Overview of Chapter Six:

In chapter five we saw two contrasts:

1. Liberty, not bondage (5:1-15).

2. The Spirit, not the flesh (5:16-26).

In this chapter we will see two more:

3. Others, not ourselves (6:1-10).

4. God's glory, not man's approval (6:11-18).

In the first portion of the chapter which we have entitled "Others, not ourselves" (6:1-10), we encounter somewhat of a paradox. We have earlier been told that we possess liberty in the Spirit and are free from the law of Moses but we are now told in 6:2 that we are to fulfill the "law of Christ." This is not a contradiction and can only be accomplished in the power of the Holy Spirit. This has just been explained in 5:16-26.

Such a life involves loving and sacrificial action toward;

1. Sinning Christians (6:1).

2. Burdened Christians (6:2-5).

3. Pastors/teachers who are teaching them God's Word (6:6).

4. In general, to all men, but especially to believers (6:7-10).

The second portion of the chapter which we entitled "God's glory, not man's approval." (6:11-18), contains concluding remarks and the mention that Paul personally penned at least part of this letter instead of dictating all of it to a scribe, an exposition of the motives and hypocrisy of the Judaizers, the futility of circumcision as a required ritual, his attitude about to Whom glory belongs, a repetition of his evaluation of the claim for the need to be under Jewish law, and a benediction on the readers along with more vindication of his example as a faithful apostle of Yeshua.


Chapter Six Text

1. 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.

2. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

3. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.

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

5. For every man shall bear his own burden.

6. Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.

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

8. 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.

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

10. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.


The first portion of the chapter could be divided into the following sections:[1]

6:1 - Restoring the overtaken.

6:2-5 - Relieving the over-burdened.

6:6 - Remunerating your Bible teacher.

6:7-10 - Reaping what you sow.

This portion of chapter 6 puts "shoe leather" on the truths of the last portion of chapter 5 and how believers need to serve others faithfully by means of the power of the Holy Spirit with an attitude of love.

1. 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.

Why is this issue even introduced here? Warren Wiersbe suggests, "Because nothing reveals the wickedness of legalism better than the way the legalist treats those who have sinned."[2] It seems to fit in the context as noted by another Bible teacher,[3] "Instead of exhibiting the three jealous actions of verse 26 in chapter 5, we should re-direct our energy toward those who have been overtaken in faults and seek to encourage and help those who have fallen. When seeking to help or restore a wounded or falling Christian, one should consider the qualifications for such a counselor in chapter 6, verse 1."

"Brethren, if[4] a man be overtaken in a fault," Notice that he is speaking to "brethren," i.e. believers, about their treatment of a fallen brother. We have a higher priority in some areas to minister to our fellow believers than to the unbelievers. Verse 10 will expand on that theme. The Greek word for "fault"[5] is usually translated "trespass," or "offence," and sometimes "sin" or "fault." "If a man be overtaken in a fault," we are not to improperly judge, criticize, or condemn, but to "restore[6] such an one...."

We do not know all the circumstances which resulted in his falling. He was "overtaken," implying that he was not willfully seeking the sin and might have even been conscientiously avoiding the temptation. The meaning of the word "overtaken" implies "surprise" or "not anticipated." "...In the spirit of meekness;[7] considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted." This is the same "meekness" that is part of the fruit of the Spirit mentioned in 5:22. This meekness is reacting humbly and mildly, yet firmly. Meekness is the proper use of power.

If we are one of the ones who fits the "spiritual" requirement, then each of us ("thyself" and "thou" are singular) is to ensure that we restore in the right spirit, remembering our own weakness. (1 Cor. 4:5; Rom. 14; 1 Cor. 10:13). Even the spiritual believer is not immune to the wiles of the devil (Eph. 6:10-20). Therefore when he is engaged in this ministry he should consider himself lest he "also be tempted."

Perhaps we should interject here that this verse does not seem to be speaking of a believer who sins, judges, and confesses his sin for forgiveness and restoration of fellowship as per 1 John 1:9. He has not necessarily been "overtaken in a fault." Frequently in this type of situation there is no need for anyone else to become involved. In some cases, unnecessarily bringing other people into the process might even be detrimental to the believer's growth and to the cause of Christ.

The command to fulfill the task to "...restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted," is directed specifically to those who fit a certain criterion: "ye[8] which are spiritual." The number of those who qualify to this requirement should be much higher than actually it is. The "spiritual" believer should be the norm in the church but that unfortunately is not so. Just who are the ones referred to "which are spiritual?"[9]

Does not the previous chapter answer that question? The context is important. It would appear that those who are "spiritual" are the ones who walk in the Spirit (5:16, 25) or are led of the Spirit (5:18). These are the ones who will have the fruit of the Spirit manifested in their lives (Gal. 5:22, 23). 

We might be tempted to think that this responsibility should primarily be assigned to pastors, elders, deacons, or Sunday school teachers. If the above-mentioned definition of "spiritual" is correct, then being spiritual is not limited to those to whom we sometimes look for leadership. In fact, it is likely that some in these categories do not even qualify as those who are "spiritual."

Notice also that the verse does not specify only the ones who are "spiritually mature" It is important to differentiate between the terms of being spiritual and being spiritually mature. Maturity is achieved in degrees whereas being spiritual is instantaneous and not necessarily permanent, depending upon our continued yieldedness to God's Holy Spirit.

A new believer can be spiritual, that is, walking in yieldedness and obedience to the Holy Spirit. In contrast, a new believer cannot be spiritually mature because maturity involves time plus knowledge and application of truth. Some believers take much longer to mature and some do not mature to any discernible degree because they are seldom spirit-controlled. I suggest that the definition of spiritual maturity can be summed up as the result of consistently being spirit-controlled over a substantial period of time.[10] It is not wrong to begin life as a baby, but it is a tragedy to remain one all your life. We sometimes see this manifested in the physical realm but it holds true more so in the spiritual realm. Hebrews 5 expands on this theme:

5:12. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.

13. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.

14. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Those addressed here should have grown and become teachers but they chose to remain spiritual babies. As concerning spiritual maturity, they remained babies and had to be fed milk. They should have been as those who could assimilate meat and "who by reason of use [had] their senses exercised to discern both good and evil" They, as do many other believers, chose to spend their lives "at the shallow end of the pool."

These are the ones with whom Christian leaders have to spend time "spoon-feeding and changing their spiritual diapers" instead of utilizing them as co-workers for the cause of Christ. They probably are closely related to the "lukewarm" believers of Revelation 3:14-22.[11] These are the ones mentioned who make God sick (v. 16), or by my own transliteration, they are "barf-worthy" in God's estimation.

The Bible, in some contexts, divides mankind into two groups; believers and unbelievers (e.g. I John 5:12). In some other passages, God further divides the believing group into those who are obedient believers and those who are disobedient believers. Let us look at 1 Cor. 2:14-3:3 which sheds some light on three categories of mankind,[12] including the spiritual believer.

1 Cor. 2:14.  But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

15. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.

16. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

3:1. And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.

2. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.

3. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

4. For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?  

 The three categories of mankind presented in this passage are:

Natural, (ψυχικός -psoo-khee-kos') pertaining to the soul or life, of the senses. cf. I Corinthi­ans 15:44, 46; ...sown a natural body.

Spiritual, (πνευματικός - pnyoo-mat-ik-os') pertaining to the spirit, (or wind or breath).

Carnal, (σαρκκιός - sar-kee-kos') fleshly, belonging to or composed of flesh.

These three words encompass not only the motivating factors in a person’s service to God (Gal. 5:16,17), but also the triune nature of man; body, soul, and spirit (I Thessalonians 5:23).

They are briefly defined as:

Natural = the unsaved man.

Spiritual = a believer who is Spirit-controlled.

Carnal = a believer who is obeying his fleshly desires.

We have seen in chapter 5 that the spiritual believer is the one who is walking in the Spirit or is being Spirit-controlled. The Holy Spirit produces the fruit of the Spirit through him. In the first portion of this chapter we will see some of the evidences that the spiritual believer should be able to manifest:

1. The spiritual believer restores the one who is overtaken in sin (6:1).

2. The spiritual believer bears the overbearing burdens of the brother in Christ when appropriate (6:2).

3. The spiritual believer has a correct evaluation of himself and his responsibilities in Christ. (6:3).

4. The spiritual believer can honestly and properly evaluate his own ministry efforts without having to compare himself with others (6:4).

5. The spiritual believer realizes his accountability for his own unique responsibilities of service for Christ. (6:5) At the judgment seat of Christ each believer will be rewarded according to his own works (2 Cor. 5:10).

6. The spiritual believer should share, financially and otherwise, with the Bible teachers who have assisted in making numbers 1-5 possible in his life and others (6:6).

In summary, the spiritual believer should be meeting needs, not necessarily creating needs.

2. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

This verse could be a continuation and expansion of the exhortation of verse one; that is, stating part of the results of restoring the fallen brother. On the other hand, the action verbs of both verses (restore and bear) are in the imperative mood so it seems to imply that verse 2 is beginning a separate exhortation or a more general one. We also consider that it could include both.

"Bear ye one another’s burdens,"[13] "Burdens" here refers to overwhelming burdens of responsibility" or "burdens of extreme weight." This could be as a result of any crisis or series of crises; sudden family death, extreme financial crisis, critical illness, etc. 

We cannot bear every person's burden all the time but we need to be responsive to God's Holy Spirit as for whom, in what way, and for how long it is beneficial to do so in each situation.

In practice, I believe that there have been times that God has allowed me to bear another's burden when for example, I expended 2x amount of effort or resources in order for another believer to save 10x of their effort or resources that might have been wasted or unproductive. No doubt there are situations also where we would have to sacrifice more. Bearing one another's burdens is a valid application and fulfillment of the law of Christ. It is an example of love in action.

We are told here to bear one another's burdens and we can think of a number of positive results from obeying this command, but one mentioned here is that we would "so" or in this manner "fulfil the law of Christ."

Just what is the "law of Christ?" The Mosaic law commands that we love our neighbor as ourselves. (Lev. 19:18). We see in Rom. 13:8, "...he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law." Three verses later we are told that, "...love is the fulfilling of the law." Jesus told His disciples just hours before His crucifixion, "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (John 13:34, 35). To love as Christ loves goes beyond law and takes the power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish.

This burden-bearing is not merely a legal obligation. It goes far beyond the demands of the law. It is motivated by grace and love (2 Cor. 5:14), and is in obedience to the perfect law (or principle) of liberty (James 1:25; 2:12).

