Friday, July 5, 2019

GRACE'S GRIP

All we are, have, do, or gain is the result of God's grace, not our merit! Our salvation and our service are first for God's pleasure, not for our benefit. Paul makes this truth clear in his testimony about God's call (Gal. 1:15-16). Paul writes, "But when God, the one who marked me off from my mother's womb and called me by His grace, delighted to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the nations, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood."

God's delight (εὐδόκησεν) drove God's revelation (ἀποκαλύψαι) of His Son to Paul. God's pleasure drives our salvation. In between God's delight (v.15) and God's revelation (v.16), we see God's choice and God's call. Paul describes the God who delighted to reveal Himself as the God who marked him (ἀφορίσας) and called him (καλέσας). The two verbs are grammatically connected by a conjunction (καὶ) and governed by one article (ὁ). Both participles describe the actions of God. No one deserves God's choice or God's call. It is all about Him, not about us.

THE MARK OF GOD

Paul uses a verb meaning to set apart or mark off (ἀφορίσας) to describe God's appointment of him from birth. The verb always carries the force of separation. For example, God sends His angels to separate (ἀφοριοῦσιν) the wicked from the righteous at the end of the age (Mt. 13:49). Paul uses this word later in Galatians to accuse Peter of separating himself from the Gentiles at meals after the Judaizers arrived in Antioch (Gal. 2:12). So God separated Paul for the ministry of the gospel as he says in Romans 1:1 (ἀφωρισμένος εἰς εὐαγγέλιον θεοῦ), and God did so from his "mother's womb" (ἐκ κοιλίας μητρός). God's choice predates man's choice. God chooses us before we choose Him.

The verb to separate or mark off (ἀφορίζω) comes from the verb to appoint or determine (ὁρίζω). To appoint or determine (ὁρίζω) is used eight times in the New Testament, while to separate (ἀφορίζω) is used ten times. There is a close connection between the two concepts in the New Testament (NIDNTT, 1:472-474. To separate and to appoint are sometimes difficult to distinguish from one another, particularly as it relates to God's call. Luke records that the Holy Spirit commanded the church in Antioch, "Separate" (ἀφορίσατε) "for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called (προσκέκλημαι) them." Long before Paul met Jesus on the Damascus road, God appointed him to preach Christ among the Gentiles (Gal. 1:16). Paul was marked off for ministry from birth.

THE CALL OF GOD

God not only marked off Paul, but He also called (καλέσας) him to preach Christ. This concept of calling is rooted in the Old Testament usage of the term where it is often used to describe someone higher in rank calling someone lower in rank. In this case, the call is never just an invitation but rather a command, particularly when used of God's call to humans. Two Old Testament passages are instructive as background for God's call of Paul. First, God's call of Samuel (1 Sam. 3:4-10) uses the verb "call" (καλέω) eleven times in the Septuagint. Humans must hear and recognize the call of God before they can obey it. Often, like Samuel and even Paul, humans do not hear the call of God or even seek to avoid it. Second, God's call of the servant in the Servant Songs of Isaiah is important (Isaiah 41:8; 42:6; 43:1, 10; 45:3). God's call to service (καλέω) is often linked to the frequent use of God's choice of the servant (ἐκλέγομαι) so that the calling and the choosing are inseparable just as in Galatians 1:15 (NIDNTT, 1:272-273).

God's call is rooted in God's grace. Paul writes that God called him "through His grace" (διὰ τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ). The means by which God calls is always grace. Paul didn't deserve to be chosen or called, and neither do we. There is nothing intrinsic in us that induces the call of God. The calling and choosing are always grounded in grace. The expression points us back to Galatians 1:6, where Paul wrote that the Galatians were "called by the grace of Christ." God's grace and Christ's grace are the same because God and Christ are united in the gracious call (Longenecker, Galatians, 30). Paul ties the call of God to the choice of God in the opening words of Romans (1:1) but in reverse order from Galatians 1:15. God called Paul as an apostle, and God separated Paul for the work of the gospel. We should not try to deduce an order of events from the order of these words.

