Paul’s Amazing Mission: Galatians 1:18-2:10
“18) Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas, and stayed with him fifteen days. 19) But I did not see any other of the apostles except James, the Lord’s brother. 20) (Now in what I am writing to you, I assure you before God that I am not lying.) 21) Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22)And I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Judea which were in Christ; 23) but only, they kept hearing, “He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith which he once tried to destroy.” 24) And they were glorifying God because of me.” Galatians‬ ‭1:18-24‬
Paul continues to argue his point that the gospel he preached came by Divine revelation from Jesus Christ and was not invented or taught to him by human agency. Let’s continue with his story and talk briefly about the implications for today.
After spending three years in solitude in Arabia, Paul went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Peter. He stayed with him for fifteen days and met none of the other Apostles or early leaders of the Christian faith except James, the Lords brother. (Galatians 1:17-19)
Paul was an original. He sought accountability and a fair hearing, but he was not necessarily seeking endorsement. To Paul was revealed not only the gospel of grace, but also the mystery of how the Gentiles were fellow heirs with Israel “in Christ.” (Please Read Ephesians 2:11-3:12) I would argue that this was new theological territory even for Peter. It was hinted but not expanded on by Jesus during His public ministry. (See John 10:16)
Paul was entrusted with the charge of unpacking the mystery of the Body of Christ and the church age. He was given the mission of presenting to the world the new wine for the new wine skins. This was so fitting because Paul and not Peter or any of the other early church leaders were Hebrew scholars or experts in the Old Testament scrolls.
I can only imagine the waves of illumination upon illumination the Holy Spirit wrought in Paul when the veil was removed and the Holy Spirit revealed the fulness of Christ to him throughout the entire Old Testament. (Review 2 Corinthians 3-4) The fifteen days Paul and Peter spent together were more for Peter’s sake than for Paul’s.
Peter actually gave a glowing endorsement of Paul and his epistles in 2 Peter 3:14-16. A careful reading of this context leads to the conclusion that Peter placed the writings of Paul on the level of inspired Scripture. He pointed out how people were distorting Paul’s writings “even as the rest of the Scriptures.”
In Galatians 1-2, Paul was defending more than his apostleship, he was defending the entire mystery revealed through him about the body of Christ and Jew and Gentile being one “in Christ.” Jesus used Paul to unpack the mystery of the church age and how all believers are knit together in perfect unity “in Christ.”
I believe the Holy Spirit wants to teach and illuminate every believer truth as they study the Bible. But Paul, Peter, James, John and the other New Testament writers were different. They were instruments of Divine Revelation. Their writings were inspired and intended to become Scripture.
When their mission was complete, Divine revelation for this present age ended. The New Testament was finished. Revelation 22:18-19 adds a curse to those who would add to or take away from the completed cannon of the New Testament. It reads much like Galatians 1:6-10. Paul added the same curse on those who were trying to distort the gospel.
Embrace and study your Bible both Old and New Testaments. They are inspired, trustworthy, infallible and complete. The Bible is the finished revelation of God for this present age. Ask the Holy Spirit to teach and illuminate truth to you as you study your Bible.
But run fast and far if someone claims to have new revelation equivalent to Scripture. They are deceivers and false teachers. Don’t believe them even if they claim an angel spoke to them. (See Galatians 1:8) Test and measure everything by the Word of God. The Bible is our final foundation for truth, philosophy, wisdom and world view as believers. Become a student of the Word of God. (2 Timothy 3:16-17) It has everything to equip you for successful, fruitful and godly living.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global