by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 1 Study # 4 September 15, 2013 Dayton, Texas
4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.
5 For every man shall bear his own burden.
1901 ASV Translation:
4 But let each man prove his own work, and then shall he have his glorying in regard of himself alone, and not of his neighbor.
5 For each man shall bear his own burden.
I. The Goal of "Works-Evaluation": "Rejoicing/Glorying".
A. Sooner, or later, every pursuit of man boils down to attempting to experience what Paul here names as "rejoicing" (AV) or "glorying" (ASV). The bottom line of all of man's "issues of life" is this thing called "rejoicing/glorying". It is another word for "Joy" in the sense that it describes the outburst of exultant feelings. Liddell and Scott Greek-English Lexicon gives the root idea of being "loud of speech", but then moves the outburst into the direction, not of "pain", but of "accomplishment". Many of the contexts of the word involve the pride of accomplishment and the resultant desire to let everyone know how great is the one who has done this thing.
B. Paul uses the verb form in Galatians 6:13 and again in 6:14. It is clear in this context that he is addressing the roots of one's goals for doing things. They "desire to...glory in your flesh" means that they want to use the Galatians as evidence of their "superiority" and "superior accomplishments". This is, actually, the issue that lies as the touchstone of the problem that has created the need for this letter. Paul's antithesis is "glorying...in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ" whereby one's "value in the eyes of Another" is clearly established. This shows that the letter to the Galatians is a frontal confrontation of one issue: John's "pride of life" concept (1 John 2:16). "Faith" destroys the foundations for the "pride of life" (Romans 3:27) by eliminating any basis for boasting of one's accomplishments. "Faith" is fixated upon the accomplishments of God and noother. One's value is not rooted in what he/she accomplishes; it is, rather, rooted in to what lengths another will go in effort and expense for one. If your god will die for you, you are valuable. If no one will die for you, you are worthless.
II. The Proper Focus of "Works-Evaluation".
A. The repeated word in this verse is "himself", making the proper focus "one's own" labors.
B. At issue: whether there is a "basis for rejoicing/glorying" in one's labors when those labors are not in a setting wherein they are compared to the works of another (2 Corinthians 10:12).
III. The Issues: "Proving" and "Rejoicing".
A. The word translated "prove" is a word that means to put something up against a standard so that it may be clear as to whether it meets that standard.
1. The question arises as to whether Paul is really serious here because there is a serious question as to whether this kind of thing can actually be done. Can a man examine his own works so that they actually "come up to snuff" in respect to the expectation of God?
2. The point may well be simply that Paul is attempting to force his readers away from the foolishness of comparing themselves to others.
B. The word translated "rejoicing"/"glorying" is not the typical word for "rejoicing". It has the idea of an inner exultation caused by having certain expectations met. Hearing a "well done, good and faithful servant" will produce this inner exultation. Being shown to be the object of someone's genuine love will do this also. Having one's heart's values fulfilled is at the seat of this "feeling".
IV. Paul's Train of Thought.
A. It is clearly in his mind that there are some in Galatia who "rejoice" when they see themselves as superior to others.
1. The caution in 6:1 regarding "temptation" is all about "feeling superior".
2. The declaration of "insanity" in 6:3 is all about "feeling superior".
B. Thus, it must be clear that his words are an attempt to head this off.
1. The goal of men is, ultimately, always going to be this inner exultation because it, in a sense, defines the "Joy of the Life".
2. What Paul is declaring is that the basis for such an inner Joy does not rest in witnessing the failure of others.