himself when his wounded brother fell? To this it is, my brethren, that the law of Christ calls you. You must renounce your own will, and bow to the will of God. You must give up your own freedom, and find it in a greater and nobler freedom. You must bear the burdens of others or you cannot bear your own. (A. W. Williamson, M. A.)

Bearing one another’s burdens

I. Enumerate some of the burdens of the Christian life.

1. The greatest of all burdens which the Christian feels is sin. It is this which makes the whole creation groan, and causes an apostle to cry out, “Oh wretched man that I am; who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24). David also complains and says, “Mine iniquities are gone over my head; as a heavy burden they are too heavy for me” (Psalms 38:4).

2. Bodily infirmities and diseases are in themselves a burden, however providence may intend them for our good, and finally overrule them for our spiritual advantage.

3. Worldly losses, trials and difficulties, are the burden which some are called to bear, and of these there is a heavy load. The unkindness and ingratitude, the malice and opposition of enemies, press heavily on some: the undutifulness of children, and the breaches made by death, on others: and an endless train of disappointed hopes and expectations attend on all.

4. A state of distance from God, and the hidings of His face, are a great grief and burden to the believing soul. “Thou hidest Thy face,” says David, “and I am troubled.”

II. Our obligations to sympathise with one another, under the various ills and evils of the present life. We cannot so “bear each other’s burdens” as to transfer them to ourselves, or suffer in another’s stead. In this sense Christ bore our griefs, and carried our sorrows, and at length bore our sins in His own body on the tree; and He alone was able to do it.

1. Let us bear one another’s burdens by tenderly sympathising with those who are afflicted. Let us make their griefs, as well as their joys, our own.

2. We are to bear one another’s burdens by endeavouring to alleviate the afflicted, and comforting them under all their sorrows.

3. The motive by which this duty is enforced is, that in so doing we “fulfil the law of Christ.” It is according to the new commandment which He has given us, that we should love one another; and according to the old commandment that we should love God, and our neighbour as ourselves. (B. Beddome, M. A.)

Mutual burdens

I. We must take this text into the sphere of realism. Trouble is not to be treated sentimentally, curiously, inquisitively, but practically Reach out a heart of love and a hand of help to your brother man, not only touching his burden, but bearing it, so that it becomes a matter of prayerful thought, tender remembrance, and gracious kindness.

II. This is to be done with great tact and delicacy of feeling. Seek never to lower a brother’s honour, while helping his need.

III. We must do this as the law of life. There is nothing “occasional” in the Christen spirit. Separate actions do not make good men.

IV. We must look at this great teaching along the line of true social economy. Help those who are trying to help themselves.

V. Cultivate a tender sense of brotherhood. In sympathising with, and bearing one another’s burdens, we realize the great fact that we shall have burdens to bear ourselves. So we shall. Those who have most, often say least about them. But God intends these trials to prepare us for Christian service. Every experience brings with it the power of bearing a burden. (W. M. Statham.)

Christian generosity

So deceitful is the heart, it must be constantly watched, lest under the semblance of piety and religious zeal, we should be led to indulge rancorous and unholy passions. This the apostle seems to have felt; hence the caution (Galatians 5:13-16), the exposure of the fruits both of the flesh and the spirit (verses 19-23), and the exhortation which concludes with the text.

I. The duty enjoined. The term “burden” denotes something which, by uneasy pressure, exhausts the strength and spirits of the person oppressed by it. It may apply to--

1. A weight of labour or bodily toil. This is the effect of the original transgression (Genesis 3:19). We may lighten it by manual assistance, by procuring the requisite help, or pecuniary, which would render the excess of labour unnecessary.

2. A weight of personal affliction (Job 7:20). The pressure of this may be relieved by medical aid, kind attendance, the soothing, sympathising language of friendship, or the considerations which religion affords.

3. Domestic affliction and cares.

4. Providential losses, poverty, embarrassment, oppression, etc.

5. Guilt and corruption. In this case especially, is Christian sympathy demanded.

6. Temptation (Ecclesiastes 4:9; Romans 15:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:14).

7. Infirmities, whether of body or mind. Pity rather than upbraid a weak brother. Help his infirmities, instead of exposing them to others.

II. The enforcing motive.

1. This is worthy of the character of Christ, inasmuch as it is

2. It is congenial with the Spirit of Christ (Philippians 2:5; 2 Corinthians 8:9; Colossians 3:12-13.)

3. It is agreeable with the example of Christ (John 13:13; Philippians 2:6-9; Hebrews 2:14-16).

4. It is deducible from the precepts of Christ (John 13:33-34; John 15:12; John 15:17).

5. It has, and shall have, the approbation of Christ (Matthew 5:7; Matthew 25:34-40). Concluding inferences:

(a) ourselves;

(b) our brethren;

(c) our Saviour, who regards what is done to His followers as done to Himself;

(d) our God, who expects such return for His love (1 John 4:9-11). (Theological Sketch-book.)

Bearing one another’s burdens

This world is full of burden-bearers. We cannot pass through it without taking a load. Nor can we help fulfilling the injunction of the text in some sense. We do, naturally and inevitably, bear one another’s burdens. Life is such that every man must take some share of the life of those around. To be in relationships means this; to be in a family as head or member, to be in business, to be one of a social and civilized community, implies it. The text is needed, then, to make that Christian which is simply natural, to change hard necessity into holy duty. Christianity speaks to men who are all struggling and suffering together, and says not, “Throw off the burden, deny the mutual claim, restrain the hand of help,” but, “What you must do, do willingly; what you might leave undone, do more willingly still.”

I. Some of the burdens we may help others to bear.

1. Poverty. Answers to objections--

2. Infirmity. Weak goodness needs encouragement. Many who fall often are struggling hard all the time. Be willing and ready to hold out a helping hand. Suffer the hasty word to pass in silence, without answering again. Check the ungenerous judgment in your heart. Watch for the best opportunity of suggesting a more excellent way.

3. Trouble. To “weep with them that weep” is a ministration of love far more intense than to “rejoice with them that do rejoice.” A friendship of fellowship cemented by sorrow is often both more profitable and more lasting than the fellowship of health, and laughter, and mutual success. Christ’s fellowship with men is enduring and valuable because it includes all imaginable sympathy. You must fill your own heart with the trouble you would lessen. This is “Christ in you,” and is probably the presage of Christ in your suffering friend, with increase of soul-strength, and abundance of consolation.

II. Motives or inducements.

1. The frailty of human nature, and the uncertainties of human life.

2. It is the way to fulfil the law of Christ. And to fulfil that law is to fulfil all laws. More than all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices, more than all ceremonial and observance, more than all philosophy, more than all morality, more than all religion besides. The keeping of it is the completeness of duty, the substance of goodness, the secret of happiness, and the best preparation for the ineffable glories and joys of heaven. (A. Raleigh, D. D.)

Poverty is the load of some, and wealth is the load of others, perhaps the greater load of the two. It may weigh thee down to perdition. Bear the load of thy neighbour’s poverty, and let him bear with thee the load of thy wealth. Thou lightenest thy load by lightening his. (Bp. Chris. Wordsworth.)

What is our whole religion but a burden-bearing? We have our own and also others’ burdens to bear. We are all on a journey; if one is like to give way, the other must refresh him; if one is likely to fall, the other must help him up. (Starke.)

Christian sympathy

The individual conscience, if sufficiently sensitive, and alive to its responsibilities, will daily find for itself manifold occasions of bearing others’ burdens. We may show our sympathy, for instance, with sickness and suffering, in our liberal support of hospitals and similar appliances for bringing excellent medical skill within reach of those who most need and can least afford it. Those who have leisure to do so, may show it by visiting the sick and afflicted, and alleviating, by gentle acts and kindly attentions, the suffering they find around them. We may sympathise with poverty, either by actual relief of want and destitution, or by the better method, where it is possible, of procuring for them the means of earning an honest livelihood. And our sympathy with such may be most clearly expressed by the delicacy with which the help is tendered, a matter which many benevolent people are apt to forget, and so mar the good they would otherwise do. We may sympathise with age and its attendant evils, by cheerfully tendering the deference and consideration which the better portion of mankind has always combined to accord to increasing years: we may show it, too, by patience of its tediousness, and querulousness, and by diverting attention from failing faculties and enfeebled powers of mind and body. We may sympathise with infirmities of temper in those with whom we may be thrown in contact, by tact and temper, and forbearance on our part, endeavouring to hit the due medium between an undue complaisance, which is no true kindness to the wayward, and a needless and irritating opposition. We may sympathise with ignorance, by excusing it where it is unavoidable and not culpable, by seeking to remedy it in every way that lies in our power, and by readiness to impart whatever knowledge we possess, at whatever cost of time or trouble. We may sympathise with the penitent sinner, if the providence of God has placed us in such a position as to minister to the wounds of a stricken conscience, by encouraging the confidence of those who would repose it in us, by hearing their griefs and troubles and by leading them to Him who alone can heal the ravages of sin and speak peace to the troubled spirit. We may sympathise with distracting doubts and difficulties, whether as to faith or conduct, by patiently hearing all the doubter’s perplexity, by offering in all humility solutions which have satisfied the minds of others, or, if it be so, by showing how we ourselves have groped our way amid such clouds of the mind from darkness to partial light: or at least we may do so by secret prayer, that God in His own good time will lead all who err or waver into the narrow path which struggles upward towards the truth. (Bishop Mitchinson.)

Lightening others’ burdens

The application of this law are manifold. Yonder is a poor woman who has more children than she can feed. Take one of them to your own house. Give employment to another of them in your store. That will lift up the load from her, and it will send you to your family altar with a new cause for thanksgiving and praise. Do you not know that in life, sometimes, the breadth of one inch in a railway truck determines whether the cars shall go over the embankment or on the straight track--just the pull of a switch one inch. I know some large-hearted, godly men, who stand by young men when they come to London or New York, and give them the helping hand of sympathy and prayerful support; and that act just pulls the switch one inch, and puts them on the road to success, to happiness, and to God’s blessing. We have in America our William E. Dodges who are the Lord’s switch-tenders. I am thankful that in London you have your Samuel Morley, and other faithful servants of the Lord, who rejoice to be God’s switch-tenders, to turn the needy, and the tempted, and the young into paths of sobriety, prosperity, and blessing. Do you not know that sometimes a very small lift is very timely? A word, an old familiar word--it is like a medicine. A kind word to your neighbour in trouble, an inquiry at the door when crape hangs there, the pressure of the hand: there is not a man in England so high that he is above the reach of the need of sympathy. One of our noblest women, Fidelia Fisk, tells us that when she was in Syria one day, preaching to the native women, she found herself very tired. Here are her own words--“I had worked hard all day, and I had a prayer-meeting yet to attend that night, and I felt very weary. I longed for a little rest. Just then, as I was sitting on the floor, one of the native Christian women took hold of me, and pulled me over against her and said, ‘Are you tired? Just lean against me; and if you love me, lean hard--lean hard.’ I did lean against her, and I found myself wonderfully rested. I attended the women’s prayer-meeting, and I went home that night scarcely tired at all; and oh, how often the words of that woman came to me, ‘If you love me, lean hard--lean hard.’ And then I thought how the Blessed Saviour says, ‘If you love Me, lean hard.’” And mothers, mothers, do you not remember how, when you carried that burden of the dying child, pale, feeble, and the breath almost gone, you felt, “Oh, if it loves me, let it lean hard.” You man, remember you not the time when, night after night, you took up your beloved wife and carried her to her couch, sad at the thought that the load was becoming lighter every moment, and you were ready to say to her, “My darling, if you love me, lean hard and close.” Oh, blessed Jesus, teach us how to rest our weakness on Thee, and lean hard on the burden-bearer of our sorrows and our weaknesses! (T. L. Cuyler, D. D.)

The Church a reliever, of burdens

In this work of supplying the conditions of human progress, the State has found from time to time its most powerful helper and its most eloquent teacher in the Church of Christ. And in proportion as the State has realized more and more its true idea it has seemed to some to trench upon the work of its best friends. The relief of poverty for instance, the guarantee, that is, of the conditions of life in its lowest form, was long the work of the religious orders. The poor law of Elizabeth was the direct outcome of the suppression of the monasteries. So, too, the education of the people. The Church made manful efforts to supply the defects which the State ignored by its system of parochial schools, and it was not till our own time that the truth came home to men, that national education is a matter of national interest, and can be guaranteed only by the nation itself. So, too, in earlier times the freedom and the sanctity of the individual person were recognized by the Church long before they became embodied in legislation, and in our own time it was the religious instinct of the nation which drove Parliament to sweep away the last trace of slavery. Are we then peevishly to complain of the growth of the responsibility, and activity of the State? Are we to look upon each fresh duty which it undertakes as an invasion of individual rights, or a sort of trespass upon what is the peculiar province of the Church? Shall we not rather see in every successive advance a fresh victory for the Church of Christ? for it shows that the Church has been true to its mission, and has taught its lesson to the world, and has made men feel the truth and the power of the words, “Bear ye one another’s burdens”, and so fulfil the law of Christ. (L. R. Phelps.)


