We are going to talk about people following other gospels. First of all, we need to remember that we are going to be talking about people living their lives in a dark world. Yes, there are false apostles and teachers, but there are also a lot of sincere, kind people who love Jesus and go to all kinds of churches. We need to remember that because we’re going to be talking about how so many of the churches that people go to are different from the church that the apostles, led by Paul and Peter, set up for us until the return of Christ. Even if the church they are going to has error, that doesn’t mean a lot of these people stop being sincere, kind people who love Jesus. Our goal is to help those people see that they have been following doctrine not established by Paul, and the apostles, and hopefully start believing and following the gospel of the church that Paul, Peter, and the other apostles were commissioned to set up.
Paul’s commission as an apostle was to set up and administer the church of Grace to which you and I belong.
For this cause I, Paul, am the prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles, if it is so that you have heard of the administration of that grace of God which was given me toward you; how that by revelation the mystery was made known to me, as I wrote before in few words, (Eph 3:1-3 WEB)
I want to key in on the phrase “administration of that grace of God which was given me toward you.” Paul’s job as an apostle was to set up our church. We see in the book of Galatians again that Paul was commissioned to bring the church to the Gentiles (uncircumcised) while Peter was commissioned to bring the church to the Jews (circumcised).
but to the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the Good News for the uncircumcised, even as Peter with the Good News for the circumcised (for he who worked through Peter in the apostleship with the circumcised also worked through me with the Gentiles); (Gal 2:7-8 WEB)
So, we see directly stated from Scripture that Peter and Paul’s apostleship, what they were sent to do, was to bring the good news to different groups of people, Peter to the Jews, Paul to the Gentiles. They were the administrators, the leaders, ordained by God for this purpose.
I’m also emphasizing here that there is no inductive logic, no unsubstantiated claims about what I’m saying, we’re reading what I am saying directly from Scripture. What I’m saying is conclusively true, not just a compelling argument like so many arguments for so many doctrines in so many churches.
The Scriptures Teach about Different Gospels
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 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. 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. For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. (Gal 1:6-12 ESV)
There it is, Paul, talking to the Corinthians, said they were turning to a “different gospel”. There were people teaching things somewhat along the same lines that Paul had taught the Corinthians but they were different too. Paul emphasizes that the gospel he preaches he received by revelation through Jesus Christ. He emphasizes that it is not “man’s gospel”. It is not some man’s opinion. It wasn’t the result of a council decision. It is the revelation that he received through Jesus Christ. It is the word of God.
Also, Paul says that there is only one true gospel, but there are those that teach distorted versions, and that is what he is talking about when he says there are different gospels. Just to be clear Paul does talk about different gospels, but he just means distorted versions of the one true gospel.
What is the Gospel in Scripture?
Gospel means good news. It comes from the Greek word euangelion from which we get our words evangelize and evangelist. Evangelists are gifted to preach the good news in a way that people want what they are talking about and they believe and join the church. There are books called gospels because they tell the story of how Jesus came, lived and ministered among us, died, was buried, and was raised from the dead. But the books we call gospels are just part of the good news (gospel) that Jesus came to make available.
What All is Contained in the Gospel?
So, do you think that all that is required to preach is to say that God sent his son Jesus Christ to save us from our sins by dying on the cross and that we just need to believe that, and we now have eternal life with Jesus, and that is all there is to the gospel? Oh, that life would be so simple. But it’s not. The world is complicated. And this complicated world is run by the god of this world who is our adversary. Our adversary is known for his cunning and clever craftiness. And because of that cunning craftiness, God has given us a brilliant system to overcome all the wiles of the devil.
He gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, shepherds and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, to the work of serving, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a full grown man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we may no longer be children, tossed back and forth and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error; (Eph 4:11-14 WEB)
“Children, tossed back and forth and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error” is talking about the crafty methods that the devil uses to dissuade people from the truth. Countering that requires more than just a simple statement that Jesus was risen from the dead, believe on him and you will be saved. So, yes, if you confess Jesus as Lord, and believe that God raised him from the dead, you are saved. But that is only part of the gospel. The gospel is the message Christ gave on earth while here and then through the apostles as seen in Acts and the epistles.
