Galatians 6:8 and Justification by Faith Alone

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SkillsMasters

Puritan Board Freshman
What does Galatians 6:6-8 mean when it says:
Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

This verse clearly seems to be talking about salvation and it does seem to be talking about the things we do. We "sow" to the Spirit and we reap eternal life. How do we reconcile this with justification by faith alone?
 

Anti-Babylon

Puritan Board Freshman
What does Galatians 6:6-8 mean when it says:


This verse clearly seems to be talking about salvation and it does seem to be talking about the things we do. We "sow" to the Spirit and we reap eternal life. How do we reconcile this with justification by faith alone?

Not referring to salvation. Even after justified by grace, we have two warring natures: the flesh and the Spirit (cf. Rom. 7). To which of these we sow, we will reap.

"If we sow the wind, we shall reap the whirlwind. Those who live a carnal sensual life, who instead of employing themselves to the honour of God and the good of others, spend all their thoughts, and care, and time, about the flesh, must expect no other fruit of such a course than corruption—a mean and short-lived satisfaction at present, and ruin and misery at the end of it. But, on the other hand, those who sow to the Spirit, who under the guidance and influence of the Spirit do live a holy and spiritual life, a life of devotedness to God and of usefulness and serviceableness to others, may depend upon it that of the Spirit they shall reap life everlastingthey shall have the truest comfort in their present course, and an eternal life and happiness at the end of it. Note, Those who go about to mock God do but deceive themselves. Hypocrisy in religion is the greatest folly as well as wickedness, since the God we have to do with can easily see through all our disguises, and will certainly deal with us hereafter, not according to our professions, but our practices."

- Matthew Henry's Commentary
 

SkillsMasters

Puritan Board Freshman
Not referring to salvation. Even after justified by grace, we have two warring natures: the flesh and the Spirit (cf. Rom. 7). To which of these we sow, we will reap.

"If we sow the wind, we shall reap the whirlwind. Those who live a carnal sensual life, who instead of employing themselves to the honour of God and the good of others, spend all their thoughts, and care, and time, about the flesh, must expect no other fruit of such a course than corruption—a mean and short-lived satisfaction at present, and ruin and misery at the end of it. But, on the other hand, those who sow to the Spirit, who under the guidance and influence of the Spirit do live a holy and spiritual life, a life of devotedness to God and of usefulness and serviceableness to others, may depend upon it that of the Spirit they shall reap life everlastingthey shall have the truest comfort in their present course, and an eternal life and happiness at the end of it. Note, Those who go about to mock God do but deceive themselves. Hypocrisy in religion is the greatest folly as well as wickedness, since the God we have to do with can easily see through all our disguises, and will certainly deal with us hereafter, not according to our professions, but our practices."

- Matthew Henry's Commentary
I don't think many people would take that view. Most commentators I have seen seem to think it is referring to salvation not comfort in this world:

Douglas Moo's Commentary:
While Paul uses the generic language of “one who sows” in this verse, it is clear from the reference to the Spirit and from the context that he is referring to people from within the community of faith. And reference to “destruction” and “eternal life” shows that he refers not to degrees of reward that believers may look forward to in the next life (contra, e.g., G. Vos 1972: 269–79), but to that life itself: salvation.

Douglas J. Moo, Galatians, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2013), 386–387.

John Calvin's Commentary:
But he that soweth to the spirit. By the spirit I understand the spiritual life, to which they are said to sow whose views are directed more to heaven than to earth, and whose life is regulated by the desire of reaching the kingdom of God. From their spiritual employments they will reap in heaven incorruptible fruit ... Though eternal life is a reward ...

John Gill Commentary:
shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting; in the use of such spiritual means, though not as meritorious, or as causes, he shall attain to, and enjoy eternal happiness in the other world

William Hendriksen Commentary:
What happens to these contrasted representative individuals? Already in this life, but especially in and after the resurrection at the last day, he who has been sowing to please his flesh will from the harvest-field of the flesh reap destruction, decay. On the other hand, he who has been sowing to please the Spirit will from the harvest-field of the Spirit reap life everlasting

William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, Exposition of Galatians, vol. 8, New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001), 237.

