August 25, 2013

The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Galatians

Tom Lowe


II. Personal: Defense of Paul’s Apostleship (1:11–2:21)


Chapter II.A Received by Revelation (1:11-12)


Galatians 1.11-12 (KJV)

11 But I certify you, brethren, that the Gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 

12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.




Commentary


11 BUT I CERTIFY YOU, BRETHREN, THAT THE GOSPEL WHICH WAS PREACHED OF ME IS NOT AFTER MAN. 


BUT I CERTIFY YOU, 

This clause means, “I make known to you” or, “I declare to you” or, “I assure you.” It is a phrase Paul has used before: “MOREOVER, BRETHREN, I DECLARE UNTO YOU THE GOSPEL WHICH I PREACHED UNTO YOU, WHICH ALSO YE HAVE RECEIVED, AND WHEREIN YE STAND” (1 CO. 15.1; KJV). In Galatians 1.11-12, he declares that the Gospel he has preached to them has a Divine source. It is certain they already knew this, but now he reassures them of it, and goes into a lengthy illustration to show them that he had not received his authority to preach the Gospel from man; proving this is the main objective of Chapter 1. Actually, he began this epistle by stating that his authority as an apostle of Jesus Christ came from God, not man: “PAUL,  AN APOSTLE — NOT FROM MEN OR BY MAN, BUT BY JESUS CHRIST AND GOD THE FATHER WHO RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD” (GAL. 1.1; HCSB).  



The message for his readers is that the Gospel he preaches was given to him by Jesus Christ; there is not a spark of human creativity in it, or the slightest touch of human cunning. It is not of, by, or from man. It is not according to man; not influenced by mere human considerations, as it would be, if it had a human origin.



BRETHREN, 

Although many of the Galatians had left Paul and joined with their false teachers, yet the apostle still calls them "brethren," which is an indication he still wished them well, and hopped they were born again, and belonged to the family of God, and had received the Holy Spirit. He addresses them as “brethren” to show his affection for them, and to hold their attention while he assures them of the divine origin and authority of the Gospel preached by him; which is something they formerly knew and believed, but in spite of that they had come to doubt his doctrine because of the insinuations made against him by the false apostles; therefore, he affectionately refers to them as his “brethren.” 



THAT THE GOSPEL WHICH WAS PREACHED OF ME IS NOT AFTER MAN.

The Greek text reads, “Not according to man” (Also see Galatians 1:1). The meaning is that he was not appointed an apostle by any man or organization of men, nor did he have any human instructor who taught him what the Gospel was. Neither had he received the Gospel he preached from man, nor had it been corrupted or infected by human reasoning. He had received it directly from the Lord Jesus.

 


Paul's pronouncement that he possessed a personal revelation from the Lord of glory which had endowed him with full and complete knowledge of the Gospel was certainly bold and astonishing. It is not surprising that some of his contemporaries were concerned about whether or not he was an authentic apostle and if the Gospel he preach could be trusted; but it should always be borne in mind that the great miracles which the apostle Paul performed all over the Roman Empire confirmed and authenticated his message; they were his credentials. There has not been another man like Paul, and what made him so great was the Lord Jesus, who met him on the Damascus Road. There Jesus changed him from the chief persecutor of Christians to arguably the greatest Christian whoever lived. None of the so-called "inspired" leaders of current times is worthy to be compared with Paul. 



The false teachers (probably Judaizers) that were leading them astray PRETENDED to preach the Gospel, but they would not admit it; they said it was taught to them by the apostles in Jerusalem, and that they received it directly from Jesus. And they also said that the Gospel preached by the apostle Paul had no other authority than human, and that Paul had come up with it himself: that is the reason he so vehemently denies that it was "AFTER MAN"; from the wisdom of man, a human invention and scheme, and a figment of man's brain. 