This love is the fruit of the Holy Spirit (5:22) and is not manufactured by the flesh. An illustration of this is a true account that I read some time ago. Some of the details I do not recall but the main facts are as follows: An American journalist was sent to interview some medical missionaries in a third world jungle setting. He was observing with much revulsion the missionary changing a "yucky" bandage on a person's leprous type of wound. He exclaimed to the missionary, "Wow, I wouldn't do that for a million dollars." The missionary replied without hesitation, "Oh, I wouldn't do it for a million dollars either. I love the Lord and I love these people." This is not natural human love (2 Cor. 5:14).

Two hindrances to our fulfilling the commands of verses 1 and 2 are approached in the next two verses: thinking too highly of ourselves and inaccurately evaluating our place in God's plan.

3. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.

The introductory and explanatory "For" (γάρ - gar) refers us back to the believer spoken to in verses 1 and 2. This describes the possible cause and/or resulting condition of the believer who has this responsibility but chooses not to fulfill it. We also note that verses 4 and 5 begin with "but" and "for" respectively, also indicating a continuation of thought.

 “For if a man think himself to be something," "Legalism fosters self-conceit and often sees oppressive burdens in others as deserved judgments; so, instead of "lending a hand," the legalist turns away. Instead of reaching out, he withdraws. Instead of expressing love, he judges the oppressed brother or sister."[14]

Two operative words here are the verbs "think" and "is." They show a contrast between perception and reality. The next verb shows the result; he "deceiveth himself." Frequently he is not deceiving many others and he certainly is not deceiving God. A second contrast found here are the words, "something" and "nothing" which coincide with "think" and "is."

Self-conceit is a chief hindrance to any sense of responsibility to the overburdened brother in Christ. We have all met this type of self-centered person who was "born on third base but spends his life acting like he had hit a triple." (cf. Rom. 12:3).

James 1:22 exhorts us, "But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves." Heb. 13:3 warns us of being "...hardened through the deceitfulness of sin." Self-deceit occurs when we are disobedient to God's Word. This principle also applies to the believer who should be bearing another's burden but thinks that he is too good to perform that lowly task.

How does this apply to the context? Self-conceit is a serious hindrance to ministering to others.[15] When we think too highly of ourselves we tend to depreciate others. We also need to maintain a proper assessment of ourselves and our work for the Lord. We should evaluate ourselves accurately according to Biblical criteria and also not go to the opposite extreme and improperly devalue ourselves. We see this in the next verse.

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

"But let every man prove[16] his own work," We are told to examine and evaluate our own work, not someone else's. "There is a natural tendency to compare one’s own efforts against others. Such comparisons are deceiving, however. The Lord Jesus will not judge believers on how they compare with others. Jesus will base it on what they did with the gifts and opportunities He gave them."[17] (1 Cor. 4:2) "Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

The legalist tends to ignore his own failures and improperly judge another person's actions, which sometimes are not even wrong. Matt. 7:1-5 warns us of improperly judging others. It describes one who makes a big deal of the splinter in someone else's eye but ignores the timber in their own eye. That person is called a hypocrite in verse 5. The Pharisees should well have applied this counsel and so should we.

One Bible teacher[18] offers a helpful but not necessarily complete check-list to help us to determine if we are fulfilling the command of verse 4:

"With a renewed mind, a correct understanding of God, his purpose, his overall general plan and how we are generally supposed to fit into it and behave, then examine your application of these truths.  How are you doing?

This is the cure.  You test yourself...

       a)  What has God called you to do? Are you doing it?

       b)  What has God placed in front of you? Have you turned away from it?

       c)  What do you know to be right? Are you obeying it?

       d)  Are there any areas in your life where you are:

                   -disobedient and so unable to fulfill God’s purpose

                   -legalistic (pride, self-service) and so distracted from spiritual purposes"

"...And then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another." Our work should be evaluated on the basis of God's Word and what He has for us to do. The realization that we are patterning our lives after obedience to God's Word should be the occasion for much rejoicing; not only for here and now but for future blessing also. We have grounds for rejoicing when we see God working in and through us. We can also rejoice in another's faithful service but not when we view it with the wrong spirit.

 We should not compare ourselves with each other. This action frequently leads to all sorts of problems. If another believer seems to be more productive than ourselves we might tend to become unnecessarily frustrated or discouraged. This scenario could also tend to incite unhealthy jealousy and criticism.

Remember Jesus' rebuke to Peter in John 21:20-22 concerning Peter's concern over what John should be doing. Jesus set Peter straight by effectively telling him that it was not his concern what John should do but Peter's responsibility was to follow Him; Jesus. God has different ministries for different believers, but all are in accord with His Word (1 Cor. 12:4-23). This thought is concluded in the next verse where we are told that we are accountable to handle our own responsibilities.

Before we approach the completion of the concept of evaluating our works, let us interject a warning concerning some related doctrine which prevails in Christianity today. There are Bible teachers who encourage believers to evaluate their works for the purpose of determining if they are eternally saved. This fits in with "reformed" doctrine and that of several other persuasions, but this is not what the Bible says. Assurance of salvation can only be based solely upon the objective promises of God (John 3:16; 6:47; 1 John 5:11-13, et al). We can know that we have eternal life based upon what Jesus has already done, not on what we might or might not achieve.

5. For every man shall bear his own burden.

 "Burden"[19] here is from a different Greek word than is used in verse 2. A number of Bible versions translate it as "load." It is used in secular Greek for the cargo loaded on a ship. It is a "load" which is designated for the believer to carry. Each of us has tasks and responsibilities which God has for us to accomplish. No one else can do this.

