Galatians 1:6 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
6 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel;
The Apostle Paul could be firm. He never sought to flatter people. Yes, indeed, he was always very tactful and what he had to say. It was his common practice to commend his fellow Christians before offering them some corrective council or making them aware of impending condemnation. Paul used words of approval and reassurance before using words of constructive criticism or any type of warning.
I am amazed: The Greek verb (thaumazō) translated her as amazed means to be in wonder, astonished, surprised with an element of intense unbelief. Thus, it seems that Paul was genuinely shocked at the report he had heard from Galatia. What Paul is experiencing here is bewilderment, overwhelming amazement, a painful perplexity at what he is being told. While this is a bit of an outburst and exasperation, it is not done in anger.
that you are so quickly deserting: The shock at hearing the Galatians had abandoned or deserted (Gr metatithemai) God who had called them and his representative Paul, as well as and the gospel of grace was partly because it had happened so quickly (Gr tacheōs). The Greek word (tacheōs) can mean (1) the speed of their desertion after it has begun, or (2) the short amount of time between when they were converted and their desertion, or (3) the short period of time between Paul’s last visit with the Galatians and the time of his receiving the report and the writing of this letter. Any one of these three could be a legitimate interpretation, it seems that number two is the preferred explanation.
The Greek word (metatithemai) rendered deserting, literally “to bring to another place.” means that the Galatians turned away from or gave up on God and his envoy, Paul, and the gospel of grace, changing their mind, willfully forsaking all, showing no loyalty. Here the Greek word (metatithemai) is being used metaphorically like a traitor who had changed his loyalty from one country to another, or a military person who switches sides while in battle, deserting his fellow soldiers. Spiritually speaking, Paul was telling these Galatians that they were spiritual traitors, deserters! This abandoning of God and his spokesperson, Paul, and the gospel of grace was like military desertion where one immediately turns on his heels and runs in the opposite direction.
However, the present tense of the Greek verb (“you are deserting”) shows us that the apostasy, the abandonment of God, Paul and the gospel of grace was still ongoing at the time of Paul’s writing this letter and; therefore, there is hope of bringing the Galatians back from the brink of being enslaved once more to legalism. It seems that the Judaizing false teachers had made great progress among the Galatians, and the situation was certainly desperate, but there was still hope. What Paul’s letter says about the Galatians being “so quickly deserting him [God] who called you,” (Ga 1:6) this may indicate that the writing of the letter was done not long after the apostle Paul had visited the Galatians. However, even if the penning of the letter had not taken place until 52 C.E. in Syrian Antioch, it would still have been fairly soon for such desertion to take place.
him who called you: This means the Galatians never had any real loyalty to God, the one who had called (Gr kaleō) them, as is evidenced by their haste to so quickly abandoned him. While it is true that the object of the desertion is God, not the doctrine of grace, nor the Apostle Paul, but rather God himself, who had called the Galatians, yet Paul was given the authority by God to speak on behalf of God as his representative here on earth. So, to reject God is to also reject his spokesperson and the message as well.
by the grace of Christ: There is a textual problem involving the phrase by the grace of Christ. In the Greek manuscripts we find four different readings: TR WH NU supporting “by the grace of Christ,” [𝔓51 א A B F Ψ 33 1739 1881 Maj syr cop] NEB REB accepting (Variant 1) “by grace,” [𝔓46 F* G Hvid itb Tertullian Cyprian Pelagius] (Variant 2) “by the grace of Jesus Christ,” [D 326 syr**] and (Variant 3) “by the grace of God.” . All of the critical texts and the translations except two accept “by the grace of Christ” as the original reading. It also has the weightiest and best witnesses as well. (𝔓51 א A B F Ψ 33 1739 1881 Maj syr cop) Two other translations, the NEB and REB accept variant 1, the shorter reading, as original because it has the early (𝔓46) and diverse support, arguing that had Christ or God been in the original, what would have been the reason for any scribe to remove them. Thus, they argue that “grace” was original and later scribes added “Christ”, “Jesus Christ,” or “God. The reading “by the grace of Christ” has strong external support among the witnesses and “grace” has strong internal support as well as the earliest manuscript support and certain Western witnesses. What can be said is this, either “by the grace of Christ” or “grace” is the original reading, and all modern translations and this author prefers “by the grace of Christ.”