God in His grace marks us off from the world and calls us to preach Christ. We deserve nothing but gain everything. We are nobody's, but He makes us somebody's by His grace. No matter what we face in ministry for Him - opposition, discouragement, sacrifice, hurt, betrayal, rejection - we know that His call is grounded in His grace. We are held in the grip of His grace forever!

Friday, June 21, 2019

A RABID DEVOTION

There is a zeal for God and country that ravages all compromisers - a devotion that becomes destructive, a patriotism that breeds fanaticism. Paul possessed a rabid loyalty to Judaism that drove him to zealously protect the traditions handed down from his forefathers (Gal. 1:13-14). His misplaced zeal justified his persecution of Christians as enemies of the Most Holy God and corruptors of his national traditions. There are few emotions more unholy than a holy zeal gone rabid.

Paul describes himself as a zealot (Gal. 1:14). He uses the noun "zealot" (ζηλωτὴς) not the noun "zeal" (ζῆλος). A zealot was a zealous person, of course, but the noun also described one of the four political parties in first century Judaism. The Sadducees, Pharisees, Essenes, and Zealots were known as the four philosophies or philosophical sects. A subset of the Pharisees, the zealots began under the leadership of Judas and Zaddok in revolt against the Roman census of Quirinius. They were passionate about freedom from Rome and that God alone was their master, so they believed that the census violated the Law of Moses. They possessed an indomitable will to suffer and fight for God and freedom believing that God would intervene miraculously to free His people if His people purified themselves for God. (TDNT, 2:884-888).

The zealots looked back to Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron as their hero. Phinehas drove a spear through the Israelite man and the Midianite woman in his tent to appease the wrath of God and stop the plague that had killed 24,000 Israelites (Num.25:1-15). It was the zealots who incited the rebellion against Rome that led to the destruction of Jerusalem. Some of the zealots were known as the Sicarii because they carried small swords to assassinate any who collaborated with Rome. They believed that the end would come and the Messiah would return after the nation suffered horrible woes intended to purify the people. For this reason, the most rabid zealots purified the temple during the siege of Jerusalem but also burned the supplies, including food, in the city to hasten the woes preceding the coming of Messiah. The Sicarii of Masada were the last to hold out against Rome, committing mass suicide rather than surrender to the enemy. (Emil Schurer, The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ, 2:598-606).

There is no evidence that Paul belonged to the zealots as a political party, but his zeal put many zealots to shame. He describes himself as being an "extreme" zealot for his ancestral traditions (Gal. 1:14). The adjective "ancestral" (πατρικῶν) means paternal (M&M, Vocabulary of the Greek NT, 499). Paul's zeal was for his national heritage. The word "extremely" (περισσοτέρως) means to be zealous to a much higher degree than others (BDAG, 651).  Paul claims that he was progressing in Judaism beyond his contemporaries. The verb "progressing" (προέκοπτον) is in the imperfect tense, indicating ongoing progress. It means to cut forward or blaze a path, and the preposition "beyond" (ὑπὲρ) means to excel or surpass (R&R, Linguistic Key, 501). Paul forged ahead of the most zealous zealots in his passion for God and country. His passion led him to persecute (ἐδίωκον) Christians. The verb is also in the imperfect tense indicating ongoing persecution and means to hunt them down. Paul tried to destroy (ἐπόρθουν) the church of God. The verb was used to describe soldiers who ravaged a city (R&R, 501). Paul rabidly defended his heritage until the gospel radically realigned his values.

Beware of a zeal for God that is not according to knowledge (Rom. 10:2). God saved Paul from the zealot's zeal and transformed his devotion from nationalism to evangelism, from the kingdom of man to the kingdom of God. The Christians he once persecuted, he now embraced. The Gentiles he once scorned, he now loved. The pagans he once avoided, he now evangelized. The gospel of grace changes everything about life!

