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).


22 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.

  7. Immediately the words “bearing one another’s burdens” made me think about what happens when you get into a relationship where previous trauma has occurred. Even though Paul could very well be referring to financial burdens—due to the verses to follow Galations 6:1—I believe that bearing one another’s burdens can be applicable in other aspects as well. For me, being a Human Services major, bearing other’s burdens/ taking care of others is kind of what I feel like I was born to do. Part of that is definitely the Holy Spirit working in me as well but thinking twice about helping someone else out is something that is not on my conscience. I found verse 3 interesting because it is calling out people who place themselves higher than they really are. Reading this verse, I imagined people who walk past homeless people on the street. Why do people think they are better than homeless people? Each of us were made in the image of God. Each of us are loved equally and seen equally in the eyes of God!
    In verse 4 Paul mentions that by bearing the burdens of one another, the believer is fulfilling the Law of Christ. There are a few different possibilities as to what Paul meant by the Law of Christ in this verse. The way that stuck out to me was seeing the Law of Christ as we bear each other’s burdens. Meaning because Christ took upon our sins to His body; to be more like Christ, we should be willing to bear the burdens of others. To fulfill is to carry out the responsibilities and obligations; it is to complete the work.
    The last paragraph in the blog post mentions the idea that some people are just incapable of supporting themselves and this is where the spiritually mature community steps in to help those individuals. This is why being part of a local church is very important. The reason why you must be spiritually mature in order to help our is because you must use discernment given by the Holy Spirit in order to know how to help.

  8. I believe that bearing another’s burden encompasses a lot of things, and I think there are numerous ways for Christians to help one another with these burdens. For example, one way to bear another’s burden and fulfill the law is through prayer. Psalms 55:22 says to “Cast your burden on the Lord”, and if we are truly bearing another person’s burden- than that would mean it is our duty to pray on that burden as well, as if it were our own. Another way that Christians can help others with their burdens is by physically coming to their side and showing compassion. This is portrayed in the Bible in Luke 10, which tells the popular story of when a man had been beaten half to death by robbers, and left on the side of the road. A priest and rabbi both walked by and did not help the beaten man, but a Samaritan saw him and showed compassion. He helped the mans wounds, and even paid for him for a place at an inn. This is the sort of compassion we as followers of Christ are to have for other people. When we see somebody with a burden, we should not be like the men who walked on by, but instead we should be like the Samaritan who saw the beaten mans burden and helped.

  9. Before I read the article, my first thoughts were helping others get through tough times and to help ease the pain. I have been put in this position a lot and I have done my best to make these times a little easier for them. As we all know, Jesus died on the cross to save us and to take our burdens. We still are faced with them today. It does not matter where you are at in your life, it is always good to help others. Even if you think you have it all, do not look down on the people around you who may have nothing. Be a provider for them and lead them to Jesus Christ. Whether it is financially, physically, emotionally or spiritually, people all are faced with some kind of burden. But will it be you to help that person out? Or will you just stand on the sideline and watch them struggle. Christ would lend a hand and a heart to the struggling individual and if you are a Christian, then so should you. I think that it is fair to say we should all work hard to provide for ourselves. If you see others in need then help out in ways they need it. Professor Long states “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.” (Long, 2019) We are all created equal and in the image of God. We all need to do our best to help out our communities and the image of God. In Thinking Through Paul, Longenecker says “Key emphases in that passage include Paul’s exhortations for the Galatians to carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the Law of Christ.”. (Longenecker, 103) Paul makes a statement about how when we bear the burden of someone else then we are fulfilling the Law of Christ. I think that having a church to come to is helpful for not just people bearing their own weight but the ones who are not as well. There you should be able to find people to help you out and pray for you. I guess my question would be when does bearing others’ burden become too much? How do you handle others’ burdens?

  10. One of my biggest struggles is trying to go about life, doing everything on my own, with no help. Not only that, but to add to my own problems and issues, I take on other people’s problems and issues, and ignore my own problems and issues. When I take on other people’s problems and issues, I push down my own problems and issues. This cycle continues and eventually my problems and issues haven been pushed down so far that they now have left permanent scars. Also, the deeper and further down they are, the more painful and difficult they are to resurface. When looking at Gal 6:2-5, my biggest struggle and conviction is in verse four, when it says without comparing themselves to someone else. I have a huge problem with comparisons, I have lived my whole life trying to amount to be the best that I can be, not for the glory of God but for the glory of man. To go along with that, I am a huge people pleaser, and seek the approval of those around me. I feel I have no worth if I am not loved, which I know is not true, but it is a struggle I face daily. This can be seen in verse three, when it talks about thinking we are something, but we deceive ourselves. I try so hard to be like and loved by everyone that I forget why I am here on this earth. This is also why I struggle with taking care of myself because I focus all my attention on others. I understand the importance of wanting to help other people, but sometimes the most important person that you can help is yourself. Jesus does call us to serve others in Matt 20:28, for Jesus came not to be served but to serve. Jesus also gives us the two greatest commandments in Matt 22:37-40, which the first is to love God and the second is to love others. So, we may not need to carry the burdens of others, but we always have the choice to love others. After reading this blog post and the short passage in Gal, I am encouraged to love for Christ and not for man. I am encouraged to love others and help people with their burdens, but also keeping myself in check and making sure I am also taken care of. Lastly, I am encouraged to be the best that I can be for the Kingdom of God and for no one else.

