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. Anneliese Peterson says:

    This is so good. This week has been rough with sickness and many otjet things. But this talk of total transformation and how God wants us to rend our hearts not just our clothes is powerful. He wants to toally transform us and I am ready.

  2. Carmela says:

    I love how in Act 9: verse 5 and 6, Saul gets immediately cut off from his path and gets intercepted by Jesus. what I am more surprised at is that Jesus didn’t waste any time explaining to Saul why he was there, why he was calling onto Saul. He gets right down to the point and tells him what to do. Doesn’t that show that the outcome of us following Christ is the most important, no matter what we were doing just before him finding us?

  3. Sara Lindauer says:

    I love the verse “tear your hearts, not your clothes”. Let us not be outwardly repentant but never cut to the heart, instead let our inwardly transformation through the Spirit manefest on the outside as well!

  4. Sara Eckard says:

    It’s often very hard to turn away from what we have been taught and what we are praised for doing, as Paul did as a Pharisee. We get set on a path and work tirelessly to achieve the goals on that path. But what do we do when we get the inkling that this isn’t the way? Paul has Jesus revealed to him and he jumped in and was baptized. He was called to this and has an amazing testimony of transformation to share with the early church and with us. When we are feeling that calling, that true message that we need to change our path, rather than fight, we should listen and work to follow, whether in our habits, our education, our careers, or family life. Accept and go where we are called. It could be very, very hard, but it will probably be the best decisions we make.

  5. Shawana says:

    Sending prayers for healing in your marriage, Emily C. When things are hard for me I try to remember that God wants our marriages to flourish and grow, so give it to God.

    As I prayed before I began reading today’s scripture I prayed for my brother among others but he and I have a distant relationship and are very different. We had the same experiences growing up but he’s allowed those experiences to harden his heart as a means of protection. The scripture says that “from the womb God set me apart” and it really struck me today.

  6. Emily C says:

    Hi Ladies, I was wondering if you could please pray for me for my marriage? I have recently found out that my husband told me a rather large lie before we got married and has kept it up for five years, and I feel so betrayed. I’m struggling to forgive him, although he’s apologised many times. I feel like the trust that we shared has been diminished. I need God’s intervention in this situation more than ever, as I’m so worried that we can’t come back from this. Thank you ❤️

    1. Amanda Mustain says:

      I am praying for you and your husband. It is difficult to discover something that is incredibly hurtful, especially from someone you love dearly. Put your faith and trust in God. Seek counseling from a pastor if you need to. I will lift y’all up in prayer that forgiveness happens and that y’all will recover from this and be stronger than before. ❤️

    2. AnneLyn P says:

      Praying for you and your husband.

    3. Melissa Graves says:

      I don’t have much to add to the good advice my sisters have offered, sweet Emily C.. but I can say from marriages I have observed who have come through some deep waters that your BEST hope is in getting solid counseling from a godly, experienced counselor, staying in close fellowship with other godly friends who will pray for you, and leaning hard into Jesus daily. If your husband is repentant, then that is worth its weight in gold because it will motivate him to do whatever he needs to do to regain your trust and save your marriage. I am praying for you both…that the Lord will heal your relationship with each other and strengthen your walks with Him. God bless you both.

  7. Ashley White says:

    This is such a great reminder for us how god God uses people for His good!

  8. Daniella Moore says:

    This morning I am reminded about the story of Todd Beamer on flight 93. He attended my Almamater, Wheaton College, and is famously known to have been one of the passengers who attempted to regain control of the aircraft from the hijackers.

    During the hijacking Beamer placed a phonecall to Lisa Jefferson, a GTE Airphone Supervisor, to warn about the hijacking. Before charging the hijackers, Jefferson heard Beamer as he led passengers in the Lord’s prayer and Psalm 23. Beamer requested of Jefferson, “If I don’t make it, please call my family and let them know how much I love them.” After this, Jefferson heard muffled voices and Beamer clearly answering, “Are you ready? Okay. Let’s roll.” These were Beamer’s last words to Jefferson.

    Let’s Roll. Such courage and strength found in God to the very end.

    1. Jennifer Anapol says:

      Thank you for sharing this story. Let us follow that example of courage until the end.

    2. Jennifer Anapol says:

      I thank God that he isn’t done with me yet and is gracious and merciful to me. I pray that I would be like him to those around me.

    3. Alexis Todd says:

      Hearing this story always brings tears to my eyes. I pray to have that kind of faith and courage in my life as he did at his death. God bless all who lost their lives that horrible day.

    4. Natasha R says:

      Wow, strangely, this brought me to tears. I am saying to God now, “I’m ready Lord, let’s roll.”

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