The Glad Tidings
by E. J. Waggoner
The Revelation of Jesus
the Real Gospel
"PAUL, an apostle (not from men, neither through man, but through Jesus
Christ, and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead), and all the
brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia: Grace to you
and peace from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave
Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us out of this present evil
world, according to the will of our God and Father; to whom be the glory
forever and ever. Amen.
"I marvel that ye are so quickly removing from Him that called you in
the grace of Christ unto a different gospel; which is not another
gospel; only there are some that trouble you, and would pervert the
Gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach
unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him
be anathema. As we have said before, so say I now again, If any man
preacheth unto you any gospel other than that which ye received, let him
be anathema. For am I now persuading men, or God? or am I seeking to
please men? if I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of
"For I make known to you, brethren, as touching the Gospel which was
preached by me, that it is not after man. For neither did I receive it
from man, nor was I taught it, but it came to me through revelation of
Jesus Christ. For ye have heard of my manner of life in time past in the
Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God,
and made havoc of it; and I advanced in the Jews' religion beyond many
of mine own age among my countrymen, being more exceedingly zealous for
the traditions of my fathers. But when it was the good pleasure of God,
who separated me, even from my mother's womb, and called me through His
grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the
Gentiles; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood; neither went
I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went away
into Arabia; and again I returned unto Damascus.
"Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas, and
tarried with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none,
save James the Lord's brother. Now touching the things which I write
unto you, behold, before God, I lie not. Then I came into the regions of
Syria and Cilicia. And I was still unknown by face unto the churches of
Judea which were in Christ; but they only heard say, He that once
persecuted us now preacheth the faith of which he once made havoc; and
they glorified God in me." Galatians 1, R.V.
An Apostolic Salutation
The first five verses form a greeting such as, with the exception of
the first verses of the book of Romans, is not to be found elsewhere in
the Bible, and, consequently, nowhere else in the world. It contains the
whole Gospel. If there were no other portion of Scripture accessible,
this contains sufficient to save the world. If we would study this small
portion as diligently, and prize it as highly, as if there were no more,
we should find our faith and hope and love infinitely strengthened, and
our knowledge of the rest of the Bible much increased. In reading it,
let the Galatians sink out of sight, and let each one consider it the
voice of God, through His apostle, speaking to him to-day.
A Good Commission
An apostle is one who is sent. Paul was an apostle of Jesus Christ,
and of God, the Father, who raised Him from the dead. He had good
backing. A messenger's confidence is in proportion to the authority of
the one who sends him, and to his confidence in that authority and
power. Paul knew that he was sent by the Lord, and he knew that the
power of God is the power that raises from the dead. Now "he whom God
hath sent speaketh the words of God." John 3:34. Thus it was that Paul
spoke with authority, and the words which he spoke were the commandments
of God. 1Cor.14:37. So in reading this epistle, or any other in the
Bible, we have not to make allowance for the writer's personal
peculiarities and prejudices. It is true that each writer retains his
own individuality, since God chooses different men to do different work
solely on account of their different personality; but it is God's Word
in all, and nothing need be taken off from the authority of the message,
and set down to the score of prejudice or early education.
It is well to remember that not only the apostles, but every one in
the church, is commissioned to "speak as the oracles of God." 1Pet.4:11.
All who are in Christ are new creatures, having been reconciled to God
by Jesus Christ; and all who have been reconciled are given the word and
ministry of reconciliation, so that they are ambassadors for Christ, as
though God by them, even as by Christ, was beseeching men to be
reconciled to Himself. 2Cor.5:17-20. This is a wonderful support against
discouragement and against fear to speak God's message. The ambassadors
of earthly governments have authority proportionate to the power of the
king or ruler whom they represent; but Christians represent the King of
kings and Lord of lords.
Apostles Are of God
"God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily
prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of
healings," etc. 1Cor.12:28. Let it be borne in mind that all these are
set in the church by God Himself. No other can do it. It is impossible
for men to make a true apostle or prophet. There are certain people in
the world who say to others, Why do you not have apostles and prophets,
etc., in the church? ignoring the fact that God has them in His church
until this day, although they are often unrecognized, even as the
apostleship of Paul and the others was often denied. Then there are some
combinations of people who claim to have all these among them. Reading
that God has set them in the church, they see that the true church of
God ought to have apostles, prophets, etc. Accordingly they appoint some
to be apostles, others to be prophets, and others to be teachers, and
then they point to these as evidence that they are the true church of
God. The fact is, however, that this is the strongest possible proof
that they are not the church of God. If they were the church of God,
apostles and prophets would be set among them by God Himself; but the
fact that they themselves are obliged to make apostles and prophets,
shows that they have none in fact. They are simply setting up a dummy to
hide the absence of the reality; but the presence of the sham only
emphasizes the absence of the real.
Not of Men
All Gospel teaching is based upon and derives its authority from the
fact of the Divinity of Christ. The apostles and prophets were so fully
imbued with this truth that it appears everywhere in their writings. In
the very first verse of this epistle we find it in the statement that
Paul was not an apostle of men, nor by any man, but by Jesus Christ, who
is "the image of the invisible God" (Col.1:15), "the effulgence of His
glory, and the very image of His substance" (Heb.1:1-3, R.V.); He was in
the beginning with God, and was God, before the world was. John 1:1;
17:5. "He is before all things, and in Him all things consist."
The Father and the Son
"Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead," are
associated on equal terms. "I and My Father are One." John 10:30. They
both sit upon one throne. Heb.1:3; 8:1; Rev.3:21. The counsel of peace
is between them both. Zech.6:12,13. Jesus was the Son of God all His
life, although He was of the seed of David according to the flesh; but
it was by the resurrection from the dead, which was accomplished by the
power of the Spirit of holiness, that His Sonship was demonstrated to
all. Rom.1:3,4. This epistle has the same authority as Paul's
apostleship: it is from Him who has power to raise the dead, and from
Him who was raised from the dead.
The Churches of Galatia
Galatia was a province in Asia Minor, so called from the fact that it
was inhabited by Gauls,--people who came from the country now known as
France. They settled in the territory which took its name from them
(Gaul-atia--Galatia), in the third century before Christ. They were, of
course, pagans, their religion being quite similar to that of the
Druids, of Britain. Paul was the one who first preached Christianity to
them, as we read in Acts 16:6; 18:23. The country of Galatia also
included Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe, which were visited by Paul, with
Barnabas, on his first missionary journey. Acts 14.
Grace and Peace Be to You
This is the word of the Lord, let it be remembered, and therefore
means more than man's word. The Lord does not deal in empty compliments.
His word is substantial; it carries with it the thing which it names.
God's word creates, and here we have the very form of the creative word.
