When Paul came to a new town, it was usually his practice to preach first to the Jews, if any were living there, and then to the Gentiles. This was the case in Galatia. Of course, the newly converted Jews would be under pressure from the religious leaders to turn back to the law and the old covenant. The newly converted Gentiles would be pressured by the local leaders to turn back to their practice of worshiping idols. The leaders were zealous in trying to turn the people back to these old ways but for the wrong reason. Both the religious leaders and the local leaders were dependent on the people for their livelihood. Paul says it is good to be zealous for the right reasons, but they must be strong enough to stand even when he is not with them. Since they were not able to stand alone, he must now treat them again as babies in Christ. Today, we have the same situation because we “go and make converts” and then we leave them to fend for themselves.Jesus said to “go and make disciples”. Receiving Jesus as your Savior without any further instructions is not likely to make many disciples. Mentoring others takes a lot of love, patience, kindness, and time.
Saul used to sit at the feet of Gamaliel learning about the Old Testament and the Jewish traditions and laws. He became very zealous in defending the Jewish customs even to the point of putting Christians to death. I think we can be very sure that in those times, he never considered the fact that Jesus was training him for a specific purpose. It probably never crossed his mind that he would be the missionary of the ages and the man responsible for writing most of the New Testament. The transition from Saul to Paul took over three years. Our salvation experience was probably not as dramatic as that of Paul. Nevertheless, it is just as necessary as that of Paul for the spread of the Gospel and the increase in the Kingdom of God. Let each of us look at our lives and experiences. What do those things tell us about what God has trained us to do to add to His Kingdom here on earth? We cannot come to the conclusion that we are trained to do God’s bidding, that would devalue the work of Jesus on the Cross and our value to God. Every person God has called to salvation has a part to play in the Kingdom here on earth. Ask God to show you what that part is and then, giddy-up go.
10 For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.
11 For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. 13 For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it; 14 and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions.—Galatians 1:10-14 (NASB)
Paul tells us that if pleasing others, whether they be family, friends, neighbors or society at large, is more important than pleasing God, then we are not bond servants of Jesus Christ. Jesus is not happy with being number one in a race with some idols of our making.. He wants to be the one and only one in contention for our affections. This is the Gospel that was revealed to Paul by God. When we really get hold of this message, we understand that repentance is more than turning from an old way of life, it is turning to a new way of living. Old things have passed away and all things have become new. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.—2 Cor. 5:17 (NASB)
No matter how intelligent we are or what strata of society we come from, we must see ourselves and our righteousness as filthy rags before God. Nothing we have can save us and no one else can repent for us, we have to do it for ourselves.