|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:15-24 St. Paul was wonderfully brought to the knowledge and faith of Christ. All who are savingly converted, are called by the grace of God; their conversion is wrought by his power and grace working in them. It will but little avail us to have Christ revealed to us, if he is not also revealed in us. He instantly prepared to obey, without hesitating as to his worldly interest, credit, ease, or life itself. And what matter of thanksgiving and joy is it to the churches of Christ, when they hear of such instances to the praise of the glory of his grace, whether they have ever seen them or not! They glorify God for his power and mercy in saving such persons, and for all the service to his people and cause that is done, and may be further expected from them.
Verse 16. - To reveal his Son in me (ἀποκαλύψαι τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ ἐν ἐμοί). The rendering "in me," i.e. "in my soul," or, in the idiom of the New Testament, "in my heart," is quite borne out by the use of the same preposition in numerous passages; e.q. John 2:25, "Knew what was in man;" John 4:14," Shall become in him a well;" Colossians 1:27, "Christ in you the Hope of glory;" Romans 7:17, 20, "Sin which dwelleth in me;" Romans 8:9," The Spirit of God dwelleth in you;" Romans 8:10, "Christ in you;" Philippians 2:13, "God which worketh in you" (comp. also Ephesians 3:20; Colossians 1:29). Chrysostom writes, "But why does he say, 'To reveal his Son in me,' and not 'to me'? It is to signify that he had not only been instructed in the faith by words, but that he was richly endowed with the Spirit; that the revelation had enlightened his whole soul, and that he had Christ speaking, within him" ('Comment in Galatians'). This exposition tallies remarkably with the description which the apostle in 2 Corinthians 4:6 gives of the process by which he had received the "treasure" of the gospel: "Seeing 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." The "veil" which, while he was yet in Judaism, "had been upon his heart," was taken away; "with face unveiled" he was enabled to "behold, as in a mirror, the glory of the Lord" (2 Corinthians 3:15-18). This account of his spiritual illumination, written near about the same time as the passage before us, shows the manner in which at that time the transaction presented itself to his mind. This revelation of God's Son to him involved, we may feel certain, the revelation of him in the relations which, as the once crucified and now exalted Christ, he bears to all mankind, Gentiles as well as Jews, and in the relations which he bears to his Church. "Christ Jesus" was then (to use the apostle's words in 1 Corinthians 1:30) "made unto him Wisdom from God, both Righteousness and Sanctification and Redemption;" and what Christ was then of God made to be to Paul himself, that also, as the joyful recipient of the revelation at the same time learnt, Christ was through the recipient's own preaching of the Word to be of God made to all who should receive his rues. sage. The view cf. the passage above given is required by the tenor of the context. If it is not admitted, there is nothing in the whole passage to make good the apostle's affirmation, in ver. 12, that he had received the gospel, not from man, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. If after the analogy of such passages as 1 Timothy 1:16, "That in me as chief might Jesus Christ show forth all his long-suffering;" Romans 9:17, "That I might show in thee my power;" 1 Corinthians 4:6, "That in us ye might learn;" - we were to take the present clause to mean "To reveal to men the wonderful grace of his Son by what he did in my case," the words would merely point to Christ's mercy shown to him as a sinner; they would supply no statement of the fact of the apostle's having been furnished with the knowledge necessary in order that he might show the glad tidings of him among the Gentiles. In other words, the clause would neither satisfy the requirement of ver. 12 nor that of the dependent clause which follows. If, again, after the analogy of the words, "Ye seek a proof of Christ that speaketh in me," in 2 Corinthians 13:3, taking this to mean "Christ that speaketh by me;" or if the words in Acts 17:31, "he will judge the world in righteousness by [Greek, 'in'] the Man whom he hath ordained," we propose to understand the meaning to be "Reveal his Son by me," i.e. by my preaching, we are met by the objection that the clause would anticipate the thought expressed by the following words: "That I might show the glad tidings of him among the Gentiles," which, however, stand as expressing their dependent consequence. Here the important question arises how the reference which the apostle here makes to the revelation of Jesus Christ made "in him" stands related to the accounts repeatedly given in the Acts of the personal sight of the Lord Jesus accorded to him at his conversion - accounts which are confirmed in the Epistles by the apostle's own words in 1 Corinthians 9:1, "Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord?" To harmonize the two, some have been led to do