Perhaps a secular example here will help to illustrate this principle: Infantry foot-soldiers are expected to carry a  backpack containing needed supplies. tools, and perhaps crucial extra ammunition that they are likely to need in order to carry out their assignment. It is each soldier's responsibility to carry his "own burden." If you were one of these soldiers and the one next to you expected you to carry both yours and his, you would soon realize that the result will not be beneficial toward winning the battle. The exception to this would be if your fellow soldier was wounded. At that time we revert to the exhortation of the first two verses in this chapter and assist him where needed.

I believe that this verse is saying something like that each believer is accountable to obey the Lord in areas of responsibilities that God has prepared for him. We are responsible to carry out God's instructions for each of us.[20] The next verse offers one example of carrying our own load.

6. Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.

" Let him that is taught in the word..." This verse is an admonition for believers to share with and help support those who teach us the word. Many seem to be content to hear their pastor entertain by telling stories while avoiding controversial topics like sin, salvation by grace through faith, and serious discipleship for the believer. Many churches teach about the Bible, but few really teach the Bible. The teachers who are faithful to God's Word are the ones whom we should sacrificially support.  

"...Communicate [21] unto him that teacheth..."  1 Tim. 5 tells us:

17. Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.

18.  For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.

The word "honour" in verse 17 means not only as in "esteem" or "high value," but also as in
"finances." It is translated "price" 8 times in the NT and clearly includes money in those contexts.

In spite of the fact that there is so much abuse and manipulation concerning financial giving to churches and "Christian" ministries today, we should not lose sight of the Biblical teaching. Paul affirms repeatedly in 1 Cor. 9 the principle that the faithful Bible teacher has the right to live and benefit financially from his labor of teaching. Paul voluntarily chose to forego this privilege in order to not abuse his power in the Gospel (v. 18). "Communicating" with the faithful Bible teacher includes finances and other areas which are helpful; here called "... in all good things." 

We tend to disconnect this verse which includes financial giving from the next verse which promises that "whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." "Sowing" includes financial accountability and we will see that the sowing/reaping principle has both a positive and a negative aspect.

It is right to sacrificially give[22] to support Bible teachers and other areas of Christian ministry but we are accountable to do this wisely. An empirical example of the need to be wise and knowledgeable in our giving is this: I am aware of a dedicated believer who was sending money to help support a Christian orphanage in the N.E. section of the USA. He had seen literature and heard testimonies of several orphans who had been helped there. This man was advised by a Christian financial counselor to request a copy of their federal income tax records which is required to be available to the public when requested for a non-profit organization of this type. They stalled and balked until this man later requested the information through his attorney.

When the paperwork finally arrived it was determined that this orphanage was completely legal. They had orphans who were being treated quite well. They cared for 7 orphans and had a yearly budget of about 5 million dollars. Several people were receiving large salaries.

As is evident here, "legal" is not necessarily ethical or honest.[23] I think that I could take really good care of an orphan for $700,000 per year. In fact, we have given a good home to several foster children for mostly what came out of our own pockets. What I am saying is to watch out even it bears the nametag of "Christian;" perhaps even especially if it bears the nametag of "Christian."

7.  Be not deceived;[24] God is not mocked:[25] for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

It has been said that some people sow wild oats all week and then go to church on Sunday and pray for a crop failure. There are no crop failures with God. We are sometimes fooled by the time lapse between sowing and reaping. Eccl. 8:11, "Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil." We may tend to think that there are no detrimental consequences to our ongoing disobedience to God when we are actually experiencing God's loving grace and patience. Heb. 3:13 warns us of the deceitfulness of sin: "But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin."

Is there a way to  avoid much of God's discipline?[26] Yes! 1 Cor. 11:31, 32: "For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged." Get things right before God has to step in and correct it His way. A wise believer has stated that he has learned that when God says to jump; go ahead and jump, and then on the way up, ask, "How high?"

Some general principals of sowing and reaping:[27]

1. You reap what you sow. Galatians 6:7, “…whatsoever a man soweth, that he will also reap.” If a farmer sows corn, he will reap corn. See comments on the next verse.

2. You reap after you sow. There is a time lapse between sowing and reaping. Ecclesiastes 8:11, “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” If a farmer sows corn, he will reap corn some time later than when he sows.

3. You reap more than you sow. Luke 18:29,30, “…who will not receive manifold more in this present time and in the world to come life everlasting.” If a farmer sows a corn kernel, he will reap many times more than the amount that he had sown.

Even though God deals differently with His children than he does with the world (Heb. 12:5-11), we believe that that the "reap what you sow" principle remains valid for both the saved and the unsaved.

8.  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.

This verse speaks of both the negative and positive aspects of sowing and reaping. "For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption;"  This apparently is referring to a person aligning himself with the 17 works of the flesh ("and such like") mentioned in 5:19-21. The one who follows his fleshly desires will reap the results of that action, at least part of which is "corruption."[28]

"...But he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting." This apparently is referring to a person who is yielded to the Holy Spirit and manifests the 9-fold fruit of the Spirit of 5:22, 23. This verse kind of sounds like the believer's works are related to reaping "life everlasting." Well, in this context, they are. But the verse is not saying that we need to sow a certain way in order to receive everlasting life, or to be justified.