God said, "Let there be light; and there was light," and so on
through the whole creation, "He spake, and it was." So here, "Let there
be grace and peace to you," and so it is. "The grace of God hath
appeared, bringing salvation to all men." Titus 2:11. "Peace I leave
with you, My peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto
you." John 14:27. "Peace, peace to him that is afar off, and to him that
is near, saith the Lord." Is.57:19. God has sent grace and peace,
bringing righteousness and salvation to all men--even to you, whoever
you are, and to me. When you read this third verse of the first chapter
of Galatians, do not read it as a sort of complimentary phrase,--as a
mere passing salutation to open the real matter at hand,--but as the
creative word that brings to you personally all the blessings of the
peace of God, that passeth all understanding. It is to us the same word
that Jesus spoke to the woman: "Thy sins are forgiven." "Go in peace."
Luke 7:48-50. Peace is given to you; therefore, "let the peace of God
rule in your hearts."
The Gift of Christ
This grace and peace come from Christ, "who gave Himself for our
sins." "Unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of
the gift of Christ." Eph.4:7. But this grace is "the grace that is in
Christ Jesus." 2Tim.2:1. Therefore we know that Christ Himself is given
to every one of us. The fact that men live is an evidence that Christ
has been given to them, for Christ is "the life," and the life is the
light of men, and this life-light "lighteth every man that cometh into
John 1:4,9; 14:6. In Christ all things consist (Col.1:17), and thus
it is that since God "spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for
us all," He can not do otherwise than, with Him, freely "give us all
things." Rom.8:32. "His Divine power hath given unto us all things that
pertain unto life and godliness." 2Pet.1:3. The whole universe is given
to us in Christ, and the fullness of the power that is in it is ours for
the overcoming of sin. God counts each soul of as much value as all
creation. Christ has, by the grace of God, tasted death for every man
(Heb.2:9), so that every man in the world has received the "unspeakable
gift" (2Cor.9:15). "The grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by
one Man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many," even to all; for "as by
the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so
by the righteousness of One the free gift came upon all men unto
justification of life." Rom.5:15,18.
Christ Not Divided
The question is asked, "Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for
you?" (1Cor.1:13), the answer obviously being in the negative. In that
Christ is given to every man, each person gets the whole of Him. The
love of God embraces the whole world, but it also singles out each
individual. A mother's love is not divided up among her children, so
that each one receives only a third, a fourth, or a fifth of it; each
one is the object of all her affection. How much more so with the God
whose love is more perfect than any mother's, and who Himself is love!
Is.49:15. Christ is the light of the world, the Sun of Righteousness.
But light is not divided among a crowd of people. If a room full of
people be brilliantly lighted, each individual gets the benefit of all
the light, just as much as though he were alone in the room. So the life
of Christ lights every man that comes into the world, and in every
believing heart Christ dwells in all His fullness. Sow a seed in the
ground, and you get many seeds, each one having as much life as the one
sown. So Christ, the true Seed, whence everything of worth comes, gives
to all the whole of His life.
Our Sins Purchased
Christ "gave Himself for our sins." That is to say, He bought them,
and paid the price for them. This is a simple statement of fact; the
language used is that commonly employed in referring to purchases. "How
much did you give for it?" or, "How much do you want for it?" are
frequent questions. When we hear a man say that he gave so much for a
certain thing, what do we at once know?--We know that that thing belongs
to him, because he has bought it. So when the Holy Spirit tells us that
Christ gave Himself for our sins, of what should we be equally
sure?--That He has bought our sins, and that they belong to Him, and not
to us. They are ours no longer, and we have no right to them. Every time
we sin we are robbing the Lord, for we must remember that Christ has
purchased not merely the specific acts of sin that we have committed,
and that are in the past, but the sins that are in us, and which break
forth. In this faith there is righteousness.
He Has Bought Us, Too
This follows from the fact that He has purchased our sins, to deliver
us from ourselves. Our sins are part of ourselves; nay, they are the
whole of us, for our natural lives are nothing but sin. Therefore,
Christ could not buy our sins without buying us also. Of this fact we
have many plain statements. He "gave Himself for us, that He might
redeem us from all iniquity." Titus 2:14. "Ye are not your own; for ye
are bought with a price." 1Cor.6:19. "Ye were redeemed, not with
corruptible things, with silver or gold, from your vain manner of life
handed down from your fathers; but with precious blood, as of a lamb
without blemish and without spot, even the blood of Christ."
"Accepted in the Beloved"
How often the Gospel worker hears some one say, "I am so sinful that
I am afraid the Lord will not accept me;" and even people who have long
professed to be Christians, often mournfully wish that they could be
sure of their acceptance with God. Now the Lord has given no ground for
any such doubts. The question of acceptance is forever settled by what
we have just read. Christ has bought us, together with all our sins, and
has paid the price. That shows that He has accepted us. Why does a man
go to the shop and buy an article?--Because he wants it. If he has paid
the price for it, having examined it so as to know what he was buying,
does the merchant worry lest he will not accept it?--Not at all; the
merchant knows that it is his business to get the goods to the purchaser
as soon as possible. If he does not deliver the goods to the purchaser,
he is guilty of fraud. The buyer will not indifferently say, "Well, I
have done my part, and if he doesn't care to do his, he need not--that's
all; he may keep the things if he wants to." No; he will visit the shop,
and say, "Why have you not given me what belongs to me?" He will take
vigorous measures to come into possession of his property. Even so it is
not a matter of indifference to Jesus whether we surrender ourselves to
Him or not. He longs with an infinite yearning for the souls that He has
purchased with His own blood. "The Son of man is come to seek and to
save that which was lost." Luke 19:10. God has "chosen us in Him before
the foundation of the world," and so "He hath made us accepted in the
"This Present Evil World"
Christ gave Himself for our sins, "that He might deliver us from this
present evil world." He will take from us that which He bought, which is
our sinfulness. In so doing, He delivers us from this "present evil
world." That shows us that "this present evil world" is nothing but our
own sinful selves. It is "the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the
eyes, and the pride of life." 1Joh.2:16. We ourselves make all the evil
there is in the world. It is man that has made the world evil. "By one
man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed
upon all men, for that all have sinned." Rom.5:12. We need not try to
throw the blame upon somebody else; we ourselves provide all the evil
that can possibly injure us.
The story is told of a man whose besetting sin was a violent temper.
He would frequently become very angry, but he laid all the blame upon
the people with whom he lived, who were so exasperating. Nobody, he
declared, could do right among such people. So he resolved, as many
others have done, to "leave the world," and become a hermit. He chose a
cave in the forest for his dwelling-place, far from any other human
habitation. In the morning he took his jug to a spring near by to get
water for his morning meal. The rock was moss-grown, and the continual
flow of water had made it very slippery. As he set his jug down under
the stream, it slid away. He put it back, and again it was driven away.
