Galatians 6: Bible Chapter Summary

A deeper look at the sixth chapter in the New Testament Book of Galatians

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As we come to the end of Paul's letter to the Christians in Galatia, we'll see once more the major themes that have dominated the previous chapter. We'll also get another clear picture of Paul's pastoral care and concern for the people of his flock.

As always, take a look at Galatians 6 here, and then we'll dig in.

Overview

When we arrive at the beginning of chapter 6, Paul has spent whole chapters of text hammering at the false doctrines of the Judaizers and imploring the Galatians to return to the message of the gospel.

It's a bit refreshing, then, to see Paul tackle some practical matters within the church community as he wraps up his communication.

Specifically, Paul provided instructions for church members to actively restore fellow Christians who became tangled up in sin. Paul emphasized the need for gentleness and caution in such restoration. Having rejected the Old Testament law as a means of salvation, he did encourage the Galatians to "fulfill the law of Christ" by carrying one another's burdens.

Verses 6-10 are a great reminder that depending on faith in Christ for salvation doesn't mean we should avoid doing good things or obeying God's commandments. The opposite is true -- actions that are grounded in the flesh will produce the "works of the flesh" described in chapter 5, while a life lived in the power of the Spirit will produce an abundance of good works.

Paul concluded his letter by again summarizing his major argument: neither circumcision nor obedience to the law have any chance to connect us with God.

Only faith in the death and resurrection can save us.

Key Verses

Here is Paul's summary in full:

12 Those who want to make a good impression in the flesh are the ones who would compel you to be circumcised—but only to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 For even the circumcised don’t keep the law themselves; however, they want you to be circumcised in order to boast about your flesh. 14 But as for me, I will never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. The world has been crucified to me through the cross, and I to the world. 15 For both circumcision and uncircumcision mean nothing; what matters instead is a new creation.
Galatians 6:12-16

This is a great summary of the entire book, as Paul once again refutes the legalistic idea that we can work our way into a relationship with God. In truth, all that matters is the cross.

Key Themes

I don't want to belabor the point, but Paul's major theme has been the same throughout the majority of this book -- namely, that we cannot experience salvation or any connection with God through legalistic obedience or rituals such as circumcision. The only path for the forgiveness of our sins is accepting the gift of salvation offered to us by Jesus Christ, which requires faith.

Paul also includes an addition to the "one another's" here. Throughout his epistles, he will often exhort Christians to care for one another, encourage one another, restore one another, and so on. Here he emphasizes the need for Christians to carry each other's burdens and support one another even as we work through disobedience and sin.

Key Questions

The last part of Galatians 6 contains a few verses that may sound strange when we don't know the context. Here's the first:

Look at what large letters I use as I write to you in my own handwriting.
Galatians 6:11

We know from various mentions throughout the New Testament that Paul had a problem with his eyes -- he may even have been close to blind (see Gal. 4:15, for example).

Because of this infirmity, Paul used a scribe (also known as an amanuensis) to record his letters as he dictated them.

To conclude the letter, however, Paul took on the task of writing himself. The large letters were proof of this since the Galatians knew of his problematic eyes.

The second strange-sounding passage is verse 17:

From now on, let no one cause me trouble, because I bear on my body scars for the cause of Jesus.

The New Testament also gives ample evidence that Paul was harassed by several groups in his attempts to proclaim the message of the gospel -- notably the Jewish leaders, the Romans, and the Judaizers. Much of Paul's persecution had been physical, including beatings, imprisonment, and even stoning (see Acts 14:19, for example).

Paul considered these "battle scars" to be superior evidence of his dedication to God than the mark of circumcision.

Note: this is a continuing series exploring the Book of Galatians on a chapter-by-chapter basis. Click here to see the summaries for chapter 1chapter 2chapter 3chapter 4, and chapter 5.

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O'Neal, Sam. "Galatians 6: Bible Chapter Summary." ThoughtCo, Feb. 4, 2017, thoughtco.com/galatians-6-bible-chapter-summary-363221. O'Neal, Sam. (2017, February 4). Galatians 6: Bible Chapter Summary. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/galatians-6-bible-chapter-summary-363221 O'Neal, Sam. "Galatians 6: Bible Chapter Summary." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/galatians-6-bible-chapter-summary-363221 (accessed January 22, 2018).