This post opens with the Bishop’s brief summary analysis of all of Galatians chapter 5, followed by his notes on Gal 5:25-26. After this comes the Bishop’s brief summary analysis of Galatians chapter 6, followed by his notes on Gal 6:1-10. Text in purple represents the Bishop’s paraphrase of the scripture he is commenting on.
ANALYSIS OF GALATIANS CHAPTER 5
The Apostle commences this chapter, by exhorting the Galatians to persevere in the Gospel liberty, into which Christ had asserted them (Gal 5:1
)—and adduces several motives for deterring them from submitting to the bondage of the Mosaic law. First, if they submit to circumcision, their Christian profession will prove of no avail to them (Gal 5:2
); secondly, they would be bound to the entire law by receiving circumcision (Gal 5:3
); thirdly, they would forfeit all the blessings of Christianity (Gal 5:4
); fourthly, because it is by faith, animated by charity, and not by any carnal means, justification is obtained (Gal 5:5
). He deplores the interruption that happened the Galatians in their onward course of Christian perfection; their deviation from the straight path he ascribes to their intercourse with false teachers, whom the father of lies employed to corrupt their faith, as a little leaven corrupts the entire mass (Gal 5:7–9
). He expresses his firm hope that, through God’s grace they will repent, and denounces a merited sentence of judgment against the men, who were instrumental in unsettling their faith (Gal 5:10
). He refutes the calumny circulated regarding himself by his enemies—viz., that he observed the legal ceremonies, by referring to the notoriety of his persecution for having insisted on the abolition of these ceremonies (Gal 5:11
). He expresses a wish, that these false teachers would be not only circumcised, but altogether cut off from the Church (Gal 5:12
). He exhorts the Galatians to the practice of the Christian virtues, especially of charity, to which the whole law is reduced (Gal 5:13
). He animadverts on the deplorable absence of charity for one another from among them (Gal 5:15
). He assigns one general means of observing charity, which is, to walk according to the impulse of God’s spirit, the motions of which are diametrically opposed to those of the flesh (Gal 5:16
). In order to guard them against all error on a subject which so vitally concerns their salvation, he recounts the works of the flesh, and the fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:23
). He next points out the obligations imposed upon them by the very nature of their Christian professions, to mortify the deeds of the flesh, and live according to the Spirit.
Gal 5:25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
But if we are interiorily animated by the Spirit, let us express this in our exterior conduct, in our actions.
Our lives, the whole tenor of our actions, should be strictly conformable to the dictates of the spirit by which we are animated.
Gal 5:26 Let us not be made desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
Let us lay aside all desires of vain glory, which causes us to provoke one another, and if unsuccessful to envy one another.
Spiritual sins, such as the desire of empty glory arising from the repute of learning, eloquence, and other acquirements, are by no means uncommon among such as are perfectly free from the dominion of carnal sins. They are the more dangerous because rarely perceived; and therefore, but rarely scrupled, as they should; for, spiritual pride, arising from the possession of virtues, with which others are not equally favoured, is generally so latent in its approach, and so subtle in its operation, that even among persons devoted to God, it works great mischief in the soul, before it is thought of, and, not unfrequently, is the root of great disorders. How deep and solid should be the humility of those whom God favours with his graces, and stimulates to enter on his divine service. They should always bear in mind, that of themselves they are nothing; that all they possess is received; that left to themselves, there is no crime, however grievous or shameful, they are not capable of committing, as perhaps a sad experience of the past may but too clearly prove to them. How many have entered on God’s service with the most generous dispositions, and laboured well for some time; a latent pride, however, insensibly insinuated itself. They gloried in their good actions, as if coming from themselves. In the pride of their heart they said, “ascendam.” They fell away and became reprobates. Hence, we should unceasingly cry out with the Psalmist: “Create in me, O God, a clean heart, and renew a right spirit, within my bowels.” “From my hidden sins cleanse me.” “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to thy name give glory.” This is particularly important for those who have been consecrated to the service of God.
