Tuesday

“The gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin.” (v. 11)

Galatians 1:6-12 Tuesday 21 June 2016

Psalm: Psalm106:43-48


Background

There are three key words in today'spassage. The first is "astonished" (v. 6) - in Greek 'thaumazo'.Paul's other letters nearly always include a lengthy thanksgivingfor all the good qualities he identifies in their recipients butthere is no such passage here! Instead, he is amazed that thepeople he had led to faith in Galatia through his missionary workhave so quickly rejected his teachings. The word has an impact thatis hard to convey in translation - it is the same one used todescribe people's reactions to Jesus' miracles (Matthew 8:27; Luke11:14 - translated in the NRSV as 'amazed'). It would haveimmediately told the readers that Paul was very angry indeed.

The second word, which occurs sixtimes, is "gospel" - in Greek 'euangelion'. The word literallytranslates as 'good news' but carries a wealth of meaning in it. ByPaul's time, it had become a shorthand term to describe what Godhad done through Jesus Christ. Paul had told the people he had metin Galatia this same good news about the life, death andresurrection of Jesus, and what it meant for them. They hadapparently accepted this message. Now, however, other teachers hadcome and told them a different message about Jesus and how theyshould lead their lives. In Paul's words, "a different gospel" (v.6). He does not clarify exactly what this false teaching was atthis stage - the Galatian recipients already knew, of course - butit seems that they were being told that Christians not only had tohave faith in Jesus Christ but also follow aspects of Jewish law,including circumcision (Galatians 2:15-16; 5:2-12).

The third word is "accursed" - inGreek 'anathema' (vv. 8-9). Paul is so angry that the newChristians whom he had nurtured and loved in Galatia have been ledastray that he uses the strongest possible language to condemnthose who had deceived them. He places them under a curse. ForPaul, this is not about personalities or church politics, but abouta fundamental matter of life and death. If even an angel fromheaven were to contradict what he had previously taught them, hesays, then they would be a liar.

 
To Ponder

  • The writer Paul uses very abrupt language in this letter.Should we sometimes be more direct with one another in church life?Why?
  • Paul tells the Galatians to listen to the true gospel ofChrist, and not to be deceived by false teachers who appearplausible and attractive. Which is more important to us: themessage or the messenger?
  • Is it ever appropriate to say that anyone is "accursed"?Why?
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