In John 10:10, Jesus, the good shepherd (v. 11), was speaking of His "sheep;" believers, when He said, ”...I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." In the same chapter (v 28) he affirms that His sheep not only have eternal life but they can never lose it. The gift of God is eternal life (Rom. 6:23) and is received only by believing in Jesus (John 3:16). This verse is speaking about a quality of life that only one who has already received the gift of eternal life can receive. This quality of life probably refers not only to this present life but to an abundant eternal life. This comes by sowing to the Spirit.[29]

The concept of "whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" is far from the good news justification message of Gal. 2:16, "...even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law...." The former is by works and for reward and the latter is a gift by faith.

For whatever it is worth, I have noticed that at least in some instances, that verses referring to us receiving eternal life (being eternally saved) are in the present tense, e.g. "have eternal life," (John 3:16; 3:36; 6:47; 1 John 5:13), and those referring to rewards or the more abundant quality of eternal life are in the future tense, i.e. "shall" receive, inherit, etc. Matt. 19:29; Mark 10:30; Luke 18:30; and the verse which we are discussing, Gal. 6:8).

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

The "reaping" spoken of here apparently will be realized both in this life and at the Judgment Seat of Christ for eternal rewards. In Luke 18:29, 30, Jesus tells his disciples that there are none who sacrifice for Him "...Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting."

Even though we are saved by grace through faith and not of works (Eph. 2:8, 9), it really is extremely important how we live our lives. What we do today as a believer has eternal ramifications.

It is easy to become weary and discouraged in our daily trials. Sometimes it seems to me that the Christian life could be likened to swimming upstream. If you slack off too long you begin to drift backwards. Even when you are swimming to the best of your ability, there seems to be plenty of folks slacking off and drifting back past you. The problem is that some of these seem to be latching on to you and actively dragging you in the wrong direction. Whatever the accuracy of this perception, we know that God knows what is best for us and that we need to stay in the battle until He calls us home. Notice that we are speaking of obedience to Christ for rewards, not the impossible task of trying to do good works to merit eternal life.

A related verse which I often claim is 1 Cor. 15:58,  "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."

Heb. 12 encourages us to run the race to completion.

12:1  Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

2  Looking[30] unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

These verses immediately follow after Hebrews, chapter 11, which is known as the "faith" chapter and is the record of a number of OT believers who were faithful to Yahweh at great cost. The cloud of witnesses is referring to them.

Contrary to what some teach, this is not a text to use to establish that dear old Aunt Millie who died years ago is watching us. The word "witnesses"[31] here does not mean that they are observing our actions, but that their lives as portrayed in chapter 11 are a testimony or example to us to endure in the race that is set before us, even in light of trials and persecution.

We see that we are to lay aside both the weights and the sin which can hinder us in the race in which we are engaged. It is easy to understand how sin can hamper us in our service, but "weights" are also a formidable encumbrance.

A "weight" is not necessarily a sin in itself. I suggest that frequently it is something that could be considered neutral or even seen as good, but is being misused or misapplied.[32] Remember in the parable of the sower in Matt. 13:3-23, the fate of the one who received the word among the thorns; "the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful." (v. 22).[33]

We are to then run the race, "looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith." As the Christian song says, "It will be worth it all when we see Jesus." I dearly want for myself, my family, and for all whom I can encourage in that direction to be able to hear from our Savior, "Well done, good and faithful servant;..." (Matt. 25:23).

10.  As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

So far in this chapter Paul has exhorted the Galatian believers to minister to the sinning believer (6:1), the burdened believer (6:2-5), the ones who are teaching us God's Word (Gal. 6:6), to maintain well-doing in general, (6:9), and here, to minister as we have opportunity[34] to everyone, but especially "unto them who are of the household of faith," i.e. other believers (6:10). 

Paul warns in 1 Tim. 5:8, "But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel." It appears from this verse that so far as human entities are concerned, our immediate family is the highest priority. In the same context the conditions are presented concerning the church caring for widows. The first priority is that the family, if available, should provide before the church does (v. 4).

Eph. 2:19 mentions more about the spiritual household,[35] "Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;" We are spiritual family members with other believers. We are "born again" into God's family and the members of the true church are also members of our spiritual family. The welfare of our spiritual family is a high priority. Shortly before His crucifixion, Jesus told the twelve "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." When we display genuine love to the brethren, it is a testimony to the world.



6:11. Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand.

12. 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.

13. For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh.

14. 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.

15. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.

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

17. From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.

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


11. Ye see[36] how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand.

This verse begins the last paragraph of the epistle and contains concluding remarks written by Paul himself, (instead of by his amanuensis, i.e. scribe or secretary).

In the writing of some of Paul's epistles, he would dictate the body of the letter to a scribe, then add some concluding remarks in his own handwriting at the end. (e.g. 1 Cor. 16:21; Col. 4:18; 2 Thess. 3:17). Some commentators believe that this is what is being said here and some believe that he is saying that he departed from the norm and penned the whole epistle due to the fact the verb "have written" is in the aorist tense, i.e. simple past tense. Either way, we still have the inspired Word of God.

This also is one verse that is offered that might imply that Paul had a serious eye disorder, See also Gal. 4:13, 15.

12. 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.

Those who were desiring to put on a good display in the flesh, were pressuring the Galatian believers to be circumcised so that they would not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.

They had a misdirected desire; "desire to make a fair shew in the flesh."

