|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:10-14 In preaching the gospel, the apostle sought to bring persons to the obedience, not of men, but of God. But Paul would not attempt to alter the doctrine of Christ, either to gain their favour, or to avoid their fury. In so important a matter we must not fear the frowns of men, nor seek their favour, by using words of men's wisdom. Concerning the manner wherein he received the gospel, he had it by revelation from Heaven. He was not led to Christianity, as many are, merely by education.
Verse 12. - For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it (οὐδὲ γὰρ ἐγὼ παρὰ ἀνθρώπου παρέλαβον αὐτό οὔτε ἐδιδάχθην); for neither at the hand of man did I myself receive it or was taught it. The "for" introduces a consideration fortifying the foregoing affirmation, that the apostle's gospel was not in its characteristic complexion human; it was no wonder that it was not; for neither was it human in its origin. The "neither" (οὐδὲ) points forward to the whole subsequent clause, "at the hand of men did I myself receive it." In a similar manner does "for neither" (οὐδὲ γὰρ) point to the whole subsequent clause in John 5:22; John 8:42; Acts 4:34. The ἐγὼ ("I myself")is inserted in the Greek, as contrasting the preacher with those to whom the gospel had been preached (ver. 11), in the same way as it is inserted in 1 Corinthians 11:23, "I myself received (ἐγὼ παρέλαβον) of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you." Some expositors (as Meyer, Alford) connect the "for neither" with the pronoun "I myself" only; as if the meaning were, "For neither did I, any more than Cephas or James, receive the gospel from men." This restriction of the "neither" to the noun or pronoun only which follows, is grammatically, of course, not inadmissible (comp. John 7:5). But there is nothing in the immediate context to suggest the idea that the writer is just now thinking of the other apostles, and the sentence is perfectly clear without our introducing it. It is quite clear that the apostle means in the words οὔτε ἐδιδάχθην to affirm that man did not teach him the gospel any more than deliver it to him. But the verb "was taught," taken by itself, does not convey the idea of merely human instruction, being used continually in the Gospels of our Lord's teaching, and John 14:26 of the "teaching" of the Holy Spirit. We must, therefore, conclude that the passive verb "I was taught it" is, in the writer's intention, conjoined with the active verb "I received it," as both alike depending upon the first words in the sentence," at the hand of man." If so, we have here another instance of the use of the figure zeugma (see above on ver. 10); for while the preposition παρὰ is used in its proper sense, when, as here, it is connected with παρέλαβον, it is only in a strained, improper sense that it could be employed, like ὑπό, with a passive verb, to simply denote the agent. Some difficulty is felt in determining in what way the writer regards the notion of "receiving the gospel" as distinguishable from that of "being taught it." It is possible that the latter is added merely, as Bishop Lightfoot supposes, to explain and enforce the former. But another view is descrying of consideration. We may suppose "the gospel" to be regarded, in the one case, as a kind of objective creed or form of doctrine,"received" by a man on its being put before him, in consideration of the authority with which it comes invested, as a whole and so to speak en bloc, before ever its details have been definitely grasped by him. But in addition to this, and subsequently to this, this same gospel rosy be regarded as brought within the range of the recipient's distinguishing consciousness, by means of a "teacher" from without, whether Divine or human, instilling into his mind successively the various several truths which compose it. Now, it was conceivable that the apostle may, in the sense above supposed, have "received" the gospel direct from God or from Christ, while, however, man may to a large extent have been the "teaching" instrument, through which its truths were brought home to his understanding. But in the present passage St. Paul affirms that in actual fact man had no more to do with his reception of the gospel in the latter sense than in the former. And this affirmation tallies closely with what we read in the sixteenth verse of this chapter, and again with the sixth verse of the next chapter, both of which passages were written, no doubt, with an eye to the very notion respecting the source of his knowledge of the gospel which he is here concerned to negative. Textual critics differ among themselves whether πὔτε ("nor") or οὐδὲ ("nor yet") should be read before ἐδιδάχθην. The only difference is that "nor yet" would of the two the more clearly mark a distinction subsisting between the notions expressed by the two preceding verbs. If we acquiesce in the reading of the received text, which is "nor," then, since