#162 “PAUL DEFENDS HIS AUTHORITY AND GOSPEL MESSAGE” (GALATIANS 1:11-14)

Paul reiterates his authority in Christ and recalls his former life as an expert in the Law.

  1. 11 For I would have you know (an emphatic statement), brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. Paul reiterates his credentials as an apostle because many false teachers were telling lies about him. Not man’s gospel—Paul stresses what he received and now preaches did not originate from man. Although he did hear Stephen, Ananias, and Barnabas preach the gospel, it was Jesus Christ who sanctified and called him to deliver the gospel. Nor was I taught it—Paul distinctively points out that his newfound faith and gospel message is far beyond mere tradition and interpretation. It was common practice for Jews to study commentary of the Scriptures than actually reading the Scriptures themselves. Received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ—Luke records Paul’s conversion story multiple times in Acts: 9:3-6; 22:14-16; 26:15-18. As mentioned earlier in Gal. 1:4-10, Christianity is not a works-based religion that was made up by a group of religious fanatics.
    • ISLAM: “To those who believe and do deeds of righteousness hath Allah promised forgiveness and a great reward,” (Surah 5:9).
      1. On the day of judgment for the Muslim, they hope and pray that their good deeds outweigh their bad ones.
      2. If Allah says they do, he will forgive them of their sins and allow them to enter paradise.
    • MORMONISM: “We accept Christ’s atonement by repenting of our sins, being baptized, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and obeying all of the commandments,” (Gospel Principles, Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1979, p. 68.).
      1. believing in God and Jesus
      2. doing good (being kind, fair, loving, etc.)
      3. developing moral character
      4. repenting of sins and attaining forgiveness through the Atonement of Christ
      5. being baptized and participating in other Mormon ordinances
      6. spreading the Mormon faith
  1. 13 For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted (persistent effort of violence) the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. 14 And I was advancing (to blaze ahead) in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. Who better to tell people not to get involved in religion than Paul? He not only was deep in the bondage of religion, but by the grace of Jesus Christ, Paul was delivered from it and is now living a life of freedom in Christ. My former life in Judaism—Paul mentions Judaism to contrast his old life in the Law to his new life in Christ Jesus. I persecuted the church of God violently—NKJV Chronological Study Bible, “Reflecting on his time as a Pharisee, Paul counted himself amongst the most intense followers of the Law, zealous to the point of using violence to protect Israel from Torah desecration. No wonder he persecuted the church. In the view of the Pharisees, the first Christians, as a Jewish group that was lax in the observance of the Law, represented the defilement of Israel! Saul the Pharisee had lived out his commitment to Israel through the Law; Paul the apostle would live it out through Jesus Christ (Phil. 3:7–9).” So extremely zealous was I—Paul recounts his past life in religion and how much of a fanatic he was in keeping and preserving the entirety of the Law. And yet despite his zealous life under the Law, the Law couldn’t deliver him from his sin (see Ac. 26:9-11). Paul lists his pedigree as a Pharisee in Phil. 3:4-6: “though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.” Traditions of my fathers—Paul is referring to rabbinic and oral teachings of the Law, “Halakah,” that are considered equal to the Torah. Most scholars were incapable of mastering the various complexities and interpretations of the Law—except for Paul. He had an expert knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures and of the oral traditions. A big difference among Pharisees was the way they interpreted the Law. NRSV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, “Usually in cordial ways, members of the same age group often competed during schooling. The most advanced education in Scripture, including for Greek-speakers, was in Jerusalem; whereas the average Judean may have been illiterate, children from wealthy and educated families received more training. Paul apparently had the highest level of training, normally available in the mid to late teens.” In Acts 22:3, Paul states, “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated at the feet of Gamaliel according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as all of you are this day.”