The Berean Expositor
Volume 51 - Page 24 of 181
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what wilt Thou have me to do?" (Acts 9: 6). This the Lord made abundantly clear to him
and he expresses it by saying "that I might preach HIM among the Gentiles".
What an example this is to all would be preachers whatever persuasion they are! The
Lord Jesus Christ, His Person and Work should be the continual subject for all preachers,
but how many sermons pass this test? So many consist of anything but this, yet they are
all supposed to be Gospel preaching! No wonder there is a falling away in many a
church today.
Paul now goes on to record his movements after his conversion, and it is not easy to
identify these with those recorded in the Acts. There are differences of opinions among
expositors and a lot of space could be taken up with discussing these. The Apostle states:
". . . . . Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went
into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up to
Jerusalem to see Peter and abode with him fifteen days . . . . ." (Gal. 1: 17, 18).
Where do the "three years" start from, his conversion or after his return to Damascus?
We are inclined to say, from his conversion, but some do not take this view. In trying to
solve problems of chronology it is easy to miss the purport of this portion of the epistle to
the Galatians and that is Paul's independence of the twelve and any other human source
for his ministry. Had we a fuller and more detailed chronology of this period in the Acts
of the Apostles, doubtless chronological difficulties would vanish. Our exposition will
therefore concentrate on the above main reason, which the epistle demonstrates, namely
Paul's unique Gentile ministry and the gospel associated with it.
But before this took effect, he tells us that he made no attempt to get help from local
believers or from the leaders at Jerusalem, but he went for a protracted period into
Arabia, which presumably means the country around Damascus. In the quietude of this
region apart from any other Christians, he could think things over under the guidance of
the Holy Spirit, getting to know the Lord's will and deciding the next steps to take in his
witness for Him (1: 15-17). This period ended by his return to Damascus (17). Paul
continues his epistle by saying:
"Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter and abode with him fifteen
days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother" (1: 18, 19).
Again we are faced with chronological difficulties. From what point do we date the
three years, from Paul's conversion or from his return from Arabia to Damascus? And is
this the visit recorded in Acts 9: 27 (after "many days" had passed and this might cover
three years Acts 9: 23), or was it the "famine relief" visit of Acts 11: 30?  It would
seem that the former is indicated, for the second visit was apparently paid from Antioch,
not Damascus. What is clear is that for the first crucial years, the Apostle had not
re-visited Jerusalem and by this time his gospel ministry as fully developed, so it was
evident that he did not owe his gospel to the Jerusalem church and when he visited Peter
(Cephas) it was to get to know him personally, and not to receive further details
concerning the gospel which the risen Christ had communicated to him, though doubtless