Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 1 Study # 1
Thesis: Addressing the "faults" of other believers.
Introduction: As we begin our study of the final chapter of Paul's letter to the Galatians, we are immediately made aware of one of the duties of a "brother": addressing the failures of other "brothers". This is a rather abrupt change of subject for the apostle, but it reveals the basis for the letter he wrote to the Galatians. He clearly felt compelled by the Galatians' departure from the God of grace to write, and this new paragraph before us expresses the basis for his compulsion. The Galatians needed someone to take on a very difficult task: the attempt to bring them back to a healthy relationship with God.
In the present time, this instruction is widely ignored by Christians. There are two basic reasons: the failure of love in the face of fear; and the complexity of the instruction in the face of the condition of "Christendom" in our current setting. This evening we are going to at least begin to consider what Paul was instructing and whether, or not, the current complexity actually erases the applicability of the instruction to us.
August 25, 2013
- I. The Implications of Paul's Instruction in His Setting.
- A. We have already said that Paul's letter was his own attempt to do what he is calling for in 6:1-5.
- B. However, a letter, even one inspired by the Holy Spirit, does not meet the requirements of Paul's instruction.
- 1. The instruction makes "restoration" (AV translation) the goal.
- 2. The word translated "restore" actually indicates an "ongoing process" (Luke 6:40 and Romans 9:22).
- a. The New Testament use of this word is always in view of a rather significant undertaking that requires a commitment of both time and detailed effort.
- b. 1 Thessalonians 3:10 actually declares that the lack of a personal presence makes the accomplishment of the task a tenuous, if not impossible, task.
- c. This usage, and frank admission of inability if there is too much distance involved, is one of the "issues" of the instruction: the work can only be accomplished by someone "on the ground".
- 1) This does not mean that the letter does not contain all of the information necessary to accomplish the task.
- 2) The problem with "letters" is simple: no one can "make" another either read, or study, a "letter": restoring a fallen brother typically involves some "in your face" time.
- 3. Paul's call for "those who are spiritual" to take on this task indicates that, though he may well have considered his letter as a beginning, he hardly considered that it would be able to accomplish the result by itself (there would be no need for the call if simply handing someone a copy of his letter could/would bring about the desired end).
- a. The summons to "you who are spiritual" is deliberate: the work requires the presence of the fruit of the Spirit across the three-fold categories given.
- 1) The three categories are: the ministry of the Spirit to the believer; the ministry of the Spirit to others through the believer; and the ministry of the Spirit in respect to one's personal relationship to God (as our studies of the Fruit revealed).
- 2) It should go without saying that a breakdown of that Fruit at any point in any of the categories rules out the characterization of the "ye who are spiritual".
- b. The problem is significant.
- 1) The Authorized Version calls it "a fault"; the ASV more accurately calls it a "trespass".
- a) This means that what Paul has in mind is not an ignorant "stumble" along the path of one's walk with God.
- b) The issue is one of a deliberate violation of a known instruction.
- 2) Deliberate trespass indicates a significant breakdown in the values of the one involved and a significant level of both guilt and unbelief; both of which are "difficult" on their own.
- a) That Paul says the "brother" who has committed this deed has been "overtaken".
- b) Paul's word choice involves a relatively rare word in the New Testament that indicates that the "overtaking" was an involved trap that required a significant manipulation of the "brother's" values and beliefs over enough time to get the "brother" into the place where the "temptation" would be both effective and debilitating.
- 3) Any "restoration" in such a setting will be both complicated and, probably, time consuming.
- c. The requirement of "meekness" also indicates a possible problem.
- 1) Our study of "meekness" in respect to the fruit of the Spirit revealed that it is a God-directed issue of "faith" wherein the situation is seen to be clearly in the domain of God's involved oversight. Trench says that the term indicates a confidence in God that the unpleasant reality that calls it forth is under His control for our good
- 2) Paul's declaration is that, without "meekness", the "restorer" will be involved in a superior attitude of smugness that will actually cause the "restorer" to fall.
- C. Paul, apparently, has three categories of "brothers" in view.
- 1. There is the category of those who have violated their consciences and refused to clear them.
- 2. There is the category of those who are "spiritual" wherein the characteristics of the "Fruit of the Spirit" are all hitting on all cylinders.
- 3. There is the category of those who are not living in violation of their consciences, but who are also not "filled with the Spirit" to the point of being able to help someone "overtaken".
- a. This strongly implies that this task is one for "elders".
- b. It cannot be done by the immature, who will probably make the problem worse.
- II. The Complications of the Current State of Affairs in This Time.
- A. The extreme fragmentation of the "Church" in terms of the churches makes this task almost impossible except within the local church setting.
- B. In the local church setting, this task is typically set aside because there is no one qualified to take it on, the leadership being unqualified and "unspiritual".