Galatians 6

Galatians 6:1-5

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. 5For each will have to bear his own load.

Sometimes one has to say that it is too bad that there were the chapter divisions added to the New Testament books.  The transition from chapter 5 to chapter 6 is one of those times.  At the end of chapter five, Paul encourages the Galatian Christians to live by the Spirit, walk (have a lifestyle led) by the Spirit, to not become conceited, to not provoke one another and to not envy one another (Galatians 5:25-26).  The first several verses of Galatians chapter six continue the thought by offering ways of living as Paul has suggested.

1.    The first example of how one living a lifestyle that is led by the Spirit would respond deals with someone who has been “caught in any transgression” or sin.  In that case the spiritual person (i.e., the one led by the Spirit) will attempt to restore (i.e., bring back to God) that individual “in a spirit of gentleness” while watching herself/himself to see that she/he does not end up falling into sin also (Galatians 6:1).  To expand on this attitude, it is suggested that the student review passages such as I Corinthians 10:12-13, Romans 14:4, and I Corinthians 13:4-7.

2.    The second example of appropriate action by those who are led by the Spirit is that they will, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).  Here, Paul makes a play on words stated earlier in Galatians 5:14 where he says, “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”  While the old law, filled with commandments and ordinances, was full of specific requirements the Christian finds the whole law summed up in loving someone else as you love yourself.  Further study of this topic can be found in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapters 5,6 and 7; see especially Matthew 7:12), Jesus’ teaching in John 13:34-35, and I John 4:21.

3.   The third example deals with the attitude of the Spirit-led individual.  This attitude can best be described as one that self-evaluates.  Because God has done so much for us, it is possible to think we are more important or better than we really are.  For further study of this attitude, the student is asked to see Luke 14:11, Luke 17:10, Luke 18:9-14, and James 4:6-10.   The sobering thought in this statement is, “For each will have to bear his own load” (Galatians 6:5).  Other passages that contain this thought include II Corinthians 5:10, Hebrews 9:27, and Revelation 20:12-15.

Galatians 6:6-11

One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches. 7Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

  11See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand.

The second section of chapter six continues to develop the kind of characteristics that should be found in those living by the Spirit.

1.    One of these characteristics is sharing with those who teach (Galatians 6:6).  Perhaps the best example of sharing is found in II Corinthians 8:1-7, where the Corinthian Christians “gave according to their means” and actually “beyond their means” (II Corinthians 8:3) to help others.  Paul commended the church in Philippi for the fact that they shared with him on many occasions (Philippians 4:14-20).

2.    A second concept that Paul shares is that you need to realize that there are consequences for your own actions (Galatians 6:7-9). This can be deceptive because it is not talking about “here and now” but “eternal life.” We err in our thinking if we think our life will be better here on earth because we are Christians.  This is borne out by the statements about reaping “eternal life (Galatians 6:8) and “in due season (Galatians 6:9).  Witness to this can be found in Paul’s life (II Corinthians 11:23b-27), the Galileans (Luke 13:1-3), the 18 on whom the Tower of Siloam fell (Luke 13:4-5), and in Jesus’ words about whom the sun and rain visits (Matthew 5:45).

3.    A summary of the message in this chapter may be found in Galatians 6:10, “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”  This also matches with what Peter said of Jesus, “He went about doing good….” (Acts 10:38).  Peter is the one who said concerning Jesus that he left “you an example, so that you might follow in his steps” (I Peter 2:21).

In Galatians 6:11, Paul wants the Galatians to be assured that it is his writing by doing a part himself.  See notes on Galatians 4:15.  The “large letters” are consistent with having some type of eye problem as we mentioned in that part of our study.  Paul often had someone else do the writing but then wrote a greeting of his own at the end (see I Corinthians 16:21, Colossians 4:18, and II Thessalonians 3:17).

Galatians 6:12-16

It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. 14But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.

Paul summarizes his thoughts in this letter in Galatians 6:12-16.  He reminds the Galatians of the inconsistencies of his adversaries who force them to be circumcised to protect their own hide while not requiring the keeping of the whole law (Galatians 6:12-13).  On the other hand, “Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14).  It is not the circumcision that is important, but rather being a new creation in Christ (see also Galatians 2:20 and II Corinthians 5:17).  He pronounces peace and mercy upon those who live by his rule (Galatians 6:16).  The term “Israel of God” is used to show the relationship that those who do not follow the Law of Moses, but trust in Christ, have with God.  Those under the Law delighted in the fact that they were part of a physical family that could trace its roots back to Israel (also known as Jacob).  Those who boast “in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” are part of the true Israel (see Romans 2:28-29, Romans 9:6, Romans 9:31, Philippians 3:3, Colossians 1:13, and Revelation 1:5).

Galatians 6:17-18

From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.

18The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.

Paul ends his letter using a reminder of the kind of disciple he is compared to the false teachers.  They did what they did “in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ” (Galatians 6:12), whereas Paul could say, “for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus” (Galatians 6:17).  To understand the marks which he refers to, see II Corinthians 11:23-27.  His wish for them: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.  Amen.” (Galatians 6:18).

 

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