August 17, 2013

The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Galatians

Tom Lowe

I. Introduction (1:1-10)

Chapter I.B Denunciation (1:6-10)

Galatians 1.6-10 (KJV)

6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 

7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 

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. 

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. 

10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. 


Paul was disappointed because many new converts were following false teachers who taught a “different” gospel, meaning “another of a different kind.” The Judaizers, who were a legalistic Jewish party within the early church, tried to combine Christ’s message of salvation within the context of the Mosaic Law. Immature Christians believed their distorted teachings, which demanded more than justification by faith alone. Those who attempt to establish any other way to heaven than what the gospel of Christ reveals will find themselves facing an angry Redeemer on the Day of Judgment. The apostle shows the Galatian believers they are at fault for forsaking the gospel way of justification, which produced in them a sense of guilt; yet he does not haul them over coals but deals with them with tenderness, and maintains they were drawn into it by the deceit of the false teachers who had come amongst them. They had established the works of the law in the place of Christ's righteousness, and therefore they were guilty of corrupting Christianity. The gospel of the grace of Christ is the only one that can bring salvation to sinners; all other gospels are false and the apostle solemnly denounces, as accursed, everyone who attempts to teach another gospel. This includes the gospel of good works, because though we may declare that those who do not live a moral life dishonor Christ and destroy true religion, we must also declare, that all dependence for justification on good works is just as fatal to those who continue to do it. While we are eager to do good works, let us be careful not to put them in the place of Christ's righteousness, and not to do anything which may lead others to believe such a dreadful fantasy.


6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 

I marvel

The word “marvel” (Gr thaumazō) was used often by Greek orators to denote surprise at something reprehensible and it can also be translated “amazed,” “astonished,” and “bewildered,” and even “dumbfounded.” Paul is expressing his surprise and alarm at the indecisiveness of the Galatians. Their defection from what he had taught them filled him with great surprise and sorrow; they failed to keep hold of the doctrine of Christianity as he had preached it to them, and the defection happened so suddenly. 

“I Marvel” is such a gentle expression that it appears Paul may have used as mild a word as possible. He does not severely scold them, but instead, he expresses his astonishment that something like this could occur. They had willingly embraced the gospel; they had displayed a fond attachment to him; they had given themselves to God; and yet, in a very short time, they had been led astray, and had embraced opinions which could only pervert and destroy the gospel. They had shown an instability and inconstancy of character which to him was sinful and damaging to the Christian religion. The apostle marveled that people, so soundly converted to God, could have so soon made a shipwreck of their faith. The situation pained him because he had hoped for better things from them, but they turned out so different from his expectations.


that ye are so soon removed 

There are two schools of thought (that I am aware of) pertaining to the meaning of the words “too soon.” One is that it refers to how soon it occurred after Paul’s visit; and the other, that it means “so quickly,” referring to the rapidity of their apostasy. We have no way of knowing for sure what really happened in these churches, but it is likely that both schools of thought are correct—the defection happened soon after Paul left them, and their slide into apostasy was a rapid one. Instead of ushering the legalists out the door—“If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him” (2 John 1:10; NKJV)—these churches gullibly listened to their false teaching. The Galatians were very fickle and easily induced to change. False teaching produces spiritual delinquency. Corrupt teaching always leads to corrupt living. 

If this Epistle was written from Corinth, the interval between Paul leaving and their desertion would be a little more than three years, which would be "soon" to have fallen away, if their faith was sound at the time of his visit, which it appears to have been—“But it is good to be zealous in a good thing always, and not only when I am present with you” (Galatians 4.18; NKJV). If it was written from Ephesus, the interval would be no more than one year. If they had maintained their faith during the three years of his first absence, and only turned aside after his second visit, they could not be rightly charged with adhering to the truth only when he was present: the reason being that his first absence was longer than both his visits, and they would have obeyed longer in his "absence" than in his "presence." But if their decline had begun soon after he left them, and before his return to them, the rebuke was justified. This proves that the epistle was written not long after the gospel was first preached to them. According to the generally held belief, it could not have been more than from two to five years. If their decline was gradual; if they had gone for years without hearing the gospel; or had they had time to forget the apostle who had first preached to them, it would not have been a matter of surprise. But when it occurred in a few months and their love for Paul, and their confidence in him had vanished so quickly, and when they in such a little while embraced opinions which tended to set the whole gospel aside, it could not keep from exciting his wonder. Wherever there is found young converts that are experiencing the passion of the first love of God, there is also an effort made by the adversary to turn their hearts from him, by skills and arguments adapted to turn away their minds from the truth, and to alienate them from the affections of God. 

In classical Greek, this word removed (Gr metatithēmi) was used when describing a turncoat. The Galatians were deserting Christ and turning traitor. The present tense indicates: (1) that the transfer had begun; (2) that it was in progress; and (3) that it was not yet complete. Paul is not despondent because there is some hope of spiritual recovery and restoration. All is not lost, but time is of a premium

 from him that called you 

There has been a great difference of opinion in regard to the meaning of this phrase. Some say that it refers to God, others to Christ, and still others to Paul himself. They all make good sense, and convey an idea that agrees with the Scriptures in other places. It is not possible, perhaps, to determine the true meaning. It does not seem to me to refer to Paul, since the main objective of the epistle is not to show that they had defected from him, but from the gospel—a far more serious offence; and it seems to me that it refers to God. 