violence to the phrase, "reveal in me," so as to make it in some way or ether to mean "reveal to me," and thus render it possible to make the words refer to that personal manifestation made to Soul's bodily senses. Others have had recourse to the yet more violent and indeed utterly destructive expedient of inferring from this phrase that the revelation of Christ made to the apostle at his conversion was altogether and exclusively spiritual; and that the spiritual sight of our Lord had been so realizing and vivid as to have been even mistaken by the apostle himself for a manifestation actually made to his senses. We are relieved of the necessity of adopting either of these methods of criticism by the consideration that, in the course of the argument which the apostle is now pursuing, there is nothing to lead him to speak at all of the outward circumstances accompanying his conversion. All that he now has occasion to refer to is the fact that at that time God Almighty did himself give to his soul so clear a view of his Son as qualified him at once to preach the gospel to the Gentiles; so clear that, not needing further illumination, he had in fact sought none of any mortal man. This is all that the line of argument requires the apostle now to refer to. A reference to the actual personal sight which he then had of the Lord Jesus would in no way have served his purpose. Such reference would not have even involved by inference, much less have definitely slated, the point which he now is concerned to state. This point is, plainly, the communication to his soul of the full knowledge of the gospel, and nothing else; and accordingly it is this alone that he now makes mention cf. It has been questioned at what precise juncture in the narrative of the ninth chapter of the Acts the revelation here spoken of should be supposed to have taken place. Our Lord's personal manifestation of himself to Saul on his road to Damascus, involving as it did the complete instantaneous overthrow of all his previous views, relative alike to "Jesus of Nazareth" and to the idea of the expel, ted "Messiah," must have been an all-important preparation for that full disclosure of the truth to his soul which is here indicated; but there is no sufficient reason for identifying the one with the other. The history of the Acts (Acts 22:18) and the Epistles (l Corinthians 11:23; 2 Corinthians 12:1, 8) make mention of several occasions on which our Lord appears to have shown himself to St. Paul and made important communications to him; and the incidental manner in which these have come to be mentioned suggests the belief that they may have been only a few out of many similar instances, others of which have lain unmentioned. There may very supposably have been such taking place (we will say) presently after Saul's baptism, and pointed forward to by our Lord in his words to Ananias," I will show him how many things he must suffer for my Name's sake" (Acts 9:16). It is very possible that we do not commonly bear enough in mind how little, in fact, it is that the record tells us of this most interesting event; and, in particular, that we do not adequately realize the frequency and the intimate character of the communications to which this "choice instrument (σκεῦος ἐκλογῆς)" of Divine teaching would seem to have been admitted by his Master. And who (we may further ask) may venture to determine what part the Lord Jesus took personally, that is, by personal intercourse, in the process of illumination of which the apostle here declares himself to have been the subject, or how much of it was effected by the agency of the Third Person of the holy Trinity, cooperating with the intense action of Saul's own earnest, questioning, light-imploring mind, especially during those three days spokes of in Acts 9:9? "For, behold, he prayeth!" (Acts 9:11, 12). It seems only reasonable to believe that the revelation of his Son which (the apostle says) God vouchsafed to him, preceded his very first public appearance in the synagogues of Damascus as an evangelist, and that this revelation was not deferred, as some imagine it was, until after his withdrawal into Arabia. Indeed, that it did precede it appears to be conclusively established by the statement of the verse now before us and the next following; for the course of action described by the writer, both negatively and affirmatively, in the words beginning with, "I consulted not," is represented as ensuing "immediately" upon the "revelation in him of God's son." That the locality where this revelation was made was Damascus or its vicinity is indicated by the words, "I returned to Damascus," in ver. 17. This circumstance betokens the consciousness in the writer's mind that the story of his conversion was not unknown to his readers. That I might preach him among the heathen (ἵνα εὐαγγελίζωμαι αὐτὸν ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν); that I might show the glad tidings of him among the Gentiles. In this instance, as well as perhaps in some others, the Authorized Version falls somewhat short of representing the exact force of the verb εὐαγγελίζεσθαι by rendering it "preach," which more nearly