Scripture

Galatians 1:11-24

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 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

Reflection

Paul has to clarify his apostolic authority against the charge that he’s a secondhand preacher diluting the gospel to make it easier for Gentile Christians to belong to the family of faith without full obedience. Paul isn’t one of the original Twelve disciples of Jesus and so he faces challenges to his authority. A great deception has infiltrated the church in Galatia where Paul just delivered the gospel. These deceivers are saying, “We’ve heard from Jerusalem, Paul. Where have you heard the Gospel from? We’ve heard Gentile Christians must follow the law in the same way as us Jewish Christians” (my paraphrase). This faction distorting the gospel presents a current issue that we church folk always must face and be ready to defend. Is scripture divine revelation or human revelation? So many of our deep dissensions come down to how you answer this question. Paul tells them, “I went to the same Mountain of Sinai like the prophet Elijah did and learned to wait patiently and listen for the still small voice of God; and I also learned to see and hear God in the wind and the fire and the earthquake. Later I returned to Damascus. Where on the road I met Jesus, and reconciled myself to the people there and shared the gospel. They heard and understood. All of my life now is for the glory of God” (my paraphrase).  

Paul says, “I didn’t come to please people. If I was born to please people I wouldn’t be a servant of Christ! No man or woman gave me the authority to preach the Gospel. No man or woman could so radically turn my life upside down and show me how much of a wretch I had been and still look me in the eye and say for you I died, for you I am raised, for you I will come again. I still love you. Turn around and repent and believe the gospel and go to the ends of the earth baptizing in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. It is from no man nor woman that I’m able to do what I am doing...it’s all through Christ! It’s all through Jesus! No other name, no other person, no other God, no other love, could save me from being the destroyer of the church to the church’s greatest champion! Of all the sinners, I am the worst,” (my paraphrase) Paul says. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). He didn’t stay high above our fallen and sinful nature. He rushed down from heaven and into the plague of sinful humanity to cure us once and for all on the cross. To rescue us from evil. To rescue us from a life that is otherwise headed for disaster. So that we would shine his light and bear the fruit of His spirit. This is all of divine origin and not of human origin. Do you believe God breathed these words of scripture to us? Do you believe that’s worth safeguarding from the evil one and his servants who scheme to tear the church apart? May we be united in obedience to God’s word.   

Prayer

Holy and Precious Jesus, we humbly bow before you. We bow our hearts. We bow our minds. We bow our souls. We bow our bodies. We surrender all to you Lord because you are worthy of all honor and glory and praise. You alone are God. There is no truth that is not from you. Grace can’t be given from anywhere else. You are the giver of all good gifts. God we receive your love and mercy today. We will carry and speak your truth. We will not be deceived by the enemy. Our eyes are fixed on you Jesus. Fill our lives today with your Spirit that we may inspire our neighbors to turn toward you. In all things, we give you thanks. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen