Galatians 1:10-12,

 “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God?  Or am I trying to please men?  If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.. I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up.  12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.”

Paul has just said he was “astonished” at the Galatians “deserting” of the gospel and pronounced a curse on the Judaizers who had led them astray.  Paul then asks them in verse 10 if this is how he should speak if he were trying to please the Galatians and the Judaizers.

One of the attacks on Paul and his methods by the Judaizers was that Paul was trying to make friends and develop a following.  Paul is destroys that accusation by insulting both groups at the same time in his opening verses (1:6-9).

If he is not trying to please men and win their approval, who is he trying to impress?  The answer is Christ.  As Jesus said, “No servant can serve two masters.” (Luke 16:9) 

There are issues that are not foundational to the Christian faith that often come up. 

            1)  There may be areas that are important to other people but are immaterial to Christianity:                                               

                        A) playing cards                                                                                
                        B) electric guitars in church                                                             
                        C) the supremacy of the King James translation

            2)  There are areas that are divisive that should not be allowed to become an issue:                                                  

                        A) eschatology                                                                                   
                        B) spiritual gifts                                                                                
                        C) politics

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23:

            “Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to every one to win as many a possible.  To the Jews I became like a Jew,     to win the Jews.  To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under           the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law) though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s       law), so as to win those not having the law.  To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by           all possible means I might save some.   I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”

Paul here explains why his gospel and his opinion out weighs anyone else's on this matter.  Paul’s gospel did not come from man.   When other religions teach they hand down a system that men have developed over time.  When churches fight for their local church traditions or the denominational practices they often are defending or promoting what man made up.

The gospel that Paul preaches came to him directly from Jesus Christ.  It was by revelation.  The word for revelation is “apokalupto” which speaks of removing the vale that covers something from being seen.  Paul saw and understood something that humans can not perceive with their own powers.  It was an act of  God that revealed to Paul the gospel. 

Ephesians 3:2

Colossians 1:24

2 Peter 3:15

It is God the Holy Spirit’s job to reveal the scriptures and the gospel to us.  Notice,  who revealed it to Paul: “I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.”  When did this happen?  How did it happen?  What did Jesus do or say?  Paul will answer these questions in the following verses.

Paul’s life before he embraced Christ was that of a strict Jew following the sect called the Pharisees.  The Bible gives us this information concerning Paul’s ancestry, his youth, his education, his character and records his actions as a persecutor of the church.

An Israelite could trace their linage back to Abraham.  But, to be called a Hebrew meant you had maintained the ancient customs and spoke the Hebrew tongue.  All this along with the fact that he was born  outside of Judea in a Greek city in a Roman province.                                                           

Paul was from the city of Tarsus in the province of Cilicia.

 Tarsus was a city that combined both the Roman and Greek worlds in that its politics was Roman and its culture was Greek, a place of education and commerce. This province of Cilicia was one of many places in which the Israelites had located during the dispersion. By right of birth in the Roman province of Cilicia, later on as Paul the Apostle, he would utilize his Roman citizenship in his defense (Acts 16:37-38; 22:25-29).

Saul, by racial ancestry was of Israel, by citizenship was Roman, by religion a follower of Judaism, yet born and raised among Greek culture.

Saul left his home during his youth and was taken to Jerusalem for his formal education in the most prominent rabbinical schools of that day. Among his teachers, young Saul had the privilege to be trained by Gamaliel, the most outstanding rabbi teacher of that time (Acts 22:3). Gamaliel was one of the most honorable and reputable Jewish rabbis during the days of the Apostles (Acts 5:34). He was the grandson of Hillel, the founder of the most influential rabbinical school of Judaism. Gamaliel was also the president of the Sanhedrin in succession of his father.

It was in this environment that Saul received his education in the religion of Judaism and became well versed in its dogma and apologetics. Sometime during his educational years it was instilled in him a fervent hatred for Christ and His followers and therefore became the perfect agent in the employment of the Sanhedrin against the Christians. No doubt, Saul made many such trips throughout the Roman world in his approximately thirty years in Jerusalem as he did in Acts 9:1-2 in arresting and testifying against the followers of Jesus Christ.

HIS CONVERSION NEAR DAMASCUS In Acts 9:1-2 Luke is clear to explain that Saul was yet practicing his anti-Christian work when he left Jerusalem under the authority of the High Priest. His purpose was to bring any person that he may happen to find "of this way" back to Jerusalem for prosecution. Luke declares that Paul took the initiative to go to the High Priest and ask for authority to go to Damascus, Syria which is located 130 miles from Jerusalem, for the sole purpose of arresting the followers of Christ.

Then by divine sovereignty the Lord intervenes in Saul’s life and he is genuinely converted during that encounter with the Lord Jesus. Under the ministry of Ananias he is also healed and filled with the Holy Ghost. Saul immediately began preaching Christ in the synagogues of Damascus. It is uncertain how long he stayed there, but Luke uses two phrases to indicate a time element in regard to his duration in Damacus; ‘certain days’ (9:19) and ‘many days’ (9:23).

No doubt Paul’s preaching was very convincing and disturbing to the Damascus Jews to the point where they desired to kill him. Therefore, the other Christian

Is Paul trying to win the approval of people in his ministry??

