Matthew Bates, Paul, and the Galatian Opponents: One King to Rule Them All?

In Matthew Bates’s influential Salvation by Allegiance Alone (2017) and Gospel Allegiance (2019), the content of the gospel is said to consist of a series of 8 or 10 “Christ events.” Thus, for Bates, Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox all agree on the gospel’s content. This article argues that Bates’s definition would not differentiate between Paul’s gospel and that of his Galatian opponents, which contradicts Paul’s claim that the latter teach “another gospel” which is no gospel at all (Gal 1:6–9). Thus, the content of the gospel must include some other element that would enable such distinctions to be drawn. The article concludes by suggesting that this element may be embedded in the meaning of the “Christ event” of the Messiah’s death “for our sins.” As narrative-based approaches to the gospel are increasingly popular (and have much to commend them), this article offers a necessary methodological clarification for how the “gospel” is defined.