But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! (Galatians 1:8-9 NIV)
Could an angel preach?
They have before you know. The birth narrative of Jesus is packed full of angelic proclamations, including the appearance of the angels to Mary and Joseph, and the announcement to the shepherds on the hillside. And it was angels who first said, “He is risen!”
Of course, we don’t find angels being sent as traveling evangelists, moving from town to town with the gospel. This was a human vocation as God chose “jars of clay” to share His good news.
I promised I would try to look for unique messages in our study of Galatians. Since the obvious message in this morning’s passage is clear, permit me the opportunity to take us in a little different direction.
The word used for the science of Biblical interpretation is “hermeneutics.” Actually, this word is the general word for any kind of textual interpretation, but you will find it most commonly referenced in Biblical scholarship. I encourage you to spend some time with this importance science. Whether we realize it or not, our chosen “hermeneutic” greatly influences how we understand the Bible.
Within the subject of hermeneutics are terms that describe methods of communication. These terms help us sort through difficult passages in the Bible. One such term is “hyperbole.” A hyperbole is a statement that is highly unlikely or impossible, but one that is used to capture the reader’s attention or make a point. My mother used to tell me if I didn’t behave she was going to discipline me and added, “There won’t be anything left but a little grease spot on the floor.” Would she have really reduced me to a dab of Crisco? I never pushed her far enough to find out.
My mother was using hyperbole to make her point. Jesus used it too (I will let you think through some of His teachings and identify your own examples). And we find it this morning in Paul’s letter to the Galatians. Yes, an angel could have come down from heaven and preached. But it probably wasn’t going to happen. However, had it happened, even the very angels of heaven would not have been able to escape the wrath of God should they distort the gospel.
The message is: If angels aren’t safe, then what do you think God is going to do to you?
This little grease spot doesn’t have to be told twice.
Dear God, thank You for making sure I understand Your point. In Jesus’ name, Amen.