Day 3

Paul Defends His Apostleship

from the Galatians reading plan

Galatians 1:11-24, Joel 2:12-14, Acts 9:1-22

BY Melanie Rainer

“The gospel is about transformation,” a friend of mine said while standing in my kitchen a few days ago. We were talking about a series of current events in the Church, sad and hard and deeply personal stories that call us to question our place in the current manifestation of God’s kingdom on earth, as all such stories tend to do. His statement hardly revolutionary, nor was it original, but I’ve found it’s been rolling around in my head ever since.

Without total transformation, a turning-inside-out by grace, it can be hard to stand firm in the faith. Every day it feels like I see another domino fall, the ripple effect of false gospels and faulty foundations. I say this full-well knowing that I could be next. Every day I pray for a deeper and greater transformation of my heart. Prayer, Scripture, Spirit—these are my lifelines to a new heart and a closer communion with God. Without them, I’m weak and tired. With them, I am transformed.

As we’ve read through Galatians 1 this week, Paul has been building a case for the rest of his letter using his own story of transformation. First, he identifies himself and his motivation: an apostle through Jesus. Second, he introduces his critique: the church in Galatia has fallen under the spell of a false gospel. Third, he qualifies his critique and message because of his own past and the total transformation he experienced through Jesus.

Paul uses his story, constructing it carefully, to set the stage for the rest of the letter, in which he will challenge false teachers who argued that new Christians had to submit to Jewish law. Paul had been a pharisee, self-described as “extremely zealous for the traditions of my ancestors” (Galatians 1:14). He knew the law. He lived by it and for it.

Then Paul explains his own total transformation as “when God, who from my mother’s womb set me apart and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me” (vv.15–16). Paul became an apostle of Jesus; he knew his Savior, and lived by Him and for Him. God called Paul to Himself, and through the work of Christ and the indwelling of the Spirit, Paul was totally transformed. The same transformation is offered to us by God’s grace.

I love how God calls them to Himself in Joel 2 (harkening back to Exodus 34) where God reveals His character to Moses:

Even now—
this is the LORD’s declaration—
turn to me with all your heart,
with fasting, weeping, and mourning.
Tear your hearts,
not just your clothes,
and return to the LORD your God.
For he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger, abounding in faithful love,
and he relents from sending disaster (vv.12–13).

This is the invitation before me this morning: to turn to God, to anchor myself in prayer, Scripture, and the Spirit. Because I can trust God and His character, I can trust His process of transformation—His grace, compassion, patience, and steadfast love.

Post Comments (48)

48 thoughts on "Paul Defends His Apostleship"

  1. Mari V says:

    Prayers are appreciated as my daughter will be speaking to her youth group tonight and sharing her story of what Christ has done for her. Please pray that it would be the Holy Spirit speaking to her. And as her mother I too can say she’s not there yet, but she sure isn’t where she used to be. Yep, I am a mother of a teenage daughter and through highs and lows I love her very much!

  2. Mari V says:

    I went to Celebrate Recovery last night. There was baptisms last night. Lives changed. Lives transformed by the power of Jesus Christ! My heart was filled with joy to watch! I’m not there yet, but I sure am not where I was.

    1. Olivia Watts says:

      Praise God!

    2. Suzie McRae says:


  3. Courtney says:

    Dearest Emily:

    I write this out of true Christian love because I know that you are hurting and I am so sorry. Here’s the good news! God loves you! Believe it. So, focus on pleasing Him rather than your “friends”, because they are human, which means that at times they will let you down. God will not. He is ever- faithful, and knows everything there is to know about you and still loves you UNCONDITIONALLY! No person can do that!

    I am praying that you focus on pleasing God and that you find real friends who love God and who accept you for who you are.

  4. Amber Trimble says:

    Only with My Savior!

  5. Keila Barrientos says:

    So so good! What an invitation and reminder to my heart this week. The lord is calling my heart to him!

  6. Samantha says:

    My husband told me that God does not give us more than we can handle last night. As I try to balance home and work life, he challenged me to count my blessings and look on the bright side of things. Today is a constant reminder that some people do not have all the things they prayed for at the blink of an eye. Let’s cherish those we hold close and dear to our hearts and allow the grace, peace, favor, and love of the Holy Spirit to guide us through the dark times.

    1. Brooke Parker says:

      100% YES. I’ve been feeling this same way today!!

      1. Julie Smith says:

        I think God constantly give us more than we can handle so we rely on him. If we could handle it all we wouldn’t need him.

    2. Zoe G says:

      He does not give us more than we can handle WITH HIM. That’s the important piece – letting Him be our strength when we are weak!

  7. Kellie LynaePerron says:

    “We can trust God’s process to transformation.” Oh how I needed this this morning. All I need to do is remain in Him. In His Spirit, His truth and His presence. He will do the transforming.

  8. NanaK says:

    On the top of my journal page this morning, I wrote: BUT GOD! With GOD=transformation;
    Without HIM=weak and tired. Today, I choose HIM! I pray that He hears my cry, “Here I am, LORD!” and I will be HIS chosen instrument….

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *