For I certify to you, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not devised by man.
I. HIS LIFE AS A JEW. (Vers. 13, 14.) Paul, before his conversion, was the most zealous persecutor of Christianity. A strict Pharisee, he added to his self-righteousness an uncommon zeal for the old religion, and hesitated not to persecute to the death those who had embraced the new. He was zealous, but not according to knowledge.
II. THE REVELATION OF JESUS TO HIM AND IN HIM. (Vers. 11, 12, 15, 16.) It was Jesus himself who undertook Saul's conversion. There was no intermediate instrument. On the way to Damascus Jesus appeared to him in dazzling, overwhelming radiance, and compelled the persecutor to recognize, not only his existence, but his sovereign authority. That manifestation of Jesus to him revolutionized his life. Henceforth he could have no doubt regarding the reign of Jesus Christ. This was the revelation of Jesus to him - the historic interview which made Paul's career so different and so glorious. But next there was the revelation of Jesus in Paul. This was by the Holy Spirit entering into him and giving him Christ's mind, Christ's heart, Christ's compassions, so that Paul became a revelation of Christ to other men. Henceforward he was a "Christophor," carrying Christ in him, not only as his Hope of glory, but as his animating, regulating, ruling power. Paul was from that hour" possessed," but it was by the Spirit of Christ. His personality became a new centre of spiritual force and power.
III. THUS POSSESSED BY JESUS, HE BECAME INDEPENDENT OF MEN. (Vers. 16, 17.) Now, this independence of Paul had two sides.
1. He became independent of popular opinion "Immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood" Now it must have been very trying to surrender all his hopes as a Jew. The fact is, he was the foremost man of his nation just when Jesus converted him. The nation would gladly have followed his leadership. There was no man who had so much weight and force of character as Saul. To renounce all these hopes, and the friendships of his early years, and to face the world a lonely man was trying. Yet he was enabled by God's grace to do so. He made no truce with flesh and blood, but renounced all for Christ.
2. He felt independent of apostolic recognition. He never thought of hurrying off to Jerusalem to stand an examination at the hands of the apostles, and receive their imorimatur. He dealt at first hand with the Fountain of authority. Hence he passed to Arabia soon after his conversion, and in the solitudes of the desert, in the places associated with such master spirits as Moses, Elijah, and Christ, he communed with Christ, and pondered and laid the foundations of his theology. He called no man master; he felt that he had but one Master, and he was Christ. Now, this independence of character is what we should all seek. It can only be secured when we have renounced self-confidence and betaken ourselves to the feet of our Lord. There at the fountain of life and power we can rise up our own masters and his faithful servants, prepared to do battle, if need be, against the world.
IV. PAUL'S INTERVIEW AT JERUSALEM WITH CEPHAS AND JAMES. (Vers. 18, 19.) While Paul was properly independent in spirit, this does not imply that he was in any way morose or unsocial. His internment in Arabia, his earnest study of the whole plan of the gospel, only made him long for an interview with Cephas, the recognized leader at Jerusalem. Hence he passed from solitude to society, and had an interview of fifteen days with the apostle of the circumcision. James, who had ministerial oversight of the Jerusalem Church, shared his society too. It must have been a blessed meeting between the two mighty apostles. The meeting of two generals before some important campaign was never so momentous in its consequences as the meeting of these two humble men, Saul and Cephas. They were set upon the conquest for Christ of the world. Now, we have every reason to believe that the interview was simply one for conference. It was not that Saul might receive any authority from the hands either of Cephas or of James. He had his authority directly from Christ.
V. HIS EVANGELISTIC WORK. (Vers. 20-24.) Perhaps through mutual agreement with Peter, Paul leaves Jerusalem and Judaea and confines himself to the districts beyond. Syria and Cilicia, territories beyond the bounds of Palestine proper, where the apostles were operating, were selected by the apostle to the Gentiles for his first evangelistic efforts. He did not seek the acquaintance of the Churches in Judaea. He kept to his own province. They heard gladly that the arch-persecutor had become a chief preacher of the once despised faith. They accordingly praised God for the monument of his mercy he had raised up in Paul. But his knowledge of the gospel and his authority in proclaiming it were not, he wishes these Galatians to understand, derived from men. We should surely learn from this autobiography of Paul the secret of personal independence and power. It consists in going to the sources themselves. If we refuse to depend upon men and depend on the Lord only, we shall secure a grasp of his holy gospel and an efficiency in proclaiming it which are impossible otherwise. What the world needs now is what it needed then - men pervaded like Paul by the Spirit of Christ, and so radiating the true ideas about Christ all around. - R.M.E.
