Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 2 Study # 5
November 7, 2010
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.
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.
1901 ASV Translation:
8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema.
9 As we have said before, so say I now again, if any man preacheth unto you any gospel other than that which ye received, let him be anathema.
- I. The Issues in the "Preached/Received" Concept.
- A. Perhaps more than any other, the issues involved in "salvation" by "preaching/receiving" are determinative.
- 1. That this is true is established by Galatians 3:2. In that text the apostle says to his readers: "This only would I learn of you: received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?". It appears that Paul thought that if they would answer just one question correctly, everything else regarding their participation in the Life of God through the Gospel would fall into place. In this statement is the issue of the "reception" of the "bottom line" in the experience of the Life of God (His Spirit) and the issue of the "preaching" of the Gospel (that is how they "heard with faith").
- 2. In an enormously instructive way the "preaching/receiving" thesis reveals the most fundamental mechanism within the ability of a person to enter into the Life of God. In this "methodology" there are only two elements: preaching and receiving.
- a. On the "preaching" side of the coin, the Gospel is both revealed and announced in the hearing of the "receivers". There are two items of interest here. The "revelation" of the content of the Gospel is most fundamentally crucial because that content stands between a person's condemnation and glorification. This content, Paul goes to great lengths to establish, is not human, not through any human, and exists directly by revelation of the Truth of God. Then, the "announcement" of that revelation to the Galatians was something that they did absolutely nothing to acquire. This makes the "preaching" an absolutely "gracious" phenomenon as far as the hearers are concerned. Since the apostolic charge is that the Galatians are being removed from the God Who is directly characterized in the text as having summoned them "by grace", that the announcement of the contents of the Gospel is absolutely gracious is directly attached to that thesis.
- 1) On this "preaching" side of the coin, two concepts stand together. The first is the term Paul used in our text. It is the verbal form of a word that is rooted in "Good News" and most fundamentally means "to declare the contents of God's 'good news' message of Promise". Salvation results from "faith" in this declaration of the good news (1 Corinthians 15:2). In the preceding verse (15:1) Paul used the exact terminology we have in this Galatian text ("preached/received"). This term seems to zero in upon the contents of the declaration. The second is the term Paul used in his explanation of God's decision to "save" those who "believe" in the "preaching" (1 Corinthians 1:21). In that text he switched from the term, "to declare the contents of God's message", to a term that has more to do with the actual process of the declaration. In Titus 1:3 Paul calls this "process called preaching" the means by which God makes His Word manifest. The point here is this: salvation results from "faith" in the "Good News" when it is "made known".
- 2) This "preaching" has this most potent implication: a relationship with God begins when He engages a person's mental capacities through words. It progresses when the engaged person ceases to "war" against His words; i.e., he/she "believes". The relationship that is most critical in this relational universe hinges upon revelation and the willingness to yield to it.
- b. On the "receiving" side of the coin, the actual mechanism of the transferal of Life from God to the "believer" is encapsulated by whether the "preaching" is "received", or rejected. At the point of "reception" the transferal is accomplished. This, of course, means that we have to understand clearly exactly what this "reception" entailed.
- 1) In the 3:2 text Paul declares that if the Galatians will settle the question of how they "received the Spirit" they will have the basis for the resolution of the distortion of the Gospel. He calls the "methodology" the "hearing of faith". In other words, they "received" by "believing" what they heard. And what is it that they heard? This question is answered in the preceding verse: Jesus Christ was crucified (3:1). In the most profound way, this "content" is the Gospel because it raises the issue of why He was crucified and it is set against the background of 1:1 wherein the crucifixion was followed by resurrection from the dead. In an expansion of this statement in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 this apostle wrote, "Christ died for our sins ... and ... rose again the third day".
- a) The issue of "receiving" is the issue of what a person actually does with the content of what is heard. There were multiple options for Paul in his choice of words in regard to his idea of what it means "to receive" his message. The one for which he opted is a strengthened form for a word that simply means "to take into one's possession". This strengthened form shows up in the aforementioned text of 1 Corinthians 15:1-3. He assigns salvific impact to such "reception". However, the non-strengthened form of this word also shows up with salvific impact in John 1:12 on the heels of the statement of 1:11 that His own "received Him not" where the strengthened form is in use. The point seems to be this: men ought to "receive" Christ and His message of good news in a strengthened form of the notion -- they ought to seriously grab hold of Him -- but if they merely take Him into their possession, He will give them the privilege of being the children of God. It is highly likely that Paul used the strengthened form to not only express what the Galatians actually did with his Gospel (they seriously grabbed hold of it and brought it into their possession), but to also highlight how they were subsequently acting as they begin to buy into a distortion of that good news. What they once latched onto they are now discarding.
- b) It could be argued that if that content demanded some action(s), it would not have been "received" until that action/those actions had taken place. Thus, the "receiving" does not, of itself, establish "grace".
- c) It is the question of just what they heard that establishes/disestablishes "grace". Therefore, Paul's declaration that Christ was set forth crucified is of the utmost importance because it dominates the landscape of the content. If men can "make things right" by their obedience to divine demands, Christ died for no good reason (Galatians 2:21). Contrariwise, if Christ actually did die for our sins, our sins are no longer effectual in keeping us from God.
- 2) In another text, this apostle expanded his understanding of what it means to "receive" the Gospel by adding the concept that the hearers "embraced it as words from God" (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
- 3) And in yet another text, this concept is illustrated by the revelation that "while" hearers are being subjected to this Gospel, the Holy Spirit falls upon those who "believe" it (Acts 10:44).
- 4) Thus, the apostle's meaning for "receiving" is precisely this: they yielded to the truthfulness of the preaching and, having thus "believed", they "received" the Source of Life (God's Spirit).
- 5) These truths are beyond crucial because they do two things: they maintain the reality of "salvation by grace" (since they had nothing to do with the arrival of the preacher, with the content of his preaching, or with the overwhelming conviction of its truth in their own minds and hearts); and they clearly reveal the meaning of the Gospel's requirement of "faith" (the words are God's and they are to be yielded to as Truth). Because this "reception" is prior to all other matters, "salvation" is not by "works" of any kind or of any time as far as those being subjected to the preaching are concerned. Hearers either "believe" or they do not.