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Related to: Does reaping in Galatians 6:9 refer to salvation?

Galatians 6:9 (NASB)
9 Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.

If the word reaping in Galatians 6:9 were interpreted to refer to salvation, does Galatians 6:9 contain a causality that would imply works salvation?

In other words, would it imply that salvation is dependent upon "doing good"?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

"Reaping" does refer to salvation. However, that does not indicate that salvation is dependent on doing good.

  • That would be a contradiction with the entire force of the letter, making Paul into an idiot.
  • Just as in Romans 6, Paul demonstrates in Galatians 6 that works necessarily flow from salvation. This is why he compares the fruit of the Spirit and the fruit of the flesh: consistent with the rest of his writings, and the rest of Scripture, he is describing two types of people, who manifest two types of behavior.
  • See the Old Testament (particularly wisdom literature) distinction between the good the wicked. It is clear from Paul's extensive usage of the Hebrew Old Testament that he considered these views authoritative (besides his famous statement to Timothy). God saves men in such a manner that no one is justified, counted righteous, who is not also simultaneously made holy in Christ (what the theologians call definitive sanctification and the reason why Paul usually addresses his letters to God's "holy people"). This "two types of people" view is not nullified by the New Testament as legalistic but rather is reinforced by it, and by Paul himself, in passages such as Romans 5 (those under Adam and those under Christ).
  • We do not have direct access to God's divine decree of election; this is the reason why verses such as this seem to imply that we must do something or fail; because if we do not do it, we will indeed fail in that we will be shown to not actually have been saved after all.

To the contrary, doing good is dependent on salvation in such a way that salvation is never evidenced without it (thus "holiness without which no man shall see the Lord"—Hebrews 12:14).

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Excellent answer –  Eric Apr 16 '12 at 20:19
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Unfortunately, this answer is very generic and asks for an overall change of approach which you (and others) may completely reject. So here come the downvotes. But, without further ado... :)

"Reaping" does refer to salvation (to quote the other answerer, @Kazark). And in fact, if someone does not do good, they will not be saved. This does not mean that salvation is something people merit, as if people could somehow atone for their sins by doing lots of good stuff. This does not make sense in Paul's scheme of things. But it does clearly mean that salvation will not be attained by someone unless they do good, with actual causality not being assumed in this discussion.

I add this answer, which isn't all that different than the one by @Kazark's yet for one particular reason, and that is because the tension exists because in general the argument of epistle is being misread. Paul is not arguing with a people who are saying you have to merit salvation by doing the works of the law; he is arguing with people who say that anyone who wants to follow God rightly needs to obey the law. It's not about righteousness as a bank of good stuff you could (or could not) do, but rather a discussion of how to live the godly, righteous life. It is more a question of boundary markers or definition than it is a question of grace or grace + works. By missing the argument earlier in the epistle, we set up a false tension between obedience and salvation.

This kind of perspective is not unique to me (I certainly did not come up with it). It lies in the general realm of what some people call "The New Perspective on Paul." If you are interested in reading more on this general approach to Paul, I can recommend N.T. Wright's "Paul in Fresh Perspective."

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I think you answer is very interesting, and pointing out flaws in assumptions is certainly a valid way to answer concerns in a passage... So +1. But I'm not sure that Paul is not arguing with a people who are saying you have to merit salvation by doing the works of the law is consistent with 3:2-5 or 5:4-5 –  Eric Apr 16 '12 at 20:30
    
And many agree with you. But I would still recommend a reading of the book. Even if you don't end up agreeing with this other perspective, perhaps it will still benefit you. Of course the whole question of this new perspective would be a fun one to discuss on the site but the format doesn't really fit it well. Q&A is not discussion board. Oh well. –  Mallioch Apr 16 '12 at 20:50
    
Thanks for the reference, I think I will read it –  Eric Apr 16 '12 at 21:16
    
NT Wright has an excellent perspective on this. –  swasheck Apr 16 '12 at 21:50
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