by Mike Ratliff
11 Γνωρίζω γὰρ ὑμῖν, ἀδελφοί, τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τὸ εὐαγγελισθὲν ὑπʼ ἐμοῦ ὅτι οὐκ ἔστιν κατὰ ἄνθρωπον· 12 οὐδὲ γὰρ ἐγὼ παρὰ ἀνθρώπου παρέλαβον αὐτὸ οὔτε ἐδιδάχθην, ἀλλὰ διʼ ἀποκαλύψεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. (Galatians 1:11-12 NA28)
11 For I make known to you brothers, the gospel that I preached, is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:11-12 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
The εὐαγγέλιον or euaggelion, which the word “gospel” above translates, means “good message” or “good news.” What Paul stated in Galatians 1:11,12 is vital for us to grasp. Those of us who are in Christ can proclaim this εὐαγγέλιον for it is a message of very good news about something our Lord Jesus Christ has done on our behalf, but we cannot “be the gospel” nor can we “live the gospel.” It is a message of Christ’s work of redemption that was successful. He died on that cross and in so doing, His perfect obedience was made available to be imputed to all who believe this εὐαγγέλιον and in so doing, receive Christ as Lord and Saviour in repentance being saved by God’s grace through faith. In this, the Father justifies them, imputing Christ’s perfect righteousness to their account. This is possible because, while he was on that cross, their unrighteousness was imputed to his account and through his death, he became their propitiation. This εὐαγγέλιον is indeed good news because it means Christians do not have to work their way to God. Their salvation according to Ephesians 1,2 is actually God’s work entirely, not theirs. The preaching of the gospel is a call to repent and believe, which is how those effectually called by God do become Christians receiving Christ as Lord and Saviour. Now, is that the gospel prevalently heard in the visible church in our time?
The apostle Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians for the express purpose of addressing a crisis that had hit those churches in that area. Some false teachers had come in convincing some with a false gospel, which required them to be circumcised, which is works of the flesh added to justification by grace through faith. Paul saw this as an abandoning of the genuine gospel, in other words, apostasy. However, in Galatians 3:4 we see that Paul does not see this as a hopeless situation though he does call those who have fallen for this false teaching as foolish. Let’s look at Galatians 1:6-12.
6 Θαυμάζω ὅτι οὕτως ταχέως μετατίθεσθε ἀπὸ τοῦ καλέσαντος ὑμᾶς ἐν χάριτι [Χριστοῦ] εἰς ἕτερον εὐαγγέλιον, 7 ὃ οὐκ ἔστιν ἄλλο, εἰ μή τινές εἰσιν οἱ ταράσσοντες ὑμᾶς καὶ θέλοντες μεταστρέψαι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ Χριστοῦ. 8 ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐὰν ἡμεῖς ἢ ἄγγελος ἐξ οὐρανοῦ εὐαγγελίζηται [ὑμῖν] παρʼ ὃ εὐηγγελισάμεθα ὑμῖν, ἀνάθεμα ἔστω. 9 ὡς προειρήκαμεν καὶ ἄρτι πάλιν λέγω· εἴ τις ὑμᾶς εὐαγγελίζεται παρʼ ὃ παρελάβετε, ἀνάθεμα ἔστω.
10 Ἄρτι γὰρ ἀνθρώπους πείθω ἢ τὸν θεόν; ἢ ζητῶ ἀνθρώποις ἀρέσκειν; εἰ ἔτι ἀνθρώποις ἤρεσκον, Χριστοῦ δοῦλος οὐκ ἂν ἤμην. 11 Γνωρίζω γὰρ ὑμῖν, ἀδελφοί, τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τὸ εὐαγγελισθὲν ὑπʼ ἐμοῦ ὅτι οὐκ ἔστιν κατὰ ἄνθρωπον· 12 οὐδὲ γὰρ ἐγὼ παρὰ ἀνθρώπου παρέλαβον αὐτὸ οὔτε ἐδιδάχθην, ἀλλὰ διʼ ἀποκαλύψεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. (Galatians 1:6-12 NA28)
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. 11 For I make known to our brothers, the gospel that was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it nor was I taught it from man but through a revelation of Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:6-12 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
Paul did not consider the addition of a little legalism on top of the genuine gospel to be trivial. I mean what’s so wrong with giving a little bit to make the gospel more appealing to more people?
I had a short discussion with a fellow not long ago about my using my own Greek translations in this Bible studies. His approach was that what I was doing was totally unnecessary and a waste of time. Why? The translations like the NASB and ESB, which I do use, are built around committees making decisions on the more tricky translations. He considered that approach to be superior than to my own approach of simply doing a word studies and my own translation relying on prayer and always seeking to be as accurate as possible within the context of the passages I study. He would have none of it so I told him that I was not nor would never be politically correct. The decision of what I translate a certain way, when it is difficult is always going to be a matter of prayer, seeking God’s will for it, not mine and especially not to seek to offend the fewest number of people. Then I walked away. I thought I would be discouraged by that discussion, but as I thought through it and sought the Lord about all that, I was convinced more than ever, that this is his will.
One thing that being in the Word like I am on a daily basis does for you is what Paul calls being transformed through the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2). It is amazing how I can see the fallacy of the way the natural man see things and how that has claimed so much of what calls itself “Christianity.” That fellow I was talking to in that conversation was offended about some of things I told him that the Greek clearly showed about the imperatives of God, the judgments of God, and that God very much loves some and not others, et cetera. His God is just love and the cross did away with all that wrath stuff, et cetera…Not according to a clear reading of the Biblical text brother! That is why it is imperative that we get as close to God’s truth as possible and not only read it, but immerse ourselves in it. How did Paul learn the gospel? It was a revelation of Jesus Christ.
Soli Deo Gloria!