There was something that made their defection so awful: That they were removed from him that had called them; not only from the apostle, who had been the instrument of calling them into the fellowship of the gospel, but from God himself, by whose order and direction the gospel was preached to them: so that in this they had become guilty of a great abuse of his kindness and mercy towards them. This assertion should have startled the Galatians who probably thought they were honoring God by trying to keep His law. Their departure from God was dangerous and dreadful. They were abandoning God and His grace by putting themselves under the law and its curse. 

The work of calling men is usually, in the Scriptures, attributed to God, for example:

1 Thess 2:12 (NKJV) “That you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.” 

2 Thess 2:14 (NKJV) “To which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 

2 Tim 1:9 (NKJV) “Who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.” 

into the grace of Christ 

This clause can also be rendered, "into the covenant of grace which is by Christ." It is the method of salvation which is by or through “the grace of Christ.” There is no doubt that it refers to the plan of salvation which is by Christ, or in Christ; and the main idea is, that the scheme of salvation which they had embraced under his instruction, was one which consider salvation only by the grace or favor of Christ; and that from that they had been removed (or removed themselves) to another scheme, which is essentially different; a scheme where the grace of Christ was made useless and void. It is Paul's objective to show that the true plan of salvation makes Christ the great and prominent object; and that the plan which they had embraced was, in this respect, entirely different.

"The grace of Christ," is Christ's gratuitously purchased and bestowed justification, reconciliation, and eternal life. They had been ‘CALLED’ “into the grace of Christ.” They probably were not looking for Christ when God called them: they did not find Him in the Old Testament scriptures or in the traditions and ceremonies of the synagogue: they found Him in the gospel which had been preached to them; it was the most glorious discovery of divine grace and mercy in Christ Jesus; so they had been called to partake of the greatest blessings and benefits, such as justification, and reconciliation with God here, and eternal life and happiness hereafter. Our Lord Jesus has purchased these for us at the expense of his precious blood, and freely bestows them upon all who sincerely accept Him: and therefore, it is hard to understand how they could set aside the great privileges they enjoyed, in favor of a system God had abandoned. God called the Galatians to salvation which was: (1) purchased at Calvary; (2) offered in and by grace; and (3) to be accepted by faith. All that God requires of man, He has already provided by grace in Christ.

There is a test for the Gospel is grace. If the message excludes grace, or mingles law with grace as the means of either of justification or sanctification (Gal 2:21; Gal 3:1-3) or denies the fact or guilt of sin which alone gives grace its occasion and opportunity, it is "another" gospel, and the preacher of it is under the anathema of God (Gal 1:8, 9). 

unto another gospel:

There are two Greek words which mean another. One (Gr allos) means another of the same kind; and the other (Gr heteros) means another of a different kind. Here the meaning is that there is no other gospel, although the legalists had brought them a different kind of teaching, which they claimed to be the gospel. There is an essential difference between the true gospel and a man-made, counterfeit gospel [For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him (2 Cor 11:4 (KJV) Gal 1:6 shows that the Judaizers perverted the gospel to the extent that it was really another gospel. Therefore, Paul tells the Galatians, “There would be an excuse for your conduct, though a bad one (for ye ought to give heed to no Gospel other than what ye have already heard from me, Ga 1:6, 7); but the false teachers do not even pretend they have "another Jesus" and a "different Gospel" to bring before you; they merely try to supplant me, your accredited Teacher. Yet ye not only "bear with" them, but prefer them.”]. There is only one gospel concerning the Son of God who became a man in order to become the propitiation (an appeasement) for the sins of the whole world [And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. (1 John 2:2 (NKJV). Christ is the propitiation, the mercy seat, the meeting place between God and man. Propitiation means “atonement.” It means that sins have been paid for by the suffering of another. Christ is my Advocate, interceding for me, and He Himself is the propitiation.] Christ’s finished work at Calvary enables God to be just and the justifier of him who believes in Christ [To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. (Romans 3:26 (KJV)] God has no other gospel, and He cannot and will not tolerate the perversion of His gospel.

In the very early ages of the Christian Church there were several bogus gospels in circulation, and it was the multitude of these false or inaccurate narrations that induced St. Luke to write his own [Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us. (Luke 1.1 (KJV) Apparently there were a number of early attempts to record parts of Christ’s life and work, and also the beginnings of the New Testament church after His death and resurrection. These early narratives were probably written by other believers. They may have been truthful, authentic, and genuine accounts, but they were not God-breathed (II Tim 3:16), and thus passed off the scene as they were replaced by the inspired documents penned by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.] I have read that seventy of these false gospels (or parts of them) have been collected and published as a book: these were “another gospel” since they were not God inspired.

