Galatians 1:15
But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(15) In pursuance of his main argument, the Apostle lays stress upon the fact that his very conversion and mission to the Gentiles had been first predestinated in the divine counsels, and afterwards carried out through divine interposition: it was throughout the work of God, and not of man.

Pleased.—The word specially used of the free will and pleasure of God, determined absolutely by itself, and by no external cause.

God.—The word should be printed in italics. It is wanting in the true text, but is left to be supplied by the reader.

Separated me.—Set me apart, marked me off from the rest of mankind, for this special object (i.e., the Apostleship of the Gentiles). (Comp. Romans 1:1, and Note there.)

From my mother’s womb.—A comparison of other passages where this phrase is used seems to make it clear that the sense is rather “from the moment of my birth” than “from before my birth.” (See Psalm 22:10; Isaiah 49:1; Isaiah 49:5; Matthew 19:12; Acts 3:2; Acts 14:8.) From the moment that he became a living and conscious human being he was marked out in the purpose of God for his future mission.

Called me.—The call is identical with the conversion of the Apostle through the vision which appeared to him on the way to Damascus. As the Apostle was conscious of having done nothing to deserve so great a mark of the divine favour, it is set down entirely to an act of grace.

Galatians 1:15-17. When it pleased God — He ascribes nothing to his own merits, endeavours, or sincerity; who separated me from my mother’s womb — Set me apart for an apostle, as he did Jeremiah for a prophet, (Jeremiah 1:5,) and ordered my education with a view to that office. Such an unconditional predestination as this may consist both with God’s justice and mercy. And called me by his grace — By his free and almighty love, to be both a Christian and an apostle; to reveal his Son in me — By the powerful operation of his Spirit, (2 Corinthians 4:6,) as well as to me by the heavenly vision; that I might preach him among the heathen — Which I should have been ill qualified to do, or even to preach him to mine own countrymen, had I not first known him myself; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood — Being fully satisfied concerning the divine will, and determined to obey it, I took no counsel with any man, neither with my own reason or inclination, which might have raised numberless objections; but laid aside the consideration of all carnal respects and interests whatsoever. Neither went I up to Jerusalem — The residence of the apostles, to be instructed by, and receive commission from them. But I went into Arabia — Where there were few Christians, and none of them of any note. This course, we may believe, the apostle took by the direction of Christ, who sent him into that country, to instruct him in the duties of his office, and in the doctrines of the gospel, by immediate revelation. The truth is, now that the Lord Jesus was gone to heaven, this was the only proper method of training an apostle. For if the ministry of men had been used in instructing Saul, he would have been considered as an apostle of men, and on that account might have been reckoned inferior to the other apostles, who were all instructed by Christ himself. In Arabia, therefore, Saul continued more than two years; and during all that time, it is probable, employed himself in studying the Jewish Scriptures more carefully than ever, by the help of the new light which had been bestowed on him; in searching into the true nature of the law of Moses, and in attending to such revelations as Christ was pleased to make to him. And, by these revelations, he acquired a complete knowledge of all Christ’s doctrines, sayings, miracles, sufferings, resurrection, and ascension, and of the design both of the law and of the gospel, and of the confirmation which the gospel derives from the writings of Moses and the prophets. Luke, in his history of the Acts, takes no notice of this journey of the apostle into Arabia; but, from the manner in which it is mentioned here, it seems probable that the apostle went into Arabia almost immediately after he recovered his sight and strength, which had been impaired by the bright light with which Christ was surrounded when he appeared to him, and by the terror into which he was cast by that miraculous appearance; staying, however, at Damascus, as we may infer from Acts 9:19, certain days, after he had recovered his sight, during which he preached Christ in the synagogues. From Arabia he returned again unto Damascus — Where he boldly declared the necessity of believing in Christ, in order to salvation, even in the presence of those Jews whom he knew to be strongly prejudiced against that important doctrine, increasing, in the mean time, in strength, as is mentioned Acts 9:22, confounding the Jews, and proving Jesus to be the very Christ.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.But when it pleased God - Paul traced all his hopes of eternal life, and all the good influences which had ever borne upon his mind, to God.

Who separated me ... - That is, who destined me; or who purposed from my very birth that I should be a preacher and an apostle. The meaning is, that God had in his secret purposes set him apart to be an apostle. It does not mean that he had actually called him in his infancy to the work, for this was not so, but that he designed him to be an important instrument in his hands in spreading the true religion. Jeremiah Jer 1:5 was thus set apart, and John the Baptist was thus early designated for the work which they afterward performed. It follows from this:

(1) That God often, if not always, has purposes in regard to people from their very birth. He designs them for some important field of labor, and endows them at their creation with talents adapted to that.

