Paul’s Certified Ministry

One of the most controversial writers of scripture is Paul. Since he wrote about information kept secret he has been pushed aside, doubted, and even labeled the Antichrist as scholars regularly fail to rightly divide.

Yet, Paul is continually emphasizing his authority from Jesus Christ to present the gospel of grace in contrast to the law system of the Old and New Covenants. One of the more lengthy presentations of his ministry certification is listed in Galatians 1 and 2.

Not of men, neither by man

He starts the epistle by stating that his apostleship was not of a lineage of human authority, ‘not of men’, neither did his apostleship come by the teaching of men. Rather it was given by the Lord Jesus Christ out of due time.

Later he emphasizes this fact by stating:

“But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. “– Gal 1:11

How could anyone forget how Paul received his commission on the road to Damascus as Paul was in rebellion against Jesus Christ. In fact, it is the degree of his lifestyle before his conversion that he uses as further evidence of his authoritative message.

Paul’s conversation in time past

In Gal 1:13-14 Paul explains that he was persecuting the church of God and wasted it. It does not stand to reason that Paul’s voluntary zeal for God in persecuting would-be heretics would reverse suddenly without some sort of intervention.

Paul explains that it was divine intervention. The description of the event and his subsequent actions traveled wide as it was propagated “That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. “ – Gal 1:23

Conferred not with flesh and blood

Adding further credibility to his initial statement that his gospel came by further revelation of Jesus Christ, Paul explains that he did not confer with flesh and blood.

At the height of his successful persecution of the church of God he flees the country to Arabia.

“…immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. “ – Gal 1:16b-17

Furthermore, when he returned from Arabia he went to Damascus but this time not to seek and destroy believers, as his zeal had led him to request letters from the high priest, but rather to preach among the Gentiles the gospel he had received from the Lord himself.

Fourteen years after

By Galatians 2 we read that apart from a two week meeting with Peter in Jerusalem, he had not gone to Jerusalem for a stint of 14 years.

Surely Paul had already established many followers in the regions of Syria and Cilicia where he had been preaching outside of the national boundaries of Israel and contrary to the apostolic commission of Luke 24:47.

Without the benefit of distance communication that we have today through phones, email, and the internet, it would have been impossible for Paul to receive a ministerial training course from the apostles.

“The same was mighty in me”

Paul says, that when he did meet with the Jerusalem apostles that they “who seemed to be somewhat added nothing to me” (Gal 2:6).

Rather Paul taught them a few things, specifically that he had the power and authority from God to preach his gospel to the Gentiles. In a bold yet true statement Paul says that his authority was on the same level as Peters.

“For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:” – Galatians 2:8

It is by inspiration that Paul writes elsewhere that “in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles” (2 Cor 12:11).

As a result Paul was given the ‘right hands of fellowship’ to continue with his authoritative God ordained ministry.

Surely, Paul’s certifications as the minister of the gospel of grace cannot be doubted. It should not require the pertinent knowledge of 2 Timothy 2:15 to take the first step in understanding right division. A cursory reading of Galatians 1 and 2 should be quite sufficient.

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Published: Monday, November 26th, 2007
Last Modified: April 12, 2016