A Supernatural Gospel
Finding out that the Galatians were quickly turning to a false gospel, it is no wonder Paul is praying for grace and peace. They need it! After addressing the severity of the issue of believing a false gospel and the punishment for those who preach one, Paul ends this section by giving a defense to the harsh punishment for those who preach a false gospel; he’s not here to please people but to be a servant of Jesus.
The next section begins in verse 11:
11 For I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel preached by me is not of human origin. 12 For I did not receive it from a human source and I was not taught it, but it came by a revelation of Jesus Christ.13 For you have heard about my former way of life in Judaism: I intensely persecuted God’s church and tried to destroy it. 14 I advanced in Judaism beyond many contemporaries among my people, because I was extremely zealous for the traditions of my ancestors. 15 But when God, who from my mother’s womb set me apart and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me, so that I could preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone. 17 I did not go up to Jerusalem to those who had become apostles before me; instead I went to Arabia and came back to Damascus. (Galatians 1:11 CSB)
Paul continues his point that the gospel is not from human origin, and neither is the gospel he preaches. He appeals to the revelation of Jesus as Lord on the Damascus Road encounter.
What Paul is doing in this section is telling a story of his life. He wants the church to understand what it truly means to be free in Christ and no longer under the law. In this passage specifically, he wants them to know he was an extremely zealous and pious Jew, and yet when Jesus was revealed to him, he found freedom from the “human” teachings.
The gospel is not from human origin, and the proof is that Paul received the gospel supernaturally when he encountered Jesus on the Damascus road. An argument against Christianity today is that the disciples of Jesus just made it all up. The book of Acts tells us that Paul would have been on board with that idea. He did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah or that He had been resurrected. Being devoted to the human teachings while still a part of Judaism, he advanced significantly among his contemporaries. In his zeal to God, he persecuted and killed the church and was set on destroying it. So why would Paul ever believe anything the disciples said? He thought they were liars and blasphemers of God. He was completely and utterly convinced that the gospel was false.
But something changed radically in Paul’s life in verse 15. God, in His grace, revealed Jesus as Son to Paul. This wasn’t from the teaching of man, or as the author of Hebrews adds, from angels (Hebrews 1:1-4). There is a cool connection between Hebrews 1:1-4 and Galatians here. Paul tells them not to believe a gospel contrary to what they have been taught, even from angels. The reason? Because Jesus has spoken His gospel already, and He has the highest authority. His gospel is true, and it was this Jesus who spoke to Paul on the Damascus road. There was no human reason for Paul to become a slave to Christ, but there was a supernatural reason: He encountered the risen Jesus and recognized Him as Lord.
From there, Paul doesn’t wait around to get his story straight. He had met with the risen Jesus, and it was time to share that with the world. For the next three years, Paul went to Arabia and Damascus to preach the gospel given to Him from Jesus.
As a side note, we see that the gospel that Paul preaches is the same gospel the apostles preached. They weren’t preaching a different one. In fact, Paul ends up correcting Peter in a gospel related matter because Peter was living contrary to the gospel that they were preaching. (That comes at the end of chapter 2). The point here is that there is one true gospel, the one Jesus has spoken Himself. This true gospel is the good news of the kingdom of heaven whereby sinners are reconciled to a holy God through the death, burial, and resurrection of King Jesus, and now reign with Him to bring the kingdom of God to every inch of this world.
Our application seems to follow Paul’s; if we have encountered the risen Jesus in our lives, it is time to share the good news with whoever we can. Maybe it’s at school, work, while shopping in a store, or going on a missions trip. Perhaps it’s a family member, friend, coworker, or complete stranger. Whoever it is, it is time to share.
For His Glory,