There are two aspects of the gospel; (1) the facts of the gospel, and (2) the interpretation of the facts. The facts of the gospel are the death, burial, and bodily resurrection of Christ. Paul said to the Corinthians, “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received [Paul didn’t originate the gospel; he received it], how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3–4)]. These are the historical facts of the gospel which cannot be changed. You have never preached the gospel unless you have stated these facts. The second aspect of the gospel is the interpretation of the facts. They are to be received by faith plus nothing.

The subject of Paul’s letter to the Galatian believers concerns the interpretation of the facts of the gospel. The Judaizers had followed Paul into the Galatian country. They did not challenge the facts of the gospel. After all, five hundred people at once saw the Lord Jesus after His resurrection. When you have that many people around as witnesses, you don’t run around denying the facts of the gospel. The heresy they were promoting concerned the interpretation of those facts. They were very sly and subtle and said something like this, “Did Brother Paul come here among you?” The folk would say, “Yes, he came and preached the gospel and we accepted it. We are converted. We know Christ as our Savior, and we are in the body of believers.” The Judaizers would respond, “Oh, that’s wonderful. Brother Paul is accurate as far as he goes, but he doesn’t go far enough. Did he tell you that you should keep the Mosaic Law? Oh, he didn’t? Well, he should have told you that. Yes, you are to trust Christ, but you must also follow the Mosaic Law or you won’t be saved.”

This is one of the oldest heresies known, and it is still with us today. It is adding something to the gospel of grace; it is doing something rather than simply believing something. It is faith plus something rather than faith plus nothing. Every cult and “ism” has something for you to do in order to be saved.

It is interesting that Paul said to the Philippian jailer, “… Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved …” (Acts 16:31). Simon Peter said to the Sanhedrin, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Christ told the apostles to preach the gospel of salvation by grace. They were not to do anything to gain their salvation, but they were to trust what Christ already had done for them. The gospel shuts out all works.

Now Paul is writing to the Galatian believers and saying, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel”—


7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 

Which is not another; 

There is a great variety of views in regard to the meaning of this expression, some of which are listed below:

1. Tindal translates it, "Which is nothing else, but there be some that trouble you." 

2. Locke renders it, "Which is not owing to anything else, but only this, that ye are troubled with a certain sort of men who would overturn the gospel of Christ."  

3. Rosenmuller, Koppe, Bloomfield, and others, give a different view; and according to them the sense is, "Which, however, is not another gospel, or indeed the gospel at all," etc. According to this opinion, the intention of the apostle was to state that what they taught had none of the elements or characteristics of the gospel. It was a different scheme, and one which taught an entirely different method of justification before God. It seems to me that this is the true sense of the passage, and that Paul means to teach them that the system, though it was called the gospel, was essentially different from that which he had taught, and which consisted in simple reliance on Christ for salvation. The system which they taught was, in fact, the Mosaic system—the Jewish form, which depended on religious rites and ceremonies, and therefore it did not deserve to be called the gospel. This kind would load them with the heavy burden of rites, ceremonies, and cumbersome traditions, from which the gospel was designed to deliver them. 

The Judaizers called it a gospel, but it was different and therefore no gospel at all; it was a perversion of the only gospel of Christ, by false teachers. A message of salvation by works is not good news for lost sinners. The message of the legalists was diametrically opposed to the gospel of God’s grace. When the works of the law are added to grace, you no longer have grace. If the clause is read, “There is no other gospel (i.e., than the true),” the sense becomes perfectly clear, and it forms an appropriate introduction to the succeeding anathemas by its emphatic testimony to the one true gospel.” 

but there be some that trouble you, 

The Greek word (Gr tarassō) which has been translated “trouble” means to agitate, to trouble, to cause inward turmoil, to disturb mentally with fear, enthusiasm, and confusion. The present tense indicates that the legalists were in Galatia at the time Paul wrote this letter, and they were confusing the Galatians and undermining their allegiance to Christ. 

Although their gospel is clearly another system and not the gospel at all, yet there were some persons who are capable of causing them trouble, and of unsettling your minds, by making it believable. They pretended that they had come directly from the apostles at Jerusalem; that they received their instructions from them and that they preached the true gospel, like that which the apostles teach in Jerusalem. They pretend that Paul was called into the office of an apostle after them; that he had never seen the Lord Jesus; that he had derived his information only from others; and in this way they are able to present a reasonable argument, and to trouble the minds of the Galatians. 


and would pervert the gospel of Christ.

The word “pervert” is the Greek word metastrephai. It is a strong word, used by Dr. Luke in speaking of the sun turned to darkness (See Acts 2:20) and it means to completely change into something of the opposite nature, and by James, when speaking of laughter turned to mourning (See James 4:9), where the legalists were determined to pervert the gospel by substituting law for grace, circumcision for the cross, works for faith, bondage for liberty, and self for Christ.

In the Greek, the words translated into “would pervert” has the sense of "wish to pervert"; they could not really pervert the Gospel, though they could pervert those who professed belief in the Gospel (See Ga 4:9, 17, 21; Ga 6:12, 13; Col 2:18). Although they acknowledged Christ, they insisted on circumcision and Jewish ordinances and alleged they acted upon the authority of other apostles, namely, Peter and James. But Paul recognizes no gospel, except the pure Gospel. Any attempt to change the gospel has the effect of making it the very opposite of what it really is. This is important to see. Any change in the gospel of Christ is a corruption, interfering with its simplicity, its purity, and its effectiveness. It would lead, to the denial of the necessity of dependence on the merits of the Lord Jesus for salvation, and would substitute dependence on rites and ceremonies. The legalists are determined to pervert the gospel, and Paul writes to hinder their success. 

