Full Text for Galatians- Volume 17 - What happened in Paul's first visit to Jerusalem (Gal. 2:1-10)? (Video)

No. 17. >> One last question and then I'll give someone else a chance to speak. What happened in Paul's first visit to Jerusalem? He seems to make a point of not having consulted with anyone. Why? Talking about his Damascus road experience with the disciples would seem to be so very natural. And lastly, when did all of these events happen? >>DR. ARTHUR A. JUST, JR.: These are very good questions that put us in the context of the First Century history, which we're going to guess at the best as we can. Now, if you look at the chronology, you'll see that the way in which I've dated the conversion of Paul is in the year 36. And I believe that the events that happened in Galatians 1:18 and following happen about two years after Paul's conversion. So in other words, he is converted in 36 after the martyrdom of Stephen. Then he goes into Arabia into the Syrian desert of the Nabateans. Returns to Damascus. And then after that he travels to Jerusalem to consult with the disciples. Now, this is an important point. Why 36? Well, a lot of people date it earlier. But there is something that suggests to us that 36 is a good year to date the martyrdom of Stephen and the conversion of Paul. Remember the Jews could not engage in capital punishment. This is something the Romans had to do. So for them to put Stephen to death would either have to be a breaking of the law or would have to be one of those historical moments where it was possible for them to do that because the Romans weren't watching. Well, there is historical evidence that in the year 36, there was no Roman procurator in Caesarea Maritima. Namely there was nobody kind of minding the store in Israel in 36. And the high priest at that time was Jonathan, who was a very, very ruthless man. This created the possibility at that time for the martyrdom of Stephen to take place by the Jews. Now, that means that Paul in those first years is simply kind of learning the ropes and then finally going to Jerusalem. Because so many people had heard about his conversion. Now, remember, he says he doesn't consult with anyone. But everybody knows that he went to Jerusalem. So he has to talk about what that visit was about. And he does it in verses 18 and following. He says: Then after three years -- and that would be 36, 37, 38 -- so that's why we put it in about the year 38 -- he goes up into Jerusalem for the purpose of visiting with Cephas. Notice he calls him Cephas. That's his Jewish name. He goes with the purpose of visiting Cephas. Now, that is an important point. Now many people would say including the opponents that he went there so he might receive the Gospel from Peter. But maybe it was the other way around. Maybe Paul was going to Cephas to say: Hey, guess what I found out? I found out on the road to Damascus that God opened up to me to be the apostle to the Gentiles. I think he did talk about his Damascus road experience with the apostles. In fact, if the Book of Acts is an indication of this, three times in the Book of Acts Paul records a version of the Damascus road experience in Chapter 9 is the first one of course, Chapter 22 and Chapter 26. Three times. It's important to him. And I'm sure he spoke about it when he went to Jerusalem. But he says that he remained -- and this is wonderful, detailed information. You have to ask yourself why. I remained with Peter, Cephas, for 15 days. 15 days. Why not two weeks. Why not a little over two weeks or a fortnight? But he says 15 days. Now, I think it's important to recognize that the language here, to remain, to visit, means that he stayed with Peter. That means he had table fellowship with Peter. And that means that he went to Peter's church at least three times. In 15 days you can celebrate the Lord's support with Peter three times. I think Paul is saying here that he had fellowship with Peter as he will in Chapter 2 at the Lord's table. That he and Peter were in agreement. They were on the same page. And it shows that in a sense they were colleagues and they were friends. That they understood this. Now, Paul goes onto say he saw none of the other apostles. He didn't go down there to meet everybody and to learn from them. But he does mention again -- now, this is a critical point -- that he saw James, the brother of our Lord. Not James, the son of Zebedee. But James, the brother of our Lord. Now, James the son of Zebedee would be alive at this time. But he points out who is now when Paul is writing this letter the bishop of Jerusalem. That he went to see Peter and James. Remember what I said about the Apostolic Council? These are the two players along with Paul who are the significant people who have to come together at this Council. Three years after his conversion, Paul goes to Jerusalem to visit with Peter and James and to celebrate the Lord's Supper with them. He says: What things I'm writing to you before God I do not lie. He's saying this is the absolute truth. This is why I went. But then he says in Verse 21 -- and I think this is a very important statement by him because he clarifies even more his travel log. He says: Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. Syria is where Antioch is. Cilicia is where he's from. So he went back to his hometown and to Antioch which is going to be the mission base of operations for his missionary journeys. And then he says this: And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. In other words, he didn't visit the churches around Jerusalem. He didn't go around and see those churches. He didn't because he had been a persecutor of the people who were in those churches. They still probably remember three years later the raw, very tragic, very sad experiences that they had in their own families at the hands of Paul. But to show you how the Gospel works, Paul says: They were only hearing it said he who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy. They heard about Paul's conversion. They didn't see him to the face. But they heard about his conversion. And that he had once been the great persecutor of the church and now he's preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And this is an amazing statement to me. It says in Verse 24: And they were glorifying over and over again God because of me. Now, I've often used this analogy. And I think it's somewhat legitimate. Paul goes to Jerusalem and he as a persecutor of the church is received with joy by those congregations that persecuted -- that were persecuted by him. He doesn't go visit them by the face. Because that might have been a little too much. But they did recognize that the Gospel was coming through him. It would be as if Osama bin Laden were to return to New York now having been converted to the Christian faith and was preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ there. And the people of New York City after 9/11 were going to receive him with joy, glorifying God. I don't know if that would ever happen today. But that's what happened in the First Century. That the Christians recognize clearly in Paul somebody who represented them. Now, that's important for Paul to state concerning his apostleship. That he is in fact, an apostle from God. And that even those whom he had persecuted see in him a preacher of the Gospel, a preacher of the Good News. As well as James and Peter, the great leaders of the Jerusalem church. At this time, remember, Peter is the bishop of Jerusalem. Not James. Even though Peter may not have been called that. But he was the leader of the church in Jerusalem. And James was the second leader. And the Jerusalem church, who many people in that church had difficulties with Paul's mission to the Gentiles that early on three years after his conversion they are embracing Paul as a preacher of the Gospel.