We’re reaching the end of Galatians 1 today with these verses:
“Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. 19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother. 20 (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!) 21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22 And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ.23 They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they glorified God because of me.”
I am helped today by reading No Other Gospel by Josh Moody (Crossway, 2011) and various online commentaries.
In verse 17 and these verses, Paul details where he traveled following his conversion.
Paul is noting that in Jerusalem, where he went after three years, he saw none of the other apostles besides James and Peter, and notes the length of his stay (15 days). He points out that before God he is not lying.
Why does he stress that he telling the truth? Was he being challenged about what he has said?
One of the key themes of Galatians is the conflict between the church authority and the authority of the gospel. Here Paul is establishing the authority of the gospel over the authority of the church. Paul was given the gospel by God, not by Peter or other apostles or some sort of organized meeting of men. He’s pointing out he didn’t see them early on, and when he did, it was only two of them and not for a lengthy stay. Paul knew the gospel as it had been revealed to him by God.
Different churches may try to put authority in man or something given by man, but the true gospel of God comes from God and is authenticated in his Word. This is the gospel that changes lives.
As we see in verse 23-24, though the churches in Judea had not seen Paul’s face, they had heard that he was preaching the faith he once tried to destroy, and they glorified God in Paul.
God’s gospel, given by God, brings glory to God, not to man. You have probably seen that when you hear an amazing testimony of a powerful work of God in the life of someone who has been saved and changed by the gospel. You are amazed at God through the testimony, giving praise to God, not to the person.
It is God’s power at work through the true gospel given by God. I liked this thought:
“Once God gets hold of a man or woman, that can happen [they praised God because of Paul]. He [God] is exalted, but in exalting him, people do not praise the man; they praise God. Perhaps that’s something you can be asking God for, that people would praise God in you.” (No Other Gospel, p.73-74)
Could we ask that of God, that other people would praise God because of us, for His work in us?
PRAYER: Dear Father, we praise you for your Word and the gospel of truth that you have given us. We pray that your work in our lives would be displayed for your great glory and that you would be exalted in us and through us. We pray that you would use us to point people to you, their Savior. May we walk with you today, eyes fixed on you, and rejoice in you and the power of the gospel to change lives. Help us to pray for those around us and to consider who to ask to church for Easter, trusting you to be at work in their lives by the power of the gospel. In Jesus’ name, Amen.