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

A BRITTLE FAITH BUT A SURE GOSPEL

"For I know in what hours of darkness I sometimes wrestle. I know how often I suddenly lose the beams of the gospel, and grace, as being shadowed from me with thick and dark clouds. ... Therefore, in respect of us the article of justification by faith in Christ alone, is very brittle, because we are brittle" (Martin Luther, Galatians, 31).

Luther pointed to what Paul wrote in Galatians 1:11-12 as vital to the Christian faith. The doctrine of justification by faith is brittle if it depends on us, but the gospel is sure because it depends on Him! Paul wrote: "the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ."

These two verses give us clues to the structural frame for the letter to the Galatians. Paul responds to two significant criticisms from his enemies, namely that his gospel was "according to man" (κατὰ ἄνθρωπον) and received "from man" (παρὰ ἀνθρώπου) both of which Paul refutes in this letter. The gospel does not reflect human norms, and the gospel does not come from human origins. Paul's answers to his critics in the rest of the letter form a chiasm since he responds in reverse order. He shows that his gospel is not from man (παρὰ ἀνθρώπου) in Galatians 1:13-2:21. Then he argues that his gospel is not according to man (κατὰ ἄνθρωπον) in Galatians 3:1-6:10 (Blass/Debrunner, Grammar, 252).

First, Paul argues that the gospel did not come from human origins. The preposition παρὰ with the genitive case in classical Greek points to a person and indicates that something proceeded literally from the side of the person. The source originates and directs the information (BDAG, 609). When used with verbs implying transmission, the preposition marks the object as the source. Sometimes the object is the intermediate source of the transmission, but often the preposition is used to indicate the ultimate source. Here in this context, Paul is clearly saying that man is not the ultimate source of the gospel because he received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ (Burton, Galatians, 39-40).

Paul neither received (παρέλαβον) the gospel from men, nor was he taught (ἐδιδάχθην) the gospel by men. There is probably not a significant distinction between the two verbs in this context. The second is used to reinforce and clarify the point of the first verb (Bruce, Galatians, 89). Humans did not transmit the gospel to Paul. How did Paul receive the gospel? He received it "through (δι') a revelation." The preposition διὰ identifies the agent, so the gospel was transmitted by the agency of revelation (Robertson, Grammar, 582). The word "revelation" (ἀποκαλύψεως) means an uncovering or laying bare of something previously hidden (Burton, Galatians, 433). The gospel came to Paul through the agency of revelation.

Is Jesus Christ the object of the revelation or the subject who revealed the gospel? If Jesus Christ (᾿Ιησοῦ Χριστοῦ) is a subjective genitive, then He is the one who revealed the gospel to Paul. If Jesus Christ is an objective genitive, then He is the one whom God revealed to Paul. In favor of the former, Jesus Christ as the source of the gospel expresses Paul's point well (Burton, Galatians, 41-42). However, the latter makes sense when looking at where Paul goes in the next verses. God revealed Jesus to Paul in the incredible Damascus encounter. Paul stresses this latter point when he writes, "God was pleased to reveal (ἀποκαλῦψαι) His Son to me" (Gal. 1:15-16). I take it that Christ is the object of God's revelation which makes Him the essence of the gospel. "To preach the gospel (v.11) was to preach Christ (v.16)" (Bruce Galatians, 89). Therefore, Paul lays out his autobiography in Galatians 1:13-2:14 to explain the divine origin of the gospel that he preached and the centrality of Christ to the gospel.

Second, Paul argues that the gospel does not reflect human norms or standards (BDAG, 407). The preposition κατὰ means according to or after the manner of mankind. The noun ἄνθρωπον lacks the definite article so it should be understood qualitatively. Paul was not talking about an individual man but about mankind. The expression, "according to man" (κατὰ ἄνθρωπον), was used by classical Greek writers to mean from a human point of view or according to human thinking (Burton, Galatians, 37). The gospel does not conform to the norms of human thought. It is counter-cultural. The gospel of Christ invades the human world system with a radical upending of human norms and standards.

