V.6. I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel; v.7. which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the Gospel of Christ. V.8. But though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. V.9. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. V.10. For do I now persuade men or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet please men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

Paul’s agitation is evident from the first, in every word which he writes. He had been startled by the intelligence which he received, he was intensely indignant at the attitude taken by the Galatians. Instead of offering general remarks, he immediately launches forth in a vehement discussion of the situation as it presented itself according to trustworthy accounts; for the perversion of the truth as practiced by the agitators struck at the very core of Christianity; in pretending to aim at the apostle, the enemies were really placing his office under suspicion and directly hurting the cause of the Gospel.

Like a mighty torrent the force of his resentment bursts forth: I am astonished, I marvel, that so quickly you are changing over from Him that called you in the grace of Christ to another gospel. The news which Paul had received had filled him with surprised astonishment, it had almost taken his breath away, since it indicated such a quick change of mind on the part of the Galatians.

For although his opponents had not yet scored a definite success, the idea which they broached had found entrance, it had gained adherents with remarkable rapidity, a fact which in itself was a disgrace to the people that had shown such an encouraging interest in the true Gospel; they were being won over, and in this they were willingly lending their ear to the false teachers. Their apostasy (for it was that to which their fickleness was drawing them) to another gospel, to a message which purported to be a message of salvation, a different, a spurious gospel, was not so much from Paul, who had issued to them the Gospel-call, as from Christ and God; for the call proceeded in the grace of Christ, from the divine love. Note: That the call to grace goes forth is due to the free mercy and love of Christ, and it is issued through the Word, by the mouth of the messengers of Christ.

That it was a false lead to which the attention of the Galatians had been drawn in their fickleness is asserted by Paul with the greatest vehemence: Whereas there is no other; or: Which other sort of gospel can make no claim of genuineness, except there are some that are unsettling you and wanting to corrupt the Gospel of Christ. That was the apostle’s charge against the agitators, that they were attempting to pass off their false message as the only true and genuine Gospel, and that they were thus marketing a lie.

The result of this deception was a twofold one: They were disturbing and troubling the minds and consciences of the Galatians, causing them to be doubtful as to the doctrine which they had been taught; and they were incidentally doing their best to distort and pervert the real Gospel of Christ, the glorious message of salvation through His name. If they had succeeded in their design, it would have meant the end of pure evangelical preaching in the congregations affected. Note: This verse must be kept in mind at all times against the perverters of the message of sin and grace, no matter in what guise they come, just as it was used by the reformers in rejecting the claims of the Romish Church. 5)

In a ringing challenge the words of Paul sound forth: But now also, though we or an angel from heaven preach a gospel to you contrary to the Gospel which we preached to you, let God’s curse be on him! The word anathema, rendered “accursed” in the Authorized Version, was applied especially to all offerings devoted under a solemn oath to death or destruction, Lev. 27, 28; Josh. 7, 1; Acts 13, 14. It was not that Paul was arrogating to himself the right to excommunicate any individuals without the consent and resolution of the congregation, but that he was affirming general principles, which, on the part of God, hold true for all times. Speaking of himself and his coworkers, and therefore of all true ministers of the Gospel, he states that no doctrine has the right to exist in the Church which differs from, and contradicts, the Gospel as it has been proclaimed by him in all his work.

It is not a matter of dispute between various teachers, all of whom may claim purity of truth for themselves, but the contrast is that between truth and falsehood. And there it holds good: Not Paul himself, not any of his assistants, not any minister of the Gospel, not even an angel from heaven can alter the truth in Christ. If any one should, in spite of this principle, presume to substitute a spurious Gospel, any false doctrine, for the truth of redemption, then such a one should be subject to God’s curse, the end of which is eternal death.

Note: This principle must be upheld by all Christians over against the claims of false teachers; any deviation from the sound doctrine as found in the Bible, any substitution of man-made philosophies and expositions, places the authors of such attempts under the curse of God. “The Word of God shall establish articles of faith, and no one else, not even an angel.” 6) “Therefore we shall confidently say with Paul: May all doctrine from heaven or from the earth or no matter whence it may have been brought, perish and be accursed, which teaches to rely upon other works, other righteousness, other merits than those which belong to Christ.” 7)

For the sake of emphasis, Paul repeats this solemn statement: As we have lately forewarned you, so I say also again: If any one preaches a gospel to you which contradicts that which you have received, let God’s curse be upon him. Paul seems not only to have uttered general warnings against any doctrine at variance with the pure Gospel which he was preaching, but also to have pointed out specifically, also through Silas and Timothy, that any religion of works would remove the very foundation of the Gospel.

These warnings may have been given particularly on the third journey, when the news of the activity of Judaizing teachers was spread. And he explains the severity of his expressions, of his double anathema, by asking indignantly: For is it men that I am now striving to please, to conciliate, or God? Or am I zealous about finding the favor of men? If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. If his object were to persuade men, to gain them for his own person, to seek their approval for selfish reasons, then his boasting about being an unselfish servant of Christ, for the purpose of advancing the glory of Christ only, would be hypocrisy and deception.

But he insists that his sole aim and object in preaching the Gospel is the furtherance of God’s glory through the declaration of the entire counsel of salvation; this he does in his capacity as servant of Christ, whether it pleases men or not, for all men by nature are opposed to the truth and do not desire the vicarious atonement of Jesus. If he were speaking to please men, he would thereby admit that he had personal interests at stake, and his message would be bound to be influenced by that fact. But since he has in mind the glory of the Lord, he speaks after the manner and by the Spirit of God, in disinterested single-mindedness. It is the disposition which must animate and actuate every true servant of Christ at all times. (Online source)

Paul E. Kretzmann

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