Exhortations Continued; to Forbearance and
Humility; Liberality to Teachers and in
General. Postscript and
1. Brethren—An expression of kindness to
conciliate attention. Translate as Greek, "If a man even
be overtaken" (that is, caught in the very act [Alford and Ellicott]:
BEFORE he expects: unexpectedly). Bengel explains the "before" in the
Greek compound verb, "If a man be overtaken in a fault before
ourselves": If another has really been overtaken in a fault
the first; for often he who is first to find fault, is
the very one who has first transgressed.
a fault—Greek, "a
transgression," "a fall"; such as a falling back into legal bondage.
Here he gives monition to those who have not so fallen, "the
spiritual," to be not "vainglorious" (Ga 5:26), but forbearing to such (Ro 15:1).
restore—The Greek is used of a
dislocated limb, reduced to its place. Such is the tenderness with
which we should treat a fallen member of the Church in restoring him to
a better state.
the spirit of meekness—the
meekness which is the gift of the Holy Spirit working in our
spirit (Ga 5:22, 25). "Meekness" is that temper of spirit
towards God whereby we accept His dealings without disputing; then,
towards men, whereby we endure meekly their provocations, and do not
withdraw ourselves from the burdens which their sins impose upon us
considering thyself—Transition from
the plural to the singular. When congregations are addressed
collectively, each individual should take home the monition to
thou also be tempted—as is likely to
happen to those who reprove others without meekness (compare Mt 7:2-5; 2Ti 2:25; Jas 2:13).
2. If ye, legalists, must "bear burdens," then
instead of legal burdens (Mt 23:4),
"bear one another's burdens," literally, "weights." Distinguished by
Bengel from "burden," Ga 6:4 (a different Greek word, "load"):
"weights" exceed the strength of those under them; "burden" is
proportioned to the strength.
so fulfil—or as other old manuscripts
read, "so ye will fulfil," Greek, "fill up," "thoroughly
the law of Christ—namely, "love"
5:14). Since ye desire "the
law," then fulfil the law of Christ, which is not made up of various
minute observances, but whose sole "burden" is "love" (Joh 13:34;
15:12); Ro 15:3 gives Christ as the example in the
particular duty here.
3. Self-conceit, the chief hindrance to
forbearance and sympathy towards our fellow men, must be laid
something—possessed of some spiritual
pre-eminence, so as to be exempt from the frailty of other men.
when he is nothing—The Greek is
subjective: "Being, if he would come to himself, and look on the real
fact, nothing" [Alford] (Ga 6:2,
6; Ro 12:3; 1Co 8:2).
deceiveth himself—literally, "he
mentally deceives himself." Compare Jas 1:26, "deceiveth his own heart."
4. his own work—not merely his own
opinion of himself.
have rejoicing in himself
alone—Translate, "Have his (matter for) glorying in
regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another (namely, not in
regard to his neighbor, by comparing himself with whom, he has fancied
he has matter for boasting as that neighbor's superior)." Not that
really a man by looking to "himself alone" is likely to find cause for
glorying in himself. Nay, in Ga 6:5, he
speaks of a "burden" or load, not of matter for glorying, as
what really belongs to each man. But he refers to the idea those
whom he censures had of themselves: they thought they had
cause for "glorying" in themselves, but it all arose from unjust
self-conceited comparison of themselves with others, instead of looking
at home. The only true glorying, if glorying it is to be called, is in
the testimony of a good conscience, glorying in the cross of
5. For (by this way, Ga 6:4, of proving himself, not depreciating
his neighbor by comparison) each man shall bear his own "burden," or
rather, "load" (namely, of sin and infirmity), the Greek
being different from that in Ga 6:2. This
verse does not contradict Ga 6:2. There
he tells them to bear with others' "burdens" of infirmity in sympathy;
here, that self-examination will make a man to feel he has enough to do
with "his own load" of sin, without comparing himself boastfully with
his neighbor. Compare Ga 6:3.
