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Deeper Commentary


1:1 Paul, an apostle (not from men, nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead)- Consider how in Galatians Paul uses so many negatives, as if his passion and almost rage at the false teachers is coming out: “An apostle not from men… the gospel preached by me is not man’s gospel… nor was I taught it… I did not confer with flesh and blood, I did not go up to Jerusalem… I do not lie… Titus was not compelled… to false brethren we did not yield… those ‘of repute’ added nothing” (Gal. 1:1,11,12,16,20; 2:3,4,6). The way he says “Ye have known God, or rather, are known of God” (Gal. 4:9) seems to indicate [through the “or rather…”] a very human and passionate touch in his writing, as if he was thinking out loud as he wrote. Throughout 2 Corinthians particularly his writing in places can be described as an inspired flow of consciousness.

Authority in spiritual ministry doesn't depend upon any human authorisation. Paul's authority is linked specifically to the fact God raised Jesus from the dead. That resurrection led to the great commission and the Lord's empowerment of all witness to Him as risen and exalted. But this empowerment is given not only to Paul. All demands for authorization of ministry, e.g. to perform baptisms or decide who to fellowship in the church, is therefore utterly missing the point. We are authorized by the Lord, and the great commission applies to us all. In any case, once we start arguing that only some are authorized to perform ministry, the question is raised as to how they are authorized. And the Bible is silent about that. All manner of secular power brokering philosophy comes into play, but Paul and anyone led by the Spirit of the risen Lord will have nothing to do with that.

1:2 And all the brothers that are with me, to the churches of Galatia- Those sun Paul may refer to brothers who supported Paul's position on the Law, which was going to be the burden of this letter. It was Paul who was the inspired author but he is making the point that there were other brethren who agreed with his position. The churches of Galatia could have referred to quite a few of the congregations Paul is recorded as founding in Acts; because he sees his responsibilities as being to his own converts and his letters are generally addressed to those he has converted. These groups were largely Gentiles. I have noted elsewhere, especially on Titus, Corinthians and 1 Timothy, that Gentile converts often brought with them immoral practices. Yet they became attracted to Judaism because their religious conscience could be more easily salved by obedience to a set of ritual requirements, and their more fundamental moral habits would then be left unquestioned. Legalism to this day remains incredibly attractive to those who subconsciously seek to justify themselves in immoral practices. This is why the Galatian letter begins with strong theological arguments against returning to the Law, and then moves on to tackle practical issues of immorality.

1:3 Grace to you and peace from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ- Although Paul is going to upbraid them, he sincerely wishes them, as no mere formality, the peace with God which comes from His grace, rather than legalistic obedience to Jewish laws.

1:4 Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us out of this present evil world, according to the will of our God and Father- The Lord's death is presented as the supreme sin offering, which had an outcome in practice- separation from this present evil world. Judaism tacitly allowed the Gentile converts to remain effectively in that world, but with a conscience cosmetically salved by a few acts of ritual obedience. The purpose of the cross was so that we might be separated out from this present evil world. To remain in the world, to stay in the crowd that faced the cross rather than walk through the no man's land between, this is a denial of the Lord's death for us. See on Gal. 6:14. Paul had his inspired mind on the phrase in the Lord’s prayer which requests deliverance from evil. Clearly enough, Paul didn’t understand “the evil” to be a personal cosmic Satan, but rather the moral “evil” of this world and those who seek to persecute believers.

Much of Paul’s writing is understandable on various levels. In some places he makes allusions to contemporary Jewish writings and ideas – with which he was obviously very familiar given his background – in order to correct or deconstruct them. This is especially true with reference to Jewish ideas about Satan and supposedly sinful Angels ruling over this present world. The idea of deliverance from this present evil world or age is an example. As more and more Jewish writings of the time become more widely available, it becomes increasingly apparent that this is a major feature of Paul’s writing. The Jewish writings all held to the teaching of the two ages, whereby this current age was supposed to be under the control of Satan and his angels, who would be destroyed in the future age, when Messiah would reign and Paradise would be restored on earth (see 1 Enoch 16.1; 18.16; 21.6; Jubilees 1.29; T. Moses 1.18; 12.4). Paul frequently uses terms used in the Jewish writings concerning the Kingdom age, the eschatological age, and applies them to the experience of Christian believers right now. When Heb. 2:14 states that Christ killed the Devil in His death on the cross, this is effectively saying that the future age has come. For the Jews expected the Devil to be destroyed only at the changeover to the future Kingdom age. In 4 Ezra, “This age” (4.27; 6.9; 7.12), also known as the “corrupt age” (4.11) stands in contrast to the “future age” (6.9; 8.1), the “greater age”, the “immortal time” (7.119), the future time (8.52). 4 Enoch even claims that the changeover from this age to the future age occurs at the time of the final judgment, following the death of the Messiah and seven days of silence (7.29–44, 113). So we can see why Paul would plug in to these ideas. He taught that Christ died “in order to rescue us from this present evil age” (Gal. 1:4; Rom 8:38; 1 Cor. 3:22). Therefore if the old age has finished, that means Satan is no longer controlling things as the Jews believed. For they believed that Satan’s spirits “will corrupt until the day of the great conclusion, until the great age is consummated, until everything is concluded (upon) the Watchers and the wicked ones” (1 Enoch 16:1, cf. 72:1). And Paul was pronouncing that the great age had been consummated in Christ, that the first century believers were those upon whom the end of the aion had come (1 Cor. 10:11).

