I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. Galatians 1:11-12 (NIV).
Paul was a Jesus freak. These two verses established his bona fides with the world. At the time he wrote Galatians (within 10-20 years after the resurrection), the underground church was growing like crazy. Other witnesses of Jesus and His miracles were telling their stories. Faith was spreading in spite of murderous persecution. Pieces of (what would become) the four Gospels were already being preached in private gatherings all around the Mediterranean basin. What we know now as the New Testament was being written, and preached contemporaneously, by its writers and their followers.
The Apostle Paul was foremost of them. He wanted people to know that what he was saying wasn’t made up, wasn’t shared second or third-hand. It as his (Paul’s) first-hand account of things told to him by Jesus. It was knowledge, analysis, wisdom given personally to him by the Lord Jesus Himself.
Let’s keep it real: we don’t know for a fact who wrote many of the books of the Bible. Tradition attributes many of the Old Testament works to people such as Moses, Samuel, Solomon, Jeremiah and others Paul wrote nearly half of the New Testament books. We don’t, however, specifically know who, for instance, wrote Hebrews. And even the authorship of 1, 2 and 3 John are not conclusively ascribed to the Apostle John, ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved.’ Only two of the four Gospels were written by members of Jesus’ inner circle of disciples; Mark and Luke were outer-tier followers.
Knowing that, it becomes important, then, for Paul to remind his readers that what he wrote was revealed to him directly by Jesus. That he was a Jesus freak. So were all the other apostles, even Judas Iscariot.
Now, when I was a kid, “Jesus freak” was a an insult; a pejorative phrase used to describe someone whose reason and rationality were fried by their faith in Christ. It was often used by people mired in their own sins of judgmentalism, sex, drugs, or complacency; that still occurs. Yet a Jesus freak was what Paul was. It’s what I am, too. Paul’s faith came from a personal, first-hand relationship and interaction with the Lord of the universe. ‘
Have you considered that you’re the same? You and I don’t have faith unless Jesus’ Spirit first touches us, inspires it into being. From there, it grows through us. We get to become Jesus freaks like Paul.
For further reading: 1 Corinthians 2:10, 1 Corinthians 11:23, 1 Corinthians 15:1-3, Galatians 1:13
Lord, I am a freak for You. Let all I say and do be in worship of You.
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