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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

Galatians 6



Verse 1

1. A specific example in which there would be the more need to exercise the unity demanded in the preceding verse Galatians 5:26.

ἀδελφοί,, Galatians 1:11 note. In itself a summons to unity. It is quite unnecessary, with Zahn, to remove it to the end of ch. 5.

ἐὰν καὶ with the subjunctive. St Paul puts the case as though it may not happen; contrast Luke 11:8. But it is not of so improbable a nature that he should say καὶ ἐάν (Galatians 1:8). Burton, N.T. Moods and Tenses, § 285. ἐάν alone would not have marked the progress in the need for loving behaviour. Thus καὶ does not emphasize προλημφθῇ but the whole clause from προλημφθῇ to παραπτώματι; in 1 Corinthians 7:11; 1 Corinthians 7:28 the single verb is the whole clause.

προλημφθῇ: “be overtaken,” A.V., R.V., Field. Elsewhere in the N.T. (Mark 14:8; 1 Corinthians 11:21[158]) in the active, and used literally. Only once in the LXX., Wisdom of Solomon 17:17, of an Egyptian in the field overtaken (προλημφθεὶς) by the plague of darkness. So here “overtaken” or “overpowered” by the devil, when ἒν τινι παραπτώματι is epexegetic. Lightfoot and others however prefer to render it “surprised” καταληφθῆναι, John 8:4), when ἔν τινι παραπτ. marks that in which the man was caught. It is more difficult to act kindly to a person surprised flagrante delicto.

ἄνθρωπος. Hardly to lay stress on his human, and therefore weak, nature, Galatians 6:7 (Chrys., Theodoret, Jerome, Luther), but generally, Romans 3:28.

ὑμεῖς οἱ πνευματικοὶ. Not ironical, but a serious appeal to those who were both living and walking by the spirit (Galatians 5:25); cf. Romans 15:1.

καταρτίζετε: “amend.” So of damaged nets, Matthew 4:21, and metaphorically 1 Corinthians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 3:10; Hebrews 13:21; 1 Peter 5:10. The tense suggests patience and continued effort.

τὸν τοιοῦτον, “the man in this condition,” 1 Corinthians 5:5; 1 Corinthians 5:11.

ἐν πνεύματι πραὔτητος (Galatians 5:23). ἐν πν. is closely connected with ὑμ. οἱ πνευματικοί and πραΰτητος is almost an afterthought, descriptive of the πνεῦμα when behaving in the way required. See Appendix, Note F.

σκοπῶν σεαυτόν. Individualising, cf. Galatians 4:7; contrast Philippians 2:4. Alford compares Thuc. I. 42.

μὴ καὶ σὺ πειρασθῇς. St Paul does not say ἁμαρτῇς. The believer dreads temptation, with the severity of conflict and the possible fall, and therefore sympathizes with one who has been exposed to it and has been “overtaken.”

Verses 1-6

1–6. For the summary of these verses see the note at Galatians 5:25.

Verses 1-10


Verse 2

2. The suggestion of common weakness producing sympathy with a fallen brother leads to the thought of active help. But, as usual with St Paul, this passes beyond the immediate connexion to a wider statement. The asyndeton suggests that he is illustrating the particular case by a general principle.

ἀλλήλων. He has now come to a clear contrast to Galatians 5:26.

τὰ βάρη, plural[159]. For the singular with βαστάζειν see Matthew 20:12. The reference is wide, all that causes them anxiety and that can be borne by others (contrast Galatians 6:5). St Paul, it must be remembered, was writing to those who were inclined to carry wrong burdens, those of legal enactments, cf. Acts 15:28; Acts 15:10; Revelation 2:24. See also Jerome on Galatians 6:3, p. 521 c.

βαστάζετε,, Galatians 5:10. In Romans 15:1 St Paul states his meaning plainly without the metaphor of βάρος.

καὶ οὕτως. In contrast to the false way proposed to them.

ἀναπληρώσατε: see notes on Textual Criticism. Matthew 13:14; 1 Corinthians 16:17; Philippians 2:30. Fill up completely as though it were a goblet showing the measure proposed for you. The word is used in the Papyri of completing a contract, and of making up a rent (see Moulton and Milligan in Expositor, VII. 5, 1908, p. 267).

τὸν νόμον τοῦ χριστοῦ. The phrase is unique, but cf. James 1:25. Not Ἰησοῦ as meaning the law that Jesus spake, e.g. “love one another,” John 13:34 (Jerome), or the Sermon on the Mount, but τοῦ χριστοῦ “the law of the Messiah.” This includes not only all His words and deeds but probably also the whole principle of His self-sacrifice, in His Incarnation, Passion, Resurrection (cf. Ephesians 5:1-2). In this sense Bengel is right: Lex Christi lex amoris, for this is love itself. St Paul thus returns to the thought of Galatians 5:13-14, but, as always, giving his words a deeper and wider range. Thus there is a sense in which the believer is ἔννομος (cf. ἡ ἔννομος βίωσις, Ecclus. Prol.), but it is ἔννομος Χριστοῦ (1 Corinthians 9:21), and seeing that it is subjection to a principle, or rather to a Person, and not to a command or series of commands, it is the very opposite to subjection to the Law of Moses, though, of course, in one sense, moral obligation to a Person is the highest Law of all. On ὁ χριστός, meaning more than the personal name, see Colossians 1:7 note.

