by Mike Ratliff
4 For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully. (2 Corinthians 11:4 NASB)
This age of spiritual darkness is so because truth is seen as relative. Without absolute truth being allowed, since it may cause the ultimate crime upon one or more persons, which is “offense,” then when those who know better insist on Doctrinal precision, preaching the Word, not editing the gospel, et cetera then everything gets turned upside down. The immoral who want minority protection for their sinful behavior claim that those who proclaim what God’s Law demands of all men, which is repentance, are causing them pain and anguish and so those proclaiming the truth become criminalized while society slides further and further into the darkness of being judged by God as he gives them over to whom they are really worshiping, themselves. In this relativistic culture the gospel has become another victim in what John MacArthur has called The Truth War. However, this battle is nothing new. Paul fought it continually in the churches he planted, especially in the region of Galatia.
In this series we will go verse by verse through Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians. I have written posts on sections of Galatians before, but never a series on the whole Epistle. In part 1 we will look at Galatians 1:1-10, which I translated from the NA27 Greek text.
1 Paul an apostle not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, the one having raised him from the dead 2 and all the brothers with me to the churches of Galatia. 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself on behalf of our sins so that he might rescue us out of this present evil age according to the will of God our Father, 5 to whom be the glory into the ages of the ages, Amen. (Galatians 1:1-5 Possessing the Treasure New Testament v1)
Paul starts off the Epistle with his credentials. There are many today who claim apostleship, but that is impossible. Apostles were necessary in the foundational years of the Church before the New Testament was finished. Much of what an apostle did in those days is still done today, but not by an official “apostle,” but by an evangelist. An apostle had to have seen the resurrected Lord Jesus (1 Corinthians 9:1). He must have been called and commissioned, in person, by the Lord Jesus. Apostles received special revelation from God and, therefore, had absolute authority. That is why “apostolicity” became the ultimate test for the canonicity of books of N.T. books. A book had to have either been written by an apostle or substantiated by the teaching of an apostle.
Apostles had the power to work miracles (Hebrews 2:4), which were always for the Jews. The apostles were only for the laying of the foundation of the church (Ephesians 2:20). The foundation has been laid so God is now concerned with the structure, which is the Body of Christ. Once the Word of God was completed, the office of the apostle passed from the scene.
Paul sends his blessing upon the believers in those churches in Galatia in vv3-5. In these verses he explains who did what and who are the beneficiaries. Who saved whom? Did the Galatians do something to “be saved?” No, they were rescued according the will of God, by his grace through the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. This rescuing is “out of” this present evil age.” We must pause here and reflect on that my brethren. So often believers tend to remain immersed in this age and their “Christianity” is something in the background. They are focused on the temporal rather than the eternal. Our salvation is eternal. We have been justified, are being sanctified and will be glorified (Romans 8:28-30).
6 I marvel that you are so quickly being turned from the one who called you in the grace of Christ to a different gospel; 7 which is not another; except there are some troubling you and are desiring to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel to you besides that which we preached to you, let him be a curse. 9 As we have previously said, and now again I say, if anyone preaches a gospel to you besides that which you received, let him be a curse. 10 For am I now trying to convince men or God? Or am I seeking to please men? If I were still pleasing men, I would not be Christ’s slave. (Galatians 1:6-10 Possessing the Treasure New Testament v1)
Something was very wrong in the Galatian churches. Someone had come in deceiving the brethren, preaching “another” gospel. Paul says it is not really another gospel, but that false preachers were desiring to pervert the gospel of Christ. The verb “pervert” translates μεταστρέψαι (metastrepsai) the aorist, infinitive, active case of μεταστρέφω (metastrephō), “pervert, corrupt, distort, turn.” This usage refers to an attempt to turn something into its opposite. The real gospel is salvation by grace through faith alone, therefore, this corruption by these false teachers was effectively destroying grace, turning the message of God’s undeserved favor toward sinners into a message of earned and merited favor. Think of pietism and works righteousness in our day. Those whose ministries are steeped in those things look at the real gospel by grace through faith alone that we preach and scream that we are antinomians or worse, but this is the very same battle Paul was fighting here.
Paul basically makes the same statement twice in v8 and v9 that those who preach any gospel other than salvation by grace through faith alone (Ephesians 2:1-10) then let whoever is doing that be a “curse,” which translates the noun ἀνάθεμα (anathema), “curse, oath, person or object cursed.” This refers to devoting someone to destruction in eternal hell (cf. Romans 9:3; 1 Corinthians 12:3; 16:22). In our politically correct, post-modern culture that sort of thing could get you in a great deal of trouble. I’ve seen people on the news here in the Kansas City area have the Police come after them for saying threatening things like that to others. However, Paul puts it in perspective for us in v10. Who is sovereign? Who has all authority? Who is the slave and who is the master? The word “slave” in v10 translates δοῦλος (doulos), “slave.” John MacArthur made it very clear in his book Slave that in nearly every usage of δοῦλος in the New Testament, it should be translated as “slave,” but most English Bible translations render it as bond-slave, bond-servant, or servant, but hardly ever as “slave.” However, when we faithfully consider our relationship with our Lord according to the Word of God and understand the true nature of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, the magnitude of what he did for us in our “rescue,” then to be his δοῦλος is not a hateful thing, but a precious thing.
In this we obey him and put aside all else and serve him just as Paul said in v10. No matter the cost, those who are truly his will do this. The battle for the gospel is on and it is now our generation’s turn to fight this battle.
Soli Deo Gloria!