Debra Isenbletter, Pastor
Christian Assembly, Springfield, Missouri
“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” Vs. 1-2
Paul begins with an admonition to all brethren, to all believers, but the foundation for being able to do what Paul asks goes back to the Fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). There is a sharp contrast in the previous chapter between the “works of the flesh” and Rev. 19:13, “And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.”
The “fruit of the Spirit:” The flesh has no fruit, only works and none of them are good. Fruit comes from within, from the life of Christ because it is the very nature of Christ. It is Who He Is. That fruit was seen in everything He said and everything He did, in every miracle, in every lesson taught, in every interaction with those he came in contact with. The fruit of the spirit is spiritual, not natural it is a testimony of the spiritual life we have in Christ. Therefore, to have the attitude in v1 and then do what Paul admonishes in v2 is only possible through the manifestation of that fruit in a yielded heart.
I like to break a verse down when I study it and take it in small portions and have given a title to each portion of this verse to show the differences in brethren. There are differences and yet in a yielded heart they become balanced and work in harmony, which is how the Body of Christ should be seen.
1. Every Brother: Brethren,
2. Guilty Brother: if a man be overtaken in a fault,
3. Spiritual Brother: ye which are spiritual,
4. Forgiving Brother: restore such a one,
5. Meek Brother: in the spirit of meekness;
6. Discerning Brother: considering thyself,
7. Tempted Brother: lest thou also be tempted.
Every Brother: The word “brethren” can speak of natural brethren, such as those born of the same two parents or those who have the same father or mother. It can refer to those having the same national ancestor therefore they belong to the same people. Abraham is an example of being the same national ancestor to the Jews. The word “brethren” can speak of spiritual brethren, such as a fellow believer; those united to one another by a bond of affection. The affection is their affection for Christ which enables them to have an affection for one another.
Paul emphasizes our relationship with one another. We are all “brethren” in Christ, we are all “brothers” by blood – His Blood. The “brethren” Paul is writing to are all those in the Body of Christ. We are “brethren” whether we are Jews or Gentiles (Gal. 3:28) because Christ unites and binds us together. We are all connected to one another. How we act (whether good or bad) affects the rest. How we react to that act also affects the rest. Our remembrance of this relationship will give us balance and the right perspective. Since all are included in this admonition, that inclusion also refers to both the sheep and the shepherds. All are responsible.
Guilty Brother: if a man be overtaken in a fault. The phrase “if any man be” refers to every man, to anyone. This applies to all believers. Any one of us can be overtaken. Any one of us can sin.
Paul had just written about the “works of the flesh” in the previous chapter. Those depending upon the Law would find that their dependence only showed up the weakness of the flesh. And along with that failure of the flesh, in trying to keep the law there was the danger of religious self-righteousness. That self-righteous attitude left no room for compassion or understanding.
The word “overtaken” means “to anticipate;” “to have an opportunity” “to take one unawares.” The idea is of a believer being caught by surprise and falling into sin. This does not seem to be a deliberate sin, one thought out and planned. If we are walking after the flesh, the flesh will look for “an opportunity” there is an “anticipation.” But there can also be a sudden temptation that takes us by surprise, that gets the better of us. Peter did not plan on denying Jesus but was caught in a moment of weakness. We all have things that we struggle with and as long as we are in a body of flesh we will always have those battles. There is a difference between deliberate sin and being “puffed up” and not grieving over that sin (I Cor. 5:1-2) and those that have let their guard down and are caught off guard. This really shows how we need to be constantly vigilant, which goes back to the previous chapter where we are admonished to “live in the Spirit” and “walk in the Spirit.” Our dependence is our greatest strength and our independence our greatest weakness.
The word “in a fault” comes from to “fall aside, fall away.” It is “a side-slip; a lapse, a deviation.” It can be “a (willful) transgression” or it can be “an (unintentional) error.” The Holy Spirit will show us which. Here it is a false step, or a slip and it stands in contrast to the word “walk” which means “walk in a straight line” (Gal. 3:5). It is not the “transgression” used in Gal. 3:19, which there is “a willful stepping beyond the limits imposed by the law” (Wuest). Here the “fault” does not seem to be deliberate or intentional. It is being “caught off guard” by sin. It is “a slip” or “a lapse” into sin. It can also speak of a “falling away” from the truth.
In Galatians we see this “fault” which is a “lapse, deviation” in many different forms. We see it when they received “another gospel” (Gal. 1:6). We see it when Peter compromised because of legalists and he refused to eat with the Gentiles (Gal .2:12). We see it when the Galatians did not “obey the truth” of grace (Gal. 3:1). We see it in the split between Jews and Gentiles, in not acknowledging “ye are all the children of God by faith” (Gal. 3:26-28). We see it in the “works of the flesh” (Gal. 5:19-21)
There was a falling away from the truth of grace to legality seen in the above examples. In that context, those caught up in the teaching of the Judaizers who realized what had happened, were to be restored. Whether the fall is moral or doctrinal, when someone is “overtaken,” they can be restored. The safeguard for the saint is faith in and dependence upon the Gospel of Grace.
Spiritual Brother: ye which are spiritual. The word “spiritual” comes from “a breath (blast) or breeze.” It speaks of one who is filled with the Spirit and who is governed by the Spirit. The Amplified translates: “you who are spiritual [who are responsive to and controlled by the Spirit].” Going back to the foundation of the word, those that are “spiritual” are a “breath of fresh air” in the Church. They can be a gentle “breeze” of refreshing. They can be a mighty “blast” of power. They are a breath of fresh air because they yield to the Word of God.
1. Those that are spiritual— “live” and “walk in the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25)
2. Those that are spiritual— manifest the “fruit of the Spirit”. (Gal. 5:22-23)
3. Those that are spiritual— are able to “judge all things” (I Cor. 2:15)
The spiritual person is not only discerning but also gracious in dealing with a brother “overtaken in a fault.” He is like the Good Samaritan who pours oil and wine on the open wound, who picks up the wounded one and carries him to a place where he can heal and be restored. (Luke 10:30-35).
A.S. Copley writes that this “implies that some of those Galatian Christians were spiritual. They were not all under law. They were to do their part in recovering the legal from legality, or from any offense by which they might be overcome. Those that are spiritual dare not boast in their spirituality. “What hast thou that thou didst not receive?” (I Cor. 4:7) They, too, may be tempted; for they still dwell in a mortal body. No matter how spiritual we may become, we can glory in the cross only (Gal. 6:14).”
To be continued in the next issue.