The Man Was Upset!
I am amazed that you are so
quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different
gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you
and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from
heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you,
he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is
preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!
For years, many have noted that Paul’s letter to the Galatians began differently
than his letters to other congregations. Typically, no matter how bad a
congregation’s problems, Paul began his letters with encouragement. For example,
even though the Corinthian congregation had enormous problems, Paul encouraged
them. Read 1 Corinthians 1:4-9.
But not to the congregations in Galatia! Why was Paul so upset with them?
No one had a deeper personal appreciation of what God did in Jesus Christ than
did Paul. Prior to his conversion, we would have called Paul “a mean man.” His
convictions were sincere, but they made him vicious. His convictions made him
destructive, not helpful. He was merciless to Jewish men and women who believed
in Jesus Christ. He protected the robes of those who killed Stephen, and he
thought they did the proper thing by killing Stephen (Acts 7:58, 8:1). He
dragged Christian men and women from their homes to imprison them (Acts 8:3). He
used force in attempts to get Christian Jews to blaspheme (Acts 26:11). He even
described himself as hostile (see Acts 26:9; Galatians 1:13-14; and 1 Timothy
Then he discovered his error concerning Jesus (Acts 9:1-9). The result: he
became what he despised, was forgiven of murder and abuse of harmless
Christians, and became a great missionary among gentiles (read again 1 Timothy
Why? Why did God forgive Paul for such horrible acts? Among the reasons for such
forgiveness is the reason Paul listed in 1 Timothy 1:16. He demonstrated that
God’s mercy and forgiveness exceed any form of human failure if (a) a person
sees his [or her] error, (b) turns against his [or her] error, and (c) redirects
his [or her] behavior.
Then why was Paul so upset with the Galatian congregations? They did not realize
what an incredible thing God did for them in Jesus’ death and resurrection!
Jesus Christ is God’s good news! For congregations to act like there was a “good
news from God” that rivaled what God did in Jesus was unthinkable!
Paul personally knew what God did in Jesus Christ. He did “the unthinkable” and
received forgiveness. He understood that the Galatian congregations existed
because of what God did in Christ. He understood that those gentiles could be
Christians because of God’s actions in Jesus. To say there was another gospel
was unthinkable! Therefore, there was no encouragement because there was no
appreciation of God’s acts in Jesus.
Do you appreciate what God did for you in Jesus? Does your behavior show it?
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 25 September 2008
Link to other
Writings of David Chadwell