While I wrote these studies on Galatians about three weeks ago; since then, so much has happened. As you probably gathered from my last post I had a bit of a verbal collision with my pastor. Whatever definitions I might understand from scripture that defines a pastor, there has only been a couple that even came close, and this one, in my mind, isn’t one of them.
An example could come from the sermon many years ago, where he is telling the audience how the shepherd intentionally snaps the leg of the little sheep that continues to stray. He said all this with a horrifying gusto. I can remember sitting there in shock, and thinking, if this who or what God/Jesus is really like, then no thank you. As I have given this idea more thought over the years, the practicality of such a scenario is ludicrous, especially if you look at scripture through befitting, Jewish eyes. You see, the shepherd, in Jewish society, is trying to make a living, and, he does so by selling unblemished lambs for three reasons: food, clothing, and sacrifices. The sacrificial lamb had to be without spot or blemish as mandated by the law of God. Breaking the leg of a valuable sheep seems counterproductive, doesn’t it?
Not only that, but the idea of breaking the leg of one of the lambs also seems to go against everything I understand God to be – grace and mercy. Since breaking the leg of one of the sheep might fall under the category of wrath, and WE are not subject to wrath, then the idea gets more absurd. A couple of scriptures for you to look up, on your own, would be 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:9.
Now, to be fair, I talked with a lady from church whose family had raised sheep in Texas; she responded with, oh yes, it was a common method of controlling young sheep. Well, that sounds horrid, but not being a farmer, castration sounds horrid also, and we don’t do that in our churches, or, do we?
How appropriate then is this line from verse 6 – “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel.” Give yourself a moment to think about things that have been said and done in the name of religion. I am not just talking about history; I am talking about NOW. The things done to me, and said from the pulpit, are nothing more than methods of control. Why would someone feel it is necessary to control us? I can think of many – all of the reasons have some deep insecurity attached to them. The reality is, the person acting this way does not trust the Holy Spirit’s ability to lead and guide us and therefore does not believe God.
John 16:13 KJV Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
The NASB entitles this section, No Other Gospel.
Galatians 1:6-10 KJV 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.
Verse (6) “I marvel,”
Marvel is the Greek word thaumazō; from G2295; to marvel, wonder: – am amazed (1), amazed (15), amazement (1), astonished.
Considering the context, the usage of word amazed doesn’t fit the scenario unless Paul is simply that shocked. The two significant usages, as we can see from KJC are marveled and wonder. An example from Matthew:
Mat 21:19-20 KJV And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away. 20) And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away!
The Word Study Dictionary also expresses the idea of being struck with astonishment or admiration. Since the people, Paul is writing to have allowed themselves to be removed from the one who called them to grace (This, of course, is Jesus Christ.) Paul is not conveying an attitude of admiration.
“that ye are so soon removed from him”
Keep in mind that Paul is writing to a generalized region called Galatia. Since this is not a specific church body, then you can assume that a significant number of people, across the region, had walked away from the freedom/grace that is in Jesus. I would love to say, “you should know,” but recently sat in an adult Bible class, where we read from a purchased book, focused on the Acts of the Apostles. Since the majority of the book of Acts was focused on Paul; In the book of Acts, you can see that Paul’s primary influence was on Jews. Since his intent was never to pull them away from the truths in the law and the prophets, then these are Jewish converts that returned to the abundance of man created laws and oppressive traditions.
“that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:”
While evangelists and pastors may think they are the ones who called you into the grace of Christ, it has never been anyone other than the Holy Spirit/Jesus himself.
If the gospel is the good news, what other good news could there have been?
Considering that these were, in the majority, Jewish converts, then the message used to draw them back could easily have been “Come back to the synagogue; we are God’s people; you are God’s people. Reject this Jesus, a man – hung like a common criminal, and called, by Pilate, the king of the Jews.” The point here is that there was no other gospel – no good news. It was a pull to come back to traditions and a way of life, filled with bondage.
These days we have a multitude of variations on the gospel, as some, while preaching freedom and forgiveness in Jesus, will hold you in bondage and never forgive you; even to the point of lording over you as a judge. This lording over people in judgment is in opposition to what the Word says, such as, all judgment has been given to the Son.
