As we continue our study of Paul’s letter to the Galatian church we now learn how the apostle was driven to Christianity from Judaism.
First Paul identifies the gospel he new preaches as authentic and not at all something created by man rather it was set forth by a divine being. He also felt necessary to separate the law from this new, salvation based gospel based on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
“11 I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up.” (Galatians 1:11)
Here Paul addresses the Galatians, referring to them as “brothers”. He also shares the fact the gospel he teaches came to him from The Lord through revelation. This gospel also known as “the truth” is not meant to please man but to lead him to repentance and eternal life.
“12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 1:12)
Since Paul was seemingly never in direct contact with Jesus while the Lord roamed the earth in human form, the apostle heard the Lord’s voice during his trip to Jerusalem at which time he was tempo rarely blinded.
Paul now make reference to his previous life as a persecutor of Christians trying to destroy the unfailing movement of God’s church on earth initially stemming from the Jews, God’s chosen people.
“13 For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it.” (Galatians 1:13)
Paul had aggressively persecuted Christians before he was born again and called to ministry by Christ. The apostle’s past was well known throughout Judea, as such Paul uses and confirms his history so to reinforce his own metamorphosis, from Jew to disciple of Jesus.
“14 I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers.” (Galatians 1:14)
Paul was a zealous, well educated pharisee feared among Christians. Before he was saved Paul had been abiding by the law as he matured as a Jew, even more so than other Jews his own age.
Paul’s maturing as a Jew was seemingly part of God’s perfect plan, so that when the almighty father was ready He could use him as preacher throughout the land. Filled by the Spirit Paul did not seek other apostles since he was convinced his calling was of God, not of man. The apostle felt no need to validate his calling to ministry.
God’s grace washed over Paul and the Holy Spirit led him to ministry in remote places where he would be allowed to grow spiritually in solitude, as well as preach the word to those not near Jerusalem where his reputation was well known.
“15 But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus.” (Galatians 1:15-17)
After this spiritual cleansing Paul returned to Damascus, the largest city or Syria and the place where he stayed after he was born again.
“18 Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days.” (Galatians 1:18)
Paul stayed in Damascus for three years, until about 40 A.D. growing in the word and feasting on the gospel of Jesus Christ revealed to him by the Lord Himself. Then he traveled to Jerusalem where he stayed with Peter, undoubtedly discussing Christ, His church and advancing the gospel.
“19 I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother.” (Galatians 1:19)
While in Jerusalem, Paul’s only contact with the apostles other than Peter was with James, the brother of Jesus.
“20 I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie. 21 Later I went to Syria and Cilicia.” (Galatians 1:20-21)
After his stay with Peter in Jerusalem Paul preached the word throughout the land in Syria and Cilicia, locations outside Judea where the church was growing rapidly. Paul felt the need to return to his native country to advance the gospel and spread the good news about the savior.
“22 I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ.” (Galatians 1:22)
During Paul’s early ministry he it became known to those in Judea that a former pharisee was diligently doing God’s work in Arabia. To those in Christ this was something pleasing to God and worthy of praise.
“23 They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they praised God because of me.” (Galatians 1: 23-24)
Paul’s call to ministry was certainly extraordinary. The steps taken by the apostle which drove him away from the elders of the church were atypical and regarded as rebellious. However such drastic measures, when inspired by the Holy Spirit can be most fruitful.
Have you found yourself led to full time ministry? Is the Holy Spirit tugging at your heart calling on you to become a servant of God rather than of man? If so I invite you to follow in Paul’s footsteps and seek a place of solitude where you can grow spiritually and allow God to guide you.
It took decades for Paul to mature as a Jew, years as a Christians. The road to ministry is paved with sacrifice and persecution, anyone choosing to walk this road must be prepared, mature and armed with the sword of salvation. Let’s pray!
We thank you for your blessings in our lives and for your servant Paul,
We praise you Lord for his wisdom and for his works through this scripture,
We ask you Lord to inspire us to use these verses in our lives
As we grow in you through the teachings of your faithful apostle.
Lord we ask you to strengthen us each day as we endure through battles,
Allow us to praise and love each other through faith in you Jesus,
Shield us from evil through truth, the gospel, salvation and prayer,
Guide us to abide by your word as we spread your gospel to one and all
Becoming examples of faith through our character as we walk the narrow path.
God we pray that you will continue to bless us, to bless our lives and fill us with hope
We ask you Lord to guide our footsteps and lead us to the way everlasting,
Through faith in you Lord we seek salvation and a place with you in heaven
According to your word, your everlasting wisdom and strength.
May your will be done
In our lives, for your life.
We thank you for your love and all you bless us with each day.
This message was written by Daniel St.Pierre