The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Galatians 6

Gal 6:1

IF SOMEONE IS CAUGHT IN A SIN, YOU WHO ARE SPIRITUAL SHOULD RESTORE HIM GENTLY: "It has been said that the Christian army is the only army in the world that shoots its wounded. By this comment, it is implied that Christians attack and spiritually slay those who are already in a death struggle with sin. All too often this is true.

"It is a tricky thing to uphold the standards that God has set up for His people. On the one hand, we want to be kind, loving and forgiving. On the other hand, we have very specific examples of behavior which are not to be tolerated within the body of Christ.

"Too many times, it is a matter of approach. We see our brethren engaged in some act of sin. We jump on our white horses and gallop in to tell them that what they are doing is wrong. The problem is that most of them already know what they are doing is wrong; they simply lack the faith to stop doing it. It is like telling someone they are sick without telling them how to get well or better yet helping them get well. James comments on this attitude when he says ' of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?' It may feel like we are providing some valuable service in pointing out their malady and then riding off into the sunset, but we are in fact providing little value at all. If they don't get better, we get out the guns of withdrawal to put them out of OUR misery. In an ideal scenario, we need to roll up our spiritual shirtsleeves and build up their faith enough so that they can conquer their sin.

"There are three general kinds of sins which fall into the category of withdrawal in Scripture (examples are found in but not limited to 1Co 5, Gal 5 and Tit 3). They are unrepentant immorality, teaching false doctrine and creating a schism in the ecclesia. Another mistake we make in this area is widening or narrowing the categories. These areas have been clearly delineated for a reason. They are not for us to change or apply in a flippant fashion.

"There are certain principles in the Bible which necessarily need to be balanced. Some virtues, like love, have no need of balance. You cannot love too much. You cannot have too much balance. Other virtues, such as justice, need a proper balance. Justice is properly balanced by mercy. Both justice and mercy are virtues. However, both justice and mercy not tempered by each other can be faults. Justice left to itself is unmerciful and harsh. Mercy left to itself is anarchistic and permissive. Balanced and blended together with God's word as our guidepost, justice and mercy are kind, fair and righteous.

"How can we judge whether we are balancing both justice and mercy? You can certainly get closer to the answer by asking yourself the following questions: How would Jesus handle this situation? Am I doing everything I can to help this individual overcome his problem (and not just pointing it out)? Am I looking out solely for the best interests of the ecclesia and the individual, or are other considerations playing into this? Are the Scriptures clear on this matter so that the sin is indisputable, or is this a matter of conscience? Does the individual acknowledge or deny his problem? Is there any clear Scriptural precedent on how to resolve this problem? Am I being hypocritical by involving myself with something equally abhorrent that may not be known to others? Is my approach helpful and humble?

"In the end, we want Christ to be glorified by whatever we do. We need to remember that without qualification the greatest way to glorify Christ is to restore our erring brethren in the spirit of meekness and truth. 'Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted' " (KT).

GENTLY: See Lesson, Gentleness.

Gal 6:2

Cp Rom 15:1-3.

CARRY EACH OTHER'S BURDENS: Fruit-bearers abiding IN Christ (Joh 15:5); witness-bearers speaking FOR Christ (Act 1:8); cross-bearers following AFTER Christ (Luk 14:27); burden-bearers being LIKE Christ (Gal 6:2).

The mind lingers on a picture, perhaps well-known to many. One boy with a younger one on his back: "He ain't heavy, he's my brother!" Strain is obviously there, but he bears his burden gladly. All things are relative, aren't they? Yes, in more ways than one! We are willing to do for our families what seems intolerable if done for others. Do we sit in the meeting on Sunday morning, and feel that those with whom we break bread are really our family? We write salutations like "Dear Sir" to faceless clerks in far away cities. For all we know, we could be addressing a computer as "dear"! Are our expressions of "Brother Smith" and "Sister Jones" the same sort of formal, stylized address, or do they express a reality? If a reality, then let us live that family relationship with our brethren. Let us rejoice with them that rejoice, and weep with them that weep. "Let us bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ."

BURDENS: This word is "baros", referring to the very heavy burden that a porter might carry. Such a burden cannot easily be laid down until the porter reaches his destination. So when he becomes very weary, he may ask a wayfarer to stoop down under his load for just a few moments, to give him a short rest. The other side of the coin is seen in v 5: "For every man shall bear his own burden." This word is "phortion", a light burden, easily carried in one hand. Paul's lesson is simple: Help your brother with his heavy burdens, but carry your own light ones cheerfully!

THE LAW OF CHRIST: "I cannot understand this as meaning that the 613 commands of Moses have been replaced by a set of laws given by Jesus. For the antithesis between law and grace which the New Testament constantly draws our attention to would then be meaningless. The law of Christ surely means the law which is Christ; to be and speak and think and do as He would do is our law, a principle far more comprehensive and intrusive into our lives than mere legalism" (DH).

"Get your mind off yourself: off your 'troubles' and desires and fears, and everything that everyone does or doesn't do to you or for you. Get your mind on wholesome and constructive things. Be a plus and not a minus. Get your mind on God, and eternity, and God's Word and the needs of others. Grow up. Think big. Learn the joys of love and service. Don't wait to be asked: God has done so already. There is no restriction: any number can play (but so few do!). Be a part of Life: real living -- and not of Death. 'All things are possible to him that believeth' " (GVG).