1:5 To whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen- Christianity seeks to give eternal glory to the Lord Jesus; this is what we shall be doing eternally, and we must begin now. But Judaism devalued the role of Messiah. And we too can usefully assess teachings according to how far they give glory to the Lord Jesus.

1:6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you to the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel- Paul describes himself as having been called by God, by grace; and in this context he comments how he called the Galatians to the grace of Christ (Gal. 1:6 cp. 15). His response to his calling of grace was to go out and preach, thereby calling men to that same grace, replicating in his preaching what God had done for him. True preaching reflects a certain artless selflessness. And so here Paul writes of his preaching to the Galatians in the third person: “him [Paul] that called you into the grace of Christ” (Gal. 1:6 AV). And likewise he talks about himself while at the Jerusalem conference, where he was given so clearly the ministry of converting the Gentiles, as if he hardly identifies himself with himself: “I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago... I knew such a man... of such an one will I glory, yet of myself I will not glory” (2 Cor. 12:1-4- the context makes it clear that Paul refers to himself, seeing that he was the one given the thorn in the flesh as a result of the revelations given to this “man”). In 1 Thess. 1:5 Paul could have written: ‘We came with the Gospel’, but instead he uses the more awkward construction: ‘Our Gospel came…’. He, Paul, was subsumed beneath the essence of his life work- the preaching of the Gospel.

And yet we could also argue that Paul had a way of turning things rather too personally. They had deserted the grace of Christ, yet Paul expresses this in terms of them turning away from him personally. This tendency to over personalize things, it could be argued, was at the root of so much of his pain with the Corinthians as expressed in 2 Corinthians.

"Deserting" translates metatithemi, literally 'handed over', implying there was some other hand at work. As there is no cosmic satan doing this, I conclude that this higher hand was God's, confirming them in the way they wished to go. Romans 1:26,28 speaks of God doing likewise, giving people over to the mindset they themselves desired. He confirms us in the path we wish to go.

1:7 Not that there is another one; but there are some who trouble you, and want to distort the gospel of Christ- A distorted Gospel was no Gospel. The Judaizers were not calling for a wholesale abandonment of Christianity; rather they were preaching a Judaized version of the Gospel which was so distorted that it was not a Gospel. We note from this that a belief system which merely names the name of Christ is not therefore acceptable just because it claims to be an interpretation of Christianity. The 'troublers' are described with the same word in Acts 15:7 concerning the Jewish Christians who went out from the Jerusalem ecclesia to urge the Gentile converts to be circumcised; and of the Jews in Thessalonica who troubled the crowds to persecute Paul. It would seem that the same elements were involved- Jews driven by jealousy and anger at the perversion of the Jewish faith, as they saw it, by Paul's message of Christianity. It was part of a well organized system of derailing the churches Paul founded, referred to by him at times as the 'satan', the adversary. The same word is used in Gal. 5:10 about some single individual who was the troubler in Galatia; as if in that locality they were controlled by a particularly charismatic and influential individual whom Paul leaves nameless.

1:8 But though we, or an angel from heaven- God can deceive people to confirm them in the way of understanding they wish to go in (Ez. 14:9; 2 Thess. 2:11). But this could simply be hyperbole. But perhaps the individual troubler of Galatia in 5:10 (and see on :7 above) was being presented as an angel, a Divine messenger. This would then enable us to understand 2 Cor. 11:14 as referring to the same individual troubling Corinth which the same Judaistic message- the satan there was apparently revealed as an Angel of light, and he had his followers; just as there was one specific 'troubler' in Galatia (Gal. 5:10) who had fellow 'troublers' (Gal. 1:7).

