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Galatians 6 (web)

Attitude towards those for whom you are responsible

Attitude Towards Self

Attitude towards those who are in authority over you

Sowing and Reaping: Motivational

Pride in the Flesh
Pride in the Cross

6:11 See with what large letters I write to you with my own hand.

6:12 As many as desire to look good in the flesh, they compel you to be circumcised;
only that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.
6:13 For even they who receive circumcision don't keep the law themselves,
but they desire to have you circumcised, that they may boast in your flesh.
6:14 But far be it from me to boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
6:15 For in Christ Jesus neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.
6:16 As many as walk by this rule, peace and mercy be on them, and on God's Israel.

6:17 From now on, let no one cause me any trouble,
for I bear the marks of the Lord Jesus branded on my body.

6:18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.

Discussion Questions

vs 1 Would you evaluate Paul as being gentle in handling the Galatians in this matter?
How do you resolve the contradiction between vs 2 and vs 5?
What is "the law of Christ"?
vs 3,4 Why is "humility" so important?
vs 6 Do you think this commanded is limited to payed-professionals?
vs 7-9 What motivation is given here to sow to the Spirit?
In what ways can we sow to the Spirit?
vs 9 What other characteristic must Christians develop if they expect to reap?
How does this conflict with culture in which we live?
vs 10 Why "In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous. Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren."? (1John 3:10-16; 1John 4:21)
vs 11 Why does Paul make reference to this characteristic of his handwriting?
vs 12 Why would preaching circumcision cause one to avoid persecution?
From where was the main source of Paul's (and Jesus') persecution coming?
vs 14 What kinds of things to people in the world boast about? (Jer 9:23,24)
What kinds of things do we as Christians boast about other than the cross?


Attitude towards others
Part I: An Attitude of Restoration

Gal 6:1 Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.

That is, if someone's sin had been hidden, but  is found out, then restore that one gently. In contrast to that are those who blatantly and openly sin, being proud of it, like the Christian of 1Cor 5 who was sleeping his mother in law. Paul didn't deal gently with him, but rather handed the man over to Satan for discipline.

Those who are overly legalistic may also tend to be overly harsh in dealing with their fellow Christians concerning every matter, so that when they catch a fellow Christian in sin they are tempted to overreact with harshness, and by doing so they themselves sin.

Attitude towards others
Part II: An Attitude of Service

Gal 6:2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Realize that in a few verses Paul will also say, that "each one should carry his own load." So what he is saying here is with regards to loads which are too burdensome for oneself alone. For "each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." Php 2:4

The law of Christ is to love one another as he said in John 13:34 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." Paul mentioned this kind of thing also Gal 5:14 as being the summary of the law. Something for legalists to consider.

Attitude Towards Self
Part I: An Attitude of Humility

Gal 6:3 If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

The selflessness alluded to in the previous verse is really contingent upon the humility which Paul alludes to in this verse. Notice also in Php 2:3-4 the relationship between humility and a selfless concern for others:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.  Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Humility is the most essential of character qualities in the Christian life upon which all other character qualities are contingent.

But with legalism one tends to exalt the teaching and traditions of man. Thus denominational doctrines and denominational leaders become overinflated, and allegiances to such become a matter of pride and an unnecessary source of conflict within the Christian community.

Better in fact to make nothing of oneself than to make something of oneself. Consider Jesus, for example, he made nothing of himself. Php 2: 5-8 "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,  but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!" Or consider what John the Baptist said concerning his ministry, "He must become greater; I must become less." John 3:30  So let not denominational differences overshadow what Christ is doing in his Church.

Attitude Towards Self
Part II: An Attitude of Personal Accountability

Gal 6:4,5  Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.

Legalists have a tendency to judge others over issues of which Christians are free to act in accordance with their own conscience. Paul speaks of this application in Romans saying:

Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.  One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. Rom 14:1-5
So when it comes to judgment, let a Christian firstly apply it to himself. Examine yourself as to whether and to what degree you are fulfilling your personal responsibilities in living the Christian life, and whether you are bearing your own load, or unnecessarily burdening others with what you should be taking personal responsiblity for.

Thus Paul evaluated himself saying, "Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, in the holiness and sincerity that are from God." 2Cor 1:12

Attitude towards Authority
An Attitude of Support Spiritual Authorities

Gal 6:6 Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.

What Paul might be alluding to here is the idea of providing instructors with some kind of financial compensation.  A couple of times in scripture he invoked Deut 25:4 to support this principle, and also mentioned of the "Lord's command" with respect to this idea.

1Co 9:9-14  For it is written in the Law of Moses: "Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain." (Deut 25:4) Is it about oxen that God is concerned? Surely he says this for us, doesn’t he? Yes, this was written for us, because when the plowman plows and the thresher threshes, they ought to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest. If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more? But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ. Don’t you know that those who work in the temple get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.

