Denunciation Part 1 of 6 (Series: Lessons on Romans)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

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.


Introduction

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.


Commentary

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 offense; 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.”

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