I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.
For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus.
Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles--only James, the Lord's brother. I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie. Later I went to Syria and Cilicia. I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only heard the report: "The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy." And they praised God because of me. (NIV)
1. Why did Paul so specifically make the point that no person taught him the gospel he preached, that he received it as a revelation from Jesus Christ?
2. Paul talks about his advancement up the ranks of Judaism and of his zealousness for the traditions of his fathers. What was "Judaism"? Were the traditions of Judaism synonymous with the law of Moses?
3. Why do you think Saul (pre-Paul) worked so passionately to destroy the church of God?
4. Paul makes a point to say that after God called him, he "did not consult any man" before he went to Arabia, then went back to Damascus for three years after which he went to Jerusalem to meet Peter, and then went back to Syria and Cilicia, the region where his home town of Tarsus was. We often hear variations of the proverb, "Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed." (Proverbs 15:22, NIV) Paul was a brand-new Christ follower. Why didn't he seek advice or affirmation for his plans from the other apostles? How can we know when we have a mandate from God and when we don't?
5. In verses 13 and 14 Paul describes his identity and commitment as a professional Jew. What truths did he discover when Jesus intersected his life? Can you say that God "set [you] apart from birth"? In verse 16 Paul says God "was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach" Why didn't he say God "was pleased to reveal his Son to me so that I might preach"? Is there a difference in effect?
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