Category Archives: GALATIANS 1

The gospel and law contrasted

GALATIANS CHAPTER 1

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NOTES ON GALATIANS CHAPTER ONE

Survey of the epistle

If in the Epistle to the Romans the gospel is defined, then in the Epistle to the Galatians the gospel is defended. There were those who had been Jews before they were saved, who tried to put Gentile believers under the law of Moses, There were two ways in which they attempted this. Some, according to Acts 15:1, were saying that a man must be circumcised before Christ can save him. Others, according to Acts 15:5, were saying that believers needed to keep the law of Moses as a religious duty, fearing, no doubt, that if there was no restraint imposed on them, they would become licentious. The antidote to licence, however, is not legality, but Christian liberty. Grace is a stronger force than law, as is seen from Romans 6:14- “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under law, but under grace”. To put believers under law is to say that Christ’s work was not sufficient to fully save.

The Christian life is to be lived according to the “law of Christ”, Galatians 6:2, following His example. The power to do this is the Spirit of God, who acts in us on the principle that we have life in Christ Jesus, Romans 8:2.

Chapters 1 and 2
Historical account of Paul’s life under law and grace.
The experience of grace.
Paul resists the charge of discord with other apostles.

Chapters 3, 4 and 5
Doctrinal, giving seven ways in which grace is superior to law.
The exposition of grace.
Paul resists the charge of despising the law.

Chapter 6
Practical, the outworking of grace in the life.
The expression of grace.
Paul resists the charge of destroying morality.

The following Scriptures tell us the true nature and purpose of the law of Moses:
“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin”, Romans 3:20.
“Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression”, Romans 4:15.
“Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound”, Romans 5:20.
“For sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under the law, but under grace”, Romans 6:14.
“For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death”, Romans 7:5.
“Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law”, Romans 7:7.
“When the commandment came, sin revived, and I died”, Romans 7:9.
“For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh”, Romans 8:3.
“For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse”, Galatians 3:10.
“But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident: for the just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith”, Galatians 3:11.
“Knowing this, that the law is not made (laid down) for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient”, 1 Timothy 1:9.

This is not to say that the law is evil, as the following verses show:
Is the law sin? God forbid”, Romans 7:7.
“Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good”, Romans 7:12.
“For I delight in the law of God after the inward man”, Romans 7:22.
“The ministration of death…was glorious”, 2 Corinthians 3:7.
“But we know that the law is good”, 1 Timothy 1:8.

The following are some of the ways of putting believers under law:
1. By dividing God’s people into clergy and laity. This is a going back to Old Testament systems under the Law, which the apostle describes as the elements of the world, and as such are not suited to the citizens of heaven. Every true Christian is a priest unto God, 1 Peter 2:5,9; Revelation 1:6.
2. By practising ceremonies such as christening and confirmation, which bypass the gospel.
3. By thinking that full salvation has to be earned, and is not the portion of every believer. God has accepted (graced) every believer in the Person of His Beloved Son, and has given every spiritual blessing in Him, Ephesians 1:3,6. “That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles” Galatians 3:14.
4. By believing that the gift of the Spirit depends on spiritual progress and devotion. As Galatians 3:2 indicates, every believer has the gift of the Spirit.
5. By denying that it is possible to be sure of salvation. “I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand”, John 10:28.
6. By the idea that abiding in Christ is dependent on works, not faith. The believer has believed “in”, or literally “into”, Jesus Christ, Galatians 2:16.
7. By suggesting that only those who are spiritual will participate in the translation of the saints at Christ’s coming. All believers wait for the hope of righteousness by faith, Galatians 5:5. “Whether we wake (watch) or sleep (do not watch), we should live together with Him”. 1 Thessalonians 5:10.

Law and grace cannot co-exist, as the following Scriptures show:
For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John”, Matthew 11:13.
“For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ”, John 1:17.
“For ye are not under the law, but under grace”, Romans 6:14.
“Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth”, Romans 10:4.
“And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace”, Romans 11:6.

