Life in the Community of Christ.* 1Brothers, even if a person is caught in some transgression, you who are spiritual should correct that one in a gentle spirit, looking to yourself, so that you also may not be tempted.a 2Bear one another’s burdens,b and so you will fulfill the law of Christ.* 3c For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he is deluding himself. 4* Each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason to boast with regard to himself alone, and not with regard to someone else; 5for each will bear his own load.d
6e One who is being instructed in the word should share all good things with his instructor.* 7Make no mistake: God is not mocked, for a person will reap only what he sows, 8because the one who sows for his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows for the spirit will reap eternal life from the spirit.f 9Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap our harvest, if we do not give up.g 10So then, while we have the opportunity, let us do good to all,h but especially to those who belong to the family of the faith.*
Final Appeal.* 11See with what large letters* I am writing to you in my own hand!i 12* It is those who want to make a good appearance in the flesh who are trying to compel you to have yourselves circumcised, only that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.j 13Not even those having themselves circumcised* observe the law themselves; they only want you to be circumcised so that they may boast of your flesh. 14But may I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which* the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.k 15For neither does circumcision mean anything, nor does uncircumcision,l but only a new creation.* 16Peace and mercy be to all who follow this rule* and to the Israel of God.m
18The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.o
* [6:1–10] The ethical exhortations begun at Gal 5:1 continue with a variety of admonitions to the community (brothers: see note on Gal 1:2). Nearly every sentence contains a separate item of practical advice; the faith and freedom of the gospel underlie each maxim. Tensions and temptation within communal life have previously been addressed in Gal 5:15, 26 and Gal 6:1 continues with a case in which a person is caught in some transgression such as those in Gal 5:19–21; cf. Gal 2:17.
* [6:4–5] Self-examination is the cure for self-deception. Compare what you are with what you were before, and give the glory to God; cf. Rom 6:19–22. Load: used elsewhere of a soldier’s pack. Correcting one’s own conduct avoids burdening others with it.
* [6:10] The family of the faith: the Christian household or church. Doing good has a universal object (to all), but the local community makes specific the reality of those to be served.
* [6:11–18] A postscript in Paul’s own hand, as was his practice (see 1 Cor 16:21; 2 Thes 3:17). Paul summarizes his appeal against his opponents (Gal 6:12–13), then returns to his message of glorying in the cross, not in circumcision, as the means of salvation (Gal 6:14–15; cf. Gal 5:11). A benediction follows at Gal 6:16. In the polemical spirit that the attack on his apostleship called forth (Gal 1:11–2:21), Paul reasserts his missionary credentials (Gal 6:17) before giving a final benediction (Gal 6:18).
* [6:11] Large letters: in contrast to the finer hand of the scribe who wrote the letter up to this point. The larger Greek letters make Paul’s message even more emphatic. Some find a hint of poor eyesight on Paul’s part. See note on Gal 4:13.
* [6:12–15] The Jewish Christian opponents wished not to be persecuted, possibly by Jews. But since Judaism seems to have had a privileged status as a religion in the Roman empire, circumcised Christians might, if taken as Jews, thereby avoid persecution from the Romans. In any case, Paul instead stresses conformity with the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ; cf. Gal 2:19–21; 5:11.
* [6:13] Those having themselves circumcised: other manuscripts read, “those who have had themselves circumcised.”
* [6:14] Through which: or “through whom.”
* [6:16] This rule: the principle in Gal 6:14, 15. The Israel of God: while the church may be meant (the phrase can be translated “to all who follow this rule, even the Israel of God”; cf. Gal 6:10; 1 Cor 10:18), the reference may also be to God’s ancient people, Israel; cf. Ps 125:5; 128:6.
* [6:17] The marks of Jesus: slaves were often branded by marks (stigmata) burned into their flesh to show to whom they belonged; so also were devotees of pagan gods. Paul implies that instead of outdated circumcision, his body bears the scars of his apostolic labors (2 Cor 11:22–31), such as floggings (Acts 16:22; 2 Cor 11:25) and stonings (Acts 14:19), that mark him as belonging to the Christ who suffered (cf. Rom 6:3; 2 Cor 4:10; Col 1:24) and will protect his own.