Does Galatians 6:10 Authorize The Church to Give to Non-Saints? Part 3

March 5th, 2003

In response to your thoughts, I would first say that Galatians 6:10 is not the only passage with which I am going to deal to establish my case. However, I would like to point out a small fallacy in your reasoning. Now, if I am misrepresenting what you are saying, then I sincerely apologize in advance. However, from reading your statements I got the idea that you are making the argument that every other instance of authority in the New Testament teaches that churches may only give to saints out of their treasury and that therefore, this passage could not be teaching that. I just don’t see how the conclusion follows from the premise in that particular thought. It only takes one verse to authorize the giving to non-saints and just because every other passage teaches this (in other words, even if I were to admit to this premise, which I don’t) doesn’t necessarily imply that this passage teaches it too! An example of this concept would be Matthew 19:9ff. This is the only place in the New Testament where a second marriage is authorized while the first partner is living. So, in the case of adultery (fornication on the part of one spouse), the innocent may divorce the guilty and remarry. This is the only time that it is authorized in the New Testament, but once is all you need. So also in Galatians 6:10. Once is all I need. I have some more arguments to set forth, but one bonafide instance is enough. So the question really becomes is this a bonafide instance of the church being authorized to give to non-saints, or is it a passage that merely authorizes individuals to give to non-saints. If this one passage teaches that the church may do so, then that is enough regardless what every other passage teaches.

Second, I would like to talk about what we agree in regard to Galatians 6.

(1). We both agree that the book of Galatians was written to the churches of Galatia.

(2). We both agree that (1) does not by itself establish that there were no individual applications to be made.

(3). We agree on Galatians 3:27ff, that the teaching was an individual application.

(4). We also agree on Galatians 5, (that it was instruction to individuals) and I think that I stated this in my previous correspondence.

(5) We agree that every individual will be judged individually regarding their personal salvation.

(6) We agree that “doing good” includes giving money.

(7) We agree that “doing good” to all men in this context includes non-saints.

So, we are not debating those issues. I agree with you on those issues. I am disagreeing on the application of Chapter 6. So let’s talk about that a little bit.

Galatians 6 is not talking about individuals ONLY. I noticed in your reply that you underlined the word “YOU” several times. I am afraid, however, that you may be misunderstanding that the word “YOU” in this verse is PLURAL. As you may be aware, the Greek language has both singular and plural number for the 2nd person. Modern English does not have singular and plural for the second person. We have singular and plural for the first person in the words of “I” and “Me” for the singular and “We” and “Us” for the plural. But in the second person “You” we have no word indicating either singular or plural. So whether we are speaking to an individual “you” or to a group “you” we still use the word “you” formally. Informally we sometimes use the word “Yall” to refer to the plural, but formal translations would not use this word. So in order to find out if we have a singular “you” or a plural “you” in this context, we have to look at the Greek language.

Now in verse 1 we have the word “adelphoi” which is the word for “brethren;” it is PLURAL. We then have the word “humeis” which is the word for “you;” it is PLURAL as well. Then Paul shifts from the plural to the singular in the later part of the verse where he says “considering yourself.” In other words, this group of brethren which were spiritual were as a group to restore the transgressors to their fellowship, but individually they were to consider themselves that they individually did not get taken away in the trespass. Moreover, the context indicates that the “spiritual” of verse 1 were not the “most knowledgeable” people in the congregation (as many today would no doubt interpret it), but the remaining members of the congregation that had not been taken away with fleshly desires. That is, there were the fleshly ones (those Judaizing teachers as well as their converts, see Galatians 6:12, 13) and there were the spiritual ones (those remaining of the church who had not yet been carried away by the Judaizing teachers). So the faithful members of the church were to act in a corporate way to restore the unfaithful members of the church. This is a corporate action with individual self-examination. This is similar to corporate worship; corporate action (studying, singing, praying, partaking, giving) with individual self-examination. In fact, any time the church does something corporately, individuals must participate because the body is composed of individual members (1 Corinthians12). So I believe that you are failing to make the proper distinction between the actions of individuals AS individuals and the actions of individuals corporately AS the church. The command in verse 1 is to the brethren (PLURAL) and to “You which are spiritual” where the “you” is in the PLURAL number as well. Please don’t take my word for this; check the Greek.

