I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ." (Galatians 1.6-7).
The marvel which sparked Paul's statement was the soon apostasy of the Galatian brethren. Some things are marvels to be held in admiration; others are marvels of dismay and sadness. The apostasy of the saints in Galatia was of the latter sort. Note that their apostasy was one of turning - turning from one thing to another thing. They were turning from Christ, or as the text says, "Him who called you." They were turning to "a different gospel." The doctrine of Christ and Christ are inseparable. When one turns from the doctrine of Christ, he turns from Christ. Likewise, when one turns to the doctrine of Christ, he turns to Christ. Paul's marvel was that his beloved brethren were being pulled away from the truth to a message which demanded their departure from the one true Savior.
The root cause behind their apostasy was not their desire to depart from Christ; their intentions were honorable but they were gullible perhaps due to their immaturity as believers. They had no intent of departing from Christ, but that is what they were doing. The same could not be said of the false teachers who espoused the doctrines which they were following. They were teachers of error who "want to pervert the gospel of Christ." Their intent was ruination and destruction. To pervert is to change entirely from a thing of one sort to a thing of another sort. For instance, this word is used in Acts 2.20 where Peter quotes Joel as saying that the "sun shall be turned into darkness" and by James in 4.9 where he counsels his readers to "let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom."
Paul styled the false teachers as those "who trouble you." Still waters may be troubled (cf. John 5.4) and the hearts of men can be troubled such as was the heart of Jesus (John 11.33) when he witnessed the unbelief of His friends and countrymen at the death of Lazarus. The troublers were agitators; their intent was to trouble, to stir up, and to agitate. This is a sad commentary on the character of the troublers; they were men of evil intent! They did not want peace; rather they wanted dissension and turmoil. Only in that type of climate could they have their way. They did their best work when the hearts of men were unsettled and uncertain!
The perverted gospel preached by the troublers could not bring the deliverance that God intended for humanity. This was in spite of the good intent of those who were turning to a gospel which was not the gospel. The troublers could call it what they wanted, but calling it good news did not make it good news; their doctrine was bad news. It was bad news because it could not save; in fact, it placed the souls of the saved in jeopardy when they signed on to such twisted truths! "Be careful little ears what you hear; be careful little ears what you hear!"
1. What is the literal meaning of "Gospel"?
2. When is a gospel not the gospel?
3. What type of fate did Paul assign to those who pevert the gospel?
4. How can we prevent ourselves from falling prey to those who would intentionally (or unintentially) pervert the gospel?
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