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Galatians 1:16-24 by Robert Dean
Series:Galatians (1998)
Duration:1 hr 3 mins 52 secs

Paul, Subsequent to Salvation; Gal. 1:16-24

In terms of Paul's specific life and his apostolic ministry we see that he was called, Galatians 1:16 NASB "to reveal His Son in me…"  That is that the purpose of Paul's salvation relates to his ministry as an apostle; that God would reveal through the apostle Paul the person and work of Jesus Christ. No other author in the New Testament is more responsible for developing all of the aspects of the work of Christ on the cross than the apostle Paul, especially in the epistles of Romans and Galatians. "… so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles…" Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles. "… I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood,." Remember that part of the Judaizers' attack was to discredit Paul's authority. The Judaizers were saying Paul didn't have any authority because he didn't get it from Jerusalem, from Peter and John. Paul is going to say they are right because spiritual gifts are not given by man, they are given by God at the moment of salvation. 

Galatians 1:17 NASB "nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me [prior to me]; but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus." He didn't consult with anybody. Paul needed to be alone. He had a lot to think about. He had been obsessively devoted to the task of destroying Christianity because as he understood the Old Testament Christianity was completely wrong. Now that he has had this blinding flash of reality as the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to him on the road to Damascus he has to rethink everything. He has to go out by himself and rethink through the implications of this and how it relates to all of the Old Testament prophecies. He has to think about the role of law because he has been devoted to law. As far as he was concerned morality was how one got to God. One of the biggest problems with Christianity is the confusing of morality with spirituality. That is not to say that spirituality has nothing to do with morality, but morality is what God established with everybody whether believer or unbeliever. The Mosaic Law reflects a moral standard. These are mandates for everybody. The Mosaic Law was not a way to salvation; it was the constitution for Israel. It outlined all the principles and guidelines and regulations for the nation Israel and for their government form which was a theocracy. A theocracy is a government where God is the head of state. The Mosaic Law was for everyone in Israel, believer and unbeliever alike. Spirituality, though, is something far beyond morality. It includes, of course, all the principles of morality but the spiritual life is a life that is uniquely influenced by God the Holy Spirit. That means that the spiritual life does not relate to anything that the unbeliever can do. If the unbeliever can do it, it is not the spiritual life.

This is explained in Ephesians 5:18 NASB "… but be filled with the Spirit." In Galatians chapter five we are told that we are to walk by means of the Spirit. These commands operate together. We are to be filled; that occurs at the moment of confession of sin. It is God the Holy Spirit, then, who takes the Word of God and fills our soul with the Word of God, and then we continue on a moment by moment basis to walk—a step by step procedure where we apply the Word of God in every arena of our life, until we choose to sin. When we sin we are out of fellowship and we have to use 1 John 1:9 again to regain fellowship and the filling of the Holy Spirit. This makes the spiritual life of the church age unique. It means that it is empowered uniquely by God the Holy Spirit, it is far beyond morality. Anyone can be moral, both believer and unbeliever; but only in the church age can you as a believer be spiritual, and that must be accomplished in the power and under the direction of God the Holy Spirit.

So the apostle Paul has to think about all of these things and relate all of these doctrines to one another, and he developed one of the most incredible systems of theology in the New Testament. They were difficult for Peter to understand. Then Paul returns to Damascus and spends some three years there.

The doctrine of apostleship

1.  The word apostle comes from the Greek word apostolos [a)postoloj]. There are two senses in which this word is used in the New Testament, a general sense and a specific sense. The root meaning of the word describes someone who has been commissioned by a group or an individual and given the authority to perform a task. The general usage would refer to those who are commissioned by a local church—like Barnabas and a number of other people who are mentioned in the New Testament. They don't have the spiritual gift of apostle; they have been commissioned by a local church as a missionary. The specific use of the word apostle refers to those who have the spiritual gift of apostleship and who meet certain qualifications. This describes the eleven original disciples plus the apostle Paul.

2.  The six requirements for apostleship: a) An apostle of Jesus Christ must be Jewish. They were sent out originally to the house of Israel, Matthew 10:6, before the church age; this was the limited use of apostle. According to Deuteronomy 18:9 cf. Romans 3:1, 2; Matthew 10:1-5, the Scriptures were given to Israel. Israel was specifically given the custodianship of the revelation of God, so the apostles who would deliver more revelation had to be of the nation Israel. b) An apostle must have received a call and a commissioned to his office directly from the Lord Jesus Christ. Galatians 1:1 cf. Acts 1:24-26. c) An apostle must have been an eyewitness of the Lord Jesus Christ in His teaching, John 15:27; Luke 22:28; Acts 1:21, 22. Paul made it clear that he met this requirement as an apostle, 1 Corinthians 9:1; 15:8; Acts 22:6-21. d) An apostle must possess authority in communicating divine revelation. What he says is not up to a vote, it came directly from God. What he wrote under divine inspiration was indeed the voice of God and carries the authority of God. 1 Corinthians 2:10; Galatians 1:11, 12 cf. 2 Timothy 3:16. e) An apostle was required to furnish the signs of an apostle. He performed certain miracles which were his calling cards; they provided credentials for his claim to be an apostle. f) An apostle possessed complete authority among all the churches.