the negative has been already expressed, the idiom of our language would here suppress the negative in "nor," and substitute the simple "or." But (ἀλλά); but only. The strongly adversative sense which marks this form of "but" requires that in thought we supply after it the words, "I received it and was taught it;" for which, in translating, we may put, as an adequate substitute, the word "only." Bishop Wordsworth translates this ἀλλὰ "except," citing in justification Matthew 20:23. But the grammatical construction of that passage is not sufficiently clear to justify us in giving to ἀλλὰ a sense which does not appear conformable with its ordinary usage. The apostle, then, affirms that it was not from or by man that he had received the gospel or been taught it. From whom, then, does he mean that he had received and by whom been taught it? Are we to say, God the Father? or, Jesus Christ? Just at present, it should seem, the apostle is not concerned definitely or contradistinctively to present to view either one of these Divine personalities. As has been re, marked above with reference to the words in ver. 3, "from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ," the two conceptions appear blended together to the apostle's view, when he thinks of the Source flora which spiritual gifts accrue to us. His immediate purpose is to assert that his gospel was in its origin Divine, and not human. For this it is enough to say that it came to him "through the revelation of Jesus Christ." But in preparation for the discussion of these words, it may be here remarked that the supreme agency of God the Father, as in all else, so also in particular in the communication to the world of the gospel, is an idea very distinctly put forth in a great many passages of the New Testament, and is in fact the dominant representation. As examples of this, we may refer to Colossians 1:26, 27; Ephesians 1:9; 2 Corinthians 5:18, 20; Hebrews 1:2. "The words" which "the Son spake" were those which "he had heard of the Father," as were also those which the promised Paraclete was to "speak." The first verse of the Book of the Revelation furnishes a striking illustration of this truth. It runs thus: "The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show unto his servants, even the things which must shortly come to pass: and he [i.e. Jesus Christ] sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John." Of course, the verse refers to that disclosure of future events which forms the subject-matter of the particular book which it prefaces. Nevertheless, what is written here is no exceptional statement, but one . simply exemplary; it is true in this particular reference, just because it is true also with reference to the whole of that disclosure of spiritual facts which through the gospel is made known to the Church. By the revelation of Jesus Christ (δι ἀποκαλύψεως Ἰησοῦ Ξριστοῦ); through the revelation of Jesus Christ. This genitive clause, "of Jesus Christ," has by most interpreters been understood subjectively; that is, as denoting the subject or agent implied in the verbal noun "revelation;" in other words, they suppose St. Paul herein presents Jesus Christ as having revealed to him the gospel This does indeed appear to be the meaning of the phrase, "the revelation of Jesus Christ" in Revelation 1:1, just now referred to. Taken thus, the words put before us explicitly the agency of only Christ in the revelation spoken of, leaving the agency of God without specific reference. None the less, however, does even in this case the thought of God's agency naturally recur to our minds as implied in connection with the mention of Jesus Christ, even as in the first verse of the chapter where it is explicitly named therewith. But we have to observe that in every other passage in which the Apostle Paul uses a genitive with the noun "revelation" (ἀποκάλυψις), the genitive denotes the object which is revealed. These are Romans 2:5," Revelation of the righteous judgment of God;" 8:19, "Revelation of the seas of God;" 16:25, "Revelation of the mystery;" and the passages in which he designates our Lord's second coming as "his revelation;" 1 Corinthians 1:7; 2 Thessalonians 1:7; with which comp. 1 Peter 1:7, 13; 1 Peter 4:13. That in these five last passages the genitive is objective and not subjective, if it could otherwise be called in question, is indicated by the circumstance that in 1 Timothy 6:14, 15; where the apostle uses the word "appearing"(ἐπιφάνεια) instead of "revelation," he adds, "which in its own times he shall show who is the blessed and only Potentate," etc., manifestly meaning the Father. One other passage remains to be mentioned, namely, 2 Corinthians 12:1, "visions and revelations of the Lord," which many critics take as meaning "vouchsafed by the Lord," and which in consequence is commonly referred to in support of a similar interpretation of the passage now before us. But it may be questioned whether the apostle does not there denote