ANALYSIS OF GALATIANS CHAPTER 6
In this chapter, the Apostle inculcates, in particular cases, the exercise of charity, the necessity of which he had shown in a general way, in the foregoing (Gal 5:14). He exhorts those who are well instructed in the faith, to discharge the duty of charitable correction with regard to their weaker brethren. This, however, was to be done in a spirit of compassionate meekness and clemency, which the consideration of their own frailty would easily suggest to them (Gal 6:1). They should sympathize with their weak brethren, and, far from growing proud at the contrast between their own works and the frailties of others, should rather be humbled at the prospect of the account they are to render before a just Judge for their own transgressions (Gal 6:2–5). He exhorts them to the performance of good works, particularly the good work of supporting their teachers (Gal 6:6). He exhorts them to persevere in sowing the seeds of virtue, from a consideration of the rich harvest of glory which they were to reap. They should exhibit benevolence towards all men, but, in a special manner, towards the faithful members of the Church (Gal 6:5–10). He derives a final argument against the doctrine of the false teachers respecting the legal ceremonies, from the corrupt morals of these men, and the base motives by which they were actuated, in urging the Galatians to receive circumcision (Gal 6:11–13). Their motive was, first, to please the Jews, and thus avoid persecution (Gal 6:12); and, secondly, to have matter for glorying in the circumcision of the Galatians as brought about by themselves (Gal 6:13). The Apostle shows how different are the objects he has in view. He glories only in the cross of Christ; and, secondly, far from seeking human applause, by this cross he is become an object of aversion to the world (Gal 6:14). He assigns reasons for glorying only in the cross and passion of Christ (Gal 6:15, 16); and, finally, furnishes the Galatians, when tempted, or constrained to be circumcised (Gal 6:12), with a general answer which they were to give to those who were molesting them (Gal 6:17). The words of this verse are spoken by the Apostle in the name of the Galatians.
Gal 6:1 Brethren, and if a man be overtaken in any fault, you, who are spiritual, instruct such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
Brethren, should any one, owing either to the seduction of the false teachers, or, the strength of temptation, chance to be surprised in any of the above mentioned faults, particularly heresy or apostacy: let these amongst you, who are strong and well instructed in the faith, and live according to the dictates of God’s Holy Spirit, instruct and restore him to spiritual health, but with all mildness and humility, keeping before your eyes your own weakness, which renders you liable to commit sin and yield to temptation.
“Overtaken,” i.e., suddenly surprised, “in any fault.” i.e., in any of the faults termed in the preceding chapter, “works of the flesh.” He particularly refers to the sin of yielding to the teaching of the false teachers respecting the legal ceremonies. “Spiritual,” refers to the better instructed in the faith amongst them. “Instruct!” the Greek word, καταρτιζετε, means to restore such a person to sound faith, and to grace; the idea is borrowed from restoring a disjointed limb to its proper place in the body. In the present instance, this is to be done by timely instruction and correction. “Considering thyself;” he employs the singular number in order to bring the matter home to the conscience of each one; it is less harsh to admonish them individually, than to address the entire body. “In the spirit of mildness.” This regards not the correction of such sinners, as are obstinate in sin; for, these latter should be treated with rigour, as the Apostle himself wished that Titus would treat the Cretans.—(Titus, 1).
Gal 6:2 Bear ye one another’s burdens: and so you shall fulfil the law of Christ.
With compassionate sympathy, correct those who have fallen, in such a way as if their sins and infirmities were your own and borne by yourselves, and thus you will accomplish the Law of Christ, viz., his peculiar precept of charity.
“Burdens” refer to sins of every description, especially to the sin of apostacy. “They bear one another’s burdens” by the true spirit of sympathy, by compassionating each other, and instructing each other in the spirit of meekness. “Bear,” βασταζετε, means, to bear a burden placed on one. “And so you shall fulfil.” The common Greek text has, αναπληρωσατε, so fulfil. The future, ανεπληρωσετε, is found in the chief MSS.
Gal 6:3 For if any man think himself to be some thing, whereas he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.
For, if any person form a high idea of his own excellence—to which his harsh treatment of his infirm brother may be traced—such a person, in truth, seduces himself, since, in reality, he is of himself but nothing.
He points out the source of the harsh treatment of our weaker brethren; it is pride, or the false opinion of our own superior excellence. The Apostle assails this vice, and asserts, that left to themselves, and unaided by God’s grace, the firmest amongst them could be nothing in the order of salvation. “Deceiveth,” φρεναπατᾶ, deceives his own mind.
Gal 6:4 But let every one prove his own work: and so he shall have glory in himself only and not in another.
Let each one try and examine his life and actions according to the rules of faith and morality, and not mind comparing them with the works of his neighbour, and thus he will have cause for glorying in his own work, on account of its real merit, and not from the contrast with the failings and imperfections of others
Gal 6:5 For every one shall bear his own burden.
For in the just judgment of God, each one shall have to bear the full weight of his own sins, without any extenuation from a contrast with others.