Two or three times was this repeated, and each time the replacing of the
jug was done with increasing energy. Finally the hermit's patience was
utterly exhausted, and exclaiming, "I'll see if you'll not stay!" he
picked the vessel up and set it down with such vehemence that it was
broken to pieces. There was nobody to blame but himself, and he had the
good sense to see that it was not the world around him but the world
inside of him that made him sin. Doubtless very many can recognize some
experience of their own in this little story.
Luther, in his monk's cell, whither he had gone to escape from the
world, found his sins more grievous than ever. Wherever we go, we carry
the world with us; we have it in our hearts and on our backs,--a heavy,
crushing load. We find that when we would do good, "evil is present"
with us. Rom.7:21. It is present, always, "this present evil world,"
until, goaded to despair, we cry out, "O wretched man that I am! who
shall deliver me from this body of death?" Even Christ found His
greatest temptations in the desert, far away from human habitations. All
these things teach us that hermits and monks are not in God's plan.
God's people are the salt of the earth; and salt, no matter how good it
is, is of no use if shut up in a box; it must be mingled with that which
is to be preserved.
That which God has promised, He is "able also to perform." He "is
able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think."
Eph.3:20. He "is able to keep you from falling, and to present you
faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy." Jude 24.
He gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us, and He did not
die in vain. Deliverance is ours. Christ was sent "to open the blind
eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in
darkness out of the prison house." Is.42:7. Accordingly He cries out to
the captives, "Liberty!" To them that are bound He proclaims that the
prison doors are open. Is.61:1. To all the prisoners, He says, "Go
forth." Is.49:9. Each soul may say, if he will, "O Lord, truly I am Thy
servant; I am Thy servant, and the son of Thine handmaid; Thou hast
loosed my bonds." Ps.116:16. The thing is true, whether we believe it or
not. We are the Lord's servants, even though we stubbornly refuse to
serve; for He has bought us; and, having bought us, He has broken every
bond that hindered us from serving Him. If we but believe, we have the
victory that has overcome the world. 1Joh.5:4, R.V.; John 16:33. The
message to us is that our "warfare is accomplished," our "iniquity is
pardoned." Is.40:2. We have but to shout, as Israel did before Jericho,
to see that God has given to us the victory. God "hath visited and
redeemed His people." Luke 1:68. Out of Zion has come the Deliverer, to
turn away ungodliness from Jacob. Rom.11:26. "Thanks be to God, which
giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
"My sin--oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!--
My sin, not in part, but the whole,
Is nailed to His cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!"
The Will of God
All this deliverance is "according to the will of our God and
Father." The will of God is our sanctification. 1Thess.4:3. He willeth
that all men should be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth.
1Tim.2:4. And He "worketh all things after the counsel of His own will."
Eph.1:11. "What! do you mean to teach universal salvation?" We mean to
teach just what the Word of God teaches,--that "the grace of God hath
appeared, bringing salvation to all men." Titus 2:11, R.V. God has
wrought out salvation for every man, and has given it to him; but the
majority spurn it, and throw it away. The Judgment will reveal the fact
that full and complete salvation was given to every man, and that the
lost have deliberately thrown away their birthright possession. Thus
every mouth will be stopped.
The will of God is, therefore, something to rejoice in, and not
something to be accepted with a wry face, and merely endured. Even
though it involves suffering, it is for our good, and is designed to
work "for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."
Rom.8:28; 2Cor.4:17. In the law His will is revealed (Rom.2:18), and we
should, therefore, study it, saying with Christ, "I delight to do Thy
will, O My God." Ps.40:8.
Here is the comfort of knowing the will of God. He wills our
deliverance from the bondage of sin; therefore, we can pray with the
utmost confidence, and with thanksgiving; for "this is the confidence
that we have in Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He
heareth us; and if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know
that we have the petitions that we desired of Him." 1Joh.5:14,15.
Blessed assurance! Let us ever with glad and humble hearts pray, "Thy
will be done in earth, as it is in heaven."
To God Be the Glory
Not simply, "To Him be glory," as in the common version, but "To whom
be the glory," as in the Revision. "Thine is the kingdom; and the power,
and the glory." All glory is God's, whether men acknowledge it or not.
To give Him the glory is not to impart anything to Him, but to recognize
a fact. We give Him the glory by acknowledging that His is the power.
"It is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves." Ps.100:3. Power and
glory are the same, as we learn from Eph.1:19,20, which tells us that
Christ was raised from the dead by the exceeding greatness of God's
power, and from Rom.6:4, where we learn that "Christ was raised up from
the dead by the glory of the Father." Also when Jesus by His wondrous
power had turned water to wine, we are told that in the performance of
the miracle, He "manifested forth His glory." John 2:11. So when we say
that to God is the glory, we are saying that the power is all from Him.
We do not save ourselves, for we are "without strength." But God is the
Almighty, and He can and does save. If we confess that all glory belongs
to God, we shall not be indulging in vainglorious imaginations or
boastings, and then will God be glorified in us. "Let your light so
shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your
Father which is in heaven." Matt.5:16.
The last proclamation of "the everlasting Gospel,"--that which
announces the hour of God's Judgment come,--has for its burden, "Fear
God, and give glory to Him;" "and worship Him that made heaven, and
earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters." Rev.14:6,7. Thus we
see that the Epistle to the Galatians, which says, "To Him be the
glory," is the setting forth of the everlasting Gospel. And it is
emphatically a message for the last days. Let us study it, and heed it,
that we may help to hasten the time when "the earth shall be filled with
the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea."
A Critical Case
The abruptness with which the apostle plunges into the midst of his
subject shows how urgent was the matter that called forth his epistle.
His spirit seemed to be on fire, and, seizing his pen, he wrote as only
one can write who feels upon his heart the burden of souls about to rush
Who Calls Men?
"God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of His
Son Jesus Christ our Lord." 1Cor.1:9. "The God of all grace, who hath
called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus," etc. 1Pet.5:10. "The
promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off,
even as many as the Lord our God shall call." Acts 2:39. Those that are
near, and those that are afar off, include all that are in the world;
therefore, God calls everybody. Not all come, however. "The very God of
peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and
body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it." 1Thess.5:23,24.
It is God who calls men.
Separating from God
Since the Galatian brethren were separating from Him that had called
them, and as God is the one who graciously calls men, it is evident that
they were separating from God. Thus we see that it was no slight thing
that called forth this epistle. Paul's brethren were in mortal danger,
and he could not spend time on compliments, but must needs get at once
to the subject, and present it in as clear and direct terms as possible.
