Galatians 6

This post follows the Bible reading plan available at oaktreechurch.com/soap. You can read all my New Testament notes in my book New Testament: Chapter by Chapter.

Chapter six closes this letter with some final instructions and thoughts on living out the fruit of the Spirit. Because believers will still be overtaken in sin, it is important that the congregation restore sinning brothers and sisters back to the faith, in the gentleness of the Spirit, and help them carry their burdens as they grow (Galatians 6:1-2). At the same time, each person is responsible for lining himself up with the Spirit, not thinking he is better than the others, because we are each responsible for ourselves before God (Galatians 6:3-5).

Understanding this balance is important because the way we decide to live (flesh or Spirit) will come to full fruition (Galatians 6:6-8). Like a harvest our actions we will reap what we sow, later than we sow, and much more than we sow, so the apostle encouraged his readers to sow life and godliness through the Spirit. Because living for Christ in this world is a difficult task, he encouraged them to persevere, to not waver, and to do good for someone whenever the opportunity arises (Galatians 6:9-10). 1 His closing thoughts returned to those who were enslaving themselves under the Law by submitting to circumcision (Galatians 6:12-15), and he offered a final plea that they would stop their foolishness. In keeping with the comment about his eyesight in chapter four, Paul noted that he wrote with his “OWN HAND” which required him to use “BIG LETTERS” so he could see them. That, along with his handwriting, was probably a mark of authentication that the letter was truly from him (Philippians 4:18; 2 Thessalonians 3:17).

Galatians 6:16 is often used to attempt to prove that the Church (or all believers) make up the “true Israel” or “spiritual Israel” because of Paul’s phrase “THE ISRAEL OF GOD.” This belief system teaches that God has chosen to replace Israel with the Church or that the Church is the spiritual extension of Israel. No matter the phrasing, they believe that the promises God made to Israel will be fulfilled in the Church, not national Israel. 2 Given the context of the rest of the letter, where Paul made a clear distinction between believing and unbelieving Jews (Israel) and all believers in Christ (Church), the grammar shows that Paul put his blessing on two groups: “ALL WHO WILL BEHAVE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THIS RULE” (believing Gentiles) and “THE ISRAEL OF GOD” (believing Jews). The structure of the sentence does not allow for these to be combined into one group in this verse. 3

Notes:

  1. Paul thought our focus in doing good should prioritize “THOSE WHO BELONG TO THE HOUSEHOLD OF FAITH.” Even still, that does not mean to ignore unbelievers. We should help them as well, “WHENEVER WE HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY.”
  2. This is often called “Replacement Theology,” and it is found in the broader form of Covenant Theology and in much Reformed (Calvinistic) teaching. Ironically, it is also found in much liberal theology, because the replacement or removal of Israel as God’s chosen people is a satanic doctrine that has infiltrated many religions and denominations, encompassing those who are otherwise conservative and liberal alike.
  3. Paul used the preposition twice: εἰρήνη ἐπ᾽ αὐτοὺς καὶ ἔλεος καὶ ἐπὶ τὸν Ἰσραὴλ τοῦ θεοῦ, “peace and mercy upon them and upon the Israel of God.” Grammatically, these must be two distinct groups.

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