Galatians 6:2 NASB
Bear one another’s burdens,
and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.
Carry one another’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the requirements of the law of Christ [that is, the law of Christian love].
King James Bible
Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
Bear you one another’s burdens.
Take them upon yourselves by kindly sympathy.
Our Lord Himself was said to “bear” the physical infirmities of those whom He healed. (Matthew 8:17 : “He bare our sicknesses.”)
Bear ye one another’s burdens
(ἀλλήλων τὰ βάρη βαστάζετε);
Carry ye, or, be ready to carry, the heavy loads of one another.
The position of ἀλλήλων gives it especial prominence; as it stands here it seems pregnant with the exhortation, look not every man only at his own griefs, but at the griefs also of others (cf. Philippians 2:4).
Do not merely look out for your own personal interests,
but also for the interests of others.
The word βάρος, weight, points to an excessive weight, such as it is a toil to carry.
Matthew 20:12, “who have borne the burden (βαστάσασι το, βάρος) and heat of the day.” So in Acts 15:28.
In 2 Corinthians 4:17, “weight of glory,” the phrase, suggested by the double sense of the Hebrew word kabhod, indicates the enormous greatness of the future glory. The supposition that the apostle was glancing at the burden of Mosaical observances, superseded as a matter for care on our part by the burdens of our brethren, seems far-fetched.
These “heavy loads” are those which a man brings upon himself by acts of transgression: such as an uneasy conscience; difficulties in his domestic, social, or Church relations; pecuniary embarrassments; or other.
But the precept seems to go beyond the requirements of the particular case of a peccant brother which has suggested it, and to take in all the needs, spiritual or secular, which we are subject to.
(For βαστάζειν of carrying a toilsome burden, comp. Matthew 8:17; John 19:17; Acts 15:10.)
The reading here is somewhat doubtful, and the balance of authorities interesting.
▪︎ On the one hand, for the Received text adopted in our version is a large majority of the manuscripts;
▪︎ on the other hand, the reading, ye shall fulfil, is found in the Vatican and two good Graeco-Latin manuscripts (Practically, these two MSS. can only count as one as both seem to have been copied from the same original), but has besides an almost unanimous support from the versions.
As several of these were composed at a very early date, and as they necessarily represent a wide geographical dispersion; as, further, the manuscript authority for the reading –though small in quantity is good in quality– also representing the evidence of widely separated regions; and as, finally, the internal evidence or probabilities of corruption are also in favour of the same reading, it would seem, on the whole, to have the greater claim to acceptance.
The meaning is that by showing sympathy to others in their distress, of whatever kind that distress may be –whether physical, mental, or moral– the Christian will best fulfil that “new commandment” bequeathed to him by his Master, the “law of love.” (See John 13:34; 1John 3:23.)
And so fulfil the law of Christ
(καὶ ὅτως ἀναπληρώσατε [or, ἀναπληρώσετε] τὸν νόμον τοῦ Χριστοῦ);
And so fulfil (or, ye shall fulfil) the law of Christ.
The sense comes to much the same, whether in the Greek we read the future indicative or the aorist imperative.
▪︎ If the imperative be retained, it yet adds no new element of precept to the foregoing; the clause so read prescribes the fulfilment of Christ’s law in the particular form of bearing one another’s burdens.
▪︎ If we read the future, the clause affirms that in so doing we shall fulfil his law; which in the other case is implied.
Many have supposed the word “law” to be here used for a specific commandment; as for example Christ’s new commandment that we should love one another.
So James (it. 8) writes of the “royal law.”
Paul, however, never uses the term in this sense in his own writing, though in the Epistle to the Hebrews (Hebrews 8:10; 10:16), the plural “laws” occurs in citation from Jeremiah.
It seems better to take it of the whole moral institution of Christ, whether conveyed in distinct precept or in his example and spirit of action. Compare with the present passage the advice which St. Paul gives the “strong” (Romans 15:1-4), that they should bear (βαστάζειν, as here, “carry”) the infirmities of the weak, and not wish to please themselves; after Christ’s pattern set forth in prophetical Scripture, of old time written in order to instruct us how we should act.
It has been often observed that the phrase, “the law of Christ,” was selected with allusion to the stir now being made among the Galatians respecting the Law of Moses.
“Satisfy ye the requirements of the Law – not of Moses which some are prating about, but the law of Christ, a more perfect law than that other, and more our proper con-corn.”
Possibly the words τοῦ Χριστοῦ were added as a pointed surprise of style – παρ ὑπόνοιαν, as the scholiasts on Aristophanes are wont to express it – “and thus fulfil the law – of Christ!”
We could say that this is another way of saying, “Love your neighbor as yourself!”
Jesus came to bear our burdens and carry away the stain and pain of our sin. (Read Isaiah 53 for a powerful description of God’s Suffering Servant, a passage quoted in the New Testament in reference to Jesus.)
He now asks us to live redemptively, in practical ways, toward those around us. More than just praying, or asking what we can do to help, we are called to serve, minister, and assist others who are burdened.
▪︎Ask God to give you eyes to see the need of others.
▪︎Ask God to give you a heart willing to serve.
▪︎Ask God to give you hands ready to help the people on your path that need a burden lifted.
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