The Difference Between Two Burdens (Galatians 6:2,5)

Every Sunday morning is special for me. Last Sunday, I was in Zion Serangoon Bible-Presbyterian Church listening to the sermon “Our Mutual Duty to One Another in Christ” by Pastor Yap. This sermon was based on Galatian 6:1-5 (KJV).

Pastor drew my attention to Verse 2 and Verse 5 which are reproduced below.

2. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

5. For every man shall bear his own burden.

Before Pastor explained these two verses, do you know what I was thinking in my mind? These two verses contradict each other. On one hand, Paul was telling the Galatians in Verse 2 to carry one another’s burdens and in this way we will fulfil the law of Christ. On the other hand, in Verse 5 he was saying that every person has to carry his own burden.

So is there and what is the difference between the two “burdens” in these verses?

Pastor used soldiers to explain the difference. Every soldier has a rifle and full pack. When these soldiers go out for training, every solder has to carry his own rifle and full pack. A soldier cannot desire another soldier to carry his rifle and full pack even when he is tired because every soldier will be equally tired. It is the responsibility of a soldier to care for his rifle and carry his own load. This is the “burden” in Verse 5.

However, if one soldier is injured during training, the other soldiers come forward to help their injured comrade. They lifts him on a stretcher and carry his weapon and full pack. These solders are bearing the “burdens” of the injured buddy in Verse 2.

NKJV version of these verses is:

2. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

5. For each one shall bear his own load.

It is now clear that the “burdens” in Verse 2 refers to a weight that is so heavy and probably crushing that if a person is not helped in carrying it, he or she will be overwhelmed.

In Verse 5, the “burden” in fact refers to loads that a person must shoulder on his or her own and cannot be shared.

Paul was therefore consistent when he reminded the Galatians to bear the burdens of others while they carry their own loads.

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