Bearing One Another’s Burdens – Galatians 6:2-5

In the context of verse 1, this “bearing a burden” may refer to a burden carried by the brother caught in sin. But the language could also refer to financial burdens. This is possible since the next paragraph deals with helping others financially. There is a great deal in this paragraph that indicates Paul has money in mind here, although it is not good to limit the “burdens” to only financial distress.

Image result for bear another's burdenThe warning in verse 3 is significant since it implies that the person who is not willing to help other believers carry their burden deceive themselves by thinking that they are “something.” Perhaps someone might think that they are too important to help the poorer members of the congregation. They may think that they are “above” that sort of thing. Paul’s preference in v. 5 is that everyone takes care of their own “load” (φορτίον, a word that can refer to cargo, Acts 27:10). This is similar to Paul’s teaching that people ought to work hard to provide for their needs (1 Thess 4:11-12, 2 Thess 3:12; Eph 4:28)

By bearing one another’s burdens, the believer “fulfills the Law of Christ” (v. 4). What is the Law of Christ?

One possibility is that the “Law of Christ” is at least a portion of the Mosaic Law, perhaps the moral aspects of the Law. It is hard to believe, however, that Paul would say that the Gentile believers in Galatia could do part of the Law by helping those who struggle with sin.

A second possibility is that this refers to the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels. This is attractive since Paul taught the churches in Galatia about the Life, death and resurrection of Jesus. But it is hard to point to a verse in the Gospels (which were written after Galatians), such as the greatest commandment (Matt 22:34-40) as “the Law of Christ.”

A third way to read this verse is that the “Law of Christ” stands in contrast to the Law of Moses. Romans 3:21-26 makes this point by contrasting the law of works (the Mosaic Law) with the righteousness obtained through the death of Jesus. In this view, the Law of Christ is equivalent to the New Covenant (1 Cor 11:23-26), the law of the Spirit (Rom 8:2), and walking by the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23).

Yet another way to look at the Law of Christ is to read it in the light of “bearing burdens.” Christ bore our since in his body, if we are to be like Christ then we should be ready to bear the burdens of others who are in Christ.

To “fulfill” (ἀναπληρόω) this Law is to carry out a responsibility or obligation. The word occasionally means “to complete a work” (Josephus, Ant. 8.58; TDNT 6:305). Members of the Galatian churches wanted to fulfill the Law of Moses, yet they could never actually keep the whole law, let alone “complete it.” Paul now tells them that they can fully complete the Law of Christ by bearing the burdens of their brothers and sisters.

As a general rule, Paul thinks that people ought to support themselves, but he also knows that there will always be people who cannot do so. Circumstances are such that they are unable to meet their obligations. In those cases a “mature spiritual community” will be “able to distinguish those loads which individuals must bear for themselves and those burdens where help is needed” (Dunn, Galatians, 326).


9 thoughts on “Bearing One Another’s Burdens – Galatians 6:2-5

  1. Concerning this topic, I have both questions and opinions. My first question is exactly why is someone supposed to carefully examine their own life before restoring another believer? My initial thought is that one would need to do so to ensure they are without sin before telling someone else to get rid of their sin. This cannot be exactly true because obviously, sin will be found in both lives. Galatians 6 says “…But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted” (Gal 6:1b). I am confused as to what this verse is expressing about temptation. Is it saying that one can easily become sucked into doing what the person they are trying to restore is doing? If not, the other answer would be temptation being expressed as the possibility of providing unnecessarily judgement towards the other person’s life.

    One of my thoughts concerning this subject is that self-examination is always beneficial—not solely before restoring a fellow believer. In addition, I also have a firm belief that if someone is restored in public, their possible humiliation can easily turn them farther away from Christ. ‘Praise publicity, correct privately’ can be applied here.

    • Doesn’t it always seem to be the case the person who most loudly condemns some sin is secretly addicted to it as well? How many evangelists scream about some sexual sin while doing the same things in their private lives. That kind of hypocrisy does no one any good.

