Lesson 56: "I Certify You, Brethren. . ." (Galatians 1:11)
Paul's Missionary Journey Epistles. This is lesson # 56. Welcome again! Paul had said to the Galatians in the first ten verses [I'm paraphrasing), (#1), I am an apostle. (# 2) This was by God's doing and by the doing of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was NOT of my own doings; that I was made an apostle. (#3) Jesus Christ gave himself for our sins; he is our sin offering and the only means of delivery from this sinful world. Don't ever forget it! (# 4) Brethren, some of you have slipped! You're slipping away from the gospel of Christ. Some have perverted that Gospel. Some of you have been enticed and led away from the true gospel. I'm amazed! (# 5) Brethren, no one has a right to pervert that gospel. A perverted gospel is a false gospel and will subvert your souls, i.e. consign your souls to hell. (# 6) Paul warned that, if any one comes to you with a perverted gospel, let them be accursed. Don't let anyone palm off another gospel on you, i.e. a false gospel. Even an angel from heaven, around God's throne, does not have that right. A perverted gospel will not save. Some may have persuaded you; but, they have not persuaded God. The gospel has not changed. Now, that's a quickie paraphrase of the first 10 verses, on which we have already spent two lessons. At this point let's read v.11-20, ch. 1. Are you ready? Here we go; beginning in v. 11. "But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jew religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: and profited in the Jew religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother. Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not. Afterward I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia; and was unknown by face unto the churches of Judea which were in Christ: but they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. And they glorified God in me."
Alright, there's more to this; but, backing up to v.l 1, Paul picked up on the gospel that he and his co-workers had taught the Galatians, the true gospel. The gospel Paul taught did not come from men (v.l 1). When Paul said, "I certify you, brethren," the apostle was saying: I am declaring to you, brethren, my gospel is not after man or mankind; i.e. in other words, let me clearly express to you once and forever: that the gospel that I taught you was not of my doings nor was it the doings of any other man. The gospel I taught you was "by the revelation of Jesus Christ." (v.l 2). I.e. it came straight from God. Don t tamper with it. Now, when you clearly understand Paul's affirmation here and view it in the light of v.6-7 up above; it becomes clear someone, (the same people I would assume) had accused Paul of teaching a false doctrine, i.e. they accused Paul of inventing what he taught and further that what he taught he got from other people such as the apostles in Jerusalem that had been with Jesus. Thus, I infer that Paul is here (inthese verses) responding to that accusation. Notice that v.l2 & v.l3 both start with "For", F-O-R. "For" means: for this reason or here is the explanation. As a matter of fact, the rest of chapter one is a listing of Paul' s reasons and proofs to substantiate this point. No single one of Paul' s statements is an absolute proof or refutation within itself. But, these statements show how unlikely and how un-natural it would have been for Paul to have done what he was being accused: However, taken as a whole, Paul's arguments become very weighty and convincing to the honest observer.