Verse 3

3. εἰ γὰρ. To be joined closely with Galatians 6:2, not Galatians 6:1. “For that opinion of self which will not suffer a man to stoop to this [i.e. bearing another’s burdens], is mere self-deception” (Jowett). Cf. Philippians 2:3-4, where also κενοδοξία is contrasted with helping others; cf. Galatians 5:26.

δοκεῖ τις εἶναί τι: “thinks,” not “seems” as in Galatians 2:2; cf. 1 Corinthians 8:2.

μηδὲν ὤν: “though he is nothing.” Probably to be taken with the preceding words, although οὐδέν would be more natural. If with the following it must be translated “because he is nothing.”

φρεναπατᾳ[160] ἑαυτόν. He deceives even his own mind; he becomes conceited without any cause. See Blass, Gram. § 28. 5 note. Cf. φρεναπάτης, Titus 1:10[161].

Verse 4

4. τὸ δὲ ἔργον ἑαυτοῦ. The emphasis lies on “work.” To test oneself (1 Corinthians 11:28; 2 Corinthians 13:5) might under the circumstances only increase the mental deception. Work as something external can be considered more dispassionately. Also it is his own work that he must test, not that of another. Neque enim si alius perfecte non potest ad Christianismum a Judaismo transire, idcirco tu perfectus es Christianus (Jerome).

δοκιμαζέτω. Although δοκ. in itself is neutral it generally has in the N.T. the connotation of approval, and so here, as is evident from the next clause; see both Lightfoot and Milligan on 1 Thessalonians 2:4. Trench, N.T. Syn. § 74, compares our English expression “tried men.”

[ἕκαστος.] See notes on Textual Criticism.

καὶ τότε: on the presupposition that the result is satisfactory.

εἰς ἑαυτὸν μόνον τὸ καυχημα ἔξει: “his ground for glorying about himself alone.” For καύχημα εἰς cf., besides the next clause, 2 Corinthians 10:16.

καὶ οὐκ εἰς τὸν ἔτερον: “and not about another.” Lit. the other with whom he compares himself. St Paul is condemning the spirit of the Pharisee, Luke 18:11. Luther (p. 282 a) understands it of glorying in being praised by another, but even if this interpretation is possible, it is not so near the thought of the context.

Verse 5

5. ἕκαστος γὰρ. This testing of yourselves is necessary, for etc. Observe that when St Paul wrote this sentence it was not the platitude that it is now. For probably individual responsibility was not as clearly known, especially in circles dominated by Jewish ideas of the solidarity of Israel and the merits of the Fathers.

τὸ ἴδιον φορτίον. The difference between βάρος (Galatians 6:2) and φορτίον appears to be that the former is wider, and may be used of any weight additional to what is already incurred, while φορτίον is a load actually carried and belonging, as it were, to the person who bears it. Compare Sirach 33:30 (Sirach 33:25) χορτάσματα καὶ ῥάβδος καὶ φορτία ὄνῳ.

βαστάσει,, Galatians 6:2. Here, as it seems, at the Day of Judgment.

Verse 6

6. κοινωνείτω δὲ. The verse gives a special instance of the burden-bearing expected of believers (Galatians 6:2). δέ. In contrast to the selfishness implied in Galatians 6:3. κοινωνεῖν, with dative of person, Philippians 4:15[162]; intransitive, not strictly “give,” but “share with,” which implies also “go shares with.”

ὁ κατηχούμενος τὸν λόγον. κατηχ. not in the LXX. In St Paul’s writings, Romans 2:18; 1 Corinthians 14:19 only. For the accusative of reference see Acts 18:25. For ὁ λόγος = the Gospel, see 1 Thessalonians 1:6; 2 Timothy 4:2; Colossians 4:3 (where see note).

τῷ κατηχοῦντι. The active occurs elsewhere in the N.T. only in 1 Corinthians 14:19.

ἐν πᾶσιν ἀγαθοῖς. For there are many ways in which he may be helped. It has been suggested that the strong language of the following verse precludes a reference here to temporal blessings, but, as will be seen, that verse belongs to a wider connexion of thought. The context here suggests that St Paul is thinking chiefly, and probably solely, of monetary and other temporal assistance. For this use of ἀγαθά see Luke 12:18-19; Luke 16:25, and for the thought 1 Corinthians 9:11. Ramsay (Gal. pp. 456 sqq.) shows how important such a charge was, because the heathen never received teaching from their priests, and only paid fees for each sacrifice as it was offered. “There were no instructors, and no voluntary contributions for their support.”

Verse 7

7. The connexion is: If you spare yourselves and do not help others, e.g. your teachers as I have just said, you are living for the flesh, not the spirit, however much you deceive yourselves (Galatians 6:3).

