From the recording Galatians

Galatians chapter 1 verses 11 to 20 - The Apostleship of Paul - Dr J Stewart Gillespie
Bible study notes and audio recording

The Message – Which he Preached (1:11-12) 
The Man – Who was Changed (1:13-16a) 
The Mission – He was Given (1:16b-17) 
 Beginning to see something of the first of the 3 themes of the epistle: Paul’s Apostleship. 

 Paul’s Apostleship was being challenged at Galatia: they didn’t like his message, as is often the case if don’t like the message, we attack the messenger. 

 Some seem to have pointed out that he came to faith after the death of Christ – not a true apostle at all – 2nd rate – hadn’t journeyed with Christ, sat at His feet, listened to His ministry, saw His miracles. 

 Perhaps suggested he had partly received his message from some of the other apostles & altered and added bits to it. 

 Against this background we have the teaching of chapters 1&2. 

The Message – Which he Preached (1:11-12) 

 “I certify you” – One of the few epistles to come with an authentication certificate. 

 “gospel which was preached” – lit. “the gospel that I gospelled.” 

 Paul before he had been saved had been an accomplished Pharisee (Phil3:5). A member of the Jewish religious body. The clergy of its day. Learned in all the traditions of Judaism. Regarded themselves as being at the top of the religious pile. 

 These Pharisees had 2 sources of teaching: 

Written Teaching  – The OT of the Bible & the teaching of past Rabbis in the Mishnah 
Oral Traditions – Passed on from one Rabbi to his students 

 To these oral traditions Paul refers in v12, “I neither received it” – “paralambano” a technical term for oral traditions passed on by the Rabbis to their students – not by transmission or tradition. 

 This is what his opponents accuse him of: second hand traditions, received and altered from others, not direct experience of Christ. 

 Not by education, “neither was I taught it” – “didasko” (v12) – “a specific reference to academic instruction” (Ridderbos) 

 Apply this truth: if were going to have an experience of Jesus Christ; it won’t come by listening to someone else, won’t come by reading books. 

 Real biblical Christianity: Not a set of traditions, not a set of rules, not a set of regulations, a living personal experience of God through Jesus Christ. 

 Say: I’m a Christian, I go to Church. I go to McDonald’s but that doesn’t make me a hamburger. Not Christians by association, nor by tradition  but by personal experience of Christ, “for I know whom I have believed…” (2Tim1:12). 

 This begins the day we open our heart in faith to Christ. 

 This is how Paul received the gospel, “by the revelation of Jesus Christ”(v12b), – an unveiling – a personal experience of Christ. Start off with a veil over our mind to Christ, God can lift it. 

 Cf. what Paul says about the origin of his apostleship (1:1) & the origin of the message (1:11-12) – both were clearly under attack. 

The Man – Who was Changed (1:13-16a) 

Consider his: 

 Conversation (v13) – “my conversation” – “my manner of life.” a major theme in Acts & 1Co15:8; 1Tim1:12. His conversion was a defining moment in the H/O the Church. Any understanding of Christianity has to be able to explain what caused such a transformation. His remarkable testimony is frequently referred to throughout the NT as a well established & widely accepted fact. 

 There had been a dramatic change in his life. Anyone who has had a personal experience of Christ ought to be changed. 

 Paul’s pre-conversion life many things were quite excessive but it was marked by: 

Religion (v14) – Religion is no substitute for REALITY 
Traditions (v14) – No substitute for TRANSFORMATION 

 Many today would be quite happy with that as their own version of Christianity: a bit of religion, a bit of tradition, a bit of church going, a name on a role, a nice routine, a few good works. 

 That’ll do us for Christianity! But this was before Paul was saved! 

 Christianity is ever so much more than religion + tradition. 

 If this was Paul’s idea of what it was to be lost. What was it to be saved? 

God revealed Christ to him (v12) 
God revealed Christ in him (v16) 

 Back to this point of a personal experience of Christ through faith. Putting our trust in Him. Not in a vague religious way, but knowing Him & trusting Him completely as our personal saviour. His presence as real as our nearest & dearest. 

 Revelation of Christ: “in me” (v16a) & by him (v16) – Christ is revealed “in” Paul ever before He is revealed by Paul. We can only preach Christ to others as we have experienced Him ourselves. If our testimony/ministry has a hollow ring to it maybe its because we don’t speak from the fullness of our own heart (Jo7:38). Once God has: 

Revealed Christ to him (v12) 
Revealed Christ in him (v16), then God can: 
Revealed Christ through him (v16) 

 In v13&14 the emphasis is on what Paul had done, now the emphasis is on what God has done (v15&16). 

 Separation (v15) – Pre-conversion Sanctification, cf. Positional Sanctification (1Co1:2) & Practical Sanctification (1Thess4:3). 

 As Paul looks back he could see Divine purpose being worked out right from the beginning of his life. 

 “Separated” – akin to that of “Pharisee” 

 Cf. “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations” (Jer1:5). 

The Mission – He was Given (1:16b-24) 

 Note the dependence of Paul upon Christ (v11-17) 

Revealed Christ to him (v12) 
Revealed Christ in him (v16), then God can: 
Revealed Christ through him (v16) 

 Note the independence of Paul from other apostles (v16-24) – some were suggesting Paul was a 2nd rate apostle with a 2nd hand message. 

 Note the relative obscurity in which Paul laboured at first (v22), before he moved out in service in a more public sphere. Note the importance of ‘wilderness years’: 

Joseph – his time as a servant & as a prisoner 
Moses – 40years in the backside of the desert – as a shepherd 
David – His experience gained of His God as a shepherd 

 Waiting time isn’t wasted time. 

 Formerly a ‘persecutor’ & now a ‘preacher’ (v23) 

 In our testimony do we seek to draw attention to ourselves? Do we preach & lift up Christ that all men might be drawn to Him (Jo12:32)? 

 Note the parallel between Paul’s movements out to Damascus, to the Gentiles & that of Elijah in 1Kings19:15. Both returned to Damascus. A foreshadowing of God’s movement of Grace to the Gentiles in Gal1:17?

A message preached in our bible teaching series on Paul's letter to the Galatians.

Free to download audio messages from this ministry series of expository preaching through the chapters of Galatians.

Yours by Grace in Christ 

Dr J Stewart Gillespie