Monday, July 20, 2009

Galatians Journal: Chapter 1, verses 11 & 12

Galatians 1: 11 I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. 12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

The original Greek word for “know” here means to to make known, to become known, to be recognized, or to know, to gain knowledge of, have thorough knowledge of. This is knowledge in the sense of an instructor teaching his pupils, and Paul is beginning a section of the letter where he will describe his own personal experiences in life. This verse is also set in the context of close personal relationships – “brothers” – and Paul is about to spill the intimate details of his life and testimony, and he’s doing it all in the context of protecting and defending his precious friends, and their own relationships with Jesus as the God of the Universe. And even though there is an emphasis on Paul’s mission and message as being “not from men,” it is always expressed as a jewel set in the context of intimate body relationships. Paul is not a loner, he is not a lone soldier or a maverick. He is about to show how his ministry was and is submitted to higher human authority, in the context of what God has revealed to him.

The balance here is also interesting. Paul is about to explain how important it was to him to be in proper relationship with church authority, but he wants to first emphasize the foundation of what he lives for, which he did not get, and does not get from men. The most important foundational principle is a living relationship with Jesus Christ.

Verse 12: Paul’s experience was unique. A lot of what he received from God came via direct revelation (see verse 17), rather than by instruction. But at a deeper level, even when we come to know Jesus as Savior through the mode of a person “leading us to the Lord,” as most of us did, there is still an aspect of our experience that comes via direct revelation, that must be direct revelation. Only the Holy Spirit can change a person’s heart. Only the power of Christ’s blood can cover sin. Even for me, there was a moment when I was saved when it no longer mattered what people had said, or what someone had shown me in the Bible, or all my previous experiences with God. At that moment, for the first time, Jesus was convincing me in the depth of my heart that He loved me. Even Paul had a background upon which God painted (see verse 14). There is a point like this for all of us – and, indeed, its just not a moment when we’re saved, but an ongoing series of moments throughout our lives – where we can and must depend on this kind of direct, personal revelation.

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