Understanding THE GOOD of Galatians 6:10
Galatians 6:10 says: “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” This passage of scripture has been used and quoted by people in an effort to justify the church doing everything and anything they want the church to do. And I mean everything from church-sponsored recreation (church kitchens, ball teams, church scout troops, sewing classes, singles and divorce classes, etc.) to church donations to the Red Cross, missionary societies, and colleges. Does Galatians 6:10 really mean all of this, or, are they just trying to justify what they want to do? It has been a “catch all” verse in denominations for many years and in the past several years in some churches of Christ. Let’s answer three questions about Galatians 6:10. 1) What is “the good.” 2) Who is commanded to do this good (local church or the individual saint)? 3) Will any accept the consequences if the good is unqualified?
What Is The Good of Galatians 6:10?
The word “good” means “good, profitable, generous, beneficent, upright, virtuous.” It is used in mentioning things physical (Matt 7:11) and things spiritual (Luk 10:42). The good part in Luke’s account is learning the word of God, not serving the physical things. Since the word “good” can mean either spiritual or physical good, what does it mean in Gal 6:10? Let’s look at the context of this passage.
Galatians 6:1 - Refers to spiritual good in restoring brethren.
Galatians 6:2 - Refers to spiritual burdens (not talking about helping one carry a sack of groceries).
Galatians 6:3 - Not physical but spiritual.
Galatians 6:4 - Proving our spiritual work (not proving what a good fence you built).
Galatians 6:5 - Spiritual (bear own burden).
Galatians 6:6 - “Communicate” in this passage is from the same word translated “Fellowship.” It is joint participation. When a teacher teaches the truth, you live the truth and you are having communication with the teacher in every truth that he teaches. It is not a passage that “proves” that one must pay the preacher.
Galatians 6:7 - You reap spiritually what you plant spiritually.
Galatians 6:8 - You’ll reap spiritually what you sow.
Galatians 6:9 - If you work spiritually then in due time you will reap spiritually.
Galatians 6:10 - Do you think the apostle Paul after spending these nine verses stressing the spiritual things, would now switch and stress the physical? No. He is still discussing the spiritual good. It is true that verse 10 looks back to verse 6, but not in the way so commonly supposed, namely that in verse 6 we dispense material gifts to our teachers and now in verse 10 to all men in general and especially to our fellow believers. It is in fact quite otherwise: We are first to make ourselves participants with our teachers in all the spiritually good things they have to offer us. This is to be the source of our enrichment. Then we dispense our spiritual wealth to others with all tireless energy so that they may share it with us. We must conclude that the “good” in Galatians 6:10 then, is spiritual good.
Who Is Commanded To Do This Good?
Is it the individual or the church? We learn that it is the individual as we read further in the text. Verse 12 says: “As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.” Do you think they were trying to circumcise the individuals or the church? We can clearly see that this whole passage pertains to the individual. Note these key words: Gal 6:1 “if a man,” Gal 6:2 “one another’s,” Gal 6:3 “if a man,” Gal 6:4 “every man,” Gal 6:5 “every man,” Gal 6:6 “let him,” Gal 6:7 “a man,” Gal 6:8 “he that,” Gal 6:9 “let us.” Is this us churches or us individuals? Paul was writing this text so was Paul a church or an individual? Gal 6:10 says “as we..” We should be able to see that Galatians 6:10 is individual action and in spiritual matters. This is not to say that the church cannot teach or that individuals cannot help the needy, but this passage of Galatians 6:10 just isn’t the passage that teaches it.
Will You Accept the Consequences?
If Galatians 6:10 is church action and good is everything in the world that is good, will you accept the consequences? If one teaches that Galatians 6:10 is church action and the good is everything that is good, will you get the church involved in all good in the world? We must be extremely careful in what we do in matters of religion. Individuals are to do good to all men in the spiritual realm in keeping with the context of Galatians 6:10. This passage has been perverted over the years to mean to “do good” is to have ball teams, recreational grounds, gyms, operate schools, teach math, science and history, have social parties, camp outs, retreats, rallies, etc. Our goal should be to help one another spiritually, doing good to all for the cause of Christ.
Thoughts taken from “Truth in Love,” Volume 1, Number 20, November 1975 (David D. Bonner)