It may be well in passing to note an opinion that sometimes obtains,
namely, that Paul referred to himself as the one who had called the
Galatian brethren, and from whom they were removing. A little thought
should convince anybody of the fallacy of this idea. First, consider the
positive evidence, a little of which is already noted, that it is God
who calls. Remember also that it was Paul himself who said that the
apostasy would be the result of men's seeking to draw away disciples
after themselves (Acts 20:30); he, as the servant of Christ, would be
the last man to draw people to himself. It is true that God uses agents,
of whom Paul was one, to call men, but it is God, nevertheless, that
calls. "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself;" we are
ambassadors for Christ, so that now it is God beseeching men by us
instead of by Christ, to be reconciled to Himself. There may be many
mouths, but there is only one voice.
It is a small matter to be joined to or separated from men, but a
matter of vital importance to be joined to God. Many seem to think that
if they are only "members in good standing" in this or that church, they
are secure. But the only thing worth considering is, Am I joined to the
Lord, and walking in His truth? If one is joined to the Lord, he will
very soon find his place among God's people, for those who are not God's
people will not have a zealous, consistent follower of God among them
very long. See Is.66:5; John 9:22,33,34; 15:18-21;
16:1-3; 2Tim.3:1-5,12. When Barnabas went to Antioch, he exhorted the
brethren that with purpose of heart they would "cleave unto the Lord."
Acts 11:22,23. That was all that was necessary. If we do that, we shall
certainly be with God's own people.
Those who were departing from God were "without God in the world,"
just to the extent that they were removed from Him. But those who are in
that condition are Gentiles, or heathen. Eph.2:11,12. It is evident,
therefore, that the Galatian brethren were relapsing into heathenism. It
could not be otherwise; for whenever any Christian loses his hold upon
God, he inevitably and even unconsciously drops back into the old life
from which he had been saved. Each backslider will take up the
particular habits to which he was formerly a slave. No more hopeless
condition can exist in the world than to be without God.
The Gospel is "the power of God unto salvation to every one that
believeth." Rom.1:16. God Himself is the power, so that separation from
God means separation from the Gospel of Christ, who is the power of God.
Nothing can be called a gospel unless it professes to give salvation.
That which professes to offer nothing but death, can not be called a
gospel. "Gospel" means "joyful news," "good tidings," and a promise of
death does not answer that description. In order for any false doctrine
to pass as the Gospel, it must pretend to be the way of life; otherwise
it could not deceive men. It is evident, therefore, that the Galatians
were being seduced from God, by something that promised them life and
salvation, but by a power other than that of God, namely, their own
power. This other gospel was solely a human gospel. The question
consequently would be, Which is the true Gospel? Is it the one that Paul
preached? or the one the other men set forth? Therefore, we see that
this epistle must be an emphatic presentation of the true Gospel as
distinguished from every false gospel.
No Other Gospel
Just as Jesus Christ is the only power of God, and there is no other
name than that of Jesus, given among men, whereby salvation can be
obtained, so there can be only one Gospel. "Power belongeth unto God,"
and to Him alone. See Ps.62:9-11. A sham is nothing. A mask is not a
man. So this other gospel, to which the Galatian brethren were being
enticed, was only a perverted gospel, a counterfeit, a sham, and no real
gospel at all. Some versions give verses 6 and 7 thus: "I marvel that ye
are so soon removed . . . unto another gospel, although there is not any
other." Since there is no other gospel now, there never could have been
any other, for God changes not. So the Gospel which Paul preached to the
Galatians, as well as to the Corinthians,--"Jesus Christ and Him
crucified,"--was the Gospel that was preached by Enoch, Noah, Abraham,
Moses, and Isaiah. "To Him give all the prophets witness, that through
His name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins."
If any man, or even an angel from heaven, should preach any other
gospel than that which Paul preached, he would bring himself under a
curse. There are not two standards of right and wrong. That which will
bring a curse to-day would have produced the same result five thousand
years ago. Thus we find that the way of salvation has been exactly the
same in every age. The Gospel was preached to Abraham (Gal.3:8), angels
being sent to him; and the prophets preached the Gospel (1Pet.1:11,12).
But if the Gospel preached by them had been different from that preached
by Paul, they would have been accursed.
Why should one be accursed for preaching a different gospel?--Because
he is the means of fastening others in the curse, by leading them to
trust for their salvation in that which professes to be power, but which
is nothing. Since the Galatians were removing from God, it is evident
that they were trusting to supposed human power--their own power--for
salvation. But no man can save another (Ps.49:6,7), therefore, "cursed
be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose
heart departeth from the Lord." Jer.17:5. The one who leads men into the
curse must, of course, himself be accursed.
"Cursed be he that maketh the blind to wander out of the way."
Deut.27:18. If this be so of the one who causes a physically blind man
to stumble, how much more must it apply to one who causes a soul to
stumble to its eternal ruin! To delude people with a false hope of
salvation,--to cause them to put their trust in that which can by no
means deliver them,--what could possibly be more wicked? It is to lead
people to build their house over the bottomless pit. Well might the
apostle deliberately reiterate his anathema. Here, again, we see the
gravity of the situation that called forth this epistle.
"An Angel from Heaven"
But is there any danger, any possibility, that an angel from heaven
would preach any other than the one, true Gospel?--Most assuredly,
although it would not be an angel recently come from heaven. We read of
"the angels that sinned" (2Pet.2:4), and "kept not their first estate,
but left their own habitation" (Jude 6), and that the habitation from
which they were cast was heaven (Rev.12:7-9). Now "Satan himself is
transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if
his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness."
2Cor.11:14,15. It is they who come professing to be the spirits of the
departed, and to bring messages fresh from the realms above (where the
departed are not), and preaching invariably "another gospel" than the
Gospel of Jesus Christ. Beware of them. "Beloved, believe not every
spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God." 1Joh.4:1. "To the
law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this Word, it
is because there is no light in them." Is.8:20. No one need be deceived,
so long as he has God's Word. Nay, it is impossible for anybody to be
deceived while he holds to the Word of God. That is a light to the way.
It is admitted by churchmen that in the first three centuries the
church became leavened with paganism, and that, in spite of
reformations, much of paganism still remains. Now this was the result of
trying to please men. The bishops thought that they could gain influence
over the heathen by relaxing some of the strictness of the principles of
the Gospel, which they did, and the result was the corruption of the
church. Self-love is always at the bottom of efforts to conciliate and
please men. The bishops desired (often, perhaps, without being conscious
of it) to draw away disciples after themselves. Acts 20:30. In order to
gain the favor of the people, they had to compromise and pervert the
truth. This was what was being done in Galatia; men were perverting the
Gospel of Christ. But Paul was not of that class; he was seeking to
please God, and not men. He was the servant of God, and God was the only
one whom he needed to please. He who seeks to please men, is the servant
of men, and not of God.
This principle is true in every grade of service. The house-servants
or the shop assistants who labor only to please men, will not be
faithful servants, for they will do good work only where it will be
seen, but will slight any task that can not come under the eye of their
employers. So Paul exhorts: "Servants, obey in all things your masters
according to the flesh; not with eye service, as men-pleasers; but in
singleness of heart, fearing God; and whatsoever ye do, do it heartily,
as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall
receive the reward of the inheritance; for ye serve the Lord Christ."