by "visions" (ὀπτασίας) a somewhat different class of spiritual phenomena from those denoted by "revelations of the Lord;" by the former intending such visions as those, e.g. in which he seemed to himself to be transported into Paradise, or into the third heaven; and by the latter, appearances vouchsafed to him of the Lord Jesus in personal presence. These latter, it is true, might be also fitly styled" visions" (ὀπτάσιαι), as, in fact, the most important of them all is styled in the speech before Agrippa (Acts 26:19); whilst on the other hand, the former may be justly supposed to be included under the term "revelations," as employed presently after in ver. 7. But the addition, "of the Lord," has at least much more point, if we assume the above-stated discrimination to have been intended between the two classes of phenomena; if, indeed, it is not a quite superfluous adjunct on the other view; tot the "visions and revelations" referred to would be, of course, conceived of as coming from "the Lord," without the apostle's saying so. Instead of being available in support of the subjective view of the genitive before us, the passage 2 Corinthians 12:1 rather favours the other interpretation. And this interpretation of the words, "of Jesus Christ," as objective is favoured by the subsequent context. For comparing this twelfth verse with the five verses which follow, we observe that in this verse the apostle affirms that his gospel was not human in its character, because that he had not received it from man nor been taught it by man, but only "through the revelation of Jesus Christ." Then in the five verses which follow, to make this affirmation good, he states that up to the time of his conversion he had been wholly averse to the Christian doctrine and intensely devoted to Pharisean Judaism, and that when God, calling him by his grace, "revealed his Son in him that he might preach him among the Gentiles," he applied to no human being for mental direction, but kept himself aloof from even those who were apostles before him. Now, in setting the statement of ver. 12 over against the professedly illustrative statement which follows, we observe that "the revelation of Jesus Christ" in the former occupies precisely the same position in the line of thought which in the latter is held by "God's revealing his Son in him;" for the apostle attributes his possession of the truth of the gospel in the one to "the revelation of Jesus Christ," and in the other to God's revealing his Son in him, and in each case to nothing else. Surely it follows "that the revelation of Jesus Christ" which gives him the gospel in the one ease, is identical with "God's revealing his Son in him' which gives him the gospel in the other. Thus both the sense in which the genitive is ordinarily found when joined with the word "revelation," and the guidance of the context, concur in determining for the genitive in the present case the objective sense. This interpretation seems at first sight to labour under the inconvenience that, so construed, the sentence lacks the clearly expressed antithethon to the foregoing noun "man," which we might naturally expect to find. But in reality the required antithesis is quite distinctly though implicitly indicated in the very term "revelation; "for this essentially carries with it the notion of an agency not merely superhuman, but Divine. It would be an altogether contracted and indeed erroneous view of this "revelation" to suppose that it means no more than the manifestation to Saul's bodily senses of the personal presence and glory of Christ. Beyond question this was of itself sufficient to convince Saul of the truth that Jesus, though once crucified, was now both living and highly exalted in the supersensuous world, and by consequence to furnish the necessary basis for further discoveries of truth. But more was required than the mere bodily sight of the glorified Jesus. This might confound and crush down his antagonism, but would not of itself' impart converting and healing faith. Men might "see" and yet "not believe" (John 6:36). There was required also the true and just perception of the relation which this exalted Jesus bore to individual human souls, in particular to Saul's own soul; and further, of the relation which he bore to the dispensations of God as dealing with his people, and as dealing with mankind at large; - a perception of these things which would then only be true and just when accompanied with a duly appreciative, satisfying, adoring sense of the infinite excellency of what was thus disclosed to him, and of its perfect adaptation to the wants of man as sinful. In short, this "revelation" to Saul "of Jesus Christ" involved that spiritual transformation which, in 2 Corinthians 4:6, the apostle describes in the following words: "It is God, that said, Light shall shine out of darkness, who shined in our hearts, to give the light [or, illumination] of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." For