Structure of the chapter

(a) Verses 1-5 Paul’s message as an apostle
(b) Verses 6-9 Paul’s marvelling at the change in the Galatians
(c) Verse 10 Paul’s motivation before conversion and after
(d) Verses 11-24 Paul’s movements before conversion and after

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS CHAPTER 1, VERSES 1 TO 5:

1:1 Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead;)

1:2 And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia:

1:3 Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,

1:4 Who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:

1:5 To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

(a) Verses 1-5 Paul’s message as an apostle

1:1 Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)

Paul, an apostle there is a need to assert this, for the law-teachers who opposed Paul would emphasise the fact that the Law was of God; the apostle must show that he has authority from God too. Moses had been sent to the people, and then was the mediator of the law, so can Paul claim like authority? Men embrace relativism, and thus reject the absolute authority of God. But He had His apostles, and gave them authority to teach.
(Not of men- Paul does not use the preposition most often associated with source, “ek”, but rather “apo”. Perhaps he is referring to the “apo” that the word “apostle” begins with. He has been sent (stello) away from (apo) Jesus Christ- that fact is foundational to his position as apostle.
Neither by man- if the first statement declares that he has not been sent directly by men, then this says that he has not been sent indirectly by God either. God did not use the other apostles to appoint him, as was the case with Matthias, Acts 1:15-26.
But by Jesus Christ- He is the one by whom Paul has become an apostle. It was a risen Christ who said to Paul, “Depart far hence to the Gentiles, unto whom I now send thee”, Acts 22:21. This lifts Christianity far above the level of a law given on earth. Jerusalem which is above is our mother, not Jerusalem on earth, 4:26. Note that Paul’s apostleship is not of man, but it is of Jesus Christ, who is a man. Yet He is more than man, for He is has equal authority with God the Father to send an apostle. The writings of the apostles put us directly in touch with the truth.
And God the Father- in Old Testament times this aspect of character of God was not to the fore. It is the special feature of Christianity, since the latter is based on the person and work of the Son of God Himself. The Jews said Jesus Christ was contrary to God, so would not be convinced that the sending by Jesus Christ was valid. So his authority is emphasised by the fact it came from God, the same one who gave the law. But He is Father too, reminding us of the particular feature of Christianity, that it brings in the truth that God is the Father of believers because His Son has made it posiible.
Who raised Him from the dead)- the grandest possible mark of approval. The law was the ministration of death and condemnation. Paul may not have been with Christ on earth, but he had the great privilege of seeing Him in heaven, so that the marks of an apostle were with him. As he wrote to the Corinthians, “Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are not ye my work in the Lord? 1 Corinthians 9:1. Those who had been with the Lord when He was here on earth, added nothing to him, 2:6.

The resurrection of Christ does the following:
1. Shows He dealt with sins effectively, Romans 4:25- He was raised because of the justification His death secured.
2. Shows He is approved of God, despite being forsaken on the cross.
3. Is the means by which His people are brought to new life in a new sphere, Romans 6:4.
4. Is the assurance to all men that He will judge the world, Acts 17:31.
5. Is the guarantee of the resurrection of believers, 1 Corinthians 15:20.

1:2 And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia:

And all the brethren which are with me- he was not alone in his beliefs, for grace has surrounded him with believers who share life in the family of God with him. His attackers had tried to isolate him, but had not succeeded. When the law was given, Levi “knew not every man his brother”, and they slew three thousand of their brethren. Grace assembles brethren together in harmony.
Unto the churches of Galatia- note the absence of any description of them, such as “faithful in Christ Jesus” Ephesians 1:1; “the saints”, Philippians 1:1; “the saints and faithful brethren in Christ”, Colossians 1:1. He is worried about them, 4:20, and so cannot be free in his greetings to them. So it is just the companies that are addressed generally, not personally. Peter wrote to Galatia, amongst other places, 1 Peter 1:1, exhorting them not to paganize, whereas Paul is writing to them so that they do not Judaize. Note that the churches are separate entities, but can be written to together, for they would be in fellowship with one another, having Christ as their common Lord, 1 Corinthians 1:3.

1:3 Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,

Grace be to you, and peace- the characteristic salutations of Gentile and Jew respectively. A Gentile would greet another Gentile with “Charis”, meaning grace. The Jew would greet a fellow Jew with “Shalom”, meaning peace. In Christ division between jew and Gentile has gone. Despite his restrained greeting, he still has their best interests at heart. Grace has been called “the fount of all mercies”, and peace, “the crown of all blessings”.
From God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ- again the equality between the Father and the Son is maintained, this time in connection with the bestowal of spiritual blessings on the saints. Only as they respond to the teaching of this epistle will they come into the good of grace, (as opposed to law), and peace, (as opposed to being unsure of salvation, which would be the result of putting themselves under law).

