Galatiansby Khan Hui Neon
No one should preach the gospel on the basis of imitating what others are doing. In this case, imitation is the conduct of a believer without conviction.
Continuing his defence, Paul stresses again the independence of his apostleship and gospel from any man's appointment, wisdom, or teaching. Following his conversion, Paul did not rush to Jerusalem to seek the counsel of the original twelve disciples. Instead, he waited 3 years before going up to the Holy City to ″get acquainted″ (Galatians 1:18) with Peter, spending only 15 days with him. It had always been Paul's intention to form and maintain a bond of fellowship with the church in Jerusalem. But even as he visited Peter, he was already ministering as an apostle. Paul highlights that he had limited contact with the other apostles, except for James, Jesus' brother (v. 19). This is to emphasise his apostleship's independence.
To counter the charge that his apostleship and gospel originated from man, Paul invokes the Roman legal praxis: ″Before God, I do not lie″ (v. 20 NKJV). This is a solemn and legally binding oath. Oath-making was generally discouraged in a Roman court unless it was absolutely necessary. Paul now considers it absolutely necessary for his readers to know that everything he writes to them is true. God is his witness: his is no manmade second-hand gospel; nor Jerusalem-commissioned apostleship.
Without pausing, Paul goes on to recount what happened after his Jerusalem visit. He did not tarry in Judea and spend time there learning the gospel, but immediately set off northward, to the regions of Syria and Cilicia (v. 21). There he remained for some years, having little contact with the Jerusalem church.
This lack of contact extended to all the churches in Judea (v. 22). Clearly, Paul's influence was limited, yet when news of his ministry reached them, they asked, ″Haven't you heard how the persecutor who drove many of us out of Jerusalem is now a believer and preaching the gospel? Praise the Lord!″ They raised no objection to his gospel, finding it no different from that of the apostles in Jerusalem. Paul writes that though he was ″personally unknown″ to them (v. 22), yet they ″praised God because of me″ (v. 24). Being the scattered members of the Jerusalem church, the Judean churches-which had been taught by the apostles-were perhaps the best critics of the authenticity of Paul's apostleship and gospel. Without him seeking it, they gave Paul a resounding affirmation.
Today, our call also comes from God-not man-to share His gospel. Paul was absolutely clear about his calling and the message he proclaimed. Are we as well?
How are you responding to the call by God to preach the gospel (Matthew 28:18-20)?
What are some obstacles that discourage you from sharing the gospel? What can be done to overcome them?