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. 

But though we, 

That is, we the apostles. He probably refers to himself, since Paul often used the plural when speaking of himself. He alludes here, possibly, to an accusation made against him by the false teachers in Galatia, that he had changed his views since he was with them, and now preached differently from what he did at first. They probably attempted to fortify their own opinions in regard to the obligations of the Mosaic law, by announcing that though Paul when he was with them had insisted that the observance of the law was not necessary for salvation, he had changed his views, and now proclaimed the same doctrine on the subject that they did. There is no way to tell what they relied on to support this opinion. It is certain, however, that Paul did, on some occasions, (See Acts 21:21-26,) comply with the Jewish rites; and it is not improbable that they were acquainted with that fact, and used the occasion to prove that he had changed his opinion on the subject. In any event, it would make their allegation credible, that Paul was now in favor of observing the Jewish rites and that if he had ever taught differently, he must now have changed his opinion. Paul, therefore, begins his remarks by denying this in the most earnest manner. He asserts that the gospel which he preached to them at first was the true gospel. It contained the great doctrines of salvation. It was to be regarded by them as if it was set in stone, that there was no other way of salvation but by the merits of the Saviour. No matter who taught anything else, man or angel; no matter if it is alleged that he had changed his mind; no matter even if he should preach another gospel; and no matter if an angel from heaven should announce any other method of salvation, it was to be considered a confirmed fact, that the true gospel had been preached to them at first. 

If an angel should appear to me right now and say, “You are right as far as you go, but you also have to do something to be saved”; or if an angel should appear to you as you read this and say, “Tom Lowe is correct as far as he goes, but you have to do something else,” both you and I should say, “Get out of here; I’m not listening to you even though you are an angel from heaven.”

My friend, in our day we hear many speakers who are trying to give us another “gospel.” They may look like angels to you—after all, Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light, and his ministers are transformed as the ministers of righteousness (See 2 Cor. 11:14–15). 

 or an angel from heaven, 

This is a very strong metaphorical expression. We are not to think that an angel from heaven would preach anything other than the true gospel. But Paul wants to present the strongest possible case, and to state, in the strongest manner possible, that the true gospel had been preached to them. The great system of salvation had been taught; and no other was to be acknowledge—no matter who preached it, no matter what the character or rank of the preacher, and the impressive credentials he may have do not matter. It follows from this, that the mere rank, character, talent, eloquence, or spirituality of a preacher, does not necessarily give his doctrine a claim to our belief, or prove that his gospel is true. Great talents maybe prostituted; and no matter what may be the rank, and talents, and eloquence, and piety of the preacher, if what he preaches does not line up with the gospel which was first preached, he is to be considered accursed. 

Paul may have used the hypothetical situation of an angel preaching a false gospel, because angelic authority is the highest possible next to that of God and Christ. Paul said that when He was with them they treated him like an angel, and even as Christ Jesus [And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.” (Gal 4:14 (KJV)]. A new revelation, even though it may seen to be accompanied by miracles, is not to be accepted if it contradicts the already existing revelation. Because, God cannot contradict Himself [For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. (Mat. 24.24 (KJV).  Don’t miss what He is saying here. The ability to work miracles in our day should be looked upon with suspicion because the next great miracle worker will not be Christ; he will be Antichrist with his false prophets. Now here is something wonderful— the phrase, if it were possible … shall deceive the very elect clearly indicates that those who have been truly saved cannot be deceived and fall away; because, even if it were humanly possible, the Lord will stop it by shortening (hastening) His coming. And He will straighten out the situation in Galatia through this letter from Paul and another visit by the apostle.].  

Paul does not say that he or a messenger from heaven was likely to preach any other gospel. He merely uses a future hypothetical possibility in order to make his statement emphatic. These false teachers said, “Our gospel is of Peter, or of James.” Paul replies, “Even though they, or we, or even an angel, preach another gospel, let him be accursed.” He who corrupts divine truth is an enemy of God, and is under the curse. This passage directly speaks against such claims as that of the Mormons, whose Book of Mormon claims angelic authority as delivered by the Angel Moroni and “translated” by their founder Joseph Smith.


preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, “Any other gospel,” is any gospel that differs from that which was first preached to you; any system of doctrines which goes to deny the necessity of simple dependence on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. Paul is saying, “That Gospel which I have already preached to you is the only true Gospel; were I to preach any other, I should incur the curse of God. If your false teachers pretend, as many in early times did, that they received their revelation by the ministry of an angel, let them be accursed; separate them from your company, and have no religious communion with them. Leave them to that God who will show his displeasure against all who corrupt, all who add to, and all who take from the word of his revelation.

