“But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:11-12).
The first-century false teachers who sought to undermine Paul the Apostle had several options for casting doubt upon his message. For instance, they could undercut Paul’s message of salvation by grace through faith with the claim that he was not a genuine apostle. Or they could say that Paul lacked first-hand information regarding Jesus’ life and ministry. Both claims seemed plausible, but as we’re told in the Old Testament book of Proverbs, “Any story sounds true until someone tells the other side and sets the record straight” (Proverbs 18:17 TLB).
Beginning here in Galatians 1:11 and continuing into chapter two, Paul will set the record straight regarding his apostolic authority and the source of his spiritual information. To do so, he will provide the Galatians with a short biography, an explanation of how he acquired the message of salvation he preached, and conclude with an account of his interaction with some of Jesus’ other apostles.
Paul began by assuring the Galatian churches that “…the Gospel which was proclaimed and made known by me is not man’s gospel [a human invention, according to or patterned after any human standard]” (AMPC). This is important because a human-oriented spiritual message will surely emphasize things like human effort, human experience, human wisdom, and/or human intellect.
However, Paul’s Christ-oriented gospel featured none of those things. Instead, Paul’s message was reflected in the following comment to the first-century church at Ephesus, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). So the presence of these human-oriented characteristics can help us identify counterfeit gospels whenever we encounter them today.
He then went on to say, “I did not get my message from any other human. The Good News is not something I learned from other people” (ERV). In other words, Paul did not receive hearsay testimony regarding Jesus. Instead, his message came through direct revelation from Jesus Christ Himself. Paul’s interaction with the risen Christ served as the basis of his message to the Galatian churches- and that source served to differentiate his message from those who followed.