Galatians 1:20-24

Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not. Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia; and was unknown by face unto the churches of Judæa which were in Christ: But they had heard only, that he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. And they glorified God in me. [Gal 1:20-24]

Paul here calls on God as his witness, and does not look to anyone else to verify his story.  From the human side, Paul left Judea because “he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians:  but they went about to slay him.  Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus.”(Acts 9:29-30)  Tarsus is in the regions of Syria and Cilicia, as is Antioch.  Antioch is where Paul and Barnabas were separated by the Holy Spirit to the work of which they were called. (Acts 13:2)

From the Lord’s side, we will again go to the scriptures and see the Lord’s reason for this departure:

And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance; And saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me. And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee: And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him. And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles. [Act 22:17-21]

Ministry to the gentiles apart from Jerusalem was to begin, and the Lord was sending His apostle to them to:

To open their eyes, [and] to turn [them] from darkness to light, and [from] the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in Me. [Act 26:18]

While Paul was not in Jerusalem to get to know anyone other than briefly meeting with Peter and seeing James, the Lord’s brother, the assemblies there knew one thing for sure.  Their greatest enemy was no more.  The very man who made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women to commit them to prison (Acts 8:3) no longer existed.  He was reconciled to Christ.   This reconciliation to Christ was the heart of Paul’s message, and if we see that, we can get a glimpse of what was in the apostle’s mind and on his heart when he wrote:

For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom we have now received the atonement. [Rom 5:6-11]

First hand experience can be the best teacher.  And look at how Paul’s reconciliation affected the assemblies that he persecuted:

Then had the churches rest throughout all Judæa and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied. [Act 9:31]

And they glorified God in me. [Gal 1:24]

Jesus our Lord knows how to take care of His enemies.  And ours.  We thank and praise Him that rather than destroying His enemies, He is now saving them and reconciling them to Himself (2Cor 5:18).  He will avenge Himself on His enemies, but now during the day of salvation, He is saving them.  While it is yet the day of salvation we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For He hath made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. [2Co 5:20-21]

Previous Study: Galatians 1:15-19

Next Study: Galatians Chapter 2

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