Summary: Paul trained in the desert of Arabia. It was a long night in his life. He now tells about those Arabian Nights and how they helped make him who he is. Link inc. to formatted text, audio, PowerPoint.
Where did you go to seminary? Or Bible college? This question is asked often of those in ministry. What they really mean, usually, is, "What camp are you in?" Paul trained in the desert of Arabia, and I'm sure there was a lot of 'camping' going on. It was a long night in his life...even the days in Arabia are just about survival and what is really important. God can teach us a lot in the desert. He now tells about those Arabian Nights and how they helped make him who he is.
But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man [Gal. 1:11].
When he says, "I certify you," he means, "I remind you." "After man" could be "according to man." Paul did not get the gospel he preached from man. The Judaizers not only questioned Paul's message, they also questioned his apostleship. He was not one of the original Twelve, but a Johnny-come-lately. They cast a shadow upon the validity of Paul's authority as an apostle.
For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ [Gal. 1:12].
Paul did not receive his apostleship by going to school. Neither did he receive it by being ordained or by hands being laid on his head. Paul's apostleship and gospel came directly by a revelation (apokalupsis) of Jesus Christ. The Book of Revelation, sometimes called the Apocalypse, is from the same word. The gospel is a revelation as much as is the Book of Revelation. The gospel was unveiled to the apostle Paul. It's all the revelation of Christ. The whole Bible is a 'Him' book!
Paul did not become an apostle through Peter, James, or John. He was an apostle by the direct call of Jesus Christ.
For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:
And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers [Gal. 1:13-14].
Paul says, "For ye have heard of my conversation," that is, you have heard of my manner of life. Paul now calls the religion in which he was brought up the "Jews' religion." Paul was saved, not in Judaism, but from Judaism. And he's going to be used to help many still lost in Judaism to get out, and prevent young believers from being pulled into it.
Now notice this tremendous statement:
But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus [Gal. 1:15-17].
The phrase "but when it pleased God," in verse 15, means that Paul was called according to the will of God. The word heathen in verse 16 refers to Gentiles. Paul conferred not with flesh and blood -- he didn't get it from any man. Paul received the gospel directly from Jesus Christ.
Many years ago a so-called modernist, who taught old heresy, wrote a book about Paul. He also gave lectures. He gave the apostle Paul credit for being a great brain. (I personally believe Paul had the greatest mind of any man who has ever lived. Many scholars, who are better acquainted with Paul than I am also make this statement.) He pointed out that Paul was a brilliant student of the Mosaic system of Judaism and was a brilliant student of Greek philosophy, and then declared that Paul combined the two and came up with Christianity. Now Paul says here in Galatians that he didn't get the gospel that way. He received the gospel by direct revelation from Jesus Christ.
I loved Bible College, but I didn't learn nearly as much there as I have since then, most of it alone w/ God, and thru experience with Him. Are you in that place of solitude where God can speak to you? Let God do a deeper work in your soul during this time! Have daily devotions in solitude! Allow Him to do radical spiritual surgery on your life as He molds and shapes you as a vessel of clay in the Potter’s hands!
Saul came out of Arabia a different man…he went in a young man still scarred w/ hatred, bitterness, and no doubt a lot of confusion, but he came out the tender hearted Apostle Paul.
He was old school when he entered, having been raised under the OT law, but he went back to school in the desert and graduated, throwing his tasseled cap in the air saying, by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified! He went in w/ the OT in his knapsack and came out w/ the book of Romans in his heart!