in that passage, though in the form in which he clothes his thought he speaks as if conjoining others with himself, it appears almost certain that he is describing there, as further on in vers. 7-12, his own personal experiences (see beginning of note on ver. 8). and also that he is describing that first introduction into his own understanding and heart of the truths of the gospel, which qualified him thenceforward to fulfil his mission to proclaim it. This appears confessedly to have been in a very marked degree a miracle - a moral and spiritual miracle. In truth, the new birth of a human s y accounted for by these or those conditions of his foregoing psychological history. These last may have prepared a favourable field of development; but he knew for a surety that the product itself was no natural offspring of any spontaneous operations of his own mind. The very phrase in the verse before us, "the revelation of Jesus Christ," as well as the comparison which in 2 Corinthians 4:6 he draws between his spiritual transformation and the supernatural operation of the Almighty's fiat, "Let there be light," plainly shows that he would have refused to allow the cause discoverable anywhere else save in the unexplainable operations of sovereign, almighty grace. And in all prudence we should be content to be herein not wiser than he.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For I neither received it of man,.... Not from Gamaliel, at whose feet he was brought up; he received the law from him, and knowledge in the Jews' religion, and in the traditions of the elders, but not a whit of the Gospel; on the contrary, he received prejudices against it from him, or was strengthened in them by him; no, nor from the apostles of Christ neither, whom he saw not, had no conversation with for some years, after he was a preacher of the Gospel, and therefore did not receive it at their hands; no, nor from Ananias, nor any other man:
neither was I taught it: that is, by man; he did not learn it of men, as men learn law, physics, logic, rhetoric, natural philosophy, and other things at school:
but by the revelation of Jesus Christ; meaning, not through Christ being revealed to him by the Father, as in Galatians 1:16 though it is a sense not to be overlooked; but by Christ, the revealer of it to him; and regards either the time of his rapture into the third heaven, when he heard words not to be uttered; or rather since that is not so certain when it was, the time of his conversion, when Christ personally appeared unto him, and made him a minister of his Gospel; and immediately from himself, without the interposition, or use of any man, or means, gave him such light into it, and such a furniture of mind for the preaching of it, that he directly, as soon as ever he was baptized, set about the ministration of it, to the admiration of the saints, and confusion of the enemies of Christ. These words furnish out another proof of the deity of Christ; for if the Gospel is not after man, nor received of, or taught by man, but by Christ, then Christ cannot be a mere man, or else being by him, it would be by man; and which also confirms the authority and validity of the Gospel, and carries in it a strong reason for the apostle's anathematizing all such as preach any other.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
12. Translate, "For not even did I myself (any more than the other apostles) receive it from man, nor was I taught it (by man)." "Received it," implies the absence of labor in acquiring it. "Taught it," implies the labor of learning.
by the revelation of Jesus Christ—Translate, "by revelation of [that is, from] Jesus Christ." By His revealing it to me. Probably this took place during the three years, in part of which he sojourned in Arabia (Ga 1:17, 18), in the vicinity of the scene of the giving of the law; a fit place for such a revelation of the Gospel of grace, which supersedes the ceremonial law (Ga 4:25). He, like other Pharisees who embraced Christianity, did not at first recognize its independence of the Mosaic law, but combined both together. Ananias, his first instructor, was universally esteemed for his legal piety and so was not likely to have taught him to sever Christianity from the law. This severance was partially recognized after the martyrdom of Stephen. But Paul received it by special revelation (1Co 11:23; 15:3; 1Th 4:15). A vision of the Lord Jesus is mentioned (Ac 22:18), at his first visit to Jerusalem (Ga 1:18); but this seems to have been subsequent to the revelation here meant (compare Ga 1:15-18), and to have been confined to giving a particular command. The vision "fourteen years before" (2Co 12:1) was in A.D. 43, still later, six years after his conversion. Thus Paul is an independent witness to the Gospel. Though he had received no instruction from the apostles, but from the Holy Ghost, yet when he met them his Gospel exactly agreed with theirs.
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