“…nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus”
nor did I go up to Jerusalem
Paul did not need the approval of the apostles in Jerusalem for his gospel of grace. He did not check with Peter before he went out to preach.
to those who were apostles before me;
The apostles mentioned here were those apostles appointed earlier than Paul. They took up residence in Jerusalem. It would have been natural for them to teach him about the fundamentals of the faith. As Paul did not receive the gospel from human beings at his salvation, neither did he receive it from the apostles after his salvation. This shows his independence from the twelve apostles. But, by acknowledging them as apostles who came before him, he also gives them full recognition.
but I went to Arabia,
Instead of going to Jerusalem immediately after his salvation, he went to an area of Arabia known as Nabatea (in Transjordan to the south and east of Damascus of Syria). Arabia was a barren and thinly populated place. Paul needed to clarify the distinctions between law and grace. He spent decades steeped in legalism, so he needed time to orient himself to grace and think through the issues.
He went to Arabia to spend time with God in solitude. During this stay, God clarified the doctrine of grace to him. He did not get his message from human beings but from God. He wanted to get his message as clear as he could before he started preaching.
and returned again to Damascus
After the Lord clarified his message in Arabia, Paul returned to Damascus. He stayed there for a stretch of time and encountered persecution from the Jews.
“But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ. Now after many days were past, the Jews plotted to kill him. But their plot became known to Saul. And they watched the gates day and night, to kill him. Then the disciples took him by night and let him down through the wall in a large basket” (Acts 9:22-25).
God schools his saints in solitude.
God uses isolation and solitude to separate our souls from restless and busy lives. The Psalmists says, “Be still and know that I am God.” We need time to think about God. Solitude is God’s Wilderness Graduate School. It”s the place where we develop deep convictions about our relationship with the Lord and our service for Him.
God took many of his ministers to His Wilderness Graduate School. He took Moses there before He would use him. He also allowed Elijah to go through a wilderness experience. David spent some time there, while Saul hunted him like an animal. The Lord Himself spent forty days in the desert.
How do you know Paul was seeking solitude to sort out grace and works. I made the same assumption, but that is only conjecture in my case. Is this explained elsewhere in scripture? If not, I don’t think it’s fair to use it as a verse to pursue solitude.
How many of Christs’ appearances after the Day of Pentecost?
Jeff, here is a summary from Tyndale Bible Dictionary:
In the early morning of the day of resurrection, he appeared to Mary Magdalene in the garden (Jn 20:11–17), then to some of the other women (Mt 28:9). After this, he ascended to his Father (Jn 20:17). Then he returned to appear to Peter, who had gone home (Jn 20:10; Lk 24:34). On the same day, in the late afternoon, he took a seven-mile (11.3-kilometer) walk with two disciples on their way to Emmaus (Lk 24:13–33), following which he appeared to the disciples as they were assembled in a closed room somewhere in Jerusalem (Lk 24:33–48; Jn 20:19–23). It is nearly impossible to follow a sequential, chronological order of all these happenings. What Jesus did was humanly impossible. How could he make all of these appearances on the same day? All we can say is that resurrection greatly changed his sphere of existence. As spirit, and yet with a body—a glorified one—he was no longer limited by time and space.
I agree Grant. Too many people these days in the church believe you need someone’s permission before you can preach (human permission). Paul clearly in this passage of scripture is validated by God himself to preach the gospel of grace. I think it’s an excellent interpretation. All of the great men and women of God in scripture had to walk through a desert experience before they could come out and live in grace.
Elijah, Moses, Joshua & Caleb, Jesus himself, Israel, David Etc.
This is great !I have never seen it this way before.Yet ,do you mean Apostle Paul did not preach to people in Arabia?God bless you sir.
Oluwagbemiga, During this time Paul was trying to sort out legalism from the doctrine of grace so it was a time of contemplation.
Thanks a great deal sir.
In the same book chap.4 ,and verse 24 it seem he was not accepted I can’t be sure though, but i think it is worthy of note.
God bless you sir.
