It took far too long for me to have discovered the wonderful Gospel in this letter. Until then, the gospel I’d heard, believed, and lived by was so small, so common, and so familiar. It was like any other religious invitation. It offered much that I should’ve been joyful about, but came with demands of much that bound me to fear.
The thought that I believed a small different gospel that chained me to demands, when the Gospel made known in this Epistle was always there, for some time made me angry. I was disillusioned by the thought that something so liberating and wonderful had been kept from me. So, I understand the Apostle’s tone in the book, though I’m sure only measure.
The Apostle’s greeting in this letter is short, by comparison. Its brevity is an indication of the gravity of its contexts. The Apostle’s tone is also an indication. He is clearly irritated, though not so clear, is at whom. He is perplexed by the Galatians, but he seems angry with those distorting the Gospel.
Galatians 1:6-7 (NAS): 6 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.
A Different Gospel
It seems the distorters have attempted to diminish the Apostle’s influence by suggesting his Gospel is a result of a desire to be a people pleaser, and Paul is not having it. He’s agitated and feisty about so ridiculous a claim. So agitated that he would pronounce an anathema on anyone, whether man or angel, who would preach a gospel contrary to the one he had preached. And just in case you can’t believe an Apostle would use such strong language, he says it twice. How’s that for being a people pleaser?
Galatians 1:10 (NAS): 10 For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.
Divinely Received Gospel
Yet rather than simply appeal to Apostleship for credibility, Paul explains to his readers why his Gospel is divinely received and is to be trusted. He seems to understand that historical evidence is important for faith. He seems to value truth measured by evidence and not personality.
He begins by reminding his readers that he wasn’t always one to be trusted. He was once a violent aggressor, persecuting the church, while advancing beyond his peers in Judaism. But while he had designs on Judaism, God had other plans. It’s here, the beauty of God’s sovereignty and the Apostle’s masterful command of language may overshadow the beginnings of the main point.
He said that when the time the Father long had in mind for him finally came, and at just the right moment, it pleased the Father to reveal His Son in him. The great Apostle wrote it more concisely and beautifully than I did, and I am tempted to stand in awe, but I must not. The main point is still coming.
The point is that when the Father revealed His Son in Paul, the Apostle did not immediately consult with anyone and He didn’t go to Jerusalem to be acquainted with those to whom the Gospel had been entrusted. He is of course referring to the men Jesus had chosen to be His disciples, who were still in Jerusalem at that time.
In fact it would be, at best, some seventeen years before Paul would stand before such pillars of the faith like Peter, James, and John. Paul will have spent much time in Arabia, Syria, Cilicia, and Damascus preaching a gospel that he had not submitted to the scrutiny of the men closest to the Christ.
Galatians 2:2 (NAS): 2 It was because of a revelation that I went up; and I submitted to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but I did so in private to those who were of reputation, for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain.
While that may sound like a reason not to believe his Gospel, this is where the Apostle and his Gospel actually gains credibility. With time and distance between himself and those who were Apostles before him, when Paul finally submits his Gospel before them, it was the same Gospel. They contributed nothing to him. In fact, James, Peter, and John gave him the right hand of fellowship, having recognized that he had been entrusted with the Gospel to the Gentiles.
The Gospel to the Gentiles
That two would come to have the same message, not having consulted with one another, suggest the two must have had a common source. And that’s precisely the strength of Paul’s argument.
This Gospel you are about to hear in this magnificent Epistle can be trusted. It’s the same Gospel that came from the pillars of the faith in Jerusalem. Nothing was added. It comes to us from from Apostle to the Gentiles. And such we are.
Many will balk at the freedom they will hear in this Gospel; I did. But this is no different Gospel. Only some have disturbed us, distorting the Gospel of Christ. We have been called to freedom by this Gospel. And since I’ve discovered it, I have fallen in love with Christ and the fear is all gone. It’s been cast out by His perfect love made known in this Gospel. Now I see just how amazing His grace is. I hope both will happen for you too, in Galatians.