Wednesday, 10 February 2016
For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. Galatians 1:13
This is a transitional verse between the thought of the Source of Paul’s reception of the gospel and that of a description concerning his conversion and subsequent learning and evangelistic efforts. In order to make that transition, he describes his life just prior to his conversion.
This description is a reiteration of what those in Galatia already knew. This is evident from the words, “For you have heard.” He is recalling his testimony to them in order to give them a standard of comparison between himself and the false apostles who had come in and infected their churches with the heresy of reinserting Judaism into the church.
In this case, the term “Judaism” is referring to the religious aspects of life among the Jewish people. He fell into that category, and in that capacity he says, “I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it.” The term “church” in the Greek is in the singular. Thus it shows a set distinction between the practice of Judaism without Christ, and that of unity within the many churches who are “in Christ” and under His sole authority.
Again, these words are given to show the contrast between life under the old system and that under the new. Paul was under the old and felt he was acting in accord with the will of God at that time. However, the term “I persecuted” is in the imperfect tense and should more appropriately be translated as “I was persecuting.” Paul was acting in a particular manner towards the church when his conduct was suddenly ended and a great change in his actions took place. But just before that change, it was his intent and passion to utterly destroy the church.
The reason for his words is to refute the Judaizers who were reinserting the law. The break had been made between the two. Christ and His church is on a new and separate path from that of the law, which was set aside through His completed work.
Life application: Many people have amazing conversion experiences. They are heading down one path and suddenly their life makes a sudden turn towards Christ. The zeal and passion with which they follow this new path is one of the surest signs of the power of Christ to change the hardened heart. From time to time, go back and evaluate your own conversion. Return to the roots of that time and look to reenergize the zeal you felt. Rekindle the fire once again, and then press on in His power.
Lord God, what a change was wrought in me when I met the risen Christ. I was heading down one path and suddenly my life was on a new and marvelous one. The sky was bluer, the grass was greener, and the sun shined more brightly. The darkness of life took on a new and wonderful tone. Help me to remember that moment and to continue on in it all the days of my life. Help me to be the one who honors You through my devotion to Christ all my days. Amen.