Friday, 19 February 2016
And I was unknown by face to the churches of Judea which were in Christ. Galatians 1:22
Paul continues with the surety that the gospel he preached was not of any human origin. After his brief trip to Jerusalem, he had gone to the “regions of Syria and Cilicia.” During, and even after this, he was “unknown by face to the churches of Judea.” The verb is in the imperfect tense, showing that he continued unknown in those churches.
Singling out the “churches of Judea” shows that the message, even by this early time, had gone out to the areas beyond Jerusalem. This was probably within just ten years of the ascension of Christ. Paul’s face was unknown to those outside of the area of Jerusalem, and probably within Jerusalem itself with the exception of those he met during his visit there.
His final words concerning the churches in Judea are that they “were in Christ.” The Greek word for “church” here is ekklésia . It means “an assembly.” The term can be used when speaking of non-Christian elements as well. It can refer to the Israelites as a nation, or individual synagogues. For this reason, Paul designates who he is speaking about specifically, saying that they are “in Christ.” Though there may have been other assemblies in and around Jerusalem, Paul’s only concern is those who were true followers of Christ.
The reason for his specificity is, again, to show that his doctrine had not come from any of these sources. His doctrine was also unknown to these people, with the exception of those in Jerusalem whom he had conferred with. All of this is building up his case for those in Galatia to consider. They had received a false gospel and they therefore needed this detail to be assured that what they had heard from him was truly of the Lord and was both proper and untainted.
Life application: Following along the account of the book of Acts, and then comparing it to the epistles, shows a precise timeline of events. Even if all of the events are not recorded in one place or another, they can be seamlessly combined into a clear and non-contradictory testimony to the reliability of Paul’s ministry. Be assured that his words are exactly what they claim to be. They are divinely inspired and proper for doctrine.
How wonderful it is, O God, to live out the years, seeing the seasons come and go. You give us such wonderful variety and change, and yet You do it in a predictable sequence so that we can eagerly anticipate what is coming. And with the return of the seasons comes familiarity, fond memories, and the expectation of more good times ahead. Everything You have ordained for the span of our lives is just perfect. Thank You for how You treat the sons of men. Amen.