1:4 Who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:

Who gave Himself- far from demanding that man give to God, the gospel explains that God is a gracious, giving God, and Christ gave Himself. Grace gives what we could never earn, whereas the law demands what we can never pay. The Old Testament sacrifices the Law demanded have been fulfilled in His sacrifice. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, it was the representatives of the civil and ceremonial law who failed to help the injured man. In fact, they went on, as a class, to crucify the true Good Samaritan, Christ Himself. He came where we were and like the Samaritan in the parable, bore the total cost himself. His personal safety, His oil and wine, His energy to walk while the man rode, His two pence, and other expenses, and the effort to return to the inn after two days. All these were self-sacrificing acts.
For our sins- His giving of Himself was in death, that He might deal effectively with the question of sins. This supposes His perfection, and our imperfection. It was not possible for the sacrifices under the law to take away sins by themselves. Sins were only forgiven under the law because God took account of what His Son would do at Calvary. See Romans 3:25.
That He might deliver us from this present evil world- the gospel links us with eternity, whereas the law was to do with the elements of the world, Galatians 4:3, and the rudiments of the world, Colossians 2:20. At conversion, the sinner is separated from the world, and is linked with Christ in heaven, Ephesians 2:6. The logical outcome of that is for Christ to come from heaven to take His people to heaven, their proper sphere.
According to the will of God and our Father- Paul is at pains to show that the death of Christ, being in harmony with the will of God, is not at all inferior to the will of God in the law. Moreover, grace introduces us to God as our Father, as the law could not do, as later chapters in the epistle will show.

1:5 To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen- through Christ the glory of God will be magnified for ever, whereas the glory of the law was temporary, as 2 Corinthians 3:7-11 explains.

Note the principles of the gospel that are brought out by the apostle in his introduction:
1.  The Person of Jesus Christ, implying His manhood and Messiahship.
2.  God the Father, who is revealed in His Son, as the gospel explains.
3.  Christ’s giving of Himself for our sins, implying His sinlessness, and our sinfulness.
4.  His resurrection from the dead.
5.  His sending of apostles in harmony with the will of the Father.
6. The permanent, eternal glory that has come to God through the person and work of Christ.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS CHAPTER 1, VERSES 6 TO 9:

1:6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:

1:7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.

1:8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

1:9 As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

(b) Verses 6-9 Paul’s marvelling at the change in the Galatians

1:6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:

I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ- it was not that he would not have marvelled if they had removed more slowly. He marvels at two things, that they are removed, and that they are removed so soon. It is a cause of wonder to the apostle why anyone should want to remove from the grace of Christ. Note that to embrace law in any form, however mild, is to remove from grace, see 5:4.

We may take grace here to be a comprehensive term for all the gospel tells us about Christ. This includes the following:

1. His movement in grace, His voluntary stoop from heaven to earth. “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor”, 2 Corinthians 8:10.

2. His moral perfection as seen in His virtuous character. “We beheld His glory…full of grace and truth”, John 1:14.

3. His matchless and vicarious sacrifice at Calvary. “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death…that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man”, Hebrews 2:9.

Unto another gospel- the word Paul used here means another of a different sort, a different gospel, diametrically opposed to the one Paul preached. Law and grace are opposites, as Romans 11:6 indicates. Satan is ever ready to suggest ideas, but he is a liar, and the father of it, John 8:44. Men preach a “national gospel”, suggesting that a person who is introduced into the “established church” is saved. They preach a “nativity gospel”, saying that by His birth Christ linked humanity with God. This is blasphemous. Then there is the “need gospel”, which suggests that the gospel is designed to make us materially prosperous. All these are irresponsible gospels, telling people what they want to hear, as opposed to what they need to hear. What some were preaching in Galatia, however, was a law-gospel, for they said, either, that a Gentile needed to commit to the law by being circumcised before he could be saved, or, that a saved person is obliged to keep the law of Moses.

1:7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.

