Galatians 1 - Fears of A Different Gospel

1. Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)

Paul, an apostle

Paul wrote this letter; his authorship is virtually unquestioned. And what a letter this is; Galatians has been called the "Magna Carta (Declaration of Independence) of Christian liberty"; Luther especially loved this letter; he called Galatians his "Catherine von Bora," because, he said, "I am married to it." The stress on Paul's apostolic credentials is important; Paul has much to say to these Galatians, and they must understand that he writes with authority, apostolic authority

 

"The word apostle as Paul uses it here does not merely refer to one who has a message to announce, but to an appointed representative with an official status who is provided with the credentials of his office." (Wuest)

 

See definitions handout for apostle.

 

not of men, neither by man

Paul's apostolic credentials are not rooted in a democratic choice or by lots (as was Matthias: see the following reference ), but in a Divine call - both through the Father and the Son

 

Acts 1:12-26

12Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey.13And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. 14These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren. 15And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,) 16Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. 17For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. 18Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. 19And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood. 20For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take. 21Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection. 23And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. 24And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, 25That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. 26And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

 

but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father,

this is the ultimate authority of Paul.

 

Acts 9:1-15

1And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,2And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. 3And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 4And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 5And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 6And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. 7And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. 8And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. 9And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink. 10And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. 11And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, 12And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. 13Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: 14And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. 15But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:

 

2 And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia:

all the brethren which are with me

Paul gives greetings from all the brethren with him; but the use of I in the letter shows that it was not really a collaborative effort.

 

unto the churches of Galatia:

There were essentially two regions of Galatia, one to the north (including the cities of Pessinus, Ancyra and Tavium) and one to the south (including the cities of Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe). There has been considerable debate as to if Galatians was written to the northern region of cities or the southern.

 

"There was a wide difference between North and South Galatia in respect to language, occupation, nationality, and social organization." (Wuest)

 

The north was small cities and mostly agricultural development; the south was full of cities and commerce.

 

Paul was in southern Galatia on his first missionary journey (Acts 13:13-14:23), he went through northern Galatia on his second (Acts 16:6) and third (Acts 18:23) missionary journeys.

 

Paul, as John, writes to seven churches.

Revelation 1:1-11

1The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:2Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. 3Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand. 4John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; 5And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 6And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. 7Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. 8I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. 9I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. 10I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, 11Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.

 

Johnís "seven" are Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatria, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. Paulís "seven" are Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians. The four churches, which make up the center group, are given epistles which nearly match each other in length. (The epistles to Romans and Corinthians are much longer, and those sent to the Thessalonians are much shorter.)

 

3. Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,

Grace be to you

See definitions of grace and the covenant of grace in the handout. Grace is the keynote doctrine of the Church. It is doctrine that is critical to know, especially experientially!

 

And peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,

Psalms 4:8 I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.

 

Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

 

4. Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:

Paul focuses on the saving work of Jesus - saving us both from sin and from this present evil age, something that the Galatians were battling with, and needed to know that Jesus had in fact come to save them from these.

 

Who gave himself for our sins

Genesis 22: 5 - 14.

5 And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you. 6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid [it] upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together. 7 And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here [am] I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where [is] the lamb for a burnt offering? 8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. 9 And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. 10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. 11 And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here [am] I. 12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only [son] from me. 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind [him] a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. 14 And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said [to] this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.

 

Mark 10:45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

 

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

 

John 10:11, 15, 17 - 11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. 15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. 17 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.

 

1John 3:16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

 

That he might deliver us from this present evil world,

The truth of the matter is, (and always has been and always will be, until there is a new heaven and a new earth):

 

According to the will of God and our Father

John 6:38 - 40 -38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.39And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. 40And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

 

5. To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

The glory belongs to God:

1Chronicles 16:29 Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.

 

Where it is slighted:

Numbers 14:22 Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice;

 

It departs:

1Samuel 4:21 - 22 21And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband. 22 And she said, The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken.

 

6. I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:

The words are plainly the well springs of the apostle's heart and soul, and he wastes no time in choosing words or adjusting himself to his readers. Paul is angry. You can almost see his face: flushed red, with lines of tension working in his jaw. Typically, he greets his readers briefly and then launches into warm praise of them. But in this letter shock and dismay replace the usual warmth.