I. Different kinds of burdens.

1. Those that are necessary.

2. Those that are superfluous.

3. Those that are imaginary,

II. What shall we do with them?

1. Reduce their number to the limits of necessity.

2. Some of these we are expected to carry ourselves. (American Homiletic Review.)

I. Bear ye one another’s burdens. The late George Moore was accustomed to say that sympathy was the grandest word in the English language. Sympathy overcomes evil and strengthens good, it lies at the root of all religion. The late Mr. Justice Talfourd lamented the lack of it. He said, “If I were asked what is the great lack of human society, I should say that need is sympathy.” Selfishness is said to be the very root of original sin, and it is the duty of Christianity to break down this selfishness. We have all burdens to bear, but not all equally, and it is the privilege of those who are less burdened than their fellows to minister to the relief of those by whom they are surrounded. Sometimes, under an apparently rough exterior, there is a gentle spirit and genuine kindness. But in offering to these the ministry of Christian love we should avoid everything that is likely to hurt their sensibilities. An air of condescension and a lofty tone of patronage are out of place in Christian service. Genuine Christlike sympathy must be practical. The shedding of sentimental tears will not suffice. It is a mockery and an insult to go to a man and offer him a tract when he wants a loaf, if you have a loaf to spare. Sympathy must be personal. In this age of societies and committees we are in danger of delegating our duty to other people. Real beneficence is simple prudence--to do good is to get good. Be the almoners of your own bounty. This ministry is to be mutual. Human life is very changeful, the picture is constantly being replaced. A man rejoicing to-day may be smitten down by a fell disease tomorrow. The hand that is now ministering to others may sorely need ministration itself. By observing the principles of the text we fulfil the law of Christ. There is a moral power in the human nature of the Lord Jesus Christ which is second only to His Divinity. It fitted Him for the ministry of solace. But we are to bear one another’s burdens in order to fulfil the law of Christ. We fulfil the law of Christ’s example, as witnessed in the incident at Nain, and at the grave of Lazarus. There Jesus wept in sympathy with Mary and Martha. We fulfil the law of Christ’s teaching, and that of His apostles. “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love another, as I have loved you.” We fulfil the law of Christ’s administration. It is a law of the kingdom that all His people shall be mutually dependent. Society is bound together by mysterious but mighty ties.

II. Every man shall bear his own burden. The two statements of my text are perfectly consistent. There are burdens which we can help other people to bear. But there are others which neither they nor we can bear for purposes of mutual help. There is the burden of responsibility. Life is a magnificent thing. Life in this world may lead to life eternal in the world to come. Then there is the burden of guilt. This is a personal matter. Again, there is the burden of remorse. We all possess a faculty of conscience. Lastly, we have each a burden to bear in the hour of death. (M. C. Osborn.)

Fellowship in suffering

The apostle here goes even beyond what he has laid down in another very large and comprehensive precept, “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” He requires something more than sympathy--more at least than sympathy as commonly understood, though not perhaps more than sympathy in its strict literal import. One man is generally said to sympathize with another, who is pained, when and because that other is pained; and sympathy, as thus understood, is little more than pity or commiseration. But to suffer with another--which is actually to sympathize--this goes much beyond the weeping with another. It is the making the griefs of that other mine own; so that the blow is on me as well as on him, and the wound is in my heart as well as in his. The members of one family accurately sympathize, or suffer together, when death has come in, and snatched one from their circle. The loss is a common loss, affecting all equally, and the sorrow of each is literally the sorrow of every other. A Christian friend or minister may visit the disconsolate household, animated by the kindliest feelings, and sincerely desirous to afford them a measure of consolation, through the manifest interest which he takes in their grief; and he may succeed; for exhibitions of kindliness have the great faculty of going like balm to the heart. The tears which friendship sheds in our woe, possess the wonderful property of staunching our own. But nevertheless, this comforting visitor may rather feel for than with the afflicted. They have lost a brother or a sister, but he does not necessarily feel as though he had lost a brother or a sister. The blow has made them orphans, but he does not necessarily feel as though it had made him an orphan. And thus, whilst he may literally and thoroughly obey the injunction which requires of him that he “weep with them that weep,” he may yet be far off from that actual sympathy--that suffering with them that suffer--which is described in the text; where you are not only enjoined to commiserate with the oppressed, but so to put yourselves into their position as to bear their burdens. And yet it is evident that so far as Christianity succeeds in restoring the brotherhood which sin has infringed, it will substitute sympathy thus strictly understood, for that which in our present broken state has usurped the definition. It is only needful that I come to regard any one of you as a brother; and when he loses a kinsman, I shall lose a kinsman. I shall not merely be sorry for his bereavement, but I shall feel that the bereavement is my own. So far as two families can be made one, the sorrows of either are the sorrows of both; and if there were but one vast family on the face of the earth, whatsoever afflicted the individual would afflict the mass … Who can tell us what Christian philanthropy would be, if the law of membership were felt and obeyed. You ought--this is what St. Paul seems to enjoin and exhort in the text--you ought to remember the imprisoned and burdened, not merely as being your fellow creatures, but rather as being, in a certain sense, yourselves. What a motive to exertion on their behalf! How earnest, how unremitting, would be that exertion, if that motive were indeed in full force. You tell me, for instance, of unfortunate captives who have fallen into the hands of cruel taskmasters. They are shut out from the cheerful light of day; they eat their bread in bitterness of soul, and almost long for death; and you say to me, Remember them, Remember them! Why, you have told me of myself! It is my own captivity which you have described; it is the clanking of my own chains which you have made me hear; and I must struggle for their emancipation, that my limbs may be free, and that I may breathe the fresh air of heaven. O Christians 1 what would be your benevolence, if you felt that they were your own members which you were invited to succour? And it is quite evident from the text, that nothing less is expected of you as professed disciples of Christ. The apostle introduces the principle of membership, just as he might the simplest and most elementary of truths. He is not proposing any rule or standard to which men were unaccustomed, but, on the contrary, one which, as being generally acknowledged, needed only to be indicated by a passing remark. And yet it is possible enough, that the doctrine which we have now endeavoured to lay down, will appear to many of you to have the air of a new and far-fetched speculation. “Give us,” you are ready to say, “pictures or descriptions of distress; expatiate upon the miseries by which numbers are oppressed; and move our feelings by a touching tale of human grief; but as to wishing us to make the wretchedness our own--that we should labour for its alleviation, just as though it were pressing upon ourselves--that is altogether beyond nature, and its possibility is but the fiction of an exaggerated theology!” Beyond nature, we confess it; but not beyond grace. The Christian is not to be content until, in relieving the distressed, he can feel that he acts upon the great principle of membership. It must not be enough for him that his heart yearns at the tale of calamity, and that he is ready to employ his money and his time in lightening the pressure of which he has been told; he must see to it that he have part in the bearing, as well as in the relieving of the calamity. (H. Melvill, B. D.)

Helping men to bear their own burdens

Many persons are caught with the most superficial contradiction. Here St. Paul says, “Bear ye one another’s burdens”; and in the fifth verse of this same chapter, be says, “Every man shall bear his own burden.” As if both of the statements could not be true! As if a man carrying a burden for which he is especially responsible, might not have it lightened somewhat by one who walked by his side and helped him! As if a little child carrying a heavily-laden basket--which it was his task and business to carry, and which he had to take care of--might not be helped by another child walking by his side and taking hold of the handle! so that it might be said to one of them, “This is your burden, and you must see to it,” and to the other, “Help him with his burden.” And yet, persons suppose, because here it is said, “Bear ye one another’s burdens,” and further on, “Every man shall bear his own burden,” there is some contradiction. No; there is co-operation. The reponsibility is on each man to carry himself and his trials and troubles through life. All the more, therefore, as far as in us lies, we should help each other. For, to “bear one another’s burdens,” does not mean to take them off from one another’s shoulders, but to help each other to carry them. We are to assist others in bearing their own burdens. We are to contribute to their strength and to their courage. We are to render them as much help as, by sympathy or otherwise, we may. Taken in connection with the preceding verse this precept means: Whatever thing tends to bend a man, to warp him in his habit of thought, in the conduct of his moral feelings, in the administration of his affections, in the whole range of his social life; whatever may be a man’s imperfection, or misdemeanour, or fault, or failing, the command is--“Help him.” (H. W. Beecher.)


To bear the burden of a person who has a heavy load of laborious duty, is either to assist him directly in the performance of it, or to act towards him in such a manner as shall make the performance of it more easy; to bear the burden of a person who is oppressed with affliction, is to commiserate him, and do what we can to relieve and comfort him; to bear the burden of one who is encumbered with mistaken views, mental weakness, strong prejudices, and bad temper, is patiently to bear the annoyance which these unavoidably occasion; at the same time employing all proper means for correcting these intellectual and moral obliquities, weaknesses, and faults To bear the mistakes and faults of our fellow Christians does not by any means imply that we flatter them in their erroneous opinions or improper habits: but it does imply that we, cherishing a deep-felt sense of our own intellectual and moral deficiencies and improprieties, bear patiently the inconveniences which their mistakes and faults occasion to us, and in a truly friendly disposition do everything in our power to remove these mistakes and faults. Chrysostom well says on this point--“He who is quick and irritable, let him bear with the slow and sluggish; and let the slow, in his turn, bear with the impetuosity of his fiery brother; each knowing that the burden is heavier to him who bears it than to him who bears with it.” When a Christian brother under his burden stumbles and falls, we are not to let him lie on the ground and recover his feet the best way he may; far less are we to insult him as he lies prostrate, and point him out to the scorn and derision of the world. We are to take him by the hand and raise him up; and as we have all our burdens, we are to journey on, hand in hand, endeavouring to keep one another from falling, and to press in a body forward along the prescribed course, that we may all obtain the prize of our high calling, in that better country, where we shall be relieved from all our burdens at once and for ever. (John Brown, D. D.)

The spirit that restores a fallen brother should pervade ordinary Christian relations

The “burdens” have been unduly narrowed in the definition of them. They are not weaknesses simply, as in Romans 15:1, but also errors, trials, sorrows, sins, without any distinct specification. And they are not merely to be tolerated; they are to be taken up as burdens (Matthew 20:12; Acts 15:10). Whatever forms a burden to our brethren we are to take upon ourselves, and carry it for them or with them, in the spirit of Him who “bore our sins and carried our sorrows.” The emphasis is on “one another’s,” giving distinctness to the duty as a mutual duty. Mutual interposition in sympathy and for succour in any emergency--fellow-feeling and fellow-helping--is the duty inculcated, as opposed to that selfish isolation which stands aloof, or contents itself with a cheap expression of commiseration, or an offer of assistance so framed as to be worthless in the time or the shape of it (2 Corinthians 11:29). (John Eadie, D. D.)

The best burden and the highest law

“If you must needs impose burdens on yourselves, let them be the burdens of mutual sympathy. If you must needs observe a law, let it be the law of Christ.” (Bishop Lightfoot.)

Christian socialism

No other law but the law of Christ ever taught this maxim; the proper discharge of social duties is regulated nowhere but in the law of Christ, which is the law of love, “for love worketh no ill to his neighbour, therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” All those social symptoms which rise like the foam out of the agitated elements of the present generation, disappear in rapid succession, because they have no other foundation than the wave which cannot rest; and they are at best but mere spurious imitations of that fraternity which was founded by Jesus Christ. It is some tribute to the origin of our holy religion, that men in their most extravagant aberrations, and amidst the wildest theories for promoting the happiness of the many, should appeal to the Divine founder of Christianity, as having first introduced the system which they are seeking to propagate; but, inasmuch as they know nothing of the law of love, which He taught us the moving spring of every good word and work, they do but wander on the outside of the Christian system …. In the general history of mankind, the maxim of the text, so far from being acted out, has been reversed; instead of men sharing or bearing one another’s burdens, they appear to act upon the rule of laying them on each other’s shoulders, with the view of getting rid of their portion of the weight. In the times of classical antiquity, which our youth are taught to hold in admiration; in the days of heroism and splendid war, which poets have sung and historians have embellished, there were the degraded classes of the community, made to bear the burdens of the rest. The helots of Sparta, and the slaves of Greece, the gladiators of Rome, and the captives of barbarian invaders, were but the beasts of burden for the more favoured portion of the community. What cared the Roman citizen for the slave that went his round of ceaseless toil? What thought had the feudal lord for the drudge that wore out his brief existence in subterranean damps to do his master’s pleasure? Who, even in our Christian land for many generations, heeded the heavy burdens laid upon the negro slave, or the tender females working in our mines, or the helpless children in our factories? What thought or care among hundreds and thousands now, who refuse to give to the man who has done his six days’ labour, the day of rest which is his due, because they will not forego one single particle of their ordinary luxury, nor bear any portion of their brother’s burden? St. Paul here appears to take it for granted that every man has a burden; and shortly afterwards he says that “every man shall bear his own burden.” There must be no such shifting away of the trial or hardship, which, in the course of providence, he has to bear, as will exempt him from the ordinary lot of humanity. It is not at all a question of getting everything done for us, so that we may have a smooth and easy path at others’ expense and toil; but it is just that there may be a mutual succour, which will help every man to “bear his own burden,” such, e.g., as the burdens of poverty, affliction, excessive labour, etc. (R. Burgess, B. D.)

