Today we move from the greeting into the body of the apostle Paul’s letter to the churches of Galatia.
In his other letters (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, etc.) after the greeting, Paul would often write words of thankfulness and encouragement, a prayer or blessing.
However, in Galatians, he goes directly from the greeting into words of admonition. There’s a seriousness to the letter he is writing, a concern that he must address immediately and that appears to be the focus of his letter, the reason he is writing.
Here is what he writes in Galatians 1:6-9:
6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. (NKJV)
From these verses it sounds as though the gospel of Christ, the gospel of grace is going to be a key theme of the book of Galatians. Paul is writing because the Galatians are turning away from God – who has called them in that marvelous grace we read about yesterday (v.3) – to a different gospel.
He twice states (v.8-9) that if anyone preaches a gospel other than what he has preached to them and that they have received, let that person be accursed. It’s strong language.
Paul warns of those who would pervert the gospel of Christ and is surprised that the Galatians would turn away to a different gospel.
We can see there is one true gospel of Christ. Yet there are those even today who will try to twist it, pervert it, redefine it, make it fit our culture, add to it, or change it to fit our human desires and preferences,
What is this gospel? It’s what we read about yesterday in verses 3-5: Jesus Christ giving himself for our sins that we might be delivered from this evil age. The truth of the gospel is that we as people have sinned, we were unable to fix that situation on our own, Jesus came to earth in human flesh (fully God, fully man), lived a perfect life, died on the cross for our sins, and rose again (v.1). We place our faith in Jesus to receive forgiveness of our sins, and he delivers us, saves us, redeems us.
We can’t do this on our own or though our good works. We can’t earn this salvation. It is a free gift of God by His grace and mercy. We put our trust and faith in Him.
The purity and simplicity of this gospel message was being distorted. The Galatians were being given other gospels – ones that would add to or take away from the true gospel, some saying you must do other things to be saved. But it is by God’s grace alone, not by the works of the law or our good deeds.
This theme will develop more as we continue to read and study Galatians. But for today, let’s praise God for this gospel of Christ, its truth and simplicity, that He saves sinners such as us and redirects our lives around Him and His Word. And let’s know this gospel and be on guard against anyone who would distort it, so that we are assured in our hearts and able to lead others, by His power and grace, to truth to Christ.
PRAYER: Praise You, Lord Jesus, that you would humble Yourself to come to earth and die the death for sins that we deserved, that You would take that upon Yourself so that we though You might live. I pray that those who do not know You and Your gospel message would find You and that we would be people who know the truth and share it with others. Thank You for Your grace and mercy toward us, for your love and the peace that You give us. Guard us from ever turning away from the beautiful gospel of Christ that you have given us, and let us live in that gospel and its truth each day. Praise and thank You, In Jesus’ name, Amen.