Now, let's go through Paul's statements one by one. First get the thought clearly in mind. Paul was certifying or declaring (v. 11) "that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man." Further (in v.l2), Paul said: "I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it..." [i.e. of men]; but in contrast to that and "for" F-O-R this reason: it came "by the revelation of Jesus Christ." (v.l2). That gospel, the good news Paul preached to the Galatians, was revealed to him [Paul] by the Lord Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit. Thus, this is the stated reason, explaining why it was not of men; i.e. it did not originate with men. Then, (v. 13), Paul said "For" (i.e. here's another reason). V.l3 is like saying: think how preposterous your argument isl Now, here's the reason: "ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion...". Notice the word is "conversation" not conversion, i.e. you Galatians have heard of my career in Judaism. You have been told of my former behavior before I became a Christian and you know of my manner of life at that time. How had the Galatians heard that? Well, first of all; Paul had likely revealed this to them when he was with them.. Secondly, it was common knowledge among the Jews and Christians alike. Now, what WAS Paul's former behavior? Just in case someone had not heard; Paul here restates these things from his own pen: "beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it." What is the church of God? Christians? Who did Paul persecute? The very people that started with the preaching of the apostles on the day of Pentecost. Read the first seven chapter's of the book of ACTS. In ch. 8, v.3, Luke said: "Saul", i.e. Paul "made havoc of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison." Which church? The church of God. The church of Christ. The church of the first born. The church and camp of the Lord Jesus Christ. The only church that existed in Jerusalem. There is only one church or one body (Eph. 1:22, Eph. 4:4). There is only one church; because there is only one gospel as Paul was declaring here in Galatians chapter one. The Lord added to THE church daily (Acts 2:47) those who obeyed THE one gospel. Thus, there can be only one church. Wouldn't it be great if every one claiming to be a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ could understand that one simple fact? Oh no! You go to your church, I'll go to mine! Who's church? The church of Christ. The church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Not my church! Not your church! The Lord Jesus Christ said: "upon this rock, I will build MY church." (Matt. 16:18).Not churches! Not our church, not your church, not their church! How unscriptural can one get? What did Paul say? "If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received [what Paul?], let him be accursed." (v.9). Does that sound like take your choice? If there's only one church; there's no choice.
The only choice is follow God or reject God. That's the choice. The Galatians had heard about Paul persecuting Christians in time past. Paul was saying in effect: I once found my self doing the very same thing you Judiazers are doing, in effect. I used to be exceedingly zealous of the traditions of the fathers (end of v.14). Nov, what is Paul talking about? Do you remember Matt. ch. 15? The washing of hands, the washing of pots and pans, Corban, and all that. Jesus said, "Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition." (Mark 7:9). Paul was trying to identify with these subverters of the gospel at Galatia to the extent he could. He says he profited in the Jews religion once himself. Paul understood their point of view. It was the wrong point of view; but Paul understood it. What does it mean to be "exceedingly zealous"? (v. 14). Then in v.15-16 and on down, Paul said in effect: 1 saw something that changed my life forever. God called me by his grace (v.15). God revealed his Son, Jesus Christ, in Paul (v.16). Paul began to preach "immediately" v.16 says. He declares at the end of v.16, "1 conferred not with flesh and blood." That's another way of saying: mankind. What Paul began to preach and teach; he did not get from any man. If these Judiazing teachers cared to investigate; they could establish Paul did not go up to Jerusalem and confer with them which were apostles before Paul (v.17). Then in v. 18-19, Paul is saying he had absolutely no contact with the apostles at Jerusalem for three years, i.e. the first three years of his Christian career. A period of time as long as or longer than the twelve apostles were with Jesus. Then after spending three years in Syria and Arabia, it is true that Paul went up to Jerusalem and this was the first contact he had with any apostle. At that time, he stayed or abode in the household of Peter for about two week. Luke said in Acts 9:26 that when Paul came to Jerusalem (on this occasion), "he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple." It says in that place that Barnabas did befriend Paul. Here Paul admits in v.19 that he had an opportunity to meet James, the son of Joseph and Mary, the half brother of Jesus that ultimately became an elder in the Jerusalem church but was not an apostle. However, the point of Paul's argument is this: not only did he not confer with the apostles or other disciples at Jerusalem; he had no opportunity to do so. They were afraid of Paul. Almost all disciples shunned Paul. After a couple weeks, a threat was made on Paul's life and Luke said, "when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus." (Acts 9:30). So, Paul is saying, when you accuse me of conferring with them that were apostles before me; you miss the point. Paul is saying he didn't even have that opportunity for many years at least. Then in v.21 -22-23-24, Paul pointed out these things were rumored. YES! Almost all congregations in Judea had heard something about Paul's conversion; but, it was not on a personal basis. Paul really had no one-on-one contact with them for such a tedious teaching learning process as would have been required. Paul did not get his teaching from those brethren. There was no opportunity. Paul said, v.20, "before God, I lie not." The Judiazers in Galatia could check it out, if they wished. Their hypothesis that Paul first got his doctrine and teaching from other Christians; just did not fit. First of all, in Paul's early life his disposition was so hostile and he was so exceedingly zealous as a persecutor of Christians; such a thing would have been highly unlikely at best. Remember, Paul was a violent persecutor of Christians: he held the garments of those who stoned Stephen to death (Acts 7:58). Secondly, his reputation as a persecutor of Christians prevented him opportunity of contact with the very people he was here being accused of collaborating with. Thirdly, Paula's conversion on the road to Damascus was so well known to the Galatians that Paul simply said here in Gal. 1:15, "God., .called me by his grace to reveal his Son in me..." Paul did not take the time to go over the details of his conversion as, for example, he did later when he stood before King Agrippa in Acts 22:12 ff. You might want to re-read this first chapter for continuity and to solidify Paul's arguments in your mind. However, in these first three lessons, I believe we have covered the crux of Galatians chapter one.
