February 20, 2012
Back to Basics
I Am Not Lying
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Paul related his travels after his conversion to prove, among other things, that he did not immediately consult with flesh and blood concerning the revelation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ directly from Jesus Himself. As we study a few verses today, we will see that Paul spent a little time with the apostle Cephas, and also met the apostle James, the brother of the Lord Jesus. Paul emphasized that he received a revelation from Christ, directly, and was not taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ from Cephas, James, or any other person on earth.
Fifteen Days with Cephas. In Galatians 1:18, we learn that Paul spent fifteen days with Cephas. This visit to Jerusalem occurred three years after his conversion, and only lasted fifteen days. Paul implied that, in such a short period of time, he could not have been taught everything he knew about Jesus from Cephas or the other apostles. On the other hand, Paul did want to meet Cephas in Jerusalem. You may recall that upon his conversion, Paul went to Damascus and began to preach Christ there (Act 9:19-21). We see that after many days, Paul left Damascus, being let down through an opening in the wall, lowered in a basket (Acts 9:23-25; 2 Corinthians 11:32-33). We read also that after leaving Damascus, Paul went to Jerusalem and began to preach Christ there, but the disciples were afraid of him at first, until Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles. Paul moved freely about Jerusalem, until the Hellenistic Jews attempted to put him to death. Then, the brethren sent Paul down to Caesarea, and then on to Tarsus, his hometown (Acts 9:23-30). This visit to Jerusalem seems to correspond to Paul’s visit to Cephas, lasting 15 days (Galatians 1:18). Paul visited Cephas for a meeting among equals. In no way did Cephas, or any other human being, confer apostleship upon Paul. Paul always described his apostleship as a spiritual gift (Ephesians 4:11) and a calling directly from God, and by the will of God (Galatians 1:1).
Apostle James, the Lord’s Brother. In Galatians 1:19, Paul recounted his visit with the apostle James, the Lord’s brother. Do not confuse James, the son of Zebedee, with this James, the apostle in Galatians 1:19. James, the son of Zebedee, was one of the twelve disciples, who travelled with Jesus throughout Palestine. Although some false religions today teach that Mary, the mother of Jesus, had no other babies, the Bible teaches that Mary had James, Joseph, Simon and Judas after bearing Jesus, plus unnamed sisters (Matthew 13:56). You probably recall that Mary was a virgin when the Holy Spirit came upon her, and she became pregnant with the Lord Jesus (Matthew 1:18). We know that during the earthly ministry of Jesus, before His resurrection, James and his brothers were not believing in Christ (Mark 3:20-21; John 7:5). Later, however, after the resurrection of Jesus, and before His ascension to heaven, we see them and their mother Mary, gathered together in the upper room in Jerusalem, with the apostles, continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with other women (Acts 1:14). In Galatians 1:19, we learn that years later, Paul met James who functioned as an apostle, and evidently continued in the faith to the glory of God. Paul clearly identifies this James as one of the apostles. We know that this James was not one of the twelve apostles, so we may deduce that the term “apostles” in the New Testament described more than just the twelve apostles.
Not Lying. In Galatians 1:20, we read this unusual statement that Paul declared he was not lying about his own biography, and more particularly about his own visit to Jerusalem. It seems as if a charge had been laid against Paul that his spiritual knowledge was secondary, because he learned it from the apostles in Jerusalem. Paul’s opponents must have argued that the apostles in Jerusalem spent time directly with the Lord Jesus, and they really knew the Gospel of Jesus Christ better than anyone else, especially Paul. According to the false argument, the apostles in Jerusalem were the real authority on all matters pertaining to Christ, and not Paul. Paul combated that argument by showing that he actually received a revelation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ directly from Jesus Himself, and did not receive it from any human being, including, without limitation, any apostle in Jerusalem or elsewhere (Galatians 1:12). For all the false teachers in Galatia, Paul undercut their arguments about authority by reaffirming, with his own biography, that he taught the direct revelation of Jesus Christ, and not from traditions received from the apostles.
So we learn more about Paul and his relationship to the apostles in Jerusalem.
● Paul did not learn the Gospel of Jesus Christ from Cephas, but Paul visited Cephas in Jerusalem after Paul received the revelation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ directly from Jesus Himself.
● Paul also visited with the apostle James in Jerusalem, and stayed approximately 15 days in Jerusalem.
● Paul spent time with other believers, and visited with them. We should likewise spend time with believers, and be encouraged by our visits with them.
Application for Today
As I walk through life today, I will remember that God revealed the Gospel of Jesus Christ directly to Paul, and not through the apostles and then to Paul. Our faith rests upon direct revelation from God. God used a variety of men to write the New Testament, and today, he uses a variety of people to perform His will upon earth. We labor together on the same team, for God only has one team, spread across the entire world. We have only one God, One Savior, and He directs our paths in His ministry. Will you be laboring for Christ, united with Christ on one team, today?