μὴ πλανᾶσθε, “do not err.” The phrase occurs elsewhere in the N.T. only in 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Corinthians 15:33; James 1:16. The context here suggests that the verb is in the middle as certainly in Mark 12:24; Mark 12:27.

θεὸς. Suddenly introduced because their pretence to piety is really mocking Him. No article, because St Paul is contrasting His nature and position with those of men. Compare Galatians 2:6.

οὐ μυκτηρίζεται[163], “is not mocked,” 2 Chronicles 36:16; Proverbs 1:30. Cf. ἐκμυκτηρίζω, Luke 16:14; Luke 23:35[164], in each case Christ being the object. The verb properly means “turn up the nose” (so “mock,” also = “wipe the nose”). It means “the open gesture of contempt for one who is an easy dupe” (Perowne).

ὃ γὰρ ἐὰν (Galatians 6:17) σπείρῃ. A proverbial saying, see below, but perhaps here suggested by St Paul’s reminiscence of his recent words to the Corinthians, 2 Corinthians 9:6. On the relation of this passage to the collection for the saints at Jerusalem (1 Corinthians 16:1) see the Introduction, p. xxi. sq.

ἄνθρωπος. Unlike Galatians 6:1, where see note.

τοῦτο καὶ θερίσει, cf. Job 4:8. Wetstein quotes Aristotle, Rhet. III. 3 σὺ δὲ ταῦτα αἰσχρῶς μὲν ἔσπειρας, κακῶς δὲ ἐθέρισας, and Cicero, de Orat. II. 65 ut sementem feceris, ita metes.

Verses 7-10

7–10. Show such kindness, for the Harvest will come

(Galatians 6:7) Refusal to help others is, in reality, mocking God, who does avenge every insult, and bring the harvest of each man’s sowing. (Galatians 6:8) You remember the parable, where the ground made the difference? So if a man makes his own flesh the recipient of his efforts, the flesh will yield him a harvest of corruption. But if the spirit it will yield him life eternal, (Galatians 6:9) But let us do that which is good and fair to see, without grudging our task, for at harvest we shall reap if we faint not now. (Galatians 6:10) So therefore while we have sowing-time, let us do the work of good and kind deeds towards all, chiefly, I need hardly say, to our fellow-members of God’s household, all of whom have faith upon Him.

Verse 8

8. St Paul defines what he means by sowing, but leaves the thought of strict identity of the seed, and, like our Lord in Matthew 13, regards the difference of soil into which the seed is cast.

ὃτι. The reason for the statement ὃ γὰρ ἐὰν κ.τ.λ.

ὁ σπείρων εἰς τὴν σάρκα ἑαυτοῦ. For σπείρειν with εἰς, marking the ground into which seed is sown, see Mark 4:15; Mark 4:18 (||Matthew 13:22). This is more natural than to understand εἰς only as “with a view to,” or “for the indulgence of.”

ἑαυτοῦ lays stress on the selfishness of the man.

ἐκ τῆς σαρκὸς. So out of that ground will come his harvest. τῆς is probably possessive, though there is no stress laid on “his own.” But possibly ἡ σάρξ in this clause means the whole of the anti-spiritual world of which ἡ σάρξ ἑαυτοῦ was but a part.

θερίσει φθοράν. The dissolution that marks all created things (Romans 8:21), nowhere more apparent than in “flesh.” But as ἡ σάρξ here is primarily moral, so also it is moral dissolution of which the Apostle is chiefly thinking; cf. Ephesians 4:22; Judges 1:10.

ὁ δὲ σπείρων εἰς τὸ πνεῦμα. Not the personal Spirit of God, but the Divine Spirit generally, precisely as in Galatians 5:17; Galatians 5:22. Yet no ἐαυτοῦ here for “per nos sumus carnales, non spirituales” (Bengel).

ἐκ τοῦ πνεῦματος θερίσει ζωὴν αἰώνιον. The true side of the doctrine of “merit.” αἰώνιον: see Moulton and Milligan in Expositor VII. 5, 1908, p. 174 for interesting quotations from the Papyri.

Verse 9

9. τὸ δὲ καλὸν ποιοῦντες. δέ in contrast to the doubtfulness of the double issue. καλόν, the good in fact and appearance.

μὴ ἐνκακῶμεν, “let us not be faint-hearted,” 2 Thessalonians 3:13. “Weary” (A.V., R.V.) suggests fatigue, but ἐνκακεῖν refers to mental disinclination, cf. Polyb. IV. 19.10. So Symmachus, Isaiah 7:16 and elsewhere, uses it to translate qutz, “loathe.” The ἐκκακῶμεν of the Received Text seems to be due to a faulty pronunciation rather than to be a distinct compound. See Lightfoot on 2 Thessalonians 3:13.

καιρῷ γὰρ ἰδίῳ, “at its own time,” i.e. of harvest. For the omission of the article in designations of time see Luke 20:10; 1 Timothy 2:6; contrast Mark 12:2 (see Win.-Schm. § 19. 6).

