What does Galatians 6:8 mean?
ESV: For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
NIV: Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
NASB: For the one who sows to his own flesh will reap destruction from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit.
CSB: because the one who sows to his flesh will reap destruction from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit.
NLT: Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.
KJV: 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.
In the previous verse, Paul reinforced the universal principle that people reap what they sow in life. Job said something similar, "As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same" (Job 4:8). The crops we get will be decided by the seed we put in the ground. In other words, natural cause and effect still applies, both to the Christian and to the unbeliever.
Paul now clarifies this principle of sowing and reaping, in the context of the Spirit of God. Paul has demonstrated in his letter that it is possible to "sow to the flesh," meaning to invest our lives in serving ourselves, through two different mistakes.
One mistake is that of legalism. The Judaizers were urging the Galatians to trust their flesh in the sense that they wanted them to hope that their attempts to follow the law of Moses would make them justified before God (Galatians 2:4). Paul says to those who would trust their own effort in this way that what they will reap, instead, is corruption. That's because the product of our "flesh," our ability to do good in our own power with our bodies, is poisoned with sin. It can't grow the good crop of righteousness and eternal life.
At the same time, some of the Galatian Christians were apparently "sowing to the flesh" by doing whatever felt good to their bodies. They were indulging in sin. The result would be the same for them as it was for the legalists: a harvest of corruption.
Eternal life is only available through the power of God's Spirit. Those who "sow to the Spirit" in that they are trusting Christ for salvation and receiving God's Spirit will receive eternal life. Then they will continue to live in the strength of God's Spirit and bear the fruit described in Galatians 5:22–23.
Galatians 6:1–10 focuses on how those in Christ should treat each other, through the power of God's Spirit. We should restore those caught in sin with gentleness and humility, and we should help to carry each other's burdens. Having said that, Christians should be honest with ourselves about what God is doing through us. We need to take responsibility for what He has asked us to carry. Because eternal life comes from planting God's Spirit by faith in Christ, and not by works of the flesh, we must keep doing good. The harvest will show that we planted well.
Galatians 6 includes instructions for how people who are free in Christ and walking by God's Spirit, should treat each other. Christians should restore those who are caught by sin, and we should bear each other's burdens. Only those who plant the fruit of God's Spirit, by faith in Christ, will harvest eternal life. Believers should not get tired of doing good for each other! The harvest is coming. Paul concludes the letter, writing in large letters that circumcision means nothing. Only becoming a new creation through faith in Christ matters.
Galatians 5 wrapped up with a focus on what it means to be led by God's Spirit. Galatians 6 starts with describing how Spirit-led Christians serve each other by restoring those caught be sin and bearing each other's burdens. Only those who plant God's Spirit in this life, through faith in Christ, will harvest eternal life. Paul concludes the letter by writing in big letters that circumcision does not matter, only being made a new creation by faith in Christ matters.
Galatians is sometimes called “a short Romans” for its similar themes of justification and sanctification through faith. A group of Christians known as “Judaizers” were preaching a gospel of legalism, rather than grace. Paul’s main purpose in writing the letter to the Galatians was to reiterate the true nature of the gospel: we are justified (made righteous) and sanctified (made more Christlike) through our faith in Jesus Christ alone. This letter was probably written shortly before the church elders in Jerusalem issued their official refutation of the Judaizers, commonly called the Jerusalem Council.
Accessed 2/25/2024 11:46:18 AM
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