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Galatians 6:2 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Edward D. Andrews writes,
All Christians are to fulfill the law of Christ. Jesus did not do as Moses did and author a list of commands. However, he did give the disciples instructions, commands, and principles that were meant to guide them after he was gone. The law of Christ would encompass all that Jesus had taught and commanded while he was here on earth, as provided by the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The highlight of that law of Christ would be the command “love one another.” (John 13:34) To appreciate this law more, think about the following.
How did Jesus teach his disciples? The primary way that he taught was orally, which was common in that time. What Jesus said was highly important because he alone could give his disciples the truth about God, what the meaning of life is, and to let them know the coming Kingdom of God was going to remove all human suffering and restore God’s original intentions for the earth and the human family. – Luke 24:19.
One of the most profound ways that Jesus taught was by the example he set. The way Jesus lived his life, he showed his disciples what a Christian life should be. (John 13:15) Another way he taught by example was his quoting the Scriptures. If we took all that he said in the four gospels, it would come to about a 2.5-hour sermon. In that speech, he quoted or referred to over 120 Scriptures. This is why the people were astounded and astonished at how he taught. Because the rabbis, i.e., Jewish teachers at that time, did not quote Scriptures, they quoted former religious leaders.
Jesus taught extensively during his 3.5-year ministry here on earth. (Matt. 4:23) After he was resurrected from the dead, he went right back to teaching his disciples. He met with and instructed over 500 hundred disciples, commanding them to “make disciples.” (Matt. 28:19, 20; 1 Cor. 15:6) Jesus being the head of the church, offered even more instructions to his disciples once he was back in heaven, about 96 C.E. The aged apostle John was inspired to give reassurance and guidance to the Christians. – Col. 1:18; Rev. 1:1.
The four Gospels give us many things Jesus said, taught, and did during his short life on earth. The rest of the Greek New Testament was written by men who were inspired and moved along by the Holy Spirit and who had “the mind of Christ.” This gives us what Jesus’ thinking on many different matters of life. (1 Cor. 2:16) So, “the law of Christ” gives us guidance in aspects of our lives. We learn this law by studying the New Testament and pondering what the authors mean and how this applies to our lives. We then obey this law of Christ by making our lives harmonious with the directions, instructions, and principles found in God’s inspired, inerrant Word. When we follow the law of Christ, we obey God. – John 8:28.
Albert Barnes writes,
The peculiar law of Christ requires us to love one another; see Note on John 13:34 below. This was the distinguishing law of the Redeemer; they could in no way better fulfill it than by aiding each other in the divine life. The law of Christ would not allow us to reproach the offender, taunt him, or rejoice in his fall. We should help him to take up his load of infirmities and sustain him with our counsels, our exhortations, and our prayers. Christians, conscious of their infirmities, have a right to their brother’s sympathy and prayers. They should not be cast off to a cold and heartless world, a world rejoicing over their fall and ready to brand them as hypocrites. They should be pressed to the warm bosom of brotherly kindness, and prayer should be made to ascend without ceasing around an erring and a fallen brother. Is this the case in regard to all who bear the Christian name?
34. A new commandment. This command he gave them as he was about to leave them, to be a badge of discipleship, by which they might be known as his friends and followers, and by which they might be distinguished from all others. It is called new, not because there was no command before which required men to love their fellowmen, for one great precept of the law was that they should love their neighbor as themselves (Le. 19:18); but it was new because it had never before been made that by which any class or body of men had been known and distinguished. The Jew was known by his external rites, by his peculiarity of dress, &c.; the philosopher by some other mark of distinction; the military man by another, &c. In none of these cases had love for each other been the distinguishing and peculiar badge by which they were known. But in the case of Christians they were not to be known by distinctions of wealth, or learning, or fame; they were not to aspire to earthly honors; they were not to adopt any peculiar style of dress or badge, but they were to be distinguished by tender and constant attachment to each other. This was to surmount all country, color, rank, office, or social status distinctions. Here they were to feel that they were on a level, had common wants, were redeemed by the same sacred blood, and were going to receive eternal life. They were to befriend each other in trials, be careful of each other’s feelings and reputation, deny themselves to promote each other’s welfare. See 1 Jn. 3:23; 1 Th. 4:9; 1 Pe. 1:22; 2 Th. 1:3; Ga. 6:2; 2 Pe. 1:7. In all these places, the command of Jesus is repeated or referred to, and it shows that the first disciples considered this indeed as the peculiar law of Christ. Moreover, this command or law was new in regard to the extent to which this love was to be carried, for he immediately adds, “As I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” His love for them was strong, continued, unremitting, and he was now about to show his love for them in death. Ch. 15:13: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” So in 1 Jn. 3:16, it is said that “we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” This was a new expression of love, and it showed the strength of attachment that we ought to have for Christians and how ready we should be to endure hardships, encounter dangers, and practice self-denial, to benefit those for whom the Son of God laid down his life.