Loving ministrations

There lay recently, in an infirmary in New York, in a darkened room, helpless and sightless, a man made blind by cataract. He had crossed half a continent in the faint hope of finding a relief or cure. Beside him, when I saw him, sat his daughter, who, as I learned afterwards, had taken up his work--a work involving long and exposed journeys through a wild and thinly settled country on our western frontier, and who left it, now, only to minister to this helpless and suffering parent while he lay shrinking and quivering under the surgeon’s knife. It seemed doubtful whether the operation would be successful, and equally doubtful whether all this filial devotion would not be wasted time and worthless endeavour. But, as one looked at that woman’s face of heroic sacrifice and utter self-abnegation, one read in it how out of love’s Divine unselfishness there comes a sweeter and nobler fruitage than any that could be garnered without it, even though to-morrow all sorrow and pain and helplessness should be swept out of the world for ever. (Bishop H. C. Potter.)

Sympathy aided by sight

Consider how you would act if these vices and monstrous passions, instead of being a part of the machinery of rational, intelligent, and responsible agents, were transformed in the actual forms of wild beasts. Is it intemperance? suppose you figure to yourself a lion in ambush springing out upon a man; suppose you saw the man trembling under the lion’s paw, how would you feel? But suppose, instead of being a lion, it was Satan in the form of an intemperate appetite, worse a thousand times to the man than any real lion of the desert? You would run to rescue a man from an outside lion: will you not do anything for a man who has one inside? What if it were sickness? What if it were a man swollen with dropsy? What if it were a man crying out for water, with lips parched by merciless fever? Would you not moisten his tongue and his brow, and fan the fever away? But is any fever of the body so pitiable as the fevers which come upon the soul? Would you have compassion upon a man who was attacked by an outward disease, and none for a man whose soul was diseased Are there no bearers of men’s inward burdens? Are not these burdens to be borne, even though men may have brought them upon themselves? Are not bad men punished by what they suffer from their transgressions? Is it not enough that such men have to live with themselves, and take the consequences of their own actions? And is not a man, the consequences of whose conduct are going on, working, and laying up wrath against the day of wrath, to be pitied? Is not he to be pitied who for his transgression has to bear the infliction of law, of public sentiment, and of his own nature? In all ways of looking at it, he is most to be pitied who is most variously and most hopelessly wicked. (H. W. Beecher.)

Sympathy not separation

But it will be objected, “Are we not commanded to abhor that which is evil, and to cleave to that which is good?” Certainly; but are we anywhere commanded to abhor sinners because we abhor sin? What is it to abhor evil? Is it the sudden disgust which arises, which ought to be momentary, and which is designed to put us upon our guard, and to inspire us with self-defensory power, till we have time to lay our course more deliberately? Every man ought at the first impulse of the evil to feel repugnance at it; but that is not the higher kind of abhorrence of evil. It is an inspiration of a lower kind. He hates evil most who hates it so that he will annihilate it. There is animal hatred, and there is Divine hatred. Two men hate malaria. One says, “I will not settle here; I will pack up my things, and clear out.” The other says, “I hate it; but I am going to work to morrow morning, with my whole force, to drain that marsh.” He goes to work and digs a ditch through it, risking his health, and removes the stagnant water. Who hated the malaria most, the one who ran away from it, or the one who cured it? Is not a cure a witness of dislike more than neglect? A mother hates the disease that is in her child; but does she abandon the child, saying, “I hate morbid conditions of every kind,” and let the child die, as a testimony to her dislike of violations of natural law? Is it not a better testimony to her hatred of disease, that night and day she lingers over the little sufferer till she brings it back to good health? Is not that a better way of hating disease than the other would be? That is the true hatred of sin which kills it by kindness. (H. W. Beecher.)

Open hearts and ready hands

One day a teacher said to his class, “Boys, you can all be useful if you will. If you cannot do good by great deeds you can by little ones.” These boys said nothing, but the teacher saw by their looks that they thought he was mistaken. They did not believe that they could be of any use. So he continued: “You think it is not so; but suppose you just try it for a week.” “How shall we try it?” asked one of them. “Just keep your eyes open and your hands ready to do anything good that comes in your way this week, and tell me next Sabbath if you have not managed to be useful in some way or other,” said the teacher. “Agreed,” said the lads; and so they parted. The next Sabbath those boys gathered round the teacher with smiling lips and eyes so full of light that they fairly twinkled like the stars. “Ah, lads, I see by your looks that you have something to tell me.” “We have, sir; we have!” they said all together. Then each told his story. “I,” said one, “thought of going to the well for a pail of water every morning to save mother the trouble and time. She thanked me so much, was so greatly pleased, that I mean to keep on doing it for her.” “And I,” said another boy, “thought of a poor old woman, whose eyes were too dim to read. I went to her house every day and read a chapter to her from the Bible. It seems to give her a great deal of comfort. I cannot tell how she thanked me.” “I was walking with my eyes open and my hands ready, as you told us,” said the fourth boy, “when I saw a little fellow crying because he had lost some pennies. I found them, and he dried his tears, and ran off feeling very happy.” A fifth boy said: “I saw my mother was very tired one day. The baby was cross, and mother looked sick and sad. I asked mother to put baby into my little waggon. She did so, and I gave him a grand ride round the garden. If you had only heard him crow, and seen him clap his hands, it would have done you good; and oh! how much brighter mother looked when I took the baby indoors again!”

The value of sympathy

An eminent clergyman sat in his study, busily engaged in preparing his Sunday sermon, when his little boy toddled into the room, and holding up his pinched finger, said, with an expression of suffering, “Look, pa, how I hurt it!” The father, interrupted in the middle of a sentence, glanced hastily at him, and with just the slightest tone of impatience, said, “I can’t help it.” The little fellow’s eyes grew bigger, and as he turned to go out, he said in a low voice, “Yes, you could; you might have said ‘Oh!’” Alas! how many of us “children of a larger growth” have gone away hugging our hurt, with a sadder hurt in our hearts for lack of one little sympathizing word. To most of us, in the great trials of life, sympathy comes freely enough; but for the small aches and hurts, the daily smarts and bruises, how many a heart hungers in vain for the meagrest dole! “It is such a briery world!” said a little girl one day, while making her way through a blackberry thicket. The briers meet us at every turn, and there is nothing like sympathy to ease their pricks and stings. (Christian Age.)

The power of a kind word

There are no readier or sweeter sympathizers in the world than little children, and they seem to know intuitively when sympathy is needed. A friend of ours had the misfortune to break a valuable dish not long ago, and naturally enough was inclined to blame herself for her carelessness. A little four-year-old girl looked up from her play as the dish fell to the floor, and touched by the mother’s troubled face she stole to her side, and softly stroking her hand, whispered, “Nice mamma.” Blessed little comforter! What mother would not cheerfully have given the price of a dozen dishes for the sake of such sweet sympathy? And what mother in the world would have the heart to reprove such a child for a similar mishap?--for to reprove when the little one is already quivering with dismay at the mischief it has wrought, is sheer cruelty. It is a wise mother who at such a time folds the darling in her arms with a gentle, “Never mind.” (Mary B. Sleight.)

Fulfil the law of Christ--not “fulfil,” but “complete”

He says not “fulfil,” but “complete;” i.e., make it up all of you in common by the things wherein ye bear with one another. This man is irascible, thou art dull-tempered; bear therefore with his vehemence, that he in turn may bear with thy sluggishness; and thus neither will he, through thy support, transgress, nor wilt thou offend in the points where thy defects lie, through thy brother’s forbearance. So do ye reach forth a hand one to another when about to fall, and one with another fulfil the law in common, each completing what is wanting in his neighbour by his own endurance. (Chrysostom.)

The bearing of burdens

These passages seem to be contradictory; but the opposition is only apparent, not real. One asserts a Christian obligation, the other states a solemn fact.

I. There are burdens to be shared. Our relationship to each other, and our possession of advantages and talents, involve us in manifold responsibilities.

1. Burdens of ignorance. It is our duty to diffuse the knowledge of God, and to attempt to remove the evils of darkness and superstition.

2. Burdens of sorrow. Calamities, distress, bereavement, appeal for sympathy and ministry; and we cannot escape the demands upon us for consideration and help.

3. Burdens of infirmity. All are in jeopardy. The strongest are not always strong. Christians are not to rejoice in iniquity, or affect a disdainful sanctity, but to seek with Christlike gentleness and grace the recovery of the erring one (James 5:19-20). The Christian has two noble attitudes or possibillties--he can look up, and he can lift up. Think of the animating motive, “and so fulfil,” etc. Christ taught the law of action by

(a) His precepts,

(b) His life,

(c) His death.

II. There are burdens which cannot be shared.

1. The burden of personal duty.

2. The burden of sinful character.

3. The burden of individual responsibility.

4. The burden of death.

Conclusion: Do you carry an anxious heart, or a weary soul, or a guilty conscience? Get rid of the heavy burden. Carry the load not a moment longer (Psalms 55:22). (M. Braithwaite.)

Mutual help in burden-bearing

You have often noticed, if you have any special disease or malady, how strangely you begin to learn of others who have the same. There is this sympathetic instinct in our mental and spiritual maladies It is when we have learned in our own personal experience the struggles of mind and heart, the manifold bonds of human life, that we have gained the only power to help our fellow-men. It may be said most truly that it is only the man or woman who has suffered, who has any real feeling of kindred with the heart of man. The child is often cruel to the child, the young are impatient of the sight of sorrow, because they do not know the reality of it. The deepest cause of our uncharitableness is our ignorance. Who of us has ever known the weary burden of doubt, the earnest craving for a truth to rest on amidst the chaos of opinion, who that has at last found it does not know how many there are like himself who only need a word of wise counsel, a ray of kindly light, to lead them into the path? It is that spirit the Christian believer must cherish. And who, again, has felt the hard struggles of his conscience in this daily life, the temptations that have met him, the weakness of his own will, and yet through God’s grace has kept his purity, does not know somewhat of the burdens that crush others less happy than himself in the results of the trial? Yes, this is the lesson we all need We cannot change all the inequalities of the world, or heal all its diseases. But we can do much to help it by the spirit in which we strive to understand and reach human need. It is not our wealth or our cold, condescending pity men and women need; it is the Christian fellowship that makes them feel that “we have all of us one human heart,” that sees in every class or lot creatures of “like passions” with us, the same infirmities, and the same redeeming graces. It is this gospel which teaches no envy of the rich and no scorn of the poor, but that all these differences of lot, to the believer in Christ, are not barriers to sever, but bonds to bind us in one. And as we have so learned it in our personal experience, we have found happiness in this joy of human sympathy. Our grief is healed as we go out of our own cell of brooding thought to find our fellow-sufferers. It is the only antidote. For then we learn always that there are sadder hearts to be healed, and we feel ashamed of our own trouble in the presence of a greater, and as we minister to them the mercy of our God steals into our own souls, and brings the consolation we never knew before. And so our happiness is enlarged only as it enters into the enlarged heart. If we have brought our sunshine into the life of others, if we have given of our comfort to those whose lot is less fortunate, we can enjoy the wealth with a new sense of His goodness who has made us stewards. I have read of a Christian man, who, to know the reality of poverty, put on the dress of a beggar, and went into the hard lodging-house, where the poor outcasts have a comfortless pallet of straw and a ration of bad food, and after a week of experience gave this evidence, that it was worth to him ten years of study, and the source of the most intense pleasure in his lifetime. Such a voluntary exile is not often sought or found by most of us. But each in his degree, if he have come face to face with human wretchedness, has learned the meaning of this Christian experience. Each has found the recompense of the reward; as we have borne the burden of others, we have borne our own more bravely. (E. A. Washburn, D. D.)


Galatians apparently fond of the law and its burdens: at least, they appeared to be ready to load themselves with ceremonies, and so fulfil the law of Moses. Paul would have them think of other burdens, by the bearing of which they would fulfil the law of Christ.

I. Community. “Bear ye one another’s burdens.”

1. Negatively. It tacitly forbids certain modes of action. We are not to burden others. We are not to spy out others’ burdens, and report thereon. We are not to despise them for having such loads to bear. We are not to go through the world oblivious of the sorrows of others.

2. Positively. We are to share the burdens of others. By compassion bear with their former sins (verse 1). By patience bear with their infirmities, and even with their conceit (verse 3). By sympathy bear their sorrows (verses 2, 3). By assistance bear their wants (verses 6, 10). By communion, in love and comfort, bear their struggles. By prayer and practical help bear the burden of their labours, and thus lighten it (verse 6).

3. Specially: We ought to consider--The erring brother. Referred to in verse 1 as “overtaken in a fault.” We must tenderly restore him. The provoking brother, who thinks himself to be something (see verse 3). Bear with him: his mistake will bring him many a burden before he has done with it. The brother who is peculiarly trying is to be borne with to seventy times seven, even to the measure of the law of Christ. The greatly tried is to have our greatest sympathy. The minister of Christ should be released from temporal burdens, that he may give himself wholly to the burden of the Lord.

II. Immunity. “For every man shall bear his own burden.” We shall not bear all the burdens of others. We are not so bound to each other that we are partakers in wilful transgression, or negligence, or rebellion.