Verse 1 is a command to the church to restore those who have fallen away.

Verse 2 also is PLURAL. The word “bear” is the Greek word “bastazete” which has the second person plural ending “ete.” So as the KJV translates, “Bear YE one another’s burdens.” The “ye” is used here and that is how the KJV translators (in 1611 English) expressed the PLURAL number in the English language. I would suggest that the “Ye” of verse 2 is the exact same group of people that is being addressed in verse 1–the brethren, the spiritual. So as a group, they were expected to bear the burdens of the individual. They were not individually expected to bear the burden of other individuals, but to bear those burdens as a group of Christians, as the church. Again, the church is composed of individuals, but we both agree that the church may act corporately. When the church acts corporately, individuals must be involved. They are not individuals acting as individuals, but individuals acting together as the church. This passage teaches that the church (which is a group of individuals) must bear the burdens of individual Christians within the church.

In verse 3 there is a shift from the plural to the singular and I agree with you that verse 3 is talking to individuals, but this is because it is talking about the Judaizing teachers and their followers, not the “spiritual” of verse 1. So this verse is limited only to those who were going about thinking themselves to be something and obviously would not apply to the church as a whole–the spiritual–who did not have this attitude. The point is that it applies to individuals because it was intended to apply to these individual Christians who had been carried away with false teaching. There is a very specific reason for it being applied to individuals.

Verse 4 again applies to the individuals caught up in the fault, but in principle applies to everyone. Please note that the ones who NEEDED the instruction were the Judaizing teachers and their followers. They were not to be so concerned about examining OTHERS (Galatians 6:12, 13), but they were to be concerned about examining themselves (proving themselves) on an individual basis and so must each member of the church be concerned about examining him or herself on an individual basis. This, however, does not militate against the fact that Paul calls for corporate action in verses 1 and 2. So to say that this is individual and that the whole passage must be referring only to individuals is failing to make a distinction between the Judaizing teachers here and the “spiritual” of verse 1. The Judaizing teachers and their followers were NOT practicing self examination so they needed to be instructed to do just that and Paul expected the church to instruct them to do this (per verse 1). The faithful (spiritual) WERE practicing self examination and so did not need this instruction to correct bad practices (they did need it for ongoing faithfulness). In contrast, the Judaizers and their followers DID need this instruction to correct bad practices. So the instruction in this context was for the benefit of the Judaizing teachers and their followers who needed to be “restored” by the church to the church (verse 1).

Verse 5 in this context applies to the individuals caught up in the fault, but in principle everyone as well. The Judaizing teachers and their followers thought that circumcising as many as possible would save them. The truth was that every man individually will bear his own burden when it comes to his own personal salvation, and this is exactly the point that Paul is trying to make in contrast to verse 2. Paul says that the church has a role to play in bearing burdens (verse 2) and the individual has a role to play in bearing burdens (verse 5). I agree with you that individuals are not going to be saved MERELY because they were associated with other righteous individuals–this is exactly the thing that Paul was teaching against! But he was applying that not to the church, but to the communion of circumcised individuals who had as their leaders the Judaizing teachers. And I think that you would agree that this does not mean that the church has no influence whatsoever in helping the individual to be saved and stay saved. The church plays a HUGE role in helping individuals to get saved and stay saved, but ultimately the decision belongs to the individual. The church bears some burdens of others to encourage them to stay saved. But individuals must bear their own burdens by examining themselves to make sure they stay within the faith. Moreover, if we interpret these verses within the context of false teachers coming into the church (such as the Judaizing teachers), we find that the church by maintaining a close fellowship with one another (bearing one another’s burdens) will less likely be subject to these predators who come their way. So it was with the specific purpose in mind of guarding against false teachers that the church is to bear one another’s burdens.

Verses 2-5 comprise a section of information that goes together starting with the exhortation to the church to bear burdens and ending with the exhortation to the individual who is caught up in the Judaizing teaching to bear his own burden.

Verse 6 also applies to all individually, but also to the church as a collection of individuals. And the funny thing is that here you agree with me! You believe that the church as the church has a responsibility to support the preacher! Amen! I believe that too. However, we both recognize that if the church is going to get the funds to support a local preacher, then the church has to get those funds from individuals. So again we have here corporate support of the preacher with individual action supporting the corporate work. The church pays the preacher from the treasury. The individuals give to the treasury. I agree that this does NOT exclude individuals giving directly to the preacher. I have received some individual contributions from time to time myself and I don’t believe that there is anything wrong with it at all. But this passage clearly teaches that individuals must give to support the local preacher and that when they are acting together on this, they are acting as the church in supporting the local preacher. This verse authorizes the church to give to saints (preachers) as part of the ongoing work of the church. Thanks for the good point (grin).

But I would like to probe a little deeper on this verse and ask why Paul had to tell them to do this? Why would Paul have to tell them to share their goods with the local evangelist? Would it not be because these Judaizing teachers had STOPPED doing this? In fact, I think that a good case could be made that the Judaizing teachers were telling their converts to stop giving to the local church. Now, Paul had to instruct them not to do this, but to give to the local church so that the SPIRITUAL work could be ongoing. I believe that this is borne out in verses 7 and 8 as well.

Verses 7 and 8 are a continuation of the thoughts in verse 6. They apply both individually to the members of the church and corporately to the church as a whole. When individuals give to the local preacher to support the spiritual work of teaching, the church is built up spiritually. The problem here is that some of the members (the ones who had been carried away by the Judaizing teachers) had stopped giving. They were sowing “to the flesh” by carrying out the practice of circumcision and Paul says that they would just reap fleshly things if they continued to do this (the implication is that all they would get out of it is foreskins). However, if they sowed to the spirit (gave to the work of the local church in support of the preacher) then they would reap spiritual things and these things would eventually lead to their eternal salvation.

Verses 6-8 is a whole section of thought specifically as applies to the practices of the Judaizing teachers and their converts in withholding their contribution. It would not need to be addressed to the faithful members of the church because they were giving to support the evangelist. It does apply to all in the general sense in which the principles apply to all.

This leaves us with verse 9 and 10. I want to emphasize that Paul here shifts back to the PLURAL. This is indicative that he is now not addressing the “fleshly” ones, but the “spiritual” ones. He is now addressing the faithful members of the church and the action that they need to take as the church to correct the problem of the Judaizing teachers in the churches. Paul addressed the church specifically in verse 1 (indicated by the PLURAL). He addresses both the church and the Judaizing teachers and their followers in verses 2-5. He addresses the Judaizing teachers and their followings in verse 6-8. He now shifts back to addressing the church as a whole in verse 9-10.

Why would Paul have to command them not to be weary in well doing? He encourages them because the division that occurred discouraged the church. They WERE weary with well doing. They needed encouragement to continue to sow to the Spirit. They would reap if they did not faint. Each individual of the church needed to not be weary in well doing, but they needed to do this not as individuals only but also as the church. They needed to understand their roles as members of the church and understand that their responsibilities also included how they acted together as the church. I certainly agree with you that only individuals will be saved, but they will be judged based upon how they acted in the church as the church. Individuals can be lost by not doing what they are supposed to do as members of the church! (I think that we agree that the use of mechanical instruments of music within the worship assembly is one such sin that will cause all of the members who worship in such an environment to be lost.) So while salvation is accounted on an individual level and everyone who is saved will be saved individually, damnation can occur at the corporate level. While practicing what they were supposed to practice as the church would not merit salvation for them as body of people, certainly NOT practicing what they were supposed to practice as the church would merit damnation for them as a body of people. Hence Paul’s instruction. If they ALL were to become weary in well doing, then they would ALL be lost and specifically in this context lost to the teaching of the Judaizers since the law cannot justify them (Galatians 2:11).

