Which Gospel Are You Trusting? Why The Gospel Matters In Galatians 1:6-9
The book of Galatians is one of the most apologetic books written by the apostle Paul in the defense of the gospel of Jesus Christ against works for salvation. Bible scholar Merrill F. Unger says Galatians has been called the, “Magna Charta of Christian liberty,”addressing the gospel of grace vs. legalism. It has also been said that the book of Galatians was the battle cry for the Protestant Reformation. The apostle Paul wrote the book of Galatians addressing those who were falsely teaching that circumcision and obedience to the Mosaic Law was required for people to be saved. These counterfeit teachers were known as Judaizers, and what they were teaching was a different gospel (Galatians 1:6-9). Spiros Zodhiates states the purpose of Paul writing the book of Galatians was to: “eradicate the doctrinal errors which had been recently introduced by hostile Judaizers and to urge the Galatian Christians to hold firmly to what they had been taught by Paul at the beginning.”
What is the true Gospel?
To understand the seriousness of Galatians 1:6-9 one needs to understand what the gospel message of Jesus Christ is. The gospel message is clear in Luke 24:44-46, Acts 10:39-43, and 1 Corinthians 15:3-4. These Scriptures teach the gospel message is that Jesus is the Christ, that He died upon the cross and rose again according to the Scriptures (Old Testament), and those who turn to Him and believe will be saved (Acts 16:30-31). This is the gospel of grace for all who believe, Jew or Gentile, which means that anyone can be saved by trusting in Jesus Christ alone for their salvation apart from works of the Law (Acts 15:7-11; Romans 3:21-31; 10:9-13).
What is a False Gospel? What is Another Gospel
Paul was amazed that they were being swayed to believe a different gospel, but it was not the true gospel (Galatians 1:6-7). The word for “different” in the Greek is the word heteron, which means to be different qualitatively. Paul states in Galatians 1:7 that the gospel they were being taught is really not another (allos in Greek meaning another of the same kind or nature), but it was contrary to the true gospel message that he taught them. One Bible scholar said that the Judaizers were teaching a “mixture of Christianity and Judaism, of grace and law, of Christ and Moses.” This is not what the gospel of Jesus Christ is, and Paul asked the Galatians: “did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by the hearing with faith” (Galatians 3:2). The Galatians started in the right direction, but over time were deceived by teachings (Mosaic Laws) that were contrary to what Paul and the apostles taught.
Paul was not a man pleaser, but he a servant of Jesus Christ for the truth of the gospel (Galatians 1:10). Those who seek to have the favor of men will teach and say things that feel good, and tickle people’s ears. Those who are God pleasers will teach what people need to hear for their well being with an attitude of love and humility. Paul demonstrates grace, humility and boldness towards those in Galatia, and he emphasized his concerns that they needed to know the truth.
Paul’s Consistent Message
It is important to see Paul’s consistency addressing issues like those in Galatia, and to understand his heart for the gospel and truth. In Acts 20:29-31 Paul warned the believers of wolves who would rise among them and lead people astray from the gospel. In Romans 16:17 Paul said to mark (keep an eye on) those who cause divisions and hindrances to the teaching’s they have been taught. In 1 Corinthians 16:13 Paul encouraged the believers to be alert and stand firm in the faith. Paul taught in 2 Corinthians 11:4-15 to be careful of those who preach another Jesus, another gospel, and another spirit, for they are false apostles and deceitful workers. In Philippians 3:2 Paul warned the believers to beware of the dogs and the false circumcision. In Colossians 2:8 Paul instructed the believers to not be deceived by the philosophies and traditions of men that are contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ. In 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 Paul instructs the believers to examine all things and hold fast to what is good, and to turn from every form of evil. In 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 Paul exhorts the Christians to not be deceived by those who are teaching that the coming of the Lord Jesus had already taken place. In the epistle of 1 Timothy 4:1 Paul warns that in the latter times people will fall away from the faith and believe doctrines of demons. Paul also warned the believers in 1 Timothy 6:3 to be on guard against anyone advocates a different doctrine that does not agree with what Jesus Christ taught. In 2 Timothy 4:3-4 Paul states that there will be a time when people will turn from the truth to believe myths, and that their ears tickled by teachers in accordance to their own desires. Paul was firm in Titus 3:9-11 to shun foolish controversies and disputes about the Law, and to reject heretical person after the first and second warning. There is no doubt that Paul stood for grace, truth, unity, and in his writings he was consistently clear on the gospel message.
Why The Gospel Matters
There is only one gospel message that saves, and that gospel is believing in Jesus Christ alone plus nothing for salvation (Luke 24:44-47; John 3:14-17; 5:24; 8:24; 14:6; 20:28-31; Acts 10:39-43; 15:7-11; 16:31; Romans 3:28; 4:3-5; 10:9-13; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Ephesians 2:8-9; 1 Peter 1:3-5; 1 John 5:10-13). In Galatians 1:8-9 Paul teaches that if anyone preaches a different gospel other than what he or they (apostles) have preached to them that they are to be accursed! The word accursed in Greek is the word anathema, and it means to bring self-condemnation. That is why Paul is so specific, passionate, and direct in regards to the judgment that these false teachers will receive for leading people astray from the true gospel message of salvation which is by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul said, “even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed.” (anathema) Paul says if “we” or “an angel” preach a gospel to you other than what has been preached let him to be anathema! Paul goes beyond the natural realm to the supernatural realm instructing the believers to be careful of demonic angelic beings who may appear to them teaching lies and falsehood. If what Paul said was not clear enough he states again, “if anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you have received, let me be accursed.” (anathema)
The early church had to deal with many counterfeit teachers and doctrines that were contrary to what Jesus Christ taught, the apostles and prophets, and the Scriptures. Today we have face countless false teachers and doctrines that have crept into the church over the years. How does the book of Galatians 1:6-9 speak to us today? Have we been deceived with a different gospel? There is only one true gospel and we need to be on guard against those who teach a different gospel for salvation. Paul said Galatians 4:16: “Have I there become your enemy by telling you the truth?”
Merril F. Unger, The New Ungers Bible Dictionary, (Chicago: Moody Bible Institute, 1988), 452.
Merrill F. Unger, Unger’s Guide To The Bible, (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, 1974), 285.
Spiros Zodhiates, NASB Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1990), 1548.
Spiros Zodhiates, NASB Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible, 1549.
William MacDonald, Believers Bible Commentary, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1990), 1874.
Spiros Zodhiates, NASB Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible, Lexical Aids to the New Testament, 1804.