1. Each must bear his own sin if he persists in it.

2. Each must bear his own shame, which results from his sin.

3. Each must bear his own responsibility in his own sphere.

4. Each must bear his own judgment at the last.

III. Personality. “Every man … his own burden.” True godliness is a personal affair, and we cannot cast off our individuality: therefore, let us ask for grace to look well to ourselves in the following matters:--

1. Personal religion. The new birth, repentance, faith, love, holiness, fellowship with God, etc., are all personal.

2. Personal self-examination. We cannot leave the question of our soul’s condition to the judgment of others.

3. Personal service. We have to do what no one else can do.

4. Personal responsibility. Obligations cannot be transferred.

5. Personal effort. Nothing can be a substitute for this.

6. Personal sorrow. “The heart knoweth its own bitterness.”

7. Personal comfort. We need the Comforter for ourselves, and we must personally look up to the Lord for His operations. All this belongs to the Christian, and we may judge ourselves by it. So bear your own burden as not to forget others. So live as not to come under the guilt of other men’s sins. So help others as not to destroy their self-reliance. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Secret burdens

There is a gateway at the entrance of a narrow passage in London, over which is written, “No burdens allowed to pass through.” “And yet we do pass constantly with ours,” said one friend to another, as they turned up this passage out of a more frequented and broader thoroughfare. They carried no visible burdens, but they were like many who, although they have no outward pack upon their shoulders, often stoop inwardly beneath the pressure of a heavy load upon the heart. The worst burdens are those which never meet the eye. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Sympathy curative

When the child was dead, and the prophet came to heal it, he stretched himself out on the child, and put his lips to the child’s lips, and his hand on the child’s hand, and his heart to the child’s heart. Then it was that the breath came back, and the child, sneezing, showed that life was returning to it. And I do not believe that there is anything which cures hearts in this world besides other hearts laid upon them, brooding them, and imparting to them something of their own sympathy and goodness. If a heart cannot be cured by a loving heart, it is incurable. (H. W. Beecher.)

What is included in the term Burden?

Whatever makes right living, according to the law of God, difficult to a sincere man--that is a burden. It may be in his mental constitution; it may be in his bodily health; it may be in the habits of his education; it may be in his relation to worldly affairs; it may be in his domestic circumstances; it may be in his peculiar liabilities to temptation and sin. It includes the whole catalogue of conditions, and influences, and causes, that weigh men down, and hinder them, when they are endeavouring sincerely to live lives of rectitude. What is the meaning, then, of Bearing? It is, generally, such a course of conduct towards our fellow-men, as shall enable them more easily to carry and manage their infirmities and troubles. It is a spirit of compassion and hopefulness excited in view of men’s failures and moral obliquities, rather than a spirit of fault-finding and criticism.

I. Negatively.

2. Positively. We are commanded to sympathize with men though sinful; and to have patience with them on account of their sins. We make up our minds to treat babes tenderly, because they are babes. We treat sick people with greater forbearance than we do the sound and healthy. We put ourselves out of the way for the sake of those that are blind and deaf. By as much as men are defrauded of any sense, or weakened in any power, we afford them protection. By as much as men are physically unfortunate, we have learned how to show them consideration and kindness. The same spirit must be enlarged in our treatment of men in respect to their interior state. We must expand this same rule of judgment, and apply it to men’s characters.

If a man’s understanding is darkened, and his conscience is perverted, we are to judge him accordingly.

1. Of course this passage inculcates the largest spirit of sympathy towards all men in trouble. If any trouble befalls those within the circuit of our affections, we need no exhortation on this point. Nature teaches us to bear the burdens of those we love. But this spirit should go out, quickened by the spirit of Christianity, beyond our own household. Every human being brought to our hands in trouble is a messenger of God. His trouble is a letter of introduction, his nature is a declaration of brotherhood, and his destiny links him to us with an irrefragable chain!

2. This sympathy and helpfulness should not be confined to troubles of “bereavement”--to trouble occasioned by “disasters,” so-called; but should include all the affairs of life. And the lowest should be helped first, and the most needy should be helped most.

3. But I go further: for these are things more frequently preached, and more obvious to your understanding. I remark, therefore, in the third place, that the spirit of our text requires that, in judging of men, and dealing with them, we should recognize the constitutional differences of mind which exist among them, and should not seek to compel all minds as if they were like our own. When, therefore, you go to a man, as a Christian and a benefactor, to bear his burdens, you must take into consideration what his nature and circumstances have been. If he has sunk low in the scale of being, you must ask, “How came he here? Has he not been subjected to a power of down-pulling, such as I can scarcely form any conception of?” I think the bitterest reprehensions of evil which we hear, would be spared, if men would only reflect upon these things.

4. We need only to vary this thought a little to make it apply to our requisitions in social intercourse. Much domestic unhappiness comes from the fact that people do not know, or do not enough recognize, the peculiarities of each other’s natures. They expect impossible things of each other. If a flaming, demonstrative nature, and a cool, undemonstrative nature, come together, neither of them understanding or making allowance for the peculiarities of the other, there can scarcely fail of being unhappiness.

5. We are to have a nice and tender regard to the peculiar circumstances of men--their external conditions. The health of men, and its relation to their disposition, strength, fidelity, and efficiency, is seldom enough pondered. Still less is education taken into account,

6. We must guard against a judgment formed of men from the effect of their mind-action upon us, rather than from a consideration of their real moral character. A man may make you feel happy, and yet be a bad man. A man may leave you unhappy, and yet be a good man. Your sensations of pain or pleasure are not to measure your fellow-men’s character. Selfishness may gild you like sunshine. Vanity may court you, and pride may patronize you. But so, too, conscience in a good man may leave you stirred up. Truth may put you to discontent.

7. The spirit of this teaching forbids us to employ our rights of pleasure in such a way as to harm men.

8. The spirit of this passage forbids that we should make the failings of other men a source of amusement to ourselves. To watch to see what is awkward in others; to search out the infirmities of men; to go out like a street-sweeper, or a universal scavenger, to collect the faults and failings of people; to carry these things about as if they were cherries or flowers; to throw them out of your bag or pouch, and make them an evening repast, or a noonday meal, or the amusement of a social hour, enlivened by unfeeling criticism, heartless jests, and cutting sarcasms; to take a man up as you would a chicken, and gnaw his flesh from his very bones, and then lay him down, saying with fiendish exultation, “There is his skeleton,”--this is devilish!

Concluding remarks:

1. No man can fulfil the spirit of this Divine command, who does not dwell in the spirit of love. A momentary flush, kindled for the occasion, will not do. It must pervade all parts of the heart. It must have long dwelt with you, until your habits of thought, your instinctive judgments, the expression of your face, the outlook of your eyes, and your very tones, gestures, and attitudes, are animated with it--yea, till it is the spontaneous and inevitable outburst of life in you. Then you will be able to look at men in the right way. When you have this abiding spirit of love, so that all your faculties live in it, and have been drilled in it, then, no matter how large a duty seems to be, your performance of it will be just as easy.

2. When men are so pervaded, it is not hard, but easy, for them to bear other men’s burdens--to be unselfish and unselfishly benevolent. When we speak of things being easy in Christian life, we always imply the presence in the soul of true love. Take an old gambler--or a young one, it makes no difference which; for they are both alike. With him cheating is inevitable. Gambling and cheating are only interchangeable terms. No man gambles that does not cheat. After such a man has gone through years and years and years, practising his various tricks and sleights of dexterity, if you talk in his presence of a man being honest, he will laugh at you. He will not believe that a man can be honest; or, if he does believe it, he will say to himself, “What a power a man must require to enable him to be honest. Why, there was a man who was so situated that he could have possessed himself of a hundred thousand dollars, by just signing his name, and he did not do it I He must have had an almost omnipotent power, or he could not have resisted that temptation.” And if you go to the man who did that thing, and ask him if he did not find it hard to refuse the money, he will say, “It would have required omnipotence to make me take it. I could not do such a thing. I could not live with myself after committing a deed like that.” Why? Because he has been trained to the very heroism of honesty. It is as inevitable for him to be honest as it was for the other man to be dishonest. It is not hard for a really refined man to be refined. It is the easiest thing he can do. If a man’s heart is pervaded by Christian love, it is not hard for him to perform the deeds and works of Christian love. And Christian graces, as set forth in the New Testament, imply this atmosphere of love in the soul. If you read gardening books, they direct you how to raise flowers and plants; but it is not necessary for you to read to find out that certain plants require a certain kind of climate. The nature of each plant implies the particular kind of climate which is adapted to its growth. You do not need to be told that a warm climate is indispensable to the production of pomegranate and olive-trees. Now when God says “Christian graces,” he means climate also; and love is that climate. And when a man possesses the spirit of Christian love, it is not hard for him to live the life of a Christian.

3. When we are addicted to this love, we every day become more and more like God. (H. W. Beecher.)

Bearing one another’s burdens

If a company of travellers were journeying towards the same place, some heavily, and others more lightly laden, they could render the way less tedious and endear themselves to each other by mutual assistance, in bearing their burdens.

1. We are to do this, first with regard to the spiritual trials and difficulties of our brethren.

2. In the second place, the command of our text should be especially heeded in the family relation.

3. It is a rule, also, very applicable to Christian Churches. (W. H. Lewis, D. D.)

Individuality and brotherhood


I. The soul’s individuality (verse 5).

1. This is one of the first facts of which our opening intelligence informs us.

2. We carry it with us everywhere.

3. It becomes more marked, and the consciousness of it more painful, through the action of sin and suffering.

4. It is taught by our life work.

5. It is brought home most emphatically in the hour of death.

II. Individuality tends to despair.

1. Life itself becomes bearing a burden when man has to bear it alone.

2. So with the sense of sin.

3. So with our life work.

III. The soul’s well-being is secured by ministering to the brotherhood.

(a) to lighten our own burdens and

(b) to lighten others, so that they may fulfil the law of Christ. (S. Pearson, M. A.)

The law of Christ

I. Every man has a burden of his own.

1. All are burdened.

2. But all are not burdened alike.

3. Our estimate of human burdens is often false,

4. Every man has a burden distinctly his own.

5. His burden is not necessarily a calamity.

II. Each is to bear the other’s burden.

1. This presumes that he is able to do so. Our individual burdens are not so heavy but we have some strength left to give away.

2. The requirement fits in to the general constitution of things, which is based on giving and receiving.

3. It has its reason and authority in our mental constitution, which is formed to pity.

4. Pity to others is kindness to ourselves.

III. To bear one another’s burdens is to fulfil the law of Christ.

1. The law of love.

2. This law is emphatically the law of Christ--“as I have loved you.”

Our individual burden often not the heaviest

An old fable tells us that Jupiter, finding that each man thought his lot the hardest, caused all men to be brought together for a mutual exchange of burdens. Promptly they came together, hoping that the exchange would lighten the burdens of life. Each man proceeded to display his sorrow. One had a concealed ulcer; another a sightless eye; another a besetting sin; another an intolerable debt; another a fearful recollection; another an awful apprehension; and when all the burdens were exposed to view, and each man bidden to make his own selection, every man preferred his own. (W. K. Marshall.)

Charity organization

Let us organize against professional beggars and impostors, but let us not organize almsgiving out of the Church as if the whole question were to be solved by the workhouse. Our workhouses, like our hospitals, may be due to Christianity, and standing evidences of that care for the poor which Christianity after the example of its Divine Founder enjoins. But the Christian Church is not to relegate all her poor to the workhouse; nor is the relieving officer the substitute for the Christian pastor and his Christian flock. (Canon Miller.)

The blessedness of sympathy and the vice of selfishness

Amid all the profuse waste of the means of happiness which men commit, there is no imprudence more flagrant than that of selfishness. The selfish man misses the sense of elevation and enlargement given by wide interests: he misses the secure and serene satisfaction that attends continually on activities directed towards ends more stable and permanent than one’s own happiness can be; he misses the peculiar, rich sweetness, depending upon a sort of complex reverberation of sympathy, which is always found in services rendered to those whom we love, and who are grateful. He is made to feel in a thousand various ways, according to the degree of refinement which his nature has attained, the discord between the slightness of his own life and of that larger life of which his own is but an insignificant fraction. (A. Sedgwick.)

The difficulty of helpfulness arising from the suspicion of others

Just imagine a weary, footsore traveller tugging along with his pack on a hot summer’s day. A waggon comes up, and the kind-hearted owner calls out, “Friend, you look tired. Toss that pack into my waggon; I am going your way.” But the wayfarer, eyeing him suspiciously, mutters to himself, “He wants to steal it;” or else obstinately replies, “I am obliged to you, sir, but I can carry my own luggage.” (T. L. Cuyler, D. D.)

The blessedness of burden bearing

How few know the mystery that shadowed Lamb’s life! We are told that one day, in a fit of insanity, his sister killed a member of their family. The affair was hushed up, and things went on to outward seeming very much as before. The insane fury recurred but seldom, and was unsuspected by many intimate friends. But all the same it was there, a latent possibility, and it marked out a narrow pathway in which she would have to go softly to the end of her days. Charles, with opportunities of social advancement and domestic happiness possessed by few within easy reach of him if he chose, preferred the “better part,” and resolutely shutting out the bright future that might have been his, sacrificed himself to his sister. He never married, but spent his life in an affectionate guardianship of the dear one whose misfortune he made his own. Shall such renunciation go unrewarded? Nay, are they not their own exceeding great reward. (F. Hastings.)