(2) it does not follow that because a young man has gone far astray; and has become even a blasphemer and a persecutor, that God has not destined him to some important and holy work in his service. How many people have been called, like Paul, and Newton, and Bunyan, and Augustine, from a life of sin to the service of God.

(3) God is often training up people in a remarkable manner for future usefulness. His eye is upon them, and He watches over them, until the time comes for their conversion. His providence was concerned in the education and training of Paul. It was by the divine intention with reference to his future work that he had so many opportunities of education, and was so well acquainted with the "traditions" of that religion which he was yet to demonstrate to be unfounded and false. He gave him the opportunity to cultivate his mind, and prepare to grapple with the Jew in argument, and show him how unfounded were his hopes. So it is often now. He gives to a young man an opportunity of a finished education. Perhaps he suffers him to fall into the snares of infidelity, and to become familiar with the arguments of sceptics, that he may thus be better prepared to meet their sophisms and to enter into their feelings. God's eye is upon them in their wanderings, and they are often allowed to wander far; to range the fields of science; to become distinguished as scholars, as Paul was; until the time comes for their conversion, and then, in accordance with the purpose which set them apart from the world, God converts them, and consecrates all their talents and attainments to His service.

(4) we should never despair of a young man who has wandered far from God. If he has risen high in attainments; if his whole aim is ambition; or if he has become an infidel, still we are not to despair of him. It is still possible that God "separated" that talent to his service from his very birth, and that God still means to call it all to His service. How easy it was to convert Saul of Tarsus when the proper period arrived. So it is of the now unconverted and unconsecrated, but cultivated talent among the young men of our land. Far as they may have wandered from God and virtue, yet much of that talent has been devoted to Him in baptism, and by parental purposes and prayers; and, it may be - as is morally certain from the history of the past - that much of it is consecrated also by the divine purpose and intention for the noble cause of virtue and pure religion. In that now apparently wasted talent; in that learning now apparently devoted to other aims and ends, there is much that may still adorn the cause of virtue and religion; and how fervently we should pray that it may be "called" by the grace of God and actually devoted to His service.

And called me by his grace - On the way to Damascus. It was special grace, because he was then engaged in bitterly opposing Him and His cause.

15. separated—"set me apart": in the purposes of His electing love (compare Ac 9:15; 22:14), in order to show in me His "pleasure," which is the farthest point that any can reach in inquiring the causes of his salvation. The actual "separating" or "setting apart" to the work marked out for him, is mentioned in Ac 13:2; Ro 1:1. There is an allusion, perhaps, in the way of contrast, to the derivation of Pharisee from Hebrew, "pharash," "separated." I was once a so-called Pharisee or Separatist, but God had separated me to something far better.

from … womb—Thus merit in me was out of the question, in assigning causes for His call from Ac 9:11. Grace is the sole cause (Ps 22:9; 71:6; Isa 49:1, 5; Jer 1:5; Lu 1:15).

called me—on the way to Damascus (Ac 9:3-8).

Here are two acts predicated of God, with relation to Paul: the first is a separating of him from the womb; the same was said of two of the great prophets, Isaiah and Jeremiah, Isaiah 49:1 Jeremiah 1:5. The apostle here is not speaking of God’s decree, predestinating him to eternal life, but of his determining him to the work of an apostle. God predetermineth men to the stations they shall take up in the world; especially such who are to take up stations wherein they are to be eminently useful and serviceable to him. The second act predicated of God is his calling of Paul: this is an act in time, and lieth much in the preparing of persons for the work allotted to them, and in inclining the heart to it. Thus God called Paul, fitting him for the work of the ministry, and inclining him to it; to which he added his immediate command from heaven, that he should go and preach the gospel. Both these acts of God are ascribed to his good pleasure and grace, nothing but his mere free love and favour moving him, either to separate, or to call Paul to this high and great employment. But when it pleased God,.... Here begins his account of his conversion, and call to the ministry; all which he ascribes entirely to the sovereign good pleasure, and free grace of God:

