From Galatians 1-3
Sometimes people can seek to please man rather than God. Its easy to avoid persecution and alienation by conforming to another gospel. If it is right, then good. But what if it is another gospel than what we read in the bible?
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
Galatians is a polemical letter and Paul doesn’t pull his punches.
6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 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. (Gal 1.6-9)
Paul couldn’t be more emphatic. Considering the Jewish origins of Jesus and the witness of the Old Testament to the gospel it would be excusable to be surprised at Paul’s reaction. But it says a lot about his experiences of Gentiles coming to faith when he told them the story of Jesus and the Spirit came on them.
Two important points emerge from Paul’s opening statements.
- There is only one gospel.
- Paul calls down a curse on people who preach a different gospel.
These two points should make us wary of messing around with the gospel. There is only one gospel (Gal 1.6-7). But there are many variations of the same gospel. We work out what the gospel is by comparing the number of sermons and texts we know to be the gospel. What is common to each and what is unique to particular sermons.
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. (Gal 1.10)
Words for believers
Sometimes people can seek to please man rather than God. Its easy to avoid persecution and alienation by conforming to everyones elses understanding of the gospel. If it is right, then good. But what if it is another gospel than what we read in the bible?
Galatians is a complex letter because we were not there and its easy to overlook the historical context and different nuances involved in the letter. Quite often justification by faith is confused with the story of Jesus as the gospel. For 1500 years the church believed the gospel was the narrative of Jesus that saves all who believe. We need to go back to the sources.
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