 

The passage is a vehement outpouring of a man who is indignant, disturbed, concerned and jealous of his commission and his charges. It demonstrates vividly the difference between the sermon of a God filled with the Spirit and a man called man filled with institutionalized learning. Here Paul says what he means and means what he says. A hungry man has "convictions" about food; a dog-tired man has "convictions" about sleep, a Spirit filled man has convictions about truth! A crisis threatens the Galatians, and Paul opens with a withering blast against the people responsible.

 

 

I marvel

John 3:6 - 7 - 6That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

Act 2:1 - 7 - 1And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. 7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?

Act 7:30 - 31 - 30And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush. 31 When Moses saw [it], he wondered at the sight: and as he drew near to behold [it], the voice of the Lord came unto him,

Revelation 13:1 - 3 - 3And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. 2 And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as [the feet] of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. 3 And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.

 

Paul's word marvel is an awesome wonder, almost unbelievable if you had not been a witness to the sight yourself.

 

That ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ

 

so soon

Paul was in southern Galatia on his first missionary journey (Acts 13:13-14:23), he went through northern Galatia on his second (Acts 16:6) and third (Acts 18:23) missionary journeys.

 

The meaning of removed:

 

Jude 1:1 - 4 - 1Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, [and] called: 2 Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied. 3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort [you] that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. 4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Unto another gospel:

Accustomed as the Galatians had been, when heathen, to the mystic worship of Cybele (prevalent in the neighboring region of Phrygia), and the theosophistic doctrines connected with that worship, they were the more readily led to believe that the full privileges of Christianity could only be attained through an elaborate system of ceremonial symbolism.

 

Act 14:21 - 25 - 21And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and [to] Iconium, and Antioch, 22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, [and] exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. 23 And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed. 24 And after they had passed throughout Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia. 25 And when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down into Attalia:

 

No sooner that this work was done, than the Judaizers show up.

 

Acts 15:1 - 6 - 1And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, [and said], Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. 2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. 3 And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. 4 And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and [of] the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. 5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command [them] to keep the law of Moses. 6 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.

 

7. Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.

A perversion or twisting of the truth is more difficult to spot than an outright lie. The Judaizers were twisting the truth about Christ. They claimed to follow Him, but they denied that Jesus' work on Calvary's cross was sufficient. They were zealots who believed that the Old Testament practices such as circumcision and dietary restrictions were required of all believers. Because these teachers wanted to turn the gentile believers into Jews they were called Judaizers.

 

When Paul called their teaching a perversion of the Gospel, he was not rejecting everything Jewish. He was himself a Jew who worshipped in the temple and attended religious festivals. But he was concerned that nothing get in the way of the simple truth of his message - that salvation, to Jews and Gentiles alike, is by faith in Jesus Christ alone.

 

8. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

ý Isn't it "amazing" how clear verses 6,7, and 8 are? Paul tells the Galatians:

    1. You were exposed to the gospel of the grace of God, and you accepted this gospel as the truth.
    2. You believed this message to be from God the Father and accepted it as a work of Grace on His part to even let you hear it.
    3. Somebody preached something else to you after I left and called it "the gospel," but it was a perversion of the gospel.
    4. It was a perversion that is characterized by a low rating of grace.
    5. If you hear anyone else preach it, including an Angel, allow the Lord to damn him good and proper.
    6. Paul says, "Even if you ever were to hear me preach another gospel you are to invoke a curse upon me!"

 

 

9. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

As I said before, so say I now again:

Epistolary Plural! What? My wife often told our children when she was trying to make a point really sink in , "I have told you a million timesÖ.!"

 

Paul uses this device of repetition many times in his writings:

1Corinthians 15:15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith [is] vain; ye are yet in your sins. 18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. 20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, [and] become the firstfruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man [came] death, by man [came] also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. 24 Then [cometh] the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. 25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy [that] shall be destroyed [is] death. 27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under [him, it is] manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all. 29 Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?30 And why stand we in jeopardy every hour? 31 I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. 32 If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? Let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.

