5. Exhortations, 4:8-6:10

vi] Care for one another


In this passage, Paul encourages his readers to welcome and aid a fallen brother, to support a Word ministry, and to follow the leading of the Spirit, rather than the flesh.


i] Context: See 5:13-18.


ii] Background: See 1:1-10.


iii] Structure: care for one another:

Exhortation #6:

"Let us not become conceited,

competing against one another,

envying one another", 5:26.


A recommendation in case of failure, 6:1;

A maxim about sharing the burdens of life, v2;

A maxim about self-deception, v3;

A maxim about self-examination, v4;

A maxim about bearing one's own burdens, v5;

A maxim about the common life of a teacher and student, v6;

An eschatological admonition, v7-9; Conclusion, v10.


Paul's exhortatio concludes with a series / list (sententiae) detailing accepted ethical practice, see Betz.


iv] Interpretation:

The sixth exhortation: Paul concludes his exhortations with a practical word on achieving unity between the "libertines" and "legalists" in the Galatian fellowship. He begins with a negative exhortation in 5:26 and follows this up with an exposition on "exercising our freedom to serve each other, with the contrasting warning added to avoid proud attitudes. By so doing they will fulfill the law of Christ amid the present tensions in Galatia", Dumbrell.


v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage can be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 5:26

Exhortation 6. Paul encourages his readers toward an inclusive, rather than judgmental, treatment of a brother, 5:26-6:5. Given the difficulties that have developed in the Galatian fellowship, the reader is reminded that a believer, living under the guiding hand of the indwelling Spirit of Christ, should not be filled with conceit and so damage the Christian fellowship by provoking one another.

Most commentators link 5:26 with the previous section, but it seems better to take it as the negative side of 6:1-5, so REB.

mh ginwmeqa (ginomai) pres. subj. "let us not become" - let us not be. Subjunctive of prohibition.

kenodoxoi adj. "conceited" - vain minded, conceited. Predicate adjective. "We must have no desire for empty prestige", Barclay.

prokaloumenoi (prokalew) pres. mid. part. "provoking" - challenging / provoking [one another]. This participle, and the one following, is adverbial, possibly modal, identifying the manner in which the action of the main verb is accomplished, or final, expressing purpose, "so as to compete with each other and to envy one another", Berkeley. Possibly attendant circumstance and therefore imperatival; "let us have no self-conceit, no provoking of one another, nor envying one another", Cassirer. "Don't be conceited, or make people jealous by claiming to be better than they are", CEV.

fqonounteV (fqonew) pres. part. "envying" - envying (experiencing a feeling of ill will due to a real or presumed advantage experienced by someone else*).

allhloiV dat. "each other" - one another. Dative of direct object after the verb "to envy", here as the participle "envying".


Rather, it is better to gently include a fellow believer. We are to draw those on the edge into the full life of the Christian fellowship. We will be tempted to judge and ostracize, but as Jesus forgives, in like manner, we are urged to be forgiving, accepting.

kai "-" - [brothers] and. Ascensive; "brothers, even if someone is caught it sin."

ean + subj. "if" - if. Introducing a conditional clause, 3rd class, where the condition is regarded as a future possibility; "if, as may be the case, .... then ...". The apodosis is in the form of an imperative = "then you should ..."

anqrwpoV (oV) "someone" - a man. Nominative subject of the verb "to surprise. Most likely generic, referring to a fellow believer rather than man in general, "if any one of you is caught ...", NJB.

prolhmfqh/ (prolambanw) aor. pas. subj. "is caught" - is surprised, overtaken, overpowered, entrapped. Possibly, "detected", NRSV, although better, "if someone is entrapped by some sin", Longenecker.

en + dat. "in" - in [some transgression, sin]. Local, expressing sphere, metaphorical, "in the sphere of sin", or possibly reference / respect.

tina pro. "a" - a certain [sin]. In a general sense, "any sin."

paraptwmati (a atoV) "sin" - trespass. Dumbrell's suggestion that it is an "unintentional fault", with the meaning of the controlling verb being, "seized unawares", is probably too narrow. The sense "entrapped" cannot be discounted for the controlling verb. The trespass would surely include "the works of the flesh", 5:19-21. Lit. "to step aside", the word being "chosen because of its appropriateness to Paul's thought of the Christian life as a walk by the Spirit", Guthrie.

oiJ pneumatikoi adj. "spiritual" - [you] the spiritual. Adjective, here as a substantive, standing in apposition to uJmeiV, "you". Probably believers in general, those guided by the Spirit.

