6. Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.
6. Coremunicet is, qui instituitur in sermone, cum doctore, in omnibus bonis.
7. Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
7. Ne erretis: Deus non subsannatur; quod enim seminaverit homo, hoc etiam metet.
8. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
8. Nam qui seminat carni suae, ex carne metet corruptionem; qui autem seminat Spiritui, ex Spiritu metet vitam aeternam.
9. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
9. Bonum antem faciendo ne defatigemur; nam si non defecerimus, metemus opportuno tempore.
10. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith..
10. Ergo ubi tempus habemus, benefaciamus erga omnes, praesertim vero erga domesticos fidel.
6. Let him that is taught in the word. It is probable that the teachers and ministers of the word were at that time neglected. This shewed the basest ingratitude. How disgraceful is it to defraud of their temporal support those by whom our souls are fed! -- to refuse an earthly recompense to those from whom we receive heavenly benefits! But it is, and always has been, the disposition of the world, freely to bestow on the ministers of Satan every luxury, and hardly to supply godly pastors with necessary food. Though it does not become us to indulge too much in complaint, or to be too tenacious of our rights, yet Paul found himself called upon to exhort the Galatians to perform this part of their duty. He was the more ready to do so, because he had no private interest in the matter, but consulted the universal benefit of the Church, without any regard to his own advantage. He saw that the ministers of the word were neglected, because the word itself was despised; for if the word be truly esteemed, its ministers will always receive kind and honorable treatment. It is one of the tricks of Satan to defraud godly ministers of support, that the Church may be deprived of such ministers. An earnest desire to preserve a gospel ministry, led to Paul's recommendation that proper attention should be paid to good and faithful pastors.
The word is here put, by way of eminence, (kat ' exochen,) for the doctrine of godliness. Support is declared to be due to those by whom we are taught in the word. Under this designation the Papal system supports idle bellies of dumb men, and fierce wild beasts, who have nothing in common with the doctrine of Christ. In all good things. He does not propose that no limit should be set to their worldly enjoyments, or that they should revel in superfluous abundance, but merely that none of the necessary supports of life should be withheld. Ministers ought to be satisfied with moderate fare, and the danger which attends pomp and luxury ought to be prevented. To supply their real necessities, let believers cheerfully devote any part of their property that may be required for the services of devout and holy teachers. What return will they make for the invaluable treasure of eternal life, which is communicated to them by the preaching of those men?
7. God is not mocked. The design of this observation is to reply to the dishonest excuses which are frequently pleaded. One alleges that he has a family to support, and another asserts that he has no superfluity of wealth to spend in liberality or profusion. The consequence is, that, while such multitudes withhold their aid, the few persons who do their duty are generally unable to contribute the necessary support. These apologies Paul utterly rejects, for a reason which the world little considers, that this transaction is with God. The supply of a man's bodily wants is not the sole question, but involves the degree of our regard for Christ and his gospel. This passage contains evidence that the custom of treating faithful ministers with scorn did not originate in the present day; but their wicked taunts will not pass unpunished.
For whatsoever a man soweth. Our liberality is restrained by the supposition, that whatever passes into the hands of another is lost to ourselves, and by the alarm we feel about our own prospects in life. Paul meets these views by a comparison drawn from seed-time, which, he tells us, is a fit representation of acts of beneficence. On this subject we had occasion to speak, in expounding the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, where the same metaphor was employed. Happy would it be for us, if this truth were deeply impressed upon our minds. How |very gladly| would we |spend and be spent| (2 Corinthians 12:15) for the good of our neighbours, encouraged by the hope of the coming harvest! No operation is more cheerfully performed by husbandmen than throwing the seed into the ground. They are enabled to wait with patience during nine months of the year, by the expectation of reaping a corruptible harvest, while our minds are not properly affected by the hope of a blessed immortality.
