Received by Revelation Part 2 of 2 (series: Lessons on Galatians)
by John Lowe
12 FOR I NEITHER RECEIVED IT OF MAN, NEITHER WAS I TAUGHT IT, BUT BY THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST.
FOR I NEITHER RECEIVED IT OF MAN,
This is very probably Paul’s reply to his antagonists, who had been making disparaging remarks about him, the principal one being that he had obtained his knowledge of the Gospel from other people, since he had not been personally known to the Lord Jesus, or been one of the twelve whom Jesus called to be his apostles. In reply to this, he says, “No man taught me what I have preached to you.” He was not taught the gospel by Gamaliel, at whose feet he was brought up; he received the law from him, and knowledge in the Jewish religion and the traditions of the elders, but not one thing about the Gospel. Quite the reverse, he received prejudices against Christianity from him. And he could not have learned it from the apostles of Christ either, because he did not see them, and did not converse with them for several years, after he was a preacher of the Gospel, and therefore he did not receive it from them; not from Ananias, not from any other man. Paul must defend his reputation from the attempt by the false teachers in Galatia to denigrate his apostleship, therefore he takes pains to show that he has received the doctrines which he preaches directly from Christ.—I learned everything from “JESUS CHRIST AND GOD THE FATHER WHO RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD.”
“RECEIVED IT,” implies the absence of labor in acquiring it.
NEITHER WAS I TAUGHT IT,
“NEITHER WAS I TAUGHT IT” by man. He did not learn it from any written explanation of it, or by instruction given him by any man. The only plausible objection to this statement which could be advocated would be the fact that Paul had a conversation with Ananias before his baptism, and that he would probably have received instructions from him, at that time. That conversation is mentioned in Acts 9.17: “AND ANANIAS WENT HIS WAY, AND ENTERED INTO THE HOUSE; AND PUTTING HIS HANDS ON HIM SAID, BROTHER SAUL, THE LORD, EVEN JESUS, THAT APPEARED UNTO THEE IN THE WAY AS THOU CAMEST, HATH SENT ME, THAT THOU MIGHTEST RECEIVE THY SIGHT, AND BE FILLED WITH THE HOLY GHOST.” Along with the filling with the Holy Ghost would come the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, such as speaking with divers tongues, healing diseases, and so forth. He may also have received the graces of the Spirit, and even Gospel light and knowledge, and gifts for preaching it. But to this line of reasoning, we may reply:
1. That there is no evidence that Ananias went into an explanation of the nature of the Christian religion in his conversation with Paul.
2. Before this, Paul had been taught what Christianity was by his encounter with the Lord Jesus on the way to Damascus (Acts 9:5; Acts 26:14-18).
3. The purpose for which Ananias was sent to him in Damascus was so that Paul might receive his sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17). Whatever instructions he may have received through Ananias, it is still true that his call was directly from the Lord Jesus, and his information of the nature of Christianity from Jesus’ revelation.
BUT BY THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST.
The way in which Paul learned about this Gospel was unique. Almost everyone hears the Gospel from someone else; this is God’s “normal” way of communicating the Gospel: “HOW THEN SHALL THEY CALL ON HIM IN WHOM THEY HAVE NOT BELIEVED? AND HOW SHALL THEY BELIEVE IN HIM OF WHOM THEY HAVE NOT HEARD? AND HOW SHALL THEY HEAR WITHOUT A PREACHER? AND HOW SHALL THEY PREACH, EXCEPT THEY BE SENT? AS IT IS WRITTEN, HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THEM THAT PREACH THE GOSPEL OF PEACE, AND BRING GLAD TIDINGS OF GOOD THINGS!” (Romans 10:14-15). But Paul was not “normal” in this respect. He received the Gospel in a dramatic, direct revelation when He encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus.
