Don’t You Think Paul Over Reacted?
We are starting a new series of devotion in our quest to “living in line with the Gospel” according to Paul’s letter to the Galatians. Each day I will pose a reflective question on the text, and post any reflection I got from the previous day. (No post on the weekend).
The text for this week is Galatians 1:1-9
1 Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— 2 and all the brothers with me, To the churches in Galatia: 3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. 6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!
Apparently, some of these Judaizers had been stirring up trouble in the churches Paul established in Galatia. They had twisted the Gospel into something Jesus never intended, and then they had cast doubts on Paul. “Who is that fellow anyway? He wasn’t one of the Twelve. He is a self-appointed apostle. No wonder he left out some crucial parts of the message. Let us set you straight.” The Galatians were taken in, so it seems. Paul wrote, “I am amazed that you are so quickly turning away from Him who called you by the grace of Christ, and are turning to a different gospel” (1:6).
What were the Judaizers saying? At first glance, they seemed to be adding only a little to the message. “Believe in Christ,” they were saying, “but also be circumcised” (6:12). To be circumcised was not such a high requirement, but Paul saw the implications. If the Galatians let themselves be circumcised, it would be but the first step back to keeping the whole Law (5:3). This is slavery (4:9) and bondage (5:1). This is not the Gospel. The Gospel is that salvation is a free gift, given by grace. If you add anything else to grace, salvation is no longer free. It then becomes a matter of “doing your part” to save yourself. [From “Living by Grace”, Serendipity House]
Here’s the reflection question for today: Don’t you think it may seem as if Paul is getting worked up over a relatively small issue? After all, the important thing is to believe in Jesus, and all the parties agreed to that, then what’s the big deal? How is this matter critical to the heart of the Gospel? (If we were accepting this false Gospel, with other modern similar requirements to law-keeping, how will it affect our lives?)
If you reply to this with your reflection, I will include it in the post tomorrow. There are also a few small groups will start this week to discuss the weekly text too. If you are not in a small group, contact me to find one.