Sermons by Marlin Harless


(Galatians 1:6-12)
By Marlin L. Harless

INTRODUCTION: "The Galatian letter may have been written either from Macedonia or Achaia, in [57 or 58 A. D., emphasis, mine, MLH]. In any case, it is close to (2 Corinthians 10-13) in thought and emotion. Paul received from members of his spiritual household news of a serious crisis among the churches of South Galatia; they were backsliding into Judaism (1:6). The native religion of that region delighted in sensational ritual (Cybele, the Great Mother, etc.). Paul had won his converts by the contagion of an irresistible personality (4:15) rather than through the formation of solid conviction in their minds. His splendid idealism was beyond them. Now came Judaizing [teachers, emphasis, mine, MLH] with their rigid ritualism of tactual apostolic succession. It was near enough to their land to find them at home, yet sufficiently above their level to impress them. Hence, the crisis.

The Judaizers declared that Paul was a second-hand authority, deriving all that was good in his views from the original apostles (1:1; 2:6, 7). They seem to have gone further than the Judaizers at Corinth (5:2-12) and to have insisted on the necessity of circumcision. Paul's defense involved three elements: (1) By careful biographical chronology (1:15-2:1) He proves his independence of the original apostles. (2) his carriage in the apostolic council and in the controversy at Antioch manifested his ability to withstand the "original apostles" to their face; (3) The conversion of his followers, [back to Judaism, emphasis, mine, MLH] is in truth a perversion. Judaism with its law is not the final religion.

My friends, hear me, are you listening? Christianity supplanted Judaism on the first Pentecost after the resurrection Christ!! Its Levitical institutes are outgrown rudiments of religion (4:9). The true function of the law is not to rival Christianity, but like a loyal household servant (3:24, 25) to guide men to Christ, who has established a splendid religious unity (3:28) that recognizes no difference between Jew and hellene, between free man and slave, between male and female"! 1

I. "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel (Galatians 1:6). The change which is taking place among the Galatian Christians is so utterly inconceivable to Paul that he marvels. [The whole truth concerning the gospel plan of salvation had been so clearly set before them, their reception of the truth had been so hearty, his own personal influence over them had been so strong, that the change seemed like some unaccountable fascination (3: 1).] Their defection from the truth was not yet complete and would continue, unless they were brought to a better state of mind by this epistle. Whether or not this was the case it is not known. The word soon or quickly may mean either their action had been hasty, taken without due consideration, or but little time had elapsed between the acceptance of the gospel and their defection. On the whole it seems the more probable that the reference is to the time rather than to the manner of their defection; then soon after the arrival of the false teachers is more likely than so soon after their conversion. Paul may have intended to hint that he had not found them so ready to accept the true gospel as the false teachers had found them ready to accept a perversion of it.

From God to whom Paul attributes the call to salvation (1 Thessalonians 2:13, 14). In harmony with the words of the Lord Jesus ( John 6:44, 45) the calling of men out of darkness is always referred to God the Father (Romans 8:18-30). These words reveal the gravity of the situation in which they were placing themselves. The grace of Christ is the instrument of the Divine calling inasmuch as it is through the preaching his love and the gift that the unbeliever is at first attracted and won over to the faith. The grace of Christ is expressed in these words: "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9). His grace is His voluntary self-surrender to humiliation and death, from no other prompting than His own love for man. It seems that the Judaizers explained that theirs was a gospel with a difference.

II. "Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ" (Galatians 1:7). Paul replied that what they preached differed so greatly from the true gospel that it was no gospel at all. He could not even allow them the name gospel. [Paul preached salvation by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8), they preached salvation by the law through works, saying, It is needful to circumcise them, and to charge them to keep the law of Moses or they cannot be saved (Acts 15:1, 5); the two are incompatible, and are antagonistic to that end (Romans 11:6). Thus at the very beginning he closes the door against compromise, and throughout this epistle this attitude is maintained. Obedience to their teaching puts in bondage (2:4) and entanglement (5:1), and could not result in justification (2:16), or freedom (5:1); it made Christ to be of no profit (5:2), and the death of Christ, which is the essence of the gospel, a superfluous thing of no account, (2:21); and so far from bringing blessing it puts him under a curse (3:10); and all who accepted it fell away from grace (5:4).]

Those who troubled them with false teachings perverted the gospel of Christ. Christ died to redeem all nations from sin. It was a perversion of the gospel to claim they could not be saved by Christ save through keeping the Jewish law. It was turning them from a sole reliance in Christ back to the Jewish law.

III. "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto, let him be accursed (Galatians 1:8). Paul's claim was that the gospel as he had preached it was complete, absolute, and final, and if he himself, or an angel from heaven, should preach another gospel than that he had preached, let him be accursed---anathema. {The word means to be hopelessly and irrevocably, "without repair or recovery," cut off from God!! Emphasis, mine, MLH.}

IV. "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---anathema (Galatians 1:9). He repeats it to emphasize its truth and importance. To insist that a man must be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses was such a perversion of the gospel as to destroy its nature, and to call down upon him doing it the condemnation of God.

