World English Bible translation
1:15 But when it was the good pleasure of God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me through his grace, 1:16 to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I didn't immediately confer with flesh and blood, 1:17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia. Then I returned to Damascus. 1:18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Peter, and stayed with him fifteen days. 1:19 But of the other apostles I saw no one, except James, the Lord's brother. 1:20 Now about the things which I write to you, behold, before God, I'm not lying. 1:21 Then I came to the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 1:22 I was still unknown by face to the assemblies of Judea which were in Christ, 1:23 but they only heard: "He who once persecuted us now preaches the faith that he once tried to destroy." 1:24 And they glorified God in me.
In this section Paul is explaining to the Galatians where the gospel that he preached to them originated. He seeks to convince them that his message was brought to them because of the revelation that Christ had delivered to him. In this sense Paul is an apostle of Christ in the truest sense. He is a man that was sent out by one in authority with a message to deliver.
Paul had already explained in yesterday's lesson that he had once been an oppressor of the church. He had been advancing in Judaism by persecuting the Christians. Then, on the road to Damascus, Paul was confronted by the Risen Christ. God changed the man who was zealous to torment the church into the man who championed the expansion of the new community.
After Paul had received his original revelation of Christ, the Spirit of God led to Arabia. We often think of Paul immediately setting out to evangelize the world. But, God placed Paul on hold for three years in Arabia. For three years Paul had only to think of what the revelation of Christ meant. It was only after all those years that Paul went to Jerusalem and then he stayed only fifteen days.
All of these explanations are to assure the Galatians that Paul did not "learn" what he preached to them from other men. The gospel that he had received came directly from God. Paul is forcing the Galatians to decide whether they will accept his message on the basis on whether it came from Christ. If it is truly the message of Christ, then they must accept it as the message of God.
There is no other explanation for Paul's message. The Galatians churches could readily confirm these things. Only by the powerful intervention of God could such an enemy of the churches become its strong advocate. And only by the intervention of God could the same former enemy be accepted by the churches and sent out as their evangelist. Moreover the evidence of the power of God was plain in Paul's preaching. People were responding to the Spirit of God who was present in his work. The Galatian churches were an example of his ministry and its authenticity.
When you heard the message of grace, did you understand that it came from God and not from men? What was it about the message that made you know?
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