who separated me from my mother's womb. By his "mother" is meant, not in an improper and figurative sense, the Jewish church, or the old synagogue, the mother of all its members; the Jerusalem which then was, and was in bondage with her children; from which bondage, blindness, ignorance, superstition and bigotry, he was delivered, when called by grace: nor the church at Antioch, which is never called a mother church; and though he was by that church, with Barnabas, separated for the work of the ministry, yet not from it: but by his "mother", without a figure is meant, his real natural mother, whose name is said to be Theocrita; and this separation from her womb is to be understood either of that distinction made of him in Providence, as soon as born; which not only took him, and safely brought him out of his mother's womb, but ever since took special care of him, and saved and preserved him to be called; for all the chosen vessels of salvation are distinguished from others, in a providential way; they are more under the special care of Providence than others are, even whilst in a state of unregeneracy; God's eye of Providence is upon them, his heart is towards them, he waits upon them to be gracious to them, and many are the remarkable appearances of Providence for them; see Psalm 22:9. Or rather this designs divine predestination, which is a separation, a setting apart of persons, for such and such purposes, as here of the apostle; and the eternity of it, it being very early done, from his mother's womb; whilst he was in it, before he was born, and had done either good or evil; from the beginning of time, from the foundation of the world, and before it, even from eternity: all which phrases express the same thing, and intend either his predestination to grace and glory, to holiness and happiness, to sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth, and to the obtaining the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ; or his predestination to apostleship, to the work of the ministry, to the Gospel of Christ, to which he was separated in eternity, and in time; reference seems to be had to Jeremiah 1:5 or indeed both, and his separation or predestination to both was owing to the sovereign will and good pleasure of God, as was also his after call:

and called me by his grace; which follows upon separation, as it does on predestination, in Romans 8:30 and is to be interpreted either of his call at conversion, by powerful and efficacious grace; when he was called out of Jewish darkness, blindness, and ignorance, into Gospel light and knowledge; out of the bondage of sin, Satan, the law, and traditions of the fathers, into the liberty of Christ; from conversation with the men of the world, among whom before he had it, into the fellowship of Father, Son, and Spirit, angels and saints; out of himself, and off of a dependence on his own righteousness, to trust in Christ: in a word, he was called into the grace of Christ here, into a participation of all the blessings of grace, and to eternal glory by him hereafter; which call was not of men, but of God, as the efficient cause of it; and by his grace, as the moving and procuring cause of it, and without the use of means, the word, which is the ordinary way in which God calls his people; so that it is plain his first light into the Gospel, was not of man, nor so much as by the means of man: or this call may respect his call to the ministry, which was at the same time he was effectually called by grace; and which also was not of man, nor of himself; he did not thrust himself into this work, but God called him; and that of his mere grace and good will, without any respect to any merits, deserts, or qualifications in him.

But when it pleased God, who {l} separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace,

(l) He speaks of God's everlasting predestination, by which he appointed him to be an apostle, of which he makes three distinctions: the everlasting council of God, his appointing from his mother's womb, and his calling. And we see that there is no mention at all of foreseen works.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Galatians 1:15. But when it pleased, etc. Comp. Luke 12:32; 1 Corinthians 1:21; Romans 15:26; Colossians 1:19; 1 Thessalonians 2:8; 1 Thessalonians 3:1. It denotes, of course, the free placuit of the divine decree, but is here conceived as an act in time, which is immediately followed by the execution of it, not as from eternity (Beza).