There is also a warning here for all those who, from the fickleness of their own minds, are ready to accept and promote the doctrine of every bogus prophet and prophetess who are with them at the time: bear in mind, that in the law, the receiver of stolen goods is as bad as the thief; so those who encourager such imitation apostles are as bad, in the sight of God, as those impostors themselves. What does the word of God say to them? Let them be accursed. 

let him be accursed. 

“Let him be accursed (given over to the judgments of God)” is an “anathema” on anyone who would proclaim a gospel contrary to that which Paul delivered and had received from God [For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures (I Cor 15:3–4 (KJV). Paul is not speaking of his personal salvation experience but the fact that the gospel which he preached was from direct revelation of God.]. God does not want His Word twisted by unlearned and unstable men, since they may cause the destruction of souls [Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. (II Pet 3:17 (KJV). Peter encourages them to be on their guard beware, (meaning “guard,” or “protect” yourselves) that they do not get dragged off with these false teachers and fall from their own steadfastness. He encourages them rather to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.]. God said what He meant, and He meant what He said. God can do nothing less than put an awful curse on all who reject, pervert and falsify the gospel of His Son. It was the Holy Spirit who moved Paul to write these serious words. We must never forget that the awful day of doom and destruction is coming when the divine “anathema” pronounced here will be executed [And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; (II Thess 1:7–9 (KJV). The judgment of the lost is coming. If you want to stay in that class, you shall be judged. Somebody needs to tell you the facts, and I am telling them to you right now. Who are the lost? They are those who (1) “know not God” and who (2) “obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Let me repeat verse 9: “Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power. May God’s people everywhere stand with Paul in opposition to false teaching. May God help us to believe the gospel, to behave the gospel, and to become living epistles of the gospel.

The objective of Paul is to express the greatest possible loathing for any other doctrine than that which he had preached himself. His hatred for false doctrine was so great, that, says Luther, "he casteth out very flames of fire; and his zeal is so fervent, that he beginneth almost to curse the angels." It follows from this: 

1. That any other doctrine than that which is proclaimed in the Bible on the subject of justification, is to be rejected and treated with disgust, no matter what the rank, talent, or eloquence of the one who preached it. 

2. That we are not to patronize or approve of such preachers. No matter what their enthusiasm, or their apparent sincerity, or their apparent holiness, or their apparent success, or their real boldness in rebuking sin, we are to withdraw from them. We are to especially withdraw from that instruction which denies the great doctrines of salvation—that pure gospel which the Lord Jesus and the apostle taught. If Paul would regard even an angel as doomed to destruction, and as held accursed, should he preach any other doctrine, certainly I should not approve of it, nor should we patronize it by attending the services of such a ministry. They will be made to answer for their actions when they must stand before the One whose gospel they have slandered on the Great Day, I would not want to be in their shoes.

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. 

As we said before, so say I now again, 

The language of this verse is too forceful for one to not give it the proper consideration. The plural number “we” shows that the previous warning (v. 8) was given by others in addition to Paul. The idea expressed in Galatians 1:8 is repeated here because of its importance. It is common in the Scriptures, and in many other places (especially when preaching), to repeat a statement in order to reinforce the impression of its importance and its truth. Paul was determined not be misunderstood on this point. He would not leave any room for doubt as to his meaning. He would not give anyone a reason to suppose that he had expressed the sentiment in Galatians 1:8 hastily; and therefore he repeats it for emphasis. 

There are at least three opinions held with regard to the meaning of this part of the verse, which are as follows:

1. Paul no doubt had warned the Galatian believers of the dangers of false teachers as he did the Ephesian elders [“I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. And men from among yourselves will rise up with deviant doctrines to lure the disciples into following them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for three years I did not stop warning each one of you with tears. And now I commit you to God and to the message of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you an inheritance among all who are sanctified” (Acts 20:29–32; HCS). False teachers are compared to wolves, for their skill and cunning, and for their greedy, covetous, and ravenous temperaments. They were very critical of Paul and the true gospel, and they caused trouble in the church; Paul knew these men were devious and would join the community of believers without revealing their true intentions, and take up the position of preachers, without being called or sent. The Greek word rendered “said” is prolegō which means that it was a certain and clear pronouncement. The Galatians still remember Paul’s warning, and therefore their defection is inexcusable. The phrase “If any man” expresses a fulfilled condition. Paul is not speaking of a future possibility as he did in verse 8, but of an actual, current fact, and he hurls the anathema directly at the legalists.

2. It is generally supposed that Paul is referring to his last visit to Galatia, which he mentioned in Acts 18:23 (HCS) [“And [after] spending some time there, he set out, traveling through one place after another in the Galatian territory and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.”  Paul, along with his traveling companions Timotheus and Erastus, Gaius and Aristarchus visited several churches in succession. In addition to addressing the defections from the faith that we have been discussing it was on this visitation that he ordained the weekly collection (See 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2), which was eventually adopted throughout the churches of Christ.], at which time he had warned the brethren against the Judaizers. The strong language shows how great a sin it is to pervert the gospel or Bible truth. 

It is implied here that he had already observed (during his last visit) the fraud and trickery of the Judaizing teachers: but his surprise (See Ga 1:6) he now shows at the Galatians being misled by them, implies that apparently they had not been as influential and dangerous then. 

