Saturday, 6 February 2016
As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. Galatians 1:9
There is a great divide between scholars concerning the words, “As we have said before.” Because of Paul’s seemingly great surprise at what has transpired in Galatia (read verse 6 to see this), it seems to some scholars that it is unlikely he had any idea that this turning away from the truth so quickly would have been possible. Therefore, the “before” appears to be speaking about the preceding sentence (read verse 8 to see this). In other words, “before” indicates the substance of verse 8 and what he says in verse 9 is a repetition for stress.
However, other scholars look to the structure of this verse and adamantly suppose that he is speaking of a previous warning which is not recorded elsewhere. Vincent’s Word Studies, for example, state –
“Not to be referred to the preceding verse, since the compound verb would be too strong, and now in the following clause points to an earlier time, a previous visit.”
What seems the most likely is that the first case is correct. The incredulity of Paul in the opening verses of his letter appears to indicate that he was taken completely by surprise by what has transpired. The repetition for stress is a common means of expression found throughout the Bible.
In Exodus 25, the Lord describes the construction of the ark of the testimony. In verse 16, He then says, “And you shall put into the ark the Testimony which I will give you.” Then, just a few verses later, after describing the mercy seat, He repeats the thought with, “You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the Testimony that I will give you.” This is seen again and again in Scripture. It is a grammatical device called parallelism. It is a repetition for emphasis.
The Lord used this type of repetition as well –
“Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
19 “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:18-20
The substance of the words changes a bit, as it does now from Paul’s pen, but the intent of the words, with their accompanying emphasis, remains the same. The changes in Paul’s words are of substance, but not of intent –
8 – But even if we, or an angel from heaven, (the absolute negation of anyone after the original)
9 – As we have said before (speaking of the original)
9 – so now I say again (emphasis)
8 – preach any other gospel to you (from the absolute negation of anyone else)
9 – if anyone preaches any other gospel (who would dare!)
8 – than what we have preached to you, (what Paul originally preached)
9 – to you than what you have received, (what they received from Paul)
8 – let him be accursed. (stated penalty)
9 – let him be accursed. (stated penalty)
Life application: If you come across difficult passages in Scripture, there is a whole host of sound resources that you can refer to for an explanation of them. If these scholars are at polar opposites concerning a conclusion, then you must refer to your own knowledge of Scripture in order to make the best possible conclusion concerning the issue. The more familiar you are with the rest of Scripture, the better chance you will have of coming to the correct conclusion. Also, making diagrams and comparisons of what is being analyzed may help in the decision making process.
How marvelous, O Lord, is Your name in all the earth! You have set our earthly home in the most wonderful spot. It turns around each day, lighting one side and then the other. The sun rises and it also sets. The moon waxes full and it wanes to a beautiful crescent of sliver. Tides rise, and the fish are abundant. Tides ebb, and crabs are there to do what crabs do. There is harmony and there is wisdom on display, and everything is as it should be. How marvelous, O Lord, is Your name in all the earth. Amen.