Galatians 1:11

Paul, as we have seen, is so certain of the gospel of grace being the only gospel for sinful men, that he is prepared to pronounce an anathema on all who preach any other gospel. Lest it might be supposed that he took up this intolerant position rashly, he now proceeds to give us a short autobiography, in which he shows how he had received the gospel, and what a hold it had upon him. Let us notice the salient points in this narrative.

I. HIS LIFE AS A JEW. (Vers. 13, 14.) Paul, before his conversion, was the most zealous persecutor of Christianity. A strict Pharisee, he added to his self-righteousness an uncommon zeal for the old religion, and hesitated not to persecute to the death those who had embraced the new. He was zealous, but not according to knowledge.

II. THE REVELATION OF JESUS TO HIM AND IN HIM. (Vers. 11, 12, 15, 16.) It was Jesus himself who undertook Saul's conversion. There was no intermediate instrument. On the way to Damascus Jesus appeared to him in dazzling, overwhelming radiance, and compelled the persecutor to recognize, not only his existence, but his sovereign authority. That manifestation of Jesus to him revolutionized his life. Henceforth he could have no doubt regarding the reign of Jesus Christ. This was the revelation of Jesus to him - the historic interview which made Paul's career so different and so glorious. But next there was the revelation of Jesus in Paul. This was by the Holy Spirit entering into him and giving him Christ's mind, Christ's heart, Christ's compassions, so that Paul became a revelation of Christ to other men. Henceforward he was a "Christophor," carrying Christ in him, not only as his Hope of glory, but as his animating, regulating, ruling power. Paul was from that hour" possessed," but it was by the Spirit of Christ. His personality became a new centre of spiritual force and power.

III. THUS POSSESSED BY JESUS, HE BECAME INDEPENDENT OF MEN. (Vers. 16, 17.) Now, this independence of Paul had two sides.

1. He became independent of popular opinion "Immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood" Now it must have been very trying to surrender all his hopes as a Jew. The fact is, he was the foremost man of his nation just when Jesus converted him. The nation would gladly have followed his leadership. There was no man who had so much weight and force of character as Saul. To renounce all these hopes, and the friendships of his early years, and to face the world a lonely man was trying. Yet he was enabled by God's grace to do so. He made no truce with flesh and blood, but renounced all for Christ.

2. He felt independent of apostolic recognition. He never thought of hurrying off to Jerusalem to stand an examination at the hands of the apostles, and receive their imorimatur. He dealt at first hand with the Fountain of authority. Hence he passed to Arabia soon after his conversion, and in the solitudes of the desert, in the places associated with such master spirits as Moses, Elijah, and Christ, he communed with Christ, and pondered and laid the foundations of his theology. He called no man master; he felt that he had but one Master, and he was Christ. Now, this independence of character is what we should all seek. It can only be secured when we have renounced self-confidence and betaken ourselves to the feet of our Lord. There at the fountain of life and power we can rise up our own masters and his faithful servants, prepared to do battle, if need be, against the world.

IV. PAUL'S INTERVIEW AT JERUSALEM WITH CEPHAS AND JAMES. (Vers. 18, 19.) While Paul was properly independent in spirit, this does not imply that he was in any way morose or unsocial. His internment in Arabia, his earnest study of the whole plan of the gospel, only made him long for an interview with Cephas, the recognized leader at Jerusalem. Hence he passed from solitude to society, and had an interview of fifteen days with the apostle of the circumcision. James, who had ministerial oversight of the Jerusalem Church, shared his society too. It must have been a blessed meeting between the two mighty apostles. The meeting of two generals before some important campaign was never so momentous in its consequences as the meeting of these two humble men, Saul and Cephas. They were set upon the conquest for Christ of the world. Now, we have every reason to believe that the interview was simply one for conference. It was not that Saul might receive any authority from the hands either of Cephas or of James. He had his authority directly from Christ.

