10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. 11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. 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: 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.
- “Persuade” (vs. 10) should be understood in the sense of “conciliating” (please, mollify, make peace). To paraphrase, “Am I now a men-pleaser or a God-pleaser?”
- To be a servant of Christ requires that we please Him, which often means that we do not please people as a consequence (vs. 10).
- The gospel is of a divine origin. Mankind could never have conceived it or accomplished it (vs. 11). This speaks against any works-based religious system.
- God revealed the gospel to us through the Person of Jesus Christ (vs. 12). God came to us (cf. Isaiah 7:14; 9:6; Matthew 1:23) because nobody sought Him (Romans 3:11). It is only when He comes to us and draws us to Himself can we be compelled to seek Him (John 6:44; 12:32). Isaiah 55:6 commands “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found” but He initiates the contact, because the verse continues with “call ye upon him while he is near”. He comes to us.
- “Conversation” (vs. 13) should be understood as “behavior” or “actions”.
- Notice that Paul references “the Jews’ religion”. He does not lay claim to it any longer. He did not add Christianity to his existing religion, but totally replaced his former beliefs and practices with a relationship with Jesus Christ.
- Paul is the perfect example of a radically changed life (vv. 13-14). His graphic descriptions of “beyond measure” and “wasted it” are confirmed by the early church’s reaction to his conversion (Acts 9:13-14, 26).
- Paul, formerly Saul, was no ordinary Pharisee (vs. 14). He was very powerful and intelligent—one whom others knew and respect. This made his conversion all the more compelling.
- Paul’s zeal moved from persecuting the church to promoting the church (vs. 14). He left the traditions of his earthly fathers to embrace the truth of the heavenly Father.
Ideas for Teaching/Preaching/Personal Study
- List some areas where believers sometimes please people rather than God? What are the reasons for this?
- List some things that people seek instead of God. Why do you think this is? Find biblical support for your reasoning.
- Read Acts 15:1-29. Paul repudiated his former beliefs (“the Jews’ religion”) when he accepted the gospel of Christ. However, some in the early church did not and told Gentile believers that they had to be circumcised. A church council was held to decide the issue. They correctly recognized that circumcision was not required, but stated that the believers would do well to observe some other practices (abstaining from meats offered to idols, etc.). Why would they come to this conclusion? Were they saying that these practices were part of the gospel of Christ or simply desirable due to the culture they were in? Give biblical reasons for your beliefs.
- Prepare a sermon/bible study on the topic “Changed by the Gospel”. Use examples of both radical and subtle transformations in people’s lives.
- Paul was deeply engrained in 1st century Judaism to the point that he arrested Christians and consented to the death of believers in Christ. If you were alive in the 1st century, would he be on your list of those to whom you would witness? Would you have written him off as a lost cause? Do we do that today with people who seem too far gone to accept Jesus as their savior? Why do we limit the scope of God’s grace? (see Jeremiah 32:27)