Jesus therefore said to those Jews who had believed him, “If you remain in my word, then you are truly my disciples. You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (Joh 8:31-32 WEB)
Jesus taught that there was more than just believing him one time. We need to remain in him, in his word. We need to become disciplined ones, which is what the word disciple means. We need to be disciplined in the whole gospel.
The gospel includes everything that is required for us to be disciplined. The gospel includes “the whole counsel of God”. That’s the term that the apostle Paul used when teaching the elders how to be good elders in the flock of God.
for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.
(Act 20:27-30 ESV)
How good would the good news be if people heard about Jesus, and believed in him, but then just were deceived by one gospel or another? So, the gospel includes these warnings about distorted gospels.
Notice that Paul says that after his departure there will be “twisted things” taught. This is a similar concept to the distorted versions of the gospel that Paul talks about happening in his time in Galatians chapter one. Paul speaks by revelation that distorted “other gospels” are coming after the Apostles have come and gone. That means that these distorted versions of the one true gospel were not just a one-time occurrence in Galatia, this is going to be a regular method of attack by the adversary.
Time after time Paul writes to the believers to not be deceived or persuaded falsely about all kinds of different things. Here are some.
Let no one deceive you with empty words. For because of these things, the wrath of God comes on the children of disobedience. (Eph 5:6 WEB)
Or don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s Kingdom? Don’t be deceived. Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor extortionists, will inherit God’s Kingdom. (1Co 6:9-10 WEB)
Don’t be deceived! “Evil companionships corrupt good morals.” (1Co 15:33 WEB)
As therefore you received Christ Jesus, the Lord, walk in him, rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, even as you were taught, abounding in it in thanksgiving. Be careful that you don’t let anyone rob you through his philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the elements of the world, and not after Christ. (Col 2:6-8 WEB)
In Galatians, Paul is warning us to not be fooled by distorted gospels created by men twisting scriptures.
Because of the constant attack of the adversary to deceive, Paul strove to fully preach the gospel. He didn’t just teach a little bit; he taught the whole enchilada.
But I write the more boldly to you in part, as reminding you, because of the grace that was given to me by God, that I should be a servant of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, serving as a priest of the Good News of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be made acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. I have therefore my boasting in Christ Jesus in things pertaining to God. For I will not dare to speak of any things except those which Christ worked through me, for the obedience of the Gentiles, by word and deed, in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of God’s Spirit; so that from Jerusalem, and around as far as to Illyricum, I have fully preached the Good News of Christ; (Rom 15:15-19 WEB)
“For I will not dare to speak of any things except those which Christ worked through me, for the obedience of the Gentiles, by word and deed”, declares that everything that Paul presented was something that came from Christ. Everything that he presented was the true gospel. And he “fully preached” it.
There are more verses like this, but you get the idea. All of Scripture is involved in the gospel of God. It’s not just a matter of a few “essentials”, it’s the whole counsel of God that’s part of the gospel. And any time someone is preaching to you some other “good news”, some doctrine other than what Paul and the other apostles preached, well, here again, is what Paul said about that.
As we have said before, so I now say again: if any man preaches to you any “good news” other than that which you received, let him be cursed. For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? For if I were still pleasing men, I wouldn’t be a servant of Christ. But I make known to you, brothers, concerning the Good News which was preached by me, that it is not according to man. For neither did I receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came to me through revelation of Jesus Christ. (Gal 1:9-12 WEB)
Paul clearly says here to be wary of any “good news” (gospel) other than what you received from him and the other apostles because what he and the other apostles received came by revelation of Jesus Christ.
What are the Other Gospels that Paul is Talking About?
I have heard some people say that the other Gospels being talked about here are rejected books that are gospels like the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary, and the Gospel of Peter.
Well, those are not the true Gospels, we don’t dispute that and stay away from using them to teach the doctrines of Christianity. But Paul makes it very clear what he’s talking about when he talks about other Gospels. He’s talking about men coming in and teaching Christianity differently than what he received by revelation.
