Galatians 6
Vincent's Word Studies
Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
Overtaken in a fault (προλημφθῇ - ἔν τινι παραπτώματι)

The verb means lit. to take before; to anticipate or forestall. Elsewhere only Mark 14:8; 1 Corinthians 11:21. lxx, Wisd. 18:17. Not, be detected in the act by some one else before he can escape, but surprised by the fault itself; hurried into error. Thus πρὸ has the sense of before he is aware, and ἐν is instrumental, by. For fault or trespass, see on Matthew 6:14.

Spiritual (πνευματικοὶ)

Comp. 1 Corinthians 3:1. Mostly in Paul. See 1 Peter 2:5. Those who have received the Spirit and are led by him. See Galatians 3:2, Galatians 3:3, Galatians 3:5, Galatians 3:14; Galatians 4:6; Galatians 5:5, Galatians 5:16, Galatians 5:18, Galatians 5:25. He leaves it to the readers' own conscience whether or not they answer to this designation.

Restore (καταρτίζετε)

See on Matthew 4:21; see on Matthew 21:16; see on Luke 6:40; see on 1 Peter 5:10. The word is used of reconciling factions, as Hdt. v. 28; of setting bones; of mending nets, Mark 1:19; of equipping or preparing, Romans 9:22, Hebrews 10:5; Hebrews 11:3; of manning a fleet, or supplying an army with provisions. Usually by Paul metaphorically as here. The idea of amendment is prominent: set him to rights: bring him into line. Comp. 2 Corinthians 13:11; 1 Corinthians 1:10.

Spirit of meekness

Comp. 1 Corinthians 4:21. Led by the Spirit of God, whose fruit is meekness (Galatians 5:23). For the combinations of πνεῦμα with genitives, see on Romans 8:4, p. 87.

Considering (σκοπῶν)

Only in Paul, except Luke 11:35. The verb means to look attentively; to fix the attention upon a thing with an interest in it. See Romans 16:17; 2 Corinthians 4:18; Philippians 2:4; Philippians 3:17. Hence, often, to aim at (comp. σκοπὸν mark, Philippians 3:14). Schmidt (Syn.) defines: "To direct one's attention upon a thing, either in order to obtain it, or because one has a peculiar interest in it, or a duty to fulfill toward it. Also to have an eye to with a view of forming a right judgment." Notice the passing to the singular number - "considering thyself." The exhortation is addressed to the conscience of each. Before you deal severely with the erring brother, consider your own weakness and susceptibility to temptation, and restore him in view of that fact.

Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
One another's burdens (ἀλλήλων τὰ βάρη)

The emphasis is on one another's, in contrast with the selfishness which leaves others to take care of themselves. The primary reference in burdens is to moral infirmities and errors, and the sorrow and shame and remorse which they awaken in the offender.

So (οὗτως)

By observing this injunction.

Fulfill (ἀναπληρώσατε)

The verb denotes, not the filling up of a perfect vacancy, as the simple πληροῦν, but the supplying of what is lacking to fulness; the filling up of a partial void. Comp. 1 Corinthians 16:17; Philippians 2:30; 1 Thessalonians 2:16.

For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.
Think (δοκεῖ)

Sometimes rendered seems, 1 Corinthians 12:22; 2 Corinthians 10:9; Galatians 2:9; but think is Paul's usual meaning. Comp. Matthew 3:9; 1 Corinthians 11:16; Philippians 3:4.

To be something (εἶναί τι)

For the phrase see Acts 5:36; Acts 8:9; 1 Corinthians 3:7; 1 Corinthians 10:19; Galatians 2:6; Galatians 6:15.

Deceiveth (φρεναπατᾷ)

N.T.o. olxx, oClass. See the noun φεναπάτης deceiver, Titus 1:10. Denoting subjective deception; deception of the judgment. The simple ἀπατᾶν to deceive, Ephesians 5:6; 1 Timothy 2:14; James 1:26, and often in lxx. Lightfoot thinks the compound verb may possibly have been coined by Paul.

But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.
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.

For every man shall bear his own burden.
Bear ye one another's burdens: every man shall bear his own burden. A kind of paradox of which Paul is fond. See Philippians 2:12, Philippians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 6:8-10; 2 Corinthians 7:10; 2 Corinthians 12:10. Paul means, no one will have occasion to claim moral superiority to his neighbor, for (γὰρ) each man's self-examination will reveal infirmities enough of his own, even though they may not be the same as those of his neighbor. His own burdens will absorb his whole attention, and will leave him no time to compare himself with others.

