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Let Them Be Accursed!
© 01.23.23 By David Eric Williams

This article appeared in the January 26 edition of the Cottonwood Chronicle

It is not uncommon to suggest Paul's anger toward the church in Galatia caused him to speak out of line when he said,even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed (Galatians 1:8). After all, calling down a curse on people is not something Christians typically do. Yet, the apostle flatly says that anyone who preaches a gospel different from the one he preached is accursed. In fact, he isn't satisfied with a single pronouncement for he immediately adds, 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). The Greek word used here is anathema and it conveys the idea of a curse from which there is no redemption. Paul is handing these heretics a one-way ticket to hell.

In today's world, that sort of language would get Paul voted out of a pastorate. Nevertheless, these three versus - Galatians 1:6-9 - are not simply the passionate sentiments of a man betrayed, they are God breathed Scripture. This is Holy Spirit inspired text. We must take careful note of what it is that God finds worthy of a curse.

Paul begins this section expressing amazement at the Galatians' quick abandonment of the peace and grace of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He is amazed they have rejected the epic altering revelation in Jesus and are willing, even eager, to embrace the bondage of the present evil age. Paul had been very clear in the presentation of the gospel of Jesus; relationship with the Lord depended upon the grace of God embraced through faith. There is absolutely nothing anyone can do to effect his or her own salvation. Jesus Christ is sufficient. He alone is the author of new life. Moreover, Paul is adamant concerning the nature of that new life and any deviation from that is a false gospel. Truly, the whole of the letter is an explanation of what is deserving of a curse. In other words, to deviate from what we find in the text is to invite anathema.

This is not the only time Paul called down a curse upon those who reject the gospel. In the closing of his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul said, if anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed (1 Corinthians 16:22a). To love the Lord is to keep his commandments (John 14:15). And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment (1 John 3:23). Thus, in both examples, Paul is pronouncing a curse upon those who reject the gospel of Jesus Christ. In the case of the church in Galatia, there were some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ (Galatians 1:7). Their shtick was syncretism. They taught that one must be a Jew to be saved by Jesus Christ. Therefore, circumcision and adherence to the Mosaic ritual was required. In short, according to the perverted message of the Galatian troublers, faith in Jesus was not enough. What we will discover in the body of the letter is that faith in Jesus Christ is comprehensive. The gospel is the true biblical tradition reaching back to Abraham, centuries before the Mosaic dispensation. Thus, a surrender to Jesus the Christ is not just repeating the sinner's prayer. It is not a warm fuzzy feeling. It is an embrace and immersion in an entire worldview wherein Jesus Christ is absolute Lord and Savior.

We will return to this topic next week (online). During the “off weeks”, find the articles in this series at cottcommchurch.com under the articles link.

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