  11. I think many Christians take advantage of the fact that Christ died for our sins despite the fact that we did not deserve the sacrifice. He took on our burdens, even though they were not his to bear. If He can do all that and more for those who don’t deserve it, or those he does not know, why can’t we? P. Long points our that “bearing a burden” could be talking about a burden that a friend or fellow-believer has committed and is caught in sin. Galatians 6:3 also warns that anyone that feels they are too good or above helping those around them is fooling themselves. No one person is better than another and as Christians falling into this mindset is a slippery slope.
    Towards the end of the blog it points out that Paul thinks that people should support themselves, but he also understands that not everyone is in the position to do so. As I read this, I make perfect sense that we would help those who cannot help themselves. Christian or not, we should never turn our backs on those who cannot help themselves. We never know what one seemingly small gesture can do for someone in a difficult situation. You never know the impact you can have on someone’s life.

  12. Galatians 6:2-5 states, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.” As a Christian it is important to help carry the burdens of your brother and sisters in Christ. We are supposed to encourage and take care of the body of Jesus Christ. Each of us are given Spiritual gifts to use and to bless others with. When a part of the body is hurting, we should encourage and help them through the hardships. Long said in his blog post that Paul in this verse could also mean financial burdens. As fellow believers in Jesus Christ, it is important to help those who are struggling financially, especially if they are able and can afford to help. Although sometimes Christians can take on too many peoples burdens. For me, I have trouble not taking on other peoples burdens and then I am weighted down by not only my own but everyone else’s. There should be a balance of taking on others burdens while dealing with your own. As a believer we should help other Christians because not only are they brothers and sisters in Christ but they are also created in the image of God. We are called to love others just as Jesus did. Christians should be taking care of each other because God calls us too and shows us how through scriptures.

  13. We are called to be diligent and hardworking, not slothful, and lazy. Proverbs 6:6-8 says “Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.” The hard work and diligence of an ant is so incredible, especially considering that the ant does not have any stressors that are really pushing it to work so hard. There is a reason why we aren’t very productive on days off; there is no deadline, nothing pushing us to get things done. As you quote in almost every class session, “due date, do date:” It’s the pressure of the deadline that keeps us moving and on task.
    But along with the fact we are called to be diligent and hard workers, we also should come along side one another and help those in need. I can recall a time when my family barely made it paycheck to paycheck, but God was faithful and always put someone in our lives who could come along side us and support us, bearing our burdens with us. Sometimes this was financially, other times it was groceries being dropped off, while other times it was just the offering of encouragement. Whatever the case was, others bore our burden with us without expecting to gain anything from it. My favorite memory during this time was one Christmas when my parents did not have much money for gifts, something they were very discouraged by because they wanted to make it a good Christmas for us kids after such a hard year. Christmas Eve arrives and we are ushered off to bed for the night, antsy for Christmas morning. While we were sleeping, our parents noticed a package outside the front door, in which they find various presents for us (including American Girl Dolls for me and my sister!). While Christmas presents were such a trivial thing, someone came alongside my family in love and did something they didn’t have to do. To this day we have no idea who dropped off the gifts, but the Lord does, and they will be blessed for it! We should bear one another’s burdens as Christ bore our burdens (sin).

  14. A comment at the top asked the question as to why you would look at your self before taking care of another person and my reasoning is because how can you fix someone who is broken when you are broken yourself. How can you help someone out financially when you only have a penny to your name. You may have good intentions but if you surely can’t provide then I say build each other up as y’all walk y’all different journeys. But also if you have the money or connections to help someone out and you choose to specifically not help them then you are in full error because you opulent have that money or “power” if it wasn’t for God seeing fit for you to be well off. God blesses those who bless others. And at one point of your life you didn’t have everything you had now so what’s the problem of helping someone go either started out like you or are in a worst situation. And We are supposed to be workers in Christ and if we are not walking with our fellow brothers and sisters then we are stepping away from them in my opinion. And I don’t know about anyone else but I love to see my crew of people being great and coming up in life. When someone in our group or even someone that we don’t know needs our help it’s never a second thought to sow into there lives. You reap what you sow so if you are being stingy then I’m pretty sure Gods going to get you back with that one. Yes you will be rewarded in heaven for the things you do on earth but you’ve got to make it to heaven first I order to see what you get. Treat those how you would want to be treated. A good place to start giving back is on the holidays volunteering at soup kitchens or even passing out your own holiday food. Many people give out food or even clothes. Blessing others will bless you.

  15. When Jesus died on the cross he made a sacrifice that no one else could do. He took every mistake we could ever make and washed us clean. Jesus not only made this sacrifice through his love for us but he made himself an example of who we should strive to be. To take another’s burden is a symbolic, but can be literal, meaning of to help those we walk alongside. It means to help lighten the load of those around us and to assist others in their walk with Christ. There is a part of a Christian community where when things get hard, others around you will help you. Jesus unified believers by creating us all equal and dying for all our sins. Paul preaches about how we fulfill the law of Christ by doing this. It is important to realize that, as noted by Long above, if one does not fulfill these laws and does not take the burdens of another, they are being selfish. No believer is too high or too low to not take the burden of another. Believers are to be supporting, uplifting, and encouraging which all stand under the type of love that Jesus portrayed to us when he died on the cross for our sins.

  16. When thinking about bearing one another’s burdens can be a little intimidating or hard to grasp sometimes. We often are living what we consider to be busy lives and are worrying about our own needs in life. But as believers, we are called to help one another and that is what Galatians 6:2 is telling us, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” When we are to serve Christ and fulfill this we are then filling the law of Christ by helping others, we must remember that Christ first died for us taking our sins and burdens with Him and are we not called by it like Christ, not called to help and serve like Christ did? When we are able to see and fulfill the act of loving and helping others not because of our own good but for the good of Christ we will then better understand how to navigate and serve others. If we can put our faith and trust in Christ we can then use that to help carry the burdens of others because we are not meant to carry all the weight of life but to give it to God and by doing so we can help others.

  17. Whether it does mean financially or bearing their burden of sin, we should always be willing to bear the burdens of our brothers and sisters in Christ. like it says in Philippians 2:3-4 when it says to “put the interest of others above your own.” Longenecker states that Paul wants the readers to live “law-fulfilling” lives (Longenecker, 103). Later Longenecker states that followers of Christ are meant to act based on the leading of the spirit, not by their own convictions. Bearing the burdens of one another, the proper way, is not something that is easy to do because often our own agenda as well as our pride tend to creep in. We do good deeds and help others just so that we can be recognized and praised for it. But like it says in Matthew 6 we are supposed to do our good deeds in secret, and because we want to be Christ like. If we do our good deeds just for recognition, we are not fulfilling the law of Christ and in a way, we are still putting ourselves before others. We are letting our pride take over and we are not actually bearing their burden. My church takes an offering every week for our benevolence fund to help those in the church who are struggling financially, nobody makes a big deal about it when they put their money in the offering plate, they give humbly and because they have been led by the Spirit.

  18. One of my favorite parts of Paul’s letters in general is that he specific where he needs to be and general where he needs to be. When it comes to the passage about bearing one another’s burdens I was always confused about how we are supposed to carry each other’s burdens but we are also told to carry our own load. At first this seemed contradictory but upon looking at the Greek and a couple of commentaries the two words used have different implications. The greek word used for load is the same word used for a pack, as in a military pack. Something that one would be able to carry on their own, whereas a burden is something large enough that you need additional help to carry. This message of the Law of Christ I believe is Paul making a direct reference Matthew 22:37-40 which really would get at the heart of Paul’s ministry. Perhaps when Paul got to this point in the letter he was looking to summarize what came before in his letter to the Galatians, to keep in step with the Spirit. How would one be shown to keep in step with the Spirit, by carrying one another’s burdens.

  19. I think that bearing another’s burdens can mean a range of things. As Long stated in the blog, this can refer to financial needs or bearing one’s sin. Right there are two ways that believers can bear other’s burdens. But there are many other scenarios that we can lift up our fellow believers. As a Christian, it is important that we be there for our fellow brothers and sisters as we are called to take care of the body of Christ. There are people out there who feel as though they may be better than others to be able to carry another’s burdens, this is far from the truth. We are all brothers and sisters who have been made equally in the image of God, not one is higher or lower than the other. There is always something that we can do to help, big or small, it helps. Like Long pointed out in the blog, there are certain circumstances that people face where they simply cannot provide anything due to their own burdens that they are dealing with. This is okay, to bear one’s burdens can simply look like lifting someone up in their journey. We all can do this on an everyday basis. Jesus died on the cross for our sins, he did so even though we did not deserve it. We must view these verses as Jesus did on the cross for us, bearing one’s burdens is all about love, and we are called to love our neighbors and even the smallest thing can help someone out.

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