PAUL’S GOSPEL NOT ACCORDING TO MAN (Gal. 1:10, 11)
It must have been with great feeling and intensity, that Paul wrote in large, forceful letters the beautiful address “brethren.” (Gal. 6:11) What earnest appeal there is in this term “brethren”! They are still so very dear to Paul in spite of their begun aberration. Paul addresses the Galatians as brethren in Chapter 3:15 with great force in connection with the meaning the covenant in Abraham. Notice the earnest plea in Chapter 4:12! And do not overlook the appeal in Chapter 5:13, where they are reminded that they have been called unto liberty in Christ Jesus. To call them to their senses that they should not war and walk with chips on their shoulder, he addresses them as “brethren” in Chapter 6:1. All these passages should be carefully viewed in their setting.
Paul will call their attention to a very important fact about the Gospel which he preached in their midst, and which they had received. Writes he, “I make known unto you.” There is something causative in this type of verb, like the Hebrew Hiphil form. He wouldcause them to know. He is not imparting to them something of interest merely; he informs them of something, which has bearing on the very nature and authenticity of the Gospel which Paul preached to them. Let erring angels and men give heed! This is an apostolic “making known” in God’s name. Let the Galatians heed and listen carefully and believingly. Not to do so will be fatal.
The form of the verbs and the sentence here are such that Paul emphatically calls attention to his own personal, apostolic preaching in Galatia, and not to the preaching of one of his co-workers in the Gospel. He speaks of what was preached by me. The Greek personal pronoun “me” (emou) is emphatic. His preaching is not according to man, as is the so-called preaching of those who would pervert the Gospel of Christ. O, Paul preached the word of the Cross as good news. He indeed did preach (herald as a town crier), but in so doing he was a true evangelist. This preaching of justification by faith in Christ was the only good news for a poor sinner, who seeks peace with God and a free and good conscience. He preached so that the prisoners were set free from their captive bars of .Satan’s hellish bondage and fearful accusations. Paul is not contending for mere trivial things. He is making his grand apology for the truth of the only Gospel under heaven, and the only Name given by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)
The truth of the matter is that every other Gospel which is not what Paul preached in Galatia is “‘according to man.” When Paul affirms of this Gospel which he has preached that it is not according to man, he is making an implied positive affirmation that it is according to God and according to the glory of His grace. (Eph. 1:6) Meyer interprets this phrase as meaning,” not according to the estimate of man,” and Lightfoot, “after human fashion and standard.” Luther interprets this affirmation to mean, “Paul learned not the gospel by the ministry of men.” It is our considered judgment that Paul is here not referring to how he received it, which he will also tell us here, but that Paul is speaking of the very nature of His Gospel. It was a divine Gospel in the most exclusive sense of the word. It could only be known by revelation, by being uncovered, disclosed by God Himself in Christ. We see this is the words of Jesus to Peter in the regions of Caesarea Philippi, after Peter had made the profound confession, the rock-bottom confession as to identity of the Son of Man, namely, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matt. 16:16) Such a confession could only come from the lips of Peter and from his heart because “flesh and blood” had not revealed this to Peter, but “my Father who is in heaven.” This Gospel truth concerning the Son of God, his dying on the Cross, being raised the third day, and the building of the church overagainst all the gates of hell, could never, never arise in the heart of any man. These are the things which make Isaiah write, “for from of old men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen a God besides thee, who worketh for him that waiteth for him.” (Isaiah 64:4) Paul applies this word in I Cor. 2:9 to the Mysteries of the Gospel, which the unbelievers in the church could not understand when they crucified the “LORD of glory.” For these are mysteries which are only known when God by His Spirit, Who searches all things, even the deep things of God, reveals them. Such are the very nature of these Mysteries in God from the ages and revealed in these last times.
Well may the Galatians give ear! And we, too, must perceive and see!
Paul’s Gospel is not according to man. He has it by revelation of Jesus Christ Himself!
That is the inner essence of the Gospel itself! Thus too it is interpreted by Dr. S. Greijdanus in his Korte Verklaring on Galatians. Paul is here not speaking of how the Gospel was received in the first instance, but he is emphasizing in a negative way that the Gospel is entirely Divine in nature.
SERVANT OF MAN OR OF CHRIST? (Galatians 1:10)
There are but two alternatives for Paul. It is an either-or matter. If Paul preaches the Gospel of God, then he is a servant of Christ, but should he preach the gospel according to man, then he is not in Christ’s service at all, but in the service of the arch-foe, Satan. To establish that he is not at all attempting to please men, seeking to please them, he has but to appeal to the Gospel which he preached.
