“I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to Himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ” (Galatians 1:6-7 NLT).
Paul the Apostle was greatly alarmed to find the Galatian congregations had “turned from God” (CEV) to “…to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all” (NIV). But what did it mean for the Galatian Christians to “turn away” in such a manner?
For instance, we might easily imagine someone who turns away from a gruesome image, a painful situation, or a person who hasn’t told the truth. But those examples do not adequately describe the way the Galatians responded in this situation. You see, the original language of this passage tells us that the Galatians were committing an act of desertion, much like a soldier who abandons his or her post.
One commentary explains by saying, “In classical Greek, this word removed (Gr metatithemi) was used of a turncoat. The Galatians were deserting Christ and turning renegade. The present tense indicates: (1) that the transfer had begun; (2) that it was in progress; and (3) that it was not yet complete.” (1) Another source adds, “The word is used of one altering his opinion or becoming of another mind. The word was also used of desertion or revolt, frequently of a change in religion, philosophy, or morals.” (2)
The Galatians should have rejected these false teachers much like we might reject a dubious salesperson with a cheap imitation of a quality product. Unfortunately, they chose to accept those who promoted a different way to salvation. Their example reminds us that it is important to examine those who seek to instruct us from the pulpit, over the internet, or through broadcast technologies to confirm their teachings align with sound Biblical doctrine.
At a minimum, a reputable ministry should provide a detailed statement of faith that documents its beliefs concerning God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Bible, humanity, salvation, and the afterlife. A vague (or non-existent) statement of faith should be cause for concern. In this respect, we would do well to follow the good example of those who lived in the first-century city of Berea…
“The people of Berea… were very willing to receive God’s message, and every day they carefully examined the Scriptures to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:10-11 GW).
(1) Hindson, E. E., & Kroll, W. M. (Eds.). (1994). KJV Bible Commentary (p. 2372). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
(2) Kenneth S. Wuest, Word Studies in the Greek New Testament (1:6-7) Copyright © 1942-55 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.