Wednesday 25 January 2017

Bible Book:

Galatians 1:11-24 Wednesday 25 January 2017

Psalm: Psalm 139


Much of the Church uses 25 January to remember the conversion ofthe apostle Paul. The event is recounted in its historical contextin Acts 9:1-22, but we learn more about whathappened from Paul's perspective and about how he interpreted itfrom occasions later in Acts (eg Acts26:9-20) when he referred to it in defending himself, and herein Galatians. Here, having spoken of his former commitment toJudaism, he emphasises his considerable independence from the otherapostles afterwards, and claims that it was Christ himself during,and presumably subsequent to, his experience on the Damascus roadthat taught him the gospel (the good news of Jesus) and compelledhim to preach it.

The phrase "I want you to know" introduces words of particularimportance. The earlier verses (Galatians 1:6-10) indicate Paul's concern andanger that the Galatian Christians are being tempted to abandon thegospel he preached for something different, and so it is imperativethey understand what the source of Paul's teaching was. Thereference to Paul's earlier life as a zealous Jewish rabbi andpersecutor of Christians (verses 13-14) is relevant because it is areversion to Jewish traditions that is tempting the Galatians.

"Confer" in verse 16 is a technical word for consultation inorder to discover the authoritative interpretation of an event.Paul neither did that following his "revelation", nor did hediscuss the matter with the existing apostles. Instead he was forsome time in "Arabia" which is imprecise geographically, and we donot know why he was there; the point is merely that he was at aremove from the Church's core leadership. It was after three yearsof preaching that Paul took the opportunity of spending a fortnightwith Peter ('Cephas' is his Aramaic name) through which he linkedup his ministry with that of the other apostles, but withoutresigning his continuing independent ministry to the Gentiles,which verse 24 indicates had the full support of the JudeanChristians.

To Ponder

  • Have you, or anyone you know, had an experience that can bedescribed as "a revelation of Jesus Christ"? What was it that madeclear its nature as such?
  • Paul states (verse 15) his belief that God determined his lifepurpose before he was born and then through grace prepared him forit. To what extent do you feel the same about yourself, or do youthink that people who speak in such terms are mistaken? Why?
  • "The one who formerly was persecuting us is now proclaiming thefaith he once tried to destroy" (v. 23). It may not be concerningfaith in Christ, but are there any issues over which you have had acomplete change of mind over time? If so, what? And why?
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