V. "For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ"(Galatians 1:10). It seems that he had been accused of being a timeserver who sought to ingratiate himself by becoming "all things to all men" (1 Corinthians 9:22); in proof of this accusation they could point to the circumcision of Timothy as an effort to gain Jewish favor, and so his repudiation of the law as an attempt to conciliate the Gentiles, in admitting them to salvation in Christ without circumcision. In this he reaffirms a truth set forth by Jesus: "How can ye believe, which receive glory one of another, and seek not the honor that cometh from God only?" (John 5:44). This clearly teaches that they who seek honor from men cannot believe in Jesus. Men seeking to be popular with the world cannot be true faithful believers in, and servants of, Jesus Christ. [That popularity with men and the service of Christ are incompatible. Paul knew from actual experience immediately after he entered the service of Christ, for his former friends took counsel to kill him (Acts 9:23), and even at the time of writing persecution had not ceased (5:11).] 2

VI. But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man" (Galatians 1:11). Interestingly, both, The American Standard Version of 1901, and The New King James Version, delete the word, "certify" in The King James Version of the preceding text, and insert three words in its place, "make known to," as a surrogate or subrogate term. It would be interesting, indeed, to hear a member of the Revision, or Translation Committee, explain why the word, "certify" would not suffice in the ASV and NKJV, as it had stood for so long in the KJV! My friends, hear me, are you listening? Consider this, the phrase or term, "make known to," simply means, to "declare," or "make a declaration," but who will decide how thorough, full, or complete, my "declaration" shall be? The word, "certify" is the proper word to use in this text, because it is much broader in meaning, than the term, "make known to," which is rather vague, and, more, significantly it seems to convey the idea that Paul was speaking of preaching the gospel only; but, in reality, Paul was speaking of the "origin" and "source" of the gospel he preached!! The King James Version is right, and I am going to prove it!!

The American College Dictionary defines the word, "certify" as follows: v.t., 1. to guarantee as certain; give reliable information of. 2. to testify to or vouch for in writing. 3. to assure or inform with certainty. 4. to guarantee; endorse reliably. 5. (of a bank, or one of its officials) to acknowledge in writing upon (a check) that the bank on which it is drawn has funds of the drawer sufficient to pay it. ---v.i. 6. to give assurance; testify. Page 198, 4th entry. All of the above was true of the gospel that Paul preached!!!


(4) In the A.V. of Galatians 1:11, gnorizo is rendered "certify," R.V., "to make known." Expanded Vines, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, page # 170, section (4).

IN ANSWER TO THE QUESTION: "What do the scriptures teach with reference to their inspiration?" Brother Guy N. Woods says, among other things, "These results of modernism we unhesitatingly repudiate and reject. Though the instruments by which it was delivered to the world by human beings such as we, they were protected against any possibility of error in delivering their message; and, the Bible is, therefore, an inbreathed, inspired, divine doctrine which, as originally given, is absolutely inerrant, infallible and true.

(1) Such is the claim which it makes for itself: 'All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." (II Timothy 3: 16, 17.) "For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God, spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." (II Peter 1: 21.) But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me, is not after man. For I neither received of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ." (Galatians 1: 11, 12.) 3 VII. "For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ" (Galatians 1: 12.) I certify you:---Observe--- I.
THAT MEN MAY BE CERTIFIED THAT THE GOSPEL IS NOT OF MAN BUT OF GOD, by ---1. The evidence of God's Spirit imprinted on and expressed in it. 2. The testimony of its promulgators who were neither knaves nor fools. 3. The assurance of obedience and experience (John 7: 17,) "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself".

THAT CHRIST IS THE GREAT TEACHER OF THIS GOSPEL. 1. He is the Revealer of the will of the Father touching the redemption of mankind (John 1: 18; 8:26,) "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him." 2. He calls and sends the preachers of this gospel (John 20:21; Ephesians 4: 11,) "Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And he gave some, apostles, and some prophets; and some evangelist; and some, pastors and teachers." "He gives the Spirit who illuminates the mind and guides into all truth.

THAT CHRIST TEACHES THE TEACHERS OF THE GOSPEL. 1. By immediate revelation. 2. By ordinary instruction in the schools. IV. THAT THOSE WHO ARE TEACHERS MUST BE FIRST TAUGHT, AND MUST THEN TEACH WHAT THEY HAVE LEARNED (2 Timothy 3:14,) "But continue thou in the things that thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them."4 (W. Perkins.) CONCLUSION: Paul said, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek" (Romans 1:16). The gospel that saved Paul the persecutor can also save you! Are you a Christian? Do you want to become a Christian? If so, here is what you must do: 1. You must hear the unadulterated gospel of Christ, (Romans 10:14;) 2. You must believe the unadulterated gospel of Christ, (Romans 10:14;) 3. You must repent of past sins, (Luke 13:3, 5;) 4. You must confess Christ, (Matthew 10:32, 33;) 5. You must be immersed or baptized for remission of sins, (Romans 6:3-6;) 6. You must be faithful until death, to be saved, (Revelation 2:10.) "(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)"


1 The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Vol. VIII, pages 408 & 409

2 Gospel Advocate Commentary, Galatians 1:6-12, pages 188 & 189

3 Questions and Answers, Open Forum, Freed-Hardeman College Lectures, by Guy N. Woods, pages 281 & 282

4 The Biblical Illustrator, Galatians 1:11, 12, Page # 87


1. The King James Version of The Bible, The Thompson Chain-Reference Bible, The Fifth Improved Edition

2. The American College Dictionary

3. The American Heritage Dictionary

4. The Expanded Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words

5. Theological Dictionary of The New Testament

6. The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament

7. Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of The New Testament

8. The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology

(E-Mail Address:; Telephone number: (304) 247-6895. Dear reader, in the event you find errors in this sermon, spelling, misquotes, scripture references, etc., please inform me of the same at your earliest convenience, as I intend to be as accurate as possible!! Thank you! (MLH).

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