The word another is the Greek word heteros and means (an-, the) other or different: – altered, else, next (day), one, (an-) other, some, strange.
This (idea of another gospel) leans more heavily upon the idea of twisting the gospel of Christ; the message that Paul delivered to them.
Contributing to the idea that Paul is talking about a twisting of the gospel, the translators, or editors, placed the continuation of verse 6 in verse 7, where it says, “Which is not another;.” Seeing the verse unbroken may help you understand that Paul is talking about a twisting of the gospel of grace.
“that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another;”
Having experienced a twisting of the gospel of grace on many levels, I can tell you that it takes on many forms, most coming under the cloak of religious guidance.
(7) “Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.”
If, as Paul says, it is not another gospel, then it is some perversion of the gospel of grace.
Allow me just to say, that anything or anyone that strives to put you under the law is not only perverting God’s grace but attempting to put you under bondage. In doing this, they have essentially exercised witchcraft on you, which is a form of slavery and manipulation through words and curses.
Pervert is the Greek word metastréphō; fut. metastrépsō, from metá (G3326), denoting a change of place or condition, and stréphō (G4762), to turn. To turn about from one direction to another. In the NT, to turn into something else, to change.
At our men’s Monday morning bible study, the leader recently spent far too much time on Matthew 25. In doing so, he focused on the great white throne judgment (this can also be found in Revelation 20.) A cursory read will demonstrate the true nature and character of God, as in Matthew 25 where the sheep, a part of that vast crowd, obtain mercy. The sheep receive this mercy because they performed some simple act of mercy or generosity. The goats, on-the-other-hand, are sent off to eternal separation and flames of torment with Satan. In the Revelation, the Holy Spirit is trying to make the point that Jesus is God and deservedly angry with those whom he does not find written in those books before Him. These are sent off to that same eternal torment and separation. Just because the sheep who obtain mercy in Matthews exposition is not apparent in Revelation 20, does not mean they are not there. Simply put, they are not an aspect of the context in Revelation 20. The bible study leader still, many weeks later, persists in sending everyone who stands before the great white throne to hell. Since this is unquestionably in opposition to the heart and nature of God, and, it is a perversion of the gospel of Christ.
“but there be some that trouble you” Trouble is the Greek word tarassō; from a prim. root ταραχ– tarach-; to stir up, to trouble: – disturbed (1), disturbing (2), stirred (3), stirring (1), terrified (2), troubled (9). The Word Study Dictionary tells us this: tarassō is, “Figuratively used of the mind, to stir up, trouble, disturb with various emotions such as fear, put in trepidation.” I might rewrite this to read: there will those who will disturb and stir up your emotions through a twisting of the gospel.
(8) MSG Let me be blunt: If one of us–even if an angel from heaven!–were to preach something other than what we preached originally, let him be cursed.
(Moffatt NT) Now even though it were myself or some angel from heaven, whoever preaches a gospel that contradicts the gospel I preached to you, God’s curse be on him!
I don’t know if this is merely Paul expressing his disdain for anyone who might teach or preach anything other than what he has already said, or, this is the heart of God. Since God is love and longs that everyone should be saved, why would He want someone to be cursed? What evidence do we have then of God drawing a line in the sand?
Matthew 12 lays out a scenario in which Jesus casts out a demon. The Pharisees attributed his actions to Satan. Verses 31,32 tell us His direct response.
Matthew 12:31-32 KJV Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. 32) And whosoever speaks a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaks against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.
Plainly we can see that God does draw a line, and blasphemy is it. I doubt Paul knew of this declaration by Jesus. If he did, and this was an aspect of what he wrote, then it would have been by direct revelation through Jesus.
One other piece of evidence might be drawn from the Revelation.
Revelation 21:8 KJV But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
While the verse takes in much more than blasphemers, it scares me, as I have: lied, wanted to kill, been unbelieving far too often, and spent the majority of my life feeling trapped by fear.
One other thing you need to consider if you are, to be honest in trying to decipher what is being said. Look at the verse once again.
Galatians 1:8 KJV 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.