V. HIS EVANGELISTIC WORK. (Vers. 20-24.) Perhaps through mutual agreement with Peter, Paul leaves Jerusalem and Judaea and confines himself to the districts beyond. Syria and Cilicia, territories beyond the bounds of Palestine proper, where the apostles were operating, were selected by the apostle to the Gentiles for his first evangelistic efforts. He did not seek the acquaintance of the Churches in Judaea. He kept to his own province. They heard gladly that the arch-persecutor had become a chief preacher of the once despised faith. They accordingly praised God for the monument of his mercy he had raised up in Paul. But his knowledge of the gospel and his authority in proclaiming it were not, he wishes these Galatians to understand, derived from men. We should surely learn from this autobiography of Paul the secret of personal independence and power. It consists in going to the sources themselves. If we refuse to depend upon men and depend on the Lord only, we shall secure a grasp of his holy gospel and an efficiency in proclaiming it which are impossible otherwise. What the world needs now is what it needed then - men pervaded like Paul by the Spirit of Christ, and so radiating the true ideas about Christ all around. - R.M.E.

That the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
The greater part of our knowledge must always rest on the authority of others. No single man is able to ascertain for himself the innumerable facts, in all the various fields of human investigation, out of which alone a personal conviction can grow. Nor can we always reason out the conclusions that we accept on others' testimony. We must take them on faith. False teachers in Galatia attempted to weaken Paul's authority by asserting that he, having never been a personal disciple of Jesus, and not therefore included in the original commission, was to be looked on as no more than a self-appointed proclaimer of a self-invented doctrine, or as the agent only of other persons who employed his zeal and talents to diffuse their error, or perhaps as the ignorant perverter of the truths which he had at first been taught by the apostles at Jerusalem, and from which he had gone aside. St. Paul here refutes these accusations and insinuations.

I. HIS PRINCIPLES OF CHRISTIANITY WERE NOT DERIVED FROM HUMAN AUTHORITY. He was not the retailer of other men's notions, and proclaimer of what others had invented for him and enjoined on him. He had not been drilled in any human school, and then sent forth to talk — to distribute the materials which had been put into his hands, and to hawk about the goods which others had manufactured for him. Far higher than this was his authority; far deeper his knowledge and convictions.

II. NOR THROUGH HUMAN INSTRUCTION. Not merely conviction arrived at by self-study of others' opinions.

III. BUT FROM DIVINE DISCLOSURE. God unveiled His hidden things to the mental vision of the apostle. His inspiration is a revelation, disclosure, communication from God. Therefore he speaks with authority.

(Prebendary Griffith.)

Revelation is distinguished from ordinary moral and spiritual influences by its suddenness. It shows us in an instant, what, under ordinary circumstances, would grow up gradually and insensibly. In the individual it is accompanied by a sudden transition from darkness to light; in the world at large it is an anticipation of moral truth and of the course of human experience. Reducible to no natural laws, it is to our ordinary moral and spiritual nature what peculiar cataleptic conditions are to our bodily, constitution. It seems to come from without, and is not; to be confounded with any inward emotion, any more than a dream or the sight of a painting. As compared with prophecy, it is nearer to us, representing as in a picture the things that shall shortly come to pass, and yet embracing a wider range; not, like the prophets of old, describing the fortunes of an individual nation, as it may have crossed the path of the Jewish people, but lifting up the veil from the whole invisible world. In all its different senses it retains this external, present, immediate character. Whether it be the future kingdom of Christ, or the fall of Jerusalem or of Rome, or the world lying in wickedness, that is described, all is displayed immediately before us as on some mount of transfiguration — the figures near to us, and the colours bright.

(B. Jowett, M. A.)

1. As a word of doctrine, it did not spring from men, nor was it taught by men, but by Christ Himself, who brought it Himself, and through whom alone His people have it.

2. As a word of comfort, only through Him can we commit ourselves to it.

3. As a word of power, in which there should be no change, from which no departure.

(J. P. Lange, D. D.)