Paul develops his explanation of the power of the transforming gospel in Galatians 3:1-6:10. The gospel makes humans think differently about the law and righteousness (3:1-29), who are the true children of God and how we become his sons (4:1-31), living by the energy of the Spirit versus living by the passions of the flesh (5:1-26), forgiving and caring for one another versus self-love (6:1-10). The gospel radically transforms all human norms and standards because the gospel does not come from human thinking. The gospel is big because it motivates a new way of living. Our lives as Christians are founded on the sure gospel of Jesus Christ.

Here, then, is the crux of the matter: because the gospel is the revelation about Jesus Christ and what He has done for me, my justification does not depend upon my brittle faith!

Friday, May 24, 2019

RELIGIOUS PACIFIERS

Many today offer religious pacifiers instead of the true gospel. Some sell a watered-down gospel of cheap grace and easy believism to attract crowds. Others peddle moralism or ritualism to give people a false sense of security because they can keep selective rules or practice special rituals. Religious pacifiers appease people by offering them something they can do to be right with God. But when we preach to please people, we distort the gospel and displease Christ. Paul has just cursed such preachers with "anathema" in the first chapter of Galatians. Then he writes:

"For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ." (Gal. 1:10)

There is considerable debate over the precise meaning of the text, although the general thrust of Paul's thought is clear. The debate centers around the exact meaning of the word translated "seeking the favor of men" (πείθω). The stem of this verb is related to the stem of the word for "believe" and means to trust. To believe is to be persuaded. The verb's primary meaning is to convince or persuade someone (NIDNTT, 1:588). We could translate the first clause, "am I now seeking to persuade men or God." But what exactly does Paul mean by that question? Is the answer "yes" or "no." Is he persuading men, or is he persuading God? Persuading men is understandable, but how does one persuade God?

The exegetical issue is whether the first question is parallel or opposite to the second question. Is "am I persuading men" parallel to "am I striving to please men?" Or are the questions to be understood opposite each other, so the persuading and pleasing are in contrast? In this case, to persuade men is the opposite of to please men. Scholars are divided over the matter.

The most common view is that the two questions are parallel. According to the parallel view, "pleasing men" repeats the meaning of "persuading men." The verb "persuading" (πείθω) should be treated as a synonym for "pleasing" (ἤρεσκον) and translated "seek the favor or approval of men" (Longenecker, Galatians, 18). The verb to persuade (πείθω) is used in classical Greek to mean conciliate, win over or make friends and should be understood in that way in this verse (Meyer, Galatians, 20-21). Paul would be asking, "Am I trying to win over, satisfy or conciliate men or God?" The expected answer would be "no, I am not trying to win over men, but I am trying to win over God. I seek God's favor or approval, not man's."

While it is true that πείθω can mean to pacify or conciliate others in secular Greek, it would be a rare usage in New Testament Greek. There are only two possible texts that might have this meaning (Mt. 28:14; 1 John 3:19), and both could easily be translated with the more usual sense of to convince (BDAG, 639). The word usually means to convince or persuade, and I think it best to keep that force in this verse. However, if that is the case, is Paul expecting a "no" or "yes" to his question about persuading men? If he is expecting a "no" answer to persuading men, then he must be expecting a "yes" answer to persuading God. What would it mean to persuade God?

The solution is to see the questions as opposites.

"Am I trying to persuade men? Yes.
Am I trying to persuade God? No!
Am I trying to please men? No!
Why? Because I am a bond-servant of Christ, so I live my life to please Him."

Paul is trying to persuade men, but he would not be trying to persuade God. Persuading God makes little sense. We cannot manipulate God to agree with us. Trying to induce God to endorse man's view would itself be anathema to the Hebrew prophets. Paul would not suggest such a thought. Instead, he draws a contrast. He pronounces "anathema" on the false gospel preachers because he is not trying to pacify people. Paul is trying to persuade the false preachers to give up their false doctrine, which means that he is not pleasing them at all. However, he is pleasing God by trying to persuade men to reject the false gospel (Bruce, Galatians, 85).

