Thursday, January 27, 2011

Galatians 1:6-10, There is No Other Gospel (The Study of Galatians)

     6 I marvel that you are so quickly removing yourself11 from the one who called12 you in the grace [of Christ]13 turning to a different gospel, 7 not that there is another gospel, but there are certain people who are stirring you up14 and are willing15 to transform16 the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach [to you] a gospel different from the gospel that was preached to you, let him be17 accursed18! 9 As we19 have stated before and now I say again, if anyone preaches to you a gospel different from what you received, let him be accursed!
     10 For now do I persuade20 people or God? Or do I seek to please21 people? If I were still pleasing people, then I would not be a slave22 of Christ23.


Paul continues to set up his defense against the one's who have accused him falsely.  Paul is willing to go to extreme measures to show what he thinks of the preaching of a different gospel in his churches.  Verse 8 is to not be taken lightly.  In Paul's mind, there is no room for the Jewish Law in the freedom found in our faith in Christ Jesus.

11 μετατίθεσθε (removing yourself)

or “turning yourself away”. This verb is in the “middle” which could mean that they were “removing for themselves” or “removing themselves”. From the context, the church members were turning themselves away from God (the one who called you...) and turning to a different gospel.

12 ἀπὸ τοῦ καλέσαντος (the one who called) 

“The one who called” is God.

13 [Χριστοῦ] (Christ) 

Christ is in brackets because it may not be original to Paul’s letter.

14 οἱ ταράσσοντες ὑμᾶς (who are stirring you up) 

or “the ones who are stirring you up). ταράσσω really means “to cause movement by shaking or stirring”.  The verb is used in John 5:4a (KJV only) to describe how the water moved when the angel came down.  4 ἄγγελος γὰρ κατὰ καιρὸν κατέβαινεν ἐν τῇ κολυμβήθρᾳ, καὶ ἐτάρασσε τὸ ὕδωρ (for an angel came down to the pool at a certain time (during an appointed time), and stirred up (troubled) the water... John 5:4a).  Grab your King James Version of the Bible for this verse as it is not original to the Gospel of John.  The oldest and best Greek manuscripts do not contain this verse.  It was added later by a copyist in order to explain why the people were around the pool.  Never the less, it helps us to understand the verb usage here in Galatians.

15 θέλοντες (are willing) 

or “ are wanting” or “are desiring”.

16 μεταστρέψαι (to transform)

Literally to change something so that the results are different. In this case, the “apostles” from Jerusalem wanted to change the true Gospel so that the churches in Galatia would change how they were believing and behaving in their christian lives. The “different” gospel stated that "one had to become a Jew before one could become a Christian" or, in other words, "following the Jewish law completed a Christian’s salvation".

17 ἔστω (let him be) 

The “to be” verb is in the imperative, which makes it a command. It could also be translated: “he must be cursed”.

18 ἀνάθεμα (accursed)

or “cursed”. It must also be stated here that it didn’t matter “who” was preaching the perverted gospel, he should be accursed. According to F.F. Bruce in The Epistle to the Galatians (The New International Greek Testament Commentary), “It is the message, not the messenger, that ultimately matters. The gospel preached by Paul is not the true gospel because it is Paul who preaches it; it is the true gospel because the risen Christ gave it to Paul to preach.” Pg. 83.

19 ”We” are probably the ones who are with Paul at the time of the letter writing, but it also states that he in not alone in his thinking on the subject. Thus, it adds a bit more authority to what he is saying in this passage to the Galatians.

20 πείθω (I persuade)

or “to convince”. It can be used in a sense of “curing favor”. In other words, does Paul want to show himself upright to people or God? Does he want people to like him, or God?

21 ἀρέσκειν (to please)

Paul did not wish to make people happy in what he did or in what he preached. He only wanted to please God. Paul may also be looking back on his time of persecuting the church. This is highly probable as he brings it up in verse 13. During that time, Paul would have certainly been pleasing “certain” people. In this case, certain people of the Jewish faith.

22 δοῦλος (a slave) 

or “a servant”. It must be emphasized here that a slave is a person who does his master’s every command.  Slave may seem to people as a harsh term to apply to Paul, but in the 1st century, slavery was condoned and was a normal lifestyle among the people throughout the Roman Empire.

23 If Paul is indeed referring to his former life of persecuting the church, then there would be no way for him to do the will of the risen Christ.

The Greek

Γαλάτας 1·6 Θαυμάζω ὅτι οὕτως ταχέως μετατίθεσθε ἀπὸ τοῦ καλέσαντος ὑμᾶς ἐν χάριτι [Χριστοῦ] εἰς ἕτερον εὐαγγέλιον, 7 ὃ οὐκ ἔστιν ἄλλο, εἰ μή τινές εἰσιν οἱ ταράσσοντες ὑμᾶς καὶ θέλοντες μεταστρέψαι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ Χριστοῦ. 8 ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐὰν ἡμεῖς ἢ ἄγγελος ἐξ οὐρανοῦ εὐαγγελίζηται [ὑμῖν] παρ ̓ ὃ εὐηγγελισάμεθα ὑμῖν, ἀνάθεμα ἔστω. 9 ὡς προειρήκαμεν καὶ ἄρτι πάλιν λέγω· εἴ τις ὑμᾶς εὐαγγελίζεται παρ ̓ ὃ παρελάβετε, ἀνάθεμα ἔστω.
Γαλάτας 1·10 Ἄρτι γὰρ ἀνθρώπους πείθω ἢ τὸν θεόν; ἢ ζητῶ ἀνθρώποις ἀρέσκειν; εἰ ἔτι ἀνθρώποις ἤρεσκον, Χριστοῦ δοῦλος οὐκ ἂν ἤμην.


  1. What is the greek inferring by "let him be accursed"? What would the mind of Paul have been playing out here? Excommunication? Putting out of the fellowship? Taken out of the town on a rail after being tarred and feathered? Never to have salvation? What curse is appropriate? Is it to be removed from the tree of life and holy city as stated in Revelation 22:19?

  2. I'm sorry that I'm just now responding Pastor Rob. My opinion is that it means that Paul thinks that the ones teaching the wrong message should be cursed and "separated from Christ". Excommunicated from "the church" may be in order here as well. ἀνάθεμα literally means "cursed". In the LXX (Septuagint) according to BDAG, it is used in this sense: “what is “devoted to the divinity” can be either consecrated or accursed”. Since Paul refers to the "false teachers" as οἱ ταράσσοντες ὑμᾶς (trouble makers or the ones who are stirring you up) and ψευδάδελφος (false-brothers), Paul may have the belief that they were already "separated from Christ" just by preaching a different message. Verses 8 and 9 stand as a warning to anyone who preaches something other than the "true" gospel that Paul preached. I’ll do more research on it. Thanks, RB