Galatians #03 The Authority of Paul
Freed to Be Free #3
We are continuing today in our look at Paul’s letter to the Galatians. There were a lot of letters written then just as now. There were many letters written from preachers to churches. But there were only a relative few that are collected for us and accepted in the canon of scripture as being the Word of God. The New Testament authors are all either Apostles, or close associates to an Apostle or to Jesus in his brothers, Jude and James.
That term Apostle is an important distinctive in scripture. All the Apostles were disciples but not all the disciples were Apostles. A disciple was a follower of Jesus. It wasn’t exclusive to the 12. any of those who followed Jesus were disciples. However, to be an Apostle is an important difference.
Before we can move on in this book we have to address the Authority of Paul. Today’s message will be more college class than revival message, but don’t turn me off. Everything Paul says in this letter hinges on his Authority to say what he says. There are those in this world today who try and separate the New Testament into the Gospel of Jesus and the Gospel of Paul as if they are different things. We have to address Paul’s authority. Does he have the right to teach? Does he speak for God? If Paul does not speak for God, then we can significantly lighten this Bible. Romans, 1&2 Cor, Gal, Eph, Phil, Col, Titus, Phile, 1&2 Thes, 1&2 Tim all were written by Paul and if they are not authoritative messages from God they shouldn’t be here, they then are just letters, just opinions, just personal convictions but not Scripture.
The authority of Paul affects every reader of the Bible and has ramifications to life, conduct, belief, and practice of every Christian. The teachings of Paul address discipleship, Christian living, sacrifice, suffering, trials, salvation, the 2nd coming, the anti-Christ, ministry, and accountability and expectations of leadership.
Well before we go further, let’s read our text … I’m going to back up a few verses and let’s start on verse 13 and read down to verse 1 of chapter 2
Look and Listen for yourselves at the pedigree that is unique for Paul
What is an Apostle? We think of the 12.
Apostolos /ap-os-tol-os/ a delegate, messenger, one sent with orders
1) one sent on a mission as
a. … one of an authoritative N.T. group sent out to preach the gospel made up of Christ’s 12 and Paul
b. … the first prominent Christian missionary to a region or group
The Apostles were the 12 selected by Christ, with Judas selling out Christ and committing suicide, they replaced him with Matthias.
But there are preachers today who have taken up the title of Apostle. This is a touchy thing. I am not attacking them but warning that care must be taken in HOW you use the term. If that Pastor / Preacher is wanting to simply call himself a “sent one” then well, ok. But if they are trying to identify themselves with the authority and office of the NT Apostle then they are out of order. From the standpoint of the simple definition of a “sent one” then our modern day missionaries are ones who serve that purpose. But the purpose of revealing truth directly from God that stands alone is no longer active. There is NO fresh REVELATION of Truth that stands apart from Scripture. We have been given the revealed and written Word of God.
The Apostles carried unique qualifications from all other followers of Jesus. They were chosen, commissioned, and taught by Christ himself. This gave them special authority and authenticity to deliver His message and direct His Work
When they replaced Judas, they gave their expectation for an Apostle
Acts 1:21-22 (NIV)
21 Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.”
Well, as he was from Tarsus, the best we know, Paul wasn’t around during that time and isn’t seen in Jerusalem until the stoning of Stephen.
So, what DOES give Paul the Authority over these teachers from Jerusalem that have taken it on themselves to set these Galatians straight? What makes any other writings of Paul on the same level with Scripture?
1 A Unique Conversion
1 Corinthians 15:8-9 (NIV)
8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. 9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
1 Corinthians 9:1 (NIV)
Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? …
Paul could claim Authority because of his unique conversion
For those of you who may be new to the faith … let me remind you … The Apostles had all been called one by one by Jesus himself. He had picked them out.
Since the Ascension of Jesus there had been thousands of conversions to The Way of Christ. But every one of them had come from either the Preaching of the Apostles or their personal testimony or that of others in the Way.
After Stephen was stoned, the church was persecuted greatly and the people scattered.
Paul had legal permission to arrest and imprison the followers of Jesus. Acts 9:1 says he was “breathing out murderous threats” against those following Christ and he took it on himself to go and get permission to destroy this “sect of the Nazarenes”
That Chapter goes on to recount for us … He was on his way to Damascus for this purpose when he was literally knocked off his feet by a lightning flash from Heaven. It blinded him and Saul (who became known as Paul) heard the voice of Christ himself say “Saul why do you persecute me?” … Saul asked “who are you?” “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” … “now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do”
He was blind for 3 days until the Lord sent a man named Ananias to him, who laid hands on him, restoring his sight, receiving the Holy Spirit and then being Baptized.
There’s not another conversion like that in the church era. Why? It was because Saul becoming Paul, was a unique Apostle.
In order to speak to us with Authority he had to have a direct conversion connected to Jesus.
A unique conversion, and
2. A Unique Call
When Ananias was sent to Paul, in Acts 9 it says
Acts 9:15 (NIV)
15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.
