What in the world would make an apostle like Paul so angry he was spitting bullets, pulling no punches, and a few other clichés that you can verbalize when someone is red-hot and hopping mad?
I mean, this is an Apostle, right? A designated and authority-laden spokesmen of Jesus who saw Him post-resurrection. Surely, he wouldn’t be the kind of guy to get angry, right?
He was angry. And sad. And frustrated. All at the same time.
For what reason?
He was defending the Gospel. The Galatians were tempted to add stuff to the Gospel and Paul would have none of it. We have a tendency to add things to the Gospel also (cultural preferences that we baptize), so don’t go looking down our collective nose at those Galatian brothers and sisters. Can you maybe think of something that we add to it?
Paul was angry because turning away from the Gospel – that Jesus died to deliver us according to the determination of God (1.3-5) – is the way of spiritual death, not spiritual life or enlightenment. He wanted those who preached that distorted, impure Gospel to go to hell, literally. And he doesn’t just say that once but twice (1.8-9). Twice!
He was that angry because the stakes were that high. So he’s not overreacting. He was frustrated because the Galatians knew better were entertaining other thoughts or ideas. And he was sad because it meant they weren’t walking as faithfully as he prayed for them to do.
But mostly, he was mad. In exploring, entertaining, and entering into these “new ideas,” they were walking away from the One who had died for them to deliver them, Jesus the Savior.