About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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 No Other Gospel (ch. 1:6 – 11)

It is interesting to note that in usual Greek formation of Christian letters, Paul's included, there would normally some sort of short prayer at this point.  Paul does not include this prayer.  This seems to point to the fact that Paul is very upset as he writes this letter, as we will see later from the word usages employed in this letter.  He gets right into the topic at hand.

Verse 6 says, "I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you…"  The Greek word "thauma" that is translated "astonished" here means "to wonder at, to marvel at, as to gaze into the sky with awe." I can just see Paul gazing into the sky above and scratching his head in amazement, wondering why these people are contemplating changing their minds concerning the gospel of Christ that he preached to them. He just shook his head in astonishment and amazement.

Verse 6 also says, "You are so quickly deserting…"  The verb tense shows that the Galatians hadn’t actually changed their minds as yet. They were in the process of changing their minds but had not fully completed the process. There was still hope for them. Paul wanted to get to them before those who opposed him got to these people.

The Greek word translated as "deserting" here is a military word that suggests a "rebellion" or "a revolt'.  Paul viewed this desertion as a revolt, not only against him, but against Jesus Himself as I will point out.  This was not a passive falling away.  It was a well thought out revolt.   

Paul says that the Galatians were deserting the one who called them. They were not deserting Paul as some might think, although in one sense of the word they were.  I'm just not convinced that Paul was talking about himself in this verse.  It's not the nature of what he is writing in this book to say that these people were forsaking him.  The nature of the book is to show that the Galatian Christians were forsaking God, Jesus, and the gospel of Christ.    

Some suggest the one being forsaken is actually Jesus, and that is more probable then Paul being the one forsaken.  That being said, I don't believe it was Jesus being forsaken.  This might be technical but I believe it was God the Father, the God of the Jews, that was being forsaken here. The text reads, "… the one who called you by the grace of Jesus Christ".  If this was Jesus being forsaken this phrase would not make perfect sense.  You would have to write it like this. "... You have forsaken Jesus who has called you by the grace of Jesus".  It makes better sense to say, "… you have forsaken God the Father who has called you by the grace of Jesus".  I know this is a technical point, but it is worth thinking about.  That being said, the Galatian Christians were in fact beginning to forsake all three, Jesus, God, and Paul.  I have one last thought on this point.  Who calls people to salvation?  Is it man?  No.  It is God, through the Holy Spirit.  Man only preaches the gospel.  He does not reach into the hearts of people to call them.      

For Paul to say that the Galatian Christians, of which some Jews, were forsaking God the Father, he would have been thinking in terms of the God of the Old Testament, meaning Yahweh, who, these Christians would still claim to believe in.  This might well have made them quite upset.  Paul was simply saying that you Galatians are actually forsaking the very God you claim to serve.

One thing to note concerning the word "one" in the English text is that there is not a corresponding Greek word in the Greek text.  Therefore, the word "one" is simply understood from the contextual structure of the sentence. This is partly why there is a discrepancy of opinion to who the "one'" Paul is speaking of.  

Concerning the "call of God" as seen here, many scholars point out that it is the work of God, through His Holy Spirit who actually calls people to Jesus and the gospel of Christ.  See 1 Thessalonians 2:12, 5:24, 2 Thessalonians 2:14, and 2 Timothy 1:9.

These people were turning to a different gospel. The Greek word translated as "different" implies something that is not just different but something that is the opposite to what they had already accepted as truth. This was not a shift in thinking, a minor change on some points. This was a desertion to something altogether different. It was an altogether different gospel, although Paul says in verse 7 that this is actually "no gospel at all". That is why this is an altogether different gospel, not merely an aberration of the true gospel.  The word gospel simply means "good news", and the so-called good news that they were in the process of believing was far from good news. It wasn’t good news at all. It wasn’t gospel. It was heresy. There is nothing good about working for your salvation when you already understood it to be free.

In verse 6 the "free" aspect to the gospel that Paul preached is seen in the word "grace".  The definition of this "grace" means "unmerited favour by God."  Man cannot do anything to receive salvation.  We cannot earn it; neither can we work for it.  It is free because God has chosen to bestow His love, mercy, and grace on us who don't deserve it.  It is important to note that even though salvation is free it is not cheap.  It is actually very expensive.  Jesus paid a high price for us to receive salvation for free.  This is the gospel that Paul preached.  It was not the gospel these people were considering switching to.  These people were thinking of working for their salvation by obeying certain rules.  This is why Paul is writing this letter.

