Galatians 6:1-5

1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.

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

3 For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

4 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.

5 For each one shall bear his own load.

Brethren (v.1) — a reminder that they and Paul are united in the Lord

if (v.1) = even if — Christians do fall into temptation.

man (v.1) — (anthropos) = a person

overtaken in any trespass (v.1) — fall beside (in contrast to walking) a trespass. The idea is probably of a Christian caught off guard by a temptation and falling prey to it in contrast to the habitual practice in Galatians 5:19-21.

spiritual (v.1) — Those walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16, 25), as opposed to carnal Christians or babes in Christ. In this context, all Christians are indwelled by the Spirit, but not all walk in the Spirit. — the strong and the weak of Romans 14.

restore (v.1) — The Greek word is used for the setting of a broken bone. The tense is present continuous, calling for patience and perseverance. The point isn’t just to get the fallen one to stop sinning, but to get him back walking with the Spirit.

gentleness (v.1) — not tolerant of evil but gentle. Not self-righteous or judgmental.

considering (v.1) = looking, paying attention to

lest you also be tempted (v.1) — the inference is that the helper didn’t fall only because he wasn’t tempted

bear (v.2) — tense is present continuous. This is to be a habit.

burdens (v.2) — anything that puts a demand on one’s resources (in this case, spiritual resources) — carry another’s load

and so (v.2) = in this way

fulfill (v.2) = to fill adequately and completely

law of Christ (v.2) — love (Romans 15:1-3; Galatians 5:14

If anyone thinks he is immune to temptation (v.3), he’s kidding himself because we are all nothing in ourselves and can only accomplish anything by God’s grace.

examine (v.4) — continuous tense, a habit — make sure you are walking in the Spirit

work (v.4) — conduct

rejoicing (v.4) — reason to glory

in himself (v.4) — not in comparison to others, but based on his own conduct resulting from walking in the Spirit

load (v.5) — a different Greek word than “burden” in verse 2 — same basic meaning but with less emphasis on weight — used of a soldier’s backpack

The basic point of this passage is for the Galatians still living by faith to help those who have fallen for the teaching of the Judaizers.

Verses 2 and 5 are not contradictory; they are complimentary. Each of us should say to himself, “I must courageously bear my own burden, and yet sympathetically help to bear the burdens of others also.”

There is an even further and fuller explanation. The words for “burden” in Galatians 6:2 and Galatians 6:5 [load] are not the same in the Greek. In verse two the word which in English would be spelled “baros” gives us our English word “barology,” the study of weights and gravity, the downward pull to the earth. We also have the word “barometer,” an instrument by which we determine the atmospheric pressure, the weight of the atmosphere. The apostle used this word also in his second letter to the Corinthians. For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life (2 Corinthians 1:8).

The word “pressed’ is the same derivation translated “burden” in Galatians 6:2. And again in 2 Corinthians 5:4 Paul used the same word in reference to just living here when he said: We that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened … It is the same word, so the word “burdened,” in Galatians 6:2, where he told the believers to bear one another’s burdens, has to do with those weights that oppress and bear down upon us. Sometimes they are seemingly too heavy to bear, are they not?

but the other word “burden” [load] in Galatians 6:5 is different entirely. It is the Greek word “phortion” and it means a designated load or cargo. “Every man shall bear his own burden.” This word is used for example of the soldier’s knapsack. That is his load; heavy or light, he is expected to carry it. It has to do with personal responsibility before God. Each one has his own designated load or burden and must be ready to bear it. — Stam, pages 276-277

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