“For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
“For do I now persuade men or God”– What Paul is really saying here is that it is wrong to be men-pleasers. By nature man responds to legalism. Man’s conscience witnesses to the law, and legal conviction will lead to works. Man tries to compensate for the fact that he not doing enough. He tries to balance his good works against his sins, and have enough on the plus side to be saved. He thinks he does not need a Savior; he thinks all he needs is a helper.
PERSUADE: (Grk.–peithô)–Literally means, “to make a friend of; to apply persuasion; to prevail upon.” The Scofield Reference Bible translates it as, “seek the favor of” In I Thess. 2:4 and 4:1 it is rendered as, “please God” in contrast to self or others.
GOD IS NOT ASKING YOU TO LIVE THE CHRISTIAN LIFE. In fact, you cannot live it. What God is asking is that He might live the Christian life through you. This Epistle to the Galatians teaches this. Our churches are filled with people who are not saved but they are still church-members, and even serving on church governing boards. Some of like are even standing in pulpits. They have never come to Christ and received Him as Savior. They feel like they have something to commit to Him; but we have absolutely nothing to commit to Him. However, He has something to commit to us.
Paul’s adversaries accused him of being a flatterer of men, “becoming all things to all men,” to make a party for himself, and so observing the Law among the Jews (for instance, circumcising Timothy), yet persuading the Gentiles to renounce it (Ga 5:11) (in order to flatter those, really keeping them in a subordinate state, not admitted to the full privileges which the circumcised alone enjoyed).
“Or do I seek to please men?”
The older manuscripts say, “If I were still pleasing men.” It is not my aim or purpose to please men, and to conciliate their favor (comp. I Thess. 2:4).
While Paul was a persecutor of the Christians, he was the servant of men, and pleased men. When he embraced the Christian doctrine, he became the servant of GOD, and pleased HIM. He therefore intimates that he was a widely different person now from what he had been while a Jew.
“For if I yet pleased men”– If I made it my aim to please men; if this was the regulating principle of my conduct.
YET: (Grk.–eti)—Has reference to Paul’s former purpose as a persecutor of Christians.
It implies that this had once been his aim. But he says, if he had pursued that purpose to please men, if this had continued to be the aim of his life, he would not now have been a servant of Christ. He had been constrained to abandon that purpose, in order that he might be a servant of Christ; and the sentiment is, that in order that a man may become a Christian, it is necessary for him to abandon the purpose of pleasing men as the rule of his life. It may be implied also, that if in fact a man makes it his aim to please men, or if this is the purpose for which he lives and acts, and if he shapes his conduct with reference to that, he cannot be a Christian or a servant of Christ. A Christian must act from higher motives than those, and he who aims supremely at the favor of his fellow-men has full evidence that he is not a Christian.
A friend of Christ must do his duty, and must regulate his conduct by the will of God, whether men are pleased with it or not. And it may be further implied, that the life and deportment of a sincere Christian will not please men.|
It is not that which they (men) love. A holy, humble, spiritual life they do not love. It is true, indeed, that their consciences tell them that such a life is right; that they are often constrained to speak well of the life of Christians, and to commend it; it is true that they are constrained to respect a man who is a sincere Christian, and that they often repose confidence in such a man; and it is true also that they often speak with respect of them when they are dead; but the life of an humble, devoted, and zealous Christian they do not love. It is contrary to their views of life. And especially if a Christian so lives and acts as to reprove them either by his words or by his life; or if a Christian makes his faith so prominent as to interfere with their pursuits or pleasures, they do not love it. It follows from this,
1. That a Christian is not to expect to please men. He must not be disappointed, therefore, if he does not. His Master did not please the world; and it is enough for the disciple that he be as his Master.
2. A professing Christian and especially a minister, should be alarmed when the world flatters and caresses him. He should either fear:
a. That he is not living as he ought to, and that sinners love him because he is so much like them, and keeps them in countenance; or
b. That they mean to make him betray his religion and become conformed tothem.
It is a great point gained for the gay world, when it can, by its caresses and attentions, get a Christian to forsake a prayer-meeting for a party, or surrender his deep spirituality to engage in some political project. “Woe unto you,” said Jesus, “when all men speak well of you,” (Luke 6:26).
3. One of the main differences between Christians and the world is, that others aim to please men; the Christian aims to please God. And this is a great difference.
4. It follows that if men would become Christians, they must cease to make it their aim NOT to please men.
They must be willing to be met with contempt and a frown; they must be willing to be persecuted and despised; they must be willing to lay aside all hope of the praise and the flattery of men, and be content with an honest effort to please God.
5. True Christians must differ from the world.
Their aims, feelings, purposes must be unlike the world. They are to be a peculiar people; and they should be willing to be esteemed such.
It does not follow, however, that a true Christian should not desire the good esteem of the world, or that he should be indifferent to an honorable reputation, (I Tim. 3:7;) nor does it follow that a consistent Christian will not often command the respect of the world. In times of trial, the world will repose confidence in Christians; when any work of benevolence is to be done, the world will instinctively look to Christians; and notwithstanding, sinners will not love religion, yet they will secretly feel assured that some of the brightest ornaments of society are Christians, and that they have a claim to the confidence and esteem of their fellow-men.
“I should not be the servant of Christ.”