His own burden (τὸ ἴδιον φορτίον)

For ἴδιον own, see on 1 Timothy 6:1. With φορτίον burden comp. βάρη burdens, Galatians 6:2. It is doubtful whether any different shade of meaning is intended. Originally βάρη emphasizes the weight of the burden, φορτίον simply notes the fact that it is something to be born (φέρειν), which may be either light or heavy. See Matthew 11:30; Matthew 23:4; Psalm 37:4; Luke 11:46. Comp. Acts 27:10, the lading of a ship.

Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.
But, although each man is thus individualized as regards his burdens, Christian fellowship in all morally good things is to be maintained between the teacher and the taught. The passage is often explained as an injunction to provide for the temporal wants of Christian teachers. But this is entirely foreign to the course of thought, and isolates the verse from the context on both sides of it. As Galatians 6:1-5 refer to moral errors, in all good things has naturally the same reference, as do good in Galatians 6:10 certainly has. The exhortation therefore is, that the disciple should make common cause with the teacher in everything that is morally good and that promotes salvation. The introduction at this point of the relation of disciple and teacher may be explained by the fact that this relation in the Galatian community had been disturbed by the efforts of the Judaising teachers, notably in the case of Paul himself; and this disturbance could not but interfere with their common moral effort and life.

Him that is taught (ὁ κατηχούμενος)

See on Luke 1:4.

In the word (τὸν λόγον)

The gospel. Usually in Paul with some qualifying word, as of God. Comp. Acts 4:4; Acts 8:4; Acts 11:19; Acts 14:25; Acts 16:6; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; Colossians 4:3.

Communicate (κοινωνείτω)

Hold fellowship with; partake with. Not impart to. The word is used of giving and receiving material aid (Philippians 4:15): of moral or spiritual participation (Romans 15:27; 1 Timothy 5:22; 2 John 1:11): of participation in outward conditions (Hebrews 2:14): in sufferings (1 Peter 4:13).

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
Be not deceived (μὴ πλανᾶσθε)

For the phrase see 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Corinthians 15:33; James 1:16. Deceive is a secondary sense; the primary meaning being lead astray. See on Mark 12:24. The connection of the exhortation may be with the entire section from Galatians 6:1 (Eadie and Sieffert), but is more probably with Galatians 6:6. The Galatians are not to think that it is a matter of no consequence whether their fellowship be with their Christian teachers who preach the word of truth, or with the Judaising innovators who would bring them under bondage to the law.

Is not mocked (οὐ μυκτηρίζεται)

N.T.o. Quite often in lxx. See 1 Kings 18:27; 2 Kings 19:21; Job 22:19; Proverbs 1:30. Also the noun μυκτηρισμός mockery, Job 34:7; Psalm 34:16. See Ps. of Sol. 4:8. The verb, literally, to turn up the nose at. Comp. Horace, Sat. i. 6, 5, naso suspendis adunco, ii. 8, 64; Epist. i. 19, 45.

That (τοῦτο)

Most emphatic. That and nothing else. Comp. Matthew 7:16; 2 Corinthians 9:6.

For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
To his flesh (εἰς τὴν σάρκα ἑαυτοῦ)

Rather, his own flesh. Ἑις into: the flesh being conceived as the soil into which the seed is cast. Comp. Matthew 13:22. His own, because the idea of personal, selfish desire is involved.

Corruption (φθοράν)

Primarily, destruction, ruin; but it also has the sense of deterioration, decay, as 1 Corinthians 15:42. Comp. Aristotle, Rhet. iii. 3, 4: "And thou didst sow (ἔσπειρας) shamefully (αἰσχρῶς) and didst reap (ἐθερίσας) miserably (κακῶς)." See also Plato, Phaedrus, 260 D, and on defile, Romans 3:17.

The Spirit

The Holy Spirit: not the higher nature of man.

Eternal life (ζωὴν αἰώνιον)

See on 2 Thessalonians 1:9 (additional note).

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
Be weary (ἐνκακῶμεν)

Lit. faint or lose heart. Comp. 2 Thessalonians 3:13.

In due season (καιρῷ ἰδίῳ)

In the season which is peculiarly the harvest-time of each form of well-doing. See on Galatians 6:5.

Faint (ἐκλυόμενοι)

Only here in Paul. See Matthew 15:32; Mark 8:3; Hebrews 12:3, Hebrews 12:5. Lit. to be loosened or relaxed, like the limbs of the weary.

As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
As we have opportunity (ὡς καιρὸν ἔχωμεν)

As there is a proper season for reaping, there is likewise a proper season for sowing. As this season comes to us, let us sow to the Spirit by doing good. Comp. Ephesians 5:16; Colossians 4:5.

