Galatians 6:4
But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(4, 5) The best antidote for such false estimates of self is severe self-criticism. Let a man judge his own work, not by comparison with others, but by the ideal standard, then he will see what it is worth and how much he has to boast of. His boasting will be at least real, and not based upon any delusive comparisons. He must stand or fall by himself. He must bear the weight of his own virtues and his own sins. By them he will be judged, and not by any fancied superiority or inferiority to others. For the thought, compare 2Corinthians 10:12-14.

(4) Prove.Test, or examine, by reference to an objective standard. The word is used specially of the assaying of metals.

Rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.—Rather, he shall have his ground of boasting with reference to himself alone, and not with reference to his neighbour. He will judge his own actions by the standard properly applicable to them, and will find as much ground for boasting as this will give him, and no more. His standard will be absolute and not relative, and the amount of his boasting will be proportioned accordingly. He will not seek to excuse himself by dwelling upon his neighbour’s weaknesses.

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.But let every man prove - That is, try or examine in a proper manner. Let him form a proper estimate of what is due to himself, according to his real character. Let him compare himself with the word of God, and the infallible rule which he has given, and by which we are to be judged in the last great day; compare the Romans 12:3 note; 1 Corinthians 11:28 note; 2 Corinthians 13:5 note.

His own work - What he does. Let him form a fair and impartial estimate of his own character.

And then shall he have rejoicing - That is, he will be appropriately rewarded, and will meet with no disappointment. The man who forms an improper estimate of his own character will be sure to be disappointed. The man who examines himself, and who forms no extravagant expectation in regard to what is due to himself, will be appropriately rewarded, and will be made happy. If, by the careful examination of himself, he finds his life to be virtuous, and his course of conduct pure; if he has done no wrong to others, and if he finds evidence that he is a child of God, then he will have cause of rejoicing.

In himself alone - Compare Proverbs 14:14; "A good man shall be satisfied from himself." The sentiment is, that he will find in himself a source of pure joy. He will not be dependent on the applause of others for happiness. In an approving conscience; in the evidence of the favor of God; in an honest effort to lead a pure and holy life, he will have happiness. The source of his joys will be within; and he will not be dependent, as the man of ambition, and the man who thinks of himself more highly than he ought, will, on the favors of a capricious multitude, and on the breath of popular applause.

And not in another - He will not be dependent on others for happiness. Here is the true secret of happiness. It consists:

(1) In not forming an improper estimate of ourselves; in knowing just what we are, and what is due to us; in not thinking ourselves to be something, when we are nothing.

(2) in leading such a life that it may be examined to the core, that we may know exactly what we are without being distressed or pained. That is, in having a good conscience, and in the honest and faithful discharge of our duty to God and man.

(3) in not being dependent on the fickle applause of the world for our comfort. The man who has no internal resources, and who has no approving conscience; who is happy only when others smile, and miserable when they frown, is a man who can have no security for enjoyment. The man who has a good conscience, and who enjoys the favor of God, and the hope of heaven, carries with him the source of perpetual joy. He cannot be deprived of it. His purse may be taken, and his house robbed, but the highwayman cannot rob him of his comforts. He carries with him an unfailing source of happiness when abroad, and the same source of happiness abides with him at home; he bears it into society, and it remains with him in solitude; it is his companion when in health, and when surrounded by his friends, and it is no less his companion when his friends leave him, and when he lies upon a bed of death.

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 Christ.

Let every man prove his own work: the apostle, by a man’s

own work here, understands his own actions and manners, which he would have every man to busy himself to search, try, and examine by the Divine rule, whether they be conformable to the will of God, yea or no;

and then, he saith,

shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another; a man shall (if he findeth his work such as is agreeable to the will of God) have a cause to rejoice in himself; not in the merit or perfection of his works, but in his own works; not in others; that is, he shall rejoice in something which God hath wrought in and by him, and not in others. This the apostle wisely propounds, as a means to bring a man to know his own measures; it being a great error for men to measure themselves by the measures of other men, their perfections by others’ imperfections. But let every man prove his own work,.... Not concern himself about the actions and works of others; let him review his own heart and actions; let him examine, try, and prove his whole conduct in life by the rule of God's word, when he will find enough at home, without bearing hard upon, and censuring others:

