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 perseverence. 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 demond 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,” and instrument by which we determine the atmospheric pressure, the wight 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 srength, insomuch that we desparied 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 ous. 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. — Commentary on Galatians, by Cornelius R. Stam, pages 276-277