PAUL MARVELS AT THE CONDUCT OF THE GALATIANS (Gal. 1:6)
Paul has a profound concern about the truth of the Gospel, and, therefore, has a sincere concern for the salvation and peace of the church of Christ. Writes he, “I marvel that ye are-so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto a different gospel . . . .” (vs. 6)
In the term “marvel” Paul expresses a great deal of feeling and of meaning. The term expresses in the intransitive form: to wonder, to be astonished, amazed. The meaning of this term is clearly illustrated in Matt. 8:10 where Jesus is stated to have “marveled” at the faith of the centurion, who did not count himself worthy to come into the house where Jesus is, but bade Jesus to simply speak the word and that his son would be healed. Jesus “marvels” at such a faith. It is a faith which shows the great wonder of grace. The multitudes marvel that the wind and the sea obey Jesus’ word. This is simply something unheard of among men. It seems so unbelievable and so impossible. Thus also the multitude marveled when the demon is cast out of the dumb man so that he could speak. It was never so heard in Israel! (Cf. Matt. 8:10; Matt. 8:27; Matt. 9:33) Again the Pharisee marvels that Jesus did not first bathe himself before dinner. He expected Jesus to have done so. Nicodemus is told that he must not “marvel” at the news that he must be born from above to see the kingdom of heaven. And the disciples marveled that Jesus was speaking with the Samaritan woman. (Luke 11:38; John 3:7; John 4:27)
It seems so utterly strange and perplexing that the Galatians could do such a thing as turn away from the God, Who called them out of the darkness of heathendom into the marvelous light of the Gospel of the Cross. All the more this seems so utterly strange and uncalled for in that these Galatians “are removing themselves” from Him Who called them in the grace of Christ. The term here in the Greek text is in the middle voice present tense; to transfer self, to change over. If they were victims, they were willingvictims. They were giving heed to the seducers. They were not stocks and blocks. Besides, they were doing this with an unbelievable rapidity. No sooner were these deputies from Judaism come into their midst to preach their “different” teaching, but what the Galatians followed their teachings of Judaism, as if it were the same Gospel which Paul had preached, only improved upon, added to. And Paul shakes his head in disbelief; he marvels at so much stupidity.
Think of the magnitude of such folly and stupidity. One would think that they were bewitched. (Gal. 3:1) They were falling away from the great God Who had “called” them. Writes Paul, “from him that called you in the grace of Christ”! These Gentile saints had been “called” by the Gospel with a divine calling. It is quite sure that the caller here is God, the Father. Similar construction we have in Gal. 1:15 in the Greek, as well as in Gal. 2:8. There are those who would make the subject of the calling here Christ. However, that construction is too forced grammatically. Hence, we hold to our interpretation which tits perfectly well with the “in the grace of Christ.” God called wholly “in grace of Christ,” and not outside of this grace at all. He did not call at all in the sphere of “law” and according to the rule “the man that doeth the same shall live thereby.” But in grace He called, the grace which becomes ours by means of the death of the Cross. The calling was entirely according to the truth of all the Scriptures, that Christ is the end of the law for righteousness unto all who believe. (Rom. 10:4) And now leave all of this grace of the Cross of Christ Jesus?! Such was the magnitude of this folly! And Paul marvels with a profound amazement.
God had called them to the wedding feast. All things are ready. It is all of grace in Christ. The messengers had come into the highways and the byways to find these Gentiles churches. (Matt. 22:3, 9) And blessed are they that are bidden to the marriage supper of the Lamb. (Rev. 19:9) Blessed are They who sit at the table of the Lamb, which was slain, to be arrayed in tine linen, in the righteousness of the saints. This God is faithful Who called these Galatians into the fellowship of His Son, the crucified and risen Christ. (I Cor. 1:9) From this the Galatians were removing themselves.
THE REAL TRUTH OF THE MATTER(Gal. 1:7)
The Galatians were not bettering themselves in removing themselves from God Who called them in grace in Christ. For the “gospel” which they are now turned to was a “different” gospel. It was wholly different in content and character. It was not in grace in Christ Jesus that men and women were called at all. It was entire specious, untrue in its very nature and intent. It was not “another” gospel at all. It was simply some malicious, willful attempt of “some” who would trouble the consciences of saints in Galatia, confuse them with their talk of “another” Gospel. That it was willful evil on the part of these would-be preachers, Paul states very clearly in the text.
