Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.



Galatians 1:1–9 (ESV)

Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead—and all the brothers who are with me,

To the churches of Galatia:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

Paul is hopping mad, but notice who he’s angry with. It’s not the Galatians; it’s whoever is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received. Paul is astonished that these false teachers were able to mislead the Galatians with their distorted gospel. He’s so angry he says, twice, “let him be accursed.

That’s pretty strong stuff. Christianity is still new, and a lot of people don’t have their doctrine sorted out yet. What could possibly get Paul so worked up?

As we’ll soon see, these accursed preachers are teaching that Christians must be circumcised. Sure, they’re wrong, but it’s the timing that really trips Paul’s wire. As we’ll see in Galatians 2:11, this comes after Paul had a similar run-in with Peter, possibly shortly after. It may have even been after the Jerusalem council that settled the issue once and for all.

So when Paul finds out that Judaizers have invaded churches he planted and are making folks get circumcised, he gets as hot as Moses coming down from Mount Sinai. Lacking any tablets to smash, he takes out his anger on these Judaizers with this brilliant epistle. Welcome to anger meets logic.

But notice that Paul doesn’t mention the specific doctrinal issue (yet). That’s important because the lesson is meant to be general.

Anyone who distorts the gospel is accursed.

We need to pay attention to this. America is the land of a thousand gospels. We’ve moved past debates over circumcision, but there’s no shortage of theological issues to debate. Many of these are worthy and thought provoking. Others are quite minor and not worth much attention.

But some points of view are fatal distortions of the gospel.

Know the difference.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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