Galatians 1:15
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
But when God, who set me apart from my mother's womb and called me by his grace, was pleased

New Living Translation
But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace. Then it pleased him

English Standard Version
But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace,

Berean Study Bible
But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by His grace, was pleased

Berean Literal Bible
But when God, the One having selected me from my mother's womb and having called me by His grace, was pleased

New American Standard Bible
But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother's womb and called me through His grace, was pleased

King James Bible
But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace,

Christian Standard Bible
But when God, who from my mother's womb set me apart and called me by his grace, was pleased

Contemporary English Version
But even before I was born, God had chosen me by his gift of undeserved grace and had decided

Good News Translation
But God in his grace chose me even before I was born, and called me to serve him. And when he decided

Holman Christian Standard Bible
But when God, who from my birth set me apart and called me by His grace, was pleased

International Standard Version
But when God, who set me apart before I was born and who called me by his grace, was pleased

NET Bible
But when the one who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace was pleased

New Heart English Bible
But when God, who had set me apart from my mother's womb and called me through his grace, was pleased

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
But when he who separated me from my mother's womb chose and called me by his grace

GOD'S WORD® Translation
But God, who appointed me before I was born and who called me by his kindness, was pleased

New American Standard 1977
But when He who had set me apart, even from my mother’s womb, and called me through His grace, was pleased

Jubilee Bible 2000
But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb and called me by his grace,

King James 2000 Bible
But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace,

American King James Version
But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace,

American Standard Version
But when it was the good pleasure of God, who separated me, even from my mother's womb, and called me through his grace,

Douay-Rheims Bible
But when it pleased him, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace,

Darby Bible Translation
But when God, who set me apart [even] from my mother's womb, and called [me] by his grace,

English Revised Version
But when it was the good pleasure of God, who separated me, even from my mother's womb, and called me through his grace,

Webster's Bible Translation
But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace,

Weymouth New Testament
But when He who set me apart even from my birth, and called me by His grace,

World English Bible
But when it was the good pleasure of God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me through his grace,

Young's Literal Translation
and when God was well pleased -- having separated me from the womb of my mother, and having called me through His grace --
Study Bible
Paul Preaches the Gospel
14I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 15But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by His grace, was pleased 16to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not rush to consult with flesh and blood,…
Cross References
Isaiah 49:1
Listen to me, O islands, and pay attention, O distant peoples: The LORD called me from the womb; from the body of my mother He named me.

Isaiah 49:5
And now says the LORD, who formed me from the womb to be His Servant, to bring Jacob back to Him, that Israel might be gathered to Him--for I am honored in the sight of the LORD, and my God is my strength--

Jeremiah 1:5
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I set you apart and appointed you a prophet to the nations."

Acts 9:15
"Go!" said the Lord. "This man is My chosen instrument to carry My name before the Gentiles and their kings, and before the people of Israel.

Romans 1:1
Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, and set apart for the gospel of God,

Romans 8:28
And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.

Romans 8:30
And those He predestined He also called, those He called He also justified, those He justified He also glorified.

1 Corinthians 1:21
For since in the wisdom of God, the world through its wisdom did not know Him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.

Galatians 1:1
Paul, an apostle--sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead--

Galatians 1:6
I am astonished how quickly you are deserting the One who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel--

Ephesians 1:9
And He has made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ

Treasury of Scripture

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


Deuteronomy 7:7,8 The LORD did not set his love on you, nor choose you, because you …

1 Samuel 12:22 For the LORD will not forsake his people for his great name's sake: …

1 Chronicles 28:4,5 However, the LORD God of Israel chose me before all the house of …

Matthew 11:26 Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in your sight.

Luke 10:21 In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank you, O Father, …

1 Corinthians 1:1 Paul called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of …

Ephesians 1:5,9 Having predestinated us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ …

Ephesians 3:11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:


Isaiah 49:1,5 Listen, O isles, to me; and listen, you people, from far; The LORD …

Jeremiah 1:5 Before I formed you in the belly I knew you; and before you came …

Luke 1:15,16 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither …

Acts 9:15 But the Lord said to him, Go your way: for he is a chosen vessel …

Acts 13:2 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said…

Acts 22:14,15 And he said, The God of our fathers has chosen you, that you should …

Romans 1:1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated …


Romans 1:5 By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to …

Romans 8:30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom …

Romans 9:24 Even us, whom he has called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

1 Corinthians 1:9,24 God is faithful, by whom you were called to the fellowship of his …

1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed …

2 Thessalonians 2:13,14 But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brothers beloved …

1 Timothy 1:12-14 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has enabled me, for that he …

2 Timothy 1:9 Who has saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according …

1 Peter 5:10 But the God of all grace, who has called us to his eternal glory …

(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.

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)?" 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. 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).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.
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