The deception of the Galatians
Paul is brokenhearted. The Galatians have risen up against him with false charges.
IF a teacher addresses the pupils with mildness even when they need severity, he is not their teacher, but their corrupter and enemy.
Our Lord shows us by example what is perfect teaching when He having said to Peter, Blessed are you Simon Barjona, (Matthew 16:17) and having promised to lay the foundation of the Church upon him, shortly afterwards rebukes Peter, Get behind Me, Satan: you are a stumbling block unto Me. (Matthew 16:23). On another occasion, Jesus shows exasperation in Matthew 15:16 – Are you even yet without understanding? And then again, inspires awe in the disciples when they see Him talking to the Samaritan woman. The disciples knew that Jesus was aware they had gone to get food, so why was He talking to this woman (was it for refreshment? Even though He knew it was coming?) No one dared to ask Him the question. (John 4:27)
Having been thus taught, Paul is walking in the steps of his Master and is varying his discourse according to the need of his disciples. O foolish Galatians. (Galatians 3:1) – not once, but twice, towards the end when he says reproachfully, Let no man trouble me (Galatians 6:17). He soothes them again with My little children, of whom I am again in travail (Galatians 4:19).
This whole Epistle breathes indignation. Why is Paul so angry with his disciples in Galatia? To be exasperated in common matters is just small-minded and morose. Paul is not such a man. What offense has roused his anger so much? They have done something so terrible which was estranging them from Christ.
This is what happened:
Some Jewish believers came to the Galatians desiring to be held in high esteem as teachers of the new faith. They had not let go of their Judaism customs. They taught the Galatians the observance if circumcision, sabbaths and new-moons. They lied to the Galatians that these were necessary and Paul should not be believed because even Peter, James and John did not forbid the customs. Now in fact, they did not forbid the customs because it is part of true doctrine, but only in condescension to the weakness of the Jewish believers. However, Paul had absolutely no requirement to act the same when preaching to the Gentiles. But when he was in Judæa (among the Jews) he employed the same preaching as Peter, James and john.
The deceivers of the Galatians withheld the causes of the Apostles’ varying teachings and misled the simpler believers. They charged that Paul preached one thing to the Jews and another to the Gentiles. Paul saw the attack against the Galatian Church. Filled with just anger and despondency, – I could wish to be present with you now, and to change my voice (Galatians 4:20) he writes the Epistle as an answer to these charges.
(Summarized from a homily by St. John Chrysostom)
The deceivers of today are no different.
- They wait until the teacher of truth is absent / sneak in through the back door.
- They bring in unsubstantiated claims. Believers without knowledge of the Word are none the wiser. Bringing to mind the Scripture – my people are destroyed due to lack of knowledge.
- They attack the simpler believers first – drawing them out of their fellowship and church and building up a congregation for themselves.
- They bring the teacher of truth to ill-repute.
- They love praise!
In the perceived absence of Christ, many wolves have worn sheep’s clothing. Deceiving the believers, and destroying the faith of the simple.
It is no longer enough to have a “simple faith” as it was understood years ago. Our faith needs to be rock-solid. Unshakable rooted in the Word. It is no longer enough to just teach parables to our kids. Our kids need deeper lessons in faith and apologetics. We can send them to Sunday School and sing hymns and pray at home, but without knowledge they will not withstand the big bad wolf of deception when they go on to University or move out of home.