Should preach to you any gospel other than that which we preached to you, let him be accursed- Again it could be argued that Paul was over personalizing the issue by writing of the Gospel "which we preached to you". The anathema ("accursed") was a Jewish synagogue term meaning excommunication. This may be the closest we get in Paul's writings to a request to actually excommunicate anybody in a religious sense; and it was clearly necessary. Seeing he is not afraid to ask for someone to be excommunicated, it is noteworthy that he doesn't recommend it for dealing with the huge raft of immoral individual behaviour and other moral and intellectual failure which filled the early churches.

1:9 As we have said before, so I now say again: If anyone preaches to you any gospel other than that which you received, let him be accursed- The anathema (see on :8) was for those who were teaching a false Gospel. Paul's approach to his churches, full as they were of moral and doctrinal failure, was to insist that the platform be secured; it was the false teachers who were to be removed. But he exemplifies endless patience with the flock who had been misled or were simply weak in the faith. Paul often refers to the 'receipt' of the Gospel; he saw "the Gospel" as definable and something which was received upon hearing the preaching of it. And yet clearly there was no lengthy package of theology in view.

1:10 For am I now seeking the favour of men or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ- Although Paul made himself all things to all men, he didn’t just seek to please men (Gal. 1:10; 1 Thess. 2:4). He sought their salvation and approached them in appropriate terms, but he didn’t just seek to please them from a human viewpoint. He didn’t cheapen the Gospel. The argument here suggests that serving Christ is being placed in opposition to serving men. Thus he sees one application of serving mammon as acting in a hypocritical way in order to please some in the ecclesia (Mt. 6:24 = Gal. 1:10).

1:10 For am I now seeking the favour of men or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ- Cultured, educated people in the first century presented themselves to others by means of an 'encomium'. This was a document or major speech which included five sections, clearly defined in the various manuals of rhetoric which survive, and which surely Paul would have been taught. The purpose of the encomium was to demonstrate how the person was an upright member of the community and worthy of honour within it. Students of the letter to the Galatians have detected these five sections of the encomium followed in an almost classic manner by Paul in Galatians 1:10-2:21:
1. Opening (prooimion) 1:10-12: Paul's Gospel
2. Lifestyle (anastrophe) 1:13-17: Paul as persecutor of the church and preacher of the Gospel. Gal. 1:13 uses the very word anastrophe ("way of life")
3. Achievements (praxeis) or "deeds of the body" 1:18-2:10- Paul's work in Jerusalem, Syria and again in Jerusalem
4. Comparison with others (synkrisis) 2:11-21- Paul and Peter; Paul and the Jews
5. Conclusion (epilogos)- 2:21 Paul and grace.

The encomium was essentially self-praise and self-justification within society. Paul almost mocks the encomium, by using its elements to show how radically different are the standards of thinking and behaviour for the Christian. In Gal. 1:15 Paul speaks of his birth (genesis), which in the usual encomiums would've been a reference to his family of origin, which as we've shown was all important in a collectivist society. Paul never speaks of his parents, as would've been normal in an encomium- and seeing he was born as a free man, he could've made an impressive point at this stage had he wished. But the birth he speaks of is that which came from God, who gave Paul birth by grace. His place in God's invisible household was all important, rather than what family he belonged to naturally. An encomium would typically have a reference to a man's education- and Paul could've made an impressive case for himself here. But rather he speaks of how God Himself revealed Christ to him, and how his spiritual education was not through interaction with any other men of standing in the Christian community, but rather in his three years alone in Arabia (Gal. 1:18). It has been suggested that Paul actually coined a new Greek term in 1 Thess. 4:9, when he spoke of how he had been taught-by-God (theodidaktos). To claim an education 'not by flesh and blood' (Gal. 1:16) was foolishness to 1st century society. In the description of his "deeds", Paul could've made a fair case both as a Jew and as a Christian. But instead he spends Gal. 2:1-10 speaking of how he had laboured so hard to avoid division in the church of Christ, to teach grace, avoid legalistic obedience to the norms of Jewish society, and to help the poor. These were the works he counted as significant. It was usual in an encomium to speak of your courage (andreia) and fortitude. Paul uses the word andreia, again in conscious imitation of an encomium, but he relates it to how he courageously refused to "yield submission even for a moment" to the pressures to conform to Jewish societal expectations (Gal. 2:5). When it comes to the synkrisis, the comparison with others, he chooses to compare himself with Peter, who caved in to the pressures from the Jews, agreeing to act smart before men rather than God, whereas Paul says he withstood this and insisted upon a life of radical grace which paid no attention to what others thought of his appearances.