Oluwagbemiga, Did you refer to the right verse? 4:24 is not talking about the issue here. It harks back to the time of Abraham. Maybe I am not clear about your point.
I am so grateful to you for taking time to address my point I pray that God in His infinite mercy would make His grace abound towards you more.
I am quite satisfied with your answer.
If I could access commentary on Isaiah 11 I wouldn’t hesitate.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday,today and forevermore.
this is a great insight and i really appreciate the gift of revelation on your life sir. But the last part of this verse ; though, solitude, time in the wilderness is a must for any one that want to really be use of God. But this passage doesn't tell us the purpose of Paul's journey to Arabia – to preach or for personer retreat, and there is no other passage in the scripture to support this ( for out of two or three witnesses every word shall be established) . sir, i will really like you to sheld more light on this.
Tunde, thanks for your comment. The context from verse 11 explains his purpose for going to Arabia especially verse 16. Did you read all my comments from verse 11?
The scripture does not clearly specify the reason for Paul to go yo Arabia Ihave a conviction that he underwent theological training
Ishnael, I agree with you.
Thank you sir for shedding light on this scripture it was helpful
I have a problem reconciling Acts chapter 9.26 with Galatians 1.17. It seems to me that Acts 9.26 suggests that Paul went to Jerusalem not long after his conversion and met the apostles by was of introduction by Barnabas. Yet in Galatians 1.17 he says he went to Arabia and returned again to Damascus. What am I missing?
Oshinka, I wrote the Galatians commentary in 1999 and I do not remember all the details. However, I am presently doing an exposition of the book of Acts and will restudy that issue again when I get to chapter 9. Here are a couple of quick thoughts by others on this subject:
According to Paul’s account, in the third year after his conversion he went to Jerusalem.41 Paul’s version of this first postconversion visit to Jerusalem differs considerably from that in Acts.42 Paul and Luke referred to the occasion in order to make totally different points. In Gal 1:18–23 Paul contended with Judaizing opponents who argued that Paul was not a “real” apostle but totally subordinate and inferior to the Jerusalem apostles. Paul’s account of his first Jerusalem visit thus reveals a definite “tendency.” In order to maintain the independence of his call to be an apostle to the Gentiles, he stressed the minimal contact with the apostles in order to show that he was in no way subordinate to them. Luke’s emphases were totally different. He too did not show Paul’s subordination to the apostles, but he emphasized Paul’s acceptance by them, which was essential in his unfolding picture of the church’s mission to the ends of the earth. Paul was not a maverick missionary, nor were his Gentile converts maverick Christians. The apostles provided an unbroken continuity with the risen Lord and with his commission. Paul’s acceptance by the apostles assures this continuity and the legitimacy of the mission to the Gentiles.43 Luke had another point to make—the further persecution of Paul at the hands of the Hellenist Jews in Jerusalem, additional evidence that the former persecutor was now the persecuted. No fact more fully illustrated the reality of his conversion. (John Polhill)
It is not so easy to reconcile Luke’s description of Saul’s public activity at Jerusalem in association with the apostles with the statement in Gal. 1:22 that, until the time of his departure for Syria and Cilicia (and after that), he “remained unknown by face to the churches of Judaea,” which knew of him only by hearsay. One commentator removes the phrase “in Jerusalem” from verse 28 (taking it to be a gloss) and regards verses 28 and 29 as a continuation of Barnabas’s description of Saul’s activity at Damascus. Verse 30 would then go on: “And the brothers recognized him60 (that is, as a disciple) and brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.” Thus, we are assured, “the whole difficulty vanishes.”61 It does not, and even if it did vanish, one must have reservations about an emendation, however ingenious it may be, which is proposed not because it has any textual attestation but because its adoption will help to remove a discrepancy. It is true that there is a marked resemblance between the account of Paul’s activity at Damascus (his bold preaching and the consequent plot against his life) and that of his activity in Jerusalem. Luke’s sources probably supplied him with little detail about the Jerusalem visit; hence the generalizing terms in which he reports it. (FF Bruce)
very good explonation. Thank you Lord.