I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia. – Galatians 1:16-17
26 When he arrived in Jerusalem, he attempted to associate with the disciples, and they were all afraid of him, because they did not believe that he was a disciple.
27 But Barnabas took Saul, brought him to the apostles, and related to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus.
28 So he was staying with them, associating openly with them in Jerusalem, speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord.
Benjamin West as a young boy, attempted to draw a picture of his sister. His efforts were less than stellar. But when his mother saw his work, she kissed him on the head, and remarked, “Why, it’s Sally!” Benjamin West became a great American painter. He retold the story of his mom’s encouragement and stated unequivocally that it was her kiss that inspired him to become an artist.
Encouragement is a powerful thing!
It goes without saying that Paul, before his encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ, was violent and aggressive. He was a fire breather. Paul was a fanatic for the law. He persecuted those he thought had erroneous, and worse heretical beliefs. Jews for Jesus who had accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as their Messiah, were his target. They feared for their welfare and very lives.
When Paul was miraculously confronted and converted by the Lord Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus, he was a changed man on the inside. But the believers still feared his sting and wanted nothing to do with him.
But marvelous affirmation came to him directly from the Father.
Paul did not learn the truth of the gospel from the apostles. Following his baptism by Ananias (Acts 9:18) Paul did not seek out Christian leaders from whom to learn. He did not seek advice from people. Literally, “conferred not with flesh and blood.” The Greek word translated flesh is sarx. The Greek word translated blood is haima. “Flesh and blood” is an idiom which simply means a living human being.
Matthew 16:17 And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
The verb translated conferred is prosanatithemi, means “to hold conference with” or “to communicate with someone.” The Jerusalem Bible translates it “I did not stop to discuss this with any human being.” Who then did Paul talk to? Who did he learn from?
The Father had something much better in mind. The Father had arranged an all-expenses-paid education including room and board for a period of three years away from church leaders. Paul went to a private, exclusive seminary in the Arabian desert.
11 Dear brothers and sisters, I want you to understand that the gospel message I preach is not based on mere human reasoning.
12 I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ.
Paul’s education was unique. His doctrine and understanding of the gospel did not come from the apostles or other leaders in the church. It came by direct revelation f him him rom the Father.
This special seminary had a fantastic student-teacher ratio. There was only one student, Paul. And there was only one instructor, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Nabatean kingdom was called Arabia. It included part of what is modern Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and southern Syria. Paul’s time in Arabia, before his return to Damascus, takes place in a time gap between Acts 9:25 and 9:26.
When his education was complete, Paul was a changed man. The revelation that he had received laid the foundation for his New Testament epistles. Information that had not been previously disclosed was now made known.
Although three years had passed, nothing had changed for the Jewish church leadership in Jerusalem. Enter Barnabas.
Acts 9:27 Then Barnabas brought him to the apostles and told them how Saul had seen the Lord on the way to Damascus and how the Lord had spoken to Saul. He also told them that Saul had preached boldly in the name of Jesus in Damascus.
Barnabas was sent by the Father to affirm Paul. Barnabas became Paul’s early partner and encourager. The church accepted Paul as a fellow believer because of Barnabas’s intervention on his behalf.
REFLECT & PRAY
Encouragement is a gift that just keeps on giving. It has been given to us, we are to pay it forward.
Father you have been my encouragement from the beginning. Thank you as well for all the people you put in my life along the way. Help me encourage others as You have encouraged me.
Encouragement is far more than saying something nice to someone. Encouragement can be transformational. The Father uses it to shape us, direct us, and give us confidence.
But there is more.
The primary word in the New Testament translated encourage is from the Greek parakaleo. The word is derived from para – to the side of and kaleo – to call. It literally means to call someone to oneself, call to one’s side. It can be translated aid, help, comfort, encourage, affirm, or console.
The noun paraklete refers to a helper, an assistant, a comforter, an advocate, one who pleads another’s cause before a judge, a counsel for defense. This is a frequent title for the Holy Spirit, the Comforter.
We have a personal helper and comforter that in remains with us for all time, the Holy Spirit.
16 I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.
17 that is the Spirit of truth,
The Holy Spirit is our teacher. He always teaches the Truth and helps us to remember.
John 14:26 The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.
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