Galatians 1:7 MEANING

Galatians 1:7
(7) But there be some.--The force of the Greek, conjunction is, rather, except that, as the word "only" is used idiomatically in English. So far from being a second gospel, it is really no gospel, "only there are some . . . ," i.e., the only sense in which there can be any mention of a second gospel is that there are some who pervert the old gospel. The existence of this party is the only excuse for the name. And it is a mere excuse. They do not deserve any such dignity. They really lay themselves under the curse of God.

That trouble you.--The Judaising party, with its restless factiousness and bigotry, causing schisms and divisions in the Church.

Pervert.--The Greek is even still stronger--reverse, or change to its very opposite. This they did by substituting a doctrine of righteousness by works--self-justification before God by performing the precepts of the Mosaic law--for the doctrine of reconciliation with God through the free forgiveness which He has promised to faith in Christ.

The gospel of Christ.--Where combinations of this kind occur, the question naturally suggests itself: What is the relation of the two words to each other? For instance, in the present case, is it "the gospel taught by Christ," or the "gospel concerning Christ?" The following rule has been proposed:--In such phrases as the "gospel of salvation," the "gospel of the kingdom," the genitive is that of the object--"of" is equivalent to "concerning." In the phrase "the gospel of God" it represents rather the cause or authorship: "the gospel of which God is the Author." In the present phrase, "the gospel of Christ," it may be either one or the other, according to the context. We must not, however, narrow too much the Apostle's use of language. A somewhat vague and ambiguous term sometimes best expresses the fulness of his meaning. In English we might use the phrase "Christ's gospel" to include at once "the gospel which proceeds from Christ," and "the gospel which relates to Christ," all, in fact, which makes it in any sense belong to Him and bear His name.

Verse 7. - Which is not another (ο{ οὐκ ἔστιν ἄλλο). Already, in these very words, the apostle means to assert that essential unalterableness of the gospel, which, with solemn emphasis, he in the two following verses more fully affirms. Thus much seems plain. But, owing probably to the impassioned eagerness of the moment, he here, as not unfrequently elsewhere from the like cause, expresses himself in language, the grammatical analysis of which is obscure and in some degree uncertain. For

(1) the relative "which" may be taken as reciting the term "gospel" only, that is, the gospel which is properly so called; in which case we may read the sentence thus: "But the gospel is not ['never can be] other" - other, i.e. than it is as already preached to you;

