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Study Notes on Galatians 6

Galatians 6

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.

So chapter 5 ended with instruction to walk in the Spirit and how to treat one another. These first few verses continue with that.

If a brother sins, falls into sin, makes bad choices, then come alongside them and humbly bring them back. Don't do it arrogantly and realize that you are susceptible to overtaken as well. Awareness of our own sin should keep us humble.

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

This is the royal law, loving one another. We fulfill this primary principle by caring for one another.

Matthew 7:12, Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.

See Romans 12:3, 2 Corinthians 3:5, and especially 1 Corinthians 10:12-13.

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.

Each man should compare himself with the standard of the bible. Prove your own work.

Help one another, but ultimately we are each held responsible for ourselves. You can't point to what others do and take credit for it. Whether our work will yield rewards, or will be burned up is on us.

6 Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.

The word for communicate means to "share with", and this verse is saying that he who teaches the Scripture should receive contribution from those he teaches. See Philippians 4:14-16 for another use of this word.

1 Corinthians 9 and elsewhere give instruction for giving financially to your pastor.

"The word communicate here signifies to give liberally. All good things may imply, not only maintenance and subsistence, but likewise other branches of benevolence and respect." - Thomas Coke

"Contribute to the support of the man who has dedicated himself to the work of the ministry, and who gives up his time and his life to preach the Gospel." - Adam Clarke

7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

This is a general rule in life. "Karma" is nonsense, but sowing and reaping is a biblical truth. After this verse we get first an example of this rule applied to salvation, and then in verse 9 as pertaining to Heavenly rewards.

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.

Sowing to the flesh or to the law, as in trusting in the flesh and the works of the flesh, will yield corruption. Sowing to the Spirit, meaning to put your trust in the Holy Spirit leads to salvation. When you sow seeds you put them where you think they will get results, so where you look to for results is what this verse is talking about.

The word "flesh" is used 16 times in Galatians which is more than in any other NT book except Romans which is over 3x the length of Galatians by word count. In chapter 4 we see that the son by the bondwoman was born according to the flesh (the Law), and the other was by promise (Faith). Same main theme through the whole book.

9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

Now an encouragement to work, which goes well with the next verse. Do good, do it often and we will reap rewards at the end.

10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

Especially to fellow believers. Can this be done outside a church setting? Rarely. In a church? Absolutely.

"The simple rule is, that we are favored with the opportunity, and that we have the power. It is not that we are to do it when it is convenient; or when it will advance the interest of a party; or when it may contribute to our fame; the rule is, that we are to do it when we have the opportunity." - Albert Barnes

11 Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand.

The simple meaning is most likely that Paul wrote this himself rather than dictating it to someone else (see Romans 16:22).

Others view this is Paul writing in large letters to convey his seriousness and intensity.

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.

The judaizers want to make a show of the flesh, and by outward expression appear noble and righteous. They compelled others to get circumcised to say, "See look at my good works in proselytizing!"

It also seems that they did this out of fear of the Jews who would persecute them for not doing in. This is a hallmark of a cult. See Galatians 5:11.

Matthew 23:27, Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.

13 For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh.

Even the most pious looking Jews kept, or ever kept, the Law. They simply want to boast in what they have convinced you to do. Notice their boast is not in God but in circumcision.

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.

Amen! We should all say the same (See 1 Corinthians 1:29-31 & Jeremiah 9:23-24).

All the things of the world had become dead, been crucified. They no longer held any power. When we trust in Christ the world is put to death by the cross.

15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.

Circumcision for believers is completely pointless. It doesn't hurt or help anyone.

We are a new creation by being born again.

16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.

Peace be upon those that acknowledge the truth just presented.

Who are the Israel of God?

"...the entire body of real believers in Christ, who, as portrayed in this Epistle, are 'children of promise after the fashion of Isaac' (Galatians 4:28), Abraham's seed and heirs of the promise (Galatians 3:29), and the children of "the upper Jerusalem, which is our mother" (Galatians 4:26)." - The Pulpit Commentaries

"The true Christians, called here the Israel of God, to distinguish them from Israel according to the flesh." - Adam Clarke

"...the Israel, or Israelites indeed, the spiritual Israel, as distinct from Israel according to the flesh; see 1 Corinthians 10:18." - John Gill

And thus have all commentators viewed it for the vast majority of Christian history.

17 From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.

He has suffered for the cause of Christ, for preaching truth (see verse 12 and 5:11), and appears to request of the Galatians to not add to that by going back to the law.

"...just as a true soldier is not ashamed of battle scars for his country, so was Paul not ashamed of body scars received in labor for his Master, 2 Corinthians 4:10; 2 Corinthians 11:23-25; Colossians 1:24." - Garner-Howes

18 Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

The word Brethren is at the end of the sentence in Greek (before amen), showing emphasis and perhaps a desire to show his affection for the Galatians.


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