Received by Revelation Part 1 of 2 (series: Lessons on Galatians)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)



August 25, 2013

The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Galatians

Tom Lowe

Chapter II.A Received by Revelation (1:11-12)

Galatians 1.11-12 (KJV)

11 But I certify you, brethren, that the Gospel which was preached of me is not after man.

12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.



This clause means, “I make known to you” or, “I declare to you” or, “I assure you.” It is a phrase Paul has used before: “MOREOVER, BRETHREN, I DECLARE UNTO YOU THE GOSPEL WHICH I PREACHED UNTO YOU, WHICH ALSO YE HAVE RECEIVED, AND WHEREIN YE STAND” (1 CO. 15.1; KJV). In Galatians 1.11-12, he declares that the Gospel he has preached to them has a Divine source. It is certain they already knew this, but now he reassures them of it, and goes into a lengthy illustration to show them that he had not received his authority to preach the Gospel from man; proving this is the main objective of Chapter 1. Actually, he began this epistle by stating that his authority as an apostle of Jesus Christ came from God, not man: “PAUL, AN APOSTLE — NOT FROM MEN OR BY MAN, BUT BY JESUS CHRIST AND GOD THE FATHER WHO RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD” (Gal. 1.1; HCSB). 

The message for his readers is that the Gospel he preaches was given to him by Jesus Christ; there is not a spark of human creativity in it, or the slightest touch of human cunning. It is not of, by, or from man. It is not according to man; not influenced by mere human considerations, as it would be, if it had a human origin.

Although many of the Galatians had left Paul and joined with their false teachers, yet the apostle still calls them "brethren," which is an indication he still wished them well, and hoped they were born again, and belonged to the family of God, and had received the Holy Spirit. He addresses them as “brethren” to show his affection for them, and to hold their attention while he assures them of the divine origin and authority of the Gospel preached by him; which is something they formerly knew and believed, but in spite of that they had come to doubt his doctrine because of the insinuations made against him by the false apostles; therefore, he affectionately refers to them as his “brethren.”

The Greek text reads, “Not according to man” (Also see Galatians 1:1). The meaning is that he was not appointed an apostle by any man or organization of men, nor did he have any human instructor who taught him what the Gospel was. Neither had he received the Gospel he preached from man, nor had it been corrupted or infected by human reasoning. He had received it directly from the Lord Jesus.

Paul's pronouncement that he possessed a personal revelation from the Lord of glory which had endowed him with full and complete knowledge of the Gospel was certainly bold and astonishing. It is not surprising that some of his contemporaries were concerned about whether or not he was an authentic apostle and if the Gospel he preach could be trusted; but it should always be borne in mind that the great miracles which the apostle Paul performed all over the Roman Empire confirmed and authenticated his message; they were his credentials. There has not been another man like Paul, and what made him so great was the Lord Jesus, who met him on the Damascus Road. There Jesus changed him from the chief persecutor of Christians to arguably the greatest Christian who ever lived. None of the so-called "inspired" leaders of current times is worthy to be compared with Paul.

The false teachers (probably Judaizers) that were leading them astray PRETENDED to preach the Gospel, but they would not admit it; they said it was taught to them by the apostles in Jerusalem, and that they received it directly from Jesus. And they also said that the Gospel preached by the apostle Paul had no other authority than human, and that Paul had come up with it himself: that is the reason he so vehemently denies that it was "AFTER MAN"; from the wisdom of man, a human invention and scheme, and a figment of man's brain.

In contrast to the different Gospel brought by these false teachers, Paul’s message was a revelation from God. Paul’s message was not a man’s attempt to reach up and understand God; it was God’s effort to bow down and communicate with man. Men may have many marvelous things to teach us, but the Apostle Peter said—“ACCORDING AS HIS DIVINE POWER HATH GIVEN UNTO US ALL THINGS THAT PERTAIN UNTO LIFE AND GODLINESS, THROUGH THE KNOWLEDGE OF HIM THAT HATH CALLED US TO GLORY AND VIRTUE” (2 PE. 1.3; KJV). God’s revelation has all things which pertain to life and godliness; that is, everything we need to live a godly life. Today, more than ever, the world does not need the good advice and wisdom of man, it needs a revelation from God. Note the following comments:

1. Did Paul’s message really come from God, or is it the result of man’s spiritual and moral search for God? If Paul’s Gospel really came from God, then it is the most important fact in the world. If it is just a human invention, then it is the most dangerous lie in the world.

2. There are many people around today who claim that they have a revelation from God. But we have to be careful to not consider a message as being from God if it isn’t. How can we know that the Bible is really from God and not man?

a. First, we know that the Bible is reliable, accurate and trustworthy as an ancient document. We know this because the text itself is reliable (we know this from the study and comparison of ancient manuscripts). And we know this because archaeology has consistently confirmed and supported the Biblical record, and has never contradicted the Bible. People, places, and events in the Bible are repeatedly verified by archaeology.

b. Second, we know that the Bible is unique, and special among all books ever written. It is unique in its permanence, being written over 1600 years, over 60 generations, by more than 40 authors, on three different continents, in different circumstances and places, in different times, different moods, in three languages, concerning many controversial subjects, but it speaks with one united voice. It is unique in its circulation, being the most published and popular book ever written. It is unique in its translation, being the first book translated, and having been translated into more languages than any other book. It is unique in its survival, having survived the ravages of time, manual transcription, persecution, and criticism. It is unique in its honesty, dealing with the sins and failures of its heroes in a manner quite unknown among ancient literature. It is unique in its influence, since it has a greater influence on culture and literature than any other book in existence.

c. Third, the Bible is a book of prophecy, which has factually been fulfilled. For example, there are some 300 prophecies concerning the Messiah that were exactly and literally fulfilled by Jesus, such as His birth at Bethlehem, His manner of death and burial, and so forth. Another example is that the Bible describes the rise of four successive world empires (Babylonia, Persia, Greece, Rome) with such accuracy that all critics can do is claim that the passage was actually written after the events happened.

d. Fourth, the Bible is a book that has profoundly changed the lives of millions, irrespective of their race, class, era, sex, locale, age, or social status.

e. One might look at all this evidence and still say, “It doesn’t prove that the Bible came from God.” I will grant you that; but it does give us a reason to believe that it did. In the end, believing the Bible is from God is a step of faith. But it is a step of intelligent and informed faith, not a leap of blind faith.

Perhaps, one of the most important truths the apostle could offer to substantiate his bold declaration was the record which was available for everyone to read concerning what the Gospel had wrought in his own amazing life.

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