Friday, 26 February 2010

Gal 3:23-29

I don't like to say the bible is difficult, with the help of the Holy Spirit God's children are well equipped to understand our Father's word. However, Gal 3 is quite a dense passage. With that thought we come to the final section.

Before and after - before faith came and after faith came. In v. 23 by 'faith' Paul means something like 'Christ upon whom we can depend to fulfil the law and remove its curse'. Only after the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus was it possible for us to have faith in Christ and so be set free from the law. 'Faith' describes the possibility of life with Christ apart from the law.

To lead us to Christ - now in v. 24 Paul teaches a second use of the law. The law fulfils the function of a particular household slave, the one who took the family children to school. He wasn't the teacher, just the supervisor of the journey to school. So the law, once we realise that we can't obey it and that it won't make us right with God, leads us to Christ as the only one who has obeyed it and the only one who can make us right with God. Once we have been led to Christ the work of the slave (the law) is over, we are set free from the slave to learn from our new master Christ.

All sons of God - I passionately believe that v. 26 is not only for males, it is for females also. However, it is one of the few verses where it is important to retain the male term 'son'. Paul is moving to the climax of this chapter, namely, that in Christ we all become co-heirs. In the ancient world only the male child could inherit, so Paul is saying that in Christ we all become those who will inherit from our Father. (We do not all become male, but we do all enter into the rights of inheritance).
All - is such an important word. The many and various ways we humans have of dividing ourselves from one another become meaningless in Christ. As many as were baptised, as many as are clothed anew in Christ, as many as now belong by faith to Christ, so many are All. All these are one new people, one new humanity in Christ.
This remarkable unity in Christ for all people is the good news of the gospel. You are all one in Christ Jesus.

Heirs according to promise - promise has been a key theme of this chapter. We become co-heirs not by law, not by right, not by obedience, but by faith in Christ.

Since unity in Christ is the good news, what should we do to promote unity with other Christians?
How should Christian view the law and make use of the law in the light of what Paul teaches us here?

Gal 3:15-18 + 19-22

Gal 3:15-18
Paul offers a good example for all teachers/preachers. Take an example from a situation known to those you are teaching to illustrate the point you are hoping to make clear. Clarity is vital in teaching and good examples which answer the question, 'What is this like?' help make things clear. Let's see how Paul's example works.

v. 15 - self-evidently true, the point of entering a covenant, or contract, is that once it is signed it cannot be set aside or amended.
v. 16 - begin at the beginning, the promise comes first. To some Paul's point may seem like nit-picking, but these things are important. It would have been just as easy for God to make his promise to Abraham and his offsprings, as to make the promise to Abraham and his offspring. God doesn't make mistakes, what he says is what he means. Notice Paul says the offspring is Christ. In this context Christ, or Messiah, functions as a technical term that would have been recognised from the OT as designating the promised King in God's Kingdom. In itself this is not a point that would have been challenged by first Century Jews. To identify the Christ as Jesus of Nazareth would have been, and still is for many.
Paul's point here, however, is not to identify the Christ, but to clarify that the promises were made to Abraham and to the Christ.
v. 17 - the law, given at Mt Sinai, was added after the promise. On the principle of v. 15 the law added later does not set aside or amend the promise.
v. 18 - draws an obvious conclusion. The promise was of an inheritance, the law is not about this and cannot be about this.

Paul here shows us that the promises of God are made to, or about the Christ and through the promise, the Christ an inheritance is given to Abraham and his children. The law, whatever its function, is not involved here.
What difference does it make for us that God gives us 'the inheritance' by promise and not by law? How should we live while we await the receipt of 'the inheritance'?

