This was the second question that I was also asked on Tuesday morning and maybe there is a message about Apostles that we need to learn. Antioch was the capital of Syria and the gospel was brought here by Jews who had fled from Jerusalem after the persecution arising from Stephen’s death. They preached to Jews only. However, other believers from Cyprus and Cyrene preached to Gentiles. Large numbers believed and turned to the Lord. The Jerusalem church therefore sent Barnabas to Antioch in order to establish these believers in the faith. As more believers were added to the church under Barnabas’ ministry, he went to Tarsus to seek for Paul. Together they taught much people and the disciples were first called Christians, or followers of Christ, in Antioch.

Why did the writer make it clear that they were FIRST called Christians here. The information that I received on the issue showed that there may be a link with Paul.

1 Paul understood the gospel clearly because it had been taught to him directly by Jesus. He himself said:

Gal 1:11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.

Gal 1:12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ

2. Even though he was a Jew with another religious background, the REVELATION that Paul received from the Lord kept him from introducing his biases to the Greek believers:

Gal 1:13 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:

Gal 1:14 And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.

Gal 1:15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,

Gal 1:16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:

3. He did not confer with any of the other apostles about the content of the revelations that he had received from the Lord. He did not compare notes. As a result, he remained unbiased from their prejudices:

Gal 1: 15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,

Gal 1:16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen

Gal 1:17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.

Gal 1:18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.

Gal 1:19 But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.

LESSONS TO BE LEARNT

1. Spiritual revelation is the foundation of the Apostolic ministry. “Apokalypsis” is the Greek word for “revelation” in Gal 1: 12. It means a disclosure of truth and instruction concerning things before unknown; manifestation, appearance.

a. Manifestations and appearances of the Lord Jesus

When Paul spoke about “visions and revelations of the Lord” in 2 Cor 12: 1, he means that he had actually seen, spoken with, fellow shipped with and heard the Lord Jesus in the same manner as the other apostles when Jesus was on earth. In Acts 20: 24, he spoke of the ministry which he had received of the Lord Jesus by revelation/at his conversion.

The letters that he wrote to the brethren gave them instructions that he had received by revelation. There were, however, instances when he gave an instruction that seemed to be reasonable to him, while making it clear to the believers that this was not given by the Lord. For example, in teaching about sexual intercourse between married people who were fasting, he clearly said that the instructions were given “by permission, and not…commandment” (1 Cor 7: 6). Later on in the same chapter, he gave another instruction, making it clear that it was the Lord’s and not his own (1 Cor 7: 10).

b. Disclosures of truth and instruction

Paul taught the believers the truths that he had received from the Lord. He was consistent in his teaching and was in no way confused (1Cor 15:1). Those who received the gospel received Christ and were exhorted to walk in Him (Col 2: 6). In teaching the believers how to live according to the gospel, they were taught how to please the Lord.Paul reminded the Thessalonians in 1 Thes 4: 1 that “ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God.”

Paul compared his ministry to that of a pregnant woman who travailed to bring forth a child. His aim was to have “Christ … formed” in the believers (Gal 4:19). The word formed here means that he travailed in prayer and in teaching of the word until the believers’ minds and lives were in complete harmony with the thinking and life of Christ.

Paul and Barnabas had done so well to form Christ in the Antioch believers that they were nicknamed Christians. How well are we doing today? Blessings!

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