They used unscriptural pressure tactics; "they constrain you."

They had hidden and improper motivation; "lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ."

The Judaizers were seeking accolades from men, for whatever temporal value that is worth, instead of approval from God This was not in accord with Paul's philosophy of ministry. (Gal. 1:10). He tells us in 1 Thess. 2:4, "But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts."

Paul could have avoided much persecution by compromising the truth of his message. "And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased. (Gal 5:11). He did not consider this defection, nor should we. 

13. For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh.

The Judaizers were desiring to require the Galatians to be circumcised under the law but they did not and could not keep the law themselves. I think that this undesirable trait is called hypocrisy. Again Paul addresses their wrong motivation, "that they may glory in your flesh." Getting Gentile believers to subscribe to the Mosaic law would be "feather in their cap" with the Jewish leaders. It demonstrated their zeal for the Law in spite of the fact that they could not keep it themselves.

Legalism frequently majors on minor things and bypasses the major things. It also tends to manifest itself in external, "add-ons," instead of coming from the heart. Paul now begins to contrast his ministry with that of the Judaizers.

14. But God forbid[37] that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified[38] unto me, and I unto the world.[39]

In contrast to the Judaizers, Paul gets the "glory" issue right here. It would be wrong for him to glory except "in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." By this, he obviously did not mean that he would glory in the literal pieces of wood of which it was comprised.[40] He was referring to Jesus and the efficacious payment that He made on the cross. John the Baptist wisely proclaimed, "He must increase, but I must decrease." (John 3:30).  The Judaizers were undermining Jesus' finished work on the cross. They avoided the stigma of the cross; Paul gloried in it.

Paul wraps up his argument with a picture of three crucifixions in this verse:[41]

1. The crucifixion of Christ - the basis.

2. The crucifixion of the world - the result.

3. The crucifixion of self - the victory.

Our salvation rests on the crucifixion of Christ. Our position resting on this foundation is guaranteed by the world being crucified to us, and victory comes when we are crucified unto the world. The Cross is the place of death. By the Cross of Christ, we are reckoned to be dead:

1. To the law.

2. To the world.

3. To self.

But those who died in Christ are also raised with Christ, and live in newness of life (Rom. 7:6; Gal. 2:20). Paul ends the epistle with:

15. For in Christ Jesus[42] neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.

From God's viewpoint, the external rituals are insignificant compared to the new creation; the result of the new birth. The legalizers were wrong in both their doctrine and their emphasis. Misplaced priorities produce skewed results.

"New creature" or a "new creation." These are from the same Greek words that are used in 2 Cor. 5:17:

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." (2 Cor. 5:17). 

The misuse of this verse has caused much confusion among believers. It is not saying that when we believe in Jesus and receive eternal life that we will stop sinning. The context is speaking of positional truth.[43]

The "all things" of this verse and the next are limited by the context. Obviously, after I believed in Jesus I still had the same color hair and eyes and no one yet has told me that I am better looking. What is new besides my eternal destination are the many things that God has done in, for, and to me upon being born again.[44]

16. And as many as walk[45] according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.

" And as many as walk according to this rule," What rule? The one just mentioned in verse 15; the fact that neither circumcision nor uncircumcision amount to anything of themselves. The new birth; the new creation is what is important. 

"...Peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God."

Just who is "the Israel of God" that are to be the recipients of this peace and mercy? Various suggestions have been made by commentators. Some maintain that "the Israel of God" are the "true Christians," "the true church of God," and similar.

One Bible teacher[46] offers an interpretation which seems to fit well. These two paragraphs contain a condensed quote. "This verse is used by those who endorse "Covenant theology"[47] to support the view that the church is spiritual Israel or that Gentile believers become "spiritual" Jews. We maintain that all 75 references in the NT of Israel are referring to national Israel. Their tenacity to use this verse in this manner seems to be tied in with their desire to also support amillennialism; the doctrine that there will not be a future 1,000 year reign of Christ on our earth, that the Bible references are only symbolic.

Some teach that the Israel of God is the Church but the evidence does not support that conclusion. The repetition of the preposition on/upon (ἐπί -ep-ee') indicates that two groups are in view. This blessing is pronounced upon believing Galatians and upon believing Jews. In the 74 other occasions of the term Israel in the NT it refers to Jews and national Israel. It would be strange for Paul to use Israel here to mean Gentile Christians."

17.  From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.

Here Paul again vindicates his loyalty as a faithful servant of Yeshua. He contrasts the legalists fleshly ministry (v. 12, 13) to that of his own. They sought a mark in the flesh, circumcision, as a sign of obedience to God. Paul's loyalty to Messiah and the truth of Messiah's cross were manifest in the scars in the flesh that he had received from those who rejected the grace message that he taught. (See 2 Cor. 11:23-28).

It is interesting that the word " marks" in this verse is (plural, στίγματα - stig'-mah-tah) or (singular, στίγμα - stig'-mah) which means "a punched mark."

An interesting related devotional gem is this: In Deut. 15:12-17, the Mosaic law states that when a Hebrew slave arrives at the time that he should be freed, that he has the option to voluntarily remain serving his master out love for him. The ritual which seals this decision and makes it public is in verse 17, "Then thou shalt take an aul, and thrust it through his ear unto the door, and he shall be thy servant for ever...." This was a "stigma" or punched mark to let people know that he was now a slave of love.

