Galatians 6:1-17 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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We Will Reap a Harvest
Comments for Study 6

Galatians 6:1-17
Memory Verse: 9


I. Carry Each Other's Burdens (1-6)

two men studying together

>1. Who is Paul addressing in verse 1?

* Galatians 6:1a "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently."

* "Brothers" -Paul uses "brothers" to address the Christians twelve times in this letter. He was a Jew and most of them were Gentiles; Greeks and Romans. In Jesus we have been made a family, the family of God. By using this he also pointed out that the members of a congregation are related through and because of Jesus. The modern world has seen a breakdown in families. So it's harder for us to understand what it means to be in one. Most families were a lot closer in those days.

* "you who are spiritual" -Paul had been writing about the Holy Spirit, encouraging us to walk in the Spirit, live by the Spirit, and keep in step with the Spirit. Not all who claim to be following Christ are spiritual. Some follow the carnal nature. Here, Paul is addressing the Christians who live by the Spirit.

* "you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 2:5)

* Jesus taught that there will be some in congregations that look like sheep, but are wolves in sheep clothing. He also washed his disciples feet saying, "A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you." (John 13:10) He meant when they sin they need him to wash their new sin away. We should not be surprised to see someone caught in sin.

* Jesus said, "Do not judge; or you too will be judged." (Matthew 7:1)

>Can a brother sin?

* "if someone is caught in a sin" -"Someone" here is a person in your congregation. Sin here is a violation of not only the written law, but also can be the law of the Spirit. Jesus gave a series of spiritual laws during his ministry too. The most commonly known one is, "Love each other as I have loved you."

* Think of those in your congregation, they are your family. Are they perfect yet? No. Are you perfect yet? No.

* Do not think that once a person accepts Jesus as Savior and Lord, which is when they receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, they and you are incapable of sin. If that were true, then why did not apostles warn the congregations again and again about keeping from sins? We are even given examples of when some of the apostles sinned, that is were not in-step with the Spirit's will, after Pentecost.

>How should the spiritual deal with that person?

* "restore" -"Restore" here is "katartizo" in Greek and can be translated "make perfect", "be perfect", and "prepare". This verb is used elsewhere for setting bones, mending nets, or bringing factions together.

* "him gently" -Jesus is gentle in heart. Consider how he restored Peter after he had denied him three times. Consider how he treated the woman the Pharisees had caught in the act of adultery. Consider how he treated Nicodemus and the woman by the well. Consider how he endured Judas who betrayed him.

* We are not below receiving help from other Christians. We are not above giving help to others. We function as a unit. We function as an active community of family members for the common good.

* Do you know of a fellow believer who is going through hard times; whether spiritually, physically, mentally, socially, financially, and/or interpersonally? Humbly and gently reach out to that person.

* Jesus said, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:34-35)

* Matthew 18:18-20 and 1 Timothy 5:19-20 offer more guidelines for dealing with a sinning brother.

* Consider what Paul had been writing about in this letter, specifically concerning the Judaizer(s). What would the congregation now think of the person, or group of persons who had been teaching circumcision and following the Old Covenant? Paul did and so wrote how to deal with that person here. The "spiritual" are the ones who walked in the Spirit and the "one (who) was caught in sin" was those who were living according to the flesh including religious activities that seemed spiritual.

* Paul reaffirms in these verses what he had said earlier, "The entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command, "Love your neighbor as yourself." (Gal. 5:14) Here he says, "Carry each other's burdens" and "Let us do good to all people."

The people who became legalistic in Galatia started to devouring each other. This always happens when seeking justification by the law and not living by the Spirit. They rebuked each other harshly, not gently. They were not doing good towards others. Instead, they became legalistic finger pointing judges.

The legalistic did not judge themselves correctly. They became proud thinking themselves good law keepers. Jesus said, "First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from you brother's eye." meaning the same thing as what Paul is saying "Each one should carry their own load." and "Each one should test their own actions."

Prayer and meditation, personal and group Bible study, and mentoring and being mentored help me examine myself before God. The Holy Spirit in my heart uses these times to examine what God is doing around me for me, in me to change my character to be like Christ, and preparing the way he wants me to go.

I hear a lot of advice, often conflicting each other. I get confused and am trouble by the conflicti.g words.. Yesterday I spoke with a mature man. He said, "Understand that advice is only their opinion. You need to decide for yourself. Everyone is uniquely made." When I decide for myself I do so before God alone and with God.

