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"A Gospel Not According to Man"
Galatians 1:11-24

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.

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, brothers!"

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 (v. 12).

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.


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 apostolic commission.

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 knew:

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.

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