6. I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
6. Miror quod ita cito transferimini a Christo, qui vos vocavit in gratia, ad aliud evangehum;
7. Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
7. Quod non est aliud, nisi quod sunt quidant, qui vos turbant, ae volunt evertere evangelium Christi.
8. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
8. Verum etiamsi nos, aut Angelus e coelo evangelizet vobis praeter id quod evangelizavimus vobis, anathema sit.
9. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
9. Quemadmodum praediximus, nunc quoque iterum dico; si quis vobis evangelizaverit praeterquam quod accepistis, anathema sit.
6. I wonder. He commences by administering a rebuke, though a somewhat milder one than they deserved; but his greatest severity of language is directed, as we shall see, against the false apostles. He charges them with turning aside, not only from his gospel, but from Christ; for it was impossible for them to retain their attachment to Christ, without acknowledging that he has graciously delivered us from the bondage of the law. But such a belief cannot be reconciled with those notions respecting the obligation of ceremonial observance which the false apostles inculcated. They were removed from Christ; not that they entirely rejected Christianity, but that the corruption of their doctrines was such as to leave them nothing more than an imaginary Christ.
Thus, in our own times, the Papists, choosing to have a divided and mangled Christ, have none, and are therefore |removed from Christ.| They are full of superstitions, which are directly at variance with the nature of Christ. Let it be carefully observed, that we are removed from Christ, when we fall into those views which are inconsistent with his mediatorial office; for light can have no fellowship with darkness.
On the same principle, he calls it another gospel, that is, a gospel different from the true one. And yet the false apostles professed that they preached the gospel of Christ; but, mingling with it their own inventions, by which its principal efficacy was destroyed, they held a false, corrupt, and spurious gospel. By using the present tense, (|ye are removed|) he appears to say that they were only in the act of failing. As if he had said, |I do not yet say that ye have been removed; for then it would be more difficult to return to the right path. But now, at the critical moment, do not advance a single step, but instantly retreat.|
From Christ, who called you by grace. Others read it, |from him who called you by the grace of Christ,| understanding it to refer to the Father; but the reading which we have followed is more simple. When he says that they were called by Christ through grace, this tends to heighten the criminality of their ingratitude. To revolt from the Son of God under any circumstances, is unworthy and disgraceful; but to revolt from him, after being invited to partake salvation by grace, is more eminently base. His goodness to us renders our ingratitude to him more dreadfully heinous.
So soon. When it is considered how soon they had discovered a want of steadfastness, their guilt is still further heightened. A proper season, indeed, for departing from Christ cannot be imagined. But the fact, that no sooner had Paul left them than the Galatians were led away from the truth, inferred still deeper blame. As the consideration of the grace by which they had been called was adduced to aggravate their ingratitude, so the circumstance of the time when they were removed is now adduced to aggravate their levity.
7. Which is not another thing Some explain it thus, |though there is not another gospel;| as if it were a sort of correction of the Apostle's language, to guard against the supposition that there were more gospels than one. So far as the explanation of the words is concerned, I take a more simple view of them; for he speaks contemptuously of the doctrine of the false apostles, as being nothing else than a mass of confusion and destruction. As if he had said, |What do those persons allege? On what grounds do they attack the doctrine which I have delivered? They merely trouble you, and subvert the gospel. They do nothing more.| But it amounts to the same meaning; for this, too, I acknowledge, is a correction of the language he had used about another gospel. He declares that it is not a gospel, but a mere disturbance. All I intended to say was, that, in my opinion, the word another means another thing. It resembles strongly the expression in common use, |this amounts to nothing, but that you wish to deceive.|
And wish to pervert. He charges them with the additional crime of doing an injury to Christ, by endeavoring to subvert his gospel. Subversion is an enormous crime. It is worse than corruption. And with good reason does he fasten on them this charge. When the glow of justification is ascribed to another, and a snare is laid for the consciences of men, the Savior no longer occupies his place, and the doctrine of the gospel is utterly ruined.
The gospel of Christ. To know what are the leading points of the gospel, is a matter of unceasing importance. When these are attacked, the gospel is destroyed. When he adds the words, of Christ, this may be explained in two ways; either that it has come from Christ as its author, or that it purely exhibits Christ. The apostle's reason for employing that expression unquestionably was to describe the true and genuine gospel, which alone is worthy of the name.