θερίσομεν μὴ ἐκλυόμενοι, “we shall reap if we faint not.” Here comes the thought of fatigue, and that too great for strength. Matthew 15:32 (||Mark 8:3); Hebrews 12:3; Hebrews 12:5[165]; cf. 1 Maccabees 3:17 τί δυνησόμεθα ὀλιγοστοὶ ὄντες πολεμῆσαι πρὸς πλῆθος τοσοῦτο; καὶ ἡμεῖς ἐκλελύμεθα ἀσιτοῦντες σήμερον, and Judas’ noble answer. The Greek Fathers interpreted the words “without fainting,” i.e. of the heavenly reaping in contrast to the toil of earthly reapers, and so Tyndale (“For when the tyme is come, we shall repe with out werines”), but we should expect οὐ rather than μή, and the thought is not so appropriate to the context.

Verse 10

10. ἄρα οὖν, “accordingly therefore”; the “weaker ratiocinative force of ἄρα being supported by the collective power of οὖν” (Ellicott). In the N.T. the combination is found in St Paul’s writings only, and eight times out of twelve in Romans.

ὡς καιρὸν ἔχωμεν. See notes on Textual Criticism. “While we have time,” i.e. ὡς in the sense of ἕως, John 12:35-36. The subjunctive, making the statement indefinite, is found with ὡς here only without ἄν, so that possibly the ω of א *B is a mere error for ο. But see Thackeray, Grammar of O.T. Greek, § 6. 28. See Blass, Gram. § 78. 3. Win.-Schm. § 5. 19. Cf. 2 “Clem. Rom.” 8. ὡς οὖν ἐσμὲν ἐπὶ γῆς, μετανοήσωμεν. ὡς ἂν would be “when,” Romans 15:24; 1 Corinthians 11:34, and, Field thinks (Notes on the Translation of the N.T.), is required if we are to obtain the translation “as we have opportunity.” καιρὸν = a, seasonable time for sowing, cf. Galatians 6:9.

ἐργαζώμεθα (Colossians 3:23 note). τὸ ἀγαθὸν. More ethical than τὸ καλόν, Galatians 6:9, and suggesting kindness.

πρὸς πάντας. For Christian love knows no limitation of object.

μάλιστα δὲ πρὸς τοὺς οἰκείους. So of members of an earthly household, 1 Timothy 5:8. Here of the heavenly as in Ephesians 2:19.

τῆς πίστεως. It is questionable whether the R.V. “toward them that are of the household of the faith “does not say more to English ears than the Greek intended. For “the faith” suggests “the doctrine” about Christ etc. But St Paul may well have meant “faith “generally speaking, τῆς being in reality due to the preceding τοὺς: “unto the members of the household that is characterized by faith.” Faith in God, not “the faith” as a synonym for the Gospel, marks this household; see Luke 18:8, and probably even 2 Thessalonians 3:2. Faith is represented not as the master, nor as the material, of the house, but as a characteristic common to the members. For a somewhat similar genitive see Galatians 2:7.

Verse 11

11. ἴδετε (1 John 3:1) πηλίκοις. See notes on Textual Criticism. “See, with what large letters.” πηλ. Here in its strict sense of magnitude in dimension, Zechariah 2:2 [6] bis; contrast its metaphorical use in Hebrews 7:4; 4 Maccabees 15:22[166]. The marginal ἡλίκοις appears to be less definite. But why does St Paul call attention to the size of his letters?

(a) Presumably to show the emphasis with which he writes and the importance of what he is saying. For larger letters were used in his day, as sometimes in our own, to lay stress on important parts of a document, especially in a public inscription. Ramsay (Gal. p. 466) refers to examples at Pisidian Antioch, and at Pompeii. So according to a papyrus of 265 B.C. a notice is to be put on a board μεγάλοις γράμμασιν (Moulton and Milligan, Expositor, VII. 6, 1908, p. 383). The verses from here to the end of the Epistle are so important a summary of St Paul’s statements that they would justify the use of large letters. Galatians 1:1 to Galatians 6:10 may have been in cursive hand. If so the papyrus of July 24, 66 A.D., in the Cambridge University Library, Add. 4052 (reproduced in Grenfell and Hunt’s Oxyrhynchus Papyri II. no. 246, and in Deissmann’s Licht vom Osten, p. 112) gives the reverse case. Officials certify in cursive hand to the accuracy of the statements made in uncial by the writer of the letter.

(b) There is no connotation of ill-shapen letters (Chrysostom), either in πηλίκοις or the context, for it is not in τῇ ἐμῇ χειρί (vide infra) nor even in στίγματα, Galatians 6:17. Hence it is unnecessary to see in the word a suggestion either of St Paul’s disregard of elegance, or of a reference to injury to his hand and so of suffering endured for Christ.

(c) Deissmann’s explanation (still repeated in Licht vom Osten, pp. 105, 110) that St Paul says in playful irony, my large letters are for you children, belongs, as Ramsay rightly says, “to the region of pure comedy” (Gal. p. 466).

ὑμῖν. Probably the position is due to euphony, and ὑμῖν is still to be taken with ἔγραψα. Lightfoot, however, thinks that it is placed here to emphasize πηλίκοις, and translates: “how large, mark you.”

