The Berean Expositor
Volume 51 - Page 25 of 181
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Paul would have been vitally interested to learn from Peter all he could reveal concerning
the earthly life and ministry of the Lord Jesus.
In addition to this, Paul met James, the Lord's brother, who was able to add further
details concerning the Lord's home life, but apart from these two, "other of the apostles
saw I none" Paul declared, even though he was in Jerusalem (Gal. 1: 19). In other words
he had no prolonged contact with the leaders of the Jerusalem church before his own
gospel was formed, and this gospel therefore owed nothing to them, but was entirely "by
revelation of Jesus Christ" independent of all human contacts.
So much was depending upon this, that he makes a solemn assertion, "now the things
that I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not" (1: 20)--the independence of his
ministry from the Twelve was crucial, so there must be no misunderstanding and
misinterpretation of the facts. He goes on to state:
"Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia and was unknown by face
unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ" (1: 21, 22).
If the visit to Jerusalem just described was the one recorded in Acts 9: 26-30 then
the Apostle, omitting the brief stay at Caesarea, is now referring to his return to Tarsus,
where we find him in Acts 11: 25, for Tarsus was situated in the province of Syria and
Cilicia. Paul preached in this area quite independently of the mother church at Jerusalem,
for he owed nothing to them as regards the gospel that he ministered. Not only this, but
he was unknown personally to the churches of Judaea, that is the country churches as
distinct from Jerusalem (1: 22). Yet they recognized the gospel that he preached as being
the truth, even though it came from its one time bitterest enemy, and "they glorified God
in me" (1: 24).
When we come to chapter 2: of Galatians we have another dating problem:
"Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus
with me also" (2: 1).
Does the Apostle mean fourteen years after this conversion or fourteen years after the
first visit to Jerusalem? The most natural way to read his words is that he has the latter
in mind and if this is so, and the first visit is that of Acts 9: 26, then this one must be
either the visit of Acts 11: 30 (the "famine relief" one) or the council of Jerusalem visit
of Acts 15: 2. In any case this represents a considerable lapse of time during which Paul
was engaged in his Jewish and Gentile mission and there could not have been any doubts
as to the gospel he preached during this period.
Why did he go to Jerusalem again? The Apostle is quick to tell us. It was
"by revelation" (2: 2). The Lord had made it quite clear to him that this was in His will
and right throughout his life, the Apostle had one dominant purpose, namely to carry out
the will of Christ whatever the cost; for it was His approval that he coveted above all
else. We give the structure of this section of the epistle which has been exhibited by
Charles H. Welch in The Apostle of the Reconciliation, for he vividly sets out the
essential points of this most important visit and its bearing on the truth: