GRACE: NOT BY MAN
The Gospel and Religion – Galations 1:13-17
Religion is a part of life. Whether it is worshipping God; in whose image we have been made; or the gods of mankind whose image is like unto us; religion is a part of life. What place does religion hold in your life? Should religion have a place in our lives?
Paul was a religious man, in the Jewish religion or faith. Yet, there came a day he realized by revelation from Jesus Christ that he was lost, and going in the wrong direction.
So we see from Paul’s life that religion is not powerful enough to save. It, rather, further condemns us.
Verse 13 – The apostle was greatly involved in his religion; the “Jews’ religion” or Judaism. J. Vernon McGee said, “Paul was saved, not in Judaism, but from Judaism.” (From Galations, THRU THE BIBLE Commentary p. 23). Many times if not most of the time people are saved from religion.
Paul’s manner of life [conversation] was one of earning his “salvation”; or earning God’s favor on his life. He found, through faith in Jesus Christ; that Gods favor is not earned, but given as a gift. In his zeal to earn God’s favor [grace] he persecuted the “church of God, and wasted it”. He sought to destroy that which he zealously hated.
Good Religion – See James 1:27
Verse 14 – The apostle excelled in his religion. He was above many of his same age, who had been less zealous for the “favor of God”.
The MacArthur Study Bible says of the “traditions of my fathers” “The oral teachings about the OT law commonly known as the ‘Halakah.” This collection of interpretations of the law eventually carried the same authority as, or even greater than, the law (Torah) itself. Its regulations were so hopelessly complex and burdensome that even the most astute rabbinical scholars could not master it by either interpretation or conduct.” (p. 1789).
Verse 15-17 – Paul recognizes the sovereign hand of God in his salvation. We can hear in Paul’s words the words of Isaiah and Jeremiah, “Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The LORD hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name.” (Isaiah 49:1), and, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordaineda thee a prophet unto the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5).
McGee writes of a “so called modernist” whom he had heard comment, “…that Paul was a brilliant student of the Mosaic system of Judaism and was a brilliant student of Greek philosophy, and then declared that Paul had combined the two and came up with Christianity.” McGee goes on and says, “Now Paul says here in Galations that he didn’t get the gospel that way. He received the gospel by direct revelation from Jesus Christ.” (From THRU THE BIBLE Commentary p. 24).
The very fact that the apostle Paul never sought the counsel of the other apostles, and went to Arabia, and alone, to be with the Lord in prayer and study of the Word (though not mentioned, yet it is certainly implied); and then having their beliefs, and doctrines so balanced; is evidence of the power of the teaching of God, and His grace.
-Tim A. Blankenship