Lastly, it should be noted, the context tells us that grace is a reference to God’s grace by Christ. The whole focus of this letter to the Galatians is the good news is only possible by the gospel of grace, the free gift of God, which we receive by Jesus Christ, as opposed to our obedience to the Old Testament law.
and are turning to a different gospel: Here it is literally (εἰς ἕτερον εὐαγγέλιον; eis heteron euangelion) “into other gospel.” The Koine (common) Greek vocabulary of the New Testament is quite abundant and exact. To illustrate, the Greek makes a distinction between allos (John 14:16), meaning “another” of the same kind, and heteros, meaning “another” of a different kind. (Galatians 1:6) The Greek for gospel here (euangelion) is referring to the good news of what God has done in Jesus Christ on behalf of all who are receptive. The Judaizes mixture of law and grace is another kind of gospel, a different gospel, wherein they are declaring that one’s obedience to the law is the good news that leads to salvation. We hear this being repeated today by some groups that call themselves Christian when they say, “this is what you need to do in order to be saved,” or “this is what you need to do in order to be a member of our congregation.” A gospel based on works is really no good news at all and is certainly a different message of grace.
Paul was amazed that the Galatians were so quickly deserting the gospel of grace. This meant that they were deserting God and by extension Paul, who was acting on behalf of God here on earth as his representative, and the gospel of grace. Paul was shaken with intense disbelief, astonished almost beyond his comprehension that these Jewish Christians, who had been delivered from bondage to the Mosaic Law, would, in fact, return to such a prison of legalism, being enslaved, dependent on the Law rather than on personal faith. The Judaizer’s combination of law and grace another, a different gospel, thus Paul exclaimed to the Galatians that by mixing the law with the gospel, this was is a misrepresentation of the truth. The entire provision for salvation is an act of God’s kindness, a gift that is not deserved. There is no way that any imperfect human can acquire salvation on his own, no matter how many works or how honorable his works are. Salvation is a gift from God, which is given to those who have faith in the sin-atoning sacrifice of God’s Son.
Galatians 1:7 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
7 not that there is another, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.
Not that there is another – There is also a great variety of views in regard to the meaning of this expression. Tyndale translates it: “which is nothing else but there be some that trouble you.” Locke, “which is not owing to anything else but only this, that ye are troubled with a certain sort of people who would overturn the gospel of Christ.” But Rosenmuller, Koppe, Bloomfield, and others, give a different view; and according to them the sense is, “which, however, is not another gospel, nor indeed the gospel at all, or true,” etc. According to this, the design was to state, that what they taught had none of the elements or characteristics of the gospel. It was a different system 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 mode, depending on the rites and ceremonies of religion; and which, therefore, did not deserve to be called the gospel. It would lead them again with burdensome rites, and with cumbrous institutions, from which it was the great purpose of the gospel to relieve them.
But there are some who trouble you – Though this is most manifestly another system, and not the gospel at all, yet there are some persons who are capable of giving trouble and of unsettling your minds, by making it plausible. They pretend that they have come directly from the apostles at Jerusalem; that they have received their instructions from them, and that they preach the true gospel as they teach it. 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 thus they are able to present a plausible argument and to unsettle the minds of the Galatians.
And want to distort the gospel of Christ – That is, the tendency of their doctrine is wholly to turn away (μεταστρέψαι metastrepsai), to destroy, or render useless the gospel of Christ. 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. This does not of necessity mean that such was the design of their teaching, for they might have been in the main honest; but that such was the tendency and result of their teaching. It would lead people to rely on the Mosaic rites for salvation.
But even if we – That is, we the apostles. Probably, he refers particularly to himself, as the plural is often used by Paul when speaking of himself. He alludes here, possibly, to a charge which was brought against him by the false teachers in Galatia, that he had changed his views since he came among them, and now preached differently from what he did then; see the introduction. They endeavored probably to fortify their own opinions in regard to the obligations of the Mosaic law, by affirming, that though Paul, when he was among them, had maintained that the observance of the Law was not necessary to salvation, yet that he had changed his views, and now held the same doctrine on the subject which they did. What they relied on in support of this opinion is unknown. It is certain, however, that Paul did, on some occasions (see the note at Acts 21:21-26), comply with the Jewish rites, and it is not improbable that they were acquainted with that fact, and interpreted it as proving that he had changed his sentiments on the subject.
At all events, it would make their allegation plausible that Paul was now in favor of the observance of the Jewish rites, and that if he had ever taught differently, he must now have changed his opinion. Paul, therefore, begins the discussion by denying this in the most solemn manner. He affirms that the gospel which he had at first preached to them was the true gospel. It contained the great doctrines of salvation. It was to be regarded by them as a fixed and settled point, that there was no other way of salvation but by the merits of the Savior. No matter who taught anything else; no matter though it be alleged that he had changed his mind; no matter even though he should preach another gospel; and no matter though an angel from heaven should declare any other mode of salvation, it was to be held as a fixed and settled position, that the true gospel had been preached to them at first. We are not to suppose that Paul admitted that he had changed his mind, or that the inferences of the false teachers there were well-founded, but we are to understand this as affirming in the most solemn manner that the true gospel, and the only method of salvation, had been preached among them at first.