γράμμασιν, (a) γράμματα does sometimes mean ἐπιστολή (“how large a letter,” A.V.), see Acts 28:21; 1 Maccabees 5:10; cf. Luke 16:6-7; 2 Timothy 3:15. In this case St Paul would be calling attention to the fact that he has written the whole of this Epistle with his own hand, as a proof of the trouble that he has taken for them. But then the dative is almost inexplicable. (b) Translate “letters” (2 Corinthians 3:7), referring to the form of writing.

ἓγραψα. Epistolary aorist as in Philemon 1:19; Philemon 1:21.

τῇ ἐμῇ χειρί, Philemon 1:19. Even in Phm. it probably does not refer to the whole letter; much less here. For St Paul’s practice of writing closing salutations, and brief summary statements, with his own hand, as evidence of authenticity, see 2 Thessalonians 3:17; 1 Corinthians 16:21; Colossians 4:18. Milligan on the passage in 2 Thess. (Appendix, Note A, p. 130) compares “the σεσημείωμαι (generally contracted into σεση), with which so many of the Egyptian papyrus-letters and ostraca close.” See also Deissmann, Licht vom Osten, p. 105. In our Epistle there is no salutation, strictly speaking, and the summary statements are larger than elsewhere. But Galatians 6:12-16 are a recapitulation of the whole Epistle. It seems unlikely that St Paul would write a whole Epistle in large letters, especially as he had others with him who could write for him (Galatians 1:2).

Verses 11-16


the autograph continuing till Galatians 5:18

A contrast of the aims of the false teachers and of his own. The cross as the means of the new creation in believers is all important.

(Galatians 6:11) The very size of my letters shows the importance of what I, Paul, write with mine own hand in the following verses, (Galatians 6:12) These men are urging you to be circumcised, not from any love to the Law as such, but only that they may not be persecuted (by Jews or Jewish-Christians) for professing the cross of Christ[Jesus], (Galatians 6:13) Yes, this is their motive, for even the circumcision-party do not really care to keep the Law, but they wish you to be circumcised, that they may boast of their success in the very flesh of you Gentiles. (Galatians 6:14) Such is not my own aim. God forbid that I should boast (i.e. in converts or ought else) save in the cross endured by our Lord Jesus Christ, the cross by which the very world has to me, I say, been crucified and I to the world, (Galatians 6:15) In this, and this alone, I boast, for through the cross comes the one thing of importance, not circumcision or uncircumcision, but a new creation to me and others. (Galatians 6:16) And so as many as shall take this principle for their standard and rule in daily life—Peace be upon them here and Mercy in the great day, even upon those who are the true Israel, the Israel of God.

Verse 12

12. The absence of a connecting particle indicates that this is the writing to which St Paul refers in Galatians 6:11. It doubtless continues to the end of the Epistle.

ὅσοι (Galatians 3:10; Galatians 3:27, Galatians 6:16) θέλουσιν (Galatians 1:7) εὐπροσωπῆσαι[167]. Cf. εὐπροσωπίζεσθαι Psalms 140 (Psalms 141:6[168]) in a Greek version in the Hexaplaric fragments; εὐπρόσωπος, LXX. Genesis 12:11[169] of Sarah being “of fair appearance,” which is used also of fair external appearance in contrast to the reality within. So Wetstein quotes Aristaenetus I. 1 ἐνδεδυμένη μὲν εὐπροσωποτάτη, ἐκδῦσα δὲ ὅλη πρόσωπον φαίνεται. Thus here the verb means “to be of fair and specious appearance.” Bengel compares 2 Corinthians 5:12. It is used in a moral sense, as here, also in a papyrus of 114 B.C. (Moulton, Expositor, Febr. 1903, p. 114, referred to in Deissmann, Licht vom Osten, p. 63).

ἐν σαρκί “in earthly and visible things,” almost equivalent to ἐν κόσμῳ (cf. Galatians 6:14), but σάρξ regards the individual and his mode and aim (Galatians 6:8) of existence (cf. Galatians 3:3, Galatians 5:17), rather than the sphere in which he moves. It can hardly mean literal flesh, in the sense that they wish to be of fair and specious appearance in another person’s flesh, i.e. by getting him circumcised (cf. Galatians 6:13; Romans 2:28), to which indeed the English “to make a fair show” lends itself.

οῦτοι ἀναγκάζουσιν, “these constrain.” ἀναγκ. is short of absolute compulsion, Luke 14:23. What they had failed to accomplish in the case of Titus 2:3, they are bringing to pass in yours.

ὑμᾶς περιτέμνεσθαι. Passive as in Galatians 2:3.

μόνον, elliptical, Galatians 2:10; not from any true love of the Law, but only etc.

ἵνα In Galatians 2:10 the parallel is only verbal. Here ἵνα. has its full telic force.

