Denunciation Part 3 of 6 (Series: Lessons on Romans)
by John Lowe
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..