 

2Corinthians 13:1 This [is] the third [time] I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established. 2 I told you before, and foretell you, as if I were present, the second time; and being absent now I write to them which heretofore have sinned, and to all other, that, if I come again, I will not spare:

 

 

If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

What the text actually says is this: every preacher, bishop, pope, priest, minister or teacher, even Paul, or an angel or me, that teaches salvation by works in this age is damned! We can try to white wash it by saying that accursed means "spiritual death", or "loss of Christian blessings", or "separation from Christ" but we can't change Paul's words one bit. Undoubtedly, Paul has in mind both a prediction of damnation as well as a prayer of damnation for those who pervert the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

Wow! Thinking words like this much less saying them, is not "genteel" Christianity is it? But, we are smart enough we can devise "ways and means" around Paul's adamant, murderous approach if we say:

    1. The text is a reference to a historical situation that existed in the past and no longer can be found.
    2. The "accursed" is only a desire which God would properly ignore.
    3. If the passage means what it says, we have no right to apply it.
    4. Passages this offensive are only "Pauline theology" not "the word of God."

Leroy Wright - "If you find that word offensive, build a fence 'round it!"

Bob Jones Sr. - "If you don't like what Paul wrote, get on the telephone and call him up in heaven and tell him about it!"

 

Good honest Biblical scholarship demands that we point out to you that there are other gospels sanctioned by God that are NOT the gospel that Paul preaches.

Paul's gospel, intended for the Church Age, ( i.e. for us, you and me, brothers and sisters!) , is found in:

1 Cornithians 15: 1- 4 - 1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

 

Contrast this to:

Revelation 14:6 - 7 - 6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, 7 Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.

 

Here an angel does preach another gospel and he is NOT accursed. Obviously, the admonishment to rightly divide the Word of Truth is very wise for us. See:

2Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

 

 

10. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

This is a passage that fairly breathes the spirit if Biblical Christianity for nineteen centuries. The verse explains the lives , motives, and actions of every martyr who died for Christ. No man seeking to "persuade men" goes around cursing religious leaders. A man seeking to "persuade men" spends his time flattering men, bragging about the "greatness of man" and adjusting his convictions to his audience whenever the situation changes. "Situation ethics" have been practiced for centuries. What does the Bible say about it?

 

James 1:5 -8 - 5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all [men] liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. 7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. 8 A double minded man [is] unstable in all his ways.

 

If a Christian is a "man pleaser," he is a God displeaser.

James 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

 

Men who are "running for office" or trying to maintain their social image or building religious monuments to prove their "dedication" have to duck, dodge, twist, adjust, compromise, turn, feint, slip and "finagle" to serve the Lord. The Christian who obeys Hebrews 12: 1-3 just sails on through without looking to the right hand or to the left. If anything gets knocked down in the way, if "feelings" get hurt, if toes get stepped on, the Lord just has to straighten out the mess! See:

Hebrews 12:1-3 - 1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset [us], and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

 

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

Why should the Galatians listen to Paul rather than the Judaizers? Paul answers this implicit question by furnishing the following credentials:

My message is directly from Christ!

I was an exemplary Jew.

I had a special conversion experience.

I was confirmed in my ministry by the other apostles.

I have presented my credentials to the churches at Corinth and Phillipi.

 

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

  1. 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:

Acts 26:5 Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.

 

Orthodox Judaism is a religion.

Galatians 1:13 - 14 - 13For 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: 14And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.

Orthodox Judaism is a religion.

James 1:26- 27 - 26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

Religion is the performance of acts of piety.

 

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.

 

Paul is careful to tell us that the first thing any man must be saved from is his religion. He says that after he came to know Jesus Christ his religion was but dung!

Philippians 3:8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

 

being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.

Paul didn't eat pork, he polled his hair without cutting it, he tithed and gave alms, and he obeyed the regulations of the Law. To him, Jesus Christ was an illegitimate bastard, His mother was a harlot and His father a fornicator. Paul didn't hesitate to state this publicly and privately acted on it with the same religious zeal that caused his contemporaries to put Jesus on the Cross. There was no middle ground with Paul. If the tradition said to do it, he did it. If tradition said to believe it, he believed it.