Or an angel from heaven – This is a very strong rhetorical mode of expression. It is not to be supposed that an angel from heaven would preach any other than the true gospel. But Paul wishes to put the strongest possible case, and to affirm 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 admitted, no matter who preached it; no matter what the character or rank of the preacher: and no matter with what imposing claims he came. It follows from this, that the mere rank, character, talent, eloquence, or piety of a preacher does not of necessity give his doctrine a claim to our belief, or prove that his gospel is true. Great talents may be prostituted; and great sanctity of manner, and even holiness of character, may be in error; and no matter what may be the rank, and talents, and eloquence, and piety of the preacher, if he does not accord with the gospel which was first preached, he is to be held accursed.
Should proclaim to you a gospel contrary to – Any gospel that differs from that which was first preached to you, any system of doctrines which goes to deny the necessity of simple dependence on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation.
The one we preached to you, let him be accursed – Greek ἀνάθεμα anathēma (anathema). It is not improperly here rendered “accursed,” or devoted to destruction.” The object of Paul is to express the greatest possible abhorrence of any other doctrine than that which he had himself preached. So great was his detestation of it, that, says Luther, “he cast out very flames of fire, and his zeal is so fervent, that he begins almost to curse the angels.” It follows from this:
(1) That any other doctrine than what is proclaimed in the Bible on the subject of justification is to be rejected and treated with abhorrence, no matter what the rank, talent, or eloquence of him who defends it.
(2) That we are not to patronize or countenance such preachers. No matter what their zeal or their apparent sincerity, or their apparent sanctity, or their apparent success, or their real boldness in rebuking vice, we are to withdraw from them.
“Cease, my son,” said Solomon, “to hear the instruction that causes to err from the words of knowledge; Prov. 19:27. Especially are we to withdraw wholly from that instruction which goes to deny the great doctrines of salvation; that pure gospel which the Lord Jesus and the apostle taught. If Paul would regard even an angel as doomed to destruction, and as held accursed, should he preach any other doctrine, assuredly we should not be found to lend our countenance to it, nor should we patronize it by attending on such a ministry. Who would desire to attend the ministry of even an angel if he was to be held accursed? How much less the ministry of a man preaching the same doctrine! It does not follow from this, however, that we are to treat others with the severity of language or with the language of cursing. They must answer to God. “We” are to withdraw from their teaching; we are to regard the doctrines with abhorrence, and we are not to lend our countenance to them. To their own master they stand or fall, but what must be the doom of a teacher whom an inspired man has said should be regarded as “accursed!” It may be added, how responsible is the ministerial office! How fearful the account which the ministers of religion must render! How much prayer, and study, and effort are needed that they may be able to understand the true gospel and that they may not be led into error or lead others into error.
Galatians 1:9 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
9 As we said before, and now I say again, if anyone is proclaiming a gospel to you contrary to what you have received, let him be accursed!
As we said before – That is, in the previous verse. It is equivalent to saying, “as I have just said;” see 2Co_7:3. It cannot be supposed that he had said this when he was with them, as it cannot be believed that he then anticipated that his doctrines would be perverted and that another gospel would be preached to them. The sentiment of Gal. 1:8 is here repeated on account of its importance. It is common in the Scriptures, as indeed it is everywhere else, to repeat a declaration in order to deepen the impression of its importance and its truth. Paul would not be misunderstood on this point. He would leave no doubt as to his meaning. He would not have it supposed that he had uttered the sentiment in Gal. 1:8 hastily; and he, therefore, repeats it with emphasis.
And now I say again – In the previous verse, it is, “that which we have preached.” By this change in the phraseology he designs, probably, to remind them that they had once solemnly professed to embrace that system. It had not only been “preached” to them, but it had also been “embraced” by them. The teachers of the new system, therefore, were really in opposition to the once avowed sentiments of the Galatians; to what they knew to be true. They were not only to be held accursed, therefore, because Paul so declared, but because they preached what the Galatians themselves knew to be false, or what was contrary to that which they had themselves professed to be true.
Galatians 1:10 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
10 For now men I am now trying to persuade or God? Or am I seeking to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be Christ’s slave.
For now men I am now trying to persuade or God? – The word “now” (ἄρτι arti) is used here, evidently, to express a contrast between his present and his former purpose of life. Before his conversion to Christianity, he impliedly admits, that it was his object to conciliate the favor of people; that he derived his authority from them Act_9:1-2; that he endeavored to act so as to please them and gain their good esteem. But “now” he says, this was not his object. He had a higher aim. It was to please God and to conciliate His favor. The object of this verse is obscure, but it seems to me to be connected with what follows and to be designed to introduce that by showing that he had not now received his commission from human beings, but had received it from God. perhaps there may be an allusion to an implied allegation in regard to him. It may have been alleged (see the notes at the previous verses) that even he had changed his mind, and was now himself an observer of the laws of Moses. To this, perhaps, he replies, by this question, that such conduct would not have been inconsistent in his view, when it was his main purpose to please people, and when he derived his commission from them; but that now he had a higher aim.