ὁ ἀφορίσας με ἐκ κοιλίας μητρός μου] who separated me, that is, in His counsel set me apart from other men for a special destination, from my mother’s womb; that is, not in the womb (Wieseler); nor, from the time when I was in the womb (Hofmann, comp. Möller); nor, ere I was born (Rückert); but, as soon as I had issued from the womb, from my birth. Comp. Psalm 22:11; Isaiah 44:2; Isaiah 49:1; Isaiah 49:5; Matthew 19:12; Acts 3:2; Acts 14:8 (in Luke 1:15, where ἔτι is added, the thought is different). ἐκ γενετῆς, John 9:1, has the same meaning. Comp. the Greek ἐκ γαστρός, and the like. We must not assume a reference to Jeremiah 1:5 (Grotius, Semler, Reithmayr, and others), for in that passage there is an essentially different definition of time (πρὸ τοῦ με πλάσαι σε ἐν κοιλίᾳ κ.τ.λ.). We may add, that this designation of God completely corresponds with Paul’s representation of his apostolic independence of men. What it was, to which God had separated him from his birth and had called him (at Damascus), is of course evident in itself and from Galatians 1:1; but it also results from the sequel (Galatians 1:16). It was the apostleship, which he recognised as a special proof of free and undeserved divine grace (Romans 1:4; Romans 12:3; Romans 15:15; 1 Corinthians 15:10); hence here also he adds διὰ τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ.[28] Rückert is wrong in asserting that καλέσας cannot refer here to the call at Damascus, but can only denote the calling to salvation and the apostleship in the Divine mind. In favour of this view he adduces the aorist, which represents the κλῆσις as previous to the εὐδόκησεν ἀποκαλύψαι, and also the connection of καλέσας with ἀφορίσας by means of καί. Both arguments are based upon the erroneous idea that the revelation of the gospel was coincident with the calling of the apostle. But Paul was first called at Damascus by the miraculous appearance of Christ, which laid hold of him without any detailed instruction (Php 3:12), and thereafter, through the apocalyptic operation of God, the Son of God was revealed in him: the κλῆσις at Damascus preceded this ἀποκάλυψις;[29] the former called him to the service, the latter furnished him with the contents, of the gospel. Comp. on Galatians 1:12. Moreover, the ΚΛΉΣΙς is never an act in the Divine mind, but always an historical fact (Romans 8:30). This also militates against Hofmann, who makes ἘΚ ΚΟΙΛΊΑς ΜΗΤΡΌς ΜΟΥ belong to ΚΑΛΈΣΑς as well—a connection excluded by the very position of the words. And what a strange definition of the idea conveyed by ΚΑΛΕῖΝ, and how completely foreign to the N.T., is the view of Hofmann, who makes it designate “an act executed in the course of the formation of this man”! Moreover, our passage undoubtedly implies that by the calling and revelation here spoken of the consciousness of apostleship—and apostleship in reference to the heathen—was divinely produced in Paul, and became clear and certain. This, however, does not exclude, but is, on the contrary, a divine preparation for, the fuller development of this consciousness in its more definite aspects by means of experience and the further guidance of Christ and His Spirit.

[28] For διὰ τ. χάρ. αὐτοῦ belongs to καλέσας as a modal definition of it, and not to ἀποκαλύψαι, as Hofmann, disregarding the symmetrically similar construction of the two participial statements, groundlessly asserts. Paul knew himself to be κλητὸς ἀπόστολος διὰ θελήματος Θεοῦ (1 Corinthians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:1), and he knew that this θέλημα was that of the divine grace, 1 Corinthians 15:10; 1 Corinthians 3:10; Galatians 2:9; Romans 1:5; Romans 12:3.

[29] Hence also ἐν ἐμοί by no means diminishes the importance of the external phenomenon at Damascus (as Baur and others contend).Galatians 1:15. ἀφορίσας. Paul looks back on his parentage and early years as a providential preparation for his future ministry: this view is justified by his antecedents. By birth at once a Hebrew, a Greek and Roman citizen, educated in the Hebrew Scriptures and in Greek learning, he combined in his own person the most essential requisites for an Apostle to the Gentiles. He was further moulded by the spiritual discipline of an intense, though mistaken, zeal for the Law of his God, which issued in bitter remorse. By this career he was fitted to become a chosen vessel to bear the name of Christ before the Gentile world. He did not hesitate accordingly to regard himself, like Hebrew prophets of old (Isaiah 49:1; Isaiah 49:5, Jeremiah 1:5), as dedicated from his birth to the service of God.15. it pleased God] The commentary of Theodore of Mopsuestia on this expression is apt. “St Paul well refers it to the Divine foreknowledge, so that before he himself had any being, this should appear the good pleasure of God concerning him; and that so his preaching might be regarded as far enough removed from novelty or human invention.” In personal religion no less than in doctrinal theology we must humbly recognise this good pleasure of God as the source of every blessing which the Gospel conveys to us.

separated me … womb] ‘Set me apart from my birth,’ comp. Jeremiah 1:5. The good pleasure was from all eternity, the setting apart was at birth, the call was on the road to Damascus, the revelation, then and subsequently.

by his grace] Comp. Art. xvii., “They be called according to God’s purpose by His Spirit working in due season; they through grace obey the calling.”