Let us do good (ἐργαζώμεθα τὸ ἀγαθὸν)

Let us work the good. For the distinctive force of ἐργάζεσθαι see on 3 John 1:5; and for ποιεῖν to do, see on John 3:21. Comp. Colossians 3:23 where both verbs occur. Τὸ ἀγαθὸν is, of course, the morally good as distinguished from what is merely useful or profitable, but includes what is beneficent or kindly. See Plm 1:14; Ephesians 4:28; 1 Thessalonians 3:6; Romans 5:7. Here, in a general sense, embracing all that is specified in Galatians 6:1, Galatians 6:2, Galatians 6:3,Galatians 6:10.

Unto them who are of the household of faith (πρὸς τοὺς οἰκείους τῆς πίστεως)

Πρὸς combines with the sense of direction that of active relation with. Comp. Matthew 13:56; Mark 9:16; John 1:1; Acts 3:25; Acts 28:25; 1 Thessalonians 4:12; Hebrews 9:20. Frequently in Class. of all kinds of personal intercourse. See Hom. Od. xiv. 331; xix. 288; Thucyd. ii. 59; iv. 15; vii. 82; Hdt. i. 61. Ὁικεῖοι of the household, rare in N.T. See Ephesians 2:19; 1 Timothy 5:8. Quite often in lxx of kinsmen. It is unnecessary to introduce the idea of a household here, as A.V., since the word acquired the general sense of pertaining or belonging to. Thus οἰκεῖοι φιλοσοφίας or γεωγραφίας belonging to philosophy or geography, philosophers, geographers. So here, belonging to the faith, believers.

Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand.
How large a letter (πηλίκοις γράμμασιν)

More correctly, with how large letters. Γράμματα may mean an epistle, as Lat. literae, or epistles; but Paul habitually uses ἐπιστολή for an epistle. Γράμμασιν means with characters, and πηλίκοις refers to their size. It is claimed by some that the large characters are intended to call the attention of the readers to the special importance of the close of the letter. See below.

I have written (ἔγραψα)

The aorist may refer to the whole of the preceding letter, or to the concluding verses which follow. In either case it is probably an instance of the epistolary aorist, by which the writer puts himself at the time when his correspondent is reading his letter. To the correspondent, I write has changed itself into I wrote. Similarly the Lat. scripsi. Ἔπεμψα I sent is used in the same way. See Acts 23:30; Philippians 2:28; Colossians 4:8; Plm 1:11.

With mine own hand (τῇ ἐμῇ χειρί)

The aorist ἔγραψα is epistolary, and refers to what follows. The concluding verses emphasize the main issue of the letter, that the Judaising intruders are trying to win the Galatians over to the economy of circumcision which is opposed to the economy of the cross. It is therefore quite probable that Paul may have wished to call special attention to these verses. If so, this special call lies in the words with my own hand, and not in with how large letters, which would seem to have been added to call attention to the apostle's handwriting as distinguished from that of the amanuensis. "Mark carefully these closing words of mine. I write them with my own hand in the large characters which you know."

As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.
To make a fair show (εὐπροσωπῆσαι)

N.T.o. oClass. olxx.

In the flesh (ἐν σαρκί)

Qualifying the verb to make a fair show. The whole phrase is well explained by Ellicott: "To wear a specious exterior in the earthly, unspiritual element in which they move." Ἐν σρακί is not equals among men, nor being carnal, nor as regards fleshly things. The desire to make a good appearance irrespective of inward truth and righteousness, is prompted by the unrenewed, fleshly nature, and makes its fair showing in that sphere.

They constrain (οὗτοι ἀναγκάζουσιν)

Neither A.V. nor Rev. gives the strong, definitive force of οὗτοι. It is these - the Judaising emissaries, that constrain, etc. Comp. Galatians 3:7.

Only lest (μόνον ἵνα - μὴ)

Or, that they may not. Having no other object, or only from the motive that, etc.

For the cross (τῷ σταυρῷ)

Better, by reason of the cross. Because of preaching a crucified Messiah. See on Galatians 5:11. The Judaisers attempted to cover with the law - the requirement of circumcision - the "offense" of a crucified Messiah.

For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh.
Neither they themselves who are circumcised (οὐδὲ - οἱ περιτεμνόμενοι αὐτοὶ)

For neither, translate not even. Const. themselves with keep the law. The persons referred to are the same as those in Galatians 6:12. The participle tells nothing as to the antecedents of these persons, whether Jewish or heathen. It is general, those who are receiving circumcision. It is equals the circumcision-party; and the present participle represents them as in present activity. They are circumcised themselves, and are endeavoring to force circumcision upon others.