  2. When bearing one’s own burdens, it is important to keep in mind that there are two sides or aspects to this teaching in biblical scripture. As noted, we are not to be dependent or “expectant” of others to provide for us when we are fully capable of providing for ourselves. If we were, we would be a burden, not unlike the burden seeking to be avoided. We are told to work, and not be idle or lazy (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, 2 Thessalonians 3:11). Additionally, if one is unwilling to provide for his or herself and/or their family, we are told they are “worse than an unbeliever”, and that they have “denied the faith” (1 Timothy 5:8). However, this does not apply to those who are unable, or due to circumstance or situations, incapable of helping themselves. For example, perhaps a widow with multiple young children recently was laid off from her job. This would be an instance where a local body could gather together and support her, thus “bearing her burden”. It is not to say that she should then stop working altogether and not seek another job for herself. Rather, it would be the church’s responsibly to assist her until things improved enough that she could once again provide for herself and children.
    As for discerning between whether legitimately someone needs help, or is an idle, lazy bum/freeloader, this type of wisdom and knowledge and only come from inquiring earnestly of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:12-14, Isaiah 11:2, Galatians 4:6).

  3. I understand that we are only meant to carry our own burdens in a way. However, even when we do that we are not following what God wishes for us. The only one who was ever strong enough to carry all of our burdens was Jesus Christ. He proved this to us when he decided to become flesh, go through trials, and gave his life by shedding blood on the cross. So, because of this selfless act there is no one else that has to carry or shed bled like he did. Because of this any hardships that we are facing or going through is meant to be given to God. Something that constantly needs to be acknowledged is how we need God. People often let their pride get in the way and we fail to realize this. When that happens we try to overcome adversities by using our own strength. Yes, to an extent we are supposed to do this but only if God is working alongside of us can anything manifest. As far as our brothers and sisters burdens this is something that we also cannot face alone! As we notice that they are in need we are meant to walk alongside of them and uplift them in prayer. One thing people get wrong is that we try to carry other peoples burdens for them. In this situation we are not helping them out or ourselves and then the situation gets worse. Because, now you have two people struggling to carry a weight that they should not lift. Once again only Christ was strong enough to carry any burden and even so He still sought God. So, as followers of Christ we should do as He did when it came to relying on God.

  4. So what is bearing one’s burdens? Well most people that you would talk to today would say to just to tolerate someone’s that may be inconveniencing you. In the blog post “Bearing One Anothers Burdens” By Phillip Long it talks a little about how to bear one’s burdens. This may be something like financial burdens or lifestyle burdens. But what do you when a burden comes about? Do you get all bent out of shape about it or do you act justly just like Christ would? In the text it says that some people may feel like they are above other in priority in life. That’s never the case when it comes to other people’s burdens. It is a choice to act upon things that happen in life. In this case the text says, “This is similar to Paul’s teaching that people ought to work hard to provide for their needs. (Phillip Long) Work hard for what you need in life and but also take care of others in need as well. Not everyone is as fortunate as others but that does not mean that some people are over others either. We are all God’s children. What is Christ’s Law? Well in the texts it say that we need to help one another in need regardless of circumstance. I think the best example the reading gave us was how Jesus died on the cross for our sins. So if we could just act like him in even in the slightest we should be able to bear the burdens of others.

  5. When we thinkg of bearing a burden we are helping someone in a case of sin. But it can also mean a number of other things as well and one of them has to deal with money. Do not ever think that you are bigger than the group. The article mentions that some in higher authority in life feel as if they are not required to help others or it does not feel right for them. That is the wrong eye in life and not a good path to go down, if someone may need help you should do whatever you can to try and help. Even Paul mentions that member in Galatia can help those in need with sin. Pau says that you should carry your own load in life. I feel that it will get you far in life. If Christ was able to bear burdern of people he did not know then you too can bear burdens on those who are in Christ as well. Brothers and sisters Paul says can began to carry out the burders of eachother.

  6. The perspective that was the most convincing to me was that the “Law Of Christ” standing contrast to the Law of Moses. Throughout the book of Galatians, Paul makes several references that uplift the Law of Christ over the Law of Moses. One of the major statements Paul made was denying circumcision and telling the Galatians that one does not need to be circumcised to fulfill the Law of Christ. Paul’s speaks these words in Galatians 5:6 where he states, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love”. There are many other references Paul makes that give the Old Covenant Laws a new interpretation through the character of Jesus but Galatians 5:6 leaves a vital statement. Paul was trying to push towards a new movement in the Galatia community that went in contrast to the Law of Moses. As Longenecker explains Paul’s new movement was to encourage the Galatians to live a life cruciform in conformity (Longenecker, 103). Paul was working tirelessly to help the Galatians understand that Jesus was the New Covenant and his action were to be replicated by those who believed in him. Actions that came from loving one another and living by the attributes of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-24). Living within the boundaries of the New Covenant in Jesus can override any Old Convent Law because following Jesus is the new Law.

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