If you had the choice to work a forty hour week and get paid, or not work a forty our week and still get paid the same amount as if you were working, what would you choose?  Most people would choose not to work and get paid instead of working and getting paid.  Most people view not working and being paid as good news.  Therefore changing your mind and wanting to go back to work and get paid can't really be seen as good news.  That's Paul's point here.   

Here is another thought concerning the gospel being free by God's grace, especially in respect to how the gospel relates to the Law Of Moses and works.  I'll take just one law from the Law of Moses.  In Numbers 15 a man is stoned for picking up sticks on the Sabbath day.  Now you tell, me, is that good news?  Remember, the word "gospel" means "good news".  What good news is this?  Leviticus 20:10 says an adulterous must be stoned, but in John 8:11 Jesus says that there is forgiveness available for the adulterous, that is, upon repentance and trusting her life to Jesus.  Now that's good news.  This is why Paul is so astonished that the Galatians are contemplating forsaking the gospel of Jesus and reverting back to the Law of Moses.  That's also why he calls this reverting back to another gospel as being no gospel, or, no good news, at all.       

In verse 6 Paul uses the term "another gospel", but in verse 7 he qualifies what he said by saying that what these people were about to switch to was not even another gospel.  It was no gospel at all.  Again, the word "gospel" means "good news", and Paul saw no good news in working for salvation, especially when that was not what God wanted, and also especially when it was free, and especially because Jesus did the work on the cross for us.  By saying that one had to work for his salvation, you are saying that what Jesus did on the cross is not good enough.  We, mere humans, need to improve on what Jesus, the Son of God, did for us.  I can't think of a worse sin than that.     

In verse 6 Paul says that these Christians "were so quickly deserting…"  This was not a gradual desertion over a long period of time.  This shows the importance that once we accept the gospel message, we right away get grounded it the gospel.  We should immediately be taught and learn as much and as fast as we can about Biblical truth or else we could end up in the same situation as these Galatian Christians.  I do believe this is one reason why so many Christians are deserting the faith these days, just as these people did in Paul's day. Good Biblical teaching is getting hard to find these days.  We spend more time than needed on such things as, how to improve your finances, your sex life, your self esteem, and other such things and not the important doctrines of the Bible.   

I believe the group called the Jehovah Witnesses are a cult, but one thing that they do which church groups could learn from is how they spend lots of time teaching, not only their new converts, but all of their converts.   What I don't like concerning this cult's teaching is that it is indoctrination, that is, you believe what we say or else.  There is no room for personal investigation of the Bible.   How you think and how you teach others is merely repeating what you have been indoctrinated with.  Personal Bible study, led by the Holy Spirit is very important for the Christian.

In verse 7 Paul says, "Some people are throwing you into confusion and trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.  These men were teaching a good news of works, that is, in order to be saved you had to do certain things which were diametrically opposed to Paul’s gospel of trusting in Jesus alone. This was leading to confusion on the part of the Galatians. These men were perverting the gospel, as Paul puts it.  These are strong words by Paul, and his words will get stronger.  But Paul is a man of great conviction, as we should be.  These events bothered Paul greatly, and they should bother us as well when they occur in today's church world.  

The good works that the false were trying to get the Galatian Christians to do came from the Law of Moses.  We will see later in Paul's letter that the Judaizers did not believe the cross of Christ was sufficient for salvation.  One had to obey the Law of Moses to really be saved.  Now Paul had been a strict Jew, a Pharisee, who put a lot of stock in the Law of Moses, but he was convinced that God's law that was given to Israel had now taken on a brand new meaning, and obeying it for the purpose of salvation was not part of that meaning.  The problem facing the Galatian Christians really bothered Paul, and it should bother us as well, but more often than not, even in the Evangelical church, we have done the same by adopting our own set of rules to obey in order to stay saved.   Obeying rules in order to stay saved is really no different than obeying rules to get save.  

Note the words "are throwing you into confusion" and "trying to pervert the gospel".  It appears from these words that the Galatians had not fully given themselves to this other gospel, although probably some had.  The Judaizers were in the process of causing these people to switch their allegiance.  When false doctrine is taught to those who have recently been saved, they can easily be confused.  That's part of the plan of satan.  In this state of confusion it is easy for the false teacher to get his way.  In today's Christian world when Biblical teaching is being pushed aside for other things, it's too easy for people to be confused.  This confusion causes them to give up and give into the false teaching.   

The Greek word translated as "pervert" here means to destroy or make useless, and if something is useless, you get rid of it.  This is the end goal to the Judaizers, and as we will see later, the real end goal was for the Judaizers to have their own following.  When having your own following is more important than caring for Jesus' flock and the real gospel of Jesus, you have departed from the ways of Christ.  In today's Evangelical world you often hear pastors refer to their congregation as "my people".  Such words are not New Testament thinking.  A pastor does not have his own people.  He simply cares for the people of Christ Jesus.   