and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another; which is either ironically said, he will then see what reason he has to rejoice and glory in his own works, and vaunt over others, and to boast of his performances, and despise others; so far from it, that he will have reason to be ashamed of himself, and to own and acknowledge his unworthiness and unprofitableness: or if, upon such a review, examination, and probation of his works, it shall appear that he has had his conversation in the world, by the grace of God, in simplicity and godly sincerity, this testimony of his conscience will be his rejoicing; see 2 Corinthians 1:12. He may rejoice "in himself", in his own works, as the fruits of grace, but not as the effects of his own power and strength; and may glory and boast of them before men, in vindication of his cause and character, and as evidences of the truth of grace, but not before God, as if they were the matter of his justification and acceptance:

and not in another; that is fallen into sin; making use of his sins and faults to set off himself, and to increase his own praise and condemnation; rejoicing in this, that he is better than others, and is not, as the Pharisee said, as other men are, as wicked as they, or has not fallen into such sins as others have done. He will have occasion to take such a method as this, if his conversation will bear the test; he will have rejoicing in the testimony of his own conscience, and will have no need to compare himself with others; his glorying will be on account of his own actions, and not through a comparison of other men's. This no ways contradicts a man's glorying in God, and rejoicing in Christ Jesus alone, in the business of salvation. It only regards a man's glorying before men, in a modest and humble manner, of what he is enabled to do, by the grace of God, without fetching in the characters of other men that are wicked, or have fallen, to illustrate his own.

But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Galatians 6:4. But men ought to act in a way entirely different from what is indicated by this δοκεῖ εἶναί τι. “His own work let every man prove, and then” etc.

The emphasis lies on τὸ ἔργον (which is collective, and denotes the totality of the actions, as in Romans 2:7; Romans 2:15; 1 Peter 1:17; Revelation 22:12), opposing the objective works to the subjective conceit.

δοκιμαζέτω] not: probatum reddat (Beza, Piscator, Rambach, Semler, Michaelis, Rückert, Matthies), a meaning which it never has (comp. on 1 Corinthians 11:28), but: let him try, investigate of what nature it is.

καὶ τότε] and then, when he shall have done this (1 Corinthians 4:5), not: when he shall have found himself approved (Erasmus, Estius, Borger, and others).

εἰς ἑαυτὸν μόνον τὸ καύχημα ἕξει, κ.τ.λ.] does not mean, he will keep his glorying for himself (comp. Hilgenfeld), that is, abstinebit a gloriando (Koppe); for although ἔχειν may, from the context, obtain the sense of keeping back (Hom. Il. v. 271, xxiv. 115; Eur. Cycl. 270), it is in this very passage restricted by καὶ οὐκ εἰς τὸν ἕτερον to its simple meaning, to have; and καύχημα is not equivalent to καύχησις, but must retain its proper signification, materies gloriandi (Romans 4:2; 1 Corinthians 5:6, and always). Nearest to the view of Koppe in sense come those of Winer: “non tantas in se ipso reperiet laudes, quibus apud alios quoque glorietur;” of Usteri: “then will he have to glory towards himself alone, and not towards others,”—a delicate way of turning the thought: “then he will discover in himself faults and weaknesses sufficient to make him think of himself modestly;” and of Wieseler, “he will be silent toward others as to his καύχημα.” But in accordance with the context, after the requirement of self-examination, the most natural sense for εἰς (on account of the antithesis, εἰς ἑαυτὸν

