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Reflections on Galatians

Saint Paul

Galatians 6

(Galatians 6) Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. {2} Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. {3} For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. {4} But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. {5} For every man shall bear his own burden.

This last sentence is fundamental to the issue of legalism. For in a legalistic religion, everything has to be under control, and the leadership hold themselves responsible for the sins of the people under them. So they have to have rules to keep us from breaking rules. Just because you and I sit next to each other in church doesnít make me responsible for your sins. Every man shall bear his own burden. And that teaching is what makes it possible for us to dwell together in peace. I donít have to lean on you and I donít have to take when you try to lean on me. We are free from each other in this regard. The only obligation we have is to love one another. And I donít have to cast you out because you donít measure up to my standards

{6} Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.

If you are being taught the Bible by someone, you ought to give him something in return.

{7} Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. {8} For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. {9} And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. {10} As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

{11} Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand. {12} As many as desire to make a fair show in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. {13} For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. {14} But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. {15} For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. {16} And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. {17} From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. {18} Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

Thus ends the great letter to the Galatians, a much misunderstood and tortured piece of literature. And yet, if you can understand the simple issues that were raised here it becomes much easier. The church was divided over the issue of Salvation. The circumcision party had arrived teaching salvation by works of the law and had split the church. The circumcision party did not merely teach the Old Testament law as a revelation of right and wrong, but taught the entire structure of Jewish law as a means to righteousness. We will find later that Paul has to clarify the fact that he accepts the written law of the Old Testament, because people have assumed that his rejection of Jewish law included the law of Moses. It did not.

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