Now, ask yourself, how many translations are there? Do they vary? Of course, they do, and one of the reasons for that is the variations a Greek word can carry depending on the defining word associated with it. This is one of the reasons why I used the Message in conveying the intensity of verse 8. I love how Eugene Peterson interpreted what Paul is trying to convey and therefore said, “Let me be blunt.”
“or an angel from heaven”
This seems simple enough, but analyzing words opens doors to understanding. Angel is the word aggélous. The Word Study Dictionary tells us: A messenger, an aggelous, is one who is sent in order to announce, teach, perform, or explore anything;
Matthew 11:10 KJV For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
Matthews gospel tells us that Jesus explained to the crowd, that the messenger/aggelous was John the Baptist.
In Luke 7:24 John the Baptist had sent messengers to Jesus. KJV And when the messengers of John were departed, he began to speak unto the people concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness for to see? A reed shaken with the wind?
In Luke, the messengers were men sent from John.
Galatians 4:14 KJV 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.
Paul, here, points out that the people, of the region of Galatian, received him as an aggelous/messenger.
James 2:24-25 KJV Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. 25) Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?
Here, the messengers/aggelous were men from Israel under the leadership of Joshua.
Malachi 2:7 KJV For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.
Malachi speaks of the priest as an aggelous/messenger of God. A rewrite of this verse could read like this: For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the one who is sent in order to announce, teach, perform, or explore.
Does this imply that the priest is untouchable or above all reproach? Not at all, but it is not our place to judge and execute judgment against them. I suppose that is why we have these horrific church hierarchies – to displace bad priests/pastors. It seems all we can and should do is pray; pray that the Lord of Hosts can straighten this brother out or remove him. Having done all that, all we have left is to move on in most cases.
Verse (9) KJV 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.
Verse 9 is merely a repetition of what Paul previously said.
Verse (10) KJV 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.
“Paul had to speak harshly to the Christians in Galatia because they were in danger. He did not apologize for his straightforward words, knowing that he could not serve Christ faithfully if he allowed the Galatian Christians to remain on the wrong track.” Life Application Study Bible
The Greek word for persuade is peíthō, meaning to persuade, particularly to move or affect by kind words or motives. [WSD] We don’t know what he said or how he said it, but I have never pictured Paul speaking in a manner that was anything other than straightforward and to the point. The statement he just made is an example of that – “I have said it before and I now repeat it: whoever preaches a gospel to you that contradicts the gospel you have already received, God’s curse be on him!” Moffatt NT
Please is the Greek word aréskō meaning to fit, adapt, or please. Having recently been accosted by a pastor who told me, with the admonition that his was a Godly council, that I should not pursue or study Eschatology for the next five years. If I took his “so-called” Godly counsel to heart, then I would be attempting to please a man, for I can assure you that what he gave me was nothing less than demonic. Paul asserts, “I am not trying to please people. I want to please God. Do you think I am trying to please people? If I were doing that, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (CEV)
So, much like Paul does – with an adamant declaration, I emphasize, once again, “As we said before, so I now say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel different from or contrary to that which you received [from us],” (AMP)
Since I was not there and could not listen to Paul orations, then I must trust his words given to us in the Bible and presume the tone and inflections in his voice. I have to establish in my mind that these words are the basis and foundation of what I believe and charged to understand. Therefore, when a pastor accosts you, telling you that eschatology (end times teachings) does not and cannot change people, and, that you should not study it or speak of it, then he is operating in contradiction to God’s word. This subtle opposition moves him into the category of a false teacher, and he needs to repent publicly.
2 Timothy 3:16 AMPC Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action),
The point being made here, in 2Timothy, is that eschatology can and does change people. We can know this because it is the spirit breathed Word of God. If you stand around waiting for the changes to happen, you may not see them.
2 Peter 2:1 BBE But there were false prophets among the people, as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly put forward wrong teachings for your destruction, even turning away from the Lord who gave himself for them; whose destruction will come quickly, and they themselves will be the cause of it.
The subtlety of what they say can catch you off guard, especially when they speak in an authoritarian manner, and add, I am telling you this because I love you; sadly, this is what most of them do, and we are expected by them to accept what they say without question. Shouldn’t this be proof enough that we desperately need to be invested in the Word of God.