Gal 3:19-22
I'm sure you're asking, 'What then is the point of the law?' Paul anticipates this question and presents here one of the answers.
I think v. 19 means that because the law exists we know more clearly what transgressions are. Transgressions are breaking the law, crossing the boundary, before the law is promulgated we don't know where the boundary is. But once the law is declared when we break it we are rightly condemned as law breakers.
In this the law functions to restrain wickedness. We now know within which boundaries good living, right living occurs. If we remain within the boundaries of the law then wickedness is held in check, which is a good thing for all society.
In vv. 21-22 Paul addresses another objection. The law and the promises are not set against one another. The law was never able to give life (the inheritance) to humanity, because of our human weakness and inability not to sin (break the law). The law serves good purposes in the plans of God, one of which is to restrain wickedness, the promise offers life through faith in the Christ.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Gal 3:10-14

In this paragraph Paul writes of the curse that attends law-breaking. Most famously Deut 28 records blessings for obedience (14 verses) and curses for disobedience (54 verses). It is all very well to claim that the gospel announces freedom from the law and the demands of the law, but we have all been disobedient to the law, what happens about the curse that follows from disobedience?

v. 10 - here Paul sets out the problem very briefly and clearly.
v. 11 - summarises much of Paul's arguments so far, the law does not make us right with God, not only because no one has fully obeyed the law, but more importantly those who are right with God (righteous) have been made righteous by faith (in Christ) not by self fulfilment of the law.
v. 12 - the contrast between the law and faith is explained in terms of work. Obedience to the law is a work, something which we do. The nature of faith is that it is a gift of God, God gives us faith and his Spirit enlivens this faith within us to our blessing.
It is like two different operating systems, works xp or faith 7, they may look as though they do the same thing(s) but they don't, and they don't function in the same way.
v. 13 - returning to the curse of the law, Paul claims that the object of faith - Christ - redeems us from the curse of the law. In his crucifixion Christ fell under the curse of the law, the reference is to Deut 21:23, one verse which stands for all the curses of the law falling upon Christ upon the cross. The key to v. 13 is the two small words 'for us'. Christ did not deserve to have the curse of the law fall upon him, he had no sin in himself. This is substitution, Christ takes our place under the curse, a place we deserve but are set free from because Christ has filled it. The curse has been borne and is fulfilled, "Payment God cannot twice demand, once at my bleeding surety's hand, and then again at mine." (Toplady).
v. 14 - and so Abraham appears again!
'so that ...' refers back to 'Christ redeemed us' (v. 13), giving the sense 'Christ has redeemed us so that ...' How would you finish this sentence? If you don't finish it the way Paul does your thinking is not yet fully in line with Paul's and the NT. So that introduces a purpose clause, the purpose of Christ's redemption of us is to bring the blessing promised to Abraham to the Gentiles!!
That all humanity were under the curse of disobedience has prevented the promised blessing being given. But now Christ has redeemed us, the curse is removed, and the blessing is freely given.
The Spirit is now poured out upon God's people through faith.

Christ removes the curse, not by force but by enduring the penalty of the curse.
To those who exercise faith in Christ and his curse removal the blessing of the promised Spirit is given.

To God be the glory.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Gal 3:7-9

Like an unexpected guest at a party, Abraham seems to turn up in the New Testament in places where you dont really expect to find him. We will see this again in the next paragraph, but the point is worth making twice, when the NT seems to head off in an unexpected direction it's not the NT that's wrong! Our thinking about the gospel is often muddled and when we are surprised it is a good chance for us to have our thinking straightened out a bit.

Abraham was introduced in this chapter in v. 6, apparantly as an example of someone who was made right with God (justified) by faith not works.
v. 7 - to be a son of Abraham was a great boast of the Jewish peoples. Racially they are the children of Abraham and the Gentiles are not. However, theologically or in terms of salvation being the children of Abraham is not about race, but about faith. Those who exercise faith in Jesus Christ, portrayed as crucified, become the children of Abraham.
v. 8 - in this verse Paul asserts, without giving us chapter and verse references, that the Scriptures have foretold God's purposes to make the Gentiles right with him through faith. We are pointed to Gen 12:3, the great promise that in Abraham all the nation of the earth would be blessed. In this context the blessing refered to here can only be that of being made right with God by faith.
v. 9 - the same blessing promised to Abraham, and enjoyed by Abraham, is now offered to all, Jew and Gentile alike, is now enjoyed by all, Jew and Gentile alike. This fundamental distinction between the Jews and everyone else is destroyed by the gospel which reaches through and beyond such divisions.

Why is Abraham of such importance to Paul? What is faith in these verses?