>What is possible for the spiritual according to 1b?

* Galatians 6:1b "But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted."

* "But watch yourself" -A common warning in the Bible and used twice in this letter. (Galatians 5:15, 6:1) Watching means to pay attention to our motives and actions. It means being spiritually alert. Jesus told his disciples just before he was arrested, "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." (Mark 14:38) The did neither and all ran away. Peter was given a special warning during the Last Supper, and still did not keep watch. So he denied Jesus three times.

* "or you also may be tempted" -All Christians are tempted. The temptation we receive is nothing that is not common among every one else. (1 Corinthians 10:13) How are we tempted when helping to restore a fellow believer who has sinned? We may fall to the temptation to commit the same sin. We may also be tempted to judge them. We may be tempted to not treat then gently. We may be tempted to think we are better than them.

* Being tempted is not the same as sinning. All are tempted. Even Jesus was tempted. An example of the difference is when a man accidentally sees a billboard with a scantily dressed woman on it and turns away so as not to see it. That is tempted to look again. He does not sin unless he turns back to look at the billboard again. Paul warns against temptation, not sinning. Why? Because we are to resist temptation as was written of in the previous chapter.

* 1 Corinthians 5:1-13 and 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15 deals with how te treat a brother who rejects admonition.

* Romans 12:3-6 and 2 Corinthians 10:12-18 offer further insight for a correct view of oneself.

carry burden

>2. What is the burdens mentioned in verse 2?

* Galatians 6:2 "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ."

* "burdens" -The Greek word used here is an unsought and oppressive burden with emphasis on moral burdens and weaknesses. It is not the same word as in verse 5.

* "Carry each other's burdens" -Jesus said, "In this life you will have trouble." The Beatitudes shows that the members of his kingdom while in this world will be "poor in spirit", "mourn", "meek", "hunger and thirst for righteousness", and "persecuted because of righteousness". We are not to carry the burdens of living in this world alone. The Spirit is with us and we have fellow believers to help us.

* "in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ" -To fulfill the law of Christ one needs to practice it, not just hear it.

* In order to fulfill this word we need to continually meet together as a congregation. This meeting is in the flesh; not over the internet, the television, the phone, and/or the radio. My generation has slowly stopped meeting together in Bible studies, prayer meetings, fellowship meals, and worship services. They have slowly grown apart from their brothers and sisters in Christ. In doing so we are loosing one of our support systems.

>What is the law of Christ? (John 13:34)

* John 13:34 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another."

* Paul has previous told them that we are not under the law. However, here he speaks of the law of Christ. Are we free from this law too? No. This law trumps the old covenant laws.

>3. Considering this whole letter, who thought they were somebody? (3)

* Galatians 6:3 "If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself."

* "If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing" -Paul is refering to the people who were trying to convince the congregation in Galatia that they should live by all the Old Testament laws and Jewish culture (perhaps even some of the practices of Jewish mysticism) as he had just wrote about. This people thought that their culture and beliefs were superior to the Galatian culture and the apostles teachings concerning Jesus and Christian living. They thought that all they and their ancestors did was blessed and sanctioned by God. They thought they were somebody and everybody should follow them.

* "he deceives himself" -The deception is pride of self.

* Jesus is humble. (Philippians 2:6-8) This is amazing considering his place and very being is better than all of creation. If this is how the Son is, how much more should we be humble?

* The first three verses in this chapter could be rewritten to say, "You claim a superior spirituality? Prove it, then, by acting spiritually in this case." (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries)

* Some believe that what was happening in this congregation was the beginnings of the Gnostic movement which John wrote about forty years later. "The later Gnostic associations of the (Greek) word "pneumatikos" (in verse one) "as meaning those who are 'libertines' because they are free from all restraints save those of the direct leading of the Spirit" are probably irrelevant here. It is quite likely that one of the parties in Galatia used this as a title. 1 Corinthians 3:1, however, uses the word in a good sense as opposed to 'sarkinoi', 'earthy-minded Christians', and "nepioi, 'immature Christians'.


>How can we test our own actions? (4-5; Mark 4:9)

* Galatians 6:4-5 "Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else"

* Mark 4:9 "Then Jesus said, 'He who has ears to hear, let him hear.'"

