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The Provision of the Gospel

November 7, 2021 Speaker: Dr. Rick Gregory Series: Galatians

Topic: Gospel Verse: Galatians 1:11–1:12

Theme: The gospel is given directly by God and is therefore unalterable.

I. The Gospel Is Not of Human Invention – 1:11

A. The Rationale for Its Inalterability

  • The assertions by the false teachers had prompted Paul to denounce them for what they were – messengers who sought to nullify the Gospel by adding various laws and observances to it to be justified.
  • Paul calls upon God to damn such teachers – saying that they should be “accursed.”
  • He also clearly refuted their accusation that Paul was “dumbing down” the Gospel to faith alone to gain the approval of both Jews who were eager to escape their obligations and Gentiles who didn’t want to be encumbered with Judaism.
  • He uses a phrase designed to emphasize the importance of what he is about to say – “For I would have you know, brethren, …” – it essentially means: “Let me make something perfectly clear,” something that you should already know!
  • The source of the Gospel had been communicated to them before when Paul was with them.

B. The Repudiation of Its Invention 

  • He now returns to why it is such an egregious offense to change or amend the gospel – “the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.”
  • “the gospel which was preached by me” is the Gospel of grace – emphasizing the inability of man to contribute, certainty of judgment on all for sin, the singularity of justification through the substitution of Christ for us, and that God’s grace is through faith alone.
  • This gospel includes NO contribution by man – either in its invention or its accomplishment.
  • The “gospel” that is “according to man” is the message that man can contribute to His own justification – through good works, compliance with the law, deprivation of indulgence, and so on.
  • One of the ways that we can be confident that the Gospel is not from man, but from God, is that man has no glory or ability to boast – cp. Ephesians 2:8-9; Galatians 2:16.
  • Any alleged “gospel” that gives man an ability to contribute to his own salvation is “according to man” and not from God.

II. The Gospel Is Not from Human Instruction – 1:12a

A. The Rejection of Human Tradition

  • Paul next informs us that not only did it not originate with man, nor was it provided to him from men – “For I neither received it from man, …”
  • Paul’s emphasis here is that it wasn’t something that was distorted or corrupted by being “whispered down the lane” and mingled with human ideas or customs.
  • “received” [παραλαμβάνω] – to gain possession of something through heritage or customs.
  • One of the confusing and seemingly contradictory cross-references is from 1 Corinthians 15:3. Where Paul said that he “received” the message (and the same word is used).
  • This is resolved in the latter part of v. 12 as Paul declares that he received it “through a revelation of Jesus Christ.”

B. The Rejection of Human Teaching

  • Not only did Paul deny that the Gospel was “received” through “tradition,” he also declares that it was not “received” through what he was taught – “… nor was I taught it …”
  • Paul would obviously have been exposed to the teaching of the Gospel through the various ways that he was present during his avid persecution of the Church.
  1. He was present when Steven gave his magnificent Gospel presentation – Acts 8:1.
  2. He would have heard the preaching of Jesus – being a contemporary with the Lord and studying in Jerusalem – Acts 22:3; 2 Corinthians 5:16.
  3. It is unlikely that those Saul was persecuting, dragging out of homes, throwing in prison, and executing would not have sought to preach Christ to him.
  • His point is that none of these “pre-conversion” exposures sank in – rather, the Gospel is something that was received directly from the Lord when He encountered Him on the road to Damascus without his initiative or any human instrument.
  • We must take care that we recognize what Paul is saying here – he is speaking of the origin of the Gospel message given through him in the unique role as an apostle.
  • He is not claiming that tradition and teaching are to be rejected by Christians – cp. 2 Timothy 2:2.

III. The Gospel Is from Divine Impartation – 1:12b

A. The Cause of Revelation

  • Paul here gets to the point – he “received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.”
  • There are two references that would be contained in this reference:
  1. Initially, this would have been revealed to him as “Saul” on the road to Damascus when Jesus appeared to him – Acts 9:3-6, 15-16.
  2. Subsequently, this would have been revealed to him as He spent time under the tutelage of God’s Spirit – 1 Corinthians 2:10; Galatians 1:16-18.
  • The personal revelations were caused by God’s intention to use Paul as an Apostle – cp. 2 Corinthians 12:1, 7.

B. The Content of Revelation 

  • The genitive used here could be either objective or subjective – “a revelation of Jesus Christ:”
  1. “objective” would mean that the revelation would be “of Jesus Christ” meaning that Jesus would have been what was revealed.
  2. “subjective” would mean that the revelation would be “by Jesus Christ” - Jesus would be the one providing the revelation.
  • It is best to see it as an “objective” genitive given what he says in Galatians 1:16.