Summary: In Galatians 1:10–12 the Apostle Paul shows presenting the Gospel is not about 1) Pleasing People (Gal. 1:10); 2) A Human Centered Message (Gal.1:11); nor a 3) A Human Devised Message (Gal. 1:12a), but a 4) Christ Centered Message (Gal.1:12b).
Canada is presently in a fierce diplomatic fight with Saudi Arabia. The government’s confrontation over several human rights issues has resulted in Saudi Arabia, to cut off diplomatic ties, withdraw students and begin a trade war. Critics say that this conflict is over the issue of Saudi Arabia being able to “save face” with their citizens that caused them to take such drastic action. Ego can indeed be a destructive thing. Internationally, countries have gone to war over words. The ability to save face, has diverted many conflicts. Ego can prevent conversation, put barriers up between people and prevent the meaningful exchange of ideas.
Paul’s fight over truth recorded in the book of Galatians seems to come to a head over the issue of ego. It is an avenue that the false teaching Judaizers attack Paul, and an issue that he has to work though his background and put the issue squarely back to truth. After his harsh words to the false teachers who were trying to spoil the gospel by mixing human performance with Christ’s merits, Paul changes to a warm and winsome tone directed to the congregation members whom he is trying to hearten and encourage in the truth. Speaking to them as “brothers,” he takes up the matter of his relationship to the message he bears. He points out to them at once that it is not his own message. In fact, it’s not a human message at all—it’s a divine message. It’s God’s Word. (Panning, A. J. (1997). Galatians, Ephesians (p. 23). Milwaukee, WI: Northwestern Pub. House.)
For each of us, it can be difficult to distinguish ourselves from our message. How tightly we cling to our own ego has a tremendous implication for what we aim for. Are we going to do everything in our power for as many people to like us personally, or is truth something to make a line in the sand for, regardless of the consequences.
In Galatians 1:10–12 the Apostle Paul shows presenting the Gospel is not about 1) Pleasing People (Galatians 1:10); 2) A Human Centered Message (Galatians 1:11); nor a 3) A Human Devised Message(Galatians 1:12a), but a 4) Christ Centered Message (Galatians 1:12b).
First, the Gospel is Not About:
1) Pleasing People. (Galatians 1:10)
Galatians 1:10 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. (ESV)
Paul now begins to elaborate the point the made in verse 1, namely, that the gospel is not “from men” but from God. It is not designed to please men, as if God had to cajole and entice them to believe. It is “the gospel of God” (Rom. 1:1), designed to promote the glory of God and of his Christ (Edgar H. Andrews. Free in Christ: The message of Galatians. Evangelical Press. 1996. p. 28)
Gar (for) has numerous meanings, which are largely determined by context. It can also be translated “because,” “yes, indeed,” “certainly,” “what,” and “why.” It can also sometimes mean “there,” which is a helpful rendering in this verse. “There,” he is saying, referring back to the strong anathemas of the previous two verses, “does that sound like I am a people pleaser? Paul’s pronouncing a curse on men (v. 9) does not fit with the accusations of the Judaizers against him. Rather, it unquestionably seeks to honor God, whose truth was being perverted.
• PEOPLE-PLEASER OR SERVANT OF CHRIST? Which are we? People-pleasers have an inordinate desire to please other people; servants of Christ have an all-consuming passion to please God. People-pleasers are motivated by the fear of man; servants of Christ are inspired by the fear of God. People-pleasers pretend to serve God when they really intend to serve themselves; servants of Christ actually intend to serve God by meeting the needs of other people. People-pleasers are anxious for approval from others and distraught when they don’t get it; servants of Christ simply love others and leave approval or disapproval to the judgment of God. So which are we? People-pleasers or servants of Christ? (Wilson, T. (2013). Galatians: Gospel-Rooted Living. (R. K. Hughes, Ed.) (p. 35). Wheaton, IL: Crossway.)
Paul asks: “Am I now seeking the approval/favor of man, or of God? Or am I striving to please man?” The expression “striving to please man/win the approval of people” translates the Greek word peitheo [3982, 4275] (persuade), which was associated with a rhetorical strategy that was viewed negatively by many ancients as a contorted and deceptive manner of speaking (Betz 1979: 54–55). Calling Paul a people-pleaser would be to say that Paul was an insincere flatterer, but Paul completely denied using such manipulative tactics. As a servant of Christ, he was determined to follow Christ’s example of humility (cf. 2:20; 5:24; 6:2).( Mohrlang, R., Gerald L. Borchert. (2007). Cornerstone biblical commentary, Vol 14: Romans and Galatians (p. 264). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.)