The Book of Galatians, Chapter 6 (verses 6-18)

January 30, 2024

by Peter Amsterdam

This is the final article in this series, covering the last chapter of Paul’s letter to the Galatians.

Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches.1

Paul states the responsibility of those who are receiving instruction to financially support their teachers. He spotlights the function of leaders as faithfully teaching the believers. He probably instructs the believers to help the teachers so that they can invest the necessary time in study and in preaching the message. Those who benefit from the teaching should support their teachers, as Paul also taught in Romans. For if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings.2

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.3

Paul makes the point here and elsewhere4 that believers should not be deceived. Freedom in Christ brings with it responsibility to use that freedom as God intended. Not being under the Mosaic Law does not mean that there are no consequences; each person is accountable before God, who knows our thoughts and intentions.

God has set up the principle that one will reap what one sows. In this context, sowing and reaping refer especially to generosity in giving. Paul made this same point elsewhere: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.5

What Paul says here isn’t limited to giving; it is a principle that applies to life as a whole. However, the focus here is on giving. Those who live for others and for the glory of God will receive eternal rewards, eternal life.

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.6

Two different kinds of sowing are mentioned. Either a person sows to the flesh or to the Spirit. Those who sow to the flesh show they belong to the present evil age (1:4), and they will perish. Those who sow to the Spirit show that they are part of the new creation, and they will receive eternal life (6:15).

Sowing to the flesh in this verse means using one’s worldly goods for one’s own advantage and in accordance with selfish desires. Sowing to the Spirit is another way of saying walking in the Spirit (5:16), being led by the Spirit (5:18), or keeping in step with the Spirit (5:25). Those who sow to the Spirit produce the fruit of the Spirit (5:22–23). In this context, such sowing to the Spirit manifests itself in generous giving to others.

While what people do with their possessions is the focus here, what Paul says reflects a broader principle, and sowing to the flesh involves all actions that are evil. Those who place their hope for salvation in circumcision and obedience to the Torah (Mosaic Law) would miss salvation. The “works of the flesh” (5:19–21) manifest themselves in those who sow to the flesh. Sowing to the Spirit includes all that is lovely and good, as summarized in the list of the fruits of the Spirit (5:22–23).

Those who sow to the flesh will reap corruption. The future tense points to the last judgment. The corruption refers to the final destruction. Since “eternal life” is contrasted with “corruption,” the latter means that one will not enjoy the life to come.

Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.7

Paul exhorts the Galatians not to become discouraged in doing good, as they will be rewarded on the last day. They are encouraged to not become fainthearted. “Doing good” here focuses on giving money and resources to relieve the suffering of others or to meet their needs. They are to continue to be generous in helping others and to not become weary in doing so. While “doing good” goes beyond helping others financially, in this case financial help was what was needed.

At the right time, in “due season”—which is known only to God—those who have given generously will reap a reward. The reward is reserved for those who do not become disheartened, so Paul instructs them to continue to stay in step with the Spirit by being generous to those in need.

So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.8

Paul now gives a brief summary of verses 6–9. He refers to the opportunity to do good while life lasts. The “good” he refers to is helping others materially so that their daily needs are supplied. He acknowledges that the believers’ resources are limited and it’s not possible to meet all the needs. A priority is given to those who are fellow believers, those who are of the household of faith. Believers should work to meet the needs of others as well, for if they have resources, they should do good to “all,” which includes unbelievers.

See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand.9

At this point, Paul begins to end his letter. He takes the quill from the amanuensis, the person who was writing down what he said, and writes the conclusion of his letter in his own hand. Elsewhere in Paul’s letters we also find that he concludes his letters with his own writing.10 He recaps many of the major themes of the letter before closing. In this instance, Paul signed the epistle in large letters. He did so to signify the importance of the conclusion and to cause the readers to pay special attention to his final thoughts.

It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.11

Paul exposes the motives of those who oppose him, saying that they promoted circumcision to avoid persecution. The Judaizers caused him to write the letter by disturbing the Galatians with the promotion of circumcision. It is here that Paul directly states that the call for circumcision comes from his opponents.