In contrast to the different Gospel brought by these false teachers, Paul’s message was a revelation from God. Paul’s message was not a man’s attempt to reach up and understand God; it was God’s effort to bow down and communicate with man. Men may have many marvelous things to teach us, but the Apostle Peter said—“ACCORDING AS HIS DIVINE POWER HATH GIVEN UNTO US ALL THINGS THAT PERTAIN UNTO LIFE AND GODLINESS, THROUGH THE KNOWLEDGE OF HIM THAT HATH CALLED US TO GLORY AND VIRTUE” (2 PE. 1.3; KJV). God’s revelation has all things which pertain to life and godliness; that is, everything we need to live a godly life.  Today, more than ever, the world does not need the good advice and wisdom of man, it needs a revelation from God. Note the following comments:

1. Did Paul’s message really come from God, or is it the result of man’s spiritual and moral search for God? If Paul’s Gospel really came from God, then it is the most important fact in the world. If it is just a human invention, then it is the most dangerous lie in the world.

2. There are many people around today who claim that they have a revelation from God. But we have to be careful to not consider a message as being from God if it isn’t. How can we know that the Bible is really from God and not man?

a. First, we know that the Bible is reliable, accurate and trustworthy as an ancient document. We know this because the text itself is reliable (we know this from the study and comparison of ancient manuscripts). And we know this because archaeology has consistently confirmed and supported the Biblical record, and has never contradicted the Bible. People, places, and events in the Bible are repeatedly verified by archaeology.

b. Second, we know that the Bible is unique, and special among all books ever written. It is unique in its permanence, being written over 1600 years, over 60 generations, by more than 40 authors, on three different continents, in different circumstances and places, in different times, different moods, in three languages, concerning many controversial subjects, but it speaks with one united voice. It is unique in its circulation, being the most published and popular book ever written. It is unique in its translation, being the first book translated, and having been translated into more languages than any other book. It is unique in its survival, having survived the ravages of time, manual transcription, persecution, and criticism. It is unique in its honesty, dealing with the sins and failures of its heroes in a manner quite unknown among ancient literature. It is unique in its influence, since it has a greater influence on culture and literature than any other book in existence.

c. Third, the Bible is a book of prophecy, which has factually been fulfilled. For example, there are some 300 prophecies concerning the Messiah that were exactly and literally fulfilled by Jesus, such as His birth at Bethlehem, His manner of death and burial, and so forth. Another example is that the Bible describes the rise of four successive world empires (Babylonia, Persia, Greece, Rome) with such accuracy that all critics can do is claim that the passage was actually written after the events happened.

d. Fourth, the Bible is a book that has profoundly changed the lives of millions, irrespective of their race, class, era, sex, locale, age, or social status.

e. One might look at all this evidence and still say, “It doesn’t prove that the Bible came from God.” I will grant you that; but it does give us a reason to believe that it did. In the end, believing the Bible is from God is a step of faith. But it is a step of intelligent and informed faith, not a leap of blind faith.



Perhaps, one of the most important truths the apostle could offer to substantiate his bold declaration was the record which was available for everyone to read concerning what the Gospel had wrought in his own amazing life.



12 FOR I NEITHER RECEIVED IT OF MAN, NEITHER WAS I TAUGHT IT, BUT BY THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST.


FOR I NEITHER RECEIVED IT OF MAN, 

This is very probably Paul’s reply to his antagonists, who had been making disparaging remarks about him, the principal one being that he had obtained his knowledge of the Gospel from other people, since he had not been personally known to the Lord Jesus, or been one of the twelve whom Jesus called to be his apostles. In reply to this, he says, “No man taught me what I have preached to you.” He was not taught the gospel by Gamaliel, at whose feet he was brought up; he received the law from him, and knowledge in the Jewish religion and the traditions of the elders, but not one thing about the Gospel. Quite the reverse, he received prejudices against Christianity from him. And he could not have learned it from the apostles of Christ either, because he did not see them, and did not converse with them for several years, after he was a preacher of the Gospel, and therefore he did not receive it from them; not from Ananias, not from any other man. Paul must defend his reputation from the attempt by the false teachers in Galatia to denigrate his apostleship, therefore he takes pains to show that he has received the doctrines which he preaches directly from Christ.—I learned everything from “JESUS CHRIST AND GOD THE FATHER WHO RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD.”



