|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
6:1-5 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-travellers. 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 soever 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.
Verse 3. - For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself (εἰ γὰρ δοκεῖ τις εϊναί τι μηδὲν ὤν φρεεναπατᾷ ἑαυτόν [Receptus, ἑαυτὸν φρεναπατᾷ; for if a man is nothing and thinketh himself to be something, he is deceiving his own soul. The conjunction "for" points back to the practical direction just given to the "spiritual;" meaning that for those who wished to be, and also perhaps to be thought to be, fulfilling Christ's law, this was the behaviour which they were to carry out, and without which their claim was mere self-delusion. The phrase, δοκεῖ εϊναί τι μηδὲν ὤν, is well illustrated by the passage cited by critics from Plato's 'Apologia,' p. 41, E: Ἐὰν δοκῶσί τι εϊναι μηδὲν ὄντες ὀνειδίζετε αὐτοῖς... ὅτι,... οἴονταί τι εϊναι ὄντες οὐδενὸς ἄξιοι "Something" is, by a common meiosis, put for "something considerable" (cf. Galatians 2:6). The especial form of eminence, the claim to which is here referred to, is eminence in spirituality and consistency as a servant of Christ. Possibly the apostle has in his eye certain individuals among the Galatians that he had heard of, who, professing much, were, however, self-complacently bitter and contemptuous towards brethren who had gone wrong in moral conduct or who differed from themselves in the disputes then rife in those Churches. The phrase, μηδὲν ὤν, "being nothing," is a part of the hypothesis relative to the individual case spoken of, not a statement putting forth the aphorism that no one is really anything. The passage quoted above from Plato shows, that in the latter case we should have had οὐδὲν and not μηδέν. Some men, by the grace of God, are "something;" but these persons only fancy themselves to be so. Whether any man is really "something" or not is determined by his practical conduct - his "work" as the apostle expresses it in the next verse. The verb φρεναπατᾷν occurs in the New Testament only here, though we have the substantive φρεναπάτης, deceivers, in Titus 1:10. St. James (James 1:26) speaks of a man "deceiving his heart ' in seemingly just the same sense. In both passages it appears to be meant that a man palms off upon his own mind fancies as if they were just apprehensions of real facts; in both also these fancies are but illusive notions of one's own religious character - here, as being "spiritual;" in James, as being "religious" or "devout" (θρῆσκος) - the activity of practical benevolence being in both cases wanting; for "the bridling not his tongue" in ver. 26 is proved by the contrasted behaviour spoken of in the next verse to refer to those sins of the tongue which are implicitly condemned in vers. 19-21.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For if a man think himself to be something,.... Of himself; to have anything of himself, to do anything of himself, and of himself to attain to life and salvation:
when he is nothing: of himself; not even as a creature, but owes his being and preservation, and all the mercies of life, to another, even to God; has no grace nor gifts of himself, but what he has received, and can do no good thing, not think a good thought, or perform a good action, of himself, and much less of himself procure eternal life and salvation:
he deceiveth himself: and will find himself sadly mistaken, and wretchedly disappointed another day; or whoever thinks himself to be some famous and excellent person, to be something more, and better than others, of a more excellent nature, and of greater abilities, that he is free from sin, or at least holier than others, and not liable to fall as others, whom he looks upon with disdain and contempt, wanting that charity which the law, and new commandment of Christ, requires, when he is nothing but sin and vanity, he is destitute of the grace of God, he deceives himself and the truth is not in him. This the apostle says to depress pride, and a swelling conceit of themselves, and all uncharitable, rough, and severe usages of others. A saying like this the Jews have (y);
"whoever he is that is something, or thinks in himself that he is "something", it would be better for him if he had never been created.''
(y) Midrash Kohelet, fol. 79. 1.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
3. Self-conceit, the chief hindrance to forbearance and sympathy towards our fellow men, must be laid aside.
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."
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