One Gospel For All
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble 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 the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
The apostle Paul held high hopes when he preached the gospel and witnessed obedience. It was his hope and prayer that new Christians would hold strictly to the truth they heard from the apostles; that they would not deviate from it or tolerate teachers guilty of deviation.
So, when Paul heard that there were Christians in Galatia who had deserted the truth of the gospel, he was “astonished,” and made this his first priority in the letter. He could not contain his alarm.
There were members of churches in Galatia guilty of “quickly deserting” God and turning the gospel into something it wasn’t. Whether one deserts early or late, it remains guiltyworthy. Paul could not imagine that apostasy came this soon.
He is anxious to say, “…not that there is another one,” meaning – THERE IS ONLY THE ONE GOSPEL GOD GAVE THROUGH THE APOSTLES OF CHRIST. God did not reveal a message, to be changed, rewritten or revised by man. Everything about the gospel of Christ strongly conveys to us, we cannot actually change it. It is fixed. And those who say they have tweaked it or revised it are both egotistical and fraudulent.
And, such claims of “another gospel” or “revised gospel” (which are really distortions) trouble Chrisitians. Doubt is created and unity destroyed.
Paul, therefore, seeks to be clear: “If we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accuresed,” (V. 8, repeated in verse 9).
Paul was not willing to approach this crisis as a diplomat. “It’s OK, just take the gospel we preached and remake it to suit your perceived needs.” NO. Not Paul or any other apostle. There is just the one gospel.
“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or, am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I could not be a servant of Christ.”
Paul’s aim was to be a steadfast servant of Christ. That meant affirming there is only the one gospel.
There are four good questions about the gospel message we have in the New Testament:
1. Why change it?
2. How would we change it?
3. Who would change it?
4. What would we change?
From Hendrikson & Kistemaker
Here one detects an echo of the opponents’ accusations and insinuations, on this order: “Paul is trying to win human, rather than divine, favor. He tries to please everybody, so that everybody may follow him. Among his own people he preaches circumcision (Gal. 5:11; cf. Acts 16:3), for he knows that they believe in it. But he withholds this rite from the Gentiles because they welcome exemption from it.”
From Matthew Henry
Those who would establish any other way to heaven than what the gospel of Christ reveals, will find themselves wretchedly mistaken. The apostle presses upon the Galatians a due sense of their guilt in forsaking the gospel way of justification; yet he reproves with tenderness, and represents them as drawn into it by the arts of some that troubled them. In reproving others, we should be faithful, and yet endeavour to restore them in the spirit of meekness. Some would set up the works of the law in the place of Christ's righteousness, and thus they corrupted Christianity. The apostle solemnly denounces, as accursed, everyone who attempts to lay so false a foundation. All other gospels than that of the grace of Christ, whether more flattering to self-righteous pride, or more favourable to worldly lusts, are devices of Satan. And while we declare that to reject the moral law as a rule of life, tends to dishonour Christ, and destroy true religion, we must also declare, that all dependence for justification on good works, whether real or supposed, is as fatal to those who persist in it. While we are zealous for good works, let us be careful not to put them in the place of Christ's righteousness, and not to advance anything which may betray others into so dreadful a delusion.
 Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953-2001). Vol. 8: Exposition of Galatians. New Testament Commentary (43). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
By Warren E. Berkley
Expository Files 23.11; November, 2016