We continue in our reading through the apostle Paul’s letter to the Galatians, today Chapter 1 verses 11-24.
Paul has accused his readers of deserting God and turning to another gospel, and so he has to make an argument that a gospel of grace through faith is what saves people. But before defending the gospel he needs to defend his own authority and standing as an apostle and a preacher.
So firstly he writes that he received the gospel that he preached as a direct revelation from Jesus Christ, not from other men (vs.11-12). Presumably this is a reference to his conversion experience on the road to Damascus in Acts Ch.9, a story we will look at in more detail in a few Sundays time.
Secondly he reminds them that before he was converted, he was both extremely knowledgeable of and zealous for all the Jewish traditions, and was actually persecuting and trying to destroy the church of God (vs.13-14), because he saw it as false teaching. In other words, he knows just as much as the Judaisers, which I mentioned yesterday, who were now on the scene trying to influence these Galatian Gentile new believers that they should adopt Jewish practices as well.
Thirdly as he began his ministry he claims that it was as a direct response to God’s revelation of Christ to him (vs.15-16), rather than influenced by the other apostles back in Jerusalem because he had only limited connections with them (vs.17-24). I think the last 2 verses of the passage are very moving,’They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” And they praised God because of me.’What an amazing turnaround!!
Now Paul is in a specific situation of dispute, which is different from us today. But it is a reminder to us that sometimes we have to defend ourselves, argue strongly and clearly, for what we believe and from our own experience.
Also that the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, is not something that we have made up, or from our own opinions, but is something that has been firstly revealed to the apostles, both the 12 in Jerusalem and Paul as the apostle to the Gentiles, who have each met with the risen Christ, and then passed down the generations through the Scriptures, the Word of God. It is objectively true and trustworthy.May we all know its truth and trustworthiness today.
From our church address list please remember in your prayers today,- Kim Bon & Sin Wei,- Charlene, along with young Ariah and Samuel.