* "Each one should test his own actions" -We can examine our motives prayerfully and honestly through the Holy Spirit and the Word. This is a personal act that should start alone in prayer with God. This is not someone examining and testing us. This is a personal act. Cults have leaders, elders, shepherds, and mentors examine and test those under them. Who do we use as the standard to this test? Jesus. We should examine ourselves according to the living Word of God. James wrote, "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it--he will be blessed in what he does." (James 1:22-25)

* "Then he can take pride in himself" -Examining our motives, mission work and responsibilities, and our actions in the perfect example of Jesus is always humbling at first, then its edifying when accomplished. When the Spirit reveals some part of our lives that needs to be changed and we prayerfully are able to overcome and grow in the image of Jesus we are blessed with a type of pride and joy on the day of judgment. Furthermore, when we have done the work the Lord Jesus gives us in this world, how satisfying it will be on the day we stand before him and give an account of our life.

* "without comparing himself to somebody else" -We should never compare ourselves to others. Coveting other's materials, other's bodies, and other's mission work and responsibilities are similar sins in the fact that it shows contempt for God who put us where we are and with what we have. We should appreciate our uniqueness for the task given us. God loves us as he had made us and is making us. God sees us now and sees us as we will be when he is complete with us. We are glory in the making. There is no need to compare ourselves to others and wish for more nor to take pride that we are better.

>Verse 2 states we are to carry each other's burden; then whose load does verse 5 state we should carry?

* Galatians 6:5 "for each one should carry his own load."

* "his own" -Each member of the body of Christ has a load to carry.

>What does this mean? (Matt. 11:28-30)

* Matthew 11:28-30 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

* Matthew Henry wrote, "The other argument which the apostle uses to press upon us this duty of proving our own work is that every man shall bear his own burden (5), the meaning of which is that at the great day every one shall be reckoned with according as his behaviour here has been. He supposes that there is a day coming when we must all give an account of ourselves to God; and he declares that then the judgment will proceed, and the sentence pass, not according to the sentiments of the world concerning us, or any ungrounded opinion we may have had of ourselves, or upon our having been better or worse than others, but according as our state and behaviour have really been in the sight of God. And, if there be such an awful time to be expected, when he will render to every one according to his works, surely there is the greatest reason why we should prove our own works now: if we must certainly be called to an account hereafter, surely we ought to be often calling ourselves to an account here, to see whether or no we are such as God will own and approve then: and, as this is our duty, so if it were more our practice we should entertain more becoming thoughts both of ourselves and our fellow-Christians, and instead of bearing hard upon one another, on account of any mistakes or failings we may be guilty of, we should be more ready to fulfil that law of Christ by which we must be judged in bearing one another's burdens."

* The "for" at the beginning of the verse connects it with verse 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; and 2 Corinthians 5:10). (NIV Study Bible)

* Two different kinds of burdens are referred to here. The first translates to Greek "baros", meaning a heavy weight, used here to represent the cares, sorrows, and tribulations of life. Christians are to help carry the load of these burdens that weigh down fellow Christians. The second "burden" (5) translates the Greek "phortion", which was something to be borne, not necessarily a heavy object. One example of the use of this word in the first century was for a bill or invoice for a property tax. If Paul was using the word in this sense, he may have been thinking of that which a Christian must bear at the judgment seat of Christ for unacceptable deeds done in the flesh as a Christian. (Romans 14:12; and 1 Corinthians 3:10-15) This interpretation recognizes a close connection between 6:4 and 6:5. Of this Harrision writes in The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, "Each (Christian) had better evaluate himself aright now, in preparation for the Lord's judgement of him in the coming day, when he must "bear his own burden". He will be held responsible for his own life and work. (Romans 14:12)" The bright truth in connection with this coming judgement is that Christ offers to help Christians NOW to build with that which will service the fire of judgment. (1 Corinthians 3:14) In this connection also it is interesting to notice that Jesus used the word "phortion" (burden) in His invitation to souls burdened with the sin problem, "Come to Me all you who labor and are heavily burdened (phortion), and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you... for My yoke is easy and My burden (phortion) is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)" (Galatians - a Self-Study Guide, Irving L. Jensen)

* Are you carrying any burden, doing any work for the Kingdom of God?

>4. What does verse 6 mean?

* Galatians 6:6 "Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor."

One tenth

* See a picture of two stacks of coins to the right; one with nine and one with one.

* "Anyone who receives instruction in the word" -All Christians should study the Bible; both on their own and in a Bible study group with a spiritual and knowledgeable Bible teacher. How often the group meets depends on the group, but should be at least once a week for at least half of the calendar year.

