Galatians, 1:6-10: Another Gospel
Sometimes I feel like an antique! In this day of “Marketing the Church,” “The Emerging Church,” “Postmodernism,” cults, “Name it and Claim it,” church growth theories, and churches preaching a watered down the Gospel to appeal to the world. We see the “Willow Creek” model, the “Fuller” model, the “Barna” model, the “Saddleback” model, (this is not a condemnation of any of those models), but why not just use the “Jesus” model, He said, “I will build My church” (Matthew 16:18).
The average church member is woefully unprepared to defend the faith. Many do not have a good enough grasp of God’s word to withstand an attack when false teachers invade the church. When I was a baby Christian, probably about six months old in the Lord, I encountered a “Jehovah Witness.” Boldly I tried to give her a gospel tract in exchange for some of her literature. Well she began her attack on me, an attack in which I was too immature as a believer to withstand. In other words she turned me every way but loose! Most believers have a basic knowledge of what they believe, but often don’t know why they believes. And false teachers depend on two factors, ignorance and uncertainty.
Verse 6a: “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ…”
The Greek word for “turning away” is metatithemi, meaning, to fall away or desert from one person or thing to another, one of which is put in place of the other.
“In classical Greek metatithemi was used of a turncoat. The word is used of one altering his opinion or becoming of another mind. The word was also used for desertion or revolt, frequently of a change in religion, philosophy, or morals.” –Wuest.
This word is in the present tense which indicates that when Paul wrote this letter, the Galatians were in the process of defecting, defection was in progress.
Paul considered the defection of the Galatian Christians as an extraordinary thing. It was desertion! In our present day language we might say, “I can’t believe what I am hearing about you!” Paul is astonished that, after a powerful presentation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, some would turn away to “a different gospel.” This false teaching in Galatia was not some heresy from a foreign land. This false gospel was being perverted by professing Christians. But it was a counterfeit gospel, very close to the real thing.
Verse 6b: “…to a different gospel…”
“Different” in Greek is heteros, meaning, “another of a different kind. A strange one.” The true gospel is centered on “the grace of Christ.” The heteros (another) Gospel (good news) is in fact bad news!
The Galatians were turning to an opposition gospel diametrically opposed to Paul’s message of “the grace of Christ.”
“Don’t be misled by a forgery. Only the original saves our souls.” –Rob Morgan
“The gospel makes some people sad, some mad and some glad. It is better that people should go out of church mad than merely go out, neither sad, mad, nor glad.” –Vance Havner
“What is the greatest challenge to us as Christians in the 21st century? Is it rampant immorality? Is it divisive social issues? Is it increasing hostility toward God? Those are dangers, for sure, but I would venture to say that our biggest threat is religion—religion that draws us away from the gospel. Some religions openly oppose Christ, but others are more subtle. They use language Christians already know, giving their faith a familiar sound. Then they add to it their own twisted brand of thinking.”–preceptaustin.org
Paul says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Romans 1:16).
“Scammed By Spam - Have you ever been scammed by spam? Spam is a computer term that refers to junk mail on the Internet. It’s a common problem for people who use personal computers. Sometimes it’s harmless, but sometimes it’s not.
You open your e-mail, and you get a note saying someone wants to help you. Your credit card is invalid, the message says, and your number has to be reentered to reactivate your account. So, you type it in and hit ‘send’—thinking you’re doing the right thing. Later you get a bill for a bunch of items you didn’t buy. You’ve just been scammed by spam! What appeared to be helpful is no help at all. You trust the message, do what it says, and you end up losing.
We can also be scammed spiritually. It happens when supposed teachers of the Bible distort the gospel and proclaim a false message that they call the truth (salvation by works, for example). But it’s ‘a different gospel’ (Galatians 1:6). How can you avoid such a scam? By knowing from the Bible what the true gospel is. Eternal salvation is available only by grace, through trusting in Jesus Christ and His death on the cross for our sins (Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 2:8-9). Don’t be fooled. Any other message is a scam!” —Dave Branon (Our Daily Bread)
Verse 7a: “…which is not another…”
How can we know if someone is preaching “a different gospel?”
•Take scripture out of context.
•Combine verses that do not necessarily fit together. For example: “Judas went out and hanged himself.” “Go thou and do like wise.” “Whatever you do, do it quickly.”
•Read into the scripture information that is not there.
•Pick and choose only the verses that suit their false doctrine.
•Ignore the full counsel of Scripture.
•They all claim special revelation and/or privilege.
•They always distort the true biblical doctrines that effect salvation so as to void salvation by faith in Jesus Christ.
False teachers teach:
•There are many that roads lead to heaven.
•As long as you do the best you can, you’re going to be okay.
•All you have to do is follow the “golden rule.” (“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”)
•Just keep the ten commandments.
•It really doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are sincere.
•You will be safe if you are baptized in our church.
•You will be safe if you will join our church.
