Galatians 1:14
I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers.
False ZealDr. Bonar.Galatians 1:14
Good Objects not to be Unduly EsteemedThe EvangelistGalatians 1:14
Ministerial ZealGalatians 1:14
Paul's Jewish LifeR. Nicholls.Galatians 1:14
Paul's Prospects in the Jewish ReligionDean Stanley.Galatians 1:14
Paul's ZealDean Stanley.Galatians 1:14
Remarkable ZealGalatians 1:14
Sectarian ZealJ. Lyth.Galatians 1:14
Suspicious ZealGalatians 1:14
The Traditions of the FathersF. W. Farrar.Galatians 1:14
True ZealR. Cudworth.Galatians 1:14
Paul's Personal Grasp of the GospelR.M. Edgar Galatians 1:11-24
PositionR. Finlayson Galatians 1:11-24
Paul, as we have seen, is so certain of the gospel of grace being the only gospel for sinful men, that he is prepared to pronounce an anathema on all who preach any other gospel. Lest it might be supposed that he took up this intolerant position rashly, he now proceeds to give us a short autobiography, in which he shows how he had received the gospel, and what a hold it had upon him. Let us notice the salient points in this narrative.

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.

And profited in the Jews religion above many.
He might, no doubt, have been the head of the Pharisaic faction in the last expiring struggles of his nation; he might have rallied round him the nobler spirits of his countrymen, and by his courage and prudence have caused Jerusalem to hold out a few months or years more against the army of Titus. Still at best he would have been a Maccabeus or a Gamaliel, and what a difference to the whole subsequent fortunes of the world between a Maccabeus and a Paul, between the Jewish Rabbi and the Apostle to the Gentiles.

(Dean Stanley.)

His natural faculties were by his conversion "not unclothed, but clothed upon"; the glory of Divine grace was shown here as always, not by repressing and weakening the human character, but by bringing it out for the first time in its full vigour. He was still a Jew; the zeal of his ancestral tribe (Genesis 49:27), which had caused him "to ravin as a wolf in the morning" of his life, still glowed in his veins when he "returned in the evening to divide the spoil" of the mightier enemy whom he had defeated and bound; and in the unwearied energy and self.devotion, no less than the peculiar intensity of natural feeling, which mark his whole life and writings, we discern the qualities which the Jewish people alone of all the nations then existing on the earth could have furnished.

(Dean Stanley.)

There are two large divisions of Rabbinic lore which may be classed under the heads of Hagadoth, or unrecorded legends; and Halachoth, or rules and precedents in explanation of dubious or undefined points of legal observance. It is natural that there should be but few traces of the latter in the writings of one whose express object was to deliver the Gentiles from the intolerable burden of legal Judaism. But though there is little trace of them he tells us that he had once been enthusiastic in their observance. And there are abundant signs that with the Hagadoth he was extremely familiar — e.g., Jannes and Jambres (2 Timothy 3:8), the last trumpet (1 Corinthians 15:52), the giving of the law by angels (Galatians 3:19), Satan as god of this world and prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2), celestial and infernal hierarchies (Ephesians 1:21; Ephesians 3:10; Ephesians 6:12), are all recurrent in Talmudic writings. 1 Corinthians 11:10 refers to the Rabbinic interpretation of Genesis 6:2, which avers that angels fell because of their guilty love of women. The following rock of 1 Corinthians 10:4 is also a tradition.

(F. W. Farrar.)

A false zeal in religion is always, in some respect or other, a misdirected zeal, or a zeal not according to knowledge; a zeal seeking some false end, or, while proposing to itself a good end, seeking its promotion in some unauthorized way. Jehu had a good zeal, which he called zeal for the Lord of Hosts. His fault was not that he was too zealous, but that his zeal was really directed to his own advancement. The Jews, in the days of Christ, had a zeal for God; but it was so misdirected as to fire them with a frenzy to destroy the Son of God, and extinguish the Light of the world. There are countless forms of false zeal now at work; but, in all cases, they sin not by excess, but by misdirection. Some are flaming with a zeal to spread some of the corruption of Christianity, and to carry men away from its great and cardinal truths. Some are equally zealous to build up a sect or a party on other foundations than those which God has laid in Zion; and that which taints their zeal is the purpose to which they employ it, and not any excessive fervour of their zeal itself.