Sympathy for others

Though the lower animals have feeling, they have no fellow-feeling. Have not I seen the horse enjoy his feed of corn when his yoke-fellow lay a-dying in the neighbouring stall, and never turn an eye of pity on the sufferer? They have strong passions, but no sympathy. It is said that the wounded deer sheds tears, but it belongs to man only to “weep with them that weep,” and by sympathy to divide another’s sorrows, and double another’s joys. When thunder, following the dazzling flash, has burst among our hills, when the horn of the Switzer has rung in his glorious valleys, when the boatman has shouted from the bosom of a rock-girt loch, wonderful were the echoes I have heard them make; but there is no echo so fine or wonderful as that, which, in the sympathy of human hearts, repeats the cry of another’s sorrow, and makes me feel his pain almost as if it were my own. They say, that if a piano is struck in a room where another stands unopened and untouched, who lays his ear to that will hear a string within, as if touched by the hand of a shadowy spirit, sound the same note; but more strange how the strings of one heart vibrate to those of another; how woe wakens woe: how your grief infects me with sadness; how the shadow of a passing funeral and nodding hearse casts a cloud on the mirth of a marriage-party; how sympathy may be so delicate and acute as to become a pain. There is, for example, the well-authenticated case of a lady who could not even hear the description of a severe surgical operation, but she felt all the agonies of the patient, grew paler and paler, and shrieked and fainted under the horrible imagination. (T. Guthrie, D. D.)

Real burden-bearing

A poor woman was reduced to extreme poverty by the loss of her cow, her only means of support. A neighbour, who was unable to give aid, personally went round to different friends to solicit money to buy another one. He went from one to another, and told the pitiful tale. Each offered sorrow and regret, but none practical assistance. He became impatient after being answered as usual by a plentiful shower of feeling, and exclaimed, “Oh, yes, I don’t doubt your feeling; but you don’t feel in the right place.” “Oh!” said he, “I feel with all my heart and soul.” “Yes, yes,” replied the solicitor, “I don’t doubt that either; but I want you to feel in your pocket.” (Foster.)

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Galatians 6:2". The Biblical Illustrator. https: 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the Law of Christ.

It will be observed that "Law" has been capitalized here, the great pity being that it was not done in the common versions. There is no excuse whatever for writing this word with a capital "L" where the Law of Moses is concerned, as throughout this epistle, and then writing it with a little `T' where the superior and glorious Law of Christ is involved. Of course, there is a rebellious and sinful design in such an unjustifiable discrimination, that being the unbelievable theological proposition that there is no "Law of Christ"! We are under grace! This verse deals the coup de grace to any such fallacy. See summary of THE LAW OF CHRIST at the end of this chapter. In the verse before us, two essential elements of that Law have already been mentioned in this chapter, and others will be enumerated in a moment. No. 1 is: "Restore the Backsliders" (Galatians 6:1). No. 2 is "Bear Ye One Another's Burdens" (Galatians 6:2).

Of course, in Galatians 6:5, Paul said, "Each man shall bear his own burden"; but it is still surprising that even a Christian scholar should read this as a "contradiction," even Ridderbos saying, "It is not necessary to eliminate contradiction."[4] The Greek words from which the translation comes are diverse; one is [@baros], denotes a weight, and is applicable to a spiritual burden; whereas the other is [@fortion], which means "load," being used in Acts 27:20 of the cargo of a ship, thus something that relates to the purpose of being.[5] Thus, in Galatians 6:2, Paul speaks of Christians bearing each other's sorrows, due to sins or misfortunes; and in Galatians 6:5, he speaks of every man bearing his own responsibility, fulfilling the purpose of his own responsibility, filling the purpose of his own life. See article, "What to Do with Burdens," under Galatians 6:5.

So fulfill the Law of Christ ... It is almost unbelievable that Christian scholarship has so nearly unanimously ignored or misinterpreted LAW OF CHRIST. That Paul meant the Christian duty of helping fellow Christians to be understood as the totality of the Law of Christ is a preposterous error. Of course, such a view is so patently wrong and unreasonable that the rule on burden-sharing is interpreted in a wider frame of reference to mean "Love thy neighbor as thyself'; and that misinterpretation is hailed and saluted as the law of Christ (little "l")! Note what is alleged:

The meaning is that by showing sympathy to others ... the Christian will best fulfill that "new commandment" ... "the law of love" (John 13:34,1 John 3:23).[6]

In such a statement Christ is not being set up over against Moses as a new lawgiver![7]

There is a law to which they owe obedience and devotion - the new commandment of Christ ... the royal law of love.[8]

"The law of Christ," an uncommon expression, is the law of love.[9]

It seems better to take it of the whole moral institution of Christ.[10] (This restriction eliminates the ordinances Christ commanded).

(It is) Christ's law of love.[11]

The law of Christ (little "l") is not a law in the legal sense of the word.[12]

To fulfill the law of Christ is to love thy neighbor as thyself.[13] The law of Christ which bids us to love one another.[14]SIZE>

With all due deference to the learning, scholarship and devotion of the advocates of such interpretations, all of them utterly fail to get the point which is that Christians are to obey the Law of Christ (all of it) as distinguished from the Law of Moses. As for the allegation that the "law of Christ is not a law in the legal sense," there is no way to read "Law of Christ" except in the sense of "God's Law"; and how could divine law be defined as not being in a legal sense? The very term legal means "pertinent to or conformity to law." So the proposition means "Christ's law is not pertinent to law!" Such a notion must be rejected. Moses was the type of Christ, and Christ surpassed Moses, being the Lawgiver for all mankind.

Thus Paul's true meaning in this place must be, "Fulfill the Law of Christ," in this particular also, that of bearing each other's burdens! All of the interpretations cited above make bearing burdens to be inclusive of the larger principle of "love thy neighbor"; but the interpretation here makes Law of Christ to mean just what it says: the totality of our blessed Saviour's teachings. See article, "Law of Christ," at end of chapter.

The total disbelief of many scholars that there is really any such thing as "the Law of Christ" is as incredible as it is unreasonable. That holy Law is mentioned in that terminology in this verse; and the context cites a number of its components such as No. 1 and No. 2, above, and others to be noted below.

[4] H. N. Ridderbos, op. cit., p. 215.

[5] Vine's Greek Dictionary, on "burdens."

[6] William Sanday, Ellicott's Commentary on the Holy Bible (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1959), p. 460.

[7] H. N. Ridderbos, op. cit., p. 213.

[8] J. R. Dummelow, Commentary on the Holy Bible (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1937), p. 957.

[9] John Wesley, One Volume New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1973), in loco.

[10] E. Huxtable, op. cit., p. 296.

[11] James MacKnight, Apostolical Epistles with Commentary and Notes (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1969), p. 201.

[12] David Lipscomb, A Commentary on the New Testament Epistles, Galatians (Nashville: The Gospel Advocate Company, n.d.), p. 277.

[13] J. W. McGarvey, The Standard Bible Commentary, Galatians (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1916), p. 285.

[14] William Hendriksen, op. cit., p. 235.

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Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Galatians 6:2". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". https: Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Bear ye one another's burdens,.... Which may be understood either of sins, which are heavy burdens to sensible sinners, to all that are partakers of the grace of God; Christ is only able to bear these burdens, so as to remove them and take them away, which he has done by his blood, sacrifice, and satisfaction; saints bear one another's, not by making satisfaction for them, which they are not able to do, nor by conniving at them, and suffering them upon them, which they should not do, but by gently reproving them, by comforting them when overpressed with guilt, by sympathizing with them in their sorrow, by praying to God for to manifest his pardoning grace to them, and by forgiving them themselves, so far as they are faults committed against them: or else the frailties and infirmities of weak saints, which are troublesome, and apt to make uneasy, are meant; and which are to be bore by the strong, by making themselves easy with them, and by accommodating themselves to their weakness, and by abridging themselves of some liberties, which otherwise might be lawfully taken by them; or afflictions may be designed, which are grievous to the flesh, and are bore by others, when they administer help and relief under them, whether in a temporal or spiritual way; and when they condole them, and sympathize with them, bear a part with them, and make others' griefs and sorrows their own:

and so fulfil the law of Christ; which is the law of love to one another, John 13:34 in opposition to the law of Moses, the judaizing Galatians were so fond of, and by which Christ's disciples may be distinguished from those of Moses, or any others. This is a law or doctrine which Christ has clearly taught, and recovered from the false glosses of the Pharisees; it is his new commandment, which he has strengthened and enforced by his own example in dying for his people, and which he, by his Spirit, inscribes upon their hearts. The Jews speak of the law of the Messiah as preferable to any other.

"The law (they sayF24Midrash Kohelet, fol. 83. 1. ) which a man learns in this world is vanity, in comparison of תורתו של משיח "the law of the Messiah", or Christ;'

by "fulfilling", it is meant, doing it, acting in obedience to it, and not a perfect fulfilling it, which cannot be done by sinful creatures.

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Gill, John. "Commentary on Galatians 6:2". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https: 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

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

(3) He shows that this is the end of rebukes, to raise up our brother who is fallen, and not proudly to oppress him. Therefore every one must seek to have praise of his own life by approving himself, and not by rebuking others.

(e) Christ, in plain and clear words, calls the commandment of charity his commandment.

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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Galatians 6:2". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https: 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

If ye, legalists, must “bear burdens,” then instead of legal burdens (Matthew 23:4), “bear one another‘s burdens,” literally, “weights.” Distinguished by Bengel from “burden,” Galatians 6:4 (a different Greek word, “load”): “weights” exceed the strength of those under them; “burden” is proportioned to the strength.

so fulfil — or as other old manuscripts read, “so ye will fulfil,” Greek, “fill up,” “thoroughly fulfil.”

the law of Christ — namely, “love” (Galatians 5:14). Since ye desire “the law,” then fulfil the law of Christ, which is not made up of various minute observances, but whose sole “burden” is “love” (John 13:34; John 15:12); Romans 15:3 gives Christ as the example in the particular duty here.

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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Galatians 6:2". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https: 1871-8.

Martin Luther's Commentary on Galatians

Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
The Law of Christ is the Law of love. Christ gave us no other law than this law of mutual love: "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another." To love means to bear another's burdens. Christians must have strong shoulders to bear the burdens of their fellow Christians. Faithful pastors recognize many errors and offenses in the church, which they oversee. In civil affairs an official has to overlook much if he is fit to rule. If we can overlook our own shortcomings and wrong-doings, we ought to overlook the shortcomings of others in accordance with the words, "Bear ye one another's burdens."

Those who fail to do so expose their lack of understanding of the law of Christ. Love, according to Paul, "believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things." This commandment is not meant for those who deny Christ; neither is it meant for those who continue to live in sin. Only those who are willing to hear the Word of God and then inadvertently fall into sin to their own great sorrow and regret, carry the burdens which the Apostle encourages us to bear. Let us not be hard on them. If Christ did not punish them, what right have we to do it?

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Luther, Martin. "Commentary on Galatians 6:2". "Martin Luther's Commentary on Galatians". https: Zondervan. Gand Rapids, MI. 1939.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Bear ye one another‘s burdens (αλληλων τα βαρη βασταζετεallēlōn ta barē bastazete). Keep on bearing (present active imperative of βασταζωbastazō old word, used of Jesus bearing his Cross in John 19:17. αροςBaros means weight as in Matthew 20:12; 2 Corinthians 4:17. It is when one‘s load (πορτιονphortion Galatians 6:5) is about to press one down. Then give help in carrying it.

Fulfil (αναπληρωσατεanaplērōsate). First aorist active imperative of αναπληροωanaplēroō to fill up, old word, and see note on Matthew 23:32; note 1 Thessalonians 2:16; and note 1 Corinthians 14:16. Some MSS. have future indicative (αναπληρωσετεanaplērōsete).

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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Galatians 6:2". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https: Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

One another's burdens ( ἀλλήλων τὰ βάρη )

The emphasis is on one another's, in contrast with the selfishness which leaves others to take care of themselves. The primary reference in burdens is to moral infirmities and errors, and the sorrow and shame and remorse which they awaken in the offender.

So ( οὗτως )

By observing this injunction.

Fulfill ( ἀναπληρώσατε )

The verb denotes, not the filling up of a perfect vacancy, as the simple πληροῦν , but the supplying of what is lacking to fulness; the filling up of a partial void. Comp. 1 Corinthians 16:17; Philemon 2:30; 1 Thessalonians 2:16.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Galatians 6:2". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https: Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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

Bear ye one another's burdens — Sympathize with, and assist, each other, in all your weaknesses, grievances, trials.