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 He published the good news via oral proclamation. Many of his teachings were presented in a poetic mode similar to the Old Testament prophecies. The poetic proclamation aided memorization. Jesus was also the master of the parable. These stories were simple, unique, and therefore very memorable. A survey of the Gospels indicates that Jesus’ publishing program—via his traveling throughout Galilee and Judea and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom—was extensive and effective. Thousands and thousands of people heard the word from Jesus himself. In ancient times, the method of oral publication was far more effective than written publication. Books were expensive to make, and many people did not read. Most relied on oral proclamation and aural reception to receive messages. Indeed, most education was based upon oral delivery and aural reception/memorization to transmit texts. Thus, Jesus taught his disciples orally, and they committed his teachings to memory. When it came time, several years later, for the disciples to put these teachings into writing, they were aided by the Holy Spirit, who would remind the disciples of all that Jesus had taught them (John 14:26). Jesus’ disciples, commissioned by him, continued the same publishing work after Jesus’ death and resurrection. This publishing is known as the kerygma (Greek for “proclamation”). The word kerygma is taken straight from a well-known practice in ancient times. A king publicized his decrees throughout his empire by means of a kerux (a town crier or herald). This person, who often served as a close confidant of the king, would travel throughout the realm, announcing to the people whatever the king wished to make known. In English, we known him as a herald. Each New Testament disciple considered himself or herself to be like the kerux—a herald and publisher of the Good News.
Paul called himself “a herald and an apostle” (1 Tim. 2:7; 2 Tim. 1:11), for it was his function as an apostle to be a herald. Paul and the other New Testament apostles had a common proclamation (kerygma) to take to the world. This proclamation was a “publishing” of the death, resurrection, and exaltation of Jesus. At first, the publishing was oral—via preaching in various cities throughout the Greco-Roman world. Eventually, the publishing was both oral and written—via the writings of the apostles, which were proclaimed in churches throughout the world. As can be gathered from the book of Acts and the writings of Paul, the basic kerygma always focused on Jesus’ resurrection. This supernatural act of God in history authenticates the words and works of Jesus and constitutes the basis for the Christian hope of immortality. Without the resurrection, the church would be no more than a group of well-intentioned, religious people who had placed their faith in the superior philosophical and ethical teachings of an unusually gifted man. The resurrection is proof positive that Jesus is who he said he was. Thus, the kerygma is a declaration that Christ is risen from the dead, and by that great act God has brought salvation.
The early apostles proclaimed this kerygma to all the believers. At the same time, they rehearsed the deeds and words of Jesus. Thus, the first-century Christians initially received an oral presentation of the gospel from the apostles who had been with Jesus (see Acts 2:42) and then, written documents that preserved the oral and perpetuated the apostolic tradition (see Luke 1:1–4). The oral proclamation was considered a form of catechetical instruction (from the Greek word katecheo; see BAGD, 423)—a teacher rehearsing Jesus’ words and deeds, with the congregation orally repeating what was taught and committing it to memory. (This was the way nearly all teaching occured in hellenistic times.) According to Galatians 6:6, the teachers in the early church were considered the catechists, the oral proclaimers of the word (see also 1 Cor. 14:19). According to the preface to his Gospel (1:1–4), Luke wanted to affirm, via the written word, what Theophilus had already been taught by catechism—i.e., oral recitation. Thus, the written word in Luke’s Gospel was the inscribed replication of the oral proclamation.
After the death of the apostles and those who were their immediate associates, the written text became more important. Second-generation Christians (and later ones) probably would have received the gospel for the first time via one of the written Gospels. But even most of these believers would not have read the Gospel for themselves; rather, it would have been read to them in church meetings by those trained in oral reading (i.e., lectors). In this manner, the kerygma would have continued to be published orally with the help of written documents.
Of all the apostles, Paul was probably the most effective herald and publisher of the kerygma. His numerous apostolic journeys took him to hundreds of cities and villages, where he would proclaim the good news of Jesus’ resurrection and salvation. In due course, Paul realized that his publishing efforts were limited by space and time—he could only be in one locality at one time. Thus, Paul expanded his publishing efforts by sending out coworkers with the gospel and by publishing encyclical epistles, which he sent with these coworkers (who, in turn, would read them to various churches). Papyrus and pen would become another, more expedient vehicle for publishing Paul’s revelations concerning Christ and the church. (This is discussed in greater detail below.)
The apostles Peter and John also took advantage of the written medium to publish their accounts of Jesus’ life and teachings, as well as their teachings about the Christian life. As with Paul, they first published the kerygma via oral proclamation. But later in life, each of these eminent apostles published written accounts of Jesus’ ministry in order to preserve an accurate, apostolic presentation of the kerygma—one that would last after their deaths. According to tradition, Peter’s Gospel came to us through the pen of Mark, and John himself penned a Gospel in his old age. Both of these apostles also published epistles recounting their personal encounters with Jesus Christ (see 2 Pet. 1:12–21; 1 John 1:1–4), their proclamations of apostolic truth, and their exhortations to effective Christian living. – Philip Comfort, Encountering the Manuscripts: An Introduction to New Testament Paleography & Textual Criticism (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2005), 2–4.
 Albert Barnes, Notes on the New Testament: II Corinthians & Galatians, ed. Robert Frew (London: Blackie & Son, 1884–1885), 392.
 Albert Barnes, Notes on the New Testament: Luke & John, ed. Robert Frew (London: Blackie & Son, 1884–1885), 323–324.
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