3. Paul is referring here to the previous verse. It is equivalent to saying, "As I have just said." It cannot be supposed that he had said this when he was with them, since it cannot be believed that he anticipated that his doctrines would be perverted, and that another gospel would be preached to them.

Note the omission in verse 9 of “we or an angel.”


If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, 

The phrase “If any man” expresses a fulfilled condition. Paul is not speaking of a future probability (vs. 8), but of an actual, current fact, and he hurls the anathema directly at the legalists. 

These Jewish teachers were preaching an “another gospel,” one that was significantly different from the one the apostle had preached to them, and Paul is scolding the Galatian Christians for believing it and supporting the false teachers. I would not want to be in their shoes when they must stand before the Judge of the whole universe on the Great Day. The Judaizers will certainly wish they had never taught it, and the Galatians will undoubtedly regret they ever believed it. The Lord has issued this warning for those who add to, take away, or in any way distort His Holy Word: The Bible has I testify to everyone who hears the prophetic words of this book: “I testify to everyone who hears the prophetic words of this book: If anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book.” (Rev. 22.18; HCS). The whole spirit of the Scripture is against adding to or taking from the Lord's words. This is a warning against counterfeit revelations. This warning is also found in the Old Testament: “You must not add anything to what I command you or take anything away from it, so that you may keep the commands of the Lord your God I am giving you” (Deuteronomy 4:2; HCS).

In the previous verse Paul wrote, "That which we have preached," but by changing the wording to “that ye have received” he probably meant to remind them that they had at one time solemnly professed to embrace that system. It had not only been “preached” to them, it had been embraced by them. The teachers of the new system, therefore, were really opposed to the gospel he had preached to the Galatians; to that which they knew to be true. Therefore the apostle pronounced a curse on them for two reasons; first, because they preached what the Galatians themselves knew to be false and contrary to that which they had themselves professed to be true; and second, because the new gospel they proclaimed was untrue and in opposition to the true gospel.

let him be accursed.

Paul says, in strong language, “If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed,” which literally means let him be damned. Dear reader, I cannot make that statement any stronger.

It is clear from this and other statements that the Apostle Paul was extremely confident that the gospel he had preached to them was the only true gospel. He was so completely convinced of this that he pronounced an anathema upon those who pretended to preach any other gospel (v. 8), and, to let them know that he had not made a recklessness judgment due to his eagerness to condemn these false teachers, he repeated it (v. 9). This will not justify our announcing anathemas against those who differ from us in minor things. Paul is our example in this and it is only against those who bring a new gospel, who overturn the foundation of the covenant of grace by setting up the works of the law in the place of Christ’s righteousness, and corrupting Christianity with Judaism, that Paul declares an anathema. He framed his argument like so: "Suppose we should preach another gospel; or, suppose an angel from heaven should do so: not as if it were possible for an angel from heaven to be the messenger of a lie; but he expressed it this way in order to strengthen what he was about to say. "If you have any other gospel preached to you by any other person, even though they claim to have received it from me, or from an angel himself, you must conclude they are either misinformed or bearing false witness: and whoever preaches another gospel places himself under a curse, and you are in danger of being placed under it too.”

The gospel excludes all works. Romans 4:5 says, “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” A lot of people today think they have to become good enough to be saved. My brother tried to use that excuse when I explained the gospel to him. He was truly a gross sinner, and he said to me, “Tom, if I went to church the building would probably fall down. I am going to try to be a little better, and if I improve, I let you know.” I said to him, “If you improve, you will never become a Christian. The only class that God is saving is the ungodly. The Lord Jesus said He didn’t come to call the righteous; He came to call sinners. The reason He said that was because there is none righteous, no, not one. Even the righteousness of man is as filthy rags in God’s sight. No one is ever good enough to be saved, but grace can save us.”

Romans 3:19 tells us that, “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” The real difficulty is not that people should be “good enough” to be saved, but that they are not “bad enough” to be saved. Humanity refuses to recognize its lost condition before God. This is the human predicament.

The Judaizers did not deny the facts of the gospel—that Jesus died and rose again. What they denied was that this was sufficient. They insisted that you have to keep the Law plus trusting Christ. Paul is saying that whoever tries to mingle law and grace—let him be damned! Why? Because they pervert the gospel. They do not deny the fact of the gospel, but they misinterpret those facts. They pervert the gospel.

10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. 

      For do I now persuade men, or God? 

What Paul had said generally, in the preface of this epistle (vv. 1-5), he now enlarges upon. There he had declared himself to be an apostle of Christ; and here he supports his claim to that office by showing that he has the character of an apostle. There were some in the churches of Galatia who denied that he had the credentials of an apostle, because those who preached that the ceremonial law must was part of the gospel did all they could to belittle Paul’s reputation, since he preached nothing but the pure gospel of Christ to the Gentiles.  Here Paul sets out to prove the divinity of both his mission and doctrine, that by this means he might wipe away the disparaging accusations which his enemies had made against him and against his doctrine, and then to bring these Christians to have a better opinion of the gospel he had preached to them. 

The meaning of “For do I now persuade men, or God” may be either: 

1) That when preaching the gospel he did not act in obedience to men, but God, who had called him to this work and to the office of apostle. 

