Astonishment!

 

Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— and all the brothers and sisters with me,

To the churches in Galatia:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

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 gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Galatians 1:1-10

This is how Paul begins his letter to the Galatian churches, and I don’t know about you, but I find it quite interesting.  Notice how short his introduction is with its lack of a thanksgiving prayer and many of the usual formalities. In this letter, Paul is coming straight to the point, and he isn’t amused by what he has heard. It would seem that there are people in Galatia who are teaching a different gospel than Paul taught, a gospel that adds something to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  As we shall see, they have added a requirement that the Gentile Galatians must first become circumcised Jews.  Aside from the obvious problems that this would cause, adding circumcision to the gospel has a greater theological implication; one that remains with us to this day, for circumcision is not only a requirement of the Jewish Law, it is the sign of God’s covenant with Abraham, a covenant which Paul insists time and time again to have already been fulfilled in Christ.

Beginning in verse 6, Paul expresses his “astonishment” that the Galatians are listening to those who would “pervert” the Gospel, and tells them that such a gospel is “really no gospel at all.”  Strong words.  Then he tells them that even if Paul himself or an angel gave them a different gospel than the one he originally preached, they should not listen.  His thought is that any such person should be “eternally condemned” and says so not once, but twice. Paul’s meaning?

Nobody can mess with the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

He winds up this section by pointing out that he isn’t interested in pleasing people here, for if he wanted to please men, he wouldn’t be a servant of Christ.  Doesn’t that remind you of the time that the disciples asked Jesus why more people didn’t respond to His message, and Jesus answered by saying that they prefer “the praise of men”?

You may disagree with me, but to me, this is a really important point for us to grasp.  We may do certain things to accommodate our culture in the area of style or presentation so that we might be understood more easily by those who need to hear, but under no circumstance may we ever compromise on the message of the gospel or the truth of Scripture. If there are some who don’t like us for that, I’m really sorry, but that’s too bad, for I serve Jesus Christ, not men.  How about you?

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About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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