Galatians 6:1-10, 14-16 and Waldenström's Commentary

For the 7th Sunday after Pentecost

by Paul Peter Waldenström and translated by Tommy Carlson

Verse 1 — Brothers, if a person1 should unexpectedly fall into some transgression,2 you who are spiritual,3 guide those in such condition in the right way4 with a gentle spirit,5 looking to yourself that you may not be tempted.6

  1. Naturally the Apostle here means a believing person because he talks about the conditions within a congregation.
  2. Verbatim: taken in some transgression, that is to say: surprised by the temptation, before one has a chance to think, or to escape, like Peter when he denied the Lord. The Apostle ~ants to say: The believers ought to walk in the spirit (5:25). But IF such misfortune should happen that the flesh in its lust grabs somebody before they have a chance to think about it, then they fall into some transgression. Here the question is not about those who begin to LIVE in sin again.
  3. You who allow yourselves to be led by the spirit, while another is surprised by the flesh.
  4. For the meaning of the word in the original text, see comments to I Cor. I:10 as follows: The word in the original text which we here translate PERFECT really means — bring to justice, repair to order (see Matt. 4:21), repair matters so that everything is the way it should be — perfect. The same word is used in Luke 6:40 and in I Peter 5;10. So long as discord exists, conditions within the congregation are not as they should be.
  5. Through the spirit which works by gentleness. Gentleness is the fruit of the spirit, and the Holy Spirit is called the spirit of gentleness, when he acts gently. See comments to I Cor. 4:21. Vehemence and bullying toward the one who has unexpectedly fallen is not evidence of spirituality.
  6. Because who knows how it shall go with youP See I Cor. 4:21, "Shall I come with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?" — that is to say, with the spirit which works gently. In the same way the spirit of truth is the spirit which leads a person to truth (John 15:26), the spirit of wisdom is the spirit which gives wisdom (Eph, 1:17), and the spirit of power is the spirit which gives power (II Tim. 1;7). These expressions refer to the Holy Spirit in its different tasks. This spirit led Paul and worked gentleness or strictness in him according to what was needed.

Verse 2 — Bear each other's loads1 (weights) and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.2 See Rom. 15:1, I Thes. 5:14, John 15:12.

  1. This is a common rule in the spiritual realm which the Apostle gives here. When you see someone with a heavy heart because of weakness or guilt, then help them through prayer and encouragement, in compassion and gentleness. See the Apostle's own example in II Cor. 11:29.
  2. Christ's law is viewed as a measurement which is filled by doing what one is asked to do (invited to do). The word the Apostle here uses means that [in this way] the measurement is completely filled. The point of the brotherly love which Jesus requires of his people is that they have mercy on the weak and help them with gentleness. Of Christ's law see John 15:12 and 13:14, 34.

Verse 3 — Because, if someone thinks they are something special,1 while they are nothing, they deceive themselves.2 See Rom. 12:3.

  1. And, therefore, think they are too good to bear another's burdens.
  2. Because in reality they are without Christly worth. It is generally the case that they who are nothing have the highest thoughts about themselves.

Verse 4 — But may each and everyone examine their own labor,1 then they shall, only with regard to themselves,2 have distinction, and not with regard to someone else.3 See I Cor. 11:28 [and we add, II Cor. 10:12].

  1. In and by themselves after God's word.
  2. Only on the basis of their own labor's true worth.
  3. Not because others are worse than they are. The Pharisees, for example, proved themselves and their labors not after God's word but by the way they compared themselves with publicans, prostitutes and the like. In that way they received distinction "with regard to others," and it was a FALSE distinction. The true distinction is that which bases itself in one's own labor's true worth before God. Such distinction Paul made and he speaks about it in many places. See for example II Cor. 1:12; 6:3-10.

Verse 5— because each and everyone shall carry their own burden.1

  1. Each and everyone shall accept that which truly comes to them — what they themselves are worth, They shall neither think higher nor lower of themselves than they need to think (Rom. 12:3). Some Bible scholars understand the meaning as follows: each and everyone shall (in the final judgment) receive valid value for their own labor's true worth and, therefore, they must judge themselves to prove that their labor is after God's word and not by comparison with others' labor. No one is good because he is better than many others. This interpretation also gives a good meaning. Note in addition, the difference between the word LOAD in verse 2 and the word BURDEN here. A burden can be heavy (Matt. 23:4) but also light (Matt. 11:30).

Verse 6 — But they who are instructed in the word1 shall take part in all good with them who are instructing [them].2

  1. In God's word.
  2. Both those who instruct and those who are instructed work together in all good labor. The teacher shall not only TEACH and the congregation not only HEAR the word but both shall work together to PRACTICE all that is good. That this is the Apostle's meaning is shown in the following, see especially verse 9.