In this verse, he alludes to a certain class of men who, like the Pharisee in the Gospel, boasted of their own good works, from the contrast with their weaker brethren. Non sum sicut ceteri.—(Luke, 18:11). In this passage, we are furnished with most excellent instructions regarding the mode of administering correction to our infirm brethren. We should, as much as possible, excuse them. Their fault may have been the result of sudden passion or violent temptation. They may have been “overtaken” in it. We should “instruct” them and restore them to grace with the greatest meekness. Correction being of itself bitter and repugnant to our corrupt nature, should be rendered as sweet as possible, both in word and manner. It should merely insinuate the fault and extenuate it as much as possible. It should carry with it a due consideration of our own frailty, both as regards the past—did we ever do so ourselves? the present—are we subject to the same failing? and the future—what shall become of ourselves hereafter, in the same circumstances? This is the neighbour’s day for sinning, to-morrow shall be mine, said an ancient Father. How many are permitted by God to fall into sin, in punishment of their undue severity towards the fallen? Cassian (Collat. 2, chap. 13), mentions a frightful instance of this, in the lives of the ancient Fathers. We should so sympathize with our sinning brethren, as if we were bearing their sins on ourselves. We should guard against pride, like the Pharisee, on account of the misdeeds of others; and in judging of our own actions, we should only think of the just and tremendous judgment of God, in which they shall be examined.
Gal 6:6 And let him that is instructed in the word communicate to him that instructeth him, in all good things.
Let him who receives instruction in the doctrine of faith, share with his spiritual teacher, all his tem poral substance.
“Let him that is instructed,” &c. In the Greek it runs literally thus: κοινωνειτω δὲ ὁ κατηχούμενος τὸν λόγον τῷ κατηχοῦντι, let him who is catechised in the word, communicate, to his catechist, &c., i.e., make his spiritual instructor a sharer in all his temporal substance. The Apostle prescribes this, lest his reproof of the “spiritual” men, among whom were to be reckoned their instructors, should alienate from them the affections of their disciples, and thus cause them to be deprived of the necessary support. Catechetical, or viva voce instruction, was the method of imparting religious knowledge adopted by the Apostles. It is the fittest and most efficacious. Woe to the pastor of souls, who neglects it!
Gal 6:7 Be not deceived: God is not mocked.
Be not deceived in alleging vain excuses of in ability to comply with this natural precept of supporting your teachers. God, who is to judge you in such matters, will not be mocked.
Some interpreters connect this with verse 4, thus: “Be not deceived,” in judging of yourselves by the defects of others; for, “God is not mocked,” and this latter connexion well accords with the following verse.
Gal 6:8 For what things a man shall sow, those also shall he reap. For he that soweth in his flesh of the flesh also shall reap corruption. But he that soweth in the spirit of the spirit shall reap life everlasting.
For whatsoever things a man shall have sown, the same shall he reap. For, whosoever shall indulge in forbidden pleasures, which he shall have cast as seed into the flesh, shall reap of this same flesh the harvest of death and corruption. But whosoever shall have performed spiritual works, of which the grace of God’s spirit is the principle, and thus shall have sown in the spirit, shall reap of the same spirit the harvest of eternal and incorruptible life.
After having exhorted those, who received instruction in religion, to contribute liberally towards the support of their teachers, he, in this verse, exhorts all Christians to the performance of good works. In this manner he employs the familiar metaphors of the seed and the harvest. He looks upon the “flesh” and “the Spirit,” or the Holy Ghost, as fields in which seeds of a different kind are deposited, from which a crop of the same kind shall spring. “In the flesh … in the spirit,” are read in the Greek, εὶς τὴν σάρκα … εἰς τὸ πνεῦμα, into the flesh … into the spirit.
Gal 6:9 And in doing good, let us not fail. For in due time we shall reap, not failing.
But in performing good works, let us unceasingly persevere; for, we shall reap the fruit of our good works, in due time, provided we cease not, but persevere.
According to the Vulgate, we are exhorted in this verse to persevere in the performance of good works. “Let us not fail.” We are told, that perseverance is a necessary condition for eternal life. According to the Greek, we are recommended to perform good works with cheerful alacrity, not becoming faint-hearted; because we shall in due time reap the fruit of our good works for a never-ending duration. “Not failing,” may mean in the Greek, “not relaxing” (from fatigue).
Gal 6:10 Therefore, whilst we have time, let us work good to all men, but especially to those who are of the household of the faith.
Wherefore, whilst the present life, the seed-time for good works, lasts, let us do good towards all mankind, but let us make the faithful fellow-members of the Church, the special objects of our benevolence.
“Whilst we have time,” i.e., during the present life; for “the night shall come, when no man can work.”—(John, 9:4).