Acts 9:1-9 describes this remarkable incident: “MEANWHILE, SAUL WAS STILL BREATHING OUT MURDEROUS THREATS AGAINST THE LORD’S DISCIPLES. HE WENT TO THE HIGH PRIEST AND ASKED HIM FOR LETTERS TO THE SYNAGOGUES IN DAMASCUS, SO THAT IF HE FOUND ANY THERE WHO BELONGED TO THE WAY, WHETHER MEN OR WOMEN, HE MIGHT TAKE THEM AS PRISONERS TO JERUSALEM. AS HE NEARED DAMASCUS ON HIS JOURNEY, SUDDENLY A LIGHT FROM HEAVEN FLASHED AROUND HIM. HE FELL TO THE GROUND AND HEARD A VOICE SAY TO HIM, “SAUL, SAUL, WHY DO YOU PERSECUTE ME?” WHO ARE YOU, LORD?” SAUL ASKED. “I AM JESUS, WHOM YOU ARE PERSECUTING,” HE REPLIED. “NOW GET UP AND GO INTO THE CITY, AND YOU WILL BE TOLD WHAT YOU MUST DO.” THE MEN TRAVELING WITH SAUL STOOD THERE SPEECHLESS; THEY HEARD THE SOUND BUT DID NOT SEE ANYONE. 8SAUL GOT UP FROM THE GROUND, BUT WHEN HE OPENED HIS EYES HE COULD SEE NOTHING. SO THEY LED HIM BY THE HAND INTO DAMASCUS. FOR THREE DAYS HE WAS BLIND, AND DID NOT EAT OR DRINK ANYTHING” (ACTS 9.1-9; NIV)
The Lord Jesus spoke to Paul directly on the Road to Damascus, and then Paul spent three days without sight, before a Christian named Ananias came to him. It was probably during this time— either on the road or during the three days—when Jesus brought His Gospel to Paul. Paul certainly had the Gospel right away, because he was both saved and began to immediately preach the message Jesus gave him: “AT ONCE HE BEGAN TO PREACH IN THE SYNAGOGUES THAT JESUS IS THE SON OF GOD. ALL THOSE WHO HEARD HIM WERE ASTONISHED AND ASKED, “ISN’T HE THE MAN WHO RAISED HAVOC IN JERUSALEM AMONG THOSE WHO CALL ON THIS NAME? AND HASN’T HE COME HERE TO TAKE THEM AS PRISONERS TO THE CHIEF PRIESTS?” YET SAUL GREW MORE AND MORE POWERFUL AND BAFFLED THE JEWS LIVING IN DAMASCUS BY PROVING THAT JESUS IS THE MESSIAH” (Acts 9:20-22; NIV). No doubt, he received communications at various times from the Lord Jesus with regard to the nature of the Gospel and his duty. Some of those times may be those listed below:
1. On the road to Damascus, when he met Jesus for the first time. “WHEN I RETURNED TO JERUSALEM AND WAS PRAYING AT THE TEMPLE, I FELL INTO A TRANCE AND SAW THE LORD SPEAKING TO ME. ‘QUICK!’ HE SAID. ‘LEAVE JERUSALEM IMMEDIATELY, BECAUSE THE PEOPLE HERE WILL NOT ACCEPT YOUR TESTIMONY ABOUT ME.’ “ ‘LORD,’ I REPLIED, ‘THESE PEOPLE KNOW THAT I WENT FROM ONE SYNAGOGUE TO ANOTHER TO IMPRISON AND BEAT THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN YOU. AND WHEN THE BLOOD OF YOUR MARTYR STEPHEN WAS SHED, I STOOD THERE GIVING MY APPROVAL AND GUARDING THE CLOTHES OF THOSE WHO WERE KILLING HIM.’ “THEN THE LORD SAID TO ME, ‘GO; I WILL SEND YOU FAR AWAY TO THE GENTILES.’ ” (ACTS 22.17-2; NIV).
2. In the temple. “BUT WHEN GOD, WHO SET ME APART FROM MY MOTHER’S WOMB AND CALLED ME BY HIS GRACE, WAS PLEASED TO REVEAL HIS SON IN ME SO THAT I MIGHT PREACH HIM AMONG THE GENTILES, MY IMMEDIATE RESPONSE WAS NOT TO CONSULT ANY HUMAN BEING” (GAL. 1.15, 16; NIV).
3. The three years he sojourned in Arabia. “I DID NOT GO UP TO JERUSALEM TO SEE THOSE WHO WERE APOSTLES BEFORE I WAS, BUT I WENT INTO ARABIA. LATER I RETURNED TO DAMASCUS. THEN AFTER THREE YEARS, I WENT UP TO JERUSALEM TO GET ACQUAINTED WITH CEPHAS AND STAYED WITH HIM FIFTEEN DAYS” (GAL. 1.17, 18; NIV).
4. When he was taken up into the third heaven. “I MUST GO ON BOASTING. ALTHOUGH THERE IS NOTHING TO BE GAINED, I WILL GO ON TO VISIONS AND REVELATIONS FROM THE LORD. I KNOW A MAN IN CHRIST WHO FOURTEEN YEARS AGO WAS CAUGHT UP TO THE THIRD HEAVEN. WHETHER IT WAS IN THE BODY OR OUT OF THE BODY I DO NOT KNOW—GOD KNOWS” (2 CO. 12.1, 2; NIV).
The emphasis here is, that he was not indebted to people for his knowledge of the Gospel, but had derived it entirely from the Savior.