Paul repeatedly saw himself as a bondslave (δοῦλος - doo'-los) of Christ. (Rom. 1:1, et al). He bore numerous "stigmata" or punched marks on his body indicating that he was a slave of love. Where do we stand in this area? We probably will not have to suffer the physical abuse that Paul did but does our life show evidence that that we are a slave out of love to Jesus?

Stigma in modern English has grown to mean a mark of shame, dishonor, or disgrace.

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

The epistle ends with grace (Gal. 6:18) just as it opened with grace (Gal. 1:3). Why the emphasis on grace?

We are saved by grace (Eph. 2:8, 9).

We are taught how to live by grace (Titus 2:11-14).

By the grace of God, we are dead to the law - and alive unto God (Rom. 6:11).

We are told to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. (2 Tim. 2:1).

We are told to grow in grace and knowledge of Jesus (2 Peter 3:18).

Grace is involved in all three phases of our salvation; justification, sanctification, and glorifications. The epistle to the Galatians reminds us to never forget God's marvelous grace. 




[1] This brief outline is from Pastor Dennis Rokser's Galatians study at www.DuluthBible.org.

[2] We might add to that statement, "...and the way the legalist treats those whom he thinks have sinned but by Bible standards really did not." This general pharisaical attitude is displayed in John 8:2-11 where the scribes and Pharisees brought a woman who "was taken in adultery" to Jesus. They said to stone her. Jesus said, "...go and sin no more."

Some who wish to look "spiritual" are often condemnatory and proud when confronted with an erring brother. (e.g. John 8:5, 6, cp. v. 11; - Rom. 14:1; 15:1- 1 Cor. 11:28).

[3] "Galatians From A Soulwinner’s View," A. Lee Stanford.

[4] "If a man be overtaken in a fault," This phrase is third class conditional in the Greek; meaning "hypothetical," "it may or may not occur."

[5] "Fault" παράπτωμα (par-ap'-to-mah) Is usually translated "trespass," "offence" or "sin."  Lit. to fall beside or near something, a lapse or deviation from truth and uprightness, A different Greek word, "ἁμαρτάνω" (ham-ar-tan'-o), verb, and ἁμαρτία (ham-ar-tee'-ah), noun, are the words most frequently translated in the NT as "sin." It literally means "to miss the mark."

[6] "Restore" καταρτίζω (kat-ar-tid'-zo). Mend, repair. Used in secular Greek for setting broken bones and in the NT for mending nets (Matt. 4:21). It also carries the nuance of meaning not only to "repair," but to "prepare," and to "perfect." This shade of meaning also fits the context in the needs of the overtaken believer.

[7] "Meekness" πραότης (prah-ot'-ace). Gentleness; by implication humility.

[8] "Ye" in " in "ye which are spiritual" is plural. In the KJV "thee" and "thou" are singular and "you" and "ye" are plural ("t"s are singular and "y's" are plural). In contrast to English, Greek distinguishes between second person singular and plural.

[9] For a short study about the believer who is spiritual, please see "The Spirit Filled Christian" at http://www.freegraceresources.org/spirifilled.html. For the serious student who wishes to know more and to be more of what the Bible says about this subject, please study the book "He That Is Spiritual" by Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer who founded Dallas Theological Seminary. It is almost 100 years old but is still in print and available for purchase. It can also be downloaded at no charge from http://www.freegraceresources.org/hethatisspiritual.doc and other websites.

[10] This truth also implies that a spiritually mature believer might not be Spirit controlled or "spiritual" at times. Although we suggest a definition of the "spiritual" believer, we must not assume that any of us have somehow "attained" the ultimate level of spirituality at some point. We should continually be growing and maturing until God takes us home. He will handle it from there.

[11] Please see footnote 321 for a study on the lukewarm believer.

[12] For more on this please see "Identification of the “Natural,” “Spiritual,” and “Carnal” Man" at http://www.freegraceresources.org/naturalspiritualcarnal.html.

[13] "Burden" (βάρος - bar'-os), a burdensome weight. "Burden" in verse five is from a different Greek word. 

[14] Quote is from Galatians notes by Bible teacher Galyn Wiemers, www.GenerationWord.com.

[15] All of us and perhaps even more so, those of us in Christian ministry, might tend to think more highly of ourselves than we ought (Rom. 12:3), especially when we really are doing some things right. Some examples of proper handling of this malady are the following: In Acts 14, Paul and Barnabas were in Lystra. There Paul healed a crippled man. As a result, the locals began to worship them as gods. Paul immediately set them straight. In Rev. 22:8, 9, John fell down at the angel's feet to worship and the angel immediately set John straight. John the Baptist expresses the proper viewpoint when he exclaimed, "He must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3:30).

[16] "Prove" δοκιμάζω (dok-im-ad'-zo), to discern by testing or weighing the evidence.

[17] Quote from Bob Wilkin, Galatians, "The Grace New Testament Commentary."

[18] Quote from Galatians notes by Galyn Wiemers, www.GenerationWord.com.

[19] "Burden" (φορτίον - for-tee'-on), something carried, that is, the cargo of a ship: - lading.

[20] Wilkin in his Grace NT Commentary goes in a slightly different direction on this verse than do we. This interpretation should also be seriously considered:

"A different Greek word for load is used here than was used in v 2 (there translated “burdens”). Paul could have used the same word. The reason he chose a different word was to show that this looks to a significantly different time than in v 2, that is, to the future at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Believers should accurately examine their own work (v 4) because each one shall bear his own load at the Bēma. But until then, they can and should bear one another’s loads (v 2)."