8. But though we. As he proceeds in defending the authority of his doctrine, his confidence swells. First of all, he declares that the doctrine which he had preached is the only gospel, and that the attempt to set it aside is highly criminal. But then he was aware, the false apostles might object: |We will not yield to you in our desire to maintain the gospel, or in those feelings of respect for it which we are accustomed to cherish.| Just as, at the present day, the Papists describe in the strongest terms the sacredness with which they regard the gospel, and kiss the very name with the deepest reverence, and yet, when brought to the trial, are found to persecute fiercely the pure and simple doctrine of the gospel. Accordingly, Paul does not rest satisfied with this general declaration, but proceeds to define what the gospel is, and what it contains, and declares boldly that his doctrine is the true gospel; so as to resist all further inquiry.
Of what avail was it to profess respect for the gospel, and not to know what it meant? With Papists, who hold themselves bound to render implicit faith, that might be perfectly sufficient; but with Christians, where there is no knowledge, there is no faith. That the Galatians, who were otherwise disposed to obey the gospel, might not wander hither and thither, and |find no rest for the sole of their foot,| (Genesis 8:9,) Paul enjoins them to stand steadfastly by his doctrine. He demands such unhesitating belief of his preaching, that he pronounces a curse on all who dared to contradict it.
And here it is not a little remarkable, that he begins with himself; for thus he anticipates a slander with which his enemies would have loaded him. |You wish to have everything which comes from you received without hesitation, because it is your own.| To show that there is no foundation for such a statement, he instantly surrenders the right of advancing anything against his own doctrine. He claims no superiority, in this respect, over other men, but justly demands from all, equally with himself, subjection to the word of God.
Or an angel from heaven. In order to destroy more completely the pretensions of the false apostles, he rises so high as to speak of angels; and, on the supposition that they taught a different doctrine, he does not satisfy himself with saying that they were not entitled to be heard, but declares that they ought to be held accursed. Some may think, that it was absurd to engage in a controversy with angels about his doctrine; but a just view of the whole matter will enable any one to perceive, that this part of the apostle's proceedings was proper and necessary. It is impossible, no doubt, for angels from heaven to teach anything else than the certain truth of God. But when the credit due to doctrines which God had revealed concerning the salvation of men was the subject of controversy, he did not reckon it enough to disclaim the judgment of men, without declining, at the same time, the authority of angels.
And thus, when he pronounces a curse on angels who should teach any other doctrine though his argument is derived from an impossibility, it is not superfluous. This exaggerated language must, have contributed greatly to strengthen the confidence in Paul's preaching. His opponents, by employing the lofty titles of men, attempted to press hard on him and on his doctrine. He meets them by the bold assertion, that even angels are unable to shake his authority. This is no disparagement to angels. To promote the glory of God by every possible means was the design of their creation. He who endeavors, in a pious manner, to accomplish this object, by an apparently desrespectful mention of their name, detracts nothing from their high rank. This language not only exhibits, in an impressive manner, the majesty of the word of God, but yields, also, a powerful confirmation to our faith while, in reliance on that word, we feel ourselves at liberty to treat even angels with defiance and scorn. When he says, |let him be accursed,| the meaning must be, |let him be held by you as accursed.| In expounding 1 Corinthians 12:3, we had occasion to speak of the word anathema. . Here it denotes cursing, and answers to the Hebrew word, hrm (hherem.)
9. As we said before. Leaving out, in this instance, the mention of himself and of angels, he repeats the former assertion, that it is unlawful for any man to teach anything contrary to what they had learned. Observe the expression -- ye have received; for he uniformly insists, that they must not regard the gospel as something unknown, existing in the air, or in their own imaginations. He exhorts them to entertain a firm and serious conviction, that the doctrine which they had received and embraced is the true gospel of Christ. Nothing can be more inconsistent with the nature of faith than a feeble, wavering assent. What, then, must be the consequence, if ignorance of the nature and character of the gospel shall lead to hesitation? Accordingly he enjoins them to regard as devils those who shall dare to bring forward a gospel different from his, -- meaning by another gospel, one to which the inventions of other men are added; for the doctrine of the false apostles was not entirely contrary, or even different, from that of Paul, but corrupted by false additions.
To what poor subterfuges do the Papists resort, in order to escape from the Apostle's declaration! First, they tell us, that we have not in our possession the whole of Paul's preaching, and cannot know what it contained, unless the Galatians who heard it shall be raised from the dead, in order to appear as witnesses. Next, they assert, that it is not every kind of addition which is forbidden, but that other gospels only are condemned. What Paul's doctrine was, so far as it concerns us to know, may be learned with sufficient clearness from his writings. Of this gospel, it is plain, the whole of Popery is a dreadful perversion. And from the nature of the case, we remark in conclusion, it is manifest that any spurious doctrine whatever is at variance with Paul's preaching; so that these cavils will avail them nothing.