In Defense of God's Gospel: The Grace that Made Paul a Gospel Preacher

Brian Mahon - 9/17/2023


Call to worship: 2 Corinthians 6:2b-10

Text: Galations 1:11-24


Paul continues to assert that he preaches God's Gospel. His source is the risen Jesus. In defense of this, Paul shares his testimony. Centrally, the eternal and sovereign grace of God applied, wherein Christ was effectually revealed to him, made Paul, yes, a Christian, but also an apostle and preacher, though former persecutor, of the Gospel of God's all-sufficient grace in Christ crucified and raised. Paul's understanding of the Gospel is divinely derived---and in no way distinct from the Christian churches and leaders in Jerusalem. The latter's time with Paul rendered only confirmation of the truth: Paul, our persecutor, is now Paul the preacher of the faith we hold in common. The ethnically Jewish churches of Christ trust this report, to the praise of the glory of His grace. Paul has believed and is now preaching the Gospel of God, and the Galatian churches would do best to give his correctives their whole heart.

Sermone Outline:

  1. The source of the Gospel Paul preached. (1:11-12)
  2. The story in defense of the Gospel Paul preached. (1:13-24)
    • Paul's conversion. (1:13-17)
      Jerusalem's confirmation. (1:18-24)


Discussion Questions:

  1. Read Galatians 1:11-24. Compare with the texts given for our call to worship and intermediate reading above.
  2. Why would Paul feel the need to defend the Gospel he preached as 'not man's gospel'? What might it mean that he neither received it, nor was taught it by any man---but that he yet received it 'through a revelation of Jesus Christ' (Who is a Man)? Returning to 1:6-10, why is it critical to establish that Paul's Gospel is the Gospel of God? Is there another gospel?
  3. How does Paul's testimony play a supporting role in the assertion that he preaches the true Gospel? In 1:13-17, what details provide evidence that Paul's Gospel is the Gospel? How does Paul describe his former life? What could possibly have made that life his 'former' life? Just because certain traditions are our fathers' traditions, does that make them full-proof? Just because we devote our lives to the reading of Scripture, as a Pharisee like Paul would have, is it certain that we actually know what they reveal? What sight is necessary to see the message of the Bible rightly? What is the final authority against which all our traditions are to be judged?
  4. How does Paul describe his conversion? Who authored it? And when? Who called him? And by what? What was revealed in/to Paul when eternal grace was applied? What happens when we truly see God's Son in our souls? What changes? With what purpose was Paul converted? What about you? Why does Paul (again) emphasize 'a seminary in isolation'? Do you think that's typical or atypical for Christians not known as the apostle Paul? From whom did Paul learn the Gospel he preached?
  5. What's the significance of 1:18-24? Where does Paul go? Who does he meet? What is Peter's relationship to Jesus and the Jewish church? What is James' relationship to Jesus and the Jewish church? Why would it be significant that, as it says in 2:6, they added nothing to Paul's Gospel? Who, do you think, circulated the report of Paul's conversion and preaching of the true Gospel among the Jewish churches? How did those churches, who had been hotly persecuted by Paul, receive this news? What's the importance of them being 'in Christ'? And what of them glorifying God because of Paul? Remembering that the false teachers are Judaizers, how does this section support Paul and his corrections for the Galatian churches?
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