I don't see how Galatians 6:8 can be referring to comfort in this world. There doesn't seem to be anything that suggests that and the natural reading of "eternal life" implies salvation.
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Graduate
Justification ≠ eternal life or salvation. Justification leads to eternal life and is a critical component of salvation, but eternal life and salvation are so much more than justification.
 

John Yap

Puritan Board Freshman
Rom 2:7 - To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:
Rom 8:13 - For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
2 Cor 5:10 - For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
 

SkillsMasters

Puritan Board Freshman
Justification ≠ eternal life or salvation. Justification leads to eternal life and is a critical component of salvation, but eternal life and salvation are so much more than justification.
Aren't we saved saved unto good works not by our good works (Eph. 2:8-10)? It seems that in Gal. 6:8 the "sowing" in the spirit is what "reaps" the eternal life. The "sowing" seems to be the basis for the "reaping."
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Graduate
Aren't we saved saved unto good works not by our good works (Eph. 2:8-10)? It seems that in Gal. 6:8 the "sowing" in the spirit is what "reaps" the eternal life. The "sowing" seems to be the basis for the "reaping."
What I’m trying to say is that when salvation is taken as a whole—not just justification, which is the subject of your question—I don’t see the supposed conflict. The passage you quote doesn’t say anything about justification.
 

SkillsMasters

Puritan Board Freshman
What I’m trying to say is that when salvation is taken as a whole—not just justification, which is the subject of your question—I don’t see the supposed conflict. The passage you quote doesn’t say anything about justification.
Even if we take it as salvation as a whole, works don't merit our salvation as a whole either. Yet Gal. 6:8 talks about salvation ("eternal life" part) and how those who "sow in the Spirit" will "reap eternal life." This seems to suggest that those who "sow in the Spirit" (something we do, our works) will reap eternal life, that somehow these works will merit our eternal life.
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Graduate
Even if we take it as salvation as a whole, works don't merit our salvation as a whole either. Yet Gal. 6:8 talks about salvation ("eternal life" part) and how those who "sow in the Spirit" will "reap eternal life." This seems to suggest that those who "sow in the Spirit" (something we do, our works) will reap eternal life, that somehow these works will merit our eternal life.
Where are you finding the idea of merit in this passage? I’m not seeing it.
 

SkillsMasters

Puritan Board Freshman
Where are you finding the idea of merit in this passage? I’m not seeing it.
The sowing and reaping part. "Sowing" being the work and "reaping" being the meriting of eternal life. The "sowing" is the basis and the "reaping" is the reward. Us gaining or "reaping" eternal life because we "sowed in the Spirit." The argument is that because we have sowed in the Spirit (our works) we "reap" or merit eternal life because of that.
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Graduate
The argument is that because we have sowed in the Spirit (our works) we "reap" or merit eternal life because of that.
There’s no “because” in that passage, or any other indication of a cause-effect relationship between works and salvation, especially in the sense that works are the efficient cause of salvation. For example, when I say that those who do good works will be saved, I’m not saying they will be saved because they have done good works. I’m saying that those who do good works can only do them because they are regenerate, justified by grace through faith, etc., and therefore will be saved. Again, this is why you must view these passages with the whole of salvation in view.
 

John Yap

Puritan Board Freshman
"Paul does not contradict what he has written before concerning justification by faith alone. Paul does not advocate a quid pro quo of good works for salvation. Rather, if you sow the fruit of the Spirit, you will reap the benefits of the Spirit. Or, I think verses 7–8 are another way of restating what Paul has previously written: “I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:21). So then, we should not lose sight of the context of Paul’s instruction. Paul still writes of the fruit of the Spirit and tells his readers that they can live in only one of two worlds—the fallen kingdom of Adam, now ruled by Satan, or the eternal kingdom of Jesus Christ, the last Adam. If we are united to Christ and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, then the fruit of the Spirit should be manifest in our lives, both corporately and individually."

JV Fesko

Who are those who can sow to the Spirit?
 

SkillsMasters

Puritan Board Freshman
There’s no “because” in that passage, or any other indication of a cause-effect relationship between works and salvation, especially in the sense that works are the efficient cause of salvation. For example, when I say that those who do good works will be saved, I’m not saying they will be saved because they have done good works. I’m saying that those who do good works can only do them because they are regenerate, justified by grace through faith, etc., and therefore will be saved. Again, this is why you must view these passages with the whole of salvation in view.
Again, the "sowing" and "reaping" is the cause-effect relationship. I reap because I sowed. Otherwise, what is the meaning of Gal. 6:8?
 

