For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. 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. But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, 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; 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 (Galatians 1:11-17 ESV).
What’s it all about? The gospel that Paul taught was not of human origins but was received by divine revelation from Jesus Christ. In this part of the letter, Paul describes his former life and defends his call to preach the gospel.
So what? Since the gospel is of divine origins (comes from God and not man), we must avoid the temptation to cater our message to suit people. Instead, like Paul, we must confidently proclaim the gospel as revealed in Scripture.
Questions from the Text:
1. What is the source of the gospel (1:12)?
2. How did Paul’s former life prepare him to proclaim and defend the gospel (1:13-16)?
3. What does it mean to be “set apart” to proclaim the gospel (1:15)?
Now what? Like Paul, all Christians have been called to faithfully proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. Therefore, we must intentionally look for opportunities to share how Christ has given us new life. Although some may be tempted to view their lives before Christ as a hindrance to sharing the gospel, God’s power to save us, even the worst of us, is demonstrated in his transforming power. Thus, we should explain (1) Who we were before Christ, (2) What Christ did to save us, & (3) How Christ has and continues to change us.
Small Group Questions
Scripture: Acts 9:1-19; 1st Corinthians 1:26-31 (full scriptural citations below)
1. Paul’s conversion was the result of a supernatural encounter with the resurrected Christ. How did this experience change Paul’s life?
2. Can you describe how you were converted to Christianity and became a follower of Christ?
3. If you are a Christian, how has the power of the gospel impacted and changed your life?
4. Does God always choose prominent people to proclaim the gospel? Why or why not? (Read 1st Corinthians 1:26-31 and make a list of the people God’s chooses to use and why?)
5. Was Paul’s call to preach the gospel unique?
1 Corinthians 1:26-31: For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”