Monday, 22 February 2010

Gal 3, 3:1-6

Galatians chapter 3
Galatians chapters 3 and 4 are very closely connected and together form a densely constructed passage of Scripture. These are some of the most important chapters in the New Testament and if we take them one piece at a time we can keep on the main road through these chapters.

Chapter 3 can be divided as follows:

Jesus Christ has been proclaimed to the Galatians as the crucified One, through whom alone the blessings of the gospel come to those who believe. In this short section Paul uses six powerful questions to help the Galatians realise the danger they have placed themselves in by moving away from Christ crucified.
Questions are very helpful when studying Scripture, what questions would you ask of this text? Questions are also helpful when talking with non-Christians about the gospel, what questions do you think would be helpful to ask others to help them think about Jesus?

In v. 2 Paul reminds the Galatian Christians that they have received the Spirit. When they heard the gospel and received it with faith in Christ they received God’s Spirit now powerfully living and working within them. They did not receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law.
It doesn’t matter much whether they viewed the works of the law as an appeal to God for acceptance or a badge to wear declaring their membership of the covenant community, either way they are of no benefit in receiving the Spirit. God’s gift of the Spirit is not earned by us through our hard work, nor through our belonging to a community. God the Father and the Son together send the God the Spirit to those who having been crucified with Christ now live together with Christ.
Verse 3 challenges our thinking about continuing our Christian lives. We rejoice that our Christian lives started with the Spirit bringing us to new life in Christ. Are we then to imagine that we continue being Christian through our own efforts? I hope when we read and write it as bluntly as this the point is clear! The life of the Spirit will involve suffering, v. 4, the kind of opposition Paul faced from the circumcision party, if nothing less. Paul appeals to his readers make your suffering worth while.
The repetition of the theme comes to vv. 5-6, Abraham heard God and believed the promise. He becomes the example of faith. He gains from God a righteousness that was not his own, could not have been earned or crafted by himself. But, as he commits himself in faith to the God who has spoken to him he receives righteousness from God.
What is it we hear that we place our faith in?

Friday, 19 February 2010

Gal 2:17-21

Now, after my previous post on justification and righteousness let's finish off chapter 2 with this final paragraph.

Paul has been writing, vv. 15-16, that in Christ we are already justified (made right with God). But, we know, at least I hope we do, that in our lives we continue to sin. This appears a serious objection to Paul's understanding of justification. If we sin how can we be justified, does justification become a hope stored up for us in glory? Or, if we sin does that make Christ, to whom we are united, a sinner or servant of sin? 'Certainly not!' isn't really strong enough for Paul's rejection of this error.

Christ dies for us and God accepts the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf. On this basis alone we are justified, made righteous before God.
This is what God, through Christ, has done for us.

I however, continue to live in sin. V. 18 is a very vivid picture of my rebuilding walls of sin which Christ has torn down. Christ destroys sin, if it is rebuilt or continues in my life that is up to me.
Why do we continue to sin?

Paul seeks to address our minds, our understanding of who we now are in Christ.
v. 19 - if I have died to the law I am no longer bound to the law but am set free to live to God.
v. 20 - on the cross Christ died to sin and rose again to a new life. United to Christ, 'in Christ', I share in his death to sin and also share in his rising to a new life. Everyday I live now, I live as one united to the Son of God and sharing his life, or knowing his life powerfully within me.
These verses describe a change, a change that has taken place within us. We can choose, it would appear every day, whether we will slip back into the old life or vigorously enter into the new life. In the weakness of our flesh (to use a loaded Pauline term!) we cannot but fail to live this new life and constantly fall back into the old life of sin and death.
This does not in any way diminish the reality, the fact of the cross and what God has achieved for us in Christ. This does not allow us to settle for sin and condone sin, rather we are to 'endeavour' (v. 17) to live in Christ, to enjoy the new life of those justified, made right with God through the cross of the Lord Jesus.
How can we encourage ourselves and others to live as those already justified? What role does faith play in this?

Justification, Righteousness and Gal 2:17 and 21

Galatians is one of the main text over which the battle for justification has been, and is again being fought.