And so fulfil the law of Christ — The law of Christ (an uncommon expression) is the law of love: this our Lord peculiarly recommends; this he makes the distinguishing mark of his disciples.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Galatians 6:2". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https: 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

2.Bear ye one another’s burdens. The weaknesses or sins, under which we groan, are called burdens. This phrase is singularly appropriate in an exhortation to kind behavior, for nature dictates to us that those who bend under a burden ought to be relieved. He enjoins us to bear the burdens. We must not indulge or overlook the sins by which our brethren are pressed down, but relieve them, — which can only be done by mild and friendly correction. There are many adulterers and thieves, many wicked and abandoned characters of every description, who would willingly make Christ an accomplice in their crimes. All would choose to lay upon believers the task of bearing their burdens. But as the apostle had immediately before exhorted us to restore a brother, the manner in which Christians are required to bear one another’s burdens cannot be mistaken.

And so fulfill the law of Christ. The word law, when applied here to Christ, serves the place of an argument. There is an implied contrast between the law of Christ and the law of Moses. “If you are very desirous to keep a law, Christ enjoins on you a law which you are bound to prefer to all others, and that is, to cherish kindness towards each other. He who has not this has nothing. On the other hand, he tells us, that, when every one compassionately assists his neighbor, the law of Christ is fulfilled; by which he intimates that every thing which does not proceed from love is superfluous; for the composition of the Greek word ἀναπληρώσατε, conveys the idea of what is absolutely perfect. But as no man performs in every respect what Paul requires, we are still at a distance from perfection. He who comes the nearest to it with regard to others, is yet far distant with respect to God.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Galatians 6:2". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https: 1840-57.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary


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

Galatians 6:2

There are two great forces for uplifting human life, when it is low in quality and low in material prosperity, which are more powerful and more necessary than any other of the processes of civilisation. One is mutual help, and the other Christian conviction and practice.

I. Mutual help.—Nowhere are examples of ‘mutual help’ so numerous and striking and beautiful as are to be found in the lowest abysses of poverty. Ah! yes, we who live where want and suffering most abound can bear witness to the truth of this. Our people are not thrifty, but they are generous; they are self-forgetful, but they are mindful of one another when real trouble comes. They fail in many things, but they excel all classes of the community in this thing. Here is the strength of the poor: they do assist each other; they do share with each other; they do stand by each other in ways which are often sublime in their meaning and heroic in their measure. But this strength of the poor has its accompanying weakness, and that weakness is this: ‘the mutual aid’ which characterises the poor above every other class is not organised. It is chaotic. It works on no definite lines. It is not continuous. It is not disciplined and made to work for designed and continuously practical ends. And the result is that this magnificent force of ‘mutual aid’ among the poor, which, if properly organised, would of itself work out the social salvation of the poor, is largely unutilised and lost. The remarkable development of trades unions, of friendly societies, of benefit societies, of loan clubs, which have sprung into existence of late years, is a sufficient indication of what the poorer classes can accomplish if they will but turn their minds seriously and perseveringly to this great and urgently required work. It is a work which the whole nation is waiting to see done. It is work which can only be done by the poorer working classes themselves. It is a work which must be done before better housing conditions, more adequate means of living, improved social habits, and increased happiness can come to those who now suffer most from these evils. ‘Mutual help,’ which is ‘self-help’ multiplied, is the law of progress for all men, specially men who are low down the scale of material prosperity.

II. History nowhere tells us of a nation which has reached greatness and goodness without the uplifting force of religion.—And so we come to our second condition for the social plus the spiritual salvation of the suffering masses, viz. Christian conviction and Christian practice. There was a time when secular Socialists cried, ‘Down with religion’! we will have none of it.’ But that cry was not re-echoed by the general body of the poor. Their instinct was too strongly on the side of religion. They felt that, however much religious people and religious teachers had failed to come up to their own professed ideals, religion was still necessary for human life. And so secular Socialism is changing its tone about religion. But this service which religion can do for the suffering poor is one for which there need be no waiting for outside action. The poor can obtain it for themselves. They can help themselves in this matter just as truly and effectively as they can in the matter of ‘mutual aid.’ Indeed, if they do not make religion a personal matter, if they do not seek out Jesus Christ for themselves and have direct and daily communication with Him, neither religion nor churches nor Christian workers will bring them the saving they need, and which their pitiable conditions cry for. That famous utterance of Jesus Christ, ‘Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God,’ is a principle which applies to all human life, but specially to crushed and afflicted human life. A poor man needs the new birth, which comes from the Holy Spirit of God, more than any man. He needs it, not because he is a greater sinner than a man who is not poor, but because he needs more courage, more hope, more patience, more high thought and feeling, more contentment, more strength to endure his hard lot, than men who are socially better off than himself. But the poor man needs this ‘new birth,’ of which our Lord spoke, not merely that he may endure his lot, but also that he may improve his lot. In the early days of the Church the first Christians were mostly of the slave class. How did they become free and prosperous and powerful? The change was entirely due to the religion of Christ. It found them as slaves; it raised them to freedom, and to civil rights, and to prosperity. And the same result can be obtained in our crowded and poverty-stricken English cities, if only the poorer members of our communities will but recognise and lay hold of the spiritual and social salvation which is waiting for them in the Gospel of Christ. There lies their hope. There waits certain deliverance from their own human weakness and the crushing power of misfortune. Let the sufferers from cruelties of our modern civilisation turn their despairing souls to Him Who was the Carpenter of Nazareth, but who is now the Lord of Glory. Let them follow as He leads; let them do as He commands, and He will so transform them from weakness into might, from deadly despair into beautiful hope, from earth-meanness into God-like dignity, that life, instead of being, as it is now to the vast majority of them, a heavy burden, shall become a glorious privilege, and a blessed and blessing thing.

Rev. Canon Henry Lewis.

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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Galatians 6:2". Church Pulpit Commentary. https: 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

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

Ver. 2. Bear ye one another’s burdens] When after reprehension sin is become a burden, set to your shoulder, and help to lift it off. "Support the weak, be patient toward all," 1 Thessalonians 5:14. Nature hath taught the deer to help one another in swimming, the cranes one another in flying; one stone bears up another in buildings contrived by art, &c.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Galatians 6:2". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https: 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

Galatians 6:2

I. We must take this text into the sphere of realism; that is, we must not touch trouble sentimentally. There are some people in the world who are curious about a trouble. Be very careful with these people. Many a man has been sorry afterwards that he has admitted the curious into the privacy of his thoughts. Bear ye one another's burdens, and you will know how heavy are the things which you touch.

II. We must do this with great tact and delicacy of feeling. There is a pride that is honourable and beautiful. Men dislike patronage, and to patronise is a subtle fault, a common fault. Very delicate must be our relation to one in trouble, in order that we may reverence the soul of our brother, and never lower his honour while we are helping his need.

III. We must do this as the law of life. It is not to be a solitary action, however beautiful, because separate actions do not make good men. The beauty of the Christian spirit is this: that we have no escape from its common constancy; there is nothing occasional in it.

IV. We must look at this great teaching along the line of true social economy. Let your sympathy with the burdened begin where there is sorrow, shame, and grief; then let your pity go, and then you will find that the Bible, instead of being an empty social economy, is the only true social economy in the world.

V. We must do all this with a tender sense of brotherhood. In sympathy with and bearing one another's burdens, we realise the great fact that we shall have burdens to bear ourselves. Everything is to be in the spirit of mutuality.

W. M. Statham, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxv., p. 58.

The way of self-isolation, in other words of selfishness, may present itself as the more excellent way to some; it may seem the most prudent course: and yet we act not less blindly than guiltily when we choose it.

I. This same selfishness, this same isolation of ourselves, which shuts us up against the sorrows of others, shuts us up also against their joys. If the one fountain is sealed, so will also be the other. He who will not weep with them that weep, neither shall he rejoice with them that rejoice; and thus there are sealed from him the sources of some of the purest and truest delights which the heart of man can entertain, namely, the pleasure which we derive from the happiness of others. But then, further, it is a course as blind as it is sinful, because all experience proves that the man who lays his account to live an easy, pleasurable life by knowing nothing, by refusing to know anything, of the cares, troubles, and distresses of others, is never able to carry out this scheme of his to a successful end. In strange ways he is sure to be baffled and defeated in this his guilty dream of a life lived like that of the Epicurean gods, the life of one looking down as from a superior height upon a vast weltering world of labour and sorrow and pain beneath him. "Care finds the careless out." He who resolves not to bear any part of the burdens of his fellows resolves not to fulfil the law of Christ.

II. Bear ye the burden of one another's sins. In one sense Christ only can do this. What must we do, if we would bear this burden for another? We must not soon be provoked; we must be patient towards all men, accepting that which their sin may lay upon us as part of that burden which sinners dwelling among sinners must expect to bear. So, too, we bear the burden of other men's sins when we take trouble, endure toil and pain and loss, in seeking their restoration, when, at however remote a distance from our Lord, we too follow them into the wilderness, that so, it may be, we may find, and having found, may bring them home again.

R. C. Trench, Sermons in Ireland, p. 77.

I. Poverty is a burden which we may lighten. It cannot be reasonably questioned that poverty is a great disadvantage and constitutes a great pressure on the poor. It prevents the acquisition of knowledge; it quenches the nobler strivings; it wears the body with toil, withholds the sustenance of strength; it makes life a drudgery. When very deep it is twin sister to famine, and behind them both are the darker forms of crime. "Lest I be poor and steal," is the argument by which the wise man's prayer, "Give me not poverty," is sustained. No thoughtful loving man can say that that is a state in which men ought to be content or in which we ought to be content to see them. It is a great burden, and we are to bear it with them and for them.

II. Infirmity is a burden. The list of human infirmities is a very long one; the category of faults does not soon come to an end. Now, taking the more evident among them, how are we to deal with them? This passage tells us clearly. Whenever restoration is possible we are to restore in the spirit of meekness. If a man shall fall in any measure from integrity, or from charity, or from truthfulness of speech, or from purity of behaviour, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness. Bear his burden until you bear it away, and it is his burden no longer. Go to him on the side of his infirmity, not to reproach and curse, but to heal and help.

III. The burden of trouble. All that we understand by trouble may be borne more or less by one for another. If every Christian man would put himself, according to the measure of his ability, in sympathy with all the trouble of his friends, what a lightening of that trouble there would be, what a dropping away of burdens, and what a glory cast around the burdens that remain! It would be as if the Saviour were personally present in ten thousand homes. There is, perhaps, nothing in which we are more deficient than in due readiness and fulness of Christian sympathy.

A. Raleigh, Quiet Resting Places, p. 315.

References: Galatians 6:2.—F. D. Maurice, Sermons, vol. iii., p. 253; C. Kingsley, Village Sermons, p. 149; Homilist, 3rd series, vol. i., p. 343; T. M. Herbert, Sketches of Sermons, p. 86; W. J. Knox-Little, Characteristics of Christian Life, p. 140; H. W. Beecher, Christian World Pulpit, vol. i., p. 283; T. L. Cuyler, Ibid., vol. xx., p. 33; Bishop Temple, Ibid., vol. xxxv., p. 264; E. M. Goulburn, Occasional Sermons, p. 18.

I. St. Paul combines in this passage the two great ideas on which all previous morality had been based: the one self-preservation, self-development, that is to say, that out of which the sense of responsibility grows; the other selfforgetfulness, that is to say, that out of which all effort for other people grows. It combines them in a complete harmony. "Bear ye one another's burdens," is the rule of selfforgetfulness; "Every man should bear his own burden," is the simple rule of self-preservation. And because the harmony between these two statements is so hard to preserve, because in the agony that is caused by self-reflection we are so liable to be carried away by the one to the exclusion of the other, it may be well to consider this apparent paradox.

If. This apparent diversity between "Bear ye one another's burdens" and "Let every man bear his own burden" is always meeting us and always challenging us. It looks at us under the name of individualism or humanism in every modern philosophical treatise that we read, or it comes to us in some of the smallest personal questions of our daily life. The solution of the problem was the despair of the old world before Christianity came. Greek philosophy, from beginning to end, is rampant individualism. The very antithesis to this is the Buddhist system. On the face of it, Buddhism appears to be the most refined form of what is called humanism. But about the theoretical self-abandonment of Buddhism there is this fatal defect: that directly it becomes practical it is found to aim at mere self-crushing, at what is neither more nor less than suicide. Christ's religion escapes mere Buddhist universalism. Go out, says St. Paul, from yourselves to help others; bear their burdens, restore them by the magic touch of fellowship in the spirit of meekness. Fling your soul away into the struggles and sorrows of others, and so fulfil the law of Him who, in the highest sense, bare their sorrows. The more sympathetic you become, the more will self-reflection grow; the more will you find the truth of the great paradox that those who lose their life for Christ's sake even now will find it.

Prebendary Eyton, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxix., p. 49.

References: Galatians 6:2-5.—S. Pearson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. iv., p. 154; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. ii., p. 560; W. Williamson, Contemporary Pulpit, vol. v., p. 330. Galatians 6:4.—Homilist, 3rd series, vol. vi., p. 322.