εἰς τὸν ἕτερον) is: in respect to, as regards; moreover, in the above-named interpretations, neither the singular nor the article in τὸν ἕτερον obtains its due weight. The sentence must be explained: then will he have cause to glory merely as regards himself, and not as regards the other; that is, then will he have cause to boast merely in respect of good of his own, which he may possibly find on this self-examination, and not in reference to the other, with whom otherwise he would advantageously compare himself. Castalio aptly remarks: “probitas in re, non in collatione;” and Grotius: “gaudebit recto sui examine, non deteriorum comparatione,”—as, for instance, was done by the Pharisee, who compared himself with robbers, adulterers, etc., instead of simply trying his own action, and not boasting as he looked to others, whom he brought into comparison. Comp. Calvin and others; also Reithmayr. καύχημα with the article denotes, not absolute glory (Matthies), which no one has (Romans 3:23), but the relevant cause for the καυχᾶσθαι which he finds in himself, so far as he does so, on that trial of his own work. It is therefore the καύχημα, supposed or conceived by Paul, as the result of the examination in the several cases; Bernhardy, p. 15. This relative character of the idea removes the seeming inconsistency with Galatians 6:3; Galatians 6:5 (in opposition to de Wette), and excludes all untrue and impious boasting; but the taking καύχημα ἔχειν ironically (against which Calvin justly pronounces), or as mimesis (Bengel and others; also Olshausen: “a thorough self-examination reveals so much in one’s own heart, that there can be no question of glory at all”),1[251] is forbidden even by ΚΑῚ ΟὐΚ ΕἸς ΤῸΝ ἝΤΕΡΟΝ. Hofmann interprets, although similarly in the main, yet without irony, and with a more exact unfolding of the purport: “while otherwise he found that he might glory as he contrasted his own person with others, he will now in respect to the good which he finds in himself, seeing that he also discovers certain things in himself which are not good, have cause to glory only towards himself—himself, namely, who has done the good, as against himself, who has done what is not good.” But in this interpretation the ideas, which are to form the key to the meaning, are gratuitously imported; a paraphrase so subtle, and yet so clumsy, especially of the words εἰς ἑαυτὸν μόνον, could not be expected to occur to the reader. More simply, but introducing a different kind of extraneous matter, de Wette interprets: “and then he will for himself alone (to his own joy) have the glory (if he has any such thing, which is evidently called in question) not for others (in order thereby to provoke and challenge them).” But how arbitrary it is to assign to εἰς two references so entirely different, and with regard to ΚΑΎΧΗΜΑ to foist in the idea: “if he has aught such”! A most excellent example of the εἰς ἑαυτὸν ΜΌΝΟΝ ΤῸ ΚΑΎΧΗΜΑ ἜΧΕΙΝ is afforded by Paul himself, 2 Corinthians 10:12. Comp. 2 Corinthians 1:12 ff.

[251] 1 So in substance Chrysostom and Theophylact hold, that Paul has spoken συγκαταβατικῶς, in order to wean his readers gradually from the habit of glorying; ὁ γὰρ ἐθισθεὶς μὴ τοῦ πλησίον ὡς ὁ Φαρισαῖος, κατακαυχᾶσθαι, ταχέως καὶ τοῦ καθʼ ἑαυτὸν ἐναβρύνεσθαι ἀποστήσεται, Theophylact. Comp. Oecumenius, according to whom the substantial sense is: ἑαυτοῦ καταγνώσεται, καὶ οὐχὶ ἑτέρων.Galatians 6:4. τὸν ἕτερον. This phrase denotes originally the other of two persons, but in this connexion another than self, the world being classified under two heads—self and not self, so that any other man with whom we are brought into contact belongs to the second division.4. This is an individual matter—‘Let every man’, lit. ‘let each one’.

prove his own work] ‘test his own conduct’. Self-examination will lead to a true estimate of self, ascertained by comparison, not with the attainments of others, but with the requirements of the law of Christ. The result may be humiliation, self-abasement, shame; but the ground of boasting will not be that of the Pharisee, ‘God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are’, but of that other Pharisee, ‘By the grace of God I am what I am’.Galatians 6:4. Τὸ δὲ ἔργον, but his own work) Again by anticipation another extreme is obviated, lest, whilst assisting others, we should forget ourselves.—ἔργον) a real work, not a mere opinion concerning one’s self.—εἰς ἑαυτὸν μόνον, in regard to himself alone) Many, while they compare themselves with others, who seem to be inferior to them, are apt to glory: therefore Paul dissuades them from this comparison. We should not even glory over our own good qualities and deeds; much less over the vices of others, from which we are free. While he excludes glory from the latter, he seems to concede glorying over the former; but the concession is not great, for the proving of a man’s own concerns will at once start many objections, by which glorying will necessarily be diminished: moreover, presently after he speaks not of glorying, but of φόρτιον, a burden. Nay, the very word glorying, used by Mimesis,[60] at the same time includes the contrary.—τὸ καύχημα, glorying) that, by which he says: I am something.—ἕξει, shall have) he himself being judge.