Though he taught this principle, Paul and Barnabus did not actually exercise their right for financial compensation as it may have hindered the gospel in doing so. He also mentions this principle in 1Tim with regards to church elders.

1Tim 5:17,18 The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching For the Scripture says, "Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain," and "The worker deserves his wages." (Deut 25:4)

The double honor being respect and financial compensation.

As for us at the Berean Christian Bible Study Resources, we follow Paul's example and do not exercise this right. And we encourage fellow teachers and preachers of the Word to follow Paul's example so that they can speak as Paul did to the elders in Acts 20 saying, "I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’" Acts 20:33-35

Sowing and Reaping: Principle

Gal 6:7,8 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

In other words, there are inevitable consequences to how we invest ourselves. Our time, our energy, our efforts all will reap some kind of fruit. There are those who mock God saying, "See I sinned and there were no immediate consequences." You may not see the effect right away, but you will bear fruit. So the question is, what kind of fruit or effect would you like to see coming from your life? If we invest ourselves in satisfying the cravings of our sinful flesh, the effects will be destructive. But if we invest ourselves in spiritual matters, the effects will lead to eternal life - and not just for ourselves.

Sowing and Reaping: Application

Gal 6:9,10 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

If you persist in doing good, you will inevitably bear good fruit. This is a principle you can count on. So look for opportunities to do good, and not just to believers but to all people, and in the name of Jesus "who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good." Titus 2:14

But why does Paul say "especially to those who belong to the family of believers"? This is the priority in the Christian life. Jesus said, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:34,35 He wasn't speaking of loving others in generally here, but rather this commandment was specifically referring to loving fellow Christians. So when considering what good you can do, consider firstly what you might do for fellow believers.

Outward Impression I

Gal 6:11 See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!

Paul is not referring to the length of his epistle to the Galatians but rather to the size of the characters he's making in his own handwriting. So why is his handwriting so large? And what relevance does that have to the Galatians?

One speculation I've come across is that when he first entered Galatia he contracted an eye disease known as opthalmia the symptoms of which gave one a repulsive appearance. This may well explain his comment in Gal 4:15 where he says, "I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me."

Here Paul is reminded them they had received him despite his outward appearance. The relevance will become evident when viewed in conjuction with the next verse.

Outward Impression II

Gal 6:12 Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ.

Paul previously reminded the Galatians that they had not received him on the basis of outward appearance. In fact they received him in spite of his outward appearance. In contrast, the false teachers are shallow. They just tried to make a good showing in the flesh, and were primarily concerned for the things of the flesh like circumcision.

As to their motivation, the cult leaders were trying to introduce a version of Christianity which would be more palatable for legalistic Jews - a version which excluding the preaching of the cross. Remember Paul previously noted, "Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished." Gal 5:11

"The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." 1Cor 1:18
So don't water down the message of the cross. And if you're preaching the gospel correctly, you inevitably will offend certain people. That's the way it's supposed to be.
"In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived." 2Tim 3:12,13

What's Your Boast?

Gal 6:13,14 Not even those who are circumcised obey the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your flesh. May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

The circumcision break the very spirit of the law. Hypocrisy is common among legalists. Jesus pointed this out in Matthew 23:13-33, as did Paul in Romans 2:17-24.

The circumcision was looking for an endorsement by the Galatian Christians. But from the beginning of this epistle Paul noted that he sought no such endorsement, not even from the apostles. Rather from personal conviction he preached the cross of Christ - the significance of Christ's death, burial, and resurrection, which brings salvation. Thus he likewise said to the Corinthians

"When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." 1Cor 2:1,2

A New Creation

Gal 6:15 Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation.

Likewise Paul writes, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"2Cor 5:17 And Jesus said, "No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." John 3:3 Rituals done to the flesh neither save nor sanctify. "Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit." John 3:6 Or as Paul said in Gal 3:3 "Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?" (NKJV) So those born of the Spirit follow the spirit of the law rather than necessarily following the letter of the law. "For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." 2Cor 3:6b

The Israel of God

Gal 6:16  Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God.

And what is the rule but to walk by the Spirit. The "Israel of God" walk in this manner. The group of the circumcision, though they were Jews by birth, were not part of the "Israel of God". For they did not walk in accordance with this principle. "For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel." Rom 9:6 And "man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code." Rom 2:29

Final Words

Gal 6:17,18  Finally, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.

Paul had proven his allegience to the message of the cross suffering as Christ did in bearing the reproach of his enemies, being stigmatized by them, and suffering physically for the sake of the ministry. In 2Cor he makes a similar comparision between himself and false apostles (probably also of the circumcision), by saying,

"Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches." 2Cor 11:22-28
Consider what you have suffered for Christ and what you are willing suffer.

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources

Aug 18,2020