Posted by: Jim Black | August 12, 2010

What is the “Gospel”?

I’m working through Galatians chapter 1 for my sermon on Sunday… and I’ve hit a wall already.  Paul starts out this letter differently than most.  There’s no opening.  No flowery greeting.  No pleasantries to exchange.  Paul is mad and that is evident right out of the chute!  In verse 6 he says that he is surprised (i.e.  astonished, perplexed, aghast) that the Galatian Christians were so quickly abandoning God, deserting the gospel and turning to another gospel, which is really no gospel at all.  I get the fact that he is mad.  I get the fact that these Christians weren’t living up to his expectations for them.  I even get the fact that they had turned to a legalistic substitute for spirituality instead of sticking with the new-found freedom that they had been given in Christ.  But my question is, if they are guilty of “deserting the gospel”… what does Paul mean?

They aren’t “backsliding” as was mentioned in a comment to my previous post.  It wasn’t as if they had started to drop off in church attendance.  In fact, my guess is that they were there every time the doors were open!  There’s no hint of the sexual immorality that was permitted in the church in Corinth… or in the division or the idolatry that pervaded THAT church.  No, there’s no hint of those things in Galatia.  So, what were they doing that constituted a “desertion of the gospel” and to deserve such a harsh rebuke by Paul?  In other words, what does it mean to “desert the gospel”? 

To answer that question… we must first ask, “What is the gospel?”  And that’s what I want to ask you.  Thoughts?



  1. Isn’t it interesting. Paul as well as Jesus expressed their strongest condemnation, not for wayward sinners, but for legalists. Yet how often have we heard this preached, if at all? Thanks for your enlightening comments as you prepare your lessons.

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