His purpose was to please God, and he was not aiming in any way to gratify people. The word which is rendered “persuade” here (πείθω peithō), has been very variously interpreted. Tyndale renders it: “seek now the favor of men or of God?” Doddridge: “Do I now solicit the favor of men or of God?” This also is the interpretation of Grotius, Hammond, Elsner, Koppe, Rosenmuller, Bloomfield, etc. and is undoubtedly the true explanation. The word properly means to “persuade,” or to “convince”; Acts 18:4; Acts 28:23; 2 Cor. 5:11. But it also means, to bring over to kind feelings, to conciliate, to pacify, to quiet. Septuagint, 1 Sam 24:8; 2 Macc. 4:25; Acts 12:20; 1 John 3:19. By the question here, Paul means to say, that his great object was now to “please God.” He desired God’s favor rather than the favor of man. He acted with reference to His will. He derived his authority from God, and not from the Sanhedrin or any earthly council. And the purpose of all this is to say, that he had not received his commission to preach from man, but had received it directly from God.
Or am I seeking to please men? – It is not my aim or purpose to please people and to conciliate their favor; compare 1 Thess. 2:4.
If I were still trying to please men – If I made it my aim to please people: if this was the regulating principle of my conduct. The word “yet” here (ἔτι eti) has reference to his former purpose. It implies that this had once been his aim. But he says if he had pursued that purpose to please people; if this had continued to be the aim of his life, he would not “now have been a servant of Christ. He had been constrained to abandon that purpose in order that he might be a servant of Christ; and the sentiment is, that in order that a man may become a Christian, it is necessary for him to abandon the purpose of pleasing people as the rule of his life. It may be implied also that if, in fact, a man makes it his aim to please people, or if this is the purpose for which he lives and acts, and if he shapes his conduct with reference to that, he cannot be a Christian or a servant of Christ. A Christian must act from higher motives than those, and he who aims supremely at the favor of his fellowmen has full evidence that he is not a Christian. A friend of Christ must do his duty, and must regulate his conduct by the will of God, whether people are pleased with it or not.
And it may be further implied that the life and deportment of a sincere Christian will not please people. It is not what they love. A holy, humble, spiritual life they do not love. It is true, indeed, that their consciences tell them that such a life is right; that they are often constrained to speak well of the life of Christians, and to commend it; it is true that they are constrained to respect a person who is a sincere Christian, and that they often put confidence in such a person; and it is true also that they often speak with respect of them when they are dead; but the life of an humble, devoted, and zealous Christian they do not love. It is contrary to their views of life. And especially if a Christian so lives and acts as to reprove them either by his words or by his life; or if a Christian makes his religion so prominent as to interfere with their pursuits or pleasures, they do not love it. It follows from this:
(1) That a Christian is not to expect to please people. He must not be disappointed, therefore, if he does not. His Master did not please the world, and it is enough for the disciple that he be as his Master.
(2) A professing Christian, and especially a minister, should be alarmed when the world flatters and caresses him. He should fear either:
(a) That he is not living as he ought to do, and that sinners love him because he is so much like them, and keeps them in countenance; or,
(b) That they mean to make him betray his religion and become conformed to them.
It is a great point gained for the frivolous world, when it can, by its caresses and attention, get a Christian to forsake a prayer-meeting for a party, or surrender his deep spirituality to engage in some political project. “Woe unto you,” said the Redeemer, “when all men speak well of you,” Luke 6:26.
(3) One of the main differences between Christians and the world is, that others aim to please people; the Christian aims to please only God. And this is a great difference.
(4) It follows that if people would become Christians, they must cease to make it their object to please people. They must be willing to be met with contempt and a frown; they must be willing to be persecuted and despised; they must be willing to lay aside all hope of the praise and the flattery of people, and be content with an honest effort to please God.
(5) True Christians must differ from the world. Their aims, feelings, purposes must be unlike the world. They are to be a special people, and they should be willing to be esteemed such. It does not follow, however, that a true Christian should not desire the good esteem of the world, or that he should be indifferent to an honorable reputation 1Ti_3:7; nor does it follow logically that a consistent Christian will not often command the respect of the world. In times of trial, the world will put confidence in Christians; when any work of benevolence is to be done, the world will instinctively look to Christians; and, notwithstanding, sinners will not love religion, yet they will secretly feel assured that some of the brightest ornaments of society are Christians and that they have a claim to the confidence and esteem of their fellow-men.
I would not be Christ’s slave – A Christian.
by Albert Barnes and Edward D. Andrews
Please Help Us Keep These Thousands of Blog Posts Free for All