John Yap

Puritan Board Freshman
Again, the "sowing" and "reaping" is the cause-effect relationship. I reap because I sowed. Otherwise, what is the meaning of Gal. 6:8?

Who are the ones who sow to the Spirit? Are they the products of another cause-and effect relationship? Is there anything we can glean from Gal. 5 fruit of the Spirit, which has the same farmer imagery language?
 

SkillsMasters

Puritan Board Freshman
Who are the ones who sow to the Spirit? Are they the products of another cause-and effect relationship? Is there anything we can glean from Gal. 5 fruit of the Spirit, which has the same farmer imagery language?
In context, it would be "the one who is taught" (v.6). Yet even if what you're trying to get at, and I might be wrong here, is that the one who sows to the Spirit is the one who has been justified, I still have no idea what Gal. 6:8 means by "the one sowing to the Spirit will reap eternal life" because that sowing-reaping relationship is a cause-effect relationship. I sow because I reap. Because I sowed in the Spirit, I reap eternal life. I reap eternal life because I sowed.
 

John Yap

Puritan Board Freshman
In context, it would be "the one who is taught" (v.6). Yet even if what you're trying to get at, and I might be wrong here, is that the one who sows to the Spirit is the one who has been justified, I still have no idea what Gal. 6:8 means by "the one sowing to the Spirit will reap eternal life" because that sowing-reaping relationship is a cause-effect relationship. I sow because I reap. Because I sowed in the Spirit, I reap eternal life. I reap eternal life because I sowed.
What about the other cause-effect relationships in Galatians, where we see the effect (life) has other causes?
 

SkillsMasters

Puritan Board Freshman
What about the other cause-effect relationships in Galatians, where we see the effect (life) has other causes?
Not sure what you're referring to, perhaps about new life with Christ now that we have been justified by faith? Although I still have no idea what Gal. 6:8 means
 

John Yap

Puritan Board Freshman
Not sure what you're referring to, perhaps about new life with Christ now that we have been justified by faith? Although I still have no idea what Gal. 6:8 means
To rephrase - ignoring Gal 6:8, does anywhere in Galatians tell you how to obtain eternal life?
 

SkillsMasters

Puritan Board Freshman
To rephrase - ignoring Gal 6:8, does anywhere in Galatians tell you how to obtain eternal life?
Gal. 2:16? We are justified by faith apart from works of the law? Saved by grace through faith? Not sure what you're driving at but we obtain eternal life by grace alone through faith alone. Paul defends that by appealing to how we received the Spirit, then gives OT proof of Abraham, everyone who relies on the law is cursed, he gives the purpose of the law, he gives Hagar and Sarah as an analogy of promise and human effort. Then he goes on to give us the applications of all that in Gal. 5, we are set free in Christ, walk by the Spirit, etc.
 

John Yap

Puritan Board Freshman
Right,
Justified people receive eternal life.
Justified people are those who have received the Spirit.
Justified people are those who have the fruit of the Spirit
I see 6:8 as the other side of the same coin of having the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit is what the Spirit works in us, yet we must be active to pursue that list in Gal 5:22-23; how we wished if it was automatic!


"We see here drawn out on a canvas of eternity a scenario of the end results of the two catalogs of virtues and vices Paul enumerated in 5:19–23. If we continue to indulge in the works of the flesh, moving deeper and deeper into the pit of depravity, then we can be certain of the harvest we will receive—corruption... But the counterdestiny of those who sow to the Spirit is just as glorious as that of unrepentant sinners is horrible. If the works of the flesh issue in corruption and death, the fruit of the Spirit yields the harvest of eternal life." Timothy George, NAC

What Paul is saying in 6:8 is, there are two roads: one lies destruction at the end, the other has eternal life. Obviously, lovers of sin find the former.
But the sower (who has the Spirit, which works His fruit in the sower) is he who seeks the fruit of the Spirit; who consciously pursues Christlikeness in love to the Christ who died for Him. He shall find eternal life at the end of the road.

