Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 6 Study # 2
Thesis: The continuing evidence of Paul's apostleship consists in the easily verifiable fact that the churches in Judaea "glorified God in me".
Introduction: Two weeks ago we looked into the fact that Paul seemed to think it important that he deny that he is lying about the facts in regard to his reception of the Gospel from Jesus Christ. We saw that, at some point, the bottom line is going to come to clarity and that bottom line is that the Gospel could not possibly arise out of a "liar".
This evening we are going to wind up our study of chapter one by looking into one more stage in Paul's historical claims: that the churches of Judaea were willing to "glorify God" for what Paul was doing. This is a remarkable claim. It is easily verified. And it makes "objections" impossible. So, let's look into it.
February 27, 2011
- I. Paul's Preaching in Syria and Cilicia.
- A. According to Acts 15:36-41, Luke says that Paul told Barnabas that he wanted to "go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord" and that he "went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches".
- B. Paul's claim in Galatians 1:21-22 is that, after 15 days with Peter, he departed into the regions of Syria and Cilicia and remained "unknown by face to the churches of Judaea which are in Christ".
- C. Paul's claim in Galatians 1:23 is that the churches in Judaea "heard" that the former persecutor was now an evangelist of the faith.
- 1. The facts are these:
- a. Both before, and after, Paul's ministry in Galatia (Acts 13-14), he had an extended ministry in Syria and Cilicia.
- b. Both before, and after Paul's ministry in Galatia, Paul was recognized in both Jerusalem and Syrian Antioch (there is a Pisidian Antioch in Asia Minor) for being a major player (Acts 11:22-26).
- c. That Barnabas left Antioch to seek Saul in Tarsus to bring him to the work in Antioch means that Saul was making big enough waves in Syria and Cilicia to be known to the Church in Jerusalem that sent Barnabas to Antioch in the first place.
- 2. The significance is this: Saul of Tarsus was "preaching the faith".
- a. The reference to the former persecutor is a doubling back upon the initial argument in Galatians 1:11-14 that the Gospel had transformed Saul/Paul at a most fundamental level.
- 1) The focus is upon what the churches of Judaea were saying: the "persecutor" (1:13) is now preaching the faith which he once "destroyed" (1:13). The term "destroyed" was translated "wasted" in 1:13 and is only used one other time in the New Testament (Acts 9:21) where those in Damascus used it to describe, in amazement, that for which Saul of Tarsus had been noted. It is given its content in Acts 22:4 ("...binding and delivering into prisons..."). The difference between the words in 1:13 and this text, 1:23, is that in the former the focus was upon "the Church of God" and in the latter the focus is upon "the faith".
- 2) In terms of that former argument, we should remember that Paul used his former behavior of "persecuting the Church of God" to deny his worthiness to be an apostle (1 Corinthians 15:9) and to claim the position of being "chief of sinners" (1 Timothy 1:15). In regard to those descriptions, we must understand that we are not dealing with what men consider to be the most serious of infractions. Men, generally, do not give much, if any, thought to the idea that it is of a most serious moral failure to be on the wrong side of the Truth of the Grace of God.
- b. That Judaea had "heard" that Saul was "preaching the faith" has to mean that he was involved in the understanding of "the faith" at a significant level.
- II. The Churches' Response to Paul's Growing Reputation.
- A. Paul claims that they "glorified God in him".
- 1. This means that they both recognized, and acknowledged, the hand of God in the life and ministry of Saul of Tarsus (so much so that Barnabas sought him out in Tarsus to lead in the ministry in Antioch).
- 2. This means that it was a part of their own relationship to God to give Him credit for bringing Saul out of his "persecutor" mode into his "evangelism" mode.
- B. Paul's claim slams the door on the opposition.
- 1. It is logically inconsistent for the Judaean churches to "glorify God" and not accept what Paul was doing, and what he was doing was rooted in what he was saying.
- 2. This much of Paul's claim is easily verifiable.
- 3. This verifiable claim puts the "opposition" into the uncomfortable position of having to "surpass his credentials" if they are going to accuse him of lying (1 Corinthians 15:10; 2 Corinthians 11:23).