In verse 8 Paul tells the Galatians that even if we or an angel from Heaven preach any other gospel other than the one he preached, "Let him be eternally condemned". These are strong words. Paul was saying, even if I change my mind, and preach to you something different, let me go to the Lake of Fire for ever. The same would apply even to an angel. Paul meant business here. He was upset. He did not want to see his work go down the drain. Most of all, he did not want to see these people lose their salvation. For if a person who would teach another gospel would deserve eternal condemnation, and then too would the person who accepts this false teaching deserve such a punishment as eternal damnation.  To me, this suggests that one who is saved has the possibility of losing his salvation. 

I often wonder how Paul would feel today if he were here to see today's church.  Somehow I think he would be saying the same thing.

Concerning the word "preach" that we read in this passage we need a bit more understanding.  More often than not in modern times we view "preaching' as something a "preacher" does behind a pulpit, but that's not really the New Testament concept of preaching.  Preaching the good news of Jesus is simply proclaiming it, or speaking it, no matter where or how you speak it.  And it also doesn't matter who is speaking the gospel.  All Christians speak, or preach, the good news of Jesus, not just people we call preachers.   Also preaching is not just relegated to a pulpit.

In verse 9 we see Paul's intensity.  He repeats what he has just said.  He tells the Galatians again that anyone who preaches anything differently than what they have already heard deserved eternal condemnation.  How things would be so different in the church today if we had such heart felt conviction as Paul had, and as we can see here.  Heart felt conviction in today's church is being replaced by the humanistic and worldly philosophy of tolerance.  Tolerance is good to a degree, but tolerance at the expense of Biblical truth is not right.  

In 2011 one movement within Evangelical circles is called "the Emergent Church ".  Part of the teaching of this movement is to mix Christianity with other religions, which in one real sense of the word is what the Judaizers were doing.  This mixture is heretical.  The latest movement in 2011 that combines Islam with Christianity is called "Crislam" and is one huge heresy.        

Verse 10 says, "Am I now trying to win the approval of men"?  Certainly not. By speaking these words Paul would definitely lose the approval of many. He was trying to please God by preaching His Gospel.

Paul says that he was "not trying to please men". He was not saying this in an arrogant or disobedient spirit. He was not trying to be a rugged individualist. His heart’s desire was to please God by serving man. Many times in today’s world we hear people repeating these words, but they are often doing so from a spirit of rebellion, not from a real spirit of wanting to please God.  Not so with Paul.

There is a difference between pleasing man and serving man. Paul did not please men but he certainly served men. How did Paul give his life to God? He did so by serving men as he preached the good news to them. Paul went through exceeding great hardships in order to bring salvation to as many who would accept it. Paul was a true servant of God. The Greek word "doulos" means bond servant. Paul claimed to be a bond servant. A bond servant was one who chose to serve a master. He was allowed to go free if he wanted to, but he chose to stay and serve his master voluntarily. Paul chose to serve God by serving man, but he did not please man. He pleased God by serving man. 

When I think of Christian monks over the centuries who claimed to serve God by secluding themselves from the world and humanity, I don't see what they were doing as serving God.  Again, one serves God by serving man in such a way that men and women will come to Jesus.  

The Bible often speaks about the "fear of the Lord".   Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus as seen in Acts 9, and from that day onward, he had a healthy fear of God.   The fear of the Lord that the Bible talks about is more than reverence.  It is being afraid of God.  He is awesome.   

This section ends with Paul saying, "If I still pleased man, I would not be a servant of Christ."   If you see any Christian leader, or any Christian as far as that goes, trying to please men, you know they are not serving Jesus, even if they say they are.  This gets to the motivation of many Christian ministries today.  Some ministries grow, get real popular, and are tempted to be crowd pleasers.  We have a "superstar" mentality in the world today that has infiltrated the church.  Christian leaders and ministries should not be "superstars" but "servants". 

I think that in today's church we think more of "believing in Jesus" that actually "serving Jesus."  Every Christian should view himself as a servant, a bond servant to the Lord Jesus.  Remember, Jesus is Lord and that means He is our Lord.

Note the word "still" in verse 10.  It suggests that when Paul was a Pharisee, prior to his conversion, one of his main goals in life was to please men, and in his case, please those in authority over him.  This is the tendency of man.  Please those above you so you can climb the latter of success.  That was Paul's pre-Christian way of life.

Note also the word "men' in verse 10.  It is an intensified form of the Greek word for men.  This means that Paul is emphasizing the fact that he was not pleasing "men", but God.

 

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