Topical Studies

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What the Bible says about Paul's Association with Christ
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Galatians 1:1

This epistle was one of Paul's first letters, if not the first. As such, it was early on in his ministry, and one of the first topics in this letter was his credentials. This is seen in his parenthetical statement that he was an apostle appointed by God and Jesus Christ and NOT by men. The other apostles ate, walked, and lived with Christ while He was on the earth, and thus their credibility was established in part by proximity and association with Christ. Paul did not fall into this category, but rather persecuted the true Christians until his dramatic conversion. However, at that time, he was instructed by Christ personally and thus had a legitimate claim to apostleship.

David C. Grabbe

Galatians 1:1-3

The bulk of this chapter is occupied with Paul's defense of his apostolic office. False teachers,the people who had access to the Galatian Christians' ears,were teaching them that what Paul had previously taught them had no authority from God because Paul did not meet the qualifications of being an apostle.

These people could come up with all kinds of things. They might say, "Well, Paul never met Jesus": that he had not been an eyewitness to Jesus' preaching, that he had received no commission from God to be an apostle, and that he had not even been chosen like Matthias. Paul's calling, conversion, and commission were done apart from large numbers of people. Nobody had seen him trailing around after Jesus as they had seen the Twelve. He had not been eyewitness to the miracles that Jesus did. "He had not been taught directly by Jesus," was what they were saying.

Thus, Paul spends the first chapter and more defending his position. Immediately, he states that his authority did not come through men. He confirms that he was an apostle, but his selection was not of men but by Jesus Christ. Right off he states his authority, and that it had come directly from God. By doing this, Paul puts himself in the same class as the Twelve, because even these false teachers were willing to concede that the Twelve's offices did not come through men either. Everybody knew that they were directly chosen by Christ. So Paul asserts, "So was I."

He also speaks of his experience on the Damascus Road as his commission, and then he references the resurrection, further linking his commissioning to the risen and glorified Christ. All of this is contained within the first three verses. He had to establish his authority quickly, and this is how he chose to do it.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part Twenty-Four)

Galatians 1:12

"Received . . . from man" means something quite different from "according to man" in verse 11. The former is a technical phrase that we would not tend to recognize, indicating a process of memorization. A Jew of Paul's day would have understood this, as it was the method by which rabbis passed along rabbinic traditions to their students. They would walk along, or be sitting around the campfire, and the rabbi would instruct by getting his disciples to recite back to him what he had said. Since they did not have books as we do, and the scrolls were awkward to carry around, they memorized teachings, poetry, and songs, and passed them on. Everything was learned by rote. One can imagine the rigid personality this would tend to produce.

But the apostle Paul says, "My gospel did not come in this way at all." It was revealed to him: ". . . but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ."

"Nor was I taught it" is different from both "neither received it from man" or "according to man." "Nor was I taught it" indicates the normal type of instruction was not the way he received it either. The normal type of instruction is the way we receive it, in a classroom or church situation in which a teacher or preacher teaches or lectures.

However, Paul claims, "I did not learn it that way. It came by revelation!" Jesus Christ miraculously gave it to him in person—just as He gave it to the Twelve. Paul received it by direct revelation. Thus, in Galatians 1:10-12, he relates that he had a distinctive, revelatory experience paralleled only by the Twelve. And what was revealed to Paul has subsequently been revealed to us because Paul teaches it to us through his words.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part Twenty-Four)

Galatians 1:17

Paul continues to illustrate that the foundation of his spiritual understanding was not instruction by the other apostles or by any other human being. He received his instruction and understanding directly from Jesus Christ.

David C. Grabbe


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