ABC:Galatians 6

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Verse 4

Jim Meritt of Infidels.org thinks the Bible has a contradiction here, asking "Who bears guilt?"[1]

Galatians 6:2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:5 For every man shall bear his own burden.

Ultimately, there are actually two different Greek words translated burden here by the KJV. The original Greek words we have translated into English, side by side with the English translation (called Interlinear) are as follows:

Galatians 6:2 Bear ye <bastazo> one another's <allelon> burdens, <baros> and <kai> so <houto> fulfil <anapleroo> the law <nomos> of Christ. <Christos>

Galatians 6:5 For <gar> every man <hekastos> shall bear <bastazo> his own <idios> burden. <phortion>

Whereas the Greek word baros is translated "burdens" in 6:2, it is the Greek word phortion that is translated "burden" in 6:5. Both are rarely used words in the New Testament, making it difficult to determine what exactly they mean.

  • Baros is found in just 6 verses (Mt. 20:12; Ac. 15:28; 2 Co. 4:17; Ga. 6:2; 1 Th. 2:6; and Re. 2:4) and appears to carry a similar idea to the English word burden, a weight or load.[2] Strong's Greek Lexicon defines it as "922. baros bar'-os probably from the same as 939 (through the notion of going down; compare 899); weight; in the New Testament only, figuratively, a load, abundance, authority:--burden(-some), weight."[3]
  • Phortion is found in just 4 verses (Mt. 11:30; Mt. 23:4; Lu. 11:46; and Galatians 6:5) and appears to be a more technical term referring to a bill or invoice for freight, possibly carrying the concept of guilt.[4] Strong's Greek Lexicon defines it as "5413. phortion for-tee'-on diminutive of 5414; an invoice (as part of freight), i.e. (figuratively) a task or service:--burden."[5]


Furthermore, there is the matter of context not quoted by Meritt.

Galatians 6:1 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.
2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.
4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.
5 For every man shall bear his own burden.
6 Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.
7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
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.
9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
  • Galatians 6:1-3 appears to refer to those burdened with weights of sorrow caused by faults, and says we should help restore them in meekness, taking care for ourselves lest we likewise get tempted since pride in ourselves results in self-deception.
  • Galatians 6:4-10 warns that we are each accountable for our actions, advising us to do good and teach that which is good for God is not mocked, what we sow we will also reap. If we sow to the flesh we will reap corruption instead of life everlasting.

Therefore, it is apparent the first type of burden (Gr. baros) in 6:2 refers to burdens of sorrow for faults which Christians are to help others bear, while the second type of burden seen in 6:5 (Gr. phortion) refers to personal accountability for one's actions that we will each bear at the judgment seat of Christ.

Sources

  1. Meritt, Jim (1992). A list of Biblical contradictions. Retrieved from http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jim_meritt/bible-contradictions.html.
  2. Thayer and Smith. "Greek Lexicon entry for Baros". "The KJV New Testament Greek Lexicon". Retrieved from http://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/greek/kjv/baros.html.
  3. Strong's Greek Lexicon. 5413: phortion. Retrieved from http://www.eliyah.com/cgi-bin/strongs.cgi?file=greeklexicon&isindex=5413.
  4. Thayer and Smith. "Greek Lexicon entry for Phortion". "The KJV New Testament Greek Lexicon". Retrieved from http://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/greek/kjv/phortion.html.
  5. Strong's Greek Lexicon. 5413: phortion. Retrieved from http://www.eliyah.com/cgi-bin/strongs.cgi?file=greeklexicon&isindex=5413.