answers to κηρύσσω. In Luke 8:1, where in the Greek we have the two verbs together (κηρύσσωυ καὶ εὐαγγελιζόμενος), our translators were compelled to use another term; and accordingly they render ἐυαγγελαζόμενος, "showing [Revised Version, 'bringing'] the glad tidings of [the kingdom of God];" which shade of thought was what the evangelist intended to suggest. The verb surely always retains some tinge of its original element of "glad tidings," though this may often have been more or less attenuated, as in the case of the word εὐαγγέλιον, gospel, itself, by its becoming a set term. In the present instance, the apostle's posture of feeling at the time when the "joyful tidings" were first brought home to his own heart seems to suggest a return, at least here, to the original import of the word. The present tense of the Greek verb (εὐαγγελίζωμαι) points to the continuous character of the service; as if it were," That I should be a shower-forth of the glad tidings." The aorist would have recited the entire service as one whole. "Among the Gentiles." Dean Howson very justly observes, "We should mark how emphatic in all accounts of the conversion is the reference to his work among the Gentiles. Thus, 'The Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes and to turn them from darkness to light,' are named by Christ himself in the first communication from heaven (Acts 26:17, 18). To Ananias the direction is given, 'Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my Name before the Gentiles [and kings, and the children of Israel].'... To which we may properly add what was said to him at Jerusalem, when he first went thither from Damascus, 'Depart; for I will send thee far off to the Gentiles' (Acts 22:21) ('Speaker's Commentary,' in loc.). Immediately (εὐθέως). The construction of the sentence imperatively requires us to connect this adverb with the two affirmative clauses which the writer adds to the two negative ones which he first interposes, and not with these two negative clauses alone, while, however, its import is felt to attach itself to these also. The turn of thought seems to be this: "I felt at once that I needed not to advise with any mortal man; no, not even with the older apostles; and accordingly I abstained from doing so; I immediately went away into Arabia, and then forthwith came back to Damascus." I conferred not (οὐ προσανεθέμην); I consulted not. The use of the Greek verb constructed with a dative as meaning "advise with," "seek counsel in personal intercourse with," is well illustrated by several passages cited by the critics: Diod. Sic., 17:116, "Consulting the soothsayers con-coming the sign;" Lucian, 'Jup. Trag.,' § 1, "Consult with me; take me as your adviser in business;" Chrysippus (ap. in Suidas, sub verb. νεοττός), "Consulting a dream-interpreter." Bengel takes the preposition πρὸς in the compound verb as meaning "further, i.e. the Divine revelation was enough for me." But the instances just cited of the use of the verb render this doubtful. On this point, see Ellicott's 'Commentary,' in loc. In Galatians 2:6 the verb requires to be taken differently (see note). With flesh and blood (σαρκὶ καὶ αἵματι). The phrase, "flesh and blood," occurs in four other places in the New Testament:
(1) 1 Corinthians 15:50 "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, neither doth corruption inherit incorruption;"
(2) Hebrews 2:14, "Since the children are sharers in flesh and blood [the Revised Greek text reads 'blood and flesh '], he also himself in like manner partook of the same;"
(3) Ephesians 6:12, "Our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against... the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places;"
(4) Matthew 16:17, "Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven." In the first two of these passages the phrase denotes the bodily nature of men viewed as subject to mortality; which is the turn of thought also in Ecclus. 14:18, where the human race is styled a "generation of flesh and blood." In the other two it denotes human beings themselves, described by their material nature, but with reference to their comparative inefficiency as viewed alongside, in
(3) with purely spiritual agents; in
(4) with God. In precisely the same way as in the last-cited passage, the apostle uses the phrase here. Knowing that God had himself revealed in him his Son, in order that he should proclaim him among the Gentiles, he at that crisis of action felt any reference for teaching or practical direction to mere men to be in his case altogether unnecessary. As the next clause specifies the older apostles, who are mentioned as being at that time at Jerusalem, it may be that the phrase, "flesh and blood," in its most immediate scope, contemplates believers or elders (for probably there already were Christian elders there) of Damascus. Ananias is the only Damascene believer named in the history, though it speaks of others (Acts 9:19); he was a man of remarkably high estimation even amongst the unbelieving Jews (Acts 22:12), and he had been honoured by Christ with a special vision, and sent by Christ on a special mission to Saul. If Saul had felt it to be incumbent upon him to advise with any servant of Christ, whether as to what he should believe or as to what he should do, surely to Ananias he would naturally have looked. But not even to an Ananias would Saul refer for guidance at this juncture. The sense which has frequently been given, to the phrase," flesh and blood," as meaning "the dictates of one's own fleshly nature," is neither favoured by its use in any other passage (although "the flesh," standing alone, might have admitted of such an interpretation), nor is it in any way suggested by the tenor of the context. The apostle is here dealing solely with his relations to other men.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