Gal 6:5

LOAD: In ct v 2, "phortion" = a light burden, easily carried in one hand. "There is no contradiction here. A difference in the word translated 'burden' [by the KJV] shows the meaning of Paul. The burden of v 2 is a burden too great for one to bear without overstrain -- an overload. The second word means the load properly apportioned to every soldier -- his own burden. ["Every man must 'shoulder his own pack": JBP.] To share this would be to burden another unduly and unjustly; there must be a wholesome self-reliance as well as a spirit of help. But should a soldier on the march weaken, and his burden become too great for his strength, a comrade, being stronger, might take some of his load in the spirit of helpfulness and comradeship. Each must bear his own burden, but the strong must help the weak according to the law of Christ under which his soldiers serve: 'By love serve one another', not by constraint but willingly" (GbS 69).

Gal 6:6

SHARE: "Koinoneo": impl support: cp 1Co 9:11; 2Co 11:7; Phi 4:10; 1Th 2:6,9; 1Ti 5:17,18.

Gal 6:7

DO NOT BE DECEIVED: 2Th 2:1-3: "Do not be deceived... my own letter" -- cp here with the v 11.

A MAN REAPS WHAT HE SOWS: '"Whatever we put in, we get out. Every moment wasted is an eternal loss. If enough moments are wasted, all is lost. Nothing is by chance. Everything has a cause. Every action has a result: good or ill. Every moment of life is with eternal possibilities" (GVG).

"The human mind and body are incredibly marvelous creations of wisdom and capability. We do not use one hundredth of our potential. It is probably safe to say we do not use one thousandth of our potential. What the body can be trained to do in the lines of acrobatics and balance would be incredible if it were not proved by the accomplishments of some, as multiple somersaults in the air from a narrow bar, landing in perfect balance on the bar again. And as to the mind, some have memorized the whole Bible. Men spend a lifetime of effort and practice, and accomplish unbelievable marvels -- all for a corruptible crown. These people are nothing special in themselves. It's all a matter of effort and determination: of total love and zeal for some one thing in life: of working and thinking while others are playing and being amused like babies (which most people are). It's all a matter of setting a course and sticking with it singlemindedly, day in and day out. What would we be able to accomplish, if we really had a total, all-consuming love for God!

"What effort are we making to obtain an incorruptible crown? Do we imagine the riches of the universe will be just handed to us on a platter? Why us, and no one else? What is so special about us? And yet we profess to be in the 'race' for life -- 'striving' toward the mark -- earnestly preparing ourselves to the best of our ability for eternity with God. But we tend to just drift through life in ease and comfort, and unprogrammed, day-to-day meandering self-pleasing -- absurdly assuming that because we happen to be fortunate enough to have 'learned the Truth' in its bare essentials, and have gone through the motions of baptism, and show up at some of the meetings, we thereby are guaranteed eternity, while the 'heathen' world perishes. What do we think we are given seventy years preparation time for? -- just to play and accumulate and please ourselves? What unutterable, tragic folly! As we sow, so shall we reap: God is not mocked" (GVG).

What in the world is happening with our kids today? Let's see... I think it started when Madalyn Murray O'Hair complained that she didn't want any prayer in our schools, and we said okay.

Then someone said you had better not read the Bible in school -- the Bible that says thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said okay.

Remember Dr Benjamin Spock, who said we shouldn't spank our children when they misbehave, because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem? And we said, okay, we won't spank them.

Then someone said that teachers and principals better not discipline our children when they misbehave. And our administrators said... hold on, no one in this school better touch a student when they misbehave because we don't want any bad publicity, and we surely don't want to be sued.

Then someone said, let's let our daughters have abortions if they want, and we won't even have to tell their parents. And we said, that's a grand idea.

Then someone else said, let's give our sons all the condoms they want, so they can have all the "fun" they desire, and we won't have to tell their parents. And we said, that's another great idea.

And then some of our top officials said that it doesn't matter what we do in private as long as we do our jobs. And we said, as long as I have a job and the economy is good, it doesn't matter to me what anyone does in private.

So now we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to kill.

Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with reaping what we sow!

Many people sow their wild oats and then pray for a crop failure.

Gal 6:10

DO GOOD TO ALL PEOPLE: "We must thankfully enjoy the marvelous divine privilege of doing good, and serving the eternal cause of good -- not for fleshly gratification, but for spiritual gratification. There is no law against pleasure and happiness and enjoyment: they are what God intends for man. But they must not be groveling and fleshly and death-tending for man. They must be on the plane of, and in harmony with, eternity. Our pleasures must be pleasures of the Spirit. It is hard to grow up to this, and to leave all the bright baby toys behind us; just as all growing up and leaving behind is hard. But only they who tread this hard path can reach the infinitely greater pleasures of eternal maturity. It means setting out in faith up the sometimes dark and rocky road from perishing pleasures to eternal pleasures: but the light at the summit is always shining brightly to lead us on. The world prefers to live and die with its childish toys" (GVG).

"Each of us is specially designed to fulfill a role in the body of Christ. We all have gifts to share and to bless the world around us. Let us joyfully do our part -- however small or insignificant it may seem. The blessings of our Father are made manifest in our doing good to others. The health of the body improves when each part functions well" (CPv).

Gal 6:11

LARGE LETTERS: Were these last vv written larger than usual, and by Paul himself (cp 2Th 3:17; Col 4:18; 1Co 16:21) -- in order to emphasize their importance as a summary of the letter's teaching? (CGal 138).

Gal 6:14

Taking the second phrase first, (b) The "world" OUTSIDE crucifies us. And (a) we crucify the "world" INSIDE us (cp Gal 5:24).

Gal 6:15

What is a mere cutting in the flesh when compared to the scene of Christ's crucifixion?

Gal 6:17

LET NO ONE CAUSE ME TROUBLE: Cp 1Co 14:38. Paul has now said everything worth saying.

THE MARKS OF JESUS: Paul was crucified unto the world (v 14). The marks of persecution upon Paul, comparable to the branding, or "stigmata", of slaves.
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