I 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. Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother. I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie.
Thoughts for Today:This particular section of Galatians has provided us with additional insight into Paul's background and activities since his revelation of Jesus on the road to Damascus. However, Paul's main purpose in doing so is probably to refute his critics who were saying, "He only learned the Gospel from the 'real' Apostles, and now he's departing from what he was taught to his own version." In our passage today, Paul says that he was an Apostle BEFORE he went to see the other Apostles (three years following his conversion); he only spent fifteen days with Cephas (Peter); and none of the other Apostles, except for James were present.
Why is this order of events important? Because it validates that the source of Paul's revelation was directly from the Lord, not an adaptation of what he learned or heard from other people. Paul wanted the Galatians to understand his acquaintance and harmony with both Peter (the leader of the Jerusalem church) and James (the brother of Jesus). But also something more (Galatians 1:11-12): "I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ."
Paul spent a short time with Peter and James -- too short to learn the full depth of the Gospel message he taught. But long enough to be certain they were all in agreement.
Questions to Ponder:It is easy to get off-track when it comes to understanding Scripture. That's why it's important to have fellowship with other Christians. Many strange and aberrant religions have their roots in the Bible. How do they get so far off the truth of the Gospel? By reading more or less into what God says than what is written. Have you become a little too isolated in your study of the Bible? Is it time to join a Bible study group? Have you become closed to only your way of thinking?