[60] Alluding to the opinion of the Galatians, not to his own opinions.—ED.Verse 4. - But let every man prove his own work (τὸ δὲ ἔργον ἑαυτοπῦ δοκιμαζέτω ἕκαστος); but his own work let each man bringing to the proof. "His own work;" his own actual conduct. Both "work" and "his own" are weighted with emphasis; "work," as practical behaviour contrasted with professions or self-illusions (comp. 1 Peter 1:17, "Who without respect of persons judgeth according to each man's work"); "his own," as contrasted with these others with whom one is comparing himself to find matter for self-commendation. "Be bringing to the proof;" that is, testing his actual life by the touchstone of God's law, especially of "Christ's law," with the honest purpose of bringing it into accordance therewith. In other words, "Let each man be endeavouring in a spirit of self-watch-fulness to walk orderly according to the Spirit." This notion of practical self-improving attaches to the verb δοκιμάζω ("prove" or" examine") also in Romans 12:2; 1 Corinthians 11:28; Ephesians 3:10. And then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone (καὶ τότε εἰς ἑαυτὸν μόνον τὸ καύχημα ἕξει); and then in regard to himself alone shall he have whereof to glory. The preposition εἰς is used as in Matthew 14:31, Αἰς τί ἐδίστασας; "What didst thou look at that thou didst doubt?" Acts 2:25, "concerning him;" Ephesians 5:32; Romans 4:20; Romans 13:14; Romans 16:19. It depends upon the whole phrase, "shall have his ground of glorying," and not upon the word rendered "ground of glorying" alone. The distinction which ordinarily obtains between verbals of the form of πρᾶγμα and those of the form of πρᾶξις appears to hold good also in respect to καύχημα and καύχησις. Compare the use of καύχησις in 2 Corinthians 7:4 and James 4:16, with that of καύχημα in Romans 4:2, ἔχει καύχημα, "hath whereof to glory;" 1 Corinthians 9:16, οὐκ ἔστι μοι καύχημα, "I have nothing to glory of." In 1 Corinthians 5:6, οὐ καλὸν τὸ καύχημα ὑμῶν, the substantive seems to mean "boast," that is, what is said in boasting, as distinguished from καύχησις, the action of uttering a beast. The verb καυχῶμαι, with its derivatives - a favourite term with St. Paul - often appears to mean "rejoicing" rather than" boasting" (cf. Romans 5:2; Hebrews 3:6); but it seems desirable as a rule to render it by "glorying," with the understanding that the writer has frequently the joyous state of feeling more prominently in his view than the utterance of self-gratulation. What the apostle meant by "having one's ground of glorying in regard to one's own self alone," is well illustrated by what he says respecting himself in 2 Corinthians 1:12, "Our glorying is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and sincerity of God, not in fleshly wisdom, but in the grace of God, we behaved ourselves in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward." he had been himself in the habit of testing his conduct and spirit by the standard of Christ's law; and this was the fruit. And not in another (καὶ οὐκ εἰς τὸν ἕτερον); and not in regard to that neighbour of his. The article probably points to that neighbour with whom he has been comparing himself; and so, perhaps, also in Romans 2:1. But it may be simply "his neighbour;" "the man who is other than himself;" as it is in 1 Corinthians 6:1 and 1 Cor 10:24, in neither of which passages has any particular "other person" been before referred to. Prove (δοκιμαζέτω)

In Class. of assaying metals Comp. lxx, Proverbs 8:10; Proverbs 17:3; Sir. 2:5: also 1 Corinthians 3:13; 1 Peter 1:7. It is the classical verb for testing money; see Plato, Tim. 65 C. Δοκιμάζειν and πυροῦσθαι to burn or try by fire occur together, Jeremiah 9:7; Psalm 11:6; Psalm 65:10. Generally, to prove or examine, as 1 Corinthians 11:28; 1 Thessalonians 5:21. To accept that which is approved, 1 Corinthians 16:3; 2 Corinthians 8:22; 1 Thessalonians 2:4.

Rejoicing (τὸ καύχημα)

Better, as giving the force of the article, "his glorying." Καύχημα is the matter or ground of glorying, see Romans 4:2; 1 Corinthians 9:15; not the act (καύχησις), as Romans 3:27; 2 Corinthians 1:12.

In himself (εἰς ἑαυτὸν)

Better, with regard to himself, or as concerns. For this use of εἰς see Romans 4:20; Romans 15:2; Romans 16:6; Ephesians 3:16. Not, he will keep his glorying to himself or abstain from boasting. He means that if, on examination, one finds in himself anything to boast of, his cause of boasting will lie simply and absolutely in that, and not in his merit as compared, to his own advantage, with that of another.

Another (τὸν ἕτερον)

Better, the other, or, as Rev., his neighbor. See on Matthew 6:24.

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