Thursday, 3 February 2016
I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, Galatians 1:6
After his opening blessing, Paul jumps immediately into the meat of the matter. There is no delay or beating around the bush. Rather, his words are direct and are intended to show the immense dissatisfaction that he has with the Galatians. According to Vincent’s Word Studies, the words “I marvel” are often used “by Greek orators of surprise as something reprehensible.” They are used by Jesus in this same way –
“And He marveled because of their unbelief.” Mark 6:6
Next he says, “…that you are turning away.” The word for “turning” implies a transfer in the middle of something and carries the specific idea of going over to another party as a deserter. The Galatians had begun to apostatize from the true faith. The tense of the verb shows that it is in the process of occurring. The KJV says “that ye are so soon removed.” Thus it misses the sense of the verb which indicates the on-going nature of what is occurring; they are in the process of being deluded.
Continuing with his words, the NKJV says that they are turning away “so soon.” The word means “quickly” rather than “after a short time.” The Galatians made a sudden change in direction from where they were heading to where they are now heading. This explains the astonishment of Paul. He had probably heard that things were going along well at some point in the past, and then all of a sudden he hears that they have started down another completely new avenue.
The certain explanation for this is that they have been misled by a new and unsound doctrine. This will be confirmed as the chapter continues, but it is the same thing that happens constantly in churches around the world. Some person comes in with a false message, and because the people don’t know the word, they are easily misdirected from the truth of “Him who called you in the grace of Christ.”
This is speaking of “God the Father” who is mentioned in verse 4. Therefore, the word “in” should be translated “by.” In other words, Christ is the mediate agency by which God’s grace is bestowed upon sinners. As Charles Ellicott notes –
“The ‘grace of Christ’ is His voluntary self-surrender to humiliation and death, from no other prompting than His own love for sinful men.”
It is by this work of Christ that the Gospel is brought into the world of fallen man. It is from this precious gospel, which is the pure and undefiled gift of God, that the Galatians had begun to turn to “a different gospel.” However, as will be seen in the next verse, this “different gospel” is no gospel at all. There is only one truth in this matter and the Galatians had turned from it.
The work of the Judaizers, who have as yet not been introduced into the epistle, has had a damaging effect on the Galatians. And their false message continues to have the same damaging effect on countless souls today. Galatians is a vital epistle for understanding what the pure and undefiled gospel message is.
Life application: Grace indicates “unmerited favor.” If you have to do something to receive grace, then it ain’t grace.
Heavenly Father, I pray that people will take the time to understand what the word “grace” means. So many folks who claim the title of “Christian” feel that they need to do something before receiving Your grace which came through the work of Christ. With this approach, they have rejected the unmerited favor which You offer and have set about to established their own works as a means of appeasing You. Grace plus is not grace. Help us to understand this and to be willing to simply say, “I receive Jesus and I stand on His work alone.” Amen.