FOLLOW THE SPIRIT
Galatians 6:1-18 July 12 2009
This chapter chiefly consists of two parts. In the former the apostle gives us several plain and practical directions, which more especially tend to instruct Christians in their duty to one another, and to promote the communion of saints in love . In the latter he revives the main design of the epistle, which was to fortify the Galatians against the arts of their judaizing teachers, and confirm them in the truth and liberty of the gospel, for which purpose he, Gives them the true character of these teachers, and shows them from what motives, and with what views, they acted . And, On the other hand he acquaints them with his own temper and behaviour. From both these they might easily see how little reason they had to slight him, and to fall in with them. And then he concludes the epistle with a solemn benediction.
1. Exhortations to meekness , and gentleness, and humility . (Gal.6:1-5)
Gal. 6:1 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. 6:2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 6:3 If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 6:4 Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, 6:5 for each one should carry his own load.
Brothers . (Gal.1:2). You who are Spiritual . Contrast with 1Co 3:1-3. RESTORE. The Greek for this verb is used elsewhere for setting bones, mending nets, or bringing factions together. Carry each other’s burdens . The emphasis is on moral burdens or weaknesses (Gal 6:1; Romans 15:1-3). Law of Christ. (1Con 9:21). Each one should test his own actions . The emphasis here is on personal responsibility (1Con 11:28; 2Con 13:5). Carry his own load . The “for” at the beginning of the verse connects it with ( Gal. 6:4). Each of us is responsible before God. The reference may be to the future judgment (the verb is in the future tense), when every person will give an account to God (Romans 14:12; 2Con 5:10).
We are to bear one another’s burdens. So we shall fulfil the law of Christ. This obliges to mutual forbearance and compassion towards each other, agreeably to his example. It becomes us to bear one another’s burdens, as fellow-travelers. It is very common for a man to look upon himself as wiser and better than other men, and as fit to dictate to them. Such a one deceives himself; by pretending to what he has not, he puts a cheat upon himself, and sooner or later will find the sad effects. This will never gain esteem, either with God or men. Every one is advised to prove his own work. The better we know our own hearts and ways, the less shall we despise others, and the more be disposed to help them under infirmities and afflictions. How light so ever men’s sins seem to them when committed, yet they will be found a heavy burden, when they come to reckon with God about them. No man can pay a ransom for his brother; and sin is a burden to the soul. It is a spiritual burden; and the less a man feels it to be such, the more cause has he to suspect himself. Most men are dead in their sins, and therefore have no sight or sense of the spiritual burden of sin. Feeling the weight and burden of our sins, we must seek to be eased thereof by the Saviour, and be warned against every sin.
2. To kindness towards all men , especially believers.
Gal. 6:6 Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor. 6:7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 6:8 The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 6:9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 6:10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. 6:11 See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!
Share all good things. ( Php 4:14-19). Reaps what he sows . (2Con 9:6). As (Gal.6:8-9) show, the principle applies not only negatively but also positively.
( Romans 8:13). Destruction . (Gal.5:19-21). Eternal life . In (Gal.5:21) Paul speaks of inheriting “the kingdom of God,” here of reaping “eternal life.” The first focuses on the realm (sphere, context) that will be inherited (as Israel inherited the promised land); the second focuses on the blessed life that will be enjoyed in that realm. Especially to those who belong to the family of believers .(1Tim 5:8). Large letters . May have been for emphasis or, as some have suggested, because he had poor eyesight (Gal. 4:13). With my own hand. The letter up to this point had probably been dictated to a scribe, after which Paul took the pen in his own hand and finished the letter.
Many excuse themselves from the work of religion, though they may make a show, and profess it. They may impose upon others, yet they deceive themselves if they think to impose upon God, who knows their hearts as well as actions; and as he cannot be deceived, so he will not be mocked. Our present time is seed time; in the other world we shall reap as we sow now. As there are two sorts of sowing, one to the flesh, and the other to the Spirit, so will the reckoning be hereafter. Those who live a carnal, sensual life, must expect no other fruit from such a course than misery and ruin. But those who, under the guidance and influences of the Holy Spirit, live a life of faith in Christ, and abound in Christian graces, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. We are all very apt to tire in duty, particularly in doing good. This we should carefully watch and guard against. Only to perseverance in well-doing is the reward promised. Here is an exhortation to all to do good in their places. We should take care to do good in our life-time, and make this the business of our lives. Especially when fresh occasions offer, and as far as our power reaches.
3. The Galatians Guarded against the Judaizing teachers . (Gal.6:12-15)
Gal. 6:12 Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. 6:13 Not even those who are circumcised obey the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your flesh. 6:14 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 6:15 Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation.
Compel you to be circumcised . (Gal.2:3). To avoid being persecuted . By advocating circumcision (Gal.5:11) the Judaizers were less apt to experience opposition from the Jewish opponents to Christianity. They were thinking only of themselves. See Introduction: Occasion and Purpose. Boast except in the cross . (1Con 1:31; 2:2). The world. All that is against God. Crucified to me , and I to the world . (Gal.2:19-20; 5:24; Jas 4:4; 1John 2:15). New creation . In Christ man undergoes a transformation that results in an entirely new being. Creation again takes place (2Con 5:17).