Col.3:22-24. He who cares for nothing else but to serve and please God,
will render the best service to men.
This is a thing that needs to be impressed upon all. Christian
workers especially need it. There is a tendency to dull the edge of
truth, lest we should lose the favor of some wealthy or influential
person. How many have stifled conviction, fearing the loss of money or
position! Let every one of us remember this: "If I yet pleased men, I
should not be the servant of Christ." But this does not mean that we
shall be stern and uncourteous. It does not mean that we willingly
offend any. God is good to all. He is kind to the unthankful and the
unholy. Jesus went about doing good, speaking words of love and comfort.
We are to be soul-winners, and so must have a winning manner; but we are
to win souls to God, and, therefore, must exhibit only the
attractiveness of the loving, crucified One. We serve Christ by allowing
His Spirit to control us.
"Who best bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best"
"Not of Man"
Note how this epistle emphasizes the fact that the Gospel is divine,
not human. In the first verse the apostle states that he was not sent by
man, nor to represent any man. Again he says that he is not anxious to
please men, but only Christ; and now it is made very clear that the
message he bore was wholly from heaven. By birth and education he was
opposed to the Gospel, and when he was converted it was by a voice from
heaven. Read the accounts of his conversion in Acts 9:1-22; 22:3-16;
26:9-20. The Lord Himself appeared to him in the way as he was breathing
threatening and slaughter against the saints of God.
There are no two persons whose experience in conversion is the same,
yet the general principles are the same in all. In effect, every person
must be converted just as Paul was. The experience will seldom be so
striking, but if it is genuine, it must be a revelation from heaven as
surely as Paul's was. "All thy children shall be taught of the Lord."
Is.54:13; John 6:45. "Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath
learned of the Father, cometh unto Me." "The anointing which ye have
received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you;
but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and
is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him."
Do not make the mistake of supposing that this does away with the
necessity for any human agency in the Gospel. If it did, then the
apostles would have been self-condemned, because they were preachers of
the Gospel. God has set apostles, prophets, teachers, etc., in the
church (1Cor.12:28); but it is the Spirit of God that works in all
these. "He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God." John 3:34.
Therefore, no matter by whom anybody first hears the truth, he is to
receive it as coming direct from heaven. The Holy Spirit enables those
who wish to do God's will to tell what is truth as soon as they see or
hear it, and they accept it, not on the authority of the man through
whom it came to them, but on the authority of the God of truth. We may
be as sure of the truth which we hold and teach as the apostle Paul was.
But whenever anybody cites the name of some highly-esteemed preacher or
doctor of divinity, to justify his belief, or to give it more weight
with some person whom he would convince, you may be sure that he himself
does not know the truth of what he professes. It may be the truth, but
he does not know for himself that it is true. It is everybody's
privilege to know the truth (John 8:31,32); and when one holds a truth
directly from God, ten thousand times ten thousand great names in its
favor do not add a feather's weight to its authority; nor is his
confidence in the least shaken if every great man on earth should oppose
it. It is a grand thing to be built on the Rock.
The Revelation of Jesus Christ
Note that it is not simply a revelation from Jesus Christ, but the
"revelation of Jesus Christ." It was not simply that Christ told Paul
something, but that Christ Himself revealed Himself to Paul, and in him,
and He is the truth. That this is what is meant here may be seen from
verse 16, where we read that God revealed His Son in Paul, that he might
preach Him among the heathen. The mystery of the Gospel is Christ in the
believer, the hope of glory. Col.1:25-27. The Holy Spirit is Christ's
personal representative. Christ sends Him, that He may abide with us
forever. The world receives Him not, because it sees Him not; "but ye
know Him," says Christ; "for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you."
John 14:16,17. Only so can the truth of God be known and be made known.
Christ does not stand afar off and lay down right principles for us to
follow; but He impresses Himself upon us, takes possession of us, as we
yield to Him, and makes manifest His life in our mortal flesh.
2Cor.4:11. Without this life shining forth, there can be no preaching of
the Gospel. Note that Jesus was revealed in Paul, in order that Paul
might preach Him among the heathen. He was not to preach about Christ,
but to preach, to present, Christ Himself. "We preach not ourselves, but
Christ Jesus the Lord." 2Cor.4:5.
God is waiting and anxious to reveal Christ in every man. We read of
men "who hold down the truth in unrighteousness," and that "that which
may be known of God is manifest in them," even as in everything that God
has made His "everlasting power and Divinity" are clearly seen.
Rom.1:18-20, R.V. Now Christ is the truth (John 14:6), and He is the
power of God (1Cor.1:24), and the Divinity of God (John 1:1). Therefore,
Christ is the truth that the wicked are holding down. He is the Divine
Word of God, present in men, that they may do it. Deut.30:14;
Rom.10:6-8. That Christ is in all men is evident from the fact that they
live; but He is so held back and kept down that it is difficult to
discern Him. Nay, in most men the opposite character is revealed, the
mere fact of living and breathing being in many cases the only evidence
that Christ is there. Yet He is there, patiently waiting to be
revealed,--longing for the time to come when the Word of God may have
free course and be glorified, and the perfect life of Jesus of Nazareth
be manifested in mortal flesh. This may take place in "whosoever will,"
no matter how sinful and degraded he is now. It pleases God to do it
now; cease, then, to resist.
From the twelfth verse of the first chapter till the middle of the
second, we have a narrative of personal history, told for a definite
purpose. In Paul's experience we see the truth of the Gospel, and how it
has nothing to gain from men, but everything to give. The apostle shows
that all his early life was against his being influenced by the Gospel,
for he studied that which was opposed to it, and he bitterly opposed it.
Then he was converted when there was no Christian near him, and he had
next to no association with Christians for years afterward. All this of
which the Galatians had been previously informed, it was necessary to
repeat in order that it might be clear to all that Paul was not bringing
them another human invention.
Note, in passing, the word "conversation," which occurs several times
in the Bible in a sense that is not now common. Compare the Revised
Version, and we find that it means "manner of life." Paul's
"conversation in time past" was his early life. See the old and the
Revised Version of 1Pet.1:18.
"Concerning Zeal, Persecuting the Church"
This is what Paul said of himself, in his Epistle to the Philippians.
Phil.3:6. How great his zeal was he himself tells. He says that he
persecuted the church of God "beyond measure," and "wasted it," or, as
in the Revision, "made havoc of it." See also Acts 8:3. Before Agrippa
he said: "I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things
contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Which thing I also did in
Jerusalem; and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having
received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to
death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every
synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad
against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities." Acts 26:9-11.