* "must share all good things with his instructor" -The Bible teacher should receive some kind of payment for their efforts; money, materials, food, etc.

* Bible commentaries and study guides are bought and thus those who wrote them are paid. Sunday school teachers probably gets a little gift each year. Pastors received a salary.

* The materials offered on this site are free. However, please consider donating to this site. In light of this word shouldn't you obey it?

II. A Man Reaps What He Sows (7-10)

>5. According to verse 7 can a brother be deceived?

* Galatians 6:7 "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows."

* "Do not be deceived" -This implies that a believer in Jesus can be deceived.

>Why mention that now?

* Paul had just stated how we should each work for the Kingdom of God, carrying our burden. Now he gives a warning to the idle in the church. God cannot be fooled. He knows everything. We cannot deceive him. On judgment day all our activities in this life will be revealed.

>What does it mean "God cannot be mocked"?

* "God cannot be mocked" -We cannot fool God. We can hide anything from God. He knows all and everything.

One tenth

>6. What can a brother look forward to based on how he lives his life now? (8)

* Galatians 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."

* "The one who sows to please his sinful nature" -Paul words here are based on Jesus' teaching, The Parable of the Sower. (Matthew 4:1-20) He is referring back to what he had wrote in chapter five. What burden are we carrying? Are we engaging in the work of spreading the Gospel? Are we working for the church of Christ? Or are we doing what is best for us?

* "from that nature will reap destruction" -Just because a person hears the gospel and thinks its a good word, does not mean he will escape judgment. He must also practice what he has heard in the gospel. If we continue in a selfish life, pleasing our flesh, then we will not enter the kingdom of God. See the ending of chapter 5. Consider this; its a very hot and humid summer day, the kind that people die from. Someone tells you about a pool full of cool water. You like the thought of swimming in the pool so you go to it. You walk up to the edge of the water and look at the pool. You agree it looks cool and refreshing. Then you walk around the perimeter and say to yourself, "This is a good pool. I am so hot, I will die if I don't cool down and this pool could cool me down." However, you decide you don't want to go to the effort of jumping in and getting wet. You agree getting in is a good idea, but you never do it and so you die of heat exhaustion. This is what it is like to hear the word, think it is good, and then do not obey it. You will be like the second type of soil in Jesus' Parable of the Sower.

* "the one who sows to please the Spirit" -Pleasing the Spirit is living by the Spirit, walking in the Spirit, and following the Spirit's leading. The Spirit leads us to Jesus, to follow his example and words.

* "from the Spirit will reap eternal life" -The Spirit gives eternal life. If we do not follow his leading in this life it will be to late to start following once we die. We must make a decision right now. Make a decision right now, chose to serve others.

>According to verse 9, what might happen if we give up on doing good?

* Galatians 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."

* "Let us not become weary in doing good" -The work of the kingdom of God is not easy. As the former verses say, it is a burden. We can become burned out. We can give up, like the third seed of Jesus' Parable of the Sower.

* "for at the proper time we will reap a harvest" -The time of harvest of our labors is the Bema Seat of Christ. When Jesus comes again and establishes his kingdom all those who have died in him will rise and their lives will be examined.

* "if we do not give up" -Once we start to walk with Jesus we need to continue the walk. We need to continue to obey his command.

* There is always a chance for a person to return to service in Christ. Perhaps you accepted the gospel at a young age and now you are much older. You still have a chance to repent, change your actions. You can still return to Jesus and his church.

>Why might a brother grow weary in doing good? (Matt. 5:10-12)

* Matthew 5:10-12 "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

* "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings." (1 Peter 5:8-9)

* We are in a spiritual battle.

* Satan will send people to us to discourage us, the worse are the wolves in sheep's clothing.

* Jesus' parable of the Mustard Seed (Mark 4:30-34) has birds of the air that come to eat the seeds, our efforts. These birds are Satan's secret followers within the body of Christ. They are like the Judaizers Paul had warned the Galatian Christians about.

>7. Who are we to do good to? (10a)

* Galatians 6:10a "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people"

* "Therefore" -A conclusion to the points beforehand is about to be made.

* "as we have opportunity" -God opens up opportunities for his children. We all have opportunities.