1:11 For, brothers, I make known to you, as regards the gospel which was preached by me, that it is not from man- The implication was that the Judaist opposition were claiming that Paul had just made up his interpretations and called it "the Gospel". Or perhaps there was some conspiracy theory that he was the agent of some other man. Whilst the Gospel was not "from man", kata anthropos, yet Paul uses that same term in saying that he can reason at times in that way, "after the manner of men", humanly speaking (3:15). But the core of the Gospel was from the Lord Jesus and not from men.

1:12 For neither did I receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through direct revelation from Jesus Christ- See on :1. As a rabbi, it was important to justify teaching by explaining that he had been taught it by some greater rabbi. Paul cuts right across these expectations (see on :10), and says that his message had not been taught to him. He had received it directly from the Lord Jesus, who is the central part of the message he preached.

1:13 For you have heard of my manner of life in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God and made havoc of it- "Made havoc" is literally 'destroyed', and the same word is used in 1:23 of how he 'destroyed' "the faith". He draws a parallel between the church and the faith; for the true church is based upon the true faith. The same word is used of how he "destroyed" the Christians in Jerusalem (Acts 9:21). This clearly means he murdered Christians, including perhaps some of those who were converted in Jerusalem at Pentecost. This sort of behaviour was a way of life elicited by Judaism; and Judaism is therefore to be judged by its fruits as seen in Paul. Whilst repeatedly taking full personal responsibility for his actions, Paul sees that they had been elicited by Judaism, "the Jews' religion". To return to that was therefore serious indeed.

1:14- see on Mt. 15:2.

And I advanced in the Jews' religion beyond many of my own age among my fellow countrymen, being even more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers- Paul could have been such a high flyer; he profited (materially, the Greek could imply) in the Jews' religion above any one else. But he resigned it all. He wrote some majestic words which ought to become the goal of every one of us: "But what things were gain to me [materially?], those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I way win Christ" (Phil. 3:7,8). As noted on :13, whilst not at all dodging his personal responsibility for his actions, he sees the murder and hatred towards Christians as the fruit of zeal for Judaism. The traditions of Paul's fathers [cp. "our fathers" when referring to the patriarchs] refers surely to Paul's rabbinic forefathers. Casuistic following of the implications of previous expositions and judgments of those who have gone before resulted in murder. This was the fruit of Judaism, and all belief systems are to be judged by their fruits.

1:15- see on Acts 18:18.

But when- "But when" suggests there was a specific time when God decided to call Paul to manifest His Son. But we should not too quickly assume that this time was on the Damascus road, for the Lord there made the point that Paul had been pushing against the pricks of conscience for some time. Perhaps the calling was at the time of Paul's birth, when the umbilical cord was cut and he was separated from his mother's womb. The calling of grace is an idea Paul uses in Romans to exemplify God's grace, and he thereby makes himself the parade example of grace to all believers. In Gal. 1:15,16, Paul speaks as if his calling to preach the Gospel and his conversion co-incided. He clearly understood that he had been called so as to spread the word to others. Paul uses the word kaleo to describe both our call to the Gospel, and the call to preach that Gospel (Gal. 1:15 cp. Rom. 8:30; 1 Cor. 1:9; 7:15; Gal. 1:6; 5:13; 2 Tim. 1:9). He doesn’t separate his call from that of ours; he speaks of how God called “us” (Rom. 9:24; 1 Thess. 4:7). We may not all be able to live the life of itinerant preaching and spreading the word geographically which Paul did. And yet clearly enough Paul sets himself up as our pattern in the context of his attitude to preaching. Our lamps were lit, in the Lord’s figure, so as to give light to others. We are mirrors, reflecting to others the glory of God as far as we ourselves behold it in the face of Jesus Christ.

It was the good pleasure of God- Our salvation was "not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by... renewing of the Holy Spirit" (Tit. 3:5). Thus in Paul's case "it pleased (lit. 'willed') God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by His grace" (Gal.1:15) - not Paul's works. Thus our obedience to the truth was "through (on account of) the Spirit" (1 Pet. 1:22). Against this must be balanced Rom. 10:17: "Faith cometh by hearing... the word of God". God's Spirit was involved in bringing about our calling, and is also present in the word by which we are called.