Paul was not commissioned by the Church in Jerusalem. He didn’t seek or need their approval.
V1 says Paul, an Apostle, not OF men, BY men, but BY Jesus Christ and God the Father
His work was critical to YOU and to ME. Christ had proclaimed that they would be witnesses to the “ends of the earth.” And the Apostles took the gospel to many places. But Paul uniquely took the gospel to the Gentile world.
Philip preached a great revival taking the gospel to the Samaritans,
Peter introduced it to the Gentiles in the person of Cornelius the Centurion. But Peter still remained in Jerusalem, for the most part. The Lord’s brother, James led the church in Jerusalem, as Pastor.
But in Jerusalem they were called the “sect of the Nazarenes” They were redeemed by Christ but they still kept the law as their course of worship. It was Paul who preached freely the gospel with no strings attached. It was through Paul’s ministry that in Antioch we were first called “Christians”. It was through his preaching that it went from being “Jews completed” by Christ to being referred to as “little Christs” … people living like him, walking like him, expressing him to a world that never met him or heard of him … Praise the Lord for Paul church …
But what did he do with this unique conversion and call …
Well he went to school … Oh he had been to University in Tarsus. He had been trained by the greatest Jewish mind of the day … Gamaliel …
but that wouldn’t do as an Apostle he needed …
3. Unique Collegiate Training
In Acts 9 Paul’s immediate reaction was to proclaim Jesus Christ as the Son of God
Paul didn’t know much else at this point
But when you met Jesus, you knew Jesus is real
How many of you thought Christianity was a myth, until you met Jesus?
How many of you thought Christianity was a crutch until you MET Jesus for yourself and realized how crippled you were without him?
But once you met Jesus, you didn’t know much, but you knew Jesus was real.
There are some things, I may not know, there are some places I cannot go
But I am sure of this one thing
My God is real for I can feel him deep within
Yes God is real, real in my soul
Yes God is real, for he has washed and made me whole
His love for me, is like pure gold
My God is real, for I can feel him in my soul
Paul was blinded, made sighted, and understood who Jesus was and THAT was his first message.
But the fact of Jesus Christ as Messiah and Son of God wasn’t enough for the Mission that Paul had from God
So he needed to go to school. And so, probably between verses 22 and 23 of Acts 9, because Paul went to Arabia and then back to Damascus before going to Jerusalem.
Three years … significant?
Well, a modern Seminary Degree will take you about three years. I spent about 18 years in the James Goforth, Sr. Seminary with locations in Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, and Texas. J
But more than that, three years, with Jesus … sound familiar?
The other Apostles spent three years with Jesus.
We don’t know much about these years.
But verse 11 says that what Paul learned he didn’t receive from any man, nor was taught it; but “received it by revelation from Jesus Christ”
Where did he go in Arabia? We don’t know, but Arabia was along the Red Sea area. Could it be that the Lord took him to Mt. Sinai the place where Moses was called and where the 10 Commandments were given? Could be …
There the Lord laid bare all he wanted Paul to know. I think he got a 5th Gospel. Not from Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John, they hadn’t even written theirs yet. He got it from the Lord Jesus Christ.
How can the gospel of Paul be different from the gospel of Jesus? He got it from Jesus
What happened there?
2 Cor. 12:2 describes him as being caught up into the 3rd Heaven. What is that? Well our Atmosphere is the 1st Heaven, Space would be 2nd Heaven, so Paul says he had a Revelation in Heaven. He goes on to say he doesn’t know if it was a vision or bodily because it was so real he couldn’t tell. But he says he was in “paradise” and he “heard inexpressible things” He says that he experienced things no man is “permitted to tell”
Wow … considering all he HAS told us and what John has told us … can you imagine what he is not allowed to tell?
Before Christ, Paul had already received the best Old Testament training available in the world at that time. After the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit he had God’s wisdom to understand what he was taught. And then he had the one on one, face to face teaching of the Greatest Rabbi to walk the face of the earth, Jesus Christ.
Paul didn’t interview the eyewitnesses and come up with the best combination of their stories.
That’s what Luke did to develop his Gospel
He didn’t even just interview one of the Apostles like Peter to come up with his remembrances and understanding.
That’s what Mark did.
The Lord got a hold of Paul and gave him everything he needed to teach us the truth about the Freedom that is found in Christ Jesus
He taught him how to teach us how to live and walk with Jesus.
He taught Paul about the mystery of the Church that embraces those of the Old Covenant with those of the New
He taught him how to teach us to look for his blessed appearing when we least expect it and voice of the Archangel will sound like a trumpet and the dead in Christ will rise first and those of us who are alive and remain will be caught up to meet him in the air and will be with him
He taught him that this OLD Body will put on a New Body and this Corruptible flesh will put on Incorruptible
Everything Paul needed he learned directly from the Lord. The Lord even taught him about the Lord’s supper himself, since he was not there.