Keep the law (νόμον φυλάσσουσιν)

See on Galatians 5:3. They are in the same category with all who are circumcised, who do not and cannot fully observe the law. Comp. Galatians 3:10; Galatians 5:3. Hence, if circumcision develops no justifying results, it is apparent that their insistence on circumcision proceeds not from moral, but from fleshly motives.

That they may glory in your flesh (ἵνα ἐν τῇ ὑμετέρᾳ σαρκὶ καυχήσωνται)

May boast, not of your fulfilling the law, but in your ceremonial conformity; your becoming legal zealots like themselves. They desire only that you, like them, should make a fair show in the flesh. For the formula καυχᾶσθαι ἐν to glory in, see Romans 2:17; Romans 5:3; 1 Corinthians 1:31; 2 Corinthians 10:15.

But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
Contrast of Paul's own boasting and its ground with those of the false apostles.

By whom (δι' οὗ)

The relative may refer either to the cross, by which, or to Christ, by whom. The cross was a stumbling-block to the Jews (Galatians 3:13), and it is the crucified Christ that Paul is emphasizing. Comp. Galatians 2:20; Galatians 5:24.

The world (κόσμος)

See on John 1:9; see on Acts 17:24; see on 1 Corinthians 4:9.

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.
A new creature (καινὴ κτίσις)

Comp. 2 Corinthians 5:17. For καινὴ new see on Matthew 26:29. For κτίσις see on Romans 8:19; see on 2 Corinthians 5:17. Here of the thing created, not of the act of creating. The phrase was common in Jewish writers for one brought to the knowledge of the true God. Comp. Ephesians 2:10, Ephesians 2:15.

And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.
Rule (κανόνι)

Po. See on 2 Corinthians 10:13, 2 Corinthians 10:16. Emphasis on rule not this.

Peace be on them (εἰρήνη ἐπ' αὐτοὺς)

The only instance of this formula in N.T. Commonly εἰρήνη with the simple dative, peace unto you, as John 20:19, John 20:21; Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:3; Galatians 1:3, etc. In the Catholic Epistles, with πληθυνθείη be multiplied. See 1 Peter 1:2; 2 Peter 1:2; Jde 1:2.

Mercy (ἔλεος)

In the opening salutations of the Pastoral Epistles with grace and peace; also in 2 John 1:3. In Jde 1:2 with peace and love.

And upon the Israel of God

The καὶ and may be simply collective, in which case the Israel of God may be different from as many as walk, etc., and may mean truly converted Jews. Or the καὶ may be explicative, in which case the Israel of God will define and emphasize as many as, etc., and will mean the whole body of Christians, Jewish and Gentile. In other words, they who walk according to this rule form the true Israel of God. The explicative καὶ is at best doubtful here, and is rather forced, although clear instances of it may be found in 1 Corinthians 3:5; 1 Corinthians 15:38. It seems better to regard it as simply connective. Then ὅσοι will refer to the individual Christians, Jewish and Gentile, and Israel of God to the same Christians, regarded collectively, and forming the true messianic community.

From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.
Henceforth (τοῦ λοιποῦ)

Only here and Ephesians 6:10. Commonly τὸ λοιπόν. The genitive is temporal; at any time in the future as distinguished from throughout the future.

Trouble me (κόπους μοι - παρεχέτε)

Lit. give me troubles; make it necessary for me to vindicate my apostolic authority and the divine truth of my gospel.

Bear in my body

Comp. 2 Corinthians 4:10.

Marks (στίγματα)

N.T.o. The wounds, scars, and other outward signs of persecutions and sufferings in the service of Christ. Comp. 2 Corinthians 11:23 ff. The metaphor is the brands applied to slaves in order to mark their owners. Hence Rev., I bear branded. Brands were also set upon soldiers, captives, and servants of temples. See on Revelation 13:16, and comp. Revelation 7:3; Revelation 14:1, Revelation 14:9, Revelation 14:11. The scars on the apostle's body marked him as the bondservant of Jesus Christ. The passage naturally recalls the legend of Francis of Assisi.

Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
The grace, etc.

The same form of benediction occurs Plm 1:25.


Rev. rightly puts the word at the end of the verse. The position is unusual. It would seem as if Paul intended to close this severe letter with an assurance that the "foolish Galatians" were still his brethren: They are addressed as "brethren," Galatians 4:12; Galatians 5:11; Galatians 6:1. Comp. 1 Corinthians 16:24.

Vincent's Word Studies, by Marvin R. Vincent [1886].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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