Saturday, 20 February 2016
But they were hearing only, “He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy.” Galatians 1:23
The words “they were hearing” are tied directly to the words “I was unknown” in verse 22. Though they never met Paul personally, they were continuously receiving reports about him. It was probably an amazing thing to have someone show up at the door of the church and start talking about the guy “who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith he once tried to destroy.” The obvious reason is that they expected a different kind of knock on the door from that very same person!
Paul was known as one to persecute the church. And so with each new report of him out preaching the faith, it must have marveled the people immensely. The words, “the faith” does not refer to the faith that we have in Jesus as individuals. Rather, it speaks of the doctrine about Jesus which is to be believed. In other words, “the faith” is that Jesus is in fact the Messiah. The word is used in the objective sense, something that continues on in the Christian world today. The faith of our fathers is the faith passed down to us.
Paul’s conversion must have had an immense strengthening effect on those scattered churches. Surely they would be willing to speak out more openly knowing that God could change even the hardest heart.
Life application: If you have had a great conversion in your life, don’t hide it from others. Be willing to share how God has changed you into a new person. Your testimony may be the very thing which will lead others to speak out boldly for the sake of the gospel.
Lord God, You took a hard and contrary soul and you made him soft and pliable when You touched my heart. And this is how it has been for so many over the ages. You do a marvelous work in and through some really obstinate souls, thus showing Your greatness in lives changed and in redirected attitudes. Now Lord, continue to mold us for our good and for Your glory. Be with us and direct our every step according to Your wisdom, not ours. This we pray for Your glory. Amen.