2) That his aim in that office was to bring persons to the obedience, not of men, but of God. Since he claimed to have been commissioned by God, his chief aim was to promote His glory, by converting sinners, through the preaching of the gospel. 

The word “persuade” means “to make a friend of.” The Scofield Reference Bible translates it “seek the favor of.” In 1 Thessalonians 2:4 it is rendered “please God” [But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak ; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts” (1 Thess 2.4; KJV).] in contrast to self or others. The preaching of the gospel is not pleasing to lost man. No man can please both God and man.

If you preach the gospel of grace today, you may get into trouble because it is the gospel of the grace of God that the sinner hates. Many unsaved church members do not want to hear the message of grace. They want to hear a message that appeals to the flesh. The gospel of grace puts us in the dust and makes us beggars before God.

Man has a nature that thrives on legalism. He thinks he doesn’t need a Savior. All he needs is a helper. My dear reader, we are going down for the third time! We need somebody to save us. Those who preach law are popular. There is a Southern California preacher who has a television ministry. From a technical and professional standpoint he has one of the finest programs. In his message he talks about Jesus coming into the world. He speaks of Christ’s death and resurrection. But he failed to mention that the people to whom he was speaking were sinners and needed a Savior. He neglected to inform his audience that Jesus died for them and they needed to trust Him to be saved. Rather, he talked about commitment. He invited folk to commit their lives to Christ. Let us be honest. Christ does not want your old life and He does not want mine. We have nothing to commit to Him. He wants to do something through us today. Oh, if only we could learn that!

God is not even asking you to live the Christian life. In fact, you cannot live it; no one ever has, not even Paul. God is asking that He might live the Christian life through you. The Epistle to the Galatians teaches this. But first of all we must come to Christ as sinners and be saved. Our churches are filled today with people who are not saved. Do you know why? They have never come to Christ and received Him as Savior. They feel like they have something to commit to Him. You have nothing to commit to Him, dear reader. He wants to commit something to you. He is the One who died, and He is on the giving end. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). It is just as simple as that. Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior? This is the important thing.

The word "now" is used here, evidently, to express a contrast between his present and his former purpose of life. Before his conversion to Christianity, he admits, that his aim was to curry the favor of men; that he derived his authority from them [“And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem” (Acts 9:1, 2; KJV). Of this way means the way of Christ, a phrase often applied in the New Testament to Christianity. Paul's commission, while given in the name of the high priest, was from the Sanhedrim (Acts 26:10 ).], that he acted in a way that would please them and gain their friendship, if possible. But now he says he has changed, and this was not his objective. Now he has a higher aim. It was to please God, and to obtain his favor. While the apostle was a persecutor of the Christians, he was the servant of men, and pleased men. When he embraced the Christian doctrine, he became the servant of GOD, and pleased HIM. He therefore hints that he was a far different person now from what he had been while a Jew. The object of this verse may be to show that he had not now received his commission from men, but had received it from God. Perhaps one of those false teachers had made an allegation in regard to him. It may have been alleged that he had changed his mind, and he was now an observer of the laws of Moses. To this, perhaps, he replies, in this verse, that such conduct would not have been inconsistent, in his opinion, when it was his main purpose to please men, and when he derived his commission from them; but that now he had a higher aim. His purpose was to please God; and he was not aiming in any way to gratify men. 


or do I seek to please men? 

This means to win over, to appease, and to cause to be friendly to one’s self. These rhetorical questions indicate that an attack has been made on Paul for the purpose of discrediting both him and his ministry. He denies the charges. Paul was not attempting to win them over to his way of thinking by avoiding or toning down his teaching of those unpopular truths, so that he might by some means win some of them for Christ. And neither was he trying to persuade God to tone down His message. Paul’s loyalty to Christ and his sufferings for Christ were evidences that he was not seeking man’s approval, but his Lord’s “well done.” He has no desire to please anyone but Christ, whose he is and whom he serves [“For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve” (Acts 27:23; KJV). This is an expression of Paul‘s complete devotedness to Christ.]; this was the great goal he was pursuing; so much so that he did not “seek to please men.” He did not embrace a doctrine aimed at accommodating himself to the self-indulgences of men, either to gain their respect or to avoid their resentment; but his great concern was for him to be approved of by God [“But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts” (1 Thess 2.4; KJV). God had given them the gospel as a trust. They were "stewards of the mysteries of God." They spoke like men entrusted with a heavenly commission, which they were, seeking to please God instead of men.] The Judaizing teachers, by whom these churches were corrupted, had discovered a very different spirit; they mixed works with faith, and the law with the gospel, in order to please the Jews, whom they were willing to court and be associated with, so that they might escape persecution. But Paul was a man of another spirit; he was not so anxious to please them, nor to alleviate their rage against him, that he would even consider altering the doctrine of Christ either to gain their favor or to avoid their anger. 

for if I yet pleased men, 

Man’s conscience approves of the law, and his legalistic convictions will lead him to do works. Man tries to compensate for the fact that he is not doing enough. He tries to balance his good works against his sins and have enough on the plus side to be saved. The apostle Paul, you recall, tried to do this. And he had a whole lot on the plus side. But one day he came to Christ. Then he said, “What was gain for me became loss, and what was loss became gain” [“But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ” (Phil. 3:7, 8; KJV) He used to regard these outward privileges, individually, as so many items of gain; now he has learned to regard them, in the aggregate, as so much loss because of Christ. They were loss because confidence in outward things tends to keep the soul from Christ.]