Paul challenges the Galatians by telling them that he is “astonished” at their “deserting” his teaching.

The Judaizers receive a curse to be “eternally condemned” for changing Paul’s teaching.

The Source of Paul’s Gospel Was NOT:

Man did not make it up. - Paul’s gospel did not have human origin.  In fact, it is not even Paul’s gospel.  He did not create it.

It was not received from man.   -Paul says “I did not receive it” to show that it was not something that men had and it was handed down to Paul.  The word “received” is from “paralambano” simply means to receive through communication, but it is also a word used to identify the style of teaching used by the rabbis when their students would memorize their system of religion.  Paul says he used this style of teaching himself in 1 Cor. 15:1,3 when he handed down the death, burial and resurrection.

It was not taught by man. -Most Christians today are taught the gospel by people.  No one taught Paul the gospel.  We should understand his emphasis here is on the fact that the Jerusalem apostles did not teach him.  He is independent of the authority of the Jerusalem apostles.  Paul will  soon prove that he and they are in  agreementdisciples assisted him in his escape by night (Acts 9:22-25; II Cor. 11:32) that he may flee into Arabia.

HIS STAY IN ARABIA From the reading of the text in Acts 9:26-28 one would get the impression that Saul went directly from his escape at Damascus to Jerusalem. By his own admission he clarified the fact in his letter to the Galatians (1:16-17) that he "conferred not with flesh and blood" nor consulted with the Apostles in Jerusalem; but the Lord’s choice for him was to go to Arabia to be trained in the school of the Spirit in order that he might receive greater revelations concerning the mysteries of the Gospel of the glorified Christ.

Nowhere in the Scriptures does it indicate which part of the vast area of Arabia he went to, but we can safely assume it was somewhere east of Damascus. In the writings of Luke in the book of Acts, he omits any mention of Paul’s trip to Arabia.

At that time the area known as Arabia included the region governed by Aretas ( II Cor. 11:32) which extended from Damascus and east of the Jordan River south to Edom with Petra as its capital.

HIS RETURN TO DAMASCUS In the Galatian letter in 1:17-18 Paul clearly states that upon his return from Arabia he came back to the city of Damascus. Exactly how long Paul’s stay in Arabia lasted is not clear, but combined with his return visit to Damascus was a period of three years.

HIS VISIT TO JERUSALEM Gal. 1:18-19 No doubt Paul thought it necessary to visit with the Apostles, therefore he made a trip to Jerusalem and visited with Peter for fifteen days. The only other Apostle that Paul visited was James the brother of our Lord.

During his visit to Jerusalem Paul tried to join himself to the disciples, but was faced with two obstacles. The disciples were afraid of him and they did not believe that he was a true disciple of the Lord (Acts 9:26). It is understandable why the disciples felt this way; either because the saints at Jerusalem had not known of Paul’s conversion three years before at Damascus or they did not believe the report of his conversion.

Thanks to Barnabas, the son of consolation, Paul was introduced to the Apostles (Acts 9:27) and proceeded to declare unto them the details of his conversion experience.

HIS ESCAPE TO CAESAREA After Paul "spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Grecians" (Acts 9:29) at Jerusalem, he faced the second attempt on his life. By this time no doubt Paul was accepted as a true disciple of the Lord, therefore the brethren helped him escape to the city of Caesarea (Acts 9:30), which was located in the province of Samaria northwest of Jerusalem. This was not the city Caesarea Philippi of Matt. 16:13, but was another city located between Joppa and Mt. Carmel on the Mediterranean coast where Philip the Evangelist lived (Acts 21:8).

HIS VISIT TO REGIONS OF SYRIA Gal. 1:21 Upon Paul’s departure from Caesarea Luke tells us in Acts 9:30 that he was sent forth to Tarsus. It would be logical to conclude on the basis of his route that on his way back home to Tarsus this is when he stopped by different cities and visited brethren in the Roman province of Syria. Paul referred to this in Gal. 1:21.

BACK HOME TO TARSUS Acts 9:30 Paul’s reference to the region of Cilicia in Gal. 1:21, without a doubt corresponds to Luke’s reference to the city of Tarsus in Acts 9:30. It is reasonable to reach this conclusion being that Tarsus was located in the Roman region of Cilicia in what is now known as southern Turkey.

PAUL’S STAY AT ANTIOCH Acts 11:25-26 After the persecution of the church at Jerusalem and the martyrdom of Stephen the Gospel began to rapidly spread throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria (Acts 8:1).

When news of the acceptance of the Gospel by the Grecians of Antioch had reached the church at Jerusalem, they sent Barnabas to Antioch to verify the reports and he therefore was instrumental in increasing the number of converts there (Acts 11:19-24).

Paul was in his hometown of Tarsus for approximately three years while this Gospel expansion was taking place. When Barnabas, who had not forgotten Paul, realized that the church in Antioch had grown too big for him to handle alone, "departed for Tarsus, for to see Saul" (Acts 11:25). Paul returned with Barnabas to Antioch and remained a whole year with the church (Acts 11:26). The Antioch referred to here was the city in the Roman province of Syria and not the one located in Asia Minor, which is modern Turkey.