Galatians 1:10-17

Sunday Evening Service

April 3, 2005


Paul is writing to a group of churches which he had helped to establish.

After having established these churches, there were a group of teachers called “Judaizers” who came in and began spreading their own doctrines.

The Judaizers felt that a Gentile couldn’t really be saved apart from first becoming a Jew. They taught that after a person came to Jesus, they would have to then be circumcised, and begin to follow the Law of Moses.

To those who would teach a perversion of the gospel, Paul did not mince his words:

(Gal 1:9 NKJV)  As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

:10 For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.

persuadepeitho – persuade; be persuaded; to listen to, obey, yield to, comply with

Perhaps it would be better to say, “For do I now comply with men, or God

It’s possible that Paul has been accused of toning down his message in order to please people.  Paul taught that men were saved only by grace.  The accusation could be made that Paul should have preached a tougher gospel by telling people that they also had to be circumcised and follow the Law of Moses.  But Paul stuck by his guns and preached grace.

pleased – imperfect tense, “For if I yet were continually pleasing men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.


Be careful about living to please people rather than God.

It sounds to me that if I am seeking to please people, I may not be at all pleasing to God.
It’s not that you have to be obnoxious to people to please God.  And it’s not that you can’t both be pleasing to people and be pleasing to God.
The issue is who are you trying to please?  Whose approval are you seeking first?  If you are seeking man’s approval before God, you are in trouble.
Pleasing people can get you into trouble.
An old fable that has been passed down for generations tells about an elderly man who was traveling with a boy and a donkey. As they walked through a village, the man was leading the donkey and the boy was walking behind. The townspeople said the old man was a fool for not riding, so to please them he climbed up on the animal's back. When they came to the next village, the people said the old man was cruel to let the child walk while he enjoyed the ride. So, to please them, he got off and set the boy on the animal's back and continued on his way. In the third village, people accused the child of being lazy for making the old man walk, and the suggestion was made that they both ride. So the man climbed on and they set off again. In the fourth village, the townspeople were indignant at the cruelty to the donkey because he was being forced to carry two people. The frustrated man was last seen carrying the donkey down the road.
We can't please everybody, and if we try we end up carrying a heavy burden. Well- meaning Christians may offer us advice, and much of it is valuable. But when we try to do everything other believers want us to do, we can easily become frustrated and confused. Life it even worse when the people we’re trying to please are not even Christians.


Know who you work for

We work for Jesus. We are His “bondservant”.
(Col 3:22-24 NKJV) Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. {23} And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, {24} knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.

Please your real Master.

When Joseph had been taken as a prisoner and sold into slavery into Egypt, he became the servant of a man named Potiphar.  Even though Joseph “served” Potiphar, Joseph served the Lord first, and Potiphar second.

When Joseph was face with the temptation of Potiphar’s wife asking him to go to bed with her, he was faced with a choice of who to serve.

(Gen 39:8-9 NKJV)  But he refused and said to his master's wife, "Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand. {9} "There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?"

Joseph knew going in to the temptation that His Master was watching.  He knew who He served.

(Rom 6:16 NKJV)  Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?

You can tell who your Master is by whose orders you obey.

:11-12  The source of Paul's gospel

:11 But I make known to you, brethren,

KJV – “certify”

:11  that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.

One of the first accusations that were leveled at Paul by the Judaizers was that he had cooked up some kind of kooky religion.

They thought he had just made all this stuff up.

:12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it,

Paul is denying that humans had anything to do with it.

:12 but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Though there were probably other times as well, we know from Paul’s account of his conversion that Jesus spoke to him and taught him:

(Acts 26:13-18 NKJV)  "at midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me. {14} "And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.' {15} "So I said, 'Who are You, Lord?' And He said, 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. {16} 'But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. {17} 'I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, {18} 'to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.'

Jesus told Paul that:

Jesus was sending Paul to the Gentiles (shock, horror!) (vs.17)
Salvation comes by faith in Jesus (vs.18)


Don't underestimate God's ability to teach you.

Paul’s message wasn’t just a revelation from God, but one that was also checked and approved later by the apostles.  He wasn’t just a loose cannon coming up with strange doctrines.
But Paul found out that the things that Jesus Christ had taught him were indeed the truth.
Jesus said,
(John 14:26 NKJV)  "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.
John wrote,
(1 John 2:27 NKJV)  But the anointing (the Holy Spirit) which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.
Some groups will say that you can’t know the truth unless you’re constantly plugged in to them, listening to their teachings and reading their books.  The Jehovah’ Witnesses will tell their converts that if they stop reading the “Awake” magazine that they will go into darkness.  The truth is that if a person stopped reading their literature, they’d never come up with the strange ideas that the Watchtower society promotes on their own.
I am not afraid of a new believer simply reading his Bible and letting God teach him.
God can teach you.

:13-17  Paul's conversion

:13 For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism,

He’s going to talk a bit here about his life before he came to believe in Jesus.

:13 how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure

Saul had been very zealous in persecuting the early church.

He had been a part of the persecution that started with the stoning of Stephen.

(Acts 8:1 NKJV)  Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.

He went around, having people thrown into prison.