That the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
I. HIS PRINCIPLES OF CHRISTIANITY WERE NOT DERIVED FROM HUMAN AUTHORITY. He was not the retailer of other men's notions, and proclaimer of what others had invented for him and enjoined on him. He had not been drilled in any human school, and then sent forth to talk — to distribute the materials which had been put into his hands, and to hawk about the goods which others had manufactured for him. Far higher than this was his authority; far deeper his knowledge and convictions.
II. NOR THROUGH HUMAN INSTRUCTION. Not merely conviction arrived at by self-study of others' opinions.
III. BUT FROM DIVINE DISCLOSURE. God unveiled His hidden things to the mental vision of the apostle. His inspiration is a revelation, disclosure, communication from God. Therefore he speaks with authority.
(B. Jowett, M. A.)1. As a word of doctrine, it did not spring from men, nor was it taught by men, but by Christ Himself, who brought it Himself, and through whom alone His people have it.
2. As a word of comfort, only through Him can we commit ourselves to it.
3. As a word of power, in which there should be no change, from which no departure.
(J. P. Lange, D. D.)I. THE GOSPEL THAT PAUL PREACHED. The purport of his ministry and the faith he proclaimed are given in Acts 26:22, 23.
II. THE GOSPEL WHICH PAUL PREACHED WAS NOT OF MAN.
1. His gospel was not after man. It did not originate with man. Human schemes of salvation have ever been imperfect in theory and worthless in practice.
2. Paul's gospel was not communicated by man. "I neither received it of man."
3. The gospel which Paul preached was not explained to him by man. "Neither was I taught it."
III. THE GOSPEL THAT PAUL PREACHED WAS REVEALED TO HIM.
IV. PAUL'S TESTIMONY IN RELATION TO THE GOSPEL WAS DELIVERED WITH GREAT IMPRESSIVENESS AND SOLEMNITY. "I declare unto you, brethren." Lessons:
1. Paul and the other apostles preached what had been revealed to them; there cannot, therefore, be in the true sense, any successors to the apostles now.
2. The gospel being a revelation, should be received with reverent trust.
I. THAT MEN MAY BE CERTIFIED THAT THE GOSPEL IS NOT OF MAN BUT OF GOD, by —
1. The evidences of God's Spirit imprinted on and expressed in it.
2. The testimony of its promulgators who were neither knaves nor fools.
3. The assurance of obedience and experience (John 7:17).
II. THAT CHRIST IS THE GREAT TEACHER OF THIS GOSPEL.
3. He gives the Spirit who illuminates the mind and guides into all truth.
III. THAT CHRIST TEACHES THE TEACHERS OF THIS GOSPEL.
1. By immediate revelation,
2. By ordinary instruction in the schools.
IV. THAT THOSE WHO ARE TEACHERS MUST BE FIRST TAUGHT, AND MUST THEN TEACH WHAT THEY HAVE LEARNED. (2 Timothy 3:14).
(T. T. Lynch.)
(M. Laurie, D. D.)
1. The method of the revelation, by individual men, and by writings handed down from age to age, is not unreasonable.
2. The anterior probability of such a revelation as is given in Scripture is undoubtedly strong.
3. The test of time being applied to the revelation actually given, sufficiently approves the Divine authority which is claimed for it.
(R. A. Redford.)I. IT OCCUPIES A HIGHER REGION than that which is physical, mental, or moral.
II. IT COMES DOWN UPON the intellect, not out of it.
1. It is sublimely authoritative.
2. By the side of it the most advanced knowledge is halting and immature.
III. PAUL INSISTED ON HIS APOSTLESHIP BECAUSE THIS REVELATION WAS COMMITTED TO HIM.
(S. Pearson, M. A.)
(J. B. Walker, M. A.)1 Corinthians 11:23; Revelation 1:1; Revelation 5:9). Whereas Inspiration is usually connected with the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21; Acts 1:16; Hebrews 7:8). But Luke 2:26 is an exception to the rule. And, doubtless as on the one hand it is from the Son that the Spirit proceeds, being indeed the water which flows out of the rock of our salvation: so, on the other, no revelation can be made without the Spirit who opens the inward eye to what is outwardly communicated.
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