Paul doesn’t appeal to the authority of the apostles to verify his ministry. He appeals to personal instruction directly from God. It is only a supernatural work of God that could change him from a terrorizing hater of Christians into one of their strongest advocates.
Many people do not notice that after Paul’s conversion, the verses below tell us that Paul was taught personally by Jesus in Arabia. This was no weekend retreat with a phenomenal key speaker. Paul spent three years away being instructed by Jesus. This, then, means that he spent the same time with Jesus that the other apostles did. The people who met Paul after his conversion heard of who he used to be and praised God for the change.
Today we still hear many conversion stories. Mine is fairly unremarkable to hear. I was 8 when I was converted and so my life of crime didn’t have time to develop. We need to hear more unremarkable conversions to validate from the pulpit the less stunning changes that can occur in the pursuit of God. What is stunning in these lives is often God’s faithfulness and persistence to keep us close to him over the years. However, I agree with putting astounding stories of conversion into the media and into our pulpits when fruit show them to be genuine. An example of this would be The Cross and the Switchblade which I read growing up. What stories have you heard?
11 I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. 12I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.
13 For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. 14 I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. 17I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus.
18 Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas[b] and stayed with him fifteen days. 19 I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother. 20I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie.
21 Then I went to Syria and Cilicia. 22 I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they praised God because of me.
- How did Paul receive the gospel?
- How is Paul’s life an example of the gospel’s authenticity?
- Why would Paul want to distance himself from the idea that other apostles handed the gospel to him?
- How does your life show the power of God to change a life?
- Why do many today lack the kind of life-transformation that Paul advocates?
Note: I will be camping for the next couple of days and therefore will not post.