To reveal his Son in me,.... This clause stands in connection with that in the preceding verse, "but when it pleased God"; the revelation of Christ in the apostle being the mere fruit and effect of God's will and pleasure: some versions read it "by me", making the apostle to be the instrument and means, by whom God revealed his Son Jesus Christ to others, which is a certain truth, but this is rather contained in the following clause: others read it "to me", and which also is true; for Christ was revealed to him in the glory of his person, the fulness of his grace, the necessity, suitableness, and completeness of his salvation; not objectively in the Gospel, or merely notionally, speculatively in the theory of things, but spiritually, experimentally, and savingly; and which is better expressed, and nearer the original, by "in him"; for he had an internal discovery of him as God's salvation, and of his interest in him as such; Christ was formed in him, his Spirit was put within him, his grace was implanted in him; he lived and dwelt in his heart by faith, as the Son in his own house; he was known unto him, as Christ in him the hope of glory: now the end of all this, of his separation from mother's womb, of his call by the grace of God, of the large revelation of Christ to him, and in him was,
that, says he,
I might preach him among the Heathen; as he did: Christ was the subject of his ministry; the things respecting his person, as that he was very God, the Son of God, God and man in one person the things respecting his office, as that he is the only Mediator between God and man, the prophet of the church, the high priest over the house of God, and King of saints; the doctrines of his grace, and which concern his obedience, sufferings, and death; as that peace and pardon are by his blood, justification by his righteousness, reconciliation and satisfaction by his sacrifice, and eternal life and complete salvation alone by him; all which is evangelizing, or preaching good news and glad tidings to sensible sinners: the persons to whom he was to preach these things, and did, were "the Heathen", or Gentiles; he was a chosen vessel for this purpose; Christ, when he called him, sent him to them; the work he was to do, and did, lay chiefly among them; hence he is called an apostle, and teacher of them:
immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood; which some understand of carnal reason, and that he did not stand reasoning and debating the matter with himself, whether it would be for his credit and reputation, for his worldly interest and advantage, to enter upon the ministry of the word; whether it would be advisable to expose himself, by so doing, to reproach and persecution; but immediately, as soon as he was called by grace, and Christ was revealed in him, he set about it: others, by "flesh and blood", understand carnal men; and others his countrymen the Jews, and those of them that were his relations, his own flesh; but rather men in general are intended, any whatever, and especially the apostles; whom, he afterwards says, he had no conversation with, upon his first setting out in the ministry. It is usual with the Jews to call men, in distinction and opposition to God, , "flesh and blood". Infinite almost are the examples that might be given thereof out of their writings. See Gill on Matthew 16:17. See Gill on Ephesians 6:12.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
16. reveal his Son in me—within me, in my inmost soul, by the Holy Spirit (Ga 2:20). Compare 2Co 4:6, "shined in our hearts." The revealing of His Son by me to the Gentiles (so translate for "heathen") was impossible, unless He had first revealed His Son in me; at first on my conversion, but especially at the subsequent revelation from Jesus Christ (Ga 1:12), whereby I learned the Gospel's independence of the Mosaic law.
that I might preach—the present in the Greek, which includes the idea "that I may preach Him," implying an office still continuing. This was the main commission entrusted to him (Ga 2:7, 9).
immediately—connected chiefly with "I went into Arabia" (Ga 1:17). It denotes the sudden fitness of the apostle. So Ac 9:20, "Straightway he preached Christ in the synagogue."
I conferred not—Greek, "I had not further (namely, in addition to revelation) recourse to … for the purpose of consulting." The divine revelation was sufficient for me [Bengel].
flesh and blood—(Mt 16:17).
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