He decries their motives and claims that they wanted to show off the circumcision of the Galatians, to make a good showing in the flesh. They wanted the praise and admiration of others. At the same time, circumcision of the Galatians would protect the Judaizers from persecution by the Jews. Their opponents couldn’t say that they had refused to keep the law, as they could present the circumcision of the Galatians as evidence of their being true to the law.

Paul makes the point that their avoidance of persecution reflects their dismissal of the cross of Christ. As far as Paul is concerned, one is either righteous by circumcision or by the cross of Christ; either by the law or by Christ. By promoting circumcision, the opponents avoided the offense of the cross (5:11). However, at the same time, they lost any benefit in what Christ had done (5:2–4). One can’t trust in circumcision and the cross at the same time, for the cross represents salvation through Jesus, while circumcision focuses on human obedience.

For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh.12

Paul had said that these opponents’ insistence on circumcision came from bad motives. They were not genuinely devoted to the law. Their goal was to avoid persecution by having Galatian believers be circumcised. Paul speaks of their failure to do what the law says, while demanding that others keep the law.

But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.13

In contrast to the opponents, Paul prays that he might boast only in the cross of Christ. Those who are devoted to the law boast in what they have accomplished and their works, even though they disobey the law. Those who boast in the cross put all their confidence in what Christ has done for them.

The curse of the law has been removed by Christ taking the curse on Himself (3:13), therefore those who boast in the cross rejoice in their deliverance from the elements of the world and their freedom from the law (4:3–5). The world no longer rules over them, and they are no longer beholden to the world.

For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.14

Since the world has been crucified to Paul (and to all believers), whether one is circumcised or not is totally irrelevant. Circumcision is part of the old covenant, the old creation. The law is part of the old age, while Jesus’ death on the cross brings the new age. The new age has dawned through the cross of Christ.

It is interesting that in the conflict over circumcision, Paul doesn’t exalt uncircumcision. Those who put importance on uncircumcision are part of the old order as well. There is no significance in uncircumcision, which is why Paul was willing to circumcise Timothy (Acts 16:3). If someone is circumcised for cultural reasons and not to achieve salvation, then being circumcised is a matter of personal choice.

And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.15

Paul goes on to add a prayer to what he has written. The rule which he has in mind is the importance of the new creation, which leads to the conclusion that both circumcision and uncircumcision are irrelevant. Paul prays that God’s peace and mercy will be with those who walk according to the new creation.

From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.16

Paul grounds what he has written in his suffering. The marks he bore on his body because he belonged to Christ were evidence that he was part of the true Israel. His scars showed in whose service he labored. They also were marks of his sincerity in his preaching. Though he suffered for what he preached, he did not change his message, which God had given him. He was willing to suffer beatings and whippings for proclaiming what God had done in Jesus.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.17

Paul’s letter to the Galatians ends with a prayer that the grace of Christ will be with the Galatian believers. The word “spirit” here refers to the whole person, so the meaning is the same whether it says, “grace be with you” or “grace be with your spirit.”

Paul’s use of our Lord indicates that he wanted to assure the Galatians that they were part of the family of God, the true children of Abraham. Jesus is their Lord, which shows that they truly belong to the people of God. They are also “brothers,” and therefore a part of God’s family. The “amen” confirms the prayer of grace. Paul concludes his letter by reminding the Galatians of the power of grace, and he prays that this grace will continue to be present in their lives.


Unless otherwise indicated, all scriptures are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

1 Galatians 6:6.

2 Romans 15:27.

3 Galatians 6:7.

4 1 Corinthians 6:9; 15:33.

5 2 Corinthians 9:6.

6 Galatians 6:8.

7 Galatians 6:9.

8 Galatians 6:10.

9 Galatians 6:11.

10 1 Corinthians 16:21; Colossians 4:18; 2 Thessalonians 3:17; Philemon 19.

11 Galatians 6:12.

12 Galatians 6:13.

13 Galatians 6:14.

14 Galatians 6:15.

15 Galatians 6:16.

16 Galatians 6:17.

17 Galatians 6:18.