6:8 is actually a gracious passage. 'Do you want to know the end of the road you are walking? Then the question is, what are you sowing to? Self or to the Spirit?'. Why doesn't Paul speak about faith? Cos he already did in Gal 3; those who rely on their own works are cursed. Believers have two ways of assurance, first is of course faith and second is of course works. Paul speaks on both in Galatians.

The sower here is not some abstract person, naked without anything, attempting to earn eternal life. It is the believer here who possess the Spirit and is inflamed with love for Jesus whom he believes. The sower to the Spirit has the Spirit working in Him so that he can sow to the Spirit.

Here is quote from Luther: "Whoever does not do such works, however, is an unbeliever. He gropes and looks around for faith and good works, but knows neither what faith is nor what good works are. Yet he talks and talks, with many words, about faith and good works."
 
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JTB.SDG

Puritan Board Junior
Sanctification doesn't save you, but you can't be saved without it. It describes not the MEANS of salvation but the RECIPIENTS/OBJECTS of salvation; it's not describing HOW you're saved but WHO is saved--and it's only those who sow to the Spirit. Same truth as Romans 8:13.
 

Enzo

Puritan Board Freshman
What does Galatians 6:6-8 mean when it says:


This verse clearly seems to be talking about salvation and it does seem to be talking about the things we do. We "sow" to the Spirit and we reap eternal life. How do we reconcile this with justification by faith alone?
I remember once watching a popish apologist using this argument. After some serious study, I came to the following conclusions:

1- That though good works be not meritorious causes of salvation, speaking of merit properly, they are surely conducive unto life eternal.

2- They can't be meritorious of life eternal for we receive the right to life eternal by faith alone in Christ, as the Gospel of St. John show abundantly, and as St. Paul also show in Romans 3 and 4. They also can't be meritorious for, in order to deserve eternal life on account of justice, they would have to be:

a- Perfect (which they are not, as the Prophet Isaiah says: our righteousness are filthy rags)

b- Of infinite value unto God, that he may value than as worthy of eternal life

c- Made in our own strength, for no man can become our debtor if we, through HIS strength, do good.

d- They must be works we ain't bound to do unto God, for, if we are obliged to do them, our Lord teaches that "after we've done all things commanded, we ought to say we are useless servants, for we did only that which was commanded"

3- One must distinguish the right to salvation from the possession thereof in the last day.

We receive the right to Life per sola Fide, and that's why, through faith, we receive the Holy Spirit, the seal of righteousness through faith. If the righteousness which made us children of God and members of His Kingdom were the righteousness of works, we wouldn't receive the seal of such righteousness in the beginning of new life, when we've not yet worked anything unto God.


BUT one must work, ordinarily, to enter God's Kingdom. The passage you just quoted proves that abundantly. Romans 2 also. Romans 6 also. And YES--- eternal life is given as a reward to good works. But James Ussher points out very well that the fact that God shall reward according to works does not mean he shall reward according to MERIT. For he shall be righteous in Judgment, but he shall judge in the Seat of Mercy.

Ussher explains this very well against the Papists here, in the chapter about merits: Ussher's Answer to a Jesuit
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
I could be misreading both the presentation of the question, and some of the responses; but it seems to me (I'm happy to be proved wrong) that in general insufficient attention is being given to the context of Paul's comments, both the close and the sum total of the letter. What follows aims to rectify that seeming deficiency, teaching the reader an understanding of the meaning of the apostle in the text by attending to what Paul is getting at as he employs what is essentially a stock phrase, a proverb in v7, upon which he elaborates in v8.

Sermon notes Gal.6:6-10
The Ministry You Deserve

As Dr. Martin Luther opens his comments on these verses, he states (as something of a question): “I have often wondered why all the apostles reiterated this request [to bestow "all good things" upon those who have taught them the gospel] with such embarrassing frequency.” (Galatians Commentary, loc. cit) This morning’s message will, I pray, bring us to consider an answer to his question.

Dear congregation, I should not propose a natural law, or a law of inevitable spiritual consequence, which states that “a church always gets the ministry it deserves;” that good churches (whatever that name means) get good ministry, and bad churches get lousy ministry. If it were the case that the church literally earned or demerited the quality of its ministry, reforming the church would be inconceivable. Once a church began to decline, it would get poor ministers who would help it along (so to speak) to greater depths of ruination.

