1:10-24 Paul’s Life Changing Testimony
Memory Verse: Galatians 1:15-16a
1:10-12, 16b-17a Paul’s Motivation: Man Or God Pleasing?
- 1:10 Paul is challenging the Galatian churches because they have left the true gospel. He continues by sharing his testimony about how he became a believer, but first he addresses his motive. He asks a rhetorical question: “For do I now persuade men, or God?” The answer is obvious, Paul is seeking the approval of God. Paul’s tone in writing this letter shows us that Paul is not trying to get man’s approval. He has been freed by the gospel and now he lives a life that tries to win God’s approval. He ask the question another way and says, “Do I seek to please men?” Again, the answer is an obvious “No.” Paul then continues to tell them that anyone who lives to please men instead of God cannot be the servant of Christ. Believers cannot live for the approval of men. Our joy, happiness, satisfaction and salvation are all found in God alone. Our desire to live for God comes out of our gratitude for salvation. Thus Paul’s motivation was to please God and to win His approval, therefore He wouldn’t change the truth to unite and please men, but stands against false teaching to please God
- 1:11-13a, 16c-17a Paul confirms to the Galatian churches that the gospel of grace that he is preaching was received directly by the revelation of Jesus Christ—meaning it came directly from the source itself. This is important because Paul is claiming to be an apostle and this establishes his authority. Paul emphasizes: (1) He didn’t receive the gospel from any person. He wasn’t taught the gospel by any person. This gospel is not man’s gospel. (2) He didn’t come to the realization of the gospel on his own. He hated the church of God before his conversion. (3) He didn’t receive the gospel from the other apostles or believers. After his conversion he didn’t talk with anyone or go to Jerusalem to discuss it.
1:13-16 Paul’s Conversion And Calling: God’s Amazing Grace
- 1:13-14 Before Paul was converted he was an extremely religious man in the Jew’s religion. He was very zealous. He was better at keeping the rules, traditions and morals than those who were his equals. He violently persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. He was filled with a passion to serve God but without the knowledge of the truth. He was so self-righteous and prideful through his moral righteousness that He was blinded to his need for God; and at the same time, so evil and violent that his hands were bloodied with evil works. Paul was the perfect candidate for grace.
- 1:15-16a There is only one person who could have saved Paul and that was God. God showed His grace to Paul and called him to salvation. Grace is the free and unmerited favor of God that makes a way for our sins to be forgiven. Paul was completely undeserving of God’s salvation, but that is what makes it by grace. God chose to save Paul, not because he tried to keep all the rules and God didn’t reject Paul because he murdered Christians, but God called Paul by His grace because it pleased God to do so. Paul responded to the gospel call, repented and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. This means there is hope for you. It doesn’t matter what you have been trusting in or wether you are the worst of sinners, by God’s grace, you too can be saved. Repent of your religion, rule keeping and sin—turn from everything else and trust solely in the grace of God. He invites you to a personal relationship with Him—no religion, just Jesus.
- 1:15b Paul says that God separated him from his mother’s womb. This means that ever since Paul was conceived that God had an awesome plan for Paul’s life and everything in Paul’s life has been working towards the fulfillment of that plan. God not only has a plan for Paul’s life but also for your life. God has an amazing plan for your life. God through His grace can use you to do great things, not because you are great, but because He is.
- 1:16b Not only did God call Paul to salvation, but also called him to service. The gospel of grace completely changed Paul’s life and God wanted him to now use his life to preach Jesus among the heathen. God also wants to use your life to preach Jesus to the world.
1:16-14 Paul’s Growth: The Early Years
- 1:16c-17 Paul knew what God wanted him to do. He did not consult about his conversion or calling with any of the other Apostles because he had direct revelation from God. Instead Paul had a time of growth for at least three years before he met with the others. We are not sure what Paul did, but we know that He was ready for ministry after spending time there. God used that time to grow Paul’s relationship with Him. Even though He was religious before, he never had a personal relationship with God. God wants you to do great things for Him and He wants to do great things through you, but we have to put the importance on our personal relationship with Him. We need to spend time developing this relationship more than just focusing on the works we can do for Him.
- 1:17-19 He went to Arabia and Damascus. After three years Paul went to Jerusalem to meet with Peter and abode with him for fifteen days. He didn’t meet any of the other Apostles except for James, Jesus’ brother. Paul’s message would be confirmed by them because what He was preaching was the same as what they were preaching.
- 1:20 Paul’s testimony before he became a believer was so radical that it would be hard for other believers to believe He really converted. Therefore, he goes so far to say, “Before God, I lie not.” He wants those he is writing to, to understand how serious he is being. He isn’t trying to deceive them and infiltrate their churches to persecuted them more. He wants them to know that the glorious gospel of grace really changed his life.
- 1:21-24 Afterwards he went to the region of Syria and Cilicia. The christian churches in Judaea didn’t know Paul by face—meaning they didn’t know him personally nor what he looked like; but they did hear of Paul’s life changing testimony. They heard that the one who persecuted the christian churches in the past was now preaching the faith he once destroyed. Because of this the churches responded by glorifying God. If you are a true believer then you also have an amazing testimony. Our stories might be different but the gospel is the same. We all can say we were undeserving sinners called by the grace of God through His Son’s (Jesus) death and resurrection and today by faith we live to serve Him. Every testimony we hear of God’s grace should cause us to glorify Him.
- What was Paul’s motivation?
- What is grace?
- What is Paul’s conversion story?
- What did God call Paul to do?
- What happened when others heard Paul’s testimony?