So a servant of Christ pleases God and persuades others. A preacher is not a man-pleaser but a God pleaser. A bondservant of Christ refuses to pacify people to attract them to the faith. We are not in the business of peddling religious pacifiers to satisfy people's feelings even if we can draw a crowd of followers with our pacifiers. We are persuaders who proclaim a life-transforming gospel even if it means preaching against the false gospel and ripping the pacifiers out of the mouths of those placated by false teaching.

Friday, May 10, 2019

ANATHEMA!

The gospel divides! 

It is good news to those who accept God's grace, but it brings anathema on those who distort the truth. Paul wrote, "But even if we or an angel out of heaven preach a gospel to you other than the one we have preached to you, let him be anathema" (Gal. 1:8). Paul repeats the statement in the next verse with the slight change of a gospel "other than what you have received." There is only one gospel for all Christians.

The verse begins with a strong adversative "but" (ἀλλὰ) followed by the concessive "even if" (καὶ ἐὰν) to demonstrate the result of preaching a distorted gospel. Usually, the concessive would be written, "if even" (ἐὰν καὶ) with the subjunctive to indicate future possibility. However, when written "even if" (καὶ ἐὰν) as here the concessive introduces an extreme case which is viewed as highly probable (Burton, Moods and Tenses, 115). Paul knows that some are preaching a different gospel, so he uses the extreme form to make his point. This is not merely hypothetical but highly probable.

Paul rips into preachers who distort the gospel whether by adding to or subtracting from the truth. He reserves his most potent attack not for the Roman or Jewish enemies of Christianity but for the professed preachers of Christianity who preach an "other than" gospel! Any gospel "other than" (παρ´ ὃ) the apostolic gospel distorts God's grace for man's message. Paul used the same preposition when he wrote that unbelievers "exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than (παρὰ) the Creator" (Rom. 1:25). No man can lay any other foundation for Christianity rather than (παρὰ)  the one that has been laid (1 Cor. 3:11). The preposition can also be translated "more than" (Moule, Idiom Book of NT Greek, 51). Jesus told the tax collectors to collect no more than (παρὰ) what they should collect (Luke 3:13). The Corinthians gave "according to their ability and more than (παρὰ) their ability" (2 Cor. 8:3). We are just as wrong whether we preach a gospel more than or other than the one we received from the apostles.

"Let him be accursed" (ἀνάθεμα ἔστω). The word (ἀνάθεμα) comes from two Greek words "up" (ἀνα) and "set" (τίθημι) so anathema meant something that was set up. It translated the Hebrew word for what is banned in the Old Testament, dedicated to God as an offering or a punishment. The ban could be applied positively to what was given over to God in worship without any possibility of getting it back again. It could also be applied to what was given over to God's judicial wrath to be destroyed. Either way, whatever was under the ban belonged to God to do as He pleased.

The ban was not the same as excommunication (Ezra 10:8). In excommunication, the person was exiled from the community of faith but not given over to God for destruction. The ban handed what was banned over to God for destruction.  The Talmud taught two kinds of bans. The first ban could be pronounced by anyone and simply banned the person from attending the synagogue. The second ban could only be decreed by a court since it was a far more severe punishment. A parallel can be found in the church. Anathema is not merely an act of church discipline separating the person from the community of faith, but it was a delivery of the person into the hand of God to be punished by God. Paul used the term in this way when he wrote "I could wish that I myself were accursed (ἀνάθεμα) from Christ" for the sake of his Jewish kinsmen. He would suffer the damnation of God if it meant that his countrymen would come to Christ! (See NIDNTT, 1:413-515: TDNT, 1:354-355). To be under the ban is to be cursed by God, to be handed over to the judicial wrath of a holy God.

