"So where do we go from here? What practical steps can we take to resolve this crisis?" The couple asking these questions had taken a long time just to understand the crisis they were facing in their marriage. But now that they had gained some insights into the reasons for their conflict, they were ready to work to put things right.
So far Paul has led the Galatian believers to understand the historical and theological background for the crisis in their churches and given them general principles about life in the Spirit. Now he spells out specific responsibilities for those who are led by the Spirit so that they can rebuild their broken relationships.
The responsibilities of those who are spiritual (v. 1) are directly related to the problem of division in the Galatian churches. We have already noted that when Paul describes the problem in the churches, he speaks of "biting and devouring each other" (5:15) and "provoking and envying each other" (5:26). The false teachers' campaign to force all the Gentile believers to become Jews would have divided the churches into hostile groups: the Jewish Christians who zealously campaigned for the necessity of circumcision and observance of the Mosaic law, the Gentile believers who zealously pursued the goal of living like Jews, and the Gentile believers who were not willing or able to live by the Mosaic law. Paul's list of responsibilities in this section shows how those who are truly led by the Spirit can bring healing and unity in their divided churches. The responsibilities include both the believers' corporate responsibilities to one another and the individual believer's personal accountability before God. Our public care for one another must be matched by integrity in our private walk before God. Note how corporate responsibilities and individual accountability are woven together in this section:
1. corporate: restore him gently
2. individual: watch yourself
3. corporate: carry each other's burdens
4. individual: each one should test his own actions . . . each one should carry his own load
5. corporate: share all good things with his instructor
6. individual: do not be deceived . . . a man reaps what he sows
7. corporate: do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
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