In light of Galatians 1:8-9, was the Apostle Peter “accursed?”

SINCE PETER PREACHED THE KINGDOM GOSPEL, WHY WAS HE NOT UNDER THE CURSE OF GALATIANS 1:8-9?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“In light of Galatians 1:8-9, why was Peter not under a curse since he preached the Kingdom gospel?” What an interesting question! Let us turn to the Word of God and search it for answers.

Lest anyone not know what we mean by the expressions, “the Kingdom Gospel” or “the Gospel of the Kingdom,” we will briefly search the Scriptures for the definition.

Luke 16:16 quotes Jesus as saying, “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.” Before Jesus’ earthly ministry even began, John the Baptist preached, “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2). Later, we read about Jesus preaching during His earthly ministry, “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). Verse 23 continues, “And Jesus went about all synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness, and all manner of disease among the people.” Mark 1:14-15 says, “[14] Now after that John was put into prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, [15] And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” In Matthew 24:14, the Lord Jesus predicted, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” Christ used the expression “this” to indicate that “the Gospel of the Kingdom” was the title of the Gospel message associated with His earthly ministry—it was that Gospel that John the Baptist preached, that Gospel that Jesus preached during His earthly ministry, that Gospel that He had commissioned His 12 apostles to preach.

After ordaining the 12, Jesus commanded them, “[5] Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not. [6] But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. [7] And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. [8] Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:5-8). Basically, the Gospel of the Kingdom focused on the fact that Jesus was Israel’s Messiah-King-the Son of God (Matthew 16:16; Mark 8:29; Luke 2:11; Luke 4:41; Luke 9:20; John 1:41; John 4:25; John 4:42; John 6:69; John 9:22; John 11:27), and that He was coming to establish God’s earthly kingdom; the nation Israel needed to prepare herself by confessing their sin of idolatry and then being water baptized of John (Ezekiel 36:25; Matthew 3:6-12; Mark 1:4-5; Luke 7:29-30; Acts 13:24).

Following the Lord Jesus Christ’s instructions, the Apostle Peter and Israel’s other apostles preached the following salvation message in early Acts: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38). This is the Gospel of the Kingdom that John the Baptist, Jesus, and His apostles preached in Matthew through John (change your mind, accept Jesus as Messiah, be water baptized), except there is now the addition of the Holy Spirit being poured out on those believers following their water baptism. Even as late as Acts 3:19-26, Peter continued preaching about the issue of Israel’s earthly kingdom and her need to get right with JEHOVAH, that she can then be His ministers to the Gentiles (non-Jews) in that literal, physical, visible, Davidic kingdom. Israel repeatedly refused the Holy Spirit’s testimony through the apostles and prophets in early Acts (chapters 1-7).

Once Paul’s ministry came on the scene (Acts chapter 9 and onward), but technically in Acts chapter 15 (Galatians chapter 2), the Apostle Peter (as well as James and John, and the other Israeli apostles) learned the further revelation from God that Paul had been given. At that time, Apostles Peter, James, and John finally gave up their ministry to Gentiles (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8) over to Paul. Since Israel was not cooperating, God enacted a plan that He had in mind long ago: He would minister to Gentiles without Israel and her earthly kingdom, and the ascended Lord Jesus Christ would reach Gentiles through Paul’s ministry (Romans 11:11-13). Paul preached “the Gospel of the Grace of God” (Acts 20:24). That message focused on Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). It is totally separate and unique from the Gospel of the Kingdom. (One day, that Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached again; Israel’s kingdom program will resume after our Dispensation of Grace; Romans chapter 11.)

Now, we can focus on the passage in question. We will read Galatians 1:6-9: “[6] I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: [7] Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. [8] 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. [9] As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”

To be “accursed” here does not mean to be damned to everlasting hellfire (as commonly taught); it simply means, “separated” or “something (or someone) to be avoided.” In other words, Paul did not want anyone else preaching to the Galatians. After the Apostle had left the region of Galatia, false teachers and false preachers came into those Christian assemblies and mixed law and grace. The Galatians had gotten so confused doctrinally he actually called them “bewitched” (tricked, spellbound, memorized) and “foolish” (people who were not thinking clearly) (Galatians 3:1-5). They returned to a performance-based acceptance system (works-religion) and ignored Paul’s Gospel, God’s grace (Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork) as sufficient payment for their sins. The Holy Spirit through Paul wanted the Galatians to separate themselves from false religion; He did not want them to have fellowship with someone who did not preach Paul’s Gospel, the Gospel of the Grace of God. See Galatians 5:12: “I would they were even cut off which trouble you.” Paul wanted the Galatian believers to “cut off” fellowship from those preaching another gospel. (If we did this today, most pulpits would be vacated!)

Now, the question at hand is, Did Galatians 1:6-9 apply to the Apostle Peter?

Remember, according to Galatians 2:9, Apostles Peter, James, and John (Acts chapter 15 onward) confined their ministry to the “circumcision” (Israel’s believing remnant), and they agreed that Paul and Barnabas would go to the “heathen” (lost Jews and lost Gentiles). “And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision” (Galatians 2:9).

Exactly who was preaching a Kingdom Gospel (legalism) to the Galatians, we do not know; the Bible does not identify them by name. We have no Scriptural evidence that Peter, James, or John ever visited Galatia. In fact, the Scriptures do reveal that, by Acts chapter 15, Peter, James, and John had already confined their ministry to Israel’s little flock, and the letter to the Galatians was written after Acts 15 (because Galatians chapter 2 alludes to the same event as Acts chapter 15).

Peter was not under any “curse” for preaching a false gospel to the Galatians because he had already learned in Acts chapter 15 (prior to the book of Galatians) that he had no ministry to Gentiles anymore; he learned that Paul was now God’s man to reach the lost Jews and lost Gentiles. As per agreement, Peter was not preaching a Kingdom Gospel to the Galatians, or to any other of Paul’s converts or Gentiles; the phrase “let him be accursed” in Galatians 1:6-9 refers to someone other than Apostles Peter, James, and John. It applies to those who were attempting to overthrow Paul’s ministry—that certainly would not be a reference to Peter, James, and John. Interestingly, we do read about “false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage” (Galatians 2:4). Perhaps it was one of these “false brethren” who misled the Galatians; Galatians 1:6-9 would certainly apply to these legalists.

Also see:
» Did Peter and Paul preach the same Gospel?
» Could you compare and contrast Peter’s ministry and Paul’s ministry? (LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)
» We are saved by faith, but are we blessed by works?

2 responses to “In light of Galatians 1:8-9, was the Apostle Peter “accursed?”

  1. Pingback: Looking Before Not Behind | 333 Words of Grace

  2. Dennis Manning

    Shawn, I have learned much from your ministry. In this case the way I read Gal. 2: 7-9 I believe Peter and the 11 were to continue their ministry to the circumcision.

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