To be cursed by God is far worse than physical death. I will never forget my ordination service in 1980. My dad, now with the Lord in heaven, preached a message to me on that day in the presence of all. He spoke with tears streaming down his cheeks when he said, "David, I would rather preach your funeral sermon than hear that you turned away from Christ!" His greatest fear was not that I should die before he did but that I should be declared anathema!

Oh God, keep me faithful to preach your true gospel of grace until I breathe my last breath!








Thursday, April 25, 2019

HERESY: ALTERNATIVE & ADDITIONAL

Heresy = belief opposed to orthodoxy
Heresiarch = founder of a heresy
Heretic = a follower of heresy

We don't like to talk about heresy today. It sounds so archaic, judgmental and intolerant. Yet Paul did in Galatians 1:6-7. He was shocked that the Christians in Galatia were "so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ into a different gospel which is not another except certain ones are disturbing you and wanting to distort the gospel of Christ."

The root of heresy is deserting a person for a message. The Galatians turned away from "the one who called you" (τοῦ καλέσαντος ὑμᾶς) "to another gospel" (εἰς ἕτερον εὐαγγέλιον). The preposition "to" (εἰς) suggests mental movement in a new direction with the intention to accept a new doctrine. For example, the preposition is used to describe the movement of unbelievers coming to Christ in Acts 26:18. (Burton, Galatians, 22). Here in Galatians 1:6 we see the opposite mental movement. Heresy is turning away from Christ to another gospel.

Paul uses two different pronominal adjectives when he writes "to another (ἕτερος) gospel which is not another" (ἄλλος). These two adjectives are frequently used interchangeably without any distinction of meaning (Blass/Debrunner, Grammar, p.161). It is possible that Paul intended the change of adjectives in Galatians 1:6-7 merely for stylistic variation. However, Robertson insists that Paul intended a real difference between the two in this context (Robertson, Grammar, 747). Paul admits that they are preaching "another" (ἕτερον) gospel different from his but he rejects the idea that they are preaching "another" (ἄλλο) gospel like his. A common distinction that writers make (Moulton, Grammar, 1:246) is between "another of a different kind" (ἕτερον) and "another of the same kind" (ἄλλο).

I think Paul intends a distinction between the two adjectives in these verses so let's mine the matter a little deeper. The adjective ἕτερος indicates one of two while ἄλλος implies one beside another. The first adjective (ἕτερος) distinguishes while the second adjective (ἄλλος) adds (Lightfoot, Galatians, 76). The first implies a substitute and the second involves an addition. Heresy can take two forms. Sometimes heresy is an alternative to orthodoxy. Sometimes heresy is an addition to orthodoxy. An alternative is easier to identify because it is unlike truth. It replaces truth. An addition is more subtle because it implies that the truth is not replaced by the new doctrine. The new teaching merely adds to the truth. However, both are heresy as Paul makes clear.

An alternative gospel rejects the apostolic gospel. The apostolic preaching of the cross is wrong. Down through church history, many have preached alternative gospels. The "moral influence theory," the "example theory," and the "governmental theory," of the atonement are alternative gospels. The substitutionary death of Christ is in error according to alternative gospels. Jesus didn't die on the cross to satisfy God's wrath for our sins. He was a good man who died a tragic death as an example. He showed us how to live and die. An alternative gospel is heresy, a turning away from Christ to preach a different message than Christ's message.

An additional gospel argues that the original gospel is true but old fashioned. We don't deny the apostolic gospel, but we need to update it for today. We need to add elements to make the archaic message relevant to people. Preachers of an additional gospel want to freshen it up for a modern world without denying what the apostles taught. They want to add to without subtracting from the preaching of the cross. For example, the blood of Christ is offensive to the modern mind so let's not talk or sing about a bloody cross. It's true, but we won't mention it. An additional gospel argues that preaching grace alone is insufficient for salvation so we will add works or rituals that people must do to earn God's favor.

