by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 5 Study # 7 January 30, 2011 Dayton, Texas
16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:
17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.
1901 ASV Translation:
16 to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the Gentiles; straightway I conferred not with flesh and blood:
17 neither went I up to Jerusalem to them that were apostles before me: but I went away into Arabia; and again I returned unto Damascus.
I. Paul's Response to God's Actions and Purposes.
A. He stresses "immediacy".
1. On the one hand, "immediately" departing into Arabia is the only valid response any man can give to a divine summons.
2. On the other hand, "immediately" departing into Arabia kept him from being able to have any "flesh and blood" attempt to straighten out his theology.
3. Additionally, an "immediate" departure into Arabia meant he did not have to answer any questions from his own former "group".
B. He rejects "consulting".
1. The thesis of Paul's current material is that he was able to preach the same message as the recognized apostles without any of their foundations in experience. The only factor that he shared in common with them that could have led to such an ability was his "Christ in me" reality.
2. The word choice by Paul is interesting in that it is one of only two times in the entire New Testament that it is found and both of those times are in Galatians (1:16, 2:6).
a. The two contexts both address Paul's ability to engage in "investigative" conversations with others in order to come to some kind of valid understanding of the issue that is at issue.
b. Both contexts are involved with "Paul's doctrine"; the first raises some question as to whence it came, and the second raises some question as to its accuracy.
c. Both contexts set forth the same fact: Paul was able to preach a comprehensive "message" that was in specific harmony at every point with the recognized apostles of Jesus. Those apostles had had extended exposure to Jesus of Nazareth over many years and Paul had only that which he claimed. In 1:12 he said that his message came from Jesus Christ by revelation. This raises a significant puzzle: what was the point of all of that exposure to The Twelve? If Paul could have the same message without the exposure, could not they all have had the same without the exposure? To be sure, but what Jesus did with The Twelve was the historical basis for the message and not even Paul dismissed the need for that. In light of these facts, we must understand that there may not be any greater issue for the believer than Paul's claim to have been able to articulate the message without "consulting" with "flesh and blood". Galatians 1:20 indicates that Paul recognized just how critical is his claim.
C. He focuses upon "flesh and blood".
1. There are several ways to refer to human beings.
2. To call all/every human being who had the ability to influence Paul's message "flesh and blood" is in direct harmony with Jesus' statement to Peter in Matthew 16:17 about the fact that Peter did not get his "understanding" of Jesus from any human creature. Additionally, it is John's early thesis in John 1:12-13 that the privilege of being one of God's children does not come through "bloods" or "the will of the flesh". In John 6:53-56 John capitalizes upon Jesus' teaching that it is only by "eating His flesh" and "drinking His blood" that one can appropriate His "he in Me, and I in him" reality. Paul also insists in 1 Corinthians 15:50 that "flesh and blood" cannot inherit the Kingdom. And in Ephesians 6:12 he declares that our warfare is not against "flesh and blood". The conclusion we have to draw from these New Testament references is that there is something significantly incompetent about humanity when it comes to actual spiritual perception/progress. This does not mean that God does not use the experiences of "flesh and blood" as the means of His "revelation" to men, but it does mean that He does not have to. Only one generation of mankind, and only an exceedingly small segment of that generation, was actually exposed to Jesus in "flesh and blood", yet salvation comes to multitudes through many generations. This boils down to this: the experiences to which "flesh and blood" are exposed are needful experiences, but are not enlightening of themselves. The enlightening comes from Another ontheheelsof the experiences.
3. This particular claim is significant in light of the original thesis statement for the paragraph (1:11-12). That thesis is that the Gospel is not of human origin and was not in Paul's possession by human agency.