Galatians 1:18-24

Sunday Evening Service

April 10, 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.

Last week we saw Paul begin to describe His conversion, and how it was totally a work of the Lord, no human hands involved.

After coming to the Lord, Paul didn't begin by enrolling in seminary, but went off to be with the Lord:

(Gal 1:17 NKJV)  nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.

:18-24  Paul's contacts with the church

:18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days.

When Paul originally left Jerusalem, he left to persecute the church in Damascus.

But when he met Jesus on the road to Damascus, he was blinded and had to be led into Damascus.

After being healed by Ananias, Paul went and took some time off in Arabia (Gal.1:17) to learn from the Lord.

Then he returned to Damascus and began to minister there.

Now after a total of three years, Paul headed back to Jerusalem.

We take up the story in Acts:

(Acts 9:26-30 NKJV)  And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple. {27} But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. {28} So he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and going out. {29} And he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists, but they attempted to kill him. {30} When the brethren found out, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him out to Tarsus.

When Luke records that Paul met with the apostles in Jerusalem, apparently it was only with Peter and James.


Be a Barney!

Or, Barnabas!
His name means "son of rest" or, "son of encouragement"
He was willing to put his reputation on the line to stick up for someone who was being judged incorrectly.
Later on, he was the one to hand pick Paul out to help mature and teach the church in Antioch
(Acts 11:22-26 NKJV)  Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch. {23} When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. {24} For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. {25} Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. {26} And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.
Keep your eyes out for the Pauls in our midst!
Bring them alongside, encourage them, and teach them how to minister!
Rod Cooper writes, “A modern-day Paul is Chuck Colson. I had the opportunity to travel and speak on behalf of Prison Fellowship. I learned that Colson had the experience of not being accepted into the Christian community. Can you believe that? This is the man who wrote Loving God and The Body.
“Colson had been Richard Nixon’s close assistant during his presidential campaign and his years in office. Colson was so ruthless in his dealings with people, he was frequently referred to as Nixon’s “hatchet man”—the one who handled the president’s dirty work. One person described Colson by saying he’d walk over his own grandmother. It’s not surprising when Chuck Colson became a Christian and confessed his wrongdoings that many people doubted his sincerity.
“After he served his jail term and began his ministry, many Christians were skeptical. If it were not for those who knew the reality of Colson’s Christian experience and were willing to play a Barnabas role, Colson would have had a difficult time convincing people he was indeed a different man—a converted man.
“Thousands of people might never have been blessed by Prison Fellowship. We might not have Colson’s books. We might not have had half the New Testament if Barnabas hadn’t been there for Paul.”

-- Rod Cooper, "The Kiss of Encouragement," Preaching Today, Tape No. 141.

:19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord's brother.

This is the author of the letter of James.

He became the pastor of the church in Jerusalem.

:20 (Now concerning the things which I write to you, indeed, before God, I do not lie.)

:21 Afterward I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia.

Syria is to the north of Israel.

Cilicia is farther north still, where Saul’s home town of Taursus is.

This falls in line with Acts 9:30 which said that Paul was sent off to Tarsus.

:22 And I was unknown by face to the churches of Judea which were in Christ.

Paul says this to further the idea that he did not get his gospel from man, but from the Lord.

He’s already made it clear that he didn’t immediately go to the apostles and ask them to teach him.

And now he says that he not only didn’t go to the apostles, or the church in Jerusalem (except after 3 years), but that the churches in the whole southern part of Israel didn’t even know Paul by sight.

:23 But they were hearing only, “He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy.”


It can be the person you expect least.

It's not uncommon for the Lord to save those you least expect.
The old proverb:
When you throw a rock into a pack of dogs, the one that yelps the loudest is probably the one that you hit.

When you’re talking to people about Jesus, it’s okay if you get some reactions and objections.  Maybe you’re beginning to hit home!

Jesus can change anyone.  Even radically.
Chuck Colson, ex-Marine captain and former confidant of the President of the United States, was once described as “tough, wily, nasty, and tenaciously loyal to Richard Nixon” by Time magazine. Colson’s conversion and subsequent announcement of his faith in Christ jarred Washington.  There was laughter from some, bewilderment from a few, and suspicion on the part of many.  But it proved to be real. The middle-aged “hatchet man” was genuinely born again, and as a result, the Spirit of God enabled him to do soul surgery on himself. Before long, he was forced to face the truth.  Was he innocent of all the charges brought against him—or many of those charges?  As he spoke to a group of people at a prayer breakfast, he concluded his talk with:
“No one else seemed to have noticed my slip.  There was nothing about it in the press.  But the words ‘many of the charges’ throbbed with the pulse of the jet engines flying me back to Washington.  Was it a Freudian slip?  Or was it God using my voice?  ‘Many, but not all the charges, Chuck.’
My own words had clinched it.  My conversion would remain incomplete so long as I was a criminal defendant, tangled in the Watergate quagmire.  I had to put the past behind me completely.  If it meant going to prison, so be it!
In his book, The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote of what he called the Great Divide:  ‘The first step which follows Christ’s call cuts the disciple off from his previous existence.  The call to follow at once produces a new situation.  To stay in the old situation makes discipleship impossible.’
It had all looked so simple once, just getting in tune with God, finding out who Christ was and believing in Him.  But whether I was ready for discipleship or not, here I was and there was no turning back.”

-- Born Again, by Chuck Colson

:24 And they glorified God in me.

But not at first, at first there was a little skepticism

(Acts 9:26 NKJV)  And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple.

It wasn't until Barney came along that they began to loosen up and praise the Lord for Paul.


Don't be too close-minded!

Sometimes we Christians get to thinking that saved people must all learn to dress alike, talk alike, walk alike, etc.
And when someone new comes into our group, oooooh!

We can stand back and just sneer and criticize.

We need to instead learn to accept one another.
God has made us acceptable:

(Eph 1:6 NKJV)  to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved.

Who are we not to accept one another?

(Rom 15:7 NKJV)  Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.

The person you reject, just may be the next apostle Paul!
The history books are full of stories of gifted persons whose talents were overlooked by a procession of people until someone believed in them.  Einstein was four years old before he could speak and seven before he could read.  Issac Newton did poorly in grade school.  A newspaper editor fired Walt Disney because he had “no good ideas”.  Leo Tolstoy flunked out of college, and Werner von Braun failed ninth grade algebra.  Haydn gave up ever making a musician of Beethoven, who seemed a slow and plodding young man with no apparent talent—except a belief in music.
But even if they become nothing greater in life, they are still incredibly precious to the Lord.
Learn to treasure the people around you!