The word 'justified' in v. 17 comes from the same root word which at other places in English versions is translated 'righteousness. For example, 'righteousness' in v. 21 is from the same root as 'justified' in v. 17. Justified sounds quite different from righteousness, but the two are very closely related. I think the idea behind these words, or this word group if you prefer, is being made right with God.
So v. 17 would become something like (and this is very inelegant English):
'But if, in our endeavour to be made right with God in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not!'
And v. 21:
'I do not nullify the grace of God, for if being right with God were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.'

Two comments arise here.
1) It is God who is the object of justification/righteousness. We find ourselves in a condition of not being right with God and need to be made right with him. Righteousness or justification is not something we need to live in this world as godless humans, but if we desire to live together with God we must be first made right with him. This is the work, which God achieves for us, that is described by these two terms righteousness/justification.
2) These verses Gal 2:17 and 21 make it clear that our being justified or made righteous involves Christ. The 'in Christ' from v. 17 tells us that only united together with Christ can we be made right with God. And v. 21 adds the specific note that the death of Christ, rather than the law, achieves our being right with God, otherwise Christ's death is pointless. It is as we understand Christ's death to achieve our being made right with God that we see this work as not ours but God's, in Christ or through Christ, on our behalf.

These verses say nothing about a transfer of Christ's righteousness to us, nor offer any idea as to how the death of Christ might have achieved this great blessing for us. It is always good, indeed I would say vital, to stop where the bible stops and say nothing more. Now it may be that other passages add to Gal 2, but this post is on these verses not an attempt to offer a full description of justification and righteousness.

Does it make any difference to connect the words 'justified/justification' with the words 'righteous/righteousness'? What does it mean for us and our lives that God has achieved our justification/righteousness through the death of Christ?

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Gal 2:11-16

The discussion about the inclusion of the Gentiles in the church without submitting to Jewish customs is earthed in a painful episode at Antioch where Paul challenges Peter on his behaviour.

Peter has come to Antioch and joins in with Paul, Barnabas and the Gentiles in sharing Christian fellowship around the meal table. Some men come down who are described as coming from the circumcision party, from James in Jerusalem. Peter withdraws to eat with them to the exclusion of the Gentiles and draws others behind him.
In what ways do we value the example of other Christians? How should we reflect upon the importance of our example in our daily living as an encouragement to other Christians, and non-Christians?

Paul challenges Peter as he sees the gospel at stake in this exchange.
In the gospel all are welcomed on the condition of faith in Christ Jesus. Faith in Christ Jesus does not save, does not achieve forgiveness of sins: the death of Christ on the cross and his glorious resurrection do that. Faith is that gift of God which unites us to Christ and by which God exercises the benefits of Christ in our lives.
To impose any other requirement upon anyone is to add to Christ's work something not done by Christ but done by humans.
The works of the law may be those things done by humans aiming to achieve reconciliation with God by our own effort, or they may be those deeds proudly worn as badges which identify us as members of this or that group. It comes to the same thing, we are not made right with God by anything other than Christ and his work for us.
What do we do in our attempt to make ourselves right with God by our own efforts? On what basis do we welcome others into Christian fellowship with us?

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Gal 2:1-10

At its simplest, Gal 2 can be divided into two sections:
2:1-10 and 2:11-21

Sometimes the first part is divided, 1-5 and 6-10, and the second part can be divided 11-16 and 17-21.

A big picture view of Galatians could take 1:11-2:14 as a unit in which Paul defends the independence of his gospel.

There is a high degree of uncertainty about what Paul was doing for the 14 years mentioned in verse 1. Paul's point is that he was not learning the gospel from the Jerusalem apostles. As Paul received the gospel by revelation, so it is important for Paul to mention that when he goes up to Jerusalem he goes in obedience to revelation.
What do you think Paul means by revelation? Why is it important for us, 2,000 years later?

Paul does not yield his understanding of the gospel, or his practice of Christian living to anyone. I think we must imagine that some have tried to force Titus to submit to circumcision, but Paul has not yielded and Titus could not be forced. In this Paul sees himself as preserving the truth of the gospel.
There are many issues on which Christians may disagree, how can we discern those few areas where we must not yield? What do you think these non-negotiable issues might be?