The fact is all religions cannot be true. Since the Bible is true, someone is wrong. Political correctness says, “You cannot disagree about anyone’s religion.” But I am here to tell you, some religions are sending people to a Godless hell. I get very annoyed with the cults that knock on my door, because I know the harm they can do!
As an Evangelical pastor I go on record as always proclaiming the absolute and single authority of Scripture, and the absolute exclusivity of Jesus Christ. When some disciples were leaving Jesus because of His hard teachings, “Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:67,68).
Verse 7b: “…but there are some who trouble you…”
The Greek word for “trouble” is tarasso, it literally means “to shake back and forth and therefore to agitate and stir up.” In secular Greek tarasso was used of political agitators who cause confusion and turmoil. It is a strong word, meaning “to deeply upset,” “to deeply disturb,” “to perplex,” or “to create fear.”
Tarasso is in the present tense. The false teachers were, at the time of this writing, stirring up the Galatian believers with their heresy. And they were continually perplexing them with their false gospel.
Verse 7c: “…and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.”
The word “pervert” means to transform into something of an opposite character. To corrupt, pervert, reverse or twist. The idea is to turn something to it’s opposite state, so altering it and causing it to be different, so that it really no longer a gospel of Christ and of His grace.
At the time of the writing of this epistle (48-52AD). only two decades since Christ died and rose again. The church was only twenty years old when false teachers began to pervert the gospel. So that it was no longer “good news.”
“It was not merely to derange Paul's gospel of grace or to turn aside its true meaning. It was to transform it into something diametrically opposed to what it was originally, into something of an opposite nature.”–Wuest
Jeremiah 23:36, “…for you have perverted the words of the living God, the Lord of hosts, our God.”
A perverted gospel is a twisted gospel, a gospel which turns the focus away from Christ’s saving grace onto something else. If the gospel of grace reveals Christ alone, then a perverted gospel is Christ plus something. And the something becomes the most important thing.
Peter, speaking about the Apostle Paul wrote, “Some of his comments are hard to understand, and those who are ignorant and unstable have twisted (perverted) his letters to mean something quite different, just as they do with other parts of Scripture. And this will result in their destruction” (2 Peter 3:16-18 NLT).
The most dangerous cults are those who try to use the Scriptures to prove their false doctrine. The Bible knows only one true gospel, others are counterfeits!
What was the perverted gospel? It is that belief in Christ is not enough, but one must also keep the law in order to be saved. It must be Christ plus circumcision and adhering to Jewish customs. They were not denying salvation, but were teaching that one must first become a Jew before they could accept Christ.
Verse 8,9: “But even if we, or an angel from heaven…”
Paul's indignation is evident as he attempts to drive home to his readers that the controversy is not between one teacher or another, but between truth and error. He is not concerned that some may be giving false testimony about him, but his concern is about antagonism to the truth. In other words, it is the message not the messenger that matters.
“Paul is no fanatic, no raving enthusiast; yet he cannot endure the notion of a false gospel. In his solemn anathema, he includes himself, and all the brethren with him, yea, and the very angels of God if they ‘preach any other gospel.’ Let him be accursed, saith he, and so he is,” –Spurgeon
It is unthinkable that an angel would preach a Gospel different from what Paul preached. The point is that the preaching of the Gospel dare never differ from what Scripture teaches as Gospel.
“Just in case some might think that Paul’s team is an exception, he includes his gospel team in this hypothesis. Paul draws the unlikely hypothesis that if even his gospel team or an angel from Heaven were to preach a different gospel than the gospel of grace, they should be cursed along with anyone else who distorts the gospel. It makes no difference who preaches the gospel; the gospel must be the gospel of grace. This is not a question of who preaches but what is preached.” –Grant Richison, versebyversecommentary.com
Mormonism is a good example of an angel bringing a false gospel.
“The Angel Moroni is, in Mormonism, an angel who visited Joseph Smith on numerous occasions, beginning on September 21, 1823. According to Smith, the angel was the guardian of the golden plates, which Latter Day Saints believe were the source material for the Book of Mormon, buried in a hill near Smith's home in western New York. An important figure in the theology of the Latter Day Saint movement.” Wikipedia
Verse 8b,9a: “…preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received…”
Today the church has to deal with many religions that preach a “different gospel” ie: Islam, Jehovah Witnesses (Watchtower), Mormonism, (Latter Day Saints), the Prosperity Gospel, (the Health and Wealth Gospel, or Name it and Claim it), and Scientology. We also are confronted by the Asian religions, Confucianism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Hinduism, Baha’i, Shintoism, Zoroastrianism, Shamanism and Animism…to mention only a few.
Paul had just one message, “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).
It is a daunting task in our culture of inclusivism to stay true to the gospel of Christ. Real Bible preaching can be offensive. Christ Himself is a “Stone of Stumbling and a Rock of Offense” (1 Peter 2:8). So Bible preaching is a stumbling block to some, and foolishness to others. God's messengers must never be foolish or offensive (this from a preacher who was both foolish and offensive in my early days in ministry). God's Word is offensive enough! Why? “The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).