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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Galatians 6:2". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https:

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Galatians 6:2. Bear ye one another's burdens, "Bear with one another's infirmities; help to support each other, under the necessary burdens and evils of life;—and so fulfil the law of Christ." See Romans 15:1 and 1 Thessalonians 5:14. There were some among them very zealous for the law of Moses: St. Paul here puts them in mind of a law which they were under, and were obliged to observe; and he shews them how to do it; namely, by helping to bear one another's burdens, and not by increasing their burdens by the observance of the Levitical law. See John 13:34-35.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Galatians 6:2". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https: 1801-1803.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

This is a general precept, and requires us to sympathize with our brethren in all thier sorrows and sufferings, and to bear a part with them under the load and burden of oppressive wants and necessities; particularly, bearing with the weaknesses and infirmities of our brethren, seems here to be recommended to our care and practice in this apostolical injunction, Bear ye one another's burdens. The encouragement to which duty follows, So shall we fulfil the law of Christ; that is, the law of love, the moral law which enjoins us to love our neighbour as ourselves.

But why is this called the law of Christ, when it was long before Christ; yea, before Moses, and as old as Adam himself, being part of the law of nature, which was written in Adam's heart before there was any written Bible?

I answer, the law of love is very properly called the law of Christ; because he revived it, rescued it, recommended and enforced it, frequently urged it upon his followers, and exemplified it in his own life and conversation, therefore called a new commandment, and his commandment: This is my commandment, &c. A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another, John 13:34 (see note)

Learn hence, 1. That to have our ear, our heart, and our hand, open to our brethren in distress, is a necessary Christian duty: our ear open to their mournful complaints, our heart open to sympathize with and mourn over them, our hand open to the relief of their necessities and wants. This is a burden which the law of Christ has laid upon us; Bear ye one another's burdens.

Learn, 2. To bear a part of our brethren's burdens with a compassionate heart and helping hand, is a fulfilling of the law of Christ; because much love, which is the fulfilling of the law, goes out, and is acted in the bearing of it; so fulfil the law of Christ.

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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on Galatians 6:2". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. https: 1700-1703.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

2.] ἀλλήλων, prefixed and emphatic, has not been enough attended to. You want to become disciples of that Law which imposes heavy burdens on men: if you will bear burdens, bear ONE ANOTHER’S burdens, and thus fulfil (see var. readd.: notice aorist: by this act fulfil) the law of Christ,—a far higher and better law, whose only burden is love. The position of ἀλλήλων I conceive fixes this meaning, by throwing τὰ βάρη into the shade, as a term common to the two laws. As to the βάρη, the more general the meaning we give to it, the better it will accord with the sense of the command. The matter mentioned in the last verse led on to this: but this grasps far wider, extending to all the burdens which we can, by help and sympathy, bear for one another. There are some which we cannot: see below.

ἀναπληρ., thoroughly fulfil: Ellic. quotes Plut. Poplicol. ii., ἀνεπλήρωσε τὴν βουλὴν ὀλιγανδροῦσαν, ‘filled up the Senate.’

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Galatians 6:2". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https: 1863-1878.

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae



Galatians 6:2. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

TO open and unfold the mystery of the Gospel, is doubtless an employment which, in point of utility to others, or of comfort to ourselves, may vie with any other, in which a human being can be engaged. But to inculcate the morality of the Gospel is also a most delightful office: and a minister of Christ, who feels averse to it, gives reason to fear that he has never yet entered into the spirit of the doctrine which he professes to teach. St. Paul manifestly delighted in this good work; for, in the close of all his epistles, he paid the most marked attention to it [Note: See Galatians 5:19-24.]. Nor did he rest in general instruction, but descended to the most minute particulars; omitting nothing that could tend to advance the honour of God, or the welfare of mankind.

That we may enter into the precept before us, we will consider,

I. The duty enjoined—

Burthens of some kind every man is called to sustain—

[Some may be comparatively freed from them; nor do they lie on any with the same weight and pressure at all times: but no child of man is altogether exempt from them. The body is subject to diseases, the mind to trials, and the outward estate to disasters, which no human foresight can prevent, no power on earth can avoid. They greatly mistake, who think that trouble is the exclusive portion of the poor. The rich, in their respective spheres, are as obnoxious to it as the poor; and, for the most part, by reason of their keener sensibility, they feel it more acutely.]

Nor can any support their burthens alone—

[The king upon the throne needs the assistance of others, as much as the beggar upon the dunghill. The very necessities of our nature call for mutual aid. No one could support himself alone. It is by the division of labour that society is kept together, and every individual that composes it is made happy. All, taking on themselves some one office for the benefit of others, promote, at the same time, both their own welfare, and the welfare of the whole community. The artisan, the man of science, the practitioner in any useful line, supply the wants of others in common with their own; and, whilst depending on their employers for their own support, administer support in return to them. It is thus that the hungry are fed, the naked clothed, the sick healed, and the weak protected in their rights.]

But, not confining ourselves to the duty of our own particular station, we should endeavour, as God may enable us, to bear the burthens of all—

[This may be done in a way of sympathy, and in a way of succour. As members of the same body, we ought all to care for each other [Note: Philippians 2:4. 1 Corinthians 12:25.], and to sympathize with each other under our several circumstances, whether of joy or sorrow. The Divine command is, “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep [Note: Romans 12:15.].” But sympathy must shew itself in deeds, and not in words only. It will be to little purpose to “say to our destitute and naked brother, ‘Be warmed,’ or, ‘Be filled,’ whilst we withhold from him what is needful for his support [Note: James 2:14-16.].” True, indeed, we cannot all administer relief to others in the same way, or to the same extent: but what we can do, we should with alacrity and joy. The eye, the ear, the tongue, the hand, the foot, cannot all render the same service to the body: but, if they improve their respective energies and powers for the good of the whole, they answer the end for which they were formed. Thus we should consider what service we are best capable of rendering to every afflicted brother: and to that we should address ourselves with all diligence; blessing and adoring God, who has put it into our power to shew love to our fellow-creatures, and fidelity to Him. The word which St. Paul used, to express the assistance which the Holy Spirit affords to us in our necessities, marks the precise office which we are to occupy in assisting all who stand in need of help from us: we should take hold on the opposite end of their load, and bear it together with them [Note: Romans 8:26. συναντιλαμβάνεται.]. And this we may all do in some measure, yea, and must do, if we would approve ourselves faithful to the trust reposed in us.]

That we may be stimulated to this duty, let me endeavour to impress upon your minds,

II. The consideration by which it is enforced—

In executing this office, we “fulfil the law of Christ”—

[The Lord Jesus Christ has enjoined it as our duty: “These things I command you, that ye love one another [Note: John 15:17.].” He has gone further; and proposed himself to us as the pattern to which, in our exercise of love, we should be conformed: “A new command I give unto you, that ye love one another: as I have loved you, that ye also love one another [Note: John 13:34.].” He has gone further still; and declared, that the love which we are here called to exercise is the distinctive badge of all his followers: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” Nay more; he has told us that it is the test whereby he will try our fidelity to him in the day of judgment: to those who have administered to the necessities of others be will give a suitable reward; and to those who have neglected this great duty, a just and fearful doom [Note: Matthew 25:34-46.].

Now, if he had only expressed it as a wish that we would perform such services for him, methinks it were abundantly sufficient to call forth all our exertions in his service. But when he issues it as his command, as his command which we must obey at the peril of our souls, who will venture to disobey it? Think but a moment what Christ has done for you: “Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich [Note: 2 Corinthians 8:9.].” Has He, the God of heaven, left his throne of glory, that, through his own sufferings unto death he might exalt you to it: and will not you, a redeemed sinner, forego some small comforts, in order to administer to the necessities of your afflicted brethren; and especially when called to it by your Redeemer himself? — — —]

This law, then, I now call you to obey—

[Let the affluent bear the burthens of the poor — — — The healthy, of the sick — — — The enlightened, of the ignorant — — — The saved, of those who are perishing in their sins — — — And let those who are not able to engage actively in the duties of benevolence spread the cases of their afflicted brethren before God in prayer, and bring down from God the help which they themselves are unable to impart — — —]

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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Galatians 6:2". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https: 1832.

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

Galatians 6:2. ἀλλήλων] emphatically prefixed (comp. Galatians 5:26), opposed to the habit of selfishness: “mutually, one of the other bear ye the burdens.” τὰ βάρη, however, figuratively denotes the moral faults (comp. Galatians 6:5) pressing on men with the sense of guilt, not everything that is oppressive and burdensome generally, whether in the domain of mind or of body (Matthies, Windischmann, Wieseler, Hofmann),—a view which, according to the context, is much too vague and general (Galatians 6:1; Galatians 6:3; Galatians 6:5). The mutual bearing of moral burdens is the mutual, loving participation in another’s feeling of guilt, a weeping with those that weep in a moral point of view, by means of which moral sympathy the pressure of the feeling of guilt is reciprocally lightened.(250) As to this fellowship in suffering, comp. the example of the apostle himself, 2 Corinthians 11:29. It is usually taken merely to mean, Have patience with one another’s faults (Romans 15:1); along with which several, such as Rosenmüller, Flatt, Winer, quite improperly (in opposition to ἀλλήλων, according to which the burdened ones are the very persons affected by sin) look upon βάρη as applying to faults by which a person becomes burdensome to others. But the command, thus understood, would not even come up to what was required in Galatians 6:1, and would not seem important and high enough to enable it to be justly said: καὶ οὕτως ἀναπληρώσετε τὸν νόμον τ. χρ.—and in this way (if ye do this) ye will entirely fulfil the law of Christ, the law which Christ has given, that is, the sum of all that He desires and has commanded by His word and Spirit, and which is, in fact, comprehended in the love (Galatians 5:13 f.) which leads us to serve one another. What Paul here requires, is conceived by him as the culminating point of such a service. He speaks of the νόμος of Christ in relation to the Mosaic law (comp. Galatians 5:14), which had in the case of the Galatians—and how much to the detriment of the sympathy of love—attained an estimation which, on the part of Christians, was not at all due to it; they desired to be ὑπὸ νόμον, and thereby lost the ἔννομον χριστοῦ εἶναι (1 Corinthians 9:21). A reference at the same time to the example of Christ, who through love gave Himself up to death (Romans 15:3; Ephesians 5:2) (as contended for by Oecumenius and Usteri), is gratuitously introduced into the idea of νόμος. The compound ἀναπληρ. is, as already pointed out by Chrysostom (who, however, wrongly explains it of a common fulfilment jointly and severally), not equivalent to the simple verb (Rückert, Schott, and many others), but more forcible: to fill up, to make entirely full (the law looked upon as a measure which, by compliance, is made full; comp. Galatians 5:14), so that nothing more is wanting. Comp. Dem. 1466. 20: ὧν ἂν ἐκλείπητε ὑμεῖς, οὐχ εὑρήσετε τοὺς ἀναπηρώσοντας. 1 Thessalonians 2:16; Matthew 13:14. See Tittmann, Synon. p. 228 f.; Winer, de verbor. cum praepos. compos. in N.T. usu, III. p. 11 f. The thought therefore is, that without this moral bearing of one another’s burdens, the fulfilment of the law of Christ is not complete; through that bearing is introduced what otherwise would be wanting in the ἀναπλήρωσις of this law. And how true this is! Such self-denial and self-devotion to the brethren in the ethical sphere renders, in fact, the very measure of love full (1 Corinthians 13:4 ff.), so far as it may be filled up at all (Romans 13:8).

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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Galatians 6:2". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https: 1832.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

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.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Galatians 6:2". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https: 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Bear ye one another’s burdens; it is a general precept, and may be either understood with reference to what he had said in the former verse, so it hints our duty: though we discern our brethren to have fallen into some sin or error, yet if we discern that they are sensible of their lapse, and their sin is not a pleasure, but a burden to them, though we ought not to bear with them or connive at them in their sins, yet we ought to sympathize with them when we see their sin is become their load and burden, under which they groan and are dejected. Or else more generally, as a new precept commanding us to sympathize with our brethren under any lead of trials and affliction which God shall lay upon them. And so it agreeth with that precept, Romans 12:15. By

the law of Christ, he means the will of Christ revealed in the gospel; particularly the law of love, so nmch enjoined by Christ, John 13:15,33-35 15:12. Which is not called the law of Christ because first given by him, (for himself maketh it the sum of the ten commandments), but because he received it and vindicated it from the corruption of the Pharisees’ interpretation, Matthew 5:43,44; because he so often urged it, and so seriously commanded and commended it to his disciples; and set us the highest precedent and example of it, and hath by his Spirit written it in the hearts of his people.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Galatians 6:2". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https: 1685.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

One another’s burdens; of weakness, temptation, and sorrow.

The law of Christ; to love one another as he has loved them. John 15:12.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Galatians 6:2". "Family Bible New Testament". https: American Tract Society. 1851.

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

2. The suggestion of common weakness producing sympathy with a fallen brother leads to the thought of active help. But, as usual with St Paul, this passes beyond the immediate connexion to a wider statement. The asyndeton suggests that he is illustrating the particular case by a general principle.

ἀλλήλων. He has now come to a clear contrast to Galatians 5:26.

τὰ βάρη, plural[159]. For the singular with βαστάζειν see Matthew 20:12. The reference is wide, all that causes them anxiety and that can be borne by others (contrast Galatians 6:5). St Paul, it must be remembered, was writing to those who were inclined to carry wrong burdens, those of legal enactments, cf. Acts 15:28; Acts 15:10; Revelation 2:24. See also Jerome on Galatians 6:3, p. 521 c.

βαστάζετε,, Galatians 5:10. In Romans 15:1 St Paul states his meaning plainly without the metaphor of βάρος.