Paul mentions three pillars of the church: James, Cephas and John, only to tell his readers that they approved of his gospel ministry and this publicly in the giving of the right hand of fellowship. I'm struck that the one positive gospel issue named in these verses is care for the poor. (Not being circumcised is a gospel issue but not a positive one). Too often we omit care for the poor from our top line gospel issues. We may feel willing to stand firm and not yield on the deity of the Lord Jesus, God having spoken in Scripture, forgiveness through the cross - but do we always include care for the poor?
What do we learn about the importance of Christian fellowship from these verses? What is it about the gospel that should impress caring for the poor upon us as a foundational way of Christian living?

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Gal 1:10-24

Let’s take this as one longer section.

If the gospel was a human work, invented or imagined by humans, then it would fine wide and general acceptance from humans. If any preacher was attempting to please their hearers preaching a human gospel is a sure way to achieve this goal. Before Paul became a Christian he responded to those Christians who preached the gospel with hatred and anger, he persecuted the church. A revelation of God’s grace through the gospel will give rise to hatred and violence.
Why do you think the gospel produces a response of violent rejection?

Paul insists that the gospel he preaches is not a human gospel. He defends this by assuring his readers of the origins of his gospel. Paul was not taught by any human, he did not learn the gospel from those were apostles before him. Paul received the gospel of Jesus Christ, from Jesus Christ, by revelation.
If God had not graciously chosen to make the gospel known then no human could have learned it – we could never work out or imagine a god who would be so gracious towards us. One implication of revelation is that we receive the gospel as it is, we do not then have liberty to change the gospel to suit ourselves or our friends. (see 1:6-9). The correct response to revelation is humble gratitude – we acknowledge that God did not need to reveal anything to us but has graciously chosen to reveal his gospel and with thanksgiving we accept the offer of the gospel that there is good news for us from God about our living together with God. (More about what the gospel is later in Galatians).
Why do you think revelation is important? What evidence do you think there is that God has revealed the gospel to us?

Can you imagine how great a challenge a converted Paul must have been to the church in Jerusalem and Judea? Paul had never persecuted anyone in Galatia, it was easier for them to accept him, but what about that Christian widow in Jerusalem whose husband had been arrested and killed by Paul? Or that family made homeless in his persecuting rage? It wasn’t easy, but the truth of the gospel overcomes such difficulties and these young Christians glorified God because of Paul and his conversion and service.
Who do you find it difficult to glorify God because of them and their service? What is it in the gospel that enables us to welcome one another, whatever our background or previous life?

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Gal 1:6-9

Gal 1:6-9

What a truly frightening passage! We can be a church, a Christian, who thinks they are holding to the gospel but find that we have exchanged it for something which is not the gospel at all.

The gospel is good news from God. There is only one gospel, there is one story which is good news for us from God. We do not have liberty to change, amend, alter or otherwise tamper with the gospel.
Where are we tempted to change the gospel in our days?

God, in the gospel, calls us in the grace of Christ into a relationship with himself. The gospel is good news because being in a relationship with God is our highest good, our greatest goal. If we change the gospel, or leave the gospel, we are abandoning God and will find ourselves trying to worship another god, who is no god at all.

This challenge to the church arises from within the church. Non Christians calling us to leave the gospel will not tempt us with another gospel. From within the church, from those who are trying to follow Jesus this temptation rises. There is another way of being Christian, another way of entering into a relationship with God, why not try this way?

Paul writes very strongly ‘let him be accursed’. I think that Paul is not telling us to exercise any kind of physical punishment upon those false preachers, because only God can rightly judge anyone accursed. Paul is warning us that God will so judge all who teach as the gospel that which is no gospel at all.

Why do you think Paul writes so strongly in these verses? What temptation do we face when reading such words?

Is there a difference between a deliberate preaching of a false gospel and a non-deliberate preaching of error?

Monday, 8 February 2010

Gal 1:1-5

One of the things I like to do when starting to read a book of the bible is to see if the text can be easily divided up.

Galatians chapter 1 can be divided into the following sections:


If you want to take 1:10-24 as one longer section that’s ok.

There is a question about v. 10, some like the NIV take v. 10 with verses 6-9. There is no clear marker in the text, so we have some liberty. The repeated ‘accursed’ or ‘anathema’ in vv. 8 and 9 tie these verses together. Then, we could read the reference to pleasing man in v. 10 as looking forward to ‘not man’s gospel’ in v. 11 so linking v. 10 to this new section.

