A Commentary by John Stott
Galatians. 1:7. 2). The activity of false teachers.
The reason why the Galatian converts were deserting God who had called them in grace was that *there are some who trouble you* (verse 7b). The Greek word for ‘trouble’ (*tarasso*) means to ‘shake’ or ‘agitate’. The Galatian congregations had been thrown by the false teachers into a state of turmoil – intellectual confusion on the one hand and warring factions on the other. It is rather interesting that the Council at Jerusalem, which probably met just after Paul had written this Epistle, were to use the same verb in their letter to the churches: ‘We have heard that some persons from us have *troubled* you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions’ (Acts 15:24).
This trouble was caused by false doctrine. The Judaizers were trying to ‘pervert’ (AV, RSV) or ‘distort’ (NEB) the gospel. They were propagating what J.B.Phillips calls ‘a travesty of the gospel of Christ’. As a matter of fact, the Greek word (*metastrepsai*) is even stronger still. It could be translated ‘to reverse’. In this case, they were not just corrupting the gospel, but actually ‘reversing’ it, turning it back to front and upside down. You cannot modify or supplement the gospel without radically changing its character.
So the two chief characteristics of the false teachers are that they were troubling the church and changing the gospel. These two go together. To tamper with the gospel is always to trouble the church. You cannot touch the gospel and leave the church untouched, because the church is created and lives by the gospel. Indeed, the church’s greatest troublemakers (now as then) are not those outside who oppose, ridicule and persecute it, but those inside who try to change the gospel. It is they who trouble the church. Conversely, the only way to be a good churchman is to be a good gospel-man. The best way to serve the church is to believe and preach the gospel.
Tomorrow: Galatians 1:8-10 3). The reaction of the apostle Paul.