τῷ σταυρῷ τοῦ χριστοῦ [Ἰησοῦ]. The dative is hard, and is probably best explained as the dative of the occasion (2 Corinthians 2:12) “for professing the cross of Christ” (Lightfoot). Otherwise perhaps as approximating to the force of διά with the accusative; see Madvig § 41 [255], who quotes Thuc III. 98, Δημοσθένης τοῖς πεπραγμένοις ἐφοβεῖτο τοὺς Ἀθηναίους. A. T. Robertson quotes this passage in evidence that the “instrumental” case sometimes expresses the idea of cause or ground (Short Grammar, p. 110).

μὴ διώκωνται. The object of the dash in the text of W.H. is, as it seems, to call attention to the grossness of the purpose of the false leaders—not to be persecuted. For the various reading διώκονται (ACG) cf. Galatians 2:4 (καταδουλεύσουσιν), Galatians 4:17 (ζηλοῦτε), and the note on ἒχωμεν, Galatians 6:10. The false leaders therefore are Jewish Christians, who fear persecution at the hands of Jews, or of Gentiles stirred up by Jews. For although Gentiles would normally reckon circumcised Christians as Jews (who had a religio licita, see Jerome), yet if urged on by Jews they would persecute all Christians, Jewish Christians included.

Verse 13

13. οὐδὲ γὰρ. I attribute this unworthy reason of fear to them, for etc.

οἱ περιτεμνόμενοι. See notes on Textual Criticism. Passive, and timeless, “the circumcision party”; for the full force of the present is excluded by the fact that these evidently have themselves been circumcised. They are apparently the same as those of Galatians 6:12 (and therefore Jewish Christians), the οὐδἐ referring to the whole clause, not to οἱ περιτ. only.

αὐτοὶ νόμον φυλάσσουσιν. νόμον is probably the Law of Moses; see Galatians 2:16 note. Why do they not keep it? (a) Because of their distance from Jerusalem (Theodoret)? But St Paul’s words imply blame, which then would hardly be credible, (b) Because no one can keep it, as they have themselves acknowledged by believing on Christ? But then St Paul would surely blame them directly for their inconsistency, (c) Because to keep the Law externally is not to keep it fully; it must be kept spiritually (Galatians 6:14)? But even this is to read too much into the words, (d) The simplest explanation is that they do not really try to keep it; their actions show insincerity (Lightfoot).

ἀλλὰ θέλουσιν ὑμᾶς περιτἑμνεσθαι, “But they wish you to be circumcised,” cf. Galatians 6:12.

ἵνα ἐν τῇ ὑμετέρᾳ σαρκὶ. ὑμετ. emphatic; because thus you are proved to be their disciples. They will boast “We have won Gentiles to acknowledge the binding character of the Law of Moses.”

καυχήσωνται. Contrast not only the next verse but also Philippians 3:3-4. It is probable that few Jews of ancient or modern times would fail to pardon Jewish Christians their faith on Jesus if they also brought Gentile Christians to circumcision.

Verse 14

14. ἐμοὶ δὲ. Emphatic position for contrast with those of whom he has just spoken.

μὴ γένοιτο. With dative[170], see Genesis 44:7; Joshua 24:16 and cf. Matthew 15:28.

καυχᾶσθαι εἰ μὴ ἐν τῷ σταυρῷ κ.τ.λ. Which the false leaders dread (Galatians 6:12). Luther strangely understands the phrase to mean our sufferings for Christ. Chrysostom is especially good here.

διʼ οὖ. The antecedent is probably σταυρός, cf. Galatians 5:24. It was this in which he boasted.

ἐμοὶ (emphatic as before). κόσμος, “the world.” Anarthrous as in 2 Corinthians 5:19; 2 Peter 2:5; Romans 4:13. But although as a translation “a world” is somewhat grossly inaccurate, yet the absence of the article (occurring, as this does, so very frequently with κόσμος) does suggest that the world at present, by its very constitution, is contrary to spiritual things. For the thought of the passage cf. Philippians 3:7. “The world … is to me like yon felon slave, nailed to the cross, dying by a certain and shameful, if a lingering death. And I too am so regarded by the world” (Perowne).

ἐσταύρωται κἀγὼ κόσμῳ. Chrys. writes οὐδὲν τῆς νεκρώσεως ταύτης μακαριώτερον· αὕτη γάρ ἐστι τῆς μακαρίας ζωῆς ἡ ὑπόθεσις. Contrast the power of the world mentioned in Galatians 4:3.

Verse 15

15. This verse is said by Euthalius (5th cent.), Syncellus (8th cent.), Photius (9th cent.) to be quoted from the Ἀπόκρυφον ΄ωυσέως, but the statement cannot now be tested. Charles, however, says (Assumption of Moses, 1897, p. xvii): “There can be no doubt that the borrowing is just the other way, and that this Apocryph is a Christian composition, of the general contents of which we have no knowledge.” The passage is not contained in the portion of the Assumption of Moses that has come down to us, the date of which is placed by Charles between 7 and 30 A.D., i.e. earlier than our Epistle (p. lviii.).

οὔτε γὰρ. Cf. Galatians 5:6. I boast in nothing but the cross, for through this comes the new creation, which alone is of importance.

