"But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you, than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed."—Gal. 1:8.
To ascertain what gospel Paul preached to the people, we must appeal to his epistles, wherein we find a record of the truths he taught. It is called the "gospel of the grace of God." Acts 2:24. "The glorious gospel of Christ." 2 Cor. 4:4. "The gospel of your salvation." Eph. 1:13. "The gospel of peace." Eph. 6:15; and, "The gospel of the blessed God." 2 Tim. 1:8. The significance and appropriateness of this language will he apparent, when we remember that gospel means good news, glad tidings of great joy. It was interesting intelligence, good tidings to all people; hence it was called the gospel of the grace of God which bringeth salvation to all men. Even the feet of those who preached the gospel were called beautiful, because they brought "glad tidings of good things." Rom. 10:15.
This gospel brought salvation through Christ to the world of mankind. Hence, Christ is frequently called the "Savior of the world." "This is indeed the Christ, the Savior Op The World." John 4:42. Jesus declared that he came not to "judge the world but to save the world." John 3:47. " The father sent the son to be the Savior of the world." 1 John 4:14.
This was the gospel of good tidings that Paul preached, which brought salvation to all men. He preached no other gospel, and he received it not of man, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
A brief reference to his epistles will show that it embraced all mankind. He shows that the same "many" that were made sinners, shall be made righteous. Rom. 5:19. And, speaking of the Jews and Gentiles, he declares that " God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that He might' have mercy upon all." Rom. 11:32. "For as in Adam All die, even so in Christ, shall All be made alive." 1 Cor. 15:22. He hath purposed in himself, "That in the dispensation of the fullness of times, he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth, even in him." Eph. 1:9. "God will have all men to be saved and come unto the knowledge of the truth." 1 Tim. 2:4. "We trust in the living God who is the Savior of all men, especially of them that believe." 1 Tim. 2:10. This was the gospel which was preached to Abraham, saying: "In thee, shall all nations be blessed." Gal. 2:8.
Paul was made a minister of the truth, and commissioned to preach this gospel of the grace of God, the restitution of all things spoken by the mouth of God's holy prophets, for the proclamation of this truth, he labored and suffered reproach; and yet he was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, but was bold and earnest in its defense. In the context, he speaks of some who did not remain firm and steadfast in this truth, and he laments that some were so soon removed from the truth, and turned to another gospel which was not after Christ. He saw that some attempted to pervert the gospel of Christ. In the early ages of the Christian church, many spurious gospels were in circulation and Dr. Adam Clarke says that we have the names of more than seventy of these spurious narratives still on record, and it was because of these numerous and false narratives that Luke wrote his gospel. See Luke 1:1. In some of these narratives, or gospels as they are called, the necessity of circumcision, and subjection to the Mosaic law in connection with the gospel is strongly urged. In the immediate context Paul evidently refers to one or more of these spurious records. He exhorts the brethren to remain steadfast in the truth, and be not troubled by those who would pervert the gospel of Christ. If any one should preach any other gospel, than that he had preached, let him be accursed—let him not be fellowshipped, not be received as a true teacher. Such should be withdrawn from and discountenanced. The word accursed here (original anathema), seems to be used in the sense of separated. If any now preach any other gospel, let him be accursed or separated from you. Paul applied the same term to himself, and wished himself accursed (anathema) from Christ. (Rom. 9:3). The marginal reading in this passage is "separated." This was a strong form of speech on the part of the Apostle to express his intense desire to have the Jews converted to Christianity. He would make any sacrifice to accomplish this, consistent with his religion. In the passage under consideration, Paul designed to guard the brethren against false doctrines and damnable heresies. He proclaimed the gospel in its purity and fullness, declaring that God will have all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, and that every knee should bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ was Lord, to the glory of God, the Father. If any other gospel than this was preached, it was erroneous, and all such false teachers should be rejected and separated from. They should not be fellowshipped. In this sense, the word accursed is employed in the passage before us.
Our views are corroborated by the following orthodox commentators:
Clarke.—"Perhaps this was not designed as an imprecation, but as a simple direction; for the word here may be understood as implying, that such a person should have no countenance in this bad work, but let him, as Theodoret expresses it, be separated from the communion of the church. This, however, would also imply that, unless the person repented, the divine judgments would soon follow."—Com, in loc.
Calmet.—"The apostle, in this place, says, If an angel, or if he himself, should so far swerve from the true faith as to preach another gospel, different from that which he had preached, anathema, let him be cut off from the communion of the faithful, so that he shall not in any manner be a partaker of the benefits of the church.''—Com, in loc.