"THE EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS" Paul's Remarkable Conversion (1:11-24) INTRODUCTION 1. In writing to the churches in Galatia, Paul set out to prove that... a. His apostleship came from Jesus, not man - Ga 1:1 b. His gospel came by revelation from Jesus, not man - Ga 1:11-12 2. In doing so, he revealed remarkable facts about his conversion... a. Which not only substantiates his claims regarding his gospel and apostleship b. But also provides evidence for our faith in Jesus as the Son of God [The latter half of the first chapter of Galatians reveals pertinent facts concerning Paul...] I. BEFORE AND AFTER HIS CONVERSION A. BEFORE HIS CONVERSION... 1. He persecuted the church - Ga 1:13 a. In Jerusalem - Ac 8:1-3 b. And beyond - Ac 9:1-2 c. Something he believed he ought to do - Ac 26:9-11 2. He was advancing in Judaism - Ga 1:14 a. As a scholar, trained at the feet of Gamaliel - Ac 22:3; cf. 5:34 b. In social standing, advancing beyond many of his contemporaries 1) Holding positions of religious power - Ac 26:12 2) Which likely included access to financial power c. He was on the 'fast track' of success among his peers! 3. He was zealous for his ancestral and religious traditions
- Php 3:5; Ac 23:6 1) A conservative sect of the Jews - Ac 26:4-5 2) Noted for their opposition to Jesus during His ministry - e.g., Mt 12:14 c. With such a religious background, he was naturally prejudiced against Jesus - Ac 26:9 B. AFTER HIS CONVERSION... 1. He had limited contact with the apostles - Ga 1:15-20 a. He did not see them for three years after his conversion b. Even then, it was for was for just fifteen days - cf. Ac 9: 26-30 c. Even then, he saw only Peter, and James the Lord's brother 2. He was unknown by face to the churches of Judea - Ga 1:21-24 a. He spent ten years in Syria and Cilicia - cf. Ac 9:30 b. Those in Judea only heard about him c. Though they came to glorify God in him - cf. Ac 9:31 [The circumstances of Paul's conversion should cause us to glorify God as well, which should become more apparent as we consider various...] II. EXPLANATIONS FOR HIS CONVERSION A. PERHAPS THERE WAS AN ULTERIOR MOTIVE... 1. Could it have been wealth? a. He had that with the Jews b. He left it for the poverty of following Christ
- cf. 1Co 4:11-12; Ac 20:33-34 2. Could it have been fame? a. He had that with the Jews b. Consider what he experienced as a Christian
- cf. 1Co 4:10,13 1) Regarded as foolish and weak, even by other Christians 2) Viewed as the filth of the world by those in the world 3. Could it have been power? a. He had that with the Jews b. Compare this with what he suffered as a Christian
- cf. 2 Co 11:24-28 -- Indeed, no ulterior motive can be found to explain Paul's conversion B. PERHAPS HE WAS DECEIVED... 1. Then who deceived him? a. Friends would not, for he was their champion against the Christians b. Christians could not, because of his persecution against them 1) Putting them into prison, chasing them into other towns - Ac 8:3; 9:1-2 2) Even after his conversion, many feared him - cf. Ac 9:26 2. His testimony does not allow for the possibility of deception a. He claimed to receive his gospel from Jesus, not man - Ga 1: 11-12 b. He claimed to see Jesus raised from the dead - 1Co 15:8 -- The empirical nature of his testimony precludes the possibility of deception C. PERHAPS HE WAS MAD... 1. Such was the conclusion of Festus, the governor - Ac 26:24 2. Others have tried to explain his conversion in psychological terms a. That his intense persecution of Christians gave him a guilt-ridden conscience b. That combined with the heat on the road to Damascus, he became delirious and only thought he saw Jesus! 3. Yet consider the testimony of Paul a. He had a clear conscience regarding persecuting the Christians - Ac 23:1 1) It was something he thought he should do - Ac 26:9 2) He did it out of ignorance, for which he knew he received mercy - 1Ti 1:13 b. He said he saw Jesus more than once 1) Not just on the road to Damascus! 2) But on other occasions as well - Ac 18:9-10; 22:17-21; 23:11; 2Co 12:8-9 -- Read his epistles, do they seem like letters written by a mad man? D. THE ONLY PLAUSIBLE EXPLANATION: HE SAW JESUS...! 1. The explanation given by Paul himself a. Before the Jerusalem mob - Ac 22:1-16 b. Before King Agrippa and Festus the governor - cf. Ac 26: 12-23 2. It is the only explanation that explains his conversion a. Why he was willing to forego wealth, fame, and power b. Why he was willing to suffer poverty, shame, and persecution -- As he said "I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision..." - Ac 26:19 CONCLUSION 1. "Paul's Remarkable Conversion" is best explained by... a. His own testimony that it was the resurrected Jesus who appeared to him b. Not once, but continuously throughout the rest of his life -- Serving as one of the greatest evidences for the resurrection of Jesus! 2. What will you do with "Paul's Remarkable Conversion"...? a. If you do not yet believe in Jesus, may it spark further investigation into the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ! b. If you already believe in Jesus, may it move you to glorify God! - cf. Ga 1:24 3. One of the best ways to glorify God is to give heed to the words of His servant Paul... a. Who would have us come to know and obey the One he saw on the road to Damascus b. Who has written of the true life and liberty that Jesus offers to all who believe and obey Through such evidence as "Paul's Remarkable Conversion", God has given testimony to the resurrection of Jesus. Have you responded to this evidence with the obedience of faith...?