Which is not another- the “gospel” of the law-men was not a genuine gospel at all, for it brought into bondage and doubt. Paul will not allow that a different gospel consisting of a mixture of grace and law, is a viable alternative to the grace of Christ. The law is not made for righteous people, but for sinners, 1 Timothy :9. How could there be better news that what is anounced in the gospel of God’s grace?
But there be some that trouble you- the mixing of law and grace always means trouble. All it achieves is to sow doubts, fears and uncertainty. This is why those who put themselves under law have no assurance of salvation, because they never know whether they come up to the required standard. Coupled with this lack of assurance is the loss of the sense of eternal security that true believers have as Christ’s sheep, who sahll never perish, John 10:28.
And would pervert the gospel of Christ- the word “would” means to desire. So zealous are they for the law of their fathers, that they feel it to be their solemn duty to resist the gospel. So obsessed are the law-men with their mission, that they long to twist the gospel, distorting it beyond recognition. Paul was like this once, as he will soon tell us.

1:8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

But though we- so sure is Paul that what he and his fellow brethren had preached to the Galatians was unalterable, that he is prepared to be accursed himself if he changes his message. This shows he is not criticizing the law-men out of personal spite, for he is prepared to accept the same penalty as they if he preaches contrary to the gospel he preached before. Paul pronounced a woe upon himself if he did not preach the gospel in 1 Corinthians 9:16, and here he pronounces a woe upon any who preached another gospel.
Or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you- angels are messengers, and were in attendance when the law was given, but even if one came and said that God was reverting to the law in some way in order to bless men, the Galatians are not to listen. He does not say an angel from God, because Satan is able to transform himself into an angel of light, 2 Corinthians 11:14, so if they listen to an angel they might be listening to Satan.
Let him be accursed- to be accursed is to be anathema, or set apart for God to deal with.

1:9 As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

As we said before, so say I now again- this matter is of great importance, and the woe upon those who preach alternative gospels needs to be repeated for emphasis.
If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed- having dismissed himself, his brethren, and angels, if they come preaching contrary to the accepted standard of the gospel, he speaks now of all men, with the law-teachers particularly in mind. If an apostle or an angel are to be accursed, how much more a mere self-appointed messenger. In verse 8 it was the gospel preached, whereas here it is the gospel the Galatians had received, reminding them that they had been committed to the true gospel at one time.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS CHAPTER 1, VERSES 10 TO 24:

1:10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

1:11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.

1:12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.

1:13 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:

1:14 And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.

1:15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by His grace,

1:16 To reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:

1:17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.

1:18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.

1:19 But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.

1:20 Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.

1:21 Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia;

1:22 And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ:

1:23 But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed.

1:24 And they glorified God in me.

(c) Verse 10 Paul’s motivation before conversion and after

1:10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

For do I now persuade men, or God- before his conversion, (hence the “now” of contrast), he had sought to persuade Christians to return to the Law, and by so doing, hoped to persuade God of his zeal. Now he did not seek to persuade them like that, and was conscious of the approval of God without promoting Judaism.
Or do I seek to please men?- by condemning those who preached a false gospel, the apostle was in danger of angering his opponents, yet this gave him no cause for concern, for he sought the favour of God, not men.
For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ- he had once sought to please his fellow religionists by persecuting Christians, but now things were different, (hence the “yet”). And the fact that they were different showed the change the gospel had brought into his life and outlook. This verse forms the bridge between verses 1-9 which have to do with the message of the gospel, and verses 11-24 which relate to the messenger of the gospel.

(d) Verses 11-24 Paul’s movements before conversion and after

1:11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.

But I certify you, brethren- in verses 1-10 the apostle writes as an apostle, now he writes as a convert, and gives his personal history. He allows that they are brethren in the family of God, just as those he associates with in verse 2, but they need to be informed of the true state of affairs regarding the gospel, lest the false brethren lead them astray.
That the gospel which was preached of me- that is, the gospel which was preached to the Galatians by the apostle. He is taking them back to their initial experience when they were persuaded of the truth of the gospel. Compare 5:8, “This persuasion cometh not of Him that calleth you”.
Is not after man- it is not that which the mind of man could devise. The gospel is just as much of God as the Law is. This is why Paul did not need to confer with “flesh and blood” after he was saved, verse 16.

1:12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.