katarizete (katarizw) imp. "restore" - mend, restore, strengthen, put in order, make complete [such a one]. Rather than judge, censure, condemn .... possibly "correct", "gently lead that person back to the right path", CEV, as of ethical restoration, Burton; or even better, "restore" socially, ie., "draw back into congregational fellowship", Dumbrell.

en pneumati prauthtoV "gently" - in a spirit of meekness. This prepositional phrase is functioning adverbially, modifying the verb "restore", probably modal, expressing the manner in which the restoration is undertaken, or instrumental, expressing means, "through the aid of the Holy Spirit with the result of gentleness", or better, ("spirit" = the human spirit) "through a gentility of spirit", Guthrie. The genitive prauthtoV, "gentleness", is adjectival, attributive; "a gentle spirit."

skopwn (skopew) pres. part. "watch" - watching, looking, observing, taking notice, taking heed [for yourself]. The present tense is durative, expressing a continued attention to watching, while the participle is adverbial, probably concessive, "although watch / watching / looking out for yourselves." The present tense, being durative, indicates habitual practice.

mh peirasqhV (peirazw) aor. pas. subj. "or you [also] may be tempted" = [lest and - also you] be tempted, tried. Note, as with the participle, a move in this clause from plural to the second person singular serves to accentuate the exhortation; "each one of you must ...." This construction, mh + subj., may form a purpose clause, encouraging care in the Christian life, "in order that you don't fall as your brother has fallen" - every believer is potentially vulnerable to sin. Yet, it is more likely that it forms an object clause, object of the verb "watch" / dependent statement of perception expressing what to watch out for (usually with iJna or oJpwV, although often missing with a verb of perception). The construction may also be treated as a subjunctive of prohibition; "watch yourselves, don't be judgmental." Serving to warn the "spiritual" believers of the temptation of being censorious toward a brother.

kai "also" - and. Adjunctive, as NIV.


The Spirit-led believer should also share the burden of a brother's sin (weakness, failure). Not only must we welcome a brother back into the fellowship, but we must support them as they seek to deal with the consequences of their sin. Such behavior fulfills "the law of Christ". This "law" may amount to Jesus' ethical teachings, possibly the law of love, but it may refer to the principle of living freely by the leading of the Spirit, as opposed to living under the direction of the law.

bastazete (bastazw) pres. imp. "carry" - bear, carry, bring. Possibly drawing on cross imagery. Not only are we to include / welcome, a brother, we must also share their burden, work to resolve the consequences of their sin within the limits of this imperfect world.

allhlwn pro. gen. "each other's" - one another's. The position is emphatic, underlining mutual care, other person centeredness. The genitive is obviously possessive, "one another's burdens."

ta barh (oV) "burdens" - loads, weights, burdens. NT. = "oppressive burden." Accusative direct object of the verb "to bear." Longenecker suggests that the burdens are the temptations of fellow believers, but surely it is their failures.

ouJtwV "[and] in this way" - [and] thus, so, therefore. Establishing a logical conclusion.

anaplhrwsete (anaplhrow) fut. "you will fulfill" - you will complete, fulfill. A variant aorist exists, expressing the "completeness of the fulfillment", Guthrie. The propositional prefix serves to strengthen the verb. When we carry a brother's burdens, we really do complete, within our lives, the law of Christ. "Obey", CEV; "live out", Phillips; "keep", NJB; "carry out", Williams.

ton nomon tou Cristou "the law of Christ" - Technically, the genitive tou Cristou, "of Christ", may be treated as adjectival, possessive, it is a law which belongs to Christ, or ablative, source / origin, a law from Christ. Numerous meanings are possible. Given the context, it is likely that the phrase "the law of Christ" is a polemic, a counter to Galatian nomists (those who use the Torah to appropriate covenant blessings). "The law of Christ" is set over against "works of the law" = submission to the law of Moses / Torah. If this comparison is intended by Paul, then "the law of Christ" is the leading of the Spirit in the Christian life, the indwelling compelling of the Spirit of Christ enabling a believers walk. See Betz, 299-301, also Bruce. So, "the law of Christ" is all about "the quality of the act and the direction in which it is moving", Dodd, rather than a new law as such. If we accept this interpretation, then "the law of Christ" does not mean the whole of Christ's teaching ("the prescriptive principles stemming from the heart of the gospel", Longenecker), or in particular, the law of love, "love one another." Believers are not bound under a new law because faith "expresses itself in love and this love, in effect, fulfills the law", Betz.


