Biblical Studies/New Testament Commentaries/Galatians/Chapter 6
|Galatians 6:1-18 (King James Version)|
|1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. 2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. 3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. 4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5 For every man shall bear his own burden.
6 Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.
7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. 9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. 10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
11 Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand.
12 As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. 13 For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. 14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. 15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. 16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.
17 From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.
18 Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
According to F. F. Bruce, Galatians has been regarded as one of four "capital epistles" of Paul. It is regarded as a standard according to which other documents claiming Paul as their author are measured against (Bruce 392).
The audience that Galatians was written to is debated between two possibilities, each having differing views as to when it was written.
The North Galatian Theory proposes that Paul is writing to the geographical or ethnic kingdom of Galatia. This theory places the composition of Galatians after Paul's second missionary journey in A.D. 49/50 or more likely after his third missionary journey in A.D. 52 (Bruce 392).
The South Galatian Theory proposes Paul is writing to the Roman province of Galatia. This theory places the composition after Paul's first missionary journey in A.D. 47/48 and before the Council of Jerusalem in A.D. 48/49 (Bruce 392).
Quite simply, Galatians can only be dated approximately due to the fact that no clear evidence exists to date it (Betz 11-12).
Reasoning for Composition
The occasion for the writing of Galatians was that converts of Paul's were encountering Jewish legalism and were in danger of incorporating it into their belief system, in the process enslaving themselves to the law despite the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Religious influences in Galatia were varied. They included those from the Gauls, the indigenous Anatolian, cults from the Hellenistic east, and those of Rome (Gill 508). Most notable in this mix was the worship of Zeus, the Phrygian Mother of the Gods, and the Anatolian Moon God Mên (Mitchell 871). Jewish and Christian influence was also felt in Galatia. The former due to Jews settling in the area and the latter due to Paul's missionary journeys (Wessel 391).
Dear Brothers and Sisters, if one among you is caught in sin, those who godly should, in a humble and gentle spirit help that person back onto the right path. But be careful to watch yourself so that you do not also fall into temptation. Help bear each others burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone who is nothing thinks themselves more important than they are, then they deceive themselves. Each of us should examine our own works, then we can take pride in our own actions without comparing them to others. For we are each responsible to carry our own load.
Those who are taught the word are to share all good things with their teacher. Do not be deceived, God cannot be mocked. Every person will reap what they sow. Those who sow to please the sinful desires of the flesh will reap destruction, but those who sow to please the Spirit will reap eternal life. So let us not weary of doing that which is good, for a time will come when we will reap a harvest of blessing if we do not give up. While we have time, let us do good unto all people, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ.
See the large letters I use as I write this with my own hand. Those who are trying to make you get circumcised are doing so only because they do not want to be persecuted for the cross of Christ. Those who want you to become circumcised don’t really obey the entire law. They only want you to become circumcised so that they can boast about your flesh. But may I never boast in anything except the cross of our Lord, Jesus Christ through which my interest in the world has been crucified to me and the world’s interest in me has died as well. Neither being circumcised or uncircumcised matters. All that makes a difference is if we have become a new creation. For all those who follow this rule, may peace and mercy be upon them and the Israel of God.
From now on let no one bother me about these things for I bear the marks of Jesus on my body. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, my dear brothers and sisters. Amen.
Old Testament Parallels/References
Galatians 6: " 16 And as many as shall walk by this rule, peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God."
Psalms 125: " 5 But as for such as turn aside unto their crooked ways, Jehovah will lead them forth with the workers of iniquity. Peace be upon Israel."
Psalms 128: " 6 Yea, see thou thy children's children. Peace be upon Israel."
It is assumed that Paul is referencing the Psalms in this verse of Galatians (Eerdmans 151, Gaebelein 507). Their context is similar, as the Psalms ask for Gods blessings upon those who are righteous at heart. Specifically where the Psalms asks for Peace upon Israel is where Paul is also asking for peace upon Israel. That fits in the context of Galatians 6, for those who walk by the rule of Christ will also be under this blessing.
New Testament Parallels/References
Galatians 6: " 2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."
1 Corinthians 12: " 12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of the body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ."
It may be noted that Corinthians has the more vivid expression of carrying one another’s burdens (Eerdmans 143).
Galatians 6: " 3 For if a man thinketh himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself."
Romans 12: " 3 For I say, through the grace that was given me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think as to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to each man a measure of faith."
Here Romans may yield a better description for having a large ego (Gaebelein 502). The verses parallel the concept of humility.
Galatians 6: " 5 For each man shall bear his own burden."
Matthew 11: " 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
In these passages, burden comes from the same word “Phortion” (Eerdmans 145, Gaebelein 502).