But now Paul stands alone in the service of Christ, the risen and exalted Lord Who revealed Himself to him on the road to Damascus. He only asks: what wouldst thou have me do, Lord? He stands at his Lord’s bidding. He is a servant of Jesus Christ in all the world. He has a dispensation entrusted to him. Paul often refers to this in his letters and enlarges upon it very much, magnifying his office, his ministry. It is a great grace of God to Paul that he may be a minister, a servant of Christ in His church. It is Paul’s humble boast that he is such a minister. It is for this purpose that Paul more than once begins his letters presenting himself to the church as such a “servant,” a slave of Christ, even in chains. (See Romans 1:1; Phil. 1:1, and Titus 1:1) He glories in the “dispensation entrusted to me” even though he is “less than the least of all saints.” This grace was given to him that he might preach unto the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. (Eph. 3:7, 8) Woe is me, says Paul, If I do not preach! For then there is a dispensation assigned to him anway. But now he runs the race in his preaching of the mystery which from before the ages was hid in God Who created all things. (Eph. 3:9;Col. 1:25)
Dr. John Eadik writes in his commentary on Colossians, page 93, on this subject of Paul’s ministry and being a servant of Christ, as follows: “In the divine arrangement (oikonomia) (Eph. 3:2) of the spiritual ,house, the apostle held a function which has special reference to the Gentile churches. Paul regarded this as his distinctive office, and how he gloried in it. It had a breadth which suited his mighty mind, and it necessitated the preaching of an unconditional Gospel and it especially delighted his ample heart. He would not be confined to the narrow circuit of Judaism . . . .” Thus wrote Eadie, Anno 1856.
In I Thess. 2:4 Paul avers that he writes that he did not preach as “pleasing men, but God which trieth the hearts.” On this passage Dr. W. Hendriksen has some excellent observations, which are worthy of the time of anyone who desires to pursue this matter of Paul’s seeking only to please God in his preaching of the Gospel.
That Paul desires only to please God requires a “suffiency from God” he tells us in II Cor. 3:5. For Paul does not try and seek to please men with itching ears who will not hear the Gospel. He is in his preaching a savor of life unto life in those who are saved, and a savor of death unto death in those who perish. He is not like many who corrupt the Word of God, but he speaks as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God. (II Cor. 2:16, 17.) He handles the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. He does not seek to please men but the living God!
PAUL’S FORMER WALK IN JUDAISM (Gal, 1:13, 14)
It was a mighty change which took place in Paul’s life when God took him, as in one moment, out of the ignorance of a follower of the “traditions of my fathers” to be a preacher of the Son of God among the Gentiles!
That transition was a wonder, a real miracle of grace!
To see this, Paul shows what the real nature of his former walk had been. He states that these Galatians had “heard” of this former walk. It was well-known the world over. It had gained world-wide notoriety! Then why does Paul bring up the subject here of his “past” in this connection? Was it to talk about something painful in his life and of which he was ashamed? Not in itself, but in the manner of his having been called into the office and dispensation of the gospel of the manifold riches of Christ.
Paul had been a persecutor of the church of Christ. He had made havoc of the church. He would have the Galatians understand that his entire former walk and conversation had been once entirely in Judaism, the very Judaism that now came once more in false pretense to pervert the Gospel of Christ. Paul had been delivered from this false teaching and walk, by God Himself. And what a zealot Paul had been. He had outdone many of his own country men of his own age. He was an outstanding Jewish student, and ardent advocate of the tradition of “my fathers.” These “traditions” were not the sacred Scriptures at all, but they were the handed down interpretations and applications of the “law,” and were sad to say corruptions of the law. A good case in point we have in Matthew 15:4 where Jesus points out the corruption by the traditions of the fifth Commandment concerning “honoring father and mother.” Such corrupters are those denounced by Isaiah 29:12 as those who make void the law of God by their “traditions.” These traditions allowed a son “to curse” his father and mother under certain circumstances when it pertained to giving the temple-Corban in the treasury. These are blind leaders of the blind, who both fall into the ditch.
Such was Paul in the highest sense so that he brought men and women into prison for the faith in Christ. Paul was enroute on exactly such a terribly evil mission, when Christ from heaven arrested him on the way, saying, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” Three times Luke relates this in the book of Acts. (Acts 9:1-9, 22:3-21, 26:9-20)
But it pleased God to reveal His Son in Paul at his own time!