Who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me through His grace- Paul seems to have admired the humility John the Baptist manifested in his preaching, for he often alludes to John- perhaps because he heard him live. For he was living in Jerusalem at the same time as John's ministry. He knew he had been chosen from the womb for his mission, as John had been (Gal. 1:15 =  Lk. 1:15). There is also allusion to Jeremiah being likewise known from the womb. Paul felt he had been “separated unto the [preaching of the] gospel of God”; and he uses a word which the LXX uses for the separation of part of a sacrifice to be consumed (Ex. 29:24,26). The Greek word for "witness" is martus, from whence 'martyr'. To witness to Christ is to live the life of the martyr; to preach Him is to live out His cross in daily life. Yet the Lord’s servant being called from the womb (Is. 49:1) was applied by Paul to himself (Gal. 1:15)- see on Rom. 8:31. Choice from birth, calling, ministry to the Gentiles all recalls the servant known from birth (Is. 49:1,5). This is one of a number of instances of where Old Testament Messianic Scriptures are applied to Paul in the context of his preaching Christ. He saw himself as in Christ, and so the Lord's mission became his as it becomes ours.

1:16- see on Acts 9:20.

To reveal His Son in me- Saul of Tarsus must’ve seemed the most unlikely of men to convert to Christ. But he later refers to how God chose “to reveal his son in me”. The Greek word apokalupto means literally ‘to take the cover off’. The implication is that Christ is passively within each person, but has to be revealed in them, through response to the Gospel. The cover can be taken off every single man or women with whom we come into contact! The Galatians passage could equally mean that Paul was called as an apostle to ‘take the cover off’ Christ to others; and yet Paul felt his calling was to all people on earth, to the ends of the world (Acts 13:47)- to every single person of all the Gentile nations (Rom. 15:11; 2 Tim. 4:17).

That I might preach him among the Gentiles-  To preach Christ is to reveal Him to men through ourselves- this is the purpose for which we are called, that our lamp was lit, to reveal Christ to others through us. And thus Paul could conclude by saying that he bore in his body [perhaps an idiom for his life, cp. the ‘broken body’ of the Lord we remember] the stigmata of the Lord Jesus (Gal. 6:17). The whole burden of his message was therefore the Lord Jesus, rather than theology or clever apologetic arguments.

Immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood- Paul's attitude to his brethren seems to have changed markedly over the years. He begins as being somewhat detached from them; perhaps as all new converts are initially. We see the Truth for what it is, we realize we had to make the commitment we did, and we are happy to do our own bit in preaching the Truth. But often a real concern and care for our brethren takes years to develop. Paul seems to tell the Galatians that the Gospel he preached had not been given to him by men, because in the early days after his conversion he was rather indifferent towards other Christian believers; "(Paul) conferred not with flesh and blood" after his conversion, neither did he go to see the apostles in Jerusalem to discuss how to preach to Israel; instead, Paul says, he pushed off to Arabia for three years in isolation. He was unknown by face to the Judean ecclesias, and even after his return from Arabia, he made no special effort to meet up with the Apostles (Gal. 1). The early Paul comes over as self-motivated, a maverick, all too ready to fall out with Barnabas, all too critical of Mark for failing to rise up to Paul's level of fearless devotion (Acts 15:39).

1:17- see on Acts 26:16-19; 1 Cor. 9:17.

Nor did I go to Jerusalem to those that were apostles ahead of me; but I went away into Arabia, and returned to Damascus- As noted on :12, Paul resists the Rabbinic style of saying that his message is supported by the opinions of other learned men from the same religion who had preceded him. This is the force of his statement that he did not go to see those who had been in Christ "ahead of me". Arabia could refer to various desert areas; we are left to imagine that this period in the wilderness formed his spiritual position by direct contact with the Lord Jesus. But it could also be read as a recognition of weakness- that instead of going to preach the Gospel he went instead into isolation. And thus he was glorying in his weakness as a qualification; see on :10. The return to Damascus, where he had almost been lynched and escaped it in a most humiliating way (2 Cor. 11:31-33), is really impressive; just as Paul returned to cities where he had been badly persecuted. Such was his care for his converts.

1:18 Then after three years I went to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days- The mention of three years may be another hint that he had not got on with witnessing to the Gentiles as he might have done; he is glorying in his weakness, as noted extensively on :10. "Visit" translates a term which can mean 'to learn from'; we see here Paul's humility. He as the literate, intellectual rabbi went to Jerusalem not to sit at the feet of some learned rabbi, but to be taught by an illiterate fisherman from Galilee. This again is a reversal of all the qualifications Judaism boasted in; see on :10.