Paul quickly disabuses us of any notion that an additional gospel is not heresy. He says that an additional gospel is not an addition at all. Paul uses an exception clause to make this clear. He writes that it is not an additional gospel except (εἰ μή) in the sense that false teachers are agitating you and distorting the gospel of Christ (Burton, Galatians, 24). An additional gospel "adds" elements that distort the true gospel making it no gospel at all.

The good news becomes bad news as much by distortion as by replacement. Whether by addition or subtraction, heresy is still heresy!

Thursday, April 11, 2019

FOGGY DOCTRINE

Many churches intentionally tolerate fuzzy theology to attract a wider audience. They say, "We don't care about doctrine here. We just love Jesus." A murky picture of Christ emerges through the haze. Paul argues in Galatians that fuzzy theology actually denies the Christ we claim to love. Foggy doctrine leads us to betray God.

"I am astonished that you are so quickly betraying the one who called you by the grace of Christ for another gospel" (Galatians 1:6).

In what may be his earliest letter, Paul begins with rebuke, not thanksgiving as in all his other letters. Conventional practice in Greek letter-writing used a thanksgiving formula in the introduction, but Paul refuses to follow the practice. The news of their defection from the gospel compels Paul to cut to the heart of the matter with intense urgency (F.F. Bruce, Galatians, 80).

"I am amazed" (θαυμάζω) is a common rebuke formula used in first century Greek letters to imply not merely surprise but displeasure (Longenecker, Galatians, 14). Astonishment is certainly part of Paul's reaction (NIDNTT, 2:622-625). The word describes the feelings of people at the healing of the demoniac (Mk. 4:20); the cursing of the fig tree (Mt. 26:20); and the calming of the storm (Mt. 8:27). There is even a strong reaction of fear combined with shock in the story of the storm (cf. Mk. 4:41; Lk. 8:25). But Paul is more than surprised. He is upset as the rebuke formula implies (Burton, Galatians, 18). Lightfoot calls it "an indignant expression of surprise" (Galatians, 75). Foggy doctrine should produce indignation in all who truly love Jesus.

The timing of their defection is a partial source for Paul's indignation. They are "so quickly" (οὕτως ταχέως) deserting Christ. The phrase could indicate that Paul was surprised by how quickly the apostasy developed once it started. However, it is more likely that Paul is thinking about how soon the apostasy developed after he taught them the truth rather than how rapidly the process took place once it started (Burton, Galatians, 19). The interval of time was short. How short we do not know. The sad reality of church history is that theological defection comes soon after theological instruction. If we are not constantly vigilant, the fog of false doctrine quickly obscures the beauty of God's grace.

The verb translated "deserting" (μετατίθεσθε) meant to bring to another place in secular Greek. It is used for the transfer of the patriarchs' bodies from Egypt to Shechem (Acts 7:16) and the rapture of Enoch (Heb. 11:5). Here the word is in the middle voice which means to fall away or apostasize (TDNT, 8:161). In the middle voice, the verb is used of (1) military desertion or revolt and (2) a philosophical, religious or political change (Lightfoot, Galatians, 75). In an infamous case, the word is used of Dionysius who deserted the Stoics for the Epicureans and is called "the turncoat" (ὁ μεταθέμενος, Vocabulary of the Greek N.T., 405).

Theological apostasy is a personal betrayal. Paul views their doctrinal fogginess as a betrayal of "the one who called" them, namely God Himself. They are turncoats who betray Christ. Be warned! How quickly preachers can become betrayers and destroy the work of faithful pastors who have gone before. Martin Luther wrote:

"That work which is built up of long labour, may be overthrown in a night. ... So great is the weakness and wretchedness of the present life; and we so walk in the midst of Satan's snares, that one fantastical head may destroy, and utterly overthrow, in a short space, all that which many true ministers, have builded up in years before. This we learn at this day by experience, to great grief, and yet we cannot remedy this enormity" (Galatians, 19).