[21] "Communicate" κοινωνέω (koy-no-neh'-o) to share with others, communicate, distribute, be partaker.

[22] Whenever financial "giving" is discussed, the subject of tithing frequently arises. Is tithing for us today? Is the believer of this age obligated to tithe? Tithing is a controversial subject and we should not part fellowship or cause dissension over disagreement related to this doctrine. No one is obligated to agree with us but all are accountable to study the Word on their own and seek the Holy Spirit's guidance on it. We will briefly present our stand on the subject and you can feel free to take or leave it. The command to tithe was given to Israel in the Mosaic law. Believers of today are not under the law, but under grace (Rom. 6:14). This is much the theme of the epistle to the Galatians. It certainly is not wrong to tithe if one chooses to tithe, but Galatians and other Scripture implies that it would be wrong for us to impose this requirement on another believer without Scriptural support. The Church, believers of this age, are never told to tithe but we are to give out of what we have and out of our love. 2 Cor. 9:6 tells us, "But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully." Please see more detail in our study on NT giving found at  http://www.freegraceresources.org/ntgiving.html.

[23] A humorous example of "dishonest truth" is the fictitious story of a man who did not wish to go to work one day. He went back to bed and began tossing a TV dinner into the air and catching it. He then had his wife call his boss and explain that her husband "was in bed, throwing up his dinner."

[24] "Deceived," πλανάω (plan-ah'-o), Deceive is a secondary sense; the primary meaning being lead astray. (Vincent's Word Studies in the NT). Translated "err" in Mark 12:24. This is a different Greek word than is found in verse 3.

[25] "Mocked" μυκτηρίζω (mook'-tay-rid'-zo) Lit. to turn up the nose. To sneer, mock, or deride.

[26] Please see http://www.freegraceresources.org/chastening.html for a short study on the believer's chastening.

[27] This is from our study entitled, "A Godly View of Sin," specifically pages 20-23, found at http://www.freegraceresources.org/sinindex.html, This is an informative and practical study containing information that can help us all in our Christian growth.  

[28] Corruption" (φθείρω - fthi'-ro) decay, ruin, defile.



[29] This concept is further explained in articles found at http://www.faithalone.org/magazine/y1988/88feb1.html and http://www.faithalone.org/magazine/y1990/90aug2.html

[30] "Looking" (ἀφοράω - af-or-ah'-o) "To consider attentively." Used only here in NT.

[31] "Witness" from μαρτυρέω (mar-too-reh'-o) meaning to testify. Our currently used word "martyr" is derived from this. We see a "martyr" as "one who suffers for the sake of a principle, or voluntarily suffers death as the penalty for refusing to renounce their religious beliefs."

From the account in Acts 7 we designate Stephen as the first Christian martyr. He was a martyr in the Biblical sense when he testified of Jesus. He was a martyr by today's definition when he was stoned as a result of his testimony.

[32] Please see footnote 255 about a "weight" in my life which was laid aside with great corresponding blessing and fruitfulness for God's glory. Please consider if this could also be beneficial to you.

[33] For practical comments on this parable please see http://www.freegraceresources.org/4soils.html  

[34] "Opportunity" (καιρός - kahee-ros') an occasion, a set or proper time. Translated "times" in 4:10, "season" in 6:9, and "opportunity" here in 6:10. 

[35] "House" and "household" in these three verses are from the same Greek word. These verses are also the only occasions that this word is used in the NT. Cognates of the word are more common.

[36] "Ye see" (῎ιδετε) should be translated as imperative instead of indicative (a command rather than a statement of fact). Paul might have been emphasizing the urgency of what he was teaching that sowing to legalism was sowing to the flesh and only corruption could result.

[37] "God forbid" See footnote 105.

[38] "Crucified" is in the passive voice. We did not do it. It was done to us.

[39] "World" (κόσμος - kos'-mos) here in both cases does not refer to the physical earth but to the world system or order.

[40] Some time ago I read of a religious group in Jerusalem that was selling "authentic splinters from the cross of Jesus." It was brought to their attention after some years that they had sold enough splinters to build several crosses. Undeterred, they came up with "the miracle of the multiplication of the splinters." Beware of anything religious that does not coincide with God's Word.

[41] This 3 point outline was derived from the "Commentary on Galatians" by Dr. M. R. DeHaan.

[42] The phrase, "In Christ Jesus" is not in some modern translations due to its absence in their source text, the Critical Text which we believe to be in error in this instance. It is absent in the Codex Vaticanus but present in most other codices including א, which is one of the major manuscripts used in compiling the Critical text.

[43] See article on this verse at www.faithalone.org/magazine/y1990/90jan2.html

[44] These would include being sealed, indwelt, and baptized with the Holy Spirit, we are justified, forgiven, redeemed, become a child of God, and much more.  

[45] "Walk" here is the same Greek word as "walk" in Gal. 5:25.

[46] Chuck Missler, Galatians study, www.khouse.org.

[47] One tenet of Covenant Theology proposes that the Church replaces Israel as the recipient of their promises and blessings from God. A reading of Rom. 9, 10, and 11, should correct this error. The adherents of this teaching are usually silent concerning being the recipients of Israel's judgments also.