Marvelous Patience, Daily Reform, Day 22

Galatians 1:6 & James 1:19-21

From the Reformer

How patiently Paul deals with his seduced Galatians! He does not pounce on them but, like a father, he fairly excuses their error. With motherly affection he talks to them yet he does it in a way that at the same time he also reproves them. On the other hand, he is highly indignant at the seducers whom he blames for the apostasy of the Galatians. His anger bursts forth in elemental fury at the beginning of his epistle. “If any man,” he cries, “preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” Later on, in the fifth chapter, he threatens the false apostles with damnation. “He that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be.” He pronounces a curse upon them. “I would they were even cut off which trouble you.”

He might have addressed the Galatians after this fashion: “I am ashamed of you. Your ingratitude grieves me. I am angry with you.” But his purpose was to call them back to the Gospel. With this purpose in his mind he speaks very gently to them. He could not have chosen a milder expression than this, “I marvel.” It indicates his sorrow and his displeasure.

—Martin Luther, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians

Pulling It Together

Paul is not addressing people who have missed a month of Sunday School. He is dealing with something more elemental: doctrine and heresy. Indeed, he is considering the most basic teaching of Christianity.

Jesus taught many things, such as what it really means to be blessed, how to be angry, loving your enemies, true charity, prayer, and what to do with anxiety. But the greatest teaching is that a Father’s love sent his Son to die. That gracious action on God’s part rightly relates humanity to God. The other teachings of Jesus mean little without that central doctrine.

So Paul is incredulous that the Church would make light of God’s great gift by saying it was insufficient. Yet Paul does not blast the believers. Instead, he holds his tongue for the ones who led them astray. Anyone still considering this heresy after Paul assails them, deserves the same, for nothing can be nor should be added to God’s precious gift.

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