* "let us do good to all people" -We are to do good to all people, not just the people of God. Jesus used the Parable of the Samaritan to illustrate this. (Luke 10:25-37)

>In doing good to all people who do some believers forget to do good to? (10b)

* Galatians 6:10b "especially to those who belong to the family of believers."

* "especially" -First he mentions all, but now he makes a specific direction.

* "the family of believers" -Each congregation has problems among believers from time to time.

* Doing good to those who have wronged us in the past is very hard to do. Doing good to family members who we believe did bad is very hard to do. Doing good to co-workers who continually treat us poorly is not easy. Jesus taught Peter to forgive seventy-seven times. (Matthew 18:22)

III. A New Creation (11-18)


>8. Why might Paul give notice to his writing style? (11)

* Galatians 6:11 "See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!"

* Many believe Paul had poor vision which affected his writing.

* Paul makes note of his writing as to ensure the reader that he wrote this letter. This is not a forged letter. A group of people had made claims that they and their message was "blessed" by the apostles. They even went as far as to forge papers.

* Paul sums up the main point of his letter. I see here the motivation of the legalistic leaders who were trying to convince the men in Galatia congregatioms to be circumcised and the motivation of Paul.

The legalistic minded wanted to impress people so that they wouldn't be persecuted for the cross of Christ and so they could brag. They had selfish motives. Living by the law is living by the flesh. For the law is expressed in actions of the flesh. Though the law is base on the state of my fallen heart it can do nothing to transform it.

The cross of Christ frees me to live by the Spirit of God. Living by the Spirit is expressed through changed heart motivations; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and self control.

I see yet again that I need to examine my heart base motives. Why do I do that? Why do I say that? Why do I think that? Why do I believe that? Lord change my heart.

Paul goes as far as calling the Gentiles in Galatia who live by the Spirit the true Israel of God. Interesting because God told Abraham that all who would be in his house must be circumcised. As John also wrote in his gospel, I am true Israel by God, not by human actions. As Jesus taught, my heart is circumcised. (John 1:12-13).

Jesus's peace and mercy is mine by faith.

"Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation." My heart rejoices in Jesus for though I have little in this world, I am a child of true Israel and have the gift of the Spirit.

>9. What were some trying to avoid?

* Galatians 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."

* "Those who want to make a good impression outwardly" -They give a good show of devotion to God to impress people.

* "are trying to compel you to be circumcised" -Paul repeats what was stated earlier in the letter.

* "The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ" -They have selfish motives and motives to please the flesh.

Jesus with sign over him saying Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.

>Why would being circumcised stop persecution?

* Religious rites and ceremony are much easier then living by faith.

* Religious rites can give one the false sense of eternal life. Its the easy and wide road that many have taken. Go to church every once and a while and the rest of the time do whatever you want is not a life that is pleasing to God. Saying, "I believe," and then living for oneself is not what Jesus taught.

>How can that be applied in our day?

* Live by faith.

* Live for the gospel.

* Live a life of servitude.

>What other benefit do they get? (13)

* Galatians 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."

* "Not even those who are circumcised obey the law" -Jesus showed this many times to the Pharisees and teachers of the law.

* "that they may boast about your flesh" -Birds of a feather flock together. The illusion of many does not make the ways of the many right.

* Sin seeks comfort by making others sinners.

* False leaders seek justification for selfish lives by making others just like them.

>10. What is the cross of Christ to us? (14)

* Galatians 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."

* "May I never boast" -Boast in ones credentials and works to draw people to oneself is wrong.

* "except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ" -We should point people to Jesus.

* "through which the world has been crucified to me" -The world is all that is against Christ.

* "and I to the world" -He does not seek the easy life in this world.

>How often do you boast about the cross of Christ?

* To you preach the gospel of the cross?

>What is the new creation? (15-16)

* Galatians 6:15-16 "Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation. Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God."

* "what counts is a new creation" -The new creation in through the Holy Spirit.

* "Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule" -Just as he started the letter.

* "even to the Israel of God" -We are made the Israel of God by the grace of God.

Jesus' strips on his back.

>What can we learn from Paul's final greetings?

* Galatians 6:17-18 "Finally, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen."

* "Finally," -Paul concludes with a very simple ending. This is different than all his other letters. He does not address anyone by name.

* "let no one cause me trouble" -Some have been doing so.

* "for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus" -Paul had been wiped and scourged.

* "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers." -He repeats as he started the letter.

* "Amen." -Meaning, "I agree and let it be so."


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