Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Galatians 1:11 - 1:17

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Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Galatians 1:11 - 1:17


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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

Paul Protests His Apostolic Commission.

He has his Gospel by direct revelation of Jesus Christ:

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

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

v. 13. For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the Church of God and wasted it,

v. 14. and profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.

v. 15. but when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by His grace,

v. 16. to reveal His Son in me that I might preach Him among the heathen, immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood,

v. 17. neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me, but I went into Arabia and returned again to Damascus.

The apostle here takes up the first point of his argument, meeting the objection as though his preaching had no claim to apostolic authority and power, that he was not an apostle like the Twelve, who received their commission directly from Christ, who had been trained in doctrine and preaching by the Lord Himself. With all the force of truthful assertion he states: But I declare to you, brethren, concerning the Gospel as preached by me, that it is not according to man. Although he is writing in indignant protest against a false opinion, which is dangerous to the Gospel itself, his kind address shows that his vehement denunciation is directed against the doctrine which was perverting the Galatians rather than against their persons. He reminds them of the fact which was surely known to them before, but which must be brought out now with peculiar emphasis, that the Gospel-message as proclaimed by him had nothing in common with man-made doctrines, neither according to its origin nor according to its character. He had not received it from any man, nor, on the other hand, had he been taught it. He deliberately places his own person forward: No more than any of the Twelve had he been given instruction in the Christian doctrines by any man; he was of equal rank with the other apostles. It had not been necessary for him to take a course in catechetical instruction, as for instance, Theophilus, Luk_1:4, or the Galatian Christians, but he had received full knowledge and understanding through a revelation of Jesus Christ, in a supernatural manner. Whether he refers to the vision on the way to Damascus or to subsequent extraordinary manifestations, does not appear from the text; perhaps he intends to convey both, the fundamental and central illumination being that at the time of his conversion, which was followed by special revelations at different periods of his life.

To substantiate his assertion that his only teacher in the Christian doctrine was Christ, Paul now refers to some facts connected with his life at the time of his conversion. Luther gives the connection of thought as follows: "That you may know very exactly that I neither from my progenitors nor from the apostles nor from any man received my instruction, but from God alone, in order that you may be certain and not permit yourselves to be turned away to human things under any pretense, whether it be my name or the names of the apostles, behold, I tell you my history anew and insert it here. " They had heard about, they were fully acquainted with, his manner of living, with his behavior while still in Judaism, while his heart was yet filled with Jewish partisanship. They had received the information that this bitter party spirit had been surpassingly strong in his case, prompting him to take the lead in persecuting the congregation of God and in destroying it. With absolute frankness Paul confesses his incessant activity against the Church of Christ, his firm determination to bring about its total annihilation. See Act_7:1-60; Act_8:1-40; Act_9:1-43. He even made progress, he advanced in his bitter zealotism beyond many men of his own race and nation; he outstripped them in his ardor for his ancestral traditions. As the son of a Pharisee, Act_23:6, he thought it was his duty to uphold the hereditary traditions of his family at all costs. Such was the disposition of his mind, such was the situation: "My early education is a proof that I did not receive the Gospel from man. I was brought up in a rigid school of ritualism, directly opposed to the liberty of the Gospel. I was from age and temper a staunch adherent of the principles of that school. Acting upon them, I relentlessly persecuted the Christian brotherhood. So human agency, therefore, could have brought about the change. It required a direct interposition from God. " (Lightfoot.)

How God interfered in his Pharisaic designs Paul relates nest: But when it pleased Him who had set me aside from the womb of my mother, from the very hour of my birth, and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me, in order that I might preach Him in the Gospel among the Gentiles, immediately not did I take counsel with flesh and blood, nor journeyed I up to Jerusalem to those that were apostles before me, but went away to Arabia, and again turned back to Damascus. Here is a song of praise to God's merciful pleasure, by which, without any human aid and human merit, he had experienced His wonderful grace and been commissioned as an apostle. According to this good pleasure, the Lord had set Paul aside even before his birth for this purpose; He had influenced his entire life, his education, his intellectual development in such a manner as to enable him later to become a chosen instrument, Act_9:15. The result was that God called him through His grace, both to faith and to the apostolic ministry, these two events being coincident in his case. The purpose of the call was that Paul should, in and through the Gospel-message, preach Christ, who had been revealed to him in such a remarkable manner, to the Gentiles. It is probable that this miraculous communication, by which Paul learned to know Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the Savior of the world, came to him at the time when he spent three days in blindness, in solitary communion with himself. At this time God reinforced the knowledge which Paul had concerning the history of Jesus with a complete revelation of His person and office, thus giving to this chosen vessel the preparation which enabled him to go forth as a witness for, and a servant of, Christ.

The effect of the call on Paul was remarkable; he gave heed to it at once. He did not take time to discuss the weighty matter with flesh and blood, with any mere man, neither himself nor any other person; his answer was: Here am I, send me. Straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, Act_9:20. Since his call was direct and immediate, it was not necessary for him to make the journey up to Jerusalem, with the idea of getting the sanction of the apostles. Instead, without any further command and commission from Jerusalem, he made a journey to Arabia, in whose deserts he was shut off entirely from all intercourse with the brethren, but, on the other hand, had plenty of opportunity for solitary communion with God. At the close of this sojourn, of which we have no other information, Paul returned to Damascus, where he resumed his activities and was forced to flee from the city on account of the hatred of the Jews, Act_9:23-25; 2Co_11:32-33.