A believer properly acts with generosity toward a sinner because all are sinners, all are insignificant; what righteousness we possess, we possess in Christ alone. To think we are significant, apart from God, is to live in self-deception.

gar "-" - for. Possibly just transitional, therefore left untranslated, as NIV, but probably explanatory of v2, "for, you see, ....." To not support a fallen brother, but take the high moral ground, would deny that we, like them, are nothing before God, and thus can only evidence our self-deception. "For if anyone thinks he is something", NAB.

ei + ind. "if" - if, as is the case, [anyone thins to be something, being nothing, then he deceives himself]. Introducing a conditional clause 1st. class, where the proposed condition is assumed to be true.

tiV "anyone" - a certain one. Indefinite pronoun.

ei\nai (eimi) pres. inf. "[thinks] they are" - [supposes, thinks] to be. The infinitive forms a dependent statement of perception expressing what the certain person supposes; "if anyone supposes that they are someone important ..."

ti ...... mhden "something .... nothing" - a certain, anyone ....... nothing, no one. "Being nothing" in ourselves is probably describing the state of all believers; it is only in Christ that we are something. On the other hand, "being nothing" may be the state we move to when we claim to be something; we make ourself nothing by self-approval, status seeking ...., at the expense of a fallen, or weaker, brother. The first option seems best. A believer uplifts the insignificant brother, because we know that we are all insignificant before God. To think otherwise is to live in self-deception.

w[n "when he is [nothing]" - being. The participle is adverbial, possibly temporal, as NIV, or concessive, "although they are nobody", but more likely causal; "again, if anyone imagines he is somebody, he is deceiving himself, for he is nobody", Moffatt.

frenapata/ (franapataw) pres. "he deceives" - he deceives. Hapax legomenon. Of leading one's mind astray. As with the verb "thinks", "deceives" is 3rd. person sing. indicating the expression is gnomic (ie., expressing a general truth), even possibly with secular origins, so Betz; "a traditional maxim", Longenecker. "Delude", Knox.


To gain an understanding of our mutual insignificance requires unfettered self-examination. It is then, when we know ourselves, know our insignificance, know that our "righteousness is but filthy rags", it is then that we can rightly be self-satisfied in Christ. Of course, such self-satisfaction is not the product of a comparison between ourselves and a fallen brother, it is not the product of "speck removal."

de "-" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step to a contrasting point; "but let each one test his own work", ESV.

dokimazetw (dokimazw) imp. "should test" - let test, try, prove. To achieve a situation where a believer does not come to think they are superior to a weaker brother, each needs to "examine / test" their behavior to make sure they are not so deceived. "Let everyone (every man) learn to assess properly the value of their (his) own work." Phillips.

eJautou gen. reflex. pro. "their own" - [each man the work] of themselves. The genitive is adjectival, possessive.

tote adv. "then" - [and] then. A temporal sense for this temporal adverb is dominant, but with an added consequential sense, "then, having examined their actions, they will have a ......"

to kauchma (a atoV) "pride" - [he will have] the pride, reason for boasting in [himself alone]. The article indicates a "ground / basis of boasting". The sense is softer than the English "boast", so "sound basis for self-satisfaction." Presumably the sound basis for our "boast" is our knowing that we are nothing in the sight of God, but complete in Christ, rather than our knowing / claiming that we are good at forgiving.

kai "-" - and [not in the other man]. Certainly introducing a coordinate idea, even identifying a new sentence. As a new sentence: "He should not compare himself with what someone else has done", TH. Probably better as a coordinate idea; a believer who has examined their thinking and as a consequence knows they are one with their fallen brother ("nothing" together), can be well satisfied in this knowledge, and this a satisfaction that is not conjured up by comparing themselves with their fallen brother (speck removal, as Jesus calls it). "Any sense of achievement that he has will be the result of judging himself by himself, and not of comparing himself with someone else", Barclay.

eiV eJauton "in themselves" - This prepositional phrase is emphatic by position. The preposition eiV is probably spacial, expressing movement toward and arrival at, but possibly adverbial, expressing reference / respect. "All must test their own work; then that work, rather than their neighbor's work, will become a cause for pride", Dumbrell.