I. THE GOSPEL THAT PAUL PREACHED. The purport of his ministry and the faith he proclaimed are given in Acts 26:22, 23.


1. His gospel was not after man. It did not originate with man. Human schemes of salvation have ever been imperfect in theory and worthless in practice.

2. Paul's gospel was not communicated by man. "I neither received it of man."

3. The gospel which Paul preached was not explained to him by man. "Neither was I taught it."



1. Paul and the other apostles preached what had been revealed to them; there cannot, therefore, be in the true sense, any successors to the apostles now.

2. The gospel being a revelation, should be received with reverent trust.

(Richard Nicholls.)

Observe —


1. The evidences of God's Spirit imprinted on and expressed in it.

2. The testimony of its promulgators who were neither knaves nor fools.

3. The assurance of obedience and experience (John 7:17).


1. He is the Revealer of the will of the Father touching the redemption of mankind (John 1:18; John 8:26).

2. He calls and sends the preachers of this gospel (John 20:21; Ephesians 4:11).

3. He gives the Spirit who illuminates the mind and guides into all truth.


1. By immediate revelation,

2. By ordinary instruction in the schools.


(W. Perkins.)

To preach is to announce by heralding. We have to reiterate as new and happy tidings in the ear of a stranger that God's kingdom is come, is to come, and that we can help it to come, I ask any man, if this be true and not romance, is it not an honour to proclaim it, although it be with us as with Paul, against difficulties and calumnies.

(T. T. Lynch.)

In an important sense the inspiration of St. Paul is the highest in Holy Scripture; for while Moses laid a foundation, and prophets brought together the Divine materials, and evangelists built up the walls of the glorious temple of God's truth, it was reserved for Paul to complete the structure and bring out its beauties to be seen of the whole earth. There are magnificent temples in Bible lands that have served for quarries for the structures the Turks have built under their shadow. Yet even in ruin their greatness is more conspicuous from the contrast. So the ablest theologians have gone to Paul for the choicest stones of their goodly structures, and still the temple he was commissioned to complete looks down on them all, not a ruin but perfect as at the first. His Epistles form the crowning glory of that Word of God that abideth for ever.

(M. Laurie, D. D.)

Can a revelation be certified? The answer may be divided into three parts.

1. The method of the revelation, by individual men, and by writings handed down from age to age, is not unreasonable.

2. The anterior probability of such a revelation as is given in Scripture is undoubtedly strong.

3. The test of time being applied to the revelation actually given, sufficiently approves the Divine authority which is claimed for it.

(R. A. Redford.)

I. IT OCCUPIES A HIGHER REGION than that which is physical, mental, or moral.

II. IT COMES DOWN UPON the intellect, not out of it.

1. It is sublimely authoritative.

2. By the side of it the most advanced knowledge is halting and immature.


(S. Pearson, M. A.)

Great discoveries are usually the product of preceding ages of thought. One mind developes the idea; but it is the fruitage of the ages ripened in that mind. A pearl is found; but the location has been indicated by previous researches. But revealed religion is something different from this. It is separate from and superior to the thought of the age. It calls the wisdom of the world foolishness, and introduces a new standpoint and starting-point around which it gathers what was valuable in the old, and destroys the remainder. Hence it will always be found true that a struggle is necessary to bring up the human mind and keep it up to the level of revealed religion, anti that revealed religion produces the struggle. Even those who profess to be its friends retrograde as soon as its power abates, and new applications of that power have to be made to bring them up again.

(J. B. Walker, M. A.)

Revelation seems usually to be ascribed to the Son of God in consistency with His character as the Word, the declarer of God's will who has manifested God in the flesh (see also 1 Corinthians 11:23; Revelation 1:1; Revelation 5:9). Whereas Inspiration is usually connected with the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21; Acts 1:16; Hebrews 7:8). But Luke 2:26 is an exception to the rule. And, doubtless as on the one hand it is from the Son that the Spirit proceeds, being indeed the water which flows out of the rock of our salvation: so, on the other, no revelation can be made without the Spirit who opens the inward eye to what is outwardly communicated.

(Dean Goulburn.)

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