Paul had been speaking about how he was trying to please God and not trying to get man's approval. With this in mind he went on to describe the origins of the gospel message that he had been given.
Galatians 1:11-24 (KJV)
But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:
And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.
But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace,
To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:
Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.
Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.
But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother.
Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.
Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia;
And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ:
But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed.
And they glorified God in me.
Verses 11 & 12 consist of Paul's assertion that the gospel message he received did not come from man, but rather directly from the revelation of Messiah Yeshua. The rest of chapter one relates the history of Paul's receiving that gospel.
Initially, Paul had been a part of traditional Judaism. He noted that the Galatians had heard of his "conversation." In the KJV this word means "conduct." Paul admitted that he had persecuted the Messianic believers in Yeshua. He said that he wasted, or tried to destroy this body of believers. Notice Paul's intensity and the zealousness of his actions (verse 13). Verse 14 further reveals how Paul was such an overachiever that he advanced in Judaism well before others his age. He was extremely zealous when it came to the traditions of Judaism. Paul was making a differentiation regarding the traditions taught in Judaism and the Law of God. Although Paul was undoubtedly zealous regarding God's Law, the thrust of his letter had to do with those traditions of his Jewish fathers and not the Law. Specifically, Paul is referring to the oral traditions that he learned because he was a Pharisee, the most strict sect of Judaism.
Verses 15 & 16 informs us about Paul's conversion. Although Paul had been separated unto God from before his birth (Aren't we glad that his mother did not abort him?), it was not until the right time in God's plan that he was called by God's grace and shown Yeshua, God's son (Acts 9:1-9). Paul's purpose from that time on was to preach the gospel to the heathen (Gentiles). After Paul's conversion he did not turn to any flesh and blood person. Verse 17 states that he didn't go to Jerusalem to seek out the disciples of Yeshua, but went into Arabia before returning to Damascus.
After three years Paul then went up to Jerusalem, saw Peter, and spent fifteen days there (verse 18). It is often taught that Paul spent three years in Arabia, but that is not necessarily the case. For sure that is the upper limit, but the three years also included the time spent in Damascus. Verse 19 states that Paul saw only James, Yeshua's brother, besides Peter. Acts 9:27 indicates that Paul met "the apostles." David H. Stern, in the Jewish New Testament Commentary (p.524), suggests that Paul met the apostles, but only discussed his gospel message with Peter and James.
In verse 20 Paul affirmed the validity of what he was relating.
After that, Paul went into Syria and Cilicia (verse 21). This is the area from which Paul originally came from. He spent a number of years there.
Verses 22 & 23 tells us that Paul was not known by face to the Messianic believers in Judea, but they had heard that he had been preaching the faith he had once tried to destroy. Verse 24 conveys that those believers were praising God because of Paul.
The question remains. What was the gospel message that Paul received directly from God? How was it different from the message the apostles were preaching? This will be the topic of discussion in the next post.