TODAY’S READING: GALATIANS 1-3
“But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone.” – Galatians 1:15-16
Paul opens the letter of Galatians unequivocally stating that he is an apostle through Jesus Christ and God. God is the source of his apostleship. Men and mankind had nothing to do with it.
Therefore, in Galatians 1:15, we know that Paul is saying that God set Paul apart before he was born and called Paul by his grace. So, God is the subject of the sentence in verses 15 and 16.
According to the ESV and many other translations, the heart of Paul’s statement is “God was pleased to reveal his Son to me.” But, I don’t believe this adequately gets at what Paul is saying.
First, the Greek verb translated “was pleased” is eudokeo. It is in the active voice, which means that God is the subject is taking the action. However, to say “God was pleased” sounds like God is the recipient of pleasure, which would put eudokeo in the passive voice. Paul is actually saying “God pleased” or “God took delight.”
“God took delight to reveal his Son to me.”
But, there is still another problem.
The Greek word translated “to” is en. En is found 2,699 times in the New Testament. It is translated “in” 1,659 times. None of the other possible English words are even close. And, to is one of the least likely translations of en. It would seem far more reasonable to translate en as in, especially when we consider the whole context of the New Testament and Jesus’ statement that the kingdom of God is inside or within you.
Therefore, Paul is really saying, “God took delight to reveal his Son in me.”
Then, Paul says, “I did not immediately consult with anyone.”
Here we have another problem. The Greek translated “anyone” is sarx kai haima.” Paul actually said, “I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood.”
Why would Paul say that?
Jesus asked the disciples who they said he was. “Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood [sarx kai haima] has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.'” (Matthew 16:16-17)
The revelation that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God comes straight from God. God reveals Jesus directly to you. This revelation does not come by flesh and blood. It does not come from men or through mankind, just as this was not how Paul was made an apostle.
So, the revelation of Jesus that was in Paul God took delight in giving directly to Paul. Therefore, it would be worthwhile to look at the other uses of eudokeo in the gospels. Following are all the uses of eudokeo in the gospels. After each one, I will put what I believe is the more appropriate translation of eudokeo.
“And behold, a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17)
This is my beloved Son, I took delight in him.
“‘Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased.'” (Matthew 12:18, which is quoting Isaiah 42:1)
My beloved in whom my life took delight.
“He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.'” (Matthew 17:5)
This is my beloved Son, I took delight in him.
“And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.'” (Mark 1:11)
You are my beloved Son; I took delight in you.
“And the Holy Spirit descended on him bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.'” (Luke 3:22)
You are my beloved Son; I took delight in you.
“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32)
Your Father took delight to give you the kingdom.
The kingdom can be taken as a euphemism for Jesus.
Therefore, what does God take delight in?
The son of the living God.
How does God reveal Jesus, the only one he took delight in, in us?
Not by flesh and blood.
But directly from heaven through the Holy Spirit who dwells in our hearts, inside of us.
Now, there is another very critical element of the direct revelation in us of Jesus, the Christ, the son of the living God, that God takes delight in.
After Jesus tells Peter that the Father in heaven, not flesh and blood, revealed to Peter that he was the Christ, the son of the living God, the very next scene in Matthew 17 is the transfiguration of Jesus.
Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up a mountain. Jesus is transfigured, or transformed. Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus. Peter sees them and says to Jesus that they should make three tents – one for Jesus, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. Peter was cut off in mid sentence, and a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, I took delight in him; listen to him.” Moses and Elijah disappeared.
What is the point?
God took delight in Jesus alone.
We are to listen to Jesus alone.
God takes delight in revealing Jesus directly in us by the Spirit.
This was an important issue in Paul’s letter to the Galatians. For there were men trying to impose the law upon the Galatians. But, Paul, who was at one time more zealous for the law than anyone, said, “For through the law I died to the law, so that i might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live in faith of the Son of God [in faith of the Son of God is my translation], who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.”
The law was not just the ten commandments. Nor was the law the 613 commandments. The law could also be understood as all of the writings of Moses could even include all of the prophets.
I believe if we want to really drive Paul’s point home today, then I would paraphrase Paul this way.
For through the Bible I died to the Bible, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the Bible, then Christ died for no purpose.
The Bible is a wonderful book. That’s why I read it every day. But, it’s only a wonderful book when I use it correctly. The Bible should produce a death in me.
Yes, used correctly, by the Spirit, the Bible should produce a death of and to literal interpretations in me so that I can live to God. This is what means for the Bible to be a witness to Jesus.
In other words, “Through the Bible I died to the Bible.”
But, if I try to hold onto the Bible through a literal interpretation of it then I’m saying that I can have righteousness through the Bible and that Christ died for no purpose. It was exactly the same for the Jews. Therefore, in John 5:39-40, Jesus said, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.”
Why did they refuse to come to Jesus?
Because God had not revealed to them directly from heaven and not flesh and blood that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God. Unless you have that direct revelation, then the Bible is pretty much worthless.
Again, I think the Bible is a wonderful book. I would not have spent the last 11 months writing every day about the Bible if I didn’t believe this. But, I have tried to focus my writing on Jesus, the only in whom God took delight.
And, not Elijah.
This is to use the Bible correctly.
To further drive home the relevance to us of Paul’s point to the Galatians, I believe we could paraphrase Galatians 3 this way.
O foolish Americans! Who has bewitched you. It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you this? Did you receive the Spirit by works of the Bible or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain – if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the Bible, or by hearing with faith – just as “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?
Know then that is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Bible, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So, then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
For all who rely on works of the Bible are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Bible, and do them.” Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the Bible, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” But the Bible is not of faith, rather, “The one who does them shall live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Bible by becoming a bible for us – for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree” – so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.
To give a human example, brothers, even with a man-made covenant, no annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. This is what I mean: the Bible, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. For if the inheritance comes by the Bible, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise.
Why then the Bible? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and the Bible was put in place through angels by an intermediary. No an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.
Is the Bible contract to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if the Bible had been given to give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the Bible. But the Bible imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
Now before faith came, we were held captive under the Bible, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the Bible was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither American nor Arab, there is neither employee nor employer, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.