Summary: Paul answers his critics by detailing his conversion and his faithfulness to God’s call upon His life.
“I Want You To Know…”
Our society has perfected the art of destroying people’s character, questioning their intentions, and planting seeds of doubt in the minds of inquiring minds. We see it everyday. Someone rises to fame, the adoring crowds stand and applaud their latest accomplishment, and everyone wants to know every detail of their daily life. After we tire of the latest superstar we begin to notice that their star isn’t shining as bright as it once did.
The super sleuths with laptop in tow begin to dig and write about the clay feet of the one-time American idol for the pages of People magazine, The National Inquirer, or some television tell all show. The drive and passion of a Michael Jordan begins to be talked about as a domineering and arrogant personality. The creativity and genius of Bill Gates is spun so that he is talked about as a corporate Atilla the Hun who is bent on conquering the world.
This ripping at people’s lives doesn’t just happen to the superstar or corporate big shot, it takes place everyday in office buildings, neighborhoods, and schoolyards all over America. Someone who is minding his own business finds himself on the list of the local hit man of reputations who wants to see him topple. A young woman enters the workforce with a strong work ethic, but those already on the payroll who amble in ten minutes late and shut everything down thirty minutes early see her as a threat. What do they do? Work harder? Become more conscientious? Are you kidding? Instead, they lob character bombs, spread rumors, float innuendos, and plan to sabotage her work. A schoolgirl with personality plus is getting more attention than some of the other girls think she should get. They talk behind her back, give the cold shoulder, and behave like Cinderella’s wicked stepmother to try and put her in her place. None of us are surprised when scenarios like these are played out before our eyes because we’ve seen it happen far too many times.
Those who take such pride in cutting others down to size are distant cousins of the folks in the first century who were doing everything in their power to undermine the ministry and message of the Apostle Paul. They tried to destroy his credibility. They spread rumors about his background. They dismissed his message. In response to those who did everything in their power to bring him down -- Paul stood strong.
Today, we are going to take another look at Galatians 1:11-24. Won’t you turn there with me and let’s read together from Paul’s defense of the faith, his calling, and the message he had received from God.
11I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. 12I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. 13For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. 14I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 15But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased 16to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, 17nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus. 18Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days. 19I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother. 20I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie. 21Later I went to Syria and Cilicia. 22I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24And they praised God because of me. (Galatians 1:11-24 NIV)
Paul loved the people of Galatia, he had been called by God to share the Gospel with them, he had seen many of the people come to know Christ, and a vibrant church had been born. It had to have ripped at Paul’s heart for him to hear that the church was in disarray and the false teachers were spreading false reports about him to try and draw the people away. Paul wanted those who were being deceived to know the truth so he wrote his defense to try and explain that everything they had heard about him was false. Paul writes in verses 11-12.