Summary: Exposition of Gal 6:1-2 regarding Paul’s instructions on church discipline
Text: Galatians 6:1-2, Title: Man Overboard! Date/Place: NRBC, 7/8/07, PM
A. Opening illustration: Imagine if you would with me the Super Bowl, coming down to the last quarter and then the start running back steps on a loose clump of grass and falls way behind the line of scrimmage. All the opposing team’s players pile on for the tackle, and somewhere in the mayhem, the running back’s knee gets twisted severely. Everybody gets up but the running back. But nobody seems to notice. They just go huddle, get the play from the sidelines, line up on the ball and start the play. All the while the back is laying down in the backfield writhing in pain. They score, but lose the game, fireworks go off, fans come on the field, celebration begins. But all the while, the back is still clutching his wounded knee without anyone to help him get up and get to the sideline. The last image we see is that of the lights going off in the stadium, everyone gone home, with the running back still laying there…
B. Background to passage: After chapter five on how to live out freedom in Christ and justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, he reminds them from a pastoral perspective of their duty and responsibility to reach out to the erring brethren, warning them of the consequences of their sin, encouraging repentance, and restoring them to a Christ-honoring life. He has in mind the Matthew 18:15-18 passage, where Christ gave step by step instructions for restorative discipline. But he has been so hard on their erring theology (and with good reason) that he feels the need to remind the church that these individuals are in a perilous position if they refuse to repent, and remind them of their responsibility as a church to be their brother’s keeper and seek reconciliation and repentance. The focal point in the text is the word “restore” katartidzo which was used to speak of mending the nets on a ship, setting a broken bone or dislocated joint, and reconciling relationships. It is also translated “lead back to a right path” or “set him right” and “turn away from wrong.” It is assumed that the church is pure theologically and practically, thus the command is given by Christ through Paul, and personally in the gospels to carry out restorative discipline. It is also assumed that Christians will falter and stumble.
C. Main thought: In our text Paul instructs the church on when, who, and how to throw out the life-preserver of restorative accountability, or church discipline.
A. When to throw it (v. 1)
1. Remember here that the context is to help other believers walk in step with the Spirit in a perverse world. Addressing the brethren, Paul tells them that the time to discipline is when one is overtaken in a trespass. The word used for “trespass” usually meant something minor, or not heinous in nature. A fault or lapse in judgment, or a weakness. It meant a sin that was not willful and rebellious in nature, but rather one that someone fell into or was surprised by. This idea is also supported by the word “overtaken” which means exactly that, with the connotation of being trapped. Remember that the OT makes no provision for willful rebellious sin. However, this doesn’t remove our responsibility to help them. Paul uses the word “any,” therefore we are to confront all sin in the lives of believers. Specifically the NT mentions several things that we must discipline for, but this passage leaves a very broad stroke of “any” sin.