(2) the relative may recite the "other [or, 'new'] sort of gospel" of ver. 6; and then we should have "But this other-fashioned gospel is not another gospel really," or, "is not the real gospel reappearing in another form." The former method presents undoubtedly, of the two, the harsher way of construing; but constructions as harsh do occasionally present themselves in the apostle's style when writing under strong emotion. The exact analysis, however, is merely a matter of grammatical nicety; the substance of the thought is quite clear. But there be (εἰ μή ... εἰσιν); only there are. This construction, of εἰ μὴ followed by a finite verb, is found also in Mark 6:5, Αἰ μὴ... ἐθεράπευσε, "Save that... he healed them." The force of εἰ μή, "except," in this passage as well as in some others, may be described as partially exceptive; that is, it denotes an exception taken, not to the entire foregoing sentence, but to part of it only. Thus in Luke 4:27, "There were many lepers in Israel... and none of them was cleansed, save Naaman the syrian:" where the pronoun "them" recites the "lepers in Israel," but the "save" refers to "lepers" only; Revelation 9:4, "That they should not hurt the grass, neither any green thing, neither any tree, save the men who," etc.: where the "save" points back only to the words, "that they should not hurt;" so again Revelation 21:27, "Save they which are written in the Lamb's book of life," points back only to the words, "there shall in no wise enter into it." In all such cases the rendering "only" or "but only" would exhibit just the amount of exception which appears intended. In the present instance the most probable explanation is this: the gospel can never be ether than it is; except that among (i.e. only among) those who proclaim it (i.e. profess to proclaim it) there are some who so misrepresent its import as to completely reverse its character. There be some that trouble you (τινές εἰσιν οἱ ταράσσοντες ὑμᾶς); there are certain who are disquieting you. The form of expression is the same as in Colossians 2:8, "Take heed lest there shall be any one that maketh spoil of you." The sentence as it stands differs from the supposable substitute, "certain persons are disquieting you," by directing attention me, re to the persons referred to than merely to their action viewed in itself; it marks them out as meriting strong censure, or (in Colossians, loc. cit.) as persons to be carefully guarded against. Who these troublers were and where they came from is uncertain (see note on ver. 2). The verb ταράσσειν frequently means "to alarm" or "disquiet," as Matthew 2:3; Matthew 14:26; Luke 1:12; Luke 24:38; John 14:1; 1 Peter 3:14. And this is probably the sense in which it is used here and in the similar passages, Galatians 5:10; Acts 15:24. It describes the action of those who came to believers reposing in a sense of acceptance with God through Christ; and filled their minds with uneasiness and apprehension, by telling them that they were not safe as they were, but must do something else if they wished to really possess the Divine favour. Others, however, connect the verb with the notion of civil disturbance, as in Acts 17:8, and thus with raising seditions and shaking men's allegiance, in conformity with the metaphor of μετατίθεσθε in ver. 6. And would pervert the gospel of Christ (καὶ θέλοντες μεταστρώψαι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ Ξριστοῦ); and would fain turn into its clean contrary the gospel of Christ. The verb μεταστρέφειν is an appropriate one to use with reference to such a misrepresentation of the gospel as the one now in the apostle's view; for this converted it from a doctrine of emancipation into a doctrine of renewed bondage (comp. ch. 5:1-4). So the verb is used in the only other passages in which it is found in the New Testament, Acts 2:20, "The sun shall be turned into darkness;" James 4:9, "Let your laughter be turned into mourning." So in Sirach 11:31, "Turning good things into evil." Liddell and Scott ('Lexicon') cite μεταστρέψας = "contrariwise," Plato, 'Gorg.,' 456 E; 'Rep' 587, D. In the phrase τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ Ξριστοῦ, the addition of the genitive, "of Christ," with the twofold article, marks the words with a stately emphasis. It was no less than THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST that these men were tampering with. "The gospel of Christ" means here the gospel of which Christ is the Author, as in "the gospel of God" (Romans 1:1). and which he had sent forth his apostles to proclaim. The peculiar emphasis and the connection forbid our taking the genitive as denoting merely the subject-matter.

1:6-9 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, every one 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 any thing which may betray others into so dreadful a delusion.Which is not another,.... It is no Gospel, no joyful sound, no good news, and glad tidings; the doctrine which attributes justification to the works of the law, or mixes grace and works in the business of salvation, which was the doctrine of these false teachers, is no Gospel; not truly so, however it may be called; nor does it bring any solid peace and joy to distressed minds. There is but one pure Gospel of the grace of God, and Christ, and his apostles; there is not one and another; there is but one faith, one doctrine and scheme of faith; the Gospel is single and uniform, all of a piece, has no yea and nay, or contradiction in it; this trumpet gives no uncertain sound, nor any dreadful, but a joyful one:

but there be some that trouble you; meaning the false apostles, whose names he does not think fit to mention, as being unworthy to be named, and to have their names transmitted to posterity. These troubled the churches with their doctrines and principles, by raising disputes and controversies among them, injecting doubts and scruples into their minds, which puzzled and confounded them, and made them uneasy, and which broke in upon that peace of soul which the Gospel brings and establishes; for no true solid peace is attained to, and enjoyed, but by the doctrine of justification by the righteousness of Christ, pardon by his blood, and atonement by his sacrifice, which the doctrine of justification by works, &c. tends to destroy.

And would pervert the Gospel of Christ; which has Christ for its author, subject, and preacher; and particularly the doctrine of justification by his righteousness, which they sought to change, to throw into a different shape and form, to adulterate by mixing it with the works of the law, and so, if possible, destroy it: to this they showed a good will, but were not able to effect, for the Gospel is an everlasting one; it is immovable, and so is that particular doctrine of it; it remains, and will remain in spite of opposition to it. Thus the apostle prudently lays the blame of the Galatians removing from the Gospel to another upon the false teachers, hoping he should be able to reclaim them by solid arguments, and gentle methods.

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