Bear One Another’s Burdens, and in this way
You Fulfill the Torah of Messiah
DIG: What is the reality of sin in our lives? What is the believing Gentile’s obligation to the Torah? What should we do when people sin? How should we restore them? What do we often do instead? What should we do when the sinner gets back on his or her feet? Why? What caution does Paul give us? How do we fulfill the Torah’s true meaning? Is the Torah of Moshe and the Torah of Messiah different, or the same? Explain in your own words. What is the reason that many believers do not bother to help their brothers and sisters who have been caught by sin? What is Paul’s remedy for that? What was Paul asking the wayward Gentile believers in Galatia to do?
REFLECT: When was the last time that sin caught you in a major way as a believer? How did you get to that point? What were the consequences of your actions? Who came alongside you to help restore you? How was it handled? When have you had to confront sin in a fellow believer? At that time were you mature enough in the Lord to handle it biblically? Did you uphold the Torah’s true meaning of loving your neighbor? Was the sinner responsive with fellowship restored, or did they resist with fellowship still broken with you and your congregation? Do you think you bear any responsibility if the sinner will not repent? Why? Why not? What opportunities has God given you to bear another’s burdens? How liberating is it to know that you will only answer for your own load, and not how you lived compared to others?
The Galatian believers were not lawless free agents who could live their lives any way they wanted (just like we are not lawless free agents today), but rather they were held to a standard of the Torah’s true meaning, which the Messiah upholds: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Sin is a reality in the life of every believer. If we say we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us, John warns us. In fact, he goes on to say: If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His Word is not in us (First John 1:8 and 10). For we all stumble in many ways (James 3:2). If we were not subject to sin we would not need the armor of God in order to stand firm against the schemes of the devil and resist when the times are evil (Ephesians 6:11 and 13). Nor would we need to listen to the warning of James about being tempted and dragged away and enticed by our own desire or his admonition to put away all moral filth and excess of evil (James 1:14 and 21).155
Paul continues to work toward answering the question, “What is the believing Gentile’s obligation to the Torah?” This follows on the heels of 5:26 without a break in the thought. He said: Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught [by] a sin. The thought is that of someone running from sin, but sin being faster, overtakes the sinner and catches him. Without the Ruach, the legalists treated such sinners very harshly (see the commentary on The Life of Christ, to see link click Gq – The Woman Caught in the Act of Adultery). But, in contrast to them, Paul declares: You who are directed by the Ruach (First Corinthians 2:14-3:4; Ephesians 4:13-14; Hebrews 5:12-14), restore (Greek: katartizete, a word used in secular Greek for setting broken bones and in the B’rit Chadashah for mending fishing nets) such a person in a spirit of gentleness (6:1a). So, the spiritual among the Galatians, namely, those who were still living their lives in dependence upon the Ruach, were encouraged to restore those Galatians who had abandoned that method for the one being taught by the Judaizers (see Ag – Who Were the Judaizers?).
Here, it is important to note that restoring someone who has been caught by a sin is a delicate process because the Torah also forbids shaming and embarrassing others. The Oral Law (see the commentary on Life of Christ Ei – The Oral Law) sums it up in a few words, saying “He who shames his neighbor is as though he shed blood (Bava Metzia 58b). Hence, the commandment applies only to serious moral failings. The only example we have from Paul’s writings was that someone was having sex with his father’s wife (First Corinthians 5:1), but adultery, homosexuality and fornication are also clear violations of Torah’s standards, which are our blueprint for living today (see the commentary on Exodus Dh – Moses and the Torah). That is the type of thing we are talking about here, not the nickel-and-dime sins of personality and personal shortcomings that everyone has all the time. If we were to rebuke one another for those types of things, it would never end. Everyone can see everyone’s faults. Paul’s admonition here does not call for pointing out our faults; it calls for bringing correction when some serious transgression surfaces.156
However, when restoring someone caught by a sin, it is the responsibility of the spiritual believer to help the sinner once he gets back on his feet. It is not enough to simply help him turn from sin and then leave him alone. It is immediately after the spiritual victory that the Adversary often makes his greatest counter-attack on God’s children. To be freed from sin is not always to be freed from its temptation. The spiritual believer who truly loves his brothers and sisters in Messiah and sincerely wants to restore them, will continue to spend time with them and make himself available for counsel and encouragement. Prayer is the most powerful weapon we have in conquering sin and opposing Satan. Nothing helps one caught by sin more to carry his burden as much as prayer for him and with him.157
Then, Paul issued a warning, when he said: You who are directed by the Ruach, he meant those who were walking out the Torah by the leading of the Ruach ha-Kodesh (see Bv – Walk by the Ruach, and Not the Desires of the Flesh). He told them to look closely at yourself so you are not tempted also (6:1b) because no one is immune from being caught by sin (First Corinthians 10:12). This is a commandment directly from the Torah, “Never hate another Israelite. Be sure to correct your neighbor so that you will not be guilty of sinning along with him” (Leviticus 19:17 GWT).
Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you fulfill the Torah’s true meaning, which the Messiah upholds (6:2 CJB). This phrase originates from Moshe’s grievance before God of carrying responsibility for the people alone. Why have You brought trouble on Your servant? Haven’t I found favor in Your eyes – that You laid the burden of all the people on me (Numbers 11:11)? ADONAI responds to Moshe’s complaint by declaring: I will take some of the Ruach that is on you and will place it on them. They will carry with you the burden of the people, so you will not be carrying it alone (Numbers 11:17). Here, the bearing of burdens is specifically associated with God’s sending His Ruach, whose presence is designated to enable the leaders to carry [the people] in your bosom just as the nurse carries an infant – to the land You promised to their fathers (Numbers 11:12).158
In other words, the Torah of Moshe and the Torah of the Messiah are the same. Instead of bringing a new Torah, Yeshua upholds the Torah’s true meaning. In teaching the deeper meaning of the Torah, He fulfilled it, that is, He filled it full (see the commentary on Exodus Du – Do Not Think That I Have Come to Abolish the Torah). He insisted that the Torah not be perverted by the traditions of men (see the commentary on The Life of Christ Fs – Why Do Your Disciples Break the Tradition of the Elders?), that God’s original intent be preserved (see the commentary on The Life of Christ Ij – Is It Lawful for a Man to Divorce His Wife?), that the ruach take precedence over its letter (Matthew 5:21-48 12:1-15; Luke 10:25-37, 13:10-17; Second Corinthians 3:6), and that obedience to it implies both following Him (Matthew 19:21) and being guided by the Ruach ha-Kodesh (John 14:26, 15:26, 16:13). Paul also made these same points in Romans 3:31, 7:6, 12 and 14, 8:3, Second Corinthians 3:6, and Acts 21:20-24. Those who bear one another’s burdens, thereby loving their neighbors as themselves (5:14), are fulfilling the Torah’s true meaning, which Messiah upholds (5:13c). This is not a new Torah, or not a new command. On the contrary, it is an old command, which you have had from the beginning (First John 2:7).159
For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he is fooling himself (6:3). At first glance this statement seems somewhat out of place. But in light of the call for spiritual believers to restore sinning brothers and sisters in a spirit of gentleness (6:1a), the need for such a warning becomes clear.
One of the main reasons many believers do not bother to help their brothers and sisters who have been caught by sin is that they feel superior to them and wrongly consider themselves to be spiritually something, when in reality, they are really nothing. Like the Pharisees, their concern is not really for the true righteousness that ADONAI gives and that comes only through humility (see the commentary on The Life of Christ Db – Blessed are the Poor in Spirit for Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven), but for their own self-righteousness, which has no part in the Kingdom of God. Their desire is not to help the sinner but to judge and condemn him. At best, they leave him to worry and suffer, thinking, if not saying, “I got myself into this mess, and I can get myself out.”
Pride can coexist with fake, superficial humility, but it cannot coexist with genuine love. You can compromise with a lie, but you can’t argue with the truth. And the truth is that pride is the ultimate sin, first on the list of things that ADONAI hates (Proverbs 6:16-17). The believer who thinks he is something when he is nothing needs help in facing his own sin before he can be qualified to help anyone else out of a sin. He first needs to take the beam out of [his] own eye (Matthew 7:5). If he refuses to see his own spiritual need, he is only fooling himself, and is useless in serving our Lord or in helping fellow believers.
