The Five Books Against Marcion by Tertullian
Chapter II.--On the Epistle to the Galatians The Abolition of the Ordinances of the Mosaic Law No Proof of Another God. The Divine Lawgiver, the Creator Himself, Was the Abrogator. The Apostle's Doctrine in the First Chapter Shown to Accord with the Teach
The epistle which we also allow to be the most decisive against Judaism, is that wherein the apostle instructs the Galatians. For the abolition of the ancient law we fully admit, and hold that it actually proceeds from the dispensation of the Creator, -- a point which we have already often treated in the course of our discussion, when we showed that the innovation was foretold by the prophets of our God. Now, if the Creator indeed promised that |the ancient things should pass away,| to be superseded by a new course of things which should arise, whilst Christ marks the period of the separation when He says, |The law and the prophets were until John| -- thus making the Baptist the limit between the two dispensations of the old things then terminating -- and the new things then beginning, the apostle cannot of course do otherwise, (coming as he does) in Christ, who was revealed after John, than invalidate |the old things| and confirm |the new,| and yet promote thereby the faith of no other god than the Creator, at whose instance it was foretold that the ancient things should pass away. Therefore both the abrogation of the law and the establishment of the gospel help my argument even in this epistle, wherein they both have reference to the fond assumption of the Galatians, which led them to suppose that faith in Christ (the Creator's Christ, of course) was obligatory, but without annulling the law, because it still appeared to them a thing incredible that the law should be set aside by its own author. Again, if they had at all heard of any other god from the apostle, would they not have concluded at once, of themselves, that they must give up the law of that God whom they had left, in order to follow another? For what man would be long in learning, that he ought to pursue a new discipline, after he had taken up with a new god? Since, however, the same God was declared in the gospel which had always been so well known in the law, the only change being in the dispensation, the sole point of the question to be discussed was, whether the law of the Creator ought by the gospel to be excluded in the Christ of the Creator? Take away this point, and the controversy falls to the ground. Now, since they would all know of themselves, on the withdrawal of this point, that they must of course renounce all submission to the Creator by reason of their faith in another god, there could have been no call for the apostle to teach them so earnestly that which their own belief must have spontaneously suggested to them. Therefore the entire purport of this epistle is simply to show us that the supersession of the law comes from the appointment of the Creator -- a point, which we shall still have to keep in mind. Since also he makes mention of no other god (and he could have found no other opportunity of doing so, more suitable than when his purpose was to set forth the reason for the abolition of the law -- especially as the prescription of a new god would have afforded a singularly good and most sufficient reason), it is clear enough in what sense he writes, |I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him who hath called you to His grace to another gospel| -- He means) |another| as to the conduct it prescribes, not in respect of its worship; |another| as to the discipline it teaches, not in respect of its divinity; because it is the office of Christ's gospel to call men from the law to grace, not from the Creator to another god. For nobody had induced them to apostatize from the Creator, that they should seem to |be removed to another gospel,| simply when they return again to the Creator. When he adds, too, the words, |which is not another,| he confirms the fact that the gospel which he maintains is the Creator's. For the Creator Himself promises the gospel, when He says by Isaiah: |Get thee up into the high mountain, thou that bringest to Sion good tidings; lift up thy voice with strength, thou that bringest the gospel to Jerusalem.| Also when, with respect to the apostles personally, He says, |How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, that bring good tidings of good| -- even proclaiming the gospel to the Gentiles, because He also says, |In His name shall the Gentiles trust;| that is, in the name of Christ, to whom He says, |I have given thee as a light of the Gentiles.| However, you will have it that it is the gospel of a new god which was then set forth by the apostle. So that there are two gospels for two gods; and the apostle made a great mistake when he said that |there is not another| gospel, since there is (on the hypothesis) another; and so he might have made a better defence of his gospel, by rather demonstrating this, than by insisting on its being but one. But perhaps, to avoid this difficulty, you will say that he therefore added just afterwards, |Though an angel from heaven preach any other gospel, let him be accursed,| because he was aware that the Creator was going to introduce a gospel! But you thus entangle yourself still more. For this is now the mesh in which you are caught. To affirm that there are two gospels, is not the part of a man who has already denied that there is another. His meaning, however, is clear, for he has mentioned himself first (in the anathema): |But though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel.| It is by way of an example that he has expressed himself. If even he himself might not preach any other gospel, then neither might an angel. He said |angel| in this way, that he might show how much more men ought not to be believed, when neither an angel nor an apostle ought to be; not that he meant to apply an angel to the gospel of the Creator. He then cursorily touches on his own conversion from a persecutor to an apostle -- confirming thereby the Acts of the Apostles, in which book may be found the very subject of this epistle, how that certain persons interposed, and said that men ought to be circumcised, and that the law of Moses was to be observed; and how the apostles, when consulted, determined, by the authority of the Holy Ghost, that |a yoke should not be put upon men's necks which their fathers even had not been able to bear.| Now, since the Acts of the Apostles thus agree with Paul, it becomes apparent why you reject them. It is because they declare no other God than the Creator, and prove Christ to belong to no other God than the Creator; whilst the promise of the Holy Ghost is shown to have been fulfilled in no other document than the Acts of the Apostles. Now, it is not very likely that these should be found in agreement with the apostle, on the one hand, when they described his career in accordance with his own statement; but should, on the other hand, be at variance with him when they announce the (attribute of) divinity in the Creator's Christ -- as if Paul did not follow the preaching of the apostles when he received from them the prescription of not teaching the Law.