So then, a believer must face weakness and failure, and this under God's mercy, rather than be busy with the failings of others.

gar "for" - More reason than cause; introducing a summary exhortation covering v1-4, so best left untranslated. "We each must carry our own load", CEV.

bastasei (bastazw) fut. "should carry" - [each man] will bear [the own load]. The future tense is probably imperatival, so NIV etc. In v2 we are to bear one another's burdens (limitations, etc.), but here we are to bear our own load. The word for "load" here is different to that of v2, so possibly "load" here takes a positive sense, as of "cargo", "pack", Phillips; "load of responsibility", Moffatt; "each must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life", Peterson. Yet, it seems more likely that Paul is still making the same point. We must learn to carry our own failings, our own load of weakness and sin, deal with our own "log", rather than use the failings of others to magnify our own righteousness, when in truth, what righteousness we possess comes wholly from Christ. It is with such renewed thinking that we are able to support (carry the load of) the weaker brother.


Having explored the idea of bearing the burden of a brother's failure, Paul tackles the practical responsibility of financially supporting the Word ministries of the Christian community. Since the kingdom of God is realized through the preaching and teaching of the Word of God, it is essential to release gifted ministers for the business of teaching God's Word.

de " - / nevertheless" - but/and. Transitional. Here obviously used to start a new sentence, since it is very unlikely that the subject matter of this verse is related to the previous passage, although the TNIV takes an adversative sense. What we have here is a new instruction regarding the support of Christian ministry.

oJ kathcoumenoV (kathcew) pres. pas. part. "anyone who receives instruction in / the one who receives instruction in" - [let share] the one being instructed. The participle serves as a substantive. "Those who are taught the word ....", NRSV.

ton logon (oV) acc. "the word" - in the word. Accusative direct object of the verb "to instruct", here as a participle. "The Word of God."

koinwneitw (koinwnew) pres. imp. + dat. "must share" - let [the one being instructed] share, have a share / give, contribute a share to. Here with the sense "give to / contribute a share to", Longenecker.

en + dat. "[all good things]" - [with the one instructing] in [all good things]. Here adverbial, reference / respect. This prepositional phrase serves as an object complement to the verb koinwnew, "contribute a share to", in what would normally be a double accusative construction, except that this verb normally takes a dative; "should share with the teacher all good things." Although a general sense may be intended, eg., "all kinds of good support", it is most likely that Paul intends financial support, "material goods", Bligh. "As usual, Paul is loath to speak clearly about money", Bligh. "He should give his teacher a share in all his possessions", NJB (probably not!); "be willing to contribute toward the livelihood of his teacher", Phillips.

tw/ kathcounti (kathcew) dat. pres. part. "with his/their instructor" - the one instructing = the instructor, teacher. The participle serves as a substantive, dative of direct object after the verb koinwnew, "to contribute a share to / share with"; "should share with the teacher."


Eschatological exhortation: that we properly use the freedom we have in Christ (although Bligh argues that these verses are linked to v6. Note the context of 2Cor.9:6), v7-9. A believer may be free from "the works of the law", but we are not free to run amuck. Paul covered this subject in 5:13-25, he then dealt with practical ethical matters, and now he summarizes his teaching, namely, that the freedom we possess in Christ is not "an opportunity for self indulgence." See Longenecker, p279. It is often suggested that Paul's words here are addressed to the libertine group in Galatia, as opposed to the nomists, although it is more likely that he is reinforcing the point that his gospel is not a libertine gospel.

mh planasqe (planaw) pres. pas. imp. "do not be deceived" - do not be led astray, deceived. "Make no mistake", NAB.

qeoV (oV) "God" - Nominative subject of the verb "to mock." The position is emphatic. The absence of the article implies a qualitative understanding of God; "he is not the kind of God who can be mocked", Guthrie.

ou mukthrizetai (mukthrizw) pres. pas. "cannot be mocked" - is not mocked, sneered at, ridiculed, treated with contempt. Lit. "to turn up the nose at", and therefore "to show contempt toward." "You cannot make a fool of God", Phillips.

gar "-" - Obviously treated by the NIV as introducing a quote, but it still could be explanatory, "for ..."

oJ .... ean + subj. "-" - whatever [a man sows this also he will reap]. The presence of ean serves to make the relative pronoun "what" indefinite, "whatever", so introducing an indefinite relative clause; "Whatever a man sows, this also he will reap." Obviously a proverbial saying. A farmer knows well that a person harvests what they plant, and so the believer needs to understand that the principle applies to moral matters under God. A believer cannot defiantly indulge in sinful living and expect anything other than a harvest of destruction. Karma tends to apply in practical, as well as spiritual matters.