As a result, every believer should examine their own actions. Our first responsibility is to examine our own lives, to be sure that our attitudes and life are right in the eyes of God before we attempt to give spiritual advice to others. Then, and only then, if you do something to boast about, at least the boasting will be based on what you have actually done and not merely on a judgment that you are better than someone else (6:4 CJB). ADONAI doesn’t grade on the curve, but by His own absolutes. It is what God has done in and through you on the basis of your faithfulness and obedience that really matters. After an honest examination of our own motives and actions, if there remains any room for boasting, it should be for boasting in the Lord (Second Corinthians 10:12-18).
Paul’s command for each one will carry their own load (6:5) seems contradictory to what he had just said about bearing one another’s burdens in verse 2. However, he uses a different word here. This load (Greek: phortion) refers to anything that is carried, and has no suggestion of difficulty. It was often used of the general obligations of life that people are responsible to bear on their own. For believers, load can refer to the things we have done in the body, whether good or bad (Second Corinthians 5:10; First Corinthians 3:12-15) for which we will give an account before the judgment seat of Messiah (see the commentary on Revelation Fo – The Great White Throne Judgment). Therefore, every one of us is accountable to carry our own load, even the light burden which Messiah gives us (Matthew 11:30) until we finally see Him face to face (First Corinthians 13:12).160
Now let the one who receives instruction should fellowship with the one who teaches and should share all good things (6:6). Like verse 3, this verse at first glance does not seem to fit into what Paul is focusing on in this passage. The seeming obvious interruption, and the one that is most common, is that Paul is encouraging congregations to pay their pastors fairly. But although that principle is taught in other passages in the B’rit Chadashah (Luke 10:7; First Corinthians 9:7-14; Second Corinthians 11:7-12), it does not seem to be what Paul is teaching here. He has just been talking about restoring sinners, and in the next two files he talks about sowing and reaping in the flesh or by the Ruach.
Share is from the Greek word koinoneo, which is the basic idea of sharing equally. It is the verb form of the noun commonly translated fellowship. It seems that Paul is talking about mutuality, not one party serving or providing for the other, but both parties sharing together. The most common term used in the B’rit Chadashah for material things that are favorable or good is halos. But here good things translates the plural of the Greek word agathos, which is used in the B’rit Chadashah primarily for spiritual and moral excellence. Paul uses this word in describing the gospel itself, the good news of good things (Romans 10:15). The writer to the Hebrews uses it in the same way, of the good things that have now come of which Messiah appeared as Kohen Gadol (Hebrews 9:11), and of which the Torah was only a shadow (Hebrews 10:1).161
The good things spoken of are defined by the context. In 6:1-4, the Gentile Galatian believers were warned to be cautious in approaching the sinners who were enslaved by legalism (6:1b), lest they also be tempted by the false doctrine of the Judaizers. Therefore, the good things (6:6) refer to spiritual things, since they are compared to the evil things just spoken of (6:3-4). The Judaizers had started the whole mess by adding legalism to Paul’s salvation equals faith-plus-nothing gospel. As a result, the apostle encouraged the wayward believers to go back, take the first step and initiate fellowship with their former teachers. Then, at that point, they would be able to share with them the blessing of grace which their teachers were enjoying.162
Dear Heavenly Father, We love You! Thank You for caring so tenderly for Your children, As a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into His Kingdom and glory (First Thessalonians 2:11c-12 NIV). It is wonderful to gaze into Your loving face and to meditate on You and on the eternal joy of our living with you forever in Your holy heaven; but while we are still living on this earth sometimes you call us to battle ungodly paths that the deceitful enemy tries to pass off as good.
It is so much nicer to sit on the sidelines and watch the battle than to have to participate, but we must remember that the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes everyone He accepts as a son (Hebrews 12:6 NIV). May you guide us to have such love for you that we gently correct with the goal of restoring our brother. Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught doing something wrong, you who are directed by the Ruach, restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness – looking closely at yourself so you are not tempted also (Galatians 6:1). In your holy Son’s name and power of His resurrection. Amen