1:19 But none of the other apostles did I see, except James, the Lord's brother- Judaism stressed which big names were supporting a position or individual, and Paul is consciously subverting this. See on :10. We likewise should be unashamed to subvert the peer review qualifications which are so popular these days. Observe how Paul counts James as an "apostle" although he was not one of the 12, perhaps anticipating the objection raised in Corinth that Paul was not really an apostle because he was not one of the 12.

1:20- see on Gal. 1:1.

In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!- Clearly Paul's version of events was questioned. All manner of conspiracy theories and slander had arisen, as they do in the life of anyone who devotes themselves to preaching Christ in truth. The origin of the 'troublers' of 1:7 was likely Jerusalem (see note there). Paul is answering the objection that 'Jerusalem' did not support him by strongly agreeing with it- and insisting that he had higher authority than Jerusalem, namely, his direct relationship with the Lord Jesus.

1:21 Then I came to the regions of Syria and Cilicia- Cilicia was Paul's home area. Again, he may be glorying in his spiritual weakness, saying that he had returned to his roots rather than going out into the world as he had been commissioned. For Barnabus had to come to Tarsus and as it were drag Paul with him on his first missionary journey. Such boasting in weakness is a subversion of any attempt to present a humanly strong case for authority; see on :10. "Regions" translates klima, which according to Vine referred "originally to an inclination or slope of ground: the supposed slope of the earth from the equator to the pole". Here we have an example of scientifically incorrect terms being used in the Bible without correction; and this helps explain the language of demons being used in the Gospels regarding mental illnesses.

1:22 But I was still unknown by face to the churches of Judea which were in Christ- Paul speaks warmly of these churches in 1 Thess. 2:14, showing his eagerness to believe the best about others, with the love that believes all things. The churches which were in Christ suggests there were some 'churches' not in Christ. The term ekklesia was used for any gathering or assembly, and referred to the synagogues in small town and villages, some of whom had become Christian, and thus become assemblies which were in Christ. Christianity would have spread by the conversion of such synagogue assemblies here and there. The Lord did not ask His people to leave the synagogue system as part of their acceptance of Him; He just predicted that the time would come when His converts would be thrown out of that system (Jn. 16:2). This reflects how there was no concept of guilt by association, no demand of breaking association with an apostate system. If Jesus was accepted as Christ and preached as such, then the systems antithetical to that would themselves cast out the Lord's people. The angst about separation from error which has blighted the body of Christ was therefore unknown in the first century church.

1:23 They only heard say: He that once persecuted us now preaches the faith of which he once made havoc!- See on :13 "made havoc". Paul had arranged their persecution without seeing their faces (:22). But he was a household name amongst the Christian synagogues (see on :22).

1:24 And they glorified God in me- The house churches in the area around Jerusalem ["Judea"] were obvious targets for Paul, who sought to drag Christians Jews into Jerusalem for punishment. They glorified not Paul but God's grace which had worked within Paul to bring about his conversion.


Chronology of Paul’s Life

Standard Chronology Of Paul's Life

John Robinson's Chronology Of Paul's Life (2)

AD 35 Paul’s conversion
36-38 In Arabia (1)
38-43 Preaching in Damascus and Jerusalem
44-46 Working in Antioch and Syria
46-48 First missionary journey
49-50 Jerusalem Conference
50-52 Second missionary journey
53-57 Third missionary journey
57-59 Arrest- Jerusalem-Caesarea
59-62 To Rome; first imprisonment
63-66 Release; travels in Asia, Greece, Spain
64-68 Nero’s persecution of the Christians
67 Arrest, imprisoned in a dungeon in Rome
68 Final trial; executed.

AD33 Conversion
35 First visit to Jerusalem
46 Second [famine-relief] visit to Jerusalem
47-48 First missionary journey
48 Council of Jerusalem
49-51 Second missionary journey
52-57 Third missionary journey
57 Arrival in Jerusalem
57-59 Imprisonment in Caesarea
60-62 Imprisonment in Rome





(1) "Arabia" is from the word 'Arabah', and occurs in the LXX in Dt. 2:8; 3:17; 4:49 to mean simply the wilderness. Since Paul went there from Damascus, it has been suggested that he mixed with the Damascene Essene group. There are extensive parallels between the Qumran texts and the letter to the Hebrews, which could lend support to this suggestion- as if Paul wrote to an audience he knew.
(2) J.A.T. Robinson, Redating The New Testament (London: SCM, 1976) pp. 52,53.