For these men who came to Galatia from Jerusalem “were willing to pervert the Gospel.” They represented themselves as being very concerned about the salvation of these saints But they desired to shut Paul out, rob them of the Gospel, that these saints might seek them. (Gal. 4:17) Paul is not concerned about his own person. He is concerned about his office to which he was called, “to preach the Gospel among the Gentiles.” Christ had called him, and His servant he is. And as Christ’s servant he will defend the truth of the Gospel. And he will call a spade a spade. This coming of these “some” to the Galatians was a systematic and cunning attempt to corrupt the Gospel of grace, and of the justification which we have by faith in Christ. They would “pervert” it all. Their presentation would make the Gospel the word of man, dead legalism. The glad tidings is then no more the good news that the promise made to the fathers had been fulfilled in Christ’s death and resurrection from the dead. It would be changed radically into something else. It would be changed through and through. There would be nothing of the Gospel left! That is the real truth of the matter! And it stirs Paul into holy action. He comes to maintain thetruth of the Gospel.
THE ANATHEMA OF GOD UPON THE CORRUPTERS OF THE GOSPEL(Gal. 1:8, 9)
We do not think that, in verses 8 and 9, Paul is merely giving vent to some hurt feelings, to a sinful vindictiveness. He is not out for personal revenge at all, to compensate for a waning influence among the Galatian churches. (John 3:22-29) Not at all! These are not explosive personal feelings, but this is an officialannouncement from the throne of God’s dread majesty, Who maintains His own word in divine justice. God will not allow any man or angel to add or detract from His holy words, ordinances, and statutes. (Deut. 4:1-8; Rev. 22:18, 19)
Paul must have laid stress on this truth when he was in the midst of the Galatians. He speaks in the text of “as we have said before.” Paul, in bringing this “anathema” against the falsifiers of the Gospel, is not telling the Galatians something which he neglected to tell them earlier. This should not come as a surprise to their ears. It should call them all the more to sanctified attention. Paul states this “anathema” twice in this text. He writes a conditional sentence which indicates the objective possibility that he, Paul, or one of the holy angels from heaven, Gabriel, could preach something which Paul had earlier not preached. It supposes that Paul would rebuild what he had once broken down in the name of the Lord. (Gal. 2:18) Paul selects himself, as the receiver of greater revelation concerning the grace of Christ than any other mortal before him (Eph. 3:1-13), and the angel who stands before God and who gave the heavenly Gospel to the shepherds, and gave the law to Moses. (Luke 2:1-10; Gal. 3:19) Conceivably he could not have selected two representatives, one from the circle of servants in the church on earth, and the other a ministering spirit in heaven, to underscore better the seriousness of his point, and that God is without respect of persons, be it in the world of angels or of men!
This verdict of heaven is not merely in general concerning the “Gospel,” but it has reference to the Gospel which Paul .preached to the Galatians, as the “Gospel among the Gentiles.” (Gal. 1:16; Gal. 2:2) That is why he says, “than what I have evangelized among you.” That was pinpointedly the issue at stake. It was underscored by Paul when he says “than what you have received.” (vs. 8, 9) Paul believes that the “Amen” which he put under his sermon, by which he ended them, stands forever. God is not mocked!
Let the Galatians give heed and let those who preach a “different gospel” beware. For to fall under the “anathema” of God is most dreadful. To be under the anathema means: to be placed under a curse, to be dedicated to the wrath and divine judgment of condemnation so that one is not redeemable. The term occurs in I Cor. 16:22 where we read the term “anathema” in the American Version. In other pas: sages, such as Rom. 9:3; I Cor. 12:3, we read “accursed.” The Greek term “anathema” meant among the Greeks “offered to the gods,” a sacred something which was consecrated to the gods, a sacred gift or offering laid up or suspended in the temple of a god. In the Old Testament the Hebrew term (cherem) was the “devoted thing” (Lev. 27:27-29) and it was most holy to the Lord. Thus the entire city of Jericho was “devoted” to destruction by the Lord. The seriousness of the sin of Achan can only be adjudged in this light. (Joshua 7) What happened to Achan will surely happen in the just judgment of the Lord to those who corrupt the Gospel of God willingly. Such is not only the teaching of the Word of God in our text but that is the teaching of all of Scripture. God has reserved a place in hell for Satan, the father of the lie, and for all his false teachers. (Rev. 20:10) Those who are assigned to the lake of tire and brimstone are under the anathema of God. And the divine judgment falls upon such. Paul is here speaking the verdict of God upon these false prophets who present themselves as the mouthpiece of God in the midst of the Galatian churches. They have no credentials from God nor from the church. They will not get away with it before God. They are heretics who are condemned of their own conscience. (Titus 3:10)
Paul had a good conscience in this respect. He is called by God through Christ. He is the servant of Christ. He is a true prophet of the Lord, preaching the truth of the Gospel.