PAUL GETS PERSONAL
Lord, I am nothing before You—be everything to me.
Read Galatians 1:11–24
Paul Called by God
11 I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. 12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.
13 For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. 14 I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. 17 I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus.
18 Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas[a] and stayed with him fifteen days. 19 I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother. 20 I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie.
21 Then I went to Syria and Cilicia. 22 I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they praised God because of me.
a Galatians 1:18 That is, Peter
New International Version (NIV)
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ReflectHow is an attack on Paul an attack on Christ? Keep this question in mind as you read today’s passage.
Paul defends his Gospel because it’s God’s Gospel (11,12). That’s why he’s so passionate. Paul’s Gospel is not man-made. So when false teachers attack Paul and his message, they’re attacking Christ and his Gospel.
Jesus himself appointed Paul as an authentic messenger of the Gospel: an apostle (1). So Paul tells his story: before I met Jesus (13,14), I was fanatical. I was notorious. I savaged the church. And I was good at it. There’s no way I’d have made up the Gospel then! When I met Jesus face-to-face (15,16a; Acts 9:3–19), I realized he’d planned from before my birth that I’d preach his Gospel. After I met Jesus (16a–24), for 14 years I did a lot of things. I spent two weeks in Jerusalem (18–20).
The Gospel is for people like him who had done unspeakable things (13; Acts 26:10). And it’s for people like him who did good things and lived a better life than most people (14; Phil. 3:4–6).
But there is no sin that Jesus can’t forgive through the cross. And there is no good work we can rest our weight on apart from the cross. That’s Paul’s Gospel, because that’s God’s Gospel.
How does your heart respond, knowing that the Father chose to love you and sent his Son for you, before you were born and despite what you do? Write down your response today as a psalm of praise.
Jesus, You are too good to me. I am so grateful that You came to save me and give me access to a relationship with You.