καὶ οὕτως. In contrast to the false way proposed to them.

ἀναπληρώσατε: see notes on Textual Criticism. Matthew 13:14; 1 Corinthians 16:17; Philippians 2:30. Fill up completely as though it were a goblet showing the measure proposed for you. The word is used in the Papyri of completing a contract, and of making up a rent (see Moulton and Milligan in Expositor, VII. 5, 1908, p. 267).

τὸν νόμον τοῦ χριστοῦ. The phrase is unique, but cf. James 1:25. Not Ἰησοῦ as meaning the law that Jesus spake, e.g. “love one another,” John 13:34 (Jerome), or the Sermon on the Mount, but τοῦ χριστοῦ “the law of the Messiah.” This includes not only all His words and deeds but probably also the whole principle of His self-sacrifice, in His Incarnation, Passion, Resurrection (cf. Ephesians 5:1-2). In this sense Bengel is right: Lex Christi lex amoris, for this is love itself. St Paul thus returns to the thought of Galatians 5:13-14, but, as always, giving his words a deeper and wider range. Thus there is a sense in which the believer is ἔννομος (cf. ἡ ἔννομος βίωσις, Ecclus. Prol.), but it is ἔννομος Χριστοῦ (1 Corinthians 9:21), and seeing that it is subjection to a principle, or rather to a Person, and not to a command or series of commands, it is the very opposite to subjection to the Law of Moses, though, of course, in one sense, moral obligation to a Person is the highest Law of all. On ὁ χριστός, meaning more than the personal name, see Colossians 1:7 note.

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"Commentary on Galatians 6:2". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". https: 1896.

John Eadie's Commentary on Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians and Philippians

Galatians 6:2. ᾿αλλήλων τὰ βάρη βαστάζετε—“One another's burdens do ye bear.” This verse broadens the sphere of duty enjoined in the previous verse; or it presents that duty in a form not specialized as in the first verse: the spirit that restores a fallen brother should pervade ordinary Christian relations. The βάρη have been unduly narrowed in the definition of them. They are not weaknesses simply, as in Romans 15:1, but also errors, trials, sorrows, sins, without any distinct specification. And they are not merely to be tolerated, they are to be taken up as “burdens;” for the verb implies this. Matthew 20:12; Acts 15:10. Whatever forms a burden to our brethren we are to take upon ourselves, and carry it for them or with them, in the spirit of Him “who bore our sins and carried our sorrows.” The burden to be borne is not to be limited to ψυχὴ ὑπὸ τῆς τοῦ ἁμαρτήματος συνειδήσεως βεβαρημένη. Theodore Mops. There does not therefore seem to be any covert allusion to the self-imposed burdens of the law (Alford). The emphasis is on ἀλλήλων, giving distinctness to the duty as a mutual duty: “Weep with them that weep.” Mutual interposition in sympathy and for succour in any emergency-fellow-feeling and fellow-helping-is the duty inculcated, as opposed to that selfish isolation which stands aloof, or contents itself with a cheap expression of commiseration, or an offer of assistance so framed as to be worthless in the time or the shape of it. The apostle exemplifies his own maxim, 2 Corinthians 11:29.

The reading of the next clause is doubtful. The Received Text has καὶ οὕτως ἀναπληρώσατε τὸν νόμον τοῦ χριστοῦ—“and so fulfil the law of Christ.” This reading is supported by A, C, D, K, L, א, nearly all MSS., and is found in the Syriac (Philox.), and in many of the Greek fathers. It is also adopted by Griesbach, Scholz, Reiche, Alford, and Tischendorf in his 7th ed. The other reading is the future ἂναπληρώσετε —“and so ye shall fulfil the law of Christ.” It is supported by B, F, G, two MSS., the Vulgate and Claromontane Latin, the Syriac (Peschito), the Armenian, Coptic, Sahidic, and Ethiopic versions, Theodoret (MS.), and some of the Latin fathers; and it is admitted by Lachmann, Meyer, and Ellicott. Diplomatic authority is in favour of the common text; but the versions give decided countenance to the other reading in the future, which Alford regards “as a probable correction, the imperative aorist being unusual” (Winer, § 43). The difference is but that of a single letter, and one may suppose that a copyist might change the future to make both clauses imperative. The present would have been “natural” (Ellicott), but the καὶ οὕτως seems to point to the future. It is impossible to come to a definite conclusion, and the meaning is not really affected whatever reading be adopted.

Borger, Rückert, Brown, and others are wrong in assigning the compound ἀναπληροῦν the mere sense of the simple πληροῦν. The preposition gives the idea of a complete filling, of a filling up. Colossians 1:24; Philippians 2:30; 1 Thessalonians 2:16; Sept. Exodus 23:26; Strabo, vi. p. 223; Joseph. Antiq. 5.6, 2; Tittmann, De Syn. p. 228; Winer, De verborum cum praep. composit. in N. T. usu, iii. pars 11.

The “law of Christ” is not simply the law of love, or His new commandment which is only one precept of His law (Theodoret, De Wette, Usteri), but His entire code, which indeed is summed up in love. Whoso, from right motive and in true form, bears the burdens of others, has so drunk into the spirit of Christ who carried our burdens, has so realized the gentleness and sympathy of His example who “came not to be ministered unto, but to minister,” that he fully obeys His law,-a law which reprobates all hard, sullen, and self-absorbed individualism, and is fulfilled in love to God and to all that bears His image. The explanation of Chrysostom, κοινῇ πάντες—“fulfil it in common by the things in which ye bear with one another, each completing what is wanting in his neighbour,”-is not to the point. The injunction is meant for Christians, and there is a contrast recorded (Revelation 2:2) in praise of the church of Ephesus: ὅτι οὐ δύνῃ βαστάσαι κακούς. There may be a tacit reference to the νόμος which the Galatians, under the teaching of the Judaizers, were taught to obey, but which was not in authority or contents the law of Christ. See under Galatians 5:14.

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Eadie, John. "Commentary on Galatians 6:2". John Eadie's Commentary on Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians. https:

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

2. Bear—Instead of triumphing over.

Burdens—Frailties, and disgraces arising from frailties. Your brother had his heavy liabilities to this sin; he has now the weight of shame for his sin: instead of putting your holy foot upon his weakness, put your shoulder under his load, and share half or all the pressure. Thus you will enable him to tread the straight and narrow path again, without deviating from it yourself. St. Paul’s one another, implies that as fellow travellers, each carrying his knapsack, we shall perpetually need to lend each other a mutual shoulder.

Fulfil—An equally good reading makes a future, ye will fulfil.

Law of Christ—Namely, the law of love (v, 14,) and liberty. See James 1:25.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Galatians 6:2". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https: 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

In view of the context probably the burden Paul had in mind was an excessive burden of particular temptation and struggle with the flesh (cf. Romans 15:1). This could be a burden caused by social, economic, spiritual, or other conditions. Galatians 6:1 deals with restoration and this section ( Galatians 6:2-5) with prevention. We can bear by praying and perhaps counseling together.

"Human friendship, in which we bear one another"s burdens, is part of the purpose of God for his people. So we should not keep our burdens to ourselves, but rather seek a Christian friend who will help to bear them with us." [Note: Stott, p158.]

Paul probably referred to the "law of Christ" (cf. Galatians 5:14; John 13:34; 1 Corinthians 9:21) to help his readers realize that freedom from the Mosaic Law does not mean freedom from all responsibility. The "law of Christ" encompasses the whole of Jesus" teaching personally while He was on earth and through His apostles and prophets from heaven following His ascension (cf. Acts 1:1-2). It boils down to the command to love God wholeheartedly and one"s neighbor as oneself ( Matthew 22:36-40; John 13:34-35; John 15:12; 1 John 3:23).

" Galatians , which in attacking "Jewish" legalism proclaims the true freedom based on Christ, consequently contains more exhortation, admonition, and summons to obey the "law of Christ" ... than any other letter, and to quite a remarkable degree-a third of the whole letter." [Note: Bornkamm, p83.]

The law of Christ is the code of commandments under which Christians live. It is the same as New Covenant responsibility. [Note: Femi Adeyemi, "The New Covenant Law and the Law of Christ," Bibliotheca Sacra163:652 (October-December2006):438-52.] Some of the commandments Christ and His apostles gave us are the same as those that Moses gave the Israelites. However this does not mean that we are under the Mosaic Code. Residents of the United States live under a code of laws that is similar to, but different from, the code of laws that govern residents of England. Some of our laws are the same as theirs, and others are different. Because some laws are the same we should not conclude that the codes are the same. Christians no longer live under the Mosaic Law; we live under a new code, the law of Christ (cf. Galatians 5:1).

This may at first sound as if we are under law as Christians after all. Paul contrasted law with grace because the primary characteristic of the Mosaic Law was its legal character whereas the primary characteristic of the law of Christ is its gracious character. He did not mean that there is no law under grace any more than he meant that there was no grace under the Mosaic Law. The motivation for keeping the Mosaic Law was external for the Old Testament believer, but the motivation for keeping the law of Christ is internal. Our motivation comes from the indwelling Holy Spirit ( Philippians 2:13), though Paul did not emphasize this motivation in chapter6.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Galatians 6:2". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https: 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Galatians 6:2. Bear ye one another’s burdens, all sorts of troubles, cares, errors, and infirmities. Sin and error should be resisted and rebuked in a spirit of charity and meekness; but with all our faults we ought to esteem and love one another as brethren in Christ (Comp. Romans 15:1.)

And thus ye shall (completely) fulfil the law of Christ, namely, the law of love. (Comp. Galatians 5:14; Romans 13:8; John 13:34; 1 John 3:23.) The E. V. is based on another reading which expresses the imperative, instead of the future. The authorities are almost equally divided.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Galatians 6:2". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https: 1879-90.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Galatians 6:2. βαστάζετε. From its original sense of taking up, this verb acquires the most various meanings, e.g., carrying in Matthew 20:12, ministration in Matthew 3:11, robbery in John 12:6. Here it signifies lending a hand to help by lifting heavy loads. This does not involve transference of the burden, for it is said in 2 Corinthians 8:13, I mean not that other men be eased and ye burdened: and in Galatians 6:5 it is added that each will have his own pack to bear; but Christian love must ever be careful to relieve each in turn when overtaxed by crushing loads.

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Galatians 6:2". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https: 1897-1910.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

One another's burdens. This is not contrary to what is added ver. 5, that every one shall bear his own burden, because in the first place the sense is, that we must bear patiently with one another's faults and imperfections; in the second, that every one must answer for himself at God's tribunal. (Witham) --- Every one has his failings and weaknesses, and stands in need of indulgence from his brethren; he must, therefore, grant to them what he so much desires to receive from them. (Calmet)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Galatians 6:2". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https: 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

burdens. Greek. baros. Compare Galatians 6:5. Baros is the burden we can bear by help and sympathy.

fulfil. Greek. anapleroo. See 1 Corinthians 14:16.

law. Cf. John 13:34; John 15:12.

Christ. App-98.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Galatians 6:2". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https: 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Galatians 6:2". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https: 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(2) Bear yo one another’s burdens.—Take them upon yourselves by kindly sympathy. Our Lord Himself was said to “bear” the physical infirmities of those whom He healed. (Matthew 8:17 : “He bare our sicknesses.”)

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Galatians 6:2". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https: 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
5; 5:13,14; Exodus 23:5; Numbers 11:11,12; Deuteronomy 1:12; Isaiah 58:6; Matthew 8:17; 11:29,30; Luke 11:46; Romans 15:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:14; 1 Peter 2:24
the law
John 13:14,15,34; 15:12; 1 Corinthians 9:21; James 2:8; 1 John 2:8-11; 4:21

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Galatians 6:2". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https:

The Bible Study New Testament

Help carry. "Instead of being hostile and scolding one another, you must help each other carry burdens." This is the spirit of community Burden = BARE! MacKnight says: "This is an allusion to the custom of travelers, who when too heavily laden with their baggage, relieve one another, by bearing the burden of the weak or fatigued, and in that manner show their good disposition toward each other." The law of Christ requires benevolence and good will even to those who are surprised into sin.

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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Galatians 6:2". "The Bible Study New Testament". https: College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

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

This is one of those items where the church often falls down on the job. When another person is having a hard time, they are not the most pleasant person to be around. You feel uncomfortable because you don"t know how to help, indeed, often you can"t help. Sometimes the person is in a bad mood and strikes out at anyone that is around. It also takes time to get involved, and it often means you will be involved in the suffering to some extent. You may well begin to hurt with the person if it is related to death or injury.

HOWEVER, Paul tells us to do it. That is part of the support system of the church. We are to uphold one another so that we are all strong and standing for God.

One thing I give the Mormon Church - they know this principle and they practice it. If one of their people has a problem, they all have a problem until the trouble is over. They support their folks well in time of trouble.

This ability to care for everyone requires not only a willingness to become involved, but it requires that the church have some system of caring, of knowing when someone has a need. When a problem arises, many believers will just tuff it through on their own. Unless someone knows of the problem, the church can do nothing to assist.

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Derickson, Stanley. "Commentary on Galatians 6:2". "Stanley Derickson - Notes on Selected Books". https:

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