Who are the "Spiritual" in Galatians 6:1.

Does not the place in which this scripture is found throw great light on its meaning? I believe it does, and I would draw your attention to one or two points that strike me as to it.

It is not supposed as a right condition in a local assembly, whether composed of many or of few, that there is one class who are the "spiritual," while the rest have not attained to that standing; and yet this is often the interpretation which is given to what is said of it. To admit that this is the meaning, and that the apostle is only allowing a common condition, well known among the saints everywhere, as well as in the several assemblies of Galatia, is most disastrous to all fellowship and communion of saints in each assembly. It introduces at once two distinct parties, where but one spirit should animate the whole, of which those who assume to be the "spiritual" are certainly the most culpable, though assuming to possess intelligence beyond the others. The apostle is correcting an evil, not providing for its continuance.  Often has the writer, and perhaps the reader too, heard this reason given for not personally visiting a certain failing and erring brother, "Oh, I am not spiritual; that is not my work, so I brought this before brother So-and-so," referring, by thus speaking, to the word spiritual in the passage before us.

Now any one carefully reading the epistle will observe that what is condemned in it is a hard, legal spirit. It is clear that the law exacts and expects from a man, and is the opposite of the Spirit of grace, which brings all to him, and which is to operate now in all our dealings with each other.

The assemblies of Galatia here addressed were nurturing such a legal spirit. It is not of the Spirit of God, and it is by the apostle totally condemned. To do so is to fall from grace. It tends to exclude from our minds that ministry of love which should and would flow forth amongst us spontaneously. For love acts (when it is divine) quite irrespective of any deserving in its objects.

The spiritual are those who are controlled and guided by the Spirit of God, and they are in contrast to others who are legal in this epistle. But anything save grace and the Spirit's control is wrong. It is very important to weigh well how strongly the apostle speaks. He says, "I stand in doubt of you." The very Christianity of those who foster this legal spirit in their assemblies was almost questioned by him, so entirely is it apart from the leading of the Spirit of God. In the beginning he calls it another gospel, which is not another, and in this last chapter he shows that it tends to shut out all the manifestations of love to an erring brother. It fosters religious pride. (Gal. 6:12-13.) Legality says, "When he has done something to merit my confidence, then I will restore him to the place he once held in my esteem and affections." Spirituality says, "When he is down is not the time to expect him to do much (save show a willingness to be helped). I will go to him in meekness to do something for him, for I consider myself in him, and that I am exposed to a similar temptation as long as I am in the body." How different!

But a word more as to "overtaken." It means either that I overtake him, or that the fault overtakes him, for we are all running along in our Christian course. In either case he has stopped in his race heavenward. Legality still recognizes the flesh, and the flesh stops a man in his race. I should not have overtaken him, and the fault would not have overtaken him, had he continued running. But here he is helpless. Am I to pass him by in my distress? Like the legal spirit of the Levite and the priest, am I to take the other side? Nay; rather let me imitate the good Samaritan, so-called, who "went down to him, bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine." Our blessed Lord Himself is before us here, who turns to each of us individually with His own beautiful homely comment on the whole story: "Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among thieves?" and adds that marvellous exhortation, so short, yet so full and pointed, "Go, and do thou likewise." Such is the leading of the Spirit in opposition to legality.

The Christianity of those may well be doubted who take the ground of not being "spiritual," and who act among their brethren in another spirit - on the ground of law and not of grace. They admit that they are legal; i.e. still in bondage themselves. The Corinthians were not legal, but "carnal." Hence we have a man in one of four conditions now. Either he is natural, dead in trespasses and sins; or he is carnal, allowing the flesh; or he is legal, as the Galatians were, still in bondage, and not in the liberty of the Son; or he is spiritual, under the control of the blessed Spirit of God,* and if so, in all the joy of conscious sonship, as a child with the Father. This last is the only proper Christian condition, and Paul insists on it, and therefore no allowance is made for a class in any assembly who take the ground of not being "spiritual." Nothing can be more solemn than the strong way in which the apostle speaks to them in this epistle. However much there may be of the appearance of humility in one who says I am not "spiritual," yet not to be led of the Spirit is a denial of Christ, and is the overthrow of Christianity.

*Spiritual is put in contrast with natural in 1 Cor. 2, and with legal in Gal. 6:1.

H. C. Anstey.