Galatians 6:2 MEANING

Galatians 6:2
(2) Bear yo one another's burdens.--Take them upon yourselves by kindly sympathy. Our Lord Himself was said to "bear" the physical infirmities of those whom He healed. (Matthew 8:17 : "He bare our sicknesses.")

So fulfil.--The reading here is somewhat doubtful, and the balance of authorities interesting. On the one hand, for the Received text adopted in our version is a large majority of the MSS.; on the other hand, the reading, ye shall fulfil, is found in the Vatican and two good Graeco-Latin[62] MSS., but has besides an almost unanimous support from the versions. As several of these were composed at a very early date, and as they necessarily represent a wide geographical dispersion; as, further, the MS. authority for the reading--though small in quantity is good in quality--also representing the evidence of widely separated regions; and as, finally, the internal evidence or probabilities of corruption are also in favour of the same reading, it would seem, on the whole, to have the greater claim to acceptance. The meaning is that by showing sympathy to others in their distress, of whatever kind that distress may be--whether physical, mental, or moral--the Christian will best fulfil that "new commandment" bequeathed to him by his Master, the "law of love." (See John 13:34; 1 John 3:23.)

[62] Practically, these two MSS. can only count as one as both seem to have been copied from the same original.

Verse 2. - Bear ye one another's burdens (ἀλλήλων τὰ βάρη βαστάζετε); carry ye, or, be ready to carry, the heavy loads of one another. The position of ἀλλήλων gives it especial prominence; as it stands here it seems pregnant with the exhortation, look not every man only at his own griefs, but at the griefs also of others" (cf. Philippians 2:4). The word βάρος, weight, points to an excessive weight, such as it is a toil to carry. Matthew 20:12, "who have borne the burden (βαστάσασι το, βάρος) and heat of the day." So in Acts 15:28. In 2 Corinthians 4:17, "weight of glory," the phrase, suggested by the double sense of the Hebrew word kabhod, indicates the enormous greatness of the future glory. The supposition that the apostle was glancing at the burden of Mosaical observances, superseded as a matter for care on our part by the burdens of our brethren, seems far-fetched. These "heavy loads" are those which a man brings upon himself by acts of transgression: such as an uneasy conscience; difficulties in his domestic, social, or Church relations; pecuniary embarrassments; or other. But the precept seems to go beyond the requirements of the particular case of a peccant brother which has suggested it, and to take in all the needs, spiritual or secular, which we are subject to. (For βαστάζειν of carrying a toilsome burden, comp. Matthew 8:17; John 19:17; Acts 15:10.) And so fulfil the law of Christ (καὶ ὅτως ἀναπληρώσατε [or, ἀναπληρώσετε] τὸν νόμον τοῦ Ξριστοῦ); and so fulfil (or, ye shall fulfil) the law of Christ. The sense comes to much the same, whether in the Greek we read the future indicative or the aorist imperative. If the imperative be retained, it yet adds no new element of precept to the foregoing; the clause so read prescribes the fulfilment of Christ's law in the particular form of bearing one another's burdens. If we read the future, the clause affirms that in so doing we shall fulfil his law; which in the other case is implied. Many have supposed the word "law" to be here used for a specific commandment; as for example Christ's new commandment that we should love one another, So St. James (it. 8) writes of the "royal law." St. Paul, however, never uses the term in this sense in his own writing, though in the Epistle to the Hebrews (Hebrews 8:10; 10:16), the plural "laws" occurs in citation from Jeremiah. It seems better to take it of the whole moral institution of Christ, whether conveyed in distinct precept or in his example and spirit of action. Compare with the present passage the advice which St. Paul gives the "strong" (Romans 15:1-4), that they should bear (βαστάζειν, as here, "carry") the infirmities of the weak, and not wish to please themselves; after Christ's pattern set forth in prophetical Scripture, of old time written in order to instruct us how we should act. It has been often observed that the phrase, "the law of Christ," was selected with allusion to the stir now being made among the Galatians respecting the Law of Moses. "Satisfy ye the requirements of the Law - not of Moses which some are prating about, but the law of Christ, a more perfect law than that other, and more our proper con-corn." Possibly the words τοῦ Ξριστοῦ were added as a pointed surprise of style - παρ ὑπόνοιαν, as the scholiasts on Aristophanes are wont to express it - "and thus fulfil the law - of Christ!"

6:1-5 We are to bear one another's burdens. So we shall fulfil the law of Christ. This obliges to mutual forbearance and compassion towards each other, agreeably to his example. It becomes us to bear one another's burdens, as fellow-travellers. It is very common for a man to look upon himself as wiser and better than other men, and as fit to dictate to them. Such a one deceives himself; by pretending to what he has not, he puts a cheat upon himself, and sooner or later will find the sad effects. This will never gain esteem, either with God or men. Every one is advised to prove his own work. The better we know our own hearts and ways, the less shall we despise others, and the more be disposed to help them under infirmities and afflictions. How light soever men's sins seem to them when committed, yet they will be found a heavy burden, when they come to reckon with God about them. No man can pay a ransom for his brother; and sin is a burden to the soul. It is a spiritual burden; and the less a man feels it to be such, the more cause has he to suspect himself. Most men are dead in their sins, and therefore have no sight or sense of the spiritual burden of sin. Feeling the weight and burden of our sins, we must seek to be eased thereof by the Saviour, and be warned against every sin.Bear ye one another's burdens,.... Which may be understood either of sins, which are heavy burdens to sensible sinners, to all that are partakers of the grace of God; Christ is only able to bear these burdens, so as to remove them and take them away, which he has done by his blood, sacrifice, and satisfaction; saints bear one another's, not by making satisfaction for them, which they are not able to do, nor by conniving at them, and suffering them upon them, which they should not do, but by gently reproving them, by comforting them when overpressed with guilt, by sympathizing with them in their sorrow, by praying to God for to manifest his pardoning grace to them, and by forgiving them themselves, so far as they are faults committed against them: or else the frailties and infirmities of weak saints, which are troublesome, and apt to make uneasy, are meant; and which are to be bore by the strong, by making themselves easy with them, and by accommodating themselves to their weakness, and by abridging themselves of some liberties, which otherwise might be lawfully taken by them; or afflictions may be designed, which are grievous to the flesh, and are bore by others, when they administer help and relief under them, whether in a temporal or spiritual way; and when they condole them, and sympathize with them, bear a part with them, and make others' griefs and sorrows their own:

and so fulfil the law of Christ; which is the law of love to one another, John 13:34 in opposition to the law of Moses, the judaizing Galatians were so fond of, and by which Christ's disciples may be distinguished from those of Moses, or any others. This is a law or doctrine which Christ has clearly taught, and recovered from the false glosses of the Pharisees; it is his new commandment, which he has strengthened and enforced by his own example in dying for his people, and which he, by his Spirit, inscribes upon their hearts. The Jews speak of the law of the Messiah as preferable to any other.

"The law (they say (x)) which a man learns in this world is vanity, in comparison of "the law of the Messiah", or Christ;''

by "fulfilling", it is meant, doing it, acting in obedience to it, and not a perfect fulfilling it, which cannot be done by sinful creatures.

(x) Midrash Kohelet, fol. 83. 1.

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