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Related to: Does Galatians 6:9 contain a causality that could imply works salvation?

In the immediate context (based on verse 8), reaping in Galatians 6:9 appears to refer to salvation.

Galatians 6:8-9 (NASB)
8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.

In a commentary that I read by John Macarthur, however, he stated that "eternal life" in verse 8 is referring to the quality of eternal life (i.e., rewards in heaven), but he didn't make a supporting argument. Is there any support for this argument, or does the reaping in verse 9 refer to salvation?

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It is a matter of salvation. Paul sets up in the previous chapter two dichotomous ways of living: one to please the flesh and one to please the Spirit. To live in order please the flesh is to live under the law and follow the path to destruction. But to live by the Spirit is to be not under the law and to receive the righteousness that is by faith.

5:13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.

5:16-17 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh.

5:19-21 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality... I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love...

6:7-8 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

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  • I like your answer too :) – Mallioch Apr 16 '12 at 20:19
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    +1 After all, eternal life is to know him (Jn 17:3); evildoing is the antithesis of walking with him. – Kazark Apr 16 '12 at 21:17
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I see no reason at all to take this as a statement about the quality of eternal life. After all, there's no reason to think that Paul is here discussing how they will reap a greater/lesser (whichever way you want to go) quality of corruption if they sow to the flesh.

Indirectly related, lessening "eternal life" to rewards in heaven instead of resurrection is also a flaw in this line of thinking. But I'm not sure if that's one of the main points in your question here.

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No, we should always compare Scripture with Scripture. The first verse we should look at is John 4:36. It says: "And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together." To assume that this is talking about one person reaping salvation by doing works for themselves is quite foolish and has nothing to do with the context. So we see that one person sows and another one reaps, this is also demonstrated in verse 37 and 38. What I believe the passage is saying here is that the first person is doing works (sowing), in this case it's winning a soul to Christ. So the second person is reaping from that and receives eternal life, which is by grace through faith. Now let's look at Romans 6:23, which says: "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." At this point, it's pretty much self-explanatory.

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  • "To assume that this is talking about one person reaping salvation by doing works for themselves" No one assumed or said this. – Sola Gratia Apr 13 '19 at 21:57
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