The Letter of Paul to the Galatians
Paul Defends His Ministry
1:11-12 Here we see Paul's first important argument. He has spoken of the Gospel, stating clearly that there is only "One Gospel." Others were questioning Paul why there weren't other gospels, different gospels. Paul stresses the divine origin of his teaching, having received it directly from God. The gospel did not originate from man, that man made religions emphasize human merit and the necessity of human works for salvation. He goes on to inform them that he did not receive instruction, but revelation. Pure truth, not something passes on.
Why would it matter that Paul received revelation or instruction?
The rest of chapters one and two defends this notion of "One Gospel from God" by appealing to his own religious experience.
1:13-14 By sharing his personal story Paul establishes beyond any doubt that he did not learn his gospel from men. His story with the Church begins with him being a fanatical persecutor of it. In Acts 26 we see Paul stand before Agrippa II and summarize his oppression of the Church. Coupled with this is was the fact that Paul was rising among the ranks of the Pharisees in Judaism. He felt driven to excel over other Jews his age because of his zealousness and love for the Law and his father's traditions. No one could question whether Paul was familiar with the teachings of Judaism.
1:15-16a Now, his story shifts from pre-conversion, the life of Saul of Tarsus, to his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. Paul breaks down three things:
- God set him apart from birth. Paul knew that his life was planned out by God and that his life as a persecutor and Pharisee would prepare him for his ministry as a proclaimer of the gospel of God's grace.
- God called Paul by His grace. This is in reference to Paul's salvation. He responded to God's effective call and received Jesus Christ as Savior.
- God was pleased to reveal His Son in Paul. Blinded (figuratively & literally) to the deity of Jesus Christ and thinking that He was a fraud, God gave Paul an outward vision of Christ on the Damascus Road and later an inner revelation concerning the full significance of the person and work of Christ. The purpose of this revelation was that Paul might preach Him among the Gentiles.
How do our stories inform others of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?