No one has the authority to change the message of the gospel. To assume such liberty is to incur God’s fearsome judgment.
Paul said, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8).
Notice Paul included himself in this curse. Not just “even if you” but “even if we.” Not even the apostle Paul had heavenly clearance to alter the message of the gospel. The good news was his to announce, not amend.
What about authorities other than Paul? Could someone greater than an apostle tweak the content of God’s revealed message? What about…say, heavenly authorities–angels? Not even them. Paul denied that “an angel from heaven” could ever be authorized to change the content of the gospel.
In Galatians 1:8, the “one we preached to you” was the gospel he proclaimed in Acts 13-14 to the churches established in southern Galatia. Those churches received the true message, so for Paul to change it would be to spread a false message, one contrary to what they had initially received.
The seriousness of Paul’s warning is clearly perceived in the consequence. False teachers are accursed. The word “curse” refers to the end-time judgment of God. Paul has no patience for people who propagate a false gospel. They are under God’s curse. Their words may flatter and tickle the ears of many, but God will crush them with righteous wrath.
Paul is excluding not only himself and angels from others charged to amend the gospel. His next statement universalizes his warning: “As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:9).
Same threat (curse), same issue (gospel), but now everyone is included in his statement (if anyone). Paul is talking about you and me.
Christians, then, are responsible to proclaim the truth of the gospel. Paul clarifies what the gospel is: “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3-4).
God revealed the gospel to man, and His revelation is not subject to improvement or abridgment. Those who seek to distort the truth of the gospel will assuredly face the just judgment of God.
The penalty for false teachers actually underscores the preciousness of the gospel. Put another way, the judgment of false messengers highlights the worth and significance of the message. What would we perceive about the gospel if false teachers could treat it like silly putty, molding it and remaking it into whatever they wished, without any consequence?
Truth matters. Getting the gospel right matters. Lord, help us love the Truth, and guard our minds from deception.