Moreover, if the Judaizing teachers were telling their converts to stop giving to support the preacher they likely would also be telling them to stop giving to the good works that the congregation was already doing. This would make the idea of not being weary in well doing even more intense in that the faithful were still trying to do the work without the financial help from those who had gone after the Judaizing teachers. I only mention it because it is likely true that the Judaizers had told them to stop supporting the church in its work. Paul does specifically mention that the Judaizers were teaching these things just to avoid persecution (Galatians 6:12) and avoiding persecution may also have included not giving to the work of the church locally in these churches as well.

(verse 10) What were THEY, the church to do to ensure that they would not be lost? They were to do good to all men as they had opportunity. They, as the church, were to prevent themselves from becoming lost to these Judaizing teachers by continuing in good works–not being weary in well doing–eventually reaping IF they faint not and by doing good to all men especially toward those of the household of faith. The instruction IS MOST DEFINITELY TO THE CHURCH.

I want to summarize these verses again because I believe that if you study these, you will see this pattern. Paul is writing in Chapter 6 to correct the problems that the Judaizing teachers have caused. The churches of Galatia were expected by Paul to deal with these problems. What were they supposed to do? 1) Restore the transgressors (verse 1). 2) Bear one another’s burdens (verses 2-5). 3) Give to the local evangelist (6-8). 4) Do good to all men (verse 9-10). (By the way, I realize that in my first correspondence I argued for five (5) points, but since I have revised my thoughts on this and decided that there are just four (4) specific instructions being given in this context. The rest of the words are merely explanatory comments on the specific instruction given.) Each of these commands applies to individuals as they operate within the body–the church and hence they apply to the church as a whole. The sections of scripture within these verses that apply to individuals only apply to individuals because these parts are addressed specifically to the problems associated with the Judaizing teachers. The faithful ones–the church–as a whole did not need to apply this instruction in their lives because they were already doing it, (though in principle they needed to continue doing it). These actions were intended by Paul to be corporate actions to correct the problems caused by the Judaizing teachers. NOW I can appeal to the fact that the epistle was written to the CHURCHES of Galatia. It is in conjunction with what these churches needed to do to fix the problems that the fact that the epistle was addressed to churches and not to individuals is significant. I am not saying that the fact of its address is significant alone. However, when you take into consideration that the churches needed to correct the problems brought about by the Judaizing teachers and that instruction is given on how to do this in chapter 6, the fact of the address of the epistle becomes SIGNIFICANT in this discussion. This means that the corrective action was to be taken by the churches. And since Galatians 6:10 is part of that corrective action, the church is generally authorized to give to non-saints.

So I guess my argument about these verses being addressed for churches to carry out is as follows.

(1) If Paul wrote to the churches of Galatia,

(2) And if he wrote to correct problems within these churches,

(3) And if in writing he gave instruction on how to correct these problems,

(4) And if he expected those who received his epistle to correct the problems,

(5) And if he specifically addressed multiple individuals,

(6) Then he must have been giving instruction for the churches to carry out to correct the problems.

(1) Paul did write to the churches of Galatia (1:2).

(2) Paul did write to correct problems within these churches (chapters 1-6).

(3) Paul gave instruction on how to correct these problems (6:1-10).

(4) Paul expected the churches to correct these problems (why would he write if he didn’t expect them to correct the problems?).

(5) Paul wrote specifically to multiple individuals (6:1, 2, 9, 10 where the plural is used).

(6) Therefore, Paul must have been giving instruction for the churches to carry out to correct the problems.

In address of the non-saints issue,

(1) Part of these instructions to the church was to do good to all men.

(2) Therefore, the church is instructed to do good to all men.

(3) Therefore the church is authorized to give to non-saints.

At this point, I think that I have exhausted everything that I could possibly say about Galatians 6:1-10. Please study the context and please study the number of the nouns and pronouns in verses 1, 2, 9, and 10.

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