We never truly deserve the Lord’s good gifts anyway, given our sin nature, and imperfect performance even of that obedience which we attempt. Still, however, it would be inexcusable for us to ignore for that reason any apparent cause-and-effect relationship between our sinfulness and stubbornness, pride and prejudice, on one hand; and the loss (or threat of divine removal) of faithful ministry. One scripture text will suffice to prove it: Rev.2:5, Jesus says to the Ephesians, “Repent… or I will come… and remove your lampstand.”

There are many different reasons for Christ to assign his best ministers to one place or another. But surely, one plain reason is that his people frequently ask him to provide them with a shepherd after his own heart, who will feed them with knowledge and understanding, Jer.3:15. The ministry is present in the church principally for the task of teaching the word. So, Paul in v6 chooses this one function, teaching the word, to epitomize the whole ministry of the church.

A teaching situation requires two parties to complete it: “him who is taught,” and “him who teaches.” The original word is one from which we get our word “catechize,” which has at root the idea of making oneself understood. We teach our young children and new converts the “catechism” in order to force an understanding upon their minds. Folks, this should not be offensive or controversial. We catechize the alphabet. We catechize the times-tables. And we catechize even more complicated rules of grammar, and historical order, and geopolitics, etc.

Paul, in our text, assumes that everyone knows as a matter of course, that the Christian faith has elementary doctrine unique to it; and that doctrine will be taught, will be forced down upon the impressionable mind, and professors of Christianity will be indoctrinated into this faith. The Christian faith isn’t something you make up for yourself; but teachers of the word are assigned the task of equipping the saints for effectual spiritual life under Christ’s dominion.

So then, if you wouldn’t simply take advantage of a secular school-teacher, to benefit from his or her teaching while expecting such to provide this service without charge; you should also admit the simple justice of sharing in all good things with the teacher of the divine Word. The “sharing” term, (koinonia) is quite the active word, not at all expressive of simply a common occurrence—as though Paul said that “together we all get something out of the preaching.”

No, the thrust of this sharing is that the student must (v6 begins with another command) contribute to the teacher’s maintenance. As he contributes to you from the endowments he has received from the powers of the age to come for spiritual instruction, you likewise contribute to him from your store of every kind of the good things of this life. Such have been entrusted to you by the same God, with such sharing in mind, for the mutual support of us all.

This command Paul follows with a word of instruction, of warning, v7, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” It could not be more plain that here the apostle expressly appeals to an ordinary cause-effect relation. He puts together the people’s maintenance of the ministry, and the expectation of results.

And he does so in a negative tone. He warns them of ill consequences, not by promising them loss, but by reminding them of their susceptibility to being deceived; and of the justice of God, who sees everything, even to the intents of the heart, and who is most severe to those who think they shall evade accountability.

Perhaps the Galatians had come to the crisis of this Judaizing heresy as a direct result of neglecting this very matter. Think how it might have happened: 1) they have faithful ministers, who understand the gospel. But, 2) they do not support them in his work; and so, 3) this one must depart, or that one has to step away from the work of ministry to support his family in other ways. 4) In the vacuum caused by these vacancy, heresy slips in.

Like Paul, these Judaizers are missionaries. They are focused (as he was), and they are zealous (as he was), and they have outside support (as he had). So, 5) here’s a man or a team, full of knowledge, full of zeal, willing to take on teaching duties in the churches. The Galatians might have thought they were getting a great deal. “These guys are talking about Jesus, aren’t they? That’s what’s important. They must be good guys. And it’s the right price: Cheap.”

But Paul uses what sounds like a proverbial expression: “Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” There’s a similar thought in Solomon’s Proverbs, 24:12, “If you say, "Behold, we did not know this," [there’s mockery] does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?”

Whether Paul is criticizing the Christians, or simply warning them for the future, in either case he urges them to have a care for a faithful ministry in their midst. For if they do not have a care for it, they will surely lose it. Consider further, v8 in which Paul continues (the “for” at the beginning resumes or carries on from the previous proverb): “He who sows to his flesh will of [or from] the flesh reap corruption.”