(Acts 8:3 NKJV)  As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.

When he met Jesus, he was on his way to Damascus to bring back more traitors to Judaism.

(Acts 9:1-2 NKJV)  Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest {2} and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

:13 and tried to destroy it.

He apparently had even been involved in putting people to death.

(Acts 22:4 NKJV)  "I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women,


Saul was not a very nice guy!

He was kind of like a budding Adolph Hitler to the early church.

God can save the most unlikely people!

I often hear people say that this person or that person would make a good Christian.
They are such a nice person, that God could really use them.
But what tickles God’s fancy the most, is saving the people we least think would come to the Lord.
Think about some of the people you know, especially those who are the most antagonistic against Christianity.
Do you realize that they could be next?

:14 And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation,

He was tops in his class at Jewish-ness school.

:14 being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.

Paul had quite a resume as a Jew:

He was born a Jew, and was educated by the great rabbi Gamaliel himself (Acts 22:3)

He was in fact a Pharisee, the strict, legalistic sect of Judaism (Acts 26:5)

Paul had plenty of reasons to boast as a Jew:

(Phil 3:4-6 NKJV)  though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: {5} circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; {6} concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.


Paul was a good Jew

It’s important for Paul to be telling these deceived Galatian churches just what kind of background he himself had in Judaism.
The Judaizers are trying to make a big stink about people needing to become Jews in order to be saved.
Paul is going to make it clear that he’s pretty much of an expert when it comes to Judaism.  He knows what he’s talking about.

:15 But when it pleased God,

eudokeo - it seems good to one, is one's good pleasure

I like how Paul describes his salvation.

He realizes what a wretched sinner he was. And yet God’s whole attitude toward it was that it “pleased” God.

God is not “reluctantly” saving people. He’s gladly, happily, doing it.

In fact, all of heaven rejoices

(Luke 15:7 NKJV)  "I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.

:15  who separated me from my mother's womb

Paul recognized God's sovereign plan on his life. He knew that God had picked him out before he was even born.

Jeremiah also expressed this same thing.

(Jer 1:5 NKJV)  "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations."


Don't forget God's plan for your life!

God has long established plans for our lives:
(Isa 46:9-10 NKJV)  Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, {10} Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, 'My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,'
(Eph 2:10 NKJV)  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

:15 and called me through His grace,

Paul wasn’t called to follow Jesus because he had somehow earned the right to be saved.

Paul was called to follow Jesus only because of God’s grace, only because God chose to show His love to Paul.

This is what the whole letter is about - GRACE!

Our salvation, and our continuing relationship with God is not based on our works, but upon what God does for us.

:16 to reveal His Son in me,

This is what happens in salvation.

Jesus Christ is formed inside of you!

(Col 1:27 NKJV)  To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

:16 that I might preach Him among the Gentiles,

You have to know that this is an extremely distasteful thought to a Jew, especially a Pharisee. To the Pharisee, the Gentiles were only made by God as fuel for the fires of hell.

:16 I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood,

When Paul saw Jesus on the road to Damascus, he was blinded, and had initially been brought into the city of Damascus.

It was there that he was healed by Ananias, and also baptized by Ananias.

But after that, Paul had to leave Damascus when word got out what had happened to him.

He had to be let down in a basket through a hole in the wall.

It's at this point that Paul starts to think about all that has happened to him.

And this was such an incredible thing, to think that God would use him to preach to the "heathen", that he went away to think about it.

He didn't go ask his friends for their opinions, or to go and apply to the apostle's school of theology.

:17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me;

Paul after his conversion didn't go to the apostles in Jerusalem to learn or "be ordained" by them.

Paul was an apostle because Jesus Christ had chosen him, not because he had some magical ceremony done by the apostles that somehow transferred his apostolic authority.


Authority comes from God, not man.

This is one of the fallacies of the Catholic, and even the Mormon churches.
They both feel that they have some kind of “authority” that was passed down from one apostle to the next.
The Catholic church claims to be the only church that traces it’s authority back to Peter, the first pope.
The Mormon church, falling into the same assumption that authority is passed on from man, claims that there was a break in the line of authority, which was restored by Joseph Smith, after God gave him back this authority.  And then the Mormon church has continued on with this line.
But both err.
Authority is given by God.
The best man can do is recognize that it’s there.


If you're looking for authority, do it God's way!

It’s not uncommon for someone to want the kind of authority a pastor or elder has in a church.
And it’s common for people to kind of demand that you give it to them.
Or they think that if they could just have you lay hands on them, that you’d get it too.
The Bible says:
(1 Pet 5:6 NKJV)  Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,

God’s way is not to be seeking authority, but to be seeking humility.

:17 but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.

Arabia – this is a very vague description of where he went.  It could include the area outside of Damascus in Syria, all the way down into the Arabian peninsula.  The point was that he didn’t go to Jerusalem first.  He didn’t go to where there was an apostle first.  He went to be alone first.

Some commentators feel that in Acts 9:22-23, that what seems to be a long stay in Damascus was actually two stays in Damascus, broken up by a trip to Arabia, as given here.

So Paul went away into the wilderness for a while to be by himself and think over what had happened to him.