3.  An apostle is a unique spiritual gift sovereignly delegated by the Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:27, 28; Ephesians 4:11; Colossians 1:1.

4.  Today all spiritual gifts are the permanent spiritual gifts. All spiritual gifts can be classified into two categories: permanent and temporary. The temporary gifts included miracles, knowledge and wisdom, prophecy, tongues, interpretation of tongues, healing—temporary gifts given during the transition period of the early church when the canon of the New Testament was not complete in order to communicate revelation in the early church age that was not accessible through a written canon of Scripture.

5.  In the pre-canon period of the church age (35-95 AD) certain temporary gifts were given for the church to carry on until the canon was completed.

6.  Certain gifts such as apostleship, prophecy, miracles, healing, tongues, interpretation of tongues, knowledge and wisdom, exhortation, discerning spirits, faith, ceased their function by 96 AD.

7.  Once the canon of the New Testament was completed and circulated all temporary spiritual gifts were withdrawn.

8.  The apostles to the church were not appointed until after the resurrection of Christ, according to Ephesians 4:8, 11. Christ distributed them.

9.  Apostles to the church therefore are not to be confused with the apostles to Israel in Matthew 10:2-4.

10.  The apostle John was the last of the apostles and died in approximately 96 AD.

11.  Any claim to be an apostle today is heresy, blasphemy, a complete violation of the Word of God.

Galatians 1:18 NASB "Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas, and stayed with him fifteen days." Paul spent three years in Damascus. We know from other passages, like Acts 9, that at that time he was teaching in Damascus. It is very likely that he was teaching among the Nabiteans who lived in the Damascus area. There was a joint conspiracy between the Nabiteans and the Jews as a result of Paul's ministry to run him out of town. In fact, they wanted to capture him and take his life but the other believers there lowered him down outside the city walls in a basket so that he could escape into the night. His purpose in Jerusalem was to spend some time with Peter and the other apostles if he could but he only spent time with Peter.   

Galatians 1:19 NASB "But I did not see any other of the apostles except James, the Lord's brother." James was not one of the eleven and was not an apostle. He was the leader of the local church in Jerusalem and was never an apostle in the broader sense of the term that we have been talking about as one given the spiritual gift of apostle who exercised authority over a plurality of congregations. James was the pastor of the local congregation there and is also the author of the epistle of James.

Galatians 1:20 NASB "(Now in what I am writing to you, I assure you before God that I am not lying.) [21] Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. [22] I was {still} unknown by sight to the churches of Judea which were in Christ; [23] but only, they kept hearing, 'He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith which he once tried to destroy.' [24] And they were glorifying God because of me."

Acts 9:20 NASB "and immediately he {began} to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, 'He is the Son of God.'" Paul sets his pattern immediately. He begins to proclaim the gospel to the Jews. But remember, he is the apostle to the Gentiles. So he is going to stir up a little trouble. He goes first to the Jews. [21] "All those hearing him continued to be amazed, and were saying, 'Is this not he who in Jerusalem destroyed those who called on this name, and {who} had come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?' [22] But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this {Jesus} is the Christ. [23] When many days had elapsed, the Jews plotted together to do away with him." In that verse it tells us that the Jews were plotting against him but in 2 Corinthians 11:32 we are told that the Nabiteans conspired to kill him. How do we put that together? Paul went to the Jews first and got them mad at him, then he went to the Gentiles there and got them mad at him. So they got together and conspired against him. [24] "but their plot became known to Saul. They were also watching the gates day and night so that they might put him to death; [25] but his disciples took him by night and let him down through {an opening in} the wall, lowering him in a large basket." This is when he is there at the end of three years. [26] "When he came to Jerusalem, he was trying to associate with the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple. [27] But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles and described to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had talked to him, and how at Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus." So Barnabas apparently speaks up for Paul to give him credibility. [28] And he was with them, moving about freely in Jerusalem, speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord. [29] And he was talking and arguing with the Hellenistic {Jews;} but they were attempting to put him to death." So he was just causing trouble wherever he went.

Acts 9:31 NASB "So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase."

So in terms of our understanding of Galatians chapter one he gives evidence of his apostleship from what happened prior to his conversion, then he gives evidence from what happened at his conversion (vv. 15-17) and then he gives evidence from what happened just after his salvation (vv. 18-24). It all culminated in the fact that God was glorified because of Paul.