 

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

Paul was separated when he was born (from his mother's womb) he was not "elected" until he "put his hat" in the ring. It pleased God to reveal His Son "in Paul" when Paul changed his mind about God's Son and cried, "Lord, what wilt thou have me do?"

 

"Automatic salvation" is not scriptural. There is no such thing as "irresistible grace." There are some people who have you believe that Jesus suddenly popped up inside Paul's body without his permission and then overcame his will by "irresistible grace" so that he was "born again" without consent. Furthermore, we can't compare our salvation experience with Paul's experience. Paul was a chosen vessel for the greatest miracle-working ministry in the Bible outside of Jesus Christ Himself.

Samuel 12:12-24 - 12For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.13And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. 14Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die. 15And Nathan departed unto his house. And the LORD struck the child that Uriah's wife bare unto David, and it was very sick. 16David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth. 17And the elders of his house arose, and went to him, to raise him up from the earth: but he would not, neither did he eat bread with them. 18And it came to pass on the seventh day, that the child died. And the servants of David feared to tell him that the child was dead: for they said, Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spake unto him, and he would not hearken unto our voice: how will he then vex himself, if we tell him that the child is dead? 19But when David saw that his servants whispered, David perceived that the child was dead: therefore David said unto his servants, Is the child dead? And they said, He is dead. 20Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the LORD, and worshipped: then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him, and he did eat. 21Then said his servants unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done? Thou didst fast and weep for the child, while it was alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread. 22And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to me, that the child may live? 23But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me. 24And David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in unto her, and lay with her: and she bare a son, and he called his name Solomon: and the LORD loved him.

 

Psalms 139:1 - 24 - 1O lord, thou hast searched me, and known me.2Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. 3Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. 4For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. 5Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. 6Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it. 7Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? 8If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. 9If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; 10Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. 11If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. 12Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee. 13For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. 14I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. 15My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 16Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. 17How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them! 18If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee. 19Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me therefore, ye bloody men. 20For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain. 21Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? And am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? 22I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies. 23Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: 24And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

 

16. To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:

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

Moses went to the wilderness. On Mt. Sinai for 40 days and forty nights. Exodus 24:18; 34:28

Elijah went to the wilderness. When running from Jezebel, he was on Mt Sinai for forty days and forty nights. 1 Kings 11:8

Jesus went to the wilderness. Matthew 4:2. How long?

Paul goes to, Arabia, the wilderness. How long?

 

18. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.

This must have quite a visit. There must have been much about Christ's earthy life on this earth that Paul wanted to know. He probably listened almost in a trance as the old fisherman went back over the ground that he had spent with Jesus, walking with Him, talking to Him every day, eaten with Him, prayed with Him, denied Him and watched His ascension from the Mount of Olives.

 

You can almost hear Paul:

"What did y'all talk about when you were alone with Him, Peter?"

"How did He look when He was angry with the money changers in the Temple?"

"Did you ever hear Him correct the Law of Moses?"

"What was it like Peter, to walk on water?"

Come on, Peter, show me where they arrested the Lord, that night! I want to see where He was praying."

Show me the empty tomb!"

 

19. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother.

There are some people who just won't let Jesus Christ have a brother, than His mother was a virgin all her life. See Mark 6:3. Apparently, people who lived in the same neighborhood knew whose children these were, they were Mary's. Did you know that Jewish children are named after their mother, not after their father?

 

20. Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.

Now, if I was a Galatian reading this letter, I might be tempted to say that Paul was awful uppity claiming precedence over Peter, the so called Vicar of Christ and James, whose own mother gave birth to Jesus Christ. Why that old liar!! But Paul takes an oath, before God, that he lies not. The Galatians know enough to know that no orthodox Jew would ever think of swearing falsely. See: Deteronomy 7:8, 1 Kings 8:31; Josuha 2:17, 20, Judges 21:5.

 

21. Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia;

See Acts 9:29 - 30.

 

22 And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ:

You know what this means - they didn't know what he looked like because they had never seen him face to face. They didn't have newspapers and TV back then!!

 

23. But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed.

Yes, they had "heard" about Paul all right.

 

24. And they glorified God in me.

His changed life caused many comments from people who saw or heard of him. His new life astonished them, and they glorified God because they knew it only He that could have caused a change like this.