Literally: “I would not be a slave of Christ”-–If he sought to please men, he would never have become the servant (bondslave) of Christ. By so doing he had displeased all his own nation and brought on himself the hatred of men. See II Cor. 11:23
The service of Christ demands a complete independence. “No man can serve two masters,” the Lord Jesus said. To Christ, the man of God owes his obedience, his reverence, his diligence, and his faithfulness. Therefore, Paul’s subject to Christ implied the rejection of all human authority in matters of faith. The teacher who gives evidence that he pleases God rather than men gives evidence likewise that his teaching is just and pure.
PAUL’S AUTHORITY IS OF DIVINE ORIGIN
VERSES 11-12: These two versestogether to express a complete thought.
“But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.”
“I certify you,”—Doubtless this had been known to them before, but he now assures them of it, and goes into an extended illustration to show them that he had not received his authority from man to preach the gospel. To state and prove this is the main design of this chapter
I CERTIFY: (Grk.–gnorizô)–This is Greek word that literally says: “I assure you; I make known to you; I declare to you” (see I Cor. 15:1).
“not after man.”
Literally: “not according to man”–See v. 1. That is, he was not appointed by man, neither did he have any human instructor to make known to him what the Gospel was. He had neither received it from man, nor had it been debased or adulterated by any human mixtures. He had received it directly from the Lord Jesus.
Paul did not get the gospel he preached from man The Judaizers not only questioned Paul’s message, they also questioned his apostleship. He was not one of the original Twelve, but in their way of thinking.he was just a “Johnny-come-lately” Therefore, they cast a shadow even upon the validity of Paul’s authority as an apostle. Paul is about to take up this matter with them and show that his apostleship rests upon the fact that he was called directly by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Paul’s Gospel was not human in its character. He is referring not only to the origin of his Gospel, but to its character. It is not discoverable by man. Human reasoning or human intuition could not have discovered its facts, its truths, or its blessings.
1. It is not constructed on the principles or ideas of human wisdom, which is carnal in its instincts.
2. It is unchangeable in its great principles.
Unlike the systems of man which are constantly varying with the spirit of each age.
BRETHREN: (Grk.–adelphoi)–Literally: “brothers”–Notice that it is only now that Paul acknowledges them as “brothers.
“the gospel which was preached of me”
Literally: “the gospel preached by me”–It does not show up in our English translation, but Paul, is a great “punster,” and here He is making a “play” on the Greek word for “Gospel”–(euangelion).
In making this “play on word,” he says, in Greek “to euangelion to euangeliothen,” which translated into English literally would say: “the gospel which was gospelized by me.” Paul often made these “plays” on words in the Greek. By his making this “play” on words here, we see Paul’s compassion for these Galatian believers shining through. He has been “chewing them out,” but now he senses that it is time to “lighten up,” so he inserts this “play” on words here in his letter.
“For I neither received of Man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
“I neither received it of man”
Literally: “for I did not receive it from man”–Meaning: “No man taught me what I have preached to you.”
Paul is probably saying in reply to his opponents, who had maintained that Paul had derived his knowledge of the Gospel from other men, as he had not been personally known to the Lord Jesus, or been of the number of those whom he called to be his apostles. In reply to this, he says, that he did not receive his Gospel in any way from man, or even by means of any apostle, as was remarked in v. 1.
“neither was I taught it”
Literally: “Nor was I taught it.”–Nor was he taught it in the school of Gamaliel in Jerusalem or at the University of Tarsus.
Paul is saying that he did not receive his apostleship by going to school; nor did he receive it by being ordained or by hands being laid on his head. He did not become an apostle through Peter, James or John, or any of the other apostles. He emphatically states that he was an apostle by the direct call of Christ.
He is making this statement aim in answer to these Judaizers who had maintained that he had derived his knowledge of the gospel from other men; that he had not been personally known to the Lord Jesus; and that he had not been part of that original twelve whom Jesus called to be His apostles. To rebuke these allegations Paul says that he did not receive his gospel in any way shape or form from man.
“by the revelation of Jesus Christ”
Literally: “by a revelation of Jesus Christ”–Paul’s apostleship and gospel came directly by a revelation from Jesus Christ.
Being commissioned by Jesus Christ alone; receiving the knowledge of it from He who was crucified and rose again. On his way to Damascus, and subsequently in the temple, Acts 22:17-21. Doubtless he received communications at various times from the Lord Jesus with regard to the nature of the Gospel and his duty, The sense here is, that he was not indebted to men for his knowledge of the gospel, but had derived it entirely from the Savior.
Probably this commissioning and teaching from Christ took place during the three years, in part of which he sojourned in Arabia (verses 17-18), in the vicinity of the scene of the giving of the law; a fit place for such a revelation of the Gospel of grace, which supersedes the ceremonial law (4:25). He, like other Pharisees who embraced Christianity, did not at first recognize its independence of the Mosaic law, but combined both together.
Ananias, his first instructor, was universally esteemed for his legal piety and so was not likely to have taught him to sever Christianity from the Law. This severance was partially recognized after the martyrdom of Stephen. But Paul received it by special revelation (I Cor. 11:23; 15:3; I Thess. 4:15). A vision of the Lord Jesus ave been subsequent to the revelation here meant (compare vv. 15-18), and to have been confined to giving a particular command. The vision “fourteen years before” (II Cor. 12:1) was in A.D. 43, still later, six years after his conversion. Thus Paul is an independent witness to the Gospel. Though he had received no instruction from the apostles, but from the Holy Spirit, yet when he met them his Gospel exactly agreed with theirs.