15, 16. But a wondrous change was effected in me. ‘Old things had passed away. Behold, they had become new.’ The source of this change was the purpose of God; the means, His effectual calling: the end, that St Paul might preach Christ to the Gentiles.Galatians 1:15. Εὐδόκησεν, it pleased) The good pleasure of God is the farthest point which a man can reach, when he is inquiring with respect to the causes of his salvation. Paul attributes nothing to merit; presently he adds, from the womb; comp. Romans 9:11.—ὁ ἀφορίσας, who separated me) that he might show to me this good pleasure.—ἐκ κοιλίας μητρός μου, from my mother’s womb) Jeremiah 1:5.Verse 15. - But when it pleased God (ὅτε δὲ αὐδόκησεν ὁ Θεός); and when it was the good pleasure of God. The Authorized Version and the Revised Version have "but when." To determine the exact force here of the conjunction δέ, we must consider how the sentence it introduces stands related to what precedes. The main underlying thought of vers. 13, 14 was that the habit of the apostle's mind before his conversion was such as wholly to preclude the notion of his having known the gospel up to that hour. The main thought pervading vers. 15-17, and indeed pursued to the end of the chapter, is that, after he had received from God himself the knowledge of the gospel, he had had no occasion to have recourse to any mortal man, apostle or other, for the purpose of further instruction therein. It follows that the conjunction connecting the two sentences is not adversative, as it would, of course, be taken if God's dealings with him, described in vers. 15, 16, were the main point of this new paragraph, but is simply the sign of the writer's passing on to another thought - not one contrasted with the preceding, but merely additional. As examples of the use of δὲ as continuative and not adversative, comp. Luke 12:11, 16; Luke 13:6, 10; Luke 15:11; Acts 9:8, 10; Acts 12:10, 13; Romans 2:3; 1 Corinthians 16:15, 17. It may be represented in English by "and" or "and again." In the reading of the Greek text it is not certain whether we ought not to omit the word "God" (ὁ Θεός). If it is a gloss which has crept into the text, it is unquestionably a just gloss. Similar omissions of the Divine Name, as Bishop Lightfoot observes, are frequent in St. Paul (see ch. 1:6; 2:8; Romans 8:11; Philippians 1:6). The verb εὐδοκεῖν properly exprcsses complacency; as e.g. Matthew 3:17, "In whom I am well pleased;" and often. And this notion may be commonly traced in its use even when followed, as here, by an infinitive. Thus in 1 Thessalonians 2:8, "It would have been a pleasure to us to impart," etc.; in 1 Thessalonians 3:1, "It was painful to us to be left alone, but under the circumstances we gladly chose to be so." When applied, as here, to God, the notion of the pleasure which he takes in acts of beneficence must not be lost sight of; "Was graciously pleased;" comp. Luke 12:32, "It is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." In Ephesians 1:5 the noun "good pleasure" points to the act of "predestination" spoken of as (if we may venture so to speak of God) a volition of his heart and not of merely his regulative wisdom. The apostle seems led to use the word here by the complacency and joy which he himself felt in having been made the recipient of this "revelation;" those sentiments of his own bosom are, to his view, a reflection of the Divine complacency in imparting it. At the same time, the reader must be conscious of the deep sense, in fact the supremely prevailing sense, which the apostle has just here, that the imparting of the revelation spoken of was the fruit solely of a Divine volition triumphing over extreme wickedness and infatuation on his own part. Compare, in this respect also, the passage Ephesians 1:5, just cited. It is this feeling which prompts the introduction of the deeply emotional parenthesis consisting of the two next clauses of the verse. Who separated me from my mother's womb (ὁ ἀφορίσας με ἐκ κοιλίας μητρός μου); who set me apart from my mother's womb. The verb ἀφορίζω, set apart, separate, which is found used in other relations in Leviticus 20:26 (LXX.); Matthew 13:49; Matthew 25:32; Acts 19:9; Galatians 2:12, is employed here with an implied reference to a specific office or work. Such a reference is explicitly added in Acts 13:2," Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them;" and in Romans 1:1, "Separated unto the gospel of God." There is this distinction, however, between the "setting apart" of the present passage and that of Acts 13:2, that, whereas in the latter it was one actually realized, here it is in the Divine predestination only, which last seems to be nearly the sense of the words, "whereunto I have called them," in the Acts. In Romans 1:1 the verb probably includes both senses. "From my mother's womb" means "from the time that I was as yet unborn;" not perhaps exactly "ever since my birth," as Judges 16:17; Matthew 19:12; Acts 3:2; Acts 14:8; comp. rather Luke 1:15, as illustrated by ver. 41. The addition of these words is designed to mark the purely arbitrary character of this predestination. Comp. Romans 9:11, "The children being not yet born, neither having done anything good or bad, that the purpose