New American Bible (Revised Edition)
III. Paul’s Defense of His Gospel and His Authority[a]
His Call by Christ. 11 (A)Now I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel preached by me is not of human origin. 12 For I did not receive it from a human being, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ.[b]
13 [c]For you heard of my former way of life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it,(B) 14 and progressed in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my race, since I was even more a zealot for my ancestral traditions.(C) 15 But when [God], who from my mother’s womb had set me apart and called me through his grace, was pleased(D) 16 to reveal his Son to me,(E) so that I might proclaim him to the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult flesh and blood,[d] 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; rather, I went into Arabia[e] and then returned to Damascus.
18 [f]Then after three years[g] I went up to Jerusalem to confer with Cephas and remained with him for fifteen days.(F) 19 But I did not see any other of the apostles,(G) only James the brother of the Lord.[h]Read full chapter
- 1:11–2:21 Paul’s presentation on behalf of his message and of his apostleship reflects rhetorical forms of his day: he first narrates the facts about certain past events (Gal 1:12–2:14) and then states his contention regarding justification by faith as the gospel message (Gal 2:15–21). Further arguments follow from both experience and scripture in Galatians 3; 4 before he draws out the ethical consequences (Gal 5:1–6:10). The specific facts that he takes up here to show that his gospel is not a human invention (Gal 1:11) but came through a revelation of Jesus Christ (Gal 1:12) deal with his own calling as a Christian missionary (Gal 1:13–17), his initial relations with the apostles in Jerusalem (Gal 1:18–24), a later journey to Jerusalem (Gal 2:1–10), and an incident in Antioch involving Cephas and persons from James (Gal 2:11–14). The content of Paul’s revealed gospel is then set forth in the heart of the letter (Gal 2:15–21).
- 1:12 Although Paul received his gospel through a revelation from Christ, this did not exclude his use of early Christian confessional formulations. See note on Gal 1:4.
- 1:13–17 Along with Phil 3:4–11, which also moves from autobiography to its climax in a discussion on justification by faith (cf. Gal 2:15–21), this passage is Paul’s chief account of the change from his former way of life (Gal 1:13) to service as a Christian missionary (Gal 1:16); cf. Acts 9:1–22; 22:4–16; 26:9–18. Paul himself does not use the term “conversion” but stresses revelation (Gal 1:12, 16). In Gal 1:15 his language echoes the Old Testament prophetic call of Jeremiah. Unlike the account in Acts (cf. Acts 22:4–16), the calling of Paul here includes the mission to proclaim Christ to the Gentiles (Gal 1:16).
- 1:16 Flesh and blood: human authorities (cf. Mt 16:17; 1 Cor 15:50). Paul’s apostleship comes from God (Gal 1:1).
- 1:17 Arabia: probably the region of the Nabataean Arabs, east and south of Damascus.
- 1:18–24 Paul’s first journey to Jerusalem as a Christian, according to Galatians (cf. Acts 9:23–31 and the note on Acts 12:25). He is quite explicit about contacts there, testifying under oath (Gal 1:20). On returning to Syria (perhaps specifically Damascus, cf. Gal 1:17) and Cilicia (including his home town Tarsus, cf. Acts 9:30; 22:3), Paul most likely engaged in missionary work. He underscores the fact that Christians in Judea knew of him only by reputation.
- 1:18 After three years: two years and more, since Paul’s call. To confer with Cephas may mean simply “pay a visit” or more specifically “get information from” him about Jesus, over a two-week period. Cephas: Aramaic name of Simon (Peter); cf. Mt 16:16–18 and the notes there.
- 1:19 James the brother of the Lord: not one of the Twelve, but a brother of Jesus (see note on Mk 6:3). He played an important role in the Jerusalem church (see note on Gal 2:9), the leadership of which he took over from Peter (Acts 12:17). Paul may have regarded James as an apostle.