In an address to the Jews in Jerusalem, who knew his life, he said, "I
persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons
both men and women." Acts 22:4. This he did because, as the previous
verse says, he was "zealous toward God." So full of this sort of zeal
was he that he breathed nothing but "threatenings and slaughter." Acts
It seems almost incredible that any one professing to worship the
true God, can have such false ideas of Him as to suppose that He is
pleased with that kind of service; yet Saul of Tarsus, one of the most
bitter and relentless persecutors of Christians that ever lived, could
say years afterward, "I have lived in all good conscience before God
until this day." Acts 23:1. Although kicking against the pricks (Acts
9:5), and endeavoring to silence the growing conviction that would force
itself upon him as he witnessed the patience of the Christians, and
heard their dying testimonies to the truth, Saul was not wilfully
stifling the voice of conscience. On the contrary, he was striving to
preserve a good conscience, and so deeply had he been indoctrinated with
the Pharisaic traditions, that he felt sure that these inconvenient
prickings must be the suggestions of an evil spirit, which he was in
duty bound to suppress. So the prickings of the Spirit of God had for a
time only led him to redouble his zeal against the Christians. Of all
persons in the world, Saul, the self-righteous Pharisee, had no bias in
favor of Christianity. Yet his misdirected zeal was a "zeal for God,"
and this fact made him good material for a Christian worker.
Paul "profited," made advancement, "in the Jews' religion," above
many of his equals, that is, those of his own age, among his countrymen.
He had possessed every advantage that was possible to a Jewish youth.
"An Hebrew of the Hebrews" (Phil.3:5), he was nevertheless a free-born
Roman citizen (Acts 22:26-28). Naturally quick and intelligent, he had
enjoyed the instruction of Gamaliel, one of the wisest doctors of the
law, and had been "taught according to the perfect manner of the law of
the fathers." Acts 22:3. After the "straitest sect" among the Jews, he
lived a Pharisee, and was "a Pharisee of the Pharisees," so that he was
"more exceedingly zealous of the traditions" of the fathers than any
others of his class. Grown to manhood, he had become a member of the
great council among the Jews,--the Sanhedrim,--as is shown by the fact
that he gave his vote (Acts 26:10, R.V.) when Christians were condemned
to death. Added to this, he possessed the confidence of the high priest,
who readily gave him letters of introduction to the rulers of all the
synagogues throughout the land, with authority to seize and bind any
whom he found guilty of "heresy." He was, indeed, a rising young man, on
whom the rulers of the Jews looked with pride and hope, believing that
he would contribute much to the restoration of the Jewish nation and
religion to their former greatness. There had been a promising future
before Saul, from a worldly point of view; but what things were gain to
him, those he counted loss for Christ, for whose sake he suffered the
loss of all things. Phil.3:7,8.
The Traditions of the Fathers, not the Religion of Christ
Paul says, "I advanced in the Jews' religion beyond many of mine own
age among my countrymen, being more exceedingly zealous for the
traditions of my fathers." It is easy to see that "the Jews' religion"
was not the religion of God and Jesus Christ, but was human tradition.
People make a great mistake in considering "Judaism" as the religion of
the Old Testament. The Old Testament no more teaches Judaism than the
New Testament teaches Roman Catholicism. The religion of the Old
Testament is the religion of Jesus Christ. It was His Spirit that was in
the prophets, moving them to present the same Gospel that the apostles
afterwards preached. 1Pet.1:10-12. When Paul was "in the Jews' religion"
he did not believe the Old Testament, which he read and heard read
daily, because he did not understand it; if he had, he would have
believed on Christ. "For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers,
because they knew Him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are
read every Sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning Him."
The traditions of the fathers led to transgression of the
commandments of God. Matt.15:3. God said of the Jewish people (as a
whole): "This people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth, and honoreth
Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me. But in vain they do
worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." Verses 8,9.
On the Sabbath days the rulers read in the synagogues from the
Scriptures, and for this instruction there was no reproof. Jesus said:
"The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat; all therefore
whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye
after their works; for they say, and do not." Matt.23:2,3. Jesus had no
word condemnation for Moses and his writings. He said to the Jews, "Had
ye believed Moses, ye would have believed Me; for he wrote of Me." John
5:46. Everything, therefore, which the scribes read and commanded from
his writings was to be followed; but the example of the readers was to
be shunned, for they did not obey the Scriptures. Christ said of them,
"They bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's
shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their
fingers." Matt.23:4. These were not the commandments of God, for "His
commandments are not grievous" (1Joh.5:3); and the burdens were not of
Christ, for His burden is light (Matt.11:30).
We hear much about the "Judaizing teachers," who sought to pervert
the Galatians, and we know that they who were teaching "another gospel"
were Jews; but we must not fall into the error of supposing that these
"Judaizing teachers" were presenting the Bible, or any part of it, to
the new converts, or trying to get them to follow the Scriptures written
by Moses. Far from it; they were leading them away from the Bible, and
substituting for its teaching the commandments of men. This was what
roused the spirit of Paul. The "Jews' religion" was an entirely
different thing from the religion of God, as taught in the law, the
prophets, and the psalms.
"Separated unto the Gospel of God"
These are the words with which Paul described himself in the Epistle
to the Romans: "Called to be an apostle, separated unto the Gospel of
God." Rom.1:1. So here he says that God "separated me from my mother's
womb, and called me by His grace." Gal.1:15. That God chose Saul to be
an apostle, before Saul himself had any thought that he should ever be
even a Christian, is evident from the sacred narrative. On his way to
Damascus, whither, "breathing out threatenings and slaughter," he was
proceeding with full authority to seize, bind, and drag to prison all
Christians, both men and women, Saul was suddenly arrested, not by human
hands, but by the overpowering glory of the Lord. Three days afterward
the Lord said to Ananias, when sending him to give Saul his sight, "He
is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My name before the Gentiles." Acts
9:15. God arrested Saul in his mad career of persecution, because He had
chosen him to be an apostle. So we see that the pricks against which
Saul had been kicking were the strivings of the Spirit to turn him to
the work to which he had been called.
But how long before this had Saul been chosen to be the messenger of
the Lord?--He himself tells us that he was "separated,"--"set
apart,"--from his birth. He is not the first one of whom we read that
from birth he was chosen to his life-work. Recall the case of Samson.
Judg.13:2-14. John the Baptist was named, and his character and
life-work were described, months before he was born. The Lord said to
Jeremiah: "Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before
thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee
a prophet unto the nations." Jer.1:5. The heathen king Cyrus was named
more than a hundred years before he was born, and his part in the work
of God was laid out for him. Is.44:28; 45:1-4.