Galatians 6: " 8 For he that soweth unto his own flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption;"
Matthew 13: " 18 Hear then ye the parable of the sower."
Mark 4: " 14 The sower soweth the word."
Proverbs: " 8 He that soweth iniquity shall reap calamity; And the rod of his wrath shall fail."
Proverbs: " 18 The wicked earneth deceitful wages; But he that soweth righteousness hath a sure reward."
The only reference to sowing is found in Matthew and Mark for a large portion of the chapters. We gather that there is direction involved in sowing, either towards good or ill intent. (Eerdmans 146). This is also seen in the Old Testament in the Proverbs (Gaebelein 503).
Galatians 6: " 9 And let us not be weary in well-doing:"
2 Thessalonians 3: " 13 But ye, brethren, be not weary in well-doing."
These statements are used in a very similar context after speaking about each doing their own work. Here we are not to tire in doing our good work (Eerdmans 147).
Galatians 6: " 14 But far be it from me to glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world hath been crucified unto me, and I unto the world."
Philippians 3: " 8 Yea verily, and I count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but refuse, that I may gain Christ,"
These verses have a similar foundation, that all is given back to God so that we may inherit eternal life. (Eerdmans 151, Gaebelein 507).
Galatians 6: " 15 For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature."
Galatians 5: " 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith working through love."
1 Corinthians 7: " 19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing; but the keeping of the commandments of God."
These verses from Galatians already parallel each other in emphasizing how the new creature of love is what matters. Corinthians also declares that circumcision and uncircumcision are meaningless (Gaebelein 507).
Galatians 6: " 17 Henceforth, let no man trouble me; for I bear branded on my body the marks of Jesus."
2 Corinthians 4: " 10 always bearing about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in our body."
According to Strong's Exhaustive Concordance.
Galatians 6:5 "For every man shall bear his own burden." "'Φόρτίν' phortion: An invoice, a task or service- burden. Diminutive form of 'Φόρτος' Phortos: Something carried, i.e. the cargo of a ship" (Strong 97). This word is used also in Matthew 11:30 "For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
The way in which this word is used tells us that we each carry our own burden in the sense that a ship carries cargo or a horse carries its rider. The burden weighs upon us like a load of wood or some other tangible item we might have to carry except that this burden is not visible to others as a block of wood would be. We are also told that even though we carry our own burdens, as Christians we are to help our brothers and sisters as well.
Galatians 6:8 "For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting." "'πνεύμα' Pneuma: A current of air, i.e. breath or a breeze; by analogy or figurative. a spirit, i.e. (human) the rational soul, (by implication) vital principle, ment. disposition, etc. or (superhuman) an angel, demon, or (divine) God, Christ's spirit the Holy spirit:- ghost, life, spirit (usually), mind" (Strong 72).
The use of the word Spirit (pneuma) in this passage refers to the Spirit as in the Holy Spirit, our guide and counselor given to us by God who is God and speaks to us in our own spirit. If we sow things of the spirit, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit who communes to us through our own spirit, then it is the things of the spirit that we will reap. Spirit refers to life in this passage, where the evil desires of our flesh also mentioned in this verse refer to the things of humanity, materialism, sin and all lead to corruption. The Spirit of God brings us life. Following our own human desires without allowing the Holy Spirit to work in our life and through our life reaps only death.
Betz, Hans Dieter. "Galatians, Epistle to the." The Anchor Bible Dictionary. vol 2. New York, NY: Doubleday, 1992. Print.
Bruce, F. F. "Galatians, Epistle to the." New Bible Dictionary. Downers Grove, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 1996. Print.
Ecole, Ecole française, Ecole bibliques, Erwin Preuschen, Walter Co, and James Martyn. Galatians. Anchor Bible, 1997. Print.
Gaebelein, Frank. "Galatians." The Expositor's Bible Commentary. vol 10. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1976. Print.
Gill, David W. J. "Galatia." The New Interpreter's Dictionary. vol. 2. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2006. Print.
Guthrie, Donald. “Galatians.” New Century Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1989. Print.
Longenecker, Richard. Word Biblical Commentary, Galatians. 41. Dallas: Word Books, 1990. Print.
Mitchell, Stephen. "Galatia." The Anchor Bible Dictionary. vol 2. New York, NY: Doubleday, 1992. Print.
Strong, James. The New Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc., Publishers, 1990. Print.
Tyndale House Publishers: Holy Bible : New Living Translation. 2nd ed. Wheaton, Ill. : Tyndale House Publishers, 2004, S. Ga 6:1
Wessel, W. W. "Galatia." New Bible Dictionary. Downers Grove, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 1996. Print.