1

In Ephesians 2:8-9 Paul seems to preclude boasting:

KJV Eph 2:8  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  Eph 2:9  Not of works, lest any man should boast.  Eph 2:10  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

However, in the following verses, I understand that Paul is saying that we should help restore others who have fallen into sin, and that we should also be careful we don't fall into temptation ourselves. However, what does Paul mean when he asks people to examine their own work, and then based on the aforementioned work's quality, he/she can boast in his/her work alone? What is Paul trying to tell us in the bold verses below? Could someone please elaborate? Aren't we only supposed to boast in Jesus Christ?

Galatians 6:1-5(NASB)

1 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. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. 5 For each one will bear his own load.

Update, I think that Bible translation versions are also important. In my opinion, when the words suggest rejoicing as opposed to boasting then it makes more sense.

New International Version Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else,

New Living Translation Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won't need to compare yourself to anyone else.

English Standard Version But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor.

Berean Study Bible Each one should test his own work. Then he will have reason to boast in himself alone, and not in someone else.

Berean Literal Bible But let each test his own work, and then he will have the ground of boasting in himself alone, and not in another.

New American Standard Bible But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another.

King James Bible But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.

Christian Standard Bible Let each person examine his own work, and then he can take pride in himself alone, and not compare himself with someone else.

Contemporary English Version Do your own work well, and then you will have something to be proud of. But don't compare yourself with others.

Good News Translation You should each judge your own conduct. If it is good, then you can be proud of what you yourself have done, without having to compare it with what someone else has done.

Holman Christian Standard Bible But each person should examine his own work, and then he will have a reason for boasting in himself alone, and not in respect to someone else.

International Standard Version Each person must examine his own actions, and then he can boast about his own accomplishments and not about someone else.

NET Bible Let each one examine his own work. Then he can take pride in himself and not compare himself with someone else.

New Heart English Bible But let each one test his own work, and then he will take pride in himself and not in his neighbor.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English But a man should prove his work and then he will have pride in himself and not in others.

GOD'S WORD® Translation Each of you must examine your own actions. Then you can be proud of your own accomplishments without comparing yourself to others.

New American Standard 1977 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another.

Jubilee Bible 2000 But let everyone prove his own work, and then he shall have glory regarding only himself, and not in another.

King James 2000 Bible But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.

American King James Version But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.

American Standard Version But let each man prove his own work, and then shall he have his glorying in regard of himself alone, and not of his neighbor.

Douay-Rheims Bible But let every one prove his own work, and so he shall have glory in himself only, and not in another.

Darby Bible Translation but let each prove his own work, and then he will have his boast in what belongs to himself alone, and not in what belongs to another.

English Revised Version But let each man prove his own work, and then shall he have his glorying in regard of himself alone, and not of his neighbour.

Webster's Bible Translation But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.

Weymouth New Testament But let every man scrutinize his own conduct, and then he will find out, not with reference to another but with reference to himself, what he has to boast of.

World English Bible But let each man test his own work, and then he will take pride in himself and not in his neighbor.

Young's Literal Translation and his own work let each one prove, and then in regard to himself alone the glorying he shall have, and not in regard to the other,

2

In order to answer your question, we need to continue reading in Chapter 6.

Galatians 6:1-5 and 12-16 (NASB)

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. 2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. 3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. 4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5 For every man shall bear his own burden.

12 Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh. 14 But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16 And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.

In this chapter, Paul is making the point that those who walk by faith/grace are responsible for their own works/actions in Christ. However, those who walk by the law, in this case the Judeizers, are concerned with the actions of others. This is the core of legalism.

The Judeizers were believing Jews but they wanted to bring the church back under subjection of the Law of Moses, in this case circumcision. Paul stating in verses 12-13, that there are two reasons for this:

  1. They fear being persecuted themselves by the Jews, those who still cling to the Old Covenant
  2. So, they can “glory in your flesh”.

The “glory in your flesh” is a reference to circumcision. In verse 13, Paul says that those who are circumcised (ie, the Jews) don’t keep the law themselves but they want to boast or take credit for getting the unbelieving Gentiles circumcised as if they were converting someone to Judaism. So, these Judeizers were boasting each time they got another person circumcised, mostly so they could stay in good graces with the non believing Jews or other believing law oriented Jews.

So at the top of the chapter, Paul introduces this idea of boasting in others:

3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. 4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5 For every man shall bear his own burden.

Paul starts in verse 3 picking up where he left off at the end of chapter 5 (last verse):

26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

Verse 26 states that those who walk via the OT Covenant of keeping the law desire vain glory, they provoke and envy other people. This is due to the inherent pride associated with attempting to be holy on your own. Paul continues this theme in Chapter 6 verse 3, stating that if someone thinks himself to be something (ie, those who think they can keep the law) he deceives himself.

That’s why Paul then says in verse 4, to let every man prove his own work (test his own motivations via faith/grace) so he will rejoice in himself alone. This is not rejoicing as in pride in your accomplishment (remember we’re talking about law vs grace). Someone following the New Covenant would boast in Christ and would thereby be responsible for his own decision of faith (for every man shall bear his own burden). Please note verses 14-15:

14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. 15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.

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  • My opinion is no. Christ came to fulfill but not to obligate. Our righteousness is found in Christ living the perfect life under the law for us. He gave us His righteousness and thereby set the captive free. Grace allows the law to be “taken out of the way” (Col 2) so we can rest in Christ’s righteousness. He truly freed us from the obligation to live under the law. The Judeizers wanted to continue to “obligate” the Christian to keep the law. – alb May 6 '18 at 0:06
  • @Ruminator (first comment) Right, that's where you and I would part company. My belief is that Christ and Paul were completely in sync in their message of grace. My opinion is that Christ taught the law in order to confront the Pharisees with the truth of their sin which the Pharisees always denied. Hence, the reason that Christ raised law adherence to another level, ie, it's not the murder it's being angry, it's not the adultery it's the lust. A level (in my opinion) that no one could keep. Hence the truth of Romans 3:10 "as it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.." – alb May 6 '18 at 0:22
  • Also, re: your question on why Peter feared the Jews. I guess my answer was "nicely formatted" but not persuasive. LOL – alb May 6 '18 at 0:27
1

Paul has no problem with boasting as long as it is warranted and often does it himself:

KJV 2Co_7:14  For if I have boasted any thing to him of you, I am not ashamed; but as we spake all things to you in truth, even so our boasting, which I made before Titus, is found a truth.

What he does have a problem with is those who boast of being justified before God by their own efforts because that is a hollow boast in that it is "excluded" because all have sinned and thus justification is exclusively on the grounds of faith:

KJV Rom 3:27  Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.  Rom 3:28  Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

Boasting is expressing confidence, particularly in oneself. There is only one legitimate ground for boasting in relation to justification and that is in the finished work of Christ. To "glory" is often used synonymous with boasting:

Gal_6:14  But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.

So Paul is teaching how to boast properly and it is not in contradiction to Ephesians 2:9 where precludes boasting in matters of one's justification. And since everything we are and have is given to us by God one is hard pressed to find anything that we ultimately can glory in and must instead glorify our Maker in all things:

1Co_4:7  For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?

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