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Our friends in Jesus are amazing. We are to look out for our brothers and sisters.

Paul presents a hypothetical case of a believer who is suddenly tripped up and misses God’s goal (falls into sin). The word overtaken carries the idea of being surprised, so it is not a case of deliberate disobedience.

Why does Paul use this illustration? Because nothing reveals the wickedness of legalism better than the way the legalists treat those who have sinned. Call to mind the Pharisees who dragged a woman taken in adultery before Jesus. Or that Jewish mob that almost killed Paul because they thought he had defiled the temple by bringing in Gentiles.

Legalists do not need facts and proof; they need only suspicions and rumors. Their self-righteous imaginations will do the rest. So, in this paragraph in Galatians, Paul is contrasting the way the legalist would deal with the erring brother, and the way the spiritual man and true friend would deal with him.

  • Galatians 6:1–2—Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of the Messiah.
  • James 5:19–20—My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.