Paul describes himself as an apostle. The key definition of an apostle that Paul gives in Galatians is in v. 1 when he writes of being an apostle ‘through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead’.
Acts 1 has rather more to say about being an apostle, but this is what is important for Paul in this letter. His apostleship has been challenged by some in Galatia and Paul will give much of chapters 1 and 2 to defending his apostleship.
Without this word ‘apostle’ in chapter 1 we begin to see Paul, one who is sent and one who serves. Coming to Galatia preaching the gospel Paul is acting in obedience to the one who sent him, Jesus Christ. While in Galatia Paul serves Jesus Christ in the work of the gospel.

Do you think ‘apostle’ is a term that should be reserved for Paul and the other New Testament apostles? In what ways are we sent by God and called into service today?

Paul does not use the term ‘God’ without further defining that term. The God whom Paul serves, the God of the bible is very specifically the Father of Jesus Christ and the one who raised him from the dead. There are not many gods, only one. This one God has uniquely made himself known through Jesus Christ and his resurrection.
This Jesus is the one who has given himself (an allusion to the crucifixion) with the aim of delivering us from this present age by dealing with our sins. It is the will of God the Father that this Jesus should give himself, should do so for our sins and should deliver God’s people. There is no disharmony or disunity between the Father and his Son Jesus Christ. That sin is the problem which needs dealt with and that Jesus is the one who will deal with sins is something the Father and the Son agree upon.

Why is the history of Jesus Christ, his death and resurrection important to you? How do we know God? Why does God the Father agree that his Son should deal with our sins?

In the light of this the common greeting ‘grace and peace to you’ is transformed by the gospel. Our sins do not deserve such merciful treatment, grace alone can account for God’s mercy towards us in Christ. Our lives are so lacking in peace only the promise of God and the gift of his Spirit making peace for us can give a term like ‘peace’ any meaning. Grace and peace is what we receive from God in the gospel, we are called to share grace and peace with one another, and with all the world.

What does grace and peace mean to you? What encourages you to share grace and peace with others?

Some Books

Here are some of the books from my shelf which I've found helpful in reading Galatians.

Martin Luther: A Commentary on St Paul's Epistle to the Galatians, available in various editions mine is hardback, James Clark & Co, 1978.

John Calvin: vol 11 in Calvin's New Testament Commentaries, Paternoster Press, 1996.

I think both the above are also available on the ccel site, Christian Classics Ethereal Library - here.

R Alan Cole: in the Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, pub 1965

FF Bruce: The Epistle to the Galatians, pub 1982.

From the above both Calvin and Cole are shorter volumes and often brevity is a real blessing in a commentary. Cole is older now and although I don't have it I suspect I would like and would want to comment Tom Wright on Galatians in his Paul for Everyone series.

Bruce is always good, don't be put off by this volume being subtitled, 'A commentary on the Greek Text'. If you have some Greek then Bruce will serve you well, if not, you can use with profit Bruce's comments borne of long experience teaching Paul.

I really like Luther on Galatians. This is a volume which would be read with benefit to anyone, especially Luther on chapter 2 which I think it just great. It isn't a short volume and sometimes the concerns of Luther as he lectured in 1531 are not exactly ours, nevertheless, it repays careful reading.

What books do you have on Galatians? What have you found helpful?


Welcome to Reading Together.

I've been blogging for a year now - find my other blog here - Kennedy's Corner.

This new blog is an attempt to build an on-line community to share together in hearing God's word as we read and share together around passages of Scripture.

The idea is that I will suggest a passage for the week and over a week make a number of posts offering comments on the passage.

You are warmly invited to leave comments: questions, suggestions, other comments. The hope is that in this way we will become a community, sharing together as we read the bible together.

We are going to begin this week in Galatians, with Galatians chapter 1.

Galatians 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- 2 and all the brothers who are with me,
To the churches of Galatia:
3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel- 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
11 For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man's gospel. 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. 13 For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. 14 And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, 16 was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.
18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. 19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord's brother. 20 (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!) 21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22 And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only were hearing it said, "He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy." 24 And they glorified God because of me.