περιτομήοὔτε ἀκροβυστία. Not circumcised and uncircumcised people, Galatians 2:7-8; cf. Galatians 3:28, for St Paul is not speaking here of his independence of men; but circumcision as an action (to which “uncircumcision” is somewhat loosely appended). He attributes no importance to it in itself. Cf. Colossians 3:11 note.

τι ἔστιν. Win.-Schm. § 6, 9c disputes this accentuation on the ground that ἐστιν here means neither “exists,” nor (after οὐκ) “is possible,” nor has other emphasis. Nestle accents τί ἐστιν. See the note on τι ἰσχύει, Galatians 5:6.

ἀλλὰ καινὴ κτίσις. A phrase found in Rabbinic literature, where it is a new “creature” (as probably in 2 Corinthians 5:17) rather than a new “creation” (see Colossians 3:10 note). Here the parallel to περιτομή and ἀκροβυστία suggests that it is the latter, i.e. the process of new creation in an individual. Meyer gives a list of the characteristics of the καινὴ κτίσις, among them Galatians 2:20, Galatians 3:27, Galatians 5:6. For the allusion to the Creation compare also 2 Corinthians 4:6.

Verse 16

16. καὶ ὅσοι. Without restriction; whatever their nationality or past or even present behaviour. The καί makes an apodosis in thought though not in form; if a new creation then peace and mercy.

τῷ κανόνι τούτῳ, “by this rule,” i.e. the maxim of Galatians 6:14-15 culminating in the principle that a καινὴ κτίσις is of all importance. For κανών see 2 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Corinthians 10:15-16; Judith 13:6 [8]; Micah 7:4 and especially 4 Maccabees 7:21[171] πρὸς ὅλον τὸν τῆς φιλοσοφίας κανόνα εὐσεβῶς φιλοσοφῶν.

στοιχήσουσιν., Galatians 5:25 note. In the future tense lies an invitation. For its construction with a dative see Romans 4:12. Observe here the insistence on a holy life; yet “Deed” as determined by “Creed “of mind and heart.

εἰρήνη ἐπʼ αὐτοὺς κ.τ.λ. An adaptation of Psalms 125 [124]:5, 128 [127]:6. Compare the Palestinian recension of the last prayer of the Eighteen Benedictions (Shemone ‘esre), “Set Thy peace upon Israel Thy people, and on Thy city and on Thine inheritance, and bless us, yea all of us as one man. Blessed be Thou, O LORD, who makest peace” (see Dalman, Words of Jesus, German edition, p. 301).

καὶ ἔλεος. This precise combination and order are unique. Contrast 1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2; 2 John 1:3 and even Judges 1:2. The usual order is ἔλ. κ. εἰρ., i.e. God’s mercy as the ground of peace. Here apparently εἰρ., refers to the immediate and ἔλ. the final blessing; cf. 2 Timothy 1:18.

καὶ ἐπὶ τὸν Ἰσραηλ τοῦ θεοῦ. The phrase is unique. The addition of τοῦ θεοῦ to the old form excludes those who are of Israel and yet are not Israel (Romans 9:6); cf. Revelation 2:9. The sentence forms a suitable close to an epistle which has endeavoured to distinguish clearly those who are and those who are not the true seed of Abraham (e.g. Galatians 3:7; Galatians 3:29, Galatians 4:21 sqq.). Apparently καὶ is epexegetic of ὄσοιστοιχήσουσιν, and ὁ Ἰσρ. τ. θ. includes all true believers whatever their origin; and so, probably, ἡ περιτομή in Philippians 3:3.

Verse 17


A curious addition, illustrative of the strength of the emotion under which the Apostle wrote this Epistle. It is hardly a “note of denunciation,” but is to show that his own acceptance of Jesus as his Lord and Master is so thorough that nothing can affect his determination to be His. But he puts this into an imperative form, cf. 1 Timothy 4:12. It contains also a note of confidence in the ultimate triumph of his own efforts, and, by implication, of his teaching.

τοῦ λοιποῦ, “in future.” Madvig, § 66 [276], Rem. 1, compares Thuc. IV. 98 οὐ βλάψομεν τοῦ λοιποῦ ἓκοντες τὸ ἱερόν. Compare νυκτὁς, τῆς αὐτῆς ἡμέρας. τὸ λοιπόν would, as it seems, mean “continuously during the future” (Mark 14:41; 1 Corinthians 7:29; Hebrews 10:13) or only “finally,” 2 Thessalonians 3:1; Philippians 3:1. Zahn rather strangely interprets it not of time at all, but as referring to Galatians 6:16 : “Let no one of the rest of Israel,” cf. Acts 5:13. He quotes in confirmation Marcion’s text, τῶν δὲ ἄλλων εἰκῆ κόπονς μοι μηδεὶς παρεχέσθω, who, however, probably omitted καὶ ἐπὶ τ. . τ. θ.