(Dr. Bonar.)

The most remarkable examples of zeal are found in the records of the early itinerant ministers. Richard Nolley, one of these, came upon the fresh trail of an emigrant in the wilderness, and followed it till he overtook the family. When the emigrant saw him, he said, "What, a methodist preacher! I quit Virginia to be out of the way of them; but in my settlement in Georgia I thought I should be beyond. their reach. There they were; and they got my wife and daughter to join them. Then I come here to Chocktaw Corner, find a piece of land, feel sure that I shall have some peace from the preachers; and here is one before I have unloaded my waggon!" The preacher exhorted him to make his peace with God, that he might not be troubled by the everywhere-present methodist preachers.

During the battle of Gettysburg, Chaplain Eastman was so badly injured by a fall of his horse as to be compelled to lie down on the field for the night. As he lay in the darkness, he heard a voice say, "Oh my God!" and thought, "How can I get at him?" Unable to walk, he started to roll to the sufferer, and rolled through blood, among the dead bodies, till he came to the dying man, to whom he preached Christ. This service done, he was sent for to attend a dying officer, to whom he had to be carried by two soldiers. Thus he passed the long night; the soldiers carrying him from one dying man to another, to whom he preached Christ, and with whom he prayed, while compelled to lie on his back beside them.

The purity of that zeal for religion by which we gain worldly wealth is open to suspicion. Well fare their hearts who will not only wear out their shoes, but also their feet, in God's service, even if they should not gain a shoe-latchet thereby.

True zeal is a sweet, heavenly, and gentle flame, which makes us active for God, but always within the sphere of love. It never calls for "fire from heaven," to censure those who differ a little from us in their apprehensions. It is like that kind of lightning which melts the sword within, but singes not the scabbard; it strives to save the soul without hurting the body:

(R. Cudworth.)

The Evangelist.
Human nature is prone to extremes, sometimes in that which is good. St. Paul did not deem it necessary to underrate Judaism in order to justify his adherence to Christianity, But it is not to undervalue an institution to place it in its true light, and to regard it according to its intrinsic worth. It is not to undervalue a stream, to say of it that it is not the fountain, nor the blossom that it is not fruit, nor a shadow that it is not the substance, nor a taper that it is not the sun. St. Paul knew well that the Jewish ceremonies were valuable not for their own sake merely, but as so many moral conductors to Christ; and that that end being accomplished, their virtue ceased. And he was not the man to tolerate for a moment the egregious absurdity of those who, for sinister purposes, would depose Christ from his high supremacy, and substitute the ancient ritual of Moses for the atonement of the cross, and go back to the dim twilight of the law, while living under the meridian brightness of the gospel day. But it is only when viewed in contrast with the inherent efficacy of the better sacrifice, the better covenant, and the better promises, introduced by the Son of God Himself, that he ever speaks with anything like disparagement of the abrogated institutions of Judaism; which, like the waning orbs of night when the sun is nigh, "have no glory by reason of the glory that excelleth." "YE HAVE HEARD OF MY CONVERSATION IN TIMES PAST IN THE JEWS' RELIGION; BEING MORE EXCEEDINGLY ZEALOUS OF THE TRADITIONS OF MY FATHERS." The general instruction to be derived from this reference to his own past history, and to the errors of the Galatian people, is, that great care is requisite lest objects, good in themselves, be perverted to lead the mind away from Christ.

(The Evangelist.)



III. PAUL'S RELIGION BEFORE HIS CONVERSION WAS DISTINGUISHED BY ZEAL FOR THE TRADITIONS OF THE FATHERS. "Being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers." Lessons:

1. Paul exhibited a character in which the desire to excel was ever prominent. His persecution was above measure, his proficiency and zeal in the Jewish religion, were superior to his contemporaries. The same feature of character was observed in Christian work.

2. Paul's history teaches that sincerity is no proof of righteousness. He "thought that he ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth."

(R. Nicholls.)

I. Is founded on the human in religion;

II. Is bitter and persecuting in its spirit; III Indicates not true religion but the want of it.

(J. Lyth.)

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