Presumably, the dichotomy between "flesh" and "S/spirit" is the same as in 5:16-25. The point Paul made there was that there is an ongoing conflict between the urging of our sinful nature and the urging of the Holy Spirit. Since the two are in tension, a believer is free to follow the leading of either. This freedom is only undermined when a believer places themselves again under the law, for then the law, arousing / empowering the sinful nature, prompts evil rather than godliness. Of course, being free doesn't mean we can indulge the sinful nature; libertarianism leads to destruction.

oJti "-" - that. Here causal, clarifying the proverb in v7, "because when a person gives free reign to their sinful nature".

oJ speirwn (speirw) pres. part. "whoever sows" - the one sowing. The participle serves as a substantive.

eiV "to please" - to, into. Spacial, expressing movement toward and arrival at; as of casting seeds into, toward the field of fleshly self-indulgence. The image is not of a particular failing, either past, present, or future, nor does it concern some problem of recurrent sin, or situational sin (eg., divorce and remarriage), but of an ongoing defiant disregard of the Spirit's leading, giving free-reign to the flesh; "indulgence in", Bruce.

thn sarka (sarx koV) "sinful nature" - the flesh [of himself]. "Sows with a view to his own evil nature." Wuest. "The unregenerate, uncrucified self", Bruce. Sowing to the flesh obviously means living in accord with one's evil nature, eg. 5:15.

ek "from" - out of, from [the flesh will reap]. Expressing source / origin.

fqoran (a) "destruction" - decay, corruption. "Annihilation", Betz.

de "-" - but/and [the one sowing to the spirit, from the spirit will reap life eternal]. Transitional, indicating a step to a contrasting point; "but if he sows in the field of the Spirit, the harvest will be eternal life", Barclay. The flesh indeed has its power, destructive power, but the Spirit has even greater power, the power to generate the fruit of love, joy and peace within the Christian community, and ultimately, life eternal. For this reason, let the believer's focus be upon the Spirit of Christ - walk by the Spirit, and not by the flesh.


So, a believer must not loose heart in the leading of the Spirit, for in due time the eternal reward will be ours, as long as we persevere.

de "-" - but/and. Transitional. Given what Paul has said in v7-8, he now makes this appeal, so "then / accordingly"; "So", NRSV. "However, as the saying is 'let us not weary in doing good'", Bligh.

mh egkakwmen (egkakew) aor. subj. "let us not become weary" - let us not loose heart, give in to sin, become discouraged. Hortatory subjunctive.

poiounteV (poiew) pres. part. "in doing" - doing. The participle is best viewed as adverbial, possibly temporal, "when doing good", although see Bligh Gk. 213.

to .... kalon "good" - the good. Accusative direct object of the participle "doing". Obviously all that the Spirit leads us toward; "everything the Christian is responsible for doing", Betz.

gar "for" - Introducing a causal clause explaining why we should not become weary in doing good; "because ...."

kairw/ idiw/ dat. "at the proper time" - [we will reap] in its own time. The dative is locative, temporal; "at the appointed time." Presumably the day of judgment.

mh ekluomenoi (ekluomai) pres. pas. pat. "if we do not give up" - not fainting, giving up, becoming discouraged due to fatigue. The participle is probably adverbial, introducing a conditional clause, so NIV; "we will reap as long as / if we don't give up."


Conclusion; An appeal and summary of the exhortations for an application of the fruits of the Spirit toward all people, but especially toward "the family of believers."

ara oun "therefore" - therefore, then. Inferential / drawing a logical conclusion; "so then", NRSV.

wJV "as" - as [we have opportunity]. Temporal use of the conjunction; "while we have the time. "Whenever we get the chance", Barclay.

ergazwmenqa (ergazomai) pres. subj. "let us do" - let us work. Hortatory subjunctive. The variant present indicative, "we do" is unlikely to be original.

to agaqon "good" - the good [toward all]. Accusative direct object of the verb "to work." The good is done to "all", a universal doing of good.

malista sup. adv. "especially" - [and] especially. Although universal care is called for, special attention should be given to our fellow believers.

proV + acc. "to" - toward. Spacial, movement toward, but in a metaphorical sense, of the toward ones doing good.

touV oikeiouV (oV) "the family" - the household. "The household of faith", ESV.

thV pistewV (iV ewV) gen. "of believers" - of faith. The genitive, is adjectival, attributive, limiting "the household"; "the Christian fellowship."


Galatians Introduction.



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