of God according to election might stand." Viewed thus, the clause appears as an utterance of adoring humility on the part of the apostle, combined, however, with the strongest possible assertion of the Divine origin of his mission. A similar statement of God's arbitrary selection of a particular human being for a particular function is found in Isaiah 49:1, "The Lord hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name; "ibid., ver. 5, "That formed me from the womb to be his servant;" and again, with yet more striking resemblance, in Jeremiah 1:5, "Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations (προφήτην εἰς ἔθνη)." It is difficult not to believe that this conviction of the apostle concerning himself as an object of God's predestinating purpose, and perhaps even the form of its expression - for compare the words in the next verse, "That I might preach him among the Gentiles (ἔθνεσιν)" - was very mainly derived from the Lord's words to Jeremiah, applied by the Spirit to his own particular case (comp. Acts 9:15). The apostle feels that all the while that he had been pursuing that career of persecuting impiety and passionate Pharisaism, the Almighty had kept his eye upon him as his predestined apostle, and been waiting for the fitting hour when to summon him forth to his work. And called me by his grace (καὶ καλέσας με διὰ τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ). As the "setting apart" mentioned in the previous clause unquestionably was a "setting apart" for the apostolic office, it might seen convenient to understand the "calling" likewise as a calling to be an apostle. So most probably we are to take the words κλητὸς ἀπόστολος in Romans 1:1 as meaning "called to be an apostle;" and in Hebrews 5:4 the verb "called" is used of one called to be a priest. But the prevailing sense of "being called," in St. Paul's writings, refers to the bringing of the soul to Christ and into his kingdom; and in this definite reference the apostle uses the verb no less than twenty-four times, three of them in this Epistle (2 Corinthians 1:6; 5:8, 13). And this, the regular use of the term, is quite in place here. It was quite natural that the writer, after so vividly portraying his former life when unregenerate, should now distinctly advert to the moral transformation which by Divine grace he had been the subject cf. The word "grace" denotes God's freely expanding unmerited goodness, not as existing in himself, but as energizing upon men. This is made clear by the introduction of the preposition (διὰ) "through" or "by." It is that "grace whose "reigning" power the apostle so exultingly extols in Romans 5:15-21 (comp. Ephesians 2:5, "By grace have ye been saved"). The notion of mercy shown to the utterly undeserving is a prominent element of the word, connected as it is here with the description of the writer's former wickedness (comp. the use of the verb "obtained mercy (ἠλεήθην)" in 1 Timothy 1:13, 16). This clause, together with the preceding one, is not to be taken as a part of the historical statement in conjunction with the next verse, as if tracing the successive steps of the transaction, but as a periphrastic designation of Almighty God adapted to the circumstances of the case. The one article prefixed in the Greek to the two combined clauses shows this. We need not, therefore, perplex ourselves to determine the relation in point of time which the Divine acts here indicated bear to that described in the verse which follows. The tone of the verse is in a measure apologetic, rebutting the prejudice which, we may be sure, did in the view of many accrue to the writer from what he once had been. Thus: "Nevertheless, God had all along, even kern the dawn of his being, set him apart to be his apostle; God, by a marvellous exercise of goodness, had called him forth out of that evil state to be his own: unworthy, no doubt, he had proved himself to be of such mercy; but what God's grace had made him, that he was; for who should dare to contravene his hand (comp. 1 Corinthians 15:8-10)?" It pleased (εὐδόκησεν)

See on εὐδοκία good pleasure, 2 Thessalonians 1:11.

Separated (ἀφορίσας)

Set apart: designated. See on Romans 1:1, and see on declared, Romans 1:4. The A.V. wrongly lends itself to the sense of the physical separation of the child from the mother.

From my mother's womb (ἐκ κοιλίας μητρός μου)

Before I was born. Others, from the time of my birth. A few passages in lxx. go to sustain the former view: Judges 16:17; Isaiah 64:2, 24; 66:1, 5. That view is also favored by those instances in which a child's destiny is clearly fixed by God before birth, as Samson, Judges 16:17; comp. Judges 13:5, Judges 13:7; John the Baptist, Luke 1:15. See also Matthew 19:12. The usage of ἐκ as marking a temporal starting point is familiar. See John 6:66; John 9:1; Acts 9:33; Acts 24:10.

Called (καλέσας)

See on Romans 4:17. Referring to Paul's call into the kingdom and service of Christ. It need not be limited to his experience at Damascus, but may include the entire chain of divine influences which led to his conversion and apostleship. He calls himself κλητὸς ἀπόστολος an apostle by call, Romans 1:1; 1 Corinthians 1:1.

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