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. (Gal 1:6-7 ESV)
In the above verses, Paul teaches that there is not really another gospel, “not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ”. So, we see the picture of what “other Gospels” are. They are the gospel of Christ that we know, whereby Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, lived a sinless life teaching about the Kingdom of God – walking in power and delivering people, was unjustly crucified, died for our sins, and was raised from the dead. After which he stayed on earth for a short while before the comforter came. He then ascended to heaven, and on Pentecost, the church age began with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit which is available to everyone that calls upon the name of the Lord. But there are parts in the “other gospels” that differ.
Some wanted to teach that circumcision is still required. Some want to teach that this outpouring was just a short-lived event with only the apostles and Cornelius’ household receiving the holy spirit and manifesting because the manifestations have ceased. There are some who say that now that anyone who speaks in tongues today is possessed. The Table of Contents on this website has a section called Divisions that illustrates that there are many “other gospels.”
Anyone who twists Paul’s message or any of the other parts of the teachings of Jesus and his apostles is teaching a different gospel. The next verse reinforces that principle.
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. (Gal 1:8 ESV)
This is a warning for preachers to stick to the revelation that Paul received.
Even in the time of the apostles there were already people teaching “different Gospels”.
For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. (2Co 11:4 ESV)
Notice that Paul is communicating with these people that readily “put up” with it being okay to have different gospels. Other gospels has been a problem since the beginning and we currently live in a time with many different gospels.
The gospel that Paul preached has the manifestations given to every man until “that which is perfect is come” (1 Cor 13:10) referring to the return of our Lord. There is currently another gospel that the canon of Scripture is what is referred to as “that which is perfect is come”. That’s a different gospel than what Paul preached.
The gospel that Peter preached recognized that “John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 11:16). In these baptisms we see people speaking in tongues as well as other manifestations of the Holy Spirit in operation. There is currently another gospel where there are no manifestations of the Holy Spirit including speaking in tongues and prophecy. That’s a different gospel than Peter and Paul preached.
Here’s a prime example of preaching another gospel. First, the gospel that Paul preached:
that if you will confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart, one believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Rom 10:9-10 WEB)
Paul presents a simple if/then condition for salvation. If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead are the if statements. “You will be saved” is the then statement, the conclusion. There is a requirement for a belief, and the belief is that God raised Jesus from the dead.
Now to be sure, confessing Jesus as Lord is not just spouting out words that really don’t mean much, it means making him Lord of your life and letting him call the shots.
Now let’s look at another gospel. Here are some statements from that gospel as to what is required for salvation. These are from the Athanasian Creed, Athanasius being the bishop whose arguments about the Trinity won the debate in the early fourth century, and who helped radically change Christian doctrine from the gospel that Paul delivered to the Roman Catholic, Orthodox gospel.
“But it is necessary to eternal salvation that he also believe faithfully the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. The right faith therefore is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man”.
And also in the Athanasian Creed:
“Whoever wills to be in a state of salvation, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic [apostolic/universal] faith, which except everyone shall have kept whole and undefiled without doubt he will perish eternally.
Now the catholic faith is that we worship One God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the Persons nor dividing the substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, another of the Holy Spirit. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, is One, the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal.”
This different gospel says there is also a requirement of belief and a requirement of confession. The requirement of confession is that “our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man.” The requirement of belief in this gospel is the same, that Jesus is God and man. Additionally, to be in a “state of salvation” one must worship God as a Trinity, “neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance.”
These words are not the gospel that Paul preached, that he received by revelation of Jesus Christ.
I was raised with this belief preached at me right and left. In my 20s though I began to see that it is radically different from Romans chapter 10 verses nine and 10. Paul’s gospel requires that I just confess Jesus as Lord and believe that God the Father raised his son Jesus from the dead. End of story, that is the confession and believing requirements in the true gospel given by revelation of Jesus Christ.
The Roman Catholic, Orthodox, gospel, at least as far as this teaching is stated above, does not require one to believe that God raised Jesus from the dead. The Catholic gospel has replaced the emphasis from Paul’s gospel where the requirement is on the belief in the resurrection to the belief in the incarnation and the Trinity. And without the belief in the resurrection, there is no salvation. Belief in the Trinity doesn’t save anyone, it wasn’t even a concept until a century and a half after Christ. Belief in the resurrection while confessing Jesus to be Lord is the vital salvation doctrine.
