In a Nutshell
Paul doesn't waste ink and paper - he explains his concern.
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Explore "anathema" in dictionaries and lexicons. What is "cursing"? When, if ever, is it necessary?
Astounded [that's what I am] at how quickly you have moved to another gospel, moved on from the one who invited you [to it] by the grace of Christ - not [of course] that there is another gospel; but there are those who, wanting to pervert the gospel of Christ, have unsettled you. But, should we, or even any messenger from heaven, proclaim to you a gospel contrary to the message we proclaimed to you, let that one be cursed. Let me say it again in another way: if anyone preaches a gospel to you other than that which you have received, let that one be cursed.
Am I now trusting men or God? Or is it about trying to please people? If I were still pleasing people I should not have become the slave of Christ.
Those who had been carefully attending to Paul's formal opening, would have caught his urgency; they could have anticipated this outburst of deep concern.
The writer wastes no time in telling the Galatian Christians his view of what they are doing. They have moved on. They have been swept along by a change which is so basic that it means going over to an alternative message, an alternative gospel.
He is astonished. Whatever they had done, the churches in Galatia were effectively on the way to deserting him outright - his words indicate his alarm at their desire to "go beyond" the announcement of good news which he had been privileged to proclaim to them. So it was not just a matter of "going beyond" Paul and his message; for Paul this was "going beyond" the good news about Jesus Christ itself.
Impossible! he says. You are letting yourselves be engineered into repudiating God's grace!
How could it have happened? How could this young church take this accursed path?
This blunt and "in-your-face" beginning of the letter is not the end of it. Paul remains the servant of Christ and will explain what the perversion is and why it causes him so much anguish. He will now proceed to show them that it is a perversion and that his Gospel is the definitive remedy.
Paul tells these Galatian churches that in trying to "go beyond" his Gospel, they had begun to re-fashion their relationship with him. They were saying they had to redesign Paul's apostolic calling. That was what destroyed their relationship with him. He is adamant. He had been sent not by "anyone nor by human authority, but only by Jesus Christ".
Only as the servant of Christ does Paul presume to pass on what he has received. Only as the servant of Christ does Paul presume to take up his responsibility to the Galatian christians.