The apostle is saying, if I made it my aim to please men, it would be the chief principle regulating my conduct. The word "yet," as it is used here is referencing his former purpose. It implies that this had once been his aim. But he says, if he had pursued that purpose to please men, if this had continued to be the aim of his life, he would not be able to truthfully say he is a servant of Christ. He had been forced to abandon that purpose, in order that he might be a servant of Christ; and the gist of it is, that in order for a man may become a Christian, it is necessary for him to abandon the purpose of pleasing men as the rule of his life. It may be implied also, that if in fact a man makes it his aim to please men, or if this is the purpose for which he lives and acts, and if he shapes his conduct with reference to that, he cannot be a Christian or a servant of Christ. A Christian must be motivated by higher motives than those, and anyone whose primary goal in life is to gain the favor of his fellow-men is showing evidence that he may not be a Christian. A Christian must regulate his conduct by the will of God, whether men are pleased with it or not. And it may be added that the life and attitude of a sincere Christian will not please men. It is not the type of person they want to associate with. They do not like a person who lives a holy, humble, spiritual life. It is usually the case that their consciences tells them that such a life is right; that they are often forced to speak well of the life of Christians; it is true that they are forced to respect a man who is a sincere Christian, and that they often place confidence in such a man; and it is true also that they often speak with respect of them when they are dead; but if the truth be known, they do not want for themselves any part of the life of an humble, devoted, and passionate Christian. And do you know why? It is contrary to their views of life, to their pursuits of life, to their opinion of their selves, to their enjoyments of life; but more than anything else it reveals that they are lost sinners in need of a Savior—that is something they do not want to admit. It follows from this:

1. That a Christian is not to expect to please men. He must not be disappointed, therefore, if he does not. His Master did not please the world; and the disciple is not better than his Master. 

2. A professing Christian, and especially a minister, should be alarmed when the world flatters and embraces him, because it may mean:

a. That he is not living as he ought to, and that sinners love him because he is so much like them, and he does not say anything that bothers their countenance. 

b. That they mean to make him betray his religion and become conformed to their beliefs. It brings great pleasure to unbelievers, when they can, through flattery and camaraderie, get a Christian to forsake a prayer-meeting for a party, or surrender his deep spirituality in order to participate in some political project. The Redeemer said, “Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets” (Luke 6.26; KJV).

3. One of the main differences between Christians and the world is, that others aim to please men; the Christian aims to please God. And this is a great difference. 

4. It is an established fact that if men want to become Christians, they must stop trying to please men. They must be willing to experience contempt and a frown; they must be willing to be persecuted and despised; they must be willing to lay aside all hope of the praise and the flattery of men, and be content with an honest effort to please God. 

5. True Christians must differ from the world. Their goals, feelings, and purposes must be unlike the world. They are to be a peculiar people; and they should be willing to be thought of as such. That does not mean, however, that a true Christian should not desire the good appreciation of the world, or that he should be unconcerned about having an good reputation [“Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil” (1 Timothy 3:7; KJV). Lost men, though they dislike the principles and profession of godly men and women, and despise them personally, cannot help but speak well of their pleasant life and conversation. And this part of their character is necessary to befriend them, and in order to recommend Christ to them.]. Nor does it follow that a consistent Christian will not often command the respect of the world. In times of trial, the world will place confidence in Christians; when any work of charity is to be done, the world will instinctively look to Christians; and even though sinners do not love religion, yet they will secretly feel assured that some of the brightest members of society are Christians, and that they have a claim to the confidence and esteem of their fellow-men. 


I should not be the servant of Christ.

If he sought to please men, he would never have become the “servant of Christ.” By so doing he had angered his own nation and brought on himself the hatred of men; both Jews and Gentiles [“Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft” (2 Cor 11:23; KJV). Paul was certainly subjected to persecution due to his standing as an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ.]. 

The apostle knew that pleasing men and being a “servant of Christ” were utterly inconsistent, and that no man could serve two such masters; and therefore, though he would not unnecessarily displease anyone, yet he dared not allow himself to gratify men at the expense of his faithfulness to Christ. So, he proves, from the sincerity of his goals and intentions in the discharge of his apostolic office, that he was truly an apostle of Christ. And from his character and behavior we may note:

1. That the great objective which ministers of the gospel should have is to bring men to God. 

2. That those who are faithful will not seek to please men, but to endeavor to please God [“Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4.4; KJV).]

3. That they must not be concerned with pleasing men, if they want to be faithful servants to Christ. 

But, just in case this argument should not be thought sufficient, he goes on in the next section to prove his apostleship by relating his experience in Arabia, his experience with the apostles in Jerusalem, and his experience in Antioch with Peter. This will take us through the first half of chapter 2.

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