#161 “DO NOT BE FOOLED INTO BELIEVING A FALSE GOSPEL” (GALATIANS 1:6-10)
Things were getting so bad in Galatia, that Paul had to step in and rebuke the false teachers who were perverting the gospel.
- 6 I am astonished (to wonder in an unfavorable way) that you are so quickly deserting (to abandon; to turn away) him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—After giving his opening remarks, wastes no time to rebuke those who have turned away from Christianity. His outrage is over the fact the Galatian Christians were abandoning the gospel of grace and retreating to the bondage of the law. Paul will do a lot of rebuking in his letter (1:6-4:11). Pro. 27:5-6, “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” Deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ— Paul’s description of the Galatian’s lapse is likened to a soldier abandoning his post. Under the influence of Judaizers and Pharisees, many Galatians bought into the lie that certain Jewish customs and rituals were still binding. That they needed to continue observing the Torah and circumcision as a necessary means of salvation. Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament provides insight into Paul’s use of the term ‘deserting:’ “The word was also used of desertion or revolt, frequently of a change in religion, philosophy, or morals. The present tense indicates that when Paul wrote, the defection of the Galatians was yet only in progress. Had he used the perfect tense, that would have indicated that the Galatians had actually and finally turned against grace and had come to a settled attitude in the matter. The mind of Paul wavers between fear and hope as to the outcome. Paul was trying desperately to arrest the progress of this new doctrinal infection if he could. The Judaizers had not yet achieved any decisive success, although the Galatians were disposed to lend a ready ear to their insinuations.”
- 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble (to cause distress; to stir up) you and want to distort (to alter; to change; to pervert) the gospel of Christ. The NIV makes a distinction between the way Paul uses the distinctiveness of the two ‘gospels’ in vs. 6 and 7, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different (heteros, different in class from other entities)—gospel which is really no gospel (allos, another item in context) at all.
- Some who trouble—The Judaizers were causing the Christian Galatians much turmoil and emotional distress. Paul’s ministry was the opposite. He gave of himself, spoke the truth, and protected the churches from false teachers. Acts 20:28-35, “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. 32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. 34 You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. 35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”
- You want to distort the gospel—If “work-based” salvation is true, then the gospel according to Paul is false, and Christ, therefore, died in vain. Gal. 2:21, “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” There is only one gospel according to the Scriptures (see 1 Cor. 15:3-8). The good news (gospel) is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (Jn 1:17). The Law condemns. Grace restores. The Law shows your flaws. Grace forgives your flaws. The Law kills. Grace makes alive.
- 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. Paul is unyielding in his defense of the gospel of Jesus. He even calls out the false teachings coming from Jewish mysticism. It was common practice for mystics and visionaries to claim their revelations or prophecies came from angelic beings. It doesn’t matter how good the message may sound or how elaborate—Paul warns the Galatians to hold fast to the gospel preached to them by the apostles of Jesus Christ. 1 Thess. 2:13, “And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.”
- Let him be accursed—The Gk. word is anathema, which means “turning over a false teacher to the destruction in hell” or to expose a culprit to the judicial wrath of God (see 1 Cor. 12:3; 16:22; Rom. 9:3). The Judaizers actions were an offense against God, his gospel message through Christ, and to the sanctified body of believers. In the OT, many false teachers/prophets were called out (see Deut. 13:5; 18:5; Jer. 23:16). Asbury Bible Commentary, “In the present age there is no tendency for believers to adopt Jewish legalism as a supplement to grace, yet there always seems to be the temptation to relegate God’s grace to second place. It is the human tendency to put our own achievements on a pedestal. “See what we have accomplished,” we want to say to God. To mingle grace with anything is to make a travesty of the Gospel.”
- 10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. Verse 10 acts as a transition. Paul proceeds to defend his motives for rebuking the Galatians and not caving to the pressures of the Judaizers. Apparently, the Judaizers were exploiting Paul’s name to further their false teachings and curry the favor of the Galatians. Paul, however, was unmoved in pleasing man but remained dedicated to his calling as a servant of Christ. Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters” (Matt. 6:24).