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1. Paul Called by God

1Paul, an apostle (not from men, neither through man, but through Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead), 2and all the brethren that are with me, unto the churches of Galatia: 3Grace to you and peace from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, 4who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us out of this present evil world, according to the will of our God and Father: 5to whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen. 6I marvel that ye are so quickly removing from him that called you in the grace of Christ unto a different gospel; 7which is not another gospel only there are some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 8But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema. 9As we have said before, so say I now again, if any man preacheth unto you any gospel other than that which ye received, let him be anathema. 10For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? or am I striving to please men? if I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ. 11For I make known to you, brethren, as touching the gospel which was preached by me, that it is not after man. 12For neither did I receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came to me through revelation of Jesus Christ. 13For ye have heard of my manner of life in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and made havoc of it: 14and I advanced in the Jews' religion beyond many of mine own age among my countrymen, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 15But when it was the good pleasure of God, who separated me, even from my mother's womb, and called me through his grace, 16to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the Gentiles; straightway I conferred not with flesh and blood: 17neither went I up to Jerusalem to them that were apostles before me: but I went away into Arabia; and again I returned unto Damascus. 18Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas, and tarried with him fifteen days. 19But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother. 20Now touching the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not. 21Then I came unto the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22And I was still unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ: 23but they only heard say, He that once persecuted us now preacheth the faith of which he once made havoc; 24and they glorified God in me.

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The Apostle's Concern at Their Defection. (a. d. 56.)

6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:   7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.   8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.   9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

Here the apostle comes to the body of the epistle; and he begins it with a more general reproof of these churches for their unsteadiness in the faith, which he afterwards, in some following parts of it, enlarges more upon. Here we may observe,

I. How much he was concerned at their defection: I marvel, &c. It filled him at once with the greatest surprise and sorrow. Their sin and folly were that they did not hold fast the doctrine of Christianity as it had been preached to them, but suffered themselves to be removed from the purity and simplicity of it. And there were several things by which their defection was greatly aggravated; as, 1. That they were removed from him that had called them; not only from the apostle, who had been the instrument of calling them into the fellowship of the gospel, but from God himself, by whose order and direction the gospel was preached to them, and they were invited to a participation of the privileges of it: so that herein they had been guilty of a great abuse of his kindness and mercy towards them. 2. That they had been called into the grace of Christ. As the gospel which had been preached to them was the most glorious discovery of divine grace and mercy in Christ Jesus; so thereby they had been called to partake of the greatest blessings and benefits, such as justification, and reconciliation with God here, and eternal life and happiness hereafter. These our Lord Jesus has purchased for us at the expense of his precious blood, and freely bestows upon all who sincerely accept of him: and therefore, in proportion to the greatness of the privilege they enjoyed, such were their sin and folly in deserting it and suffering themselves to be drawn off from the established way of obtaining these blessings. 3. That they were so soon removed. In a very little time they lost that relish and esteem of this grace of Christ which they seemed to have, and too easily fell in with those who taught justification by the works of the law, as many did, who had been bred up in the opinions and notions of the Pharisees, which they mingled with the doctrine of Christ, and so corrupted it; and this, as it was an instance of their weakness, so it was a further aggravation of their guilt. 4. That they were removed to another gospel, which yet was not another. Thus the apostle represents the doctrine of these judaizing teachers; he calls it another gospel, because it opened a different way of justification and salvation from that which was revealed in the gospel, namely, by works, and not by faith in Christ. And yet he adds, "Which is not another—you will find it to be no gospel at all—not really another gospel, but the perverting of the gospel of Christ, and the overturning of the foundations of that"—whereby he intimates that those who go about to establish any other way to heaven than what the gospel of Christ has revealed are guilty of a gross perversion of it, and in the issue will find themselves wretchedly mistaken. Thus the apostle endeavours to impress upon these Galatians a due sense of their guilt in forsaking the gospel way of justification; and yet at the same time he tempers his reproof with mildness and tenderness towards them, and represents them as rather drawn into it by the arts and industry of some that troubled them than as coming into it of their own accord, which, though it did not excuse them, yet was some extenuation of their fault. And hereby he teaches us that, in reproving others, as we should be faithful, so we should also be gentle, and endeavour to restore them in the spirit of meekness, ch. vi. 1.

II. How confident he was that the gospel he had preached to them was the only true gospel. He was so fully persuaded of this that he pronounced an anathema upon those who pretended to preach any other gospel (v. 8), and, to let them see that this did not proceed from any rashness or intemperate zeal in him, he repeated it, v. 9. This will not justify our thundering out anathemas against those who differ from us in minor things. It is only against those who forge a new gospel, who overturn the foundation of the covenant of grace, by setting up the works of the law in the place of Christ's righteousness, and corrupting Christianity with Judaism, that Paul denounces this. He puts the case: "Suppose we should preach any other gospel; nay, suppose an angel from heaven should:" not as if it were possible for an angel from heaven to be the messenger of a lie; but it is expressed so the more to strengthen what he was about to say. "If you have any other gospel preached to you by any other person, under our name, or under colour of having it from an angel himself, you must conclude that you are imposed upon: and whoever preaches another gospel lays himself under a curse, and is in danger of laying you under it too."




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