I have talked with some Catholics and some Protestants who comply with Trinitarian doctrine hoping it will get them salvation. By that, I mean they go to church, practice the sacraments, and when pushed will agree to the doctrines of the incarnation and the Trinity. But in talking to some of them I know they’re not sure about whether they believe that God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. I think there may be a lot of Catholics and orthodox protestants who will say that they followed the Athanasian creed at the final Judgement and they will be denied entrance.
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will tell me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, in your name cast out demons, and in your name do many mighty works?’ Then I will tell them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you who work iniquity.’ (Mat 7:21-23 WEB)
Even some people who prophesied, cast out demons, and did mighty works might not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. But Paul teaches us that if we confess with our mouths Jesus Christ as Lord and believe in our hearts that God has raised him from the dead we will be saved. I’m going with that and I exhort you to do likewise. Leave the other gospels out of it.
Paul was the apostle, not Athanasius. I believe Paul, not Athanasius. The Athanasian Creed is clearly a different gospel than the one that we read about in Paul’s epistles. The incarnation and the Trinity are not part of Paul’s preaching. Paul gives requirements for salvation, and the incarnation and the Trinity are nowhere to be found in them. They are certainly not substitutes for the requirements in the gospel that Paul received through revelation of Jesus Christ.
Anytime we see someone teaching anything different than what Paul preached we are seeing someone preach a different gospel than Paul’s, and that’s what we’re talking about here. Beginning shortly after the apostles there came new traditions including Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism. There are different gospels in many areas including this area of salvation. The Reformation brought more and more “gospels” as denominations split off one after another. Choose to follow the tradition of the original apostles.
So then, brothers, stand firm, and hold the traditions which you were taught by us, whether by word, or by letter. (2Th 2:15 WEB)
As far as the other gospels that we see referenced in the book of Galatians we see Paul preaching the truth about justification, the law, living by faith, standing firm in the liberty whereby Christ has made us free, walking in the spirit, and bearing your own burden, but willing to help others bear theirs if you can. Since Paul goes into those topics right after challenging the Galatians about their “different Gospels”, it follows that these are the other gospels he mentioned that differed from the one that Paul was preaching. Paul’s response was to correct them back to the true gospel. It appears that Galatians is primarily an epistle of correction. Also, the epistle is thought to have been written just before the Jerusalem council (Acts 15) where the subject was the circumcision requirement.
Some men came down from Judea and taught the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised after the custom of Moses, you can’t be saved.” Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small discord and discussion with them, they appointed Paul and Barnabas, and some others of them, to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders about this question. (Act 15:1-2 WEB)
Remember that the Holy Spirit ruled the decision they reached there to not require circumcision. Acts 15:28 states “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit”. This decision was led by the Holy Spirit.
These Judaizers were changing the gospel that Paul received by revelation of Jesus Christ to require belief in circumcision just like Athanasius changed the gospel to require belief in the Trinity to be saved. There are always new doctrines flowing through the winds of time to draw people away from the gospel that Paul received by revelation of Jesus Christ.
This is how the adversary operates, he uses winds of doctrine, the trickery of men, craftiness, the wiles of error, and cunningly crafted schemes to draw people from the true gospel. Don’t bite at those apples. Stick to the revelation that Paul received and only the revelation that Paul received.
The nature of the topics in Galatians illustrates that the gospel includes all the topics involved in the Christian walk. Paul didn’t correct them on believing wrongly that Christ was resurrected, he corrected them on topics such as justification, the law, living by faith, standing firm in the liberty whereby Christ has made us free, and walking in the spirit. All of those things and more are part of the gospel that Paul received by revelation of Jesus Christ.
Stick with the gospel that Paul and the apostles preached. Study the scriptures so you can recognize the true gospel from the distorted versions. The original apostles (selected by Jesus including Paul who was called on the road to Damascus) are the ones who got the revelation. They are the ones we need to follow.
 The Athanasian Creed, https://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/library/athanasian-creed-12495
Mark William Smith © copyright 2023 last revised 10/7/2023