| || |The Berean Expositor Volume 51 - Page 23 of 181 Index | Zoom | |
profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more
exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers" (1: 13, 14).
In dealing with his past history the Apostle was honest and does not attempt to excuse
his conduct. He shows how in his ignorance and darkness he treated the early church as
heretics and did his level best to stamp them out. Dioko, the word for persecute is used in
Acts 9: 4 "Saul, Saul, why do ye persecute Me?". Little did he realize that in touching
the Lord's people he touched the Lord Himself, which only goes to show the wonderful
unity made between the Lord Jesus Christ and His people.
As he looked back on this episode in his life, he felt nothing but shame, although, as
he said later, "I did it ignorantly in unbelief" (I Tim. 1: 12, 13). Nevertheless he describes
himself at this time as a "blasphemer and a persecuter and a violent man" (I Tim. 1: 13,
N.I.V.). Surely then it was obvious that such a man could not have invented the gospel
that he preached which was the direct opposite of all his thoughts and actions before his
conversion. Let his critics bear this in mind, specially when they accused him of
inventing the gospel that he preached.
1: 15 - 2: 3.
pp. 24 - 29
It is evident from Paul's reference to the "Jews' religion" in Gal. 1: 13, 14 that he
regarded Judaism as a different religion from Christianity. As regards the former he
made great strides and forged ahead, outstripping many of his contemporaries. He was a
man who never did things by halves. The Laodicean spirit was absolutely foreign to his
nature. He tells the Galatians that he was exceeding zealous (zelotes, a zealot) for the
traditions of his fathers (1: 14) and he was well aware of the bondage of the law, just as
Peter was when he described it as a "yoke" which "neither our fathers nor we were able
to bear" (Acts 15: 10).
What he was so concerned about was the attempt of the enemy, through the Judaizers,
to fasten the heavy weight of the Mosaic law upon the Galatian converts and so render
their liberty in Christ null and void. Paul was the Apostle of freedom as the clarion call
of Gal. 5: 1 makes clear. He who had been so wonderfully freed by the Lord took the
greatest care that the yoke of the law would never be placed upon the Gentile converts
that were under his charge no matter where it came from. He sums up his conversion by
"But when it pleased God Who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me
by His grace, to reveal His Son in me that I might preach Him among the heathen
(Gentiles) . . . . ." (1: 15).
It was the risen Christ Whom he met on the Damascus road causing him to make an
immediate turn-around and place himself entirely at the Lord's disposal by saying "Lord,