Galatians 1:11-24 (ESV)
Paul Called by God
11For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
The story of Paul’s dramatic conversion is told in Acts 9:1-9. This painting, “The Conversion of St. Paul on the Road to Damascus,” is by Hans Speckaert and is in the Louvre.
13For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. 14And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. 15But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace,
Martin Luther speaks for Paul: “Did God call me on account of my holy life? Or on account of my Pharisaical religion? Or on account of my prayers, fastings, and works? Never. Well, then, it is certain God did not call me on account of my blasphemies, persecutions, oppressions. What prompted Him to call me? His grace alone.”
16was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles,
We forget how amazing this fact is! Paul was raised to hate Gentiles; some rabbis claimed that God made Gentiles only to fuel the fires of Hell. The “grace and peace” of Christ had really transformed Paul’s heart and mind.
I did not immediately consult with anyone; 17nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.
18Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas (Peter) and remained with him fifteen days. 19But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother.
Paul’s point here regarding his trip to Jerusalem is that he got the gospel from Christ, not from any people — not even the disciples of Christ.
20(In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!) 21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24And they glorified God because of me.
HERE is a hymn written in 1905 but even so, as pertinent for Paul 2000 years ago and for us today: “I Stand Amazed at the Presence.” With a Celtic twist!
English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.