“RECEIVED IT,” implies the absence of labor in acquiring it.



NEITHER WAS I TAUGHT IT, 

“NEITHER WAS I TAUGHT IT” by man. He did not learn it from any written explanation of it, or by instruction given him by any man. The only plausible objection to this statement which could be advocated would be the fact that Paul had a conversation with Ananias before his baptism, and that he would probably have received instructions from him, at that time. That conversation is mentioned in Acts 9.17: “AND ANANIAS WENT HIS WAY, AND ENTERED INTO THE HOUSE; AND PUTTING HIS HANDS ON HIM SAID, BROTHER SAUL, THE LORD, EVEN JESUS, THAT APPEARED UNTO THEE IN THE WAY AS THOU CAMEST, HATH SENT ME, THAT THOU MIGHTEST RECEIVE THY SIGHT, AND BE FILLED WITH THE HOLY GHOST.” Along with the filling with the Holy Ghost would come the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, such as speaking with divers tongues, healing diseases, and so forth. He may also have received the graces of the Spirit, and even Gospel light and knowledge, and gifts for preaching it. But to this line of reasoning, we may reply:

1. That there is no evidence that Ananias went into an explanation of the nature of the Christian religion in his conversation with Paul.

2. Before this, Paul had been taught what Christianity was by his encounter with the Lord Jesus on the way to Damascus (Acts 9:5; Acts 26:14-18).

3. The purpose for which Ananias was sent to him in Damascus was so that Paul might receive his sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17). Whatever instructions he may have received through Ananias, it is still true that his call was directly from the Lord Jesus, and his information of the nature of Christianity from Jesus’ revelation.



BUT BY THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST.

The way in which Paul learned about this Gospel was unique. Almost everyone hears the Gospel from someone else; this is God’s “normal” way of communicating the Gospel: “HOW THEN SHALL THEY CALL ON HIM IN WHOM THEY HAVE NOT BELIEVED? AND HOW SHALL THEY BELIEVE IN HIM OF WHOM THEY HAVE NOT HEARD? AND HOW SHALL THEY HEAR WITHOUT A PREACHER? AND HOW SHALL THEY PREACH, EXCEPT THEY BE SENT? AS IT IS WRITTEN, HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THEM THAT PREACH THE GOSPEL OF PEACE, AND BRING GLAD TIDINGS OF GOOD THINGS!” (ROMANS 10:14-15). But Paul was not “normal” in this respect. He received the Gospel in a dramatic, direct revelation when He encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus. Acts 9:1-9 describes this remarkable incident: “MEANWHILE, SAUL WAS STILL BREATHING OUT MURDEROUS THREATS AGAINST THE LORD’S DISCIPLES. HE WENT TO THE HIGH PRIEST AND ASKED HIM FOR LETTERS TO THE SYNAGOGUES IN DAMASCUS, SO THAT IF HE FOUND ANY THERE WHO BELONGED TO THE WAY, WHETHER MEN OR WOMEN, HE MIGHT TAKE THEM AS PRISONERS TO JERUSALEM. AS HE NEARED DAMASCUS ON HIS JOURNEY, SUDDENLY A LIGHT FROM HEAVEN FLASHED AROUND HIM. HE FELL TO THE GROUND AND HEARD A VOICE SAY TO HIM, “SAUL, SAUL, WHY DO YOU PERSECUTE ME?”  WHO ARE YOU, LORD?” SAUL ASKED. “I AM JESUS, WHOM YOU ARE PERSECUTING,” HE REPLIED.  “NOW GET UP AND GO INTO THE CITY, AND YOU WILL BE TOLD WHAT YOU MUST DO.” THE MEN TRAVELING WITH SAUL STOOD THERE SPEECHLESS; THEY HEARD THE SOUND BUT DID NOT SEE ANYONE. 8SAUL GOT UP FROM THE GROUND, BUT WHEN HE OPENED HIS EYES HE COULD SEE NOTHING. SO THEY LED HIM BY THE HAND INTO DAMASCUS.  FOR THREE DAYS HE WAS BLIND, AND DID NOT EAT OR DRINK ANYTHING” (ACTS 9.1-9; NIV)



The Lord Jesus spoke to Paul directly on the Road to Damascus, and then Paul spent three days without sight, before a Christian named Ananias came to him. It was probably during this time— either on the road or during the three days—when Jesus brought His Gospel to Paul. Paul certainly had the Gospel right away, because he was both saved and began to immediately preach the message Jesus gave him: “AT ONCE HE BEGAN TO PREACH IN THE SYNAGOGUES THAT JESUS IS THE SON OF GOD.  ALL THOSE WHO HEARD HIM WERE ASTONISHED AND ASKED, “ISN’T HE THE MAN WHO RAISED HAVOC IN JERUSALEM AMONG THOSE WHO CALL ON THIS NAME? AND HASN’T HE COME HERE TO TAKE THEM AS PRISONERS TO THE CHIEF PRIESTS?”  YET SAUL GREW MORE AND MORE POWERFUL AND BAFFLED THE JEWS LIVING IN DAMASCUS BY PROVING THAT JESUS IS THE MESSIAH” (ACTS 9:20-22; NIV). No doubt, he received communications at various times from the Lord Jesus with regard to the nature of the Gospel and his duty. Some of those times may be those listed below:

1. On the road to Damascus, when he met Jesus for the first time. “WHEN I RETURNED TO JERUSALEM AND WAS PRAYING AT THE TEMPLE, I FELL INTO A TRANCE AND SAW THE LORD SPEAKING TO ME. ‘QUICK!’ HE SAID. ‘LEAVE JERUSALEM IMMEDIATELY, BECAUSE THE PEOPLE HERE WILL NOT ACCEPT YOUR TESTIMONY ABOUT ME.’ “ ‘LORD,’ I REPLIED, ‘THESE PEOPLE KNOW THAT I WENT FROM ONE SYNAGOGUE TO ANOTHER TO IMPRISON AND BEAT THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN YOU.  AND WHEN THE BLOOD OF YOUR MARTYR STEPHEN WAS SHED, I STOOD THERE GIVING MY APPROVAL AND GUARDING THE CLOTHES OF THOSE WHO WERE KILLING HIM.’ “THEN THE LORD SAID TO ME, ‘GO; I WILL SEND YOU FAR AWAY TO THE GENTILES.’ ” (ACTS 22.17-2; NIV).

2. In the temple. “BUT WHEN GOD, WHO SET ME APART FROM MY MOTHER’S WOMB AND CALLED ME BY HIS GRACE, WAS PLEASED TO REVEAL HIS SON IN ME SO THAT I MIGHT PREACH HIM AMONG THE GENTILES, MY IMMEDIATE RESPONSE WAS NOT TO CONSULT ANY HUMAN BEING” (GAL. 1.15, 16; NIV).

3. The three years he sojourned in Arabia. “I DID NOT GO UP TO JERUSALEM TO SEE THOSE WHO WERE APOSTLES BEFORE I WAS, BUT I WENT INTO ARABIA. LATER I RETURNED TO DAMASCUS. THEN AFTER THREE YEARS, I WENT UP TO JERUSALEM TO GET ACQUAINTED WITH CEPHAS AND STAYED WITH HIM FIFTEEN DAYS” (GAL. 1.17, 18; NIV).

4. When he was taken up into the third heaven. “I MUST GO ON BOASTING. ALTHOUGH THERE IS NOTHING TO BE GAINED, I WILL GO ON TO VISIONS AND REVELATIONS FROM THE LORD.  I KNOW A MAN IN CHRIST WHO FOURTEEN YEARS AGO WAS CAUGHT UP TO THE THIRD HEAVEN. WHETHER IT WAS IN THE BODY OR OUT OF THE BODY I DO NOT KNOW—GOD KNOWS” (2 CO. 12.1, 2; NIV).



The emphasis here is, that he was not indebted to people for his knowledge of the Gospel, but had derived it entirely from the Savior.



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