Paul was amazed that the Galatians had so soon fallen away from the Gospel (Galatians 1:6) in favor of accepting another of a different sort that was far from the good news that Paul preached. In fact, what occurred in Galatia had all the earmarks of what occurred at Antioch that set Paul against Peter and was instrumental in bringing about the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15. The truth is: what occurred in Galatia happened about the same time that the men from James came to Antioch, and I hope to show this in later blog-posts.
The nature of the doctrine brought by the men from James was very different from the Gospel that Paul and Barnabas had preached to the Galatians, during the time they evangelized that area in Acts 13 & 14. Paul tells us in Galatians 1:6 that the gospel that was preached by these men was a heteros (G2087) gospel. We get our word heterosexual from this Greek word. In other words it was a different kind of ‘gospel’ that really was not the same. The word is used in Matthew 8:21 of another disciple of Jesus who wanted to wait until his father died and he got his inheritance before he followed the Lord. It is used again by John the Baptist asking Jesus if he was the Messiah or should the Jews look for another messiah different from Jesus (Matthew 11:3). The nature of the false doctrine had no similarity with what Paul and Barnabas originally preached to the Galatians.
Paul went further to say that their doctrine was not simply another Gospel. That is, it wasn’t the same kind as Paul’s Gospel. The Greek word in Galatians 1:7 is allos (G243), from which we get our word alloy or two metals whose properties allow them to join together. This same word is used of another way chosen by the Magi in Matthew 2:12. It was a different way, but it led to the same place. The word is used again in Matthew 8:9 of the centurion expressing his faith in Jesus’ power, speaking of telling one servant to go and he goes and another servant to come and he comes… In other words, they were different servants but they both served the same master. What Paul told the Galatians was that the doctrine they now accepted as the Gospel was no Gospel at all. It didn’t have the same effect upon them as the true Gospel, and wasn’t a teaching from the Lord.
The true Gospel, according to Paul removes us from being one or united to the world (Galatians 1:4). Jesus came to deliver us from bondage to the world and the evil fruit it produces in our hearts. The principle is found in Ecclesiastes 4:11 where two lie together to keep one another warm. The world and the flesh are like two logs in a fire. The one keeps the other burning. Separate them and they’ll both burn out. One needs the other in order to keep the fire burning. We cannot fight the world successfully, but we overcome the world through the blood of Christ (Revelation 12:11). We were not redeemed by corruptible things such as silver and gold, neither were we redeemed by the traditions that were handed down to us by the men of God who lived under the Old Covenant. We were redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus alone (1Peter 1:18-19; Galatians 1:4). The doctrine of the men from James placed us back in the battle with the world—unredeemed. This is what astonished Paul. How could this happen? Why couldn’t the brethren see this? Why did he have to confront Peter, and why couldn’t he see it. Peter did see his mistake as we shall see, but it is so surprising to see the subtlety and the power that false doctrine has upon good people; even Peter was not exempt.
A perverted gospel cannot be fixed up and made good news (Galatians 1:7), just as whatever tale or teaching that is bent or crooked cannot be made straight (Ecclesiastes 1:15). This is why we are not to receive folks who bring us a different gospel (cp. 2John 1:7-10). When someone whose words deny the power of Jesus coming in flesh (our flesh), through the power of the Holy Spirit, that one is an antichrist—i.e. he is against Christ. He teaches Jesus’ work is not enough, that something plus Jesus redeems us from the world. Such a teacher is cursed, that is, he is outside the Body of Christ, and we should not entertain a discussion with him or help him in his work (Galatians 1:8-10; cp. 2John 1:10).