κόπους (cf. κοπιάω, Galatians 4:11) μοι μηδεὶς παρεχέτω. For κόπους παρέχειν see Matthew 26:10 (|| Mark 14:6) and especially Luke 11:7, and in the singular Luke 18:5[172]. Cf. πόνον παρέχειν. Plat. Rep. VII. 526 c; Herod. I. 177. Also Sirach 29:4, א A. Cf. ἀγῶνα παρέχειν, Isaiah 7:13. Deissmann (Bible Studies, p. 354) quotes an incantation from the papyri, ἐάν μοι ὁ δεῖνα κόπους παράσχῃ. So Hermas Vis. III. 3, 2 μηκέτι μοι κόπους πάρεχε περὶ ἀποκαλύψεως

ἑγὼ γὰρ. Still emphatic. See also below.[173]

[173] Dr J. H. Moulton suggests that the scars on St Paul were to Roman officials marks of identification, in accordance with descriptions found in the papyri. Expository Times, March, 1910, p. 283.

τὰ στίγματα τοῦ Ἰησοῦ. στίγμα is found elsewhere in the Greek Bible only in Song of Solomon 1:11, where the phrase “with studs (lit. points) of silver” is translated μετὰ στιγμάτων τοῦ ἀργυρίου. Cf. a Greek Hexaplaric version of Judges 5:30. St Paul means that his body hears traces of suffering endured for Christ, but it is very uncertain in what way he regards them: (a) as brands set on a slave by his master. The marks are proofs that he belongs to Christ, and that Christ sets him all his tasks and is finally responsible, and will at last make him succeed. He is completely identified with his Master’s interests. For this custom of branding see the Code of Khammurabi, §§ 226, 227, and quotations in Wetstein. Ramsay (Gal. p. 472) says that such marks may still be seen in Turkey as a relic of the time before slavery was abolished there. See also Driver on Exodus 13:9.

(b) Another explanation, on the whole more probable, but not necessarily excluding the thought of slavery, is that of sacred signs set on things or persons under the protection of a god. See reff. in Wetstein and also 3 Maccabees 2:29, in a decree against the Jews, τοὺς δὲ ἀπογραφομένους χαράσσεσθαι, καὶ διὰ πυρὸς εἰς τὸ σῶμα παρασήμῳ Διονύσῳ κισσοθύλλῳ. This suggests consecration and therefore immunity from all ordinary claims and molestation. Deissmann (Bible Studies, p. 360 note) compares the emphatic ἐγώ to the equally emphatic anok of some incantations. He also thinks St Paul regards his marks as amulets (see below).

τοῦ Ἰησοῦ. Not the official (cf. even Galatians 6:18) but the personal name, perhaps to recall both the sufferings that Jesus Himself bore and the triumphant issue of them. There may thus even be some allusion to the marks recorded in John 20:27. The thought is probably that of 2 Corinthians 4:10 (see also Colossians 1:24 note on τῶν θλίψεων τοῦ Χριστοῦ), that St Paul’s sufferings are a reproduction of the sufferings of the Lord Jesus, in toil etc., so far as in his personal life these can be reproduced, and so reproduced they mark him as belonging to Jesus primarily as Master, perhaps also as the Source of his life. Jerome recalling the sufferings mentioned in 2 Corinthians 11:23 sqq. contrasts these with the mark of circumcision.

ἐν τῷ σώματί μου. He will not use σάρξ with its un-Christlike connotation, Galatians 6:12-13.

βαστάζω,, Galatians 6:2. Here with some connotation of solemnity in bearing trophies or royal standards (see Chrysostom). The word is used in an incantation quoted by Deissmann of carrying an amulet (Bible Studies, p. 358). Cf. περιφέροντες in 2 Corinthians 4:10.

Verse 18


ἡ χάρις. Though ἡ χάρις is found at, or near, the close of each of St Paul’s Epistles, it is still true that “Hoc congruit cum tota epistola” (Bengel).

τοῦ κυρίου [ἡμῶν] (see Galatians 6:14) Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. The full phrase occurs in Romans 16:20 (W.H. marg.); 1 Thessalonians 5:28; 2 Thessalonians 3:18 only. Compare also the note on Colossians 4:18.

μετὰ τοῦ πνεύματος ὑμῶν,, Philippians 4:23; Philemon 1:25[174] note; cf. 2 Timothy 4:22. St Paul’s usual phrases are μεθʼ ὑμῶν, μετὰ πάντων ὑμῶν. The mention of πνεῦμα seems in our Epistle to be a final reminder that their true life lies elsewhere than in the σάρξ and things pertaining thereto.

ἀδελφοί,, Galatians 1:11 note. Here only in the valediction. Ita mollitur totius epistolae severitas (Bengel). Similarly St Paul closes 1 Cor. with an expression of love for all his readers, in Christ Jesus. Thus our verse suggests even 2 Corinthians 13:13, the grace of the Lord Jesus [Christ], and the love of God the Father of all believers, and the fellowship given by the Holy Spirit.

The absence of any personal greetings is doubtless due to the same cause as their absence in Eph., viz. the fact that both Epistles are circular letters to several towns.

ἀμήν. Genuine at the end of an epistle elsewhere in Rom. only. Here it is due to the solemn earnestness with which he pleads. His final word is a prayer.


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Bibliography Information
"Commentary on Galatians 6:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.

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