In the minute or two we have left: may I shift gears and spend this time in word study? I want to call your attention to three words: (they are) gospel, faith and grace. All three of these words occur here in Galatians ch. one. The word "gospel" comes from a Greek word that means "to announce good news" and thus does not occur in the 0. T. which was written in Hebrew, of course. The word "faith", comes from another Greek word: "PISTIS", is a N. T. term; although, the thought is used many times in the Old Testament, obviously. The word "faith" means to believe or to be convinced. Or the word "faith" is sometimes substituted for that which brings about belief or conviction with reference to the gospel. For example, here in v.23, the churches of Judea, "had heard... [that Paul] now preached the FAITH which he once destroyed." The word "grace" means simply "favor" or coming very close to the word "gift", as we used that word. The word "grace" in the Hebrew form is used many times in the O.T. starting with Noah, who found "grace" in the eyes of the Lord (Gen. 6:8). Some translations say Noah found "mercy" in the eyes of God. These three words: faith, grace and gospel, are key words in the new covenant. These three words are inseparable. And, these three words occur more often per square mile in the book of Romans and the book of Galatians than any where else in the Bible. The only exception to this might be the word "faith" in the book of Hebrews. These three words are very concentrated here in the first chapter of Galatians. The three words occur nine times. "Faith" occurs only once, that's v.23, the verse we've already looked at. The word "grace" occurs only three times, v.3, v.6, v. 15. The word "gospel" occurs five times: v.6,7,8,9 and 11. These words are very inter-related. Jesus Christ, God's Son, "gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world..." (that's v.4). Study that thought just a minute. Thus, our delivery by Jesus was/is accomplished through his death, burial and resurrection from the dead. This is said to be the good news to us and for us; i.e. herein lies the only opportunity we have for eternal life in the safe state of heaven. Or in Bible terms: this is the gospel. Now, where there is no gospel, i.e. where the good news does not exist; there is no grace. God's grace, i.e. God's gift of salvation to us, comes through the gospel and only through the gospel. Have you got that? You might want to read Rom. 3:24-25 in this connection; if you need a little clarification. Then, hang on to this one: where there is no grace there is no faith, i.e. there is no faith that justifies. In other words, saving faith comes by the gospel through grace. Read Eph. 2:8 in connection with this thought. Or to say it another way: God has presented to mankind some good news (called the gospel). God's part in that good news is grace; i.e. a gift of salvation or delivery from this evil world as it is said in Gal. 1:4. It's a gift of God, "and that not of yourselves." (Eph. 2:8). That's God's part. Now, what's man's part in this plan? Faith! Faith in the sense of obedient faith, predicated upon an understanding of God's grace. Do you remember John's prologue? John said in past tense: "as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God...", i.e. to them that have obedient faith in the gospel; God provides an opportunity for them to be adopted as his children, live faithful lives and thus, be saved. Grace, gospel and faith; as I said these three words are inseparable. We'll get back to this; but, for now: have a good day.