1 Cor 11:23 “I have received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed took bread …”
And he goes on to explain Communion.
So Paul Speaks with Authority because what he had received was uniquely from God
Just as what the other Apostles had was uniquely from the Lord for their ministry purposes
A Unique Conversion
A Unique Call
A Unique College Training
4. A Unique Confirmation
Paul’s ministry was separate from the of the other Apostles
His ministry was unique
His conversion, his call and college training are unique
But it was eventually confirmed and accepted
> He was confirmed first by those in Damascus
That group who he was heading to imprison, Ananias and the other believers there, accepted him.
He preached among them Acts 9:21 says “all those who heard him were astonished and asked “isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on his name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priest?” Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ.
> By Peter and James
He went and spent 15 days with Peter seeing only he and James, the brother of Jesus.
Who did he see? He saw the leading Apostle and the Pastor of the Church in Jerusalem.
He received their approval, as 2:9 says they gave him the “right hand of fellowship”
They didn’t play with heretics. They exposed them. So the fact that they received him says that they confirmed the truth of his conversion, call, and training
> Of course the greatest confirmation is the fruit of his ministry, churches founded, souls saved. And all of Christianity taught.
The enduring fruit of his ministry continues to confirm his authority.
It was the book of Galatians and Romans that spoke so clearly to Luther toward reformation
As I said, some have tried to dispute the authority of Paul. It is always for the purpose of diluting the goodness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
But there is only ONE gospel. It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Yes Paul calls it “My Gospel” but it was only “his” in the sense of his call, audience, ministry, and accountability.
Just like I refer to this as MY Church because it is the place that I am called and accountable to minister but it is the Lord’s Church
And you should call it YOUR church.
But it is just ONE Gospel
Romans 1 says it is a gospel that is
a. promised through prophets
b. regarding the son (without Jesus there is no gospel)
c. secured by the cross
d. authenticated by the resurrection
e. delivered by the Apostles
f. lived out by converts
It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ
For Paul the Gospel of Jesus Christ came to him on a Damascus Road when he realized the truth about Jesus Christ.
He received his commissioned call three days later
He spent three years in training and was confirmed by the church.
What about You?
You are not Paul but what about you?
You need to surrender to Christ as Lord and Savior. If you’ve never committed your life to him you need to do that today. You need to stop fighting him and embrace him as Lord and God.
If you have received him as Lord, there is a call on your life. God has gifted you with spiritual giftings that you might serve the body of Christ. If you do not know where you are gifted we can help you determine those gifts. But you have been gifted and God has a plan for your life
Eph 2:10 – we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do
God has a plan for you, seek his face, follow his plan for you
Paul – was trained for his life and ministry. Now do NOT read the wrong thing into this. Just because Paul went away and was trained alone, do not think that the pattern for a Christian is to be on your own. Paul submitted himself to the only teacher above him and that is Christ. But you need teaching and training from the Word of God, delivered by someone the Lord has given you in leadership. You need the teachings of a Godly Shepherd and other mentors and teachers in the church
And you need the confirmation of the church.
You have a gospel if you know Jesus Christ.
What is your gospel?
Could I challenge you to go home and write YOUR Gospel.
Tell how you heard the gospel of Jesus Christ
Tell how God opened your eyes and you embraced his truth.
Tell what he has done in your life since you came to him
Share how you’ve grown in him
Share how the church has ministered to you and helped you grow.
It is YOUR Gospel because the news became good for YOU
But it is All about Jesus Christ.
And it is intended to be shared
The point of our word today is that Paul DOES speak for God
You Can trust everything he says.
You can build your life around it
And if Paul speaks for God
You need to read this word, embrace it, follow it, obey it, and proclaim it
2 Tim 3:16
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness so that you may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
I read an interesting story from some years ago in Liverpool England. There was a sailor’s Home there. It caught fire one night. Cries for help went up in the night air. They brought a long ladder and put it against the building. But it came up short. It came up about 7 feet short. Without a hesitation a sailor on the street rushed up the ladder. He carefully got on the top rung, reached up and grasped the window ledge. He hollered “Quick men, over my body on the ladder and down you go” … One at a time the men climbed over the sailor’s body, and down the ladder until all the men were saved. The saving sailor climbed down, his face burnt, hair singed, and fingers blistered. The Ladder had a good reach, but came up short and those men were saved but needed the length of a man. I imagine that man bore the marks of his sacrifice for a long time if not for life …
Job 9:33 says “oh if there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand upon us both”
1 Tim 2:5 “there is one God and mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus
Oh Jesus climbed the ladder of man’s accomplishments, he climbed the ladder of the Law and then he bridged the gap
When we get to Heaven we will find the marks of that gap still on Jesus. He will look like a Lamb who was slain. His hands and feet still scarred for us
That my friends is the Gospel
We come up short … but Jesus fills the Gap
It’s the Gospel Paul Preached
It’s the Gospel of Jesus Christ and
it is the only hope for our world