Vol. 2 - No. 1

January, 1983

A Closer Look At Galatians 6:10

by Jack Kirby

“So then, as we have opportunity, let us work that which is good toward all men, and especially toward them that are of the household of the faith.” (Galatians 6:10, ASV).

This has been a much discussed passage among us in the past thirty years, being used by many to attempt to authorize the church to provide homes for orphans. Much has been written about the scope of benevolence in the passage (to all men or just to saints), without examining the context of the paragraph to see if benevolence is even under consideration.

This passage cannot be referring to benevolence because it would contradict 2 Thessalonians 3:10: “If any will not work, neither let him eat.” Even if it were discussing benevolence (which it is not), it could not be general benevolence because this would violate 1 Timothy 5:16, “If any woman that believeth hath widows, let her relieve them, and let not the church be burdened, that it may relieve them that are widows indeed.” The inescapable conclusion is that Paul is not discussing benevolence at all.

Correct understanding of the passage revolves around the phrase, “that which is good.” Is it material or spiritual things that are under consideration?

By observation, it is evident that not all men have a need with reference to material things. They have sufficient means to sustain their lives, with many even living in luxury. Others have material needs, but the reason being their refusal to work. We cannot supply the material needs of these because of 2 Thessalonians 3:10. So not all men are subjects of material assistance, but all men are to be recipients of the good of this passage.

The inescapable conclusion is that Paul has reference to spiritual and not material needs. Examining the context of Galatians 6:10, necessitates beginning at verse 1. Here Paul begins by discussing a man who has a spiritual need because of sin (trespass). Verse 2 tells each of us to help that saint bear his burden. The thought continues to verse 6 where the support of teachers (of spiritual things) is commanded. Verses 7-9 also discuss a person's spiritual needs in living spiritually (sowing unto the Spirit). That Paul is discussing the spiritual needs of man is evident from these verses. By what rule of logic or grammar are we allowed to switch the subject and teach that verse 10 is discussing (or even implying) material, physical, or financial needs? The truth is that it does not.

What then is the “good” of verse 10? It is something that all men need. What is the universal need of all men? Simply salvation, because “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23). Paul said the gospel is the “power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16). Hence the good that all men need is salvation that results from the gospel and man's faith in it (Romans 10:17; Hebrews 11:6). Yes, all men need the gospel and salvation, especially them “that are of the household of faith.” We must especially keep the church taught if we are going to teach others.

This teaching of the gospel and ministering to man's spiritual needs is limited only by opportunity. Man is not responsible before God beyond his ability (2 Corinthians 8:12), but he is accountable to the limit of his ability (Matthew 25:24-28).

Let each of us realize our responsibility in this regard, and obey God to the limit of our ability in teaching the gospel to others. Let us cease misapplying this passage to the area of benevolence.