Wednesday: The Law of Christ

Paul connects burden bearing with fulfilling the law of Christ. What does he mean by “the law of Christ” Gal. 5:14, 6:2, John 13:34, Matt. 22:34–40.

Paul’s use of the phrase “the law of Christ” (ton nomon tou Christou) occurs nowhere else in the Bible, though he uses a similar expression in 1 Corinthians 9:21 (ennomos Christou). The uniqueness of this phrase has resulted in a number of different interpretations. Some mistakenly argue that this is evidence that the law of God given at Sinai has been replaced by a different law, the law of Christ. Others claim the word law simply means a general “principle” (see Rom. 7:21), meaning that in bearing the burdens of others, we are following the example of Jesus. While the latter interpretation has some merit, the context and similar terminology with Galatians 5:14 suggest that “fulfilling the law of Christ” is another reference to fulfilling the moral law through love. Paul showed earlier in his letter that the moral law was not annulled with the coming of Christ. Instead, the moral law interpreted by love continues to play an important role in the Christian life. This is the epitome of what Jesus taught during His earthly ministry and also practiced throughout His life and even in His death. In bearing the burdens of others, we are not only following in the footsteps of Jesus, we are also fulfilling the law.

Another issue arises in these texts, the apparent contradiction between Galatians 6:2 and 6:5. This problem, however, is easily resolved when one realizes that Paul is using two different words to describe two different situations. As we have already seen, the word for burden in verse 2 (baros) refers to a heavy load that has to be carried for a long distance. The word phortion in verse 5, however, refers to a ship’s cargo, a soldier’s backpack, or even a child in the womb. Whereas the former burdens can be laid aside, the latter cannot. A pregnant mother must carry her own child. As this example suggests, there are some burdens that people can help us bear but others that no human can bear for us, such as the burden of a guilty conscience, suffering, and death. For these, we must rely on God’s help alone (Matt. 11:28–30).

While some burdens you can get help with from other people, some you have to take to the Lord alone. How can you learn to give to the Lord the things that you, yourself, just can’t bear?



Wednesday: The Law of Christ — 4 Comments

  1. While some burdens you can get help with from other people, some you have to take to the Lord alone.
    Q. How can you learn to give to the Lord the things that you, yourself, just can’t bear?

    The first question should be: How can you distinguish between the burdens you take to the Lord and the burdens you take to others.

    Some of us say, "I can't ..." to everything. or "It's too much for me to bare!"
    Like the children of Israel in the desert with Moises; "complaining and murmuring." It caused Moises to loose his temper, strike the rock and loose out on entering the promise land.

  2. "How can you distinguish between the burdens you take to the Lord and the burdens you take to others."

    We need to take EVERYTHING to the Lord in prayer. Our joys, as well as our sorrows. It's when we think a burden is "easy to manage" and we go it on our own that we falter.

    Now, I will agree, we shouldn't come to God with a constant complaining attitude. That isn't "casting our cares upon Him" that is carrying them ourselves and grumbling about them while still clinging to them. We're all guilty of that from time to time.

    When Jesus takes our burdens He doesn't necessarily change our circumstances. Instead He helps us cope and guides us through them.

    Also interestingly the scriptures say "bear one another's burdens" it doesn't say "cast your burdens on others".

    When we're always complaining to others we tend to loose all our friends, and our burdens seem to grow bigger. But when we seek to lift others' burdens we find our own seem smaller, and we gain friends!

    • Amen, sister! When this question comes up, I always think of Jeremiah 17:5. I see the Scriptures as encouraging us to get our support from God alone, and then lend it to others.
      God bless!

  3. Everyone has shared great truths! Really good! But I see something else here. It's the difference between the two covenants! As one is of the flesh, law of Moses and the other is of the Spirit, law of Christ! We know this because of Gal. 4. It tells of the two covenants; one from mount Sinai which is Hagar and brings bondage, the other is Jerusalem from above (heavenly city) and brings freedom! See, it works like this, instead of laying unnecessary burdens upon others (as those who urged the observance of Moses' law did), it much more becomes us to fulfill the law of Christ by bearing one another's burdens.

    It's also interesting that the same Greek word for 'burden' was used in both scripture, Acts 15:28 and Gal.6:2. The Jews were trying to get the believing Gentles to keep the law of Moses, but James and the council of the disciples saw that that was not necessary, but only to abstain from sexual sins and from blood and things strangled. The law of Christ is also known as the royal law, a name coined by Jesus' half brother. Which is "love your neighbor as yourself" thus fulfilling all the Law of Moses.

    Getting back to the two covenants, they can never be joined, they two can never marry, they cannot be heirs together. This is why God told Abraham to cast out the bond woman with her son. This is an allegory of the two covenants. The one born of the bond woman is in bondage, the one born of the free woman is free. Flesh vs. Spirit!

    The only thing that pleases God is faith and by faith is the only way you can come to Christ. "The law is not of faith ..." Gal.3:12. To the contrary Philippians 3:9 "And be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith."

    What a wonderful plan God has for us, who believe!


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