Proud, vain, and carnal hearts, are content with just so much religion as will help to keep up a fair show. But the apostle professes his own faith, hope, and joy; and that his principal glory was in the cross of Christ. By which is here meant, his sufferings and death on the cross, the doctrine of salvation by a crucified Redeemer. By Christ, or by the cross of Christ, the world is crucified to the believer, and he to the world. The more we consider the sufferings of the Redeemer from the world, the less likely shall we be to love the world. The apostle was as little affected by its charms, as a beholder would be by any thing which had been graceful in the face of a crucified person, when he beholds it blackened in the agonies of death. He was no more affected by the objects around him, than one who is expiring would be struck with any of the prospects his dying eyes might view from the cross on which he hung. And as to those who have truly believed in Christ Jesus, all things are counted as utterly worthless compared with him. There is a new creation; old things are passed away, and new views and dispositions are brought in under the regenerating influences of God the Holy Spirit. Believers are brought into a new world, and being created in Christ Jesus unto good works, are formed to a life of holiness. It is a change of mind and heart, whereby we are enabled to believe in the Lord Jesus, and to live to God; and where this inward, practical religion is wanting, outward professions, or names, will never stand in any stead.
4. A Solemn Blessing . (Gal. 6:16-18)
Gal. 6:16 Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God. 6:17 Finally, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. 6:18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.
Peace and Mercy . (Psalms 125:5;128:6). This Rule . (Gal. 6:14-15). Israel of God . In contrast to “Israel according to flesh” (a literal rendering of the Greek for “people of Israel” in 1Con 10:18), the NT church, made up of believing Jews and Gentiles, is the new seed of Abraham and the heir according to the promise (Gal 3:29; Romans 9:6; Php 3:3 )—though some limit the phrase here to Christian Jews (translating the conjunction as “and” instead of “even”). Mark of Jesus . In ancient times the Greek word for “marks” was used of the brand that identified slaves or animals. Paul’s suffering (stoning, Acts 14:19; beatings, Acts 16:22; 2Con 11:25; illness, 2Con 12:7; Gal 4:13-14) marked him as a “servant of Christ” (Gal.1:10; 2Con 4:10). AMEN. A word of confirmation often used at the close of a doxology or benediction.
A new creation to the image of Christ, as showing faith in him, is the greatest distinction between one man and another, and a blessing is declared on all who walk according to this rule. The blessings are, peace and mercy. Peace with God and our conscience, and all the comforts of this life, as far as they are needful. And mercy, an interest in the free love and favour of God in Christ, the spring and fountain of all other blessings. The written word of God is the rule we are to go by, both in its doctrines and precepts. May his grace ever be with our spirit, to sanctify, quicken, and cheer us, and may we always be ready to maintain the honour of that which is indeed our life. The apostle had in his body the marks of the Lord Jesus, the scars of wounds from persecuting enemies, for his cleaving to Christ, and the doctrine of the gospel. The apostle calls the Galatians his brethren, therein he shows his humility and his tender affection for them; and he takes his leave with a very serious prayer, that they might enjoy the favour of Christ Jesus, both in its effects and in its evidences. We need desire no more to make us happy than the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle does not pray that the law of Moses, or the righteousness of works, but that the grace of Christ, might be with them; that it might be in their hearts and with their spirits, quickening, comforting, and strengthening them: to all which he sets his Amen; signifying his desire that so it might be, and his faith that so it would be.
The apostle, having now finished what he intended to write for the conviction and recovery of the churches of Galatia, concludes the epistle with his apostolical benediction, (Gal.6:18). He calls them his brethren, wherein he shows his great humility, and the tender affection he had for them, notwithstanding the ill treatment he had met with from them; and takes his leave of them with this very serious and affectionate prayer, that the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ may be with their spirit. This was a usual farewell wish of the apostle’s, as we see, (Rom.16:20, 24 ;1Con. 16:23). And herein he prays that they might enjoy the favour of Christ, both in its special effects and its sensible evidences, that they might receive from him all that grace which was needful to guide them in their way, to strengthen them in their work, to establish them in their Christian course, and to encourage and comfort them under all the trials of life and the prospect of death itself. This is fitly called the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, as he is both the sole purchaser and the appointed dispenser of it; and though these churches had done enough to forfeit it, by suffering themselves to be drawn into an opinion and practice highly dishonourable to Christ, as well as dangerous to them, yet, out of his great concern for them, and knowing of what importance it was to them, he earnestly desires it on their behalf; yea, that it might be with their spirit, that they might continually experience the influences of it upon their souls, disposing and enabling them to act with sincerity and uprightness in religion. We need desire no more to make us happy than the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. This the apostle begs for these Christians, and therein shows us what we are chiefly concerned to obtain; and, both for their and our encouragement to hope for it, he adds his Amen.