For I neither received it of man- his parents could not tell him it, even though they were Hebrews, and had brought him up to be a Hebrew, in every sense of the word, Philippians 3:5. His ancestors could only tell him of Judaism, the religion of the fathers.
Neither was I taught it- He did not learn the gospel from the rabbis in the synagogue school, even though he sat at the feet of Gamaliel, one of the foremost rabbis, Acts 22:3. All this highlights the fact that the gospel is not a modified form of Judaism, although Christendom acts as if it is.
But by revelation of Jesus Christ- the following are scriptures that tell us of this:
1. The words of Ananias, (” a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews that dwelt there”, Acts 22:12), “The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know His will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of His mouth. For thou shalt be a witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard”, Acts 22:14,15.

2. The apostle revealed later on that the Lord had said to him on the Damascus road, “To make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and the things in the which I will appear unto thee”, Acts 26:16.

3. “That which I also received”, 1 Corinthians 15:3.

4. “I have received of the Lord that which I also delivered unto you, 1 Corinthians 11:23.

5. “This we say unto you by the word of the Lord”, 1 Thessalonians 4:15.

6. “By revelation He made known unto me the mystery”, Ephesians 3:3. None of the false brethren, seeking to teach Judaism, could claim these revelations.

1:13 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:

For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jew’s religion- note it is not something he had felt he needed to tell them himself, for it was time past, and he had turned his back on it, Philippians 3:13, so they have to hear it from others. He had counted what he had been brought up in as dung, so called it the Jew’s religion, not his own.
How that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it- note the expressions in this passage which convey the energy with which he involved himself in what he felt to be right- “Beyond measure”, “Profited…above”, “More exceedingly zealous”. All this serves to highlight the change that came about when he was called by the gospel. He has not believed in Christ because he was not familiar enough with the religion of his fathers, nor because he was half-hearted about it.

1:14 And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.

And profited in the Jew’s religion above many my equals in mine own nation- as a Jew, Israel was his own nation, but now he calls Judaism the Jew’s religion, for he has separated from it. As a student, Saul of Tarsus was progressing beyond most of his fellow-pupils in the school of Gamaliel. This is what is meant by “profited”.
Being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers- this is the reason for his strong advance in Judaism, for he was marked by great zeal, alas without knowledge, like the rest of his nation, Romans 10:2. He did not believe the gospel because he was confused and undecided about Judaism.

1:15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by His grace,

But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb- so the removal of Paul from under the law was part of God’s good pleasure, just as much as it had been His good pleasure to put Israel under the law. God’s timing is always perfect. The God who separated him from the traditions of his fathers, was the God who separated him from his mother’s womb. So all the time he was learning Judaism, God was preparing him for evangelism. God allowed him to espouse Judaism, so that he might better expose it. He was circumcised to commit to the law, and had his Bar Mitzvah to become a son of the law. Then he sat at the feet of Gamaliel to learn the law. He was well-placed to assess the law-system, and count it but dung, Philippians 3:7-9, once he realised the superiority of Christ and grace.
And called me by His grace- the means used to call Paul was the grace of God as expressed in Christ at Calvary. He was not called by the use of the truth of the law. Note the reference to his mother, and fathers, or ancestors, for the law was the national religion of Israel, and the terms of God’s covenant with them.

1:16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:

To reveal His Son in me- not reveal to him, but that, being saved, the Son of God might be made known through Paul, whether in his character, as Christ was formed in him, 4:19, or his preaching, as he presented Christ crucified to the people, 3:1.
That I might preach Him among the heathen- it was as one who represented Christ in word and character that Paul went to the Gentiles. There must be no discrepancy between the message preached, and the character of the man who preaches it. See Psalm 51:10-13. There were no evangelists under the law; none went to the Gentiles with a message of hope, for the law was the ministry of condemnation. When Jonah went to Nineveh he went with a message of doom, and was disappointed when it did not come to pass, because the Ninevites repented.
Immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood- the gospel is not after man as to its content, nor is an evangelist dependant on man for his commission. He does not say, “I conferred not with my fellow-believers”, although that is what is in view, but rather he does not consult with any on earth, for even apostles are liable to error, as the next chapter shows. See Matthew 16:17.

1:17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.

Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me- such was his confidence that God had spoken fully to him, he felt no need to consult with the other apostles at this point.
But I went into Arabia, and returned again into Damascus- he goes to Arabia, the place where the law was given, 4:25. What more fitting place to learn the contrast between law and grace. Is this where “The law came, sin revived, and I died”, Romans 7:9? This would remind us of Elijah going to “the” cave, (perhaps the very cave Moses dwelt in on Sinai), and learning that the things which accompanied the law, (the wind, the earthquake and the fire, see Hebrews 12:18-21), could not express God fully, for God was not in them, 1 Kings 19:8-18. It was the still small voice of God that would bring the blessing of the conflict on Mount Carmel to the people, just as the gospel of grace and peace brings us the blessing of Calvary. Interestingly, Elijah returned from this experience on the way to the wilderness of Damascus. Sadly, he seems not to have had a change of heart about things, as Saul of Tarsus did on the road to Damascus, for he is directed to anoint Elisha as his successor. Like so many since, he does not seem to grasp the superiority of law to grace. By informing us that he returned to Damascus, the apostle is showing the limits of his contacts with the believers, for he already knew those at that place. But he does not return there to appoint a successor.

1:18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.

Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days- the three years is after his conversion, not after his return from Arabia. The apostle is very precise as to the number of days, showing that these events are clear in his mind. His stay with Peter would show they were in harmony, especially since Paul later had to rebuke him. The change was on the part of Peter, not Paul. The word used her for “see” is historeo; they would give one another their personal history and experiences, so each one was fully up-to-date with the other. It is important that Paul and “the first of the apostles”, should be seen to get on well.
This visit is recorded in Acts 9:23-30. Paul preached in Damascus until the Jews sought to slay him. At this point the disciples let him down by the city wall and he escaped and went to Jerusalem. He preached there until the Jews again sought his life, and he went back to his home city of Tarsus.
Later in the epistle he will ask the Galatians, “And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? Galatians 5:11. That those who were zealous for the law persecuted him is a sign that he no longer believes what they do.

1:19 But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.

But other of the apostles saw I none, save James, the Lord’s brother- Paul would have a certain fellow-feeling with this man, who had refused to believe when Christ was on earth, and now believed after He was raised from the dead. Note the distinction between James, the Lord’s brother, and the James of chapter 2. The verse reads as if James the Lord’s brother was an apostle, but the sense is that he saw none of the other apostles, and the only person of note he did see was James.

1:20 Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.

Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not- these personal details are important, establishing as they do the separation of Paul from any form of appointment by men, with all that that implied. The law-teachers might insinuate otherwise, but Paul was of a clear conscience before God, and he calls on God to witness that he spoke the truth.

1:21 Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia;

Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia- Syria is south of Antioch, whereas Cilicia is his home territory, for he was brought up in Tarsus. Before he goes to the ends of the earth, he must be active near at home in the surrounding areas.  This is a good principle for new preachers to follow.

1:22 And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ:

And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judea which were in Christ- these are the churches that were most likely to be influenced by Judaism. As churches they were in Christ, which secures their well-being, and they did not need the law to guarantee their blessing.

1:23 But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed.

But they had heard only- the only message about Paul was his conversion and preaching; they had not heard other messages which suggested he had gone back to law, or that he sought to undermine the law. They had not seen him, but they had heard about him.
“That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith he once destroyed” note Paul preached the faith, setting out the doctrines regarding Christ, that men might have a clear view of Him, and then believe. The apostles “ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ”, Acts 5:42; they taught who He was, then exhorted men to believe on Him. This is still God’s way. The preaching of the gospel is not the stringing together of stories and illustrations, nor is it a constant browbeating of the hearers to “get saved”, or the repeating of over-worked phrases and sound bites. It is the clear setting out of the truths regarding the person of Christ in all its variety and scope. In other words, the teaching of Jesus Christ. Then, on that foundation, the exhortation to the hearers to believe on Him. This is the preaching of Jesus Christ. The evangelist has no right to exhort men to believe unintelligently on a man they know nothing about. As the blind man said, “Who is He, Lord, that I might believe on Him? John 9:36. The apostle made clear in the beginning of his classic treatise of the gospel that the gospel of God is concerning His Son, Romans 1:1,3. It is not sinner-centred but Christ-centred.

1:24 And they glorified God in me.

And they glorified God in me- the grace of God working in a person’s life will glorify God. As a result of the labours and writings of the apostle, multitudes have been transformed from being selfish sinners, to being those who glorify God in their lives down here. And what is begun on earth, shall be continued eternally in heaven.