Instead of "thinking himself to be something," he shall feel the "load"
of his own sin: and this will lead him to bear sympathetically with his
neighbor's burden of infirmity. ÆSOP says a man carries two bags over his shoulder,
the one with his own sins hanging behind, that with his neighbor's sins
6. From the mention of bearing one another's
burdens, he passes to one way in which those burdens may be
borne—by ministering out of their earthly goods to their
spiritual teachers. The "but" in the Greek, beginning of this
verse, expresses this: I said, Each shall bear his own burden; BUT I do not intend that he should not think
of others, and especially of the wants of his ministers.
communicate unto him—"impart a share
unto his teacher": literally, "him that teacheth
in all good things—in every kind of
the good things of this life, according as the case may require
(Ro 15:27; 1Co 9:11, 14).
7. God is not mocked—The Greek
verb is, literally, to sneer with the nostrils drawn up in contempt.
God does not suffer Himself to be imposed on by empty words: He will
judge according to works, which are seeds sown for eternity of either
joy or woe. Excuses for illiberality in God's cause (Ga 6:6) seem valid before men, but are not so
before God (Ps 50:21).
soweth—especially of his resources
that—Greek, "this"; this and
reap—at the harvest, the end of the
8. Translate, "He that soweth unto his
own flesh," with a view to fulfilling its desires. He does not say,
"His spirit," as he does say, "His flesh." For in ourselves we
are not spiritual, but carnal. The flesh is devoted to
corruption—that is, destruction (Php 3:19). Compare as to the deliverance of
believers from "corruption" (Ro 8:21). The
use of the term "corruption" instead, implies that destruction
is not an arbitrary punishment of fleshly-mindedness, but is its
natural fruit; the corrupt flesh producing corruption, which is
another word for destruction: corruption is the fault, and corruption
the punishment (see on 1Co 3:17; 2Pe 2:12). Future life only expands the seed sown
here. Men cannot mock God because they can deceive themselves. They who
sow tares cannot reap wheat. They alone reap life eternal who sow to
the Spirit (Ps 126:6;
Pr 11:18; 22:8; Ho 8:7; 10:12; Lu 16:25; Ro 8:11; Jas 5:7).
9. (2Th 3:13). And when we do good, let us also
persevere in it without fainting.
in due season—in its own proper
season, God's own time (1Ti 6:15).
faint not—literally, "be relaxed."
Stronger than "be not weary." Weary of well-doing refers to the
will; "faint not" to relaxation of the powers [Bengel]. No one should faint, as in an earthly
harvest sometimes happens.
10. Translate, "So then, according as
(that is, in proportion as) we have season (that is, opportunity), let
us work (a distinct Greek verb from that for "do," in
Ga 6:9) that which is (in each
case) good." As thou art able, and while thou art able, and when
thou art able (Ec 9:10). We
have now the "season" for sowing, as also there will be
hereafter the "due season" (Ga 6:9) for
reaping. The whole life is, in one sense, the "seasonable
opportunity" to us: and, in a narrower sense, there occur in it more
especially convenient seasons. The latter are sometimes lost in looking
for still more convenient seasons (Ac 24:25). We shall not always have the
opportunity "we have" now. Satan is sharpened to the greater zeal in
injuring us, by the shortness of his time (Re 12:12). Let us be sharpened to the greater
zeal in well-doing by the shortness of ours.
them who are of the household—Every
right-minded man does well to the members of his own family (1Ti 5:8); so believers are to do to those
of the household of faith, that is, those whom faith has made
members of "the household of God" (Eph 2:19): "the house of God" (1Ti 3:15; 1Pe
11. Rather, "See in how large letters I
have written." The Greek is translated "how great" in Heb 7:4, the only other passage where it
occurs in the New Testament. Owing to his weakness of eyes (Ga 4:15) he wrote in large letters. So
Jerome. All the oldest manuscripts are
written in uncial, that is, capital letters, the "cursive," or small
letters, being of more recent date. Paul seems to have had a difficulty
in writing, which led him to make the uncial letters larger than
ordinary writers did. The mention of these is as a token by which they
would know that he wrote the whole Epistle with his own hand; as he did
also the pastoral Epistle, which this Epistle resembles in style. He
usually dictated his Epistles to an amanuensis, excepting the
concluding salutation, which he wrote himself (Ro 16:22; 1Co
16:21). This letter, he tells
the Galatians, he writes with his own hand, no doubt in order that they
may see what a regard he had for them, in contrast to the Judaizing
6:12), who sought only their
own ease. If English Version be retained, the words, "how large
a letter (literally, 'in how large letters')," will not refer to the
length of the Epistle absolutely, but that it was a large one
for him to have written with his own hand. Neander supports English Version, as more
appropriate to the earnestness of the apostle and the tone of the
Epistle: "How large" will thus be put for "how many."