8. For he that soweth to his flesh. Having stated the general sentiment, he now divides it into parts. To sow to the flesh, is to look forward to the wants of the present life, without any regard to a future life. They who do this will gather fruit corresponding to the seed which they have sown, -- will heap up that which shall miserably perish. To sow in the flesh, (seminare in carne,) is supposed by some to mean indulgence in the lusts of the flesh, and corruption to mean destruction; but the former exposition agrees better with the context. In departing from the old translation and from Erasmus, I have not acted rashly. The Greek words, ho speiron eis ten sarka heautou, literally signify, he that soweth into his flesh. And what else does this mean, but to be so entirely devoted to the flesh, as to direct all our thoughts to its interests or convenience?
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. Those employments are denominated spiritual on account of their end, though in some respects they are external and relate to the body, as in the very case now under consideration of supporting pastors. If the Papists shall endeavor, in their usual manner, to build upon these words the righteousness of works, we have already shewn how easily their absurdities may be exposed. Though eternal life is a reward, it does not follow either that we are justified by works, or that works are meritorious of salvation. The undeserved kindness of God appears in the very act of honoring the works which his grace has enabled us to perform, by promising to them a reward to which they are not entitled.
Is a more complete solution of the question demanded?
1. We have no good works which God rewards but those which we derive from his grace.
2. The good works which we perform by the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit, are the fruits of that adoption which is an act of free grace.
3. They are not only unworthy of the smallest and most inconsiderable reward, but deserve to be wholly condemned, because they are always stained by many blemishes; and what have pollutions to do with the presence of God?
4. Though a reward had been a thousand times promised to works, yet it is not due but by fulfilling the condition of obeying the law perfectly; and how widely distant are we all from that perfection!
Let Papists now go and attempt to force their way into heaven by the merit of works. We cheerfully concur with Paul and with the whole Bible in acknowledging, that we are unable to do anything but by the free grace of God, and yet that the benefits resulting from our works receive the name of a reward.
9. Let us not be weary in well-doing. Well-doing (kalon) does not simply mean doing our duty, but the performance of acts of kindness, and has a reference to men. We are instructed not to be weary in assisting our neighbours, in performing good offices, and in exercising generosity. This precept is highly necessary; for we are naturally reluctant to discharge the duties of brotherly love, and many unpleasant occurrences arise by which the ardor of the best disposed persons is apt to be cooled. We meet with many unworthy and many ungrateful persons. The vast number of necessitous cases overwhelms us, and the applications which crowd upon us from every quarter exhaust our patience. Our warmth is abated by the coolness of other men. In short, the world presents innumerable hinderances, which tend to lead us aside from the right path. Most properly, therefore, does Paul admonish us not to relax through weariness.
If we faint not. That is, we shall reap the fruit which God promises, if we |persevere to the end.| (Matthew 10:22.) Those who do not persevere resemble indolent husbandmen, who, after ploughing and sowing, leave the work unfinished, and neglect to take the necessary precautions for protecting the seed from being devoured by birds, or scorched by the sun, or destroyed by cold. It is to no purpose that we begin to do good, if we do not press forward to the goal.
In due season Let no man, from a wish to gather the fruit in this life, or before its proper time, deprive himself of the spiritual harvest. The desires of believers must be both supported and restrained by the exercise of hope and patience.
10. While we have opportunity. The metaphor is still pursued. Every season is not adapted to tillage and sowing. Active and prudent husbandmen will observe the proper season, and will not indolently allow it to pass unimproved. Since, therefore, God has set apart the whole of the present life for ploughing and sowing, let us avail ourselves of the season, lest, through our negligence, it may be taken out of our power. Beginning with liberality to ministers of the gospel, Paul now makes a wider application of his doctrine, and exhorts us to do good to all men, but recommends to our particular regard the household of faith, or believers, because they belong to the same family with ourselves. This similitude is intended to excite us to that kind of communication which ought to be maintained among the members of one family. There are duties which we owe to all men arising out of a common nature; but the tie of a more sacred relationship, established by God himself, binds us to believers.