Sowing to the flesh is just like “giving opportunity to the flesh,” 5:13, “fulfilling the lust of the flesh,” 5:16, and doing all the “works of the flesh,” 5:19-21. It is cultivating a field, and expecting seeds of a vile kind to produce a crop after its vile kind. But there’s more to it than those gross examples. Dr. Brown: “The man who is entirely occupied with [sensory] and present things, thought he [might] not be what is ordinarily termed immoral –nay, the man who is strictly honest, and honourable, and punctiliously religious, so far as external morality and religion go,– who yet does not look at “things unseen and eternal,” that man, too, sows in the flesh.” (Galatians Commentary, loc. cit.)

This person has inverted his priorities. He is not nearly as concerned with his own life to come as he is for his own conditions and comforts in the present life. By neglecting the ministry in his church, which is concerned to nourish his everlasting soul on the pure and holy gospel, he contemns his own soul. Here, we have a striking example of a Christian who judges himself unworthy of eternal life, after the manner of those in Act.13:45-46.

Instead, he is too careful with his worldly goods, hoarding them, saving for the rainy-day, “You never know what might happen to the economy.” And by a chain reaction, the ministry suffers loss, it might even be replaced; and the result will be weaker preaching and teaching, which produces a church too corrupted to judge the declining quality of its ministry.

Here, I’d like to go back to Luther, to note another of his observations, and to answer his question. He tells how formerly in the papacy he saw in the extreme wealth of the church, great corruption. The people gave generously, and he thought Paul’s orders overstated. Luther writes:

It seems to be a by-product of the Gospel that nobody wants to contribute to the maintenance of the Gospel ministry. When the doctrine of the devil is preached people are prodigal in their willing support of those who deceive them. We have come to understand why it is so necessary to repeat the admonition of this verse. When Satan cannot suppress the preaching of the Gospel by force he tries to accomplish his purpose by striking the ministers of the Gospel with poverty. He curtails their income to such an extent that they are forced out of the ministry because they cannot live by the Gospel. Without ministers to proclaim the Word of God the people go wild like savage beasts. (Galatians Commentary, loc. cit)​

There is the answer to the question: why this request, and so frequently? flowing directly from his observation. This is a spiritual matter, related to the gospel of Jesus Christ; and therefore our hearts grow cold to it, unless the gospel word fans the flames to life.

Paul positively expresses the hopeful reality in the end of v8, “but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.” As with the other field, spiritual cultivation is known by the fruit thereof, 5:22-23. More specifically, this context speaks to the interest that believers should have in the ministry of their church. Everlasting life only comes from clinging to Christ in the gospel—don’t you want heaven? Well, then, sow for the spiritual reward.

In 1Cor.9:13-14 Paul uses the OT ministry as a previous biblical model, “Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.” Thus the logic of his other question, v11, “If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you?”

Finally, (back to Galatians), Paul exhorts the believers not to tire in this (or any other) spiritual labor. He associates himself with the need to keep this advice, “Let US not grow weary while doing good.” Any good, and this duty in particular, because if the ministry declines, the whole church grows corrupt. This matter is a continual priority. You may never “set it, and forget it.” How often do you need to hear that though you are a great sinner, Christ is an even greater Savior, who died and rose again for every believer? How about the next generation?

To “reap in due season” is ultimately the plucking of the crop into the heavenly garner. That reward is for they who persevere, who do not lose heart. Paul doesn’t mean depression; he isn’t talking about fluctuating attitudes here, but about the need to endure in this faithful posture, for the good of the church—for yourself and for your children, and for converts.

So then, according to the opportunity–it could be in material, it could be in time, it could be spiritual–in all manner of service, let all of us do good to all; recalling outsiders to the church; but especially remember your own house of faith. Will they inherit the ministry you deserved?

***********************************************

Here, near the close of his letter, Paul is at his most applicatory. Here he summons the Galatian church to exhibit practical concern for its present state and the future of it, concern that is the duty of life lived in this world; since it is the spiritual, God ordained means to attain spiritually desirable ends. Your pastors are an important aspect of the means God uses to see you all the way to a blessed eternity with him.

The specific application of the proverb, therefore, is that the Galatian church needs pastors who sow to the Spirit (not to their own flesh) so that there is a harvest of the Spirit from their congregation. So too, the members seeking out a faithful ministry is to the same end, hence their seeking (and then supporting) those godly pastors is also sowing to the Spirit.

It's important to let the context inform us of a writer's meaning, and (in this case) take care not to pitch an observation from so late in the epistle so that it could (if taken falsely) undermine the same writer's previously laid doctrinal foundation.
 
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