Man and Message

Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and also took Titus with me.”—Galatians 2:1 (NKJV)

One of the distinguishing features of the Book of Galatians is the way Paul weaves his personal history into the text. It’s sort of half epistle, half biography. There’s a purpose for doing this, because we’ll also find that the main message of this letter is supported by the apostle’s own life experiences. Paul is essentially using himself to illustrate the great truth that he knows the Church of Galatia needs to know. 

We encounter this dynamic as we launch into the letter’s second chapter. Having just recounted his incredible conversion story and meteoric rise in ministry, Paul skips ahead to something that occurred fourteen years later. 

Paul recounts what also appears in Acts chapter 15. It had become necessary for the leaders of the early Church to define what was essential to the Christian faith, so they gathered for what is commonly known as The Jerusalem Counsel. This was an important crossroads, because it defined what does and what doesn’t constitute God’s gospel of salvation. Notice what Paul says about his involvement there: “I went up by revelation, and communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to those who were of reputation . . .” (Galatians 2:2 NKJV).

We see three important details here. First, it was by divine direction that Paul went, not by some worldly motivation. Second, he defined the gospel as that which he’d been sharing with non-Jews, which was all about Jesus and not the Law of Moses. And third, he was discreet in how he shared the gospel.

Paul is pointing out that he was led by God to declare the true gospel of salvation in the wisest way possible. Consequently, they should respect his motives, message, and methods. Everything here is calculated to move their minds to the central truth of the letter, which will become clear as we read on.

But going back to our initial thought, Paul’s life was pointing to the spiritual principles that he needed to communicate. Why? Because he wasn’t off doing his own thing but was walking in God’s will for his life. When a person decides to live like that, their steps add up to something the Lord can use to get a powerful, even life-saving, message across.

May we follow in Paul’s footsteps by following the Lord’s leading for our lives—by being about His will and not our own. In doing so, our lives can serve to advance the message of the gospel to a world that desperately needs to know it. 

DIG: What distinctive feature do we notice in the Book of Galatians?

DISCOVER: Why does Paul pull his biography into this book so often?

DO: Why does the way you live matter in God’s grand scheme of things?

About the Author

Pastor Dan Hickling

Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.