These are not isolated cases, but are recorded for the purpose of
showing us that God rules in the world. It is as true of all men as it
was of the Thessalonians, that "God hath from the beginning chosen" them
"to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the
truth." 2Thess.2:13. It rests with every one to make that calling and
election sure. And he who w"willeth that all men should be saved, and
come to the knowledge of the truth" (1Tim.2:3,4, R.V.), has also
appointed "to every man his work" (Mark 13:34). He who leaves not
Himself without witness even in the inanimate creation (Acts 14:17;
Rom.1:20), would fain have man, His highest earthly creation, willingly
give such witness to Him as can be given only by human intelligence. All
men are chosen to be witnesses for God, and to each is his labor
appointed. All through life the Spirit is striving with every man, to
induce him to allow himself to be used for the work to which God has
called him. Only the Judgment Day will reveal what wonderful
opportunities men have recklessly flung away. Saul, the violent
persecutor, became the mighty apostle. Who can imagine how much good
might have been done by the men whose great power over their fellows has
been exerted only for evil, if they had yielded to the influence of the
Spirit? Not every one can be a Paul; but the thought that each one,
according to the ability that God has given him, is chosen and called of
God to witness for Him, will, when once grasped, give to life a new
The knowledge of this truth will not only make life more real for us,
leading us to seek to know the will of God for us individually, and to
submit wholly to Him, that He may use us to do the work for which He has
designed us, but it will tend to make us more considerate of others, and
not to despise the least. What a wonderful, a joyous, and yet a solemn
thought, as we see men moving about, that to each one of them God has
given a work of his own to do. They are all servants of the Most High
God, each one assigned to special service. It is a wondrous privilege,
and a wondrous responsibility. How few are doing the work God would have
them do! We should be extremely careful not to hinder any person in the
slightest degree from doing his heaven-appointed task.
Another thing that we should remember is that it is God who gives to
every man his work. Each one is to receive his orders from God, and not
from men. Therefore, we should beware of dictating to men concerning
their duty. God can make it plain to them, as well as to us; and if they
will not hear Him, they will not be likely to hear us, even if we could
direct them in the right way. "It is not in man that walketh to direct
his steps" (Jer.10:23), much less to direct the steps of some other man.
Conferring with Flesh and Blood
"Immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood." This statement is
made for the purpose of showing that the apostle did not receive the
Gospel from any human being. He saw Christ, and accepted Him, then he
went to Arabia, and came back to Damascus, and not till three years
after his conversion did he go up to Jerusalem, where he stayed only
fifteen days, and saw only two of the apostles. Moreover, the brethren
were afraid of him, and would not at first believe that he was a
disciple; so it is evident that he did not receive the Gospel from any
But there is much to learn from Paul's not conferring with flesh and
blood. To be sure, he had no need to, since he had the Lord's own word;
but such a course as his is by no means common. For instance, a man
reads a thing in the Bible, and then must ask some other man's opinion
before he dare believe it. If none of his friends believe it, he is
fearful of accepting it. If his pastor, or some commentary, explains the
text away, then away it goes; flesh and blood gain the day against the
Spirit and the Word.
Or, it may be that the commandment is so plain that there is no
reasonable excuse for asking anybody what it means. Then the question
is, Can I afford to do it? Will it not cost too much sacrifice? The most
dangerous flesh and blood that one can confer with is one's own. It is
not enough to be independent of others; in matters of truth one needs to
be independent of one's self. "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart;
and lean not unto thine own understanding." Prov.3:5. "He that trusteth
in his own heart is a fool." Prov.28:26.
A pope is one who presumes to occupy the place in counsel which
rightfully belongs to God alone. The man who makes himself pope, by
following his own counsel, is just as bad as the man who dictates to
another, and is more likely to be led astray than is the man who follows
some pope other than himself. If one is to follow a pope at all, it
would be more consistent to accept the pope of Rome, because he has had
more experience in popery than any other. But none is necessary, since
we have the Word of God. When God speaks, the part of wisdom is to obey
at once, without taking counsel even of one's own heart. The Lord's name
is "Counselor" (Is.9:6), and He is "wonderful in counsel." Hear Him! "He
will be our Guide forevermore."
Note that word. Paul did not stop to parley. He lost no time. He
thought he was serving God when he was persecuting the church, and the
minute he found out his mistake he turned about. When he saw Jesus of
Nazareth, he recognized Him as his Lord, and immediately cried out,
"Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" He was ready to be set to work in
the right way, and that immediately. It is an example well worth
consideration. Would that everybody might truthfully say, "I made haste,
and delayed not to keep Thy commandments." Ps.119:60. "I will run the
way of Thy commandments, when Thou shalt enlarge my heart." Verse 32.
Paul tells us that Christ was revealed in him, that he might preach
Him among the heathen. In the Revision we have the word "Gentiles" used
instead of "heathen." There is no difference. The two words are used
interchangeably in the English Bible, for wherever they occur, they are
translated from only one Greek word, or, if it be in the Old Testament,
the corresponding Hebrew word. Let us note a few instances.
In 1Cor.12:2 we read, "Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away
unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led." This is from the ordinary
word for "heathen," and the text itself shows that Gentiles are
idol-worshipers--heathen. Take notice that the Corinthians "were
Gentiles;" they ceased to be such on becoming Christians.
Eph.2:11,12: "Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles
in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the
Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; that at that time ye were
without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and
strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God
in the world." Surely, to be a Gentile is to be in a most unenviable
We are told that "God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take
out of them a people for His name." Acts 15:14. And James referred to
the believers in Antioch and elsewhere as those who "from among the
Gentiles are turned to God." God's people are taken out from among the
Gentiles, but on being taken out, they cease to be Gentiles. Abraham,
the father of Israel, was taken from among the heathen (Josh.24:2), so
that all Israel are taken from among the Gentiles. Thus it is that "all
Israel shall be saved" by the coming in of the fullness of the Gentiles.
In Ps.2:1-3 we might lawfully read, "Why do the Gentiles rage, and
the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against His
anointed [that is, against Christ, for Christ means "anointed"], saying,
Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us."
How often we see this fulfilled in the cases of individuals, who, with a
triumphant air, exclaim: "Show me a place where the Gentiles are
commanded to keep the ten commandments!" meaning that they are Gentiles,
and thinking thus to cast away from themselves the laws of God. It is no
honorable class in which they place themselves. It is true that the
Gentiles are not commanded to keep the commandments, as Gentiles, for
that would be impossible; as soon as they accept Christ, and the law of
the Spirit of life in Him, they cease to be Gentiles. How solicitous God
is to save people from their Gentile state, is shown by His sending the
apostle Paul (to say nothing of Christ) to bring them to Himself.
A Prophet to the Gentiles
In this connection it is worth while to note that God was as anxious
for the conversion of the Gentiles three thousand years ago as He is
to-day. The Gospel was preached to them before the first advent of
Christ, as well as it was afterwards. Paul was not the first one who
preached to the Gentiles after Christ, although he was sent specially to
them. He was known as the apostle to the Gentiles, yet everywhere he
went he preached to the Jews first, and as long as they would hear him.
