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AM Bible Study Archives
"A Gospel Not According to Man"
Wednesday Evening Home Bible Study
July 13, 2005
Paul's authority was challenged by the Judaizers. Because he preached a
message of righteousness through faith in God's grace, rather than through
obedience to the law of Moses, those who sought to "Judaize" other
Christians felt compelled to discredit his apostolic authority. They sought
to prove that (1) that his gospel was a pirated version of the apostolic
message that he altered by human creativity; and (2) he did not have the
endorsement of the other apostles.
Paul answers these accusations early on in this letter. In 1:11-24, he
reviews his own history to prove that his gospel could not have been a
product of human causes. And in 2:1-10 he proves that, because his gospel
was of divine origin, it did not require the validation of the other
apostles; and received recognition of his preaching from the other apostles
after he had already been preaching it for fifteen years.
Tonight, we'll just consider Paul's answer to the first of these two
accusations - that his gospel was a product of human creation.
I. PAUL'S GOSPEL WAS OF DIVINE ORIGIN (vv. 11-12).
A. Paul's assertion is that the gospel he preached is not of man (v. 11).
1. Paul begins with a very strong word in the emphatic position
(gnőriző) - one that means "I make known" or "I disclose". The feel of it
is, "Let me make something absolutely clear to you from the very start,
2. The thing that he wishes to make clear to them is that the gospel which
was preached by him (literally, "the gospel which is gospelled by me") is
not "according to man" (that is, is not of human origin).
B. Rather, he asserts that it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ
1. He says "for neither" (oude gar) "did I from man receive it". This
would be speaking of the source in general. "Nor was I taught it". In
other words, he didn't receive it from man in any way.
2. Instead, he says that it was "through a revelation (apokalupsis) of
Jesus Christ". It was something that had Jesus as its direct source to him.
This is why Paul could make the strong affirmation he made in Galatians
1:8-9. It wasn't merely "his own brand of preaching" that he was defending.
It was a truth that was entrusted to him from the Lord Himself - never to be
changed, or altered, or silenced.
II. PAUL'S OWN HISTORY PROVES THE DIVINE ORIGIN OF HIS GOSPEL (vv. 13-24).
A. His preaching couldn't have come as a result of background and training
(vv. 13-14; see also Acts 26:4-11). He even argued that his former life as
a persecuter should be sufficient to show the transformation of his life and
the authenticity of his message (Acts 22:19-20).
B. His preaching couldn't have come as a result of conference with men (vv.
15-16); because he didn't immediately confer with flesh and blood. His
conversion was a result of a direct encounter with the risen Christ (Acts
9:1-9; 1 Corinthians 15:7-10).
C. His preaching couldn't have come as a commission by other apostles (v.
17a). He began preaching immediately after he was baptized in Damascus
(Acts 9:20-22); and didn't even see the apostles until later.
D. Rather, his preaching was under God's immediate direction as a result of
God's direct calling (vv. 17b-24; see Acts 26:12-19). This is shown in the
fact that . . .
1. He immediately went to Arabia upon his conversion (v. 17b). This event
probably happened between verses 19-20 in Acts 9. It was near the place
where the Law that Paul so vigorously defended was first given to Moses. It
may have been that he went there to be alone with the Lord, and to reflect
on how the Law was given, not to make men righteous, but to help them see
that they needed righteousness as a gift of grace. But this could not have
been "taught" the gospel. There was no one there to teach him.
2. He then went back to Damascus (v. 17c; see Acts 26:20). It was then
that he began to preach the gospel in the synagogues for many days, and
argue that Jesus is the Christ (Acts 9:20-23).
3. He didn't go to Jerusalem (the birthplace of his gospel) to consult with
Peter (vv. 18-20) until three years later. This was not the same as his
immediate trip to Jerusalem after having escaped from Damascus (Acts
9:26-28;22:17-21; 26:20); nor his trip with Barnabas to bring relief to
suffering Jews (11:27-30); nor his later trip to the Jerusalem Council (Acts
15:1-29). Nor was this a trip to gain approval or endorsement. This was
apparently only a trip to associate, fellowship and consult with the apostle
who had been so close to the Savior.
a. He saw Peter during this visit; but only remained with him for fifteen
days (v. 18). This was clearly not enough time to have been "taught" the
content of his preaching.
b. He also saw James, the Lord's brother; but saw no other apostles (v.
19). Clearly, seeing only two apostles in such a short time - even if they
are among the "pillars" (Gal. 2:9) - would not have been enough to give him
c. He swears by oath to God to the truth of what he is saying about the
minimal contact he had with the apostles (v. 20). This is important in
light of the fact that his gospel was one that he had been preaching for
several years; and that only later received any kind of endorsement from the
other apostles. This serves as proof that his message - fully accepted by the
apostles and the churches - was not something he had "learned" (see Eph. 3:3).
4. He then went to the Roman provinces of Syria (far into the north; to
Antioch) and to Cilicia (northwest of Syria; probably to Tarsus) - far from
Jerusalem, where the other disciples were (Acts 9:30; 11:25-26). These
places had been the fields of his ministry prior to the Jerusalem Council
described in the next chapter.
a. He was, thus, unknown by face to the churches of Judea (v. 22). He
never visted them or learned from them.
b. The only contact the Judean churces had with him was through the news
they heard about him (vv. 23- 24). But even their response proves that he
received the true gospel as something from God and not from man. They only
i. That he formerly had persecuted the Christians in Judea.
ii. But that now, he preached the very faith he once sought to destroy.
iii. And as a result, the Christians in Judea glorified God in him.