“I am amazed” (Gal. 1:6). This is the part of the letter where Paul typically gives words of praise or commendation to the churches receiving the epistle. But what do we find to the churches of Galatia? “I am amazed.” And what was the source of his amazement? “That you are so quickly deserting Him who called you, by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel.” That was astounding to Paul; he couldn’t believe it. He marveled (KJV) and was astonished (ESV). These were people who had heard him preach the gospel of Christ; they believed it and obeyed it. But they were turning away, not to become unbelievers, but to attach themselves to another form of teaching.
Paul calls what they were turning to “a different gospel.” Some versions have “another gospel; which is really not another,” which can be confusing. Two Greek words are used. They were turning to something “of a different kind” (heteros), when there is no other gospel that is “of the same kind” (allos) as they received.
There is ONE GOSPEL. It is described in different ways: the gospel...“of the kingdom” (Matt. 4:28), “of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24), “of your salvation” (Eph. 1:3), “of peace” (Eph. 6:15). But it is the same, ONE gospel.
If the gospel is good news, a different gospel is fake news. We need to learn how to spot a fake.
Consider the source. A different gospel is not the gospel of Christ. Jesus was the central message of all gospel preaching in the book of Acts, so the gospel of Christ is about Him. But it is also the gospel of Christ in that it belongs to Him; this speaks of ownership. The gospel which Paul preached was “not according to man” (Gal. 1:11). It was received “through a revelation of Jesus Christ” (Gal. 1:12). That made him an apostle, “one sent.” But he was not sent by from men, “but through Jesus Christ and God the Father” (1:1). And so when people were coming to the churches of Galatia, they were distorting the “gospel of Christ” (1:7). If something has been distorted, it is not the same as the original.
A different gospel is of a different source. Does this teaching have book, chapter, and verse? Does this interpretation conflict with other passages in the New Testament? Can this be done “in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Col. 3:17), by His authority? If the answer is no, you’re being turned away by fake news.
Check your biases. The ones who were distorting the gospel in the churches of Galatia are identified in Acts 15:1,5. “Some men” began teaching the necessity of circumcision for salvation. Why? They were leaders, “certain ones of the sect of the Pharisees,” who wanted to keep the traditions of the Old Law and maintain their positions of authority. What was the result of this teaching? The new Christians were being “disturbed” (15:24). They were confused and shaken by this new teaching. It was a gospel contrary to what they had heard and believed.
A different gospel is a gospel of self righteousness. “You are saved by works.” Paul says that we are called “by the grace of Christ” (1:6). If someone is not preaching the gospel of grace, they are not preaching the gospel of Christ! “You are saved without works.” The other extreme is that it doesn’t matter what we do. A different gospel contradicts the word of God and confuses you. Check the biases of friends and family who seek to trouble you with a different gospel.
Beware of click-bait. Some things are not what they appear to be. Do you think it made Paul popular to pronounce a curse on an angel, an apostle, himself, or any man who preached a different gospel? Anathema means “devoted to destruction and delivered up to divine wrath.” Though being accused of self promotion, in reality Paul was a “bond-servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10).
A different gospel is a gospel without suffering. There is no sacrifice required. That’s asking too much of you in a life that’s already demanding. There is no service to be rendered. Everything else is about you; why shouldn’t religion be? It is the gospel of convenience and ease. Just the bare minimum, and only when it’s fitting. It’s too good to be true.
A different gospel has a different end. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God to save. Those who preach a different gospel are accursed, doomed to destruction, without hope. Don’t fall for a fake.