So it was before Christ. By many agencies God made Himself known among
all nations, yet Jeremiah was specially chosen as the prophet to the
Gentiles, or heathen. In Jer.1:5, "Before thou camest forth out of the
womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations,"
the Hebrew word from which the word "nations" is translated is the very
same that is regularly translated "heathen." "Why do the heathen rage?"
Ps.2:1. "Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles: Prepare war," etc.
"Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen." Joel 3:9-11. The words
"heathen" and "Gentile" in these texts are the same as the word
"nations," in Jer.1:5. This can be seen by comparing the old with the
Revised Version. So the Lord said to Jeremiah, "I sanctified thee, and I
ordained thee, a prophet unto the Gentiles." Let no one say that God
ever at any time confined His truth to any one people, whether Jew or
Gentile. "There is no difference between the Jew and the Greek; for the
same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him." Rom.10:12.
The New Convert Preaching
As soon as Paul was converted, "straightway he preached Christ in the
synagogues." Acts 9:20. Was it not marvelous that he should at once be
able to preach so powerfully?--Indeed it was, as it is marvelous that
any man can preach Christ. That anybody should be able to preach Christ
in very truth, involves no less a mystery than Christ manifest in the
flesh. But do not let anybody suppose that Paul got his knowledge
instantaneously, without any study. Remember that he had all his life
been a diligent student of the Scriptures. It was not an uncommon thing
for a rabbi to be able to repeat the greater portion or the whole of the
Hebrew Scriptures from memory, and we may be sure that Paul, who had
made more advancement than any others of his age, was as familiar with
the words of the Bible as a bright schoolboy is with the multiplication
table. But his mind was blinded by the traditions of the fathers, which
had been drilled into him at the same time. The blindness which came
upon him when the light shone round him on the way to Damascus, was but
a picture of the blindness of his mind; and the seeming scales that fell
from his eyes when Ananias spoke to him, indicated the shining forth of
the Word within him, and the scattering of the darkness of tradition.
Paul's case was very different from that of a new convert who has never
read or studied the Bible. Such an one can, indeed, tell what Christ has
done for him, and may thereby do much good; but he needs much study of
the Scriptures to make him able to show men the way of life perfectly,
and lead them in the way of righteousness.
Paul in Arabia
Many have thought that it was while Paul was in Arabia that he had
his wonderful revelations, and was taken up into heaven, where he heard
"unspeakable words which it is not lawful for a man to utter." This may
well be, although it is by no means probable that his visions of
heavenly things were confined to that time. All his life through the
apoPAUL, an apostle communion with heaven, and we may be sure that "the
heavenly vision" was never hidden from his sight. So, also, we may be
sure that, since preaching was his life-work, he did not spend all the
months he was in Arabia in study and contemplation. He had been so
severe a persecutor, and had received so richly of God's grace, that he
counted all the time lost in which he could not reveal that grace to
others, feeling, "Woe is me, if I preach not the Gospel." He preached in
the synagogues in Damascus, as soon as he was converted, before he went
into Arabia; so it is but natural to conclude that he preached the
Gospel to the Arabs. He could preach there without the opposition that
he always received when among the Jews, and, therefore, his labors would
not so much interfere with his meditation on the new worlds that had
just opened before him.
The Persecutor Preaching
Wonderful, indeed, it was to hear that "he that once persecuted us,
now preacheth the faith of which he once made havoc." In view of the
case of Saul of Tarsus, let no one look on any opposer of the Gospel as
incorrigible. Those who make opposition are to be instructed with
meekness, for who knows but that God will give them repentance to the
acknowledgment of the truth? One might have said of Paul, He has had the
light as clearly as any man can have it. He has had every opportunity;
he has not only heard the inspired testimony of Stephen, but he has
heard the dying confessions of many martyrs; he is a hardened wretch,
from whom it is useless to expect any good. Yet that same Saul became
the greatest preacher of the Gospel, even as he had been the most bitter
persecutor. Is there a malignant opposer of the truth? Do not strive
with him, and do not reproach him. Let him have all the bitterness and
strife to himself, while you hold yourself to the Word of God and to
prayer. It may not be long till God, who is now blasphemed, will be
glorified in him.
"And they glorified God in me." How different Paul's case was from
that of those to whom he said, "The name of God is blasphemed among the
Gentiles through you" (Rom.2:24)! Every one who professes to be a
follower of God should be a means of bringing glory to His name, yet
many cause it to be blasphemed; and to have the name of God blasphemed
through us is as bad as to be ourselves open blasphemers. How can we
cause His name to be glorified?--"Let your light so shine before men,
that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in
Let us now take a brief glance at the chapter as a whole
The greeting, embracing the first five verses, tells us the name and
calling of the writer of the epistle, and his authority. It incidentally
notes the fact that Christ is Divine. A benediction is pronounced, from
God the Father, and Jesus Christ the Son. Christ gave Himself for our
sins,--purchased them,--thus to deliver us from this present evil world.
Our sins constitute this present evil world. Our sins belong to Christ,
not to us; so by the power of His death and resurrection, in which He
gave Himself for our sins, we may be kept from them. It is the will of
God to save us, so that there can be no doubt as to our acceptance. To
God belongs the glory, because His is the kingdom and the power.
The next two verses show us the condition of the churches in Galatia
at the time the epistle was written, and thus make known to us why it
was written. They were departing from God, being led astray by some who
were perverting the Gospel of Christ, preaching a pretended gospel
instead of the one only Gospel, which is the power of God to salvation
to every one that believes. The marvel of the thing is the same as that
expressed in Jer.2:12,13: "Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be
horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the Lord. For My people have
committed two evils: they have forsaken Me the Fountain of living
waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no
Then in the next two verses (8, 9) we find a curse pronounced on any
one, even though it were the apostle himself, or an angel from heaven,
who should presume to teach any other gospel than that he had preached.
This shows the seriousness of the situation. The Galatian brethren were
being placed under the curse by the accursed preachers who preached a
Following this, in verses 10-12, the apostle shows himself to be the
servant of Christ, because he was seeking to please God only, and not
men. The preachers who perverted the souls of men, would preach smooth
things,--things in harmony with human nature,--to draw away disciples
after them; Paul preached only the plain truth of God, which he received
not through any man, but direct from heaven.
Lastly we have the beginning of a little narrative of personal
experience, which is continued more than half way through the second
chapter. In this Paul refers to his life before his conversion, when he
persecuted the church; mentions his conversion, which was the revelation
of Christ in him; tells why he was called, and how promptly he responded
to the call; and lastly shows how he had no opportunity to get the
Gospel from apostles and brethren who were believers before him, even if
he had wished to, since he had no connection with them for years after
his conversion. The force of this will appear more plainly as we