The task of the faithful minister revolves around the Word of God! Guard it! Hold it! Keep it! Study it! Proclaim it! And Live it! Preach the Word! Paul says, “For I am a minister of the Church by divine commission, a commission granted to me for your benefit and for a special purpose: that I might fully declare God’s word” (Colossians 1:25
After Paul's conversion experience on Road to Damascus, he preached:
•In Jerusalem, the Religious Capital of the world. There on the steps of the Temple to his old crowd, he preached “Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
•In Rome, the Political Capital of the world, in the shadow of Caesars' palace, he preached “Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
•In Athens, the Philosophical Capital of the world, where he stood at Mar's Hill and preached “Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
•In Ephesus, the Pagan Capital of the world, there in the shadow of the Temple of Dianna, to the sons of Aristotle and Plato, he preached “Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
•In Corinth, the Corruption Capital of the world. The melting-pot, sin city. Even there amidst degradation and sin, he preached “Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
It has always cost something to stand for the gospel:
•For the truth of the gospel Martyn Luther said, “Here I stand, I can do no other.”
• For the truth of the gospel Wesley fell out of favor with the Church of England.
• For the truth of the gospel Spurgeon became sick and died because of the “Downgrade Controversy.” Basically, watering down the Gospel to attract more people to church.
•For the truth of the gospel David Brainerd, Missionary to the Indians, died young.
•For the truth of the gospel Polycarp, pastor at Smyrna was burned at the stake.
•For the truth of the gospel Missionaries, Stan Dale and Phil Masters took over one-hundred arrows, many they broke off and threw to the ground before they finally succumbed to the many wounds inflicted by the very people they were trying to reach.
•For the truth of the gospel Jim Elliot and his four fellow missionaries suffered death at the hands of superstitious and angry natives in Ecuador.
•For the truth of the gospel James was thrown from the Temple and clubbed; John was exiled; Paul beheaded; Peter crucified [legend has it that he was crucified upside down], Stephen stoned to death. And martyrs through all of the Church age have suffered indescribable torment in their for the truth of the gospel!
Verse 9b: “…let him be accursed.”
Paul here issues a powerful warning against all who would dare to preach any other doctrine than what he had taught them. His language is intended to deter anyone from failing to preach the true gospel.
“He casteth out very flames of fire, and his zeal is so fervent, that he begineth to almost to curse angels.” –Martin Luther
“Accursed,” from the Greek word anathema, carries the idea of being outside of God's favor. It means being placed in a position to be destroyed. This is very strong language, further underlining the seriousness of straying from the true gospel.
“When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thessalonians1:7-9)
“Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men…” ( 2 Corinthians 5:11).
Verse 10: “For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.”
“Much of our modern world would reject Paul for being too brutal in his condemnation. But Paul says, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).
Paul's strong words in verses 7-9 show that he is not trying to “please” men. “Persuade” is the Greek word, peitho, one meaning is, “to win one's favor, gain one's good will, or strive to please.”
Paul was a bondservant (doulos in Greek), a slave for Christ, and those of us who are “bondservants” today, have no choice but to preach the gospel, “For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16).
“The powerful preaching of the Word of God has mostly been replaced today by friendly talks from the stage. However, this has not always been the case. In times past, the pulpit was a powerful place and men came to church to hear the Word of God proclaimed with great conviction. Today’s friendly talks fall far short of the powerful preaching that occurred in the pulpits of the Reformers and others who saw the Bible as the very Word of God. John Knox preached a famous sermon on November 8, 1559 from Psalm 180. Iain Murray in his book A Scottish Christian Heritage writes, “For years to come men spoke of the effect of that one sermon. The listeners acted like men brought back from the dead. The words of the English ambassador, spoken on a later occasion, describe it perfectly: ‘The voice of one man is able in one hour to put more life in us than five hundred trumpets continually blustering in our ears.’” –firstname.lastname@example.org
Can preaching the gospel actually change anything? I was a twenty-five-year-old atheist drunk, who thought Christianity was for weaklings and dummies. It all started for me when my wife, Marlena was invited to the Olivet Baptist Church in Lynwood, California one Sunday. She was already a believer but she recommitted her life to Christ, then she started witnessing to me. Well I finally agreed to visit church with her. I heard Pastor James Combs speak, he actually sounded intelligent! And for the first time I began to think about my salvation. About three months later after many people prayed for me and witnessed to me, Christ came into my life. But it all started with an anointed preacher, preaching the gospel of Christ.
Unless otherwise noted, the New King James Version of the Bible was used. Also The New Living Translation (NLT); The New American Standard Bible (NASB); The Message (MSG); The New Century Version (NCV); The Amplified Bible (AMP); The King James Version (KJV), The New Life Version (NLV); English Standard Version (ESV); J.B. Phillips New Testament; Easy to Read Version (ERV); Common English bible (CEB); NET Bible (NET) and The Living Bible (TLB). Contemporary English Version (CEV).