Problem: Do we bear one another’s burdens or not? Galatians 6:2, 5. In once sense we do. In another sense we don’t.
Galatians 6:2, “Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ.”
Galatians 6:5, “For each one shall bear his own load.”
Solution: In Galatians 6:2, the word for “burdens” is baros. It means “heaviness, weight, burden, trouble.”1 In Galatians 6:5, the word for “load” is phortion and means “of burdensome rites.”2 The first verse is speaking of helping one another through troubles and the second is speaking of the responsibility each person has in those troubles and sins.
“The Christian does in fact test himself by carrying his own load. This does not contradict verse 2 because the reference there is to heavy, crushing, loads (baros)—more than a man could carry without help. In this verse, a different Greek word (phortion) is used to designate the pack usually carried by a marching soldier. It is the “burden” Jesus assigns to His followers (cf. Matt. 11:30). There are certain Christian responsibilities or burdens each believer must bear which cannot be shared with others. Jesus assured His disciples that such burdens were light.”3
- Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon, Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 1995.
- Walvoord, John F., and Roy B. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Wheaton, IL: Scripture Press Publications, 1985.