Galatians 6:5 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Galatians 6:5, NIV: for each one should carry their own load.

Galatians 6:5, ESV: For each will have to bear his own load.

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

Galatians 6:5, NASB: For each one will bear his own load.

Galatians 6:5, NLT: For we are each responsible for our own conduct.

Galatians 6:5, CSB: For each person will have to carry his own load.

What does Galatians 6:5 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Paul has just written in Galatians 6:2 that we are to bear each other's burdens. Now, after saying that we should take honest stock of the effectiveness of our work in Christ, instead of merely comparing ourselves to each other, Paul writes that each of us will, in fact, have to bear our own load. Is Paul contradicting himself in this verse? No, in fact, he's making a point that would have been clearer to those reading his original words than our English translations.

First of all, the Greek word for "loads" in Galatians 6:2 is barē, a word which seems to imply something unreasonable, extremely heavy, or otherwise too much for one person to carry. This is how the word is used in verses such as Matthew 20:12 and Revelation 2:24. In other words, when another believer is in a season of carrying such an overwhelming burden, we should step in to help each other. That is the meaning implied in earlier verses.

The Greek word for "load" in this verse is phortion. This was often used to refer to a soldier's pack: the standard cargo borne by each person in the company. Other places in the New Testament use this term in reference to burdens which are more reasonable, or more manageable, than those implied by the word barē (Matthew 11:30; Acts 27:10).

In other words, those in Christ will carry some responsibilities and obligations not meant to be commonly shared by others. We are meant to shoulder those burdens in the power of God's Spirit, because we are able.

Having said that, wisdom is required to know when a load is just the normal work of a Christian—i.e. a phortion kind of task—and when the load is a crushing weight meant to be shared—i.e. a barē load that is too much for one person. In any case, we must be willing to step in and share loads when the time comes to do so, while still willing to carry our own fair share on an everyday basis.