Hey! Randy

Galatians 1:18-19

Posted by heyrandy on June 19, 2010

18Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.

19But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother. Gal. 1:18-19 AV

The mention of three years intrigues me. I always thought that it referred exclusively to the time in Damascus (v. 17). I have come to the conclusion that it refers to the total time in Damascus and Arabia. This raises the question of how much time was spent in each place. We don’t know, and there is no way of finding out.

The next question is how long is three years. It is unlikely that the three years is measured to the exact day. It was also a practice in those timesĀ  to account a part of a year as a full year. They were not so concerned with minute graduations of time measurement. They would not be able to measure a second, much less a nanosecond. So we are left with some interesting but unanswerable questions. It will give us something to talk about when we meet Paul in Heaven.

Paul begins to give us details of how he meet the other apostles. He meets and stays fifteen days with Peter. What did they talk about? No information is given, but there must have been some great talk about the Lord and the theology of Christianity! Given Paul’s brilliant mind, these conversations must have been very profound. We may be rewarded if we read Paul with in mind.

Paul gives this account of staying with Peter because he is establishing that there is no conflict between the existing apostles and him. This is essential to help establish Paul’s credentials as an apostle. Paul is dealing with a major doctrinal problem in Galatians. He has to establish with certainty that his gospel is the exact gospel. Paul will soon criticize Peter for compromising the Gospel. Paul is showing that while he stayed with Peter, he did not get the Gospel from Peter. He already had the Gospel before he went to see Peter.

Paul says that he saw James. He tells us which James: the Lord’s brother. This eliminates the confusion with James the brother of John and James the son of Alphaeus (Matt. 10:2-3). James was a common name in those days. It is a form of Jacob. [If you want to confuse someone, you could speak of the Authorized Jacobean (not Jacobin) Translation of 1611.]

There is a difference in the way Paul speaks of the two visits. With Peter he stayed, with James he saw. It is another of those unanswerable questions as to why the distinction.

Paul saw no other apostles. Why not? Did he snub them? Not likely. It is speculation, but it may be that they were not there. Remember, Jerusalem had become a hot place because of Paul, but Acts 8:1 says the apostles stayed, but it does not tell us for how long. Three (more or less) years had elapsed. We just don’t know.

The events in Paul’s life are difficult to assemble. It is very likely that large parts of his story are not recorded by the New Testament. What we do have is what we need. We need to remember that the word of God is complete. Let us make use of what we do have of Paul’s life story.

Homework assignment: Study all the Jameses in the New Testament.


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