Verse 7 — Do not go astray,1 God does not allow himself to be mocked.2 For what a person sows that shall he also harvest.3 See Ps. 62:13; Jer. 17:10; Rom. 2:6; II Cor. 5:10, 9:6; Rev. 2:23.

  1. Or: LET YOURSELF BE MISLED (namely in your moral discernment). See I Cor. 6:9; James 1:16.
  2. The word in the original text means: God does not allow one to turn up one's nose. To turn one's nose up at someone is to mock and show contempt. When such mocking is toward God it means that one has been instructed in the good but has not practiced it. Compare Luke 6:46.
  3. Retribution in the final judgment consists of humankind receiving exactly for what it has done and nothing else. Compare II Cor. 5:10; 9:6.

Verse 8 — For they who sow in their own flesh shall harvest from the flesh, but they who sow in the spirit shall from the spirit harvest eternal life.1

  1. Here the Apostle thinks of two types of seed (good and evil) and two types of soil in which they are sown (the flesh and the spirit). Believers sow in the flesh when they allow the flesh to rule; they sow in the Holy Spirit when they allow this Spirit to lead them in their activities. The harvest is according to the seed and the soil: judgment or eternal life. Compare Matt. 25:34-46.

Verse 9 — But when we do the good,1 let us not lose courage2 for in due course3 shall we harvest if we do not weary.4 See II Thes. 3:13; II Cor. 4:16.

  1. Verbatim: THE BEAUTIFUL, the morally beautiful. The good (v. 10) is the true meaning of the beautiful.
  2. The same word is found in II Cor. 4:1. Humankind's ungratefulness, hostility, and other adversities could easily make the believer discouraged.
  3. Verbatim: IN ITS OWN TIME, that is to say, in the determined time for the harvest (Matt. 13:30). This is the time when the Lord comes again. It is important, therefore, to hold on until that time.
  4. Weary to do the good. If one loses courage, one gets weary. It is courage that upholds one's strength. But if one wearies, one loses the reward.

Verse 10 — Therefore accordingly, as1 we have the time, let us then do the good toward all but most of all toward the household of faith.2

  1. That is, since. Compare John 12:35.
  2. They who belong to the faith are at "home in the faith."

Verse 14 — But away with that which I1 would praise except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,2 through which3 the world is crucified for me and I for the world.4 See Romans 6:6; Galatians 2:19.

  1. There is in the original text a strong emphasis on the word "I": I in comparison to them.
  2. Only in this, that Christ suffered the death on the cross — this which is an offense for the Jews — do I want to have my honor and commendation. See I Cor. I:23 f., 2:2. This is the basis of salvation which I proclaim and not because of circumcision or law. See Phil. 2:6-11.
  3. The word in the original text can also mean: THROUGH WHOM (that is, through Christ).
  4. Through Christ who was crucified, have I, who now belong to him, become so completely separated from the world that it is crucified and dead from me and I from it. The world means everything that is called the world, everything that belongs to the world, all earthly things and conditions. Compare Col. 2:20; Eph. 2:2; I Cor. 7:31, 33, 34; I John 2:15 f.

Verse 15 — Because1 neither is circumcision anything nor the foreskin, but a new creation.2 See Gal. 5:6; I Cor. 7:19; II Cor. 5:17; Col. 3:11.

  1. The connection is: I do not want my distinction because of circumcision (v13) but only from the cross of Christ.
  2. It is unimportant for salvation whether one is circumcised or not, only that one is a new creation (11 Cor. 5:17) who lives in Christ (Gal. 2:20) through that faith which is shown in love (5:6), who keeps God' s commandments (ICor. 7:19), and who walks in good deeds (Eph. 2:10).

Verse 16 — And as many as come and walk1 according to this guiding rule2, peace3 (be) over them4 and mercy and5 over God's Israel.6 See Ps.1 25:4f., 128:6.

  1. The Apostle believes that even if some should defect, many will come and will walk in the truth.
  2. The truth described in verse 15 is similar to a rope which is strung to give direction on a road. To walk along this rope is also to walk the right way, to walk in a row, tom arch. Thereby is depicted a regular order which marks the Christian life.
  3. That is salvation, well-being.
  4. Peace and mercy are pictured as being sent down from heaven over the believers when the Lord returns. This is how the Apostle thinks about this. Compare Mark 1:10; Acts 19:6; Luke 2:25; II Cor, 12:9.
  5. Here, as in other places, the word AND is used as an explanation quite the same as the word SINCE. See John I:16, 4:1; II Cor. I:22.
  6. With God's Israel means the RIGHT God's people, that is, the believers without regard to whether or not they are circumcised. See Matt. 21:43; Eph. I:14. The Apostle also wants to say: To those who walk after the guiding rule, that is, the rule over God's Israel, come peace and mercy of the Lord's big day.