12. Contrast between his zeal in their behalf,
implied in Ga 6:11, and
the zeal for self on the part of the Judaizers.
make a fair show—(2Co 5:12).
in the flesh—in outward things.
they—it is "these" who
constrain you—by example (Ga 6:13) and importuning.
only lest—"only that they may not,"
&c. (compare Ga 5:11).
suffer persecution—They escaped in a
great degree the Jews' bitterness against Christianity and the offense
of the cross of Christ, by making the Mosaic law a necessary
preliminary; in fact, making Christian converts into Jewish
13. Translate, "For not even do they who
submit to circumcision, keep the law themselves (Ro 2:17-23), but they wish you (emphatical)
to be circumcised," &c. They arbitrarily selected circumcision out
of the whole law, as though observing it would stand instead of their
non-observance of the rest of the law.
that they may glory in your
flesh—namely, in the outward change (opposed to an inward
change wrought by the Spirit) which
they have effected in bringing you over to their own Jewish-Christian
14. Translate, "But as for me (in
opposition to those gloriers 'in your flesh,' Ga 6:13), God forbid that I," &c.
in the cross—the atoning death on the
cross. Compare Php 3:3, 7, 8, as a specimen of his glorying. The
"cross," the great object of shame to them, and to all carnal men, is
the great object of glorying to me. For by it, the worst of deaths,
Christ has destroyed all kinds of death [Augustine, Tract 36, on John, sec. 4]. We are
to testify the power of Christ's death working in us, after the manner
of crucifixion (Ga 5:24; Ro 6:5, 6).
our—He reminds the Galatians by this
pronoun, that they had a share in the "Lord Jesus Christ" (the
full name is used for greater solemnity), and therefore ought to glory
in Christ's cross, as he did.
the world—inseparably allied to the
6:13). Legal and fleshly
ordinances are merely outward, and "elements of the world" (Ga 4:3).
is—rather, as Greek, "has been
crucified to me" (Ga 2:20). He
used "crucified" for dead (Col 2:20, "dead with Christ"), to imply his
oneness with Christ crucified (Php 3:10): "the fellowship of His sufferings
being made conformable unto His death."
15. availeth—The oldest manuscripts
read, "is" (compare Ga 5:6). Not
only are they of no avail, but they are nothing. So far
are they from being matter for "glorying," that they are "nothing." But
Christ's cross is "all in all," as a subject for glorying, in "the new
creature" (Eph 2:10, 15, 16).
new creature—(2Co 5:17). A transformation by the renewal of
the mind (Ro 12:2).
16. as many—contrasting with the "as
rule—literally, a straight
rule, to detect crookedness; so a rule of life.
peace—from God (Eph 2:14-17;
Israel of God—not the Israel after the
flesh, among whom those teachers wish to enrol you; but the spiritual
seed of Abraham by faith (Ga 3:9, 29; Ro 2:28, 29; Php
17. let no man trouble me—by opposing my
apostolic authority, seeing that it is stamped by a sure seal, namely,
"I (in contrast to the Judaizing teachers who gloried in the flesh)
bear (as a high mark of honor from the King of kings)."
the marks—properly, marks branded on
slaves to indicate their owners. So Paul's scars of wounds received for
Christ's sake, indicate to whom he belongs, and in whose free and
glorious service he is (2Co 11:23-25). The Judaizing teachers gloried in the
circumcision mark in the flesh of their followers: Paul glories
in the marks of suffering for Christ on his own body (compare
Ga 6:14; Php 3:10; Col 1:24).
the Lord—omitted in the oldest
18. Brethren—Place it, as Greek,
"last" in the sentence, before the "Amen." After much rebuke and
monition, he bids them farewell with the loving expression of
brotherhood as his last parting word (see on Ga
be with your spirit—which, I trust,
will keep down the flesh (1Th 5:23; 2Ti 4:22;