About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
2011 one movement within Evangelical circles is called "the
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.
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.
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
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
Bible often speaks about the "fear of the Lord".
Paul met Jesus on the road to
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
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.
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.
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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